Most interesting topic on Sciforums...

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

  1. Musika Last in Space Valued Senior Member

    Other sites are very focused (eg quora, or even subject specific forums like cycling). A site that offers a facade of science for what is, by and large, sociopolitical ego-jockeying (aka facebook, with the added bonus of getting moderated by individuals with very sensitive sociopolitical views themselves) is going to suffer from focus issues at the onset.
    RainbowSingularity likes this.
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  3. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    That might be an explanation if sciforums was losing members to platforms that facilitate in-depth discussion, as you put it. It wouldn't explain things if sciforums was losing members to shallow social media platforms. Agree?
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  5. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    People aren't banned or moderated based on traffic counts. Regardless of traffic, I would see little reason to excessively ban or moderate under any circumstances.

    It's something I'd prefer wasn't there, but it's not something I have control over.

    I doubt our moderation system is any more intensive than the system used on any other similar forum. We have a "report" function. Moderators look at reports and deal with them, using the guidelines we have chosen to implement. Moderators on any similar forum that has moderation worth its salt will also need to look at reported posts and deal with the same kinds of issues we deal with.

    The points system we have means that moderators here practically never have to lift a finger to issue a ban, other than for obvious spammers and severe trolls. Bans are automatic, based on accumulated warnings.

    Our warnings and bans have not always worked the way they currently do. Over the period of this site's existence, we have at various times had different systems in place. If I recall correctly, the general membership has always been consulted whenever we have made significant changes to our procedures (which hasn't happened for a few years now). Another thing to say is that the software that runs sciforums only allows for certain types of warning and ban procedures, so if we want a system that is not impractical or annoying to administer, then we need to roll with the limitations of the particular software we're using.

    Depends what you mean by "this". Different sites have different policies and procedures, as they choose. The challenge of running a discussion forum that is protected from malicious or low-quality posters is similar regardless of the particular focus of the forum.

    Of course, there are forums out there that have less moderation than this one, and there are ones that have more. The "strictness" of moderation varies according to site ethos, what the admin and membership want, etc.

    Banning isn't a big part of this place, either. Most of our members have few, if any, warnings, and have never been banned for any period of time. A small minority of our members choose to walk a line by which they accumulate warnings until they get a temporary ban, then they settle back until some warning points expire, rinse and repeat. The system we have in place allows them to do that, and it seems they are happy to put up with the temporary bans they attract. If they weren't, they would alter their behaviour accordingly. There is evidence that these (few) members can control themselves when they want to, as shown by their careful avoidance of accumulating too many active warning points (such as would get them automatically permanently banned, for instance).

    As to the visibility of moderators, you tend to get two kinds of moderators of discussion forums. One kind are people who are employed (usually) solely to moderate. That is, they do not participate in discussions, but are only there to curate the content. The other kind are often volunteers, owners or people who are considered valuable contributors to the site: the kind of people who have high visibility as a result of their contributions to discussions, quite apart from whatever visibility they have in their roles as moderators. sciforums has none of the first category of moderators; all our moderators are of the second kind.

    Another point is that our posts-by-moderators to posts-by-regular-members ratio is probably higher than a lot of other forums, especially ones that have a lot of people blowing through to ask just one or a couple of questions and who are then never seen again on the forum.

    Partly by consensus among the members, and partly due to carefully considered choices made the moderation team.

    There's no focus on banning members here. Not among the moderators, anyway. That might be your focus (?)
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2019
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  7. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    One other thing, seeing as this thread is turning into a general one giving Site Feedback. This is a reminder to members:

    sciforums has an Open Government subforum.

    That subforum, not used very much by the membership these days for some reason, exists as a forum for the general membership to contribute to the ongoing conversation involving such questions as what sciforums is for, where we're going with it, and what changes we might consider making to the way the site is organised or run.

    In other words: nothing in our rule set, moderation, ban procedures or other policies is absolutely and irrevocably fixed and unalterable.

    The Open Government forum can be used to float ideas for the forum, including but not limited to changes to any policy currently in place. It's a discussion forum where such ideas can be tossed around. In that sense, the original vision for Open Government was different from the Site Feedback forum. If you want to moan about things you don't like about sciforums, I guess Site Feedback is as good a place as any to do that (and that's one thing we tend to see there). But if you have a positive suggestion for improvement that you'd like to discuss with other members and the moderators - one that could potentially be developed sufficiently to be put to a vote of the membership, say - then Open Government might be a good place to post your idea.

    I have said in the past, and I'll say it again: don't expect the moderators/admins to deliver you the forum you want - especially if you don't tell us the forum you want!* sciforums is a community. It is, in the end, just as good or as bad as the membership makes it. Note: I'm not pretending that moderators/admin don't get a large say in what happens here, with the added power of veto. But we don't live in a vacuum in the Big Moderator Ivory Tower. We're all in this with you.

    * Oh, and I'm also not pretending that the moderators don't get a sense of what you, the general membership, wants, from the site feedback and other posts you make in the usual course of what you do here. But that's not quite the same as direct and unambiguous communication.
  8. river

    Excellent discussion

    Communication is the key , but is it open or closed door ? Both have their pros but what are the cons ?

    To me to remain open is very important .

    We make mistakes , we ALL do .
  9. Musika Last in Space Valued Senior Member

    Not sure why you would say it doesn't explain things.
    Think of it this way : was there ever a time in sciforums history where a professional person in academia (with credibility) would have been comfortable publicly taking the virtual floor to house a discussion or take q's from the community?
    If not, what's left is your (diminishing?) demograph that seems willing and able to vote with their feet.
  10. exchemist Valued Senior Member

    My recollection is that we had several who were either academic or practising science professionally (e.g. Trippy, Rpenner), until a couple of years ago. I'm retired and only used my degree sporadically in my work, so I don't count, but I think there remain others like me here who know their science, even now. If you look back at threads from 3-4 years ago there was quite a lot of real science.
  11. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    I suggested that sciforums might be losing some members to popular social media platforms. In response, you said that was because sciforums isn't a good place for in-depth discussion, essentially. Maybe what you meant to say was that you were suggesting that sciforums might be losing members to some as-yet un-named platforms that are good places for in-depth discussion, according to your assessment. If that's what you meant, it's not what you wrote - not at first, anyway. Never mind, let's move on.

    As far as I'm aware, the 'experiment' of inviting a guest speaker, as it were, to sciforums, has never been conducted, so there's no way to know. This forum has never promoted itself as a "live events" forum for chats with celebrities at scheduled times. We're more of a persistent resource people can dip into or out of as they please. We're also a social community, not so much a succession of blow-in audiences who come to see this week's guest speaker.

    Having said that, I'm confident that there are at least a few professional people here (with credibility) who are comfortable taking the virtual floor, participating in discussions and answering questions in this community.

    And so? What's your point? Where are you going with this?
  12. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    There are still a number of well-qualified professional regulars here, some knowledgeable in various areas of science, others knowledgeable in other areas (and some knowledgeable in multiple fields).

    There's another effect here, I think.

    I started answering questions about science on the web in late 1990s. At that time, discussion forums like this were new, and the questions, in this format, were new too. A lot of enthusiastic experts dedicated a lot of their time and energy to providing useful answers to common questions, a lot of which are still accessible today, searchable with google and other search engines.

    Given that we now have almost a 30 year archive of answers to science questions on web forums like this one, it is possible that there's less need for people who are just learning to come to a forum like this to ask the basic questions. They can pop onto google and probably find quite a few good answers to their questions immediately.

    This is not to say that all discussion of science is now exhausted and there's nothing new under the sun. There are always new ways and new people to answer old questions, and there are always new questions to ask and be answered. However, I would not be surprised if there was a general drop-off in traffic specifically to question and answer forums like this one, since it takes less time and effort to find answers than it used to (not just because of the archiving, but also due to the massive amounts of information added to the web in all forms since 1990, and the general refinement in the quality of science information available and easily accessible on the web).
  13. river

    My sense of why this site has problems with a decline in membership is also about attitude towards others you disagree with .

    The insults , arrogance and the drama of character attack . The wounds to the site are the fault of ownership of the site .

    This to me bar none is the reason this site has declined

    This to me has changed . A little but nevertheless change

    But it is going to take time for the site to heal
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2019
  14. Musika Last in Space Valued Senior Member

    You also suggested that this was because the internet was making people dumber and reducing their capacity to engage in the "in depth" discussions sciforums offers. You suggested that platforms like facebook were responsible for facilitating "new" behaviours.

    I suggested that it has probably never been a good place for in depth discussion, inasmuch as ego jockeying around sociopolitical issues never lends itself to indepth unvestigation (but is certainly a brilliant field for shooting the breeze).

    It seems strange that after so many years you cannot recognize your clientelle, which is immediately obvious to anyone who walks through the door.

    IOW I don't think it has ever been a case of losing members to indepth platforms, but rather a case of losing members at the other end of the spectrum.
    Facebook et al hasn't made people too dumb to join. Those sites simply do it better.

    I did mention them and discuss the issue of focus in an earlier response to dave .... but only to the end of suggesting that sciforums is not a contender.

    I think you need to take a good hard look at what you mean by the term "in depth".
    Take a look at what form and subject the most popular threads here take. As a side point, funnily enough, its not unusual for them to end in thread closure or at least have strong airs of dealing infractions or banning.

    It's not too hard to join the dots here ....

    The question is whether they would publicly wager their credentials in such an environment? Or would they see such appearances as detrimental to their professional pursuits?

    Compare a site like quora, that has a policy of banning people who post under false id's.

    I am just pointing out the obvious.: If you run out whatever form of success this site has, and the prospect of upping the ante to "in depth" discussions has never been on the cards, what sort of result are you expecting?

    The problem with sending mixed messages is that most people interpret them as a "no".
  15. RainbowSingularity Valued Senior Member

    what drives society ?
    roughly in this order
    1. Religious Wars(starting, continuing or preventing)
    2. Money(stealing it or making it)
    3. Sex(having it, selling it or finding it)
    4. Babys, (raising them, having them or making them)
    5. Art

    whats going wrong with social media participation

    it is soo easy for one troll to mess up the new members by making them not want to engage in a negative emotional sewer, when they intended to wish to engage in intellectual discussion.

    cost of living has continued to go up instead of down.
    wages have continued to not increase with inflation so wages have been dropping.
    social media platforms have been hacked with massive corruption scandals hitting google & facebook which has soured a lot of people toward the animal they are interacting with every morning with their coffee & besties...
    its not a nice feel to know some shady Sh_tter is trying to mess with your head to get you to change your vote or buy their guns or what-ever... all while your trying to share your pet photos with your friends on a friday evening.

    all the big giants went to war against peer to peer software years ago and now this is the fall out from it.
    they made themselves number one and with it they have become the big ugly boogyman that they claimed to be protecting everyone from.

    now what ?

    FB is too big to fail and the subprime mortgage social media football is not able to be used by everyone at the same time.
    football is a team sport
    20 people and only 1 ball
    now most 20 players want their own ball when ever they want.
    now the giants are choking on their own fumes.

    add to that alt-right extremism fringe networks who see FB and others as engines of the evil leftist government who are spying on their potato crops & trying to turn them gay.

    on top of that ...
    social media has reached market saturation with china going off the boil.

    all those vampiric advertising big data company's looking to extort the burgeoning middle class now have no market with china's growth going from 12 to 5 %

    globally the market is shrinking
    the boom n bust economics that soo many hard nose extreme capitalists sell like bible class to the drunk is now going into its bust stage.
    but they wont admit it because they are con artists rather than real economists.
  16. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    Seems to me it behooves members who feel this way (and have no problem laying it at the feet of the forum operators) to make the effort to be part of the solution, rather than part of the problem.
  17. Musika Last in Space Valued Senior Member

    At the moment I am offering observations. Its not so much about whether I feel one way or another. Love it or loathe it, it seems a certain type of discussion develops which warrants the "in depth" label , .... and it seems it has been that way since the site's inception.
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2019
  18. Seattle Valued Senior Member

    Talking about it is certainly not a "part of the problem" wouldn't you agree? The solution is more in the hands of the administration. Sure, it's possible to start a reasonable thread every now and then but it's not likely to end as a reasonable thread. Actually, it's more likely to derail and then be closed.

    Go to "New Posts" and read the titles. How many "reasonable" threads do you see? They will soon be closed. How many nonsense threads do you see? They will still be going on next year.

    Consider someone who was looking for a general discussion forum (something this site appears to be from a distance). They try to stick around for a while to contribute/interact and what happens?

    First, they hit the "New Posts" tab and what they see is ridiculous. Next they manage to find a more sensible topic and they contribute by posting a response every now and then. How will that go?

    The most prolific posters seemingly aren't proficient in English or grammar. That's cool if this is a vast site with contributions from people all over the world. You would expect most of those for whom English is a second language to be intelligent, well-adjusted people who just have issues with English from time to time.

    That's rarely the case. It's usually nutcases who can't think, write or discuss in any standardized way. I've been on a few other sites. They have international posters as well. Most are quite understandable and it's obvious that the only thing lacking in that person is experience with English.

    Here every other person invents their own language and rules of grammar. Everyone has their own theory of gravity. No one can spell or use paragraphs. Those who should be trying to express themselves with simple English instead try to invent the longest words that they can and accuse anyone who doesn't understand them as being deficient.

    Just having a Pseudo-science section encourages the nutjobs.

    We have a moderator who footnotes his posts and answers with a page where a paragraph would do and with language meant to convey "hey look how deep I am" when, in actuality it does just the opposite.

    In any type of writing whether it's prose, fiction, technical writing, legal writing, the rule is always (usually) to convey thoughts as simply and concisely as possible and not to write in a tortured manner in an attempt to put ones vocabulary on display.

    There is just very little "normal" about this site and it shows with the low and declining membership numbers. If a sports team were doing this poorly, the manager would have been fired long ago. Similarly in a corporation, with these results, we would have had a string of CEO's over the last few years.

    Instead, I'm sure there will be a new thread about "What does Jesus look like?" or "Is there more gravity inside or outside?" in the coming days. That doesn't exactly draw membership like a moth to a flame. It has nothing to do with Facebook or the "dumbing down" of America.

    The "dumbing down" is being encouraged right here and by design.
  19. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    No, if the talk is constructive.

    But this thread is already laying on some heavy criticism.

    Well, here's the thing. There is a philosophy on some fora that, when it comes to adults, self-moderation is preferred over administrative edict.

    So, before I start pointing fingers at admin, I'm first going to make sure I don't have fingers pointing back at me.

    In theory, we members, as a community, should be able to tease this place toward some semblance of what we want. What it would require is discipline to not engage trollers and anti-science agenda-pushers. Even if we can;t do it, it behooves us to be pulling that direction before we start accusing others of not doing what they can.

    I peruse New posts every day, and I think what's reasonable versus what isn't is a matter of perspective.

    I certainly manage to keep occupied.

    I'm not about to speculate on the hypothetical experience of a hypothetical user.

    That sounds a little like "Can't even get a dang coffee here anymore without havin' to run into fur'ners or weirdos. " That says more about you than about the forum.

    The world is a wide and varied place and I, for one, love diversity.

    So I'm just gonna move on from that.

    Uh. There is so much wrong with this statement, it is beyond the scope of this post.

    Many of these people are learning science and rational thinking even as they assert their whimsical ideas.

    Imagine yourself as Mr. Kotter. Did he give up on the Sweathogs?
  20. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    I take it all you members who think little of SciFo are over on having lots of in-depth discussions with physicists about hard science. Right?

    I don't see y'all there.
  21. Seattle Valued Senior Member

    I didn't even mention science. I described this site as a general discussion site. I'm not Mr. Kotter.

    You also don't have any problem with this site. That's your prerogative. There are about 12 people who don't have a problem with this site. No one else comes however.

    Your "foreigner" comment is your opinion but certainly not mine. If you read what I really wrote you would see that but you weren't reading with an open mind. You were defensive (for some reason) at that point. I'm on several sites with many people from other countries for whom English isn't their first language.

    No one thinks this is, should be or has ever been a hard science forum. Put it this way, if you go to your relative's house, your friend's house, work, the gym, or most anywhere else and have a it anything like any conversation on here?

    No, I think not.
  22. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    OK. But it isn't.

    You're holding an orange, saying "This makes a lousy apple."

    To be clear, it's not that I don't have a problem with the site, it's that - if I'm going to have a problem - I'm going to first look at myself, to see if I'm black, before calling the kettle.

    I feel that I was adequately paraphrasing yours.

    I would only be defensive if I thought you were addressing me.

    How does that change anything about your critique here? You're still not liking what you've got here.

    That sounds like an apples to oranges thing. It would only make sense to talk about apples if you could refer to a glut of apples out there.

    1] This isn't a general discussion forum, so it's hardly fair to compare it to one, and declare it wanting.

    2] Are there sites you go to where conversations are like being at the gym or work? Again, what are you comparing it to?
  23. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    Don't get me wrong, I'm not here to blindly defend the site and tell everyone to just shuddup.
    It just seems that, when one doesn't like the party, it behooves them to first ask what they're doing to make it a better party before throwing shade on the host.*

    *Purely butt-covering on my part. I've learned over the years that the very next thing after "I don't like X" is going to be "And what have you done about it?" And I hate getting caught by that, so I've learned to say "I tried and failed to X."

    That might be a more productive topic.

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