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  1. #1
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    Why Are There So Few Women On RPS?

    Soldant took thread offtopic in a record two posts...
    Last edited by MoLAoS; 14-09-2013 at 02:18 AM.

  2. #2
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Nalano's Avatar
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    That is the last time I PM you for advice, MoLAoS.

    Now that you've jumped the gun, maybe I can make a more coherent argument.

    There have never been more than three concurrent female posters on the RPS forum. This is despite the fact that the demographics of video gamers almost exactly matches general demographics. As previous threads on this subforum have alluded, I believe the problem is a cultural hostility to a female presence in games and gaming.

    We've seen it in the threads about women in gaming: Pseudo-biological, pseudo-psychiatric and pseudo-philosophic arguments and musings as to the workings of female logic, of female physicality, of female competitiveness, and of female intellectualism, simply to argue not only against female presence in gaming subculture, but even against the depiction of women in the fantasy narrative of gaming itself.

    The blog's response to such topics has been to ban the people responsible for such talk and to forbid the discussion overall. This has only served to move the discussion and those people to the forums. This, I believe, has contributed to the atmosphere responsible for the abandonment of this forum by women overall, with the exception of a few diehards who have either fought strongly to present their viewpoint or avoided the discussion altogether.

    I believe that the current policy - to review posts that have been flagged for deletion and banishment - is a reactive one when we need a proactive one, as we simply cannot afford to have this overbearing bias of viewpoint continue to color the forums and the site overall. We need to attract women, and the way to do so is to prove that this is not a hostile community against women.

    Thus, I ask that the discussions that have recently been blocked be re-opened in this thread in order to come to an amenable conclusion to this issue.
    Last edited by Nalano; 14-09-2013 at 01:47 AM.
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  3. #3
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus soldant's Avatar
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    EDIT: These lines originally appeared in the OP, but MoLAoS wiped them because I'm a bad person or something.

    Quote Originally Posted by MoLAoS View Post
    RPS suffers relative to gaming/geekdom due to its narrow focus on historically male dominated genres.
    No, it doesn't. If anything it's the opposite. AAA games (which are traditionally the more 'male-dominated' games, or at least popular with male teens who think 'Make me a sandwich' is still funny) are almost actively derided here on the forums and sometimes on RPS itself, while indie games frequently get the opposite treatment. Rather it's worth noting (as pointed out by Anita S. in her last Tropes v Women video) that the indie sector isn't doing much better than the AAA sector when it comes to women in gaming. If RPS suffers from a 'narrow focus' then it might be symptomatic of the gaming sector. Attempting to 'change the focus of RPS' if that's what you suggest is a nebulous and pointless goal.

    Quote Originally Posted by MoLAoS View Post
    RPS has a community that allows for membership of various unpleasant people.
    RPS lacks copious and consistent moderation.
    On the contrary, plenty of people get banned. Hard-line moderator approaches are a sure-fire way to kill a forum or (to borrow a phrase from Nalano) turn it into a hugbox of consensus. Forums are for discussion, and sometimes the metric people like to apply is "Does this person agree with me?" when it comes to determining if someone is 'being excellent'. Fortunately Jim at least seems to understand when actual moderation is required. By all means crucify the hateful but if your goal is for universal consensus then RPS is going to be really goddamn boring. I come here to discuss things. Do I agree with Nalano on everything? No. Nor should there be any requirement to do so. If there's no malice in a post it shouldn't be moderated.


    This post comes of a little passive-aggressive with references to 'some people' but that's how I feel about the entire thing. The only people who can tell us why females don't post are females on RPS - otherwise you're just speculating. But claiming RPS has a narrow focus seems fairly ridiculous to me - it's a PC gaming site, exactly what did you expect?
    Last edited by soldant; 14-09-2013 at 03:14 AM. Reason: I preserve the archives for the future of the nation.
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  4. #4
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Kadayi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nalano View Post
    That is the last time I PM you for advice, MoLAoS.

    Now that you've jumped the gun, maybe I can make a more coherent argument.

    There have never been more than three concurrent female posters on the RPS forum. This is despite the fact that the demographics of video gamers almost exactly matches general demographics. As previous threads on this subforum have alluded, I believe the problem is a cultural hostility to a female presence in games and gaming.

    We've seen it in the threads about women in gaming: Pseudo-biological, pseudo-psychiatric and pseudo-philosophic arguments and musings as to the workings of female logic, of female physicality, of female competitiveness, and of female intellectualism, simply to argue not only against female presence in gaming subculture, but even against the depiction of women in the fantasy narrative of gaming itself.

    The blog's response to such topics has been to ban the people responsible for such talk and to forbid the discussion overall. This has only served to move the discussion and those people to the forums. This, I believe, has contributed to the atmosphere responsible for the abandonment of this forum by women overall, with the exception of a few diehards who have either fought strongly to present their viewpoint or avoided the discussion altogether.

    I believe that the current policy - to review posts that have been flagged for deletion and banishment - is a reactive one when we need a proactive one, as we simply cannot afford to have this overbearing bias of viewpoint continue to color the forums and the site overall. We need to attract women, and the way to do so is to prove that this is not a hostile community against women.

    Thus, I ask that the discussions that have recently been blocked be re-opened in this thread in order to come to an amenable conclusion to this issue.
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  5. #5
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    So, here's my take on it. I know 2 groups of women who don't post here.

    1) Women who, like most players of videogames, don't post on any videogames forum, just like most men don't. They're obviously not who we're talking about here, but I'm familiar enough with the game to know that if I don't mention their existence first, someone else will like a gotcha.

    2) Women who aren't interested in putting up with the shit. Not just on RPS but across every public server, on every game, wherever 'interaction with the community' (read: belittling roulette, where sometimes people just shit on you for no reason (or rather, the same reasons every time: women can't play videogames. shouldn't you be in the kitchen? Women are casuals. Go make me a sandwich. I'm not playing with a girl. Go make me a sandwich. Who let the girl play? How do you reach the keyboard from the kitchen? Votekick. (I am, to nest the brackets further, actually filtering the shit we get here))) is unavoidable. We play games like L4D2 or TF2 or whatever else you care to mention (I used to be partial to Q3A back in ye olde days), but generally it's private games, or when we go on public servers, usually mute the mic. Often, we stick to chatting about upcoming releases and whatnot with our friends, who we've already vetted aren't assholes - heaven forfend you do it on twitter, or tumblr, or whatever, because that's basically an open invitation for a moron to wander in and froth at the mouth about how we're over-reacting (or, speaking.) We eyeroll at trailers and console ourselves that at least [female character of choice] isn't wearing heels and a cheesewire thong, even if most of her dialogue is awful. We talk about missed opportunities, wasted story arcs and how it really sucked to grind a dungeon for hours in warcraft only to find the cool armour that on a male is a badass plate chestpiece, and on our character, magically transmutes into a boob tube with an exposed belly, or, you know, how it's super cool how GW2 actually has openly gay characters, but 90% of the armour you can get as a female character is just obnoxious fanservice (but at least male mesmers look just as ridiculous.) And the reason we don't do this on RPS* or any other forums is because frankly, we could do without the stampede of mansplaining apologists telling us how our opinions don't count and - he asked his girlfriend - she wouldn't play these games if she couldn't make an overly made up and implausibly dressed sexy warrior princess anyway. See, the problem isn't just the arseholes. And make no mistake, they are the problem. It's the handwringing people who make excuses for why our culture is what it is, and how it's silly to try and change it, and how it's always been like this and boys will be boys and it's just good business and demographics and I could go on. But this sort of smokescreen of bullshit mounts up too, and it prompts the question: why bother? I genuinely don't know for certain why I'm here. Inertia and bloody-mindedness as much as the fact that I quite like a few people here, I imagine.




    OK so the real reason I've largely been avoiding these threads is that I realise I am one of RPS's 'Women Posters' which is a title that although largely meaningless still feels that it's put a sort of pressure on me, because if I'm not erudite, witty, persuasive, charismatic, and effortlessly articulate, (and I am all of those things, but largely by accident and rarely in parallel) I end up selling 'my side' short. So I usually don't.

    *highlighted for when I actually get to the point

  6. #6
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus soldant's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MoLAoS View Post
    Soldant took thread offtopic in a record two posts...
    This is exactly what I mean - I just responded to your assertions and now I'm an enemy of the state because I dared to disagree with your thoughts. All I said was:
    - The idea that RPS is 'too narrow' is largely a symptom of PC gaming.
    - 'Copious and consistent moderation' isn't likely to lead to whatever outcome you're proposing.

    Why go wipe your post and throw up your hands just because someone disagrees with you?
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    Quote Originally Posted by soldant View Post
    This is exactly what I mean - I just responded to your assertions and now I'm an enemy of the state because I dared to disagree with your thoughts. All I said was:
    - The idea that RPS is 'too narrow' is largely a symptom of PC gaming.
    - 'Copious and consistent moderation' isn't likely to lead to whatever outcome you're proposing.

    Why go wipe your post and throw up your hands just because someone disagrees with you?
    I specifically said in the OP, don't respond to other peoples' posts, just answer the question. So yes, "responding to my assertions" is being off topic.

  8. #8
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Nalano's Avatar
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    He wiped his post because I told him to.

    Quote Originally Posted by soldant View Post
    - The idea that RPS is 'too narrow' is largely a symptom of PC gaming.
    All the more reason to pose the question here, as we at RPS are large enough to embody the issue and small enough to do something about it. I'm posing this question because I honestly wish to work out just what that something is.

    You know my original position on the subject. You know what I proposed after the rejection of that stance. The problem yet remains, and it is a major problem. I make no further proposals, because whatever comes must be a communal effort. Thus, I ask you now what we can do about it.
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  9. #9
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus gwathdring's Avatar
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    I'm processing and don't have anything particular to add as yet, but I wanted to thank Nalano and Serengoose for their posts thus far. This thread is A Good Thing.
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  10. #10
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus soldant's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MoLAoS View Post
    I specifically said in the OP, don't respond to other peoples' posts, just answer the question. So yes, "responding to my assertions" is being off topic.
    This may come as a surprise, but I don't have to explicitly follow your directions. I wasn't aware that discussion is banned.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nalano View Post
    All the more reason to pose the question here, as we at RPS are large enough to embody the issue and small enough to do something about it. I'm posing this question because I honestly wish to work out just what that something is.
    That's fine, but blaming RPS is hardly productive when it's clear the issue lies with PC gaming itself (perhaps just gaming in general). I don't have any suggestions, largely because we're talking about attitudinal shifts which are difficult to accomplish long term, let alone short term. It's a bit like asking people not to drive dangerously - whatever messages you get out you're still going to battle against ingrained attitudes which don't change quickly. There are unfortunately going to be people who find misogyny amusing. Apart from outright bannings, which may contain it but never solve it, I don't know what more you can do. I ask you - how does one change attitudes? As in cause real change, not the throw-away ad campaigns or attempted shaming, which are entirely ineffective.
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  11. #11
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Faldrath's Avatar
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    I guess the key point is what Nalano just posted: RPS can do something about it. Serenegoose and others have pointed out that, in general, RPS is as unwelcoming to women as most gaming sites on the internet. That's to be expected, since that's the "normal" configuration we find in society.

    But RPS as a site was founded, among other things, to foster intelligent discussion about PC gaming (and in that it was largely successful). The forum followed suit - it's one of the best places on the internet to discuss PC gaming with like-minded and usually insightful people.

    I personally interpret RPS' more or less recent move towards also discussing the relationship of gaming in general with society as something to be expected. I don't want to veer the argument towards the old "analogies with other art/cultural forms", but, well, that's what happened to pretty much all criticism of other art/cultural forms. They start as something self-contained and eventually spread out to investigate the relationships with society at large. This never happens without resistance from people who say that this new sort of analysis is "not needed", that it "dilutes" the subject, etc.

    So as RPS starts to poke under the carpet, all this stuff starts coming out. They chose a focus, and that focus disturbs people who are used to the status quo and react just like the "self-contained" critics usually do: they complain a lot. Only, since this is the internet and they don't risk getting punched/expelled from academia/etc., they do so much more vociferously.

    All this to say that while RPS the blog still struggles with this change but has at least made significant steps towards it, RPS the forums is lagging behind badly. Again, this is to be expected - forum members tend to be more established than blog commenters, so the forum creates a "way of life" and people react when they feel it's "threatened". And this is the problem we've been trying to figure out.

    I think RPS the forum would be a more interesting place if it were a more inclusive one. And we could make it happen. It takes some effort, but it certainly can be done. Saying "nah, that's just how the internet is" is lazy, is dangerous, is offensive to the people excluded and even to the "spirit" of the blog, if I can use that. Perhaps we can't change the internet, but we can change RPS.

    Note that being "more inclusive" is tied with the issue discussed in one of the locked threads: being a tolerant place does not mean tolerating intolerance. This is the point that people usually try to undermine, but it can't be undermined if this is to work. And it should, obviously, be "more inclusive" in a way related to RPS the blog - so, inclusive of progressive, socially liberal ideas.

    It's definitely worth a try.
    Last edited by Faldrath; 14-09-2013 at 04:08 AM. Reason: grammar

  12. #12
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Nalano's Avatar
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    The issue lies with PC Gaming itself but RPS is a part of that subculture, and the RPS forum is an entity in which I personally comprise almost 3%. Hence we are not without influence.

    Quote Originally Posted by soldant View Post
    I ask you - how does one change attitudes? As in cause real change, not the throw-away ad campaigns or attempted shaming, which are entirely ineffective.
    You know my answer: By self-policing. By doing what Political Correctness attempted to do: Making sure that under no circumstances can those who hold such views make such comments without immediately being called on them. Bigoted jokes happen because there's an audience for them, but no comedian would ever complete a set if every joke caused somebody to stand up and say, "that's wrong." Bigoted comments will be said but refuting them should not be solely the job of those they attack: That should be the job of everybody without exception.

    I yell and I curse and I call people a wide variety of names but I would not need to do so if everybody, and that includes you, stood up and castigated the true offender immediately after his offense. Public censure is a thing, and it can and must be utilized. That includes you. I cannot stress this enough, that includes you. And if you make a comment that is such - which can and likely will happen, considering our forum right now, and the fact that we are imperfect people - the best you can do when called on it is say "I was wrong, and I will not say such again."

    The thing about public censure is that, if you have a critical mass of active participants, it sustains itself. If you truly want this place to transform, you will contribute to that critical mass. But, as I said, it is a communal effort. Not a universal effort - not by far - but enough.
    Last edited by Nalano; 14-09-2013 at 04:16 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by soldant View Post
    This may come as a surprise, but I don't have to explicitly follow your directions. I wasn't aware that discussion is banned.
    You don't HAVE to do what I request. You COULD decide to be an asshole instead.


    On topic, Faldrath is correct. RPS is small enough that a concerted effort could effect change. Serene and Nalano posted things pretty much in line with the responses I got when I asked about this on forums that have more women as to why some forums have women and some don't.

    The consensus on what to do was split between extremely heavy moderation and free reign to shout down bigots. Unfortunately there aren't many posters here willing to go either of those routes because they are worried about their precious freeze peach.

  14. #14
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus gwathdring's Avatar
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    I ask you - how does one change attitudes? As in cause real change, not the throw-away ad campaigns or attempted shaming, which are entirely ineffective.
    Generically, by exposing them to different viewpoints, providing education to overcome mis- and missing information, and making it clear that and why certain behaviors and attitudes are incompatible with a properly functioning community. Also through shaming as enforced by the social hierarchy ... which is difficult to achieve when you're trying to subvert the present social hierarchy--authority is an essential part of shaming as a successful behavior modifier.

    More practically ... that's tough. Because it's clear that just broaching the topic, opening it up for discussion, and hoping for the best (WvT) in an environment already substantially affected by negative attitudes and trying to put out all the resulting fires and educate everyone doesn't work. It makes people feel unsafe by bringing out all those negative attitudes and making them quite clear. In some communities it also reveals that those negative attitudes are ultimately in control rendering proactive discussion that much harder though I'm not convinced that's the case here. Another obvious move would be to address the variety of viewpoints issue head-on--if we want to include a broader group of people in this forum, we need outreach programs. But without being able to guarantee that this community is a safe space--even if it's safe relative to many other communities--recruitment of women who shy away from these types of boards becomes very difficult. It's a self-perpetuating problem.

    If we could somehow create a safe space--a new sub-forum, or the PC Gaming Discussion forum or what-have-you--that was carefully (and crucially) rapidly monitored for anything even remotely problematic ... we could start to solve the problem of varied perspective and exposure that would make open discussion less toxic in less protected spaces. Having a political/social sub-forum would also probably help as it gives mods an additional weapon to make it easier to eradicate problems--save it for the other sub-forums, kids. But in any case, creating even one safe-space is best done from the get-go rather than as a retrofit and we'd want to do it without simply boxing all the new voices together in a locked room (i.e. we want to do it in a sub-forum that would otherwise have been needed and that can be sensibly policed more heavily than other forums ... i.e. not a political discussion sub-forum); further doing this requires getting the community on-board with a sub-forum in which what will assuredly be denounced as cancerous, vile, suffocating "political correctness" is enforced. It's not clear exactly how practical this tack is because I don't see a lot of people biting.

    But if we really want to fix this, I think we need to focus on making at least on board on this forum a total, 100% safe place. PC Gaming Discussion seems like our best bet other than it being a long-established entity. It even has an appropriate title. The only ways to do that are tireless, heavy moderation and tireless public censure as MoLAoS and Nalano pointed out. I maintain that free-wheeling insults could make matters worse and run counter to creating a total, 100% safe place, but in any case we need a sub-forum (or a whole new forum, but that's a pipe dream) where this stuff gets hit fast and hard and simply isn't permitted no matter how mild. Until then, we're not going to be able to recruit more female posters because we can't guarantee this place is any different.
    Last edited by gwathdring; 14-09-2013 at 04:42 AM.
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    I was wondering about a method for rapid removal of problematic content. On another forum I use that has somewhat unique goals, there is a system where regular posters with a certain number of posts, among other requirements, are able to "white out" portions of posts containing problematic content. This allows for situations where mods simply aren't able to respond fast enough being less of an issue.

    Then mods come in as soon as they can and deal with the problem more permanently. This is relatively easy to police since posters with enough posts to do this are pretty invested in the community and don't want to be banned for abusing the privilege. "White out" can be removed easily if someone did it maliciously and people who try to do that shit are banned pretty quickly.

    Of course this is a forum with lots of experimental features that can cooperate with White Out and a rather unique demographic.

    But that sort of low level community policing takes a lot of work off a volunteer moderating staff's shoulders and allows a much faster response to issues than even reporting does.

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    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Nalano's Avatar
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    I don't believe in censoring, I believe in censuring, and for that you don't need special mod tools.
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    Secondary Hivemind Nexus soldant's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MoLAoS View Post
    Unfortunately there aren't many posters here willing to go either of those routes because they are worried about their precious freeze peach.
    Alternatively, shouting down the bigots breaks the 'be excellent' rule?
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    Secondary Hivemind Nexus gwathdring's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nalano View Post
    I don't believe in censoring, I believe in censuring, and for that you don't need special mod tools.
    Depends on if you can still read a whited-out comment/post/word. If it functioned kinda like a fancy spoiler tag, it would have a similar effect. Anyone could still read it if they wanted, but it would be rendered very clear that the post's contents were not simply objectionable or disagreed with but utterly unwelcome. I don't know how feasible that kind of a system is for this forum, but I think it's certainly a very elegant solution. It does straddle the line between censure and censorship, but I think it's ultimately appropriate. In the context of what we're discussing--making it clear certain attitudes are unwelcome--that line is more a matter of transparency than anything else.
    I think of [the Internet] as a grisly raw steak laid out on a porcelain benchtop in the sun, covered in chocolate hazelnut sauce. In the background plays Stardustís Music Sounds Better With You. Thereís lots of fog. --tomeoftom

    You ruined his point by putting it in context thatís cheating -bull0

  19. #19
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Nalano's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by soldant View Post
    Alternatively, shouting down the bigots breaks the 'be excellent' rule?
    The very point of being here is finding the solution, not reiterating the status quo.

    Quote Originally Posted by gwathdring View Post
    I don't know how feasible that kind of a system is for this forum, but I think it's certainly a very elegant solution.
    I want them to own and recant their offensive statements, not have their posts be whitewashed. I also don't want a republic of prolific posters to rule the roost: This is everybody's game, and everybody's responsibility.
    Last edited by Nalano; 14-09-2013 at 04:40 AM.
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  20. #20
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus gwathdring's Avatar
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    I want them to own and recant their offensive statements, not have their posts be whitewashed. I also don't want a republic of prolific posters to rule the roost: This is everybody's game, and everybody's responsibility.
    Hmm. Good points.
    I think of [the Internet] as a grisly raw steak laid out on a porcelain benchtop in the sun, covered in chocolate hazelnut sauce. In the background plays Stardustís Music Sounds Better With You. Thereís lots of fog. --tomeoftom

    You ruined his point by putting it in context thatís cheating -bull0

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