Proposition: Increase or Eliminate 10k Character Limit

Discussion in 'SF Open Government' started by Tiassa, Mar 6, 2015.

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Petition the Administration to increase or eliminate current character limit per post?

Poll closed Mar 20, 2015.
  1. Yes

    7 vote(s)
    38.9%
  2. No

    11 vote(s)
    61.1%
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  1. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    Messages:
    34,449
    Proposal: Address 10k Character Limit on Posts

    In the early 1990s, many of us used a text-driven version of Microsoft Word that looked like most other computer applications of the time; it was an excellent word processor.

    A number that frequently arose in home computing at the time was 65,536, the square of 256. For our consideration of an old word processor, that number came up as a character limit; the application allocated that much space per document.

    Twenty-five years ago, the character limit on a word processor document was 65,536 characters.

    In 2015, the XenForo software driving the Sciforums bulletin board has an imposed limit of merely 10,000 characters.

    For those who regard their Sciforums experience like latter-day social media―as few characters and words as possible, and it's left to everyone else to figure out what one actually means―such a limit is inconsequential.

    However, those who have not surrendered to instant-hit social media might find the limit annoying at least, if not downright pernicious.

    Thus, it is resolved that affirmative votes would petition the Sciforums Administration to (1) consider the 10k character limit, (2) determine if it is a hard limit programmed into the software and, (3) if not, either strike the limit altogether or increase it at least to the standards of a quarter-century ago.

    Please vote Yes to assert your desire to increase or eliminate the character limit. Please vote No to retain the character limit.

    Thank you.

    (Voting Period: 14 days)
     
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  3. Kittamaru Now nearly 40 pounds lighter. Staff Member

    Messages:
    12,653
    Oh sweet baby Jesus on a pogo stick YES... when I have to break replies up into 2, 3, or even 4 posts because of the limit (due in part to having to include the post I am replying to in quote in order to make things understandable) it is immensely frustrating... especially given that it seems like such silly and, dare I say, unnecessary, limit... yes, do away with the foul thing!
     
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  5. billvon Valued Senior Member

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    I would vote no. Posts here are intended to be part of a discussion, not standalone essays. Such an essay is best published externally and linked to here.

    (And if discussions are actually reaching the 64K limit - thank goodness we have such an artificial limit to keep them reigned in just a little!)
     
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  7. Dr_Toad It's green! Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,796
    I voted yes. At my place the character limit is 100,000.

    Most people don't use that many, but occasionally it's needed. Maybe it can be overridden for some members? I'm unfamiliar with Xenforo's per-user settings, but on phpbb3 the privileges can be as fine-grained as the admins have time or inclination to manage.
     
  8. Beer w/Straw Transcendental Ignorance! Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    3,196
    Is this a forum software issue?
     
  9. Bells Staff Member

    Messages:
    21,856
    It's not that.

    If you include quotes from other members or articles you may be linking, that 10k limit is reached so quickly it's not even funny. So half the time, we either have to not quote members to not reach that limit and that is when things can be taken out of context, etc.
     
  10. Russ_Watters Not a Trump supporter... Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    5,051
    Or, better yet, pare-down the quotes so that you get only the relevant parts. I agree with billvon: a 10k post is too long. the longer a post is, the less likely people are to read it.
     
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  11. billvon Valued Senior Member

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    12,623
    Exactly - and that is an excellent indication that it's time to stop posting articles (post an excerpt and a link instead) and time to stop quoting someone else (don't have to answer every line.) Having a larger limit will lead to larger walls of text that no one other than the two participants will read - and if it's just two participants, it is better handled in email.
     
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  12. Ophiolite Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    9,232
    No!
    Posters should learn to be concise.
     
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  13. Kittamaru Now nearly 40 pounds lighter. Staff Member

    Messages:
    12,653
    Except there are times where being "concise" and being "accurate" are mutually exclusive... at east when dealing with some members we have

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  14. Yazata Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    4,539
    I voted 'no', for precisely the reason that Billvon gave.

    10k is already a lot, something upwards of a 1,000 word essay.

    If somebody can't make their point in 1,000 words, they probably need more self-discipline as a writer.
     
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  15. rpenner Fully Wired Staff Member

    Messages:
    4,833
    When someone posts a Gish Gallop, the most effective way of addressing their claims is to isolate each one and rebut it, fisking. But while the limit means a reply will have to be split, so be it. Just as long as splitting long posts to exercise rational conversation is not regarded as evading some forum rule.
     
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  16. Dr_Toad It's green! Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,796
    Very nice to know the name of the thing, rpenner. Thanks.
     
  17. Beer w/Straw Transcendental Ignorance! Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    3,196
    I disagree.

    If you mean quoting every sentence of the offenders post, it gets tiresome to read and I might think I'm trying to be misleaded by the accuser.

    :EDIT: This is in a general sense. I don't think I'd be bothered myself by a restriction of character count in posts.
     
  18. rpenner Fully Wired Staff Member

    Messages:
    4,833
    When every sentence of the offender's post is a separate lie (Gish Gallop) then each needs its own rebuttal to fully rebut the post.
     
  19. Ophiolite Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    9,232
    This is a misunderstanding common among those who lack sufficient experience in tight writing and effective editing. Point me to any post on this forum where you believe the length was essential for accuracy and I'll deliver the same message in half the words or fewer, with no less accuracy.

    An aside: my favourite ever book review, from The Observer in the late 1960s. The book: The Art of Brevity. The review: Excellent!
     
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  20. billvon Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    12,623
    I would tend to disagree. The Gish Gallop is intended to entice people to reply in just such a fashion. The reply is then ignored and another Gish Gallop is posted. In this way the galloper (usually a creationist) spends little effort writing pages of text, demanding that his questioners spend far more time and energy to accurately rebut him. This keeps up until the questioner gives up out of exhaustion, at which point the galloper declares victory. "See? No one can refute my facts!"

    While post character limits do not prevent such serial gallops, they tend to limit them.
     
  21. Bells Staff Member

    Messages:
    21,856
    Which still chews up the word limit..

    I.. I.. I don't think I know you any more..

    No. It just means I can fit all of my post in one post instead of having to break it down into parts, which is annoying...

    The 10k word limit is like wearing the killer high heels that pinch the little toes.

    A simple "No!" would have sufficed.
     
  22. Ophiolite Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    9,232
    Amusing, but incorrect. A solution was required.
     
  23. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    Messages:
    34,449
    Anti-Science Forum?

    It seems to me that some would prefer shorter posts because that makes it easier for them to deceive. But they also need to realize that when they do that, others will still respond in full, and our rules about consecutive posting were never intended to prevent people from responding.

    But every once in a while there are arguments that simply require a lot of words to address; usually this is because the argument has some absurd aspect about it insisting on a surrogate reality.

    Given that it takes fewer words to just make up random bullshit than to explain what's wrong with it, I'm not surprised at who I see bucking for a discussion format that encourages dishonesty and discourages actual facts and explanations.

    But what do we as a community want? I had a vicious laugh at one of my colleagues on staff last year over an assertion that the defining aspect of Sciforums is its overriding respect for the scientific method. We've made statements to that effect before, but nobody can actually explain what that means. As RPenner noted:

    "When every sentence of the offender's post is a separate lie (Gish Gallop) then each needs its own rebuttal to fully rebut the post."

    Now, just to take a moment to illustrate the problem, we all know his statement isn't exactly true; it's actually really hard to write a post in which every sentence is false, but beyond that pedantic note who here is going to argue?

    And how many words are you going to spend explaining the problem?

    For the rest of us, we know what he means, and the error, as such, is a lot easier to reconcile than, say the proposition of George W. Bush's treason.

    However, there are plenty for whom "concise" simply means "short", and they will still see walls of text in response to their sleights. And when the posts are labeled as parts of a whole, they ought to be considered part of a whole. I suppose I would have more faith in people if I did not so often find myself reciting the bit about letters forming words making sentences strung into paragraphs combined into a larger document. (Fisking as such, often loses the plot because it treats words and sentences as if they exist in a vacuum; it is an argumentative form most frequently deployed in lieu of reading comprehension.)

    Look, every once in a while someone says something ridiculous. Like the time a guy tried arguing that a certain constitutional and legal problem would only arise in the United States if the people in charge actually attended the U.S. Constitution. I'm pretty sure that's not what he meant, but his (ahem!) concision as such left him saying exactly that. And to this day there is no sign whatsoever that he comprehends this. Such an unfortunate outcome, in fact, results from trying to parse a larger complex into individual components that can be manipulated and misrepresented for the sake of cynical politics. In some cases, we would be juxtaposing concision with good faith, and finding them irreconcilable.

    We just went through some long and brutal discussions in which people who seemed otherwises literate about American juristics in general argued from a position that can only be reconciled by acknowledging that they can't tell the difference between a grand jury investigation and a criminal trial. The number of words required to address what is either grotesque ignorance or bad faith verging on wilful evil is generally larger than the number of words required to inject such toxins into a discussion.

    And then there are the people who just say inexplicable things, substituting their own fancies for reality; this, too, takes a lot of words.

    Let us then juxtapose the idea of Sciforums and the scientific method against the propsition of concision: Why would you want to limit the potential for higher quality argument in order to celebrate the lowest elements in our community?

    In truth, I miscalculated; I had not expected the opposition to be invested in advocating the low end of our community intellectual curve.
     
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