Backgrounds in moderation

Discussion in 'SF Open Government' started by GeoffP, Aug 19, 2011.

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  1. Bells Staff Member

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    And again..

    What direction do you want the forum to take? What viable plans do you want to have in place?

    We do not direct the forum's direction. You, the member does.

    So what do you want Geoff?

    You accuse me of making this about something it is not. You can't get nothing from, well, nothing.

    You demand to know what direction this forum is being driven to. You are told, very clearly, that the forum is what the members make it.. Ie, you, the member, one of many members, are in the driver's seat. You direct where we are to get to. Our role as the staff is to make sure no one kills each other along the way.

    Get it?

    So what do you want? What direction do you want to go to?

    And you have been told, about a dozen times, that it is not the call of the collection of moderators. Remember Tiassa's words Geoff..

    Sciforums can only ever be what its members want it to be. It can only go in the direction the members want it to go in.

    What do you want the objectives of the forum to be? What direction should we go in Geoff?

    Many have asked you and you seem to expect us to give you the answer to a question only you, as a member, can answer. So stop hiding behind your cajones. Grab said cajones by the hand and give an answer, Geoff. What do you want from this forum? Which direction do you wish it to take? Start from there.. Then find out what other members want and where they want it to go to..

    The accuser is unable to determine exactly what he is accusing the accused of.

    You know, Geoff makes me pine for the golden days sometimes, Gustav.. We're so soft nowdays..

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    /Fires the tazer..
     
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  3. Bells Staff Member

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    Depends.. Will it mean we'll have to hide the children?

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  5. chimpkin C'mon, get happy! Registered Senior Member

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    No...not even the 30-something females who are into submission...
    :mufc:
    I'll mention it.
    If this person does say yes...and they may well not, they take such things seriously...
    It might be more fun than a riot in a liquor store...

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  7. Gustav Banned Banned

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    i'll take that as a yes
    now

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    it has been intimated that i should know better by virtue of the fact that i am not a noob. yet it is also well known that i am somewhat of a dullard in matters of intellect and that is why i unashamedly profess ignorance at the charges that were leveled at me.

    what activities are illegal?
    how were these encouraged?
    what is the definition of a criminal?

    here is the [link removed] offending text
    deconstruct word by word
    thanks

    Moderator note: Previously-moderated text deleted (again). User has been banned for 2 weeks.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 25, 2011
  8. Bells Staff Member

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    That is a definition you will have to take up with James..

    I would suggest PM'ing..

    From my perspective, it appears as though he was under the belief that you were promoting rioting and looting, in a thread about the London riots/looting as it was happening.. Therefore, he may be under the belief that you were encouraging our English members to go forth and plunder their local supermarkets and electronic stores, which, I guess in his opinion, was tantamount to inciting criminal activity.

    This is something you may wish to confirm with him however.

    I will point out one thing..

    "Be very careful what you say on the internet"​

    Irony, eh?..
     
  9. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

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    The simplest answer

    Two points:

    (1) As you can imagine, I have my own feelings about that particular episode.

    (2) Unfortunately, sir, the flyer included advice to destroy evidence.

    DO get rid of your clothes. There is no chance of suggesting the person in the video is not you if the clothes they are wearing have been found in your wardrobe. Get rid of ALL clothes you were wearing at the demo including YOUR SHOES, your bag, and any distinctive jewellery you were wearing at the time.

    Point (2) above precludes any substantial application of the implications one might suggest of point (1).
     
  10. Gustav Banned Banned

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    DO get rid of your clothes. There is no chance of suggesting the person in the video is not you if the clothes they are wearing have been found in your wardnobe. Get rid of ALL clothes you were wearing at the demo including YOUR SHOES, your bag, and any distinctive jewellery you were wearing at the time


    i see
    what is your presumption about the type of person that the text above purports to address? can the above apply to more than one specific profile? what, if any, could you imagine these to be?

    the context obviously is the uk riots, from inception, to end

    also
    what specific statutes are there that criminalize destroying personal property that have yet to be booked as evidence and are only "potential" pieces of evidence?
     
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2011
  11. chimpkin C'mon, get happy! Registered Senior Member

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    The word used was "Demos." As in "demonstration."

    So if I were going to a demonstration (and not a riot) that was being filmed I'd take the same precautions...and yeah, if y'all don't think the police video, record and try to arrest the leaders of demonstrations on bogus charges in the US...y'all have not been to enough Republican conventions.

    However, in context, it was pretty iffy, Gus...Banning? hmm.
    Glad it wasn't my call, I would not have banned you, only chewed you out.
    And administered a thorough spanking.

    Preferably with a plastic spatula, they leave nice little polka dots of light color with red surrounding them.
    Tell me,
    Have you ever seen gladiator movies?
     
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2011
  12. Stryder Keeper of "good" ideas. Valued Senior Member

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    Heh

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    I was attempting to be Witty again, after all if you have a discussion that is locked in the annals of an online discussion forum, you can go back to it, observe it and have others observe what was previously said.... In "Retrospect".

    I apologise if I just come across confusing for it. (Incidentally "Boosting" is taken from a term used in Online Gaming where by one player attempts to manipulate their score by getting other players to aid them rather than play against them)
     
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2011
  13. GeoffP Caput gerat lupinum Valued Senior Member

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    22,087
    Well, like I say, I'm not fixed to it. I wondered if maybe becoming more like a scientific forum would be an improvement, numerically. But there's no guarantee that there's any percentage in that, and it might be unfair to a large proportion of the posters. What I'm interested in is the long-term viability; we have a lot of posting by very few people, and surely that can't last?

    ...one wonders. Which faith should be running it? If two of different faiths were, would a little holy war break out?

    I wasn't as clear as I should have been. I disagree. I think the leadership has quite a great deal to do with the ultimate direction of the forum, and its viability. Certainly the owner has an interest in it. What do you want? I don't buy the argument merely on Tiassa's say-so. That's it.
     
  14. Gustav Banned Banned

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    12,575

    confirm? why?
    given that his take on the text is outlined in b&w, the fact that i was banned, makes it rather obvious

    so why state it when it is clear that i am soliciting a "lawyer's" (you) opinion on the precise illegality of the text

    is rigor and focus too much to ask for these days?

    why "pm"?
     
  15. chimpkin C'mon, get happy! Registered Senior Member

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    Oh, I used to write a lot of freeverse poetry in which I tried to bend English like this...so while I do have a WTF

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    moment generally, I also find it amusing.

    Thus the encyclopedia entry.

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    But there are going to be a lot of people out there who are doing good work and would do interviews just to bring attention to themselves and their work...and I think this would be a Cool Thing.

    BTW...why did you never set a date for The Facepalm Heard 'Round The World?
    I loved that idea, thought it hysterically funny, and it never materialized.


    So, be like Nike. Just do it?
     
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2011
  16. Stryder Keeper of "good" ideas. Valued Senior Member

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    13,102
    The World Facepalm day can still go ahead. The initial concept is cool, however actually getting people to make it wildfire is an entirely different problem.

    After all it would mean convincing people to Youtube videos of themselves facepalming, facepalming facebook, twitter, 4Chan pretty much anywhere and everywhere, all on one day. It just needs more drive, perhaps a charity event, perhaps some other non-scentific (And highly pseudoscientific) event [like for instance a flat-earth society appreciation day]
     
  17. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

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    36,374
    The thing about the owners ....

    In truth, sir, we don't know what the owners' specific intentions or needs are. Please see, "The Company", a 2010 thread discussing Sciforums' ownership and speculating about its intentions.

    No, it doesn't answer much, if anything, but that's kind of the point. We have no specific instruction from the owners about how to shape this site.
     
  18. Gustav Banned Banned

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    12,575

    "iffy"?
    in a forum that is purportedly scientific, that is next to useless
    please elaborate in a rational and concise manner.

    you do know what the implied sentiment is here right?

    all individuals, after committing their alleged crimes, should immediately turn themselves in. they should walk into a police station with incriminating evidence and immediately confess. (batshitcrazyforums)
     
  19. Varda The Bug Lady Valued Senior Member

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    6,184
    Wrong.

    The entire assumption that mods have no influence on the content of the forum is incredibly silly.

    You people delete posts, divide and merge threads, shuffle threads around between the subforums, lock threads with active discussions in it, cesspool threads, ban members... How can you say you don't affect the direction the discussion takes? The opposite is true. You have a lot of power to shape content over here, and you use it on a daily basis.

    If you ask me, and a couple other people may agree with me, moderation here is on active duty to ensure the most dull, beat up and tired discussions take place. The kind you hear after dinner between an old uncle and a wannabe philosopher dad, with the odd brother interrupting to throw in an inane point.

    You want people to behave. Well guess what, one of the defining characteristics of intelligent people is that they question things, they draw their own conclusions, the don't take things as given. I can make the argument that some of the most briliant people in history were not that good at behaving and following the rules.
    If you look at the US penal code, for example, you'll see that even people who are seriously in the business of making rules can some times come up with really absurd garbage.

    The rules in this forum are so subjective and open to interpretation that on their own, they allow for a lot of abuse (interestingly enough, much like the US penal code). In other words, if someone wants someone banned, or a discussion to end, they can find something to frame it under.

    So there you have it. The given fact that the most intelligent posters are more likely to question moderation authority. The given fact that moderation can make them walk the plank whenever they want. And the given fact that this forum eventually became one of the dullest most boring places on the web. Well, no shit.
     
  20. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

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    36,374
    Not so silly ....

    Our basic jobs describe very basic duties: Stop spam; intervene in harmful situations (e.g., threats, stalking); keep discussions in motion.

    Yes, that last is a little vague, but that's where the members come in.

    Most of what falls under keeping discussions in motion, when it doesn't involve the two explicit conditions I mentioned, depends on the members. There are still plenty of members around here who remember when this was sort of a free-wheeling, wild west sort of place with its own tacit code of honor.

    Well, okay, code of honor is probably an overstatement.

    But people could dish, and if they dished, they were expected to be able to take it. Except many of of them couldn't. So they complained incessantly, and over time the moderators responded. Indeed, at one point, we set partisan quotas on political ideology as a criteria for WE&P moderation in order that our politically conservative members wouldn't feel so alienated.

    And everything else is catch-up.

    Consider, for instance, that we recently suspended a Muslim member for using the word kafir. This was an interesting standard, since the person at whom it was directed wasn't offended, and the person who complained later explained that what made the word offensive was that a Muslim used it. I found the outcome problematic, at least. But the member would not have been suspended were it not for the complaint, and we would not have had a major policy discussion without the suspension.

    To the other, examples of moderators setting the tone independently are often problematic, too. Consider racism. It's a hard accusation, right? Most certainly a personal attack if unfounded. Yet a moderator, facing accusations of racism, invoked a new standard in his own defenses: To explain why one finds another's conduct racist constitutes a personal attack. The moderator essentially attempted to protect racists from having to answer for their racism. It hasn't really worked out well for that policy initiative, but that's what happens when moderators take the lead.

    I had an occasion the other day to discuss with a member how a certain warning flag came to be. In and of itself, it comes down to a difference of opinion about how to represent the posts in question, but for a moderator, it also touches on an issue we've been wrangling over in the back room for, quite literally, years. We've suspended people in the past for doing what this member did. (If that member should find such a suggestion astounding, well, so did we, since the suspensions were entirely one-sided; that is, one side of an argument could, with virtual impunity, conduct itself in a manner considered violative if the other side did the same.) And that particular issue contributed to what appears to be the largest public dispute between moderators in site history.

    The controversial policy evolved over a long period; part of the issue was the volume of complaints versus the accuracy of the complaints. The latter had little influence, compared to the former. The general outlook seemed to be to grease the squeaky wheel.

    And from such disputes arose many others.

    In the last week, the suggestion has come before me that even a single post of light banter deserves a yellow card. Presently, I find the proposition absolutely absurd insofar as we would be dropping a new hammer that has never existed before, and also because the complaint arose because the member was miffed about having received a yellow card. However, if enough members start to make that complaint, it will receive more serious consideration.

    Even setting that sort of consideration aside—and remembering that moderators are also members—it is the membership that sets the overall tone. We used to have a standard against content-free topic posts. You know, post a link and then just say, "Discuss ...." Though less definitive than people's insistence on profane language over the years, the members insisted. We would have slain our membership base trying to prevent people from cursing. Indeed, you can look through my post history and find times when I used slightly censored versions of words, such as f@ck, but eventually I gave up since people weren't taking the hint.

    We also used to have a standard that said, "Attack the issue, not the person." Obviously, that didn't last, though it is a standard we would still encourage. Except, of course, that makes us tyrants. Apparently.

    I'm of the opinion that if we really wanted to influence the direction of discussions, we would be even more active than we are.

    If we wanted to be a "scientific" forum with respectable academic standards, we would start banning people who are unable to support their political assertions.

    To the other, yes, we have influence over the content of the forum, such as setting limits on just how bigoted one can be, but it's a pretty broad standard. But if we were so determined to set the tone, I can think of any number of regular and prolific members who would not be here; we would have kicked their asses out a long time ago.

    As I mentioned earlier in this thread, we never do show people what real tyranny looks like. We've even discussed the possibility before, but never gone forward.

    Moderators cannot set the context of topic posts. We can certainly encourage people to follow various lines of discussion, but in the end we cannot force it without a virtual bloodbath.

    Meanwhile, I'll use myself as an example. I'm not above political vice in discussions. In part this is because that seems to be important to keeping discussions going. If people really want a different standard, I'm happy to play along with that, too. That's why we're not slaying user names as far as the eye can see. If, for instance, we sought "really rigorous investigation of scientific principles", that virtual slaughter would become a necessity, and then people would see what it looks like when moderators shape the community.

    If people want to be so dispassionate and objective, great. But they don't. The history of this site and its membership makes that clear. So the moderators sit back, wait for the inevitable problems to arise, handle them—sometimes well and sometimes not, but people complain either way.

    I can do more to influence the shape of this forum posting as a member than I can invoking my authority as a moderator. And that's how it's always been.
     
  21. quadraphonics Bloodthirsty Barbarian Valued Senior Member

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    9,391
    Or, it would be silly, if it weren't so obviously a tactic for avoiding certain responsibilities.

    Not to mention, decide which subforums are to exist in the first place, what the rules and guidelines for participation are, etc. I.e., create the entire system of incentives which the user base responds to. If it were just a matter of the users providing all the direction, then every internet forum would look indistinguishable - they're all equally accessible by almost anyone, anywhere. So the very fact that a certain user base is cultivated, via certain structural decisions, should pretty much demolish this whole idea. You end up with the user base that is most attracted to whatever features of the basic structural set-up most differentiate this place from whatever others. This is unavoidable, and refusal to accept this and plan accordingly induces its own set of distinguishing features.

    Then there's the point that it's obviously a false dichotomy in the first place: various of the mods are themselves among the most energetic, influential participants in various of the subfora, and so do a lot of influencing, even if nominally "as users." Maybe if all mods were to generally refrain from first-order participation, this whole line would hold a lot more water.

    Meanwhile, let's note that a not-insignificant number of mods are quite plainly not on-board with the whole pretense of "we're just the impartial, agnostic refs for you users that create this place whole-cloth," so I don't know who anyone thinks they're fooling by pushing it. Likewise, the stated forum rules and guidelines contain much unambiguous direction and goal articulation, and were created whole-cloth by the authorities (and not through some democratic reflection of the user base's overall preference and direction).

    So, yeah: man up and own your power. Pretending to be hands-off when interrogated is itself an exercise of said power, and a contemptibly weak-suck one at that.
     
  22. quadraphonics Bloodthirsty Barbarian Valued Senior Member

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    9,391
    No, that's what happens when you empower people as moderators who aren't suited to the task. That bad moderators result in bad moderation, doesn't imply that good moderation is impossible. It just requires getting rid of unfit moderators, and replacing them with respectable ones.

    Talking right past the elephant in the room there - which is that not all members are equal. The ones with ban powers, who never seem to get banned themselves (no matter how egregiously they violate the "standards" they invoke to silence opponents), have qualitatively greater say in the overall tone and power dynamic sustaining such. To the point where said influence deserves to be considered separately from that of the vanilla members who are subject to the diktat of the former group. Only one of those groups is in a position to be pro-active about such issues - the regular members are necessarily stuck in a reactive posture.

    And this begs the question of what you think that would look like.

    Sure, many current users slaughtered - but what new users would replace them? Ones attracted to the newly-imposed standards, would be the obvious presumption. In which case, what's the downside supposed to be? You trash a bunch of users that don't conform to what you want to do, and end up with users who do. Hence, the new standard is established, and sustained by the membership, just as it is now. This being essentially the same way you cultivated the existing user base that you now invoke as a reason not to act (except for the dramatic shift part).

    All of which is to say: you've got the user base that your decisions get you. This is not an excuse to refrain from taking new decisions, nor does it absolve you of responsibility for cultivating said user base in the first place.

    Is it just that you're unwilling to countenance the temporary drop in eyeballs while you wait for a new user base to congeal? Or think that the new users wouldn't materialize at all?

    The people that you've cultivated via your chosen level of passion and subjectivity, you mean. Sure. That doesn't mean you couldn't cultivate a new set of people who were attracted to different standards, if you wanted to. It's not like there aren't other sites which have managed that trick.

    So, do you or don't you, as a member of the privileged class, want anything different? Because this is all starting to look like a long-winded pretense for avoiding that question, and taking responsibility for enforcing your preference.

    False dichotomy. Everything you post "as a member" is necessarily imbued with you authority as a moderator. You don't get to decide that you only wear one or the other hat at any given time, really. Not that there isn't value in segregating your output in such a way - but let's be clear that 100% of content posted by authorities here, in any context, goes directly to the general membership's understanding of the character of authority here. This is unavoidable.
     
  23. chimpkin C'mon, get happy! Registered Senior Member

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    4,416
    No. Gustav, you have hopped to an incorrect conclusion.

    There's a difference between a free speech activity that the cops choose to whomp on anyway (happens all the time, no?) and these current riots...which just seem to be a giant episode of what we in the South would call "wahooing." As in, "Wow, they are just wahooing a storefull of stuff."

    Basically...what you posted was technically okay...but the thread you posted it in...might draw unwelcome legal attention on sciforums.

    Now, were I a mod, I would have pulled it and sent you a private message explaining why.
    I would not personally have banned you, as I felt you posted without necessarily viewing it in that context...and apparently still do not. I would have explained my decision in detail and not banned you.

    Were I a mod, I would be very zealous to make sure the owner was never in any potential of legal trouble over what was said here, because one charge, even dismissed, could bring the entire board down. Keep in mind JamesR is in New Zealand and he's not familiar with Canadian law, so would be willing to err on the side of caution.

    You were a potential threat to the community, Gustav.
    And while you may not like to view it in that regard...please try on that perspective.

    I don't always like the modding decisions around here either...if I ever decide I really don't like it, I'll train and then go admin my own forum, see how I like it from the other end.
     
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2011
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