Monday, September 20, 2010

Never once have we... oh, well, just this time

I apologise if this appears to be two posts in a row on a similar subject but... well, it's more a post about online manners than anything else.

I have a Flickr account. I use it to post photos. I like photography because it's a creative outlet that has nothing to do with how I make my living. It's just a hobby, no more no less.

Flickr allows people to comment on photos. Occasionally people use that facility to comment on other things. When that happens on my photos I delete the comments. I figure there are loads of ways of getting in touch with me so I keep my flickr pages kind of clean and on-topic: photography.

Today I found the attached comment on one of my photos. It wasn't a provocative photo... it was this one:
It's not a photo that offers an opinion about Christianity or faith. There were no other comments on the photo that related to Christianity or faith. It seems obvious to me that the comment is more than a little out of place.

It's especially ridiculous as at the time it was left the front page of my blog was hosting a really lovely and polite discussion on the nature of Christian Values with 30 to 40 comments and no flaming whatsoever. (Those are the numbers on the blog itself rather than on the facebook page that it's imported to)

I have no idea what he means with the opening sentence. I recognise all the words but they don't add up to a sentence with any understandable message. I'm sure other flickr users would be as confused as I am by the words, "I saw your sign on another fickr stream." Wha?

My favourite line in the comment is, "and never once have we ever shoved Christianity down anyone's throat"... which is just perfect in the middle of a post that seems to be doing exactly that.

Of course, having deleted it I was immediately accused of censoring him and of not being able to handle the truth etc etc etc. I engage in online discussion and debate freely and often. There are loads of ways people can get in touch with me. But there's a time and a place. A comment like this left on a photo like that makes the person leaving the comment the online equivalent of the maddo on the bus who sits down and starts talking to you about Jesus. (Or candy floss, or blisters or anything else for that matter) Deleting the comment - and blocking them - is really just moving to a different seat on the bus.

By the way... I don't want to start a discussion on the merits of his words. I'm just not that interested. I love that the post before this one yielded a polite discussion on a subject that almost always becomes inflamed - especially online. For what it's worth, he seems to me to be behaving in a way that will annoy people of every stripe. If you disagree with him that's obvious. But I think his oafish, shoving-things-down-people's-throats behaviour does a disservice to those who agree with his opinion also... because he just contributes to a negative stereotype that isn't helpful to anyone.

So if you want to leave a comment let's keep it on the subject of online manners rather than the subject raised by the man who had none.

Oh... and I've blurred out his ID so as to avoid anyone seeking him out on flickr. It's not worth it.


LiamNich said...

It really tickles me to see hypocrites proving themselves to be hypocritical all in as little as a few sentences.

Annie said...

I love the title of the jpg you've used LOL

It seems to be, these days (sounding like my mum there), that because some people are sat looking at a screen or monitor of some kind, it gives them an added bravado. Other people, who as soon as they put their hands on a keyboard, turn into complete nutters.

It seems that because they can type words to another person, it automatically gives them the right to spout anything to anyone, not taking any consideration for the person at the other end reading what's been said. And then they get on a roll, and don't seem to be able to stop typing their spout.

I run an online forum and have seem some really horrible (and have been the victim or some really horrible) things in type, from people who don't know that person in real life. I realise that the typed word can be read in the wrong manner and easily mistaken, but some people seem to think that they can just hurl abuse or their opinions at anyone, and think it's ok because they are not face to face, so the other person doesn't really matter.

I think it's worse for people such as yourself, in the public eye. Just because you've been in our homes via the television, it makes some people think that they are entitled to tear a strip off.

It annoys me that some people can be so calous and uncaring towards someone else.

I did note that there wasn't one reference to your photograph, how well taken it was etc..

Brian said...

The internet seems to be so full of wierdos it's a wonder there's any room for normal people on it.

I had some comments on photos I posted on flickr a couple of years ago of off-road bikers coming down a footpath/track on the side of a nearby rocky edge. It was clear from the context (these were a couple of photos from an album of 20+ posted together that clearly represented a family walk) that I hadn't been there specifically to take photos of these guys, they just happened to come past us. This didn't stop the flamer from commenting on each photo about how irresponsible, anti-social, etc. it was, as if I had not just taken the photos but was actually riding the bikes and single handedly responsible for the destruction of the Peak District.

It seems that if someone has a bee in their bonnet about anything then the internet and plethora of places it is now possible to leave comments (blogs, flickr, forums, etc) provides them with added incentive to mouth off about it to anyone, however remotely connected. In fact, in your case, seemingly completely unconnected.

As for everything else you said, it's Amen from me!

Leroy said...

The internet seems to be a bit like being in a car; it's as though the physical distance and isolation from your co-communicator means that normal social etiquette and manners don't apply any more.


sfmag said...

To paraphrase a line in Blackadder, arguing on the internet is like a broken pencil. Pointless

I suspect this guy copies and pastes this comment (without proof reading) all over the internet whenever he catches a sniff of a non believer!

Good on you for not indulging him.

believing or not believing in god is a personal choice. I don't, my family does. It takes all sorts. However the use of a alone heralding your upcoming series of Genius tag my well send you to hell if one exists

Emma Spreadbury said...

I don't think the internet is full of nutters... I think there are concentrations of them. And then one will sneak out of their weird space into moderate internet world, and what they say and do will all seem out of place.

Having said that, I think being able to type responses from a distance can, on occasion, bring out the hidden nutter...

Brian said...


Just bringing out my inner nutter ;-)

JohnLBevan said...

Perhaps an internet license is the way forward. Everyone signs up for one & has to take a test to prove that they understand a basic set of guidelines (be polite, stay relevant, don't impersonate others, etc). When they wish to participate on a site, they have to sign in with an account associated with their license (they can still be anonymous from most perspectives, but if a complaint's raised, it can still be associated with their license). If people persistently go against the guidelines they have their license revoked and can no longer take part in sites participating with the scheme. It's horrific that something like this should be needed, but it would help to keep the internet the friendly and helpful place it should be.

Brian said...

I think John's idea of an internet license is a great one. Of course, all applications must be made online. Err, hold on though....

Richard said...

Yep, absolutely agree it's weird to leave a completely unsolicited and irrelevant comment like that. As someone else said, he's probably just cut and pasted it into a whole load of sites.

That said, irrelevant as it is, it's not actually offensive, is it? I'm a Christian, and as Mr Gorman says, I'm not too pleased with people perpetuating the nutter image. I'm also not too impressed with the argument - becoming a Christian 'just in case' isn't really getting the point. But, it's a relatively innocuous piece that can easily be deleted, isn't it?

malleus bardorum said...

Like the real world, there are places online that are little oases of tranquility, thoughtfulness and polite behaviour. This place is one of them, though I've not been here in a while (I do remember having a discussion about the various merits of a number of comedians, including Bernard Manning and Chubby Brown. There was a lot of disagreement with a number of posts that were made, but things were discussed calmly and rationally for the most part). The forum for Word Magazine is a place I hang out at sometimes,and that's the same. These are places like rather pleasant bars or cafes where you wander in, have a chat and wander out again.

Unfortunately, not all places are like that. Some are like town centre pubs on Saturday night, where someone is just itching to start a fight; others are just places where people compete to shout to be heard above the inane chatter.

So it's all the more jarring when someone shouty comes into your nice cafe telling you that Jesus beams messages into his (and they are usually male, I'm afraid) head and that he has to relaying everything. At full volume, and smelling faintly of wee.
The best one can do is ignore him and hope he goes away, because the confrontation is exactly what he wants.

Emma Spreadbury said...

@ds: Jesus can't beam messages into lady-brains, they don't have the capacity for ecumenical matters

Please don't flame me, there's no malicious intent...

... which is probably at the heart of internet etiquette issues. It's very difficult to know the intent of the speaker. If you have a face to face conversation, even about the statistical arguments for faith, you can judge the intent of the person. If they seem like a nutter, you walk away.

You can't really walk away from an online comment. Deleting it is like shoving your palm in their face. It's naturally inflammatory.

Dave Gorman said...

@Richard: you're right that it's not too offensive in and of itself and that it's easily deleted. But unsurprisingly there's a personality trait that goes with it - which means that when it is deleted you become a part of some great anti-Christian conspiracy etc etc.

The people who send abuse on twitter (an infrequent event I hasten to add) love to think that when they're blocked it's because you're upset. In truth, it feels more like calmly choosing to sit elsewhere on the bus.

Alas it isn't a cut and paste comment that he posts all over the internet. I've seen many of his other comments on flickr. He's quite active. And not always quite so friendly.

His main topic is abortion.

Dave Gorman said...

@Richard: oh, and my main reason for posting it wasn't because I was upset but because I found the whole "we never shove it down anyone's throats" line in the middle of a post that was quite clearly doing just that kind of funny.

Craig said...

Pascal's wager is what that guy is talking about. Nothing new in his thinking at all. Dave, you rule mate!

Todd said...

As Craig says, this is just a particularly poorly worded explanation of Pascal's Gambit. Aside from the obvious hypocrisy in his final paragraph, there are other annoying things in his comment. For instance, when he mentions 'statistics' and 'incredible mathematics' when it is merely a simple logic question with nothing to do with either of those.

Also, the sentence:

"The answer is 2:1 in favor for heaven and 0:2 against hell."

Maybe it's just me, but this seems to mean nothing at all. I can sort of understand what he's trying to get at, because I've heard the argument before, but it's pretty useless in itself, and makes me doubt that he ever spent two years learning maths (however against his will it was). A bit of proofreading would lend his (rather shaky) argument a bit more credibility. As it is, pointing out the obvious errors seems a bit like kicking a dog while it's down.

Emma Spreadbury said...

I think we know he's wrong, either in his argument or the way he presented it. Going over it and pointing out the wrong bits isn't going to make it any more wrong.

(Although if you need a 2:1 to get into heaven, I've fallen at the first hurdle. I suppose I can stop living my life by Christian Values now).

Craig Jones said...

Incredible mathematics indeed! "Nothing to lose from believing in God & worshipping Jesus" ... er, what about all those hours wasted attending church every Sunday?

malleus bardorum said...

@Craig : Wasn't the part of the point of Pascal's Wager that you had to do it on your death bed, so you could leave the conversion fashionably late ? :)

@Emma : no flames from me. I don't think doesn't work with lady brains because hairspray forms a protective reflecting shield. It might also be the aerosols, which is also probably why my armpits never get Jesus messages. I don't need to worry about my head, the high albedo probably does the job.

IanF said...

Surely will know that you're only playing the odds and not actually worshipping him!

IanF said...

It appears that writing things in angled brackets causes them to be removed; can people pretend that "insert chosen deity" is written after the first word in my above comment...

Anonymous said...

Online manners simply boil down to respecting boundaries and making appropriate comments in appropriate places, in particular not deviating off topic which may belittle the matter in hand.

I met a chap called Dave just over a week ago at a delightfully unusual event at my parents house. His surname was Gorman and I've since discovered he was one of the first 54. At least one of your namesakes seems to rejoice in the peculiar.

I'm only here to share that news.

Is this an appropriate place to do so?

Don't care really. Bugger online manners! ;-)