The Spirit of Ricochet: Elevating the Tone

 

RadicalCivilityIn response to our unceasing efforts to persuade our own members to join Ricochet, one of our members sent us a message. The key sentence was unsettling:

The ratio of thoughtful, respectful, and factual comments to insulting and emotive comments is not inspiring.

Our first response was defensive. We promptly crunched the numbers, having rigorously defined the terms “thoughtful,” “respectful,” “factual,” insulting,” “emotive,” and “inspiring,” and found the ratio is entirely inspiring.

But after we smoothed our ruffled feathers and got over our how very dare yous, we admitted it. Inspiring is not good enough. The ratio must be glorious. We must settle for nothing less than the Golden Ratio: “All comments must always be thoughtful, factual and respectful. None may be emotive or insulting.” (Emotion is fine. It’s politics, after all. But comments that call to mind the hystrionics in Britain in the wake of the death of Princess Diana are not.)

One of my “bosses” suggested the problem might defy automation. He insinuated that it might require more “work” on my part. “Get out there and be a beat cop, Claire. Go smack ’em down (politely) if you see anyone disgracing our honor with so much of a hint of an insulting or emotive comment.”

To which of course I said, “Don’t be absurd. We are American. Nothing defies our automation. We build better mousetraps. We build them bigger, better, faster and open longer. “Defies automation?” That’s what they used to say about flying.”

A lively, civil, polite, debate about Ricochet politics ensued. We have the seeds of good ideas, I suspect. But we must think more about them lest on careful inspection they prove to be stupid.

For now I wonder if you would indulge me in an experiment.

The “like” button is a blunt tool. Members have no way to show each other that they like a comment for a good reason. Merely “liking” something is for the soft-minded who do not belong here. On Ricochet we do not “like” things because we feel good about them. We like them because we have good reasons to prefer them.

“First thing we do before anything new and fancy is kill the bugs. Down to the very last roach,” said the Boss. Hard to disagree. But what if we try this as a temporary workaround. Suppose these were the new “like” buttons:

Logical Rigor (LR): “I liked your comment because your argument is sound: The argument is valid, and all of the premises are true.” (If you require a refresher on these terms, this will do.)

Ourstanding Civility (OC): “Whereas an uncivilized man might have responded to the previous comment with a disgraceful locution, you chose to respond with wit, tact, and civility. How admirable.”

Elevating the Tone of the Thread (ETT): Very occasionally a spectre of incivility haunts a thread on Ricochet. Even if no one has violated the CoC, the tone is somehow not in the right spirit. When this happens, our members tend politely to encourage each other to sort themselves out. Those who do should be lauded (or Liked) for encouraging civilized norms.

Introducing a Good Idea (IGI): “I had not thought of it that way. That stopped me in my tracks. You may be right, you may be wrong, but that’s the kind of new perspective on this problem that makes me think we might get somewhere with it.”

Consistent Intellectual Standards (CIS): Those willing reconsider their position if presented with conflicting data or a better argument are neither weak nor wobbly: They are intellectually rigorous. On Ricochet, this is a quality we treasure.

What do you say: Shall we try them for a week? Use the old like button as usual, but when you see the above qualities, reply to the post in question with the abbreviations: LR, OC, ETT, INI, CIS. No need to say more.

Then you can tell us next week if your experience of Ricochet was more agreeable as a result. It is a bit complicated, but why not try? The worst that could happen is we don’t like it.

Published in General
Like this post? Want to comment? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Join Ricochet for Free.

There are 149 comments.

Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.
  1. Crabby Appleton Inactive
    Crabby Appleton
    @CrabbyAppleton

    How about, since everybody has a ricochet email in box, having people submit their posts first to members for peer review; then if the posts have been found to meet the rigorous standards of the jury of members, they can then be published.

    • #1
  2. user_645 Editor
    user_645
    @Claire

    Crabby Appleton:How about, since everybody has a ricochet email in box, having people submit their posts first to members for peer review; then if the posts have been found to meet the rigorous standards of the jury of members, they can then be published.

    INI.

    • #2
  3. MLH Inactive
    MLH
    @MLH

    Crabby,

    You’re being sarcastic, no?

    • #3
  4. Basil Fawlty Member
    Basil Fawlty
    @BasilFawlty

    Shouldn’t INI be IGI? And isn’t there something wrong about liking something because it’s CIS?

    • #4
  5. user_645 Editor
    user_645
    @Claire

    Basil Fawlty:Shouldn’t INI be IGI?

    Yes. And now it is.

    And isn’t there something wrong about liking something because it’s CIS?

    No, why? When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?

    • #5
  6. user_517406 Inactive
    user_517406
    @MerinaSmith

    I don’t favor this idea.  It’s too complicated.  I think most people aren’t too generous with likes, and the writer usually knows what he or she has added to the conversation.  If we get a lot of likes,  we all know why.  I have been pretty busy this week and so have not followed every conversation, but haven’t noticed a rise in incivility.  As you say, it is politics.  Maybe it happened on a thread I didn’t see, but I hope people are not going to be too sensitive.  That’s something we leave to the left along with incivility.  For what it’s worth, I think members should point out incivility before flagging something as often as possible.  I’ve never flagged anyone, but have occasionally requested greater civility from someone.  I’d prefer that to being flagged myself.

    • #6
  7. user_1184 Inactive
    user_1184
    @MarkWilson

    Claire Berlinski:

    And isn’t there something wrong about liking something because it’s CIS?

    No, why?

    Classic heteronormativity joke.  Makes me laugh every time!

    • #7
  8. Severely Ltd. Inactive
    Severely Ltd.
    @SeverelyLtd

    I would opt for all of us growing thicker skins. Short of insults I sure don’t mind a heated discussion now and then and enforcing a code of strict civility reminds me of nothing more than the PC thought police.

    I’ve seen folks called out for getting too personal and that seems to be effective. I’d rather be paying for raucous, boisterous discussions like The Inklings than having everyone tiptoeing around afraid of hurting anyone’s feelings. We on the right are considerate but I hope not gelded.

    • #8
  9. user_645 Editor
    user_645
    @Claire

    Mark Wilson:

    Claire Berlinski:

    And isn’t there something wrong about liking something because it’s CIS?

    No, why?

    Classic heteronormativity joke. Makes me laugh every time!

    It is a heteronormativity joke, perhaps. Classic, it is not. I do not believe I once heard the word “heteronormativity” before 1991.

    • #9
  10. user_44643 Inactive
    user_44643
    @MikeLaRoche

    I propose a like button for Texans: Boy Howdy (BH)

    • #10
  11. AUMom Member
    AUMom
    @AUMom

    For a while, I didn’t like anything on Facebook. I either commented on it or left it alone. That discipline forced me think about each prospective comment. Either it was important enough for me to compose a few words — or it wasn’t. The extra moment of consideration caused me to write more wisdom and grace.

    Now that I remember the better experience, enough of the laziness, no likes for me, period.

    • #11
  12. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Nasal Spray: (NS): I wish I hadn’t been drinking that coffee/hot tea/hot chocolate as I read that, because that stings the nasal passages when one laughs so hard.

    You know, I think we’re going to need Max to do a knowledge base article on this with the list.

    • #12
  13. Basil Fawlty Member
    Basil Fawlty
    @BasilFawlty

    “It is a heteronormativity joke, perhaps. Classic, it is not. I do not believe I once heard the word “heteronormativity” before 1991.”

    Then where’s my IGI?

    • #13
  14. user_1029039 Inactive
    user_1029039
    @JasonRudert

    I’m not taking this thread seriously until that pinky gets tucked in. Look at how exjon does it.

    • #14
  15. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    AUMom: Now that I remember the better experience, enough of the laziness, no likes for me, period.

    Naughty Contrarian: (NC): I liked that just to drive everyone crazy wondering why anyone would dare liking that.

    • #15
  16. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Jason Rudert:I’m not taking this thread seriously until that pinky gets tucked in. Look at how exjon does it.

    That’s My Excuse, Too: (TMET): I liked it because it’s what I would have said had I thought of it first…or thought of it at all, for that matter.

    • #16
  17. Trink Coolidge
    Trink
    @Trink

    Claire :)   Brilliant satire.

    It IS isn’t it ?  :(

    • #17
  18. user_385039 Inactive
    user_385039
    @donaldtodd

    I have read items in Ricochet for which I had no agreement but the use of the English language was so precise and enjoyable that I could truly “like” that item.  Not agree.  But appreciate.  Perhaps there might be a button for “brilliantly written” that doesn’t bind one to agreement?

    • #18
  19. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Trink:Claire :) Brilliant satire.

    It IS isn’t it ? :(

    ETT

    • #19
  20. user_1029039 Inactive
    user_1029039
    @JasonRudert

    Ironically, this post actually violates the First Rule of Ricochet:

    You do not ask for usability improvements on Ricochet. Whatever it is, it’s just too hard.

    • #20
  21. user_85273 Inactive
    user_85273
    @AlanWeick

    I appreciate the good humor here but I’m hoping it’s not taken seriously.  New acronyms?  This smacks of government bureaucracy.  Are the aforementioned acronyms the only accepted form of critical expression? Will there be a RAC (Ricochet Acronym Commission) to approve additional AAAs (Acronym Appreciation Acceptance)?

    One of the great things about Ricochet is the CofC that requires a civil tone without limiting expression of thought.  Another is that members do not post in the language of the text message.  It is a great pleasure to read full sentences grouped into paragraphs.  Let’s leave the all CAPS, all lowercase, internet acronym Newspeak to the Huffington Post crowd, shall we.

    It is the mark of civilized people that we agree there are standards we all aspire to but recognize the fallen nature of Man.  As Ms. Smith points out, when someone steps over the line they are usually civilly admonished and the offending behavior stops.  This is how civilized people behave.

    As to expressing our likes and dislikes of posts, let a thousand flowers of expression bloom.

    • #21
  22. DocJay Inactive
    DocJay
    @DocJay

    Whoever sent that criticism is probably hard to please. Are you not entertained? ( Russel Crowe voice ). Some people see what they want to see.

    • #22
  23. user_1938 Inactive
    user_1938
    @AaronMiller

    Agreed that this is too complicated, whatever the merits of knowing more precisely why one’s comment was liked. Besides, most conversation hosts prefer a runaway comment count to clarity. The categories might be useful as a guide for encouraging remarks, though.

    I’ve been a Ricochet member since the beginning and have only flagged a couple comments in those three years or so. Though there is tension in many of our conversations, members generally focus their frustrations into thoughtful and productive comments.

    The Code of Conduct is a very low bar. People who find such basic standards of civility too onerous can have much to contribute, but they are like irritable and needy customers in a retail store. What they bring is not worth the unpleasant atmosphere they create, which deters newcomers and oppresses other loyal customers.

    We must remember that textual conversations are not exactly equivalent to oral conversations. Nothing can be forgotten with a written record. One reason written communication is so often powerful is because of the delicate care it invites.

    • #23
  24. user_656019 Coolidge
    user_656019
    @RayKujawa

    OP – Do I detect shades of The Uptight Seattleite?

    Conservative minded people need to relax, too. That doesn’t mean we relax by levying insulting and emotive comments. Relaxing might mean having some light interchanges with fellow members, even if the interchange consists of liking a comment only because you felt it whimsical.

    Did you really mean this, or was it in jest?

    Merely “liking” something is for the soft-minded who do not belong here. On Ricochet we do not “like” things because we feel good about them. We like them because we have good reasons to prefer them.

    Methinks you think popular posts like the PIT and Chix PIT are beneath you.

    I’m not saying other threads, both member and contributor initiated, don’t get their share of insulting and emotive comments. When we tire of the tone of the conversation, we PITsters retreat to our oases for rest and relaxation from the stress of dealing with abusive commenters. The fact that these posts exist and continue to be supported by a loyal cadre of members might confirm some of the original points of your post.

    There has been, and there continues to be from time to time, serious discussion there on the tone of some of the discussions and abusiveness of some of the members.

    But if you can’t handle the silliness or the whimsicalness of most of the comments, you probably won’t catch the seriousness and spirit either.

    • #24
  25. The Great Adventure! Inactive
    The Great Adventure!
    @TheGreatAdventure

    Claire Berlinski

    The “like” button is a blunt tool. Members have no way to show each other that they like a comment for a good reason. Merely “liking” something is for the soft-minded who do not belong here. On Ricochet we do not “like” things because we feel good about them. We like them because we have good reasons to prefer them.

    Claire, I sincerely hope you made that comment with your tongue firmly planted in your cheek.  Soft minded?  Really?  My intellectual powers may not live up to the level of some members, but then I didn’t realize that Ricochet was a center-right version of Mensa.  I understand the point that you’re trying to make, but I suppose my opinion would be that if someone had something specific to say about a topic, they would write a comment rather than hitting the “like” button.  What you’ve proposed seems way to complicated – we’d have to have a cheat sheet on the side and it would likely take half an hour or so to decide which button we were supposed to click.

    It also sounds as though the Rico-powers that be are considering banning humor.  I’ve only been back on board for a few weeks, but in that time along with my previous membership I can’t say that I’ve seen much that I find offensive or inappropriate.  I don’t always agree with everything said, but I’m miles from taking offense at any of it.

    As MLH said to Crabby above – you’re being sarcastic with this, right?  And I think you’ve put WAY too much stock into the response from one member.

    • #25
  26. Trink Coolidge
    Trink
    @Trink

    Arahant:

    Trink:Claire :) Brilliant satire.

    It IS isn’t it ? :(

    ETT

    IGI   :-P

    • #26
  27. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    The Great Adventure!: My intellectual powers may not live up to the level of some members, but then I didn’t realize that Ricochet was a center-right version of Mensa.

    We’re the hexuple nines, because the Triple Nines are just too slow for Ricochet. But that’s alright. You have proven your intelligence by joining the rest of us big brains as a member.

    • #27
  28. user_656019 Coolidge
    user_656019
    @RayKujawa

    “You are posting comments too quickly. Slow down.”

    How rude. It just wiped out the comment I was writing.

    The point I was trying to add was that I suspect tongue in cheek humor on this post. Because there is currently no way to enter text against a specific comment you want to like.

    • #28
  29. user_645 Editor
    user_645
    @Claire

    The Great Adventure!:

    Claire Berlinski

    Claire, I sincerely hope you made that comment with your tongue firmly planted in your cheek.

    Well, yes.

    But we do prefer less Diana and more Churchill here. (And I don’t think you need to worry overmuch about us going all humorless while I’m around. )

    • #29
  30. The Great Adventure! Inactive
    The Great Adventure!
    @TheGreatAdventure

    Claire Berlinski

    The Great Adventure!:

    Claire Berlinski

    Claire, I sincerely hope you made that comment with your tongue firmly planted in your cheek.

    Well, yes.

    But we do prefer less Diana and more Churchill here. (And I don’t think you need to worry overmuch about us going all humorless while I’m around. )

    Whew!  Thank you!

    • #30
Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.