Wanted penguin briefly sighted

Hi all!

Not all of you know me, and some may be agnostic with regard to my existence, alizziest even, but I do exist and I’m so sorry I’ve been an absentee landlord for so long!  Life got impossibly difficult, and I’ve been barely keeping my head above water for quite a while!

However, light is definitely visible at the end of the tunnel, and I have good (belated) news which his that Vincent Torley and DNA_jock have kindly agreed to join the admin team at TSZ.  Thanks so much, Vincent and DNA_jock!

And I do hope to join them as a no-longer-sleeping partner before the year is out at least!  Semi-retirement from my full-time job should commence on 1st November, at which point I hope to get my life back!

TSZ – The Future

Dr Elizabeth Liddle conceived, created and grew this website to the success it is today. It was a new idea. Many other sites can be found where a particular worldview is being promoted or a particular sphere of interest draws people of like interest. TSZ was intended to address the problem that Lizzie saw first-hand at other sites I and many others watched her participate in. Her being turfed from one well-known ID blog was partly the catalyst to trigger this venture. Continue reading

“Uncommon Descent” and “The Skeptical Zone” in 2016

(For last year’s results, see “Uncommon Descent” and “The Skeptical Zone” in 2015)

Fig 1

In 2016, “The Skeptical Zone” (TSZ) overtook “Uncommon Descent” (UD) – at least with regard to the number of comments:

Number of Comments 2005 – 2016

year 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
UD 41,400 28,400 42,500 53,700 53,100 28,000
TSZ 2,200 15,100 16,900 20,400 45,200 54,200

Continue reading

Meta-threads

I have closed comments on two recent threads, The War Against Barry A. by Mung, and Barry Arrington’s Bullying, by stcordova.

I am more than happy for people to discuss here views expressed in OP’s at Uncommon Descent, not least because one of the functions this site serves is a place in which people can continue conversations started at UD, or discuss issues raised at UD, if they are banned at UD.  However, I do not want it to dominated by discussions of the rights and wrongs of UD moderation policy.  UD is Barry’s site and he is entitled to select who posts and what is posted there.  We have a different set of policies here, and so a different style of discussion.

The War Against Barry A.

Salvador Cordova recently posted in Noyau the contents of a private email he received from Barry.

Administrator Neil Rickert thanks Salvador for posting it and suggests an OP.

Administrator Alan Fox suggests an OP.

Administrator and site owner Elizabeth Liddle suggests an OP.

None of them call into question the wisdom of posting the contents of private emails on the site.

Extremely poor judgment by them all.

Continue reading

Rule edits

I made some minor edits to the rule page. The “Address the post not the poster” rule now reads:

Address the content of the post, not the perceived failings of the poster. [purple text added 28th November 2015]

  • This means that accusing others of ignorance or stupidity is off topic
  • As is implying that other posters are mentally ill or demented.

And for guidance I also added text from an excellent post by Reciprocating Bill:

Participation at this site entails obligations similar to those that attend playing a game. While there is no objective moral obligation to answer questions, the site has aims, rules and informal stakeholders, just as football has same. When violations of those aims and rules are perceived and/or the enforcement of same is seen as arbitrary or inconsistent, differences and conflicts arise. No resort to objective morality, yet perfectly comprehensible and appropriate opprobrium.

 

Moderation at TSZ, part 1

Gathering my thoughts on moderation at TSZ, I found that I really have two OPs to write: one discussing the effects of rules and moderation at TSZ, and another exploring why the moderation — particularly the Guano-related stuff — has those effects. The second topic is by far the more interesting, but it’s the first topic that has the most practical import, so I’ll address it now.

In a nutshell: We’ve already experimented with different levels of moderation at TSZ, and the results are in. Less moderation works better.

Continue reading

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. Continue reading

Permissions

Apologies to anyone who tried to post an OP or send a PM over night and couldn’t.  Permissions are restored.

I was trying to set up a means for the admins to confer together on site rather than singly by PM  or by email, as a result, set the cat among the pigeon (skua among the penguins?) by first of all making a “password protected” page for the admins, new comments to which appeared in the “new comments” list, arousing great alarm, and in any case turned out to be visible from the dashboard.  So I tried another WP option which was to make it a “private” page, but people could still see it from the dashboard.  So I switched off that.  But then people couldn’r post OPs or receive PMs.  So I’ve restored it again.  We will keep the “private” admin page, but for those curious about it, you will find you can access its comments via the dashboard.   Which is fine by me – it wasn’t like we wanted to plot anything anyway, just have a means of conferring about stuff (security issues, strategies, plug-ins, rules etc) between our selves.  So this seems a good solution.  Nobody need get paranoid because they can always check the record, but it won’t be a prominent feature of the site.

The Rules of the TSZ Game

As we have some newcomers, and some new-oldcomers (including me!) I thought I’d just draw everyone’s attention to the Rules of the Game at TSZ.  They are written here and updated from time to time, but I have also pasted them below.  We do try not to be heavy-handed with them, and to be as equitable as is humanly possible, but we will make judgements that you disagree with, possibly with good reason.  The good news is that you can discuss these in Moderation Issues, and that, with the exception of a very narrow and specific range of material, posts will only be moved, not deleted.  Moving a post because it contravenes a rule does NOT imply ANY kind of moral judgment on the post.  A post can be morally justified yet contravene the rules, and can be morally indefensible yet remain within it.  The rules are entirely orthogonal to morality, and when we ask you to “assume all other posters are posting in good faith” we do not require that you believe it, any more than the assumption of innocence until proven guilty requires belief in a person’s innocence.That is why I call them “Game rules”.  They are simply the rules of the discussion game as played here at TSZ.  We also have the Sandbox for off-topic scrapping that is getting in the way of discussion, or even off-topic chat about fun stuff.

Continue reading

Putting a few things straight….

Apologies for absence (which will continue a little longer, but the end is in sight) – I am just catching up with things here.

First of all, I’d like to confirm for both regulars and occasional readers that the policy of this site is not to delete comments (apart from commercial spam).  They can be moved, but remain visible.  The only content that is redacted is content that is NSFW or malware links.

Similarly, the only grounds for banning (again apart from commercial spammers) are posting NSFW content or malware links.

If you have author rights here, you will find you have the technical ability to temporarily delete comments, but please do not do so.  Thanks to those who restored the deleted comments, and thanks to KN for his graciousness over this matter.

To some of those at UD who have commented on Barry’s thread claiming he was “effectively banned” here:

  • No, he was not, although it may have seemed like it at the time, and I have now given him the permissions to post an OP if he would like.
  • The strapline to this blog is addressed to all who post here, including me.  I have always liked that line from Cromwell, and it is a core principle of this site, however difficult to adhere to.
  • We are not a “bunch of atheists”.  A lot of us are opponents of the Intelligent Design movement, but not all, and of those of us who are, not all of us oppose all aspects of Intelligent Design as a concept.  Also of those who are opponents of Intelligent Design, not all are atheists. And of those who are, at least some of us have come to that position via a long and thoughtful, sometimes painful, road.
  • Finally: anyone from UD is welcome to post here, and while the default registration is “subscriber”, author permissions can be given on request.

 

Charity and desserts

The game rules of this site are “assume other posters are posting in good faith”.  This applies whether or the assumption is valid.  The reason for this rule is that I set up this site to be a place where we could get past arguments about motivation and down to the nitty gritty of whether an argument actually makes sense, or is supported by evidence.

Things get a little tricky when it comes to perfectly valid topics like church-state separation, or other topics with a political dimension, for example anthropogenic climate change.  But I want to make it clear to all readers that the game rules for this site are simply: for the purposes of debate here, assume other posters are posting in good faith.  You do not have to assume that people are acting in good faith when they are acting as public figures, or elsewhere, but you do have to assume it when they are posting here.

So, no, I don’t think ID proponents “deserve” charity, nor do “Darwinists”.  I don’t think that anyone “deserves” charity.  I think charity is a good thing, but I think it is orthogonal to what anyone “deserves”.  It is also irrelevant to the rules of this site, where the assumption that other posters are posting in good faith is simply a rule that applies irrespective of who the other poster is, or what anyone thinks they “deserve”.