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. Allan Miller said:

    What??? How could it be otherwise? Where would such intent reside in a disparate population of competing entities?

    You seem to think that the onus is on me to provide a competing metaphysical perspective and to support it. You’re entirely missing the point, which is the materialist bias inherent in how you have ontologically characterized processes and in how you say students should be taught to ontologically consider those processes and their efforts to understand them. The onus is not on me because I am not advocating replacing your materialist metaphysics with a competing ontological view that characterizes the processes as either intentional or unintentional.

    I advocate a different epistemological approach to science: methodological pragmatism, which doesn’t attempt to establish any kind of ontological status of phenomena or the processes it examines. It doesn’t begin with insisting that a process is or is not in actuality “teleological”, but rather simply attempts to describe it effectively and practically. If that means using teleological or non-teleological terminology and phrasings, so what? What matters is the practical results.

    Your “how could it be otherwise” is similar to many other such perspectives in the history of science, such as the theory of “aether”; how could it be otherwise??? Or, how could washing your hands possibly have an effect on the spread of disease? Reality may not be confined to the limits of your ontological premise and imagination, Allan. Which is why metaphysical biases lead to bad science under conceptual barriers like “a good god wouldn’t do that” or “there’s no material medium available for the propagation of the effect.”

    It’s as if I said “the wind does not have goals”, or “falling objects do not choose to fall”, and you said “how do you know this”?

    You’d have to do the impossible and crack open one of those books, read past the assumed bias, to try and understand why it is not an ideological statement. Easier to stick with Gil’s abstraction – after all, it confirms your prejudice; why would you put any work in to find out otherwise?

    This is what you don’t understand, Allan. What you think is not a bias, is, because you assume your ontological perspective of the world as the de facto reality. Your own comments here demonstrate it.

    Listen to yourself. Good grief, indeed.

    You can characterize my position with convenient and ridiculing analogies if you wish, but they do not capture the nature of the point I’m making: there’s no useful point in asserting ontology into the functional process of science. There’s no practical use in assuming metaphysical materialism, and plenty of reason not to: it biases the research in terms of whatever a “materialist” (or a particular theist, naturalist, spiritualist, etc) thinks is ontologically possible or likely.

    We see this ontological perspective impeding scientific research throughout history, regardless of what ontological perspective is conducting the science.

  2. Walto said:

    So why do you defend it when your buddies at UD do it? When they do it, it’s OK?

    You’ll have to be more specific. Criticizing Alan’s behavior is not the same as defending moderation at UD. I don’t think I’ve defended Mr. Arrington here; I wanted to point out that it seems rather hypocritical for Alan to sneak back onto UD after being banned and then come here complaining about Mr. Arrington’s behavior. IMO, owners of blogs can do whatever they want to do. It’s not a free speech issue. Its their house, their rules. Or their whims, whatever.

    I was interested to know why AS was particularly picked out because it did seem odd to me, but if there were others that had their whole history erased, then it’s not so unique and thus not so interesting to me.

  3. William J. Murray: So, are you really so unreasonable as to think that I or any other ID advcoate thinks that Lewontin or Scott or Sagan or others had actually been voted in to speak on behalf of all scientists?

    When you use the words of Lewontin as the basis for criticizing science, that’s the implication. So just stop it already.

  4. Neil Rickert said:

    When you use the words of Lewontin as the basis for criticizing science, that’s the implication. So just stop it already.

    What does “criticizing science” mean to you?

    I’m criticizing what I consider to be an ideological bias employed by many scientists, which their own words indicate. I’ve made the case by citing examples in other threads (and mentioned a couple above) that this ontological bias has impeded scientific progress in the past. “Materialists” make the same case when they refer to Galileo – that ontology has impeded science.

    I don’t see how this is “criticizing science”, but rather is criticizing the metaphysical bias of several scientists when their own words indicate they operate under that very bias and expect other scientists to do so (see Allan’s comments above) and expect academia to instill that bias in students.

  5. William J. Murray: What matters is the practical results.

    And give there are precisely zero practical results that have arisen, the worth of your method is precisely that – zero.

    Unless, like all the other armchair scientists out there, you are expecting others to do your work for you?

  6. William J. Murray: Which is why metaphysical biases lead to bad science under conceptual barriers like “a good god wouldn’t do that” or “there’s no material medium available for the propagation of the effect.”

    For example? What specificity has been held back because of such biases?

    When you can’t name any (as you’ve never been able to so far) , does that not give you pause?

  7. OMagain said:

    And give there are precisely zero practical results that have arisen, the worth of your method is precisely that – zero.

    I disagree. It is precisely pragmatism – the practical, experimental uses implied by a hypothesis or theory – that propels science and technology forward and weeds out the ontological roadblocks, or “what one imagines can possibly be true”, or what one insists should be true.

  8. OMagain: For example? What specificity has been held back because of such biases?

    When you can’t name any (as you’ve never been able to so far) , does that not give you pause?

    I detailed several such historical cases in this thread at TSZ.

    I referred to those cases above. Good grief.

  9. William J. Murray: It is precisely pragmatism – the practical, experimental uses implied by a hypothesis or theory – that propels science and technology forward and weeds out the ontological roadblocks, or “what one imagines can possibly be true”, or what one insists should be true.

    That must be why you are so scared to find out if ESP can really affect random number generators. You don’t want to know do you?

  10. keiths:

    William, you stated that:

    all prior posts by all prior anti-ID commenters have all remained intact. [Emphasis added]

    Surely even you understand how laughable that claim is.

    William:

    Try and look at the context, keiths & rich.

    The only “context” that could rescue your statement would be if you had said something like “my next sentence is false” immediately beforehand.

    Is it that hard to admit your mistake, William?

  11. William:

    The only “context” that could rescue your statement would be if you had said something like “my next sentence is false” immediately beforehand.

    Is it that hard to admit your mistake, William?

    You see – keiths, even when immediately corrected about what I meant refuses to accept that correction and instead uses it to advance his negative characterization of me. He absolutely refuses correction even though his characterization is inane.

    I’m certainly not the only guy here he’s done this to. In this respect, keiths is one of the worst quote-miners around. It serves his agenda to characterize others negatively, and so refuses to take correction even when it is offered immediately by the author of the quote because it serves his agenda to use those quotes the way he does.

    keiths often says he wants others to “take responsibility for what they say”, but this isn’t true. What he wants is for others to take responsibility for keith’s interpretation of what they said, even after he’s been corrected by the author of what he is quoting.

    Alan Fox or EL:

    I have just told keiths that he has misinterpreted what I said before. I have informed him of what I meant. When keith insists that I did not mean what I have told him I meant, is that not a case of him not assuming I am arguing in good faith?

  12. I havent’ yet finished my OP on Guano and moderation, but William has just illustrated one of the points I make in it: the “good faith” rule is subject to abuse by commenters.

    William, you made a silly statement:

    all prior posts by all prior anti-ID commenters have all remained intact. [Emphasis added]

    You went out of your way to insert the word “all” three times. You clearly meant what you wrote, and what you wrote was ridiculous.

    The “good faith” rule is not a face-saving rule for people who blurt out ridiculous things that they regret later.

  13. Neil Rickert,

    keiths:
    Jesus, walto.

    You reject the peace offer and immediately start in with the accusations again.

    Would it help if I sent you some Ex-Lax?

    I’ve indicated what would help–an admission, an apology and a promise. Exactly what I’ve already offered to the readers of this site. If the day ever comes that you become mensch, get back to me on this matter. In the meantime, you can shove your Ex Lax.

  14. walto,

    My offer still stands. If you abstain from making false accusations, I will let bygones be bygones.

    If you start in on the accusations again, I reserve the right to respond as I see fit.

    And the offer of Ex-Lax still stands, too. 🙂

  15. walto:

    In the meantime, you can shove your Ex Lax.

    By the way, walto, Ex-Lax is not a suppository.

    (This goes a long way toward explaining your perennial grumpiness, though.)

  16. As a temporary measure until Lizzie has time to decide what to do, I’ve opened a page, The Wine Cellar, see link in menu bar, for walto and Keiths to continue their feud in peace. Comments are open so anyone who wishes can join in. And the option is always open to resubmit the substantive part of any moved comment to the appropriate thread.

  17. More quote-mining by keiths, insisting an author meant something other than what the author has explicitly informed him of.

  18. Keith attempts to add emphasis that is convenient to his quote-mining. The original statement I made that ground the cotnext of my later statements:

    What’s your take on why Mr. Arrington uniquely deleted all of your AS posts? I mean, out of everyone who has ever posted there, and all the arguments, what was so special about your comments? After all, there were many, many times that other anti-ID advocates have claimed that they handed Mr. Arrington his hat, but none of them got their comments deleted.

    This explicitly states what I’m talking about: the (what I thought was) unique occurrence of a poster at UD having all their posts deleted – their entire post history. That’s what I was interested in an asked AF about; that’s what I was talking about from then on.

    My comment with correct emphasis added:

    Okay … so neither you or keiths can provide a good reason for Mr. Arrington to pick this particular time, and your particular posts, to delete, when all prior posts [the defining kind of group I clearly stated I was talking about in the prior post] by all prior anti-ID commenters have all remained intact.

    Meaning, the entire post history, as a set, of all UD posters have all remained intact. That doesn’t mean every single post; it means i thought (apparently erroneously) that no other poster had their entire post history redacted.

    Now, it may be that you misunderstood me, but after you commented I acted immediately to correct your misinterpretation.

    All you’re doing now is quote-mining – deliberately and intransigently. I have corrected you. It’s a simple matter, under fair and charitable debate rules, to accept the correction and move on.

  19. Alan Fox:
    William J. Murray,

    There’s a “perhaps” there, William.

    Uh, no. Keith is quote mining – deliberately and intransigently. I, the author of the quote, have directly told him what I meant by it; he is using it to promote a false perspective of what I said for his own agenda. That is, in fact, quote-mining.

  20. William J. Murray: Uh, no. Keith is quote mining – deliberately and intransigently.I, the author of the quote, have directly told him what I meant by it; he is using it to promote a false perspective of what I said for his own agenda.That is, in fact, quote-mining.

    William, you’ll have to forgive me, I’ve been a little distracted. I haven’t been (indeed it would be impossible for anyone with a real life) following too closely and as you appreciate, you and I don’t see eye-to-eye on many topics. I’m not sure what the precise issue is here. Do you claim Keith is misrepresenting you by misquoting or abbreviating a comment of yours to distort the meaning you intend?

  21. Neil Rickert,

    I appreciate that, Neil. I hope others including Keith, and above all Lizzie, accept that my intent was to encourage and maintain free and open dialogue for all participants.

  22. William J. Murray: Meaning, the entire post history, as a set, of all UD posters have all remained intact. That doesn’t mean every single post; it means i thought (apparently erroneously) that no other poster had their entire post history redacted.

    It might help if I mention a couple of technical points. UD, like TSZ, uses WordPress software. The most Draconian method available to the site admin for booting a member is to delete the user account. If one takes this option, before the final button press, the admin has to choose what to do with the content (all the posts and comments attributed to that user) and can assign that content to another user account or “delete all content”. Choose that option for a user with a significant number of comments and you get the Aurelio Smith effect. Shadows on the wall.

    The less drastic way to ban a user is to change the “role” to “no role for this site” which is reversible and preserves all content. Being charitable, I’d say Barry erased all Aurelio’s comments on impulse. The fact it requires several button presses undermines that interpretation.

    Regarding total erasures, I can recall at least one happening under DaveScot’s stewardship but it did not involve a comment history covering several months.

  23. Alan,

    I hope others including Keith, and above all Lizzie, accept that my intent was to encourage and maintain free and open dialogue for all participants.

    No, I don’t accept that.

    You know as well as I do that the way to maintain free and open dialogue is by allowing free and open dialogue, not by using your moderation privileges to interfere with it.

    Look at what you wrote:

    I’m tired of seeing the pair of you snipe at each other. If anyone other than you or walto want to object, they can do it here in the moderation issues thread. If you or walto want to object, you’ll have to take it up with Lizzie.

    You were personally annoyed, so you tossed Lizzie’s rules aside and abused your moderator privileges. You

    1) invented a new rule (and this isn’t the first time, either);

    2) interfered with a discussion by moving comments to a new thread of your own making; and

    3) actively prevented a discussion of a moderation issue from taking place in the Moderation Issues thread.

    That is not how you “maintain free and open dialogue”, as you know perfectly well.

  24. Alan Fox: William, you’ll have to forgive me, I’ve been a little distracted. I haven’t been (indeed it would be impossible for anyone with a real life) following too closely and as you appreciate, you and I don’t see eye-to-eye on many topics. I’m not sure what the precise issue is here. Do you claim Keith is misrepresenting you by misquoting or abbreviating a comment of yours to distort the meaning you intend?

    Everyone here goes all ape about Sal Cordova quote-mining, and here is a blatant case of keiths quote-mining even after the author (me) immediately and expressly corrected him, and nobody seems to mind. I guess when one of your own quote-mines, it’s all good, right? Quote-mining is only bad when the evil YECs do it. Isn’t there a word for when you condemn in others what you allow for yourselves?

  25. William,

    It isn’t a quote mine unless the context changes the meaning of the quoted text. What you wrote is just as wrong within its context as without:

    Alan Fox,

    Okay … so neither you or keiths can provide a good reason for Mr. Arrington to pick this particular time, and your particular posts, to delete, when all prior posts by all prior anti-ID commenters have all remained intact

    So, you had been banned, snuck back on to the site where you had been banned from under a pseudonym, got a guest post headlined, and then got banned again and all your pseudonymous posts deleted

    We don’t know that Mr. Arrington deleted your posts; if so, we don’t know if was it purposeful; if so, we don’t know why; what we do know is that you deceitfully lied your way into a guest post after you got banned. Whether or not Johnnyb knew your real name or not is inconsequential to these facts; he wasn’t Mr. Arrington, the person you were trying to sneak around.

    The stand up, honest thing to do would be to either assume you were banned and respect that; if you didn’t know, then log in as Alan Fox 2 and ask. The one thing we know for certain here is that you behaved deceitfully, and everyone here seems to be content to overlook that and call for a boycott on UD even after your deceptive part was revealed.

    The “good faith” rule doesn’t grant you immunity from your own mistakes, William. You wrote it. You used the word “all” three times for emphasis. You meant what you wrote, and what you wrote was ridiculous, as you now realize.

    The “good faith” rule is not a “freely rewrite history” rule.

    Think a little harder before posting next time.

    ETA: Expanded the quote from the entire paragraph to the entire comment, just to forestall any more bogus quote-mining accusations. Of course, William will probably try to argue that the surrounding comments somehow magically inverted the meaning of his sentence.

  26. Alan Fox:
    Patrick,
    Re-reading the thread, I get no sense that walto is seriously suggesting force in any other than a political sense of enforcing the payment of due taxes.

    I’ve self identified as libertarian(and participated in Libertarian activities) since the early 80’s and that is exactly the sense that Patrick is using it(although government force is not limited to it). And it’s not wrong although it’s tiresome to have to listen to it over and over again at party meetings. It’s also ironic in some ways. Liberals/progressives/SJW’s don’t want to acknowledge that government = force but they are happy to use it until it backfires on them and then they have to hunt for ways to rationalize the backfiring(much as the right half of our culture wars in the USA insist that the US is god’s gift to the world and we couldn’t possibly be responsible for the consequences of the hundred odd years of meddling in the Middle East we have engaged in). I’d give an example but it involves race and I’ll honor Flank’s dictum unless there are no objections.

    But back to tiresome, the fanatics of any political strain of thought are always tiresome be they social justice authoritarians, individual rights libertarians, conservative defenders of plutocracy, free market fundamentalists, religious fundamentalists etc, etc. Was it Churchill who said fanatics never know when to stop so there is nothing so dangerous as a successful fanatic?

  27. I can see where this is headed.

    WJM will quote all his posts, keiths will quote the entire thread, WJM will quote all of TSZ, keiths will quote the entire internet…

    WJM says, here’s what I actually meant.

    keiths sez: Well William, I think you’re a liar, or even if you’re not a liar I choose to not believe you anyways, so I win and you lose. End of discussion.

    Then keiths whinges when no one thinks that he actually is engaged in anything remotely resembling a discussion.

    And I like my cheese extra sharp.

  28. Patrick:
    Mung,

    I agree with both those sentences.This is where I think Lizzie’s rule of assuming good faith might break down.The only option within the rules is to document the difference between the dishonest participant’s claims and reality while maintaining the fiction that the error is not deliberate.The offended party will have to rely on others recognizing the bad behavior.

    That may actually be the optimal way to handle disagreements online, but I can empathize with how it grates.

    I hope what I said was much the same thing:

    Aardvark:I stand by the policy of accepting that the antiscience types do believe what they claim they believe but I don’t define bad faith the same way Lizzie does. Bad faith happens in the rhetorical technique, not in the belief. stc is showing bad faith by his tactics. That isn’t worth censoring or banning(which would kill this site) but it is worth demanding stc demonstrate honest rhetorical technique and continuing to demand it over and over again.

  29. Successful communication entails not just accurate encoding and decoding sentences, but also the successful conveyance and discernment of speaker intent. Not so easy, and charitable readings and requests for clarifications are often required to accomplish the latter.

    With that in mind, I want to attempt to be a fair reader of this tempest in a teapot.

    WJM said:

    ”Okay … so neither you or keiths can provide a good reason for Mr. Arrington to pick this particular time, and your particular posts, to delete, when all prior posts by all prior anti-ID commenters have all remained intact.”

    William, having read everything that provides relevant context for this statement, I actually don’t see anything that prompts a fair reader to extract from this anything other than what it superficially conveys. As it stands it is false – countless UD posts authored by many anti-ID commenters have been molested by and deleted from UD over the years, as I am sure you are aware. (How many have had content redacted and replaced by comments issued via The Loudspeaker in the Ceiling?) Therefore, I don’t see Keiths’ challenge regarding this assertion, as it stands, as out of bounds, or as a quote-mine.

    That said, it seems perfectly plausible to me that it was your intention to convey something like,

    “Okay … so neither you or keiths can provide a good reason for Mr. Arrington to pick this particular time, and your particular posts, to delete, when no anti-ID commenter has had all of his/her posts deleted.”

    While I don’t find this reading particularly compelled by context, and certainly not to a degree so that it would be more reasonable to reject your actual words and extract your intended meaning than to take your statement at face value, I do find it consistent with context and the general topic you were discussing, and would accept that you misspoke. Your response to Keiths’ challenge might have been, “I misspoke, and I agree that it is obviously untrue that ‘all prior posts by all prior anti-ID commenters have all remained intact.’ What I meant to say was…” I would have no problem believing and accepting that, and believe that would have been the end of it.

    However, you don’t help yourself with your actual protests:

    Good grief, how on Earth would I know what has happened to every single post ever made at UD? I don’t even read most threads there. Can you two at least try to be reasonable?…

    The problem with this is that it shifts blame onto those who misread your statement, when the problem is that you badly misspoke, and misrepresented your own intended meaning.

    Try and look at the context, keiths & rich. Scroll up and look at my posts. I had asked Alan why he thought he was particularly chosen to have all his prior posts deleted. As far as I know, he’s the only one this has ever happened to.

    This plea would be perfectly reasonable IF you had said, “I misspoke. What I did say was indeed false. What I meant to say was…” But you didn’t.

    Now, here’s a situation where the context of what I actually said is available in this very thread and I’m correcting you about my meaning concerning something I just wrote.

    What you are correcting is what a reasonable reader would take from your own misspeaking. If you would just own that, this discussion would be over, because if you did most readers would extend the charitable reading you request.

  30. Neil Rickert,

    Alan Fox:The Wine Cellar…

    For what little it is worth, this seems like a reasonable pragmatic step to me.

    I can see it being a reasonable alternative to Guano. I would have like to have seen it presented to Lizzie first, to get her views and clarification of when comments should be moved there.

    On the other hand, I could argue that Guano and the existing rules are sufficient.

    I look forward to Herself joining the conversation.

  31. Reciprocating Bill, to William:

    Your response to Keiths’ challenge might have been, “I misspoke, and I agree that it is obviously untrue that ‘all prior posts by all prior anti-ID commenters have all remained intact.’ What I meant to say was…” I would have no problem believing and accepting that, and believe that would have been the end of it.

    Indeed, that would have been the end of it.

  32. Aardvark,

    I hope what I said was much the same thing:

    Aardvark:I stand by the policy of accepting that the antiscience types do believe what they claim they believe but I don’t define bad faith the same way Lizzie does. Bad faith happens in the rhetorical technique, not in the belief. stc is showing bad faith by his tactics. That isn’t worth censoring or banning(which would kill this site) but it is worth demanding stc demonstrate honest rhetorical technique and continuing to demand it over and over again.

    Well, yes, but you said it more succinctly and clearly. Damn Orycteropuses….

  33. I’ll emphasize this again in my OP, but it’s worth pointing out that

    1) many of the biggest kerfuffles at TSZ have directly resulted from poor moderation decisions, including ones in which moderators impulsively invented new rules on the fly instead of abiding by Lizzie’s rules; and

    2) one of the smoothest times we’ve had (and quite possibly the smoothest) was the recent period during which moderation was almost completely absent and only done upon specific request.

    Lots of folks here seem to fear that chaos will erupt in the absence of moderation, but experience suggests otherwise.

    ETA: To clarify, I am speaking of Guano. I completely agree with the policies regarding spam, porn, threats of violence, and outings.

  34. RB said:

    William, having read everything that provides relevant context for this statement, I actually don’t see anything that prompts a fair reader to extract from this anything other than what it superficially conveys

    What you think I meant simply doesn’t matter, RB. If everyone here thought I meant what keiths said, it still wouldn’t matter. Does it matter if every creationist that misinterprets a quote agrees upon the misinterpretation? Of course not. If the author explains what he meant afterward, that should be the end of it. The creationists don’t get a majority vote on what the author meant – only the author has a vote.

    What you or anyone else thinks I meant doesn’t matter. I immediately corrected keiths misinterpretation. That should have been the end of it, right there. Thereafter, keiths was deliberately quote-mining, because I had corrected him. All you are doing is covering for his deliberate quote-mining by trying to put the blame on me for keiths not accepting my correction.

  35. keiths said:

    Indeed, that would have been the end of it.

    The end of it should have been after I corrected your misinterpretation, you should have said “oh, okay. I misunderstood you, then.” I didn’t force you to start quote-mining me.

  36. Keiths,

    Your protestations do not matter. I am the author. I corrected you immediately about what I meant. By ignoring my specific, immediate correction about what I meant and continuing to insist that I meant something else, you are quote mining, and pretty much everyone who is trying to give you cover or is not condemning your actions here, but who were willing to jump all over Sal, are displaying their hypocrisy for all to see.

    So, you see, it’s really not about the quote-mining, per se. As this little exercise has clearly demonstrated.

  37. WJM:

    If the author explains what he meant afterward, that should be the end of it…only the author has a vote.

    Indeed, the author is the only person in a position to say, “I misspoke. What I intended to convey was…” In so doing, the initial problem in communication is correctly diagnosed (ineffective expression), owned, and forgotten.

    All you are doing is covering for his deliberate quote-mining by trying to put the blame on me for keiths not accepting my correction.

    Actually, what I blame you for is your initial failure to articulate your intended meaning, and your subsequent unwillingness to take responsibility for that – instead laying blame on others’ “misinterpretation” rather than owning the contribution of your own misstatement.

    Whether one accepts your correction reflects whether one believes your claim that you intended to convey something other than what you actually said. As I said, I’m inclined to accept that, although your inability to admit it makes that acceptance more difficult.

    (I know, it doesn’t matter to you, blah blah blah).

  38. Reciprocating Bill, to William:

    Actually, what I blame you for is your initial failure to articulate your intended meaning, and your subsequent unwillingness to take responsibility for that – instead laying blame on others’ “misinterpretation” rather than owning the contribution of your own misstatement.

    So many of the problems at TSZ boil down to a refusal to take responsibility.

    If I could inscribe just two exhortations on the masthead here, they would be:

    You are responsible for your actions and words.
    Don’t try to control what others read or write.

  39. Can someone give me an executive summary on the issues they think I should adjudicate on?

    Also, someone mentioned a “wine cellar”….

    Sorry I don’t have time to read through the whole set of recent exchanges right now. Things are a bit sticky for me work-wise (again!) although at least I got a paper submitted last night! Yay!

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