Moderation Issues (1)

cropped-adelie-penguin-antarctica_89655_990x7421.jpgAs the original Moderation page has developed a bug so that permalinks no longer navigate to the appropriate comment, I thought I’d put up a page for continuing discussion on moderating issues. The Rules can be found there so anyone with an issue should check that they are familiar with them.

26th June 2015: the bug has now affected this page so there is now a new Moderation Issues page here.

1,099 thoughts on “Moderation Issues (1)

  1. Patrick,

    lmao! awesome!

    For what it’s worth, probably not much, I found myself agreeing with a lot of what you had to say in this thread.

    If you’re still willing to work within the system I congratulate you. I think it’s corrupt beyond measure. But really, who is to blame if not the people who let it happen.

    We get what we deserve.

  2. Reciprocating Bill: I take responsibility for what I write. If what I write doesn’t express my intended meaning well, resulting in misunderstanding, I take responsibility for causing that misunderstanding.

    Whether or not I was responsible for keiths misunderstanding due to my choice of phrasings is 100% irrelevant to the point that keiths kept insisting on the wrong meaning even after I corrected him.

    But, you don’t seem to care about that. Just like you apparently didn’t care about finding out who actually instigated the uncivil behavior. It seems you just wanted to find a narrative that made me the bad guy and excused keiths quote-mining, and you didn’t let any pesky facts get in the way.

  3. WJM, it is simply incumbent upon you to ensure that nothing you say can possibly be misinterpreted or quote mined. If it can be misinterpreted or quote mined, it will be misinterpreted or quote mined, and it will be your fault.

    The sooner you admit that any misunderstanding is your own fault, the sooner we can get back to a “discussion.” Whatever that means.

  4. William,

    Why not use your mind powers to change the past and eliminate your embarrassing mistake? Let me quote someone:

    Infinite means infinite; you’re either manufacturing the universe out of quantum potential, or you’re a victim. Quit finding ways of clinging on to your victim status. Quit finding ways of subverting your authorship capacity. Quit making excuses and rationalizations. What you see and experience is what your mind is manufacturing out of infinite quantum potential. There are no limiting factors. There is no group effort required. We stand on an infinitely broad and deep field of potential, and it is you, and I, alone, that is generating our respective realities.

    How about it, William? Quit finding ways of subverting your authorship capacity. Quit making excuses and rationalizations. Quit clinging to your victim status. Get off your ass and use your mind powers to change the past.

    We’re waiting…and laughing.

  5. WJM:

    “Whether or not I was responsible for keiths misunderstanding due to my choice of phrasings…”

    You’re almost there. Take that last step. “I was responsible for keiths (initial) misunderstanding due to my choice of phrasings.” It’s not the crime of the century.

    “… is 100% irrelevant to the point that keiths kept insisting on the wrong meaning even after I corrected him.”

    Apparently, he doesn’t believe your correction. If that is accurate, his offense can’t exemplify quote mining (using a quote in an effort to deliberately misrepresent communicative intentions) because he continues to believe that your original post accurately conveyed your intended meaning. What you should object to is his uncharitably declining to assume that you were posting in good faith when you offered your correction.

    It seems you just wanted to find a narrative that made me the bad guy and excused keiths quote-mining, and you didn’t let any pesky facts get in the way.

    I reported my intention to be a fair reader, but you didn’t like my reading. Rather than take any of it on board (I still think it fair) you chose to disbelieve my stated intention, and rather to assert that I harbor more malicious intentions.

    IOW, you don’t believe I’m posting in good faith. I’m not objecting to that – I don’t really care. But since that is Keiths ‘offense,’ your best option now is to quit whining.

  6. Getting a quick chance to look in I see there is rather a lot to pick up on so it will have to wait till this evening. This did catch my eye

    keiths:
    Also, I see that you deleted a comment:

    It was not hard to spot, was it.

    Comments should never be deleted here, including your own — even if you are embarrassed by them.

    I can’t prove to you that there was nothing I wrote that that I found embarrassing but maybe it is still around in someone’s feed reader and anyone who cares enough is welcome to copy and post it. I don’t use them and I didn’t keep a copy.

    Immediately after posting, I read it through, as I do with all my comments after posting for typos, and decided it only repeated points I’d made elsewhere. So I deleted it (within a minute or two of having posted it), as it did seem rather whiney, leaving the explanation for the very reason that someone who has the record on a feed might wonder why it had just disappeared.

    For a moderator to do this sets an especially bad precedent.

    Well, I hear what you say. I’ll address the substantive issues when I have more time.

  7. Reciprocating Bill:
    WJM:

    I take responsibility for what I write. If what I write doesn’t express my intended meaning well, resulting in misunderstanding, I take responsibility for causing that misunderstanding.

    It may be a passive-aggressive Britishism, but my own ingrained habit when someone misunderstands me is: “let me clarify what I meant..,”

  8. It’s a shame to see so many intelligent people waste their time with bickering, and bickering over bickering, and bickering over what has to be done about bickering over bickering…..

    All that time could have been spent on researching, composing interesting OP’s, writing comments….or just having a life outside the Internet.

    Just saying…

    fG

  9. Elizabeth:
    We do have an edit window.Maybe I should modify that rule

    Oh dear, I should’ve read that!

    If you have author permissions, and post an OP, you may find you have the technical ability to edit comments to your post, and move them. Please do not do so. Rule violating posts will be moved by moderators, and it is a principle of this site that comments are not edited, deleted, or hidden.

    I read that as implying “other people’s comments”. So it might be worth indicating whether this rules* applies even to one’s own comments. My posts and comments would be a mess if no post-editing were allowed. I thought deleting a comment of my own that I considered superfluous would be acceptable as it was almost immediately upon checking it for errors, well within the time window set for post-editing. Is there a need to consider reducing the post-edit window from the current 1 hour limit?

    ETA *typo! 🙁

  10. Alan Fox: I can’t prove to you that there was nothing I wrote that that I found embarrassing but maybe it is still around in someone’s feed reader and anyone who cares enough is welcome to copy and post it. I don’t use them and I didn’t keep a copy.

    It seems that my feed reader (akregator) has the same version as the site. It does update its copy of a post when the original is updated. At present TSZ is set to present the most recent 20 comments as a feed. Akregator will continue to update a comment that is still within that most recent 20. Once it drops out of the list of presented items, it will no longer be update.

    Of course a completely deleted comment (rather than deleted contents) will immediately drop out of the list of presented items, so my copy will be frozen to what it was before that deletion. Eventually it expires (I have that set to 30 days).

  11. RB said:

    You’re almost there. Take that last step. “I was responsible for keiths (initial) misunderstanding due to my choice of phrasings.” It’s not the crime of the century.

    I’m not almost anywhere, RB. I corrected keiths misunderstanding. You apparently share keiths egomaniacal need for other people to “admit” they were the “cause” of a misunderstanding. My point here is that even if you were right, it’s entirely irrelevant to the point.

    Apparently, he doesn’t believe your correction. If that is accurate, his offense can’t exemplify quote mining (using a quote in an effort to deliberately misrepresent communicative intentions) because he continues to believe that your original post accurately conveyed your intended meaning.

    This would mean a couple of things.

    First, he would be explicitly implying that I am lying about what I meant. That’s not debating in good faith or under charitable rules (debating as if your opponent is sincere).

    Second, as long as creationists insist that an evolutionary biologist “meant” what they think he/she meant in a quote,even over the correction of the author of the quote, it’s not quote-mining. Therefore you and others here would have no grounds to claim anyone in the ID or creationist camps are “quote-mining” as long as they insist that the author meant what they think he/she meant, even after being corrected by the author.

    Is that your position?

    I reported my intention to be a fair reader, but you didn’t like my reading. Rather than take any of it on board (I still think it fair) you chose to disbelieve my stated intention, and rather to assert that I harbor more malicious intentions.

    Oh good grief. Really? Have you been reading this entire thread? I’m operating under the assumption here, in this “moderation” thread, that the rules of good faith argument and not attacking the poster have been suspended or don’t apply since Alan and EL are apparently letting anything go on here without removal to guano.

    So no, I don’t think keiths or Omagain or some others here argue in good faith, and while it may only be a subconscious bias affecting your interpretation/narrative (which is I use the phrase “it seems…” when addressing your motives in particular), I think your reading and reasoning here is skewed to protect your own. In other threads and other arguments, you seem adequately capable of good faith arguments and decent reasoning skills.

    I stand by my record in other threads of posting civilly and in good faith and sincerity, and debating as if the other person is arguing in good faith. Where it is obvious they are not, I generally don’t even participate. I’m not perfect in that regard, but I put my history here of abiding the rules and operating under the assumption of good faith (in normal threads) up against anyone’s.

    In the other threads I at least act like it, and police my responses in alignment with the policies and preferences outlined in the rules – and it is in the normal policy-bound threads where keith’s offenses have occurred.

    Nice try, though, at providing cover, hypocrite.

  12. William J. Murray: So no, I don’t think keiths or Omagain or some others here argue in good faith,

    That’s against the rules buddy. In any case, can’t you just believe that we are instead? Problem solved! As the only reality is the reality you believe exists, why not just believe us into arguing in good faith?

  13. faded_Glory:

    It’s a shame to see so many intelligent people waste their time with bickering, and bickering over bickering, and bickering over what has to be done about bickering over bickering…..

    All that time could have been spent on researching, composing interesting OP’s, writing comments….

    Indeed, and it shows why increased moderation is a bad idea. Moderation generates “metamoderation”, and we end up with more off-topic stuff, not less. As Patrick put it to Lizzie:

    It’s your site and your rules, but I’d rather have to scroll past comments I don’t want to read than fill the site with meta arguments about unfair moderation.

    The rules were intended to keep discussions focused on the issues, but in practice they’ve done the opposite.

  14. Omagain said:

    That’s against the rules buddy.

    Thinking it isn’t against the rules.

    Alan, EL: it’s my view that in this thread, that which would normally be moved to Guano is not, and so the normal rules that apply to other debate threads are not being observed here (besides posting porn and outing the real names of other posters) . That view is based on the fact that many, many blatant transgressions of the “assumption of good faith” and “don’t attack the poster” rules in this thread are not being moved to guano.

    Is this a correct assumption?

  15. I think a shorter edit window is appropriate. People should read their comments immediately after posting, and fixing typos or correcting formatting errors should take a few minutes at most.

    The biggest problem isn’t the length of the window but its abuse. The edit window is for cosmetic fixes, not substantive alterations (or even worse, deletions).

    You might ask what difference it makes. People can edit their comments before posting, after all, so what difference does it really make if they do so afterwards?

    The answer is that it makes a huge difference. The moment you click ‘Post’, your comment becomes visible and someone may read it and begin responding to it. It is part of the record and only non-substantive, cosmetic changes are appropriate at that point.

    Most people are pretty good about this, but we have a few repeat offenders.

    On their screens, perhaps the text on the ‘Post Comment’ button should say instead:

    I accept responsibility for this comment as it is.

  16. William, to Alan and Lizzie:

    it’s my view that in this thread, that which would normally be moved to Guano is not, and so the normal rules that apply to other debate threads are not being observed here (besides posting porn and outing the real names of other posters) . That view is based on the fact that many, many blatant transgressions of the “assumption of good faith” and “don’t attack the poster” rules in this thread are not being moved to guano.

    William,

    Rule-violating posts are moved to Guano at the moderators’ discretion, and Lizzie has (rightly, I think) urged that moderators err on the side of restraint. You have benefited from that restraint many, many, times, which is why it is amusing to see you become so legalistic about the rules when it is to your benefit.

    However, I would agree that the moderators’ exercise of discretion has been rather uneven, and that’s one of the reasons I think moderation is a bad idea. It creates a perception of unfairness. Sometimes that perception is justified, sometimes not — but the perception is there either way.

  17. Keiths said:

    You have benefited from that restraint many, many, times, which is why it is amusing to see you become so legalistic about the rules when it is to your benefit.

    I put my record of civil, rule-abiding posts up against anyone’s.

    I’m making use of the apparently suspended nature of many of the normal rules in this thread to set a useful precedent and expose some of the hypocrisy here – and to flesh out how you, keiths, and a few others skirt the good faith rule in other threads by using quote-mining.

    As far as the hypocrisy, RB is demonstrating my point there swimmingly.

  18. You’re a repeat offender, William, and it is hypocritical of you to accept leniency with one hand while demanding law and order with the other.

  19. WJM:

    You apparently share keiths egomaniacal need for other people to “admit” they were the “cause” of a misunderstanding.

    These conversations are often competitive. Example: You’d stick needles in your eyes before acknowledging your own contribution to the misunderstanding. Consult your ophthalmologist.

    This would mean a couple of things. First, he would be explicitly implying that I am lying about what I meant. That’s not debating in good faith or under charitable rules (debating as if your opponent is sincere).

    And that should be OK with you, because,

    “I’m operating under the assumption here, in this ‘moderation’ thread, that the rules of good faith argument and not attacking the poster have been suspended or don’t apply”

    My observation goes to your inconsistency (complaining about others’ failure to extend the assumption of good faith while you do the same), not the rules.

    Second, as long as creationists insist that an evolutionary biologist “meant” what they think he/she meant in a quote, even over the correction of the author of the quote , it’s not quote-mining.

    I think that’s a rejoinder worth considering. In a sense you’re correct – the mens rea for the full crime would be absent in such cases as well, if the Creationist were honestly reporting their belief about the underlying intent. So perhaps in those cases the crime is quote-slaughter, rather than first degree quotemining, and my estimation of the offense would indeed be modified – somewhat less despicable than the more typical, deliberate quotemining for Jesus with full awareness of the inaccuracy of the quote mine.

    BTW: “Explicitly implying?

  20. WSM:

    Hypocrite…As far as the hypocrisy, RB is demonstrating my point there swimmingly.

    That would make sense only if I had made a point of objecting to others’ quotemining, while letting Keiths comment pass (and your characterization of his comment correct). But I only recall objecting to others’ quotemines once or twice in many years of intermittent participation in these discussions.

  21. Alan,

    It isn’t just that you deleted a comment, which is bad enough. The circumstances cast your action in an even more damning light.

    You were already being criticized for poor moderation decisions, so if anything I would have expected you to exercise more caution, not less. If we can’t count on you to moderate wisely when you’re under scrutiny, what about when we aren’t watching you closely?

    Your action was also bafflingly self-defeating. It’s as if you had said: “Hey, everyone, I have this great idea for a Wine Cellar. Now I’m going to demonstrate that the Wine Cellar is a terrible idea by showing you that I cannot be trusted to implement it.”

    You created a Wine Cellar. You appointed yourself the sommelier and proceeded to pass judgment on other peoples’ “whines”. You moved them without consent.

    Yet within one day, you managed to post your own “whine” ( and that’s your description, not mine) to the Wine Cellar, and then turned around and deleted it!

    Apparently the Wine Cellar is for other peoples’ “whines”, not yours. You can remove your “whines” from the cellar, but others don’t have that privilege.

    It’s ridiculous and it demonstrates very poor judgment.

  22. RB said:

    And that should be OK with you, because,

    It’s being allowed here, apparently, in this thread. I’m using this opportunity to point it out in no uncertain terms and set a precedent because keiths (and others) has done this in many times in the past in other threads. In the future, I’m going point it out that he is, and others are, in fact, quote-mining and breaking the good faith rule when they do so, or that they are being hypocritical when they accuse others of quote-mining.

  23. William,

    Allow me to demonstrate an actual quote mine so that you can see the difference.

    Here it is:

    William J. Murray:

    I’m not almost anywhere, RB.

    So true, William, so true.

    Now that’s a quote mine.

  24. Mung,

    If you’re still willing to work within the system I congratulate you.

    Well, I agree with Mencken that “Every normal man must be tempted, at times, to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats.” I’ll work within the system as long as I think there’s a chance of change (or until my children have all left the nest).

    I think it’s corrupt beyond measure.

    I agree, it’s both morally and financially bankrupt. It will be interesting (in the Chinese sense) to see what happens when the rotten edifice that’s been constructed finally gives out.

  25. Cross-posted from the Wine Cellar thread so that Alan won’t miss it:

    Alan,

    Also, you still haven’t addressed this:

    ..it’s clear that she [Lizzie] wants moderation issues to be discussed here in the Moderation Issues thread.

    Objections to mod actions => Moderation Issues

    Alan, please move those comments back here, where they belong, immediately.

    Why are you dragging your feet on this? It was your screw-up, so it’s your responsibility to undo the damage.

  26. Alan, I just wanted to add that one of the merits you claimed for your unilateral actions was their reversability. Well, OK, reverse them. Your new assertion that ‘events have moved on’ suggests that you weren’t entirely sincere when you urged that consideration be given to the fact that nothing was necessarily permanent.

  27. walto:
    Alan, I just wanted to add that one of the merits you claimed for your unilateral actions was their reversability. Well, OK, reverse them.

    Indeed I can. And if Lizzie indicates I should do so, I will do that.

  28. Neil Rickert,

    Neil, if it does not put you to any trouble, would you mind digging out that comment and posting it (in the wine cellar, I guess) so Keith can see, well whatever it is Keith wants to see.

  29. Weird that you were so bold in the direction of new stuff and so Lizzie-restrained now.

    But whatever. I’m tired of begging. You do whatever suggests itself to you.

  30. Alan:

    Neil, if it does not put you to any trouble, would you mind digging out that comment and posting it (in the wine cellar, I guess) so Keith can see, well whatever it is Keith wants to see.

    Alan,

    The content of your comment is irrelevant. The problem is that you deleted it.

  31. Can I just remind everyone that Alan, Neil and Patrick do the admin stuff on this site on an entirely voluntary basis? And in my view do a really excellent job.

    Sure there will be disagreements about the way some issues are handled. But I asked them because they seemed to share my ideas about how this site should work, and was delighted when they agreed to take on the burden. None of them are control freaks, but we all have slightly different control freakery thresholds (and in my case, not even consistent ones).

    So take five, guys. The Free Speech sky doesn’t fall because someone moves a post, or deletes a bit of their own on a bit of reflection.

  32. Lizzie, I’m not picking on any of your moderators. I have simply made a request for a moderator action (and one that one of your gang seems to agree with) and been told that this decision must be made by you.

    So?

  33. Lizzie:

    Can I just remind everyone that Alan, Neil and Patrick do the admin stuff on this site on an entirely voluntary basis? And in my view do a really excellent job.

    The admin stuff is fine. It’s the moderation that’s problematic.

    Sure there will be disagreements about the way some issues are handled. But I asked them because they seemed to share my ideas about how this site should work, and was delighted when they agreed to take on the burden. None of them are control freaks, but we all have slightly different control freakery thresholds (and in my case, not even consistent ones).

    Alan and Neil volunteered to work within your rules. Do you really think it’s too much to ask them to actually do so?

  34. Rules have penumbras, just like constitutions.

    Keith’s, would you submit your interpretation to a vote?

  35. petrushka,

    It’s Lizzie’s blog, and she’s paying the bills, so the decisions are hers. It’s a dictatorship, though a pretty benevolent one in my opinion. 🙂

    I think I have a pretty strong case for dialing down, rather than up, on moderation, and I’ll present that in my upcoming OP, but any decisions are of course hers.

  36. Elizabeth: Can I just remind everyone that Alan, Neil and Patrick do the admin stuff on this site on an entirely voluntary basis? And in my view do a really excellent job.

    I, and I’m sure Patrick and Neil, too, appreciate that forthright and unqualified endorsement. I have to admit that I’ve considered walking away from this but the fact that you accept, that while none of us are perfect, we do all support the idea of free, open and rancour-free dialogue is most encouraging and I will, as time permits and if I’m spared, continue to support TSZ in whatever way I can.

    It occurs to me that Neil took a fair amount of stick during your absence (it was a while ago, now) Keith and Walto were engaged in a pretty rancorous argument and Neil implemented a 24hr time-out for both of them. I commented then that while I might not have taken that particular strategy, there was no doubt he acted with the best intentions. Not then being the focus of opprobrium I did not appreciate how hurtful such attacks can be. This site should be a haven of interesting ideas, new information and anything else that develops out of a belief in free, honest and open exchange of ideas.

    Anyway, a reasoned airing of everyone’s views when Keith posts his OP might clear heads a little.

  37. keiths: I think I have a pretty strong case for dialing down, rather than up, on moderation, and I’ll present that in my upcoming OP, but any decisions are of course hers.

    If you were to dial down in your posting tone, perhaps an automatic dial down in moderation might naturally follow.

  38. Alan Fox: This site should be a haven of interesting ideas, new information and anything else that develops out of a belief in free, honest and open exchange of ideas.

    I agree.

    I appreciate that you have been doing your best to keep it that way.

    To paraphrase G&S, “A moderator’s lot is not an ‘appy one.”

  39. keiths:
    petrushka,

    It’s Lizzie’s blog, and she’s paying the bills, so the decisions are hers.It’s a dictatorship, though a pretty benevolent one in my opinion.:-)

    There you go. We agree.

    I think I have a pretty strong case for dialing down, rather than up, on moderation, and I’ll present that in my upcoming OP, but any decisions are of course hers.

    And as I may have remarked, though I may have deleted that comment, I agree that moderation needs only to be applied on request. Who has standing as a “requestor” can be something we discuss in that thread.

  40. Alan,

    I find it hopeful that despite our recent vehement disagreements, we do seem to agree that the moderation-only-on-request experiment was a success.

    Since it happened during Lizzie’s absence, I’ll describe that experiment in my OP and explore some of its implications.

  41. That’s a good sign. Our comments crossed in flight, but they both mentioned something we agree on!

  42. Alan,

    And as I may have remarked, though I may have deleted that comment, I agree that moderation needs only to be applied on request.

    It’s actually in the Wine Cellar thread. Another good reason to keep the moderation discussion in the Moderation Issues thread. 🙂

  43. Neil,

    As commenters approach perfection, the need for moderation asymptotically approaches zero. As moderators approach perfection, the need for complaints about moderation asymptotically approaches zero.

    We live in the real world, and we have to find a solution that works here. The evidence to date seems to indicate that we are better off with less moderation rather than more, but I’ll make that case in more detail in my OP.

  44. As this thread is effectively full, I have moved the last few comments to the new Moderation Issues thread, here.

    I will close this to new comments but leave the link on the front page until present conversations are bygones.

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