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March 01, 2008

What would you do at an Askville Dinner Party & Tshirt/Mug Update

Hi Askville,

We realize that many of you have developed strong friendships here on Askville.  We are excited that Askville is a place where people can come together and share a bit of knowledge while developing new friendships online.  This is possible because of the community members that care about the community, the type of content that gets generated every day, and the respect that you give to both newbies and veterans of Askville, regardless of whether you disagree with their opinions or views.

That said, not everyone in this growing 'ville, are going to get along.  As with any social ecosystem, as a group gets to know each other, the quirks, mannerisms, different sense of humor, views, etc... eventually can bother anyone if they aren't similar to their own. 

So what should you do if you realize that there are some people in your 'ville that you don't get along with?  Before we give our recommendation, we ask you to ask yourself what would you do if you had a neighbor that you didn't get along with?  It would be great if you could force that neighbor to sell their house and leave the neighborhood, but unfortunately, that probably isn't an option for you.  What do you do when you meet that person at your local community event (e.g. parent/teacher association meetings, church, while picking up the kids from school, at the supermarket, at a mutual friend's dinner party)?

Let us take the mutual friend's dinner party as an example.  If you saw someone you did not like at a dinner party and they were engaged in a conversation with someone, would you go out of your way to get into the conversation?  Would you demand the host of the dinner party that they should ask that person to leave the dinner party because you can't stand seeing that person?   

I think one of the wonderful things about Askville is that this community is comprised of well educated adults who are good natured people with good hearts.  Don't get me wrong, good natured people can dislike each other, as mentioned above.  However, I do believe that people who have come here to "wreck the neighborhood" or have perverse, ulterior motives, (e.g. spammers or trolls), are quickly identified by our "neighborhood watch" and are eventually escorted out of our community. 

So when two neighbors or two groups of neighbors dislike each other, it is difficult for us to "take sides".  Unfortunately, when scuffles occur and neighbors clash, words are exchanged in the "heat of the moment" that causes both people/groups to spiral down a ugly, slippery slope.  Our philosophy is that everyone has a good heart and will give them the benefit of doubt, unless their actions/behavior continually go against our community guidelines, *independent* of being coerced or provoked by another neighbor.  Put differently, if two neighbors exchange heated words with each other that are inappropriate, we typically discount that conversation with the hope that the two neighbors will try to settle their differences respectfully, or realize that the neighborhood is big enough that they can interact with people they like versus "looking for a fight".  However, if a neighbor independently vandalizes our neighborhood (e.g. spam or invoke "hate speech"), or goes against community guidelines without being provoked, then we will question whether this neighbor has a good heart or is truly a good natured human being and we will investigate and take appropriate action, i.e. ban the user.  We have banned many "bad neighbors", and even some who have developed friendships within Askville, based on this philosophy. 

Some have asked me if there is a "double-standard" in Askville, where some Askvillers get preferential treatment over others.  Our perspective to this is that people who have been an active member of our community for a long period of time and have demonstrated that they are good natured neighbors with good hearts, will be given more leeway than a new neighbor who just "moved in".  The reason why, is because even good natured people can have "bad days" or will have scuffles and arguments with other good natured people.  However, if that neighbor has a "track record" of good actions/behavior in the past, we tend to weigh their good track record more heavily in our decision on what actions to take.  Moreover, as mentioned previously, we discount the content/conversations that occur during a scuffle between two neighbors.  To be clear, a scuffle requires "two to tango" - i.e. if a community member starts publicly attacking another neighbor in a discussion board, and that person or people do not take the "high road", but rather attack right back at the user, it is difficult for us to lay blame without full history and context of the relationship between the two members (e.g. was there another question that was asked that attacked the first user, which caused them to post the initial comment in a different discussion board?).  Does this mean that if you've been a "good citizen" of Askville, you will never get banned, regardless of your behavior?  Absolutely not.  Analogous to a credit report, you may have built a good credit history, but if you continue to "default on payments" or go against community guidelines, especially if it is not provoked by others, then your "credit score" will drop quickly and you will be banned. 

We realize this doesn't "solve" the problem for some of our neighbors who are currently not so friendly with each other.  Our suggestion is to try and avoid entering into a conversation with someone you dislike.  Walk away from that conversation and join in on another more pleasant conversation with your friends.  Think of Askville as a huge dinner party and I'm sure you'll find a group of neighbors that are far more interesting and friendly to be around.

Update on Tshirts and Mugs
We *finally* got the Askville Tshirts and mugs from our distributor this past week!  Hooray!!  We sincerely apologize for this delay.  It has been quite upsetting to us as we have been as eager as you to show off our Askville Tshirts and drink from our beautiful mugs!  We will be shipping all Tshirts and mugs to everyone that placed their order this coming Tuesday.  So hopefully, you'll be getting your tshirts and mugs by the end of next week (international Askvillers will need to wait a bit longer for shipping).

Thanks for your patience in this matter.


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