Discussion in 'SF Open Government' started by Anarcho Union, May 12, 2011.
Yeah, I know.
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Even more entertaining, perhaps?
I can't tell you what the world would be like. And, to be certain, it's hard to explain our "Muslim" standard, as it's ill-defined and exceptionally variable. But one seemingly consistent component is that it's perfectly acceptable to have a different cultural outlook as long as you do your best to sound like you don't.
There is presently no analogy that works, because the standard seems arbitrary, and I'm pretty certain our official position is that no such separate standard exists.
Meanwhile, I think if Gustav was a Muslim, his version of suicide bombing would be shouting at the Sciforums staff, "Ban me, bitches!" while humping a militant mullah's leg.
The empirical position is that there are no "standards" in effect here, to begin with. Given which, the ongoing fixation on standards and consistency makes little sense - what we have is exactly the whims of an unelected, unimpeachable power clique. No more, and no less. The model of 'standards' and 'consistency' is inapplicable to that, and one wonders why you persist in invoking it. I mean, sure, it can produce results that are perversely funny, interpretted from an expectation of standards. But what's the ultimate relevance? What we have aren't standards that seem arbitrary, but genuine arbitrariness.
Mayhaps, and then some
Well, there are no unified standards in effect, in part because the staff have no specific marching orders from above.
But, to consider some examples:
• A member was once suspended for thirty days for having a poor opinion of a moderator's standards and tolerance. If we set that as a standard, not only would that member be gone over a year ago, but so would Gustav, and other members—including yourself—would be verging on permaban.
• A different member has long refused to support his libel against another person who happens to be a moderator. Additionally, that member has accused the moderator of a political bias in suspending members that is simply not supported by the facts. As a member was once suspended for thirty days for having a poor opinion of a moderator's standards and tolerance, what should happen to this other member who has made an insupportable accusation?
— The difference between the two cases is that the offended moderator who issued the thirty-day suspension was looking for a reason to issue that suspension in hopes of moving the member toward permaban. The other moderator, recognizing his personal dislike toward the other member, chose not to exercise moderator authority in order to silence opposition.
• Yet another member has recently repeatedly called a moderator a bitch, in various forms, and reasonably has little to no fear that the moderator in question will attempt disciplinary action.
What we have here are three separate personal standards. Which standard should we adopt in order to establish a unified outlook? The one that grants members liberty to have their say, at the very least every once in a while? Or the one that will attempt to drum you out if you disapprove of a moderator's personal standards?
In terms of the "Muslim standard" I mentioned, I can at least relate some functional examples available to public viewing:
• In 2009, a moderator wanted to be done with a particular Muslim member, and accused, among other offenses, "anti-American bigotry". By that particular standard of anti-American bigotry, a large number of members, including many Americans, ought to be similarly disposed of, since the anti-American bigotry in question happened to be reflected in the American public discourse about the nation's foreign policy outlook.
• Only a couple months later, another member complaind that the same Muslim member had issued a mortal threat. No such threat was issued, though a moderator chose to suspend the Muslim member for three days, anyway. This caused a tremendous rift among the moderators, with the ruckus resulting in the lifting of the suspension.
• Only days later, the moderator took exception to the Muslim member's opinion of his moderation, demanded an apology, set a time limit, and then suspended the member for thirty days. This caused a tremendous dispute between staff members that spilled into public view.
A more recent example is a bit harder to follow, since it involves three members, at least, and a moderator.
• Muslim member M responded to member A, who was not specifically offended by the response.
• Member B had recently threatened M.
• B was not disciplined in any way for what was unquestionably a threat against M.
• B then complained about M's response to A, even going so far as to explain that the reason M's post was offensive was because M was a Muslim. Had a non-Muslim said the same thing, it would not be offensive, according to B.
• A moderator suspended M on the basis of B's complaint.
• In subsequent exploration, it turned out that the moderator had not bothered to read the thread in question, but, rather, simply suspended M because B complained.
Part of what you're complaining about is the result of an internal staff struggle to establish consistent standards, including the efforts of some moderators to keep our disciplinary policies reasonable enough to not see people like you permanently banned for complaining about the moderation.
Of course, you are not, last I checked, Muslim, so you have no obligation to integrity.
Indeed, I have chosen to not take any disciplinary action against this last month and a half of your trolling the staff. Perhaps that seems arbitrary to you. If you would like, I could remind the administration of its prior standards for extended suspensions and permanent bans, and have them re-evaluate your whining.
My point being, Quadraphonics, that you are presently a beneficiary of the variable standards between individual moderators.
Certainly you can see at least a dimension of the problem facing the staff: If we go with the stricter set of standards, we become outright thugs insofar as it won't matter whether you're right or wrong, or if there are facts to consider other than whether or not one of us is offended. If we go with the looser standards, there is still a problem of the appearance of arbitrariness, as it turns out that Castle Doctrine is apparently an unmitigated threat that requires a disciplinary response, but an actual, straightforward threat from one member to another is just fine, as long as that member is of a particular identity label such as "Muslim".
To the other, maybe you're right. Maybe the staff should just surrender to the appearance of being arbitrary. It would make our lives a lot easier.
Don't look at me; I was elected. To the other, I would also point out that moderators can be removed if enough people complain. S.A.M. was dismissed from service because she wouldn't take constant harassment and abuse from a troll who declared in her very first post that she was here to get in fights with people. Asguard was dismissed under murkier circumstances that I have derisively characterized as, "Citing the wrong post when suspending someone."
It's like the ongoing splinter discussion pitting you and Phlogistician against James. I mean, for some of us, it's a brilliantly entertaining clash of egos to witness. To the other, James isn't suspending people according to standards he's shown in the past. Now, maybe it's not a particularly productive discussion, but the fact that you and Phlogistician have not been permanently expelled for your behavior is a positive sign compared to the things James and I have been at each other's throats about.
So if it seems arbitrary to some that your ass hasn't been thrown out the door, please also remember that some of us consider it a positive sign, and when that one finally winds down we'll hopefully draw some lessons from it, compare what was before to what just happened, figure how that relates to what is, and settle on something reasonable about what needs to be.
In the meantime, yes, I concede that the fact you're still allowed to post here under that handle is suggestive of variable standards and uneven disciplinary application.
And maybe next week the staff will have a chance to make something positive out of it all.
Pull the other one
It has got bells on.
I suspect that you go too far in even terming those "personal standards."
They look for all the world like simple casuistry - if someone has defended them as instances of some standard, I'd expect that such was an exercise is sophistry, apparently answering to some inexplicable expectation that standards are supposed to exist. Apparently the costs of such pretext are less than those of simple honesty (probably because the perpetrators don't have the spine to admit to themselves what they're actually about).
An interesting question, philosphically.
But practically, it seems to merely beg the question of how or when any such establishment would ever occur. And I'm certainly not holding my breath. If that were going to happen, it already would have.
I'm just not seeing any particular incentive for such a unification to occur. Moderation here consists of a power clique, not answerable to anyone outside. So, mod action is a matter of political standing within said (relatively small) clique. Meaningful standards are only salient in more democratically-oriented systems. Moderation is subject only to the politics of a handful of personalities - and this is what that looks like. We should not expect anything more, absent some deeper reconfiguration of the politics in question.
If you want the Rule of Law, then that's what you need to enshrine. What we have now is the Rule of Kings, and consistent standards don't figure into that. That's exactly the point.
Absent some systemic change to make moderation subject to something more consistent and universal than the politics of a handful of personalities, such a "struggle" will necessarily remain a farce - a stalemate exploited by the most canny and manipulative as cover for other politics. It should not escape notice that certain highly-placed personalities here exhibit a keen eye and ravenous appetite for the cultivation and exploitation of stalemate for their own narrow, personal ends.
I'm sure I've mentioned before that you're no good at the whole "threat" thing. Maybe you're too wordy and procedural about it, or maybe it's the larger hippy/liberal persona, but it just doesn't hit.
Again, presuming that I prefer to persist in criticizing the same stalemate forever, rather than be banned and have y'all face the consequences of doing so.
In fact, I have for some time now (a year at least? longer?) been intentionally trying to cultivate a set of relations wherein moderation will have both a strong urge to ban me, but also no way of doing so without actually empowering some of these ever-out-of-reach standards or otherwise doing something meaningful to come to genuine grips with these issues. My goal is not to evade ultimate banning (that's one of the assumptions underlying the mod clique's power, note), but to create a situation where my banning (if it comes) will serve some useful purpose. This is why you'll see me course-correct when moderation siezes onto some easy pretext to silence me (the swearing, for example) and spend so much time harping on the failures of various moderators to meet their own putative standards, or otherwise indulge in the excesses of power.
And yeah, sure, I recognize that the whole martyrdom plan is a bit dramatic and egocentric. But I've long since been disillusioned with the prospects for addressing these things in a non-activist manner (just gets you played as a fool, around here), and I care just slightly too much about (a subset of) y'all to simply write you off and be done with it. And anyway, what's the point of an anonymous, disposable persona if you don't actually dispose of it?
I see the underlying dimension, which is that the staff has no particular incentive to actually reach a consensus or actually maintain such a standard in force, and nor are they visibly answerable to any of the consequences anyway. That's what happens when you have a power clique that doesn't answer to the larger community. This being why I've lately given up on trying to prod you guys to get your act together in those terms, and instead focus on the basic authoritarian structure that incentivizes and enables the whole sad show.
That you end up coming off as arbitrary thugs regardless of which set of standards you favor, nicely demonstrates that the thug status isn't a function of the details of the standards endorsed. It's a function of the fact of unaccountable, permanent power. If you don't want to be arbitrary thugs, then you need to be answerable to something legitimate.
Have you not noticed how much these apologetics sound like, say, the PR garbage about "reform" from the King of Saudi Arabia or dictator of Syria? Superficially, it seems to take the relevant concerns seriously. But fundamentally, it's nothing more than an assertion that the power clique is the sole rightful arbiter of everything, and that the subjects should stop challenging authority and just allow themselves to be ruled as deemed fit by their betters.
Arbitrary thuggishness is the inevitable characteristic of authoritarian governance. Reasonable systems of meaningful rules are the inevitable characteristics of democratic governance.
Honesty is generally easier, and always a step forward (if not necessarily sufficient on its own). The time to worry about the appearance of arbitrariness would be when there is no fact of arbitrariness to disguise. But probably it wouldn't even be an issue, at that point.
Legitimate democratic process includes both elections and term limits. You can't win a single election, and then claim a permanent mandate. The fact that there was no term limit to begin with, means that said election lacked democratic legitimacy at the outset.
Not that you, personally, would have much to fear from democracy. I expect you could swing re-election in a genuine democratic system, and that the contours and incentives of such would square well with your espoused agenda. But a lack of mandate is a lack of mandate, and the authoritarian nature of your position is producing noticeable negative effects in your persona. All of which is why I'd hoped you'd be more receptive to suggestions about democratic moderation.
So can dictators and kings.
I can't see this thread going anywhere useful.
Thread closed by order of the power clique.
Separate names with a comma.