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Straw Poll: Pro-Cancel Culture?

26-Apr-19 11:52 am EDT Leave a comment

On Net.Etiquette

26-Apr-19 11:25 am EDT Leave a comment

Recently, I had another discord.gg altercation which has seen me withdraw completely from the chat service for the foreseeable future. Admittedly, I’m growing weary of the “clique” mentality that pervades the system, and in particular with the emotions of those involved somehow growing so completely out of control (from my perspective) that, initially at least, there’s little sense to be made of it. It’s not that the complaints people may have are totally without merit (although invariably they are coming from a what seems a narrowly-defined group). It’s that I can’t understand how something like an inadvertent breach of etiquette could lead to someone becoming so angry as to label another person as ‘evil’ or ‘irredeemable’ — particularly when the consequences of doing so may simply lead to others who don’t share their own extreme reaction as feeling uncomfortable or out of place. Another consequence to this are those who react this way becoming stressed out themselves, which is the last thing I want to contribute to.

I’m writing about this issue with a degree of historical perspective and as someone who finds human beings conflicted, irrational and difficult to understand in most cases. This can lead to intolerance, belligerence and worse behaviours in some; although I must make the point that this isn’t a defense of my own behaviour nor intended to characterize me as “the victim”. But a recent straw poll of those in my own life (and on social media) leads me to conclude the people generally feel that when there’s evidence someone has violated a convention or social norm they should be spoken to instead of ostracized. So why has the discord service proven to be so different for me?

Once upon a time, many years back, there was a form of what’s now considered “social media” called NNTP or network news. At the time, it was unbeknownst to myself and my first business partner posting advertisements or discourse related to one’s own business ventures was considered “poor etiquette”. So when we decided to announce our new consulting business opening up online, we were somewhat shocked at the response being almost universally negative. Here we were trying to make a valued contribution and getting effectively black-listed for going about it the wrong way. Of course nowadays, the NNTP-like service called Reddit is host to ads aplenty and the etiquette changed radically — not necessarily because people started clamouring for ads to appear at some point. Regardless of how it came to be, what once yielded hate e-mail spamming ones mailbox changed to “acceptable” behaviour.

This isn’t to say that at some future date streaming a discord server won’t go the same way. (It probably won’t, in fact.) But auto-streaming to twitch, YouTube or Mixer (or any of 50 other services) is growing in popularity and contributes value by donating content. It might not be the most popular content, but it is a form of content contributed for the general consumption of all. Add to this the streaming brokers like OBS or Mixer (I think they have a utility that streams to their online site as well as YouTube) or others providing a means of controlling how and what content is presented and you have a recipe for updates to influence what gets published; all potentially without the direct knowledge of the presenter. Or perhaps one of the hundreds of discord updates that occur every year impacts presentation in an unfamiliar or unexpected way.

And then if this scenario prevails and people’s voices were heard from a discord server in a stream without advance permission: we have an apparent breach of etiquette with evidence. It might seem perfectly legitimate to consider me guilty of surreptitiously trying to broadcast content behind the backs of those on a private server, right?

Ignoring for a moment that “secretly” trying to do anything in public online is at best contradictory and at worst outright stupid, the question persists does such a breach of etiquette warrant labelling as “irredeemable” or even being kicked out of a social group (even one online)? And without being given the opportunity to try to explain what might have happened or examine the evidence particularly when the offending party had thought he’d been given permission at one point to continue a stream with parties on the server in question present (although I’d taken such permission to apply only to one specific stream — not a carte blanche permission to stream all the content that would ever be posted)? Evidence alone as it appeared was enough all without context.

For these reasons, it is my view that discord generally needs to be taken down a notch. It simply isn’t right that people are targeted in this fashion. And I did speak with a number of others who’d either themselves experienced the “clique” mentality I’m speaking of or who had been banned from servers (thus separating them from social groups) on the basis of what may seem dubious circumstances involving many different social dynamics. But to summarize, I posit that a violation of etiquette is not just cause to start slandering or hating your fellow human beings.

Discord, for its part, may not be to blame here in any way. There are those who want to “burn the whole world down” and do nothing but cause trouble and mayhem. That’s why discord lets you ban people, fundamentally, I think. Another chat service several years ago called “IRC” seemed to not have these same problems. But if people react in a rational fashion to social challenges and use the technology in a constructive way I think discord could be a very useful and powerful tool indeed.

Right now, it just seems to promote cliques and clique behaviour. And I question who, if anyone, that’s helping.

I should at this juncture for my growing English audience (or so the analytics say) make a few quick points to address potential interest:

  • if I did a stream on the discord Elite server in question, it was more out of habit and typically with a mind to disable channel dialogue from making to the broadcast (although in 1 case I believe it was deliberate)
  • if a deliberate streaming happened, it was done under the following circumstances:
    • I thought I had permission to do so, and/or
    • I didn’t think it a serious breach of etiquette at the time for some mindless reason; and
    • I have streamed on other servers before, including my own without issue.
    • NO EFFORT was made to sneak it by without the group’s awareness (as should be evidenced by it being public, unless you truly think me THAT stupid)
  • it may also be relevant to keep in mind that discord visualizations (which until tonight I wasn’t even aware were activated) DO NOT transmit into the V/R environment without the involvement of 3rd party software, which I do not use; those who think the profile icons of users on the server should somehow have clued me into what was going on are incorrect
  • I’ve counted 3 cases total during my own investigation, thus far, where streaming occurred and these are, at the admin’s “cease and desist” request, removed. If there are still others unaccounted for, you should:
    • send a message to me using discord or, if you have it, my commander’s email address with the URL included
    • notwithstanding the above deletions, there were a total of 9 sessions auto-cast to YouTube from the date I first stated using the server, to my best recollection; most of which seemed free of offending traffic
  • I will continue investigating all content and re-post sessions thought to be free of dialogue from the discord server in question.

On my YouTube channel, there was one case where I’d mistakenly cited the availability of this server as part of a larger service offering. I’ve posted a comment to the video (with highlighted reference on the video itself using YouTube’s rather broken tools for text editing overlays) citing the reference and this correction, but I do so again here to come completely clean on the subject.

I believe it is important for all to keep in mind that each of us is human and quite fallible. Pointing out errors tactfully isn’t the problem, however. We’re all capable of mistakes and errors in judgement, both on and off discord. And as Facebook scandals continue to erupt (something that’s likely to persist for the foreseeable future), chat services like discord are likely to only increase in popularity. Hopefully, as this type of social media grows we can all adopt standards of behaviour and etiquette that will serve to keep people growing their communities instead of limiting ourselves to serving baser instincts.

Let’s try to end “cancel culture”.

Fly safe, commanders!

Yelp E-Mails Rooking in Small Business!

18-Dec-16 10:47 am EST Leave a comment
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perating as a small business owner, on a couple of occasions in the past I’ve encountered people that are something less than honest.  This is not the norm by any means — and yet one realizes early on to keep a wary eye for those few wolves who fashion themselves guardians of the hen house, so to speak….

yelp

A bit of research can be an eye-opener too, which is why I’m kind of kicking myself for not seeing these folks coming from a mile off: Yelp.com

 

 

I recently received a $300 advertising coupon, alike the sort I’ve received from advertisers like Google.com in the mail.  You enter a coupon code somewhere and get to try out the service.  I took advantage of such an offer from Yelp in late October of this year — only to start getting transactions mysteriously showing up on my credit card earlier this month, contrary to expectations.

I had taken advantage of the coupon at the time, which did not explicitly advertise there would be debits automatically starting once the $300 had been used up.  Nor was I able to readily determine at any point how much of the credit was used.

Finally, when a December bill appeared, I immediately contacted Yelp to cancel any advertising services that might have been procured.  I was concerned that it wasn’t generating any business for me and that they were keeping records of user credit card numbers (a practice with which I have issues for both reasons of personal security and privacy).

Contact with Staff was Terse and Unhelpful

The amount of the bill wasn’t too substantial – less than $100 in Canadian funds.  However, despite taking this as an opportunity to build a positive customer experience, they responded to my concerns as “threatening” them (when I mentioned I would be describing my interactions with customer service here on my blog) and trying to get out of paying the bill, stopping short of calling me a thief outright.  This attitude was evident despite my attempts to voice my concerns to two different parties by phone – the only emails I could receive from them seemed to be automated messages aimed at billing.

After encountering two highly confrontational staff I thought it incumbent to characterize my experience as objectively as I could for the benefit of others seeking a review of the Yelp service.

 Doesn’t Follow its Own Advice on Handling Complaints

Yelp’s own advice on the subject of end-user reviews is as follows¹:

Either way, when responding to reviews it is important to have good practices established to make sure your organization and your [customer]’s privacy are protected. In both scenarios, the goal should be to take the conversation offline and to a private channel.

It’s my considered opinion Yelp did not follow it’s own advice in my particular case, nor does it do so when it comes to the privacy of others; whether they are customers or simply users of its service(s):

  • retaining credit card information can be a license for the unscrupulous to simply debit amounts indefinitely regardless of customer intent; such as when a company doesn’t bother to take the spending intentions of customers into account and charges for services they don’t want; effectively taking a nickel-and-dime approach to earning profit rather than promoting & selling services on the strength of their own merit, and
  • allowing customer service staff to become confrontational with customers is both unnecessary and inexcusable.  Worse still, Yelp made virtually no effort to “take the conversation offline”, instead calling my intention to review my interactions with them a “threat” and insisting they’d continue with the charges.

It’s certainly accurate to say I can’t describe my own experience with Yelp as necessarily representative of those one would have with the company and it does appear many have had positive experiences with them.  However, I can equally accurately say that my experience was anything but positive from the perspective of a customer and there are many on Facebook and other alternate online sources who report difficulties as well.  I can also state with certainty that given my concerns, treated as they were, will result in my never considering business with them again in the future.

Epilogue

My experience also left me with the impression that Yelp is a company governed less by technology innovation and more by a very single-minded focus on earnings from its advertising business.  (Although it was not necessarily my intention at the outset to demand no-cost settlement of the bill they sent me, this became an issue when they declined to discuss my concerns in good faith.)  In the future, I’m likely to seek out Microsoft, Google or WordPress when considering online advertising.  Even should this prove to be more expensive, both companies seem to be paying a lot greater attention to their advertising clientele.

Follow-ups to this story may appear here, should any occur.

¹ See https://www.yelpblog.com/2016/12/experts-guide-patient-privacy-online-reviews near the subheading “Example 1” for source.

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