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Who's my worst enemy? Surely you jest!

No. And don't call me Shirley.

There's an excellent article available on the Intarwebs (fount of all knowledge and wisdom, except for Wikipedia, which is right about a third of the time) called A Group is its own Worst Enemy, by a wise and learned gentleman named Clay Shirky. Go ahead and read it now, because I'm going to be pulling a couple of things from it to illustrate why internet, e-mail, and list dynamics can be astoundingly harmful to the well-being of the members of the SCA, and how circumventing this cycle reduces the amount of Drama Llama poop being flung about at any given moment.

Go ahead, read it. I'll wait. It's an excellent article. It's about much more than my little idea today.

Comments

( 111 brains — Leave a chunk of brain! )
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cathgrace
Oct. 11th, 2007 04:54 pm (UTC)
I recently left a military wives list because they were ranting about non military people wearing camouflage, that they hadn't earned the right. I said, "who cares, it's fabric, that is not what military people go to basic to earn". Well suddenly I was a bad guy, and got flamed by 15-20 people saying that they had a right to "vent" but I had no right to say "who cares" I decided to gracefully bow out of that one, and left the group. I really couldn't get my head around that one. That is why I don't belong to many groups, they harsh my mellow.
attack_laurel
Oct. 11th, 2007 04:59 pm (UTC)
Well, I suppose I'd better put my camo skirt away, then. :) I always thought of it as a sign of support.

...And what about hunters? They all wear camo (confused).
(no subject) - mistressrhi - Oct. 11th, 2007 05:24 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - cathgrace - Oct. 11th, 2007 06:10 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - soldiergrrrl - Oct. 11th, 2007 06:47 pm (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
Re: Military spouses - soldiergrrrl - Oct. 13th, 2007 09:57 am (UTC) - Expand
mstewart
Oct. 11th, 2007 05:16 pm (UTC)
::hugs:: I've had similar experiences on an order list. It is both painful and disheartening when the folks that are supposed to be the most refined prove to be ill-mannered and boorish. I quit the list for a while preferring to get pollings directly from the Head of the order. But, I'm thinking, with this article, that I might start a conversation over there. See if some of the more level-headed members of the group are willing to band together to act as a self-governing body. We shall see.
grnvixen
Oct. 11th, 2007 05:41 pm (UTC)
Well said! And only one of the many reasons I signed on here.

May I please post a link to this in my LJ? I know several folks who will also enjoy this. Thanks.
attack_laurel
Oct. 15th, 2007 10:01 am (UTC)
In all my posts, the permission to cross-post is a given, just send them back here if you quote. :)

(I should put that on my profile page, shouldn't I?)
leofsige
Oct. 11th, 2007 06:11 pm (UTC)
Wow - that is the most thought-provoking and intriguing item I've read in a while. I loved the original article and your ideas. Thanks so much for sharing!
attack_laurel
Oct. 15th, 2007 10:02 am (UTC)
Thank you very much! I'm an angsty, save-the-world (or at least the parts of it I have the most contact with) kind of person, and it often comes out here. :)
(Anonymous)
Oct. 11th, 2007 06:13 pm (UTC)
Vivat! Unfortunately our local group has recntly gone through a very rough time having to do with exactly this subject! Finally the problem could no longer be ignored by the majority and it was brought out in the open and addressed. I'm hoping the group can get back on track.

Magdalena
bantiarna
Oct. 11th, 2007 06:33 pm (UTC)
Great rant as usual, well done. The commentary is also informative and an interesting read except especially the Pringles . .diamonds . . yea . . .

Yup, Weirdness thrives in the SCA.
florentinescot
Oct. 11th, 2007 09:41 pm (UTC)
I <3 your rants. You and kass_rants have the *best* reads evah!
attack_laurel
Oct. 15th, 2007 10:04 am (UTC)
Thank you, that's a real compliment, and I shall treasure it.

(and bring it out every now and then, whisper sweet nothings to it, and rub it all over... uh, never mind.) :P
(no subject) - florentinescot - Oct. 15th, 2007 02:19 pm (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
attack_laurel
Oct. 15th, 2007 10:08 am (UTC)
That's the thing, isn't it? One of the things Shirky also mentions, though, is that the bigger a list gets, the more you'll get people resenting being moderated - in fact my experience as a moderator on an entirely un SCA related forum was that people wanted everyone else to be moderated, but got their knickers in a complete twist if they were called on their behaviour. Irony, thy name is Intarweb.

People scream about "free speech", but there are very few venues where what you can say is unfettered by the rules of the group. There is no free speech on group lists, just a threshold of tolerance. Unfortunately, that threshold on SCA lists is very high because people are terrified of retaliation. A consequence of this is that when they're attacked for speaking up against the asshat, the asshat has learned that all they have to do is whine "free speech!" and everyone will fold like wet newspapers. This is a massively unproductive state of affairs.
mysticsablewolf
Oct. 12th, 2007 03:40 am (UTC)
be the change you want to see on-line

Vivat! and thank you. I don't know how often I've had those thoughts recently.

(Anonymous)
Oct. 12th, 2007 04:40 am (UTC)
This is a great read, and good advice for times when bullies who are clearly wrongheaded pop up and make trouble. But what do you do when the bullies are actually very popular and well-entrenched in a group, and have a bunch of sycophants willing to gang up on you in the bully's defense?
attack_laurel
Oct. 15th, 2007 10:13 am (UTC)
Leave the list/group. Sadly, sometimes, that is all that can be done. Take heart, though - if everyone good leaves a group, what tends to happen is that the bullies and sycophants, lacking someone to bully, turn on each other (because that's the only social interaction they know how to do). Eventually, entropy takes over as one by one the sycophants are driven away, then the bullies have no-one left but themselves. Meanwhile, all the great productive people are off making a name for themselves somewhere else.

If enough people refuse to put up with ill-treatment and cannot effect change within the group, they can leave and allow the group to devolve - this usually happens because the bullies don't want to achieve anything, they just want to bully.

This is a last-resort, scenario, though. You might find, if you quietly check with people, that enough people are tired of the situation that they're willing to effect change. But that is a hard thing to do, and I wouldn't blame you if you chose to leave instead. I've had to do it once or twice.
swordmage
Oct. 12th, 2007 06:01 pm (UTC)
I'm a long-time lurker on your lj, but I've got to say this

Woot!


And so true.
attack_laurel
Oct. 15th, 2007 10:14 am (UTC)
Thank you, I appreciate the positive feedback. :)
(Deleted comment)
attack_laurel
Oct. 15th, 2007 10:16 am (UTC)
I think everyone has been guilty of it on occasion; someone pushes a very personal button, and it's very hard not to wade into the fray. When I started on Usenet (lo these many yearth ago), I got myself into a couple of very sticky fights because of a propensity to hit the "send" button. What's important is learning from those experiences and finding ways to deal that don't involve statements that end with "...and your mother wears army boots". :)
hedewigis
Oct. 14th, 2007 12:20 am (UTC)
Thank you for a thought-provoking post. I had not realised "the tyranny of the loud" was so pervasive. This is at once both comforting and disheartening. Although I have seen too many examples on lists, I have also been fortunate to have participated on lists with moderators who have enforced rules of civility, and who have removed posting privileges from those who refuse to behave.

Would that we could do that with similar boorish behaviour at meetings...
attack_laurel
Oct. 15th, 2007 10:19 am (UTC)
Moderators - good, strong moderators who are prepared to deal with being accused of "censorship" from people who want everyone moderated but themselves - *always* make a list/forum better (corrupt moderators with an unwarranted God complex being the exception, but there's always going to be someone for people to point at and say "see? that person doesn't do it right, so you can't do it here!"). At meetings, my local group always did better if the seneschal was willing to keep people in line.

In other meetings, it's always best if someone is appointed as moderator. Unfortunately, not everyone is good at moderating. :P
(Anonymous)
Oct. 14th, 2007 08:27 pm (UTC)
just a suggestion
"Be the change you want to see in the world." ~Mahatma Gandhi~
attack_laurel
Oct. 15th, 2007 10:20 am (UTC)
Re: just a suggestion
Darn. I knew I was going to quote that one wrong! I'll fix it. :)
panda_dancer
Oct. 15th, 2007 01:30 pm (UTC)
thank you for posting this.
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( 111 brains — Leave a chunk of brain! )

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