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Author Topic: Playing together  (Read 4176 times)
High Adept Member
Last Login:February 23, 2020, 06:56:44 pm
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Religion: Priestess in initiatory religious witchcraft tradition
Posts: 2506

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« Reply #3: September 05, 2008, 01:38:26 pm »

I'm always fascinated by the ways that people resolve conflict in negotiated spaces like teams and web forums. I figured that since so many people here have participated quite widely in these sorts of spaces I'd ask you all what you think is most important in agreeing to play with others and in patching things back together before someone gets hurt?

1) Talk about base agreements before you start - different people, communities, cultures, etc. have different ideas of how one resolves disagreements fairly: clashes here can be particularly messy, so I like spelling it out in advance.

1b) Or, if you're entering into an existing space, read the rules carefully, and spend a bunch more time observing/listening than talking for a time to get a good feel for how things work - online, I usually suggest 2-3 weeks of reading, whether that's reading and not posting much for that time, or whether that's reading back posts.

2) Practice HALT - if something upsets you, check to see whether you're hungry, angry, lonely, or tired. If one of these things is true, go do something to fix it. Come back and deal with the problem when you're doing better.

(Note: this is not grounds for ditching a difficult conversation - but reasonable people should be okay with "You know, this is hitting me really hard: I know this is important to you, but can we can come back to it later when I'm better able to discuss it fairly?" Yes, this takes some self-awareness to do, but it's a valuable skill to spot these issues in many areas of life, and worth learning.)

I sit firmly on my hands for at least 8 hours if something triggers that 'really upset' place in my head. Or I go write up my rebuttal in a totally separate program (to avoid sending it accidentally) and let it sit. By the time I come back, I'm usually far more able to be reasonable and to avoid escalation. (And I've probably come up with a couple of really good solid points that have real weight to them.)

3) Take steps to develop a community culture where behaving decently towards other people (by which I don't mean 'friendly' - I mean not digressing into unrelated insults, detractions, deliberately aiming at sore points or old issues, etc.) is encouraged and to some extent rewarded.

Exactly how you do this depends on the set-up - this is something that it's actually a lot easier to do with either a heirarchical structure if the leadership is on top of it, or in a group with a solid core of active participants who all buy into it together. It's a *lot* harder to do in a setting where people who aren't very familiar with each other are all coming together for the first time in a consensus sort of setting.

Figure out some way - and this can be very simple praise and positive attention - to recognise people who help maintain the atmosphere you want. This sounds really cynical and mechanical, but really - you will be in good shape and have a resiliant system. When I say 'praise', I don't mean anything big or obvious, but a "Hey, good point, X" or "Thanks for bringing that up, Y" or "It's clear this is a big deal to you - thanks for being so even-handed in your response" can go a long way.

4) I'd recommend Suzette Haden Elgin's books on verbal self-defense to pretty much anyone - not only will they help you identify when things are starting to go downhill, but they'll give you ways to avoid that. Many of the tips work very well, and help defuse things without someone who's trying to make trouble being able to get a good grip. (she has a number out with different kinds of focus: pick whatever makes sense to you.)

5) Be aware that almost all communities will eventually attract at least one person who is primarily interested in making trouble. I'm fond of Teresa Neilsen Hayden's theory that *one* of these people is not a problem, necessarily, but that two is deadly (because they will play off of each other.) These are trolls.

There are different philosophies on dealing with them - but have one that's been field tested in a similar group/community/culture and where it's worked. Also, expect to deal with it periodically: prompt action *limits* these issues a lot, but the world is a big place, and new challenges will come along. Plan for that when you're figuring out moderation and leadership stuff: have a backup plan (and backup staff who are comfortable stepping up) in case of emergency, for example.

Some useful web resources:
* Teresa's comments on moderation (there are a number of others on that blog, but this hits the main points: read the comments, too):
* Eran's online book on trollspotting in Pagan settings - many of the comments are also applicable (or good principles) in other settings, but this is designed for coven/small groups :

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