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Re: A Level Playing Field

by Dominus (Parson)
on Nov 01, 2005 at 04:48 UTC ( #504494=note: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

in reply to A Level Playing Field

Thanks for doing this. I think it has been needed for a long time. A glance at the table shows that folks tended to slack off once they got to level 10; you can see the membership piling up just on the far side of 3,000 points.

But I hate some of the names you've chosen for the levels. "Grand Inquisitor" is the worst. Do you know what the Inquisition was? Do you know what the Grand Inquisitor's job was? The first Grand Inquisitor, Tomas de Torquemada, accused thousands of people of heresy. Then he ordered them tortured until they "confessed", after which they were burnt to death. Hundreds of thousands of Jews were ordered to leave Spain within three months, and tens of thousands died in the process.

I don't suppose that was what you intended the title to convey, but that's who the Grand Inquisitor was and that's what he did. Graff says, above:

I might be inclined to slow down or suspend my contributions to the Monastery if I were getting close to assuming that title (not like that's going to happen any time soon, but still), because for me the connotations of the term are heinous, and I'd be embarrassed to see it next to my name.
I feel exactly the same way. I would be really upset and angry if I were labeled "Grand Inquisitor Dominus". And I would certainly not want to post or contribute here if it looked as though that were getting close. "Grand Inquisitor" is not a title of honor; it's a grave insult.

More generally, I am uncomfortable with the Christian references in many of the new names. The old names were more generic. Buddhists have monks and abbots. A pontiff is just a priest; a pastor is just a shepherd. Lots of cultures have the idea of a Saint. Many religions, even most, have some sort of priest. Absolutely anyone can be a scribe.

But deacons and canons are all Christians. So are bishops and archibishops. Monsignors aren't just Christian; they are Roman Catholics. So are cardinals. I'm not a Roman Catholic and I don't want to be one and I don't want to be a Monsignor or a cardinal, either. To me, it seems extremely weird. When did this become a Roman Catholic organization? I don't consider it a promotion to be a Monsignor. I am having trouble finding a way to express how bizarre and discomforting I find this.

Can't we come up with a different set of titles that does not so clearly imply Christianity? How about "Master" and "Grand Master"? "Sage"? "Vizier"? "Champion"? "Messenger"? "Expert"? "Oracle"? "Philosopher"? "Wizard"? "Virtuoso"?

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Re^2: A Level Playing Field
by demerphq (Chancellor) on Nov 01, 2005 at 08:56 UTC

    Sigh. I had a feeling this might become an issue. I really was against the title of GI being in the list. Not only because of the history, but also because I dont think the name "fits" with the rest of the list and also because its just so easy to take the piss out of. So for about an hour we had 'Primate' in there. But of course I didnt realize how easy primate was to also take the piss out of. So on the grounds that inquisitor jokes were less of an issue than ape jokes we changed it back.

    Obviously we got so distracted about how this could be used for jokes that we underestimated how much people might find this particular rank an insult. So we will definately fix it.

    Regarding the Catholic theme, personally I don't mind it too much as it has the virtue that it has enough crazy ranks that we could fill out the table more or less. OTOH, reworking the titles over the next while to remove some of the issues people feel really strongly about is entirely possible.

    Its quite possible that by the time you return next the rank GI will have been resigned to the dust heap (yet again). (Update: Yep, its been changed to 'Sage').

    Allow me to add that one of the difficulties with doing stuff like this on PM is the tendency that everything gets talked to death without anything ever happening because we havent found the perfect system. In this case we went ahead with the new scheme anyway, so that we actually get somewhere while resolving the rough edges. While this means a bit of turbulence in the life our memberships overall this means we actually get to see new features in play instead of debating them to death without getting any benefit from them.


Re^2: A Level Playing Field
by virtualsue (Vicar) on Nov 01, 2005 at 05:26 UTC

    Regarding "Grand Inquisitor" level. The passage of time and Monty Python have greatly weakened our perception of the Spanish Inquisition as an atrocity against non-Roman Catholics, and Muslims and Jews in particular. demerphq hinted yesterday that this name was used in preference to "Primate" simply because the people directly concerned weren't keen on the idea of endless monkey jokes, but in retrospect the latter seems preferable. Do you have a suggestion for an acceptable replacement?

    Regarding the RC bias in level titles, yes, now that there are nearly 3x as many levels it is all getting a bit much. It is possible that somebody may be moved to patch things so that users may select a title theme, much as they do now with the color scheme & layout.

        Nothing. I don't care all that much, other than to agree with your point regarding "Grand Inquisitor". Choice is nice in a restaurant, but if you want to get rid of one offensive title, perhaps it'll go away faster if you give the guys running the show one replacement name that you find acceptable.

      Respectfully, virtualsue, the passage of time has not weakened this perception for everyone. While this particular atrocity took place centuries ago, it is only one among many committed against people (not just Muslims and Jews, but just about everyone in the world has been the target of genocide at one time or another). It's going on today. The title of Grand Inquisitor is neither necessary not particularly amusing, IMNSHO. How about minister, rabbi, lama, sat-guru (or just plain guru), swami, sifu, etc.? And how about those guys who help decide whether someone's a saint (one's the devil's advocate; I don't recall what the other one is called).? Angel, archangel, seraph, cherub, whatever? Surely we can do better.

        Didn't you understand that I was agreeing with Dominus? Did you see me argue for retaining "Grand Inquisitor"?
      somebody may be moved to patch things so that users may select a title theme

      That's a completely ridiculous idea, IMNSHO. What the site looks like is one thing, but I rather think that we should be able to communicate about levels without people asking things like, "Huh? Oh, uh, what's a saint in the Pokemon theme again?" This is still Perl Monks, right?

      "My two cents aren't worth a dime.";
        The levels are numbered, so I don't really see this as being much of a problem.
Re^2: A Level Playing Field
by webfiend (Vicar) on Nov 01, 2005 at 05:25 UTC

    I see your point, but I guess I'm pretty numb to the connotations myself. Maybe too many years of 1st edition Advanced Dungeons and Dragons, where level titles had no discernable logic and you just ignored them - except to say "Oh, my character Vainamoinen just made it to Necromancer! No, he doesn't do any necromancy, he's more into earthquakes and stuff."

    What? Why is everybody looking at me like that?

Re^2: A Level Playing Field
by Petruchio (Vicar) on Nov 01, 2005 at 09:54 UTC

    Well, fiddlesticks.

    Let me start by saying, 'Grand Inquisitor' is, far and away, my favorite name of the bunch. For one thing, it's the title of a famous chapter from The Brothers Karamazov, one of my favorite books. It also, to my ear, has the cool sound of something wicked. I envisioned Grand Inquistors poking people with Soft Cushions in the Chatterbox, crying, "No one expects the PerlMonks Inquisition!"

    When I floated some of the level names a year ago, the only sentiments expressed on this title seemed to match my own. This post, for instance, opined:

    Your biggest problem is that the title of Grand Inquisitor rocks so hard that once I've attained it, I'll want to stay there, instead of getting a "promotion" to Saint.
    I thought, therefore, that I was on safe enough ground, and that this particular piece of political incorrectness would be allowed to slide.

    This time around, however, things seem to be different. Any debate over whether the title is justifiable is unnecessary; that several people are honestly and seriously disturbed by a single title convinces me that it is more harm than good.

    At first, I had thought to replace it with Prophet; Sage grew on me, however, and demerphq favored it, so there it is.

    As it happens, by the way, I do know a fair bit about the Inquisition. You're quite right, of course: Tomás de Torquemada was not a very nice man. I not-infrequently enjoy gallows humor at the expense of people much less than 500 years dead, however, so it's not a matter I'm inclined to take seriously. I don't suggest that this is the best outlook to take; quite possibly you are to be commended for steadfastly calling a bad thing a bad thing, however remote. To me, for better or worse, an auto da fe is fundamentally funny, as I am never likely to be invited to one. :-)

    Thank you for your civility, both here and in the Chatterbox.

Re^2: A Level Playing Field
by spiritway (Vicar) on Nov 01, 2005 at 06:09 UTC

    I totally agree with you, Dominus. The connotations of "Grand Inquisitor" are horrific - people accused, tortured, burned, their property confiscated, all for the suspicion of heresy. It was an ugly periot of history, and I feel it should not be commemorated in the Monastery.

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