Request for Input - SubForums and Mission Statement

Discussion in 'SF Open Government' started by Kittamaru, Nov 28, 2017.

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Should the non-science sub-forums be rearranged / changed?

  1. Yes - Condense The Fringe to one sub-forum, including Religion

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  2. Yes - Condense The Fringe to one sub-forum but leave Religion as it stands

    6.7%
  3. Yes - Eliminate The Fringe entirely (combine with The Cesspool), this is a Science site

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  4. Yes - Eliminate The Fringe and Religion entirely (combine both with The Cesspool)

    26.7%
  5. No - Leave things as they are

    66.7%
  6. Other - Please Explain Below

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  1. Kittamaru Now nearly 40 pounds lighter. Staff Member

    Messages:
    13,439
    Per the discussion starting here, and per James comment:

    I am putting forth a couple questions to the membership at large. This thread is going to be with regards to non-science subforums and SciFo's mission statement.

    There has been some discussion over the years about whether the current arrangement of Fringe sub-forums give the impression that SciForums not only allows, but openly welcomes and invites, non-scientific discussion.

    The usual response has seemed to be that The Fringe was meant as a dumping ground for the non-scientific topics that had no reputable home in actual scientific discussion. Over the last several years, however, the bulk of activity on SciForums has come to reside in precisely those locations, and often results in a number of issues stemming from the requirements for evidence, personality clashes, and other such issues that generally would not occur when the discussion revolves around solid facts instead of opinions.

    Basically, the question boils down to "What, precisely, is SciForums meant to be?" So, what do you think this site should be about?
     
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  3. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    6,624
    I think it should be a site with a scientific ethos, for discussion of topics that can be discussed scientifically.

    I think there is room for a place for ideas whose scientific nature or otherwise is debatable, as opposed to an inevitably somewhat arbitrary decision to chuck debatable topics in the cesspool. So some sort of fringe section seems to me advisable. Certainly so for "alternative theories", which it seems to me should be a creative opening offered by any science discussion group. But I see no need at all to have nice individual categories for different varieties of unscientific notion, as I think that dignifies them with recognition and thereby attracts cranks and nutters to think we take them seriously - and then they get all offended when they are attacked.

    I also think that since science is linked inextricably with philosophy, philosophy needs to stay. In fact, it is in philosophy where one argues out what makes something scientific or otherwise (predictive models, reproducible observation, the scientific method, if it exists, and all that).

    Science is also linked strongly to history and to economics (which some people would argue, optimistically in my view, is a science anyway. So these things should stay.

    Religion is a funny one. It is not now seen as part of Fringe, so any decision on Religion seems to me a different decision from that of what to do about the Fringe. Religion is also up one end, so to speak, of the philosophy spectrum. It does however attract nutters and seems to me to be a source of more heat than light. (The quality of discussion in the religion threads is on the whole lamentably poor, in my opinion.) I think on balance I'd be inclined not to include it. There may perhaps be room for the "scientific study of religion". This is a category on another science site I belong to, where the history, anthropology and so forth of religious ideas and practices can be discussed. But this would need policing, to keep out arguments that are only about the merits and demerits of religious beliefs. So it may be better not to have even this, lest it be a drain on limited moderation resources.

    So I think I'm arguing for:
    - no religion section,
    - a section for alternative scientific ideas and
    - a section for obviously non-scientific topics.

    This last would be the real fringe and would where anything on UFOs, ghosts, creationism (including ID) , etc would end up.
     
    cluelusshusbund likes this.
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  5. sweetpea Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    770
    Well, kitts, recently I learnt you could come up with material that shows someone here is a sock of a permabanned member. That material even recognized as ''fairly conclusive '' by a top dog mod.

    But, no action can be taken because that sock has a different IP address than the permabanned member. In other words we have to wait until the sock shows his real nature and having to go through the lengthy accumulating points procedure whilst wrecking threads. I'm lacking confidence in how the mods/management can't really do anything about the day to day housekeeping of the site.

    Will vote after a think.
     
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  7. Kittamaru Now nearly 40 pounds lighter. Staff Member

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    13,439
    The problem stems from the risk of wrongful accusation - the internet provides a vast veil of anonymity, one that is difficult to pierce without certain resources (resources that I know I lack access to). We have a basic IP check, that looks for multiple accounts using the same IP address. I believe the Admins and Owners have access to more information (due to access to more "behind the scenes" items), but for the most part, we have to go on patterns. Similarities in how someone writes and posts, behavioral patterns, etc... and those can be exceedingly difficult to get 100% right.

    As it is... I don't really have a good solution to offer to that problem. Much the same as when spambots "evolve" and start slipping past our filters, we mods can wind up deleting dozens of posts a day.
     
  8. sweetpea Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    770
    I have had a think. Will be back in a month to see if any changes have made a difference. Have not voted because I already know from a PM to a mod that this place is ''
    we're not just a science forum.'' In other words... lots of room for more jaw jaw jaw. I wonder where rpenner went and why?
     
  9. Kittamaru Now nearly 40 pounds lighter. Staff Member

    Messages:
    13,439
    Indeed... most of our science based mods have jumped ship, probably because they didn't want to deal with certain nagging issues that they knew weren't going to go away anytime soon.
     
  10. Xelasnave.1947 Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    3,300
    The site means different things to different people.
    I like it the way it is.
    I see the folk who most would ban as entertaining and remember I was royalty insulted by the god.
    Their nonsence will draw people in.
    This site caught my eye because I liked paddoboy getting stuck into someone.
    And I could see folk who posted great stuff...for me just so interesting...and the writing skill and discussion ability of various members really impressed me.
    I believe the inclusion of fringe stuff beneficial.
    I enjoy being able to let off steam in the fringe and get to say things I don't to get to say or express or condemn anywhere else.
    I enjoy trying to interact with people who hold different realities.
    And then there is the science.
    I like the cut and pastes.
    I like the few in depth discussions I only partly understand.
    If its a science forum let the scientists contribute.
    Find something new and post it..the more of that the less of the other in fringe section.
    Even cut and paste.
    Discussion should flow and scientific folk will get attracted...
    But the numbers should guide direction finally....if the site lives because the numbers are in the fringe turnover that must be taken into account.
    There are plently of members here who hold the game pretty high and plenty of members who can deal with even enjoy dealing with the likes of the god.
    I just don't see them as a threat and encourage members not to let strange folk annoy you.
    I find Jan perplexing, a man of considerable intellect in my view apparently living in another universe to me... Live and let live..use the opportunity to get inside that other persons head and try understand what they see when they look out.
    No judgement need be made. I like to observe human behaviour, including my own, the current set up here is great from my perspective.
    Alex
     
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  11. Xelasnave.1947 Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    3,300
    And apart from spammers I see no point in permanently banning someone...give then time to think about their action...repeat nonsence ban them again...and again and again....they are we all are a customer ..a client..of a business and that business would do well to keep all the customers or clients that come thru the door.
    Alex
     
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2017
  12. birch Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    4,101
    philosophy is not technically scientific at all either as it encompasses many various points of view. it is also abstract, so therefore can be defined as not real. also, anything can be interpreted to be related to science in some way, if unexplainable, then just deferred.
     
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2017
  13. birch Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    4,101
    that's the longest post i've ever read by you. i hope it didn't hurt you. so concerned about making sure some members are banned yet barely a show when you are here. as if the gravity of the site is pulling members against their will to the fringe section so they can be righteously offended while the entire upper hard-core science section which is at the top and forefront is there for anyone on a pristine silver platter. additionally, you have all the religion, history, philosophy, and politics which are also not scientific

    what is hypocritical on this site is the curious scapegoating of members who participate in the fringe section, as if it's preventing them from participating to their heart's content in the other subforas.

    that is just prejudice. even uncalled for. i'm defending the fringe section on priniciple because even if it didn't exist, members would still make illogical and ludicrous points and opinions. one can read them all the time in the other subforas so the fringe should not be attacked even more. at least in the fringe, it is discussing mainly the unexplainable.

    in the other subforas, there is even less of an excuse for such hypocrisy, lack of critical thinking, opinions passed off as facts and going unchallenged etc. this is fine to some extent as no one is perfect but to pretend that the fringe is the cause or most guilty of is wrong.
     
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2017
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  14. Daecon Kiwi fruit Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    3,068
    Either put the emphasis on science, or change the name of the website.

    Which would be easier?
     
  15. birch Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    4,101
    also, obviously human science , science and society and comparative religion should be removed from the hard-science section and combined with philosophy, politics, religion etc. they are sociology and psychology, which is also evident by the topics in those subforas.

    also, subforms specifically more tangible can be created in the hard-science section such as anthropology, archeology etc.

    technology subforums can be combined with science as it is very closely related and interdependent.

    philosophy can be combined or ethics, morality and justice deleted as it's redundant and essentially the same topics as general philosophy. history also can be combined under philosophy section.

    both life and world subforas can be combined.
     
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2017
  16. cluelusshusbund + Public Dilemma + Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    6,746
    Postin illegal stuff woud be a good reason for deletin posts an givin permabans... an i dont see racist stuff as bein beneficial to Sciforums... an if the fringe becomes one sub-forum an the rest of Sciforums is for science based discussion only... i thank that coud lead to bein benificial to most posters an to Sciforums wit a boost in participation in the science an non-science areas.!!!
     
  17. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    7,237
    I can't see how merging the fora into one helps any of the participants - whether they be proponents or opponents.
    I think this is largely a practical issue relating to the ability to adequately oversee the fora.
    For that reason, I think the Mods have far more invested in the nuances of Fringe than anyone else.
     
  18. Xelasnave.1947 Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    3,300
    You are right...deleting posts good idea.
    There is room for improvement...but these things can go overboard...the pendulum swings form one point to the other ..
    Hasten slowly.
    Alex
     
  19. cluelusshusbund + Public Dilemma + Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    6,746
    Much less moderation time woud be needed in a non-scientific fringe area... much less moderation time woud be needed in the hard science areas sinse everbody woud ether back up ther argument or be baned to the one fringe area.!!!

    Much easier on Mods... an each camp of posters woud have a "safe" place to post away from each other if they cant behave when together.!!!
     
  20. cluelusshusbund + Public Dilemma + Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    6,746
    I hear ya.!!!
    I had a no-ban no-deletion forum for 3 years which included A to Z personalities wit real science to boot an a heapin helpin of lots of fun

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!



    Funy thang... the stuff posted in my "self-moderation" forum was never any worse than stuff posted here

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

     
  21. Xelasnave.1947 Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    3,300
    I belong to a forum where moderation is minimal, but only astronomy, so no politics, sex, religion.
    I have over the years tried to be a calming influence as have others and it works great.
    I like to find the best in folk and I try and treat folk with respect even when that can be confronting.
    Often troubled folk lash out and play up but there is virtue in approach that has one quietly demonstrating a friendly respect.
    I recall a forum with a section called the black hole where you could discuss anything although religion politics sex etc was not permitted.

    No problems.

    Mmm maybe there's a message there.

    Alex
     
  22. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    7,237
    That is self-limiting, due to its narrow focus.
    I frequented astronomy-focused sites - the idea of having trolls there is absurd.
     
  23. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    Messages:
    30,644
    That's what our current mission statement says.

    I initially envisaged tighter controls on Alternative Theories. For example, I suggested that posters to Alternative Theories should actually present argument or evidence in support of their ideas, rather than the kinds of random musings and flights of fantasy that we mostly see in that subforum. Nobody (not the people who expressed an interest in the topic, anway) was keen on that restriction at the time, so it went nowhere.

    Right now we have 5 forums in the On The Fringe section.

    Parapsychology doesn't see much action. Pseudoscience tends to be a dumping ground for failed threads from the science forums, but a few threads start there. UFOs, Ghosts and Monsters is topic-specific. I'm not sure how much of the current activity there is centred around Magical Realist's spam, and how much is generated by other posters. Conspiracies is also specific, but it tends to attract one-issue nutters who only post there and who otherwise aren't much interested in the rest of sciforums. (All of these are generalisations and my own impressions.)

    I would suggest possibly merging Parapsychology into Pseudoscience. I would like to see some restrictions on posting in Alternative Theories. I'm in two minds about conspiracies, mainly because I wonder where conspiracy threads will land if that subforum isn't there. Other than that, I'd be willing to ditch that forum. UFOs etc. could be merged into pseudoscience, possibly.

    Alternatively, we could conceivably compress the whole of the Fringe down to a single subforum, as it used to be. It would be called simply "On the Fringe", or "The borderlands of Science", or we could name it in line for some kind of vision for the sort of discussion we want there - perhaps "Critical evaluation of unusual claims" (not very catchy, that one), or even "Debunking crazy ideas" (though that sets up a perception of bias right there in the title, which I don't necessary like), or something else...

    I agree with keeping Philosophy. I'm not sure we need a separate Eastern Philosophy...

    Ethics, Morality and Justice is a high-traffic forum that should stay separate, IMO.

    We have a Comparative Religion subforum under Science, which was supposed to do exactly that sort of thing. It doesn't get a lot of traffic.

    Most of our Religion discussions end up being fairly uninteresting battles over whether God is or is not real. My observation is that religious people are not warmly welcomed here, even in the Religion forum.

    I have a personal, non-expert interest in religion, so I would be sorry to see the Religion forum go. However, I would like to see a better level of discussion and debate there, instead of the my-God-is-bigger-than-your-noGod kind of thing that we mostly see. I'm not sure what the best way to encourage that is, though. Religion inevitably seems to attract certain kinds of posters, including fanatics from both sides of the fence.
     
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