Thursday, January 20, 2011

Dear Alpheus:

You deleted a comment by Phoebe? What the fuck?

Abstractart. Toast. FLG can see them. But Phoebe?

It's your blog, and you can obviously do what you want, but FLG can't ever imagine deleting a Phoebe comment.



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Anonymous said...

Well, this puts object sex in a whole new context, doesn't it?

(It's probably the work of someone's friend, Tracy Quan.)

Alpheus said...

I don't think my standards for civility are outrageously high. Real engagement, not attitudinizing.

If this is really a big issue, the key problems I had with that post were (a) a sort of assumption of hostility, as exemplified by the opening phrase "that's the best you've got?" and overall tone; (b) an apparent failure to distinguish between various interlocutors, as everyone on one "side" of an issue were saying the same thing in the same way.

I admit that perhaps I should have *said* this instead of going straight for deletion. But life is short and sometimes I don't feel like I should have to explain everything in detail.

The Ancient said...

Well, I'm apparently too old to make myself understood to anyone under thirty.

Phoebe said...

OK, I do feel obligated to respond. Alpheus, in my partial defense, the best-you've-got was in response to an "oh noes" and a reference to a commenter rolling his/her eyes after reading my previous comment, which I didn't interpret as really engaging with what I'd said. Not a line I would normally use. But I could have responded to that more gracefully, and you're absolutely right that I should have addressed each interlocutor separately. It's flattering that FLG respects me this much as a blog commenter, but I really do think it's fair game for bloggers to delete comments they don't like, and made reference to this much in the very comment you, Alpheus, deleted. So, Alpheus, truce?

And The Ancient, I think you made yourself understood, and appreciated your contribution to the thread you link to. I do still want to know what you meant by "plot," and in what ways you think getting older isn't enlightenment, because I'm genuinely curious. Understanding, however, isn't agreeing. There was also plenty of disagreement in the thread you point readers here to, following that post, among the "young." (Remember that, while other bloggers might, I have no idea how old you are, and had assumed "The Ancient" referenced an interest in antiquity!)

The Ancient said...

Phoebe --

Regarding "plot line" --

While it sounds a little Lily Bart-ish, and is, I meant it somewhat differently. I was thinking more of all the data points (unconnected experiences) that make up a young person's life, and the difficulty of seeing through all that. How does one organize all that chaos and make sense of it? Because it's all too easy to let time slip by, not seeing where you're headed, and wind up somewhere you don't want to be. (All those crazy checklists can easily turn into a young person's version of "the bucket list.")

(Since you asked, I picked the name for a bunch of reasons, and chronological age and an overdeveloped sense of existential exhaustion is only part of it. Besides, FLG had already claimed my first choice.)

dance said...

I did pick the mildest way I could see to start trouble, but had no idea all this would ensure. I'm glad to see harmony appears to have been restored.

Alpheus deleted my comment, too, as well as Phoebe's. Possibly others, I don't know. My reactions:

Other seemed-equally-bitchy-to-me comments were left in place. Alpheus did say "some of the bitchier comments," but I'm not sure that was what he meant by some. As apparent from my very first comment there, I value consistency in applying principles, in large part because I am not naturally very consistent.

All instinctive responses (such as parsing other comments for comparison) to having a comment deleted for being bitchy are bitchy. It's impossible to avoid. The uncharitable interpretation is that deleting comments might be a technique to provoke worse behavior from the commenter, thus justifying the initial deletion. I searched for a while for a really good post I once read on this to obliquely post myself, but could not find the link.

As a historian and a packrat, I *twitch* at the intentional deletion of a part of a conversation. Currently the page includes responses to things that do not exist, INCLUDING part of my deleted comment. It's like fingers on a chalkboard to me.

Why delete comments instead of just closing them and leaving the text in place? Clearly the intent is to shut off conversation, because who the fuck is going to post after that? As it turned out, I was wrong about that one, because the co-host of the blog is a person who could post after that, and so I did respond.

I now have renewed appreciation for FLG's implicit cursing-welcomed commenting policy.

FLG said...


I didn't know you'd been deleted too.

dance said...

Oh, the temptation to post about it was STRONG, but I resisted.

Really, it's all your fault, FLG, for pointing me at the post in the first place. :-)

Alpheus said...

Phoebe: Yes, of course, truce. Though "truce" almost seems like the wrong word because I honestly was never trying to "start" anything. I just objected to that particular comment (and dance's as well).

I guess I should address a larger issue here. I would never delete someone's comments as a personal attack. But I guess FLG is right that a personal element inevitably creeps in, somewhere. At A&J we used to have a couple of commenters whom FLG mentioned: Toast and Abstractart. We pretty much delete anything they say now, because allowing their more reasonable posts to stand only invited trollishness sooner or later (and "later" only when we were exceptionally lucky). So, those deletions are to some extent personal.

On the other side of things -- and this is the part that's relevant to the current situation -- I basically can't delete anything by Withywindle and Arethusa. Withy's my co-blogger and good friend, and Arethusa is my S.O. or partner or whatever the current expression is. Some of the things they write strike me as close to, or over, the line. (I'm sure they feel the same way about me.) But...deleting their comments is just not an option under normal circumstances. I'm saying all this because there seems to be some question about why comments by Arethusa were allowed to remain on that thread.

dance: IIRC, it was actually your last comment that started my deleting spree. And the main problem I had was your rudeness to Arethusa -- doing the blog equivalent of talking about her dismissively and not addressing her directly. Was she somewhat rude to you first? Perhaps. But, based on what I've written above, surely you can understand that I'm inclined to defend her and that there has to be a little favoritism in this case.

arethusa said...

the best-you've-got was in response to an "oh noes" and a reference to a commenter rolling his/her eyes after reading my previous comment, which I didn't interpret as really engaging with what I'd said

That was me. So I apologize, Phoebe, though it wasn't actually a reaction to your comment specifically but to the whole thread. I wanted to defend WW from what I thought was a strange and rather unexpected criticism (and all the posts in the thread ignored the overall point of his post, which was after all on Michael Chabon, not what WW thinks of other bloggers' names; nor did I see why his thoughts on others' names had anything to do with A&J's comments policy). I intended it to get everyone back on track and away from an issue there was clearly a deep divide on, but I see that it came across as harsh, so apologies to all.

Alpheus said...

Arethusa, you certainly don't owe "apologies to all." Dance owes you an apology a *lot* more than you owe her one. Somehow I doubt one will be forthcoming.

dance said...

Got busy, checking back late (I see that FLG has turned on comment moderation).

For reference, the line that Alpheus objects to so much was "My, arethusa seems heated." I won't pretend it wasn't passive-aggressive snark. But I'm happy to join the apologies all around, especially since I very lately figured out that arethusa's rudeness to me was based on a misunderstanding that I failed to directly correct, and accidentally perpetuated. Sorry, arethusa! With luck, we'll manage a real dialogue the next time we encounter each other.

dance said...

PS. Not intending to split hairs between snark or bitchy or anything. My first line was rude. And Alpheus, thanks for your explanation.

FLG, feel free to delete the following if you think best:

arethusa, to clarify: I didn't criticize Withywindle's opinion of a name. Had he written "Ta-Nehesi Coates (what a silly name!)" I would never have posted at all. However, the technique of replacing someone's name with "Silly Name Guy" seems rude, disrespectful, and dismissive. It jarred me. And then I noticed a comment policy asking for " the very least." The comment policy is relevant because I think bloggers should model the behavior they want to see from commenters. It seemed to me that the post itself signaled that gratuitous off-topic ridicule was totally fine at Athens & Jerusalem.

I think names are important, in general. So I also find it odd that you, who appear to carefully not capitalize your name, would declare so vehemently that dismissing someone's name entirely isn't even worth discussing.

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