Most interesting topic on Sciforums...

Discussion in 'Site Feedback' started by Seattle, Jan 21, 2019.

  1. Seattle Valued Senior Member

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    To me, Sciforums itself is the most interesting topic on Sciforums.

    Maybe the administrator/owner/moderators of the site can post some interesting history, reasons for being, regarding the site.

    There are almost no members on this site, compared to any other site that has been around this long. There are some moderators who have been here for a very long time. Oftentimes most of the debating is between Tiassa and James, often contentious.

    The site itself is really just a collection of nut jobs with a few regular members and several (including me) rubber-necking car crash watchers who drive by occasionally looking for (but rarely finding) an interesting thread to comment on and to join in on the discussion.

    I don't know why people start/own sites such as this? The traffic can't be driving enough clicks to make advertising a real revenue stream. The purpose of the site escapes me...a Science Forum that is about religion and anything that isn't scientific.

    I'm really curious as to why Tiassa has been interested enough in this site to stick around for 17 years, posting long diatribes, duly footnoted, on a daily basis year after year on a site with virtually no traffic. There's got to be a good story there.

    James has the more level head, almost too level for such a crazy site.

    There are a few posters who have been here for years (Nebel) who posts in threads about some pet project of theirs where they are close to being the only poster who keeps it going, turning it into a blog.

    I'm not complaining

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    I do think this is the most (only) interesting subject here at Sciforums.

    Owners/administrators/moderators why not take this thread and give us some history of this site, tell us about your motivations for starting and continuing with this site and about what is the fulfillment that you get from this site.

    It looks like much of the motivation for some may be the private discussions among the moderators about the site. I think it would be interesting to know what the moderators get from moderating the group that they wouldn't get by just establishing a private email list among themselves?

    For those who come here, start a thread and basically turn it into a blog (with no participation or interest from anyone else) considering the low readership numbers here, why come here as opposed to starting a blog that would soon get more readership than here?

    Let's take this, the most interesting subject at Sciforums and do it justice!
     
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  3. cluelusshusbund + Public Dilemma + Valued Senior Member

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    Well i wont speek for Bells… but over the last few years many of her posts have been about womens rights… an i thank the arguments shes had wit lots of old farts an even some younger people wit old fart mentality about women have been effective in educatin them an the people who have read the discussions.!!!

    Most of the time when i see/hear some idiot makin a stoopid remark (mostly republican bible believers) about womens rights i thank… that fool realy needs to read Bells discussions at sciforums an have ther world rocked… which woud help make the world a beter place for everbody.!!!

    So overall… what Bells has taut about womens/peoples rights has been the best thang about Sciforums.!!!
     
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  5. sweetpea Valued Senior Member

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    I can agree with that.
    It is something like a tv soap based somewhere like a school or hospital or the local community living in a small area.
    The site's function or purpose, whatever that is, is not important to the soap story, what is important to the story is the relationships between the 'actors' (members).
    The important thing though, no one is being forced to be here.
    And, in the best Sciforums tradition, this kind of thread may continue the soap's pull.
     
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2019
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  7. Seattle Valued Senior Member

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    That's OK. I'm not trying to change anything. I'm trying to embrace the soap.

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  8. river

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    Your right nobody is forced to be here .

    Sure there are relationships between the members , it is inevitable . And members chat amoughts themselfves . No surprise .

    But from my experience , being on the site for many yrs.

    The attitude has matured a little . A good change .

    Truth
     
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2019
  9. wegs Matter & Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

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    This thread is by far the most interesting one on sci forums.

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    I don't visit enough here anymore to judge the traffic patterns, but I'm sure they ebb and flow like any other site. I tend to view Tiassa's writings as blog-like, and have always enjoyed them. I might not always agree with his view, but I think anyone could probably start one of those if he/she chose to.

    There are some ''regulars'' that I miss, as I skim through some threads, and see no trace of them anywhere. But, that's the internet. People come and go.
     
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2019
  10. river

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    To your last statement , indeed , sometimes for the better
     
  11. wegs Matter & Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

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    Too true, and some, I miss.
     
  12. cluelusshusbund + Public Dilemma + Valued Senior Member

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    Sciforums often is a topic at Sciforums an those threds can be entertainin if nuthin else... an i like the variety of topics that pop up... an to me the most interestin topic ther is... is about "free-will" bein an illusion... an illusion so grate that most people cant seem to understand it even when its explained to 'em

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    Me... i like what makes Sciforums Sciiforums... the mixture of personalities an topics here.!!!
     
  13. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

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    Seattle:

    My two cents in reply to your post:

    Really, the regular moderators here can only speculate on the owners' motives for keeping the site up. I would assume that it does pull in some revenue from advertising, at least enough to pay for itself. As for myself, I'm unpaid, like all the other moderators. The owners are very hands-off, so whatever we're doing here they can't be too unhappy with it.

    As for the history, I think 2019 is probably the 20th or 21st anniversary of the site's first appearance on the net. Tiassa has been around here for a bit longer than me, and some of his posts were actually one reason I signed up in the first place. Later, of course, I got to know him better.

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    (tongue in cheek)

    The site was originally a kind of personal project of the original owner. Later on, he decided to move on and sell the site. We've seen two or three fairly major re-structures of the way the subforums are organised, but there's still a lot that's been here since the beginning.

    We seem to be slowly losing members, on average, as fewer new people are signing up than are leaving.

    I could be wrong, but I think that in recent years a lot of people have shifted away from "old-style" discussion forums like this one towards the more "popular" social media platforms (TwitFace and the like). Blogging is it's own thing.

    I speculate that, possibly, people in general are less willing to invest time and effort in long-form, reflective communication these days, although their are obviously exceptions. A lot of people have short attention spans and can barely bring themselves to compose something more lengthy than a twitter post.

    My own impression is that over time there has actually been less direct engagement between Tiassa and myself on the public forums. One reason is that we each have our own topics and areas of interest. Where we do tend to butt heads is on matters regarding moderation and the administration of the forum, which is obviously something that concerns us both, but also a topic on which our respective focuses and priorities differ. I find that, on most topics not related to the soap opera, as you put it, I mostly land in a similar political and moral space to Tiassa, at least where his posts stay sufficiently on topic to discern a position.

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    I wouldn't bet on him seeing things quite the same way, though.

    We're an online community, albeit possibly an unusual one in that some members spend a lot of their time trying to pretend they aren't part of it. (Not looking at anyone in particular, here, Seattle.)

    Many have called this community disfunctional. Yet they keep coming back. It would seem to follow that there's something here that attracts them.

    As for nut jobs, we do have our share, although mostly their nuttiness is fairly tightly focussed on one or another pet topic. Probably they get along okay in the real world and kinda let it all hang out here. We get a few drive-by nuts, too. It's partly a deliberate choice that we have these people. I've said before that we're more liberal than some forums out there, at least in some ways.

    The tag line is "Intelligent Community". Yes, there's a "sci" in Sciforums, but we're not strictly a science forum. I like to do my bit to try to encourage critical thinking, and I think that's a common thread among one segment of our membership. We do have some members who know their science too. But most of us want to discuss more than just the Periodic Table or Newton's Laws of Motion etc. Ultimately, that's why we do Religion and Politics and Philosophy and all that. We're not the site to come to if you just want answers to your Science homework. There are other, better, sites for that.

    Thanks. Not everybody will agree with you. My critics would say (have said!) that I'm hopelessly biased about certain things and people, that I'm vindictive, that I have huge blind spots and moral failings. They don't know what they're talking about, of course.

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    Ultimately, for me, its a social thing. I write stuff; other people react to it and respond. Other people write stuff; I react to it and respond. There's a satisfaction in the interaction. Also some spin-off benefits, I think. For one thing, I get a lot of practice of writing. I hope my writing has got a bit better over time.

    Personally, what I aim for in my posts, more than anything else is: make them interesting. I'm sure I don't always succeed in that, but why write anything if you don't want to try to give anybody a reason to read it? Along the way, I try to be a little playful about it. This forum is time out for me from work responsibilities, family responsibilities, the daily grind etc. If I'm choosing to be here, I want a least the possibility of having a little fun. I have a dry sense of humour, and I know that a lot of Americans, in particular, don't get irony, so I'm sure that at least some of my gentle fun-poking gets missed by many readers. I'm happy to write that stuff for the ones who get it.

    There are occasions when I get annoyed and get snippy with people. I'm not perfect. Some might say that I have a low tolerance for certain kinds of behaviours and attitudes. However, I try, as much as possible, not to let that affect how I act here in my "official" capacity, even if it comes out from time to time in back-and-forth discussions/arguments.

    Actually, I would say that the vast majority of the discussion that goes on in the invisible, secret (?) Moderators' forum is not just chewing the fat, but rather is concerned with addressing particular issues of moderation as they arise. Another large amount is concerned with the day-to-day admin of the report queue, the warning system etc. A lot of the rest is concerned with arguments/discussions about the overall direction we are going/want to go with this forum. All the moderators tend to use the public forums, just like the rest of the members, to discuss/debate/argue about issues that are not about the forum itself or its members. We also post in a lot of the public "soap opera" threads. So, it's safe to assume that if you're trying to guess at the "real" motives, aims and opinions of the moderators, they're pretty much WYSIWYG on the public forums. It would be odd if that wasn't the case, I think.

    Reaction. The social aspect. The back-and-forth. On a blog, you might post a post, get a comment, reply to the comment, and that's it. Here, you can spend days and hundreds of posts, sometimes in real time, going at it, back and forth. It's instant gratification.

    Besides, why would you say something in just one place, when you can potentially shout it at people in lots of different places? If your aim is to say "Look at me! Look at me!", which I think is the main thing that some people want ("Please, oh please, somebody notice me and think I'm significant!"), then copying your blog to a lot of different forums is one way to attract that kind of attention.

    Quality bloggers, on the other hand, attract attention by word of mouth - "You've got to read this blog post by X! He's exactly right/wrong about this thing! Interesting! Insightful! Entertaining!"
     
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2019
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  14. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

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    Human beings are social creatures. We love to gossip. We love the soap. Grab some chips, sit back and watch the spectacle! Or, if you feel like it, join in! Welcome to the future! Everybody gets her 15 minutes.
     
  15. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    I'm going to steal this. "TwitFace" is great, at last a family-friendly alternative to "Faecebook" and "Twatter".

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  16. sweetpea Valued Senior Member

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    I'm assuming you mean ''15 minutes'' of fame?

    To be honest I can't tell you why I'm here now, I started when the likes of rpenner and Markus were around, and some others now long gone. I'm not saying I understood rpenner's math posts, but now and again he did explain concepts in a way which made them understandable. They were worth the effort of trying to understand and using that understanding to seek more about what he had explained. The same with Markus.

    Why would I want 15 minutes of fame? I never expected that when first here.

    I did have a thought confirmed by you (James) the other day, you admitted overriding auto bans of MR, that's your choosing and really explains a lot about the site now. Some like the present set-up, some (hold-outs )seem to be waiting for it to change for the better, god bless em.

    Like I said in an earlier post, no one is forced to be here. That's it folks, my not so long ''15 minutes''
     
  17. Seattle Valued Senior Member

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    Thanks James for responding and for providing some background concerning this site.

    Regarding losing more members than you are gaining, how does that work? I understand that people sign up and then lose interest and therefore just don't check in any more but you can't really "leave" a site can you?

    When I say that there aren't many members I'm just referring to the fact that volume is low and there are never many members on here at any one time.

    We are probably saying the same thing but I was just curious as to how someone would actually "leave" as a member as opposed to just not coming back?

    I don't agree that the reason this forum has so few active members is because of short attention spans, Twitter, Facebook groups, etc. That may all be true but there are plenty of long-standing forums and they seem to be doing as well as they ever have. Although, I agree that the quality of the replies might not be the same over time.


    Haha...yes, I'm not aware of many other forums where people "pretend" that they aren't part of it. Why is that?

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    If you are posting you are part of it of course but if you are questioning why you are here and/or having to try hard to find something of interest...that's not the usual case for a site and it's not a great sign.

    As I said, it can just be that you have bookmarked this site and not some other site and that you now have some familiarization of this site and therefore come back from time to time rather than try to find another site. It's never a great sign when the only explanation is "well it you don't like it you are free to leave".

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    It is a "different" site, and that itself invokes some curiosity or as I said "rubbernecking".


    I don't think anyone would confuse this site with a site for doing your science homework.

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    Or even with a site where discussions are primarily science related. That's OK. I just consider it a "general discussion" site. It's also a good site for interacting with some people that you probably couldn't find anywhere else. It's always interesting to see how other's minds work.

    No, that would be Tiassa (he says as he hits the snare drum)

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    Maybe Tiassa will respond with his own take on my post. His reasons for sticking around are even more perplexing.

    This would be my reasoning for visiting this forum or most any forum. It's relaxing to express oneself in writing. It's more interesting when everyone else is capable of doing the same thing. Some aren't capable and some over do it.

    This was an interesting post James, thanks. I'm sure I'm not the only one who enjoyed it.
     
  18. RainbowSingularity Valued Senior Member

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    ?
    [Freudian?]

    personally i don't like soaps.
    to me watching a soap/drama is like the average person watching a mathematics lecture with someone shouting & swearing at the audience non stop.

    it has no positive data
    it has no beneficial process or outcome
    it only generates negative emotional gain by reinforcing stereo types that undermine people individuality and the diversity & beauty of life & creativity.

    but i freely admit, everyone needs their horror genre
    and without which the mind starts to fade & twist.
     
  19. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

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    I haven't overridden any auto ban of MR, or anybody else. At least, not in the way you might think.

    Moderators, like police, have some freedom to exercise their discretion. A police officer can see you jay walking, which is against the law, but she might nevertheless choose not to fine you on this occasion, even though you clearly committed the offence.

    In a similar way, consider the situation where 5 reports are filed, all by different people, concerning say 3 to 5 separate posts by a single member. In the ordinary cause of events, these reports could potentially attract 30 warning points, say - 10 points for each individual breach of our rules. But the moderator reviewing this might decide that, in all the circumstances, a 30 point penalty would be unfair or too severe given the "crimes" in question. The moderator, in these circumstances, has the discretion to do anything from handing out the full 30 points (or possibly more if we're dealing with a repeat offender) to deciding to take no action at all (other than rejecting or otherwise closing the reports in the queue).

    Suppose MR, if you want to focus on him, is sitting on 35 active warning points, and anything above 50 points will incur an automatic ban. Confronted with the choice to award MR an additional zero to 30 points, the moderator might hypothetically decide to assign 10 points (thus avoiding an immediate ban but making a ban on any future offence practically inevitable), or 20 points (resulting in an immediate 1 day ban) or 30 points (resulting in an immediate 3 day ban), etc.

    Also, moderators can always choose to issue warnings based on what they see in the threads. Behaviour doesn't need to be reported to attract moderator attention. A moderator is regularly faced with a choice of issuing an official warning or letting the matter slide for now.

    In law and order, we often hear so-called zero-tolerance arguments. If you jay-walk, the police should fine you every time, no excuses. But then what of the person who dashes across the road to assist somebody who urgently needs help? The police are obliged to fine anyway, if zero tolerance applies. In another context, some people advocate mandatory sentencing by courts, such as a "three strikes with drugs and you must go to jail" rule. The outcome of such hard-line measures is usually injustice in particular cases.

    It is a simple observation that if I chose to go all hard-ass on MR, pinging him with 10 warning points every time he committed a technical breach of our site rules, he'd spend a large amount of his time banned (in fact, he'd probably be permanently banned by now). "So be it! Let the chips fall where they may!" you might say. Or even "Good riddance. You should have sent that guy packing years ago." That's an opinion you are entitled to hold. For my own part, I have on occasion exercised my discretion in order to protect MR from what I would regard as an overly harsh application of our rules.

    There's nothing special about MR, in case you're wondering. All the moderators have to make these sorts of decisions regarding different posters on a daily basis.
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2019
  20. Musika Last in Space Valued Senior Member

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    If a site is getting ousted by more popular but shallow social media platforms, it could simply be that it never really made the grade for in depth discussion.
     
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  21. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

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    ???

    Because people like to have their in-depth discussions on shallow social media platforms instead?
     
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  22. Seattle Valued Senior Member

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    I don't know how other forums are moderated, what their internal rules are, etc. but I find this interesting (weird but interesting).

    There is very little traffic here so there seems to be little reason to ban or excessively moderate. This is the only site that I'm aware of that has a list of the banned members publicly listed upfront on the main banner. It's also interesting in that it has such an intensive system for moderation. A points accumulation system for varying banning periods.

    I would think that you could simply just warn people who are getting out of hand and if they really get out of hand then you could just ban them outright.

    Why such a time consuming and complex system? Is this actually the way most sites are moderated and I'm just not aware of it?

    Banning hasn't been a big part of most forums I've been a member of. Generally it is just a matter of permanently banning the nightly spam bots or maybe rarely permanently banning some jerk that just joined in order to be banned. Otherwise, moderators aren't really even visible at most sites I've joined.

    How did this culture comes about? I've wondered about something similar when I go to pay my insurance or cable bills online. My bank has less security protocol then my cable company. No one is going to break into my cable account to pay my bill for me and yet I have to change my password continuously and the number of required characters goes up continuously.

    Here the problem is getting more members and the focus is on banning members?

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  23. Musika Last in Space Valued Senior Member

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    Or more likely, they prefer to have their in-depth discussions on platforms that actually facilitate in-depth discussion (..... and, alternatively, take their shallow discussions to platforms that actually facilitate them .... which leaves sciforums where it is).
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2019

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