Squawk box

I sense a disturbance in the force.

This thread is for people to tell me what they think is going on, going wrong, and what they think we should do about it.  I’m listening.

Lizzie

[Edit added 18.40 pm CET 20/08/2018 by Alan Fox]

As the comments have ballooned, Lizzie would very much like members to summarize their thoughts and suggestions into one statement and there is now a dedicated thread, “Summaries”, where they can be posted. Please just post one summary and please do not add other comments. You are welcome to comment on other people’s summaries in this thread. The idea of the “Summaries” thread is to make it easier for Lizzie to get your input. Comments judged by admins not to be summaries will move to guano.

Members who would rather keep their thoughts confidential are invited to use the private messaging system. Lizzie’s address is Elizabeth.

1,218 thoughts on “Squawk box

  1. The following is a copy of a private email from keiths, posted with his permission. I am sharing it because I believe it is pertinent to this thread and nothing in the Rules prohibits doing so.

    Jackson Knepp, in the Summaries thread:

    Heavier moderation. End the public discussions of moderation. Suspend then ban the posters who routinely break the rules and principle of charity.

    Those are some pretty bad recommendations. Let’s take a look at each:

    Heavier moderation.

    Heavier moderation by whom? Have you been reading this thread, or the Moderation Issues threads? Do you have any idea how abusive and untrustworthy the current moderators are?

    End the public discussions of moderation.

    Again, look at the rampant moderation abuses. We need public discussion of moderation. It’s one of the few defenses we have against these abuses.

    Suspend then ban the posters who routinely break the rules and principle of charity.

    As judged by corrupt moderators who routinely break the rules themselves? Again, no thanks.

  2. Patrick: Dave,

    Have you looked at keiths’ choose-your-own-moderator (CYOM) proposal?Would that have addressed the issue of off-topic comments in your thread?

    I confess that I have not been paying close attention to this thread, so know I haven’t looked into CYOM. I’ll check out keiths’ idea when I have chance, though.

  3. In the spirit of brainstorming, I’ll toss out an idea that I’m not sure I would support: TSZ should have a real names policy.

    Personally, I see the value in allowing anonymous and pseudonymous comments, not least because, as someone who posts under my real name with an easily discoverable email address, I’ve been the recipient of threatening emails from a former TSZ member. However, an argument can be made that associating a real-world first and last name with comments could result in greater civility.

    Thoughts?

  4. Sorry, but Google, etc, buy and sell as much private data to as many people as possible, who use it for their own purposes. And those purposes may not have been invented yet. The data is forever.

    Just as the FaceBook Oops is permanent. Everyone who trusted facebook now has all their family photos and comments permanently available to everyone, forever.

    Consider that some racecar guy whose name I forget has lost sponsors for something his father said decades ago. And you can’t know who will be in charge of social justice thirty years from now, or what their agendas will be.

    We are not anonymous here, but there is some cost to doxxing us.

  5. The following is a copy of a private email from keiths, posted with his permission. I am sharing it because I believe it is pertinent to this thread and nothing in the Rules prohibits doing so.

    Dave Carlson:

    I confess that I have not been paying close attention to this thread, so know I haven’t looked into CYOM. I’ll check out keiths’ idea when I have chance, though.

    For your convenience, some relevant links from earlier in the thread:

    Lizzie’s stated aims for moderation

    An evaluation of the current scheme against Lizzie’s aims

    The “opt-in” proposal

    The “choose your own moderators” proposal

    The “no-guano” proposal

    An evaluation of the three schemes against Lizzie’s aims

    A comparison of “opt-in” vs “choose your own moderators”

  6. The following is a copy of a private email from keiths, posted with his permission. I am sharing it because I believe it is pertinent to this thread and nothing in the Rules prohibits doing so.

    A recap of the advantages of the “choose your own moderators” proposal:

    1. It satisfies Lizzie’s stated aims for moderation: a) not controlling what people write, b) not controlling what they read, and c) providing a “housekeeping” service so they don’t have to step in guano if they choose not to. And it satisfies these aims far better than the current moderation scheme.

    2. It solves the perennial problem of endless moderation discussions. CYOM is essentially a fancier version of the Ignore button — one in which you designate others to have a role in how your Ignore button operates, comment by comment. There are no official moderators to complain to, or about. Just people operating their Ignore buttons as they choose.

    3. It solves the problem of moderator abuses. The moderators become admins, with limited powers. They can’t abuse powers that they don’t have.

    4. It becomes far easier to recruit admins. Admin responsibilities are far lighter than moderator duties. The policing function vanishes, so they aren’t subject to criticism for how they police others. Admins just have to keep the site running by doing routine work like fishing comments out of the spam queue. Their moderation duties are limited to notifying Lizzie in the rare event of potentially bannable offenses.

    5. It provides a customizable experience for readers, thus solving the Goldilocks problem — the endless disagreements over whether moderation is too light or too heavy, and whether it should include this or that. Readers can pick citizen moderators who share their opinions on what counts as guano. Moderators aren’t forced upon readers — they’re chosen. Folks who are like Patrick and me can opt out entirely and read what we wish without interference from official moderators.

  7. The following is a copy of a private email from keiths, posted with his permission. I am sharing it because I believe it is pertinent to this thread and nothing in the Rules prohibits doing so.

    Also worth a repost:

    The current scheme depends on trustworthy moderators. We don’t have them. Despite her best intentions, Lizzie has ended up with a trio of untrustworthy, childish and vengeful moderators who don’t share her values and don’t support her aims for TSZ.

    Just look at Neil’s behavior here, or Jock’s bratty behavior here, or Alan’s behavior in the ALurker affair.

    If you put power in the hands of petulant and abusive little boys like these, you get bad results.

    One of the great advantages of the “choose your own moderators” approach is that you don’t need trusthworthy and mature moderators. You just need admins who are able and willing to do routine things like fishing comments out of the spam queue. Their moderation duties are limited to notifying Lizzie when a potentially bannable offense has occurred.

    The workload would be vastly lighter for these admins than it is for moderators, so it should be much easier to recruit them. And by limiting their powers, you’ve limited the potential for abuse, so it becomes far less important to vet them for personal integrity and temperament.

    And since moderation would be self-imposed by the readers, via citizen-moderators of their own choosing, moderation complaints and meta-discussion would be dramatically reduced, if not eliminated altogether.

    There are some huge advantages to the CYOM approach. It’s certainly better than what we have now.

  8. The following is a copy of a private email from keiths, posted with his permission. I am sharing it because I believe it is pertinent to this thread and nothing in the Rules prohibits doing so.

    petrushka:

    Consider that some racecar guy whose name I forget has lost sponsors for something his father said decades ago.

    It was Conor Daly, and Eli Lilly dropped him because of something his father said years before Conor was even born:
    Swarens: Eli Lilly pushes political correctness to absurd level

    From that article:

    Eli Lilly, in contrast, bailed on Conor Daly the moment his father was exposed for making a single comment three decades ago.

    “It was a difficult decision and one we didn’t take lightly,” Kelley Meghan Murphy, a spokeswoman for Lilly, told me on Monday. “This was a sincere effort to deal with a difficult situation in the best way we could and in a way that reflects our values.

    Murphy pointed out that Lilly executives had to make a quick decision on whether to pull the company’s name from Daly’s car. The news about Derek Daly [Conor’s father] broke on Thursday. The race was on Saturday.

    And, as Murphy noted, there was concern that Conor Daly might somehow be pulled deeper into his father’s controversy.

    Let’s consider that point a bit more. Conor Daly didn’t do or say anything wrong. But the mere threat that Conor might somehow be tied by the thinnest of cords to another person’s offensive language was enough to push a normally PR savvy Fortune 500 company to disassociate itself from the driver.

    That’s scary. Who among us could escape that standard unscathed?

  9. petrushka:
    Sorry, but Google, etc, buy and sell as much private data to as many people as possible, who use it for their own purposes. And those purposes may not have been invented yet. The data is forever.

    Just as the FaceBook Oops is permanent. Everyone who trusted facebook now has all their family photos and comments permanently available to everyone, forever.

    That’s a good argument in favor of pseudonymity.

    Consider that some racecar guy whose name I forget has lost sponsors for something his father said decades ago. And you can’t know who will be in charge of social justice thirty years from now, or what their agendas will be.

    I Googled that incident and found this article about Conor Daly and his father, Derek Daly. It’s even worse, if the father’s explanation is considered. He was an Irish driver in America who used an Irish idiom, once, and stopped when he was told how offensive it is here. The outrage brigade is religious in its approach — the sins of the fathers, indeed.

  10. Patrick:
    I have posted my summary of recommendations to Elizabeth, should anyone wish to discuss them in this thread.

    I won’t comment on the concerns with the current moderators expressed at the start of the summary. I see this issue as completely up to Lizzie at this point.

    Beyond that, I thought this was a clear and useful summary of Patrick’s and Keith’s views. I do have some questions on details. I have only read: (1) the summary (2) posts directly linked from it, (3) the posts linked in Keith’s list of links.

    ON PATRICK’S INPUT
    Patrick, are you endorsing CYOM? I understand that at a minimum you endorse keeping common moderators but implementing new rules with strict limitations on their powers. In particular, you favor no moderation beyond those limited powers.

    What is the purpose of Patrick’s proposed test? That is, what is the hypothesis about how the changes to TSZ rules affect the posts and the reader experience of them that is being tested? I assume the test is meant to show both will be better, but better how, exactly? How will results be analyzed to see what has been shown with respect to that purpose?

    In the list of proposed new rules for TSZ, what does the part attributed to RB mean? What does it add to the following sentence, which starts “By participating …”?

    ON CYOM
    Under the current system, there is a guarantee that all posts are eventually moderated. Or at least I assume that is one of Lizzie’s goals for moderation. It appears there is no such guarantee under CYOM, since I suspect no regular user tries to read all posts (even allowing for more than one moderator per reader). Is my understanding correct?

    Are users who moderate expected to follow any common set of rules to their best interpretation? Or possibly at their discretion treat some guidelines as guano-able offenses as part of their moderating style? Or can they choose their own rules for guano? If a moderating user can choose what they guano, perhaps a comment on their moderating approach should be accessible from the plugin. That would be an empty set for users who do not commit to any consistent moderation style or any moderation at all.

    What is the review/sign-off process for the specs for the plugin? In particular, who is involved? How is Lizzie involved?

  11. The following is a copy of a private email from keiths, posted with his permission. I am sharing it because I believe it is pertinent to this thread and nothing in the Rules prohibits doing so.

    Alan is now stepping up the abuses by guanoing comments out of the Moderation Issues thread. He is not allowed to do that, of course.

    The exchange starts here, and the guanoed comments — which Alan neither announced nor linked to — can be found here.

    He just keeps digging the hole deeper.

    Behold your moderator, folks.

  12. The following is a copy of a private email from keiths, posted with his permission. I am sharing it because I believe it is pertinent to this thread and nothing in the Rules prohibits doing so.

    Poor DNA_Jock is unraveling.

    According to the latest bit of Jock Logic, any consideration of Lizzie’s aims is “legalistic”, and since there’s no rule explicitly forbidding the moderators from shitting on Lizzie’s aims and acting out their personal grudges, well, then, it must be A-OK to do so, regardless of the impact on TSZ.

    Lizzie wants moderators to err on the light side? Well, there’s no rule explicitly requiring them to honor her aims, so screw Lizzie — they’ll do what they want. Lizzie wants me to participate in the discussion of TSZ’s future, as she stated explicitly in the email excerpt I shared? Well, there’s no rule explicitly requiring the moderators to pay attention to Lizzie, so screw her — they’ll keep me suspended, in an attempt at preventing the discussion from happening.

    That’s a winning argument for sure, Jock.

  13. Keitrick: …since there’s no rule explicitly forbidding the moderators commenters from shitting on Lizzie’s aims and acting out their personal grudges, well, then, it must be A-OK to do so, regardless of the impact on TSZ

    Thank you for making my point for me. You are capable of seeing the flaw in Patrick’s “that which is not forbidden…” argument.
    You both should try reading for comprehension.

  14. DNA_Jock: Thank you for making my point for me. You are capable of seeing the flaw in Patrick’s “that which is not forbidden…” argument.
    You both should try reading for comprehension.

    If there’s a flaw in my argument, you certainly haven’t demonstrated it with your pathetic tu quoque.

    Try addressing the actual argument instead of banning and moderating people you disagree with. That would be more aligned with Elizabeth’s goals for the site than your behavior over the past month.

  15. John Harshman whines about the creationists here.

    Ok, he can go elsewhere to find other creationists, like say the Cedarville geology department.

    https://www.cedarville.edu/News/2011/Geological-Society-of-America-GSA-Conference-Geology-major.aspx

    Does he want a live debate, I’ll debate him on ZOOM or in person. But if not me, he can debate the YEC faculty at at Liberty:

    https://www.liberty.edu/academics/healthsciences/biology-chemistry/index.cfm?PID=6559

    But, oh well, this is the internet, what do you expect in terms of quality.

  16. Dear Lizzy,
    Please rename the blog to The Speculative Zone, and it will be the best move you have ever made…
    This blog is only active either when speculations, often called or considered as scientific, abound. Or, when the challenging OP to the Darwinian faith allows for the free flow of speculations…
    The problems often arise though when evidence is called for…But, that is nothing new in the Darwinian, speculative science, starting with the origins of life and quantum mechanics as the fundamental problems for Darwin’s followers…

    Darwinists use freely their imagination to the full using such tools as Optimism Bias and Confirmation Bias, as they should, instead of considering the evidence that contradicts their beliefs…

Leave a Reply

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