Now apply that to how you weigh what I might or might not have said, and what my intentions might have been at the time. You're pretty quick to rejudge my entire character long-term based on what Zerg edited/tailored specifically for the sole purpose of creating this situation.
I think most people who recieved the PM from Zergling could imagine he might have played an equal part in what went on and left it off and also that he'd copied the worst parts for the PM for distribution. I don't imagine too many people got that PM and thought, wow what a sterling example of humanity is Zergling. I just assumed he'd been majorily pissed off by someone in Admin.
I have no clue what kinds of things were said about people in the mod box (just a high degree of certainty that at least 30% of it was about me). But L4B's post seems very balanced and reasonable, and some of the things said there concern me a little. I think there is a conceptual difference between a closed forum and PMs. Some things that might just be ranting gossip in a PM are decidedly more vicious when put up for display in a forum. But as I've already caveat'd, I don't know (or want to know) what was actually said.
It seems to me that anyone posting in the mod box had to know that, inevitably, someone would take that info outside at some point.
I'd just like to back what's already been said about admins reading others' PMs. vBulletin does not provide a way for admins or mods to read any PMs but their own. The only way to see the contents of other PMs would be to go through the raw strings directly in the database. And forum admins don't have access to the database; only server admins (e.g., file cabinet) have that. And you'd have to be pretty damn dedicated to snoopery to wade through a bunch of raw database strings to try to find someone's PMs. Just reiterating, since I'm sure some people were concerned about that. I certainly wouldn't want them reading my PMs. I mean, the stuff about the squirrel, and...
Originally Posted by heart
In a way it is sort of like when the rep comments were made public, when previously there had been an expectation that they would remain annonymous.
When were rep comments made public? I missed that.
I'm not a procrastinator. I'm a long-term planner.
Having moderated 2 forums, and currently admining/running a small ski-related one....
There are ways to read PMs and such if someone is determined to, but it's a good assumption that they're generally private and safe (unless one of the parties involved decides to make it public).
Also, the fact that people are having discussions in the staff section isn't necessarily a problem, that's up to the staff to decide what belongs in there. Gossiping isn't good, but isn't something restricted to mods and admins...I'm sure if there was a way to look through PMs, you'd find it in other examples of it as well.
This basic issue of back biting is worth addressing. It does have implications directly for the person who is targeted whether it happens in a teacher's lounge, a forum, or behind a friend's back. It nurtures a group think attitude to reject certain members of that society. It enhances the prejudices that are naturally within that group. Using the school teacher example, my mother is a retired kindergarten teacher and the gossip and unequal treatment of the children discussed behind their backs she witnessed was also expressed in the way their education was delivered and how playground disputes were overlooked or attended to. By back biting someone, the people involved give each other implicit permission to mistreat that person, even if in subtler ways to their face. Also, to be certain, if you encounter someone backbiting someone else, they will likely do it to you as well even if you are in the accepted group at that moment. This is at least the case when backbiting is done with people who are both involved in the life of the person being attacked. It is natural, prevalent human behavior and all that, but that doesn't make it benign.
I don't think it always enhances the prejudices. In some cases, it diffuses them. The bottom line is that if you are a reasonable person and tend to have a little compassion for most people, you're probably not going to feel okay being too mean-spirited toward someone in public or in private. Furthermore, you may be angry, confused, or even creeped out by someone, but that doesn't say anything about how you will treat them. Negative emotions can be dealt with in mature and constructive, rather than immature and destructive, ways. As Jennifer pointed out, the mods are probably easier on the members they dislike than they should be, so as to make sure that they are not letting their bias affect their fairness.
I think discussing your opinions of someone with a friend or a group of people can help temper your opinion and help you to see other perspectives. I know that I've discussed members here with members over AIM, and it wasn't always the case that someone agreed with me on my opinion of a member. In a few cases, the friend saw the person and their behavior quite differently, allowing me to step out of my perspective a little.
I don't know if by having a negative opinion of someone and talking to someone else about it that you are giving that person permission to mistreat the discussed individual, even implicitly. I keep confidence with friends that I tend to find very compassionate and reasonable at the same time, and I tend to trust that they would try not to let their negative feelings toward someone lead them to treat that person preemptively or unfairly.
Mistreatment can mean many things depending on whom you ask, but I tend to believe that people are perfectly capable of having criticisms of someone and still treating that person civilly and compassionately.
Now, we may just be defining "backbiting" differently. I do think there is a difference between callously name-calling someone behind their back and reasonably discussing the criticisms you have of their behavior, but I would also say there is a lot of gray area. In my discussions of members with friends on AIM, there were definitely a few funny things said, intentionally as well as unintentionally, and we laughed. Some would say that just by seeing humor at others' expense that we were being mean-spirited. Some would say that by not seeing the humor we would have been taking the discussion too seriously, and call that mean-spirited. Not everyone is going to approve no matter how you shake it.
My opinions of people are almost never all good or all bad; it's usually a few observations based on their behavior that I discuss, and I tend to specify with examples precisely why and how I've inferred what I have about them. I'm careful to make sure that my opinions lead back to examples, but it still doesn't mean I'm not biased or misinterpreting those examples. *shrug* Like I said, friends over AIM haven't always agreed with my interpretations, giving me a chance to see other, more benign interpretations.
I don't know what the nature of these discussions were, again, so I can't pass judgment. But I'm definitely more willing to give the benefit of the doubt, especially seeing how the mods and admins have explained the situation. Even seeing proof of some mean-spiritedness wouldn't significantly alter my opinion on this topic. Blowing off steam takes many forms, and doing it with regard to someone doesn't necessarily indicate how you'll deal with this person while interacting with them, and even hearing someone completely trash-talk someone else doesn't mean you're going to feel freer to treat that person meanly.
And I also have to say that how you criticize someone to their face and how you criticize someone in private are going to, and ought to, look very different. The essential points should keep their integrity, but they're naturally going to have a lot more padding and a lot more tact when dished out to someone's face.
They're running just like you
For you, and I, wooo
So people, people, need some good ol' love