Moderation Issues (6)

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.

767 thoughts on “Moderation Issues (6)

  1. keiths:
    keiths:

    J-Mac

    Um, J-Mac — they already did that.It’s what Mung was trying to reverse.

    What are you talking about?
    Your OP publishing rights or your comments awaiting moderation? Sorry if I missed something…

  2. Alan Fox: In the case of disagreement, then a majority view will prevail.

    Yes, and my position was that if the other mods agreed with each other and reversed my actions I would accept it. There were no back and forth battles. For example, after J-Mac was set back to Contributor I didn’t go back and change it back to Author. There was no reason, afiak, to think that I would do any different in the case of keiths.

  3. phoodoo: Can we ALL vote on whether Alan still deserves to be a moderator?

    Sorry to disappoint you phoodoo but it won’t work…. Lizzy doesn’t care about TSZ, so this is doomed to fail…

  4. Mung: Yes, and my position was that if the other mods agreed with each other and reversed my actions I would accept it. There were no back and forth battles. For example, after J-Mac was set back to Contributor I didn’t go back and change it back to Author. There was no reason, afiak, to think that I would do any different in the case of keiths.

    Drop it, Mung! I see no light at the end of the tunnel…
    I’m out…

  5. phoodoo: But if the idea is moderator decisions are a majority vote thing, and the majority is always going to be atheist-biased, so that Alan always gets his way-then what the fuck is the point of a non-atheist moderator?

    I referred to that as the elephant in the room. I raised that but we never got far enough along to discuss it. I would not have been willing to accept a role in which I was only allowed to send posts to Guano, unless that is all the other admins could do as well.

  6. Mung: The astute among you will notice a common thread. For the less astute, they all involved reversing the action of another moderator.

    In more detail, they involved reversing the action of other moderators without first raising it for discussion with those other moderators.

  7. Neil Rickert: In more detail, they involved reversing the action of other moderators without first raising it for discussion with those other moderators.

    And yet you all can overrule Mung’s decisions right? So what’s Mung’s authority-zero right?

  8. J-Mac,

    What are you talking about?
    Your OP publishing rights or your comments awaiting moderation? Sorry if I missed something…

    Both. I was in comment premoderation until February 11th, when Mung removed me. I had Contributor status, in which OPs are held for moderation, until Mung restored me to Author status on March 7th. Given Alan’s apparent temper tantrum and general dickheadedness, it’s likely that he immediately reversed Mung’s action.

    I haven’t tried posting an OP, so I’m not sure either way.

  9. Mung: Yes, and my position was that if the other mods agreed with each other and reversed my actions I would accept it. There were no back and forth battles. For example, after J-Mac was set back to Contributor I didn’t go back and change it back to Author. There was no reason, afiak, to think that I would do any different in the case of keiths.

    Better line than the one keiths suggested you use, imho.

  10. Alan Fox,

    “Neuroscientist. I’ve always thought we were rats in a maze. I’d bet money on it.”

    Based on her list of publications, using this site as an ‘experiment’ seems rather far-fetched, if not simply paranoid delusional of Alan.

    “Lizzie supplies the gold.”

    Does she? What does this site cost to run & who pays for it? If I recall (having taken enough pauses away from this pit of atheism, agnosticism & apatheism) Alan has asked for money donations from users, not unlike Swamidass over at PS (who is up to $22USD per month). Lizzie doesn’t seem to have the ambition of Swamidass to become a ‘fifth voice.’

    Mung was/is by far the best Moderator here.

  11. walto,

    Better line than the one keiths suggested you use, imho.

    I didn’t suggest that Mung use any “line”. I pointed out that what Mung was doing, by restoring me to Author status, was reversing a moderation abuse.

    There is no valid reason for either my comments or my OPs to be held in moderation.

  12. Lizzie’s non-participation is apathy, not acquiescence.

    Moderators should have their own set of rules if there is not areadly a written set:
    Examples: Decisions on individual posts and OPs should be majority rule. Decisions on changes to status from author to contributor or suspending a contributor should be unanimous.

    Moderator diversity is valuable. Unless there was explicit discussion on the current issue with Mung’s active participation, Mung should be re-instated as moderator.

    Given Lizzie’s apathy, we should consider a public process for decisions where the moderators need to be unanimous and they are not. In particular, use a poll to decide whether Keith should be allowed to submit OPs. Any user id who has posted since he was suspended should be allowed to vote (to prevent stuffing the polling box!).

    The moderators should have a private group, eg on Discord or Yahoo, to discuss decisions.

  13. Mung: Yes, and my position was that if the other mods agreed with each other and reversed my actions I would accept it. There were no back and forth battles. For example, after J-Mac was set back to Contributor I didn’t go back and change it back to Author. There was no reason, afiak, to think that I would do any different in the case of keiths.

    Following the disagreement over whether J-Mac should have New Author status (no other admin agrees this is a good idea), my understanding is we discussed the “everybody has contributor status” option and I thought it was agreed on. It was your subsequent action to switch keiths’s status (there was no emergency) without running it by anyone that set off alarm bells in your fellow admins.

    The plan (“all contributors”) I’m suggesting we adopt solves that problem. It is simple and fair. It is inconvenient to those who already have and use publishing permissions and post-editing (there are only eight members in Author category). It creates a little more work for admins but there’s more plus than minus, I think.

    Having heard from you, I’m happy to propose changing your status back to admin and will put that to Neil and DNA-Jock.

  14. BruceS: Examples: Decisions on individual posts and OPs should be majority rule. Decisions on changes to status from author to contributor or suspending a contributor should be unanimous.

    That was under discussion. That can now be resumed.

  15. BruceS: Moderator diversity is valuable. Unless there was explicit discussion on the current issue with Mung’s active participation, Mung should be re-instated as moderator.

    I’m agreeable. I will check with Neil and DNA-Jock for their view.

  16. BruceS: The moderators should have a private group, eg on Discord or Yahoo, to discuss decisions.

    We have a workable back-channel.

  17. BruceS: Given Lizzie’s apathy…

    Well, apathy or not, her absence is an issue for me. There needs to be a solution to this at some point.

  18. Alan Fox: That was under discussion. That can now be resumed.

    Unless you want the whole community to participate, I suggest trying to agree on something in a private group first. Then you can ask for community input.

    To be explicit on my thoughts on LIzzie: her actions say she is willing to pay for the group but does not care how it is run as long as her basic motivations are respected.

    Given that and the need for moderator diversity, I think there is a place for the whole, active community to participate in certain decisions, such as where the moderators need to be unanimous but are not.

  19. BruceS: we should consider a public process for decisions where the moderators need to be unanimous and they are not. In particular, use a poll to decide whether Keith should be allowed to submit OPs. Any user id who has posted since he was suspended should be allowed to vote (to prevent stuffing the polling box!).

    If there’s enthusiasm for this, it can be arranged.

  20. J-Mac:
    Can someone explain it to me how this comment violated the rules?

    http://theskepticalzone.com/wp/guano-3/comment-page-7/#comment-249648

    If this is going to be the “new standards”, because there is no one to object anymore to bias moderators, I think we should probably reconsider more than a vote…

    Drop it. Its not worth it. No light at the end of the tunnel. Let it go. Forget about it. Don’t waste your breath. Nevermind. Water under the bridge. Don’t cry over spilled milk…

    And its still bullshit.

  21. Alan Fox: If there’s enthusiasm for this, it can be arranged.

    There is enthusiasm for you quitting. Its spreading. Give it a try.

    It will be the most popular decision you ever made here Alan.

  22. Alan Fox: Well, apathy or not, her absence is an issue for me. There needs to be a solution to this at some point.

    A second coming?

  23. Mung is a well known troll. What did you guys expect?
    As soon as he got admin rights he started trolling. Surprise!

    I understand there can and will be disagreements between mods, but when someone is essentially overturning every decision made by the rest of the team, without even letting them know let alone arguing for his decision, obvious troll is obvious.

  24. faded_Glory:
    BruceS,

    All this is beginning to sound like the Reformation.

    Who are you casting in the role of Luther?
    On the second coming: I do not know if the moderation function can survive without Lizzie. As I understand it, even Reddit has some central but limited oversight by the owners.

    You can google “reddit moderation controversies” for other experiences.

  25. Alan Fox: If there’s enthusiasm for this, it can be arranged.

    I think there has to be a practical action plan for cases where the moderators cannot agree on something that should be unanimous.

    On Reddit, it seems the moderator who has been in the role the longest can overrule the others (eg by taking away their privileges), But does seem to work in TSZ….

  26. dazz:
    Mung is a well known troll. What did you guys expect?

    It depends on which Mung gets involved in moderator discussions: the “high road” Mung or the “Ace up my sleeve” Mung. I think private discussions might make a more serious role more likely. But that may be a forlorn hope.

  27. BruceS,

    Fortunately I don’t think many people here support your odd preference for secretive moderation.

    Though Alan and Jock certainly would love that.

  28. BruceS: It depends on which Mung gets involved in moderator discussions:the “high road” Mung or the “Ace up my sleeve” Mung.I think private discussions might make a more serious role more likely. But that may be a forlorn hope.

    Well, it doesn’t look like Mung was interested in discussing his decisions back when he made them, and given his track record, I don’t see that changing any time soon

  29. Alan Fox: Following the disagreement over whether J-Mac should have New Author status (no other admin agrees this is a good idea), my understanding is we discussed the “everybody has contributor status” option and I thought it was agreed on.

    You floated the idea to me in a PM on March 1, 2019 at 9:39 am. Then you floated the idea to all the admins on March 1, 2019 at 10:38 am. I responded to both and shared my thougts with you and then the other admins. We never heard from Neil about the proposal.

    From DNA_Jock we heard this:

    More specifically, as Alan noted in the announcement that you reacted to: “The last time moderation was a hot topic here, one of my suggestions was that all members should be on equal level and that should be contributor rather than (new) author, requiring an admin to publish OPs.” I concurred; I think Neil did too.

    Yet clearly no action had been taken back then because some people still had Author. So giving keiths Author could be undone when everyone else was moved to Contributor and he wouldn’t have been singled out for special treatment. I saw it as something yet to be resolved.

    But was that really the issue? Because as I see things the real issue was that I gave keiths Author when there was allegedly an agreement in place to specifically not give keiths Author.

  30. I thought it was a no longer an issue. I was wrong.

    As I wrote to Alan:

    Well, that’s not the way I read things. I thought that he was put in moderation and that once he was no longer in moderation that we had left all that behind.

    I didn’t intend to step on your toes. I didn’t know he was being held there intentionally.

  31. Mung,

    I used to be an optimist. Then there was Trump, then there was Brexit, then there was Spring in Winter.

  32. J-Mac:
    Can someone explain it to me how this comment violated the rules?

    http://theskepticalzone.com/wp/guano-3/comment-page-7/#comment-249648

    If this is going to be the “new standards”, because there is no one to object anymore to bias moderators, I think we should probably reconsider more than a vote…

    I guess nobody wants to take the responsibility for moving this post to guano???

    What’s the point of restoring Mung into the moderator status if he is going to be anxious to go against the 3 other bias moderators?

  33. phoodoo: Drop it.Its not worth it.No light at the end of the tunnel.Let it go.Forget about it.Don’t waste your breath.Nevermind.Water under the bridge.Don’t cry over spilled milk…

    And its still bullshit.

    You are right! It is pointless…
    See my previous post…

  34. J-Mac: I guess nobody wants to take the responsibility for moving this post to guano???

    That was me. Addresses poster, combined with zero content. Sorry, I thought that was obvious.

    What’s the point of restoring Mung into the moderator status if he is going to be anxious to go against the 3 other bias moderators?

    As I understand it, that’s Mung’s reason for viewing that ship as having sailed.

  35. DNA_Jock: That was me. Addresses poster, combined with zero content. Sorry, I thought that was obvious.

    That’s why TSZ has gone to the dogs… I’m not going to pinpoint ( I could) the specific “contributors” who do ONLY that… and to mainly to me…

    When there are 3 bias moderators like you against one who was trying to change something and got suspended for it, there is just no way this blog is ever going to be even close to being fair…
    I know you don’t want to understand it and you don’t to see the obvious just like your Neil and Alan chose to…

  36. J-Mac,
    You’re perfectly entitled to resubmit the comment without impugning another member’s abilities

  37. dazz: Well, it doesn’t look like Mung was interested in discussing his decisions back when he made them, and given his track record, I don’t see that changing any time soon

    I do not know all the facts. I hope that at least the moderators can agree on the facts. But unlike the hope expressed in the site rules, I don’t think that agreement on facts will necessarily lead to agreement on action.

    Lacking Lizzie for final appeal by her active participation, and assuming certain moderators’ decisions should be unanimous, then all I can see as a way to respond to that possible outcome is to let the members vote. I don’t like that solution, but I think it is best of a bad lot.

    If it comes to that solution, I hope the moderators can at least agree on a timeline, on what information was exchanged and seen by all moderators, and can provide that data for consideration of site members who want to vote on next steps.

  38. If TSZ were a representative democracy, then

    Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays, instead of serving you, if he sacrifices it to your opinion.

    but it isn’t.
    I would also note that two English-speaking democracies are currently engaged in a race to demonstrate how NOT to govern. If you get my drift.
    Here, it’s still a dictatorship.

  39. Bruce:

    Moderators should have their own set of rules if there is not areadly a written set:

    And they should stop pretending that the existing rules don’t apply to them.

    In particular, use a poll to decide whether Keith should be allowed to submit OPs.

    Using voting to censor members is a terrible idea. Lizzie did not want censorship here, and she did not want TSZ to become an echo chamber in which the majority could silence the minority.

    The moderators should have a private group, eg on Discord or Yahoo, to discuss decisions.

    That’s also a bad idea. Moderation decisions affect all of us, and so deliberations should be public.

    Like walto, I’m mystified by your distaste for transparency. We’ve seen some egregious abuses of moderator power here at TSZ, and the last thing we should do is to encourage more abuse by allowing moderators to hide behind a veil of secrecy.

    Louis Brandeis famously remarked that sunlight is the best disinfectant. The temptation to abuse moderator privileges is lessened when the moderators know that their actions and deliberations will be seen by the readers and can be challenged by them.

  40. A dictatorship by ‘skeptics’, i.e. atheists, agnostics & apatheists.

    That’s why a few years back I called it TAMSZ – the atheist miserable skeptical zone, after one of the many anti-theists here had just demonstrated the misery in their godless worldview. Not much has changed since then. Mung can’t outvote the 3 atheist, agnostic, apatheists when all boils down.

    At least the baseline at PS is a kind of naive non-mainstream evangelicalism with their host a competent natural scientist who isn’t a YECist. PS is far more inspiring than here (& uses better forum software, which it copied from BioLogos). That’s pretty much not something worthwhile to debate here as it’s just obvious.

  41. More on the issue of transparency and moderator powers.

    We have three moderators — Alan, Neil, and DNA_Jock — whose conduct in the 30-day suspension debacle was so extreme and so abusive that a former moderator, Patrick, felt compelled to intervene and has called for their ouster.

    Alan’s conduct in the ALurker affair was so bad that no one here was willing to defend it. Neil, of course, didn’t challenge Alan’s abuses. (Jock wasn’t yet a moderator at that time.)

    When you have moderators like this, the last thing you should do is grant them more powers or allow them to hide their actions and deliberations.

  42. phoodoo, to BruceS:

    Fortunately I don’t think many people here support your odd preference for secretive moderation.

    Though Alan and Jock certainly would love that.

    So would Neil. He has a long track record of refusing to discuss his moderation decisions.

  43. Alan,

    The plan (“all contributors”) I’m suggesting we adopt solves that problem. It is simple and fair. It is inconvenient to those who already have and use publishing permissions and post-editing (there are only eight members in Author category). It creates a little more work for admins but there’s more plus than minus, I think.

    You and Neil created the problem in the first place by singling out J-Mac, despite the fact that he had violated no rules and despite the fact that a better solution was (and still is) on the table.

    The problem was that J-Mac was posting too many OPs and filling up the home page. Not against the rules, but annoying. Walto suggested a rate-limit scheme, whereby all commenters would be subject to a limit on how many OPs they could publish in a given time frame. That scheme was supported by a number of people, including Neil, but then Neil quietly changed his mind while refusing to say why.

    The rate-limit scheme is superior to the one you’re proposing:

    1. Posters would not have to wait for a moderator to show up and publish their OPs.

    2. It would create far less work for the moderators.

    3. It gives the moderators less power, which is important given their track record of abuses.

    ETA: For those who missed the discussion of the rate-limit proposal, the idea was that OPs would not be held up unless the poster had violated the rate limit. Once that happened, they would be reduced to Contributor status (perhaps after a warning).

  44. keiths,

    I have the best ideas!!

    (BTW, I too like that Brandeis quote, and I think that jock should be striving to make the place more democratic than the US and England, not less. I mean, dictatorship is easy.)

  45. As an aside from the current discussion I don’t know if anyone else is having the following problem I am experiencing. When I compose and hit ‘post comment’ nothing changes. then when I hit ‘post comment’ a second time I get a ‘you already said that’ message. I can only view the new comment as being posted is by exiting the thread, refreshing the thread (post shows up as posted) then I can reenter the thread and view the comment.

    Any suggestions as to what might be going on? Previously, when I hit ‘post comment’ the thread ‘reloads’ and shows the new comment ‘real time’.

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