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Bullying on the forum

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Posted

If TGL's forum is intended to be a place where philosophy can be discussed in a civilised manner, certain people need to stop trying to shout others down - their behaviour is quite simply outrageous and to call a spade a spade, it is nothing short of bullying. Sometimes bullies are able to recognise and admit that they've made mistakes and they manage to sort themselves out, so it's only fair to give them a chance. Let's just go back and have a little look at how all this started. What appeared to be a fun conversation in chat one night was the trigger point: someone involved in that discussion copied part of it out and posted it into a public thread called "Debate in chat". That in itself is unethical without first getting the permission of all those people involved in it, so I was surprised at that, but it's a minor point.

My reply (post #2) included the following line:-

I'm surprised you didn't manage to wipe the floor with me when I said that the stone lifting thing did prove God doesn't exist...

I had no reason to suppose that this would trigger a nasty reply, and it didn't initially appear to have done so. Here's the key part of the reply by the chat-paster:-

You think the stone thing is a good argument, so you wouldn't have noticed me wiping the floor with you (which I did).

Now, that just fits in with the playful mood that the discussion in chat had, so I didn't take offence at that. However, there were two neg-reps on my first post, even though it is self-evident that I had said nothing there to justify such a response. Clearly certain people were upset about something, so the question is what were they upset by? You can go through it yourself and try to work that out, but I can still only think of one rational explanation. It was not the quality of my post which caused the neg-reps, but the fact that these people didn't like the way the argument had gone in chat, which is really odd if they really thought they'e wiped the floor with me - a bad loser can be forgiven because it's only human to behave that way, but bad winners are truly disgusting, so it's a good thing that I don't have any cause to accuse them of that. Incidentally, someone has just switched off the mechanism for displaying who has given neg and pos reps, but I can tell you that I have not awarded any negative ones to anyone there (or anywhere else on any forum). In my reply I commented on this:-

Far from winning the argument, you were soundly routed, and that's self-evident from the fact that you've turned to the highly negative tactic of the neg rep. Please don't try to cancel them out, anyone else who's reading this thread - an unwarranted red box only reflects badly on the people who award them.

That was hitting back. Maybe you think I should have behaved like Jesus and just let them walk all over me, but I am not as restrained as Jesus - if someone hits me, I hit back. I was hoping they might apologise, in which case I would have apologised too, even though I shouldn't have to - I would have done that in the interests of good relations. Unfortunately, things got worse instead. In post #11 the chat-paster said he neg-repped post #2 because it "came across as extremely smug". How often do you see a perfectly innocent post like that (which is not in the least bit smug) being neg-repped? I should point out that I had never even seen a post before on this forum with a red negative rep score, so it came as a real shock, particularly as I had considered the chat-paster to be a friend up to that point. I wasn't impressed with this bit of post #11 either:-

Anyway, I did this so people could see what kind of popular arguments for atheism the new arrivals here were considering, and then maybe people could provide them with some better arguments, rather than the basic trash that Dawkins, Hitchens, etc. come up with. Instead, I get accused of unfairly declaring victory.

This is not a lie, but a distortion - the accusation is that I give weight to silly arguments about rocks when that part of the conversation in chat was just a challenge to defend dead arguments. As for unfairly declaring victory, he did just that - you can see clearly for yourself that it there were no real winners or losers in the conversation as it was just pure banter. Even so, the situation was still recoverable and the crimes were really quite trivial.

In post #13, an outright lie is introduced by another player (one of the neg-reppers):-

In actuality, you claimed you could disprove God. After firmly establishing that your thread does nothing of the sort...

The word "establishing" needs to be replaced with "asserting" to make it true, because all he did was assert that it must be wrong because every attempt he's ever seen to prove that there's no god is wrong. Ask yourself why this individual is so completely incapable of repeating the feat in public which he claims he did in chat that night.

In post #14 the chat-paster said:-

I did bother to read your thread carefully, and frankly, it's just a bad argument.

I wonder how carefully he read the thread given that he came out with this in post #12 in the God's qualification's thread:-

There are assumptions in this thread that I've not heard from any theist or theologian. For example, the idea that God is just a guy in another realm with a host of other Gods with him building houses, paying taxes, eating burgers, etc. with the God who made the universe being somebody who can wolf-whistle and show off his crack is a concept I doubt I'll find outside this thread. I am also somewhat bemused how the thread started with talk about God in the monotheistic sense, but then it moved onto god in the sense I described above.I am also somewhat bemused how the thread started with talk about God in the monotheistic sense, but then it moved onto god in the sense I described above.

Absolutely bizarre! Where did the plurality of gods come from? Where did I move it away from monotheism? And yet he claimed he had read the argument carefully!

We then have this in the same post:-

You're trying to make people think that I'm the one who is being unfair and dishonest, and yet you're the one who is being dishonest.

I have been completely honest throughout, but it's easy for people to see events in a warped way from their own point of view, so his error is forgivable, but it's an unpleasant accusation to make. If I had been dishonest, I would have admitted it and apologised, but I am not in a position to, as the facts attest. Here's another of my "crimes" in post #15:-

Another neg rep from ........ too! What a gracious winner you are!

I'm not allowed to hit back, it seems, because more neg-reps result from that. In post #16 we then have this (not from the chat-paster):-

The only argument I have any time for in relation to the non-existence of God is my own one because it is the only one I know of which actually stands up.

It doesn't. I explained why several times in the chatroom.

Another outright lie - there was absolutely no plurality about it. All there was was a singular assertion that it must be wrong. You can tell that I'm telling the truth about this because of his abject failure to repeat the trick in public.

Another neg rep from ........ too! What a gracious winner you are!

Don't try to belittle me with your ploys. That I neg rep your post reflects on the content of your post. If you cannot accept that some people do not like your arguments, and don't share your sentiments, then you need to look at yourself.

Neg-repping is not supposed to be used to express your dislike of someone's arguments or their sentiments. The behaviour of this individual was (and continues to be) way out of line. In post #17, I said:-

Well, when I see neg reps fly like that from people, it sure looks like they've lost an argument big time and are desperate for revenge. You just shot yourselves in the foot by behaving that way. If you want to take issue with the argument in my God thread, attack it there in a serious way instead of going off half cocked before you've even bothered to read it properly.

Four people neg-repped it, if I remember rightly, two of them being people who really should have known better, though one of them must have been cancelled out by someone since. The animosity has continued ever since with completely unjustified neg-repping from a little gang, and they've now had their identities hidden. Nevertheless, everyone knows who they are. I actually think that hiding their names is a good idea, but it needs to be combined with another change: they need to have their ability to rep posts removed altogether. If that is not done, the rotten wood will continue to contaminate everything that happens here and destroy everything you hope to achieve. Anyone who's making lots of neg-reps needs to be checked out to see what their game is, and if they're misusing the privilege it should be taken away from them, The neg points that they've awarded others should also be made to count against themselves. It simply isn't acceptable that perfectly fine posts are being hidden because of bullies who are incapable of silencing people in the acceptable manner - i.e. through the power of their arguments. They are vandalising a discussion and are simply turning this forum into a laughingstock.

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Posted

Dude, seriously, stop being so petty.

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Posted

Neg-repping is not supposed to be used to express your dislike of someone's arguments or their sentiments.

Yes it is.

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Posted

You've just proved my point yet again, and when it comes to being petty, two more neg-reps and one-star rating the thread's a real nice touch!

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Posted

We haven't proved any point that you're trying to make. This is what you're doing, and also why you're getting "bullied," as you like to call it.

You make a terrible argument.

Somebody points out some fundamental flaws in your argument.

You continue with the terrible argument.

Eventually, you start claiming that nobody can refute you. For this, you get neg-repped.

You claim that anybody who neg-reps you is only doing so because they don't want people to read your awesome, irrefutable post that has ended the debate.

To create a thread such as this, then to say "See, they're neg-repping me because they can't handle the truth" is an extremely hypocritical thing to do for somebody who is complaining about ethical posting.

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Posted

Neg-repping is not supposed to be used to express your dislike of someone's arguments or their sentiments.

Yes it is.

I disagree. When I first disagreed I had a reputation of -13, so one could say that my position was self serving. But it is now +24.

It seems to me that negative points should be awarded to those who misuse and play loose with the facts, not to those whose views are simply unpopular. For example in a number of current threads in which "Selfless Egoist" is participating, he has been given some negative points because he played loose with the facts, but most of those awarded him have been because his point of view is unpopular.

In this thread the OP is being given negative points because people simply don't like his post. Their feelings on this might very well be justified, but to give such points in such a manner is simply another way of saying, "We don't want to hear this viewpoint ever again."

This is called a "Chilling effect."

Dave

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Posted

Actually, the OP presents a petty, one sided account of recent events, and that is why it has been neg repped.

I do not neg rep people only because I disagree with their argument, or their position.

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Posted

Neg-repping is not supposed to be used to express your dislike of someone's arguments or their sentiments.

Yes it is.

I disagree. When I first disagreed I had a reputation of -13, so one could say that my position was self serving. But it is now +24.

It seems to me that negative points should be awarded to those who misuse and play loose with the facts, not to those whose views are simply unpopular. For example in a number of current threads in which "Selfless Egoist" is participating, he has been given some negative points because he played loose with the facts, but most of those awarded him have been because his point of view is unpopular.

In this thread the OP is being given negative points because people simply don't like his post. Their feelings on this might very well be justified, but to give such points in such a manner is simply another way of saying, "We don't want to hear this viewpoint ever again."

This is called a "Chilling effect."

Dave

The OP is getting neg-repped here, not simply because people don't like what he is saying, but because he is being petty, digging up a slanging match that happened weeks ago (if I recall correctly), badmouthing the site in general, and claiming that people are only neg-repping him because they're bullies and can't refute arguments that he thinks are perfect and everybody else thinks are, to be frank, crap.

If you want me to defend myself and this place against fabrications that were being spouted weeks ago, then you're going to be disappointed, because I see no reason to waste my time going through every ridiculous point the OP has made. Instead, I gave the OP a neg-rep to let him know what I think of his well-poisoning tactics.

I request this thread be removed.

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Posted

Lets stop acting all butthurt about something silly, grow thicker skin, and move on.

Request to delete/lock thread seconded.

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Posted (edited)

Excellent post, maddog. :thumleft:

I'll just add, for my money, the neg-rep function is destructive, unnecessary and wholly at odds with the original aims of this place. My 2 cents.

Edited by davidm
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Posted (edited)

I'd like to mention, too, that the neg rep system is self-defeating. One of its purposes, as I understand it, is to enable users to "community moderate," in that if a post accrues enough neg rep points, it actually sinks out of view.

However, it doesn't really sink out of view. What happens is that the user receives a notice that the post in question has been neg-repped out of view, but that one may still access it by clicking on it.

Needless to say, this serves as a big neon sign saying, READ ME!

Edited by davidm
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Posted (edited)

I've used the neg-rep. Firstly because I was experimenting with it to figure out how it worked and secondly ... probably because I've migrated here from forums where such things are more accepted. As I familiarize myself with the social norms of Galilean Library, I'll do better.

I do however, think that neg-repping is a useful tool for self moderation, but like any tool it can be abused. The best forums I've been a member of all have very effective moderating. This site is no exception. It is a difficult task, but a necessary one in my opinion. This forum is made up of good members, good moderators, and I know we can all forgive and forget and move on to making the site better.

Edited by chad3006
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Posted

I'd like to mention, too, that the neg rep system is self-defeating. One of its purposes, as I understand it, is to enable users to "community moderate," in that if a post accrues enough neg rep points, it actually sinks out of view.

However, it doesn't really sink out of view. What happens is that the user receives a notice that the post in question has been neg-repped out of view, but that one may still access it by clicking on it.

Needless to say, this serves as a big neon sign saying, READ ME!

I thought that one effect of a post receiving a net negative rep was that it would no longer be visible at all to unregistered users. That seems like a good idea to me, though I haven't checked to see if it's actually working that way.

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Posted

Maddog,

The problem is that several people proffered rebuttals to Cooper's arguments, and they were all either ignored or passed off.

One can only explain where someone is going wrong so many times before one has to give up, and in this case the breaking point has been reached.

And it isn't the complaints about bullying that are leading to Cooper being neg repped, but his grandiose and, frankly, arrogant claims that he has come up with a perfect argument, that his posts are flawless, and that people are only attacking him because they feel threatened by his superior logic.

Case in point,

However, there were two neg-reps on my first post, even though it is self-evident that I had said nothing there to justify such a response.

In other words, Cooper is asserting that his post is not only flawless (because only a flawless post would not get a justified neg rep) but that it is axiomatically flawless. Cooper, thus, is seemingly unable to see the fallibilities in his posts, and it is consequently pointless even trying to present a rebuttal against him.

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Posted

Maddog,

Case in point,

However, there were two neg-reps on my first post, even though it is self-evident that I had said nothing there to justify such a response.

Maddog,

In other words, Cooper is asserting that his post is not only flawless (because only a flawless post would not get a justified neg rep) but that it is axiomatically flawless. Cooper, thus, is seemingly unable to see the fallibilities in his posts, and it is consequently pointless even trying to present a rebuttal against him.

It seems to me that he is simply iterating my point, that the simple expression of a "Point of View," in and off itself gets negative marks. Nothing in that post asserting Papal infallibility... :)

I though his original post difficult to read, and too long. I regard David T's response as more than adequate.

"Dude, don't be so petty."

Dave

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Posted

Maddog,

The problem is that several people proffered rebuttals to Cooper's arguments, and they were all either ignored or passed off.

One can only explain where someone is going wrong so many times before one has to give up, and in this case the breaking point has been reached.

And it isn't the complaints about bullying that are leading to Cooper being neg repped, but his grandiose and, frankly, arrogant claims that he has come up with a perfect argument, that his posts are flawless, and that people are only attacking him because they feel threatened by his superior logic.

Case in point,

However, there were two neg-reps on my first post, even though it is self-evident that I had said nothing there to justify such a response.

In other words, Cooper is asserting that his post is not only flawless (because only a flawless post would not get a justified neg rep) but that it is axiomatically flawless. Cooper, thus, is seemingly unable to see the fallibilities in his posts, and it is consequently pointless even trying to present a rebuttal against him.

Not having been a party to the original exchanges, I cannot say anything about that. I thought, however, that the principle of charity was a cardinal rule here. Applying the principle of charity to DC's OP in this thread, I do not see grandiose claims of flawlessness. Rather, I see someone attempting to explain in detail their view about communication exchanges, and trying to reconstruct/salvage/reestablish respectful understanding. From that point of view, neg-repping the attempt is unjustified. I think the claim of flawlessness is imported from your point of view, and not projected from his, although I could be wrong about that. From my point of view as a bystander, I see neg-rep being used in this thread, and its use inflicting emotional hurt. I also see much energy expended to justify the use of neg-rep, both as to this thread and as to prior exchanges. I thought we weren't supposed to treat each other like that here; that's one of the things that I like best about this place, is its aspiration to charity and better treatment of the members.

To me, neg-rep should be used extremely sparingly. To begin with the end in mind (Habit 2), what is the purpose of the neg-rep system? Perhaps I do not understand it clearly. I do not think that neg-rep is unjustified only as to perfect, flawless posts, and otherwise every post that is imperfect in some way is justifiably neg-repped. I think that has serious potential for miscommunication, misuse, misunderstanding. I am at completely the other end of the spectrum, preferring the view that neg-rep is unjustified as to almost all posts, and that it can be justified only as to posts that cross the threshold of some serious ethical principle (e.g., dishonesty, advocacy of criminal behavior, or similar).

Again, I didn't read the thread in question, so I don't know how the exchanges went. I know that I myself have pretty limited understandings of a lot of philosophical ideas and -isms. I probably seem pretty philosophically naive and obtuse and un-correctable to many of you. If I said something like, "you didn't wipe the floor with me as I thought you would," that would mean to me "I didn't lose nearly as badly as I had been afraid," not a crowing of victory. Perhaps you pulled your punches.

I'm a bit taken aback by the view that DC "is seemingly unable to see the fallibilities in his posts, and it is consequently pointless even trying to present a rebuttal against him." I certainly haven't had that impression, though admittedly I did not read the thread(s) or exchanges in question. I can't say for anyone else what their stopping point is in trying to understand another person, but I don't see that it is necessary, productive or constructive to actively inflict a consequence on them.

Maybe I'm reaching too hard to put a charitable spin on everything. As I realized in my discussions with Dave T over the last couple of weeks, one of the characteristics in my makeup, which I bring to the table in any exchange (but which my companions don't really know ahead of time), is my background growing up in an alcoholic home, where the ground shifts under you all the time. Things that were okay before, are not okay now, and vice versa. You never know what is going to erupt into conflict. Children who grow up in alcoholic homes learn certain coping strategies, one of the common ones of which is to placate people to avoid conflict. (My therapist recommended that I get Claudia Black's book, It Can Never Happen to Me -- again! it's not the first time I've bought that book -- which outlines some of the strategies and roles children in alcoholic homes adopt to cope with the treachery of belonging to that household/family.) That's something (placating) I still resort to quite a bit, and it may or may not be useful or appropriate here. But that is part of where I am coming from in this.

Beginning with the end in mind, what is the purpose of the forum, or of a particular thread, or of someone's participation in a thread? If rebuttals to arguments are passed off or ignored, what could be the reasons for that? What are the choices in how to respond to that? Which responses are consistent with the goals of the forum, of the thread, and of the poster who feels their rebuttals have been ignored? How could things have gone better?

I hurt when I see other people hurt, and I don't tolerate conflict well. Perhaps my lesson (one of them, anyway) is to learn how to tolerate conflict better. I wish I knew how to resolve whatever went wrong. Is there any way to salvage a win/win out of this?

#487

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Posted

I'm a bit taken aback by the view that DC "is seemingly unable to see the fallibilities in his posts, and it is consequently pointless even trying to present a rebuttal against him." I certainly haven't had that impression, though admittedly I did not read the thread(s) or exchanges in question.

Now, you can hardly state that you've not gained a certain impression of something you've not looked at in the first place.

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Posted

I almost gave maddog a neg rep for being charitable and generous. We don't need this kind of behavior at TGL! We're here to argue!

However, I decided I don't want to start neg repping people -- it could be addictive, like the first puff on a cigarette.

(I agree with davidm about the neg rep function, by the way.)

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Posted

It seems to me that he is simply iterating my point, that the simple expression of a "Point of View," in and off itself gets negative marks. Nothing in that post asserting Papal infallibility... :)

I though his original post difficult to read, and too long. I regard David T's response as more than adequate.

"Dude, don't be so petty."

Dave

I also was a bit tl;dr about the OP, the exact details of the exchanges are not of primary importance to me. The "stuff" -- details -- may indeed be petty, but (again putting the most charitable interpretation on things) there could be something non-petty going on here. Partly, what's important/petty to one person is not to someone else. One thing that's not petty is, what do the members of TGL want it (TGL) to be like? What sense of community is there to be here? A member's feelings have been injured ... if community means something, how are they/we going to respond, and to get beyond it? Surely, it has to be possible to talk about it?

Again, I bring personal background, of which no one else is aware, to the table. In my relationship with my significant other, communication was a big stumbling block (the story of my life; the communication theme comes up many times). One aspect of that was seriously different timetables for responses. My spouse required "instant" reaction or it didn't count. I, however, am not built for "instant" reaction. I have had so much practice growing up in my family trying to completely squash my feelings that sometimes I don't even know how I feel about something. If I was unable to respond "immediately" to something my spouse said or did or whatever, then if I brought it up later, after I had had time to think about and process the data and feelings, I was yelled at for waiting too long. If I couldn't react immediately, and was not allowed to bring things up later, when was the appropriate time to solve problems?

For this reason, I don't necessarily see it as "petty" to bring up something that was "so last week," if in fact the person still has feelings that need resolution and haven't had any satisfactory resolution yet. I guess I am more tolerant of someone else's different timetable because I have had the same problem myself.

Is it possible to look beyond the specific details, to see what is underlying the person's purpose in posting? Is it possible to forgive a different timetable for trying to resolve what is still obviously a problem for them? Is there enough good will toward community here to pass over the petty aspects and get to the meat of: how do you repair an injured relationship? I suspect that is what this is about, and I don't consider that "petty" or unworthy of some serious consideration.

#488

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Posted

I'm a bit taken aback by the view that DC "is seemingly unable to see the fallibilities in his posts, and it is consequently pointless even trying to present a rebuttal against him." I certainly haven't had that impression, though admittedly I did not read the thread(s) or exchanges in question.

Now, you can hardly state that you've not gained a certain impression of something you've not looked at in the first place.

I meant my general impression of DC from his posts and interactions that I *have* read.

#489

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Posted

Since this thread isn't going to be locked or deleted anytime soon, maybe I should throw in my hat here.

I agree with Maddog's championing of the principle of charity, and we are always better off being charitable to each other.

However, even that principle has its limits, especially to the uncharitable, condescending, arrogant know-it-all. I've read the thread(s) under question, and they are relevant to this very thread.

David Cooper has taken things a bit too far. By taking himself too seriously, and failing to consider the possibility that his arguments are naive or flawed, he deserved to be neg repped. It isn't a matter of hurt feelings, but a matter of bruised pride.

There's a bit of a gang mentality here at TGL, I admit, and if anyone else tries to wade in her with confidence that they have irrefutable arguments, they will be challenged immediately.

Now, if the person ignores the challenges to his claims, and persists in delusions of grandeur, that he has irrefutable arguments, then he deserves to be neg-repped.

Now, I have to disagree with Davidm: I trust the community to judge its members better than a single administrator. The ironic thing is, we are doing the same thing that happened in the past, but on a democratic scale, as opposed to a despotic scale, and we have more room for posters who run afoul of board rules or abuse them for their own profit. Rep points is an indication of a growing board, a mature one, and its popularity elsewhere indicates its usefulness.

I wouldn't recommend going back to the older system unless our membership declined dramatically to an insular group that didn't welcome new members until they cleared a few hoops and passed a couple of obstacle courses first.

One of the examples I raised of, err, "promiscuious" neg repping is the threads in which Selfless Egoist is posting. Now I disagree with him as much as anyone. And there was one post, where a number of people awarded negative points, and I agree with that award. The only reason I didn't add mine, was that would have been overkill. On the other hand, other posts of his were given negative reputation simply because his point of view was an opposite to that of others (including me).

This is why I too feel that the question of the original thread is not as relevant as some believe. This is NOT the original thread, and whether he was right or wrong is irrelevant to the was he perceives his treatment. This thread is about that perception, and I don't need to agree or disagree to state that his honesty in stating a perception should not be treated that way.

Dave

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Posted

Firstly, I was not dragging up an old issue: this is an on-going one because certain people are continuing to attack me unfairly and neg-repping me for retaliating fairly, and certain others are siding with them by neg-repping me as well even though they are in the wrong - that is bullying. I started this thread to try to explain how this whole thing began in such a way that anyone who takes the trouble to do so can check the facts and make up their own mind properly before they join the gang of vandals. There was another reason for starting it, and I can now reveal that: I was asked to do so by a sociologist who specialises in studying bullying, and she co-wrote it with me to ensure that it was being absolutely fair to the people it was discussing. Part of the intention was to give them a golden opportunity to take a good look at themselves, to recognise that they had behaved in an unwise manner and to apologise: had they done so they would have removed all possible stain from their characters and proved themselves to be truly decent people. That option is still open to them. My own hope is that everyone involved in this will come out of it better off and that TGL will end up stronger as a result. This whole thing is still fully mendable.

As for the style of some of my posts deserving neg-reps due to arrogance or whatever, the style is again a reaction to unfair attacks and is a challenge to certain people to engage in the discussion as a way to put me in my place - it is not aimed at anyone else. If they don't have the ability to do that, clearly they are going to take a negative path instead.

Something else has happened which I am not at all impressed by, but I am not going to mention it publicly at the moment to give a certain person the opportunity to apologise.

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Posted

I have comments to make in this thread, but I just don't have the time to make them at this time. Sorry if it seems I'm slow on the uptake, but that's life as I know it.

One concern, on the face of it, is the title of the thread which is reflected in the comments David Cooper is making. He would imply that he's talking about a more general phenomenon, but he's only talking about his own posts.

I appreciate Chato bringing up Selfless Egoist in this discussion, as he seems to be the best example of a victim of bullying on this forum as we speak; and this seems to spring entirely from the unpopularity of his views. It's always four or five members versus him, and he is constantly being called out. This thread might be a good opportunity for certain members to put a check on themselves.

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