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On Groupthink and the Golden Rule

As regular GT'ers know, I keep my mod posts to the rare and far between. The mods and I have provided a set of guidelines for posting and participating in this forum that are pretty simple and should be easy to follow. But in addition to that, we believe in treating the members here like adults, which means we expect everyone to act like adults and not need us to come in and slap hands and tell people to stop it and whatnot. For the most part, this seems to work out well enough.

But it has not escaped our notice that there's been a general air of antagonism around the place recently. It's one that's unfortunately fed on itself as a couple of conflicts kept getting remarked on, which led to more people asking about them, which led to more people bringing them up, which led to a lot more sensitivity in general, and then a certain predisposition, I'd say, to contributing to air of 'things just aren't right around here' in tone, posts, and reactions.

Our Golden Rule, if we have one, is Don't Be a Jerk. I thought that was fairly self-explanatory, but I'd like to expand upon this a little.


What do we mean when we say don't be a jerk? The obvious answer is to refrain from calling people names, arguing for the sake of arguing, and purposefully posting inflammatory material. There is more to it than that, however, and it requires a little effort on all of our parts:

  • Assume "good faith" on the part of your fellow commenters. The mods do a very good job of vetting people in this community. Authors come from regular commenters on this community. People are promoted to regular commenters of this community by other commenters. There is already a process of weeding that goes on around here. There are very few trolls on Groupthink and you should assume that your fellow commenters/authors are here for the same reasons you are: because they like or need the community that GT provides.
  • Practice "good faith" responses towards your fellow commenters. That means if you find a post or a comment inflammatory, it's ok not to leap in with a six-gun response. Perhaps they worded their post poorly. Perhaps they were overwrought when they made it. Try to respond to them in a civil manner before escalating your responses.
  • Accept that sometimes you are wrong. You may be factually wrong about something you've stated and been corrected. You may have posted something in anger or stress and been received poorly. You may have taken someone's head off in a comment thread. It's ok. It's ok to be wrong. We've all been there. Being wrong doesn't mean you have to banish yourself from the community. It may require that you admit to being wrong. You may even wish to apologize. But life goes on, and I promise you, that people remember how someone reacts to being incorrect for far longer than whatever they were in error about.
  • Remember that we do not all come from the same background. Allow space for differing opinions. Do not automatically assume that someone whose opinion offends you is a troll. Unlike the main site, I will say that GT is an explicitly feminist space and that most of us label ourselves as feminists or womanists. We are not all at the same space in our journey however, and that consideration should be given to those of us who are still finding out what that label means to us. If you run into a commenter who you truly believe to be trolling, contact one of the mods.
  • If you don't get along with another commenter or find them anxiety inducing, do not interact with them. This is one of those 'please behave like an adult' rules. We don't all need to like each other here. I'm sure there are people here who don't like me. You may have people you don't like or who don't like you. Don't seek them out for interactions that inevitably lead to confrontations, accusations, or arguing. Be bigger than that. Be better than that for the sake of the community.
  • Do not post flouncing good-bye posts. Seriously. I fucking hate them. They're nothing but drama dens, and I will likely delete them. Please note that "Hey guys, I'll be scarce around here for a while" is not a flounce post. "You guys all suck and I'm taking my ball and going home" is a flounce post. Just go. Not every community is for every person. There's nothing wrong with that. It happens.

As always, when posts of this nature go up, there are inevitably people asking 'are you talking about me?' I am not a shy person. I do not tiptoe around issues. If I had an issue with something "you" were doing, I would not hesitate to say something to "you" about this. This is a general post about the tenor of things on GT as of late. However, I encourage everyone on this board to be thoughtful about your posts, comments, and interactions with this forum. If something in this post rings true for you, perhaps this is a good time to revisit behaviors or tendencies, to spend a moment looking at how you deal with other posters on GT, and especially how you deal with conflict. Stress, embarrassment, anger, etc. do not necessarily bring out the best in ourselves, and may not be the ideal circumstances under which to be carrying on a conversation. This is true for me. I'm 100% positive that it is true for others as well.

We lead by example here. All of us. The mods. The heavy posters. The mainpagers. The kitten lovers and the Loki gif posters. We set the tenor of GT. We decide what this community is going to be. We create the atmosphere. All of us. It's a group effort. I've seen some truly wonderful things come out of Groupthink and far fewer truly terrible things. I think that is a balance that we can keep if we are willing to work at it.


As always, if you wish to contact me privately, you may reach me at commenters@jezebel.com.

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