Jane Haddam’s WordPress weblog

Plays Well With Others

with 5 comments

So, I’ve been looking over the comments for the last few days, and I’ve decided it’s time to be explicit about what I always thought should have been obvious.  I mean, I don’t have anything else to say, and it’s late in the afternoon, and I’m tired.

Also, it sort of strangely fits in with one of the odder things about the faculty meeting.


First, this is a blog, not a discussion group, and I’m not a moderator.  It exists for me to blither every once in a while, when I feel like it.  Me being me, I feel like it a lot. 

Back in the days when I did participate in Internet discussion groups, I refused to touch any that were moderated, on the assumption that all moderation is first and foremost an attempt to restrict speech.

“Civil” is as “civil” does, and mostly it defines anything OUR side says as constructive criticism, and anything THEIR side says as harrassment, intimidation, bullying and extremism.

Been there, done that, have that t-shirt.

That said, however, there are two people that I know of who would not be allowed to post here if they ever tried to register.   One of them is the person who drove me off my last Internet discussion list.  The other is the single most dishonest human being I’ve ever met, digitally or otherwise. 

It’s my blog.  I can do what I want to.

Second, other than the two people in question, I’m perfectly happy to have people blither, rant, fight and whine in the comments, as much as they want, as long as everybody understands, up front, that it is not my job to police the action.

What I really won’t do is throw a commenter off the blog because another commenter is upset–is commenter a word?

Anyway, I know nobody commenting here now has made any such request, but the requests have been made, from time to time, directly and indirectly.  In the case of the direct request I declined, and in the case of the indirect request I ignored. Both got me called a lot of names. 

But it’s like my father used to say–if you haven’t heard it before,  you don’t know what it means; and if you have heard it before, it hasn’t killed you yet.

I do wish some of you–and that’s a PLURAL, because half of you do it at least some of the time–would be less quick to infer that somebody else’s comments is saying something distinctly–I don’t know how to put this. 

Let’s just say we’ve all got buttons that are more or less easily pushed.  And sometimes it would make sense to go back and reread the comment you think offended you before you decide it’s actually saying what you think it’s saying to offend you.

Okay–diagram that sentence.

Finally, my own and only reason for writing this blog is to have fun.  There are things I’m interested in–politics, yes, but also literature, movies, harpsichords, the middle ages, Catholic theology, Renaissance painting, education, the murder mystery past and present–lots of things.

I write the blog because I want to talk about them. 

If you write a comment to the blog and I don’t respond to it, it means nothing at all except that it’s not a subject I feel like writing about today. 

It doesn’t mean I agree with it or disagree with it or love it or hate it or anything.  It’s just not catching my interest in the way it needs to if I’m going to WRITE about it.

And it’s harder to write about things than it is to read about them, or talk about them.

And to go further than that–if I do respond in contradiction to some you said, I don’t necessarily disagree with you. 

When I was growing up, my father made a big point of teaching us that in order to understand our own arguments, we had to fully understand the arguments on the other side.

He also said that it was never legitimate to engage in straw man arguments.

So when I see people saying things that aren’t exactly true, I tend to jump in and make the opposite case, or correct the definitions. 

This is how I once got called a right wing extremist and a socialist moonbat on the same discussion group on the same day.

It’s been worse in fan mail.

In the end though, is this:  I like the comments, whether I agree with them or not.  I want lots of comments.  I wish the lurkers would comment more.

But right now, I’m in the middle of writing a book in a new series, or at least finishing this part of it.   With all new characters, my cheat sheet looks like crib notes for a dissertation defense. 

And the term is about to start.

I’m a little distracted.

Written by janeh

July 28th, 2011 at 6:06 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

5 Responses to 'Plays Well With Others'

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  1. You play with someone else’s ball, you play by their rules. This works fine. Over at Old School Wargamers, I’ve seen two people banned by the moderator for ranting and repeated abuse over the past four years or so. That works fine too. More important that the rules be understood than what the rules are.

    I’d say the general rules of such groups are those of polite discourse with strangers: to avoid ad hominem attacks, stick to facts rather than opinions and to specifics rather than generalities when possible, and to give sources when asked.

    When people keep violating those rules, the moderator may or may not choose to ban them–but she can’t make them useful contributors.

    One of the nice things about this blog is that when my position is torn to shreds, it’s usually done in a manner of which I approve.


    28 Jul 11 at 8:08 pm

  2. I haven’t commented much lately, I’ve been very busy.

    But, I have to say that at this late date, I’m appreciating learning to discuss and argue without getting wrapped around the axle, learning to back up opinions with facts, learning to listen and accept, and sometimes even admire the opposing viewpoint. Or at least the person who holds it.

    Much of this learning has come from observing your discussions, Jane. Enjoying the process is one of the reasons I followed you here from RAM.

    So thank you. Even when you may not think you’re teaching, you are.


    29 Jul 11 at 1:43 am

  3. First, a few weeks ago, the Addams Family reference. And now Leslie Gore? Thank you. A little pop culture mixed in to all the other makes a nice balance.

    And, the Devil’s Advocate often takes a hit. All the more reason to keep it up! It probably wouldn’t hurt any of us to grow a little thicker skin.

    A socialist moonbat? Really? Ha!


    29 Jul 11 at 1:02 pm

  4. Since I retired, I don’t have to go to faculty meetings, convocations, or workshops designed to help me conform to administration mandates. I don’t have to perceive, judge, and give grades. I lurk here because I thoroughly enjoy observing coherent thought and civil conversation. I also thoroughly enjoy Jane’s brand of blithering and updates on her family, probably for the same reasons that I enjoy the updates on relationships in her books.


    30 Jul 11 at 8:09 am

  5. I owe a great deal to Jane for what I’ve learnt from her “blithering” over the last 10 years or so – in newsgroups and, more recently, via this blog. More than I can ever repay. My bookshelves and lately my Kindle positively groan under the weight of the books and authors she’s introduced me to.

    The Internet is a wonderful thing. You meet the nicest and the smartest people here.


    30 Jul 11 at 8:32 am

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