Author Topic: Thread hijacking  (Read 756 times)

marshwiggle

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Thread hijacking
« on: November 26, 2020, 07:00:15 AM »
This came up on another thread, and so as to avoid thread hijacking there, I thought this warranted its own discussion. For context:
Not sure that this is going to make any impact, but I'd like to try.

This thread, and its ancestor on the CHE boards, has always been a valuable ticker for tracking institutions in distress. I've learned a lot from both iterations, and want to thank Spork for sharing expertise, insight, and a toolbox for doing the work on our own.

The frequent hijacking of the thread by the same folks who hijack almost every thread into the same, dreary, predictable dead ends is frustrating.

I'm not a censor. I'm not a mod. I'm not crying goodbye, cruel fora. But I'd ask everybody to think about where they comment, if not what.

Happy Thanks, to those who Thanks.

DC

+1

I've mentioned this a couple of times before.

Seemingly--hijackers gotta hijack.

I wish they wouldn't, also. The basic info and some interpretive responses are useful, the spiral galactic reasoning pudding, not so much.

M.

I'm afraid I set it off by calling Dubuque "rural". Sorry about that.

So what constitutes thread hijacking? I would suggest, like in the example above, that rather than being hijacked, threads often go off on tangents. Given that bits are free, and no-one has a posting quota imposed, anyone can continue to post on any thread following the original idea, even if some people have gone off on a tangent. For people who get frustrated with these tangents, what makes it feel like a problem? Is it that it means having to potentially read through lots of tangential posts to find ones related to the original idea?

As expected, the thread activity is a Pareto distribution, with a few threads getting the vast majority of traffic. Note that views follow the same pattern as replies; so threads that are active because of tangents get many more views than less busy ones. How many people prefer threads that are either mostly chi-chat or purely informational? If those were the only threads the data suggest the total amount of views on the site would be vastly smaller, indicating less interest.

I'd really like to see a discussion of this, and for what it's worth, I'm not concerned about whether this thread gets "hijacked". (Personally, I would reserve that term for cases such as where discussions get filled with spam from advertisers, typically having nothing to do with the topic. Any discussion flowing from the thread itself is fair game to me. )
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Parasaurolophus

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Re: Thread hijacking
« Reply #1 on: November 26, 2020, 08:03:27 AM »
It seems to me that hijacking occurs when someone shoehorns in their pet issue when that issue is not immediately relevant to the topic, and has not otherwise arisen naturally in the course of regular discourse.

Imagine, for instance, I took this opportunity to get on my high horse about torture and prosecuting the Bush (and Obama) administrations' war crimes. That would be a hijacking attempt.

Spam is just spam. It's unsightly, but its function isn't to turn a thread around and give it a wholly new destination.
I know it's a genus.

marshwiggle

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Re: Thread hijacking
« Reply #2 on: November 26, 2020, 08:20:10 AM »
It seems to me that hijacking occurs when someone shoehorns in their pet issue when that issue is not immediately relevant to the topic, and has not otherwise arisen naturally in the course of regular discourse.

Imagine, for instance, I took this opportunity to get on my high horse about torture and prosecuting the Bush (and Obama) administrations' war crimes. That would be a hijacking attempt.

Fair enough. But do you think it has much effect? In the cases I can think of, it seems that maybe one or two people respond, but after that the discussion pretty much goes on as if it never happened.

If you (or anyone) can point to an example of a thread that got clearly and permanently hijacked I'd be interested to see it.
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Caracal

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Re: Thread hijacking
« Reply #3 on: November 26, 2020, 08:26:49 AM »
It seems to me that hijacking occurs when someone shoehorns in their pet issue when that issue is not immediately relevant to the topic, and has not otherwise arisen naturally in the course of regular discourse.



Yeah, I agree. Someone was complaining a while ago because a thread on colleges and cover had strayed into some other topic. However, if I recall correctly, there was just a natural conversational progression. Someone wrote something related to the original topic, but which touched on something else and some of us were interested in that issue, even though it didn't have anything to do with Covid. The hijacking is when you have people seizing on the most tendentious connections to harp on whatever they like to harp about. That's how you have every discussion about undergrad majors turn into a diatribe about the foolishness of humanities phds, or every question about teaching become a discussion about adjuncts.

mahagonny

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Re: Thread hijacking
« Reply #4 on: November 26, 2020, 08:34:04 AM »
Is this a hijack, or not?

Poster A:  I'd like to discuss this article about levels of stress and substance issue abuse vulnerability among college professors. (Poster A then includes a link to an article claiming to be about college professors generally and contains zero data about, nor mention of adjunct faculty.)

Posters B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J:  Well, here's what I've experienced.

Poster K: Uhm, wonder why they didn't include adjunct faculty in the study?

Poster B: You're supposed to quit and get a real job, then come back and teach in your spare time so you can give back to the community....us! How many times have you been told...
« Last Edit: November 26, 2020, 08:48:35 AM by mahagonny »

marshwiggle

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Re: Thread hijacking
« Reply #5 on: November 26, 2020, 08:40:55 AM »
Is this a hijack, or not?

Poster A:  I'd like to discuss this article about levels of stress and substance issue abuse vulnerability among college professors. (Poster A then includes a link to an article claiming to be a about college professors generally the contains zero data about, nor mention of adjunct faculty.)

Posters B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J:  Well, here' what i've experienced.

Poster K: Uhm, wonder why they didn't include adjunct faculty in the study?

Personally, my preference would be that Poster K would continue on to say "Here are some factors unique to adjuncts that would likely make the results different from those for full-time faculty", and including some suggestion of how the results would differ.

In a nutshell, any insights provided are good for the discussion; hand-wringing much less so. (But that's just me.)
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mahagonny

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Re: Thread hijacking
« Reply #6 on: November 26, 2020, 08:46:51 AM »
i would rather that any articles that purport to be about college faculty generally and are not at all about adjunct faculty be censored as hate speech. But that's just me.

AmLitHist

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Re: Thread hijacking
« Reply #7 on: November 26, 2020, 08:49:42 AM »
I don't know that hijacking derails or ruins a thread.  However, I do know that there are some threads I'd like to read, but I no longer do, simply because of the activity Parasauroloophus describes.  I've "ignored" the poster who engages in that activity, but still, when others respond to or quote that person, there it is again, and I don't care to spend time reading all the hijack and response.

Just my $0.02.

spork

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Re: Thread hijacking
« Reply #8 on: November 26, 2020, 08:58:56 AM »
I don't know that hijacking derails or ruins a thread.  However, I do know that there are some threads I'd like to read, but I no longer do, simply because of the activity Parasauroloophus describes.  I've "ignored" the poster who engages in that activity, but still, when others respond to or quote that person, there it is again, and I don't care to spend time reading all the hijack and response.

Just my $0.02.

Same.
It's terrible writing, used to obfuscate the fact that the authors actually have nothing to say.

Caracal

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Re: Thread hijacking
« Reply #9 on: November 26, 2020, 09:09:15 AM »
Is this a hijack, or not?

Poster A:  I'd like to discuss this article about levels of stress and substance issue abuse vulnerability among college professors. (Poster A then includes a link to an article claiming to be about college professors generally and contains zero data about, nor mention of adjunct faculty.)

Posters B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J:  Well, here's what I've experienced.

Poster K: Uhm, wonder why they didn't include adjunct faculty in the study?

Poster B: You're supposed to quit and get a real job, then come back and teach in your spare time so you can give back to the community....us! How many times have you been told...

It's like the person at the conference or workshop who always has to ask why the author isn't addressing the thing they study. Sure, sometimes neglecting something can be a glaring omission, but everything can't be about everything else. Just because some article doesn't specifically mention adjunct faculty doesn't mean the person is ignoring them.
And, yes, the second thing is thread hijacking too.

mahagonny

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Re: Thread hijacking
« Reply #10 on: November 26, 2020, 09:12:17 AM »
Quote
Every article doesn't have to talk about adjunct faculty.

Wow, thanks for clearing that up. A lot of CHE, Slate and InsideHigherEd writers are sure gonna do things differently if they read that!

There's really no reason to discuss adjunct faculty concerns on this forum. It's toxic for that. However, occasionally mentioning how the tenure track is not the savior fo the free world that it envisions itself to be might be interesting. Or for example, how it hampers the democratic party's chance to be more relevant.
« Last Edit: November 26, 2020, 09:14:42 AM by mahagonny »

jimbogumbo

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Re: Thread hijacking
« Reply #11 on: November 26, 2020, 09:13:02 AM »
Maybe not hijacked, but Colleges in Dire Financial Straits has certainly been derailed. The last several posts regarding Appalachia would be way better off in its own thread, or back in the Elections Thread.

marshwiggle

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Re: Thread hijacking
« Reply #12 on: November 26, 2020, 09:37:37 AM »
Maybe not hijacked, but Colleges in Dire Financial Straits has certainly been derailed. The last several posts regarding Appalachia would be way better off in its own thread, or back in the Elections Thread.

But at what point does a thread actually become "derailed"? And should someone be appointed to either tell people to get back on track or start a new thread? I can't really see a way to avoid these kinds of diversions without discouraging all kinds of worthwhile discussion.
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mahagonny

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Re: Thread hijacking
« Reply #13 on: November 26, 2020, 10:03:33 AM »
Is this a hijack, or not?

Poster A:  I'd like to discuss this article about levels of stress and substance issue abuse vulnerability among college professors. (Poster A then includes a link to an article claiming to be about college professors generally and contains zero data about, nor mention of adjunct faculty.)

Posters B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J:  Well, here's what I've experienced.

Poster K: Uhm, wonder why they didn't include adjunct faculty in the study?

Poster B: You're supposed to quit and get a real job, then come back and teach in your spare time so you can give back to the community....us! How many times have you been told...

It's like the person at the conference or workshop who always has to ask why the author isn't addressing the thing they study. Sure, sometimes neglecting something can be a glaring omission, but everything can't be about everything else. Just because some article doesn't specifically mention adjunct faculty doesn't mean the person is ignoring them.
And, yes, the second thing is thread hijacking too.

Actually, an article such as the one I made up will have already taken into account the view of the culture at large, to wit;

"Stress and substance abuse vulnerability among tenure track faculty are matters of general concern; whereas, if it were to become unmanageable for people to succeed on the tenure track, academia falls apart at the seams. OTOH, stress and substance abuse vulnerability among adjunct faculty have never been matters of general concern for a variety of reasons, among them (1) they are easily replaced, (2) the presence of adjunct faculty is already the sign of the decay of academic life, therefore; the focus should be on pretending we're going to avoid adjuntification rather than addressing calamities that befall adjunct faculty when adjunctification has taken hold (which is just about universal); (3) their job being something that can be integrated into a well adjusted life has already been mostly given up on; therefore (3) solutions available are only individual solutions, i.e. giving up teaching permanantly following high levels of stress, leading to the solution for the group referred to in reason (1.)"

'Therefore, a piece delving into stress levels and substance abuse vulnerability among college faculty should not include anything about adjunct faculty. It should include only data of general interest.'
« Last Edit: November 26, 2020, 10:07:12 AM by mahagonny »

mamselle

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Re: Thread hijacking
« Reply #14 on: November 26, 2020, 10:05:47 AM »
<<If you (or anyone) can point to an example of a thread that got clearly and permanently hijacked I'd be interested to see it.>>

When someone tries to re-enter material more germane to the overall thread topic and the other three or four hijacking posters keep going back to their pet peeves, it gets really tiresome.

Mostly, after three off-topic posts, I just give up and stop looking at the thread. So it's hijacked from then on from my perspective. I might try a couple times to re-route it back, but if the hijacking persists, I consider the thread dead (a la Fiona of blessed CHE memory) and just read the ones that haven't been so infected yet.

I teach my music students not to be Johnny- or Jill-one notes. I want expressive range and a variety of tones from them, and I expect the same of an academic discussion.

My personal teaching experience has all been as an adjunct, as well as a private music instructor and substitute in the public schools, but I don't feel the need to drag that into every discussion, nor do I welcome it when others do. (My work as an academic executive assistant provides whatever insights I have to TT issues; I try to be very careful neither to overstep my purview, nor to misrepresent myself in that sense).

Joining the "poor adjuncts we" chorus would be degrading in my sense of things--I've had wacky experiences as an adjunct, but not universally bad ones--and it would also be like saying that only my experience is normative for TT and NTT/semi-permanent faculty...so, no better balanced.

I want to learn more broadly about what others have experienced in other settings--in fact, if it ever became possible, because of other situations, to try to make a move like that, I'd feel very poorly served by threads that only, ever, always talked about adjunct issues and not the larger ones.

Maybe a thread or two on adjunct issues would be good, but when one gets started, the rectangular firing squad ignores that and keeps cropping up everywhere else, which belies the statement that they want more emphasis on adjunct issues.

And some things--like running a lab--are also science-vs-humanities issues. I've worked in both areas, the sciences as an EA, the humanities as a researcher, teacher, and writer, and I try to mention sometimes the fact that some of the assumptions might be more appropriate to one or the other side of that continuum.

But I don't go putting down science-y folks for their science-y-ness, or expect humanities folks to understand stuff that also didn't make sense to me at first when I found myself dealing with it in a lab setting.  And I don't expect to be able to shanghai the whole thread to my interests, but that's because my interests are a lot wider than that.

We also seem to forget sometimes that we're really the only--or one of the few--voice(s) doing this kind of work in the academic community overall, and it behooves us not to go flaming each other all the time.

People sometimes don't realize how narrow their interests are until others tell them. If they won't listen, then they never grow. And those who read these threads, sometimes coming here in hopes of finding help for something that's really troubling them, don't need all the angst.

We have an outward- as well as an inward-facing mission, and we need to behave/write/speak/respond to each other with that in mind.

M.
« Last Edit: November 26, 2020, 10:23:52 AM by mamselle »
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