Re: [Last-Call] On satire, sarcasm, etc (was: Re: Last Call: BCP 83 PR-Action Against Dan Harkins)

Toerless Eckert <> Thu, 27 October 2022 16:16 UTC

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Date: Thu, 27 Oct 2022 18:16:26 +0200
From: Toerless Eckert <>
To: Bron Gondwana <>
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Subject: Re: [Last-Call] On satire, sarcasm, etc (was: Re: Last Call: BCP 83 PR-Action Against Dan Harkins)
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Some explicit, more differentiated Emily Postnews suggestions about satire/sarcasm/humor (SSH):

SSH does NOT make any critique against people or groups thereof acceptable
if that critique itself would not be acceptable without SSH. Independent of
what form of communication is used.

SSH may be well intended as a mean to "soften the blow" of some critique, but
it can easily add more harm than good because it can be perceived as "doubling down":
Criticising AND making fun of it/him/her!

If you do like to express yourself through SSH, start applying it to
non-critical statements first. Think about the worst case it could be
perceived as. Check the receiving community reaction: The less opportunity there
is to vet the receiving community, the more careful one has to be. Even in
spoken communications, masks reduce opportunity to vet how SSH is received.
And in written communications it is much worse.

If you want to express criticism through SSH, start experimenting with self deprecatory SSH.

I for example think that everybody should learn to write longer sentences, 
and of course being of German origin, i am a master of it and happy to share 
that talent with the community.

In general, the "do no harm" rule, which Google popularized by its own example, 
should superceed all other rules in respect to SSH.

In that respect my prior example is of course inappropriate, because readers
could misinterpret it, for example take it serious, and actually start writing
longer sentences into RFCs, which should then entitle RFC editor to mug me in
a dark corner of the IETF for the harm i have caused them.

  "Readers who cannot distinguish satire by reading the text may have a future in marketing."

IMHO, this is wrong. Yes, smileys and other form of SSH tagging do
take away from the beauty of the expression, but it can significantly help
to avoid misinterpretation.

In conclusion: As difficult as SSH is, its usefulness is clearly shown
by the fact that TLS has not been able to replace it.


SSH disclaimer: I am continuosly working on writing shorter sentences. Thanks RFC
editor. I do not intend to judge whether or not gooogle complies with its
own motto, i just find lofty goal mottos inappropriate simplifications for the
complexities of such large companies, so i like to make fun of them. I am also
very happy to feel confident RFC editor will never mug me, whatever bad language
i write, and finally, the SSH/TLS comparison is now of course mixing the
expansion of SSH i invented and its original one as a protocol and i am not
going to explain why SSH still does not use TLS here because that would be
showing another bad writing habbit: not staying on topic.

Final rule: If you can not resist to use SSH, it does not hurt to explain it,
even if you feel that takes even more way from it than a smiley.

And i failed on my shorter sentence goals. Again.

On Thu, Oct 27, 2022 at 09:36:24AM -0400, Bron Gondwana wrote:
> On Thu, Oct 27, 2022, at 09:10, Vittorio Bertola wrote:
> > I chose not to participate in this discussion but here I have to point out something.
> > 
> > I am one of those who routinely use satire, sarcasm, jokes, metaphors, emphasis and more rhetorical and linguistic devices to communicate, and this, in addition to being a way for expressing my own self, is actually considered a sign of good writing and arguing skills in my culture. I had to learn to self-censor myself at the IETF; and still, sometimes I just fail and people complain and I feel out of place and stop participating (e.g. see the alt-dns thread on DNSOP). 
> > 
> > So, well, this is just one more of the IETF's exclusionary attitudes; possibly it is impossible not to have any, but let's not pretend that some social prohibitions (the ones the majority likes) are more justified than others.
> NO HATS ON - this is just me and my own opinion.
> I'd like to propose a counter point to this particular idea, about the relative justification of social prohibitions.
> The issue with satire, sarcasm, etc - is that it's a pretty advanced form of communication.  It's a game played by people at equal skill level, and it's a pretty intricate dance when done well.  When done well it's fantastic, amazing, great for all involved.
> BUT - it's not very good over email, where nuance is lost - unless played by players who already have a high level of trust and mutual understanding.  And it's not very easily translated across cultural and language barriers.
> SO - while satire, sarcasm, etc are quality forms of communication and absolutely to be encouraged in people's lives, it is not a good fit for the purpose of the IETF, which is clear technical communication and collaboration among a worldwide audience.
> The IETF choses to do its work in English, though that choice is likewise not more "justified" than other choices, it's just  what the majority likes.  And we can likewise, as the IETF, choose to use a subset of English forms of communication, such that our style is most widely understood, and least likely to be misunderstood.
> Regards,
> Bron.
> --
>   Bron Gondwana, CEO, Fastmail Pty Ltd

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