Rule edits

I made some minor edits to the rule page. The “Address the post not the poster” rule now reads:

Address the content of the post, not the perceived failings of the poster. [purple text added 28th November 2015]

  • This means that accusing others of ignorance or stupidity is off topic
  • As is implying that other posters are mentally ill or demented.

And for guidance I also added text from an excellent post by Reciprocating Bill:

Participation at this site entails obligations similar to those that attend playing a game. While there is no objective moral obligation to answer questions, the site has aims, rules and informal stakeholders, just as football has same. When violations of those aims and rules are perceived and/or the enforcement of same is seen as arbitrary or inconsistent, differences and conflicts arise. No resort to objective morality, yet perfectly comprehensible and appropriate opprobrium.

 

91 Replies to “Rule edits”

  1. Patrick Patrick
    Ignored
    says:

    Reciprocating Bill,

    Whoa! I see that the question to which I referred above appeared in Mung’s first comment on this thread, not in the OP. It’s still there.

    I was wrong then, to say that Mung changed his OP.

    I apologize to Mung for having done so, as well as to anyone else who drew unfair conclusions due to my mistake.

    Excellent! I can still buy a used car from Mung.

  2. fifthmonarchyman
    Ignored
    says:

    Patrick: He [FMM] has repeatedly failed to support his claims

    That reminds me,
    How is that little easy one week hack coming?
    You know the one that would falsify my design/cognition hypothesis

    peace

  3. Mung Mung
    Ignored
    says:

    Patrick: I’m trying to improve the level of discourse on this site.

    How does your own subjective policy of “live and let live” when it comes to the posts of those you have the power to moderate contribute to this goal?

  4. Patrick Patrick
    Ignored
    says:

    I’m trying to improve the level of discourse on this site.

    How does your own subjective policy of “live and let live” when it comes to the posts of those you have the power to moderate contribute to this goal?

    I don’t Guano comments directed at me.

  5. Mung Mung
    Ignored
    says:

    Reciprocating Bill: If you don’t want shit on your shoe, don’t step in shit.

    I have a theory about why more theists/ID’ists don’t post here.

  6. Elizabeth Elizabeth
    Ignored
    says:

    Mung: I have a theory about why more theists/ID’ists don’t post here.

    Can you say more?

  7. Mung Mung
    Ignored
    says:

    Reciprocating Bill: I don’t know. I had earlier suggested same (no one took me seriously), but today I found that he had silently edited one of his own OPs to remove a question he had posed, many hours and 100 comments after the fact. I find that very creepy.

    I find it creepy too. How do you suppose I pulled it off?

  8. Mung Mung
    Ignored
    says:

    Reciprocating Bill: I apologize to Mung for having done so, as well as to anyone else who drew unfair conclusions due to my mistake.

    Apology accepted, of course. You’ll have to try harder than that to get me upset. 😉

    Try stealing my drums of Preparation H!

    But for the record, people can’t edit their own OP’s anymore.

    So my first appeal would be to have that ability returned. If we’re about more freedom, not less, then let’s be doing that and not the opposite.

  9. Mung Mung
    Ignored
    says:

    I’m sure there are those here who would like to hear an honest perspective from where I sit, and that’s not given as sarcasm, so here it is.

    Again, I don’t envy the admins at all. You have an impossible job. So I do try to keep that in mind.

    I think the rules should be clarified as follows.

    What will get people banned from the site. Let’s calls those Type A Rules. Let’s say they will be strictly enforced and find a way to clearly distinguish them from other sorts of rules. Let’s not call the Type A Rules and the other type of rules both by the same name.

    What then is left? What other types of rules might be needed? Let’s call them Expectations if they aren’t going to be strictly enforced.

    So one of my complaints is that there is this lack of clear distinction between which rules will be strictly enforced and which will not.

    The other complaint, obviously, is that far fewer posts are sent to Guano than ought to be sent to Guano [under the current rules]. If you want a site with more/better constructive conversation then more posts need to be sent to Guano than currently make their way there, however that may happen.

    I somewhat favor the “someone has to complain” method. That makes me [and others] responsible and not just the admins. Is there any sort of “report post” functionality available?

    I’d also like to see people allowed to moderate their own threads. We know that if someone hits “moderate” under the old abilities that the post is sent to some bucket where the admins can see it. It doesn’t become unrecoverable.

    But I think there was also a delete option? Does the same thing happen with it?

    So I am for more power/responsibility to the individual in threads they author as long as activities are recoverable by the admins. I’d like to see us discuss ways to make that happen.

    I’m opposed to any sort of you must answer questions or you must retract claims additions. We always have to ask, or what? The admins already have enough to do. IMO.

  10. Elizabeth Elizabeth
    Ignored
    says:

    Mung: What will get people banned from the site. Let’s calls those Type A Rules. Let’s say they will be strictly enforced and find a way to clearly distinguish them from other sorts of rules. Let’s not call the Type A Rules and the other type of rules both by the same name.

    I usually refer to the little group of Type A Rules as the Site Rules, and the others as the Game Rules.

    I’m quite clear on the difference, but I should probably make it clearer on the Rules page.

    Site rules are:

    No porn, malware or outing. Any of those results in banning.

    The rest are the Game Rules, only apply to the threads on the main page, and the only consequence of a violation is that it, plus usually any responses, get moved to Guano, where they can still be read and linked to, and content can be reposted with the rule violating part omitted.

  11. Elizabeth Elizabeth
    Ignored
    says:

    Mung: I’m opposed to any sort of you must answer questions or you must retract claims additions. We always have to ask, or what? The admins already have enough to do. IMO.

    I agree.

  12. Richardthughes Richardthughes
    Ignored
    says:

    We are all of course free to ignore anyone we feel isn’t playing nicely.

  13. Patrick Patrick
    Ignored
    says:

    Elizabeth (and Mung),

    I’m opposed to any sort of you must answer questions or you must retract claims additions. We always have to ask, or what? The admins already have enough to do. IMO.

    I agree.

    I also agree. I do believe that expecting people to clarify and support their claims or retract them should be part of the Game Rules, though. I also think that pointing out violations of the Game Rules (without suggesting nefarious motive) should be allowed in the threads where such violations occur.

    John Wilkins has a nice post titled A Code of Conduct for Effective Rational Discussion that provides what I think is a good baseline for the Game Rules expectations.

  14. Elizabeth Elizabeth
    Ignored
    says:

    Patrick: I also think that pointing out violations of the Game Rules (without suggesting nefarious motive) should be allowed in the threads where such violations occur.

    I think I could go along with this. It might help. Dunno.

  15. Richardthughes Richardthughes
    Ignored
    says:

    Do you think they had this angst writing the constitution?

  16. Gregory Gregory
    Ignored
    says:

    You should be very careful, Lizzie, and I say this with considerable theoretical and practical experience, of how much you wish to ‘game’ (verb) life. Now you are even capitalising ‘Game Rules’. But discourse and communication when it is sincere and personal, is not simply a ‘game.’ At least you and your majority atheists/skeptics/agnostics have been cautioned.

  17. walto walto
    Ignored
    says:

    Could someone who supports the ‘moderators must be asked first’ rule please respond to my request for a clarification of it (on the preceding page)? I really don’t understand that suggestion for the reasons there given.

    Thanks

  18. Neil Rickert
    Ignored
    says:

    Richardthughes: Do you think they had this angst writing the constitution?

    They probably did.

    And people are still arguing about it.

  19. Elizabeth Elizabeth
    Ignored
    says:

    Are there any talk rational veterans here? Talk Rational still has a Charter.

  20. Patrick Patrick
    Ignored
    says:

    walto:
    Could someone who supports the ‘moderators must be asked first’ rule please respond to my request for a clarification of it (on the preceding page)? I really don’t understand that suggestion for the reasons there given.

    Thanks

    If you mean this previous comment:

    OTOH, it could be that keiths is saying that only some one person who has allegedly been attacked by an offending post may make a request for action. The problem there is that a post like “Atheists all live in a pit of despair” or “Theists are stupid.” don’t attack any one particular poster. Furthermore, it seems clear that third parties may be offended by a post not directed specifically at them. So, again, I don’t really know what he’s advocating for. Is it that admins should have less rights regarding the initiation of any “action” than everyone else?

    my understanding of what keiths is suggesting, and what I support as well, is that no admin will move a comment to Guano unless there is a valid complaint that the comment violates the rules. When the comment is directed at one or more specific individuals, it’s easy to identify who can raise the complaint.

    Your point about more generic rule violations and third parties taking offense is interesting. In those cases where no specific individual is targeted, I support allowing anyone participating in the thread to raise a complaint. It should create self-adjusting negative feedback — if the rule violating comments are interfering with the flow of the discussion, people are more likely to complain until the noise level drops.

    Of course, human behavior can be notoriously resistant to being modeled by simple mathematics, so it might not work in practice. I’d say it’s worth a try.

  21. DNA_Jock
    Ignored
    says:

    As discussed previously, I disagree with keiths`s idea that posts should be moved to Guano only if a victim complains. I also disagree with his claims that this rule “worked” when it was tested. But YMMV.
    I also think (drawing on my experience as a referee) that walto’s “progressive discipline system” is a bad idea.
    I do not think any rule changes are needed. I like the process of “inviting a poster to discuss their post on Noyau”, although this does not prevent a poster from showing up there briefly, then running back to ‘rule-bound’ threads when challenged. Thread-hopping, as it were. There really isn’t any rule-based defense against trolling (whether drive-by, incessant, or incessant drive-by), nor repeated thread-jacking. That’s the price of admission. Use your scroll wheel and a modicum of discretion (I have been known to fail in this latter regard.)

  22. petrushka
    Ignored
    says:

    I find all the pissing and moaning about moderation to be juvenile and boring. I’m thinking third grade stuff.

    All sides. No exceptions.

    Except for actual deletions, accidental or otherwise.

  23. Mung Mung
    Ignored
    says:

    Let’s step back a bit, if we can, and ask why rules changes are even being proposed.

    It’s not because there’s lack of agreement about posting of porn, malware and doxxing. Agreed?

    It’s because sometimes people are perceived to be either a) not playing by THE OTHER RULES, b) taking advantage of THE OTHER RULES, c) violating the spirit of the site, and/or because d) the admins are only human and therefore e) not enough comments are being sent to Guano.

    I think perhaps a list of no more than ten commandments ought to suffice.

    I’ll begin:

    1. Thou shalt not post at UD.
    2. Thou shalt not start your own “skeptical zone.”
    3. Thou shalt not call Lizzie names.

  24. Robert Byers
    Ignored
    says:

    Elizabeth
    I would, if allowed, to make a thread. Just one. I don’t underrstand who I ask or how to start. I read the top categories but am dumb about that stuff.
    any advice or info??

  25. Mung Mung
    Ignored
    says:

    Hi Robert.

    Near the top left of your browser window do you see a + sign and the word New?

    If you hover your mouse over that it should bring up a drop-down that has the word Post in it. Click on the word post.

    Fill in the title for your post and the content and click on the Publish button over on the right.

  26. Neil Rickert
    Ignored
    says:

    Robert Byers: I would, if allowed, to make a thread. Just one.

    You are currently showing as a “Contributor”. If you want to be changed to author status (I think that might be “new author”, I can do that.

    However, you can already post as Contributor.

    As mung suggested, look for the “+New” in the dark bar near the top of a page. With mouse over that, click “Post”. That puts you in an editor.

    When you are done, click “Submit for review” toward the right of the edit box. And maybe post a brief message to “Moderation Issues” to make sure that we notice.

    That’s it.

    Well, okay, in review it is possible that we might suggest some changes, typically to make your post clearer. However, we do want people to be able to post, so our reviewing won’t be onerous.

  27. Reciprocating Bill Reciprocating Bill
    Ignored
    says:

    This is a bit of an experiment.

    I’m wondering if there is any value in making the implicit explicit.

    Those who post here implicitly agree to assume others are posting in good faith, and in responding Address the content of the post, not the perceived failings of the poster.

    I propose make my implicit assent to these rules explicit.

    To wit: in creating my contributions to TSZ I commit to refraining from stating or implying that other participants are not posting in good faith. Of course, in my spleen of spleens I believe that some others do not, in fact, post in good faith, and there doesn’t seem to be much I can (or should) do about that belief. Hence I’ve stated this commitment in a form I can honor through behavior. That said, I commit to the rule as I have expressed it.

    I also commit to addressing the content of others posts, not the perceived failings of the posters.

    I commit to self-limiting my contributions according to the above. If I find myself unable to abide by these commitments, I’ll withdraw from participation at TSZ. Hence this is not a proposed change in moderation, because no moderation will be involved. (I do reserve my access to Noyau under the terms stated for that forum, you slippery sonofabitch).

    Of course, I can’t require anyone else to follow suit, nor would I want the site administration to compel such public commitments. I see making one’s implicit assent to the site rules explicit as entirely voluntary. That said, I it is my belief that others’ self-restraint along these lines will improve the quality of conversations at TSZ, and would be gratified if others volunteered similar commitments.

    Anyone willing to do likewise? Anyone unwilling to do likewise?

    I would ask: If not willing, why not? For that matter, why participate at all at a site at which the entire aspiration of he site is captured by commitment to these simple rules, if not willing to commit to those rules?

  28. keiths keiths
    Ignored
    says:

    Reciprocating Bill:

    Those who post here implicitly agree to assume others are posting in good faith, and in responding Address the content of the post, not the perceived failings of the poster.

    I disagree. In reality, those who post here do not pledge, implicitly or explicitly, to honor those two rules. They simply agree that Lizzie and her moderators may choose to Guano comments they feel are in violation of those rules.

    Some are quite explicit about it. Hotshoe has indicated that she posts comments knowing full well that they are in violation of the rules — but she also fully accepts (and expects) that they may be Guanoed. Others are pretty direct about it, too — how many times have you seen someone end a comment with “Guano, here I come!” or something similar?

    Anyone willing to do likewise? Anyone unwilling to do likewise?

    I am unwilling.

    I would ask: If not willing, why not? For that matter, why participate at all at a site at which the entire aspiration of he site is captured by commitment to these simple rules, if not willing to commit to those rules?

    Because I am very much committed to Lizzie’s stated aim for this site…

    But the idea here is to provide a venue where people with very different priors can come to discover what common ground they share; what misunderstandings of other views they hold; and, having cleared away the straw men, find out where their real differences lie.

    …but I don’t think the current rules are working, and I don’t think that pledging a commitment to a falsehood — the notion that others are always posting in good faith — would either.

  29. Alan Fox Alan Fox
    Ignored
    says:

    Reciprocating Bill: I can’t require anyone else to follow suit, nor would I want the site administration to compel such public commitments. I see making one’s implicit assent to the site rules explicit as entirely voluntary. That said, I it is my belief that others’ self-restraint along these lines will improve the quality of conversations at TSZ, and would be gratified if others volunteered similar commitments.

    I guess everyone has a different style of expressing themselves. There’s definitely a cultural difference separated by the Atlantic. I’d go along with RB’s suggestion. I think it’s obvious that an unrestricted free-for-all drives away the more thoughtful contributors. Pharyngula (has it changed now? I think PZ was working on it) is a good example to avoid.

    And as Bill says:

    …why participate at all at a site at which the entire aspiration of he site is captured by commitment to these simple rules, if not willing to commit to those rules?

  30. Patrick Patrick
    Ignored
    says:

    Reciprocating Bill,

    Anyone willing to do likewise? Anyone unwilling to do likewise?

    I would ask: If not willing, why not? For that matter, why participate at all at a site at which the entire aspiration of he site is captured by commitment to these simple rules, if not willing to commit to those rules?

    I’m good with this as far as it goes. It is necessary but not sufficient. To complete it, we’d need to add an explicit commitment to furthering the goals of the site. This should specifically include committing to rational discussion, explaining and supporting one’s claims, or retracting those claims if unwilling or unable to do so.

    Without this additional commitment your suggestion merely ties the hands of good faith participants while allowing others to hide behind the rules.

  31. Reciprocating Bill Reciprocating Bill
    Ignored
    says:

    Keiths:

    I disagree. In reality, those who post here do not pledge, implicitly or explicitly, to honor those two rules. They simply agree that Lizzie and her moderators may choose to Guano comments they feel are in violation of those rules.

    You make a good point, but I think overstate it. That is certainly true for some participants, but I expect that others have made the implicit commitment I describe. I did, at least to the extent that I muttered to myself, “I can go along with that,” and generally have. Some probably haven’t thought much about the distinction.

    I don’t think the current rules are working, and I don’t think that pledging a commitment to a falsehood — the notion that others are always posting in good faith — would either.

    That’s why I recast this portion of my commitment in behavioral terms, which doesn’t require commitment to a falsehood.

    And I would argue that whether the site’s goals would be furthered if others made similar commitments is best decided through experience.

  32. walto walto
    Ignored
    says:

    Reciprocating Bill:
    This is a bit of an experiment.

    I’m wondering if there is any value in making the implicit explicit.

    Those who post here implicitly agree to assume others are posting in good faith, and in responding Address the content of the post, not the perceived failings of the poster.

    I propose make my implicit assent to these rules explicit.

    To wit: in creating my contributions to TSZ I commit to refraining from stating or implying that other participants are not posting in good faith. Of course, in my spleen of spleens I believe that some others do not, in fact, post in good faith, and there doesn’t seem to be much I can (or should) do about that belief. Hence I’ve stated this commitment in a form I can honor through behavior. That said, I commit to the rule as I have expressed it.

    I also commit to addressing the content of others posts, not the perceived failings of the posters.

    I commit to self-limiting my contributions according to the above. If I find myself unable to abideby these commitments, I’ll withdraw from participation at TSZ. Hence this is not a proposed change in moderation, because no moderation will be involved. (I do reserve my access to Noyau under the terms stated for that forum, you slippery sonofabitch).

    Of course, I can’t require anyone else to follow suit, nor would I want the site administration to compel such public commitments. I see making one’s implicit assent to the site rules explicit as entirely voluntary. That said, I it is my belief that others’ self-restraint along these lines will improve the quality of conversations at TSZ, and would be gratified if others volunteered similar commitments.

    Anyone willing to do likewise? Anyone unwilling to do likewise?

    I would ask: If not willing, why not? For that matter, why participate at all at a site at which the entire aspiration of he site is captured by commitment to these simple rules, if not willing to commit to those rules?

    I like the idea of a public personal commitment, but for reasons I think I’ve indicated too many times for anybody to care anymore, I wouldn’t agree to the particular vow that RB has made. Since this is the zillionth time, I’ll be brief.

    RB has based his ceremony on the existing rules, but they are bad.

    First, it is regularly not only appropriate, but crucial to address the poster. Many perfectly sound arguments require the person advancing the argument to be addressed (their perceived biases, assumptions, etc.). I see absolutely nothing wrong with noting that a post seems to me largely based on a fear of dying or a desire for power, for example.

    Second, I think the enshrinement of the “good faith rule” is particularly silly. It is my view that, e.g., Patrick’s pointing out that Erik was repetitively weaseling (i.e., not posting in good faith) was perfectly appropriate. What was abusive there was only that he flayed a dead horse 700 times. I see nothing particularly wrong with pointing out that someone appears to be lying–after all, sometimes people don’t realize they’re doing this themselves.

    The main point, again, is that what I’ve called the “statutory approach” is defective: courtesy can’t be defined in every case, and it can certainly not be captured in a couple of simple rules. This defect can’t be fixed by internalization in the manner RB has proposed here.

    But again, change the vow, I might go for it. Maybe just have people promise not to be assholes.

  33. walto walto
    Ignored
    says:

    Reciprocating Bill: And I would argue that whether the site’s goals would be furthered if others made similar commitments is best decided through experience.

    Yes. I just note that that’s true of my suggested changes as well.

  34. petrushka
    Ignored
    says:

    Patrick: Without this additional commitment your suggestion merely ties the hands of good faith participants while allowing others to hide behind the rules.

    Might I point out there is at least one member in moderation due to failing to agree to the outing rule.

  35. Patrick Patrick
    Ignored
    says:

    petrushka,

    Without this additional commitment your suggestion merely ties the hands of good faith participants while allowing others to hide behind the rules.

    Might I point out there is at least one member in moderation due to failing to agree to the outing rule.

    Sure, but that’s one of the banning offenses. My concern is that requiring everyone to assume good faith even in the face of clear evidence to the contrary only encourages those who are not participating in good faith. The end result is more of the behavior we don’t want.

  36. Reciprocating Bill Reciprocating Bill
    Ignored
    says:

    walto: I like the idea of a public personal commitment, but for reasons I think I’ve indicated too many times for anybody to care anymore, I wouldn’t agree to the particular vow that RB has made.

    Walto, given your view of the current rules, what you would be inclined to publicly commit to? Just curious.

    The main point, again, is that what I’ve called the “statutory approach” is defective: courtesy can’t be defined in every case: it can certainly not be captured in a couple of simple rules. This defect can’t be fixed by internalization in the manner RB has proposed here.

    There are two issues there: the “statutory approach,” and the particular rules currently enshrined in statute. If the statutory approach is inherently defective, no rule changes are likely to make much difference. It seems to me that what remains is individuals governing their own participation.

  37. walto walto
    Ignored
    says:

    Patrick

    .My concern is that requiring everyone to assume good faith even in the face of clear evidence to the contrary only encourages those who are not participating in good faith.The end result is more of the behavior we don’t want.

    We have this rule:
    (A) Nobody is to accuse anybody else of not posting in good faith.

    But you want this:

    (B) Everybody should post in good faith.

    It’s pretty obviously that having A is going to make B less likely. I agree with you that (A)–like the broader ad hom rule–is a mistake. But the answer isn’t pointless harassment. There are other sorts of abuse than are found in your worldview, Horatio.

  38. walto walto
    Ignored
    says:

    Reciprocating Bill: Walto, given your view of the current rules, what you would be inclined to publicly commit to? Just curious.

    I mentioned a suggestion above. Something like “I promise to try really hard not to be an asshole here.”

    ETA: I would take that vow–but only if I felt that some regular abusers (I’m thinking now of Gregory, Frankie, phoodoo, and keiths) had also taken it, and were sincere in doing so. I don’t like the idea of being a punching bag. Taking such a vow in isolation is what used to be called a “tax on conscience.”

  39. keiths keiths
    Ignored
    says:

    RB,

    That’s why I recast this portion of my commitment in behavioral terms, which doesn’t require commitment to a falsehood.

    Committing to act as if this falsehood were true is only marginally less objectionable than committing to believe it.

    There are times when it is entirely appropriate to question the good faith of an interlocutor or to “address the poster”. To say “I’m not going to do that even when it makes sense” seems silly to me.

    It’s possible to have substantive discussions even when the “good faith”/”post not poster” rules are ignored, and conversely it’s possible for discussions to go south even when those rules are enforced.

    The critical variable seems to be the desire to have a substantive discussion, not a commitment to these rules.

    And I would argue that whether the site’s goals would be furthered if others made similar commitments is best decided through experience.

    I agree that experiment wins out over theory, but I would point out that we’ve already conducted an experiment — the “moderation only upon request of the ‘injured’ party” experiment — with good results. The site ran more smoothly.

    Despite that success, we’re back to the old scheme, and people are unhappy with it — hence the ongoing discussion.

    We lightened up on moderation and things went better. That success ought to have been enough to motivate a change; the obvious next experiment would be to lighten up even further. We can always revert to an older set of rules if an experiment is unsuccessful.

  40. Mung Mung
    Ignored
    says:

    Patrick: Excellent! I can still buy a used car from Mung.

    I only have one. But I do have some bridges I can sell you …

  41. Mung Mung
    Ignored
    says:

    petrushka: Might I point out there is at least one member in moderation due to failing to agree to the outing rule.

    Yes you may!

    There’s no rule that says that a member must agree to the no outing rule. There is no punishment proscribed for those who fail to agree to the no outing rule.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.