Don't worry about reading this
Creative Commons License photo credit: quinn.anya

On one of the communities that I run that offers free technical support, we had a member join and post a question in need of some assistance. In the post, they included some short hand for a vulgarity, so I removed the post, as per our normal procedure. They also had a signature violation of sorts. So, I dropped the member a note explaining both.

I noted that their post was also in bright red. This is not a violation and it’s fine if a member wants to use that color. But, it made the post harder to read. So, in the message, I thought I’d include a helpful suggestion that would allow the member to be more likely to receive help from others. I said:

Also, I wanted to mention that your post might be better received if it wasn’t all in red. I’d encourage you to repost it in the normal font.

In reply, the person sent me a series of nasty messages via instant messenger, and also one (in bright red) via the private message function on our community. This is what the person said, in response to me simply suggesting that a change of font color might help make the message more attractive to potential helpers:

It shouldn’t. That doesn’t matter. That’s like telling a black person to stop being black. Everyone has different posting styles. My font color, my gender, my sexuality, my religion, NONE OF IT should affect me getting support.

I wish I was kidding here. I mean, what do you say to a person who says this? (The best answer? Probably nothing. Just walk away quietly).

While I definitely agree that your gender, sexuality, religion and race shouldn’t impact whether or not you receive assistance on my community, I don’t understand what that has to do with the font color that you use in a post. If you put your post in bright red, difficult to read letters, some people will not bother to read it, because it hurts their eyes to do so. To suggest that is somehow similar to racial profiling is, frankly, repulsive and disrespectful to people who actually have had to deal with that sort of thing.

But, that wasn’t all that this person said. Here are some other highlights:

  • I should not care about how she speaks to me. I should only care about the fact that she needs help and she is apparently entitled to receive it from my support community where people help freely of their own kindness and personal time.
  • By removing her post, what I was really saying was that I didn’t want her to ask for help and instead wanted her to figure it out on her own.
  • I removed the post because I didn’t want “children and soccer moms” to see it.
  • I delete everything that isn’t perfect.
  • I am paranoid that an 8 year old will visit my “obscure” community and “discover a cuss word.”
  • Instead of removing the post, I should have edited it and “censored the word, [making] it embarrassing” to her, because that would be the “sensible” thing to do.
  • She apologized for swearing “like 99% of humanity” and she apologized because she is “not Christian or whatever value that makes [me] so opposed to profanity.”
  • The focus of my community should be support, rather than “the soccer mom side of [me].”

Now, I have been called many things in my day. But, a soccer mom is not one of them. This is, perhaps, the most vile thing I have yet to be called and I resent the remark.

Seriously, people like this are out there. Try not to let them get to you.