Protocol for attempting to defuse pile-ups

Discussion in 'The Undercity' started by Exohedron, May 27, 2015.

  1. Exohedron

    Exohedron Doesn't like words

    There have been and there are and there will be situations in which a particular member says something that sets off a bunch of other members, and those other members then all confront the first member at once, leading to the first member believe that they're being ganged-up on. If a third party believes that this is about to happen, and perhaps believes that all members are trying to act in good faith but everyone is too emotionally invested to carefully read the posts from the other side, what do?
    If there were a roughly even split in opinion, I would say let everyone talk freely, because disagreements are generally good and getting things into the open is generally good. But if there's a disparity in the numbers, and especially if one member finds themself up against a group, then that member is liable to feel unfairly put upon and leave, which is counter to what I perceive to be the philosophy behind the forum.
    On the other hand, I am not reliably capable of defusing arguments. I can make things worse, but making them better is not one of my skills. Should I alert a mod? Should I try my meager abilities at bomb defusing? Should I keep quiet and hope people cool down before we lose a member? Should I attempt a pickle and say something so unhelpful that both sides turn on me, thus bringing about solidarity in the face of an even greater threat?
    • Like x 7
  2. Wiwaxia

    Wiwaxia problematic taxon

    I've got no ideas, but I would like to endorse this general idea.
    • Like x 4
  3. kmoss

    kmoss whoops

    And then there's also the "what if I defuse this but it means that a point doesn't get brought up that could have been useful? how do we turn an argument about a possibly very sensitive topic into a respectful discourse?"
    I would say attempt defusing, but considering that either, in most cases, I have either avoided or joined in, I am not a very reliable source for distancing oneself from one issue to deal with another issue (actually attempting a defuse).
    • Like x 2
  4. a tiny mushroom

    a tiny mushroom the tiniest

    I am The Most Terrified Of Conflict, so I endorse this idea, but it could also lead to certain topics not being discussed properly, like @boyacrossthestreet said, which is not good. Uhh I am not sure how a defusion process would go, but I think it could be good just so people don't feel attacked or unwelcome.
    • Like x 2
  5. kmoss

    kmoss whoops

    maybe we could run it like
    a: nerh nerh nerh nerh nerh
    b: ner ner ner ner ner ner ner
    c: hang on! step back to regroup! *secret code word we can all agree means "I'm worried about people's feelings!"*
    a: "ner ner ner" nerh nerh nerh, but nerh nerh nerh
    b: ner! ner ner ner nerh ner ner. ner ner
    *shake hands*

    #basically we need an ashen hussy #oh god i am so sleepy #i couldn't think of something people would be arguing about so i used nonsense words
    • Like x 3
  6. Exohedron

    Exohedron Doesn't like words

    I think we need at least one of two things. One is a way to get people to temporarily drop a topic so that tempers can cool and emotional distance can be gained. The difficulty is that emotional distance isn't always maintainable, especially on sensitive topics. Having emotional distance at a given moment doesn't mean you won't suddenly get set off again as soon as you reread the posts that set you off the first time. This is at best a stopgap measure.
    The second is a neutral party to act as mediator. The particular issue that prompted me to create this topic now stems largely from a difference in connotations, where the two sides are using a word to mean two very different things. Unfortunately, at least at the time of making this thread, the people involved were too emotionally invested to evaluate that difference as a fact rather than a value judgment, if they noted it at all. A mediator would serve as a translator, while also stripping all the insults and hostility from the words being used by the parties involved. This method suffers from a number of problems, the first being to find a mediator who can be trusted to do this translation. The second being that the parties would needed to be shielded from direct contact. This would probably involve everyone putting their actual posts under spoilers, with only the mediator's posts being unspoilered.

    Both of these are not great solutions, and for general hostile disagreements I think the second one should never be invoked. The first one maybe. But in the specific case of a dogpile on one person, I think we do need a plan in place so that the individual isn't up against an angry mob, regardless of how righteous that anger is.
    • Like x 4
  7. Kaylotta

    Kaylotta Writer Trash

    Agreed. A lot of tough stuff comes up on this forum, and regardless of the majority opinion/belief on any topic this is a place where everyone can be heard and where everything can get put on the table.

    I suspect we may all get better at this with time, depending on the issue, and keeping in hand a large amount of grace for everyone. As we all get to know each other better, we'll all be better at giving each other the benefit of the doubt.

    It's unfortunate that so many of us deal with anxiety/depression/other panic-inducing mental health issues. That really throws wrenches into mediation/calm discussion/etc.

    I would echo the possibility of a drop-everything codeword as an initial salvo, to let everyone take a breather.
    • Like x 1
  8. jacktrash

    jacktrash spherical sockbox

    i am all in favor of voluntary mediators -- and hell, even pulling a pickle sometimes -- but i don't want to create an Official Policy about it. making rules about people's feelings tends to go to really bad places.

    i think our best path here is to trust ourselves and each other. we CAN self-regulate, and we CAN forgive each other when someone hits a nerve or explodes. i've seen it happen a few times. y'all are good people who care about each other. arguments are a normal part of being human. so is making up afterwards.
    • Like x 8
  9. seebs

    seebs Benevolent Dictator

    I don't think we need a specific codeword, so much as general awareness that it's a thing that can be a problem.
    • Like x 5
  10. rorleuaisen

    rorleuaisen Frozen Dreamer

    Did "pulling a pickle" actually become a thing? Is this now an accepted phrase??

    #because that is hilarious and I love it
    • Like x 5
  11. Vacuum Energy

    Vacuum Energy waterwheel on the stream of entropy

    Anyone who's thinking about being a mediator should read 37 Ways That Words Can Be Wrong, I think. (I do not suggest taking EY at face value most of the time but this is a good article.)
  12. AbsenteeLandlady123

    AbsenteeLandlady123 Chronically screaming

    *puts up hand to be an occasional mediator*
  13. Beldaran

    Beldaran 70% abuse and 30% ramen

    I'm an actual mediator, as in I'm trained, certified by the state, and have worked court cases (evictions and small claims), and I'm nooot sure how that would work online. It seems interesting though! I'd totally be up for mediating forum stuff (not like anyone's going to lose their goddamn housing, much less stress than irl mediation) but it seems like people have been able to work out their issues on their own pretty well so far.

    I suppose I could think on it and figure out a simple, informal process for bringing a mediator into an online discussion. Spoiler buttons seem like an alright idea, or if it escalates to a personal thing a chat group of some kind.
    • Like x 3
  14. Lissiel

    Lissiel Dreaming dead

    Wow, i cannot parse that list at all. :|
  15. AbsenteeLandlady123

    AbsenteeLandlady123 Chronically screaming

    Neither could I :c
  16. Beldaran

    Beldaran 70% abuse and 30% ramen

    Okay, so, thinking about these plans.

    1) Time to breathe is good, but it doesn't actually fix anything. If a topic is contentious and someone is feeling attacked or isn't feeling heard then time away is just that, time. What people need in a conflict situation is to be heard, and understood. Perhaps not by the one they're in direct conflict with at first, but by someone. I'd be happy to be that person.

    2) Volunteer mediators seems like a fun idea. I would suggest people volunteering and being invited to a conversation through PM once it becomes contentious. A mediator should not jump into a discussion without invitation, if no one feels like one is needed then they're more likely to stifle things and frustrate people than anything.

    3) Volunteer mediators might want to post... hmmm... not resumes but like, what they feel comfortable with, and what they feel uncomfortable with. For example,
    I'm currently available most of the time because I'm on my computer a LOT.
    Time Zone: EST.
    I am comfortable in all conflict situations, even ones close to my heart.
    My current level of spoons: all the spoons forever.
    My triggers are: nothing.

    I'm sure there is a better way of listing all that, and perhaps some are not needed or other things would be helpful.
    Last edited: May 28, 2015
    • Like x 3
  17. Vacuum Energy

    Vacuum Energy waterwheel on the stream of entropy

    Hmm. I have no idea if there is a simpler way to explain what I just linked. :/ LW is written for the kind of people who consider textbooks light reading.
  18. jacktrash

    jacktrash spherical sockbox

    eh, i read textbooks for fun and i couldn't parse it either. i think it's relying on some context that most of us don't have; it reads to me like an article about fanfiction tropes would to someone who's never read fanfic.
  19. Exohedron

    Exohedron Doesn't like words

    I find it mostly just badly written. It occupies that wonderful niche between "informal enough to be parsable by interested laymen" and "formal enough to stand up to scrutiny". He wants to say something along the lines of "the meanings of words is not objective but comes from the moment-to-moment beliefs, emotional states and intentions of the speaker and the audience", only in the usual EY style of saying it in repetitive, technical ways that end up not having content that can really be put into practice. For instance, he invokes "common usage" several times. Hahaha talk about unexamined.
    Also he jumps between "the vocabulary you use obscures issues" and "the semantic categories you use obscure issues", which are very, very distinct points to make. Which, in the usual EY style, is a great example of the very thing he's trying to teach people to avoid.
  20. Vacuum Energy

    Vacuum Energy waterwheel on the stream of entropy

    Hmm. That's true. I consider LW more like -- hold on, let's take the EY discussion somewhere else. Lemme pop over to Drama and make a thread about that...

    Edit: Right over thataway.
    Last edited: May 28, 2015
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