Discussion in 'Site Feedback' started by spuriousmonkey, Oct 26, 2007.
This belongs in the Couldn't Care less thread.
Log in or Sign up to hide all adverts.
Thats good, I like that Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!
You should join the discussions, I think you can contribute a lot more than you do.
Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!
If you could not care less, why bother commenting on it?
Everyone is biased, in one form or another. The desire to call a poster a 'fuck knuckle' is sometimes strong, so I stop myself because I know if I just let rip and actually say what I want to say, I will hear screams of 'you're moderator, blah blah blah biased, blah blah blah'...Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!
Meh.. I'd rather just keep out of the flame wars going on right now. I think it is time for all parties concerned to take a bit of a break and try to think things through so that they stop being... meh.. the temptation is there again..
I meant biased in the act of moderation, not in mentality. Sorry that I wasn't clear.
No, it's not. If the topic is the use of torture by the Taliban, then it isn't about the use of torture by non-Taliban organisations.
You just love using that one-trick pony to derail the thread and bash the West. The very fact that you are still a moderator after pulling such shit reflects poorly on the administration here.
Yeah, much better to remain brainwashed on propaganda. Find OBL yet? Here maybe? Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!
I will respond to some specific posts below, but first I'd like to make one general comment.
Look at the big picture
My perception is that many members here do not see the "big picture" regarding moderation. I wonder how many of you review the complete list of threads that have been posted to every time you log into sciforums. Not just the threads you're interested in, or have contributed to, but every thread. The ones on politics that you find boring. The often-mindless Free Thoughts threads. The Physics and Math threads. The Science and Society and General Philosophy threads.
What I think happens is this: suddenly you notice that spuriousmonkey (for example) has been banned for three days. You look at where the ban was announced, or the thread where an infraction was given, and you think: "Hey, that seems unfair. That single post didn't deserve a ban/infraction. Cut him some slack. This moderation is excessive!" What you probably do not do is to click on spuriousmonkey's name and look at the list of his last 30 posts to the entire forum, and not just to the threads you happen to have read.
Moderators do not hand out bans willy-nilly, contrary to popular belief. As a general principle, you have to have 20 infraction points in a continuous 10-day period to get banned. And yes, 20 infraction points could mean insulting people a mere 4 times, but how many warnings do you think are needed before a poster gets the message? 10? 20? 100? And not every infraction comes with points.
If you look at people who are banned from sciforums (temporarily or permanently) - and I mean look at their ENTIRE posting record - you will see quite clearly that they have established a pattern of inappropriate conduct on sciforums, usually over a period of time. They have received many many warnings and have not modified their posting behaviour. In contrast, compare the many members who have never had a single infraction.
So, I would ask all members: next time you feel inclined to complain on another poster's behalf about what you perceive was an overzealous infraction, first do a quick search of ALL of that member's recent posts, and then consider. Bear in mind that infractions, with or without points, are warnings. No loss of privileges occurs because a person receives an infraction. The infraction system is primary an accounting system which makes it easier for moderators to track repeat offenders. It is also a method by which clear expectations can be communicated directly to members. You are informed that your post is unacceptable, and given the opportunity to change your posting behaviour. If you cannot do that, following repeated warnings, then you may attract an actual sanction, such as a temporary ban. The ultimate sanction for posters who refuse to abide by the rules they agreed to when they signed onto sciforums is to be barred permanently from the community.
Now, some specifics:
An interesting insight into your character, I think. If there's one thing you can't stand, it's "boring". So, making fun of other members is fine, as long as you're having fun. Throwing around "naughty" words like a school kid is also fun. Never having to think is fun.
On the contrary, every member who signs up agrees explicitly not to post offensive material, which includes offensive language. The infraction for inappropriate language has existed since the infraction system was introduced.
The infraction system
You fail to appreciate that an infraction is the warning you are looking for. The entire infraction system is a warning system. There is no need for a three-tiered system such as the one you propose.
I invite you to review all of spuriousmonkey's recent posts, and reconsider who was provocative and who was not in this matter, if you are interested. spuriousmonkey clearly wanted this outcome.
I am Australian. As such, my capacity for understanding irony is probably far beyond what the average American is likely to comprehend, believe me.
What spuriousmonkey was doing there was trolling the thread. His aim was to derail it from the start. He posted in the expectation that the usual suspects would then chime in to congratulate him on his wit and to further divert from the opening post. He trolled; he received an infraction for trolling.
Long-standing members and inappropriate language
First, I see no reason why long-standing members should be immune to the rules. I have made this point many times. Why should it be one rule for the old timers and one for the newbies?
Second, the sciforums demographic is diverse. It is true that most users are teenaged or older, and we have a significant number of late teens. Nevertheless, I do not see that being older means that people need to descend to using filthy language. I think it is good that the older members here teach the younger ones how to express themselves without resorting to the usual teen-speak of SMS shorthand, bad spelling and lowest-common-denominator street-talk. It will be to their benefit in the long run. It also means that more intelligent people will be likely to want to become part of our community.
Which word is generally considered the most offensive word in the English language? Please don't pretend you do not know. You're not stupid.
Also, I would have thought you'd been here long enough to know the general approach that has been taken on sciforums to language. For those who may be unsure, it is this:
We will not universally censor "bad" language. The occasional use of words like "shit" or "piss" or "bastard" or "fuck" will not normally attract infractions, unless they are used in the context of a personal insult or other infractable offense. Also, a deliberate decision has been taken NOT to replace such words with asterisks. People use these words in society, often as non-thinking place-holders, sometimes for the sake of colouring their language. On sciforums, we tend to be easy-going about such things.
As in many issues of moderation, context often means everything. Unthinking members may from time to time perceive a double-standard, because they see somebody get away with "fuck", while another poster is infracted for it. Again, I can only urge them to look at ALL of the infracted poster's recent posts. Also, consider what the infraction is for. Is it for "inappropriate language", or "personal insult" or "trolling", for example? The same word can generate different responses. Intent is important. Context is important.
I sugget that anybody who thinks that there should be a list of forbidden words has no real understanding of what the role of a moderator is.
Stealing another member's avatar is contrary to online netiquette. I thought that you would have been on the internet long enough to realise that, but you're not the only person acting dumb in this thread, it seems.
As far as sciforums goes, I will ALLOW members to copy Avatars if they wish. It has happened in the past, several times, and been allowed. But the proviso is this: if a member's avatar is copied by another poster AND that poster complains, then the offending copier may be asked to change the avatar, or it may be removed by the administrators. Failure to comply with this reasonable request may attract further sanctions.
Manners and netiquette
This is a simple matter of good manners. You do not use another person's name, image, signature etc. without their permission. That applies in all arenas of life, not just on the internet.
I find it quite depressing and disturbing that so often I am reduced to teaching basic manners to otherwise intelligent people here. Didn't your parents bring you up properly?
I'm a little confused as to the sudden shift here.
Usually the mod triad (Tiassa, S.A.M and James) respond to complaints with the 'So you're whining again, huh? Whine on, demagogue!' Yet now James is trying to win support (?), justify his actions, and even call me a rational individual (after having a long history of treating me as an irrational, bigoted, whiny cunt).
I do not think anyone is denying that. What I was questioning was the decision to punish this particular instance while ignoring many others. Fuck, I've been saying fuck in both its direct form, its f*cking partially censored form, its more fully ****ing censored form, almost since I joined the forum and have never received an infraction for it. I have not used the specific word used here because I don't like it as a word. (Much in the same way I shall never write yog**** in full. There both inherently distasteful to me.) Yet it is used by monkey and he gets an infraction.
The appearance is that the rules are being applied selectively. In your opening piece you admit as much and even seek to justify it. 'You have to look at the entire posting history, not just the incident that led to the infraction.' That argument has some merit, but then WTF did the infraction pm not contain a supplementary note to that effect. Would be that be so frigging difficult? (Don't give me any bull about some automatic aspect to the system and the time taken to do this. That might wash for some dumbnuts poster, but for one of the few individuals in these forums who actually delivers some real science from time to time some effort would be appropriate.)
I repeat the points from above.
1. If you are changing the application of the rules, then the members deserve to be warned of this change.
2. Either the rules have changed, or you are applying them selectively. This may either be due to a) inherent prejudice, which is unacceptable, or b) within a context of offenses, in which case the poster should be advised clearly of that.
Then you certainly lack the earthy vigour with which the Australian males I know would have laughed themselves silly at the tenor of the op that Spurious set out to ridicule. It seems to be OK to make remarks ad nauseam about Tiassa's somewhat tedious posting style, and to do so at length, but a short, sharp shock by monkey to a single poster goes beyond the pale. Bias and prejudice are there James, whether you wish to see it or not.
(By the way, in the above paragraph I subtly question your manhood. Will I get an infraction for that? Probably not, though I'm buggered if I can see the difference between the two cases - oh, yes, wait a moment. Spurious pricked a piece of pomposity, whereas I merely insulted a fellow member [and moderator] without justification. Yes, I think I see how it is meant to work.)
Curiously, some of us are thinking the same thing about you and some of the other moderators.
One of the major problems I have noticed of late is that many members expect a standard of behaviour from the moderators but they themselves are unwilling to adhere to the same standard. If we attempt to maintain said standard we are seen to be excessive in moderation. And if we, the moderators, do not adhere to this standard of behaviour, we are quickly reminded by these very members of just how bad we are at moderating.
As a moderator I will be honest and say that it is difficult to find this balance. It is impossible to please everyone because we are all such a diverse group of people from different cultures. I am not embarrassed to admit that I am quite open in the manner in which I moderate Human Science. I try to tell myself that people who participate in said forum are intelligent enough and understanding enough to be able to debate in an adult manner. This is not always the case and when things go awry, I will step in and attempt to rectify the problems that has arisen. I don't generally mind swearing, but when it is directed at another individual, I will usually intervene... that's the standard thing I expect from others, just as others expect if of me. After all, if you cannot debate an issue and can only resort to calling someone a c*nt, then possibly a forum is not the best place for you to be. That is my personal opinion and also how I moderate. If you do not like it or have an issue with it, then so be it. Approach me and discuss it with me in a PM.
No. Quite the contrary, it's the other way around.
To summarize my grievances:
1. Several moderators are very infraction happy regarding insults by vanilla members, while being more than willing to engage in insults themselves. Tiassa, James and S.A.M are notorious for this.
Tiassa gets away with it because his posts are so long, nobody can stomach reading them. James gets away with it because he's pretty subtle and patronizing. And S.A.M gets away with it because she's the forum pet.
I'm more than happy to be insulted by members (as long as its nothing defamatory). Or, I'm more than happy to be given infractions for insulting other members. But keep it consistent. You can't have it both ways. As matters stand, several close knit mods can mock, inflame and derail with impunity. They get away with murder (metaphorically).
Which leads to my next point...
2. The US vs. THEM mentality of some mods. Again, there are a close knit group of mods who seem to profile certain independent posters as 'trouble makers', and then engage in a vendetta against them. This involves following the poster around the forum to constantly criticise their character, or targeting them for infractions. Whenever one of these posters complains, you hear this particular click clucking 'Whiner'. Is it any surprise that posters become more rowdy when their complaints are immediately treated with contempt? Why would they reason with people who have such a mentality?
I admit that sometimes such posters are not amicable and open to reason. But at the end of the day, it's the moderators who hold the cards. They have the power, and yes, they should be held to higher expectations. That's just common sense. As the old saying goes "The Arabs make peace difficult, but Israel makes peace impossible."
Interestingly, the vast majority of disillusioned posters are veterans. They aren't newbies. They've been around for ages, which demonstrates that perhaps the problem doesn't lie with them. Given that the vast majority of moderators on this forum have liberal leanings, I'm surprised that they are more hasty to place blame on the individual, instead of the system.
3. The 'Crimestop' pushed by some moderators to further their own ideological agenda. For anyone who hasn't read Orwell, 'Crimestop' is a mental process where individuals are expected to suppress all socially unacceptable thoughts. This includes opinions which the mods deem 'racist', 'sexist', 'hate speech', yadayada. By censoring what is deemed 'socially unacceptable', the forum is not conducive to freedom of thought, speech, or exchange of ideas.
Worse, not all 'hate speech' is treated the same. Prejudice expressed by members against white non-Jewish heterosexual American males is far more likely to slide that prejudice against black Jewish homosexual Indian males who follow Islam.
IMHO, I think it's ridiculous that we have so many moderators, and so much moderator interference. Moderators should only exist to ensure that the forum is running smoothly (ie. the server is not down), back ups are made of the forum, spammers are prevented from posting advertisements, and members who make defamatory comments/threats of violence are banned.
The way things are, moderators are very paternalistic. They seem to think they are acting 'in the greater good' when they restrict particular freedoms. Posters are treated like little kids. They are punished for insults, derailing a thread, 'trolling' and 'naughty words/ideas'. Sciforums is going the same way as Internet Infidels, which I moderated for a (very) short period of time: A repressive atmosphere where you can't call a spade a spade, and particular mods can get away with anything. Sciforums was once freer place, what the hell happened?
James R. I bow to your kingship...hear me my lord! I am your faitfull servant, let me show you my gratitude to thee and smite those who oppose you. Only if you wish so will I bring down with force of heavens the power of wrath upon the sinners who dared stand in your way!
Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!
I am asking for an evenly applied standard. I would be surprised if most or all of the moderators did not seek the same thing. What several of us are telling you in this and other threads (and which some of us have been saying for some time) is that this objective is not being met.
I am a moderator on other forums. I know the difficulties involved. I neither expect, nor grant, sympathy.
Edit: I just read Mountainhare's tightly argued post. I concur with all of the first 3/4 and grudgingly with the last 1/4. Mountainhare and I have exchanged insults in the past. Personally, I think it helped move our debate along. But regardless, the issue is fair application of rules and fewer (perferably no) witch hunts.
As am I probably. Sometimes it is difficult to hold back.
It does happen. I won't deny that it does not. I have often wondered whether moderators should be able to give other moderators infractions for similar behaviours that we give to members within their own respective forums.
Fair enough. It's a good point.
I agree. Moderators are also members and therefore should be equally held accountable and expected to adhere to the same rules as other members, even more so. Does not always happen however. It is something most of us are guilty of.
To counter that, some older members will push the boundaries just to get a reaction and once they do, they rebel. But I do understand where you are coming from.
As you are probably well aware, I abhor racists. I will allow discussions on race to continue, but when a member begins to racially abuse another member, I will step in, as I would in a real life situation. For example, if someone disagrees with a racist views and is then called a "nigger" for their disagreement, I will issue an infraction, regardless of who made the comment. I do not consider such behaviour to be conducive to a discussion. It is meant to only demean and insult another individual. There are limits.
I would have gone into further detail, but it is time for baby to go to bed.
You know, this thread might actually be turning into a useful discussion. I'm surprised.
Does that suggest a double standard in moderation to you, or do you think it might reflect on how you use the word, and the surrounding context?
In spurious's case, because he has a history. With him, I started with with warnings and explanations, assuming he would take them on board. I always try to explain infractions to posters, especially for first offenders who may not appreciate that they have done anything wrong. But when the same offence occurs over and over again it is hard to believe that a poster is so stupid as to have failed to take the hint. Excessive verbiage at that stage becomes a waste of time.
tiassa is a moderator. He has the power to look after himself if he is insulted. That is not to say that I will never issue an infraction to somebody who insults a moderator. I have done so in the past and no doubt will do so again in the future. But I personally tend not to be as protectionist regarding moderators as I am with general posters who do not have the power to issue infractions themselves or to edit/delete offensive posts.
As far as insults directed at myself go, I probably issue infractions about 1/3 to 1/2 as often as I could. I understand that members can get annoyed, especially when they believe they have been unfairly moderated, so I tend to regard the inevitable backlash of moderation as par for the course to some extent.
Again, taking spuriousmonkey as an example, I could easily have infracted him about 3 times as often over the last week for his numerous jibes and personal insults that I received both on the public forum and by PM from him. Instead, I chose largely to let them slide. I also urged him to alter his behaviour.
I have a somewhat different opinion from Bells on your comments.
This is a fair complaint. However, it is worth noting that most infractions come as a result of posts being reported by members hitting the "report" button.
I can't remember the last time somebody reported a post by tiassa.
I get reported now and then - usually by disgruntled posters who I have recently moderated. I have received a couple of infractions for times when I have been unable to restrain myself from an actual insult. And yes, I can be patronising, I know. I am prone to meeting arrogance with arrogance. Possibly that is a character flaw, but nobody is perfect. As for subtlety, it is something I try to aim for, except in cases where the recipient is too stupid to get the message.
Finally, SAM gets a few reports, but actually not many. I have given her a few infractions.
Perhaps you are correct, and moderators actually do get away with too much. If so, I suggest you hit the "report" button more often. That way, unless all moderators are in cahoots with each other in a secret cabal, there will at least be some discussion among the moderators about which actions are appropriate or inappropriate for moderators. There certainly should not be one rule for moderators and another for everybody else.
I think your perception of a clique of conspiring moderators is unfair. Many times (but certainly not always) moderators will agree on infractions. It is rare for one moderator to question the actions of another in giving an infraction, although it does happen from time to time. On the other hand, potential bans are quite often discussed by the moderator group.
It can be the case that one moderator will "follow" a member around the forum. This usually occurs after a member posts a string of offensive posts and is infracted for them (once or more). Having attracted a moderator's attention, a member ought not to be surprised if for a while the heat is on, so to speak. The moderators' job is to create a climate where intelligent discussion can take place. When a poster goes off the rails, it is sometimes necessary to check up on them for a while. When cleaning up the mess is necessary once, it is often necessary again soon after - that's just how things go. But, this is not often done by more than one moderator, since usually only one moderator has given the initial infractions. Unless the offensive behaviour draws the attention of several moderators, mostly it will only be one who is checking up on a poster.
With administrators and supermoderators, things can be a bit different. For exmple, as an administrator, I keep an eye on the entire forum (i.e. all subforums). Sometimes that means that I notice things that moderators of individual forums may not. I might see a pattern of bad behaviour spread across multiple subforums, whereas moderators of those forums only see one or two offensive posts. So, as things work out it often falls to myself or Plazma or Stryder to take the most drastic action. And, as a result, we also sometimes receive the most vehement backlash. Our actions are also sometimes more visible on a forum-wide level.
The "system" has tightened up somewhat since the olden days of sciforums; I will be the first to admit that. Some old timers, and some newer posters, don't like that. Perhaps it is time to ask members what they want from sciforums again.
I have expressed my personal opinion on this many times. Certain types of speech are considered unacceptable in contemporary society, and often for good reason. History has shown where hate speech leads. Nevertheless, western democracies generally give great latitude to "free speech", although no country allows complete freedom of speech.
The internet, being a multinational phenomenon, provides a fairly unrestricted platform for speech of all types, but that does not mean that every kind of speech must be allowed or encouraged on every internet site.
Some types of speech attract criminal sanctions in many western democracies. Examples of laws include racial vilification laws and laws against various types of discrimination (on the basis of sex, race, colour etc.). Some countries also have special laws concerning "hate" crimes and hate speech.
When it comes to sciforums, my approach is to reflect wider community opinion on the limits of acceptable speech. I am particularly influenced, of course, by my own country's laws (Australia). So, if a type of speech could attract civil or criminal penalties in my country, I tend to discourage it on sciforums.
However, it is important to realise that sciforums is not a democracy. It is a site with a particular ethos that has developed over the years. Look around yourself at the members here. Mostly, they hold democratic views, and they share western notions of freedom of expression. This ethos, I am sure, attracts some people to sciforums, and equally repels others. I have no problem with that. sciforums is not intended to be all things to all people, and I personally would not wish that it be so.
Again, look around. You will not see sciforums suppressing views because they come from people of the "wrong" religion or the "wrong" political persuasion. What you will see is the views of the haters being suppressed - that is people who wish harm to others, or wish to persecute people for things they have no power or choice to change (e.g. their race or sex). Are those people being denied free speech on sciforums? Yes, they are. I make no apology at all for that. I am proud of the fact that sciforums is not a site for haters. Let the haters go to hate sites, or start their own hate sites. I don't want them here. I don't want to waste a byte of sciforums' storage space for their filth, or give them a free platform to spread their hatred.
I should say that some moderators disagree with me. At least one who I have great respect for says that the best way to fight the haters is to let them have their say and to expose their rubbish to all for what it is. As a general principle for a democratic society in which clear thinkers hold sway I think that is an admirable and sensible view. However, I do not share that moderator's faith in the wisdom of crowds. I fear that the young and the impressionable can be sucked into the whirlpool of hate. They could read widely. They could educate themselves. But it is easy not to. Hate can be comfortable. Hate can make you feel like you belong.
sciforums tends to attract people of above-average intelligence, I hope. As such, most posters react with anger against the kinds of prejudice and, well, hatred of the haters. And that does not make for fruitful discussions; it makes for flame wars. sciforums doesn't need that. What we want is intelligent, preferably informed, discussion.
It is worth noting that the majority of posters on sciforums are white, male, heterosexual Americans. They are hardly a repressed minority here. For instance, look what happens whenever anybody points out the insanity of the gun laws in the United States.
sciforums is a big place. You might only visit two or three subforums, but there are many more than that. For unpaid volunteer moderators, it is a big job even to do the things you list. Personally, I am very glad there are as many moderators as there are. I think a few more would not hurt.
I plead guilty to this, 100%.
In this case, I take "the greater good" to mean "the greater good of sciforums as a place for intelligent discussion by intelligent people". When the "intelligent" part of "intelligent discussion" starts to suffer, I believe it is incumbent upon moderators to step in. Of course, I am aware that it would be easy to read too much into that statement and to take it as one moderator trying to force his personal values and opinions onto everyone. I am not trying to spoil anybody's fun here, except where that fun is had at the expense of other people.
As I said above, perhaps we need to discuss what "freedoms" members think are missing now that they had before, and what they want out of sciforums.
That is a discussion for a separate thread.
Thats the problem right there.^^^
I posted on a guitar forum for years where swearing was blanked out automatically...and it worked just fine.
We would have FAR fewer arguments.
A fair - nay, penetrating! - assessment. Boredom and routine drive me mad, James, with their constant cyclical coming and going, starting with the terrible siren of the alarm clock and blindly fumbling for the toothpaste, and continuing through dinner with Bob and his painful piles and can he have the soft chair, please, then terminating predictably in the evening with newlyweds on the telly looking a bit dazzled by the blazing studio lights of some awful bloody gameshow hosted by some toupee-wearing ex-vaudeville star with an advanced degree in obsequiousness, aaarrgghh! Round and round and round like an hamster on some awful wheel! Waiter, I want 23 different kinds of cheeses and a plane ticket to Katmandu - and I want them now!!!
And I'll tell you another thing that drives me mad, it's when people are all stiff and serious all the time like part-time police officers with no sense of humour because they don't realise that life's one big bloody joke anyway and that we're all bit players heading for the Big Punchline in a comedy sketch that isn't even about us!!! Life is too bastard short for me to spend half an hour listening to you whining on and onand on like a broken bloody record about how "waaah, no-1 takes me seruously and i'm sorry but it wasn't me headmaster little johhny made me do it, I don't like it, I wanna go hoooome, and by the way can we make an appointment to discuss next year's performance pay increase?" You're the teacher for God's sake - no-one's interested, grow a pair. Look, nobody cares!!!!
[large image removed]
I worry about you James because you seem to think that this is a real job rather than a load of idiots dossing about having a laugh and talking bullshit on some stupid website on the interweb - and I don't think that can be very good for your blood pressure! If visiting Sciforums isn't helping you to unwind after a hard day's work - if it seems like yet more work - then maybe you should look for an alternative form of relaxation. Take some jazz dance classes, or start learning yoga, or start growing your own super-strength weed or something. What I most certainly do not want is my good friend James R giving himself chronic brain strain because he takes everything in life way too seriously and doesn't know how to relax! I also don't want him treating me like some kind of kid sending out stupid infractions like toffees when he'd be far better off just pulling me to one side when I get too excitable and going "OY! YOU! REDARMY11! YOU'RE GETTING FAR TOO GIDDY, NOW BEHAVE YERSELF!!!" or better still just sending me a polite PM asking me to desist instead of acting like he's me dad or something and sending me to bed without any supper just because I was dancing around like a big, daft babboon and ACCIDENTALLY knocked over a very expensive table lamp. I mean, how old do you think I am James at all - three? For God's sake grow up.
I'm only kidding, my Antipodean associate. Look after yourself, drink plenty of soup and keep an eye on that blood pressure. Love you very, very much and I'm sorry I swore.
For crying out big, Redarmy—could that be resized? I'm on a 15" laptop.
Clearly. All one would need, theoretically, would be a basic graphics application. Photoshop would certainly do it, but so would something like Irfanview.
Separate names with a comma.