Author Topic: Let's work out some official rules for this forum.  (Read 40346 times)

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Offline Yitzi

Let's work out some official rules for this forum.
« on: November 15, 2012, 10:53:54 PM »
Right now, this is a relatively small forum, and as such works fairly well without official rules.  But if we grow as much as we hope, that may not last, so in the interests of avoiding the sort of problems that plague larger forums when we become a larger forum, we should have a well-designed set of rules.  As such, Buster's Uncle said the following to me:

Come to think of it, Yitzi, I have a job for you, you being so impressively detail-oriented - start a thread In Council Room, and organize citizen participation in making up the forum rules.  Quote this post.  You, if you accept this commision, are hereby appointed Chairman of the Commitee of the Everyone Interested for Rules. 

Some guidelines:

Forums are never democracies, and this one is no different - we live and die on member happiness, but the admins reserve all right to accept or regect proposed rules.

If the admins accept a rule, we consider ourselves bound by it.

We reserve the right to think of more guidelines as they occur to us, and participate in discussion like anyone else.

We may not formalize this until we feel like it's needed.

The management has as much rights as anyone else.  Please try to make it easier for the managment to manage, not harder.

Let's try harder than usual to observe topic discipline during this discussion.

The ultimate goal of all rules is the health of the forum and the happiness of the members.  We're not banning every little thing someone wants banned, unless the whole community is best served by banning it.




That's all I got for now - look at it as a live microcosmic participatory experiment in culture and government.

As he said, everybody is invited to make suggestions and comments, but I'll start it off with some ideas I have (when I feel they're necessary, explanations are in square brackets):
1. Personal attacks in the context of debating are absolutely prohibited.  If it is absolutely necessary to call into question someone's personal qualifications (such as because they invoked their personal expertise to support their point), or to provide constructive criticism regarding their posting style, it should be done as politely as you can manage.  [We want to keep things civil, even when discussions get heated in off-topic as they no doubt will eventually.  I don't think it will be too much of an imposition to restrict friendly teasing to non-debate contexts.]
2. When debating, any person's explicit statements about their own position should not be contradicted.  If they seem to be holding the position that they explicitly deny, politely ask for a clarification.  [It's a lot easier to follow rule #1 when not provoked, and there's very little that is more provocative than being told that your position is something you explicitly deny.)
3. While friendly teasing is permitted outside the context of debating, if the object of the teasing requests that the teasing stop, that request is to be followed.
4. No teasing may include believable claims of real-life actions (e.g. claiming to have engaged in desecration of something valued by the other person).  [Once real-life gets involved, it's very easy for people to get seriously distressed.  Normal teasing doesn't involve such claims anyway, making it pretty much exclusively the domain of the worst sort of troll.]
5. While some drift of topics is expected and allowed, any artificial transition of a thread to an unrelated controversial matter will be treated as trolling and be dealt with harshly.  (If it cannot be precisely determined who performed the transition or there was no single point of transition, it can be presumed to be a natural transition.)
6. While some controversy is expected, anybody who exclusively or near-exclusively raises controversy about certain issues may, at the discretion of the admins and any moderators they appoint, be warned, and if they continue such behavior may be banned.

So, anybody have any comments on those, or other suggestions for rules?
« Last Edit: November 16, 2012, 06:33:58 AM by sisko »

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Re: Let's work out some official rules for this forum.
« Reply #1 on: November 15, 2012, 11:02:32 PM »
I think you've made a good start.  ;b;  I believe I'm going to have some specific remarks about your six proposals, but I want to think about them a little first.  I have quibbles about some details, but all are conceptually sound.

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Re: Let's work out some official rules for this forum.
« Reply #2 on: November 16, 2012, 04:53:45 AM »
I'll start it off with some ideas I have (when I feel they're necessary, explanations are in square brackets):
1. Personal attacks in the context of debating are absolutely prohibited.  If it is absolutely necessary to call into question someone's personal qualifications (such as because they invoked their personal expertise to support their point), or to provide constructive criticism regarding their posting style, it should be done as politely as you can manage.  [We want to keep things civil, even when discussions get heated in off-topic as they no doubt will eventually.  I don't think it will be too much of an imposition to restrict friendly teasing to non-debate contexts.]
I'm not sure I agree with that last.

I think the spirit is right, but you leave the admins little wiggle room for using good judgment, here, and this rule fails to recognize that my relationship with Kilkakon is different than my relationship with Uno, and different yet than how I ought to behave toward Newbx, a total stranger.  In the last case, the above is absolutely correct.  In Kilkakon’s case, he’d wonder who was posting as me if I went very long without making a joke about no pants, and what the serious person had done with the real me.

Again the spirit is okay, but the phrasing is mighty absolute.


2. When debating, any person's explicit statements about their own position should not be contradicted.  If they seem to be holding the position that they explicitly deny, politely ask for a clarification.  [It's a lot easier to follow rule #1 when not provoked, and there's very little that is more provocative than being told that your position is something you explicitly deny.)
While true, is this specific rule necessary? Perhaps instead, we ought to make the rule “Don’t be rude” and create/append an essay on what’s generally held to be rude posting/arguing behavior.  Thoughts?


3. While friendly teasing is permitted outside the context of debating, if the object of the teasing requests that the teasing stop, that request is to be followed.
I’m provisionally inclined to sign off on this without quibble.  (Well, this is me, so I’ll probably think of something, but haven’t thus far.)


4. No teasing may include believable claims of real-life actions (e.g. claiming to have engaged in desecration of something valued by the other person).  [Once real-life gets involved, it's very easy for people to get seriously distressed.  Normal teasing doesn't involve such claims anyway, making it pretty much exclusively the domain of the worst sort of troll.]
I dunno.  This is very specific again.  Perhaps you can tell me more about what you’ve witnessed to want this one.


5. While some drift of topics is expected and allowed, any artificial transition of a thread to an unrelated controversial matter will be treated as trolling and be dealt with harshly.  (If it cannot be precisely determined who performed the transition or there was no single point of transition, it can be presumed to be a natural transition.)
We don’t deal with much of anything real people do harshly.   This is an anti-spam rule, yes?  Why not just say No spam?  (Of course then we have to define spam, which is not an easy thing to do, given that it’s about six different things, all of them insults, but forum people don’t seem to have an actual definition.)


6. While some controversy is expected, anybody who exclusively or near-exclusively raises controversy about certain issues may, at the discretion of the admins and any moderators they appoint, be warned, and if they continue such behavior may be banned.
How about “No troublemakers.  If you’re griefing someone, or everyone, acting from apparent malice and lowering the general happiness of the members, you’re not welcome at AC2, and will be treated accordingly by the management.”

Somewhere in between our drafts, I think.


So, anybody have any comments on those, or other suggestions for rules?
It’s good that you recognize the potential of a forum’s OTf as the great wellspring of trouble.  I love me a good, spirited, OT, but I’d be a fool not to recognize that. ;b;


I should repeat what rules I’ve remember articulating previously in other places:

Private communications are to remain private.  If you have access to a hidden forum, don’t you go carrying tales.  That causes trouble like nobody’s business, and will be dealt  with.  Same goes for PMs.  People say things in private that they wouldn’t in public.  This is not an absolute information blackout, but it is an admonition that if you misjudge what private information is safe to relate to outside parties and cause trouble/bad feelings/damaged reputations, you’ll have violated the trust extended to you, and risk being officially designated a troublemaker.

Use of  “spam” as an insult towards other’s posting is frowned upon.  We are not bound by every little tradition from the dawn of the internet, and nobody likes a forum Nazi, so don’t be trying to impose rules we don’t have here.  The lowest penalty for careless use of the word spam is the enmity of one of the admins - keep it up, and it goes up from there.

Newb-bashing is a hanging offense here.

[And a new one, but it's an old traditional]This is not a museum.  How strictly we need to adhere to topic discipline is largely at the discretion of the member who started the thread.  The OP, however, is asked to to be tolerant of the natural flow of conversation.  However, as can easily happen in a silly OT thread, no one has the right to buzkill a thread they don't think is funny.  Get out when you're asked to, and stay out unless you can play along with the joke - or else.  Naturally, the standard of behavior in this is lower for topic discipline in Recreation Commons than in an on-topic subforum, and higher in an issues thread than a joke thread - but just avoid jokes you don't think are funny (bumping them to complain is often counterproductive, too).  Be considerate and tolerant, and you should be fine.

Offline Yitzi

Re: Let's work out some official rules for this forum.
« Reply #3 on: November 16, 2012, 12:28:09 PM »
I'm not sure I agree with that last.

I think the spirit is right, but you leave the admins little wiggle room for using good judgment, here, and this rule fails to recognize that my relationship with Kilkakon is different than my relationship with Uno, and different yet than how I ought to behave toward Newbx, a total stranger.  In the last case, the above is absolutely correct.  In Kilkakon’s case, he’d wonder who was posting as me if I went very long without making a joke about no pants, and what the serious person had done with the real me.

Again the spirit is okay, but the phrasing is mighty absolute.

Any ideas how to change it?  (Also, most discussions aren't really debates, so jokes could happen there.  People usually don't joke in serious debates anyway; I suspect most of the time when you made such jokes it wasn't when debating with Kilkakon.)

Quote
While true, is this specific rule necessary? Perhaps instead, we ought to make the rule “Don’t be rude” and create/append an essay on what’s generally held to be rude posting/arguing behavior.  Thoughts?

I just know that I personally have been provoked into borderline flaming by someone claiming I hold a position right after I explicitly denied holding that position.  While including it under "don't be rude" might work, I feel that some sorts of extreme rudeness could use special mention.
Perhaps more importantly, that rule contains in it something beyond just "don't be rude": It says to ask about apparent contradictions.  Sometimes, someone will hold a complex position and another person will fail to understand its subtleties; if the latter simply says "you hold X, therefore you hold Y" after the former explicitly denies holding Y, you run into something that will almost inevitably get out of hand (since if the latter persists, there really isn't any polite way for the former to deal with it.)  So while it's somewhat of a specific case, it will be very necessary if the situation comes up.

Quote
I dunno.  This is very specific again.  Perhaps you can tell me more about what you’ve witnessed to want this one.

On another forum, I was engaged in a religious debate with another poster (who's notorious as a troll), and he decided to claim (presumably purely to provoke me, as I can see no other reason; IIRC I was actually trying to be fairly understanding of his position in that debate) that he wrote God's name on a piece of paper and used it to wipe his dog's rear end.  I don't think I rose to the provocation, but that's the sort of trolling that can easily lead to extremely bad places extremely fast.

We don’t deal with much of anything real people do harshly.   This is an anti-spam rule, yes?  Why not just say No spam?

Because it's not really spam.  Spamming is switching to an unrelated topic to try to sell something or so on; this is switching to an unrelated topic to get a rise out of people.  That's trolling.  A "no trolling, as defined by the admins/moderators" rule might work, though that depends heavily on having enough admins/moderators while at the same time having only admins/moderators that won't abuse an open-ended power to silence those who disagree with them.

How about “No troublemakers.  If you’re griefing someone, or everyone, acting from apparent malice and lowering the general happiness of the members, you’re not welcome at AC2, and will be treated accordingly by the management.”

Again, that leaves so much up to the management that it makes it dangerous to expand the management (as will be necessary to a larger board).  Personally, I prefer somewhat more clearly defined rules, trading simplicity for security.

Quote
Private communications are to remain private.  If you have access to a hidden forum, don’t you go carrying tales.  That causes trouble like nobody’s business, and will be dealt  with.  Same goes for PMs.  People say things in private that they wouldn’t in public.  This is not an absolute information blackout, but it is an admonition that if you misjudge what private information is safe to relate to outside parties and cause trouble/bad feelings/damaged reputations, you’ll have violated the trust extended to you, and risk being officially designated a troublemaker.

Sounds good.

Quote
Use of  “spam” as an insult towards other’s posting is frowned upon.  We are not bound by every little tradition from the dawn of the internet, and nobody likes a forum Nazi, so don’t be trying to impose rules we don’t have here.  The lowest penalty for careless use of the word spam is the enmity of one of the admins - keep it up, and it goes up from there.

On the other hand, some things really are spam.

Quote
[And a new one, but it's an old traditional]This is not a museum.  How strictly we need to adhere to topic discipline is largely at the discretion of the member who started the thread.  The OP, however, is asked to to be tolerant of the natural flow of conversation.  However, as can easily happen in a silly OT thread, no one has the right to buzkill a thread they don't think is funny.  Get out when you're asked to, and stay out unless you can play along with the joke - or else.  Naturally, the standard of behavior in this is lower for topic discipline in Recreation Commons than in an on-topic subforum, and higher in an issues thread than a joke thread - but just avoid jokes you don't think are funny (bumping them to complain is often counterproductive, too).  Be considerate and tolerant, and you should be fine.

Sounds good.  Although there are certain types of jokes that probably need to be brought to the attention of management to determine if they were mean-spirited.

Offline t_ras

Re: Let's work out some official rules for this forum.
« Reply #4 on: November 16, 2012, 08:09:18 PM »
First of all I would say after reading the proposed rules and BUs answers I think may be we should post a set of strict rules+ a set of recomendations (which could be more specific). This is how life works. You have laws that were writen, many of them,  in general terms and then you go to a lawyer to consult for specific cases acording to the loyers expirience.

Quote
Quote
Personal attacks in the context of debating are absolutely prohibited.  If it is absolutely necessary to call into question someone's personal qualifications (such as because they invoked their personal expertise to support their point), or to provide constructive criticism regarding their posting style, it should be done as politely as you can manage.  [We want to keep things civil, even when discussions get heated in off-topic as they no doubt will eventually.  I don't think it will be too much of an imposition to restrict friendly teasing to non-debate contexts.]
I'm not sure I agree with that last.

I think the spirit is right, but you leave the admins little wiggle room for using good judgment, here, and this rule fails to recognize that my relationship with Kilkakon is different than my relationship with Uno, and different yet than how I ought to behave toward Newbx, a total stranger.  In the last case, the above is absolutely correct.  In Kilkakon’s case, he’d wonder who was posting as me if I went very long without making a joke about no pants, and what the serious person had done with the real me.

Again the spirit is okay, but the phrasing is mighty absolute.

I tend to think that the rule as wrote by Yitzi leaves enough room. As moderator I can decide what was constructive critisizm and what was an insult in the context of what I see are the relationshipd between the posters. That said, I'm a bad phraser, so maybe it could be better phrased and I dont recognize it.

Quote
When debating, any person's explicit statements about their own position should not be contradicted.  If they seem to be holding the position that they explicitly deny, politely ask for a clarification.  [It's a lot easier to follow rule #1 when not provoked, and there's very little that is more provocative than being told that your position is something you explicitly deny.)

I agree with BU. It is true, but it is too specific to be writen.

Quote
While friendly teasing is permitted outside the context of debating, if the object of the teasing requests that the teasing stop, that request is to be followed.

I think it goes without saying, but as a rule it is OK (maybe we should just have a summery rule "Dont be rude").

Quote
No teasing may include believable claims of real-life actions (e.g. claiming to have engaged in desecration of something valued by the other person).  [Once real-life gets involved, it's very easy for people to get seriously distressed.  Normal teasing doesn't involve such claims anyway, making it pretty much exclusively the domain of the worst sort of troll.]

I think the rule is OK but shuld be rephrased. Any way it is a rule agains total trolls, I dont think some one else would do such a thing.

Quote
While some drift of topics is expected and allowed, any artificial transition of a thread to an unrelated controversial matter will be treated as trolling and be dealt with harshly.  (If it cannot be precisely determined who performed the transition or there was no single point of transition, it can be presumed to be a natural transition.)

Don't know about it.  I REALLY dont like threads going out of toppic, but maybe it should just be a recomendation.

Quote
Quote
While some controversy is expected, anybody who exclusively or near-exclusively raises controversy about certain issues may, at the discretion of the admins and any moderators they appoint, be warned, and if they continue such behavior may be banned.
How about “No troublemakers.  If you’re griefing someone, or everyone, acting from apparent malice and lowering the general happiness of the members, you’re not welcome at AC2, and will be treated accordingly by the management.”

Somewhere in between our drafts, I think.

I think I like the way Yitzi phrased it more like a rule. Sounds more like a lawyer ;)

Quote
Private communications are to remain private.  If you have access to a hidden forum, don’t you go carrying tales.  That causes trouble like nobody’s business, and will be dealt  with.  Same goes for PMs.  People say things in private that they wouldn’t in public.  This is not an absolute information blackout, but it is an admonition that if you misjudge what private information is safe to relate to outside parties and cause trouble/bad feelings/damaged reputations, you’ll have violated the trust extended to you, and risk being officially designated a troublemaker.

This is important.

Quote
Use of  “spam” as an insult towards other’s posting is frowned upon.  We are not bound by every little tradition from the dawn of the internet, and nobody likes a forum Nazi, so don’t be trying to impose rules we don’t have here.  The lowest penalty for careless use of the word spam is the enmity of one of the admins - keep it up, and it goes up from there.

I think it shuld be more of a recomandation.

Quote
Newb-bashing is a hanging offense here.

This too is important.

Quote
How strictly we need to adhere to topic discipline is largely at the discretion of the member who started the thread.

This is true, but only to such extend. Some topics may be too problematic (trolling) them selvs as topics. Again in this case, some one raising such a trolling thread would only be a total troll, so this is a rare case. The problem is not to ban the troll in this case, but not to let him take more people down with him.
Imagine a Thread "See what XXX  wrote" with quting of a specific user in the starting post. User AAA sees the post and thinks it ia just a friandly lough without thinking of it or having bad intencions. So think the next 4 posters. Then XXX sees the thread and hates all of them (even if AAA was sure the troll that started it had a good anough relationship with XXX to post it). Had the thread been deleted from start AAA and XXX would still be friends. So even if I'm speaking here about extreem cases, as moderator, I steel would like to keep the right to decide that such thread is trolling.

One additional rule:
"Ridiculing non-native english spekers is prohivited". I had suffered from it and I've seen others get it too. And we have many non-native speakers here. Im corrected many times and even take a joke on me too, which is Ok since I lough too, but there is a difference between a little joke about ones english and calling names.

Last - Thanks to Yitzi for the rules!
« Last Edit: November 16, 2012, 08:16:14 PM by t_ras »

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Re: Let's work out some official rules for this forum.
« Reply #5 on: November 16, 2012, 08:24:59 PM »
I'm too sick today to want to get into any posts that take work and careful thinking, but that's not a bad idea about insisting on courtesy towards English as a Second Language posters.  This place is international, and some patience is called for essential.

---

On a general note, if it's understood that the staff usually has some latitude/discretion in enforcing rules, exact phrasing becomes less important.  Sometimes, moderation decisions can wait long enough for the staff to talk them over, so that takes some pressure off.  Where moderators are quick to jump in and say "This seems to be going to a bad place - let's cool off." and members will listen, rules usually not need come into it...

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Re: Let's work out some official rules for this forum.
« Reply #6 on: November 16, 2012, 09:10:19 PM »
You notice that all of us have proposed rules based on our own bed past experiences at other forums?  I don't know what to make of that.

I still wonder if a lot of this shouldn't be covered by simple "No trolling" and "No spamming" rules, with extensive commentary appended - sort of a Talmud to the actual rules' Torah...

Offline Unorthodox

Re: Let's work out some official rules for this forum.
« Reply #7 on: November 16, 2012, 10:37:11 PM »
I would keep the lot of it to a couple simple rules:

No personal attacks. 

NO caveats about it's ok here, but not here, but only if you're only teasing.  I could list the reasons, but suffice it to say the more exceptions you make the more you beg for the random bottom feeder to push the limits.  Just no.  And banhammer anyone that don't like it to the stoneage. 
 
No Trolling.

Not all trolling involves personal attacks. 

No Spamming.

Depending on ownership stances on piracy, maybe a rule that we do not promote illegal activities, and maybe something about no hot-linking  to photos you don't own.   

Yes, I'm a totalitarian son of a motherless goat.  I've come from a long line of both successful and failed forums, gaming and non.  Perhaps it's coincidence, but the failures all were lenient on personal attacks, the successes were not. 

Offline Unorthodox

Re: Let's work out some official rules for this forum.
« Reply #8 on: November 16, 2012, 10:40:00 PM »
Oh, the biggest thing is, whatever rule you decide on.  ENFORCE IT.  There will be someone to come try the limits.  Don't go wishy washy, warning warning, fluffy play nice smiles.  Ban the warthog faced buffoon with conviction then IP ban the inevitable DL he creates.   ;nuke;

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Re: Let's work out some official rules for this forum.
« Reply #9 on: November 16, 2012, 10:46:17 PM »
I think you're probably right.

I will say this - I speak fluent troll, and I'm not going to play around with a rules lawyer.  Trolls love to protest their innocence to high heaven.  Well guess what; you're ruining it for everyone, and you can do that somewhere else, not here.

There's a good case to be made in that alone for keeping it simple.

(We're not very laid-back about piracy for a lot of reasons, of course.)

Offline t_ras

Re: Let's work out some official rules for this forum.
« Reply #10 on: November 17, 2012, 05:31:43 AM »
You notice that all of us have proposed rules based on our own bed past experiences at other forums?  I don't know what to make of that.

I still wonder if a lot of this shouldn't be covered by simple "No trolling" and "No spamming" rules, with extensive commentary appended - sort of a Talmud to the actual rules' Torah...

It might be the solution. As I wrote: Making a set of generic rules and then a set of recomendations to exsplain it.
I dont know if the goys know whats Torah and Talmud are ;) but this would be the perfect explenation.

Offline Yitzi

Re: Let's work out some official rules for this forum.
« Reply #11 on: November 18, 2012, 12:19:13 AM »
You notice that all of us have proposed rules based on our own bed past experiences at other forums?  I don't know what to make of that.

Because bad experiences are the best guide of what a site needs.

Quote
I still wonder if a lot of this shouldn't be covered by simple "No trolling" and "No spamming" rules, with extensive commentary appended - sort of a Talmud to the actual rules' Torah...

That's not really a perfect analogy unless you're planning to make the commentary unwritten for as long as possible, but yes, having basic rules with commentary explaining the details is definitely the way to go.

No personal attacks. 

NO caveats about it's ok here, but not here, but only if you're only teasing.  I could list the reasons, but suffice it to say the more exceptions you make the more you beg for the random bottom feeder to push the limits.  Just no.  And banhammer anyone that don't like it to the stoneage.

That really prevents a certain sort of interaction that would contribute to the forum.  I get the idea that "anyone who don't like it" would include BUncle.

Quote
Depending on ownership stances on piracy, maybe a rule that we do not promote illegal activities, and maybe something about no hot-linking  to photos you don't own.   

I don't think hot-linking is really a problem unless the hot-link source really dislikes it...a rule that we do not promote illegal activities might be a good idea, though (although technically I think that means that anyone who purchased the GOG version of the game isn't allowed to download unofficial patches due to the EULA.)

Quote
Perhaps it's coincidence, but the failures all were lenient on personal attacks, the successes were not.

Leniency on personal attacks is definitely out of the question.  The ban on personal attacks has to be strictly enforced...it just doesn't have to be absolutely comprehensive.

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Re: Let's work out some official rules for this forum.
« Reply #12 on: November 18, 2012, 01:41:04 AM »
...It's not like I'd be as happy if I couldn't make fun of Uno a little...

Offline Unorthodox

Re: Let's work out some official rules for this forum.
« Reply #13 on: November 18, 2012, 01:45:02 AM »


That really prevents a certain sort of interaction that would contribute to the forum.  I get the idea that "anyone who don't like it" would include BUncle.


It boils down to which would contribute more.  I stand by my no nonsense philosophy.  It's not for everyone, no. 

It's been my experience that artists (and I would count modders among them) tend to be rather sensitive folks who don't take kindly to a lot of that stuff.  Those are the people I would like to get to know and attract. 

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Re: Let's work out some official rules for this forum.
« Reply #14 on: November 18, 2012, 01:50:02 AM »
You have a point.  We definitely want  those guys.

But I want neither a police state nor a cuddly bunny forum.  I mean, I don't know of a cuddly bunny 4x forum, but I don't care for us to try to fill that niche and police state is already taken.  If I can't joke around a little, there's no point in me being here, and I can hardly forbid others what I allow myself, in all fairness.

 

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