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Starting a discussion/complaint/rude-gesture/love-in about a particular incident about soapmaking

 
pollinator
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Dear Staff,

I am stupified by your request that I edit my post to make "... aspiring soapmakers happy to read ..." it. This is apparently the objectionable bit of what I said, "... and I hope someone shoots me if I ever even hint at putting glitter in soap!!! I also DO NOT do melt and pour! That is not soapmaking to me. It's as much soapmaking as paint by numbers is art. (Mostly I put up those links for people who want to play with soapmaking in the hope they will learn enough to make real soap someday.)"

First, I don't think that an aspiring soapmaker would be unhappy reading any of that. Aspiring soapmakers would probably like to see opinions about the various types of soapmaking out there and might even smile (would that count as making them happy?) at the glitter comment. (To which I even appended a winking smiley face to ensure it would be treated as a mere light-hearted comment.) I don't like glitter in soap. Maybe someone else does. I didn't say that anyone who uses glitter should be shot. I was clearly offering only MY opinion of glitter in MY soap bars. Would you have flagged this if I said I didn't like a lavender scent or the color pink in soap? Really, this is too ridiculous!

Second, this comment was in response to similar statements in the post above mine. Why was mine singled out but not that one?

Third, I made it very clear that these were merely my opinions--using phrasing like "That is not soapmaking to me."--emphasis on ME. It may be soap making to someone else, but it is not real soapmaking to ME. I think my opinion deserves to be treated with at least some respect because it is based on my thorough knowledge of what soapmaking entails. Someone who knows nothing about the process might think melt-and-pour soaps are soapmaking but the irrefutable FACT is that melt-and-pour bars are ALREADY soap. How can simply melting and pouring into a mold something that someone else already made be considered MAKING soap? It's like heating a tv dinner and bragging about your cooking skills. There is none of the MAKING part of soapmaking involved with melt-and-pour soap products. Besides, and I should have said this before, melt-and-pour products tend to contain many of the nasty chemicals that people who make their own soap list as part of the reason they make their own soap in the first place.

Fourth, The only remark that I can see might be taken the wrong way was this one ... "(Mostly I put up those links for people who want to play with soapmaking in the hope they will learn enough to make real soap someday.)" I agree that might have been worded better (and I intend to edit it) but I was really trying to be positive there. I did not mean to imply that people who used those sites were playing at making soap. I was trying to be concise and ended up being confusing. What I actually meant was that some of those more "fun" sites with their glitter and cute molds and fun little inclusions, etc. might make the art of soapmaking more appealing to people who have previously considered it too daunting to try. The comment above mine mentioned one particular site as offering things that made her feel she was being treated like an idiot child (something to that effect) because the videos there talked down to the viewers about chemistry and math. My comment was actually meant to be encouraging to people who may have felt they were not up to all the chemistry involved in soapmaking while acknowledging that some of the offerings were a bit condescending to those of us who have been doing this awhile. I felt it might offer some of the more fun elements--including easy premade melt-and-pour products--to ease them into real soapmaking. Yes, I said it again--REAL soapmaking. That is my opinion and I am sticking to it.

So ... I just felt I needed to defend myself against what I do take as " ...somebody on staff is being silly". Having had my say, I will now go edit my post to make it very clear that I welcome aspiring soapmakers and truly believe that everyone who wants to be clean should make their own soap. (See? Smilleys!)


 
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The thing about permies moderation, is that everything needs to be written to please the most sensitive (untrained volunteer) moderator. And each moderator is hyper-sensitive about some topic or other. Therefore, if a post gets past every moderator, then it's unlikely to be offensive to the general population.

Let me play around with a plant breeding example: It's my belief that anyone that buys seeds from a seed company is not a real gardener. Nope, that's not nice!!!

Another thing about writing in on-line forums in general, is that it's really hard to pull off light-humor successfully.

Edit to add: I reviewed this particular incident. Staff had a discussion about the post prior to putting it on probation. Multiple staff members felt that it didn't meet publishing standards. I learned in the staff discussions that there is  snobbery, cliques, and holier-than-thou attitudes running through the soap making community. I never would have suspected. I guess that your post managed to tap into that energy for some of the staff.

 
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I don't see anything in the following that meets publishing standards.

and I hope someone shoots me if I ever even hint at putting glitter in soap!!! I also DO NOT do melt and pour! That is not soapmaking to me.  



Qualifying not nice statements with "it's just my opinion" doesn't make them suddenly nice.

 
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I took a look at the original post as well.  

Yes, humor is a tricky one to pull off sometimes.  One person's joke can be seen as sarcasm to someone else.  

I think your post had a few things that, on their own, would have been acceptable.  But taken all together it seemed to the moderator to not Be Nice.  

If I loved making fancy soap and putting glitter in it, your comment about wanting to be shot could cause me to be sad.  To phrase it another way, if I said "and I hope someone shoots me if I ever even hint at deer hunting from a tree stand", it could be considered not nice to all those people who hunt out of a tree stand.  Saying "I really prefer the challenge of hunting deer from the ground" would be a nicer way of saying it.  Not as funny, but not as likely to hurt feelings.

As a side note, your first sentence of this thread "I am stupefied by your request" and the last bit about "someone on staff is being silly" are also "not nice" to whichever helpful volunteer moderator struggled with the decision about what to do with your other post.  Please remember that we are all different and we see things from our own prisms of experience.
 
r ranson
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Second, this comment was in response to similar statements in the post above mine. Why was mine singled out but not that one?



If you feel the comment was out of line, did you use the report button to bring it to the moderator's attention?  
 
r ranson
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I made it very clear that these were merely my opinions--using phrasing like "That is not soapmaking to me."--emphasis on ME.



The only rule we have here is "be nice".  We all agreed to it when we signed up.

Leaving room for other people's ideas by stating something is opinion is part of being nice.

But it's just part of it.

Being nice has a lot more layers than simply qualifying something as opinion.

 
Deb Stephens
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r ranson wrote:I don't see anything in the following that meets publishing standards.

and I hope someone shoots me if I ever even hint at putting glitter in soap!!! I also DO NOT do melt and pour! That is not soapmaking to me.  



Qualifying not nice statements with "it's just my opinion" doesn't make them suddenly nice.



I find this totally baffling. I was merely saying that because I don't like glitter, I would hope someone would stop me from using it before I did it and regretted it. It's like saying if I decide to roll in poison ivy, please stop me. I was not in any way saying that people who use glitter are bad people. Honestly, I think someone would have to be very sensitive to read this as "not nice". Have we come to the point here where we can't express our own opinions about what we like or don't like? What if I say, I don't like oatmeal--does that make me not nice because I may make people who DO like oatmeal feel bad for liking it? I'm really struggling to understand this.

As for the second statement ... "I also DO NOT do melt and pour! That is not soapmaking to me." I have explained what I meant by that and I have edited the original post to make it clear. Anyone who knows what melt-and-pour soap is, will likely agree that it is not soapmaking but soap melting and reusing. There is a difference. THAT is not opinion.
 
pollinator
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Deb Stephens wrote:

r ranson wrote:I don't see anything in the following that meets publishing standards.

and I hope someone shoots me if I ever even hint at putting glitter in soap!!! I also DO NOT do melt and pour! That is not soapmaking to me.  



Qualifying not nice statements with "it's just my opinion" doesn't make them suddenly nice.



I find this totally baffling. I was merely saying that because I don't like glitter, I would hope someone would stop me from using it before I did it and regretted it. It's like saying if I decide to roll in poison ivy, please stop me. I was not in any way saying that people who use glitter are bad people. Honestly, I think someone would have to be very sensitive to read this as "not nice". Have we come to the point here where we can't express our own opinions about what we like or don't like? What if I say, I don't like oatmeal--does that make me not nice because I may make people who DO like oatmeal feel bad for liking it? I'm really struggling to understand this.

As for the second statement ... "I also DO NOT do melt and pour! That is not soapmaking to me." I have explained what I meant by that and I have edited the original post to make it clear. Anyone who knows what melt-and-pour soap is, will likely agree that it is not soapmaking but soap melting and reusing. There is a difference. THAT is not opinion.



I don't want to speak for the moderators or anyone else, but personally, it bothers me when someone screams (in internet parlance) DO NOT do something, and above that, adding an exclamation point.  I like to think we are all adults and can make those kind of judgments for ourselves.
 
Mother Tree
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Deb Stephens wrote:
It's like saying if I decide to roll in poison ivy, please stop me.



You didn't say stop though.  You said shoot.  Shooting someone to stop them rolling in poison ivy isn't nice.


I was not in any way saying that people who use glitter are bad people.



And yet that is how it sounded. You seem to be implying that might be better off shot.  

Honestly, I think someone would have to be very sensitive to read this as "not nice".



Permies.com is full of very sensitive people.  

Have we come to the point here where we can't express our own opinions about what we like or don't like?



Well in that post you do seem to have reached the point you can't express your opinion without being nice, yes.
 
Deb Stephens
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Burra Maluca wrote:

Deb Stephens wrote:
It's like saying if I decide to roll in poison ivy, please stop me.



You didn't say stop though.  You said shoot.  Shooting someone to stop them rolling in poison ivy isn't nice.


I was not in any way saying that people who use glitter are bad people.



And yet that is how it sounded. You seem to be implying that might be better off shot.  

Honestly, I think someone would have to be very sensitive to read this as "not nice".



Permies.com is full of very sensitive people.  

Have we come to the point here where we can't express our own opinions about what we like or don't like?



Well in that post you do seem to have reached the point you can't express your opinion without being nice, yes.



Wow. I don't know how to respond to this. You have managed to make me feel horrible. I hope that was not your intention but maybe I am just one of those sensitive people in this group. I am not going to say any more about this because right now I feel like crying and it is hard to type. It may be a long while, if ever,  before I feel like contributing anything here again.
 
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I am not a moderator, nor do I make soap, so I really have an unbiased opinion on this. But to be perfectly honest, I did find it rather offensive in its totality.

For what it is worth, I have had many, many posts deleted or asked to be edited, in the big scheme of things, it really is no big deal. Too much time has been spent on this already.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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I had two posts deleted this week for violating publishing standards.  I said, "Oh well", and forgot about them within seconds.

 
Burra Maluca
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Deb Stephens wrote:
Wow. I don't know how to respond to this. You have managed to make me feel horrible. I hope that was not your intention but maybe I am just one of those sensitive people in this group. I am not going to say any more about this because right now I feel like crying and it is hard to type. It may be a long while, if ever,  before I feel like contributing anything here again.



Most of our staff are pretty sensitive too, and are rather upset about the way they have been spoken to.  Which is why I'm stepping in to try to take the pressure off them.

Maybe a suitable response is to realise that there are many sensitive people here and modify your post as requested instead of throwing a tantrum and lashing out at people.  
 
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Hi Deb,
I wonder if some of the reaction is due to how strongly your statements were worded? and for many of us at this point in history the mention of shooting even in jest is a little unnerving?

As a non gun owner/user, pacifist and former glitter lover I had already read your post and was not put off by your phrasing as it just sounded like you...someone who does not know your enthusiastic writing style on the forums might have been taken aback though?

I do get the difference between soap making and soap pouring....those distinctions come up in almost every craft and I think maybe important to mention but not quite so emphatically.   My bugaboo is blender paper as opposed to Hollander beater or just plain old whack the fiber with a piece of wood to make paper....I'm learning to be more open minded to others abilities and interests as I grow ancient
 
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A big part of what I personally see at issue here, is that we try hard to meet people where they are, in their permie-journey, rather than making them feel bad for not being farther along, in it. The phrasing in the statements in question could and likely would feel very judgemental, to someone at a sensitive point, in their experience level of artistry, soap making skill, or self sufficiency, in general, even if that was not the intent. No one is saying you're a bad person - only that your wording, *in this post* could use a little attention, to help prevent someone who is unsure or sensitive about it from giving up, based on something they read, here, where we are trying to lift up, support, share, and gently educate.
 
Mike Haasl
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Thanks Deb for starting this thread.  I think it's helped a number of people understand how people can react to different sort of comments.  

I think/hope everything that has needed to be said has been said and we can let this thread settle down so we can all reflect on it.  
 
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I'm just going to chime in real quick.

I have not read the post.  Mostly because I see lots of good staff in this thread, including raven and burra.   And because of that, I haven't read this thread either.

But I think the answer here is super simple:  


1:  I encourage the staff to "make the best of it".   When in doubt, remove it.  And then take it up with other staff to see if anybody thinks a line has been crossed.  Easy peasy.

2:  These are untrained volunteers.  They get license to stumble.  And I'm amazed at how very good they actually are.  In fact, I cannot imagine a paid and fully trained staff doing better.

3:  When I first started moderating forums over 30 years ago (yes, before the internet was popular) I attempted to inform the poster of moderations and explain it to them.  These people explained to me what useless piece of shit I was.   They had a lot of details about my poor breeding, lack of education, odd smell, etc.  A wiser moderator taught me to do all moderation silently.  And that eliminated about 98% of the grief.  Therefore, this is the advice I give to the permies.com staff.

4:  Anything you post will be viewed by 40 moderators.   So if even one of the 40 think it either crossed a line or came too close to a line - it will be removed.  A lot of the staff reviews are about stuff like that.  And the other staff will say "I would have left it, but I can see why you removed it."   And so it remains removed.  

5:  If your post is put on probation (and we are trying to move to a better system called "almost-a-post") that means that the moderator thinks you are cool and that you would appreciate having the chance to edit it rather than simply having it removed.  

6:  Nearly all other forums are gone now.  And we remain.   And we are growing.   I think this suggests that our recipe for success is working!  





 
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Goodness Gracious Me.

I'll support Deb publicly.

Culturally, what she said is perfectly acceptable for my countrymen. In South Africa, thats every day talk and doesn't mean shoot as in "hurting/maiming/killing" etc.

No.

It means - somebody STOP ME!


I know the rules here say Be Nice in your posts. Personally, I thought the offending post was nice. Perceptions are a helluva thing. Raven is in Canada and Non Violent Communication is pretty trendy around here. I have been to Portugal where Burra is from, but didnt notice the trend there.

Anyway, I am supporting you Deb. Don't leave. You're a good contributor here, and your presence will be missed. Even by those too sensitive to accept your tongue in cheek comments.

Did I just paint a target on my back?

I'll just grin and wave....it's a mad, mad world. Hug your veggies, they don't judge you. Big Grin!

(edit: I think that whoever left Deb's post with two empty apple cores did so in absolutely poor taste. Talk about kicking someone when they're down. What an antithesis of "Be Nice" that is, and to my understanding of what the apple core is, hypocritical in every sense.)
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Like most moderation decisions, there are a multitude of non-published factors (both past and present) that influenced how this was handled.

I gave an apple core in this thread, because of the many hours of volunteer staff time that were burned through dealing with the original post, and then dealing with it all over again in this post. The moderators already had this discussion in private, before asking Deb to change one paragraph which staff felt might be considered  dismissive of people that practice a different kind of soapmaking.

I feel that it's the nicest thing I can do: to grade people's submissions with complete honesty.  


 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Locking this thread to further discussion. It has already burned through way too much staff time.
 
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