In all things,the dynamic and flexible social engineering principles, personal autonomy, good sportsmanship and responsible values of rational democratic progress are systematic doubt, hope in the honest embrace of fallibility and tolerance for uncertainty, substantive discourse, debate of disputes, criticism without punishment and no insult taken, free inquiry into problems openly and publicly without fear of punishment, indeed, imagination, open unfounded speculation about different case scenarios pursuant to any number of varied and different proposed measures, without need of conforming or in any way limiting said speculations to any accepted quasi-official position.
The veryvalues and aptitudes ever fostered in brainstorming and fiction writing! And all pursuant to experiment, trial and error, the vital opportunity for all manner of ongoing reevaluation and revision, open ended correction of mistakes and improvement at all levels, piecemeal, that quarrel as such may be needless.
Moderation shall function to promote focus upon agenda and to safeguard free speech from outright abuse.
Q. How is discourse different Online?
A. The question may best be answered first by an examination of the procedures most commonly and traditionally employed:
A "thread" is a sequence of messages beginning from a common ancestor. "Threading" is the ongoing Dialectic process of continually formatting interjected new input into quoted content, in turn, such that iteration, the sequential chronological order of interjected response and hence prior context, is preserved and remains evident at a glance. This helps to facilitate actual conversation in asynchronous text communication, by offering a protocol of ongoing and often meticulous interjected point by point response, into the very body of the text one answers. And this is essential to computer literacy.
Given asynchronous Online Interaction as by the technology of any message posting forum, no one need attend on schedule, rush to respond in time, nor wait to take turns to have the floor in order to reply. The posts are there to browse at one's own convenience, and anyone can reply or interject response at any time without actually interrupting anyone else.
And, even given lag times between response, context can easily be reestablished by a moment's concentration in browsing a back thread, to stay on topic, revisit prior discourse or pursue new tangents, for a new comer to jump right in, or for ongoing participants to refresh their own short term memories, recapture one's own initial response and then reflect to see how it might have changed in the interim and all be well ready to respond.
Several open forums are provided and linked from the varied content of this website, for discussion and collaboration at will.
We will be free, then, from many constraints of real time meetings. Critical and creative processes will have less need of time constraint, and may even run concurrently rather than sequentially.
Asynchronous text communication, however (being, as it is, stripped of the tone, cues and nuance of verbal communication face to face), very much lends itself to egotistical cerebrallity, distance and abstraction, substantive bold conceptualization and even preoccupation and indifference more readily than intimate interpersonal involvement, and most peacefully given intellectual and argumentative norms where just such is the first expectation, hardly noticed and much less misread as hostility and hence with no umbrage taken, relationship, understanding, empathy care and friendship arising in due course, but later, and even the more genuine for it, founded upon self expression met with genuine interest, absent social pretence, bullying and hypersensitivity.
Q. What isthe crucial importance of posting conventions?
A. Quality interactivity online generally still depends upon asynchronous text communication, private or public response to previous private or public messages by others, often excerpted or quoted for context.
The revolutionary quick turn around of electronic asynchronous text communication makes unprecedented actual conversation in typed correspondence possible!
For any in depth exchange orDialectic, a very important aspect of quoting never to be underestimated, is how the quotes should indicate what sections or points of a message that any given remark replies to. Often there may be certain response to some sections or points of a message, and distinct other responses to about other sections or points even of the same message. And it will be crucial to see, readily, which response pertains to which point, in order to make much sense of any of it. And the best way to convey all of this clearly and distinctly, is to quote a little bit, interject some comments, quote some more, and then interject some comments specifically to that as well, and so on. Each answer in turn, follows the same method, and an entire written conversation unfolds, point by point, iteration by iteration.
Quotes should be indicated, automatically, by your email software or service, by a character at the beginning of each line, usually a '>' (greater than) sign or chevron, the right angle bracket or right brocket, in bare plain text, or by a blue bar in html that supports colors, sizes and fonts, etc.. or on some forums, by a range of different indications such as indentation of the text. Thus, with each iteration, another such indicator is added at the beginning of the line, so that chronological order as well as intended sequitur will always be clearly indicated as the conversation proceeds.
These principles of the quoting conventions handed down from Usenet, even back from the days of Arpanet, are still applicable in any mode of asynchronous text communication, electronic forums, message posting boards, list servers, egroups, and email, etc.
PS. Also please always be sure to include citation of the full URL web address, a clickable hyperlink to any discrete materials or resources on the Web as ever comes to be referenced in discussion.
Q.What are the criteria for fiction writing website user participation in the existing partial demo, the open common fiction writing projects Online as listed here?
A. One most fundamental and crucial prerequisite just for Brainstorming and writing collaboration will be the Dialectic willingness to consider even the most outlandish ideas openly, face down the most daunting realities boldly, and exchange even the harshest criticism impersonally.
This online brainstorm is intended as open and ongoing. Just browse the site and bring yourself up to speed. Then pitch or respond. Just give it any thought or effort at all, and stick with it at all...
Q. What is a sufficient level of participation?
A. For what purpose, and to whom?
It can only be hoped that participation will entertain and edify. Thus, for yourself, the answer is, whatever seems conducive your own satisfaction or growth.
But for the sake of others, the answer would be,just follow up your posts. Donít leave others hanging, if there are any questions, comments or ideas, but continually respond and input so as to keep anyone else busy, inspired, entertained, and growing as writers and all that.
And, at your leisure, do browse, review, the back posts, at all, to come up to speed before, (Please! by all means, welcome!) simply jumping right in.
Simply try to hold up your end of the conversation. Stay interested!
After all, there are no home work schedules, assigned critiques, or anything so dire.
Q. What is excessive participation?
A. I am not aware that there can be any such thing as a surfeit of inspiration and productivity! Since when is it a sin for a writer to be prolific? Besides, even sheer quantity of ideas may well be desirable.
In any sort of conference in real time and on any sort on schedule, a chair person may be required to allocate a limited duration for each speaker in turn, one at a time. But this hardly applies to asynchronous communication on a posting forum. So post as much or as little as you care to!
Indeed, a common mistake is for someone in charge insecure and desperate to maintain control, to heavy handedly call for a halt temporarily, pending some imminent essential ground work or crucial presentation. Far clever would be to take the opportunity for a warm up, and actually seek to spur curiosity and speculation to build anticipation! -And then to make best use of all work product, alternative approaches, be they compatible contradictory, as however they may arise.
Creativity, alas, always runs the risk of incurring jealousy. But that can be a good thing when that promotes competition and fun. And that should be the motivating goal put forth...
Each participant is only requested to endeavor to be responsive to others making the effort to keep up, by providing explanation and clarification as needed by their fellow participants in collaborative Brainstorming.
Always, no sulking, whining or flaming! And follow up your posts.
This will also facilitate ongoing refinement and improvement of story ideas or other options and solutions, depending upon the context, and as the case may be.
Q. But isn't the real benefit and motivation behind many ostensibly goal oriented interactions principally just social, and just to get along?
And the answer may be, whatever maximizes real acceptance of each individual.
And that is precisely why it may be advantageous and more tolerant to impersonally regard opinions, ideas and arguments as expendable rather than as tender, fragile and vulnerable extensions of the person, and to encourage the reasoned attack and defense of ideas rather than quarrel and personal animosity.
People drawn together by affinity to a cause or action may as a byproduct or even of operational necessity, even grow close. And creative challenge can be fun and convivial.
But all of that is lost by accepting heavy handed control, and conformist relationship in such context tends to be shallow, irregardless any mawkish pretence to the contrary.
Generally, statements with supporting arguments and evidencemay be more useful than assertions arbitrarily. In particular, real critique, as applicable, only means, rather than simply gushing praise or spewing venom, detailing just how and why the work succeeds or fails, mercilessly spelling out how and why the work in question either sucks or rocks! -Supporting any whatever evaluation with analysis.
This may be a more intelligent solution to whatever problems or concerns of social and interpersonal disharmony, than, instead, leaving the opinionated and creative individual expendable to the greater consensus, and therefore threatened to live in fear of rejection and castigation, guilt ridden, daring never to think for themselves, much less to speak their own minds; and all just for the dubious privilege of "getting along".
Thus good sportsmanship and personal confidence, eschewing personal attack, flaming, hypersensitivity and undue hostility, may be the lesser sacrifice than freedom and honesty, for the maximum benefit to human social needs.
After all, the better and more flexible individual impulse formation and control, the less rigidity and structure will be needed externally, socially. After all, what is responsibility save for the ability and willingness to respond instead of just bitching and sulking?
Typical support groups are as phony and empty as cybersex! Warmth can never be faked or forced. Particularly in the context of interaction by text communication, stripped of the nuances of speech, not to mention visible and palpable presence. But, especially in such a dry medium best suited to the prosaic discourse of ideas and commentary, the love of doing something for it's own sake, the challenge of the written word, can be shared, deliberately. And instantaneously as never before.
Online, any deeper and feeling attachment tends to grow from contact in some other context. And the best for quality attachments down the line, if it is a community where individual talent can shine and grow, rather than one where one may fear to find oneself castigated for Politically Incorrect "insensitivity" unless one metaphorically walks on proverbial egg shells all the time.
The problem is that it takes so little distortion to cloud and confuse the
issue, even from sound advice. So, even a good recommendation on how to couch a
criticism in clarity, tact or any other virtue (at least if there is
any receptivity at all) badly performed easily becomes just mealy mouthed.
Worse, all too often, when such a recommendation is seen as a commandment, the most vicious and controlling bogus touchy-feely hypersensitivity is suddenly vindicated and simple truthfulness becomes punishable.
That is why it is so important to take a stand and grasp the nettle, by education, counterpropaganda, openly fostering, inculcating, cultivating, encouraging and training people in the minimal awareness and self discipline required for the impersonal exchange of even the harshest criticism without apology.
Then improvement in clarity, even artful tact, may follow.
If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.
Q. What is and is not within bounds?
A. These are forums of free speech and thought.
Outlandish and even tasteless notions may often prove important points of departure in Brainstorming, unless quashed by regrettable squeamishness. Indeed, sensitive topics are often crucial in fiction, such freedom of expression being crucial in the arts; but only so long as we are all vigilant in the protection of such precious liberties. Moreover, personal experiences and tribulations that may be harsh and upsetting are often deeply important both to the individual and in confronting wider social issues realistically, but only so long as there is cultivated an abiding and genuine interest, even beyond just polite sympathy.
No one can be compelled to work outside of whatever their own comfort zone. However, restriction upon anyone else, however vigorous, in any measure what so ever, in the name of or for the sake of the sensibilities or convenience of another person, is a separate question entirely, demanding no small degree of care. No matter inevitable personality conflict on any level.
One possibility, if such is appropriate and should the need arise, may be, purely as a voluntary courtesy, to tag posts, even in the title headers, for profanity, blasphemy, "mature content", tasteless humor, potentially upsetting personal revelation or sensitive subject matter of any kind whatsoever, purpose defeating as all such caution may be! Warning labels of this kind politely but firmly reinforce read at your own risk caveats of free speech protection against the censorship of emotional blackmail and peer pressure.
As ever desired, all may browse these FAQ for further exposition of the role of moderator, in steering clear of actual censorship, even while thwarting flamers and whiners. Also in height and breadth, the full range and scope of fiction writing subject matter and technique.
Lively discussion and debate all of which is certainly encouraged.
Affirmation is neither a given nor owed, and should not be extorted, neither individually nor societally. Such misconception presses tact into outright dishonesty and waters down truthfulness.
The the truer and deeper affirmation comes from genuine interest, honesty and pertinent response. Empty flattery is no less venial and shallow than abuse.
How to Be a Good Critiquer and Still Remain Friends
Given that disagreement is inevitable in any sort of free society, clearly the response of argument/debate/polemic, be it as a hobby, a crusade or even a compulsion outright, may be more productive than habitual retreat or evasion, and is certainly not so destructive as the knee-jerk response of taking insult, indulging hurt feelings and even Sadism, in turn motivating castigation and ostracism of dissidents as the key focus of an emotionally insecure fear motivated "unit cohesion" in whatever untrustworthy peer group or social circle.
In other words, only liars and bad people never like to argue. Because confident, honest and nice people may even want to hear others out, even with whom they disagree, and then offer some manner of explanatory cogent response as to why they may even still disagree should they remain unconvinced.
This entire range of response is not innate, but learned. And this suggests that each of us has a choice in the matter, and thus participate in a personal drama with the outcome in doubt. -And that the intellectual response ought to be included in one's personal repertoire simply to enable the taking of criticism without ulterior motive in the spirit intended. -And also, just in case otherwise, for ignoring ulterior motive no matter how blatant in order frustrate any such childish provocation by playing dumb with a perfectly good straight answer.
Because bullying bad faith doesn't deserve satisfaction any more than sincerity deserves suspicion and acrimony. But this goes to subtext albeit in real life!) as well as conduct and moderation on these forums.
Q. What are the duties of the forum moderator?
A. Freedom of speech is too precious to abridge. Therefore any limitations imposed for the sake of moderation must be minimal, clear and distinct.
IfCivility of the Online community does not regulate itself without moderator intervention, the role of the forum moderator must be to stop any and all bullying, to extinguish flame, puncture whining, invalidate sulking, and to diffuse and disrupt devious consensus manipulation and the extortion of affirmation!
Also, as de facto chairperson, another task of the forum moderator is simply to organize forums and topics by subject and content in some useful manner. To encourage conversation at all to the point.
No more and no less.
Ishall be neither paltry trifling censor nor overbearing heavy-handed forum Nanny! Because I hope not to be gulled into any such tiresome intrigues behind the scenes. I aim to keep things open and on the up-and-up. And I am always cognizant that it takes far better justification simply than anyone's outraged tender injured feelings to truly justify the application of moderator powers for intervention.
Moreover, I intend to be involved and to participate in discourse and creative projects myself.
In case of complaints of any sort, some genuine attempt at due process ought to precede whatever sort of action in response. After all, justice is more important than convenience. And Points of Order, including such as regards pertinence to topic and so forth, can always be made openly, without conniving biased dishonest cowardly ex parte peer pressure and off forum conspiracies of silence.
Yea, verily, I am the Tireless Rebutter, utter social retardation guaranteed, the ideal moderator, with no patience what so ever for ulterior agendas and conditionality.
In brief, the guide lines here suggested are simply to post messages and responses, consisting, as however they may, of text, document or other attachments, images and/or URL hyperlinks (prefaced or not, as need be, unless thought self explanatory) at all on topic including or following up with cogent details and pertinent explanation as ever called upon as needed or helpful, and without passive-hostile sulking, flaming, trolling or Ad Hominem. And never to take umbrage at anything other than flaming or Ad Hominem nor to impugn motive of statements as a diversion from any actual question of their own validity.
Because statements are both speaker and mode independent, and must stand or fall on their own merits.
Without any need of mealy-mouthed apology or inane mollifying preamble, neither to water down simple honesty nor to sweeten and shield duplicitous poison, thus the full range of possible content of free speech, questions, explanations, criticism, argumentative support, refutation, hypotheses, notions, suggestions and observations, be they favorable, unfavorable, heterodox, dissident, neutral straight forward statement or more impassioned exhortation, remains open and protected.
The minimum sufficient Social Contract.
After all, we can be well instructed by Gandhian conflict techniques that are Dialectic, taking specific steps to control the usual dynamics of conflict escalation so typical of flaming. Conflicts, Online or Offline, typically escalate by broadening and bringing in new issues, by shifting from disagreement to personal antagonism, by secrecy and its attendant misinformation, by vicious cycles of response, and by the supplanting the lead given by more moderate and civil participants with that of opportunistic extremist agitators, bullies and flamers.
Gandhi stressed focus on single well-defined issue, though each issue had direct bearing on the larger, more fundamental questions. The Gandhian model stressed maintaining personal relations with the opponents, and separating persons from issues.
In other words, satyagraha ("insistence upon truth"), plainly demands topic pertinence and rules out Ad Hominem.
Q. What is flaming?
Q. But what about [fun, joy, nurture, spirituality, fluffy bunnies]? Surely, there must be more to life than your damn aloof Vulcan Ethics! !
A. Yes, but only after cutting through the conditional underhanded bullshit. Not by swimming in it! There can be no other values without truthfulness first.
Q. Just what is so wrong with tactful sensitivity to the feelings of others?
A. Indeed, truly, such are great virtues, but no less than courage, plain speaking, the benefit of the doubt and self-knowledge. In short, virtues cannot be mandated, only striven for. And what is wrong is touchy-feely tyrannical emotional blackmail, moralistic flaming and censorship, which never really make for any sort of safe haven, no matter what. That is why pertinent free speech must be defended and flaming extinguished.
Actually pressing for, mandating, expecting tactful sensitivity to the feelings of others, very often only very easily raises the danger of ultimately eliciting a restraint that is only fear-based and rigid, killing the spontaneity of genuine compassion along with any other harsher blunt truthfulness.
True kindness cannot be extorted, only conditionality and saccharine sweetness.
Q. What is unacceptable?
A. Flaming is unacceptable!
Flaming is a hostile act of abusive information warfare aiming at decreasing signal to noise. Flaming is hostility sans content or relevance. Flaming is inflammatory, vicious, gratuitously nasty, malicious, spiteful diatribe for the infliction of distress. The provocations of flaming seeks engagement only to corrupt discourse towards that Sadistic end and to subvert topic.
Irrelevant invective derision and provocation or even explicit threats, generally sans pertinent content, are not appropriate, nor is the other extreme, touchy-feely Borg collectivity and brown nosing, replete with humorless calculating over sensitivity, Paranoid "reading between the lines" or impugning intentions, bogus innocence abused, pointless picayune irritability, off topic trivial peeves, prudery, anal Netiquette, peer pressure, not to mention such classic cat-and-mouse maneuvers as flame baiting, which is the provocation of any off the cuff retort or perfectly ingenuous expression of irritation as any excuse for subsequently lashing out, flaming, whining, sulking, even censure or sanction.
And this also applies to passive hostility, as in stubborn non response or stonewalling against protest and/or the voicing of begged questions and even points of order. Indeed, on these forums, assent by persistent silence can then be assumed and thus sullen protest by silence dismissed. Only flaming itself deserves the cold shoulder.
No accommodation need be offered neither for abuse nor for calculating manipulative false fragility or grudge collecting, what so ever! For serious people with any sense of purpose what so ever, etiquette must advance the task, not the other way around. Itís all about freedom of speech, even to tell others that which they might not like to hear, while cleaving to fair play and good sportsmanship. Donít make it personal, and donít take it personal. And let the same standard apply to all, equally.
Originality and quality are sought after. Candid brutal honesty in cogent detail is always encouraged. But never personal attack.
To stir the pot, but only, somehow, with a sequitur spoon!
For such, indeed, is the Vulcan way.
So, please, let's all save the drama for such creative endeavor where it is actually needed!
nevertheless, whom so likes any proposal or undertaking the least, may still, not despite that, but because of it, offer the greatest contribution to improving things. Negative enthusiasm is still enthusiasm, not to be wasted.
Even heated debates need not be unfriendly, but, rather, indeed more intense and thus more fun, and, often, the more productive.
However, any comment, criticism, advice, or any sort of review (be it rave or pan) to be of much use and better than arbitrary, can always seek, if at all possible, to actually be pertinent and reasoned as well as merely superficially statement on topic. That is, to be of any cogent detail and somehow explanatory, initially or upon subsequent request, so as to be at all useful, debatable and evaluated openly in response.
In particular, complaints or demands deliberately devoid of pertinent detail or explanation and then followed by willful non response stonewalling all clarification requests, are not reasonable and should not be persuasive. This goes especially for such manipulations as unjust and unwarranted touchy-feely guilt-tripping and flagrant emotional blackmail simply branding anything someone else says or does as hurtful, regardless of context, intent, meaning, truth value, pertinence or appropriateness thereof.
Q.Is whatever sheer pigheadedness ever within bounds?
A. Yes, necessarily, being as how we are all merely human and fallible. Indeed, far from censorship or shunning ostracism, it comes only in the spirit of free speech, actually to engage even the most strident cocksure, foolish and intellectually dishonest in whatever discourse, so long as they remain pertinent to topic, or at least, do not engage in flaming outright.
But, why, so often in Online forums, does everyone else seem to just fall silent on any and every other ongoing topic, whenever some jackass brays? Can we not, at the same time, all shoulder at least so much responsibility as simply to continue to conduct whatever other business, to continue whatever other discussion, regardless? On these forums, participants are so requested, explicitly, in any such event. Why be so easily intimidated into silence or distraction by someone who might probably well not even mean to? -Or, worse, to become their deferential puppets, so easily manipulated and offering no resistance, if they do deliberately mean to...
Copyright 2001 - 2010 by Aaron Agassi