Proposition: Increase or Eliminate 10k Character Limit

Discussion in 'SF Open Government' started by Tiassa, Mar 6, 2015.


Petition the Administration to increase or eliminate current character limit per post?

Poll closed Mar 20, 2015.
  1. Yes

    7 vote(s)
  2. No

    11 vote(s)
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  1. Russ_Watters Not a Trump supporter... Valued Senior Member

    Look at the members who are replying "no". You have it backwards. The trolls use longer posts to to flood the forum with nonsense in order to make it more difficult to respond to them. At the same time, responding to a troll with a long post makes it easier for them to pick and choose what to respond to and what to ignore. It is generally much better to write one or two key things that they can't ignore. Look at the vaccine discussion, for a good example. The issue of mercury in vaccines was easily rebutted, but the OP jumped to a different argument when the rebuttals came -- and flooded the forum with tens of thousands of words copied and pasted from garbage anti-vax sites. If people would remain focused and succinct in responding to the key faults, ignoring the floods, it would force the OP to be more focused.

    However, if you are trying making rules to try to make it easier for non-trolls to deal with trolls, then you have a bigger problem in this forum than post lengh.

    Anyway, you really jumped the shark with your response there, Tiassa. Take a step back and a deep breath and try again to understand what people are saying to you instead of just insulting anyone who disagrees.
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2015
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  3. Dr_Toad It's green! Valued Senior Member

    Where do you perceive an insult in Tiassa's post?

    Trolling and post length aren't always related, either.
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  5. billvon Valued Senior Member

    That's great. Blogs are great places to post such tomes. Discussion boards are, IMO, not.
    In my experience, if you need more than 10,000 characters to answer a basic question (or refute a statement that is incorrect) you are well into the realm of pedantry.
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  7. Ophiolite Valued Senior Member


    And this:

    And this:

    And this:
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  8. Dr_Toad It's green! Valued Senior Member

    OK, thanks.
  9. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    In my experience, if you think complex issues can be discussed in less, you are either lazy or dishonest.

    See, in one case I'm thinking of this guy who made this weird argument about how we could avoid constitutional problems with a law if the people in charge simply ignored the constitution. Like I said, I'm pretty sure that's not what he really meant, but he never did explain himself in any way that made sense over the string of posts in that part of the discussion.

    He could easily have burned ten thousand characters in that discussion, yet never did manage to make himself clear. Either way, the characters are going to get used, either over the course of one post or several. On that occasion, as near as anyone could tell, his priority was simply taking out some abstract frustration on an individual with some bit about how the obvious issue, a matter of definitions, would only exist something something if people like you were in charge.

    I've found, over the nearly sixteen years I've been here, that there is a reason people like short posts; it's easier to troll that way.

    The guy could have concisely acknowledged the bullshit coefficient in his formula over the course of a sentence or two, but seemed rather determined to spend the characters arguing otherwise. I can't help but wonder how much better or worse he might have conveyed whatever point he was trying to make had he taken the time to compose a rational argument. But that might involve using more words, and therefore more characters. And sometimes that sort of thing can be hard, so why bother, right? What we have in the end is the intellectually stunted record he left, perhaps in adherence to ideology or maybe as a symptom of his outlook on concision. Sometimes it's better to do it all at once than to rush around trying to plug the holes once you're sinking.
  10. Kristoffer Giant Hyrax Valued Senior Member

    I'm not opposed to raising the limit to, say, 15k characters, but if you can't make your position clear within that limit, then maybe you need to work on getting your point across a bit.
    As others have said, if you need to create a wall of text to get your meaning JUST right, then maybe a blog, an external link or whatever might be a better option.
  11. billvon Valued Senior Member

    Agreed. Using 15K characters to answer a post suggests that the poster may be overly verbose, or (more often) it indicates they are no longer answering the question, but are drifting far from the topic into personal discussions. Here that often takes the form of "When you said X in post Y, you were clearly LYING because X isn't true, as you admitted in post Z, here's a quote - xxxxx - but hey, I guess you just want to celebrate your ignorance, right? That's what your type get off on. People like you . . . ." Those are the posts that most often push the 10K character limit, and are also the posts that are worthless from the point of view of education or sharing of information.

    This forum does not provide formal education nor does it serve to peer-review scientific articles; it is simply a discussion board. As such it can be very valuable if it is used for that purpose. By its nature, answers are best kept brief - a back and forth on a single topic is often useful, providing both a discussion for the two parties involved as well as an easy-to-follow thread for outside observers.

    Throughout my life I've had a mix of formal and informal education. The formal education has happened at various universities and seminars across the country; the informal education has happened in labs during lunch, at breweries after the tasting room is closed and they are brewing, at campfires after a hike, in hangars waiting for the weather to clear etc. Most people have had similar experiences. Imagine the following two cases:

    Case 1 - A back and forth between a pilot and an aeronautical engineer discussing P-factor. The pilot expresses what he feels during takeoff and the aeronautical engineer talks about the physics behind it. The pilot learns more about the physics behind the effect, and the engineer learns what it feels like to the pilot. The discussion might proceed thusly:
    "Yeah, especially on planes with bigger props, I need a lot of right rudder on takeoff, and it always eases off a bit as soon as I put the nose down a little."
    "That makes sense since P-factor is related to angle of attack, and that's going to be greatest at takeoff during a normal takeoff. I assume you rotate just above stall speed?"
    "Well, we rotate at about ten knots above, yes."
    "Would be interesting to try to rotate at 15 knots above stall and see what happens. Your AOA will be lower and P-factor should be lower as well. And you'll have more rudder authority."
    "I can usually do that since we generally operate out of Republic, and we have far more runway than I need. I should try that."

    Both people have learned something - and perhaps more importantly, the rest of the people in the hangar may have learned a lot.

    Case 2 - A back and forth between the owner of the FBO and a pilot who rents from them. The pilot is mad at the FBO for charging so much for rental, and starts in. "You know, you FBO's are all alike - greedy and selfish. What about us pilots? We keep your business going. Are you so blind that you want to drive away the people you keep in business? And you don't even have a clue about flying. Why just the other day you claimed that the curve on the top of a wing generates lift! Can't you just put your own ignorance and greed aside and . . . ." He continues in this vein for 15 minutes without pause. After the first 10 seconds the FBO hasn't learned anything new, and everyone else has drifted away to find something more interesting.

    Here there are a lot of discussions similar to case 1. They are often interesting, and I think people learn a lot from them. They are easy to follow and provide either the information people need ("Aha, so P-factor increases at higher angles of attack!") or simply the knowledge that there is something to learn ("I should look up P-factor.") They are the primary reason this website is worthwhile, IMO.

    Unfortunately, there are also a lot of discussions similar to case 2. They waste the website's bandwidth and the reader's time. They may fulfill some need for the person posting them, but such things are better handled via email or personal messages. They are also, in my experience, the posts that tend to push the 10K limit. I would not want to change the website settings to allow such posts to be longer.
  12. Russ_Watters Not a Trump supporter... Valued Senior Member

    That appears to me to be an example against your position, not for it.
  13. Ophiolite Valued Senior Member

    I failed to post these comments last night, directed to Dr. Toad.

    That may not be what billvon found insulting, but I thought the number and content of the comments was over the top.

    There are good arguments both for and against extending the size of individual posts. On balance I find that the arguments against outweigh those for. I was disappointed that Tiassa felt he had to question the motives of those arguing for keeping things as they are.

    Now, I find more insults.

    In my experience, if you think this you lack the intellectual capacity, technical skill and respect for your readers to write with clarity.

    As to laziness, I remind you of the apocryphal remark that Samuel Clemens is said to have written at the end of a ten page letter (paraphrased here). "I apologise for the length of this letter. I had intended to write you only two pages, but I didn't have time."

    Tiassa, you write interesting prose, but I doubt any thoughtful person would call it concise. It has literary merit, but technically it often obfuscates your message.

    Finally, as explicitly stated by Russ and implicitly by billvon, your (justifiable) distaste for the verbose trolls is an argument against extending post size, not for it.
  14. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    Note to Ophiolite

    This is an example. He can't even be bothered to explain what he means.

    As to you:

    Well, it depends on whether you want real communication or Twitter.

    Consider Mr. Watters' point above. Once again he has inverted reality in pursuit of brevity and politics.

    His point is to fight, not to communicate.

    And that's part of what you're defending.

    Too bad you can't be compelled to spend a few more characters explaining what you mean, anyway. Maybe then someone could figure out what you're after and put together a response. Then again, maybe that's your point.

    Look, if we have to handicap the discussions in order to provide people like you reasonable accommodation, then you're not one who should be judging anyone else's intellectual caapacity.

    You want to feel smart without putting any effort into it, that's fine with me. As you chooose to so define yourself, what you have to say is of less value to me.

    I prefer smart people who are capable of communicating, not half-witted petulance whose only purpose for existing is self-gratification.
  15. Kittamaru Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Adieu, Sciforums. Valued Senior Member

    Indeed... I remember when I would come here and there would be dozens of new posts, some looking like small dissertations, but all discussing various topics of scientific rapport. It was glorious... and made for a great place to come and just soak up new knowledge...

    Now... it's more like wading through an old sewage pipe...
  16. Dr_Toad It's green! Valued Senior Member

    There is something y'all could do about that that has nothing to do with increasing the character limit.
  17. Yazata Valued Senior Member

    Regarding the issue of laziness, here are several remarks, known to every teacher of writing, attributed to Ernest Hemingway.

    "I write one page of masterpiece to ninty-nine pages of shit. I try to put the shit in the wastebasket."

    "Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away."

    And regarding honesty, this from Death in the Afternoon

    "This too to remember: If a man writes clearly enough, one will see if he fakes. If he mystifies to avoid a straight statement... the writer takes a longer time to be known as a fake and other writers who are afflicted by the same necessity will praise him in their own defense. True mysticism should not be confused with incompetence in writing which seeks to mystify where there is no mystery, but is really only the necessity to fake to cover lack of knowledge or the inability to state clearly."
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  18. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    There is a reason the late Jack Cady told his writing students, at the opening of the first day of class, to never trust writing teachers.
  19. Beer w/Straw Transcendental Ignorance! Valued Senior Member

    I can win this argument with one word:"Psychoanalysis." Where very few words can have tremendous affect.

    But there is always context. I hope some of the things said were not directed at me. And it also leads to one variable which makes everything inconclusive -Is one poster trying to talk to another or make a post for general readership? I've seen some members make a lengthy effort to replay to another, only to be wholly disregarded...
  20. Kittamaru Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Adieu, Sciforums. Valued Senior Member

    Oh... I agree with you on this whole heartedly...
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  21. Ophiolite Valued Senior Member

    Really Tiassa? Really? It was blatantly obvious to me that your lengthy dissertation was about the evils of posts by "trolls" that were too long. That is self evidently support for Russ's perception and matches mine also. It did not require rereading his post to fully understand it and to simultaneously agree with it. You are not a foolish person Tiassa, are you seriously maintaining that you did not understand what he was saying?

    False dichotomy. (Now do you really lack the intellectual vigour to understand what I mean by that concise statement. Do I really have to spell it out for you. Do I actually have to say "Real communication and Twitter are not the only options available to us."

    Real communication, truly effective communication, is concise. Full stop. Period. End of. (And all those needless emphases added for your benefit. the first sentence of this paragraph is all that is required to convey my meaning.)

    You are clearly reading into his post something you have dredged up from other interactions with him. He has not inverted reality. He has fairly represented it. And what frigging politics do you feel he is pursuing?

    I see no evidence of that in this thread. It is this thread and the proposition made in it that is the subject of discussion. The person who appears to want a fight here is you, launching as you did into a series of unwarranted insults.

    Let me be clear. I am not defending anything. I am attacking verbose posts that lack concision and clarity. And arguing for keeping the size of posts limited. (If there ever is a genuine need to exceed the permitted length, make a second post.)

    So what aspects of my position were unclear to you?

    Just exactly what characteristics are you suggesting are possessed by "people like me"?

    Writing clearly, writing comprehensively, writing concisely are not handicapping a discussion, they are promoting it. I am astounded that you think otherwise. Encouraging short posts promotes discussion by minimising dross and making it easier for the reader. If you do not recognise that then you have not thought it through. This is fundamental to good technical writing and this is a science forum where good technical writing should be desirable.

    Where the heck did you get that from? Concise writing requires extensive work. I offered the Mark Twain anecdote to illustrate that. Yazata offered several similar items. You summarily dismissed these. Why?

    And your assertion that I "want to feel smart"! Seriously Tiassa, is everything OK with you at present, for that is such a dumb, irrelevant, nutty thing to say I am starting to worry about you.

    Excuse me, lets examine the chronology.

    1. You propose making permissible post length longer.
    2. Some members remark that it is a good idea, other members questions its value.
    3. There is no petulance, rather a mature discussion of options.
    4. You come storming in with an offensive post in which you direct egregious insults at anyone who has had the temerity to disagree with your proposal.

    Smart people communicate concisely and the petulance evident in this thread is coming from you. And now from me, because boy have you pissed me off.
  22. Yazata Valued Senior Member

    10k characters is something upwards of 1000 words, the equivalent of perhaps five double-spaced typewritten pages. 1000 word essay assignments are very common in university classes. Professors believe that students can not only make a clear point, but also provide argument for it, in that amount of space. If the format works well in universities, I don't know why Sciforums should be any different.

    If somebody can't make a plausible and defensible point in four pages, I don't know why we should expect them to do it in 40. That would just give people more scope for obfuscation and self-indulgence.
  23. Kittamaru Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Adieu, Sciforums. Valued Senior Member

    True - though sometimes the need for extra characters is apparent, such as when utilizing multi-citation arguments (sourcing facts from multiple sources)
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