On the Inevitable Imperfection of Moderators

Discussion in 'Site Feedback' started by exchemist, Jun 9, 2016.

  1. paddoboy Valued Senior Member

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    While that is true, and while I'm also obviously one of those mortals, the threads he does participate in, in general do explain, refute, deride quite adequately, the claims/questions of those that seem to be here for one reason...that is deriding mainstream science. This is of course done by other posters, with reputable links and lay person's terminology and talk. The important part here is "derision" as distinct from "questions", and even in some cases "questions" to which the person asking, has no intention of accepting anyway.
    Rpenner in my opinion, merely adds the icing on the cake to the general refutation of the cranks that are only out to deride mainstream science and questions that are less then genuine and that have in the main been answered by many others..
     
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  3. paddoboy Valued Senior Member

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    Hmmm, maybe I have the wrong end of the stick.

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    The point I'm making is that although we have many subject matters on this forum, if questions, claims are made, they still should be scrutinized via the scientific method.
    Of course what subject matters i have in mind concern recent over the top claims re ghosts, goblins, paranormal and UFO's of Alien origin, along of course with the general anti SR/GR nonsense we see some posters trying to push.
    Teaching these people science is certainly desirable, but some just do not want to learn, blinkered by the driving force of whatever agenda that pushes them.
     
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  5. cluelusshusbund + Public Dilemma + Valued Senior Member

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    Ha... no moderation forums is what i grew up on (got web access in 1998)... an my forum (InGodsName) for 3 years was totaly self moderated... ie... no censorship... no bans (an incidently-no porn was ever posted)... an all new people received a warm welcom;; it was like the wild wild west an i loved it.!!!
    Ther was threds on subjects from A to Z... an what i recall is that people simply ignored topics/people they wasnt intrested in... an for those who wanted/needed the safety of a like-minded moderator to hold ther hand just stayed away... perty simple realy... an that type of free speech will always hold a place in my hart.!!!

    I realize that Sciforums is a more focused forum that needs moderation... but what ever rules administration comes up wit... whether lax or strict... the more consistant the moderation the beter... ie... posters who choose to stay will have more respect for the mods... makin the moderation jobs less time consumin/easier.!!!
     
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  7. cluelusshusbund + Public Dilemma + Valued Senior Member

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    Well that is a big issue... an the way it stands now... administration lets the posters fight it out... an nobody wins

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    Personaly... id like to have a Fringe forum whare those so inclined coud discuss such thangs as ufo's/monsters/ghosts wit-out bein forced to apply the scientific method... call it "Fringe Ideas".!!!
     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2016
  8. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

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    If I were miraculously appointed moderator here, I would enforce exactly one rule (independent of other mods enforcing other rules).
    I would disallow ad hominem attacks.

    Any member would be forced to attack an argument, rather than a person.
     
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  9. cluelusshusbund + Public Dilemma + Valued Senior Member

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    That woud be fine wit me... i wonder what administration thanks about that.???
     
  10. Kittamaru Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Adieu, Sciforums. Valued Senior Member

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    it is already a rule - it just becomes immensely difficult to enforce (without issuing infractions to everyone involved) when people fire back instead of reporting it
     
  11. Dr_Toad It's green! Valued Senior Member

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    It can get away from you to the point that you ban everyone, pack it up and go home.

    Or not..

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  12. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

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    Yeah. I would issue infractions. A three strikes you're out policy.

    I've come to accept the ...er... inclusive philosophy of SciFo - meaning they take a very light hand to pretty much all the fringiness. It is a refreshing change from some of the Standard Model fora I frequent.

    But I don't think the insults help. I think any argument can be discussed, even animatedly, as long as everyone agreees it is a debate, not a poo-flinging contest.

    As for not reporting, I surmise that a lot of people feel it does not get actioned, and so they are left to handle it themselves. If ad hom infractions were known to be enforced, I imagine people would report them more.

    'course, it would be pretty much a full time commitment for the first few months/years...
     
  13. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

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    Naw. You'd see quantity go down a litte, but quality - signal to noise ratio - would go up.
     
  14. paddoboy Valued Senior Member

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    Totally agree, and despite what some may think, I really try and avoid insulting adhoms myself. Sometimes though when the insults come your way, it's difficult to not fire back, particularly when personally I do not suffer bullies gladly.
    The other aspect of course is when people such as constant theorist, jcc, chinglu, and others that presently use the forum[ and which I have not mentioned] continue to fly in the face of all logic, and resort to what can only be classed as "nose twitching" and/or simply trolling.
    Bingo!!!! Having been disappointed at some of the lack of action re reports that I have given, I tend to handle things myself now [right or wrong as that maybe]
    One aspect of that was a claim made by a chief troll that I had fudged or dishonestly reproduced an E-Mail from a professional. I reported it and the troll was asked to withdraw and/or apologise: He did neither, so I reported again: To my dismay, it fell on deaf ears.
     
  15. PhysBang Valued Senior Member

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    That's a fine idea, but it allows for a lot of abuse.

    Otherwise, thumbs up in general to mods.
     
  16. Retribution Banned Banned

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    Certainly.

    Given that opening post, though, would it be fair to say

    • In order for the law to be upheld, there must be policemen.
    • In order for those who have been accused to be breaking the law to be proved to have done so, there must be courts.
    • In order for those courts to function, there must be lawyers, and judges; court officials.
    • In order for the law to be upheld, the outcomes must be arrived at objectively, according to the tenets of that law.
    • In order for all of the above to function effectively, respect should be accorded to those charged with the upholding of the above, as it is often a thankless task.
    these things in order to clarify the premise?

    My question for you is, with the above as given (a question in itself, I suppose) and if respect was more or less accorded at the time of appointment as an official:

    At what point does that respect begin to dissipate?
     
  17. Xelasnave.1947 Valued Senior Member

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    Paddoboy said (I can't quote properly on this phone).
    "I really try and avoid insulting adhoms myself. Sometimes though when the insults come your way, it's difficult to not fire back, particularly when personally I do not suffer bullies gladly."
    I try and remember the words of Francis Bacon (at least I think it was him) .....
    On taking revenge a man is but equal with his enemy, but on passing it over he is far superior, for it is a princes part to pardon.

    I hope you like it ...

    It seems some bait other members which is wrong and by biting you can play into their hands.

    I think it must be difficult work being a mod. I think they deserve recognition for their role and our support.

    Alex
     
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  18. Retribution Banned Banned

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    200
    In response to that, I will post here something Hillary Clinton has said:

    "At our best, Americans have always lived in a creative tension between idealism and realism; between our clear-eyed insistence on seeing the world as it actually is and our deeply held desire to remake the world as it ought to be. This administration has abandoned that tension for a simplistic division of the world into good and evil. They refuse to talk to anyone on the evil side. And some have called that idealistic. I call it dangerously unrealistic."
    From http://www.cfr.org/politics-and-strategy/hillary-rodham-clinton/p34154

    Now, I will state from the outset that I don't believe for a moment that "this administration has abandoned that tension". There is a great deal of evidence to suggest they have not, and are committed to upholding it.
    I do believe that there is a danger that a "simplistic division of the world into good and evil" will occur; and that there is some evidence that it already is occurring, in some areas of discussion.

    So, with a more direct reference to the topic at hand, it is all very well to suggest that we should have more appreciation for the moderators in general. Certainly, I would doubt that there would be too much dissension on that point, as it stands.

    But on having introduced such an argument as the OP, that simplistic division becomes more of a danger, in that the qualifier "in general" is lost in the noise of patriotic fervour.
    I might further add that this type of thing almost serves more to direct attention away from the issues, rather than to resolve them.

    Are you with us or a Guinness?
     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2016
  19. Kittamaru Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Adieu, Sciforums. Valued Senior Member

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    Indeed. It is something that needs addressed in some form or another, and one that is being (has been being? is still being?) discussed in the back room.
     
  20. Yazata Valued Senior Member

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    No. I was thinking that whoever moderates the biology forum needs to have the equivalent of an undergraduate background in biology, along with the ability to teach the material normally found in an introductory biology syllabus to laypeople.

    The exact same thing applies to all the other science fora.

    And given that a great deal of the discussion on Sciforums, including most of your posts it seems, aren't about science at all per se, but rather about the philosophy of science, whoever moderates the philosophy and 'fringe' fora should have some training and background in the philosophy of science.

    Every factual proposition should be justifiable somehow. (Though that seems to commit us to an infinite regress.) But I'm not convinced that all factual propositions are scientific or that non-scientific propositions must be justified in scientific terms.

    You're ranting.

    You don't know anything about epistemology, logic or the philosophy of science. You admit your ignorance and are actually proud of it (which is profoundly anti-intellectual). Yet you pose as an authority on the soundness and justification of other people's thinking. I don't respect you or take your views seriously when you do that.

    The moderators seem to devote most of their interest to the political and social issues fora. Tiassa posts about nothing else.

    If you want everything to be more scientific, stay out of the philosophical discussions, avoid the 'fringe' fora and post about science.

    One difficulty you will immediately encounter is a problem that all science fora encounter: What can laypeople say about science? Are they supposed to just say "Oh, wow!" in reply to Plazma's science news reports? But if they don't know the fundamentals and the detailed context of the news story, what more can they say?

    Everybody wants to post about the most arcane details of quantum mechanics, black holes, general relativity or whatever, because it seems cosmic. But most board participants seem kind of vague on the contents of freshman physics. If they want to have any hope of really understanding the cool stuff, they will have to work their way up to it, by learning the principles involved. I think that the board's moderators could ideally serve as teachers, helping people with that. (Of course, science teachers could be paid a lot more doing something else, so it's asking a lot...)
     
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  21. Kittamaru Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Adieu, Sciforums. Valued Senior Member

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    Yazata - how would you recommend that someone who expresses no interest in learning how to properly analyze or investigate something, or hasn't even a rudimentary understanding of scientific principles (recall Victor Esperenza), yet continues to, with no better way to say it, shit-post across one or several sub forums, with no intent to actually learn/validate claims they make/ or otherwise participate in actual discussion? We've tried a few times to simply limit them to a particular thread (such as Victor and also all that "Reality is..." stuff) but it rarely works - once they stop getting the attention they crave, they inevitably spread to other areas.
     
  22. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    My answer to the issue of what laypeople can say to Plasma's science news posts would be that they can read them (usually they are from popular mags so not written in penner-speak) and can comment or ask questions if they are interested. I try to do a bit on the ones that interest me (and which I understand), by providing a further level of explanation. And occasionally, a discussion takes off.

    I take your point about the amateurs arguing about things they have half-learnt secondhand, but in a way that is what these places are for - to encourage the enthusiast.

    Myself, I think the forum is a little too generous to troublemakers, posing as enquirers into science but really looking for a fight (as Ophiolite once put it). But any attempt to police this would have to be done on the basis of a mod's opinion, rather than rules, because any set of rules can be dodged by someone sufficiently determined.
     
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  23. Yazata Valued Senior Member

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    Was the problem Victor's resistance to learning basic science, or was the problem Victor's lack of interest in "learning how to properly analyze or investigate something"? What I'm drawing attention to is the distinction between scientific and philosophical issues.

    I don't know how to put this nicely, but I think that a few of the people who presume to teach others about proper analysis and investigation are little different than the cranks presuming to pontificate on general relativity. Epistemology and logic are serious academic subjects just as quantum mechanics and general relativity are. If one is going to presume to instruct others, then one needs to know something about one's subject and needs to have studied it.

    If somebody is posting to the science fora up on top but shows no interest in actually learning the science necessary to discuss whatever they want to discuss, and if their behavior is becoming disruptive and is taking over threads, then my suggestion would be to restrict their participation to the 'fringe' fora. I kind of conceive of the 'fringe' fora as (almost) anything-goes fora, while the science fora should be preserved for real science of the sort taught in universities (keeping in mind that many of those posting are laypersons). I think that a few of our self-proclaimed experts in critical thinking (especially the ones convinced that epistemology and the philosophy of science are bullshit) are best off posting their philosophical ideas in the fringe fora too.

    Does the forum software support banning people from some parts of the board but not others?

    But all of this is dependent on the moderators making these decisions knowing enough about their subjects to make the decisions intelligently. I can imagine participants making posts that are unwelcome and make knees jerk, but introduce deep and important underlying issues. In some cases, the 'crank' may know more about his/her subject than some of the louder and more self-righteous defenders of "science". So moderators need to have the sophistication necessary to discern when that's happening. Banishment to the fringe fora needs to be a last resort measure and it needs to be reversible.
     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2016
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