Cabbages and Kings: open thread

Having taken a brief break from commenting and still taking a break from proactive moderating, I still find myself sucked into reading OP’s and comments. Not wanting to stir the hornet’s nest of currently active discussion and not having enough time to get up to speed on all the current issues where commenters are discussing deep issues of the day, I wondered about opening a thread titled something like “Suggestion Box” to get people’s thinking on any improvements Lizzie could consider that might ameliorate concerns over site policy, aims, aspirations etc.

But then I thought it’s been a while since there was an open thread, so…voilà! Also as a mental exercise can we try avoiding the non-sequitur? In adding a comment, you should pay lip-service to the previous comment(s) and at least pick up on a previous point as an intro. Or not: it’s only a guideline.

But taking myself seriously for a moment, let me put forward a suggestion. Lizzie has already mentioned the deficiencies of the WordPress blog format and I think it would be a good thing to try re-introducing the “Penguin Colony” forum. It could be set up to run in parallel so it would be just an additional facility to start with which will either wither or develop and maybe take over from the blog.

32 thoughts on “Cabbages and Kings: open thread

  1. I wondered about opening a thread titled something like “Suggestion Box” to get people’s thinking on any improvements Lizzie could consider that might ameliorate concerns over site policy, aims, aspirations etc.

    You already have plenty of that in all of the threads. The topic of moderation is being routinely used by many principal participants to filibuster all other discussion. To create more fuss over it is not going to help. Just have simple even rules and keep to them yourself. Avoid fuzzy lines. Complaints and suggestions concerning moderation policy should not be allowed to flood all other threads.

  2. Erik: The topic of moderation is being routinely used by many principal participants to filibuster all other discussion.

    Erik,

    I was hoping for solutions, not problems. On moderation, I wonder whether a flagging system might not help. Anyone offended by a comment could call attention to it preferably by PM. I think objections to particular moderating decisions would be better discussed by PM too, though leaving rules, guidelines and policy for open discussion.

  3. Neil Rickert: I think the same would happen again.

    My recollection is that it never had chance to get going before the crash and change of host finished it off completely.

  4. Erik: Just have simple even rules and keep to them yourself. Avoid fuzzy lines

    If I thought this was possible, I’d do it in a heart-beat.

    But long experience of trying to devise “simple even rules” without fuzzy lines has convinced me it’s probably impossible.

    However, I’m open – nay eager – for suggestions. Would you like to propose some?

  5. Maybe some plugin would allow you to filter the Recent Posts list so it excludes topics you are not interested in following?

    I start by looking at that list to see what I might want to read, but I find the list fills up with a lot of posts about posting standards at TSZ or about posting spats at TSZ, which don’t interest me so much.

  6. BruceS: Maybe some plugin would allow you to filter the Recent Posts list so it excludes topics you are not interested in following?

    I start by looking at that list to see what I might want to read, but I find the list fills up with a lot of posts about posting standards at TSZ or about posting spats at TSZ, which don’t interest me so much.

    I’d be very interested in such a plug-in, for the same reason. Is that possible?

  7. Alan Fox: Erik,

    I was hoping for solutions, not problems. On moderation, I wonder whether a flagging system might not help. Anyone offended by a comment could call attention to it preferably by PM.

    Nope. Flagging is profoundly evil (particularly if you mean a voting system or mana points). Reporting to mods via PM can occur already as it is. Simply encourage the culture among snitches that they provide also the links to the posts they whine about.

    One of the features I would favour is ignore. I can ignore even without the feature, but the technological ignore would have the advantage of giving the rest of posters more prominence. However, this would be more of a forum solution, not blogging solution, so you’re stuck where it’s hard to help you out.

    Anyway, it is very unbecoming of a blog to discuss moderation at this level of specificity, so at this point I’d recommend this: Don’t let the membership bring up moderation issues (too much). Have a rule about it.

    Elizabeth: If I thought this was possible, I’d do it in a heart-beat.

    It is possible, just not for you. Some other personality would easily steer clear of fuzzy lines.

  8. Alan Fox:

    On moderation, I wonder whether a flagging system might not help. Anyone offended by a comment could call attention to it preferably by PM.

    Alan, as much as I admire your diligence in trying to apply the rules you have been given, I support the recommendation to simplify moderating rules. Ban and remove all posts which have malware, pornography, or undermine anonymity; leave other posts alone.

    To the suggestion of flagging posts: I’ve seen crowd-based moderation implemented by having a tool which allows users to downvote any post. If a post receives enough downvotes from different users, it is hidden, although you can still see if by asking for it to be unhidden.

    I don’t know if such a tool is available for the blog software used at TSZ

    I take the point of some that very light moderation can lead to threads filling up with personal attacks rather than substantive comments. But a tool like the above may help with posts that take that approach.

    Plus, there seems to be only a small group of dedicated posters here, which may help limit that behavior. Or maybe not. In which case, so be it. Having the rules has not changed these posters; it has only made moderation onerous to no lasting effect.

  9. Easiest ignore system is simply to ignore posters who don’t interest you. Added software seems to bog the system down.

    Easiest moderation policy is not to respond to provocation. And not to prevoke.

  10. BruceS: Maybe some plugin would allow you to filter the Recent Posts list so it excludes topics you are not interested in following?

    I mostly read this on my RSS reader (“akregator” in linux/KDM). It has a “search” option. I put a few words from a thread title in the search bar, and I see only messages from that thread (and, occasionally, messages with the same string inside the message, but that’s rare).

  11. petrushka:
    Easiest ignore system is simply to ignore posters who don’t interest you. Added software seems to bog the system down.

    Easiest moderation policy is not to respond to provocation. And not to prevoke.

    Yep.

  12. Erik,

    Flagging is profoundly evil (particularly if you mean a voting system or mana points).

    Systems like Reddit and Hacker News can result in unpopular comments becoming invisible, which I think is a bad thing. A better system would identify people who vote similarly and give greater weight to votes from people they trust. A kind of recommender system for comments.

    One of the features I would favour is ignore.

    There are some plugins for that. I’ll do some more research this afternoon.

  13. petrushka,

    Easiest ignore system is simply to ignore posters who don’t interest you. Added software seems to bog the system down.

    Easiest moderation policy is not to respond to provocation. And not to prevoke.

    I heartily concur. Take personal responsibility for what you write and what you read.

  14. Erik is right that not only are there a ton of “meta” comments here, but now there are a ton of “meta’ threads. Moderation, Cabbages, Shoveling, Sandbox, Noyau, It’s too much by any standard. One thread ought to be enough for whining, I think, and everybody should post stuff about moderation rules there.

    So, should whining about moderation that’s NOT there be moved there?

    That question should be put on that thread too.

    But what if it isn’t?

    Hmmmm. Then maybe everybody could flush their toilets at the same time and we see what happens?

  15. Bruce:

    Alan, as much as I admire your diligence in trying to apply the rules you have been given, I support the recommendation to simplify moderating rules. Ban and remove all posts which have malware, pornography, or undermine anonymity; leave other posts alone.

    Enthusiastically seconded.

    Patrick:

    Take personal responsibility for what you write and what you read.

    Ditto.

  16. The ultimate test for any moderation scheme is how well it works in reality, with the actual commenters and the actual moderators. We’ve already run many such (informal) experiments at TSZ, and the results seem clear to me: Changes in the direction of more moderation have backfired, and changes in the direction of less moderation have made TSZ run more smoothly and with more on-topic, substantive discussion.

    For all our disagreements, Alan and I both think that the experiment we tried in Lizzie’s absence was a success. If you recall, the policy during that time was to move comments to Guano only upon request (of the “injured” party originally, though that was broadened for some reason to include third parties).

    Since that experiment worked so well, and since attempts at increased moderation (like the Wine Cellar, to use a recent example) have failed, why not take the lesson to heart and eliminate moderation altogether, except in the extreme cases where we all agree it’s necessary (spam/porn/outing etc.)?

    It fits with the ethos here at TSZ, it minimizes the workload for the moderators, and it eliminates the reason for the numerous and lengthy moderation discussions we have here at TSZ, again and again.

    Seems like a worthwhile experiment, doesn’t it?

  17. Far be it from me to agree with keiths.

    I wasn’t asking for more moderation, my complaint was that some posts were being moved to Guano while others which seemed in clear violation, were not.

    I’m in favor of less work for the mods. No one likes to baby-sit for free. Well, maybe grandparents.

  18. Patrick:
    Take personal responsibility for […] what you read.

    Sure, that’s what I do now, but I’m from the school that says: “why should people do what computers can do effectively?”. Except, obviously, when it comes to what I did for a living.

    I agree that reversibly hiding posts based on reliability of recommendations of other readers would be a great solution, although I would be surprised if such functionality was available on the blogging platform used by TSZ. But, as a user, I think it is better to make reasonable requests rather than avoiding such requests based on a guess of what effective, reliable solutions might exist.

    Hiding all posts from selectable users would not help me much. Some of the most prolific and interesting posters here also seem to take pleasure from games of insult one-upmanship. I would not want to hide all their posts to avoid seeing those games play out.

    Just because people like me don’t share in that enjoyment is no reason, I think, to have the moderators spend time judging when some fuzzy line has been crossed.

  19. Neil Rickert: I mostly read this on my RSS reader (“akregator” in linux/KDM).It has a “search” option.I put a few words from a thread title in the search bar, and I see only messages from that thread (and, occasionally, messages with the same string inside the message, but that’s rare).

    A nice idea, but not possible with my free version of feedly. Or even the paid version, I think.

  20. BruceS: I agree that reversibly hiding posts based on reliability of recommendations of other readers would be a great solution

    FWIW, that doesn’t really appeal to me so much. I think I’d always go and see if I agreed with this supposedly friendly consensus anyhow. I think I’d actually prefer a simple, plain ignore function. I wouldn’t see posts by X or Y at all unless I turned it off or they were quoted by others. It’s been available on a couple of other boards I used to frequent and it cut down on fights quite a bit. People liked it–or didn’t use it.

  21. walto: FWIW, that doesn’t really appeal to me so much.I think I’d always go and see if I agreed with this supposedly friendly consensus anyhow.I think I’d actually prefer a simple, plain ignore function.I wouldn’t see posts by X or Y at all unless I turned it off or they were quoted by others. It’s been available on a couple of other boards I used to frequent and it cut down on fights quite a bit.People liked it–or didn’t use it.

    Another one of your prolific and interesting posts.

  22. BruceS,

    Sure, that’s what I do now, but I’m from the school that says: “why should people do what computers can do effectively?”. Except, obviously, when it comes to what I did for a living.

    😉

    Hiding all posts from selectable users would not help me much. Some of the most prolific and interesting posters here also seem to take pleasure from games of insult one-upmanship. I would not want to hide all their posts to avoid seeing those games play out.

    I agree it would be ideal to have a comment client that is able to mark sub-threads that are going into the weeds as read. Most Usenet newsreaders have that. I’ve been looking at WordPress plugins off and on today but haven’t found one that is remotely close to that level of functionality.

  23. BruceS: Another one of your prolific and interesting posts.

    Hah. Let me translate this for everybody who might not have got the your irony there, Bruce:

    ‘Prolific’: never-ending stream
    ‘Interesting’: snoresworthy

    ;>}

  24. In loving memory of David M. Raup who helped creationists like Kurt Wise through school and got Kurt a chance to study with Stephen J. Gould at Harvard. Thank you Dave, and thank you for making catastrophism a respectable viewpoint for paleontology:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/16/us/david-m-raup-who-transformed-field-of-paleontology-dies-at-82.html?_r=0

    Dr. Raup’s work opened new avenues in the studies of extinction patterns and biodiversity.

    An audacious theorist widely viewed as among the most singular thinkers in his field — Stephen Jay Gould once referred to him as “the world’s most brilliant paleontologist” — he made his mark in the computer laboratory and in published works rather than in the literal dust of history.

    He never dug up a dinosaur and was the first president of the Paleontological Society, an international professional association founded more than a century ago, never to have formally described a new species in the scientific literature. His ideas, however, helped transform the study of the history of life on earth.

    It is a forgotten fact, Raup was part of IDist Phil Johnson’s Pajaro Dunes conference. 🙂

  25. stcordova: It is a forgotten fact, Raup was part of IDist Phil Johnson’s Pajaro Dunes conference.

    What united the participants (with the possible exception of Raup) was a deep dissatisfaction with neo-Darwinism and its naturalistic philosophical foundation and an interest in scientifically exploring the possibility of design.

    http://www.talkreason.org/articles/HistoryID2.cfm

  26. at least pick up on a previous point as an intro.

    Speaking of bugs bunny and things that relieve our mind from the harsh realities of this cursed Earth…

    For the first time in my life I went to my first baseball game a couple weeks ago to watch my #1 and #2 favorite teams play in Baltimore, the Baltimore Orioles vs. the Washington Nationals. 3 historic cities are near each other, Baltimore Maryland is only 30 minutes north of Washington DC and Washington DC is about 90 minutes north of Richmond Virginia…

    I didn’t realize some parts of Baltimore, particularly the inner harbor is quite beautiful. Like Washington DC, Baltimore has slums sprinkled with oases of beauty.

    Even though Baltimore is 63% black, it seemed almost all the crowd in the stadium were affluent whites. I would not have noticed, but I have an African American in-law who pointed such things out to me which highlights the inequality in the socio-economic demographic that pervades the USA.

    One thing I found is that in affluent circles, people look generally thinner and healthier. I first noticed it when I played in low class casinos vs. high class casinos. There was almost never anyone obese in high class casinos, and they were all so softspoken and well-mannered. In low class casinos the patrons were loud and rowdy, often over weight with lots of drinking and smoking.

    But that observation about obesity was from a small sample size and qualitative. I confirmed the correlation after finding this study:
    http://frac.org/initiatives/hunger-and-obesity/are-low-income-people-at-greater-risk-for-overweight-or-obesity/

    Wages were inversely related to BMI [body mass index] and obesity in a nationally representative sample of more than 6,000 adults – meaning, those with low wages had increased BMI as well as increased chance of being obese (Kim & Leigh, 2010).

    I suppose it is the result of better nutrition and medical care for those who can afford it. Expensive food usually doesn’t need as much processed sugar and fat additives to make it tasty.

    I noticed when I spent more money on quality food, I looked healthier and trimmer without having to work out as much. When I ate quality foods I wasn’t constantly hungry either. That’s just my conjecture as to the correlation of wages to obesity.

    Back to the baseball game, The Orioles were behind most of the game until they tied it up in the 8th inning 2-2, and the 2nd baseman Jonathan Schoop with 2 outs and 2 balls and 2 strikes in the bottom of the 9th inning hits a home run! If that’s the one and only time I go to a live game, that would be the sort of game to attend. It was beautiful to watch and the whole world seemed so happy with everybody screaming, cheering and celebrating.

    Here are the highlights. I was in up in the stands mid way between 1st base and the middle of right field….

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RBTusfm3JZ4

    For a moment the world seemed like a happy wonderful place to live. Then I had to walk back to my car hoping the large crowd would help shield me from the high crime rate of Baltimore after the recent riots. Because of various complications, I was parked away from the stadium, and I had to go down one lonely dark street by myself. I ran!

  27. I was duped by a pretty face in the skeptic community. I thought she told the truth because she looked cute and he didn’t. The lady in question:

    http://karenstollznow.com/aboutme/

    claimed this guy was stalking her:
    http://tinyurl.com/otfhwok

    Turned out, she was sleeping with him!

    Goes to show, even the skeptic community can get played, big time.

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2015/06/02/if-you-promote-a-story-that-turns-out-to-be-false-dont-you-have-an-obligation-to-correct-it/

    http://www.avoiceformen.com/mens-rights/radford-vs-stollznow-tempest-in-the-skeptic-community-ftbullies/

    There was even this pro-Stollznow website that admitted:

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/lousycanuck/2014/03/25/radford-stollznow-defamation-case-what-we-know-and-what-we-can-infer-or-extrapolate-reasonably/

    There’s additionally one very particularly sleazy thing on here — a selfie Radford took of him topless (at least) in bed, with an apparently also topless Stollznow. Radford is grinning widely while Stollznow is shielding her face from the camera with her hand — she evidently didn’t want her picture taken. I’m not sure what he intended to prove with this, but the EXIF data on the image he uploaded conveniently leaves out the timestamp. (It leaves in such details as exposure time, camera model, etc., but “date taken” is all zeros.) It proves that, at one time, they were in a sexual relationship

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