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  • I wasn't defending either side in that exchange you originally referenced. I thought they both acted badly.

    The blog author did many "piss off people on IRC" things, mostly by not getting to the point in a simple manner. The other folks on IRC were just straight up jerks, no doubt.

    I try to be polite on IRC. If someone is irritating me, I try to simply stop dealing with them, as opposed to abusing them. I'm not sure I always succeed.

    On the note of not liking the person you were become, one reason I stopped ha

    • While I don't want to single anyone out in the reply to that thread, I'll just say that your reply is what made me go back and reassess my opinion of that post. Thank you.

      Also, the guy has other interesting posts on that site. Well worth reading, if experience with foreign cultures piques your interests.

  • I think the important issue here is that what is perceived as 'rude' depends a lot on the society you are in. What 'firefly' failed to realise is that, by the standards of technical forums, he started out by being fairly rude: he wasn't personally insulting anyone, of course, but he was asking for help and completely failing to provide any useful information about what was going wrong; instead he was whining about how hard his life was. Thus, he was wasting the time of a whole lot of volunteers, which is co

  • Re. 'punching distance', any implied threat of physical violence is likely to make me less polite, not more. My motivation for being polite is not 'avoid getting punched', it's more like 'avoid upsetting people', so I tend to be much more careful online, where I can't see what effect my words are having.

    If there are large numbers of people in the world whose primary reason for being civil is to avoid getting punched, it's hardly surprising so many of them are arseholes online. Perhaps those of us who do k

    • Neither Schwern nor myself were encouraging punching. The idea was really that many people only seem to keep themselves in check when faced with the possibility of direct confrontation. I think "punching" was just used to spice up the discussion. Sorry if that came across wrong.

    • Well, punching distance also happens to be a distance short enough for you to look each other in the face to determine each other's state of mind way before any physical violence is involved.

      I still think it's a sign of lack of empathy when people behave really badly on IRC or mailing lists. Add to that a gang mentality where people think this is the normal way of interacting, and you have a pretty nasty environment.

  • You wreck your own point when you stated you can't discuss politics politely. If you want to convince somebody (me, for example) that you aren't just a raving Bush-hater, you have to act in a civil manner.

    Now, I can't say that I'm any better in fact, since my own political rants tend to be just as angry, they're just a different set of positions. But I still say that the most convincing argument is the one delivered with passion, but still delivered politely and without coming across as anger or hatred (i.e

    • I posit that anger is not useful even for that. You want your judgement to be particularly level and unclouded when something matters enough to you to spur you into action.

    • You wreck your own point when you stated you can't discuss politics politely.

      I no longer judge people for not being polite about politics. Politics is all about who is going to take the next turn depriving other people of liberty, property, and sometimes life. It is completely understandable why people would be uncivil about that. In fact, it's ridiculous to expect them to be civil, and it's part of the religious faith in government as being the right idea. It's part of the way this mental virus propagates itself: by presenting the idea as being something that people should not

      J. David works really hard, has a passion for writing good software, and knows many of the world's best Perl programmers