Another day, another blow up
So, yes, this evening we had a user get upset and try to expunge himself from the site. For now, I have shut down the account.
Sadly, there isn't a simple way for a user to erase his or her own account and all associated content or for me to do that. They've added that feature to the next version of Drupal, the software this site runs on. It is the oldest feature request in the system (look at the URL... it is node number 8). For almost 10 years people have been asking for this feature. I do want to respect individual's ability to manage their own information and remove it if/when they decide to leave, but until Drupal 7 comes out and I upgrade the site (early 2011?) there isn't a reliable way to do that. My apologies.
I don't think it is appropriate to get into the specifics about what led up to this, but at a high level:
- member A left a rather specious comment on a three year old thread that, frankly, I should just delete.
- member B made a moderately nasty reply insulting member A.
- member A flagged member B's comment as offensive, as did a few other folks here.
- I removed the offending comment and asked member B to please be more courteous, even if privately I agreed with his opinion.
- Member B did not respond well to this and, after first asserting that it is my responsibility to verify that all posts are factual, began the self-immolation.
- I closed member B's account and cleaned up what I could.
In the five years I've run this site, I think I've been pretty consistent about the policy here. If I could boil it down to four words, it'd be "Don't be a jerk" (though I tend to use a stronger word than that). There are thousands and thousands of unmoderated listservs and bulletin boards online where the loudest and the snarkiest rule. I'm not going to let the happen here.
It is also true that I don't believe that being right or a being a better baker gives one the right to treat others disrespectfully: there are plenty of things that I am convinced I am right about that I probably disagree with many site members about. I'm sure they are equally convinced their views are correct and that I am the foolish one. So it goes. If we can find a civil way to exchange opinion, correct facts, and help each other see things from the other's perspective that is wonderful, but if it is going to slide into mudslinging and name calling I will ask folks to move along and discuss something else (like an NYC cop: "Alright people: shows over.").
Similar incidents have happened a few times before and I'm sure will happen again. I don't hold any ill will against the parties who've been asked to leave or who've chosen to leave on their own and I hope they will respect -- even if they disagree with -- my approach and what I've tried to accomplish here. Many folks enjoy this environment and are willing to check some of their opinions at the door, but I understand that this doesn't work for everyone. Thankfully the internet is a big place and there is room for all of us.