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Level of Discourse in OT

OT Civility 2009

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#41 BklnScott

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Posted 09 June 2009 - 01:28 PM

View Postsierraleone, on Jun 9 2009, 02:20 PM, said:

View PostDev F, on Jun 9 2009, 02:09 PM, said:

The difficulty I see

I don't recall anyone suggest this would be *easy* and an icon would solve everything. Human behaviour is notoriously difficult to control :)

The staff is not in the business of controlling anyone, nor should we be.  Members are free to express themselves as they see fit within a broad set of parameters, and they should continue to enjoy that freedom.  If that lowers the level of discourse (and I don't necessarily believe that it does), so be it.  We're not a peer-reviewed journal.  We're a message board.  People should expect to have to sort through the chaff to get at the wheat.  And people shouldn't be so hesitant to avail themselves of the "ignore" feature if there are members whose posts they find to be consistently nonconstructive.

I'd like to be able to get behind an effort to raise the level of discourse in OT, but not if it's done at gunpoint, because a) it won't work and b) it's just wrong.  IMO.

Edited by BklnScott, 09 June 2009 - 01:32 PM.

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#42 sierraleone

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Posted 09 June 2009 - 01:34 PM

View PostBklnScott, on Jun 9 2009, 02:28 PM, said:

View Postsierraleone, on Jun 9 2009, 02:20 PM, said:

View PostDev F, on Jun 9 2009, 02:09 PM, said:

The difficulty I see

I don't recall anyone suggest this would be *easy* and an icon would solve everything. Human behaviour is notoriously difficult to control :)

The staff is not in the business of controlling anyone, nor should we be.  Members are free to express themselves as they see fit within a broad set of parameters, and they should continue to enjoy that freedom.  If that lowers the level of discourse (and I don't believe that it does), so be it.  We're not a peer-reviewed journal.  We're a message board.  People should expect to have to sort through the chaff to get at the wheat.

I'd like to be able to get behind an effort to raise the level of discourse in OT, but not if it's done at gunpoint, because a) it won't work and b) it's just wrong.  IMO.

Sorry, control was too strong of a word. Thats not what I meant, I apologize if it gave you that impression. What I meant was that those against this saying that it won't fix anything... well, me, personally, I'm for it, but I don't think it will fix everything, or even most of it. I know we *can't* (and shouldn't, even if we could) control other's behaviour. I'm not suggesting we can or should.

*Edited for clarity.

Edited by sierraleone, 09 June 2009 - 01:36 PM.

Rules for surviving an Autocracy:

Rule#1: Believe the Autocrat.
Rule#2: Do not be taken in by small signs of normality.
Rule#3: Institutions will not save you.
Rule#4: Be outraged.
Rule#5: Don't make compromises.
Rule#6: Remember the future.
- Masha Gessen
Source: http://www2.nybooks....r-survival.html

#43 BklnScott

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Posted 09 June 2009 - 01:52 PM

View PostBalderdash, on Jun 9 2009, 02:25 PM, said:

View PostBklnScott, on Jun 9 2009, 11:11 AM, said:

baldy said:

I disagree completely with Lil and Scott. I think Specs idea has merit. If people want to drag their partisan strawmen into an argument than they will be on notice to back it up or look the fool.

Everyone is *already* on notice to "back it up or look the fool."  Looking the fool happens on its own.  It's not something the mods can or should impose -- especially if mods expect to be able to function as members, which we *do*.


No they aren't already on notice or we wouldn't be having this discussion

Why wouldn't we be having this discussion?  When someone looks the fool, they look the fool.  I get to decide who those people are for myself, and so does everyone else, but that doesn't mean people we think look the fool REALIZE it, or AGREE that they do.  

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and I believe that Specs has said she is looking for self-moderation not more mod moderation.

Who do you propose we empower to put people "on notice?"  To tell them, "you look the fool?"  

Specs' proposal is well-meaning, but as I said up-thread, we already have occasional first posts that seek to set specific rules of engagement.  "Hot topic -- No flames, please."  Or "hot topic -- might get very heated."  "Serious theological discussion.  No religion-bashing in this thread, please."  These labels seem to work OK, but people are free to ignore them as long as they are posting within guidelines.  

What would change that, besides empowering the mods to enforce these rules of engagement with cool-its and warnings?  And what would be the primary result of that change?  The mods would no longer just be arbiters of the guidelines, but also arbiters of post quality.  And that cannot be allowed to happen.

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#44 Drew

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Posted 09 June 2009 - 01:55 PM

:eat:
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#45 sierraleone

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Posted 09 June 2009 - 02:02 PM

View PostBklnScott, on Jun 9 2009, 02:52 PM, said:

Specs' proposal is well-meaning, but as I said up-thread, we already have occasional first posts that seek to set specific rules of engagement.  "Hot topic -- No flames, please."  Or "hot topic -- might get very heated."  "Serious theological discussion.  No religion-bashing in this thread, please."  These labels seem to work OK, but people are free to ignore them as long as they are posting within guidelines.  

What would change that, besides empowering the mods to enforce these rules of engagement with cool-its and warnings?  And what would be the primary result of that change?  The mods would no longer just be arbiters of the guidelines, but also arbiters of post quality.  And that cannot be allowed to happen.

Maybe all I (won't speak for anyone else) want is an icon that specifies there are rules of engagement beyond EI Guidelines?  Yes, people would be free to ignore it.

I think it would be helpful to see that kind of things indicated from the OT main page instead of having to open threads to see if there are specific requests about the topic/tone. It might encourage some people to actual view and participate in OT, as it seems some people have said in this thread. It may not be always followed, but they can visually see someone is trying to foster a specific kind of engagement with each other.
Rules for surviving an Autocracy:

Rule#1: Believe the Autocrat.
Rule#2: Do not be taken in by small signs of normality.
Rule#3: Institutions will not save you.
Rule#4: Be outraged.
Rule#5: Don't make compromises.
Rule#6: Remember the future.
- Masha Gessen
Source: http://www2.nybooks....r-survival.html

#46 sierraleone

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Posted 09 June 2009 - 02:10 PM

View PostDrew, on Jun 9 2009, 02:55 PM, said:

:eat:

I myself am wondering, if we do get this, how long before the new icon gets replaced in a specific thread with a cool-it icon by a mod ;)  :whistle:
Rules for surviving an Autocracy:

Rule#1: Believe the Autocrat.
Rule#2: Do not be taken in by small signs of normality.
Rule#3: Institutions will not save you.
Rule#4: Be outraged.
Rule#5: Don't make compromises.
Rule#6: Remember the future.
- Masha Gessen
Source: http://www2.nybooks....r-survival.html

#47 SparkyCola

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Posted 09 June 2009 - 02:17 PM

I think Dev is right- but that's not a reason not to try it. It's a potential risk - but we'll see how it goes. I agree with Rhea and sierra. As Rhea said here:

Quote

I think Specs is just saying that she'd like to be able to designate some threads as dicussion zones where, if you participate, you are expected to back up what you're saying with facts, rather than random repeat arguments with no facts and little bearing on the topic.

It takes work to go out and find materials that actually back up your assertions, true, but it makes for a much more interesting dicussion. And I have no problem with an icon that designates such discussions. It's also a warning to people who never bother to back up their rants that this is a rant-free, fact-based discussion.

Nobody's asking for a change in moderation, just a chance to try designating some threads as bring-your-facts threads, not rant threads. And folks who try to change the dicussion into a rant by not providing facts or just randomly carrying on can be politely ignored for the duration of that thread.

I think it's about the attitude with which people enter a discussion. If people individually get into a sort of "intellectual debate" mentality for a certain thread, that can help a lot. I like the idea and I think it's worth a try.

I also agree with sierra in that, no, not all threads should necessarily be long-winded intellectual academically-researched discussions. Nor do all posts have to be. Posts can be intelligent and civil without being epically researched. Some topics, like this one for instance, can't really be researched at all - it's not a fact based discussion to begin with, but an opinion based one. The only research you can do for your own opinion is to think about it, and even then there's nothing inherently wrong with changing your mind later on given new information or thinking it through in a different way.

But for some discussions it's very much appropriate to approach the discussion in a more methodical way, one with facts, views which have been carefully thought through and are presented logically and calmly, and perhaps sources to back things up if necessary (although let's not go nuts, we're not writing an academic paper). So to summarise:

1. Not for every thread
2. Yes there are some potential problems that may need ironing out
3. I think we should at least give it a go and we can always drop it if it turns out to be an unmitigated disaster.

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#48 BklnScott

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Posted 09 June 2009 - 02:22 PM

But, Sparky, what happens when people--inevitably--FAIL to back up their arguments with facts?  It seems clear to me that, the nature of this community, and really all message board communities being what they are, the next step will be calls for the mods to step in and make it right.  What happens then?  We throw up our hands and go, "sorry, can't help ya?"

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#49 SparkyCola

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Posted 09 June 2009 - 02:24 PM

^ If they do not back up their facts, someone will ask them to and if they still fail to do so, they get politely ignored ;)

Any calls for mod intervention will be referred to *this thread* for clarification on the intent of the concept (although explaining all this to new members is gonna be somewhat difficult, heh..)

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#50 Paul

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Posted 09 June 2009 - 02:37 PM

View PostSparkyCola, on Jun 9 2009, 09:24 PM, said:

^ If they do not back up their facts, someone will ask them to and if they still fail to do so, they get politely ignored ;)

And this would be different than from what is already happening in every thread....how?
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#51 BklnScott

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Posted 09 June 2009 - 02:45 PM

s[arky said:

^ If they do not back up their facts, someone will ask them to and if they still fail to do so, they get politely ignored

But isn't that what happens *now*?  (BTW, why do we think "polite" will suddenly appear with a new icon?  These discussions tend to get heated because they tend to be about controversial topics.  When people feel strongly about things, and disagree, heat is inevitable.)

My point is: despite our best laid plans, human nature being hard to "control" (as Sierra pointed out) means that people *WILL* come crying to the staff to take action in some of these cases.  When we refuse, people own't just go, "ok" and slink away "politely."  They'll get pissed -- and I'm not sure I'd be able to blame them.

We have a real clear line right now about the kinds of things we moderate and the kinds of things we don't.  I'd hate to see us blur it -- and I'd *really* hate to see us inadvertantly, with the best of intentions, start down a path to more stringent moderation.  'cause that worked out SO well last time. . .

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#52 Rhea

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Posted 09 June 2009 - 02:51 PM

Scott, right now there is no way to designate a more scholarly, less rhetorical discussion. I still don't see why we can't try this. It's not at all about moderation.

If people know going in that this is a thread where people are supposed to back up their arguments with actual facts, then those who don't feel like finding links have a chance to stay out, have someone point out that they're not presenting any facts, and then get ignored if they don't.

And no, we're not already doing it. Many if not most threads consist of the "does not!" "does too" level of discourse. I'm guilty of it, too. But if people knew that they were entering a thread designated for discussion based on facts, they might try harder to do so or ignore the thread(s) completely. Back when OT first started, there were a number of discussions that were on a more scholarly, factual basis. They weren't always labelled as such, but it was pretty obvious. And it was very enjoyable. These sorts of threads gradually got drowned out for the more argumentative sort, for the most part (maybe partly because there was no way to label a factual discussion). But it's not a new idea for OT.

I'm not married to the idea, but I cannot for the life of me understand what the harm is in trying it. As Sparky said, if it doesn't work, we stop doing it.

Edited by Rhea, 09 June 2009 - 07:30 PM.

The future is better than the past. Despite the crepehangers, romanticists, and anti-intellectuals, the world steadily grows better because the human mind, applying itself to environment, makes it better. With hands...with tools...with horse sense and science and engineering.
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#53 SparkyCola

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Posted 09 June 2009 - 03:09 PM

^ Well said and totally agreed :)

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#54 Nonny

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Posted 09 June 2009 - 03:16 PM

View PostSparkyCola, on Jun 9 2009, 12:24 PM, said:

^ If they do not back up their facts, someone will ask them to and if they still fail to do so, they get politely ignored ;)
Please, please tell me that you honestly believe that everything that's ever been done has at least one link, and that all links are easily accessible?  I have been searching for a link to the information I cited during last year's presidential campaign, to no avail.  I have tried to find the VetCenter counselor who gave me the information, in tears, ten years ago next month, but she retired early due to health issues and left the state.  I have asked for help from other VetCenter personnel, VA personnel, and a congressional office, to no avail.  Just because a sitting president managed to cover his backside on the harm he did a certain class of disabled women veterans does not mean it did not happen.  It happened, it harmed me, and I resent all implications that it didn't just because I cannot find the link.
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#55 Spectacles

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Posted 09 June 2009 - 03:43 PM

View PostBalderdash, on Jun 9 2009, 02:25 PM, said:

View PostBklnScott, on Jun 9 2009, 11:11 AM, said:

baldy said:

I disagree completely with Lil and Scott. I think Specs idea has merit. If people want to drag their partisan strawmen into an argument than they will be on notice to back it up or look the fool.

Everyone is *already* on notice to "back it up or look the fool."  Looking the fool happens on its own.  It's not something the mods can or should impose -- especially if mods expect to be able to function as members, which we *do*.


No they aren't already on notice or we wouldn't be having this discussion and I believe that Specs has said she is looking for self-moderation not more mod moderation.

^Umpteen times. :)

Look, I'm sorry I made this suggestion. I no idea that it would stir up such a fuss. It just seemed to me a simple idea that may help to improve discussions in OT. It seems, though, that a number of staff are opposed to the notion, so I'm happy to drop it.
"Facts are stupid things." -Ronald Reagan at the 1988 Republican National Convention, attempting to quote John Adams, who said, "Facts are stubborn things"

"Although health care enrollment is actually going pretty well at this point, thousands and maybe millions of Americans have failed to sign up for coverage because they believe the false horror stories they keep hearing." -- Paul Krugman

#56 Chipper

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Posted 09 June 2009 - 03:49 PM

View PostDrew, on Jun 9 2009, 02:55 PM, said:

:eat:

Pass me some!
"Courtesy is how we got civilized. The blind assertion of rights is what threatens to decivilize us. Everybody's got lots of rights that are set out legally. Responsibilities are not enumerated, for good reason, but they are set into the social fabric. Is it such a sacrifice to not be an a**hole?"

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#57 sierraleone

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Posted 09 June 2009 - 03:54 PM

^^ I counted 4 mods against the idea, and 2 for the idea.

As far as I'm concerned, if we created a new icon, it would mean nothing to the staff from a moderating point of view. So I don't see the objection. Of course, some might be concerned even if thats the intention, that something would think it means something in terms of moderation which it does not.

Edited by sierraleone, 09 June 2009 - 03:54 PM.

Rules for surviving an Autocracy:

Rule#1: Believe the Autocrat.
Rule#2: Do not be taken in by small signs of normality.
Rule#3: Institutions will not save you.
Rule#4: Be outraged.
Rule#5: Don't make compromises.
Rule#6: Remember the future.
- Masha Gessen
Source: http://www2.nybooks....r-survival.html

#58 Spectacles

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Posted 09 June 2009 - 03:58 PM

View Postsierraleone, on Jun 9 2009, 04:54 PM, said:

^^ I counted 4 mods against the idea, and 2 for the idea.

As far as I'm concerned, if we created a new icon, it would mean nothing to the staff from a moderating point of view. So I don't see the objection. Of course, some might be concerned even if thats the intention, that something would think it means something in terms of moderation which it does not.


That's a lot of mods--enough to nix the idea. I think we should consider it nixed.
"Facts are stupid things." -Ronald Reagan at the 1988 Republican National Convention, attempting to quote John Adams, who said, "Facts are stubborn things"

"Although health care enrollment is actually going pretty well at this point, thousands and maybe millions of Americans have failed to sign up for coverage because they believe the false horror stories they keep hearing." -- Paul Krugman

#59 NeuralClone

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Posted 09 June 2009 - 04:00 PM

While I'm not on duty at the moment (yay for vacations!), I'm technically a mod. I'm not sure if I should be officially counted or not but I'm very much in favor of giving it a try. I see no harm it at least trying it out. If it fails, it fails. At least we can say it was tried and that an effort was made.

Edited by NeuralClone, 09 June 2009 - 04:02 PM.

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— Cosima Niehaus, Orphan Black, "Governed By Sound Reason and True Religion"

#60 sierraleone

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Posted 09 June 2009 - 04:04 PM

NeuralClone - see how well I pay attention ;) I was just going thru the thread looking for those with bars or titles under their names, because I didn't pay attention to anyone's status in the discussion first time around, just saw people agreeing and disagreeing :)
Rules for surviving an Autocracy:

Rule#1: Believe the Autocrat.
Rule#2: Do not be taken in by small signs of normality.
Rule#3: Institutions will not save you.
Rule#4: Be outraged.
Rule#5: Don't make compromises.
Rule#6: Remember the future.
- Masha Gessen
Source: http://www2.nybooks....r-survival.html



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