The following was posted to the Scripting News discussion board in response to this article:


I am extremely troubled by this reply.

No-one sets out to commit a social gaffe. All of us try to behave correctly. But we all make mistakes, and it is part of being a mature person to accept that sometimes we screw up. It’s important to be able to listen to others, to accept criticism and to understand that sometimes we’re wrong.

This isn’t “being remade”, this is just what’s necessary for imperfect humans to function in a social world without killing each other.

I have no opinion on the fundamental issue this whole business is about. I haven’t even visited Dave Polaschek’s site.

I’m observing this whole thing solely from the point of view of social graces and behavior. And I’m bothered by what I see.

All of us modify our behavior to suit the people around us all of the time. This is normal, healthy and mature. It isn’t any kind of sacrifice of individuality; rather, it’s nothing more than common courtesy.

There are people I spend time with where certain levels of profanity are considered normal and acceptable. There are other people I know which are offended by that kind of thing. I modify my language based on whom I’m with.

Is it truly your desire that the only things you read here are people praising you? Do you really want to be surrounded by yes-men?

If so, I feel deeply sorry for you.

There’s a guy named Paul. I used to work with him.

When I got out of college, I was insufferable. While technically competent, I was socially immature, and was careless and abrupt with the people around me. As a result, I tended to antagonize others, and I didn’t know why.

Paul didn’t have any choice but to work closely with me, and he’s one of the people I antagonized. He came to me one day and told me about this, and I confessed to him that I didn’t know what it was I was doing to make people dislike me, but I wanted to change it.

So we made a deal: whenever I said or did something he didn’t like, he told me immediately.

And over the course of a year, I changed. I learned.

I owe him a debt I can never repay; he taught me things I could never learn any other way, although I know it wasn’t fun for him to do this.

Yes, it changed me. It improved me.

There’s nothing wrong with change.


It received a one-bit response: it got deleted within 15 minutes of being posted. I think that is a very eloquent reply, though perhaps it says more about the deleter than about the deleted.

I find it extremely ironic that I read the following quote on Scripting News: “The web treats censorship as damage, and routes around it.”


Yes I invoked the turd-defense-system, basically flushed the toilet. You found the perfect solution, post it here on Jason’s site. Let’s see if he’s willing to host the excrement that flows out of my site. Have a grrreat weekend!

• Posted by: Dave Winer on Feb 19, 2000, 8:14 PM

But that’s what we’ve been trying to say, Dave — it’s not excrement, it’s opinion. (Mind you that I’ve been around, and involved in, a lot of things that most would not deny was excrement per se, so the notion that such posts and people exist isn’t something that I can argue with you about.) Nobody is arguing with the need to occasionally delete stuff from your personal site, they (we?) just think that there’s a lot of bitterness and animosity that surrounds the recent use of these actions, and to hurl it around is pretty off-putting.

In reading the post that was deleted, I don’t get that same general mood — the author (I have no idea who it was, mind you) was posting that (s)he, too, once pissed in the proverbial pool, and learned that it wasn’t the way to achieve anything. It wasn’t an ad hominem, it wasn’t a rude insult… it wasn’t what I would consider “a turd,” if you will. I know that we disagree on this, and that’s fine too. So I’m not at all displeased that Stephen decided to copy the post over here.

A few questions that have lingered in my mind for a while now… I’m not looking for answers, just interested in voicing them, so you know what an “average user” has rattling around upstairs.

  • What’s the plus side to offending potential users of Frontier? Many of the people that have been directly insulted in this, and in episodes past, won’t return to Userland for business; for the most part, their only “offense” was that they disagreed with you on some issue. As you know, there was a week that I specifically did not recommend Frontier to a few clients for their projects; they probably would have been happy users of yours, and their only misfortune was to ask my advice during a time when you decided it was me pissing in the pool. I’m sure that this scenario has played out elsewhere, directly and indirectly.
  • How successful can you be making Manila an universal tool if potential customers come to Scripting News and see comments like we’ve seen the last few days? I would have to imagine that you generated some interest in your products over the last few weeks (e.g. Davos, Seybold); if these relative newbies, especially those who have to convince higher-ups that Manila/Frontier is the way to go, see you flipping out on other people publicly, that can’t be a good thing.
  • How comfortable are you making comments lamenting the bitterness and rudeness in the weblog community, and then generating that selfsame bitterness and rudeness so strongly over a silly issue?
  • Do you feel that we users should route around censorship by routing aroung SN? I’m not sure where I stand on this, but it’s your quote, and when I saw it, this thought immediately jumped to mind.

That’s just what’s spinning in my brain right now. BTW, once again, thanks for the comments about Q — as you know, as do most people out there who have been reading Q since the beginning, it’s about 40% my design and 60% Manila’s ease. (Now, if only I could get my Cascading Style Sheet into an editable page, I’d be truly happy.)

• Posted by: Jason Levine on Feb 19, 2000, 9:01 PM

I’m glad to hear what’s spinning in your brain right now Jason.

While you were writing this, I was writing this.$15138

If you really for a moment suspend your belief that I am who you think I am and take my comments at face value.

Now, to address your questions — they’re all answered easily. I’ll do my thing and you do yours. You can use my software, but don’t tell me what to say.

This is the argument you and I have been having ever since you showed up in the Frontier community. I wish you would just give it up Jason.

• Posted by: Dave Winer on Feb 19, 2000, 9:17 PM

Funny — we both wrote at the same time, and then read at the same time (I had just finished reading Me and Jason Levine when I got the notification in my mail of your post here.)

OK, so to take your comments at face value, you do want bitterness and exclusivity. Whatevers.

When have I, or anyone else, told you what to say? It’s interesting to me that you see it this way… especially since, at least in that last post, I explicitly disclaimed that I cared about your answers to those questions. And especially because the last sentence of your post is wishing me to give up my argument… seems like that’s telling me what to say, or at least think. Again, whatevers.

• Posted by: Jason Levine on Feb 19, 2000, 9:25 PM

Hmmm. When you ask questions about alienating Frontier users, I guess that’s just a question. I hear a statement, that you think I should never alienate Frontier users. I wonder why you ask the question then. Repeatedly.

Another thought for you, eventually the vast majority of Manila users will know nothing of Scripting News. It’s already happening. I see people with reasonably high-flow sites pointing to me with explanations about who I am. If any of the deals we’re working on pan out there will be hundreds of thousands of Manila sites that you won’t even know are Manila sites. (You will know, because you will recognize the feature set, but brand-wise, you won’t see UserLand or me or Scripting News on the websites or in the editorial interface.)

This is as I want it. I want Scripting News to be my SlashDot, with a different layout. People can say what they want, but in their own space. But I want Scripting News to be my podium. If it didn;t exist I would have to recreate it. If I turned it over to PR wonks, I’d have to start Dave’s Space anyway. I already like the name Scripting News, and believe me, Frontier users don’t care. The ones that really did left us long ago.

Hope this helps explain broadly where your questions don’t make sense to me. And by the way, I do not want bitterness and exclusivity!

• Posted by: Dave Winer on Feb 19, 2000, 9:35 PM

And by the way, I do not want bitterness and exclusivity!

You have an odd way of showing it.

I spent more than an hour on that article, trying to make it simultaneously reasonable, persuasive, and non-threatening. I read it through and edited it four times before I posted it.

Speaking as a man of the world, just how did you expect me to react when you describe the result as excrement, and referred to your reaction to it as flushing the toilet?

Am I supposed to be flattered?

Actually, “bitter” is almost a perfect description of how I felt.

But I don’t anticipate that you actually care about that, and now neither do I.

• Posted by: Steven C. Den Beste on Feb 20, 2000, 2:52 AM

Look Mr Den Beste, whoever you may be, I have no idea how you feel about things. I’ve never met you, I don’t have a clue who you are.

• Posted by: Dave Winer on Feb 20, 2000, 5:18 AM
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