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Welcome to the AbsoluteWrite Water Cooler! Please read The Newbie Guide To Absolute Write

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    'Twas but a dream of thee El Jefe MacAllister's Avatar
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    More on Respecting Your Fellow Writer

    On Respecting Your Fellow Writer

    We've always, first and foremost, used "respect your fellow writer" as our guiding principle. It's a really good one, in general. I absolutely believe in it. And we're not going to be making a bunch of rules and regulations to quote, because that's a whole can of worms with its own set of special problems. (Edit and Admin wars on Wikipedia are a perfect example of how quickly and horribly that goes awry.)

    It's really not complicated. Seriously. It means don't act like a jerk. You don't name-call, or bait, or sneer, or taunt, or generally be unpleasant to the people around you; at least, not if you want to stay here very long.

    As an example, (but NOT LIMITED TO), not being a jerk means don't commit those jerky writerly sins: Don't plagiarize. Don't shamelessly swipe facts and arguments from someone else's Wikipedia article or blog post without attribution -- and even with attribution, you don't post anyone else's copyrighted materials here in their entirety; no one wants to read entire articles or book reviews from elsewhere, either, no matter how glowing or how much that entire article proves your point. Just post a brief excerpt with a link to the source.

    So here's the thing. Many of us passionately disagree with each other, about everything from politics to religion to using the serial comma.

    But what makes AW the amazing community that it is, is that we manage to create an environment of inclusiveness, in spite of our differences. (I'll admit to a romantic notion of the Cooler as a sort of Rick's Cafe, where people from all walks and backgrounds can meet and find common ground and a relatively safe place to be. And if you don't get the Casablanca reference, I grieve for you. Also, get thee to NetFlix and put it in your movie queue.)



    So. Inclusiveness. This can be really tricky stuff. More so than it seems like it ought to be, sometimes.

    You might find a joke gets deleted, or a thread gets locked, that seems perfectly innocent, to you. Usually, if that happens, it's because there were people who were much less comfortable with it. The complexity and diversity in our backgrounds can be much more difficult to face and deal with, honestly, when things are couched in terms of "gosh, it was all just in good fun" because of the built-in refusal to examine underlying attitudes of exclusion, or "I'm normal and you're not" -- which by extension implies that anyone who insists on examining exactly that is humorless and "PC."

    Which reminds me -- accusing each other of "being PC" when you disagree really isn't cool. And what it usually boils down to is that someone is being a jerk or a bigot -- maybe inadvertently, maybe not -- and gets called on it which makes that person defensive.

    You'll notice, please, I'm also not demanding that anyone agree with my worldview. You don't have to. And you can absolutely debate and discuss and tell me you think I'm wrong, and why you think so -- PMs are usually more appropriate for that, but if it's a discussion that you honestly believe would benefit the community, I'm willing to have that discussion on the boards in public, too.

    What members (and all of us are members, mods too) don't get to do is marginalize other members. And we have Muslims and Catholics and Moral-Majority conservative Pentecostals. Republicans and Libertarians and Anarchists. We have brown people, pink people, pot-smokers, hippies, suburban moms, ex-cons, ex-cops, and Homeland Security specialists. We have married folks, and polyamorous folks, and singles and swingers and queers.

    You get the drift, I'm sure.

    I'm not inclined to try and prevent people from thinking and believing whatever they're inclined to think and believe -- whether they're fanatic adherents to the use of the serial comma, or won't use any capital letters or commas at all. It would be a fool's errand, for one thing, and this would be a rather stagnant and boring community, for another.

    I'm also not inclined to let people behave like bullies about their beliefs.

    My concern about this stuff is largely in terms of building and maintaining a mostly-egalitarian community, at least as much as humanly possible. Because what happens when you get a preponderance of members who tend to agree and share a cultural background, and they take for granted or actively put forth -- even it it's never said in so many words -- that their world view is the only "normal" or "right" world view, is that people who see things differently finally just quietly go away.

    Since I'm one of those people who would be quietly going away, if I kept my mouth shut about the stuff that really bothers me, or seems exclusive rather than inclusive, I have a vested interest in not letting that happen, here.

    That's what "respect your fellow writer" means to me.
    Last edited by MacAllister; 03-22-2012 at 06:41 PM.

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