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.

1,219 Replies to “Squawk box”

  1. Patrick Patrick
    Ignored
    says:

    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 noticed a message upthread from EL* lamenting the number of entries in the thread (or at least I took it as a lament on the volume).

    Would it be helpful to her if the big contributors developed a pdf or email summary of their view of the problems and suggested solutions for the site.

    I think that’s a bad idea. Lizzie went out of her way to create this thread and invite responses. She stated emphatically:

    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.

    You’re suggesting that she turn around and say, “Never mind. I’m not listening to the “little” contributors, and I’m not listening to the “big” contributors either, except for what they summarize in email or pdf form.” That’s silly, and it’s exactly the message that Lizzie does not want to send right now.

    Her idea is better: She’s busy, but this thread is important, so she’ll take her time to read through it as time permits.

  2. Patrick Patrick
    Ignored
    says:

    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.

    Patrick:

    When an admin moves a comment to Guano, he hides it from everyone who is reading the thread.

    newton:

    Very cleverly hidden, except for providing the information of the location where the comment now resides.

    You’re forgetting that DNA_Jock, when he feels like it, refuses to even announce the guanoed comment, much less link to it.

    Sometimes even providing a link for those too lazy to move their finger twice…Seems to me everyone has a choice that allows the post to be read with the most minuscule effort.

    Good. Then you won’t object to the following rule:

    All of newton’s comments will be immediately guanoed. No exceptions.

    That wouldn’t be an injustice at all, right, newton? Everyone could still read your comments with “the most minuscule effort”.

  3. Patrick Patrick
    Ignored
    says:

    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, to newton:

    You’re forgetting that DNA_Jock, when he feels like it, refuses to even announce the guanoed comment, much less link to it.

    It was a remarkable display of contempt for Lizzie’s aims. Jock knows perfectly well that Lizzie does not want guanoing to be used as a form of punishment. So what does he do? He uses it as punishment, and when he feels like it, he worsens the punishment by refusing to announce or link to the guanoed comment.

    It’s a slap not only to the guanoed commenter, but also to the readers, many of whom would like to know that a comment was guanoed and would like to be able to read it easily.

    Jock knows what Lizzie wants, but his attitude is “I have the power, and I’ll use it for my personal benefit, in service of my personal grudge. Lizzie and the readers can go fuck themselves.”

    This, folks, is what happens when you put power in the hands of a corrupt moderator.

    From an earlier comment:

    We can virtually eliminate the endless, distracting discussions of moderation and moderation abuses by putting an end to guanoing. The moderators, bad as they are, can’t abuse powers that they don’t possess. We should make them admins, not moderators.

    Of course there’s still the potential for abuse, though much reduced, even under a no-guano scheme, so it would be wise to replace the current corrupt trio of moderators with trustworthy admins. The good news is that it should be easy to recruit admins, since the workload under a no-guano scheme would be light.

  4. Patrick Patrick
    Ignored
    says:

    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.

    Surely you can tell the difference between a discussion and a poll, walto.

    This entire thread is a discussion of problems at TSZ and proposed solutions. Patrick and I are on board with that, and both of us are participating (despite the best efforts of the moderators to censor me).

    We support and encourage the discussion.

    What we oppose is Alan’s proclivity toward pandering to members and trying to turn moderation into a popularity contest.

  5. Patrick Patrick
    Ignored
    says:

    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:

    Here’s the funny part: If William and Jock were as confident as they claim to be, then they would want to run the experiment. It would be a guaranteed vindication for them.

    DNA_Jock:

    Sure I want you to run the experiment. I have told you that I do. I have encouraged you to do so.
    Just. Not. Here.

    Thus proving my point. If you were confident, you’d want the experiment to be run here, in full view of everyone, for maximum vindication.

    Your words tell us that you are certain of the outcome. Your actions tell us otherwise. You are afraid of what the outcome might be, so you don’t want the experiment to be undertaken.

    Lizzie started this thread because she wanted to make informed decisions about the future of TSZ. You are fighting against her aims, first by trying to censor me, and now by opposing an experiment that would give her valuable information.

    Take a look at yourself, Jock.

  6. Patrick Patrick
    Ignored
    says:

    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.

    William,

    Once again, you are making my point for me.

    As I wrote yesterday:

    In the meantime, let me note a delicious irony:

    Every criticism of me that William just leveled is forbidden by the “address the post, not the failings of the poster” rule.

    If the rules were actually being enforced, then William would be punished for expressing those opinions.

    William, I am defending your right to speak your mind and criticize a fellow commenter. You are arguing for a set of rules that would forbid such criticism.

    Think about it.

    You are a master of the foot shot, William.

    By your own standards, you are a whiner who keeps breaking the rules by complaining about the faults of a fellow commenter.

    I am defending your right to complain about the conduct of your fellow commenters, including me. Conduct is important in a forum like this, and it should be perfectly acceptable for members to discuss the conduct of others and whether such behavior is conducive to the aims of the site.

  7. Patrick Patrick
    Ignored
    says:

    William J. Murray:
    So, just to show the evidence of what I’m talking about, here are a few gems from keiths just above:

    . . .

    We’re all familiar with keiths’ style of “debate”.He cant write 2 sentences without making some sort of disparaging comment or implication about the character, motives or emotional state of the other person.

    If that’s how you feel, William, I strongly suggest you use the Ignore button. You’ll never have to see keiths’ comments again.

    Unless, of course, your real goal is to control what other people can choose to read. That would indicate a profound character flaw, though, so I’m sure it isn’t the case.

  8. Patrick Patrick
    Ignored
    says:

    DNA_Jock:
    Keitrick,
    Sure I want you to run the experiment. I have told you that I do. I have encouraged you to do so.
    Just. Not. Here.
    Seriously, knock yourselves out. Imagine the awesomeness of your vindication!

    Imagine how quickly the TSZ authoritarians would come up with reasons why it couldn’t possibly work here.

    I’ve already provided counterexamples to your concerns, which you have studiously ignored. Only a test here would give meaningful data.

  9. Patrick Patrick
    Ignored
    says:

    newton:
    . . .
    Not their ability to choose, the ability to guarantee the outcome of their choice. You can choose to write apost that does not to follow the rules, and the owner can make her choice.

    Everyone has a choice.

    You’re aware that 1984 was a warning, not an instruction manual in how to subvert the clear meaning of words, right?

    Let me state it as simply as I can:

    * Choosing what you read is good.

    * Trying to prevent other people from choosing what they read is bad.

    Don’t be bad.

  10. Patrick Patrick
    Ignored
    says:

    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.

    Patrick,

    Your mention of 1984 reminded me of something remarkable:

    Every single comment I have made in this thread (with your help) would not have appeared if Alan Arrington and his fellow moderators had had their way. Every single comment would have been suppressed.

    Bruce is worried about the volume of comments that Lizzie has to plow through. I’m more concerned about the kick in the gut she’ll feel upon seeing how three moderators she trusted — Alan, Neil, and DNA_Jock — have betrayed her trust and thrown her and TSZ under the bus.

    Richard’s Animal Farm quote was apt:

    No question now what has happened to the faces of the pigs. The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again: but already it was impossible to say which was which.

  11. Patrick Patrick
    Ignored
    says:

    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 phoodoo:

    You feel the rules are unfairly applied, it is proposed to eliminate guano .

    Correction — Patrick and I are proposing a site-wide, three-month test of a no-guano scheme, with Lizzie making a final decision based on the results of the experiment.

    As I put it to ALurker:

    Just to be absolutely clear, I am not suggesting the elimination of all rules. Just those relating to the guanoing of comments.

    Second, I am not claiming that it’s an “optimal solution.” We don’t know what the optimal solution is.

    What I am claiming is that judging by the evidence to date, it looks far better than the current scheme and is worth a try. Moderation has always evolved at TSZ, and I doubt that anyone thinks that the next scheme we settle on will be the final one.

    If a no-guano approach actually turned out to be worse than the current approach, we could reverse it. If it turned out to be better, but with room for further improvement, we could tweak it.

  12. Patrick Patrick
    Ignored
    says:

    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.

    Now is a good time to remind everyone that the “status quo” and “no-guano” options are not the only ones on the table.

    I described two other options — the “opt-in” and “choose your own moderators” proposals — starting here and in the next few comments.

    As discussed there, I think the “no-guano” option is best. The other two are also good, but they would require software changes.

  13. Patrick Patrick
    Ignored
    says:

    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.

    Patrick, to DNA_Jock:

    I appreciate that you recognize that your desire to control the discussion is based on paternalism. That raises two issues. First, the members of TSZ are adults who don’t need you to act in loco parentis.

    That is an extremely important point.

    Under the current scheme, readers have their “parents” chosen for them and forced on them. It’s ridiculous for adults to be treated this way.

    All three of the other proposals — “no-guano”, “opt-in”, and “choose your own moderators” — give the responsibility back to the readers, where it belongs.

  14. Patrick Patrick
    Ignored
    says:

    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.

    As I explained here, the current moderation scheme falls short of all three of Lizzie’s stated aims for moderation.

    The no-guano scheme is much better, though it falls short of the last of Lizzie’s three aims:

    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 “opt-in” and “choose your own moderators” proposals meet the third aim, while not violating the other two, by allowing readers to have rule-violating comments removed from their view if they so wish. The control is with the readers, where it belongs.

    So both the “opt-in” and “choose your own moderators” approaches are better in that respect than “no-guano”, at the cost of software modifications. And all three are better at meeting Lizzie’s aims than the current scheme.

  15. Patrick Patrick
    Ignored
    says:

    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.

    Now a comparison of “opt-in” vs “choose your own moderators”. Which is best?

    I think “choose your own moderators” is best, for a simple reason: it gives the reader the most control and the most choices. Under the CYOM scheme, a reader could opt out of moderation entirely, which is what Patrick and I would choose. Or they could tailor the moderation to their personal desires by picking exactly those “citizen-moderators” whose views most closely match their own.

    Under the “opt-in” scheme, the only choices are a) no moderation, or b) moderation via the “official” moderators. When the official moderators are as bad as the current crop, that’s not much of a option.

    So on that basis, “choose your own moderators” is superior to “opt-in”. But again, there is a cost: the software would need to be modified in order to implement CYOM.

    Under “no-guano”, no software modifications are necessary. A site-wide no-guano test could begin today, if Lizzie so decreed.

  16. Patrick Patrick
    Ignored
    says:

    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.

    Patrick, to newton:

    Let me state it as simply as I can:

    * Choosing what you read is good.

    * Trying to prevent other people from choosing what they read is bad.

    Don’t be bad.

    Amen.

    And with the no-guano scheme, readers can be good. It just requires them to act as adults who are responsible for what they choose to read.

    If there are enough people who refuse to accept that responsibility, then the “opt-in” or “choose your own moderators” options might work better. Under those schemes, readers who want others to choose for them can delegate that responsibility.

    The important thing is not to force the babysitting on those who don’t want or need it.

  17. Patrick Patrick
    Ignored
    says:

    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.

    After watching Trump’s latest abuse of authority today (in revoking the security clearance of John Brennan), I’m marveling at what Alan told us. Namely, that if Trump were commenting at TSZ and an honest critic pointed out that he was lying, Alan would punish the honest critic.

    Unbelievable.

  18. Patrick Patrick
    Ignored
    says:

    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.

    Here’s another benefit of “no-guano” and “choose your own moderators” over “status quo” and “opt-in”:

    A massive reduction in moderation-related metadiscussion.

    Under a no-guano regime, there’s no guanoing at all, so there’s no guanoing to complain about. Under the “choose your own moderators” regime, the only “guanoing” is done by citizen-moderators who are appointed by each reader him or herself. That’s effectively no different from employing the Ignore buttons; it’s just that now your Ignore buttons are controlled by a committee of your choosing, comment by comment. So no basis for complaints there either.

    Under “opt-in”, there might still be moderation complaints. That’s because if enough readers opt in, then the impact of partial or biased moderation decisions by the moderators would still be large. And since readers can’t choose anyone other than the official moderators, that unduly magnifies the effect of moderator bias.

    So again, “choose your own moderators” seems superior in terms of meeting Lizzie’s stated aims for moderation: not controlling what people write, not controlling what they read, and providing a “housekeeping” function for those that desire it, without forcing it upon those who don’t. The cost, again, is that CYOM requires software modifications. “No-guano” is superior in the sense of being something that we can test immediately, with no software changes required.

  19. Alan Fox Alan Fox
    Ignored
    says:

    BruceS:
    Alan Fox,

    Alan:I noticed a message upthread from EL* lamenting the number of entries in the thread (or at least I took it as a lament on the volume).

    Would it be helpful to her if the big contributors developed a pdf or email summary of their view of the problems and suggested solutions for the site.

    Besides cutting down on her reading,I think that would also help the posters to make sure EL has the best way to judge their contributions.

    ——————–
    * I suspect it is the Canadian in me, but I find “Lizzie” disrespectful,

    Just to follow up again on BruceS’s suggestion. Lizzie, who has tried and failed to wade through the whole thread, thinks that short summaries from those who would like to express concerns, ideas and suggestions would be “brilliant”.

    Just looking into the mechanics of that. Awaiting developments.

  20. Zachriel Zachriel
    Ignored
    says:

    short summaries

    We have enjoyed a forum where everyone “assumes all other posters are posting in good faith.”

  21. Patrick Patrick
    Ignored
    says:

    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.

    An exchange I had with DNA_Jock in Jaunuary:

    Not that you asked, but : No, I am not on board with your no-guano proposal.

    But not to worry old chap, you don’t need to get Lizzie’s, or anyone else’s approval:
    Just find a youtube video and start commenting on it.

    keiths:

    You’re making the same mistake as newton, to whom I wrote:

    The internet is not a homogeneous entity. One blog [or website] is not identical to another. The contributors are different. The readers are different. The commenters are different. The vibe is different. To say that TSZ will “devolve” without guanoing is just speculation, and the evidence actually suggests the opposite.

    Even Youtube itself isn’t homogeneous. You don’t see flame wars breaking out on every video that has comments.

    You’ve jumped to conclusions again, and you’re supporting your poor judgment regarding TSZ with an overgeneralization of what happens at Youtube, of all places.

    Meanwhile, we have multiple lines of direct evidence showing that TSZ works just fine without guanoing. You are conveniently ignoring those.

    You’re doing it backwards, Jock. The right approach is to select your conclusion based on the evidence, not the other way around.

  22. Patrick Patrick
    Ignored
    says:

    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, Neil, DNA_Jock:

    Lizzie created this thread so that we could discuss problems at TSZ and their potential solutions.

    You have already shown contempt for Lizzie’s wishes by censoring me. Thanks to Patrick’s intervention, my voice is nevertheless being heard.

    In addition to the “no-guano” proposal that Patrick and I both support, I’ve placed two additional proposals on the table: the “opt-in” and “choose your own moderators” proposals. Each of the three schemes satisfies Lizzie’s stated aims for moderation far better than the current scheme.

    As moderators, part of your job is to discuss moderation issues. You know that, and you know that Lizzie expects it of you. Why, then, are you refusing to even address these three proposals?

    (Note: DNA_Jock has at least addressed the “no-guano” proposal, though ineffectively. He hasn’t addressed the others.)

  23. Alan Fox Alan Fox
    Ignored
    says:

    Patrick writes (on another thread)

    1) Neither you nor any other admin has been able to point to any rule that keiths violated.

    There was no specific rule. There should be. OPs should be no different from comments. I certainly regard it as an unwritten rule and it didn’t occur to Lizzie to make that explicit. The issue was not the rule. Calling someone a liar in the title of an OP is way beyond acceptable. The legal point remains. The person accused could have insisted on action. As has been pointed out, Lizzie is free to take her own risks on her own blog. She does not have to extend that to any other author. Subsequently, keiths was utterly immune to any request to desist. In parallel to my remonstrating with keiths, other admins contacted Lizzie and she approved the actions to add the disclaimer to the OP.

    2) There is no rule that allows admins to suspend any member of TSZ.

    Lizzie is fully aware of my action in suspending keiths’s account. So far, she has not instructed me to reverse it.

    3) There is a rule against editing or deleting comments. At least one admin broke that rule.

    Admins act with Lizzie’s authority. I’m sorry but you know yourself that is the case. You have still to answer what undertakings you gave Lizzie when you became an admin here. Well?

    4) Elizabeth has explicitly asked for information about the situation that you and the other admins created, in this thread. You are not allowing keiths to answer Elizabeth’s questions.

    There is nothing preventing keiths contacting Lizzie directly.

  24. Patrick Patrick
    Ignored
    says:

    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.

    Probably worth a repost in the Squawk Box thread:

    Alan, to Patrick:

    Notwithstanding subsequent comments I still hold to the position declared in my first comment in that thread.

    Then you are confirming that the suspension is illegitimate, because in that comment you say that you imposed the suspension to put a stop to the criticism I was leveling at the moderators.

    Lizzie wants the moderators to be subject to challenge and criticism. You are openly defying her with this suspension.

  25. Patrick Patrick
    Ignored
    says:

    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.

    Well, that’s a pretty amazing admission.

    Alan just admitted

    a) that there was no rule violation;
    b) that there is no rule allowing a suspension, much less a draconian 30-day one;
    c) that the moderators broke the rule about editing comments and OPs; and
    d) that he contravened Lizzie’s wishes for this thread by preventing me from participating.

    His excuse: Oh, well I haven’t censored anyone, because keiths has Lizzie’s email address.

    Nice job of convicting yourself, Alan.

  26. Patrick Patrick
    Ignored
    says:

    Alan Fox:

    Alan,

    Thank you for directly addressing the issues I raised.

    1) Neither you nor any other admin has been able to point to any rule that keiths violated.

    There was no specific rule.

    Then there is no justification for your actions.

    There should be.

    That’s your opinion that you should raise with Elizabeth, just as you did with the racism issue. You should not take unilateral action before doing so.

    OPs should be no different from comments. I certainly regard it as an unwritten rule and it didn’t occur to Lizzie to make that explicit.

    You’re attempting to read her mind. The fact that you responded differently in this case than in the racism case suggests that you were motivated by your personal dislike of keiths.

    The issue was not the rule.

    That is exactly the issue. You are punishing a TSZ member arbitrarily. This isn’t UD, you shouldn’t be acting like Barry Arrington. That is much more dangerous to the site than the occasional offensive comment.

    Calling someone a liar in the title of an OP is way beyond acceptable.

    Again, that’s your opinion that you can share with Elizabeth to get the rules changed. Admins should not be making up their own rules ad hoc.

    The legal point remains. The person accused could have insisted on action.

    As noted early in this thread, the possibility of legal action is extremely small and, even if taken, would only result in Elizabeth having to either provide a way of contacting keiths or take down the post. She is in no legal danger.

    As has been pointed out, Lizzie is free to take her own risks on her own blog. She does not have to extend that to any other author. Subsequently, keiths was utterly immune to any request to desist. In parallel to my remonstrating with keiths, other admins contacted Lizzie and she approved the actions to add the disclaimer to the OP.

    That’s the first time you’ve mentioned that. A disclaimer from the site owner should have her name attached. Also, approving a disclaimer suggests that she wanted the post to remain. It was taken down, then put up, but with comments closed. The rules do not allow the admins to do any of that.

    2) There is no rule that allows admins to suspend any member of TSZ.

    Lizzie is fully aware of my action in suspending keiths’s account. So far, she has not instructed me to reverse it.

    That doesn’t address the issue that there is no rule allowing you to do it in the first place. Elizabeth has to rely on the admins when she doesn’t have time to participate. You are not following the rules nor are you behaving as she would. That she hasn’t had time to review the situation thoroughly doesn’t justify your behavior.

    3) There is a rule against editing or deleting comments. At least one admin broke that rule.

    Admins act with Lizzie’s authority.

    No, you have admin privileges but the only authority you have is that granted by the rules. You are certainly not behaving as she would. You are abusing your authority.

    I’m sorry but you know yourself that is the case. You have still to answer what undertakings you gave Lizzie when you became an admin here. Well?

    I don’t remember and I doubt I have the emails from that far back. As an admin I always considered myself bound by the rules. That’s why I’m uncomfortable with how we stretched the spam rule to cover the Frankie situation.

    4) Elizabeth has explicitly asked for information about the situation that you and the other admins created, in this thread. You are not allowing keiths to answer Elizabeth’s questions.

    There is nothing preventing keiths contacting Lizzie directly.

    You’re hiding behind her skirts again. You admit that keiths broke no rule and you admit that admins are not allowed by the rules to suspend people. Undo your abuse of your admin privileges.

  27. Patrick Patrick
    Ignored
    says:

    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.

    Another amusing fact:

    Alan just told us that the OP violated no rules:

    There was no specific rule. There should be.

    What is the new moderator-edited OP title?

    This post violates site rules

    Oops.

  28. Patrick Patrick
    Ignored
    says:

    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,

    Subsequently, keiths was utterly immune to any request to desist.

    Oh, please. Here’s what actually happened:

    Even though I disagreed that the original OP was rule-violating — a position that you have now validated (oops) — I went ahead and modified it so that it didn’t accuse Swamidass of lying, but merely referred to his falsehoods. The modified version can be seen here.

    I submitted the modified OP. What happened? Neil refused to publish it, giving the following bogus reason:

    I will not be publishing that. If you want to have a public fight with Dr Swamidass, you will need to find another site for it.

    Thus proving that it had nothing to do with rules, and everything to do with Neil’s childishness and desire to censor someone against whom he holds an intense grudge.

    You guys are just pitiful.

  29. DNA_Jock
    Ignored
    says:

    Patrick: That’s the first time you’ve mentioned that. A disclaimer from the site owner should have her name attached. Also, approving a disclaimer suggests that she wanted the post to remain. It was taken down, then put up, but with comments closed. The rules do not allow the admins to do any of that.

    True that it is the first time Alan mentioned it. I alluded to it previously, when I noted that Lizzie was involved at step 2 of keiths’s five-step plan for how to deal with a rule-violating post; but if you paid more attention to what Lizzie herself wrote, perhaps you would look less foolish.
    Please stop littering.

  30. Patrick Patrick
    Ignored
    says:

    DNA_Jock: True that it is the first time Alan mentioned it. I alluded to it previously, when I noted that Lizzie was involved at step 2 of keiths’s five-step plan for how to deal with a rule-violating post; but if you paid more attention to what Lizzie herself wrote, perhaps you would look less foolish.

    Thanks for the link. People can miss comments in this volume. Pointing it out one of the first half-dozen times the issue was raised would have been more productive than sniping now.

    Please stop littering.

    Considering support of free speech to be littering isn’t the kind of respect for Enlightenment values one should expect in a TSZ admin.

    That aside, here’s what Elizabeth suggested, from the comment you linked to: “I’d say, put him in pre-moderation, and explain why. If the problem recurs, ban.”

    Did the admins do that? No, you banned him from commenting. You’ve just made it clear that the suspension is not only not allowed by the rules but that it isn’t supported by Elizabeth. It’s time to do the right thing and let him participate.

  31. Patrick Patrick
    Ignored
    says:

    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.

    Patrick, to Alan:

    You admit that keiths broke no rule and you admit that admins are not allowed by the rules to suspend people. Undo your abuse of your admin privileges.

    Not only is the suspension illegitimate, but it’s gone on for over sixteen days.

    Lizzie has stated that she wants moderators to err on the side of light moderation. You all know that, and you’ve thrown it out the window. You couldn’t care less about what Lizzie has asked for.

    The current suspension is not just illegitimate, and it’s not just heavy — it’s draconian. Yet the three of you are maintaining it.

    It’s clear that you guys are opposed to what Lizzie is trying to do here at TSZ. Why are you moderators, then?

  32. Patrick Patrick
    Ignored
    says:

    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,

    As has been pointed out, Lizzie is free to take her own risks on her own blog. She does not have to extend that to any other author.

    This is hilarious.

    Alan, do you actually expect us to believe that if Lizzie hadn’t been the blog owner, you would have suspended her for calling Stephen Meyer a liar?

    Get real. You wouldn’t have lifted a finger, because you don’t have a personal grudge against her.

  33. DNA_Jock
    Ignored
    says:

    Patrick,

    But I did point it out one of the first half-dozen times the issue was raised, but you were too busy littering to notice. That FSW mantle sure looks good, but YOU are responsible for every comment that YOU choose to post. That includes unfounded attacks on various people, so sorry if I come across as ‘sniping’.

    As you note, Lizzie wrote “I’d say, put him in pre-moderation, and explain why. If the problem recurs, ban.” Which is what happened. keiths chose to evade pre-moderation (of his edited, but still rule-breaking) post by posting it as a comment.
    The moderators then suspended rather than banned him.
    They also chose the side of leniency and free speech ideals by allowing you to litter various threads here.

  34. Patrick Patrick
    Ignored
    says:

    DNA_Jock:
    Patrick,

    As you note, Lizzie wrote “I’d say, put him in pre-moderation, and explain why. If the problem recurs, ban.” Which is what happened. keiths chose to evade pre-moderation (of his edited, but still rule-breaking) post by posting it as a comment.

    His modified post was directly in response to the new rule you made up. It was an attempt to work within it.

    The moderators then suspended rather than banned him.

    That’s just semantics. A 30 day ban is still a ban. It is not what Elizabeth authorized. It’s also still not reasonable or fair not to allow him to make his case here.

    They also chose the side of leniency and free speech ideals by allowing you to litter various threads here.

    Leniency? It hasn’t taken you long to develop the same arrogance that Alan and Neil have been demonstrating. There is nothing in what I’ve posted that violates any of the rules here, your resentment of free speech notwithstanding. It isn’t leniency to allow open discussion here, it’s the whole point of the site.

    Feeling the urge to make up a new rule, Jock?

  35. Patrick Patrick
    Ignored
    says:

    Alan,

    Please re-read the comment that DNA_Jock linked and follow Elizabeth’s instructions rather than making up your own rules.

  36. Patrick Patrick
    Ignored
    says:

    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.

    The procedure the moderators followed here was clearly “suspend first, then scramble for an excuse for the illegitimate suspension.” Sixteen days later, they’re still scrambling.

    They’ve known from the beginning that the suspension was illegitimate, because the reason Alan gave for it — that he was suspending me to prevent criticism of the moderators — is clearly bogus and against Lizzie’s wishes.

    As the scramble continues, it’s been amusing to watch the excuses evolve. For instance, Jock has gone from “it’s potentially libelous and creates a legal danger for TSZ” (it doesn’t, as Patrick explains above) to “it’s quasi-doxxing” (it isn’t, as I’ve explained) to “oh, Swamidass is an academic and deserves special protection”:

    Josh S is an academic. Within the experimental sciences, the accusation of fraud is potentially career-ending (Thereza Imanishi-Kari was finally vindicated, though…). My understanding is that for academics outside of experimental sciences, it’s plagiarism that’s the killer, but I could be wrong about that.
    On the other hand, attacking an academic’s arguments, even disparaging his intelligence or grasp of the subject matter, is par for the course.

    But that argument is ridiculous, because I wasn’t accusing Swamidass of academic fraud. I was accusing him of lying on a website. Just as Lizzie was accusing Stephen Meyer of lying on websites and in his books.

    And now, rather than reverse the illicit suspension, Alan has resorted to saying “Sure, it’s against the rules, but I have the authority to do whatever I want.”

    If you guys can’t even settle on a frikkin’ excuse, then why is the suspension still in place?

    Behold your moderators, folks.

  37. Patrick Patrick
    Ignored
    says:

    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.

    Patrick, to Alan:

    Please re-read the comment that DNA_Jock linked and follow Elizabeth’s instructions rather than making up your own rules.

    But that would mean admitting — right here, in front of everyone — that he screwed up, and that he’s been doing so for more than sixteen days.

  38. Patrick Patrick
    Ignored
    says:

    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 has been arguing “the rules don’t restrict me; I can do whatever I want.” Will he now go back to arguing “oh, I can’t unsuspend keiths without Lizzie’s approval”?

    That was exactly the stunt he pulled during the ALurker affair: suspending ALurker’s and Patrick’s accounts, without consulting Lizzie or anyone else, based on the unproven and paranoid theory that they were the same person; then arguing that he couldn’t undo the suspensions without Lizzie’s approval.

  39. Patrick Patrick
    Ignored
    says:

    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.

    In other words: If Alan wants to do something, he can. If he doesn’t want to do something, he needs Lizzie’s approval.

    She is just an excuse for him to do whatever he wants.

  40. newton
    Ignored
    says:

    Patrick: Then there is no justification for your actions.

    Is there a rule that if it is not forbidden by rule then anything is permissible?

  41. phoodoo
    Ignored
    says:

    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.

    The procedure the moderators followed here was clearly “suspend first, then scramble for an excuse for the illegitimate suspension.”Sixteen days later, they’re still scrambling.

    They’ve known from the beginning that the suspension was illegitimate, because the reason Alan gave for it — that he was suspending me to prevent criticism of the moderators — is clearly bogus and against Lizzie’s wishes.

    As the scramble continues, it’s been amusing to watch the excuses evolve.For instance, Jock has gone from “it’s potentially libelous and creates a legal danger for TSZ” (it doesn’t, as Patrick explains above) to “it’s quasi-doxxing” (it isn’t, as I’ve explained)to “oh, Swamidass is an academic and deserves special protection”:

    But that argument is ridiculous, because I wasn’t accusing Swamidass of academic fraud.I was accusing him of lying on a website.Just as Lizzie was accusing Stephen Meyer of lying on websites and in his books.

    And now, rather than reverse the illicit suspension, Alan has resorted to saying “Sure, it’s against the rules, but I have the authority to do whatever I want.”

    If you guys can’t even settle on a frikkin’ excuse, then why is the suspension still in place?

    Behold your moderators, folks.

    This is primarily the reason why I have continued to hammer on Alan and Jock regarding this matter. There continued pure cowardliness for hiding behind their fake concern for libel laws, and then bending themselves in human baby pretzels to claim those same circumstances don’t apply to the likes of Stephen Meyer and other academics who have been attacked here.

    To me this is their biggest crock of shit on top of a massive pile of manure.

    And they think people are stupid enough to believe this. You will never get that stink off you Alan. You will never get the stink off you Jock. As long as you post here, people will always remember what coward liars you were.

  42. walto walto
    Ignored
    says:

    phoodoo: And they think people are stupid enough to believe this

    Actually, I doubt too many people care very much. As William points out, suspending keiths was something that was called for ages ago for any of a multitude of good reasons, and it could have made this place halfway decent for a month if it was actually carried out.

    But alas.

  43. Patrick Patrick
    Ignored
    says:

    newton: Is there a rule that if it is not forbidden by rule then anythingis permissible?

    My view is that, for TSZ’s members, anything not prohibited by the rules is allowed and for TSZ’s admins, anything not expressly allowed by the rules is prohibited. When you violate either of those principles, you get places like Uncommon Descent.

    The admins behaved as though they were following those guidelines in the case of a racist comment. They got Elizabeth’s approval for a new rule. They also didn’t overreact with an ex post facto 30 day suspension. That only happened where there was also some personal animosity involved. Interesting, that.

  44. Patrick Patrick
    Ignored
    says:

    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 isn’t any better than Alan in terms of his disdain for Lizzie’s rules.

    An exchange from earlier this year:

    keiths, to Alan:

    Here’s hoping that they [vjtorley and DNA_Jock] do all the things that you and Neil have failed to do, and:

    a) moderate honestly;
    b) moderate very lightly, as Lizzie has asked;
    c) moderate within the rules, and refrain from inventing their own;
    d) refrain from censorship;
    e) consider the consequences of their decisions before acting;
    f) act (as moderators) in the service of TSZ’s interests, not their own;
    g) refrain from indulging personal grudges in their capacity as moderators;
    h) respond constructively to questions about their moderation decisions;
    i) acknowledge any moderation mistakes they make and correct them; and
    j) refrain from abusing their moderation privileges.

    May it be thus. Amen.

    vjtorley:

    Your ten-point request sounds reasonable enough to me. I hope I can honor it to everyone’s satisfaction. Cheers.

    keiths:

    What about you, DNA_Jock?

    DNA_Jock:

    I refer you to Article VI section 3.
    But for the sake of clarity, I will note that I reject [c] and decline to make a generalized commitment re [h].

    How did we end up with three moderators — Alan, Neil, and Jock — who express such contempt for Lizzie’s rules and aims?

  45. Patrick Patrick
    Ignored
    says:

    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’s disdain for Lizzie’s rules goes back a long way. Here’s an exchange from January of 2016:

    keiths:

    When you volunteered for moderator duty, you agreed to moderate within the boundaries set by Lizzie’s rules. You are acting as a proxy for her. This is her website, not yours. Try to keep your own unhelpful wishes and desires out of your moderation decisions and things will go much more smoothly.

    Stick to Lizzie’s rules instead of inventing your own.

    Alan:

    I did not volunteer to be an admin for TSZ. Lizzie asked me to do it. I gave no specific undertakings because Lizzie asked for none.

    keiths:

    Behold your moderator, folks. When asked why he isn’t doing his job, his response is that he never actually agreed to do it in the first place. He just accepted the position.

  46. newton
    Ignored
    says:

    Patrick: My view is that, for TSZ’s members, anything not prohibited by the rules is allowed and for TSZ’s admins, anything not expressly allowed by the rules is prohibited.When you violate either of those principles, you get places like Uncommon Descent.

    And that view is supported by a rule or by your best judgement?

    As for the admins, they are specifically authorized to use their best judgement per the ownership.

    The admins behaved as though they were following those guidelines in the case of a racist comment.They got Elizabeth’s approval for a new rule.

    Not familiar, did the post remain untouched until the rule was changed?

    They also didn’t overreact with an ex post facto 30 day suspension.

    Keiths was not suspended for the original post, it was his reaction to the taking the post down , from what I gather.

    As long as we are truth telling do you find keiths guilty of overreacting during this situation?

    If keiths had chosen to email you the original post, would you have reprinted for him?

    That only happened where there was also some personal animosity involved.Interesting, that.

    I guess a some point constant personal attacks have some effect, how about keiths, did he make this situation worse because of his personal animosity?

    Once again,I point out, if the situation was the result of some horrible breech of the moderation honor code, the reaction of the ownership to let the suspension continue is interesting as well.

  47. Patrick Patrick
    Ignored
    says:

    newton:

    My view is that, for TSZ’s members, anything not prohibited by the rules is allowed and for TSZ’s admins, anything not expressly allowed by the rules is prohibited.When you violate either of those principles, you get places like Uncommon Descent.

    And that view is supported by a rule or by your best judgement?

    It’s supported by the lack of any rules to the contrary. If Elizabeth meant to allow arbitrary abuse of admin privileges, she could easily have said so. I also think my view is aligned with the goals of the site. It would be great to have Elizabeth make her preferences explicit.

    As for the admins, they are specifically authorized to use their best judgement per the ownership.

    If the admins had the authorization to act as they wish, there wouldn’t be rules. I don’t think the current situation showed good judgement at all.

    The admins behaved as though they were following those guidelines in the case of a racist comment.They got Elizabeth’s approval for a new rule.

    Not familiar, did the post remain untouched until the rule was changed?

    I’m afraid I don’t know. I noticed it in Moderation Issues when I was catching up here.

    They also didn’t overreact with an ex post facto 30 day suspension.

    Keiths was not suspended for the original post, it was his reaction to the taking the post down , from what I gather.

    I haven’t seen a straight answer from the admins, aside from Alan admitting that keiths didn’t break any rule.

    As long as we are truth telling do you find keiths guilty of overreacting during this situation?

    I wouldn’t say overreacting, but he doesn’t do himself any favors in some of his interactions. When Mung raised a similar question, I agreed that keiths can be abrasive. The thing is, that’s okay. It’s within the rules. Whatever else you might think about him, he’s very focused on evidence and reason. He challenges bad arguments. He values free expression, including for the people he disagrees with.

    If keiths had chosen to email you the original post, would you have reprinted for him?

    That’s an interesting question. I don’t think it broke any rules, and Alan agrees, so I would have.

    I don’t agree with everything keiths writes, but I do value having a site that supports freedom of speech. As I’ve noted before, that value is under attack from groups all over the political spectrum here in the US. Even though it doesn’t personally serve me to discuss IDC any longer, I like being able to point people to TSZ. It would be a shame if free expression were no longer valued here.

    That only happened where there was also some personal animosity involved.Interesting, that.

    I guess a some point constant personal attacks have some effect, how about keiths, did he make this situation worse because of his personal animosity?

    He certainly didn’t de-escalate. Looking at it from his perspective, though, why should he? He didn’t break any rules, but the admins did. Kowtowing to them would only legitimize their behavior. Is his response likely to win them over? Of course not. Is it within the rules and a reasonable reaction to admin abuses? I’d say yes.

    Once again,I point out, if the situation was the result of some horrible breech of the moderation honor code, the reaction of the ownership to let the suspension continue is interesting as well.

    The only data we have from Elizabeth is that she recommended requiring keiths’ comments to be subject to pre-moderation. The admins exceeded their authority in banning him for 30 days. I am very curious to hear what she has to say when she has the time to review this contretemps.

  48. phoodoo
    Ignored
    says:

    walto: Actually, I doubt too many people care very much. As William points out, suspending keiths was something that was called for ages ago for any of a multitude of good reasons, and it could have made this place halfway decent for a month if it was actually carried out.

    But alas.

    Nothing on this site matters, but one might as well have some principles, right?

    You don’t like keiths, so sure you are happy to see him banned. But that doesn’t make it fine for Alan and Jock to just lie through their teeth, and also to decide, well, look if you want to trash SOME academics, like say Intelligent Design ones, sure, go ahead, we are all for that. Heck, just think of the optics Jock says (himself, unbelievably an academic!!), Meyer would never sue, it would make him look bad, so what’s the problem. We don’t care what HE thinks. “His reputation-fuck him.”

    But oh, if we got a chance to take some revenge at keiths, well, now let’s pretend we care about libel laws. We care, we care. We are shills, we are conman, but so what. At least keith gets banned.

    Nothing matters, But being scumbag liars matters some, even in the fake world.

  49. walto walto
    Ignored
    says:

    phoodoo,

    I understand your beef, phoodoo. You’re complaining about hypocrisy. I voted that the moderation is too light, erratic, and BIASED. At last look, I’m the only person who’s claimed bias in this poll.

    So I get what you’re saying. I just think the big picture isn’t whether they got keiths for the wrong thing. There’s too much abusive posting here generally (including by me). Your repetitive whining isn’t the answer, I don’t think. Vote and get your buddies to vote. That actually might help.

    We’d all be improved by cutting the crap. And if all crap was disallowed, it would be harder for mods to cheat–and much easier to see it (and harder to deny) when they do.

  50. Patrick Patrick
    Ignored
    says:

    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.

    Patrick:

    If the admins had the authorization to act as they wish, there wouldn’t be rules.

    Right, and what could be more obvious? The very fact that Lizzie carefully set out her rules and allowed for challenges in the Moderation Issues thread shows that she expected the moderators to follow her rules.

    The idea that the rules don’t apply to the moderators is ludicrous, and it only gets trotted out when one of them wants to justify something that is unjustifiable under the rules — like the current 30-day suspension.

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