Today was the first time I found a comment of mine flagged as "not constructive by the community".
This irked me a little bit, since I see myself as rather inclusive, yet strong-minded and fair.
Don't worry, this post will go a little bit deeper into the topic, just bear with me for a second.
Now I'm quite sure a user has no way to "negatively impact" someone else on here, except for submitting a hard report.
So here is the question, where does this come from?
It says it right there on the tin, "by the community", even if there is no voting system on comments.
So it must have been a report, right? Let's follow this chain a little deeper.
If you want to submit a report, you'll get a handful of categories to describe the issue:
- Rude or vulgar
- Harassment or hate speech
- Spam or copyright issue
- Inappropriate listings message/category
This seems like a solid selection, except for "rude or vulgar" and the obvious "other".
Rude is an attribute that is solely subjective to the receiver.
Speaking from experience, being a typical franconian german, being direct without any sugarcoating is more often than not perceived by people as being rude.
Personally, I think it's quite flattering if someone tells me straight how it is. If you don't like something, say it. Beating around the bush gives leeway to misinterpretation. Misinterpretation again escalates situations even further.
So this, in my humble opinion, is a problem.
The Other category seems to be just another catchall for We are not sure where it fits, but want to reserve judgement, which is perfectly fine.
That out of the way, let's get into the topic of the title.
I've been on DEV for a bit over 3 years now, and most of the time I've been quiet.
I read a lot of controversial topics on here, especially when the US launches yet another political outrage party. Let's be honest, something that happens in the US is found here or on other social media platforms shortly after. The US is just that much of a powerhouse in global communication.
What I have noticed is, the discussions here, and the rest of the internet, are becoming more and more of an echo-chamber, rather than actual discussions.
The level on DEV is still far above other platforms, let's be real for a second, but the discussion culture of DEV is slowly getting there.
I read the code of conduct, and with most parts I agree. It's solidly written, even though I am quite sure back in 2017 it was more compact than it is today.
The trouble I have is, I can't find a way to "engage someone" in a debate with what the COC deems as "safe".
Two points strike me as particularly deadly for discussion culture:
Examples of unacceptable behavior by participants include:
- Dismissing or attacking inclusion-oriented requests
A discussion is just that. You discuss points and if you argue against a differing view point, it is, by design, an attack on someones opinion. This, in no way, means you should actually insult someone. But an objective, solid argument, or let's go with the times and pardon my language, you call someones bullshit in question, that is an attack.
I want to be clear, I am absolutely in favor of including people that have been excluded for way too long. But not everything that is marketed as "inclusive" is done for the excluded. PR and virtue-signalling are a thing, they have been for a long time, and they work.
The other point that strikes me as terribad for discussions is this one:
We pledge to prioritize marginalized people’s safety over privileged people’s comfort. We will not act on complaints regarding:
- Someone’s refusal to explain or debate social justice concepts
This is a prime example of echo-chambers. You say something that is currently controversial, either because you beliefve in it, or because you want to spark a flame-war (lets be honest, who doesn't love a good flamewar?)
Someone engages your argument, you submit a report and classify it as harassment because you "refuse to explain or debate social justice concepts".
And the COC supports that. Why?
If you don't want to discuss something, don't post it on the internet. There is always someone that disagrees, the typical "am I the only one?" question is almost always answered by a simple "thats a 1 in seven dot eight billion chance, so probably not".
It seems to me, that a lot of people jump on bandwagons here, freely repeating along half-truths they read a few posts back, further strengthening the echo. Some actually debate these things because they believe in them, which is exactly what should happen.
Others on the other hand, just repeat controversial things to farm some heart-emojis.
While this is one of the more typical behaviors of a social-platform with any kind of rating-mechanism, what DEV and many other platforms are missing is the counter weight.
A solid mechanism to downvote things and equalize echos.
Of course, you may say
this would lead to brigading, vote-flooding, or vote-bombing, which should be held in check!
I agree, but you don't achieve this by nuking everything you don't agree with, that itself is going against the very thing you want to protect:
fostering an open and welcoming environment
Let's go down the rabbit hole further. By stripping out the feature to express your disagreement safely without being punished, you get the exact same rapid momentum in the opposite direction.
There can be no equilibrium, if a rating/voting mechanism goes only one way.
But you can write comments to express your differing view point!, is what you might think now. Absolutely, I agree, but that loops us back to the beginning, being "marked as not constructive by the community".
What I learned is, that "inclusion" is a paradox.
That if you want to be inclusive, and heavily enforce this, you almost always exclude a huge chunk of people. Thereby inclusion is inherently exclusive.
So where does this post lead us? I don't know, it's just the rant of a dude that doesn't understand the discussion culture of the internet. A guy that is direct, and not afraid to step on your foot if you spout half-truths. A guy that gets marked as not-constructive and follows up with writing a gigantic tirade :D
Do I have a solution? No, not really. I would be rich if I had one on hand. All I want is a "dislike" button, but that's a thing I won't get in today's internet. I'll just leave comments and hope I'll get more cool discussions out of it :)
Feel free to chime in, and please, don't just echo me, hit me with the good stuff. I actually want discussions to embiggen the "apparently not yet big picture" I see.
Rock on and have a great weekend, I hope your weather is just as lovely as in my part of this beautiful rock!