S. Bougerolle steveb at creek-and-cowley.com
Thu Oct 17 18:59:51 PDT 2002

I agree somewhat with Ian's objection to IRC.  I think he was asking for
trouble when he started using foul language, but every time I use IRC I
also run into various sorts of anti-social gits. The LFS channels are
actually much better than the mainstream ones.  A few weeks back I poked
my nose into a BLFS discussion to get a bit of company while I hammered
away at some GNOME/Evolution problem, and everybody was pounding on some
self-important turd who seemed to really want to make a fool of
himself.  I asked my GNOME question and got back from this guy "I think
you'll find most people here use KDE".  I haven't found that, actually,
in a couple years here, but other people were busy thumping this cretin
so I let it and other comments slide.  

However, I *really* had to fight the urge to fight when this fool
started talking about PERL scripts not being binary-compatible with
newer versions of PERL.

Anyway, that's a pretty typical IRC experience for me - however I do
find it useful despite the noise.  Scot's hit on the explanation for
some of this rudeness here:

On Fri, 2002-10-18 at 05:27, Scot Mc Pherson wrote:
> 	There is a big difference between the MLs and irc. With the MLs you have
> the benefit of a bit of time to formulate a response and even review it
> and ensure everything is worded nicely even if the desired result is
> "fsck off". In irc, you are going real time, and you don't really have to
> time to formulate, and as well you aren't speaking with spoken word but
> written words.

So what happens is all these cretins make fools of themselves on mailing
lists and in news groups, then have no easy escape because their
comments are printed for everyone to see and follow up with practically
infinite preparation time.  After this happens a few times they get
disgusted with mail and go hang out in IRC and other chat rooms with the
l33t doodz.  

I always wondered where people went after we chased them out of
newsgroups and mailing lists.  Now I"ve got it figured out.  Thanks,
Scot! :)  Always nice to begin my day with a small intellectual success.

> 	With the MLs misinterpretation is in great evidence, with the qualities
> irc lends to the situation, I am sure you can see how misinterpretation
> and insult is much easier to divine within a converstation.

Of course you're right, but I have to think that still doesn't quite by
itself explain why rudeness is so much more common while chatting, and
it especially doesn't explain why some groups and lists have a much
lower rate of this behaviour than others.  

For example, the usenet groups rec.travel.* and soc.culture.* cover
broadly similar areas but the soc.culture groups have about a hundred
times as much "noise" from rude people.  Why?  Actually, the same jerks
often post obnoxious rubbish in both sets of groups but when it appears
in rec.travel.* a dozen people will immediately pick up on it and make
the obnoxious poster wish he had kept his mouth shut (usually they
disappear shortly after that).  In the soc.culture groups the noise has
reached critical mass so nobody makes any serious efforts to keep it
civil any more.  All the same communication factors (misinterpretation,
mistaken insults, quick response time) are there in both groups but one
is much better than the other simply because a better crowd of people
selects itself.

I think that's what happens with IRC too, and basically Ian is right:
for a lot of reasons chat rooms simply DO tend to attract more
loudmouths.  There are lots of helpful guys too but the noisy riff-raff
are a part of the scenery and have to be endured if you want to use IRC.

Steve Bougerolle
Creek & Cowley Consulting


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