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Lex: 1, 2

Red

And the time comes when, after you hit someone while thinking that nobody can see you, you catch sight of the referee putting his hand into his T-shirt’s pocket wherefrom the red card comes out. You are dismissed, in the uproar of the stands, and you quite don’t get it if they are booing you or the referee. That’s it with football. On the Internet, things happen differently and not always in quantifying conditions.

Generally, when subscribing to a discussion group, you receive a missive from the sysadmin specifying how far you can go and cutting your teeth on. Some lists also require a resume, especially the professional and totally moderate ones (where messages are read before they are retransmitted to the subscribers), other lists choose from among the candidates in accordance with a most diverse reasons - including the emotional ones -, but most of them let you in without much fuss. This doesn’t mean anything. The lack of previous criteria does not necessarily mean the complete liberty of doing whatever crosses your mind. At least, the laws of the netiquette are to illuminate the intricate of the yet non-penal code of the Internet.

Although the limits are quite flexible and flame-wars (i.e. a sort of war whereby the words are sending out and turning into fire) might occur, there are certain borders that one had rather not cross. For instance, it is not advisable to abuse the administrator, not to mention the moderator. It is not nice to do it anyway, but you will be surprised to notice that sometimes it is allowed, especially if it refers to somebody else but the control tower. All kinds of threats fall into the same category. There are some people that do not threat but cut you down, "executing" you, so it is advisable and to your best interest not to get your private mail at somebody else’s expense (namely on your firm’s computer) but to try and avoid quarrels. Don’t take that chance unless you’re a friend of the boss or if your superiors have broader views about life and Internet. I know of situations whereby it was considered to be better for the network administrator to count the flies instead of participating actively into a discussion list.

There is, of course, not a recipe of the limits to an argument. The same argumentation may seem honest to some people, but an insult to others. It all depends on the cultural level and especially the level of adrenaline. But a "scientific" argumentation of the racism will lead, in most cases, to a well-deserved elimination. If you think that the chosen place is not suitable to your criteria, it is advisable for you to withdraw, thus saving useless bitterness. If you have the guts, it is all right, especially because a veteran is hard to be expelled, taking advantage of the deeper roots.

It may happen that a list is demanding Motoc’s scalp while Lapusneanu (the moderator) may consider that democracy should not be violated. In my opinion, a good moderator will first try to appease the conflict and he will only recourse to repression when all peaceful means are exhausted. The Internet environment implies a more aggressive presence of larger categories of frustrated people; that’s why you had better disregard - if you can (I, for one, can’t) - all that is said about you. Some people simply enjoy the violent language, other people want to test the newcomer, some others lack patience while other people have a certain psychic instability.

Among the Internet providers, there are many having their own code of rules, which one can recourse to when harassed and a well-sustained denunciation may be devastating. Don’t recourse to it unless you’re in real danger, because a claimant is badly regarded even if he’s right. But don’t hesitate to ask for a correction to let the people know that you can’t be mistreated.

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