Author Topic: Etiquette on the etiquette board  (Read 6914 times)

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Marleigh

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Etiquette on the etiquette board
« on: December 16, 2010, 10:40:39 AM »
Hi everyone!  I hope I can express myself correctly and open the door for discussion without causing this thread to be locked, but here goes: I'm wondering if, being an etiquette board, there is room for us to pay closer attention to the etiquette we're using in our responses/posts.  I realize that some people are very wordy and might go overboard in very carefully expressing their viewpoint, while others are not so wordy and post their responses a little more abruptly.  But since it's so difficult to guage tone in written form, I think it would be worthwhile to read and reread our posts before clicking "post".  I know I myself have been stung a few times, to the extent that I considered never posting again, by words that seemed a little too sharp to me.  I do want to clarify up front that I do not have a problem with a specific person here, nor do I even remember who wrote the posts that I felt were less than polite.  So this is definitely not directed at any one person.  But, here are some examples (and I'm paraphrasing and intentionally leaving out names - one is a specific example and one is a more general type of example, if that makes sense):

A poster asks if the person who called her on her cell phone for a non-emergency reason was rude, and without even commenting on her question, other posters responded quite abruptly, "Why are you answering your phone while driving anyway?"  Time and time again we've pointed out that this is not a legal forum, and that we are to stay on topic, so I just feel like this kind of scolding is a little harsh and outside the scope of the forum.  Especially when we know that laws vary in different areas, and people have different views about what is safe and what is not.

Another example: you might strongly disagree with someone's suggestion that something is rude.  It's just as quick to type, "That doesn't seem rude to me" as it is to type, "You're being too sensitive/SS", so why wouldn't we opt for the wording that is least likely to cause offense?

I guess the bottom line is, would we truly say the things to a person's face that we are typing here?  Since we're all strangers, I think we should act as if we're meeting strangers in person, with no background about what might offend them, and handle them all with "kid gloves", so to speak.

Mods, I hope I'm not out of line - it's just something I've observed on occasion and I wonder if I'm being too sensitive ;) or if others share my POV.

hyzenthlay

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Re: Etiquette on the etiquette board
« Reply #1 on: December 16, 2010, 10:49:20 AM »
I guess the bottom line is, would we truly say the things to a person's face that we are typing here? 

No, because to correct another person's rudeness or point out their etiquette flaws is against etiquette.

No, because I don't have to work or interact with the people on this board and so can be more honest and less 'nice.'

No, because many of the people I know face to face wouldn't care in the slightest about getting answers to some the questions that are asked.

And in some cases, yes, what I say on the board is exactly what I would say in real life, and many of the threads are entirely about 'How do I handle this situation in real life?'

Yes people can get over sensitive, and be overly harsh on the board, but in real life you'd probably never talk in detail with people with such a wide range of opinions on a subject. You talk with your circle of friends, who are friends, because you share similar opinions.

I think occasional ruffled feathers are to be expected, and are an inevitable result of being faced with position totally opposite to your own, and in some cases being challenged to support what you think is 'right.'  If the board was 'nice' all the time, I don't think it would have any depth.

Marleigh

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Re: Etiquette on the etiquette board
« Reply #2 on: December 16, 2010, 10:55:51 AM »
I guess the bottom line is, would we truly say the things to a person's face that we are typing here? 
If the board was 'nice' all the time, I don't think it would have any depth.

But isn't this like saying that in order to be "real", we sometimes have to disregard someone's feelings?  I'm not trying to argue with you, I just think that's the opposite of etiquette.

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Re: Etiquette on the etiquette board
« Reply #3 on: December 16, 2010, 10:57:42 AM »
I agree with you completely, yet, eHell is just a microcosm of society. Though it is an etiquette forum, not everyone here is always going to be polite or kind.

There are many reasons for it, some times it's just a bad day, sometimes it's someone that is miserable in general and takes it out on people here. 

I don't think there is much that can be done about it, other than to self-moderate, tell people when you think they are being unpleasant, and report particularly egregious posts.

hyzenthlay

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Re: Etiquette on the etiquette board
« Reply #4 on: December 16, 2010, 11:02:50 AM »
But isn't this like saying that in order to be "real", we sometimes have to disregard someone's feelings?  I'm not trying to argue with you, I just think that's the opposite of etiquette.

If someone's 'feelings' are extreme or even harmful, then yes, you have to disregard them. And we give people advice to that effect on a regular basis.

If someone's feelings are hurt merely because you disagree with them, then yes you disregard their feelings. If their feelings keep you locked in a toxic or unpleasant interactions, the yes, you disregard them.

And yes, sometimes the discussions on the board verge on, or turn into arguments. I think to avoid those you'd have to limit the board to the wedding folder and a list of approved wedding etiquette reference books. Edited to add: the arguments are not a good result, I just think that if you don't want to fetter the board they are an unfortunate side effect. It is possible to politely disagree and that is the preferred behavior.
« Last Edit: December 16, 2010, 11:11:22 AM by hyzenthlay »

Amava

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Re: Etiquette on the etiquette board
« Reply #5 on: December 16, 2010, 11:06:14 AM »
I think it is perfectly possible to have a polite argument.
Being polite doesn't mean always pretending to agree.


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Re: Etiquette on the etiquette board
« Reply #6 on: December 16, 2010, 11:11:06 AM »
I view it as a board to discuss etiquette rather than a perfect example of etiquette.  In order to discuss whether or not something is considered rude, or how something should be handled, information and content needs to be given that would not normally be etiquettely appropriate in 'real life'.  In real life we're not going to tell someone how rude they were being, but if you post on a board and ask if something is rude, yes, you're going to get a huge variety of answers.  While they shouldn't be hateful, not everyone is going to like the answers given and some people are more sensitive than others - while one person would view a differing opinion on how their issue was handled as "Wow, I never realized there were so many other views on this!", another might be "Wow, I can't believe all these people think I'm a rude horrible person!"  It's hard to make everyone happy, even on an etiquette forum.  If someone doesn't feel comfortable in a thread, the best option is to just not read it...

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high dudgeon

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Re: Etiquette on the etiquette board
« Reply #7 on: December 16, 2010, 11:24:18 AM »
Again, polite and kind are not always the same thing, and placating people's feelings isn't really the purpose of etiquette. I think it's important to remain civil, polite and not make personal attacks. But there's nothing at all wrong with a lively debate or discussion. Also, we are here to discuss etiquette. I define "rudeness" as "a behavior not currently compliant with established etiquette" and sometimes while discussing etiquette, it is necessary to point out that someone's behavior has violated etiquette. It should be pointed out without malice, but I think when someone is asking if a certain action is rude, then it's not rude to give them an honest answer, even if it doesn't make them feel good. If their feelings are so sensitive that it's going to hurt their feelings to be told that, then it's not an appropriate thing for them to post about in the first place.

Also, the mods around here are pretty good. If they think someone is posting rudely or inappropriately, they will warn or block that poster. It's their call to make, and you can alert them to a post you feel crosses the line and you can let them decide what to do about it.


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Re: Etiquette on the etiquette board
« Reply #8 on: December 16, 2010, 11:25:27 AM »
I guess the bottom line is, would we truly say the things to a person's face that we are typing here?  Since we're all strangers, I think we should act as if we're meeting strangers in person, with no background about what might offend them, and handle them all with "kid gloves", so to speak.

I think that comparing online to offline is apples to oranges. Would we say these things to people offline? Often times, probably not. Because offline we're interacting with our friends, our bosses, our kid's teacher -- i.e. all people that we cannot have, large and by far, honest conversations with. That's not a critique, just a reality.

People edit conversations based upon their relationship to the person they're speaking to in order to maintain peace and achieve goals. If your boss and your six year old child asked the exact same question, even when about a completely benign subject (the first thing that came to mind is stoplights and how they work), you'd give them different answers. In the stoplight example you'd probably assume your boss knows certain facts already or, even if you think they are completely clueless, you still wouldn't want to *imply* you think they're clueless of basic information adults who drive know so you'd act as if they knew these facts. So, your answer would assume they already knew these facts whereas you'd assume your child doesn't know these basic facts adults who drive know and answer in accordance to that -- to give a concrete example, I wouldn't assume a six year old has worked out that a blinking yellow or red light means "slow, watch for cross traffic" but I'd expect anyone who drives knows that and wouldn't include that fact in an answer.

In the case of internet conversations with people you don't know offline, which is by far the case on these boards, you don't have to edit based on whether a bad implication might get you assigned the job no one likes because your boss is upset you treated them like they were clueless. You also can't reasonably assume a lot of things you would be able to with someone you know -- for example, I can't assume the other adults on this board drive or that they live in a country where the above is true. So, you just answer the way you see things and work out any misunderstandings as they come up. It's a very different type of interaction and isn't comparable. 

In a reply here you said:
But isn't this like saying that in order to be "real", we sometimes have to disregard someone's feelings?

In short: yes. And, also, of course. I'm not regarding your feelings in my reply right now because I don't know what your feelings are beyond my interpretation of the ones you expressed in your post which I may be misinterpreting without context of other behaviors you display (i.e. I can't even interpret your post in context of what area of what country you live, your gender, race, age, etc. since I don't know those things). I don't know you. I have no reasonable way to figure out whether something I say will upset you beyond the very basic "You're a meany poopy head!" type statements which would, obviously, upset anyone.

Now, you can argue that "You're being too sensitive." is one of those meany head type statements but since I only really remember seeing those pop up here in response to a poster asking "Am I being too sensitive?" I wouldn't categorize them like that. Similarly, I know the driving thread of which you speak and in that thread part of the stated (by the OP) reason the OP thought it was rude to be called like that was because of the annoyance of answering a phone while driving. If the OP is annoyed by answering a phone while driving then, rather than see that as a problem of the person calling them, it's far more reasonable to ask why they answered.

Basically, I see very few statements here which come apropos of nothing. The replies come in context of the questions or the situations described on which the questions are based.
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hot_shaker

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Re: Etiquette on the etiquette board
« Reply #9 on: December 16, 2010, 11:26:06 AM »
I guess the bottom line is, would we truly say the things to a person's face that we are typing here?  

Yes, and then some.  I can have a sharp tongue in real life (usually just aggressive sarcasm, no actual harm intended).  I am usually to the point and honest.  If you ask me what I think, I will tell you although I do it in a straight-forward way.  While this works with people I know, these traits do not translate well at all on a message board.  I double and triple check my responses.  I soften my language, and add explanations and emoticons as necessary.  Often times, I will delete a post because I don't feel that I can convey my message in a way that it will not be misinterpreted.

I often see responses that strike me as unnecessarily blunt or even rude.  


I think it is perfectly possible to have a polite argument.
Being polite doesn't mean always pretending to agree.

I don't think the OP is saying that we shouldn't disagree or give our honest opinions on a situation.  I think she's suggesting that we really look at the words we use.  I'm of the mind that as long as a statement isn't outright rude, you can say just about anything nicely even if it's negative.  Some posters are fabulous at this; others are not.  (For example, for those who remember Tabris, I thought she expressed herself wonderfully.  She could tell you that you were Wrong but in a respectful and polite manner.)  Personally, I try to take my cues from the former and I think that's actually made me a better person IRL.

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Virg

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Re: Etiquette on the etiquette board
« Reply #10 on: December 16, 2010, 11:29:01 AM »
MissyMa'am wrote:

"It's just as quick to type, "That doesn't seem rude to me" as it is to type, "You're being too sensitive/SS", so why wouldn't we opt for the wording that is least likely to cause offense?"

In this particular case, it would be because the two statements aren't directly equivalent.  If someone describes a behavioa and then asks if they're being too sensitive (and I feel that they are), then the first statement doesn't really work.  In cases where there are two ways to say the same thing I'll go with the more polite/general/kind statement, but in some cases a stern reply is needed.

"I guess the bottom line is, would we truly say the things to a person's face that we are typing here?  Since we're all strangers, I think we should act as if we're meeting strangers in person, with no background about what might offend them, and handle them all with "kid gloves", so to speak."

My approach has always been to be as nice as I can be given my answers to the situation, but I'd rather give an answer that's sharp than something that's gentle but not fitting to my take on the situation.  It's rare that I feel the need to throw barbs but I find if I pull my punches too much I end up sounding disingenuous.  To take your example, I would indeed suggest to someone face-to-face that they shouldn't answer their cell phone while driving if at all possible because I consider it dangerous, although I would take your suggestion insofar as I'd say it without insulting or belittling the poster.

Virg

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Re: Etiquette on the etiquette board
« Reply #11 on: December 16, 2010, 11:32:43 AM »
I know I myself have been stung a few times, to the extent that I considered never posting again, by words that seemed a little too sharp to me. 

I know the feeling!  There are many times on this board where people phrase things in ways that are unnecessarily unkind.  It's not about disagreeing- I don't think anyone here would argue that people should never disagree, it's about the way in which people express their disagreement.

For instance, if a poster did something rude, a nice response could be "I'm sorry but I think your actions were rude/inappropriate here.  You probably should have done xyz instead, here's what you can do now to try to fix it."  but instead we often get "You were completely rude and out of line, if I were the other person I would never speak to you again."  We're all here because we like to talk about these issues and (hopefully) want to strive to become more polite people ourselves.  Therefore I don't really see the need to cut someone down like the second comment does.  It doesn't accomplish anything, and you can express the same idea in a more productive way by using the first comment.

But then the use of etiquette here often baffles me.  I see complete over reactions on a regular basis (Your mother rsvp-ed to your party one day late? Cut her off!  She's toxic, you should never speak to her again!) or else I see people using basic etiquette rules to justify themselves when they want to do something completely hurtful. (For instance, yes you are free to decline any invitation for any reason, but if you had a good friend who was your maid of honor, spent thousands of dollars on clothes, gifts, and travel for you wedding, and later she asked you to come stand up for her at her local courthouse wedding, I don't think it would be polite to just say "I'm afraid that won't be possible" with no further explanation.  Ok by the "rules" of etiquette? Probably.  But also very likely a relationship killer and, I would argue, cruel.)

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Re: Etiquette on the etiquette board
« Reply #12 on: December 16, 2010, 11:40:08 AM »
An additional thought I want to address is the one of "kid gloves" --

Given the breadth of difference present on this board in terms of country, creed, race, gender, age, political affiliation, religion, medical preference, and relationship ideals etc. etc. etc. it'd be impossible to have a conversation in which everyone behaves with kid gloves on and people disagree without couching everything you say with "I think that it's possible that..."

Even the statement I just made, that it's impossible to have ... could offend a person who believes it's possible. I've potentially just insulted them by insisting that such a discussion is not possible because I didn't say that it was just my opinion it's not possible.

I think we have a responsibility not to make statements like "Everyone who thinks/does X is a meany poopy head." and that's about it because this is a discussion board. People who don't want to engage in debate should probably not be on a discussion board.
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Elfqueen13

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Re: Etiquette on the etiquette board
« Reply #13 on: December 16, 2010, 11:42:29 AM »
I guess the bottom line is, would we truly say the things to a person's face that we are typing here? 

Generally speaking, yes.  I try to type the way I write, and say the same kinds of things that I would say if someone walked up to me and asked these questions.
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Re: Etiquette on the etiquette board
« Reply #14 on: December 16, 2010, 11:45:40 AM »
I guess the bottom line is, would we truly say the things to a person's face that we are typing here? 
If the board was 'nice' all the time, I don't think it would have any depth.

But isn't this like saying that in order to be "real", we sometimes have to disregard someone's feelings?  I'm not trying to argue with you, I just think that's the opposite of etiquette.

Well, I'd give you an analogy ;)
Let's say you are learning a foreign language; you're not a proficient speaker but can express yourself. You write a story in that language and you offer it to someone to read. You put a lot of thought into it, you want the person to like it.. If they return the letter to you with  spelling and grammar corrected in red, that would be jaw-dropping rude.
On the other hand, when you are taking a foreign language class, at some point you may write a story and give it to the teacher (assignment or extra work you're doing by yourself.) The teacher will return it to you with spelling and grammar corrected in red, so you can see exactly what you did wrong. It is part of teaching you the language.

This is the difference between real life and Ehell.
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