Moderation Issues (5)

Please use this thread for (and only for) alerting admins to moderation issues and for raising complaints arising from particular decisions. We remind participants that TSZ is a benign dictatorship, the property of Dr. Elizabeth Liddle. All decisions regarding policy and implementation are hers alone.

686 thoughts on “Moderation Issues (5)

  1. DNA_Jock,

    Don’t worry about it. Given that Mung has just mentioned Jonathan Bartlett, and that you, if I recall correctly, have stood up for Mendel’s Accountant, I’ll ask whether you’re a YEC.

  2. Honest and dishonest are well established conventions when discussing arguments. Equivocation is one form of dishonest argument.

  3. Tom, to DNA_Jock:

    Don’t worry about it. Given that Mung has just mentioned Jonathan Bartlett, and that you, if I recall correctly, have stood up for Mendel’s Accountant, I’ll ask whether you’re a YEC.

    WTF?

    Jock is neither a YEC nor even an IDer, Tom. As for defending Mendel’s Accountant, perhaps you’re thinking of JoeCoder?

  4. keiths, to Alan:

    Here’s hoping that they [vjtorley and DNA_Jock] do all the things that you and Neil have failed to do, and:

    a) moderate honestly;
    b) moderate very lightly, as Lizzie has asked;
    c) moderate within the rules, and refrain from inventing their own;
    d) refrain from censorship;
    e) consider the consequences of their decisions before acting;
    f) act (as moderators) in the service of TSZ’s interests, not their own;
    g) refrain from indulging personal grudges in their capacity as moderators;
    h) respond constructively to questions about their moderation decisions;
    i) acknowledge any moderation mistakes they make and correct them; and
    j) refrain from abusing their moderation privileges.

    May it be thus. Amen.

    vjtorley responded:

    Your ten-point request sounds reasonable enough to me. I hope I can honor it to everyone’s satisfaction. Cheers.

    What about you, DNA_Jock?

  5. petrushka:

    Honest and dishonest are well established conventions when discussing arguments. Equivocation is one form of dishonest argument.

    What is a “dishonest argument” if not “an argument made dishonestly”?

    And to accuse someone of presenting an argument dishonestly is, of course, to accuse them of dishonesty.

    Even in a case where it is obviously true, the rules prohibit this. Instead, they require us to assume something we believe is false — that it’s a most a mistake, not intentional dishonesty. It’s a ridiculous requirement on a site devoted to skepticism.

    To punish people for speaking the truth, and to reward people for dishonesty, is exactly what a skeptical site should not do.

  6. keiths,

    I refer you to Article VI section 3.
    But for the sake of clarity, I will note that I reject [c] and decline to make a generalized commitment re [h].

  7. keiths:
    Ha.Why am I not surprised?

    That’s a pretty inauspicious start, Jock.

    “Déjà vu is the feeling that the situation currently being experienced has already been experienced in the past. Déjà vu is a feeling of familiarity.”

  8. DNA_Jock: I refer you to Article VI section 3.
    But for the sake of clarity, I will note that I reject [c] and decline to make a generalized commitment re [h].

    “Sometimes, however, the negative consequences of a decision are so clear and undeniable, and the usual defensive dismissals so patently inadequate that we cannot avoid private and public acceptance of responsibility for a bad choice.”

  9. Reading again, (h) obvioiusly is too general for anybody to sensibly commit to. Suppose the question is, “You were kicking your kid when you quanoed me, right? Wasn’t this some kind of weird projection thing?”

    IOW, Why doesn’t the question have to be sensible to deserve a “constructive” response? E.g., a lot of keiths’ have been of the form, “Why not just admit you’re a liar, Alan?” What sort of response does that actually deserve?

  10. walto: E.g., a lot of keiths’ have been of the form, “Why not just admit you’re a liar, Alan?” What sort of response does that actually deserve?

    What it deserves, is being banned. However, the site rules do not allow banning for such offenses, so our hands are tied.

  11. In other words, “How dare someone criticize a moderator’s dishonesty. He should be banned!”

    Circle the wagons, Neil.

  12. walto,

    “Respond constructively” gives some scope for moderator judgment.

    A constructive response to your question…

    Suppose the question is, “You were kicking your kid when you quanoed me, right? Wasn’t this some kind of weird projection thing?”

    …would be to say “that question is irrelevant”.

    On the other hand, questions like “Why was that comment guanoed?” deserve an answer.

    Anyone who is unwilling to answer such questions does not belong in the moderator’s role.

  13. Please use this thread for (and only for) alerting admins to moderation issues and for raising complaints arising from particular decisions.

    How is that working out?

    I repeatedly asked Elizabeth to reserve this thread for moderation issues and she repeatedly refused to do so.

  14. Hi everyone,

    I notice that on the Rules page, the following rules are listed:

    Assume all other posters are posting in good faith.

    Address the content of the post, not the perceived failings of the poster.

    Now, one might legitimately argue about whether these rules are always reasonable, just as one might argue about whether an infraction of these rules necessarily warrants the offending comment being guanoed. However, my own opinion is that so long as the rules are in force, they should be observed, as a matter of basic courtesy.

    I would also agree that when and if a comment is guanoed, the reason should be publicly disclosed, up-front. That seems only fair to me.

    Thoughts?

  15. vjtorley:

    Now, one might legitimately argue about whether these rules are always reasonable, just as one might argue about whether an infraction of these rules necessarily warrants the offending comment being guanoed.

    Vincent,

    The majority of rule-violating comments are not guanoed, for the simple reason that there are too many of them. TSZ would be a wreck if they were all guanoed. Heavy moderation is antithetical to the site goal of promoting free and open discussion of controversial issues.

    Lizzie leaves it to the moderators to decide whether to guano any particular rule-violating comment, and urges them to keep the moderation light. While this avoids the problem of flooding Guano with comments, it has an unfortunate side effect: the real rules — the ones that actually determine whether a comment is guanoed — are in the heads of the moderators, usually unstated, and not on the Rules page.

  16. vjtorley: Thoughts?

    Dr Liddle’s prime motive, often stated in different threads and comments, was to try to create and sustain a venue where discussions across a wide difference of view could take place “without rancour”. I see it as a “Field of Dreams” idea, she built it so people could come. She intended it to be inclusive, not a club for a particular viewpoint.

    Here, she says:

    My motivation for starting the site has been the experience of trying to discuss religion, politics, evolution, the Mind/Brain problem, creationism, ethics, exit polls, probability, intelligent design, and many other topics in venues where positions are strongly held and feelings run high. In most venues, one view dominates, and there is a kind of “resident prior” about the integrity, intelligence and motivation of those who differ from the majority view.

    That is why the strapline says: “Park your priors by the door”. They may be adjusted by the time you leave!

    Hence the aim that members are encouraged to attack and question ideas but should refrain from attacking the motives and integrity of fellow members. The aim is to encourage and facilitate discussion, not to prevent it. The rules are important only insofar as they support the primary aim.

    BTW, Lizzie, though still very busy, can usually be relied on to respond to clarification regarding a rule or its interpretation. (She responded quickly regarding a couple of racist comments – there was previously no specific rule on racism, now there is.)

  17. Alan,

    Dr Liddle’s prime motive, often stated in different threads and comments, was to try to create and sustain a venue where discussions across a wide difference of view could take place “without rancour”.

    No, and in fact she has stated that she never intended for TSZ to be a particularly polite site.

    I’ve pointed this out before, but you keep projecting your own wishes onto Lizzie. It’s one of the reasons you were such a poor moderator (and such a fish out of water here generally).

  18. Perhaps Alan has had conversations with Elizabeth that keiths is not privy to.

    Nah, that can’t be it.

  19. keiths:
    Alan,

    No

    Yes.

    …and in fact she has stated that she never intended for TSZ to be a particularly polite site.

    Politeness is not at issue. But while I recall her comment, it doesn’t contradict what I’ve written. You’re welcome to link to it if you think it does.

    I’ve pointed this out before, but you keep projecting your own wishes onto Lizzie. It’s one of the reasons you were such a poor moderator (and such a fish out of water here generally).

    Well, as it’s Lizzie’s site it is her choices regarding rules etc. that will pertain. Pointless, I guess, to tell you again that if you are unhappy with how Lizzie set out her aims, stated her rules or chose her fellow admins, you should take it up with her. Or better yet, show us all how it is done and set up your own site.

  20. keiths to Elizabeth:

    Alan Fox claims that your prime motive, which you (according to Alan) often stated in different threads and comments, was to try to create and sustain a venue where discussions across a wide difference of view could take place “without rancour”. Is this in fact true, or is Alan just lying to us.

    I can’t wait to see him publish her response.

  21. keiths:

    Alan,

    Dr Liddle’s prime motive, often stated in different threads and comments, was to try to create and sustain a venue where discussions across a wide difference of view could take place “without rancour”.

    No, and in fact she has stated that she never intended for TSZ to be a particularly polite site.

    I’ve pointed this out before, but you keep projecting your own wishes onto Lizzie. It’s one of the reasons you were such a poor moderator (and such a fish out of water here generally).

    About this site:

    My name is Elizabeth Liddle, and I started this site to be a place where people could discuss controversial positions about life, the universe and everything with minimal tribal rancour (pay no attention to the penguins….)

    Which I alluded to in my conversation with walto.
    Nobody got my Boomtown Rats or Pixie’s allusions either, sniff.

    ETA: I note that Alan did provide a link to the “About this site” page when he quoted from it above.

  22. Worth a repost:

    Alan,

    Seconding Patrick, there would be no need for moderators, rules, moderation threads etc if members could just manage to exchange views without rancour.

    Yet when controversial issues are discussed, rancor tends to follow, because people are people. That includes you, Alan.

    Don’t forget that your own ethical lapses — including the false accusations you made against me several months ago, which were followed by your admission that you have a lying problem — are often fueled by rancor.

    Lizzie wants real, imperfect people, including you, to be able to comment here, so she doesn’t demand rancor-free discussions or pretend that they are a realistic expectation.

    You tend to project your wishes onto Lizzie rather than listening to her. She has stated more than once that she doesn’t want TSZ to be a particularly polite place. The rules aren’t intended to eliminate rancor (nor could they). They are intended to keep substantive discussions from degrading into substanceless flamefests.

    When you volunteered for moderator duty, you agreed to moderate within the boundaries set by Lizzie’s rules. You are acting as a proxy for her. This is her website, not yours. Try to keep your own unhelpful wishes and desires out of your moderation decisions and things will go much more smoothly.

    Stick to Lizzie’s rules instead of inventing your own.

  23. DNA_Jock,

    Here are the rules:

    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.

    There is not need to differentiate an insult from an ad hominem as both fall under the rules.

  24. colewd,

    Oh, that’s why you wanted to move the conversation to this thread.

    I am going to take your statement as an acknowledgement that the commenters here have not been indulging in ad hominem, but rather insults.
    So you appear to concede that my statement on the Ubiquitin thread that there was no ad hominem, was, in fact, correct. As was my statement about gpuccio’s math error.
    Good.
    Now, to address your moderation concern “both insults and ad hominems are against the rules”.
    You are absolutely correct, when they are addressed to commenters at TSZ. So you are protected, but gpuccio is not.
    You seem to have forgotten, Bill, but we’ve been over this before.

  25. DNA_Jock,

    So you appear to concede that my statement on the Ubiquitin thread that there was no ad hominem, was, in fact, correct. As was my statement about gpuccio’s math error.
    Good.

    I will concede the ad hominem claim was not correct. As far as the fantom math error, no. Gpuccio’s math was fine.

  26. DNA_Jock,

    You seem to have forgotten, Bill, but we’ve been over this before.

    I understand these are the rules. Is there any good reason to treat gpuccio differently?

  27. colewd: I understand these are the rules. Is there any good reason to treat gpuccio differently?

    No, there is not.
    I think that if an individual conducted an ‘over-the-wall’ conversation with TSZ in an honest manner, avoiding misrepresenting the posters here, then such a poster should receive the ‘protection’ afforded to people who do comment at TSZ. But since gpuccio has not behaved in that manner, there is not any good reason to treat him differently.

  28. I see Jock has already started making up his own interpretation of the rules. That’s good.

    Let me offer an alternative viewpoint. The site rules clearly set the precedent for applying the standards of this site regardless of where the person is posting.

    For example:

    Don’t use this site to try to “out” other internet denizens or indulge in ad hominem speculations.

    There’s no rule that states the person must be actively posting here at TSZ.

    Now this would all be moot if we were adhering to the rules in the first place:

    Do not use turn this site into as a peanut gallery for observing the antics on other boards.

    Ta

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