24th June 2005 at 01:00
Some days start badly. The days when you open the TES website editor inbox and find 34 complaints about something nasty in one of the forums.

Last Friday was just such a day, and this time the complaints were so numerous and so insistent and so completely directed at one evil-smelling little thread in the Opinion forum, that I knew that only a rapid application of double-strength filthy thread remover would do the trick.

I won't quote all or even part of mrmcfist's 200-word posting, the cause of all this outrage. Let's just paraphrase. Our man (not sure why, but I'm pretty certain the author was male) was inviting us to consider, in great detail, our own conception and subsequent delivery into the world.

Like many of our rogues and rascals, this character had chosen his moment: 22.42 on Thursday night, half an hour after the last swoop by our evening monitor. (Would-be troublemaking posters please note: we have adjusted the monitoring schedules since this incident.) What seemed to upset those of you unfortunate enough to stumble across this rancid little communique was not so much its language - grubby playground obscenities - but the curiously cold and knowing way in which it was deployed.

Regular contributors, good teachers that you are, are normally more than capable of handling the occasional outburst of puerile smut. It goes with the turf. We've all been enlightened by your discussions on the parallels between Shakespearean insults and the mother-cussing of the early 21st-century playground.

But this time, even the most eloquent were speechless, while others were milling around, trying to agree on the best way to register a complaint, eliciting this rather self-defeating response from bonkers 704: "STOP REPLYING TO IT FOR GAWD'S SAKE!" The voice of sanity, otherwise known as lilyofthefield, arrived at three minutes to 11: "This is just a rehash of a previous thread. Same words. Ignore."

A few minutes later, absolutebeginner wondered if "we could change the subject to avoid the original poster enjoying all the fuss". Well, the best way to achieve this, as lilyofthefield pointed out, is to ignore: but that is harder than it sounds. Even her sensible response lifted the thread, momentarily, to the top of the page.

If none of you had replied, but had simply alerted us, the thread would have dropped off the page until it was mopped up by one or other of our monitors. And then I would have been able to write about a more pleasant topic, such as the discussion on the maths forum about what made any of you want to be maths teachers. Best answer so far: "Carol Vorderman, circa 1982".

Bill Hicks is editor of the TES website. www.tes.co.ukstaffroom

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