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PostPosted: 08 Jan 2009, 14:06 
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Mediancat wrote:
livius drusus wrote:
Redshirt wrote:
You can't have a board community that will have much confidence in its leadership if it means compromising with people who are there just for "shits and giggles".

I think you can. I think "shits and giggles" is as good a reason as any to post on most boards, unless there is some specific underlying membership requirement, like a board for people with x illness, for instance.


-- as long as their "shits and giggles" don't get in the way of other people's serious discussions. Someone who's there to have fun, sure. Someone whose idea of fun is to annoy other people can fuck off.

Or they can be made mods and run EC openly flaunting the rules or enthusiastically support vicious taunts in EoG and GRD. Lots of people have that idea of fun.

Quote:
As for "jerk," IIDB changed it to "disruptive," though I had and have no problem with "jerk." That's genral enough that it can be enforced against people who are doing the message board of equivalent of "I'm not touching you! I'm not touching you! You can't get me in trouble 'cause I'm not touching you!"

Right, it's a convenient pretext for banning people who piss you off. A catch-all, if you will. The jerk rule was void of real content on II as it has been on every other forum I've seen.

A more honest approach would be just to say "don't piss off the admins". Once a member gets to that point, you tell him "I'm getting pissed here. Stop x or you're out." Easy. Honest. Does the job.

Quote:
These are the people who seem to think that it is their job to dance around the boundaries of the rules and be as annoying as possible.

I don't really care, frankly. People's motivations for doing things aren't this huge factor for me like they seem to be for other folks in the admin/mod biz. If they have a point, then address it. If they don't, don't.

Quote:
When the rules have flexibility, sometimes these people can get trapped over a line they hadn't thought they'd crossed, and that's a good thing.

I prefer directness to laying traps. Meanwhile, "flexibility" is often the smile on the dog of half-assedness.

Quote:
Note that, in the case of someone who was on or over the edge who hadn't had a history of "I'm not touching you," then they can be forgiven while the person who's just there to cause trouble likely will not be. That's the benefit of doing as much as you can on a case by case basis.

Ya I don't get that either. Why should they be forgiven? Administration isn't priesthood. Personal circumstances are not what determine whether a post falls within the appropriate parameter of discussion. If you don't want to take draconian action at the first step over the line then embed that in the procedure, but if insults are against the rules and you see an insult, you should delete it no matter whose name is on top.


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PostPosted: 08 Jan 2009, 14:28 
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livius drusus wrote:
Mediancat wrote:
livius drusus wrote:
Redshirt wrote:
You can't have a board community that will have much confidence in its leadership if it means compromising with people who are there just for "shits and giggles".

I think you can. I think "shits and giggles" is as good a reason as any to post on most boards, unless there is some specific underlying membership requirement, like a board for people with x illness, for instance.


-- as long as their "shits and giggles" don't get in the way of other people's serious discussions. Someone who's there to have fun, sure. Someone whose idea of fun is to annoy other people can fuck off.

Or they can be made mods and run EC openly flaunting the rules or enthusiastically support vicious taunts in EoG and GRD. Lots of people have that idea of fun.

The system isn't perfect. No system is. I've always done my best to avoid having people like that around. At times, we have failed.

Quote:
As for "jerk," IIDB changed it to "disruptive," though I had and have no problem with "jerk." That's genral enough that it can be enforced against people who are doing the message board of equivalent of "I'm not touching you! I'm not touching you! You can't get me in trouble 'cause I'm not touching you!"

Right, it's a convenient pretext for banning people who piss you off. A catch-all, if you will. The jerk rule was void of real content on II as it has been on every other forum I've seen.

And here is the irreducible difference between our philosophies, I think. It was not void of real content. It was intentionally left somewhat vague. I see this as a good thing. It is capable of being abused. So are strictly defined rules. It all depends on the people in charge.

A more honest approach would be just to say "don't piss off the admins". Once a member gets to that point, you tell him "I'm getting pissed here. Stop x or you're out." Easy. Honest. Does the job.

And what about pissing off the members, or the moderators? I've banned or suspended a lot of people who hadn't in the least pissed off the admins, because the mods or other members noticed that they were being disruptive.

I see nothing dishonest about "Don't be a jerk," unless you take its very nonspecificity as being dishonest. If you do, then any capacity for having a conversation on the subject stops.


Quote:
These are the people who seem to think that it is their job to dance around the boundaries of the rules and be as annoying as possible.

I don't really care, frankly. People's motivations for doing things aren't this huge factor for me like they seem to be for other folks in the admin/mod biz. If they have a point, then address it. If they don't, don't.

Ah, their motivations aren't the problem, they're the description. Their actions are the problem. If they have a point, it may be addressed, but if someone is being an insufferable ass about it, then we'll deal with that part first. The medium may not be the message, but someone who's civil about the whole thing is a lot more likely to get the point across than someone who is, well, being a jerk.

Quote:
When the rules have flexibility, sometimes these people can get trapped over a line they hadn't thought they'd crossed, and that's a good thing.


I prefer directness to laying traps. Meanwhile, "flexibility" is often the smile on the dog of half-assedness.

Actually, flexibility is the key to getting things done, sometimes, that are right without having to cite chapter and verse and prove to everyone who asks that the troublemaker violated Rule A, subsection B, line 4.

"But it doesn't SAY I can't insult their families anywhere!" with a smug smile and a chapter and verse attitude gets what's happening at TR right now. "Yeah, he's right, we never explicitly banned calling someone's mother a cocksucking whore, I guess we'll have to let them off with a warning and rewrite the rules." The "Don't be a jerk" applied would result in "Nice try. Two week suspension and if you try it again you'll get banned." The first way is fair; the second way is just. I'm on the side of just, myself.


Quote:
Note that, in the case of someone who was on or over the edge who hadn't had a history of "I'm not touching you," then they can be forgiven while the person who's just there to cause trouble likely will not be. That's the benefit of doing as much as you can on a case by case basis.

Ya I don't get that either. Why should they be forgiven? Administration isn't priesthood. Personal circumstances are not what determine whether a post falls within the appropriate parameter of discussion. If you don't want to take draconian action at the first step over the line then embed that in the procedure, but if insults are against the rules and you see an insult, you should delete it no matter whose name is on top.


And we do, and we will. But someone who's violated the rules once in their last thousand posts is going to get more leeway than someone who's violated them 14 times in the last 500. That's not about whether things get edited, it's about what we do to the person who committed the violation.

Someone's first speeding ticket is going to get them let off with a warning; someone's tenth is going to result in a suspension. The speeding ticket will be noted and logged either way, of course,

Rob

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PostPosted: 08 Jan 2009, 14:33 
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jess wrote:
A market driven plan in a board's case would be a plan that focuses on pleasing the membership, and growing it, as far as who is desired as members.

Okaay. Hmm... I'm still not quite sure about this model. Pleasing the membership can be a troublesome thing, and I'm not sure it's always the best first principle. At some point you're probably going to have to do shit that will most seriously displease.
Quote:
Organizational capacity I assume would be that the system works, and that mods and admins don't have their hands tied or have to run for advice every time they need to do something.

Wotcha.

Quote:
I'm under the impression that all boards are for support. Not 'poor baby, have a drink' support but 'no, you aren't the only one! I like XXX as well!' support.

Well, I think that's a bit of an equivocation. It seemed to me he meant a supportive environment in the sense of you feel safe, like you can ask for help and get it. Also, I don't think all boards are about established communalities. There are general discussion boards, for instance.

Quote:
A board populated by people who want to tear down the board or it's members is not supportive, and members will leave.

Yeah, definitely not sure about the use of the word "supportive" in this context. If you mean in the sense of "you aren't the only one" as above, then it seems to me a board populated by people who want to tear down the board actually counts as "supportive".

On the larger issue, I have problems with the absolute conviction that we can know the intent of a bunch of strangers based on message board interactions. I'll remind you that I have been accused of trying to destroy forums before when I had no such intent.

Quote:
I think members need to have basic skills and knowledge. We are here to grow and to have fun. We need to provide a place where than can be done.

I'm sure that's the case in some places, I'm just not sure that can be fruitfully generalized to all message boards. Also, I'm not sure grow and have fun are in the same family.

Quote:
What changes has FF made over the years to prevent spliting open?

The major one hit us right out of the box. We have a post voting system in place, a custom vB hack intended to work somewhat like Slashdot's moderation system where nothing gets deleted but the members vote it up or down. Posts widely deemed to suck would be driven below a filter so guests would no longer see them. Members could set their filter to anything they pleased.

We hoped this would be a solution to the eternal DNFTT problem. Instead of feeding them, people could just vote them down with glee. We had lovely standards of what people should vote down. Unfortunately, what we didn't count on was the fact that individuals voted however they wanted for their own reasons, our lovely standards notwithstanding. For instance, someone began to systematically vote down all my posts. I was surprised at how painful it was to see all my posts downrated, even though there were only a couple of people doing it, so not enough to drive me below the default filter.

We brainstormed on ways to fix it -- select voters a la Slashdot mods, keep people from downvoting the same people repeatedly, make the votes public in some way, etc. -- but nothing really seemed to suit. So we disabled the hack, added a no spam rule to our 3 previous ones and moved on.

Quote:
True--- but having the option to help make a decision and the proof that they are listened to is vital. (Even if the answer is no).

It's vital to me, but I don't think it's vital to everybody. A lot of people really can't be bothered with policy issues and have no problem at all with not being included.

Quote:
While most of a community will not care where the library is put, you don't include any of them, and then part of the community will be up in arms against it.

Okay, but I'm not sure that translates to online communities in general. There are lots of forums that are no-questions-asked.


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PostPosted: 08 Jan 2009, 17:00 
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livius drusus wrote:
Since your threads are not Googleable, you don't get many drop-ins, that means you have to actively seek out membership through word of mouth, and get the URL out there.


Actually, many of the fora here are scanned regularly by google and yahoo and we -do- get hits from them. So far for January (as of yesterday, 1/7/09, BTW):

    Google (59 Pages)
    Google (Images) (4 Pages)
    Windows Live (2 Pages)
    MSN Search (2 Pages)
    Ask (1 Page)

However, some fora have been or are closed to search engine crawlers or unregistered guests. That's intentional, especially for support threads and the like where something sensitive might come out, or for potentially offensive or NSFW stuff is located.

I should note, however, that we -do- have a forum where the unregistered can (and do from time to time) post. Overall we are a very open board, and we are linked on a couple of banner exchanges, link lists, and 'top 100' style lists.

But again, we'd rather have our forum that grows slowly with quality people than to be flooded with flowerholes ..

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PostPosted: 08 Jan 2009, 18:26 
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To know if you have success, first of all you have to define what success means to you. As specifically as possible.

My definition of success for TR:

====================================================================================================
A moderated forum initially for the displaced residents of II who were dissatisfied with the lack of moderation and civility standards of R'n'R. To grow by adding people of like mind about moderation and civility though differing intellectual opinion.

Where policy formation is informed by the member base.

Where policy judgement and application is decided on by a collective of people who can be recalled by the membership, so that no one can abuse that power for prolonged periods.
======================================================================================================

Our biggest weakness has been not to give the Admins sufficient executive power to ban people who are out to watch it burn. Hopefully, that's being corrected now.

I've been banging on about rules since word one, but I've always been in the minority. My standard post on this, which I've stuck up every time the rules discussion comes up:

Quote:
We desperately need a clearer set of rules. Everything is a shade of grey, and that isn't fair on either staff or members.

There is no reason why we cannot retain staff discretion for those areas which are grey, whilst making as much black and white as possible.

All you need is a clear set of rules, and a catch all of don't be a jerk. Being a jerk is defined as anything that the majority of staff feel is being a jerk at that particular point in time.

That stops rules lawyering, provided the staff retain the balls to use it. Because you don't have to quote a rule to prove being a jerk - the rule is that the majority subjective opinion of people who have been hopefully selected for reasonableness is enough.

Maybe sometimes that will lead to draconian enforcement. Whilst that is undesirable, it's a lot better than the current mess.

Being excessively tolerant does not work when you have people deliberately wanting to stir shit. All we are succeeding in doing at the moment is disillusioning those who thought we were setting up a place for rational adults.


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PostPosted: 09 Jan 2009, 12:18 
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Hex wrote:
Actually, many of the fora here are scanned regularly by google and yahoo and we -do- get hits from them. So far for January (as of yesterday, 1/7/09, BTW):

    Google (59 Pages)
    Google (Images) (4 Pages)
    Windows Live (2 Pages)
    MSN Search (2 Pages)
    Ask (1 Page)

However, some fora have been or are closed to search engine crawlers or unregistered guests. That's intentional, especially for support threads and the like where something sensitive might come out, or for potentially offensive or NSFW stuff is located.

Ah, I gotcha. I didn't realize there were some open forums because I registered after following a link to a thread in one of the private ones.

Quote:
I should note, however, that we -do- have a forum where the unregistered can (and do from time to time) post. Overall we are a very open board, and we are linked on a couple of banner exchanges, link lists, and 'top 100' style lists.

Cool. I give respek to anyone who has a guest posting forum because that can be a giant pain in the ass.

Quote:
But again, we'd rather have our forum that grows slowly with quality people than to be flooded with flowerholes ..

I think slow growth is a generally good idea, if possible. Sometimes you just get slammed and you can't do anything about it, but building a solid core of members was something we worked on a great deal before we even opened FF. To this day I think that advance work is the reason our quasi-unmoderated model has worked as consistently as it has.


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PostPosted: 12 Jan 2009, 17:55 
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I grabbed this from TR. I like it.

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Let me address the founders/administration/cabal/servii servorum/elitist clique here. You know who you are, and I don't, so do not expect names. Also, if you as a group don't exist, start the organization now.

It is foolish to set up a board based on a vision, then succumb to value relativism and instead of enforcing the vision expect the randomly assembled first generation of posters to vote the vision into power. That kind of approach leads to a shitfest of the "Muppet Show meets *chan/b/" class, as Exhibits [S]A through B[/S] TH through TCR amply demonstrate. You can't tailor the board to fit the wishes of the posters; you can only filter the poster population to fit the desired shape of the board. If you won't do it, one of the competing subcultures will, and you won't necessarily like the outcome. Filtering/culling is inevitable, and all you can do is make sure that the remaining posters will be the ones you'd rather share a board with, people who in your original vision were to populate this board. Grow some balls and grab the banhammer.

You cannot codify manners, and you cannot guide or force people to act in a civil manner; the only thing you can do is to gather people who already happen to share your notions of civility. People who either by accident or design cannot comply should be excluded from the club. If you are worried that those people will call you authoritarian fascists, you are beyond hope, because (a) they pretty much do so already and (b) if you are worried about anything, trolls will latch onto your worries and keep driving you for their entertainment until you lose your temper and then resign in shame over what you did while the madness lasted. Thus will you be hunted down, one by one. Even if those people were not trolling, do you really want people here who need good manners explained to them?

This board will turn into the playground of an elitist clique, no matter what you choose to do. Therefore, make sure you have a say in choosing the proper clique. Then We the Posters will come, inspect the board and decide if we want to stay, while you decide if you want us to stay. This is not a country, so democratic reflexes should be suppressed because they are out of place; "like it or leave" summarizes the desirable approach perfectly. You should start stabilizing the board and building long-term guarantees of stability into the charter, or else the current rioting will resume again and again, and your vision will be toast.

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PostPosted: 17 Jan 2009, 20:28 
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There are different mechanics to running a board. I've liked the idea on some level of having rotating staff, but I'm wondering if it hamstrings the board because those int he know go away and those who may have no clue suddenly are dropped into it.

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PostPosted: 14 Feb 2009, 18:59 
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Over in this thread, Febble mentioned that in her view, the administration/rules (I'm a bit unclear on exactly what the subject was to be to tell the truth) of TR isn't "in the business of either fairness or justice. [They] are in the business of preventing harm."

This caught my eye because in any society (or sub-culture) is there are sanctions that are used to keep people from acting in some particular way, or inducing people to act in some particular way, the sanctions must not only be uniformly applied, but also have sanctions that 'fit' the action. (For example, a speeding ticket that's only $1.00/mph over the limit might not stop you from being 10 mph over the limit, but at $1000/mph over the limit ticket might make you think twice about speeding ...)

But if the rules are unequally applied, then people pay little (or no) attention to the rules. So, equally applied rules are 'fair'.

But, 'fair' rules may not be 'just', as there are times you don't need a banhammer to swat a fly. :cheeky:

How then can a board have a system that is not only perceived as being 'just' while still maintaining the control of a 'fair' one? :umm:


ETA: Febble was talking about harm to the board in her post, but I'm still interested in the rules question I posted for the users ...

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Last edited by Hex on 14 Feb 2009, 20:42, edited 1 time in total.
Clarification in the other thread ...


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PostPosted: 18 Feb 2009, 15:46 
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Originally Posted by pz meyers
If I became Tyrant of IIDB in a savage coup, and if I were sufficiently puffed up by my success and deranged by access to the unlimited quantities of cocaine, alcohol, peyote, and lusty nubile women maintained at Infidels HQ to throw all caution to the wind, here are the changes I would implement.

Insults are just fine. Go ahead, call that guy a dumbass. The truth is, lots of people posting here are dumbasses, and I think simple honesty is the virtue we ought to be advocating.

The real problem is not that dumbasses get called dumbasses. The problem is that certain people (and we all know who they are) make it their career on iidb to do nothing but hunt down and harass dumbasses, and make no constructive, productive contribution to the board. Under my rule, such parasites will be belittled, because everyone will recognize them for what they are and call them dumbasses.

Bugger the 'principle of charity'. Everyone, whether theist or atheist, will be assumed to be a moron and their ideas total shit, until they demonstrate otherwise. This whole business of 'cultivating a supportive environment' is nothing but a ploy by proponents of weak ideas that need a hothouse in order to survive. Next honking atheist who declares that his label is sufficient evidence of his superiority, next bible-thumper who claims his stupid book is all he needs -- make 'em bleed.

Accountability. No one gets to register until they submit their legal name, home address, phone number, mother's maiden name, CV, credit card number (in case supplies at Infidels HQ run low), whatever, and have their actual physical and legal identity verified. Pseudonyms are OK to use on the public boards, but mods and admins will know who you really are. One thing that leads to excesses of abuse is that too many of the personas on the web are cartoons and puppets, not real people. It's easier to kick a cartoon than a real person, and it's easy to be an ass when you can pretend it really isn't "you" being the jerk.

Moderator duties. Greatly reduced. Main requirement is that they act as worthy contributors to their forums on a regular basis, setting a good example for others; they should exercise restraint in calling others dumbasses, for instance, so that when they do, it has vast moral force. They should very rarely edit anyone. They should be aware of who the people contributing to their forums are, and when someone becomes a persistently worthless pest, they can recommend that the dumbass gets banned.


OK, back to reality -- here in PZ HQ, the only drug is coffee and I only have one lusty nubile woman (but she's enough; sorry, ladies, I'm not taking applications). I offer these ideas as an extreme in the direction I'd rather see IIDB go, but I also recognize that they would make this a fierce and pitiless place which I might enjoy, but would make some good people squeak in terror and run home to momma. And even while I'm enjoying it, it would be a high-stress forum that would probably lead to rapid burnout.

I also think the alternatives being offered here, these high-toned proposals for greater civility, would be equally catastrophic. They'd make IIDB a dry and bloodless place where simple-minded inanities could flourish and be granted unearned, meaningless 'respect'. It'd be a place to make those of us with bones and teeth puke, but where jellyfish would be blissful.

My bottom line is that I think the current rules are a damn good compromise. I can live with them, and so can lots of others, and I believe one of the keys to IIDB's popularity is that it does tread the line between bloody anarchy and mannered rigidity well. Don't fix what ain't broke.

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PostPosted: 19 Feb 2009, 08:37 
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PZ Myers has an excellent blog, Pharyngula; that's where he has been.

He was known for hating smilies, and it is an open secret that he resigned from IIDB's staff in protest of their decision to allow theist moderators. IIDB's staff may have wanted to avoid seeming like antireligious bigots, however.


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PostPosted: 19 Feb 2009, 19:37 
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It appears that my ignorance regarding the rest of the net means my ideas of good forum management are essentially the AtBC model. Get people who doon't have huge egos and let them run the place.

Since that appeared to be the group that didn't want to run the place, I figured if we just advertise any ego moves and hold them publicly accountable for them that they might release the inner decent mod.

Also, don't have a BoD/ admin team with authority to fuck it up.

I may be naive.


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PostPosted: 25 Feb 2009, 09:27 
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Fromsome drama or other...

Mediancat wrote:
Oolon Colluphid wrote:

What I have never wanted was hard-and-fast rules enunciated to the nth degree. Because such rules can be lawyered, and tend to creep (usually as a result of some lawyering.


Which is why I'm a fan, in these cases, of having the rules be a little vague so that people have to steer well away from the edge in order to avoid going over it.

Jo came up with a good rule for the new FRDB rules set which I really like: No brinking, i.e., a pattern running around being annoying just below the level of violating the rules is itself violating the rules.

Rob

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PostPosted: 02 Mar 2009, 07:56 
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From another board (with permission).

This is a paraphrase.

Quote:
Forums managers need to not abandon all common sense to the wind and create a Rube Goldberg nightmare of a structure. It's just all so unnecessary. Maybe I'm jaded from being in management too long but sometimes you have to say "enough of this shit", toss away all of the lofty thoughts and justifications and just see and call it what it is and do the obvious to achieve what you want to. People who aren't invested in your vision will complain and say mean things about how unfair you are, and if it bothers someone that much they have no business being in a leadership role. Life's not fair but somehow it manages to go on.

Standing alone it sounds a bit harsh, but hand in hand with a warm, friendly tone and a bit of mutual trust and respect between staff and members I think it's just the reality of things, but without manners and some political common sense about working with large group dynamics then it's just a dictatorship without the benign part.

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PostPosted: 16 Feb 2010, 15:17 
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I was mulling this over and thought I'd share...

Our beaches and parks have 'no liquor' rules. No alcohol on the beach at all. An understandable rule, as it can lead to drunkenness and rowdiness and disrupting other patrons of the beach. I've thought that the rule'd be better off being 'no drunkenness' and 'no rowdiness' and let the capable people drink, but it's not.

However, the lifeguards and security guards seem to turn a blind eye to the majority of those 'capable' people who do bring beer etc to the beach and hide it. Like the guy who would pour his beer into a Starbuck's cup to drink. But then, these people are the responsible ones who just want a drink, not the rowdy drunken ones.

It occurred to me that it's on purpose. If you make the rule 'no rowdiness or drunkenness' then you'll have 'brinkers' and rulz lawyerz arguing levels of drunkenness and rowdiness. There is no arguing 'no beer'. But then, you open yourself up to the 'hypocrite!' and 'unfair!' of 'why is s/he not getting into trouble!?!' I guess the guards hope the responsible ones won't be so obvious as to draw that attention to themselves.

That's the issue with some posters, isn't it? And brings it back to 'fair' and 'right'. It's not 'fair' that some people can drink and others can't, it's not fair the rule isn't applied evenly. It's also not 'fair' I can't drink my one glass because other people can't be responsible. It's probably not 'right' that the rule in place isn't really the rule they mean, but it is 'right' that it's enforced the way it is--- haphazardly.

What do you think?

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