Alix is out, for now

Discussion in 'That's So Meta!' started by seebs, Jun 17, 2019.

  1. seebs

    seebs Benevolent Dictator

    I don't know. I'm overall really happy with the number of people I've been told to ban and haven't banned who have done really well and gotten their shit together. There's a lot of meta and indirect effects that go into this, and you'll note that I'm not actually particularly committed to keeping Alix out forever, but I think she needs to get her shit together in a way that she seems genuinely incapable of doing while she's busy trying to fight everyone here.

    That said, I do think that I probably should have given up a lot faster once she made it clear that she did have control and was making a considered choice to use it to hurt people. There's a mental health issue here, but there's also a philosophy issue here. The philosophical belief that it's good to hurt People Who Deserve It has never worked out well. But on the other hand, that was one of the major subtexts of many of the calls for her to be banned. I've been gradually coming to think that the underlying boundary of the forum really needs to be right there, on that forum-agreement thing; if you are prone to thinking that there's people who deserve to be treated like shit, you're probably gonna find it really hard to get along with this forum, and you're going to be a bad fit for what we're trying to do.

    Because no matter who you think deserves to be hurt, there's gonna be someone like that around, and people will react badly if you act on that belief that they deserve to be hurt, and it won't work out well.
  2. jacktrash

    jacktrash spherical sockbox

    i’m not calling for punitive bans. i want to be very clear on that. banning is not a punishment.

    i’m not loving the idea of banning based on incompatible philosophy, though. that’s really fuzzy. i’d rather focus on behavior.
    • Agree x 5
  3. seebs

    seebs Benevolent Dictator

    I'm not so much advocating banning based on philosophy, as pointing out the philosophy to people more clearly, and pushing it a bit more firmly. We've had a lot of people who made a fair bit of trouble and eventually left, and generally, the trouble was pretty closely tied to roughly that point. I don't think I have an example of someone who actually accepted the philosophical premise and then behaved badly enough often enough to be a problem. I have lots of examples of people who didn't accept it, and were serious problems, even though they mostly eventually give up and go do something else.
  4. No?No.

    No?No. incognito

    Much agreed. I would like to see banning a a protective measure for the community (and perhaps the banned party), as it was done with Athol (who was clearly not getting anything positive out of being here, either)
    It has been repeatedly brought up that victims of Alix' abuse have felt silenced or disregarded by the way her behaviour was handled, and I think it would be a good idea to draw some consequence from that. I do support helping people try and be less abusive, but that can't be taking place to the detriment of the victims. Alix has repeatedly shown to be going around the boundaries people have placed to protect themselves from her behaviour, and I think that she deliberately circumventing these boundaries to keep hurting them is the point where one has to stop and think. Because that's imo the point where it shifts from 'helping someone be less abusive' to 'helping someone abuse people by never having them face any consequences for their shit'
    • Agree x 6
  5. jacktrash

    jacktrash spherical sockbox

    making people face consequences is the definition of punishment.

    and “for the protection of others” is the reason given for banning people with disruptive personality disorders basically everywhere else.

    so no, that’s not where i’m going with this.
  6. TheSeer

    TheSeer 37 Bright Visionary Crushes The Doubtful

    I don't think the "total negative" standard is practical, @jacktrash. A lot of abusive people have honeymoon periods or specific friends they get along with, and while I can think of several good reasons to show mercy with the banhammer, "this person hasn't yet pissed off literally everyone" doesn't seem like one of them. And in the other direction, I can also imagine someone going through a bad patch and having only negative and hostile interactions here for a while, but it's possible to protect people from this person's bad behavior and eventually they accept support and recover.
    • Agree x 6
  7. No?No.

    No?No. incognito

    'for the protection of others' here refers specifically to people who have done harm, continue to do harm, and even actively go out of their way to continue doing it with absolutely no sign of even trying to stop doing harm. That's not just 'a disruptive personality disorder' that's someone who's actively abusive and likes it that way (for whatever reason). I do think that yes, people deserve being protected from that sort of thing, especially because again, Alix has done her level best to circumvent things her victims have done to get away from her, like putting her on ignore.
    • Agree x 4
  8. No?No.

    No?No. incognito

    like, there has to a point where one has to step back and consider that 'protect the victims' is not a lesser point than 'help the abuser' and that point should come when said abuser is actively investing energy to keep abusing someone, despite protective measures being put into place. There has to be some sort of brake system here that ensures that people do not repeatedly get victimized in the name of helping the person who is victimizing them.

    ETA: to use a metaphor: this isn't about stabbing Alix back after she's stabbed four people, it's about taking the knife away from her because she keeps stabbing people and enjoying it.
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2019
    • Agree x 6
  9. Ana Nimus

    Ana Nimus Well-Known Member

    One big thing about Alix (and to a much lesser extent Athol) that's different from most every other example of people not liking others or having bad behavior is that putting her on ignore didn't help.

    If you did, she made subaccounts or a fight with her would break out in a thread you were in, or there'd be a massive sitewide discussion you had no context for. And this happened even with post mod on Admin level tools, including banning, were needed to protect users bc it wasn't possible for individual users to protect themselves or mitigate harm except by leaving completely. And as far as I can recall, no one else really hit that scale after post mod was applied except maybe Athol
    • Agree x 10
  10. idiomie

    idiomie I, A Shark Apologist

    seconding this. i get not wanting to have punitive measures and being opposed to punishment for punishment's sake, but for some reason, when this gets turned into a philosophy debate, seebs and you seem to be unable to differentiate between "stabbing alix back" and "taking away her knife"

    i don't actually think i want a sweeping philosophical rule or precept here! i think i'd be way more interested in us building in certain failsafes - so our community is based on believing everyone deserves second chances, and that people don't deserve to hurt, but when we have edge cases (and alix is an edge case), i would like it if we said something even just like "we as a community are not equipped to handle this situation in a way that is healthy and productive for everyone involved, therefore, you need to go"

    i can already hear arguments about this being used too much but like... second point

    this. i have a lot of users on ignore, for a variety of reasons, but the only one i truly cannot avoid is alix
    • Agree x 6
  11. seebs

    seebs Benevolent Dictator

    Honestly, the other harmful behavior is less of an issue than the "proving I can bypass that boundary" thing was. Like, I know other people who sometimes lose their shit and do not-okay things. And they get kicked out of things, and they say "well, fuck, I got kicked out of something I really liked, because I was being an asshole", and they don't argue the point. They don't try to demand extra chances, they don't sneak back in, they don't find new ways to contact people to prove that kicking them out doesn't work; they accept that this is a response to their actions, and that the only meaningful way to make things like that happen less is to change their actions. It's the impossibility of containment. And honestly, yeah, Alix has made it pretty clear that her intent is to get back in somehow under an assumed name, because that's what she does. And one of the concerns I have is that this means we'll presumably get some significant splash damage from any such accounts before they get noticed, but... Oh, well?
    • Agree x 1
  12. jacktrash

    jacktrash spherical sockbox

    y’all make good points. i’m just real paranoid about giving space in our administrative decision making to the pervasive human urge to see any kindness toward a bad actor as an insult to the victims. i don’t want to go all “slippery slope” on you here but it’s way too short a ride from “it’s just taking the knife away” to anyone with unpleasant symptoms being ostracized. and since this is just about the only moderated environment where people don’t respond to a cluster B disorder with “kill it with fire!!” i feel it’s my job to dig in my heels and make you convince me every step of the way.

    that said, i am Captain Hydrocodone right now so i’ll want to revisit this when i’m less opiated.
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2019
    • Agree x 1
  13. TheSeer

    TheSeer 37 Bright Visionary Crushes The Doubtful

    So, here's the thing. "Disruptive" as jacktrash used it above is a euphemism. To put it more clearly, mentally ill people do fucked up shit, because our brains don't work right. Trauma survivors do fucked up shit, because hurt people hurt people. We are absolutely capable of moral reasoning and compassion and recovery and being positive forces in society, in fact we have a moral duty to do all those things, but sometimes we don't. Setting aside whether certain diseases lead to worse behaviors than others, by the nature of this forum people who come here are going to do awful things that inflict real harm on people who don't deserve it. Not everyone, and not equally, and it's not fair, and abuse isn't remotely made okay because the abuser is sick or hurt, and and and... But fucked up shit will be done.

    If we banned everyone who does fucked up shit that hurts people - if we banned everyone who regularly does fucked up shit that hurts people - if we banned everyone who regularly does fucked up shit that hurts people because they enjoy it - the forum would be unable to do what it set out to do. It is clear by now that seebs is quite determined to stick to that goal. That there are abusive people here is not actually a bug, and deserving to get banned is never going to be sufficient condition for getting banned. The question of "deserving" might not even be in the decision tree. This space is deliberately unsafe. As far as I can tell, seebs bans people when, and only when, they don't have any useful way to deal with or accommodate the person.

    Personally, I really like safety from abusers, and I'm glad seebs isn't the High Princess of All the Internet to apply these rules everywhere. But I'm mostly sure it's good that they run this one place. If you disagree, I don't blame you - but you should at least keep in mind what they are and are not trying to do. Arguments about earning and deserving things, or about good and bad kinds of people, are going to be ineffective. That's not the point.

    (I've been writing this through the appearance several other posts, so it's not necessarily a response to whatever post is immediately above. To the extent I'm talking directly to anyone, I'm trying to answer @No?No, though they too make strong points. For example, I don't think anything I've said invalidates "Alix has done her level best to circumvent things her victims have done to get away from her" - in fact, it wasn't just things the victims did, it was things seebs and the mods did to try to restrain her, and that definitely is a key factor. It goes to the forum's ability to accommodate her.)
    • Agree x 7
    • Like x 1
  14. jacktrash

    jacktrash spherical sockbox

    @TheSeer you put it better than i did, thank you.

    i don’t think i want to change the reasons we ban, so much as just, let’s apply it sooner. before everyone is exhausted.
    • Agree x 9
  15. seebs

    seebs Benevolent Dictator

    This is probably the best description I've yet seen of the approximate analysis that's going on. It's more complicated than just "they're hurting themselves by being here", or "they're hurting other people", but... Somewhere around "we are actually not able to even communicate consistently".

    I want to stress that I wouldn't run anything else this way. This is specifically designed to be a solution to a problem that is not the problem most communities are trying to solve. I would not apply these rules everywhere even if I were in charge of everywhere.

    Yes. We have a lot of people who have problems that are accommodated fairly well by post mod, or bans from specific forums, or whatever, and who are doing fine and visibly improving with time and practice. That's fine. But they're all people who assent to the thing at some level. They don't actively go out of their way to find loopholes.

    Alix was, for a time, being somewhat cooperative. She'd point out, but not exploit, holes in the systems intended to keep the damage contained. She did stuff like build a browser extension to keep her from rating posts, since some of that was just "can't remember the complete list of people who don't want to be interacted with" rather than "is trying to poke them". But over the last... I dunno, year, year and a half, she's been starting to be more and more likely to intentionally break the boundaries in order to specifically prove that she can, and more likely to escalate in other media, or start shit elsewhere. And it's been becoming more and more clear that, at some very basic level, she believes in this. And that, we can't accommodate or fix. People who are angry but want not to be angry, we can work with. People who want to be angry, though, we don't have any way to accommodate. We can give you tools to help manage your emotions, or your choices, but we can't force you to use them.
    • Agree x 4
    • Informative x 1
  16. No?No.

    No?No. incognito


    You do make a very good point. Like I said (or meant to say, it might have gotten kinda lost....) i do support helping people to get better, even if they've done some pretty horrid shit, but there's gotta be some kinda balance to be kept between that and not going 'well every one on their own' towards the victims, which is what many people have felt they were left with over the course of this entire thing.
    And that doesn't strike me as particularly helpful for anyone involved. Especially when the person one is trying to help is actively circumventing it. I think that's going to be a sticking point for me. Alix has/had the particular bad habit of making it hard to lay down any sort of boundary OR accommodation, be it a private one in the form of an ignore, or a mod one in the shape of post mod/requested temp ban. It made interacting withe her extremely hard. I know I've personally been extremely weary of interacting with her in more-than-passing on my main because of the high likelihood of her turning into a claymore mine of abuse that I would not be able to gt rid of again for quite some time.

    (also i am not sure why the @ isn't working for myself....)
    • Agree x 3
  17. Acey

    Acey same old sad soliloquy

    So, re: punitive bans...I genuinely think all of you have excellent points, and I suppose my opinion falls somewhere in the middle. Basically, I have no objection to punitive action within fairly narrow parameters—e.g. “this person’s presence has become actively harmful or dangerous and has consistently been that way for a long time,” as opposed to simply “this person’s actions have done harm” (and there’s a distinction, but I’m having trouble wordsing rn, so I’m probably not explaining it terribly well).

    Basically, I’m more than fine with people who are actively dangerous being banned, but I’m also honestly very glad this forum isn’t super ban-happy as a rule, mainly due to having been on many forums in the past where it was very, very easy to get banned for relatively minor infractions. I will absolutely admit that I can think of maybe one other user who I believe should’ve been banned (Wiwaxia), but on the whole I think the only people who have been banned are the majority of the people I think should’ve been. (I will also say that I agree the Alix shit went on wayyyyy longer than it should’ve, on a lot of levels.)

    I really hope this post makes sense, but that’s my general feelings on the matter.
    • Agree x 1
    • Informative x 1
  18. Ana Nimus

    Ana Nimus Well-Known Member

    I don't think anyone here super wants more bans. its a little frustrating that this conversation always becomes a repeat of "here's the forum principles and why we don't ban except now when we do". I would think that the fact that we're all still here after years of this bullshit, would indicate that we generally agree with the forum's principles and that the problem is more with how they've been implemented.

    Because the whole Alix situation was handled badly repeatedly over the years (esp how the not-Alix people were treated) and went on way too long and harmed way too many people. It would be nice to know that we can learn from past mistakes, handle things better and not let anything become this much of a toxic shitshow in the future. also that if she does come back, that it wont become an indefinite repeat of the same old bullshit
    • Agree x 11
  19. TheSeer

    TheSeer 37 Bright Visionary Crushes The Doubtful

    Well, I hear you that you don't want more bans, Ana, but it's certainly not true that no one wants more bans. I draw your attention to the post immediately above yours, which states a preference for one more ban. There is in fact quite a lot of space between seebs' policy and anything that might be called capricious or unjust over-banning. I'm sure there are a lot of reasonable users who would like a little bit more banning to happen, and who keep believing that even though it's not something they would leave the forum over.

    The forum principles keep coming up every time because every time this conversation happens, people argue for changes based on other, different principles. (And they do that, generally, because those other principles are moral and reasonable principles that most decent people and sites use, like "if you harm too many people we won't let you stay.") I kind of like the ethics of this site, but they are, in fact, deeply weird and counter-intuitive.

    I do agree, though, that there must be some lessons here about how to come to the right decision faster. Seebs said above that the specific pattern of behavior that led to the ban had been going on for a year or more, (as opposed to the abusive behavior generally which is a much older pattern) and a year seems like too long to wait.
    • Agree x 4
  20. Acey

    Acey same old sad soliloquy

    You put it better than me, Seer.
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