MJM - this is a reasonable question - and I'm going to take a stab at an answer.
First, following the wisdom of BroDeal: Messages are usually better understood when they are a concise paragraph rather than a rambling challenge to the length of War and Peace.
My primary point is "No personal attacks. Attack the message, not the messenger."
My secondary point has to do with humor and it's use. Sarcasm, snark, slams - are difficult to use. They are generally tolerated on this forum, when aimed at public figures who are not a known participant in the discussion. When the target is a participant in the discussion, they are likely to be over the line - a "personal attack" - and thus, not permitted.
That is the "brevity" version. What follows is the "War and Peace" version.
I found two posts, on another forum, that are very well written, probably better than I could do.
What's the difference between a "personal attack" and "fair criticism"?
Use of Sarcasm "Most people think they know what sarcasm is and could recognize it if they heard it. Most people would be wrong..."
I also introduce those sources to clearly show that these questions are not new, they have been dealt with before, and clearly.
I would like to use some examples from your posts. And I will offer some opinion on the "critiquing the Mods" business.
First example - a post that passes the personal attack test.
MJM "JV is fairly evasive when it comes to discussing what he knows about his riders. . . " Why does this pass? Because, 1) JV is a public figure 2) This claim is readily verified within the forum threads, and could be supported by posts by JV himself. Again - go here for more detail: What's the difference between a "personal attack" and "fair criticism"?
2nd, a fail. MJM: "If you pay peanuts then you get monkeys. ..." This is an ad hominem
attack on the mods, in the guise of humor. It is over the line.
Similarly, "Frodo Cavendish gets given an etch-a-sketch. They used to give him crayons at Columbia HGH but he kept eating them. " along with "and some vaseline" get a pass, although barely. While " I just think you are not very good at your jobs", and "They are not very good at their jobs either. " do not pass. The first two are not personal attacks - the targets are not forum participants to our knowledge. However, they do beg the question of what is acceptable, they could be inflammatory (as in flame-war inflammatory, and thus prohibited on that account), and they border on being off-topic. The latter two are personal attacks. They are quite clearly about the messengers - not the message.
You are a talented commenter - and I find more posts that add to the conversation than not. But you are also talented at the types of arguments found on this page: A List of Fallacious Arguments
. What should be added is that many arguments are won using such "fallacious" arguments, and I would judge that you are accustomed to "winning" on a regular basis, using such techniques. These are methods to persuade an audience, without really addressing the argument and logic. Common enough in politics.
But again - we have our "line in the sand" - No Personal Attacks. In addition to many good posts, when I search all your posts, I see more than just a few that clearly cross that line. And didn't get caught by a mod. Now, I can hear it already - Amsterhammer started this thread with it - "but nobody did anything over THERE and THAT was way worse!" To which I have two very clear, and very simple answers.
When you get a speeding ticket, do you get a pass because the day before you got the ticket, you and every other car on that road passed the same point, going even faster than the ticketed speed? Uh, no. Same thing here.
Secondly, the UNwritten rule for modding in these forums is, and has been, "Prune only as necessary to keep alive". In other words, VERY laissez-faire. These are my words - this rule IS UNwritten - but I see it in the history. For instance, in my research for this post, I found many forums prohibit negative comments about a mod, outright. Not allowed, period. Complaints go straight to the chief mod. I don't think Dan wants that here. So our free-wheeling ways are pretty liberal, by comparison. But, on the other hand, we are not Usenet (which is anarchy).
Two final comments on personal attacks. An allegation in the forum that a new member is a banned user is a personal attack. Allegations, in or out of the forum, that a user has broken rules, including avoiding a ban, need proof. If we can not find proof, the issue is not actionable. If you think someone is a banned user - send us a message, and tell us why. Use the same methods you would use for a post - if you have a link, send the link. We have tools, but they do have their limits. On the other hand, if we have received word that some people believe a user has broken rules, but we can find no proof - or we even have counter-testimony (which makes it a he-said-she-said), well - what would you do?
And lastly, this is not a post for just you MJM. I've noticed a few people have escaped the snark radar for personal attacks in the past. But, I think you are a strong, resilient, and flexible enough person to be the example I used.