Science: Explanation versus obfuscation

Discussion in 'SF Open Government' started by DaveC426913, Mar 3, 2023.

  1. foghorn Valued Senior Member

    Bells, is it possible to have a mod help a member by not issuing an infraction?
    The automatic cycle only works on the input of mods. So, can a mod, with a soft spot for a member, knowingly help that member play the system?
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  3. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    I would do the Beverly Cleary joke, but you probably wouldn't appreciate it.

    Meanwhile, remember, the point↑ of asking actually has to do with a question of member comportment↑ and why people generally can't tell us what they want. And inasmuch as you refuse to tell me what you think an appropriate post looks like, do you think a few more Gamera posts are going to make things better? (The actual discussion of what to do about quippy, off-topic one-liners is a bit more subtle than what you've been willing to tolerate.)


    Still, let's take a look at this:

    Well, no, Dave, actually, it's not: Take a moment and think about the implications of your boldfaced, block-capped bit about "the spirit of the rules we all agreed on". Are you sure about that, Dave, did we all agree to the same spirit of the rules? Because one of the reasons we're even having this discussion in the first place is that staff have moderated the site in accordance with some version of the spirit of the rules, and, clearly, you're not happy with that.

    Let's simplify this, a little, looking at two basic offenses included in your list. There is a question of what is on topic, and then there are the limits of insult, flame, and ad hominem.

    The question of what is on topic is subtle, or not, generally fraught, and oft to the point of stupidity. Some threads wander; the difference between off-topic and a related subject often comes down to individual perception, such as whether a given change of subject, or even comment from the peanut gallery, is on topic.

    Moreover, while the question of what is on topic is generally fraught, I also recently encountered a new variation, arbitrarily declaring subject matter irrelevant to itself, judging relevant, topical material irrelevant to the subject at hand simply because someone didn't like the person who posted it. Even stranger, the underlying subject was itself crackpottery, thus crackpottery was legitimized in order to disqualify as irrelevant what was essentially the same manner of crackpottery.

    Perhaps the idea that people should "post on topic" and "avoid going off on a tangent" seems straightforward enough to yell about in boldface block-caps, but history already shows it's not.

    Furthermore, remember, people's ideas of what is on topic or irrelevant also lead to a lot of flaming, insulting, and ad hom.

    Thus, again, what spirit of the rules or forum? Remember that I can apparently insult people simply by writing a post; not for its content or that it actually insults any person, but because someone feels insulted by their own perception↗, or something like that.

    Think, Dave, of a spirit that would legitimize crackpottery in order to complain about crackpottery. Compared to this thread, in which we consider "reasonable standards of intellectual integrity and honesty", that sort of sleight clearly asserts a different spirit. I could go on all day about ad hom and insult; for all the bigotry people have been allowed to utter so easily, calling it bigotry is apparently an insulting, flaming, ad hominem attack, and that is one of the reasons "respect for the scientific method, which demands critical analysis, clear thinking and evidence-based argument" came to be viewed as dangerous aggression against free speech↑, i.e., an interpretation of the spirit of whatever.

    At the heart of the spirit of the rules, Dave, is that we depend on good faith. To the other, we aren't really supposed to assess people's good faith; dangerous aggression, a spirit of the rules, &c., it's a longtime conundrum, around here. But good faith helps define what is on topic, or the range of acceptable wandering; good faith helps to measure what is and isn't an insult; good faith helps understand the burdens of critical analysis and evidence-based arguments.

    It's easy enough to doubt a person's good faith, around here, especially given the flaming tire-heaps of bad faith we've endured over the years.

    So please consider Dave, that you are one who would seem to endorse↗ the off-topic one-liners of the peanut gallery, while also complaining something or another about blogging↗. And if I mentioned to you↗ that we've heard the whole blogging complaint, before, we might observe the occasion when another moderator, i.e., someone who is not me, had occasion to ask↗:

    So who do you think undermines this forum more?

    Someone who goes at length to research what is being posted, is able to back up any claims with evidence? Or the one flaming with one liners and whining about posts that are just too long?

    So, tell me about the spirit, Dave: Somewhere between the peanut one-liners and the bloggers there is a "respect for the scientific method, which demands critical analysis, clear thinking and evidence-based argument" that you find important. And perhaps you find my colleague's assessment, a "rhetorical question" to which the "answer should be obvious", unsatisfactory or problematic or whatever. But toward whatever it is you actually find appropriate, or your spirit of the rules, maybe you could afford a more specific hint.

    Thus, were you clear enough, Dave? Well, if that sort of sketch had been sufficient, this thread likely would never have needed to be.
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  5. Pinball1970 Registered Senior Member

    Thanks, that was a nice comment.
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  7. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    And therefore nothing should or need be done? I have a lot of power.

    What do you mean apparently? Is it or isn't it?

    You're a moderator. You get to (are responsible for) make that call - and stick to it (and yes, suffer the slings and arrows).

    That is not how free speech works. This is a privately run site, with a documented mission.

    No one is preventing anyone from expressing their views elseweb.

    That's an invalid excuse.

    Oh you're being silly. There is a vast gulf between two one-liners four years apart and great gouts of blogging on a daily basis.

    You know this; I know this; everyone knows this. You are making excuses for your inaction.

    Personally, I don't want to shut down your blogging. I'd happily let that continue if it meant some semblance of control were kept in the science subforums.

    Or maybe you're deliberately being obtuse, because - to admit you know what's wrong and what can be done to fix it without being explicitly told - would require you wake up from your moderative torpor.

    I bolded and emphasized, above, what I personally consider policy in regards to the spirit of the rules. And now I've started a whole thread on it.

    And you still mindlessly pretend I haven't told you many times. Further claims that I haven't will be called out as the trolling they are.

    Look, this is starting to become all about you. That's not how it should be. We should be all looking in the same direction instead of pointing fingers at each other.

    The problem is, you actually have the means to act. So it ends up being you who stands in the way of change. That's unfortunate but inevitable.

    I guess there is only one question that need be asked before any other work be explored: Do you want to figure out what might done to make the site thrive again? It may or may not be realistic a goal and may never happen, but if you're not willing to do it, there's no point in exploring this further. So, a simple yes or no?
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2023
  8. wegs Matter and Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

    It takes time to change things. The decline of any forum usually has been a few years in the making so with consistent effort on the part of every member, it probably would take roughly two to four years to see a regular flow of increased traffic and new membership on SF. And keep building from there.

    We have to get out of our own way though, in order for actual change to feel organic.
    C C and DaveC426913 like this.
  9. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    You do understand, this fallacious manner of retort only calls your good faith into doubt.

    Dave, your reliance on make-believe only calls your good faith into doubt.

    I'm a moderator, Dave; I don't get to run roughshod like an administrator. As I have told James along the way in issues related to his moderation, he can stop me, but I cannot stop him. This isn't news, Dave. Compared to what you don't know because you didn't read that discussion, weren't in that fight, or apparently stay away from entire regions of the website—(there's always a reason, isn't there)—this one isn't really so hard to figure out.

    Meanwhile, the policy history is clear, asserting an offense worthy of infraction to call a racist a racist. (Nor is it surprising that you actually commented on a discussion including that very point and somehow failed to notice.)

    Your incoherent accusations derived from make-believe only call your good faith into doubt.

    Lying in order to call someone silly pretty much wrecks any pretense of your good faith, Dave. So, to be clear, look, it was a little detail that I let slide↑ the first time↑, because it shouldn't be so important. To be clear, I gave you three examples↑, a couple years apart; you chose to omit one in order to say two examples four years apart. And, sure, in your projected make-believe, just as in practice, it is kind of a small issue. However, what you either have not yet grasped or simply refuse to countenance is that "intellectual integrity and honesty"—(you know, ostensibly the heart of your complaint↑)—kind of speaks against behaving that way. Maybe it's not surprising if you're not up to discussing the detail of what that "intellectual integrity and honesty" is supposed to mean.

    Furthermore, while the point about Gamera posts is small, and your two-bitting hardly anything we would ordinarily fret about, remember also that we've been having other discussions on theses issues, as well, and you have seen fit to lie to me in order to justify your anger. As a point of E&O, sure, the difference between two posts or three isn't a big deal compared to the third post being a different spelling, but even if we pass over the arguments and appeals from ignorance, and continue to ignore a question of priorities, all of the little stuff askew along the way starts to look more important when you're caught in deception.

    See, this is pretty much what this thread seems to be about, the common aspect of the various discussions we've had, these recent months.

    Again, Dave: If that sort of sketch had been sufficient, we probably wouldn't be having this discussion.

    Of course, that statement pretends your complaint is in good faith, and presuming someone's good faith despite evidence to the other is more than mere customary courtesy; it is policy expectation the moderators have disputed repeatedly over time, and at present, that presupposition is still the standard.

    As you're aware, Dave, if this is becoming about me, that's largely your doing. Need we really go back and enuemerate how I might say something about history, policy, and circumstance, and you just whine about me? It's one thing if you want to respond to the details of what we're talking about with petulant demands and moralizing, but if you're going to complain that this is starting to become all about me, then maybe you should stop trying to make it all about me.

    For instance:

    That's not quite how it works, but six months in you just don't seem able to do any better.

    The actual problem, there, might have to do with this thread being about something other than what it pretends. You refuse to describe the change you want any more specifically than what is to be interpreted by other people. If you stop and look at how that language works, you're basically demanding satisfaction of a personal standard you refuse to enumerate in any useful detail.

    For instance, how do you not comprehend the basic circumstance that two people can agree on a general principle, such as "integrity and honesty", while disagreeing on what that principle means in practice?

    Or, the good fight against ... uh, well, what is that good fight against? Ignorance, superstition, and misinformation? No, that's far too broad. How much of your complaint is made up of projection, for instance? And what are the limits of which crackpottery you would legitimize and attend in order to have after someone you don't like? At some point, it really does start to read like you want me to wave a magic wand for yet another iteration of satisfying someone's particular aesthetics.

    The answer is most likely, Yes, but what makes it not a simple question is what you mean by "thrive". Toward that, these last six months have made one thing clear, this thread isn't really about "integrity and honesty"↑:

    1) The pathway from where we are to "reasonable standards of intellectual integrity and honesty" is long, tortuous, fraught, and requires much cooperation; if nobody seems anxious to start down that road, it's a labor-intensive prospect with no guarantee of useful return. That's not outright, categorically prohibitive, but ...

    2) ... as we have discussed these issues, you have made clear to me that part of what you want has nothing to do with "integrity and honesty", but, rather, some measure of personal satisfaction.​

    That whiff of personal interest is one of the perpetually complicating factors; if we can't find a way past that, then we will never be able to properly address the practical implications of potential policy resolutions.

    Because, you will find the first point comes up along the way in your traffic thread↗, such as the observation↗ that part of the solution will come down to what people choose to post: Inasmuch as that doesn't mean some boundless cacophony, the question of what people choose to post will inevitably arrive at the question of what is appropriate, as individuals have different perceptions of what is on-topic, what constitutes insult, ad hominem, flaming, harrassment, &c.

    And maybe I can tell you what an appropriate post looks like, but that's only one kind of post; if it is impossible to predict all the variations on appropriate posts, I still would rather not moderate according to the proverbial definition of art, i.e., I know what it ain't.

    Still, though, of that one kind of post, what would a supportable argument really mean? Writing citations like I do is laborious and many would find it an unreasonable expectation; to the other, hyperlinks often break, and requiring people to go fish at Wayback isn't necessarily fair compared to having source information to follow up on more easily. And beyond that, there are questions of reliability pertaining to both, how the source is represented in a post, and the source itself.

    Or the question of more Gamera posts; as I said↗: In an actual pub, two-bit distractions from all around can pass by more easily compared to inline side chatter and self-gratifying disruption arranged sequentially within the confines of an online thread. Right now the boundary of appropriate off-topic one-liners is like the definition of art.

    Y'know, just for instance.

    And if it happens that along the way, I found some old notes from eight years ago, it's one thing if you wouldn't believe, but it's also unlikely that you would actually care. Still, if the general sketch had been sufficient.
  10. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    As a matter of fact, it is.

    I may have been wholly obtuse about this but I've always assumed that, here, "mod" and "admin" were used interchangeably. And therefore that you and James R were - in principle, if not in practice - equals.

    Colour me clueless. I need to ruminate.

    And I guess I owe you an apology for burdening you with more than is your burden.
  11. foghorn Valued Senior Member

    It's ok, I have found the answer to my question.
    JamesR to Magical Realist:

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