This is a very good topic. I agree that there should be a set of rules up front that MUST be agreed to when you obtain your password to the forums. No click of "I agree to the stated rules" -- no password.
While I did not agree with the presentation, I did agree with the comment that real names should be used. Certainly not in J.D.'s case, but often some will be very brave and/or insulting in their anonymity.
For an example of such guidelines see: http://www.hsing-i.com/discuss.html
The internet faces a strange challenge with "flamers". They constantly get access to a board and then cause nothing but hassles. One of the best ways to deal with them was suggested by Michael Knight back early on in the disagreements. You simply do not respond. By not responding you do not give them what they need to continue -- much similar to some things suggested by Mr. Debecker.
When Bill Aksteter first posted I read it as a flame and decided not to respond. But it is hard to allow someone to have the last word or to allow insults to slip by. And regardless of any justifications he may have felt, Mr. Aksteter's first post was simple that -- insults. A further post did include some information for discussion. It also included a comment that I felt was directed at myself. Rather than respond with emotion, I asked for clarification. I felt his response would tell me what I would need to know. While I disagree with some of the points made by him in his reply, I felt it was a civil reply that tried to explain his position. I felt nothing further was needed from my end nor served by debating his points on that issue.
When Mike Sigman posted I formed my responses based on two factors. I am very interested in Chen Taiji and wanted to hear what he had to say, and the generation of the "discussion" was from an excerpt from a personal email (See Sensei Mattson's comments on "What's New"). I think that we are all often less that tactful when responding in private email. We also only got a piece of the discussion. For those reasons I posted as I did. When he made some questionable comments, folks more Senior than myself challenged him on them quite sufficiently. Later on in those threads, I became frustrated over the lack of real discussion and I inferred a tone in Mr. Sigman's posts. Out of this frustration I posted a very blunt message. I also attributed certain comments to Mr. Sigman. His reply challenged me on those comments. Reviewing his posts I found that I was in error. I had extrapolated from that perceived tone a position that he never once stated. I posted an apology for my error and I felt that Mr. Sigman accepted it with grace. For myself that ended my contributions on that thread. I did not feel any real value would be forth coming (for whatever reason) and I had some embarrassment over my error. I will, however, agree that certain issues challenged early on remain unsatisfactorily responded to.
So what to do about flamers: DO NOT RESPOND, SIMPLY DELETE.
The next problem is when is it a flame or just an over emotional response. I have certainly fallen into that internet trap myself by hitting the send button a little quickly. I think that is what Bill G. was trying to do on his forum. If a proper discussion could be created he wanted to give it a shot (sorry Bill if I am way out to lunch here). He gave the benefit of the doubt to a visitor.
Let us take a moment to look at Mr. Aksteter's first post from what might have been his position. His teacher (?) friend (?) training buddy (?) tells him that a small piece of private email was posted on a strange forum and he had gotten into quite a debate. Insults had flown both ways. So he reads the posts. Coming from a position that his teacher (I'm sure this is a wrong association, but it is works best for the illustration) was wrongful put in this position and having a biased (as we all do) in that direction, he really only sees the posts directed at his teacher. He finds them insulting and unacceptable so he posts a reply immediately. I think we can all post very heatedly under perceived insult. Now I am in no way trying to excuse that first post (I'm sure Mr. Aksteter could care less what I do). I am trying to present why Bill G. may have felt he deserved another shot at posting on his Roundtable.
We must also consider that the written word does not covey any body language or verbal tones. We rely greatly on these to know where a person is coming from. This is why I chose to ask for clarification from Bill Aksteter.
Just a few thoughts on the subject at hand. I am not trying to open up any old or new arguments by using the Aksteter and Sigman examples. I am simply using what prompted this thread.
As for those who might some day suggest that they will come and "visit" me, my address is in the school listings. If they really want me, I am not hard to find -- only a long ways away :-). I'll deal with it if anyone ever shows up. In my day job I have dealt with many upset, ranting, threatening individuals. Most are just bluster.
[This message has been edited by Anthony (edited 01-24-99).]