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Pabitra Mukhopadhyay

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TED conversation conduct

Can we jointly define it? Beyond the obvious foul, hateful and distasteful language?
I shall propose a few thumb rules and request you to populate/edit the list. I think it can be of great help for all of us.
1. No personal attack.
2. Disagree with respect
3. Give humor a chance.
4. Don't loose an opportunity to complement a poster.
5. Let go the first chance to criticize.
6. Be succinct but expand when necessary.
7. Try to be on topic but if a thread developed a question more interesting than the original, continue it.
8. Make your stand clear, if you have one.
9. Don't withdraw a comment unless you are compelled by consideration. Please leave a hint why you did so.
10. Please leave a concluding message for a conversation that is closing.

Thanks to everybody.

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Closing Statement from Pabitra Mukhopadhyay

Based on inputs from TEDsters here in open discourse it appears that an unofficial TED conversation conduct guideline may be as below:
1. No personal attack.
2. Disagree respectfully.
3. Give humor a chance.
4. Don't lose an opportunity to compliment a poster.
5. Let go the first chance to criticize a post.
6. Be succinct but expand when necessary.
7. Try to be on topic. If a thread develops a new question open a new conversation.
8. Make your stand clear, if you have one.
9. Don't withdraw a comment unless you are compelled by consideration. Please explain why you did so.
10. Please leave a concluding message for a conversation that is closing.
11. Never edit your comment beyond spelling and grammatical mistakes after someone has replied to it. If it is felt absolutely necessary for an edit after a reply, keep the original comment and add correction clearly mentioning it is an edited version.
12. Try to back up your comment with references if you are forwarding a claim. Your arguments will be more convincing if you provide supporting evidence, such as references for any statistics you cite or for claims about what scientific research says or what scientists believe.
13. Please interact with the commenters as a host of a conversation you started.
14. Draw your line between intellectual sparring and hazing. No trolls, bullying, multiple profile ganging up either.
15. Uphold the right of free speech but with responsibility and modesty.
16. Use TED email when you need to contact a poster directly.

Thanks to all participants and the TED conversation moderation team. Cheers!!

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    Apr 27 2013: Hi Pabitra:>)
    I agree with everything you propose except #7. I do not believe in supporting different topics that may evolve from the original, unless they are very closly related. On this forum, people pop in and out of conversations all the time, and if it is left open to continue with different questions/topics, the discussion becomes confused and confusing. Sometimes, the conversation topic can keep evolving until it has nothing to do with the original topic. So, I'm not in favor of encouraging that. If a topic other than the original, becomes more interesting to some folks, it is not that difficult to start another conversation.

    One thing that I like, is for the facilitator (person who starts the conversation) to be engaged with the discussion. I don't understand why some people start a bunch of discussions, then disappear! The conversations generally flow much better when the facilitator is involved and genuinely engaged with the discussion.

    One thing that helps me tie your proposed elements together, is to read comments several times carefully before responding, and to read my comments several times before submitting. I evaluate myself...am I commenting respectfully? Without personal attack? I believe we see some "knee jerk" comments that may not be well thought out. Sometimes, when someone has a personal agenda that s/he is trying to promote, it appears that s/he is not even really listening to, or hearing the comment they are responding to.

    Is humor used appropriately? I tend to use humor, and/or more personal comments with those I have interacted with and know a little better, believing that they will understand the humor and/or more personal comments. I've seen people use humor and personal comments with new people on TED, and that seems kind of weird to me.....just my personal observation and feeling:>)

    Thanks for the conversation Pabitra my friend.....I sincerely hope that is not too personal...LOL:>)
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      Apr 27 2013: You raise an issue, Colleen, that I have noticed as well in relation to newcomers. Sometimes someone new posts a question and someone jumps in in a hostile way that would be easy for the newcomer to take personally. The newcomer therefore gets the impression that the site is about ridicule or personal attack and doesn't stay to learn otherwise. And we lose a member who might have brought a new perspective to the table.

      A recent example was a newcomer from a country in Europe- can't remember which- who described himself in his profile as a public servant. His thread was unrelated to his work in anyway.

      A person who had been part of TED Conversations for awhile, rather than addressing the actual question in the thread, launched an attack on government employees and on the idea of a government employee's calling himself a public servant. Then someone else, or the same person under a second name, joined in that attack.

      The newcomer deleted his name quickly and has not been seen since.

      Personal attacks, as Pabitra writes in his number 1, are never good, but courtesy is particularly important, I think, in relation to newcomers.
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        Apr 27 2013: Hi Fritzie :)
        Will you kindly check my reply below to Colleen where I tried to explain my thoughts about your observation? Thank you.
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        Apr 27 2013: Fritzie and Pabitra,
        While it is allowed for newcomers to post questions/ideas/debates, I think it would be helpful for them to participate in a few discussions BEFORE posting a question. That way, they can get a better feel for how the forum works, and be a little more familier with some participants. It is a choice. It seems that when someone simply pops in and starts a conversation, they often have a specific agenda to promote. I agree that courtesy is important.....to everyone. Of course, some folks will say we are not courtious or respectful when we simply disagree with them...LOL:>)
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      Apr 27 2013: Hi Colleen :)
      I think that your objection about #7 has been taken care of in the first amendment of TED conversation conduct rules. You can find that below as an independent post by me down somewhere. Both you and Fritzie raise some thought provoking issues about our conduct towards newcomers. I shall take the liberty to explain both here and would request Fritzie to refer to this reply.
      1. Humor and personal comment towards a new comer : Your observation is justified. But at the same time one should imagine this platform like a public place where many people are discussing many things and everyone is free to join any discussion. Beyond a common standard of etiquette, politeness and matured behavior, it may not be, perhaps, very practical or interesting to expect everybody would be reacting similarly. i think one, even a newcomer, should be prepared to face a little banter, jibe or poke done tastefully. Otherwise, I feel, the platform will be too boring. :) I am guileless enough to admit when some humor is lost on me.
      2. Hostility towards a newcomer that may be mistaken as a personal attack : I think every platform collectively decides its own level of aggression towards a newcomer. In TED its pretty mild. I have experience of Project Reason, where one is grilled a little (purely intellectually of course) as a customary initiation. I survived it with few bruises. If am not wrong, I think I remember the particular discourse where the Govt. Servant seemed to have issues with few commenters previously. I neither condone nor condemn it. How I create my credibility in public is also dependent on my conduct.

      I completely agree with both you and Fritzie that it is very confusing to see some members posing questions, ideas or debates and then completely remain silent. I think Mary also pointed that out. I am including this as #13.
      13. Please interact with the commenters as a host of a conversation you started.
      Thanks for sharing your views. :)
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        Apr 27 2013: Pabitra,
        I LOVE banter, jibe or poke done tastefully. You realize that one's perception of "tasteful" is subjective? I certainly do not expect everyone to "be reacting similarly", and I don't perceive Fritzie to be advocating that either.

        We are all from different cultures....different primary languages. I have seen some folks use very common jokes or statements that mistify and confuse someone from another culture/different language. Sometimes, the person to whom these are directed will ask, sometimes, they simply cancel membership and disappear from TED. It would be helpful to be aware and mindful of this.....that's all:>)

        I do not agree that the "platform collectively" decides anything. I have observed some comments to newcommers that I sometimes feel embarrassed about, because they sometimes REFLECT the "platform collectively", when that certainly is NOT the case......see what I mean? We DO NOT collectively as a forum decide a "level of aggression towards a newcomer", because I personally would not be involved in aggression, and there certainly are lots of other folks who do not participate in "collective aggression".

        I "survived" a few things on TED when I first came on....a person threatened to track me down and kill me... also threatened to throw acid in my face before killing me......on and on and on. Thankfully that person is gone......I think! Hopefully, we continue to evolve as a community, and as long as we say it's ok.....I survived that.....it's an "initiation"...etc., the behavior will continue. Hazing was an "initiation".....you know....."boys will be boys" until so many young boys were killed or injured so badly that communities and institutions started looking at, and discouraging the practice.
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          Apr 27 2013: I have seen people urging someone to put up a profile only three times, but I know you have been involved here much longer and more extensively than I have. One case was when someone with a pseudonym and no profile came in with an extremely aggressive posture of a sort many would label as trolling or extremely rude. The person who urged the other to put up a profile was just disturbed that someone would come in with that posture while hiding behind an anonymous identity.

          The other was a case in which someone used an ID photo that was recognizably someone else- not a celebrity but an actual other person. I know I would be extremely unhappy were someone to lift my picture and start posting content beside it of his own that someone might think were my views. So I understand how someone would urge upon another not to do that.

          There was one other case I remember but I don't remember the details. I remember only responding on the thread that profiles are not required. Both parties in that exchange are now gone.

          I agree, though, with your general point, Colleen, that communities work better if people understand that some people have good reasons to keep their private data private.

          But I think this sort of stuff is part of what the Terms of Use mean by civility.
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        Apr 27 2013: Neither Colleen nor I was talking about intellectual sparring. I think what we are concerned about (and Colleen can correct me if I misread her posts) is more like "hazing."
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          Apr 27 2013: Yes....I think we're on the same page Fritzie. I don't see why anyone needs to be challenged in an abusive, demanding or agressive way.

          A person on TED has demanded that newcomers provide more information on their profile so he can know more about them. There is NO rule or regulation that demands or requires any information at all on our profile, and I trust that people will provide whatever they are comfortable providing. I've observed a couple of those people disappear.

          The problem with some of these behaviors, when allowed to continue, is that it attracts more people with some of the same behaviors. I've mentioned this to the TED moderators....the longer abusive, aggressive or off topic statements stay on the threads, the more people it attracts who comment in the same way. The more we encourage respectful, thoughtful, on topic comments, the more we attract people who want to communicate in that way.
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          Apr 28 2013: Point noted Fritzie. Thanks for clarifying.
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      Apr 28 2013: But Colleen, you can surely get a bit too personal, mon amie ;) Haha :D
      I think you and Fritzie clarified something that is most important for any TED commenter to benefit from. It goes down in the list as #14.
      14. Draw your line between intellectual sparring and hazing. No trolls, bullying, multiple profile ganging up either.
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        Apr 28 2013: LOL......Yes my friend Pabitra.....it is true...I will be careful about that:>)

        The challenge with the task, is that some folks are not aware of the difference between intellectual sparring, hazing and bullying. A couple of those folks think they are being reasonable, logical, and their asertive, aggressive comments are simply showing everyone how intelligent they are...they appear to be out to "win".......something......!!! LOL:>)

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