Sunday, September 26, 2010

Warning: you are being disrespectful

Translations of this article:

I decided to write more specific guidelines about how to react to bad behavior because I'm so fricken tired of seeing people attacking each other in public.

The community is growing and becoming more diverse. Diversity means divergence of opinions, which means more intense debates. I can accept divergence of opinions, it's normal, it's even necessary. But I cannot accept people flaming each other in public. I don't expect members to act all lovey-dovey with each other, but do I expect members make an effort to be respectful with each other, NO MATTER WHAT.

If you think a user is being disrespectful
  1. Send him a private message with the title "Warning: you are being disrespectful". I insist very much on PRIVATE MESSAGE. Everyone can send this warning, not just moderators.
  2. Add in your private message the link to the comment where the user was disrespectful. I insist again: PRIVATE MESSAGE.
  3. Quote the part of the comment that you felt was disrespectful.
  4. Try to explain why you felt it was disrespectful.
  5. Add a link to this blog post.
Just in case it was not clear, I will repeat the main idea: if you think a user is being disrespectful, send him a private message and ONLY a private message.

If you received warnings
  1. It's possible that it was a misunderstanding from the sender, you can simply explain him what you really meant. But if one person misunderstood, it's possible that other people will misunderstand you as well, so you should consider clarifying your comment for everyone.
  2. It's possible that you are really being disrespectful, in which case you should consider deleting your comment or apologizing for being disrespectful (or both).
NOTE: Moderators cannot delete other people's comments. Don't count on them to censor you.

What do I find disrespectful?
  • Insulting someone is disrespectful, obviously. I don't think I need to explain that one.
  • Being condescending is disrespectful. You should treat everyone's opinion equally. It shouldn't matter whether you're debating with a 6 year-old kid or a non native speaker. You are NOT entitled to trash someone's opinions just because you think you know better. If you know better, then educate people, don't trash them.
  • Lecturing someone publicly is disrespectful. You can tell someone how they should behave in PRIVATE, but not in public, never EVER. Even something small like "Dude, calm down" => PRIVATE MESSAGE.
  • Generally speaking, writing negative comments about someone is disrespectful. If you don't like something about someone, you let them know in PRIVATE and ONLY IN PRIVATE.
Just to be clear, I may myself show lack of respect in moments of weakness. Everyone may. You come back tired from a long day of work, someone offends you publicly, you can't resist the temptation to reply back publicly as well. It happens to everyone. But it is NOT acceptable, there is NO EXCUSE for that.

What happens to people who misbehave?

My thoughts here about bad behavior are still true today. People who misbehave will not be banned, suspended or anything. They will simply receive a lot of warnings and hopefully those warnings can slap some sense into them. I count on EVERYONE to send warnings to users who are crossing the line. It's not only my job, it's not only moderators' job, it's not only trusted users' job, it's EVERYONE'S JOB to make sure Tatoeba remains a place that people ENJOY going back to.

If your inbox starts being filled with warning messages, you really need to work on your behavior. I must remind you that this is a collaborative project, and collaborative means we are working WITH each other, NOT AGAINST. If you care about this project, then please, show more maturity. If you can't do that, then for Tatoeba's sake, take a break and come back when you grow up. Thank you.


  1. Damn good post. It could do with being copied and posted onto every site in the blogosphere.
    I noticed an ambiguity here: You can tell someone how they should behave in PRIVATE, but not in public....
    I was reading quickly, and first of all took it to mean that it was OK to tell people what you think of their private behaviour! Obviously that's not the intention. Possibly moving the 'in private' thus might help:

  2. Oh, dear, the comment I wrote above didn't publish properly properly and it cannot be edited, only deleted; well, here is what should have appeared after the colon above: You can tell someone, in PRIVATE, how they should behave, but not in public...
    Note on the disappearance of that part in original posting: I had written it in sharp parentheses; maybe that adversely affected the coding and caused the disappearance.

  3. Well, it's good to know an awesome Vietnamese people, Trang ;)


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.