Discussion Ethics on Violinist.com

April 28, 2015 at 05:07 AM · I'm not particularly fond of banning people from Violinist.com, but from time to time it is necessary when an individual is creating an atmosphere of disrespect or intimidation. This week I found myself in the position of needing to do this, and I certainly hope I won't have to do it again any time soon.

Humor is fine, but personal attacks are not, and I also won't tolerate a "boys club" bullying of women. We do have a code of ethics, which are outlined in detail in our rules for writers, if you wish to read them more in depth.

Another piece of advise for anywhere on the Internet: don't drink and post. When I read offensive posts that people put up, I often get the sense they wouldn't have posted such a thing when sober.

I take it seriously, banning someone from the site. It erases all the posts and blogs they ever wrote on the site. I hope I won't have to do it again any time soon. Your kind consideration of the other members on the site is always appreciated. Thank you.

Replies (96)

April 28, 2015 at 08:33 AM · Just to add: If you HAVE drunken and posted, get on to the site when sober, even if you are like a polar bear with a sore head (or even worse, a bipolar bear with a sore head), check your post, and, if necessary, scrub it before Laurie gets to it!

April 28, 2015 at 12:34 PM · Tread carefully, John, that sounds like British Humour.

Laurie, I too get dismayed when folks use Vcom like Twitter. Which I never use..

But is there a mechanism for a good rap on the knuckles before a real banning? Such as demanding a public apology, or a clear explanation of unintented ambiguity?

We all appreciate your hard work: let us posters be sure not to waste it..

April 28, 2015 at 03:15 PM · Though we have written out a code of ethics, you're usually safe adhering to the basic Golden Rule and common sense. Here are some handy questions to ask before posting:

1. Am I sober? (If not, consider not posting.)

2. Would I say this to someone else, in person? (If you wouldn't say it to someone's face, don't post it online.)

3. If I did say this to someone in person, would that person slap me across the face? (If you'd likely get slapped, etc. best not to go there.)

Though I try to give people some kind of heads-up if their posts are getting to be offensive, it's really up to members to know what the rules are and to abide by them.

April 28, 2015 at 03:29 PM · I quite agree with all that. But when talking to someone face-to-face, facial expressions or tone of voice show if we are trying to be funny, and we see immediately if we are understood. In the written word it is so easy to be inadvertedly clumsy, and trigger a cultural or personal response light years away from the original intention.

April 28, 2015 at 03:58 PM · Laurie,

May I suggest to introduce "report abuse" and like / dislike buttons?

I think that there is already a strong sense of community here and that you could rely on group's support to keep this site useful and friendly.

Thank you!

Rocky

April 28, 2015 at 05:13 PM · My school reports said I was outlandish sometimes, so Adrian, if I have graduated to British Humour (Actually, "British" is redundant. If it were American, "Humour" would be misspelt), I must be growing up at last.

April 28, 2015 at 05:24 PM · John, please don't attack American spelling: they do their best (wink, wink, fake giggle).

We need smilies with a little Union Jack underneath as a health warning.

Laurie, we are taking this seriously! Honest!

But can I without risking my neck insist that the banned person's offending post was totally misconstrued?

April 28, 2015 at 06:04 PM · Not wanting to muck up Katherine's thread any more than it has been, I'm posting this here.

I agree that irony is probably the best interpretation of John Cadd's post. And that sarcasm gets lost on the internet.

In other words, his post could have been translated as "In light of all your many practical questions, can you believe that it's been said that women don't ask questions for practical solutions?"

On the other hand, there was no apparent context for bringing up what is to me a disagreeable idea except that the thread was posted by a woman.

Erasing him from the site seems pretty severe to me though, although other people seem to be suggesting there is a greater context for this that I'm unaware of ("last straw").

April 28, 2015 at 06:17 PM · Hey, there are two Johns here: do add the surnames!

April 28, 2015 at 06:26 PM · Good point. I went back and edited it.

April 28, 2015 at 07:43 PM · Fair enough, but despite the rambling style, I percieved it as self-mocking irony. If you know John Cadd's usual (unusual) posts, you cannot possibly think he meant to insult women, its completely out of character. The post has gone, and so it's impossible to check.

I would never have written what John Cadd wrote, even less on an international forum, but I still think he is victim of a colossal misunderstanding, even if it is his own fault.

Edit.

"Intention is not the point. Effect is the point". True, as the "intention" would be expressed by purely vocal inflection. But I'm not sure the punishment fits the crime in this case: intention could be a factor in deciding the sentence.

April 28, 2015 at 07:59 PM · RIP John Cadd (unless you are resurrected).

I found John's sometime long-winded contributions hard to comprehend but I never found them irritating unlike the posts by some recent trolls (help vampires?) still posting thread after thread of zero information value.

I read the contribution leading to his demise and I even misunderstood and interpreted it in completely opposite way. This is a written text forum and ambiguity in written text can be bigger than in oral discourse.

April 28, 2015 at 09:50 PM · Jenny wrote:

"Look at the way rape allegations in universities are dismissed because women are unreliable."

Hmmm, I seriously doubt that rape allegations from women are considered any less reliable than rape allegations from men!

"Honest, ociffer, I had no interest whatsoever, and did my best to fight her off, but that woman took me by force." ;-)

April 28, 2015 at 09:57 PM · Did anyone suggest temporary suspension of privileges as a penalty?

( a.k.a "time out" ? )

April 28, 2015 at 10:08 PM · That might be fairer than an outright ban in many cases.

Er, David, I'm not sure this is best thread to make that sort of joke...

April 28, 2015 at 10:43 PM · Grretings,

I think 'unreliable' is a slightly odd choice of word. perhaps it is more that women are considered promiscuous whereas a male rapist is, in this context, just one of the boys who had one too many. Male rape is also a serious issue these days with the US now having I believe the largest rate of incarceration in the world . In both cases a deadly serious human rights issue and definitely not a topic for humour. Even British irony.

buri

April 28, 2015 at 10:47 PM · Adrian, I'm not just joking. I'm seriously contesting the notion that women's rape allegations aren't taken seriously BECAUSE women are considered "unreliable".

Many criminal accusations by both genders, and even jury convictions, have been proven to be less than reliable. Consequently, law enforcement needs to be aware of the possibility, and there's no reason why either gender should be exempt from suspicion.

April 28, 2015 at 10:52 PM · Could we please drop the subject of rape and who may or may not be truthful entirely, please? Not an appropriate topic for humor or speculation.

April 28, 2015 at 11:14 PM · I am fairly frequently reading about really flagrant rape (as compared with what some people get indignant about and then still call "Gone with the Wind" a great film - mind you, I will take seriously those who want to ban "Gone with the Wind") in some Asian countries and perpetrators getting away with it. You can read about recent examples in the Chinland Guardian (free online and not driving you mad with adverts), for instance. These women's/young girls' lives are REALLY, really ruined.

April 28, 2015 at 11:19 PM · The way I see it, Laurie has a responsibility to keep the site clear of material that could land people in court. If someone did decide to take serious offence to John Cadd's comment, regardless of his and others' interpretation, there could be some costly ramifications. The fact that it is questionable and there has been discussion over it, means Laurie had to sit up and take notice. These days it's a 'lessons learned' response to issues, meaning that if she simply asked him to delete the post and be good and think about what he writes in the future, there is a risk that it can happen again, especially in John Cadd's case where impulse control is generally missing when he writes. Maybe Laurie was not about to take that risk. Maybe she felt that he'd had the benefit of the doubt too many times already, who knows. The fact is, standing in court on the day, she would have been asked 'what did you do about this to prevent it happening again?' Today she has her answer.

Like, dislike and report abuse buttons are not a bad idea but they require extra management. There are trigger fingers, seriously considering it fingers and fingers that prefer to write what they think than click on a button. Someone has to process all the clicks and posts and check to see if something is serious or not, and still go through a final consideration process if serious. I think the 'flag' button works the same way but keeps it simple.

In saying that, time out isn't a bad idea either in certain circumstances, but we all know what the rules are and what tends to happen is lots of people make a habit of getting as 'close to the bone' as they dare just to put across a point. After reading some of the robust discussions we often have on this site, I can predict lots of time outs, and lots of extra site management;)

Anyhow, there seems to be no shortage of people happy to jump in and defend someone or back them up if they feel a person's post was taken the wrong way. In John Cadd's case, however, I have seen loads of times where he has made someone cross with a silly comment, and then retreated rapidly with 'I didn't mean it that way' and 'you got me all wrong' when called on it, but bounces back almost immediately to do the same thing on another thread. That kind of tenacity doesn't really require defending. He's an adult, knows the rules and this time, as Laurie said, enough is enough. British humour (which I love) didn't come into it.

April 28, 2015 at 11:50 PM ·

If you ask me, John Cadd has a defamation of character lawsuit AGAINST violinist.com. It's ok for Laura to remove his post, but it isn't ok for her to insinuate that he is misogynistic.

April 28, 2015 at 11:54 PM · Millie,

What legal ramifications could there possibly be to what John Cadd said?

I thought Laurie made it very clear what her reasons were, and Jenny elaborated on it nicely.

Jenny,

What remains unclear to me is whether John Cadd was ridiculing a misogynistic idea or "humorously" endorsing it. Surely that makes a difference.

On a side note, I first heard of this in the context of women ridiculing men for being socially inept and thought it was offensive in that context too.

April 29, 2015 at 12:52 AM · Erm, Mathew, I'm not sure you're aware but, depending on the country, there are certainly legal ramifications that can result from cyber bullying. And a 'boys club' style bullying was what Laurie called it. My example was at the extreme end, but it doesn't matter if John Cadd's comment seemed like humour to you, or a misconstrued remark, if the o.p. decided to take serious offence, or anyone else reading it for that matter, there are legal channels in place for people to report matters of concern, it doesn't just end with Laurie. If it made it to court, the decision about what effect the comment had or would be likely to have had, is made in court. Just because lots of thinly veiled inappropriate comments are passed off as 'jokes', doesn't mean that's what they are. You are told not to joke about bombs when getting on airplanes these days. They get taken seriously. Wording is important. Calling someone stupid online is a personal attack, saying that theirs was a 'stupid comment' is still close to the bone. Suggesting in general the stupid remarks don't have a place in a forum, is more acceptable but still not very nice. You get the picture.

John Cadd said "Katherine since you are a lady I have read that no matter what the problem is ,we should give you lots of sympathy and understanding but avoid giving you solutions. How does that sound? " This was the comment that upset the balance and looks to me as though it can be construed in several ways. Is it worth the risk of legal action? You tell me.

April 29, 2015 at 01:54 AM · Thanks everyone for your thoughts and for respecting our policies. As I said, this is not something I take lightly; it has been a very long time, years, and very many complaints.

I think that Jenny hit the nail on the head when she said, "Intention is not the point. Effect is the point."

I have had complaints from a lot of people (and not just women) that they don't like the "boys club" kind of atmosphere that these kinds of comments promote. And if the response to my calling someone out about a comment -- that is clearly misogynist to a great many reasonable people on this board -- is simply, "I'm so shocked, what's wrong with you," then that's simply too much of a blind spot to continue to tolerate.

Of course, we all do need to be able to argue, to disagree, to use humor. But I ask that people keep in mind that this is a global forum of diverse people, so do so with the goal of mutual communication and betterment, not with the goal of looking clever or superior.

April 29, 2015 at 03:34 AM · To my (I hope) reasonable mind, it's the "How does that sound?" tag that clears John of any misogyny. But I take Millie's point about bomb jokes on planes.

Well, that seems to be that, doesn't it.

April 29, 2015 at 04:27 AM · It doesn't clear him it all. In fact it sounds very condescending. It's kind of like saying, "I don't mean to offend you but..." and then saying something totally offensive, or "Not to sound racist but..." and then saying something racially offensive. Just don't do it.

April 29, 2015 at 06:54 AM · I think it means "Isn't that absurd!" referring to the preceding very misogynous sentence. Hence my "theory" of irony. Extremely clumsy, though.

But to be clear, I am certainly no supporter of misogyny, other Boys Club behavior, or any discourtesy whatever. If anyone has complained about my posts please let me know, so that I can edit or erase them. I hope my above comments on American spelling were percieved as affectionate banter, and not as a feeling of superiority!

April 29, 2015 at 08:11 AM · I am most definitely not supporting misogyny. However, I feel that that was most unfair to John Cadd.

Laurie, that was uncalled for. I protest John Cadd's dismissal; you could have simply deleted that post. You could have warned him. You could have put it to a vote (weekend vote, anybody?).

Growing up with 3 sisters and 3 brothers, I've seen both boys clubs and girls clubs. This site was neither; it was most definitely never a boys club. It was perhaps like the real world.

Irony gets lost in the online world; as a sarcastic person with an often dark sense of humor, who often tends to exaggerate, I tend to dislike sharing sarcastic/ironic opinions, sarcastic/ironic jokes, and the like, on the internet.

That was most definitely not blatant misogyny; and if it was, you could have left John Cadd up there, to be condemned or left alone by the "boys club." The greatest way to fight stupid speech is to keep the speech lines open; stupid, misogynist speech invariably gets condemned by more free speech.

Perhaps John would have been convinced of his errors. Perhaps he would never do that again and be kinder, simpler, and not offend anyone's sensibilities.

Or maybe, after giving him a public warning, and perhaps a public hearing, he would have still been kicked off.

It's your site. But it's also your choice to run it like a dictatorship; pardon the harsh comparison.

If John Cadd really is a misogynist, then I stand corrected. If he is a misogynist, he should be corrected.

However, you never gave him a full chance to correct himself. I think that is unfair.

It's like a violin teacher kicking out a student for making a mistake.

A good teacher would be patient and tell the student to come back with the mistakes corrected.

I won't stand by John if you can prove he is a misogynist, and if that is the case, I ask for your forgiveness for accusing you unfairly.

Either way, I don't enjoy the lack of a public trial; my grandfather was imprisoned in the USSR; with no public trial. I couldn't stand for that, even on a small scale, for a responsible adult.

April 29, 2015 at 08:16 AM · Oh dear, it seems the only ones defending John Cadd are males!

April 29, 2015 at 08:16 AM · Oops!

April 29, 2015 at 08:38 AM · From looking at John Cadd's discourse with a female on another site, he seemed... very kind. Here's a link: https://www.violins.ca/forums/viewtopic.php?t=799&start=45

His comments are near the top, and are very kind. Seems like a nice guy! Helpful, too.

I think he needs to be made to provide context for his comments. Or a mouthpiece, to check his posts before he posts them, so that nothing slips by.

I volunteer to monitor him if he's ever invited back!

April 29, 2015 at 09:24 AM · John posts are, sorry were, somewhat rambling, often thought-provoking, and full of confusing British understatement. Personally I have never noticed a hint of mysoginy nor of schoolboy humour, just a love of provocative discussion.

There are contributors that have written empty or insulting posts without apparent sanction.

I myself, in contact with many French, and a few American, families, have learned that British understatement, self-deprecation, and gallows humour can "go down like a lead balloon".("Humour anglaise, je suppose.." from a French parent, or"What did you say?!" from an American.)

My occasional banter on v.com is immediately recognised by fellow British posters, but I hope I offend no-one.

In John's offending post, I recognise a very British irony which he should have avoided on an international forum. I'm not convinced that the punishment fits the crime.

April 29, 2015 at 09:45 AM · I don't mind humor about gender stereotypes, like men aren't good listeners, or they can't dance. It pulls up some amusing images of how awkward some men appear on the dance floor. LOL

And we all know (or should know) that there are some men who are good listeners, or who dance very well.

I think the site will be better with John being gone though, but it's for different reasons, which I think were evident for years, in numerous posts.

April 29, 2015 at 10:31 AM · I understand Laurie is also a journalist. Who else in an editorial position is better placed to understand the ramifications and possible consequences of posts that overstep the mark?

April 29, 2015 at 04:56 PM · There's no need for "like" buttons. (Ew.) Every post on this site already has a "[Flag?]" link at the bottom.

A few years ago I flagged a couple of post by another (former) v.com member who was saying some pretty obnoxious stuff. He was asked to knock it off a couple of times, but he only got more nasty, so he got banned.

Violinist.com isn't a public web site. It is a privately owned entity, and banning a member is Laurie's prerogative. If you don't think this site is professionally managed, get your own.

April 29, 2015 at 05:20 PM · Well this has been a fascinating discussion. From speculating about people's alcohol habits to discussion of how rape is treated in the criminal justice system to some pretty dubious legal advice.

I have often thought that John was essentially writing to himself, and people could pick it up if they happened to be on that wavelength, but I'm not going to jump in on either side on this one. Its quite the little Rorschach thread!

April 29, 2015 at 09:05 PM · If John was "essentially writing to himself," he should have avoided the "submit" button. My problem with him, over several years, was the same as David Burgess'. He could not seem to resist offering outrageous technical advice, which could easily have caused uninformed individuals serious troubles. This was not the only forum he has done that on.

April 29, 2015 at 09:34 PM · I'd feel much better about this execution if I could see some evidence about (1) previous explicit warnings from Laurie to John Cadd to the effect that she considered him to be misusing the forum; and (2) those many other complaints about John Cadd that Laurie has received over the years (these can be divulged in anonymized form if needed).

April 29, 2015 at 10:42 PM · I have no doubts about Laurie's statements. You're saying you don't believe her?

April 29, 2015 at 10:46 PM · Adrian's "Hey, there are two Johns here: do add the surnames!"

That Cad Rokos? I suppose I must have had it coming.

April 29, 2015 at 11:07 PM · Hi Christian, yes, this site can be full of interesting discussions, but I'm just making sure that your comment on 'pretty dubious legal advice' wasn't referring to my earlier posts. Unlike some, I do my homework before commenting publicly on sensitive issues. If I may be so bold as to provide a few hyperlinks to show that the world is becoming aware of bullying, harrassment and misogynistic comments online and that (depending on the country and state) there is legal recourse if a situation becomes serious enough.

From the good ol' Aussie government:

http://www.legalaid.nsw.gov.au/publications/factsheets-and-resources/online-social-networking-cyber-bullying

And from a fairfax media article on Belgium's new forward thinking laws:

http://www.dailylife.com.au/news-and-views/news-features/belgium-to-ban-sexist-comments-20140316-34w68.html

The U.S. actually has a cyberbullying research centre which outlines individual laws on its website:

http://cyberbullying.us/cyberbullying-laws/

A large reason for these initial laws has been to try and curb the horrendous amounts of personal attacks pupils in schools are experiencing on social media. Because of many grey areas there have there been strong discussions evolving around the world on how to create laws in general to deal with social media and various forms of abuse. Most of this information is just a few internet clicks away so go ahead and research if you like.

Laurie clarified earlier that what John said may not only have been construed as Misogyny, but is problematic in that left unchecked it can promote others to join in. So then she doesn't just have one problem, she has a bunch.

Not wanting to accept her call was another mistake on John Cadd's part and was a red flag to her that if she won't be taken seriously then it needs to be dealt with strongly.

I personally (like many) have been brought up in an environment of free speech, clear thinking and assertiveness. I can give and take a good ribbing, have a hide like a rhino when it comes to important battles and criticism, and can dish out my opinion wholeheartedly and strongly if I feel the need. But even I know that I would have to expect and accept a reprimand if I alerted the notice of a site administrator. What, curb my freedom of speech? Well yes, actually, when it comes to libel, defamation and sexism and any other questionable public statements. That's perfectly ok.

It's been a pretty good site providing interesting reading and discourse over the years so if everybody plays nice in the sandbox it will be great for many more years to come.

April 30, 2015 at 12:37 AM ·

Oh yes, could you please look up self-righteousness and hypocrisy for us. We need to put a cover over the sandbox to keep the dirty kitties out.

April 30, 2015 at 01:49 AM · I just say it like I see it, Charles. Nothing hypocritical about that I can assure you. The double standards seem to begin when some are given licence to say anything they please which is glossed over as if it is nothing, but others aren't even afforded a squeak. Sorry, but it's a new world and I won't abide by old school rules of not squeaking unless squoten to.

April 30, 2015 at 03:03 AM · Hi all. I'm still around and - so far as I know - have not been banned, myself! ;-) I've been quite busy with this and that and expect to continue so for a while. I hope to come back with a fun contest when I have the time. But dipping in here for the first time in a while, this thread struck me.

So evidently John Cadd got banned. I didn't see his offending remarks, so I can't comment specifically. He didn't usually bother me nearly as much as a few others who much more briefly came and (fortunately) went. As someone else noted, he did seem to rush in where Angels fear to tread when it came to offering technical advice that he wasn't qualified to give, but...

In a more general way I was struck by something Laurie said - "would you post something that you would say to someone's face? And if you did, would you likely get slapped" (or punched, or worse). There's clearly a phemomenon about of internet 'road-rage'. I've seen much worse examples of it than most of the worst moments here, in some comments to classical music offerings on YouTube. I sometimes wonder how and why some of these people ever got drawn to some of this music in the first place. (Not that loving Classical music by any means necessarily makes one better. But the low level of some of the remarks, and the flaming that sometimes ensues...) I suppose that people feel even safer and more invulnerable at home at their computers than when in their car. But the classical music community can be a very small world. Yes, I've sometimes expressed myself strongly, whether here or even in private emails, knowing that precious little is really private now-a-days. But it was always soberly, and having thought about it a few times. Once our ideas go out there, they're not completely ours anymore.

Hmmm...I guess this thread really IS a kind of Rorschach test!

April 30, 2015 at 03:16 AM · Lots of us give advice that we're probably not qualified to give, but this is a chat room! What did you expect? Why would anyone post a question here if (s)he didn't want amateurs to chime in?

I seriously doubt that anyone would be banned on this site for suggesting something absurd like trying to play the violin without a shoulder rest. No, my experience with the guy who got banned in ca. 2011 was that people who get banned have it coming and have been given clarion warnings.

April 30, 2015 at 04:32 AM · I will reiterate: This is the warning that everyone gets, and the link to this policy appears every single time anyone posts to the discussion board:

Violinist.com's Rules for Writers

Violinist.com is a global community of violin professionals, students and fans. Like any civil community, we need all participants to abide by certain rules.

1) Post accurate information

No one should pass along information that he or she knows to be wrong, or even suspects to be wrong. If you see something on the site that you know to be wrong, please post the corrected information as a response or e-mail the editor so she can correct it.

2) Post original information

The words and other content you post to Violinist.com must be your own. If you wish to tell people about content you found elsewhere, please provide a hyperlink, rather than copying and pasting the piece. Anyone who publishes someone else's copyrighted material on the site may be expelled from the site and is subject to legal action by the copyright owner.

3) No hate speech or personal attacks

Please respect others on the site, avoid profanity and conduct yourself politely. Attempts to harass or intimidate others are grounds for expulsion from the site.

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U.S. federal law does not allow for the publication of personally identifying information about children under the age of 13 without the offline written consent of the child's parents. This is why we do not allow people under 13 to register with the site. If you are writing on your blog or in the discussion forum about students or other children you know under 13, you must have their parents' permission before publishing their full name, picture, address or other identifying information. (Writing about them without using identifying information, such as a picture or name, can be okay.)

5) Please post in English

While we welcome content from violinists all over the world, in order to maximize the number or readers who may participate in site discussions, we ask that all discussions be conducted in English. This also helps the site's editor monitor the content on the site.

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April 30, 2015 at 06:53 AM · Laurie, could point no.3) be expanded to warn posters against risking unforseen interpretions of their remarks? It's so easy to offend without meaning to.

And Millie, thank you for the little phrase about other people tending to join in after a dubious post: I hadn't really thought of that. Results vs Intent, as you said earlier.

April 30, 2015 at 11:15 AM · Aw shucks Adrian, you're welcome :)

April 30, 2015 at 11:38 AM · Something we must all be aware of on any forum is the potential for misuse of the forum's internal messaging system. As far as I am aware, the content of internal messages is not monitored by the administrator, and neither should it be, so the onus is on the recipient is to draw the attention of the administrator to a misuse.

A few days ago, on another music forum, I received a message from a member using an anonymous screen name, who had nothing whatsoever on his profile (I'm assuming it was a male), had never posted or had any other presence on that forum, but was asking for "help". The content of the message, which had no relation whatsoever to music, seemed at first sight to be fairly innocuous but it didn't take long to perceive a most unpleasant and possibly illegal subtext which would have caused it to be blocked as spam had it been sent through a regular email system. I didn't reply to the message but forwarded it immediately to the forum's administrator who took immediate action by cancelling that member's account and removing his name and serial number from the records. I don't know whether the administrator has followed this up by drawing the attention of security authorities to the matter, but it is not unlikely.

April 30, 2015 at 12:37 PM · I am fully in support of the admin's action on banning the offensive poster. I came on to this thread wondering who could be meant - and it turned out to be a person on this forum whose posts I have always noticed to be 'nasty' or mocking in some way!

But even if I hadn't come across the poster in question, I would support Laurie's action as I trust her judgement. My husband is a moderator on another forum and there is always 'the full story' behind actions that are taken.

April 30, 2015 at 01:07 PM · It might be worth noting (for the person who commented that the banned gentleman might have a lawsuit against v-com for defamation of character) that Laurie named no one in the original post; that became the prerogative of later commenters.

April 30, 2015 at 01:56 PM · Adrian ... "warn posters against risking unforseen interpretions of their remarks" ... in my view that's a little like reminding people to look both ways before they cross the street.

I think the rules as Laurie has stated them are crystal clear to everyone including those keen on bending them. In an online forum there has to be some allowance for spontaneity, and misunderstandings do happen. But my strong sense is that the overwhelming majority of the time, people have a pretty darn good idea when they've written something that is going to be taken the "wrong way". You can also learn a lot by watching how someone responds when they've been called out, and that's where the behind-the-scenes workings, judgment, and discretion of the editor are necessarily applied.

There is another thing that I would point out, and that is that violinist.com is supposedly a site where people use their real names. I remember seeing that somewhere when I registered way back when. Paul Deck is my real name. I object when I see someone who was permitted to register NOT using his or her full name. I think requiring real names helps to cut down on some of the crap. Obviously it's not sufficient just by itself, but I still wish this rule were enforced more uniformly, even if that means applying it retroactively to current members.

April 30, 2015 at 04:29 PM · "a little like reminding people to look both ways before they cross the street." Yes Paul, but crossing the street can be very different in different countries, with traffic coming from the right(GB), the left(US), or from all sides at once (Italy). Sorry, I didn't say that last one!

I meant remembering the very differnt uses of the same English expressions in different cultures. Which is one of the problems in this particular case.

Molly, I sincerely think we are not thinking of the same person. Anyway there are people I like, but who would not like or understand each other.

And I find that lawsuit idea a tiresome and silly distraction.

April 30, 2015 at 05:18 PM · If I were banned I would be upset but that is only one kind of punishment. I would feel even worse if nobody answered my posts. A reply to an offensive post only creates a stage for more of the same.

Just avoid posts that do not belong on the forum.

No banning, just banishing ! And we, the members can do that very effectively. We own "yes" or "no" in a way about forum topics/language.

April 30, 2015 at 07:28 PM · Darlene, unfortunately I don't really think letting it slide is adequate. I think when someone's been abused they expect and even deserve some support from the community, they don't want that ignored. And in cases that are beyond a certain threshold folks want to feel that measures will be taken so that an individual cannot do the same thing again tomorrow or next week.

April 30, 2015 at 07:32 PM · You're right.

April 30, 2015 at 08:59 PM · I agree with Paul about making the "use your real name" rule more uniform. Having followed the rules by using my real name I get irked when I see someone with Got Milk as their name on threads. (I don't think that name is actually taken but you get my point).

I also support Laurie's decision on banning the offensive poster.

April 30, 2015 at 09:41 PM · @Adrian - on looking into it, I find that the name mentioned in this thread was *not* the only poster who'd struck me as nasty & mocking & I may have been thinking of someone else - whose comments have also disappeared, oddly enough. It's impossible to know now, but if I have made a mistake, I'm sorry.

Anyway, my main point was that I know from the other forum that I belong to that sometimes posters do upset others to the extent that they are banned, and yet most people who are banned do have their supporters. At the end of the day the owners/ managers/ moderators of a site have to make their decisions based on their experience and the pattern of the person's posts. And I would respect & support the decision where I know the one deciding is an honourable person - as here.

April 30, 2015 at 10:32 PM · I quite respect Laurie's prerogative, and accept that she may have further reasons that I have not really understood.

I note that John's exclusion has clearly shocked a few males, including myself, slightly surprised one or two females, but drawn the support of rather more females.

I feel no competence for drawing conclusions, but may I just point out that John's "advocates" (again including myself) are serious contributors, who are most definitely not misogynous nor contemptuous, and certainly not a "boys club".

I have flagged posts only twice, posts which were interesting in themselves, but written in a tone that despised guys and gals alike..

May 1, 2015 at 01:01 AM · Well, Adrian, it looks as though you've discovered what bias is. I'm not making a judgment about who's right or wrong, but when two groups see things so differently, bias is the first thing you look for.

May 1, 2015 at 03:31 AM ·

Not bias, misandry.

May 1, 2015 at 03:44 AM · Misandry is definitely the wrong word, at least imo.

May 1, 2015 at 04:06 AM · Mina, pay no attention to that. Scroll up a ways, you'll see what I mean. This is how it starts.

May 1, 2015 at 08:32 AM · I had to look up "misandry" on the web: it doesn't appear in my Concise Oxford Dictionary (1990)! Both forms of hate must be as old as the hills, but mysogyny has done infinitely more damage.

Well, misogyny and misandry can come from bias, and bias can come from misunderstanding: linguistic usage and elipsis (on which I must insist), and the often subtle differences in perception between men and women. Thank goodness this a violin forum! We are surely clever enough to prevent misunderstanding turning into bias.

Hey, I'm doing my best!

May 1, 2015 at 08:44 AM · I too agree that people should be allowed to post only if they use their real names. It makes them more accountable for what they say, and reduces the possibility of slander.

Although, in fairness, I have to point out that this and another member who was recently banned both used their full names, not initials or obvious aliases. Assuming they were real, of course.

May 1, 2015 at 09:24 AM · And I really would like a few words of biography in every case. It helps to "talk" to a real person, not just a name.

For example, it can avoid giving amateurs short shrift when they discuss problems that the pros have long since forgotten about.

May 1, 2015 at 10:27 AM · A screen name may be acceptable provided that the real name is on view in the member's profile, which is what I do on another forum. A general location (at country or state level) in the biography can often be of assistance when advising someone online.

May 1, 2015 at 10:59 AM · Marjorie, I think if John were to bring a lawsuit against v.com, he might win his case, but I doubt that the damages would break the bank - He's only an amateur like us - Incidentally, seeing where you're based, I'm glad to note that you haven't been hanged - yet!

Misandry and Misandrist are not in my Concise Oxford either, and thesaurus.com seems to misunderstand their meaning. However, Wikipedia demonstrates that the terms have a respectable history. Laurie, if any defined by such terms turn up on v.com, you won't need to ban them; just expose them to the patronizing they'll get from a few of us!

Trevor, they just haven't found us yet - thankfully. When they do, rest assured you'll be offered a substantial share in the inheritance of someone's rich aunt who died out there in Ouadadougou or Dakar, in return for helping your correspondent to place their claim, by giving them your bank details, etc. ...

Adrian, as you DIDN'T say that awful thing about Italy, you might like to be informed that the Irish Republic is planning to change from driving on the left to driving on the right, but are planning to bring in the change gradually. It'll be the cars and bikes first, and then a month later (though they are debating whether to make it two months) the HGVs and PSVs. Finally, a month or two later, it'll be the BWVs.

Please note, everyone, I only said that Adrian MIGHT LIKE to be informed - I never said that he would be.

May 1, 2015 at 12:40 PM · John (R!), please take care: the Irish have many friends in th U.S. I'm trying so hard to reduce the width of The Pond!

May 1, 2015 at 05:24 PM · Again with the lawsuit nonsense?

So a British national is ostensibly going to sue a website based in the US for something which is clearly outlined in the terms of service, in what jurisdiction and for what exactly? Or conversely, some unknown entity is going to sue this subject for inciting(?) an atmosphere of bullying on a violin discussion website?

Someone call Interpol!

Let's get real. Some people were clearly hurt by someone's comments, and that's an important topic of conversation. But the comments apparently are dubious enough in intention, and frankly in objective content so that a fair amount of the posters don't agree that anything offensive was said (Or for that matter agree on what was said at all). This does not have the makings of a successful lawsuit.

Please find me an example of a successful lawsuit that could compare at all to this message board spat (I don't mean to be flippant, because this seems to be an issue that is worth broaching, and just playing it off as if nothing is going on is a bit condescending to many of the posters that are uncomfortable with some of the tone that comes out here, but there is clearly no legal merit here).

May 1, 2015 at 06:02 PM · We poor Brits, living so near the Old Continent, may fail to undersatand this obsession with lawsuits; after all, our lawyers are not usually paid on a percentage basis. We are not going to sue anyone for a broken fingernail, nor an insult. For goodness sake, let's all grow up!

On the other hand, a private, if visitable, forum can establish its own internal ground rules, and has every moral right to impose them. In this particular case, I accept the moderator's decision, even though I don't agree that it is appropriate, and I do appreciate the possibility of trying to explain why.

May 1, 2015 at 07:20 PM ·

May 1, 2015 at 11:45 PM · Can somebody enlighten me as to what was said ? It is a bit hard to make any judgements here unless you saw the offending comment. It might help other people by giving a clear example of 'crossing the line'.

I always respect the moderator's decision. In this case, she owns the site so there is not much point arguing :)

NOTE : I think I am just curious !

May 2, 2015 at 12:20 AM · Brian,

This is the offending comment:

"Katherine since you are a lady I have read that no matter what the problem is ,we should give you lots of sympathy and understanding but avoid giving you solutions. How does that sound?"

May 2, 2015 at 12:36 AM · "Post rendered redundant by last comment, so i have edited out the contents" - Actually, in view of following discussion, not so redundant, so I'm editing this post with a modification of what I originally wrote.

Some of John Cadd's posts/blogs ARE still on this site. You can find them by googling "John Cadd" violinist.com".

May 2, 2015 at 07:04 AM · Actually it does ring a bell. It ressembles something out of "Men come from Mars, Women come from Venus" a book recommended to me by a woman!

May 2, 2015 at 07:20 AM · The idea does come from that book. However, the phrasing 'no matter what' etc & adding the final comment does make the post sound snide & patronising, as if the poster was 'seeing what he could get away with'.

On its own, one would just think, oh another example of male chauvinism, and not be particularly surprised. Reading the OP again, I get the impression that the post was a 'final straw', however.

And now that I've read the comment, I understand more about how this thread is being played out. My experience in real life and on the music forum that I belong to is that men who make these remarks often seem really surprised when they cause offence.

May 2, 2015 at 07:28 AM · I still think the "How does that sound?" was misinterpreted: I had taken it as condemning the preceding sentence.

May 2, 2015 at 07:32 AM · There is nothing in 'how does that sound?' to suggest condemnation. Perhaps because you know the poster well, you think that you are seeing into his motives & that he wouldn't make a misogynistic remark.

But to someone reading it with no prior knowledge, the question sounds mischievous.

May 2, 2015 at 07:42 AM · I agree, Mollie. Result rather than Intent.

When reading the offending sentence, I was thinking of posters who can be condescending to any amateur, male or female, who gives advice.

So I read "How does that sound" with my own "tone of voice", to mean "How absurd".

But then I am only a man... I see things clearly, but I don't see everything.

May 2, 2015 at 08:38 AM · I'm not sure that I have ever said or written "How does that sound?". However, when it has been said to me, to the best of my recollection it has only been said following some sort of offer which I was being invite to consider or some sort of formula that I was being invited to endorse.

May 2, 2015 at 09:15 AM · J.R, hence my assumption of "irony", as J.C. couldn't possibly have meant it seriously.

May 2, 2015 at 09:49 AM · May I underline problems of vocabulary?

I recently flagged posts which were telling some of us to "get a life" and adopting an aggressive tone in general. The thread was interesting in itself. I didn't know this expression, and I don't know quite how vulgar it semms to others.

Other examples from my own environment:

- "Shut up!" semms to offend Americans far more than the British.

- "B*ll sh*t" seems common in the U.S. but I find it very coarse.

And these are just words, not even humour or sarcasm.

"The water is wide, I cannot get o'er"

May 2, 2015 at 11:02 AM · Adrian wrote above that a few people were shocked by the deletion of John Cadd's account and I am one of them. Can you believe that I cannot get this incident out of my mind? I've tried but failed to brush it aside. Whenever I have a quiet moment it comes back in my head. To me it feels like character assassination. Someone above wrote that she fully supported Laurie's action and she could imagine who it was that had been deleted. Only then to realize later that it was someone else! If these can be counted as support for Laurie's action, then I am not impressed. Actually I can very well guess who the original guess was: it is someone who, almost in every discussion on the forum, steered the discussion towards a sex-related joke. Me too found that really really annoying. John Cadd was just totally not like that. Not at all. Of course he meant the offending sentence in a parodying manner. In every discussion on the forum he tries to add something constructive, in his idiosyncratic way of course. The only thing is that his writing style was fundamentally flawed. He never inserted smileys, for example, and seemed unable to make sure what he was writing would be clearly understood. But there is absolutely no history of abuse, intimidation, harrassment, or just anything of that nature. He never ever wrote such things. Also, apparently, from what I understand (what information has been given to me), I infer that Laurie never gave him an explicit warning that she considered his writings to be clearly violating the guidelines. I am sure John had no idea; on the contrary this forum was obviously dear to his heart and an important part of his life. But at that moment Laurie suddenly had enough of him and executed him on the spot. I have been writing this post over the past few days many times only to cancel it every time. But I feel so offended (!) that I have to get it off my chest, I am sorry for this.

May 2, 2015 at 11:36 AM · Jean, we can't presume what actions Laurie has or hasn't taken in the past, and she is in no way obliged to tell us in a public thread, but I do agree with evrything else you say.

May 2, 2015 at 11:59 AM · I dunno, Jean. The first time I read the so-called "last straw" comment (so-called because that's an assumption), I thought, well, that just sounds like so-and-so being so-and-so. Now that I've read it a few times, though, my reaction is, "Wow, that's *really* nasty and altogether unnecessary." One factor that makes me think so is the apparent age of the person to whom the comment was made -- relatively young based on the videos that she posted of herself in the same thread. Not sure if that should be relevant, but as someone with two young daughters, it is.

May 2, 2015 at 12:00 PM · I'm the person who was mixed up about the posters. What happened was that I remembered -accurately - that I'd reacted badly to John Cadd's posts, and remembered - accurately - that some offensive posts had appeared on a thread of mine.

When I looked at this thread, he wasn't the one I'd thought he was, so I then felt sorry that I'd posted like that, but I left my original post so that Adrian's would still make sense.

It is my custom to be honest, but now that my admission has been taken up in the wrong way, I rather regret answering Adrian's point!

You see, John Cadd *had* posted on my threads in a flippant way that I found unhelpful. So it wasn't actually a mistake to say that I wasn't surprised when he was named.

If you read my reply to Adrian, I say that I'm sorry 'if' I made a mistake - but all I did was conflate two offending posters in my memory, and it turned out that they'd *both* been banned but that John Cadd was less offensive than the other.

I cannot see how my error negates my point about supporting Laurie since I have made it clear on all my posts that I believe this ban to have come about as a *cumulative* reaction to this poster. That's what the OP by Laurie implies, to my mind.

It also isn't accurate to say that my mistake typifies or even represents the support for Laurie in this matter. I only posted after reading all the preceding comments, and it's made clear by posters other than Laurie that John Cadd often did post in a provocative way. That was why I 'wasn't surprised' etc...

I belong to another site with a sole proprietor (not the one where my husband is a moderator) & on that site too there has been disquiet when someone was banned. This person was habitually very acerbic and 'didn't suffer fools gladly'. He had and has a lot of supporters on that site, but also a lot of people were relieved at his ban. This sort of action is bound to divide opinion, but the fact that it is so rare on Violinist-dot-com is a sign that Laurie felt that the action was justified.

The one thing I do wonder about is why all John Cadd's posts were deleted. Some of them were very helpful, and at the least leaving them would provide more evidence for those who say that there was a pattern of provocative posting.

However, maybe knowing that all one's posts will go in the event of posting an offensive remark is an incentive to posting carefully & thinking about the possible reactions of one's readers.

It's no use saying that women or people from minority groups should realise that Old Fred is a good guy & only making a joke. That's the way a lot of actual sexists and racists get away with so much, and the depressing effect it has on the sufferer's psyche is incalculable.

It may be result, not intention, as Adrian says - but that doesn't make it less hurtful.

May 2, 2015 at 12:10 PM · Deleting the posts spares the effort of those who might be voyeuristic enough to go back and read them all.

May 2, 2015 at 02:03 PM · I didn't see this particular incident, but I do want to support Laurie in general for making these difficult decisions. Back in 2008 a poster on this site, who had started out quite civil at first, personally attacked me in a blog comment section, ending with "you suck." He was banned and I appreciated it. The tone of a site can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Laurie does a good job with a really tough balancing act.

May 2, 2015 at 03:54 PM · "I recently flagged posts which were telling some of us to "get a life" and adopting an aggressive tone in general. The thread was interesting in itself. I didn't know this expression, and I don't know quite how vulgar it semms to others."

That was viola steel string threads (3 of them), Adrian. I read them too. I found it rather rude. Several replies in that thread and others explained to the OP v.com was not usual forum - there are amateurs, violinist parents. luthiers and highly qualified professional violinists. Bohdan Warchal wrote qualified answer to his question and was met with rather impolite reaction, pity his explanation is gone.

When the person is banned (and there will be cases in the future for certain) may just the offending post/s be deleted and not the whole threads; a lot of useful info may be lost.

Sorry about John, beside his extremely complicated language and lack of paragraphs I did not find his posts irritating but he obviously crossed the line (maybe without his being aware of it) and that's it.

May 2, 2015 at 05:40 PM · Over the years on every forum to which I have contributed posts (currently there are two such) I have copied each and every one of my posts onto a file on my computer.

I thoroughly recommend this practice and find it very useful if I want to check up on something I wrote years ago, and also as a salutary check on whether something I wrote in the last few days might need a little re-writing, or even wholesale deletion(!). A significant re-write or added matter is of course always indicated as an "Edit".

May 2, 2015 at 06:21 PM · Pavel raised the issue of permitting an expelled member's posts to remain (or the innocuous ones at any rate). Currently, this does not appear to be so on this forum.

The webmaster of another forum I belong to may decide to retain at least some of a banned or suspended member's posts on the public pages, but deletes the member's name so that those posts are now anonymous. This sometimes can render the reading of a discussion thread with such anonymizing a little weird, especially if other member's posts refer to the absent member by name (this of course would be before an enforced absence), and furthermore, the deletion of a post can result in odd non sequiturs in the discussion.

Likewise, once or twice on that other forum a longstanding member with a lot of useful posting activity has voluntarily resigned and requested that all his posts and other activities be deleted, a request that under UK law has to be complied with. Again, this can result in some baffling lacunae in discussions unless the readers are blessed with long memories.

May 2, 2015 at 08:25 PM · How to round this off?

Katherine, sorry your own thread was messed up, but it's continued in very good form.

Millie and Mollie, you are perfect.

References to rape victims or going to court don't help.

We few who stick up for John Cadd are sincerely baffled.

Laurie, your blogs and posts show you to be a great journalist and a marvellous teacher.

It's a fantasic forum.

Let's devote a little more time to ease tensions: Mars/Venus, UK/US, Effect/Intent.

I won't squat the last two posts. Let's use them well!

May 2, 2015 at 10:15 PM · Yes Adrian, but we could add at least one more:

Follow Laurie's Rules for Writers.

That is the moral of the story after all. I'm off to get some sandpaper and dull my 'perfect' image, lol.

May 2, 2015 at 10:16 PM · Thanks, everyone, for your comments. I hope it's not necessary to do this again any time soon.

May 3, 2015 at 01:40 AM · I don’t have a lot of experience with online forums, but this is a very eye-opening discussion for me. I can totally understand how words posted on the web may lack a tone of voice or expression which is required in a face-to-face discussion in order to - not manipulate, exactly, but ensure a type of reaction. For example, the statement “No way!”. Face-to-face, it could be used as sarcasm, or a show of surprise, or a firm denial or disapproval. But online? Who knows? I know that some people can be very quick to take offence, especially online as they can never be too sure of the tone behind a voiceless message.

I get the feeling, that after being a part of a forum for a while, reading other people’s posts, having them read and respond to your own, you get to know a bit of the people who post and comment regularly. Everyone seems very familiar with each other, and I know from experience that when you become comfortable with a group of people, your behaviour can change, to something more informal. Maybe that was what happened with Mr Cadd, maybe not. Perhaps he felt that he had gotten to know the people of the forum well, and vice versa, and felt at ease making a comment because he felt a certain group of you would understand. But where that certain group of people might get it, there is that newcomer who does not know the poster’s style or his personality, and takes offence.

What I noticed here, and admire, is that everyone is very open to discussing and listening to different views. I also like that Ms Niles lets the conversations flow and does not actively try to prove her point or perspective, instead really taking into consideration what everyone says. Despite what some of the posts say, I do feel that she gives substantial evidence that support her stand. Ms Niles has displayed a strong code of ethics and stands by her beliefs, which I feel is a thumbs up in her favour. As the editor, she has to take on the responsibility of ensuring that everyone is happy, or at the very least not insulted on her webpage. Also, from what I’ve seen, I don’t think that Ms Niles would either remove someone without giving a warning, or remove someone if nobody else supported her decision.

To Mr Rokos and Mr Heath, I actually do understand where you are coming from, because where I feel that something is not inappropriate, there is someone who does not feel the same. But you have to look at other people’s point of view, and the general majority. I might be getting a little out of line here, but I think you may be fighting a losing battle. Though you strongly believe that this whole incident is a misunderstanding, it may be because you have background knowledge or understanding of Mr Cadd. You have to understand that online, that understanding does not extend to everyone, and nobody can assume that it will always be there. Posting something online, you always have to be aware there may be someone new, someone who may not get an "inside joke” or understand that you don’t mean something the way it sounds. Also, while this may have been a misunderstanding, it seems to have happened many times before, and Mr Cadd did not learn to phrase his posts in ways that everyone can understand clearly and without insult.

So I guess, what my very long post seems to be talking about (>.<) is that I admire this forum a lot, as well as the members who so actively participate, and I hope I didn’t offend anyone...

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