(For last year’s results, see “Uncommon Descent” and “The Skeptical Zone” in 2015)
In 2016, “The Skeptical Zone” (TSZ) overtook “Uncommon Descent” (UD) – at least with regard to the number of comments:
Number of Comments 2005 – 2016
Why are threads that are garnering little to no interest given “Featured” status?
I have a theory.
When my cat takes a dump, he tries to cover it up.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.