Reputation v. Gossip
by Ethan Glover, Sun, Mar 13, 2016 - (Edited) Sun, Sep 10, 2017
Since arriving in New Hampshire one year ago I've been hit with a lot of drama. My first interactions with libertarians in this state were accusations. Attacks on property, fraud. Accusations that came from nowhere from people I didn't know. Accusations that faded out as quickly as those who made them. Some would say I've dished out drama myself. That may be true, but I'd like to think I know the difference between gossip and reputation
Some libertarians in New Hampshire have perverted the idea of ostracism. Turned it into clique-baiting, a political tool for power plays over ones brothers and sisters as if this so called "community" were congress. Maybe it's time for a refresher course on what ostracism is. Something very serious, not to be attempted every time someone upsets you. Ostracism is something that happens in conjunction with reputation, not gossip.
Let me be clear, ostracism is a personal choice. If you don't want to talk to someone, don't do it. If you're using it as an attempt to avoid needed conflict and resolution, I'd recommend having that conflict. But that's another issue.
Ostracism should never be a group decision made by vote, or put to consideration by petition. That encourages power plays driven by gossip and enforced by politically motivated cliques.
Ostracism should spread from one person to the next, much like ideas, or a product's quality. The reputation of ideas and products are not formed by vote, but by crowdsourced data taken with a grain of salt. Nor is reputation formed by personal gossip and drama. A person's reputation within a larger group should remain objective and impartial. Close friends may judge differently, but if you don't really know a person, you shouldn't be trying to contribute to their ostracism.
Reputation is formed from one person's experiences with many others. It is not, and should not be formed by one experience and the gossip of that experience by third parties. Gossip is unreliable information, it is never objective or impartial by its very nature. Gossip is spread by people who weren't there or don't understand the situation.
The argument for libertarian style ostracism goes something like this. "If you have a bad experience or business deal with someone, you should say something to the community so that people are warned that said person is not to be trusted."
Like all philosophy, this idea is not complete or universal. Taking it too far creates an environment of people tattling on one another for every irrelevant tiff. Think of it this way. Is what you want to say about someone to a larger community something you would say about a stranger on eBay? Imagine if the person is a stranger. You have no point of reference about how you feel about their personal beliefs. What's left to say, and is it relevant to everyone? If not, it doesn't matter.
Anything you have to say that is based on emotion, or a personal perception of a person's opinions is meaningless. Your opinions are just that, opinions. Don't condemn or insult your friends because they associate with someone you got mad at once. Allow reputation to build on it's own without manufactured drama. Doing so muddies the water and makes a community's internal "reputation database" unreliable and untrustable.
Don't get me wrong. Go ahead and vent or rant to your friends. Whatever helps you to get through the frustration. But get through that before you start to take an action that can have more serious effects. Banning someone from an organization, or moving to have them excommunicated is not to be taken lightly.
This short article has been sitting in a notebook for a very long time with no intention of being published. I'm releasing it now in conjunction with JP Freeman's thoughts on the petition against Ian Freeman.
Libertarianism has an image problem. And there's a simple solution.