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. BruceS: ETA:reworked because I misunderstood the question on first reading.

    What the action is from public moderation is a question for those that promote public moderation that has bothered me.See my note to Walt just above.

    Ido not think there should be any public moderation thread.Further, if moderation is private, those that attempt to question it in public discussions should be immediately suspended.

    Thanks, that was my question.

  2. Mung: I think a moderator should be allowed to edit the rules page.

    I absolutely disagree.
    I think your ideas re protecting Trump and philosophers may need some work, but apart from those points, I approve of your manifesto.
    Probably a good time to put the SAPI’s in your jacket…

  3. Patrick: Lizzie founded TSZ to promote open discussion across a wide spectrum of folks. To get open discussion, you need policies that promote open discussion. Power at TSZ is already concentrated (and in the hands of the wrong people). Your suggestion is a step in the wrong direction.

    Just gonna say that My political views would get me labeled fascist or worse at most sites, regardless of political leaning. I have been banned by the left and the right, and don’t sit well with libertarians.

    But I’ve never had a problem with moderation here, and there’s nothing much different about what I say. There’s nothing in the rules and nothing about the way they’ve been implemented that interferes with what I have to say or with the way I want to say it.

  4. Patrick: Weird, I don’t see a lot of fascists arguing for freedom of expression, even for those with whom they disagree.

    I am in favor of freedom of expression for those who agree with me.

  5. DNA_Jock: I absolutely disagree.

    My thinking here has to do with addressing complaints about the absence of rules, or the making up of new rules, and the “waiting time” involved in waiting for Elizabeth herself to update the rules page.

    I take it that you think that only Elizabeth should be able to edit the rules page?

    Or are you ok with moderators updating thee page but only after having received approval from Elizabeth?

    Or do you think no changes ever need to be made?

    I’d be interested in hearing more of your thinking on what you disagree with and why on this subject.

  6. Erik:
    phoodoo,

    For example keith and patrick are simply campaigning for a coup, not trying to devise anything workable.

    Lacking a detailed description of the actionable consequences of public moderation, including how such consequences are to be implemented, I think this strong conclusion is justified.

    AFAIK, such a description has not been provided to date.

  7. Mung,
    It’s the reification of “the rules” that I find naive.
    There’s a widespread belief here that, if only the rules were clearer, there would be no dissent re moderation.
    That’s frikking hilarious.

    There’s the letter of the laws, and then there’s the spirit of the laws. Now, it’s an awfully good idea to have clear written laws. But there will always be grey areas, and there will nearly always be loopholes.
    Here’s how you create a set of laws that is jam-packed full of inconsistencies and loopholes and just plain painful to figure out : have many different people add whatever new law first comes into their head to “fix” the problem that most recently arose. Check out the rules of baseball. Or if you have the stomach, the US Tax Code.
    [Insert Bismark quote here]

    Lizzie is the dictator. She decides the rules. Moderators are the referees. They are responsible for ensuring the players comply. Grey areas, and situations not explicitly covered, are handled according to the spirit of the laws, as interpreted by the moderators.
    Given your eminently sensible, guaranteed to inflame the FSWs, concepts re the leeway moderators should have in such situations, I don’t see the need for ‘rule-editing privileges’.
    Obviously, if Lizzie asks a moderator to add a rule, it really doesn’t matter who does the typing.

    Now, where’s that bloody helmet?

  8. BruceS:

    phoodoo,

    For example keith and patrick are simply campaigning for a coup, not trying to devise anything workable.

    Lacking a detailed description of the actionable consequences of public moderation, including how such consequences are to be implemented, I think this strong conclusion is justified.

    Really? I thought phoodoo’s statement was so ridiculous as not to deserve a response. I can’t speak for keiths, but I’m anti-coup. I think the behavior of the admins over the past few weeks is far more coup-like, given that they have been actively breaking the rules, particularly this one: “. . . it is a principle of this site that comments are not edited, deleted, or hidden.”

    AFAIK, such a description has not been provided to date.

    I did respond to your questions about the purpose of public moderation upthread. It boils down to the importance of transparency (including having an evidence trail) — admins should not just be following the rules, they need to be seen to be following the rules. When they don’t, social opprobrium from the community is warranted.

    Freedom of expression without censorship is workable, even if phoodoo doesn’t believe it. Numerous examples have been provided.

  9. DNA_Jock: ’s the reification of “the rules” that I find naive.
    There’s a widespread belief here that, if only the rules were clearer, there would be no dissent re moderation.
    That’s frikking hilarious.

    Exactly

  10. 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.

    Censorship seems to come naturally to a lot of people. This new poll finds that 43% of Republicans agree with the following statement:

    The president should have the authority to close news outlets engaged in bad behavior.

  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.

    petrushka,

    But I’ve never had a problem with moderation here, and there’s nothing much different about what I say. There’s nothing in the rules and nothing about the way they’ve been implemented that interferes with what I have to say or with the way I want to say it.

    Not sure what your point is. Surely you’re not saying “I haven’t had a problem with moderation at TSZ; therefore there are no problems.” Are you?

  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.

    phoodoo, to Erik:

    Or you could just not click on the moderator page if it bothers you so much. It doesn’t take long to learn, just practice not clicking other links first, and slowly work your way into it.

    Heh.

    Unfortunately, Erik’s not interested in self-control. He wants to control others.

  13. 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.

    Bruce,

    Lacking a detailed description of the actionable consequences of public moderation, including how such consequences are to be implemented, I think this strong conclusion is justified.

    AFAIK, such a description has not been provided to date.

    Patrick and I have made it clear, in multiple places, that we’d like moderation to be limited to the bannable offenses. These cases are extremely rare.

    Let’s say someone commits a bannable offense such as posting a fellow commenter’s home address. Here’s how I think a case like that should be handled:

    1) Moderators should immediately remove the offending comment from public view.

    2) The commenter should be placed in moderation so that any further bannable comments can be screened out.

    3) The moderators should announce that a bannable offense has occurred. They should describe it, identify the commenter responsible, and indicate that the banning procedure has been initiated.

    4) Since these instances are extremely rare, the blog owner should be notified immediately so that she can participate in the deliberations over whether to ban.

    5) It’s her blog, so the decision should be hers.

    Let me add that I think Lizzie mishandled the JoeG case. By reinstating him, she sent the wrong message. In effect, she was announcing that TSZ doesn’t take the bannable offenses seriously, and that you’ll get a second chance if you commit one.

  14. 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.

    Bruce,

    I should have been more explicit on the agreement I perceive:
    1. Eliminate vague rules, such as “address the post, not the poster”.
    2. Eliminate guano and Noyau threads.
    3. Have a pool of moderators reflecting different worldviews. Remove moderators showing bias against posters for their worldviews.
    4. Notify the poster of all moderation decisions and ensure there is a process to question them that includes escalation to EL.

    I mostly agree. Exceptions:

    1) I see no reason to eliminate Noyau. True, Noyau would no longer strictly be needed under a no-guano scheme. But if commenters voluntarily choose to confine their flaming to Noyau, why not give them that option?

    2) I think your #3 becomes unnecessary under a no-guano regime, where the bannable offenses are the only ones requiring moderator attention. You don’t need moderators of “different worldviews” in order to decide that someone has published the home address of a fellow commenter.

  15. DNA_Jock: It’s the reification of “the rules” that I find naive.
    There’s a widespread belief here that, if only the rules were clearer, there would be no dissent re moderation.
    That’s frikking hilarious.

    Well, I can share my own experiences. I have often asked the question, where is that in the rules? If it was on the rules page, I would have shut up about it.

    And we see that going on as well from others in this very thread.

    So if it was in the rules, then the mods could point to the rules page. And it would cut down on the noise.

    And of course I am not saying that it would lead to no complaints about moderation. Just one class of complaints. In a similar vein I do think that having a more diverse pool of moderators might just cut down on complaints about a lack of diversity among the moderators. So it might not get rid of dissent re moderation, but that’s not the goal.

  16. Patrick: 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.

    DNA_Jock:

    back before I was part of the evil censorious conspiracy.

    Just a vocabulary FYI — the word you’re looking for is ‘censorial’, not ‘censorious’.

    From Garner’s Modern English Usage:

    Is a vocabulary lesson pertinent to this subject of the thread? If you want to take an ethical stand that despite being officially suspended he has a “ right to be heard” by the other posters , isn’t incumbent on you to relay only of keiths communication which directly address the subject rather than just cut and paste all his grievances?

    Still considering your generous offer.

  17. Patrick-keiths: You don’t need moderators of “different worldviews” in order to decide that someone has published the home address of a fellow commenter.

    You don’t need moderators of “different worldviews” in order to decide that someone has called someone else a liar.

    And you don’t need moderators of “different worldviews” in order to decide that calling someone else a liar is against the rules.

  18. newton: If you want to take an ethical stand that despite being officially suspended he has a “ right to be heard” by the other posters , isn’t incumbent on you to relay only of keiths communication which directly address the subject rather than just cut and paste all his grievances?

    So it’s for our benefit?

  19. Mung:
    My Application to Become a Moderator at TSZ

    ,I have created this “application” for Elizabeth and everyone else to read.
    [….] I think we should keep Moderation Issues, Noyau, and Guano

    I am taking this seriously, although I suspect “humorous” Mung has made an appearance or two.

    First, I see I was wrong about the unanimous support for eliminating Noyau and Guano, so let be explicit about my reasons.*

    If rules are simplified, there should be no need for Noyau since there will be no vague cases. Posts will be either guano or post-able in the main thread. If rules are not simplified enough to prevent Noyau, then it still should be eliminated as an attractor for moral outrage, but I admit in those circumstances the argument is not as strong.

    If moderation is private, both Noyau and especially Guano would be counterproductive, since these would attract moderation-related posts.

    So what about public moderation? I suppose in that case one could keep Guano. But it would be simpler to immediately to post guano’ed stuff in moderation, since presumably keeping moderation involves an action plan involving public posting about it in moderation thread (otherwise, as I have said, why bother with public thread moderation beyond the opportunity to vent?).

    BTW, I think “serious Mung” would be a fine moderator. Further, I believe he would bring some diversity to the moderator world views. “Humorous” Mung would have to be careful about alienating other moderators or posters.

    ———————————–
    * I do recognize that people may differ in their reasons for eliminating these meta-threads, but I don’t think that matters.

  20. Patrick:

    Bruce,

    1) I see no reason to eliminate Noyau.

    2).You don’t need moderators of “different worldviews” in order to decide that someone has published the home address of a fellow commenter.

    Noyau should be pointless with less vague rules: either it is guano or post-able in the main thread.

    I admit different worldviews should not be needed given an assumption of fairness by EL and private escalation processes, but it seems like a desirable way to avoid even the appearance of bias in escalations to the moderators as a group.

  21. BruceS: BTW, I think “serious Mung” would be a fine moderator. Further, I believe he would bring some diversity to the moderator world views. “Humorous” Mung would have to be careful about alienating other moderators or posters.

    My guess is both serious and humorous Mung think that alienating posters and moderators is a feature not something to be careful about.

  22. Shh, newton,

    I was quite enjoying the elision of the Patrick-keiths human centipede from the pertinent to the impertinent.

    Although I am surprised that Patrick-keiths views doxxing or porn as bannable offenses. Isn’t that censorship?

  23. Just tossing this out. What if posts could be hidden by a moderator but other people could still choose to view it if they wished by clicking on it. Sort of a guano without Guano.

    I wonder if that is even workable.

    It could end up being less work for the moderators, depending on whether some sort of plugin is available, it would get rid of Guano, it would make Noyau not needed, it would retain continuity for people who want that sort of thing.

    Downside?

  24. newton: My guess is both serious and humorous Mung think that alienating posters and moderators is a feature not something to be careful about.

    A feature, not a bug? Could I possibly alienate either posters or moderators even further?

    It’s all been a nefarious plot. From henceforth, everything I do will be seen as “reasonable” compared to the past.

  25. Patrick:

    Really?I thought phoodoo’s statement was so ridiculous

    My response to phoodoo was meant to indirectly communicate the same message.

    .I can’t speak for keiths, but I’m anti-coup..”

    Thanks for that clarification

    admins should not just be following the rules, they need to be seen to be following the rules.When they don’t, social opprobrium from the community is warranted.

    If there is a public moderation thread, how are its posts to be actioned by EL? Remove moderators where there is any charge of bias? If so, is she to ask for a vote on the issue? Or is the thread just for her to consider everyone’s input before making a decision? If that, it seems to me that private moderation where the injured party could enlist private support would do just as well.

    Or did you have something else in mind?

    Simply providing a place to call out moderators for public approbation seems like a bad idea to me: too much opportunity for bias* and ill will with no benefit to meeting the goals of the blog. It also would seem to make it harder to find moderators.

    *ETA: By “bias” I was alluding to the sort of behavior one has to be careful of in reading online reviews: dissatisfied people post, happy or indifferent people do not.

  26. Mung,

    That method is actually applied in some places. And in some places it’s done by reader votes. What I would like to see is, somewhere, an explanation of what rule was violated by a guanoed post, and which particular bits of the text violated it. Thus one could learn and adjust. Of course that’s more work for a moderator.

  27. Mung:
    Just tossing this out. What if posts could be hidden by a moderator but other people could still choose to view it if they wished by clicking on it. Sort of a guano without Guano.

    If they could not comment on them anywhere, it seems harmless to me. But I agree it might not be workable, even assuming we get true forum software. But I don’t know the details of such software.

  28. John Harshman:
    Mung,

    That method is actually applied in some places. And in some places it’s done by reader votes. What I would like to see is, somewhere, an explanation of what rule was violated by a guanoed post, and which particular bits of the text violated it. Thus one could learn and adjust. Of course that’s more work for a moderator.

    Just to be clear, my view is that private moderation should include that in the message to the poster. I guess there could be some kind of public summary of the type of posts guano’ed if EL thought the extra moderator work was worth it.

    ETA: Also, if the rules are simplified it should be evident what types of posts will violate them. If they turn out to be unclear, update the rules. Giving specific examples of why posts were deleted so people can avoid doing those things could just lead to gaming the system.

    I have seen forums try to apply open discussion for suspensions. I don’t think this discussion was helpful or needed; in what I saw it was just about everyone venting on how the rules should have been interpreted and what a good or bad person the poster is. But EL may believe differently.

  29. BruceS: If they could not comment on them anywhere, it seems harmless to me.

    Right. Perhaps make it non-quotable, though copy and paste would always get around that, as it does today with posts in Guano. Another argument for just disappearing the post in the first place. But then you’d just get into arguments over what was really said. Another argument for private moderation. Heh.

  30. Mung: Just tossing this out. What if posts could be hidden by a moderator but other people could still choose to view it if they wished by clicking on it. Sort of a guano without Guano.

    You would need the site software to support this. Otherwise it is not practical.

  31. Just to chime in here, I’m indifferent about whether moderation is “private” or “public” (what’s the difference?) but I’m strongly in favor of more moderation. The rules are too lax to prevent trolls and assholes and that drives away people who might otherwise be interested.

    I’d also very much like to see a rule that OPs must be written in grammatically correct English with no misspellings. Otherwise it’s just embarrassing. With the current composition of TSZ contributors such a rule would be strongly biased against the theists, which should be of more concern to them than it is.

  32. Patrick: Not sure what your point is. Surely you’re not saying “I haven’t had a problem with moderation at TSZ; therefore there are no problems.” Are you?

    I have tried to follow the spirit of the rules, and I have had no problems. On a few occasions I lost my temper, and my posts were moved to guano.

    So, surely, I am saying there should be no problems. Yes I am.

    I see people on all sides of the arguments violating the spirit of the site. I don’t understand why it is difficult to follow both the letter and the spirit of the rules.

  33. Kantian Naturalist: With the current composition of TSZ contributors such a rule would be strongly biased against the theists, which should be of more concern to them than it is.

    You must be talking about them other theists. 😉

  34. Mung: So it’s for our benefit?

    Obviously, It is not enough to be right, others have to know you are right. The sooner others acknowledge this , the better. If that is not possible then it is better for the others to know they are wrong over and over and over again.

  35. Kantian Naturalist: Just to chime in here, I’m indifferent about whether moderation is “private” or “public” (what’s the difference?) but I’m strongly in favor of more moderation. The rules are too lax to prevent trolls and assholes and that drives away people who might otherwise be interested.

    When moderation is private, then you won’t see any anti-mod bickering, much less constant whining and anger at moderation a la keiths. To whine about moderators in the open would lead to silencing and all other participants would have more space for on-topic discussion.

    Anti-mod bickering is one major form of trolling. Having re-read the place’s rules and about page, I see that Lizzie’s values are decidedly in favour of trolls – all posting is good, as long as it does not break laws that regulate the world outside this blog. There are basically no rules to keep order on this blog. To change that, i.e. to uphold topicality as a central value, one would probably have to set up a whole new site. No hope of that…

  36. Erik: Anti-mod bickering is one major form of trolling. Having re-read the place’s rules and about page, I see that Lizzie’s values are decidedly in favour of trolls – all posting is good, as long as it does not break laws that regulate the world outside this blog. There are basically no rules to keep order on this blog. To change that, i.e. to uphold topicality as a central value, one would probably have to set up a whole new site. No hope of that…

    I think there’s something importantly right about this. Lizzie’s rules rest on the assumption that there are no trolls on the Internet, or at least none that would ever come to TSZ. Lizzie assumes that other people are basically like her: intelligent, thoughtful, considerate, reasonable, and kind. That’s why her rules don’t do anything to curb the behavior of people who are abusive, vindictive, petty, ignorant, or stupid: she doesn’t take into regard the existence of such people and so her rules can’t do anything about them.

  37. keiths has sent me a few more emails. If you’re not interested, skip the next few.

    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.

    newton, to Patrick:

    Is a vocabulary lesson pertinent to this subject of the thread?

    TSZ threads are full of asides like this one. You do it too, newton. Relax a little. There’s no need to try to control what others say.

    I’ll bet that quite a few readers, like Jock, associated “censorious” with censorship. Now they’ve learned otherwise. That’s good! Learning new things is one of the benefits of being a TSZ reader. Roll with it.

    If you want to take an ethical stand that despite being officially suspended he has a “ right to be heard” by the other posters , isn’t incumbent on you to relay only of keiths communication which directly address the subject rather than just cut and paste all his grievances?

    Patrick is supporting my right to be treated equally with other commenters. Other commenters can post asides, so of course he supports my right to do so as well.

  38. 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.

    Bruce, quoting me:

    1) I see no reason to eliminate Noyau.

    Bruce, responding:

    Noyau should be pointless with less vague rules: either it is guano or post-able in the main thread.

    You snipped, and failed to respond to, the very part of my comment that explained my reasoning:

    1) I see no reason to eliminate Noyau. True, Noyau would no longer strictly be needed under a no-guano scheme. But if commenters voluntarily choose to confine their flaming to Noyau, why not give them that option?

    How would you respond to the question in bold?

  39. 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.

    Bruce,

    I admit different worldviews should not be needed given an assumption of fairness by EL and private escalation processes, but it seems like a desirable way to avoid even the appearance of bias in escalations to the moderators as a group.

    If bannable offenses are the only ones requiring moderator attention, and if Lizzie always makes the final decisions regarding bannings, then worldview bias simply isn’t an issue. If J-Mac posts your home address*, and an atheist moderator initiates the banning process, do you really think a Christian moderator is going to step in and say “I disagree. J-Mac didn’t post the address he posted”?

    *Strictly a hypothetical. I don’t actually think J-Mac would do such a thing.

  40. 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.

    DNA_Jock:

    Although I am surprised that Patrick-keiths views doxxing or porn as bannable offenses. Isn’t that censorship?

    I’m not a free speech absolutist, and neither is Patrick, as far as I can tell.

    I think it’s entirely appropriate to censor someone who publishes a fellow commenter’s home address.

    Nothing about that is inconsistent with our condemnation of your childish attempts at grudge-fueled censorship.

    Still waiting for a response to this, by the way, from you, or Alan, or Neil:

    Not a single one of the moderators has been able to connect the dots, starting with what I did and making a rational argument ending with the appropriateness of a 30-day suspension.

    The grudge came first, then the 30-day suspension, and now an increasingly pitiful attempt to find an after-the-fact rationalization for the 30-day suspension.
    I wish the mods would finally get their shit together and settle on a story.

  41. 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.

    Bruce,

    Here is a summary of reasons for private moderation that I have given:

    Most of your reasons work better as arguments against moderation than they do as arguments for private moderation. Let me address them individually.

    1. Empirical evidence: successful forums use private moderation. TSZ is unsuccessful and uses public moderation. I recognize that is just a correlation. But I think it should be taken into account in EL’s decision process.

    I don’t think you were around at the time, but Lizzie created TSZ largely in response to the rampant censorship and bannings at UD. UD is all about “private moderation”, and it’s been a disaster. Lizzie wanted to avoid that, and for good reason.

    2. Moral outrage. Moderation forums encourage moral outrage. The evidence is right in this thread. Moral outrage is not helpful to achieving TSZ’s goals.

    The solution is not to cover up moral outrage by prohibiting its expression. The solution is to eliminate the source of the outrage by curbing moderation abuses. The no-guano scheme sharply limits moderator powers. Moderators can’t abuse powers they don’t have, and so the reason for the moral outrage is eliminated.

    3. Moderator time is diverted from real discussions.

    Again, that isn’t an argument for private moderation — it’s an argument for the elimination of moderation entirely (except for the bannable offenses). Under your scheme, moderation discussions would still be happening, and they’d still be consuming moderators’ time and attention. It would just be happening under the radar.

    With the no-guano scheme, moderation discussions would virtually vanish. If your comments aren’t being guanoed, then you can’t complain about your comments being guanoed. If moderators aren’t guanoing comments, then they don’t need to justify the non-existent guanoing. That’s a huge improvement over the status quo.

    This means more time needed from each moderator meaning that fewer people are interested in volunteering.

    I addressed that earlier:

    1. It benefits Lizzie, who has complained about the difficulty of recruiting moderators. Under the no-guano scheme, she only needs admins, not moderators. Because the duties are far less onerous, admins should be much easier to find.

    And here:

    5. It even benefits Alan and Neil, who have been endlessly complaining about their workload. Under a no-guano scheme, they’d only need to perform admin duties. No need to read threads, guano comments, and respond to moderation issues and complaints.

    Bruce:

    4. The pool of potential moderators is also reduced because many people do not want to bear the burden having decisions they made as volunteers and in good faith being open to public scorn.

    Those concerns are eliminated under the no-guano scheme. If you’re not guanoing comments, then you won’t be publicly scorned for guanoing comments.

  42. 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.

    Mung,

    Just tossing this out. What if posts could be hidden by a moderator but other people could still choose to view it if they wished by clicking on it. Sort of a guano without Guano.

    That’s a variation on one of my earlier proposals.

    I’ll post some relevant comments from the TSZ – The Future thread. Here’s one:

    Before I present my three proposals, here’s an evaluation of the current guanoing scheme relative to Lizzie’s aims. The aims are taken from this earlier comment.
    Lizzie aim #1:

    1. You don’t want to control what people write, and moving comments to Guano is not intended to punish or shame them.

    The current scheme falls short of this aim. Guanoing is seen as both punishment and reprimand, including by the moderators, and it does affect what people write. The fact that the thread is essentially titled “Shit” does not help matters.
    Lizzie aim #2:

    2. You don’t want to control what people read, which is why you’re adamant about not deleting comments.

    The current scheme falls short of this aim, too, because although comments aren’t deleted, guanoing impedes the ability of people to read what they wish. Not only do they have to go out of their way to read guanoed comments, but those comments are then difficult to fit back into the context from which they were taken. This is an unfair burden, especially to those who choose to read most or all guanoed comments.
    Lizzie Aim #3:

    3. I do see moving comments to Guano as a housekeeping function that keeps the discussion focussed on content by removing intervening posts that are not.

    The current scheme is also bad at this. First, only rule-violating comments may be guanoed, so any contentless comments that don’t violate the rules remain in place. Second, guanoed comments often contain content, so moving them disrupts the continuity of the thread. This is why Alan invented the bogus “continuity rule”. He will actually move non-rule-violating comments to Guano in an (often failing) attempt to restore the continuity he disrupted by guanoing in the first place. Not the best judgment.

    I’ll present my three proposals tomorrow and evaluate them against the same three aims.

  43. 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.

    From the “TSZ – The Future” thread:

    Here’s the first of my three proposals (I’m not presenting them in any particular order). I think of this one as the “opt-in” proposal.

    The “opt-in” proposal:

    1. Comments would no longer be moved to Guano. They would remain in their original threads.

    2. Comments could be tagged as Guano by the moderators.

    3. Readers could “opt in” to moderation, in which case they would see only the comments that were not tagged as Guano.

    4. Readers who chose not to opt in would continue to see all comments in their original locations.

    This scheme would require software changes, of course. They’d have to be done by someone here or outsourced to a WordPress expert.

    More in the morning.

  44. 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.

    From the TSZ – The Future thread:

    I might as well describe the second proposal now, since it’s so similar to the first. I think of this as the “choose your own moderators” proposal, or CYOM for short.

    The “choose-your-own-moderators” proposal:

    1. Identical to the “opt-in” proposal, except that…

    2. Every registered user would be able to tag comments they considered to be Guano. That power would no longer be reserved to the official moderator/admins.

    3. Each reader could choose their own personal moderators from among the registered users.

    4. The reader would see all comments except those tagged as Guano by one or more of their personal moderators.

  45. 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.

    From the TSZ – The Future thread:

    I’ve already presented my “opt-in” and “choose your own moderators” proposals.

    Now the “no-guano” proposal. This one is quite simple, as the name suggests.

    The “no-guano” proposal:

    1. No comments are guanoed.

    2. Guano-related rules are eliminated.

    3. Other rules, such as the “bannable offenses” rules, remain in place.

  46. I’m definitely not interested in the Patrick/keiths correspondence. Thank Nature for the Ignore function.

  47. 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.

    From the TSZ – The Future thread:

    Next, I’d like to evaluate each of the three proposals against Lizzie’s stated aims for moderation. I’ve already evaluated the current moderation scheme here.

    First the “no-guano” proposal.

    Lizzie aim #1:

    1. You don’t want to control what people write, and moving comments to Guano is not intended to punish or shame them.

    The no-guano scheme achieves this aim completely. Guanoing can’t be construed as punishment or reprimand if it never happens.

    Lizzie aim #2:

    2. You don’t want to control what people read, which is why you’re adamant about not deleting comments.

    The no-guano scheme achieves this aim completely, as well. Every comment can be seen in its original location by every reader. Since guanoing doesn’t happen, readers do not have to make an extra effort to read guanoed comments or deduce where they came from.

    Lizzie Aim #3:

    3. I do see moving comments to Guano as a housekeeping function that keeps the discussion focussed on content by removing intervening posts that are not.

    The no-guano scheme does not achieve this aim. There is no housekeeping; each reader sees all comments and must decide for him or herself which ones are worth reading.

  48. 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.

    keiths:

    Not sure what your point is. Surely you’re not saying “I haven’t had a problem with moderation at TSZ; therefore there are no problems.” Are you?

    petrushka:

    I have tried to follow the spirit of the rules, and I have had no problems. On a few occasions I lost my temper, and my posts were moved to guano.

    So, surely, I am saying there should be no problems. Yes I am.

    That’s a terrible argument. Here’s an analogy to help you see that.

    You’ve talked about growing up in the South, and I know you’re especially conscious of race issues. Imagine two southern blacks having the following conversation in the 1950’s:

    Black #1:

    I’m happy with the way I’m being treated. I follow the rules, and I get along just fine. If a sign says “Whites Only”, I respect that.

    Black #2:

    You might be fine with that, but I think it’s outrageous! I’m fighting against that kind of treatment. It’s a huge problem.

    Black #1:

    There’s no problem. I follow the rules, and I get along just fine. You should do the same and stop complaining.

    The moral should be obvious: If the logic you’re using could have been used to support discrimination in the Jim Crow South, then you’re using bad logic.

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