The Fora: A Higher Education Community

General Category => Suggestions, Comments, Questions => Topic started by: polly_mer on July 19, 2019, 08:01:49 AM

Title: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: polly_mer on July 19, 2019, 08:01:49 AM
Relevant Background: I'm starting this thread speaking for myself as one of the handful of people who got us transitioned.  These are my thoughts, although I know from discussions before, during, and after transition that I'm not crazy out in left field.


Polly, where are you going with this?

I'm wearing my college administrator and engineering hats to think in terms of ensuring long-term survival of these fora by balancing between the goals of migrating regulars from the CHE fora, preserving the good parts, recruiting new people, and acknowledging that the world has changed since 2002 and even 2007 so we need current advice, not just long-standing, beloved threads enshrined at the CHE fora.

I read nearly every post nearly every day.  For years on the CHE fora, I did the same.  While I post a lot, I read even more.  Years of observation here and elsewhere indicate that a thriving community has enough new content that people come and engage with that content.   Years of reading discussions indicate that people engage with content on these fora in several different ways, but one way is to lurk for quite a while before posting either a relevant question or joining a long-standing support thread.

What difference does that make to me as a regular forumite who just wants to post?

Thank you for being a member of the community.  This is our community and we're all better off because you're here.

People love to hate on administrators, but even volunteer efforts fail when no one is keeping an eye on the bigger picture and ensuring that smaller daily tasks are done.  I have no desire or energy to micromanage anyone (notice I said I'm reading most posts: I didn't say I'm editing tons of posts, removing tons of posts, or banning people who disagree with me publicly), but I have been taking purposeful actions that I hope will help these fora grow and thrive.

Thus, I appreciate all feedback received: formal, informal, public, private, and what I pick up as I read through most of those posts most days.  I don't always act on every piece of feedback, but I am considering it as I think about the long-term goals for these fora.


  Why would you devote time and energy to being a volunteer adminicritter?

Because a thriving community with fabulous active members doesn't just happen without a few nudges and I want this community to thrive.  I view this as service, just like when I become an officer of a professional society or take over organizing the new arrival lunches at work.

As was noted recently in another thread, we have several hundred people registered for these fora.  However, a fair number of them have never posted, despite being registered for long enough that they should have been able to post and get approved.  I keep an eye on the stats on the front page.  Right now, we have 28 guests (i.e., people with a webpage open to this site) and 7 forumites (i.e., people logged in with monikers).  I seldom see the reverse with several times as many forumites logged in as posting as lurkariat browsing.

Guests cannot use any of the variants of "show new posts since last visit" features.  My bet is that a fair number of our registered-but-never-posted forumites have signed up just to use those features including following threads or just being able to jump to the first unread post in an ongoing thread.  Again, keeping an eye on the main page stats and who is logged in indicates we have people here nearly every day who don't post.  I spent several years on the old fora reading nearly every day without posting and then I refrained from registering for more than a year when that became a thing.  Thus, while I have 12 years logged with these fora, I remember vividly all those prior years of reading.

Thus, when I read something like:

I thought of asking before, but now I will since someone has brought it up: Do child boards really help much?

<snip>
Are there people who find this helpful? I'd be glad to hear why.

and related posts that hinge strongly on SPADFY for even basic web-browsing, I am reminded that I should make explicit some information I have that underlies actions I take.

For example, while I love the games, I think it's unlikely that most of the lurkariat are eagerly awaiting the newest entry for, say, "Keep a Word, Drop a Word" either at the top of the General Discussions board or as a substantial portion of the "show recent posts" disembodied posts since threads work much more nicely to see a true discussion.  Instead, it's more likely that people are browsing by section, as they would an actual paper newspaper. 

For the goal of having more people with a variety of viewpoints joining us to participate in lively discussions, having a front page of every section that has a good variety of types of threads and reasonably active threads will likely yield better results in terms of having members of the lurkariat join us or at least that's a hypothesis I'm currently testing in various ways including starting new threads in boards that aren't as active.

To be clear,  I love the games; I'm an active participant in games.  We will continue to have games as long as I'm a primary member of this community.  As one of the most thread-derailing silly people, I have no plans to try to get only serious posts enforced anywhere.

However, it's more likely that people will come out of lurking to join us for substantive discussions, which means they have to both find those other discussions and see that we're an active community in those discussions.  Two threads each a week old on a technology sub board aren't very appealing.  Two threads on technology as part of the 15 active threads in the past 5 days in General Discussion may entice someone to delurk.

Eh, what else do you have, adminicritter?

The CHE chose a particularly poor time to make the transition because most of the big areas (teaching, research, job search including grad school) aren't nearly as active in the summer.  That's part of the nature of the academic calendar.  For example, few people start teaching for the very first time in July, but it would be good for those who will be starting in the fall to know we have that board and we have the long-running threads of collected wisdom.

Thus, calls for the various sub boards people enjoyed on the CHE fora are somewhat premature before we know what discussions will take off here.  The really active board by the numbers is General Discussion.  Thinking ahead to having sub boards to group threads for those who like to read that way, I floated the idea to the transition team of making Fun and Games our first sub board.  I know there's a good sub community who will find the games in the equivalent of moving the coffee table three feet to the left for rearranging fora furniture and it has the side benefit of having General Discussions then show more variety when different threads float to the top instead always the same handful of game threads.

Those are my thoughts.  You are free to point out that no one asked me to do any of this and Eigen is the one who did the heavy lifting for getting us a space.  I look forward to reading.  For those who are curious, that's about 3 hours this morning on administrative work here, reading, and posting.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: downer on July 19, 2019, 09:45:22 AM
Polly, thanks for all your work on this. You certainly devote a lot of time to this stuff.

It would be good to get the experience of people who have experience in fora that run independently and keep on going. The worry would be that this site is just for die-hards from the old fora and never gets new blood, so it slowly dies. How to bring in new people?

I note that this is not a secure site: there is no https: and I wonder how that affects the ranking in searches. My experience is that Google tends to favor secure sites.

The old fora got traffic from CHE which promotes itself. CHE currently provides a link to this site, but presumably that won't last for long, (unless we can do a deal with them: maybe a free ad for them here in exchange for a link from them to us?)

Either we get traffic from search engines, from word of mouth, or by people sharing links in other places, such as on social media. What about getting press? Maybe CHE or IHE would want to do a story on us?
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: fast_and_bulbous on July 19, 2019, 10:09:17 AM
Polly, thanks for all your work on this. You certainly devote a lot of time to this stuff.

It would be good to get the experience of people who have experience in fora that run independently and keep on going. The worry would be that this site is just for die-hards from the old fora and never gets new blood, so it slowly dies. How to bring in new people?

This is on my mind a lot. Due to the pseudo-anonymous nature of the forum, and the fact that googling "academic forums" does NOT lead here, I am wondering what we can do to make ourselves more visible. Perhaps "telling google" via keywords etc. may make us easier to find, I don't know. The old forum has this rotating banner about "Follow The Chronicle on Twitter!" (how edgy) and "Forum is down July 1 (no year provided) go to new forum here". At least we can be found relatively easily if someone finds the old forum. But it's not immediately clear that the old forum is inactive until you see the rotating banner alternating with "OMG Twitter" and "NO FORUM 4 U".

Quote
I note that this is not a secure site: there is no https: and I wonder how that affects the ranking in searches. My experience is that Google tends to favor secure sites.

Sigh. This whole "insecure" thing means "just the normal internet". And, if you type https://thefora.org you get the secure version. We really should have http://thefora.org redirect to https://thefora.org. That's relatively straightforward - it requires some .htaccess voodoo. I think I will ping eigen on this.

Quote
The old fora got traffic from CHE which promotes itself. CHE currently provides a link to this site, but presumably that won't last for long, (unless we can do a deal with them: maybe a free ad for them here in exchange for a link from them to us?)

Either we get traffic from search engines, from word of mouth, or by people sharing links in other places, such as on social media. What about getting press? Maybe CHE or IHE would want to do a story on us?

I think a thread dedicated to this has merit. Basically, how do we make people aware of this place who would benefit by it? There is a real issue with the fact that it is actually to your advantage to HIDE the fact that you are on the forum to your fellow department members - it's very easy to get discovered if you are not careful, and we all know that many departments are full of assholes. We had one dingbat in our department who was "live posting" from an excruciatingly long and frustrating department meeting. He never knew I knew it was him but it was kind of fun "spying" on him for years. See what I mean, though? So somehow "word of mouth" is not going to be the ticket, I fear. But I am very much open to suggestions.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: spork on July 19, 2019, 11:03:06 AM
It's basically an advertising problem. To increase awareness of the new fora, you have to get the word out to members of the target audience. Not just once (as in a one-off press release, Facebook post, or newspaper story), but on a regular basis.

I've been involved in two online community efforts. One is a medical discussion site that began in 1994. I joined in 1997 and helped redesign the layout ~ 2001. The site is dying because 1) original membership is dying off, often literally, and 2) the site represented a source of highly specialized information that is now much more widely available, so there isn't any real reason for new people to join.

The other site is a blog that began in 2011. It too has a specialized audience, which has been growing, but at a snail's pace (perhaps because it started after blogs stopped being the ticket to fame and fortune). I send links to the blog's content to people who communicate with me about related topics. If they find the blog useful/interesting they become regular readers. So maybe I need to start doing the same thing with particular discussion threads on this site.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: fast_and_bulbous on July 19, 2019, 11:24:22 AM
It's basically an advertising problem. To increase awareness of the new fora, you have to get the word out to members of the target audience. Not just once (as in a one-off press release, Facebook post, or newspaper story), but on a regular basis.

I've been involved in two online community efforts. One is a medical discussion site that began in 1994. I joined in 1997 and helped redesign the layout ~ 2001. The site is dying because 1) original membership is dying off, often literally, and 2) the site represented a source of highly specialized information that is now much more widely available, so there isn't any real reason for new people to join.

The other site is a blog that began in 2011. It too has a specialized audience, which has been growing, but at a snail's pace (perhaps because it started after blogs stopped being the ticket to fame and fortune). I send links to the blog's content to people who communicate with me about related topics. If they find the blog useful/interesting they become regular readers. So maybe I need to start doing the same thing with particular discussion threads on this site.

Way back in 1989 I accidentally typed 'rn' instead of 'rm' at a UNIX prompt in the computer science building whilst working on homework. It opened a world of information to me. I felt like I had stumbled into a hidden world. 'rn' stood for 'read news' and it was a way to read Usenet newsgroups and post to them.

I see forums such as this one as the next version of the Usenet. I have to wonder whether people who started 'internetting' in the past 15 years or so (say, during Myspace's heyday) just aren't as used to this kind of communication. Social media and other things split your attention and there is only so much time you can be in front of a screen (yes I said that with a straight face). Plus, I have to imagine there are a lot of facebook groups for different academic things.

I may be wrong but this place is rather unique, in a good way, from other things out there. It seems to me to be very faculty (as opposed to, say, administration) biased, which isn't a bad thing, and I know many people have gotten valuable career-helping advice here. I see that as the forum's strongest feature.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: mahagonny on July 19, 2019, 11:32:27 AM
Polly, thanks for all your work on this. You certainly devote a lot of time to this stuff.

It would be good to get the experience of people who have experience in fora that run independently and keep on going. The worry would be that this site is just for die-hards from the old fora and never gets new blood, so it slowly dies. How to bring in new people?

I note that this is not a secure site: there is no https: and I wonder how that affects the ranking in searches. My experience is that Google tends to favor secure sites.

The old fora got traffic from CHE which promotes itself. CHE currently provides a link to this site, but presumably that won't last for long, (unless we can do a deal with them: maybe a free ad for them here in exchange for a link from them to us?)

Either we get traffic from search engines, from word of mouth, or by people sharing links in other places, such as on social media. What about getting press? Maybe CHE or IHE would want to do a story on us?

How do you get new people? You might ask how you avoid losing old people.


I may be wrong but this place is rather unique, in a good way, from other things out there. It seems to me to be very faculty (as opposed to, say, administration) biased, which isn't a bad thing, and I know many people have gotten valuable career-helping advice here. I see that as the forum's strongest feature.

Cannot agree. From the point of view of most of today's faculty, tenured faculty are administration, and this forum is dominated by the tenure track perspective.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: polly_mer on July 19, 2019, 03:38:19 PM
Currently, 30 guests and 2 forumites for those who are interested.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: Cheerful on July 19, 2019, 05:12:06 PM
- it's very easy to get discovered if you are not careful

This is true. For example, I worry for some newbies that post very specific details about their interviews and job negotiations here.  If and when this community grows, unless they disguise their respective fields and other details, some run the risk of having their posts read by those offering the jobs.

I'd also caution against The Fora giving off vibes of being cliquey.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: bioteacher on July 19, 2019, 05:26:45 PM
I'm no longer associated with higher education in any way. I am here for the community. I met so many people in person, and have gotten to know others online from my years in the trenches that I'm unwilling to let you all go. I'm stubborn like that.

I'm not sure what can be done to help this site thrive. I'm an "outsider" who is trying very hard (for 5 years now) to find a job in my field that is in the same geographic location. I was never tenure track, so my advice on that topic is never going to be useful.

I'm just posting this here to clarify for some who don't know/realize that there are plenty of non-academics hanging out. What do we have in common? Terminal degrees, for one thing. In general society we're the odd ducks. It's nice to be part of a crowd other finely feathered ducks of various sorts! Our collective plumage is gorgeous.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: polly_mer on July 19, 2019, 05:36:08 PM
I'm just posting this here to clarify for some who don't know/realize that there are plenty of non-academics hanging out. What do we have in common? Terminal degrees, for one thing. In general society we're the odd ducks. It's nice to be part of a crowd other finely feathered ducks of various sorts! Our collective plumage is gorgeous.

Indeed.  One benefit to a higher-ed-interested community that I see is having a stable enough social group as individuals change jobs.  We who have made a transition or are engaging in a transition can help support others who need to look at broader career goals.  We need more voices talking about how to make a rich intellectual life that doesn't include full-time academic employment because that's the reality for many of us here.

One reasonable fear for those leaving academic employment is social acceptance.  We can provide some acceptance by our diversity of membership in various career stages inside, outside, and straddling academia.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: mahagonny on July 19, 2019, 06:28:19 PM
I'm just posting this here to clarify for some who don't know/realize that there are plenty of non-academics hanging out. What do we have in common? Terminal degrees, for one thing. In general society we're the odd ducks. It's nice to be part of a crowd other finely feathered ducks of various sorts! Our collective plumage is gorgeous.

Indeed.  One benefit to a higher-ed-interested community that I see is having a stable enough social group as individuals change jobs.  We who have made a transition or are engaging in a transition can help support others who need to look at broader career goals.  We need more voices talking about how to make a rich intellectual life that doesn't include full-time academic employment because that's the reality for many of us here.

In case anyone's interested in another perspective, I've got something a little different. Full time academic employment comprised of multiple part time teaching jobs, without it being a rich intellectual experience thanks to hopelessly uninspired leadership. However these jobs do supply regular compensation. For intellectual stimulation and success I maintain my non-academic life.

Additional: there are the right number of people on this forum, in my opinion. There's no reason to assume people who are transitioning from academic employment to other do not have available groups/friends for support. There may be reason to think academic administration or former administrators are not a big part of that support, but whose problem is that?

On edit: those who have assiduously tried to stifle faculty from even getting to have a voice (read: unionizing) will continue to be recognized as a big part of the problem with academic employment, and solutions will be sought and found without their involvement.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: mahagonny on July 19, 2019, 08:10:07 PM
had my say, i'll be out of here. cheers
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: bioteacher on July 19, 2019, 08:39:28 PM
There's no reason to assume people who are transitioning from academic employment to other do not have available groups/friends for support. There may be reason to think academic administration or former administrators are not a big part of that support, but whose problem is that?


I disagree. Job hunting is extremely isolating under the best of circumstances, for any job seeker. For academics transiting out, I say it is even harder. All of the local resources I have approached have no clue what to do with me. They suggest I head back to teaching. Then they suggest I go back to school. Finding people who have transitioned out of academia is NOT easy because people with terminal degrees are a tiny subset of the overall population. We're assumed to be antisocial and awkward, or so accustomed to our lofty conversations we cannot converse with mere mortal blue-collar workers.

Hand a stranger a tablet and pencil on the street and ask them to draw a scientist. I bet 99.9% of them will draw old white guys in a lab coat or tweed jacket. Even the women will draw men. I admit I'd default to that, and I see a scientist every time I look in the mirror.

We are not responsible for creating this job transition problem, but any and every possible resource that can support someone in that transition is valuable. SPADFY. If these forums help one person, we've worked a miracle. Why not share that miracle with as many people as possible?
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: mahagonny on July 19, 2019, 09:22:40 PM
There's no reason to assume people who are transitioning from academic employment to other do not have available groups/friends for support. There may be reason to think academic administration or former administrators are not a big part of that support, but whose problem is that?


I disagree. Job hunting is extremely isolating under the best of circumstances, for any job seeker. For academics transiting out, I say it is even harder. All of the local resources I have approached have no clue what to do with me. They suggest I head back to teaching. Then they suggest I go back to school. Finding people who have transitioned out of academia is NOT easy because people with terminal degrees are a tiny subset of the overall population. We're assumed to be antisocial and awkward, or so accustomed to our lofty conversations we cannot converse with mere mortal blue-collar workers.

Hand a stranger a tablet and pencil on the street and ask them to draw a scientist. I bet 99.9% of them will draw old white guys in a lab coat or tweed jacket. Even the women will draw men. I admit I'd default to that, and I see a scientist every time I look in the mirror.

We are not responsible for creating this job transition problem, but any and every possible resource that can support someone in that transition is valuable. SPADFY. If these forums help one person, we've worked a miracle. Why not share that miracle with as many people as possible?

OK, you won't leave me alone. Fine. I'll tell you something you may not know. If it weren't for me and my presence on the old CHE forum, this forum would include a continuation of Polly_Mer's relentless, bullying opposition to the legal rights of faculty to organize for collective bargaining. After I predicted there would be no adjunct faculty advocacy presence on this forum her hand was forced and she invited me here. Thus a number of template threads appeared - 'how to support adjunct faculty' etc. The problem is readers already know who Polly_Mer is. So they'll lie there dormant. They should.
It was not my intent to participate here. A forumite contacted me to say 'come on over and read. Your point of view is missing. It's dull.'
Well, I did. i've had enough.
A person can't undo the destruction that they have done to academic employment by saying 'but wait --- look over here! You can find another job and be happy.' It's bullshit.
Good night.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: science.expat on July 19, 2019, 11:37:09 PM
Interesting to see that Goodbye Cruel Fora has made the transition.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: polly_mer on July 20, 2019, 06:01:30 AM
19 Guests, 4 logged in (one logged in who registered in May and has zero posts).
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: polly_mer on July 20, 2019, 09:13:08 AM
28 guests, 9 users (two never posted)
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: bioteacher on July 20, 2019, 12:44:55 PM
OK, you won't leave me alone. Fine. I'll tell you something you may not know. If it weren't for me and my presence on the old CHE forum, this forum would include a continuation of Polly_Mer's relentless, bullying opposition to the legal rights of faculty to organize for collective bargaining.

WOW. Replying to post on a public forum = "not leaving you alone" ??? I stated my reaction to your comments; I didn't drag you here at gunpoint and insist you reply. This is a community discussion forum where everyone is permitted to reply to prior comments as they see fit.

Secondly. I think you are a bit delusional about how much power any individual has here. You and Polly are two mere mortals, not the entire fora community. I cannot fathom how either of you can be single handily responsible for everything good or evil happening here or back there.

If you are not happy here, by all means, stay away. Life is too short to spend it in ways that do not feed your soul. I wish you well.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: Liquidambar on July 21, 2019, 11:35:59 AM
Re guests, do you have a way of knowing that they are people versus bots (e.g., Google crawlers)?  Absent other info, I'd assume that a large proportion of them aren't real people.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: fast_and_bulbous on July 21, 2019, 11:41:47 AM
Re guests, do you have a way of knowing that they are people versus bots (e.g., Google crawlers)?  Absent other info, I'd assume that a large proportion of them aren't real people.

No, Guests are anyone (well, a unique IP) who has not logged in who has loaded the front page... probably any of the pages, actually, but I tested it from behind a VPN and watched the counter go up one. A script or bot doing the same would be indistinguishable from a human.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: polly_mer on July 22, 2019, 05:02:32 AM
Re guests, do you have a way of knowing that they are people versus bots (e.g., Google crawlers)?  Absent other info, I'd assume that a large proportion of them aren't real people.

No, Guests are anyone (well, a unique IP) who has not logged in who has loaded the front page... probably any of the pages, actually, but I tested it from behind a VPN and watched the counter go up one. A script or bot doing the same would be indistinguishable from a human.

Is that good for us to get newer members if the bots are looking at us?  I will mention that the guest numbers also go down late evening to early morning.  I don't know that bots keep a 9-5 schedule.  Just now, we had 15 guests and 5 users before I posted about bots; after posting about bots, we have 10 guests and 5 users.  Perhaps our soon-to-be bot overlords really are watching.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: miss jane marple on July 22, 2019, 05:56:46 AM
I access The Fora from two different PCs and an iPad. On one of them I am logged in all the time, and on the other two I am Guest until I hit Reply or Quote. So not all Guests are non-members.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: polly_mer on July 22, 2019, 06:05:38 AM
I access The Fora from two different PCs and an iPad. On one of them I am logged in all the time, and on the other two I am Guest until I hit Reply or Quote. So not all Guests are non-members.

1) Good point.

2) How do you reply or quote as a guest?  I have to log in on the other device to see those options.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: miss jane marple on July 22, 2019, 07:14:38 AM
I have no idea how it works. When I go to the Fora from my home PC, it says Welcome Guest at the top, but it shows the Reply and Quote buttons, and when I hit one, it changes the top to Hello miss jane marple.

Edited to add: I just logged off this (different) PC and it said Welcome Guest at the top and the buttons disappeared, as one would expect.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: eigen on July 22, 2019, 10:28:00 AM
I can confirm that a lot of the "guests" are, in fact, users that aren't currently logged in.

Polly, you should also be able to check this: If you go through and look at the IP addresses, you can click on them and if the IP corresponds to someone currently registered, it will tell you who that is.

It also lets me go through and see how many are bots/crawlers.

As for building up the site and getting new people: Anything like this is slow. We appear on google site searchers, and fast_and_bulbous is working on making us more visible there via changing some back-end settings.

Word-of-mouth is another way things get around. Once we're reasonably settled here and ready for new members in force, sharing this as a reousrce with incoming faculty and grad students you know is a way to get more users.

Increasing content here will also help- it will lead more people searching for academic questions on google to our doorsteps.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: downer on August 19, 2019, 03:49:01 PM
It's the start of the semester for a lot of schools and The Fora are remarkably quiet.

What does this mean for the future? What's the biggest source of people viewing The Fora? Search engines, links from The Chronicle, or something else?

Is there going to be slow steady growth or a slow steady death?
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: Puget on August 19, 2019, 04:02:15 PM
I suspect a lot of folks are either busy starting their semester or busy with end of summer vacations and things will pick up again in September.

It's the start of the semester for a lot of schools and The Fora are remarkably quiet.

What does this mean for the future? What's the biggest source of people viewing The Fora? Search engines, links from The Chronicle, or something else?

Is there going to be slow steady growth or a slow steady death?
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: mahagonny on August 19, 2019, 07:58:39 PM
I keep my ear to the ground. I'm looking for a forum full of smart people where a handful hold court and say things like 'I've had your job and mine too, so I'll tell you how we are supposed to think...about everything.'
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: polly_mer on August 20, 2019, 05:30:59 AM
It's the start of the semester for a lot of schools and The Fora are remarkably quiet.

Compared to what? 

The academic subreddits I've checked on have fewer new threads per day than we do and they have many more members.  Those subreddits don't have the long-running threads that already have thousands of reads and keep floating to the top of each forum upon already having a community here for those long-running threads.

The old CHE fora was not nearly as active as some of us remember from many years ago.

However, looking at the publicly available statistics, we're getting reasonable numbers of reads for many threads.  Pull up a board and just scan down the stats on the side.  Even some threads with very few replies have hundreds of reads.  We have people who come here several times per week to read, even if they aren't posting.  I haven't been keeping written notes, but I'm seeing a wider variety of names as posting regulars than we had in June.  We're still picking up new members and we are denying a lot of spammers.  That seems to indicate people can find us.

Also, while some institutions may have started, this is prime final vacation time in other places.  I agree with Puget that September is really the pick-up time as people either need a lot of support or finally surface from the end of summer.

I keep my ear to the ground. I'm looking for a forum full of smart people where a handful hold court and say things like 'I've had your job and mine too, so I'll tell you how we are supposed to think...about everything.'

Admit it.  You, too, have a big curiosity streak and keep checking in on the unfolding story.  Otherwise, the question really is:

It doesn't sound like you were very hopeful about the conversation to begin with. I might have ended it sooner. They're obviously not selling books. It strikes me as like...why bother?

Why come here if you aren't getting anything out of it? 

Where's your productive contribution to discussions from your unique experience so that we can have a variety of viewpoints?
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: mahagonny on August 20, 2019, 07:46:10 AM


Admit it.  You, too, have a big curiosity streak and keep checking in on the unfolding story.


It may be too big for my own good.


Where's your productive contribution to discussions from your unique experience so that we can have a variety of viewpoints?

Frankly, for a person who's as likely to be advised to give up on a teaching career as what you just requested I don't feel I owe the community much.

If I think of anything brilliant or what's been missing, I may pitch in. Generally I see a troubled future for higher ed, and that's my general mood. i don't see it being worked on productively here, not that forumites are lacking, but largely because structural defects cultivate these problems.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: Ruralguy on August 20, 2019, 02:15:03 PM
I think you have a point there....
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: polly_mer on August 21, 2019, 06:50:47 AM
If I think of anything brilliant or what's been missing, I may pitch in. Generally I see a troubled future for higher ed, and that's my general mood. i don't see it being worked on productively here, not that forumites are lacking, but largely because structural defects cultivate these problems.

I agree about the structural defects.  However, I would like to see more examples of the effects of the structural defects come up as a normal part of discussion, because you're right that it's too easy to overlook some aspects.  A useful contribution could include what is being overlooked to provide additional views of the same situation with more details that aren't widely mentioned on these fora. 

We have chairs, deans, and even higher level folks here.  What do they need to know as a recurring set of details that might help them make different choices?  For example, reminders that a shared office with individual lockers helps improve teaching/learning conditions with minimal investment might change some minds.  Pointing out how much better a course is with enough time to prep so having a longer-term contract for recurring courses is to everyone's benefit might help more people advocate for that change to HR practices.

I remember years ago a forumite whose situation appeared to be:

For many of us, a part-time academic job is one income stream among several.  A part-time union helps with stability for longer-term contracts as well as ensuring we're not at the mercy of one individual chair's decision.  This is a pretty good life, although it would be nice to get regular raises in the academic job.

Has the situation on the ground changed enough that one income stream among several is harder to maintain a middle-class lifestyle?  The research from about 10 years ago indicated many part-time faculty preferred to be part-time with additional stability like compensation for cancelled sections, 3-5 year contracts instead of quarter/term, and possibly pro-rated service/professional development requirements.

I haven't seen any formal reports, but the impression I get from my reading is more people are making the trade-offs to be part-time to stay in academia and the number of people willing to take part-time work has increased much faster than the number of part-time slots, even while the push has become to consolidate part-time positions into better paid full-time positions with benefits.  That seems like it would put a lot of pressure on people who had good, stable-enough positions and now that stability is undermined because someone sees a way to save a few more pennies in the teaching budget.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: ex_mo on August 30, 2019, 07:33:41 AM
Just wanted to add to a prior comment about the state of academic social media, particularly among Kids These DaysTM:

I am an elder Millenial. I got my first MySpace account in graduate school and started with message boards (this one and another one) around that same time. I am also a member of several academically-focused Facebook groups. What's telling, though, is that those groups are more narrow and focused on one slice of academia. For example, one group I'm in is for academic mothers, and while the fields of the some-12,000 members are very diverse, our discussion is often less about academia per se and more about the intersection of academia and parenthood. I'm also in a few groups related to my discipline.

This is the only online community I know of that tries to be about the entire academic enterprise.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: Hibush on September 20, 2019, 03:48:05 AM
Here is an update on membership and activity. It looks like the site is reasonably active and continues to recruit active new members.

We currently have 731 members of whom 380 have not posted, 90 have posted once (to activate mostly), 261 have multiple posts.
Of the last 50 people to register (about 3 weeks), 35 have not posted, 6 have posted once, 9 have multiple posts.
We continue to get two or three registrations a day.

There have been almost 10,000 posts, and we have peaked at 97 people online and average 44 unique visitors per day.

A hundreds post per day seems to feel active, where 50 during the summer felt a little quiet.

(These numbers are from the member list. The Forum History table on the stats page claims 2016 new members, but that is clearly incorrect, or reflects a whole lot of rejected signups. The daily-activity table shows 15-10 new members per day but only a few end up on the member list.)

The Fora appear to have a good future. I'm looking forward to more of the lurkers piping up.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: lsmrlnds on September 20, 2019, 04:51:37 AM
Lurker here (as on the other other forum)

I'm a regular teacher active on regular teacher forums but I'm thinking about moving to higher ed. I found the original board via a google search and read many a thread right before the transition.  I lurk because I want to learn as much as I can before deciding whether to make the switch. Plus, since I'm not in higher education I don't have much to add. (I do have a lot to learn!)

And back to lurking I go.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: polly_mer on September 20, 2019, 05:09:36 AM
(These numbers are from the member list. The Forum History table on the stats page claims 2016 new members, but that is clearly incorrect, or reflects a whole lot of rejected signups. The daily-activity table shows 15-10 new members per day but only a few end up on the member list.)

We reject a lot of spammers/spambots either at registration or at first post.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: Hibush on September 20, 2019, 06:13:53 AM
(These numbers are from the member list. The Forum History table on the stats page claims 2016 new members, but that is clearly incorrect, or reflects a whole lot of rejected signups. The daily-activity table shows 15-10 new members per day but only a few end up on the member list.)

We reject a lot of spammers/spambots either at registration or at first post.

Thank you for doing that. It is clearly quite a bit of work to keep up with that flood.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: ciao_yall on September 20, 2019, 06:35:56 AM
Lurker here (as on the other other forum)

I'm a regular teacher active on regular teacher forums but I'm thinking about moving to higher ed. I found the original board via a google search and read many a thread right before the transition.  I lurk because I want to learn as much as I can before deciding whether to make the switch. Plus, since I'm not in higher education I don't have much to add. (I do have a lot to learn!)

And back to lurking I go.

Regular meaning K-12? What grade?
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: fast_and_bulbous on September 20, 2019, 07:33:44 AM
I would say the forum is pretty healthy, at least as healthy as it was before we made the switch from CHE. I'd personally like to see more diversity, as it's overwhelmingly North American focused, but then again so was CHE, so that makes sense. I do tire of the same dead horses being repeatedly being beaten by the same people but overall I think it continues to be a valuable resource for some people in higher ed looking for a certain kind of advice/camaraderie. I am glad we made the transition over here, and modernized the software - one of my main beefs with the old site.

Regarding spam, I'd say I nuke on average 10-20 bot accounts a day. These are people/programs that register but are never approved. There are some rather obvious signs that someone is a bot and thus far I have seen no good-faith subscribers get nuked - were that to happen, they could post in the one forum that doesn't require a subscription to participate (Help & Questions) in which case we'd rectify the situation. These accounts that are being squashed upfront are the accounts that used to carpet bomb the old site with witch doctor aphrodisiac spam and the like. I don't miss that, although I did learn that there are people in the world who find witch doctors to be a solution to their problems, which is something I would not have known otherwise.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: Parasaurolophus on September 20, 2019, 10:24:54 AM
I also squash about 10-15 bots and spammers a day. It's surprising how many there are.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: mamselle on September 20, 2019, 04:17:10 PM
I'm imagining a mosquito whisk slapping away at 'em.

Thanks for all you do!

M.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: mahagonny on September 20, 2019, 04:42:32 PM
I would say the forum is pretty healthy, at least as healthy as it was before we made the switch from CHE. I'd personally like to see more diversity, as it's overwhelmingly North American focused, but then again so was CHE, so that makes sense. I do tire of the same dead horses being repeatedly being beaten by the same people but overall I think it continues to be a valuable resource for some people in higher ed looking for a certain kind of advice/camaraderie. I am glad we made the transition over here, and modernized the software - one of my main beefs with the old site.


I would tire of the 'Colleges in Dire Financial Straits' if I didn't skip over it. Of course, it's news that should be reported. But a lot of people made their nest egg in the mean time. My heart doesn't bleed too much. But then as you know I'm not the type of academic who has ever had a so-defined long term relationship with or commitment from any particular college. A college closes; you need to find another one. I do that with supermarkets.
Of course, when the professor sees one college or another as his home,  if that home goes away, it's a big deal.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: lsmrlnds on September 23, 2019, 05:26:28 AM

Regular meaning K-12? What grade?

High school (9-12) special education =)
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: mamselle on September 28, 2019, 12:40:39 PM
There are starting to be Ed programs in colleges I'm aware of for which your background would be useful.

I think Lesley University started one awhile ago; last I heard, it was doing decently.

M.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: polly_mer on September 29, 2019, 08:46:08 AM
A college closes; you need to find another one. I do that with supermarkets.

The problem that worries many of us is there won't be the possibility to easily find another one.  As someone who has had to drive 100 miles round trip to the grocery store, I am much less cavalier about trends that eliminate entire sectors so that what remains are several equally hugely expensive options and a couple very inadequate, really cheap options where you still aren't getting good value for the money.

The higher ed landscape in New England and the Midwest will look very different in 10 years with far fewer garden-variety jobs for normal people.  The institutions that stay open are likely to benefit from an even larger oversupply of qualified faculty who are willing to work for fewer benefits and lower wages just to stay as academics.  The people who will feel that pinch the most are those who are already adjuncts or otherwise working for low pay and minimal benefits.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: pepsi_alum on September 29, 2019, 11:19:58 AM
I'm just now catching up on this thread, but I wanted to say that I'm glad this community exists and look forward to continuing the discussion. A big "thank you" to Polly and other people who volunteer their time as board administrators. Please let me know what I can do to help.

As for the structural issues that Polly mentions, these are discussions that I welcome, even if the implications are uncomfortable. I think Polly is asking the right questions, and although I take a different view than she does of certain underlying ideological issues, I think her overall diagnosis of the situation is correct and worth attending to in the years ahead. And I say this as someone who is far from certain to stay in academia for the remainder of my career.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: Hibush on February 20, 2021, 10:28:23 AM
I'm posting an update on membership and activity for the historical record. We are 19 months into this venue. The last update was four months in.

We currently have 2446 members of whom 582 are active in that they have posted more than their single activation post.
Among the regulars are 103 people with more than 100 posts, and 14 with more than 1000.
On the other hand, 1312 have never posted, 148 have posted only once (to activate).

There is a slow but steady increase in participants. We continue to net one to three registrations a day. Of the last 50 people to register (about 5 weeks), 43 have not posted, 4 have posted only once, 3 have multiple posts.

There have been over 63,000 posts, and we have peaked at 477 people online and average 63 unique visitors per day.



Here is an update on membership and activity. It looks like the site is reasonably active and continues to recruit active new members.

We currently have 731 members of whom 380 have not posted, 90 have posted once (to activate mostly), 261 have multiple posts.
Of the last 50 people to register (about 3 weeks), 35 have not posted, 6 have posted once, 9 have multiple posts.
We continue to get two or three registrations a day.

There have been almost 10,000 posts, and we have peaked at 97 people online and average 44 unique visitors per day.

A hundreds post per day seems to feel active, where 50 during the summer felt a little quiet.

(These numbers are from the member list. The Forum History table on the stats page claims 2016 new members, but that is clearly incorrect, or reflects a whole lot of rejected signups. The daily-activity table shows 15-10 new members per day but only a few end up on the member list.)

The Fora appear to have a good future. I'm looking forward to more of the lurkers piping up.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: Ruralguy on February 20, 2021, 11:09:40 AM
Pretty good. I don't think I'd buy stock in it, but pretty good.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: polly_mer on February 20, 2021, 01:19:20 PM
You didn't cite the spam statistics. 

We have many more attempts to register every day than the 1-3 that are approved.

 We have a handful of first posts denied every month because they are clearly spam.

Most of the reports are people miffed at me or an example of SPADFY, not real violations of rules.

Seldom do we get a true spam report of something that slipped through the cracks.

The registration by real humans for each new account is a pain, but very effective in reducing spam.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: Ruralguy on February 20, 2021, 01:26:23 PM
Impressive. Maybe I will buy the stock after all.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: Parasaurolophus on February 20, 2021, 02:40:51 PM
I probably deny or ban about 30-50 spammers a day, and that's just me.

One thing I hear a lot from lurkers and occasional posters, however, is that they're hesitant to contribute because the general atmosphere seems kind of shitty to them and, frankly, I don't think they're wrong. That's a very real side effect of being as laissez-faire about posting as we are. The Millian 'more speech' solution results in a much less friendly atmosphere, if it even works at combatting the bad speech (and I don't think it does).
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: marshwiggle on February 20, 2021, 04:23:05 PM
One thing I hear a lot from lurkers and occasional posters, however, is that they're hesitant to contribute because the general atmosphere seems kind of shitty to them and, frankly, I don't think they're wrong. That's a very real side effect of being as laissez-faire about posting as we are. The Millian 'more speech' solution results in a much less friendly atmosphere, if it even works at combatting the bad speech (and I don't think it does).

From what I've seen, there are a relatively small number of threads that have heated debate. (I only look at a tiny fraction of them, so I may be wrong.) The interesting thing is that many of those threads get many more comments and many more views. Presumably people who are intimidated by the tone of those threads would be likely to lose interest in them, but there seem to be something like 10-20 views for each post on a thread, including those. If a discussion became just a slanging match between a few people then presumably the total number of views would stop rising as everyone else lost interest.

And as for combatting "bad speech", history is rife with examples of how things are when "bad speech" is forbidden. Everyone will have ideas that, at some point, will be unpopular. If you allow authorities to silence people, sooner or later they will come for you as well.

Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: dismalist on February 20, 2021, 04:27:44 PM
One thing I hear a lot from lurkers and occasional posters, however, is that they're hesitant to contribute because the general atmosphere seems kind of shitty to them and, frankly, I don't think they're wrong. That's a very real side effect of being as laissez-faire about posting as we are. The Millian 'more speech' solution results in a much less friendly atmosphere, if it even works at combatting the bad speech (and I don't think it does).

From what I've seen, there are a relatively small number of threads that have heated debate. (I only look at a tiny fraction of them, so I may be wrong.) The interesting thing is that many of those threads get many more comments and many more views. Presumably people who are intimidated by the tone of those threads would be likely to lose interest in them, but there seem to be something like 10-20 views for each post on a thread, including those. If a discussion became just a slanging match between a few people then presumably the total number of views would stop rising as everyone else lost interest.

And as for combatting "bad speech", history is rife with examples of how things are when "bad speech" is forbidden. Everyone will have ideas that, at some point, will be unpopular. If you allow authorities to silence people, sooner or later they will come for you as well.

There is the occasional stupidly aggressive post, but otherwise it's just disagreement. This is healthy!
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: Hibush on February 20, 2021, 04:48:23 PM
I probably deny or ban about 30-50 spammers a day, and that's just me.

Thank you Member #1 and the mod squad for all this cleaning!
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: dismalist on February 20, 2021, 04:50:52 PM
Quote
If you allow authorities to silence people, sooner or later they will come for you as well.

“First they came for the Communists, but I was not a Communist, so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Socialists and the Trade Unionists, but I was neither, so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Jews, but I was not a Jew, so I did not speak out.  And when they came for me, there was no one left to speak out for me.”
--Pastor Martin Niemӧller
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: writingprof on February 20, 2021, 05:53:37 PM
I remain grateful to those whose work keeps this place running. Thank you.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: Langue_doc on February 20, 2021, 07:41:31 PM
I remain grateful to those whose work keeps this place running. Thank you.

Me too (ungrammatically speaking).

Quote

Posted by: dismalist
« on: Today at 04:27:44 PM »Insert Quote
Quote from: marshwiggle on Today at 04:23:05 PM
Quote from: Parasaurolophus on Today at 02:40:51 PM
One thing I hear a lot from lurkers and occasional posters, however, is that they're hesitant to contribute because the general atmosphere seems kind of shitty to them and, frankly, I don't think they're wrong. That's a very real side effect of being as laissez-faire about posting as we are. The Millian 'more speech' solution results in a much less friendly atmosphere, if it even works at combatting the bad speech (and I don't think it does).

From what I've seen, there are a relatively small number of threads that have heated debate. (I only look at a tiny fraction of them, so I may be wrong.) The interesting thing is that many of those threads get many more comments and many more views. Presumably people who are intimidated by the tone of those threads would be likely to lose interest in them, but there seem to be something like 10-20 views for each post on a thread, including those. If a discussion became just a slanging match between a few people then presumably the total number of views would stop rising as everyone else lost interest.

And as for combatting "bad speech", history is rife with examples of how things are when "bad speech" is forbidden. Everyone will have ideas that, at some point, will be unpopular. If you allow authorities to silence people, sooner or later they will come for you as well.

There is the occasional stupidly aggressive post, but otherwise it's just disagreement. This is healthy!


This is my impression as well. There are several "tame" threads where there are no debates, heated or otherwise.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: Parasaurolophus on February 20, 2021, 08:53:24 PM
Shrug. I'm just reporting on about 5-6 PMs I've gotten from members who are otherwise primarily lurking. It doesn't take a lot to push people away, especially if the content seems particularly bad. Remember, a few rotten apples spoil the bunch. Especially when they're the loudest apples.

I agree with the lurkers who have messaged me: I don't think it is healthy, and I think the record here bears that out. But I understand that the community does not seem to want more moderation. I think that's a mistake, and too bad. But I respect the desire.


But let's not start screaming about censorship and Stalin and Hitler and all that shit, either. You know I'm not suggesting anything like that. And if you don't, you should.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: Liquidambar on February 20, 2021, 10:38:37 PM
Most of the reports are people miffed at me or an example of SPADFY, not real violations of rules.

I find this problematic.  Because you're a moderator, when someone reports you it isn't confidential--you read the report.  And not only do you read it; you feel comfortable mentioning in public that people are reporting you.  That just rubs in the lack of confidentiality.

Why do you keep bringing this up?  Are you trying to tell people that it's pointless to report you?  What is the appropriate response if someone has a problem with your posts?

---

Unrelated...  How does the moderation team prefer us to use the report post feature?  Polly brought up that most reports aren't about violations of the rules.  I'm a moderator on another site with much higher standards for people speaking respectfully to each other.  We like it when members report posts to alert us that something is trending in a problematic direction, or if members blow off steam by ranting in their reports instead of attacking each other.  If we only got reports of rules violations, we would feel underinformed.  (On the other hand, it's a bigger site so none of the mods read all the posts, and the topic tends to attract some creepers.  Plus, like I said, we are stricter about members being respectful.)
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: marshwiggle on February 21, 2021, 06:02:31 AM
Shrug. I'm just reporting on about 5-6 PMs I've gotten from members who are otherwise primarily lurking. It doesn't take a lot to push people away, especially if the content seems particularly bad. Remember, a few rotten apples spoil the bunch. Especially when they're the loudest apples.

I agree with the lurkers who have messaged me: I don't think it is healthy, and I think the record here bears that out.

In what way? I'm curious how you evaluate the health of the fora.

It would be very informative to see the fora posts, sorted in different ways:

Honestly, I don't see how the fact that people disagree (even strongly) is inherently unsettling, especially in a pseudonymous forum where there are no "real world" consequences to arguing with someone. There is no doxxing or swatting, and there is virtually never anything like a personal attack. The most that tends to happen is sarcasm, and even that only tends to arise during very heated debate, and occurs on both sides.

Quote
But I understand that the community does not seem to want more moderation. I think that's a mistake, and too bad. But I respect the desire.


But let's not start screaming about censorship and Stalin and Hitler and all that shit, either. You know I'm not suggesting anything like that. And if you don't, you should.

I would be interested in the distinction you would make between "moderation" and "censorship". There's no absolutely clear line, and probably virtually everyone here agrees that some moderation is a good thing.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: writingprof on February 21, 2021, 06:30:21 AM
Shrug. I'm just reporting on about 5-6 PMs I've gotten from members who are otherwise primarily lurking. It doesn't take a lot to push people away, especially if the content seems particularly bad. Remember, a few rotten apples spoil the bunch. Especially when they're the loudest apples.

I would love to hear their specific complaints. "I am not joining these fora because conservatives and progressives argue on some percentage of its threads"? Bruh, that's called the Internet.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: Sun_Worshiper on February 21, 2021, 07:42:56 AM
Shrug. I'm just reporting on about 5-6 PMs I've gotten from members who are otherwise primarily lurking. It doesn't take a lot to push people away, especially if the content seems particularly bad. Remember, a few rotten apples spoil the bunch. Especially when they're the loudest apples.

I would love to hear their specific complaints. "I am not joining these fora because conservatives and progressives argue on some percentage of its threads"? Bruh, that's called the Internet.

Yes I'm curious too. Can you tell us more without saying anything that would put the spotlight on individual posters?
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: Parasaurolophus on February 21, 2021, 08:33:47 AM

Unrelated...  How does the moderation team prefer us to use the report post feature?  Polly brought up that most reports aren't about violations of the rules.  I'm a moderator on another site with much higher standards for people speaking respectfully to each other.  We like it when members report posts to alert us that something is trending in a problematic direction, or if members blow off steam by ranting in their reports instead of attacking each other.  If we only got reports of rules violations, we would feel underinformed.  (On the other hand, it's a bigger site so none of the mods read all the posts, and the topic tends to attract some creepers.  Plus, like I said, we are stricter about members being respectful.)

I can't speak for the others, of course. But I'm of two minds here. On the one hand, I think that the reporting is currently under-used (we get very few reports, mostly for inter-personal conflicts). And, like you say, reports help me to get a sense of what peoples' concerns are and where they lie, what's working or not, etc. On the other hand, the moderation policies here are so light that most reports have no real effect, and I worry that it seems to reporters like they're sending them off into the void (which itself might generate a feedback loop resulting in less reporting). I have no idea whether that's a legitimate concern, it's just a worry I have.


In what way? I'm curious how you evaluate the health of the fora.

I think we've seen an increase in trolling in extant discussions, and a proliferation of high-visibility racist threads and posts. I think that this has given some members control of the Fora megaphone, and I think that fact is turning people away who might otherwise like to participate. I think we can even see this happening at the level of posts within those threads, where early on there was lots of genuine engagement by many different posters, but as things drag on fewer and fewer people post, the quality of discussion deteriorates, and only a few posters are left in the discussion, which turns into an echo chamber and post-count-upper for a while until a contrary voice pops back in briefly. (And, unfortunately, these posts are not being allowed to die when they reach that point. Posters just pop back in trying to rile up the opposition, which puts the post back at the top of the page for another month or more.)


Quote
Honestly, I don't see how the fact that people disagree (even strongly) is inherently unsettling, especially in a pseudonymous forum where there are no "real world" consequences to arguing with someone. There is no doxxing or swatting, and there is virtually never anything like a personal attack. The most that tends to happen is sarcasm, and even that only tends to arise during very heated debate, and occurs on both sides.

It's not the disagreement. As you know, I like a good internet brawl. It's the nature of the disagreement, the trolling that ensues, and the toxicity of the vitriol that ends up most prominently on display. I, for one, would be more comfortable with it all if it was confined to a single thread, which could peter out over time (or not, as the case may be). But it's not. It's across so many different prominent threads that it makes it look like those are the dominant views here (which they aren't). And understandably that turns newbies off.

It's like what would happen when your local watering hole is taken over by neo-nazis. At first, it's just one guy with a swastika on his jacket. Nobody's very comfortable with that, but it's just one guy, and he's being quiet and minding his own business, so it seems OK. Then, next week, he brings a couple buddies. They keep to themselves, though, so although nobody likes it, they tolerate it. Then the next week, the buddies bring buddies. And pretty soon, your bar is known as the local neo-nazi hangout.

Quote

I would be interested in the distinction you would make between "moderation" and "censorship". There's no absolutely clear line, and probably virtually everyone here agrees that some moderation is a good thing.

There's currently virtually no moderation. If it were up to me, I'd like to see us warning people about trolling and closing threads (temporarily or permanently) when the discussion gets out of hand, or when there's clearly no point to the thread beyond venting racial animus and trolling for a response.

I'd be interested in what counts as 'some moderation' in your books.


I would love to hear their specific complaints. "I am not joining these fora because conservatives and progressives argue on some percentage of its threads"? Bruh, that's called the Internet.


Yes I'm curious too. Can you tell us more without saying anything that would put the spotlight on individual posters?

It's not the existence of disagreements, heated or otherwise. It's the atmosphere created by the particular nature of some of these 'disagreements'. In any case: I've deleted most of the messages in my inbox, unfortunately, so I don't have a good record of them. But here's the last one I got, which I haven't yet pruned (note that there's more to this message, but I'm leaving it out because it singles some people out in a way that I think is not actually germane to this discussion):

Quote
I've been reading fairly regularly, but my impression is not good and I think hanging around here may not be great for my fragile mood.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: Cheerful on February 21, 2021, 08:58:45 AM
Quote
I've been reading fairly regularly, but my impression is not good and I think hanging around here may not be great for my fragile mood.

Sorry that person suffers from a fragile mood.  These are moody times.

Not sure why people don't block or scroll on by posts they find redundant, annoying, disrespectful, not appropriately gentle and caring, not [insert one's world view].  Sometimes an OP takes offense when reply posts are not aligned with what OP wants to hear.

Many "nuts and bolts of working in academe" threads are mundane but can help newer academics, those on job market, etc.  Things like "can I submit 12 letters of rec with my job application?" People here are very helpful on these threads.

On the other hand, we have lighthearted yet meaningful threads like mamselle's cakes and pies.

Wish more people would venture out of lurkdom and post.  Overall, I've found this to be a diverse community of thoughtful, inquisitive, caring people.  When people share challenges or joys, others offer support or celebration.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: FishProf on February 21, 2021, 09:19:36 AM
Assuming you are correct that everyone agrees there should be some moderation, what are you proposing?  Some of the most distasteful posts (to me) are the most enlightening.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: Langue_doc on February 21, 2021, 09:25:01 AM


It's not the existence of disagreements, heated or otherwise. It's the atmosphere created by the particular nature of some of these 'disagreements'. In any case: I've deleted most of the messages in my inbox, unfortunately, so I don't have a good record of them. But here's the last one I got, which I haven't yet pruned (note that there's more to this message, but I'm leaving it out because it singles some people out in a way that I think is not actually germane to this discussion):

Quote
I've been reading fairly regularly, but my impression is not good and I think hanging around here may not be great for my fragile mood.

Academia is not for the faint-hearted. The fragile-mood people can ignore threads as well as posters that they find offensive, boring, or irrelevant. Some of the posters in the old CHE fora were vitriolic, to put it mildly. I haven't seen that kind of harassment on any of the threads here. I distinctly remember posters ganging up on some unsuspecting newbie (or even a regular forumite) and finding this harassment to be entertaining.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: writingprof on February 21, 2021, 10:32:38 AM
Quote
I've been reading fairly regularly, but my impression is not good and I think hanging around here may not be great for my fragile mood.

Sorry that person suffers from a fragile mood.  These are moody times.

Indeed. This sounds like a person who would have died of starvation, while whining, a few hundred years ago. Happily, the racists and trolls of the world constructed a society where even the fragile typically have enough to eat. On behalf of my ancestors, you're welcome.

Many "nuts and bolts of working in academe" threads are mundane but can help newer academics, those on job market, etc.  Things like "can I submit 12 letters of rec with my job application?" People here are very helpful on these threads.

All joking aside, this is what I most miss about the old fora. We have these, but not to the extent that we used to. I suspect this is because the old CHE affiliation brought in truly clueless newbies, whereas here we're all jaded veterans who know that the nuts and bolts of the job market don't matter when the market itself is a gaping chasm that leads to hell.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: marshwiggle on February 21, 2021, 11:02:14 AM
Assuming you are correct that everyone agrees there should be some moderation, what are you proposing?  Some of the most distasteful posts (to me) are the most enlightening.

Since I made the original comment, I'd say that this level of moderation is exactly what is required. I was corrected once when I violated rules, quickly and respectfuly, and that was it. I've never seen any posts on here which would warrant banning anyone permanently, so the current approach seems to be working.


I think we've seen an increase in trolling in extant discussions, and a proliferation of high-visibility racist threads and posts.


OK, I'd like to see an example of a racist thread. Some things I have noticed in threads that discuss racial issues:


I stand to be corrected on any of these, based on anything that has been posted here.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: writingprof on February 21, 2021, 11:14:42 AM
OK, I'd like to see an example of a racist thread.

Found some. (Posts, anyway.)

White people are so fragile.

Paranoid demand for that is a white people thing.

For WOC, activism is sustaining. It allows me to survive in the sea of whiteness I find myself in. 

I'm really hoping this is the last election in my lifetime that is dominated by old white men.

If I'm honest, I need a break from white men.

What? This isn't the racism that Parasaurolophus had in mind? Shocking.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: Wahoo Redux on February 21, 2021, 11:30:10 AM
OK, I'd like to see an example of a racist thread.

Found some. (Posts, anyway.)

White people are so fragile.

Paranoid demand for that is a white people thing.

For WOC, activism is sustaining. It allows me to survive in the sea of whiteness I find myself in. 

I'm really hoping this is the last election in my lifetime that is dominated by old white men.

If I'm honest, I need a break from white men.

What? This isn't the racism that Parasaurolophus had in mind? Shocking.

I very seldom agree with WP...

...but ouch!

We cannot be blind to double-standards. 
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: eigen on February 21, 2021, 11:40:09 AM
Wow, I lose power for 8 days and all kinds of interesting stuff happens.

I've said before, and I will say again, that both the last few years of the CHE forums and to a lesser degree the current iteration have a really bad reputation in higher ed online communities in general. This forum, and its predecessor, are very much about "have a tough skin and deal with it". That's some amount of OK for all of us here, but we need to accept that having the mentality that other people need to deal is going to severely limit or outright kill new blood coming in.

Perhaps a year and a half in is a good time to revive the "rules and moderation" discussion. I'm always on board.

One thing I will mention, since it got brought up earlier: no moderator deals with reports they are part of. That's why we have multiple people on the moderation team. Will all moderators see it? Sure. If you want to submit something confidential, PM to one of the other moderators would be the way to go.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: marshwiggle on February 21, 2021, 12:19:24 PM
I've said before, and I will say again, that both the last few years of the CHE forums and to a lesser degree the current iteration have a really bad reputation in higher ed online communities in general. This forum, and its predecessor, are very much about "have a tough skin and deal with it". That's some amount of OK for all of us here, but we need to accept that having the mentality that other people need to deal is going to severely limit or outright kill new blood coming in.

I'm genuinely curious about this. There are all kinds of threads on here, and I only ever look at a small fraction of them. I see this as kind of like a library. Does my local library have a copy of "Mein Kampf"? I have no idea. I've never been interested in reading it, so I don't care. (I would expect my university library to have a copy.) Threads that don't interest me I don't read. Consequently, I have no concern with whatever sort of discussion happens on them. Do the people who find the discussions intimidating keep reading the threads that bother them? If so, I'd like to understand why.

As I've mentioned upthread, the anodyne topics tend to have very little discussion, and like web pages, frequently changing content is the key to keeping people reading. If the most "uncivil" threads were removed, I imagine the number of people reading would drop precipitously, which would mean that even threads like "Jedi mind tricks" would get many fewer contributions.

I'd be fascinated to see what would happen if some of the most frequent posters who are considered abrasive (and I'm guessing I may be considered one) stopped posting for a few weeks. My instinct is that the traffic would drop significantly without resulting in many others coming out of the woodwork.

Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: eigen on February 21, 2021, 01:00:17 PM
That assumes traffic as an absolute thing is the best measure of the health of a community. I'd argue less "traffic" with a wider diversity of opinions has a place of value.

I've been here long enough that I feel like I can predict the life of almost any new thread based on who will post, what they will post, and when. There aren't really "new" ideas being shared in many of the threads here- just the same repeats of the same arguments with slightly different coverings. So to me, there's very little "new content" to read even if there are new posts- it's the same thing over and over.

What I would say is the most negative part of this community is that people can't leave things in isolated threads, but bring arguments into almost every new discussion they start.

What's the most frustrating, to me, is that members of the community can't self-regulate their posting vitriol even the slightest. There are a number of posters here that I would categorize as "shock value" posters who seem to try to find the moist incendiary way to say something that's not a direct personal attack, just to see what will happen.

None of this particularly bothers me, personally, but I definitely hear from new posters who leave because they can't stomach it, and that's not healthy for the community. People often characterize "academia" as eating its own young, and I would definitely say this forum is a microcosm of that.

You liken this message board to a library, but that's not (imo) a good analogy. It's a community. Is there information buried here? Sure. But it's not organized, it's not collated, it's not stored. If we wanted that, we'd make a community sourced wiki of academic knowledge rather than a message board.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: Caracal on February 21, 2021, 02:38:48 PM

Unrelated...  How does the moderation team prefer us to use the report post feature?  Polly brought up that most reports aren't about violations of the rules.  I
I can't speak for the others, of course. But I'm of two minds here. On the one hand, I think that the reporting is currently under-used (we get very few reports, mostly for inter-personal conflicts). And, like you say, reports help me to get a sense of what peoples' concerns are and where they lie, what's working or not, etc. On the other hand, the moderation policies here are so light that most reports have no real effect, and I worry that it seems to reporters like they're sending them off into the void (which itself might generate a feedback loop resulting in less reporting). I have no idea whether that's a legitimate concern, it's just a worry I have.



It seems like there ought to be a way to have a bit more moderation without it being heavy handed. Most of the time, self regulation works fine. Most of the academic threads with heated disagreements are just about ideas and nobody goes over the line into personal attacks. Even when things do stray towards the line, most people do ok at taking down the temperature. I've had plenty of occasions where I got offended by something, or someone got offended by something I wrote and we worked it out.

However, I think we could have a system where moderators avoid getting involved in everything, but deal with cases where you have posters causing persistent problems, whether that's about abusive and personal attacks or threads that seem designed solely to get a reaction.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: marshwiggle on February 21, 2021, 03:22:35 PM
None of this particularly bothers me, personally, but I definitely hear from new posters who leave because they can't stomach it, and that's not healthy for the community. People often characterize "academia" as eating its own young, and I would definitely say this forum is a microcosm of that.

You liken this message board to a library, but that's not (imo) a good analogy. It's a community. Is there information buried here? Sure. But it's not organized, it's not collated, it's not stored. If we wanted that, we'd make a community sourced wiki of academic knowledge rather than a message board.

My library analogy was because there are so many threads on here, like books in a library. Am I unusual in only following a tiny fraction of them? At any one time, I'm probably only looking at a dozen or so, and I probably only comment regularly on half of those. If there were threads that bothered me I'd just ignore them.
For posters that can't stomach it, is it that they feel they have a perspective on a thread that hasn't been expressed, but they are afraid to do so for fear of attack? Or are they unsettled that the range of opinions expressed on an issue is wider than they expected in this kind of forum? I'd genuinely like to understand what peoples' expectations are, especially in regard to topics on which people disagree. Should they be avoided entirely, or should threads be cloded and/or deleted if they get too heated?

Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: eigen on February 21, 2021, 03:30:20 PM
None of this particularly bothers me, personally, but I definitely hear from new posters who leave because they can't stomach it, and that's not healthy for the community. People often characterize "academia" as eating its own young, and I would definitely say this forum is a microcosm of that.

You liken this message board to a library, but that's not (imo) a good analogy. It's a community. Is there information buried here? Sure. But it's not organized, it's not collated, it's not stored. If we wanted that, we'd make a community sourced wiki of academic knowledge rather than a message board.

My library analogy was because there are so many threads on here, like books in a library. Am I unusual in only following a tiny fraction of them? At any one time, I'm probably only looking at a dozen or so, and I probably only comment regularly on half of those. If there were threads that bothered me I'd just ignore them.
For posters that can't stomach it, is it that they feel they have a perspective on a thread that hasn't been expressed, but they are afraid to do so for fear of attack? Or are they unsettled that the range of opinions expressed on an issue is wider than they expected in this kind of forum? I'd genuinely like to understand what peoples' expectations are, especially in regard to topics on which people disagree. Should they be avoided entirely, or should threads be cloded and/or deleted if they get too heated?

I keep up with almost every new thread and post. I browse exclusively through the "New Posts" list and check in on most of them every day or so.

The vitriol in this forum is really, really high. Most of it doesn't cross the line into "personal attacks", but it stays pretty consistently one level below that. Coupled with people pulling baggage into pretty much any new thread (be it issues of race, class, economics, politics, or adjunctification) the barrier for starting here as a new poster is high.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: Ruralguy on February 21, 2021, 04:08:01 PM
I usually just occasionally look at “those” threads...sort of like only peeking at what my uncle said about Trump on Facebook about once a week, if even, but not really responding.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: Cheerful on February 21, 2021, 04:12:06 PM
The vitriol in this forum is really, really high. Most of it doesn't cross the line into "personal attacks", but it stays pretty consistently one level below that. Coupled with people pulling baggage into pretty much any new thread (be it issues of race, class, economics, politics, or adjunctification) the barrier for starting here as a new poster is high.

Interesting how impressions differ.  Vitriol here is "really, really high?"  I don't have that impression.

"race, class, economics, politics, or adjunctification"  These issues aren't discussed in every thread.

"the barrier for starting here as a new poster is high."  Again, I don't see that.  Create a moniker, register, post, read stuff you want to read, ignore the rest.

Quote
You liken this message board to a library, but that's not (imo) a good analogy. It's a community. Is there information buried here? Sure. But it's not organized, it's not collated, it's not stored.

Fora info seems organized among thread titles, like NSF threads, for example.

While I don't share your impressions on these matters, I appreciate all you've done to create The Fora and continue doing to keep things going.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: Caracal on February 21, 2021, 04:37:10 PM


Most of the reports are people miffed at me or an example of SPADFY, not real violations of rules.



Not at all interested in dredging up feuds, but I actually think this gets to the issue with limited moderation.  If the only thing that is a "real" violation of the rules is calling someone a pedophile or a four letter word, that lets all sorts of abusive behavior go unchecked. The problem is that abusive personal attacks tend to beget more of the same and things get ugly in a way they don't when people keep things civl. Unfortunately, I can attest to that personally. I got in a grumpy exchange about survey methodology last week, but there was never any danger that things were going to escalate. Nobody was calling anybody names or accusing anyone of anything. Stuff goes off the rails when people are being belittled and accused of having sinister motivations, not when they disagree.

I think it would be possible to try to deal more with problematic behavior without heavy moderation. Wouldn't it be possible to have a system where if someone gets posts reported that run over or near the line, they get something along the lines of a friendly note from a moderator, reminding them that while disagreement is fine, they need to be a bit more careful. If problems continue that could move into a formal warning, then perhaps some sort of suspension and eventually removal. I imagine there wouldn't really usually be a need for things to go far and a friendly note would usually do the trick.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: Parasaurolophus on February 21, 2021, 04:46:19 PM
I usually just occasionally look at “those” threads...sort of like only peeking at what my uncle said about Trump on Facebook about once a week, if even, but not really responding.

I think that's the real trouble with them, and what puts new users off. I don't blame you or anyone else for not wanting to participate--it's not pleasant! But I think this helps me to articulate the point I was trying to make earlier. There's a real difference between seeing a thread like that in which one or two posters are adamantly recalcitrant but are very clearly in the minority and are being shouted down, versus a thread that's entirely dominated by them. One of those looks friendlier to newcomers than the other. They each paint a very different picture of the Fora's more general composition. And when there are several of these going at once...

It's like if you brought your same-sex partner home for Christmas and your homophobic uncle spouted off. Imagine two bifurcating futures: one in which everybody else in the room ignores it and lets him be, and one in which the rest of the room calls his shit and makes it clear it's not welcome at family gatherings. One of those futures is a more pleasant one for your partner than the other. At least, that's my intuition.

(Incidentally, I'm not good at this IRL. I tend towards the conciliatory, and my inclination is always to keep quiet. It's a hard habit to shake!)
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: eigen on February 21, 2021, 04:49:40 PM


Most of the reports are people miffed at me or an example of SPADFY, not real violations of rules.



Not at all interested in dredging up feuds, but I actually think this gets to the issue with limited moderation.  If the only thing that is a "real" violation of the rules is calling someone a pedophile or a four letter word, that lets all sorts of abusive behavior go unchecked. The problem is that abusive personal attacks tend to beget more of the same and things get ugly in a way they don't when people keep things civl. Unfortunately, I can attest to that personally. I got in a grumpy exchange about survey methodology last week, but there was never any danger that things were going to escalate. Nobody was calling anybody names or accusing anyone of anything. Stuff goes off the rails when people are being belittled and accused of having sinister motivations, not when they disagree.

I think it would be possible to try to deal more with problematic behavior without heavy moderation. Wouldn't it be possible to have a system where if someone gets posts reported that run over or near the line, they get something along the lines of a friendly note from a moderator, reminding them that while disagreement is fine, they need to be a bit more careful. If problems continue that could move into a formal warning, then perhaps some sort of suspension and eventually removal. I imagine there wouldn't really usually be a need for things to go far and a friendly note would usually do the trick.

This would all be very possible, but was vehemently opposed by a vocal majority at the outset of these forums, which led to the rules and moderation policy we currently have in place. I initially proposed a more fleshed out code-of-conduct, but that was shot down as being "tone policing".

And I can tell you from experience how well most users here respond to a "friendly PM from a mod telling them they're close to a line".

It's also pretty common on here for anyone who has an issue with the forums, tones, etc. to be met with a crowd of people telling them it's all in their perception (see examples upthread). In the past 5 years (old and new fora) the perception issue with new posters has been brought up a great many times. It's always met with (old) users saying that nothing's really wrong and new people just need to adjust. Then we end up with the discussion of why we don't get many new members, and the cycle continues. At some point, I wonder if people will realize that whether they agree or not, a number of people don't "perceive" the environment here as friendly, welcoming, or something that's worth taking the time to get into as a community over other available options.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: eigen on February 21, 2021, 04:57:17 PM
The vitriol in this forum is really, really high. Most of it doesn't cross the line into "personal attacks", but it stays pretty consistently one level below that. Coupled with people pulling baggage into pretty much any new thread (be it issues of race, class, economics, politics, or adjunctification) the barrier for starting here as a new poster is high.

Interesting how impressions differ.  Vitriol here is "really, really high?"  I don't have that impression.

"race, class, economics, politics, or adjunctification"  These issues aren't discussed in every thread.

"the barrier for starting here as a new poster is high."  Again, I don't see that.  Create a moniker, register, post, read stuff you want to read, ignore the rest.

Quote
You liken this message board to a library, but that's not (imo) a good analogy. It's a community. Is there information buried here? Sure. But it's not organized, it's not collated, it's not stored.

Fora info seems organized among thread titles, like NSF threads, for example.

While I don't share your impressions on these matters, I appreciate all you've done to create The Fora and continue doing to keep things going.

I'm just sharing what I hear, especially from other communities / reasons why people don't want to join this community when it's suggested or brought up.

There's some info here, sure, but the NSF threads here are so minimal that they're borderline useless (IMO) relative to other communities that are much more research focused. I certainly wouldn't come here to ask questions about grants / research. We have too small of a community with too little overlap (fields, types of institutions, etc.) for much advice to be useful to the average person who asks. I'm not saying I haven't picked up a lot of useful stuff here over the years, but the signal:noise ratio is really, really high. I have other places I go to for discussions of pedagogy, classroom management, research, grants, publishing, etc.

What this place *is* really useful for is a community that is immensely diverse in the fields and types of institutions they represent. I've learned more about the breadth and variety of "norms" in higher ed here than anywhere else.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: Cheerful on February 21, 2021, 05:07:31 PM
How are new people even finding out about The Fora?
The Chronicle of Higher Ed connection for the old CHE fora was a big factor in attracting new posters there.  No such thing close to that for The Fora.

Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: eigen on February 21, 2021, 05:45:57 PM
How are new people even finding out about The Fora?
The Chronicle of Higher Ed connection for the old CHE fora was a big factor in attracting new posters there.  No such thing close to that for The Fora.

Up until very recently, we were still directly linked to the CHE- they had a "forum" link that directed people here.

It's no longer listed on the main page, but still there: https://www.chronicle.com/page/chronicle-forums

Most people seem to find their way here through mentions on reddit, facebook, and word of mouth among other things.

We're also the 3rd hit on google for "higher education forum", which helps.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: Sun_Worshiper on February 21, 2021, 05:52:54 PM
I agree that it would be better for the community if there were more threads centering on academic topics. Maybe some more general threads would be helpful:
- What are tenure expectations like in your department?
- Share your experiences publishing UP books (approaching the press, working with the editor, etc.)
- Tips for new folks on the tenure track
- Etc.

I also wouldn't be opposed to some light moderation to do two things: (1) require threads on political/social issues to include a clear question for everyone to respond to, (2) nudge posters to stay on topic. I don't know how realistic this is or how it could be done effectively, but I do think it would lead to better and more focused discussions and offer openings for lurkers to chime in.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: nucleo on February 21, 2021, 06:13:34 PM

I think that's the real trouble with them, and what puts new users off. I don't blame you or anyone else for not wanting to participate--it's not pleasant! But I think this helps me to articulate the point I was trying to make earlier. There's a real difference between seeing a thread like that in which one or two posters are adamantly recalcitrant but are very clearly in the minority and are being shouted down, versus a thread that's entirely dominated by them.

Yes, exactly.  This is a very good description of why I have only been lurking these days.  And I used to participate on the old forum.  Not necessarily a lot, but now and again.  (I think I was above 800 posts.)
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: Parasaurolophus on February 21, 2021, 06:14:58 PM
I agree that it would be better for the community if there were more threads centering on academic topics. Maybe some more general threads would be helpful:
- What are tenure expectations like in your department?
- Share your experiences publishing UP books (approaching the press, working with the editor, etc.)
- Tips for new folks on the tenure track
- Etc.



One thread that I thought was really cool--and showcased a whole direction we almost never explore here, but could, and it would be really awesome--was that thread on haint blue (http://thefora.org/index.php?topic=1622.0).

My research is adjacent to loads of stuff in other fields that I don't know well, and it would be really cool if we had a place/a culture of asking for help on such things here. (My subfield association maintains such a space, called '[subfield] anonymous' and it's immensely helpful).
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: Puget on February 21, 2021, 06:36:43 PM
To my mind the problem is 3-4 posters who are very vocal and tend to turn certain threads into echo chambers-- muting their posts or just not reading those threads pretty much solves the problem. I don't see any point in arguing with them-- isn't going to change anyone's mind and I'm not sure how that would help new people feel welcome-- whatever happened to do not feed the trolls?

Most non-political threads are quite friendly-- for example I've seen nothing but care and support on the mental health thread, and many others are just light and fun (cats! pies!). On the academic focused threads, I think a good deal of interesting discussion and good advice is on offer, though of course posters don't always like the answers they get.

So I guess while I agree a tad more moderation might help, I don't see a major problem.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: marshwiggle on February 22, 2021, 04:00:32 AM


I think that's the real trouble with them, and what puts new users off. I don't blame you or anyone else for not wanting to participate--it's not pleasant! But I think this helps me to articulate the point I was trying to make earlier. There's a real difference between seeing a thread like that in which one or two posters are adamantly recalcitrant but are very clearly in the minority and are being shouted down, versus a thread that's entirely dominated by them.

This is the attitude that makes me very concerned about more moderation; the implication that if the people guilty of "wrongthink" get shouted down then things are good.

It boggles my mind that in a forum for academics this is considered a fairly mainstream opinion.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: Parasaurolophus on February 22, 2021, 08:00:12 AM


I think that's the real trouble with them, and what puts new users off. I don't blame you or anyone else for not wanting to participate--it's not pleasant! But I think this helps me to articulate the point I was trying to make earlier. There's a real difference between seeing a thread like that in which one or two posters are adamantly recalcitrant but are very clearly in the minority and are being shouted down, versus a thread that's entirely dominated by them.

This is the attitude that makes me very concerned about more moderation; the implication that if the people guilty of "wrongthink" get shouted down then things are good.

It boggles my mind that in a forum for academics this is considered a fairly mainstream opinion.

We know that things are bad when the people who are behaving poorly face no resistance, because that communicates tacit support.

We also know that things are bad when people who behave poorly are hugged and kissed and told their stupid and hurtful ideas are right, or special and just as valuable as anyone else's.

The other option is to call people out on their bullshit. If lots of people do so, that communicates to new members and lurkers that these views are not widely shared in the community.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: ciao_yall on February 22, 2021, 08:06:49 AM
What I always liked about these boards was the straight dirt and, frankly, tough love. Sometimes I was on the receiving end of it but I always deserved it, appreciated it, and learned from it.

I came to higher ed after a career change and learned here, sometimes the hard way, how higher ed as a whole operates. Now I feel blessed to have "met" the smartest (and most funny) people I have ever known.

So, fora, keep doing you.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: Caracal on February 22, 2021, 08:16:23 AM


I think that's the real trouble with them, and what puts new users off. I don't blame you or anyone else for not wanting to participate--it's not pleasant! But I think this helps me to articulate the point I was trying to make earlier. There's a real difference between seeing a thread like that in which one or two posters are adamantly recalcitrant but are very clearly in the minority and are being shouted down, versus a thread that's entirely dominated by them.

This is the attitude that makes me very concerned about more moderation; the implication that if the people guilty of "wrongthink" get shouted down then things are good.

It boggles my mind that in a forum for academics this is considered a fairly mainstream opinion.

That's actually a pretty good description of how free speech is supposed to work.

Free speech doesn't mean everyone gets to be validated. Establishing boundaries around what is and isn't socially acceptable is pretty crucial if you're going to make free speech work.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: marshwiggle on February 22, 2021, 08:25:21 AM


I think that's the real trouble with them, and what puts new users off. I don't blame you or anyone else for not wanting to participate--it's not pleasant! But I think this helps me to articulate the point I was trying to make earlier. There's a real difference between seeing a thread like that in which one or two posters are adamantly recalcitrant but are very clearly in the minority and are being shouted down, versus a thread that's entirely dominated by them.

This is the attitude that makes me very concerned about more moderation; the implication that if the people guilty of "wrongthink" get shouted down then things are good.

It boggles my mind that in a forum for academics this is considered a fairly mainstream opinion.

That's actually a pretty good description of how free speech is supposed to work.

Free speech doesn't mean everyone gets to be validated. Establishing boundaries around what is and isn't socially acceptable is pretty crucial if you're going to make free speech work.

My objection has nothing to do with "validation"; it's about the idea of "shouting down" someone. Overpowering someone with sheer volume doesn't make the loudest voices any more correct. The idea that a big enough mob must be right is disturbing, and history has lots of examples of when it was clearly and horribly wrong.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: Parasaurolophus on February 22, 2021, 08:28:42 AM
As I've tried to make very clear, I'm talking about having many people vocally opposed to something contributing to signal their opposition.


Caracal is right: that's exactly how the Millian ideal of free speech is supposed to work.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: marshwiggle on February 22, 2021, 08:35:34 AM
As I've tried to make very clear, I'm talking about having many people vocally opposed to something contributing to signal their opposition.


"STOP THE STEAL!"

"LOCK HER UP!"

"BUILD THE WALL!"

I'm a bit fuzzy on how many people vocally opposed to something contributing to signal their opposition makes for a better society.

Quote

Caracal is right: that's exactly how the Millian ideal of free speech is supposed to work.

Presenting actual coherent, evidence-based counter-arguments isn't remotely the same thing as just yelling "NO!" at the top of your lungs.
 
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: Parasaurolophus on February 22, 2021, 08:42:06 AM


"STOP THE STEAL!"

"LOCK HER UP!"

"BUILD THE WALL!"

I'm a bit fuzzy on how many people vocally opposed to something contributing to signal their opposition makes for a better society.

Depends on the views you're peddling, doesn't it? And again, remember the alternatives: silence and kisses and hugs don't necessarily make for a better society, either. I don't see the point in coddling idiocy or bigotry. Do you?




Quote

Presenting actual coherent, evidence-based counter-arguments isn't remotely the same thing as just yelling "NO!" at the top of your lungs.

Forgive me, but there's plenty of evidence on threads here that many members are not at all interested in polite and coherent, evidence-based counter-arguments. Just consider the discussions we've had about IQ, sex and gender, and social construction. It's clear from the way these issues keep popping back up that no matter how much actual evidence is carefully explained to them, some people have no interest in learning the facts.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: marshwiggle on February 22, 2021, 08:53:41 AM

Quote

Presenting actual coherent, evidence-based counter-arguments isn't remotely the same thing as just yelling "NO!" at the top of your lungs.

Forgive me, but there's plenty of evidence on threads here that many members are not at all interested in polite and coherent, evidence-based counter-arguments. Just consider the discussions we've had about IQ, sex and gender, and social construction. It's clear from the way these issues keep popping back up that no matter how much actual evidence is carefully explained to them, some people have no interest in learning the facts.

These are all issues where ideology greatly influences what "facts" different people will accept. That's the big problem.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: Caracal on February 22, 2021, 08:56:20 AM


Most of the reports are people miffed at me or an example of SPADFY, not real violations of rules.



Not at all interested in dredging up feuds, but I actually think this gets to the issue with limited moderation.  If the only thing that is a "real" violation of the rules is calling someone a pedophile or a four letter word, that lets all sorts of abusive behavior go unchecked. The problem is that abusive personal attacks tend to beget more of the same and things get ugly in a way they don't when people keep things civl. Unfortunately, I can attest to that personally. I got in a grumpy exchange about survey methodology last week, but there was never any danger that things were going to escalate. Nobody was calling anybody names or accusing anyone of anything. Stuff goes off the rails when people are being belittled and accused of having sinister motivations, not when they disagree.

I think it would be possible to try to deal more with problematic behavior without heavy moderation. Wouldn't it be possible to have a system where if someone gets posts reported that run over or near the line, they get something along the lines of a friendly note from a moderator, reminding them that while disagreement is fine, they need to be a bit more careful. If problems continue that could move into a formal warning, then perhaps some sort of suspension and eventually removal. I imagine there wouldn't really usually be a need for things to go far and a friendly note would usually do the trick.

This would all be very possible, but was vehemently opposed by a vocal majority at the outset of these forums, which led to the rules and moderation policy we currently have in place. I initially proposed a more fleshed out code-of-conduct, but that was shot down as being "tone policing".

And I can tell you from experience how well most users here respond to a "friendly PM from a mod telling them they're close to a line".

It's also pretty common on here for anyone who has an issue with the forums, tones, etc. to be met with a crowd of people telling them it's all in their perception (see examples upthread). In the past 5 years (old and new fora) the perception issue with new posters has been brought up a great many times. It's always met with (old) users saying that nothing's really wrong and new people just need to adjust. Then we end up with the discussion of why we don't get many new members, and the cycle continues. At some point, I wonder if people will realize that whether they agree or not, a number of people don't "perceive" the environment here as friendly, welcoming, or something that's worth taking the time to get into as a community over other available options.

Fair point on the difficulty of moderation. The claim that a detailed code of conduct would be tone policing doesn't really make sense to me. We could carefully craft the code to allow for vigorous and even caustic disagreement. You don't need to be nice about people's ideas, but you can't make personal attacks, call people names, harass people across threads etc.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: Parasaurolophus on February 22, 2021, 09:09:21 AM

Quote

Presenting actual coherent, evidence-based counter-arguments isn't remotely the same thing as just yelling "NO!" at the top of your lungs.

Forgive me, but there's plenty of evidence on threads here that many members are not at all interested in polite and coherent, evidence-based counter-arguments. Just consider the discussions we've had about IQ, sex and gender, and social construction. It's clear from the way these issues keep popping back up that no matter how much actual evidence is carefully explained to them, some people have no interest in learning the facts.

These are all issues where ideology greatly influences what "facts" different people will accept. That's the big problem.

No. They're issues where the facts are not widely understood except by specialists, some of whom exist on these very fora, and where those facts are widely misreported.

Besides, I remember taking a fair bit of time to explain what social construction actually means, as well as some of the kinds of disagreement attendant to the notion. As I remember it, the pushback wasn't about about 'the facts different people will accept' (although there's actually plenty of room for that!), but rather about the kinds of claims made by social constructionists. In particular, some members insisted on peddling some weird, deviant understanding of those claims despite repeated explanations that that was not what people think or say. There are basic facts about the kinds of things people are actually saying, and if you can't even accept those, then you're not fit to be having that particular conversation. Let alone on an academic forum.

You're a computer scientist, right? Imagine I decided to say that large primes can't be used for encryption. Or that prime factorization takes longer than ordinary factorization. Now suppose you took some time to set me straight, but that I insisted on it for a while before letting it peter out. Then, in another thread, I pop back up to say that large primes are useless for encryption, or that large prime factorization takes longer than non-prime factorization. Is that a case where "ideology greatly influences what 'facts' different people will accept"? Sort of--in the sense that I'm being unreasonable and stupid. If I can't take your word (actually: your explanation), as a computer scientist, that large primes are useful for encryption or that factorization of any large number takes a long time, then we can't actually have a discussion about the kinds of issues which are up for debate in those fields.

Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: Sun_Worshiper on February 22, 2021, 09:25:55 AM

Quote

Presenting actual coherent, evidence-based counter-arguments isn't remotely the same thing as just yelling "NO!" at the top of your lungs.

Forgive me, but there's plenty of evidence on threads here that many members are not at all interested in polite and coherent, evidence-based counter-arguments. Just consider the discussions we've had about IQ, sex and gender, and social construction. It's clear from the way these issues keep popping back up that no matter how much actual evidence is carefully explained to them, some people have no interest in learning the facts.

These are all issues where ideology greatly influences what "facts" different people will accept. That's the big problem.

No. They're issues where the facts are not widely understood except by specialists, some of whom exist on these very fora, and where those facts are widely misreported.

Besides, I remember taking a fair bit of time to explain what social construction actually means, as well as some of the kinds of disagreement attendant to the notion. As I remember it, the pushback wasn't about about 'the facts different people will accept' (although there's actually plenty of room for that!), but rather about the kinds of claims made by social constructionists. In particular, some members insisted on peddling some weird, deviant understanding of those claims despite repeated explanations that that was not what people think or say. There are basic facts about the kinds of things people are actually saying, and if you can't even accept those, then you're not fit to be having that particular conversation. Let alone on an academic forum.

You're a computer scientist, right? Imagine I decided to say that large primes can't be used for encryption. Or that prime factorization takes longer than ordinary factorization. Now suppose you took some time to set me straight, but that I insisted on it for a while before letting it peter out. Then, in another thread, I pop back up to say that large primes are useless for encryption, or that large prime factorization takes longer than non-prime factorization. Is that a case where "ideology greatly influences what 'facts' different people will accept"? Sort of--in the sense that I'm being unreasonable and stupid. If I can't take your word (actually: your explanation), as a computer scientist, that large primes are useful for encryption or that factorization of any large number takes a long time, then we can't actually have a discussion about the kinds of issues which are up for debate in those fields.

This discussion is getting at the problem with the social/political threads. If you read through them, you will see a lot of "alternative facts," based on anecdote, dubious data, or (more often) no data at all. I don't think moderating will do much about that, however. It is really up to us as posters to try a little harder to apply the same sort of rigor to our own posts as we would demand from our students or scholars in our fields. People who are posting in bad faith or just itching to argue won't do that, but the rest of us can marginalize those posters by ignoring them or by calling out their bad faith efforts (as opposed to responding in good faith to their weak and un-substantiated claims).
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: Caracal on February 22, 2021, 09:43:37 AM


This discussion is getting at the problem with the social/political threads. If you read through them, you will see a lot of "alternative facts," based on anecdote, dubious data, or (more often) no data at all. I don't think moderating will do much about that, however. It is really up to us as posters to try a little harder to apply the same sort of rigor to our own posts as we would demand from our students or scholars in our fields. People who are posting in bad faith or just itching to argue won't do that, but the rest of us can marginalize those posters by ignoring them or by calling out their bad faith efforts (as opposed to responding in good faith to their weak and un-substantiated claims).

It isn't totally fixable with moderation, but I think it could eliminate the posts that are egregious attempts to troll. We can't police bad arguments, but you can keep people from hijacking threads.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: marshwiggle on February 22, 2021, 09:54:21 AM


This discussion is getting at the problem with the social/political threads. If you read through them, you will see a lot of "alternative facts," based on anecdote, dubious data, or (more often) no data at all. I don't think moderating will do much about that, however. It is really up to us as posters to try a little harder to apply the same sort of rigor to our own posts as we would demand from our students or scholars in our fields. People who are posting in bad faith or just itching to argue won't do that, but the rest of us can marginalize those posters by ignoring them or by calling out their bad faith efforts (as opposed to responding in good faith to their weak and un-substantiated claims).

It isn't totally fixable with moderation, but I think it could eliminate the posts that are egregious attempts to troll. We can't police bad arguments, but you can keep people from hijacking threads.

Let's put this in the context of an actual discussion.

There have been several reported cases of trans-females competing in women's sports (including at the high school level, hence why I said "females" instead of "women") and obliterating the competition. Since many trans-activists would say that self-identification should be all that is required, should a person in this forum be allowed to state their opinion that it is unfair for trans-females to compete in female athletic events? Or, since many trans activists would feel that such a question causes harm and is therefore trans-phobic, should it be prohibited?

I'd like to hear opinions on how moderators ought to approach this issue and others like it.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: eigen on February 22, 2021, 10:16:18 AM


This discussion is getting at the problem with the social/political threads. If you read through them, you will see a lot of "alternative facts," based on anecdote, dubious data, or (more often) no data at all. I don't think moderating will do much about that, however. It is really up to us as posters to try a little harder to apply the same sort of rigor to our own posts as we would demand from our students or scholars in our fields. People who are posting in bad faith or just itching to argue won't do that, but the rest of us can marginalize those posters by ignoring them or by calling out their bad faith efforts (as opposed to responding in good faith to their weak and un-substantiated claims).

It isn't totally fixable with moderation, but I think it could eliminate the posts that are egregious attempts to troll. We can't police bad arguments, but you can keep people from hijacking threads.

Let's put this in the context of an actual discussion.

There have been several reported cases of trans-females competing in women's sports (including at the high school level, hence why I said "females" instead of "women") and obliterating the competition. Since many trans-activists would say that self-identification should be all that is required, should a person in this forum be allowed to state their opinion that it is unfair for trans-females to compete in female athletic events? Or, since many trans activists would feel that such a question causes harm and is therefore trans-phobic, should it be prohibited?

I'd like to hear opinions on how moderators ought to approach this issue and others like it.

In my opinion, you're making arguments in this thread that are, effectively, strawmen.

The issue in the vast majority of cases isn't the opinion held (although some of them are pretty damn problematic) but (a) how the opinion is communicated, (b) what evidence is used to support the opinion (or lack thereof), and (c) how the individual in question responds to disagreement.

The last point, to me, is key: we frequently have people state an opinion, and then result to inuendos, assumptions and ad hominem attacks when people disagree with them. Take, for example "one thing I can tell you about liberals. They don't like diversity." as a response in a thread that had nothing to do with politics.

It's even worse when those posters continue this type of aside in any thread, whether or not it's related to a heated topic under discussion (baggage). 
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: marshwiggle on February 22, 2021, 11:20:16 AM

In my opinion, you're making arguments in this thread that are, effectively, strawmen.

The issue in the vast majority of cases isn't the opinion held (although some of them are pretty damn problematic) but (a) how the opinion is communicated, (b) what evidence is used to support the opinion (or lack thereof), and (c) how the individual in question responds to disagreement.

We live in a society where there is a constantly expanding definition of what someone will call "hate speech". The legal definition of hate speech, in places where there is one, is quite narrow, typically involving an actual incitement of violence against an identifiable group of people. Merely saying something unpleasant or even derogatory doesn't qualify.

However, given the expanding popular usage of the term by various activists, hate speech can be used to identify virtually anything which someone doesn't like.

From the comments of moderators here, I still don't have the slightest idea of how much the current expansion of the idea of "hate speech" would influence their decisions.

Quote
The last point, to me, is key: we frequently have people state an opinion, and then result to inuendos, assumptions and ad hominem attacks when people disagree with them. Take, for example "one thing I can tell you about liberals. They don't like diversity." as a response in a thread that had nothing to do with politics.

Since "liberals" can be used to describe all kinds of people, (including "classical liberals", who might call themselves conservatives or even libertarians), is this really meaningful enough to be sanctioned? Is it sarcastic? Sure, by intention. Is it immature and/or off topic? Perhaps, depending on your definition. But can it really be seen as an ad hominem attack?

Quote
It's even worse when those posters continue this type of aside in any thread, whether or not it's related to a heated topic under discussion (baggage).

"Baggage" may be tedious, but policing threads for topical relevance seems like a pointless intrusion where the cure may be worse than the disease. Threads that degenerate into a familiar debate seem to peter out as people stop following and posting. They die a natural death. Ending the threads formally a few posts earlier doesn't seem to serve much purpose, and may in fact be counter-productive if it inspires people to post more (perhaps in new threads) about "cutting off debate". When a thread dies naturally, by definition, there's no more audience.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: Caracal on February 22, 2021, 12:56:05 PM


This discussion is getting at the problem with the social/political threads. If you read through them, you will see a lot of "alternative facts," based on anecdote, dubious data, or (more often) no data at all. I don't think moderating will do much about that, however. It is really up to us as posters to try a little harder to apply the same sort of rigor to our own posts as we would demand from our students or scholars in our fields. People who are posting in bad faith or just itching to argue won't do that, but the rest of us can marginalize those posters by ignoring them or by calling out their bad faith efforts (as opposed to responding in good faith to their weak and un-substantiated claims).

It isn't totally fixable with moderation, but I think it could eliminate the posts that are egregious attempts to troll. We can't police bad arguments, but you can keep people from hijacking threads.

Let's put this in the context of an actual discussion.

There have been several reported cases of trans-females competing in women's sports (including at the high school level, hence why I said "females" instead of "women") and obliterating the competition. Since many trans-activists would say that self-identification should be all that is required, should a person in this forum be allowed to state their opinion that it is unfair for trans-females to compete in female athletic events? Or, since many trans activists would feel that such a question causes harm and is therefore trans-phobic, should it be prohibited?

I'd like to hear opinions on how moderators ought to approach this issue and others like it.

No, as long as the debate is conducted in respectful and appropriate terms.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: Sun_Worshiper on February 22, 2021, 01:33:44 PM


This discussion is getting at the problem with the social/political threads. If you read through them, you will see a lot of "alternative facts," based on anecdote, dubious data, or (more often) no data at all. I don't think moderating will do much about that, however. It is really up to us as posters to try a little harder to apply the same sort of rigor to our own posts as we would demand from our students or scholars in our fields. People who are posting in bad faith or just itching to argue won't do that, but the rest of us can marginalize those posters by ignoring them or by calling out their bad faith efforts (as opposed to responding in good faith to their weak and un-substantiated claims).

It isn't totally fixable with moderation, but I think it could eliminate the posts that are egregious attempts to troll. We can't police bad arguments, but you can keep people from hijacking threads.

Let's put this in the context of an actual discussion.

There have been several reported cases of trans-females competing in women's sports (including at the high school level, hence why I said "females" instead of "women") and obliterating the competition. Since many trans-activists would say that self-identification should be all that is required, should a person in this forum be allowed to state their opinion that it is unfair for trans-females to compete in female athletic events? Or, since many trans activists would feel that such a question causes harm and is therefore trans-phobic, should it be prohibited?

I'd like to hear opinions on how moderators ought to approach this issue and others like it.

No, as long as the debate is conducted in respectful and appropriate terms.

Agreed. I don't think this should be prohibited and I don't think anyone is saying that it should be.

But I would encourage the poster making this argument to offer some context and evidence, if this is an important enough issue to you that you wish to debate it with the rest of us: Why is this a serious issue that should be given attention? Is it widespread or are you amplifying one or two instances that have bounced around the ideological echo chamber? Who is being affected by this and how?

And use data and a logical argument to support your point. This isn't a court of law or an academic journal, but since we are mostly academics it would be nice to have a discourse that is a bit higher-level than what you'd see in a random reddit thread.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: marshwiggle on February 22, 2021, 01:49:25 PM
Let's put this in the context of an actual discussion.

There have been several reported cases of trans-females competing in women's sports (including at the high school level, hence why I said "females" instead of "women") and obliterating the competition. Since many trans-activists would say that self-identification should be all that is required, should a person in this forum be allowed to state their opinion that it is unfair for trans-females to compete in female athletic events? Or, since many trans activists would feel that such a question causes harm and is therefore trans-phobic, should it be prohibited?

I'd like to hear opinions on how moderators ought to approach this issue and others like it.

No, as long as the debate is conducted in respectful and appropriate terms.

Agreed. I don't think this should be prohibited and I don't think anyone is saying that it should be.

But I would encourage the poster making this argument to offer some context and evidence, if this is an important enough issue to you that you wish to debate it with the rest of us: Why is this a serious issue that should be given attention? Is it widespread or are you amplifying one or two instances that have bounced around the ideological echo chamber? Who is being affected by this and how?



This vague sense of distaste for the discussion is what concerns me. I have a strong hunch that if someone were arguing in the opposite direction, i.e. that it's great that trans students can compete in competitive sports, that there would be no such hesitancy. In that case, this forum would represent an "ideological echo chamber" where a certain view is implicitly supported, and anything else is implicitly discouraged.

Coming back to moderation, given how vague the suggestions have been of what sort of speech is appropriate, the fact that decisions may be influenced by ideology rather than fairly objective politically-agnostic rules does not inspire confidence in increased moderation.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: Sun_Worshiper on February 22, 2021, 02:08:57 PM
Let's put this in the context of an actual discussion.

There have been several reported cases of trans-females competing in women's sports (including at the high school level, hence why I said "females" instead of "women") and obliterating the competition. Since many trans-activists would say that self-identification should be all that is required, should a person in this forum be allowed to state their opinion that it is unfair for trans-females to compete in female athletic events? Or, since many trans activists would feel that such a question causes harm and is therefore trans-phobic, should it be prohibited?

I'd like to hear opinions on how moderators ought to approach this issue and others like it.

No, as long as the debate is conducted in respectful and appropriate terms.

Agreed. I don't think this should be prohibited and I don't think anyone is saying that it should be.

But I would encourage the poster making this argument to offer some context and evidence, if this is an important enough issue to you that you wish to debate it with the rest of us: Why is this a serious issue that should be given attention? Is it widespread or are you amplifying one or two instances that have bounced around the ideological echo chamber? Who is being affected by this and how?



This vague sense of distaste for the discussion is what concerns me. I have a strong hunch that if someone were arguing in the opposite direction, i.e. that it's great that trans students can compete in competitive sports, that there would be no such hesitancy. In that case, this forum would represent an "ideological echo chamber" where a certain view is implicitly supported, and anything else is implicitly discouraged.

Coming back to moderation, given how vague the suggestions have been of what sort of speech is appropriate, the fact that decisions may be influenced by ideology rather than fairly objective politically-agnostic rules does not inspire confidence in increased moderation.

It isn't showing "distaste" to ask you to support a contentious and controversial statement with evidence. I'm just encouraging you to elevate the discourse, and I will try to do so as well: If I post something and you don't think that my argument is sufficiently logical or supported by data, then let me know and I promise to make a good faith effort to back it up, or to acknowledge that the data isn't there. Let's both try to make this a better board, even if we disagree politically.

I'm also not asking for moderation of speech, just for voluntary efforts by posters who want the forum to be better.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: secundem_artem on February 22, 2021, 02:39:02 PM
Yawn.

Sometimes, this place makes for an interesting community and interesting discussions.

And sometimes, it reads like a YouTube comments page about a contentious topic - just with better spelling.

I suspect some of the tsuris about social topics is that a fair few forumites are experts on the topic.  And a fair few are not.  But since this is not a forum run by and for experts on intersectionality, sexual identity, or any of a hundred other hot button issues, it's pretty unlikely we will ever live in a peaceable kingdom.  The lack of data behind some posting (or even good empirical argument) is the way people talk in non-expert settings.

There are a couple of people here who I find annoying.  So I rarely read their comments.  Seems to solve the problem for me.  Alternatively, I invite forumites to use the following shorthand:

1.  All problems are due to people being insufficiently woke - Just type Argument A
2.  All problems are due to people being entirely too woke - Just type Argument B
3.  All problems are due to tenured faculty malfeasance and not caring about the untenured - just type Argument C
4.  All problems with those on the adjunct death march are due to poor decision making on the part of the non-tenured - Just type Argument D
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: Ruralguy on February 22, 2021, 07:15:06 PM
Can we make a song of it and type ABACAB?
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: science.expat on February 23, 2021, 01:51:56 AM
I’m a long standing forumite. I was part of the CHE fora pre-moderation and had a lot of ‘interesting’ interactions with ‘Wow’. I also learned a lot from colleagues as a mid-career researcher and future academic leader. While it was an entertaining and educational time, a major issue was that trolls like Wow affected threads across the fora.

The moderated CHE version was much more civilised and the consistently difficult people were at least less strident. And it was moderated by a group of paid and volunteer workers who could respond to reports of spam and un-civil posts.

Now we’re in a relatively new environment that has been set up and is maintained by volunteers who no doubt have plenty to do in their day jobs and real life. I am truly grateful and humbled by the effort you put in to setting this up and maintaining it; thank you! I would hate to see the fora die.

As a veteran, I skip over posts from certain forumites - often those from people who have repeatedly posted on this thread. However, a newcomer would not know the posters to avoid and could understandably decide that this is not a place to get advice or develop links.

I don’t know anything about the software, but I wonder if there could be two types of registrations for fora access. My thought is that most people could access the two main categories - general and academic - but that ‘consistently argumentative’ posters would be restricted to the ‘general catalog’. Of course this would be value judgment on the part of the mods, and may not be possible, but it might be a way of creating a welcoming space for newcomers while allowing some others to come out and play.

Just some thoughts,
Science Expat
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: marshwiggle on February 23, 2021, 05:20:27 AM

I don’t know anything about the software, but I wonder if there could be two types of registrations for fora access. My thought is that most people could access the two main categories - general and academic - but that ‘consistently argumentative’ posters would be restricted to the ‘general catalog’. Of course this would be value judgment on the part of the mods, and may not be possible, but it might be a way of creating a welcoming space for newcomers while allowing some others to come out and play.



As always, this is the point of contention. All kinds of people who seem to believe that the "value judgement" criteria are self-evident, also seem to be unwilling or unable to provide a fairly concrete list of them, with examples of what kind of behaviour which they would not consider a violation, even if they didn't like it.

And there's all kinds of behaviour I find tedious and even annoying, but I wouldn't support prohibiting it.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: Parasaurolophus on February 23, 2021, 08:41:54 AM

As always, this is the point of contention. All kinds of people who seem to believe that the "value judgement" criteria are self-evident, also seem to be unwilling or unable to provide a fairly concrete list of them, with examples of what kind of behaviour which they would not consider a violation, even if they didn't like it.

And there's all kinds of behaviour I find tedious and even annoying, but I wouldn't support prohibiting it.

Speaking only for myself: It's not that I can't provide such a list. It's that I don't believe that it's being asked for as part of a good-faith discussion, and I'm not currently super interested in taking the time to craft a post that guards against all possible willful misunderstandings. I'm also not sure it would be productive, here and now, for me to be singling out particular posters and posts, which is what having that conversation would require. If people think that is the conversation we should have, then I'm happy to engage in it for our collective benefit. But if it's just you, then I'm afraid that our interactions have eroded my trust in your good faith in such discussions.

It may surprise you to learn that since we ported over, I've personally reached out to several posters with whom I regularly vehemently disagree and encouraged them to stay when they expressed a desire to leave.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: Caracal on February 23, 2021, 10:54:17 AM

I don’t know anything about the software, but I wonder if there could be two types of registrations for fora access. My thought is that most people could access the two main categories - general and academic - but that ‘consistently argumentative’ posters would be restricted to the ‘general catalog’. Of course this would be value judgment on the part of the mods, and may not be possible, but it might be a way of creating a welcoming space for newcomers while allowing some others to come out and play.



As always, this is the point of contention. All kinds of people who seem to believe that the "value judgement" criteria are self-evident, also seem to be unwilling or unable to provide a fairly concrete list of them, with examples of what kind of behaviour which they would not consider a violation, even if they didn't like it.

And there's all kinds of behaviour I find tedious and even annoying, but I wouldn't support prohibiting it.

Well that would be the point of a detailed code of conduct which could be enforced in a more consistent manner. I think some sort of system of warnings and suspensions would work better than what science-expat suggests, but I'm confused by this argument that if we have detailed rules, that will result in capricious enforcement. Seems like it would do the opposite.

As for what I would propose. I'd suggest something like:
1. A clear ban on personal attacks and name calling. It's fine to say somebody is being overly optimistic, but it isn't ok to call them a "professor sparkle pony."
2. Guidelines on thread hijacking. Its fine to have conversations evolve and go into tangents, but you can't just jump into a thread and yell about your pet issue which is only related in the vaguest sense. If someone is asking which grad program to go to, you can suggest they reconsider grad school based on the job market in the field. If someone asks whether whether it makes sense to spend time working on a journal article before they finish their dissertation, you can't tell them that actually they should just quit grad school since they'll never get a job.
3. I'd try to take a light touch on hot button issues as long as they have their own thread, but some guidelines on threads that seem designed to troll and particular attention towards thread hijacking on that stuff.
4. However, I think we could have some guidelines on what is and isn't ok in those sorts of threads. I personally think there's a lot of unpleasant racial stuff going on whenever we talk about considering race in applications. However, that doesn't mean I'd want to ban people from saying things I think are troubling. However, I don't think it should be acceptable to claim that particular people only got their jobs because of their race, or make broad claims about the qualifications of groups of people.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: Ruralguy on February 23, 2021, 03:54:59 PM
Honestly, keep rules to a bare minimum.

More rules will not draw in more members.

I’d say keep it to no direct insults, no obvious thread hijacks (though I think the example given above was more just a bad negative answer than a thread hijack). Keep politics and culture wars to very  limited threads. Label thread in red to indicate it could be troubling. If someone keeps on answering every post with more or less the same grievances against the tenure system, maybe give them some guidance, but don’t ban.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: Caracal on February 23, 2021, 05:18:17 PM
Honestly, keep rules to a bare minimum.

More rules will not draw in more members.

I’d say keep it to no direct insults, no obvious thread hijacks (though I think the example given above was more just a bad negative answer than a thread hijack). Keep politics and culture wars to very  limited threads. Label thread in red to indicate it could be troubling. If someone keeps on answering every post with more or less the same grievances against the tenure system, maybe give them some guidance, but don’t ban.

Maybe, at any rate, I would say that unless something is truly egregious incredibly offensive language, truly vicious personal attacks), warnings should be reserved for a pattern of problematic behavior. It wouldn't have to be about policing every ill thought out comment or attack that went over the line a bit into an insult. The issue is  posters who like to tap-dance around the line and I think policies would provide a better way to deal with that. Agree about the politics and culture war stuff going to separate threads and maybe a separate folder. The general folder seems like it could use some subthreads anyway.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: marshwiggle on February 24, 2021, 05:28:01 AM

As for what I would propose. I'd suggest something like:
1. A clear ban on personal attacks and name calling. It's fine to say somebody is being overly optimistic, but it isn't ok to call them a "professor sparkle pony."


I may be mistaken, but I can't recall "professor sparkle pony" being applied to any specific person; it's more generic like "Joe Public". I've never seen it as even specific to a discipline, tenure status, etc. It's just a person who always gives unreasonably optimistic advice.

Honestly, keep rules to a bare minimum.

More rules will not draw in more members.

I’d say keep it to no direct insults, no obvious thread hijacks (though I think the example given above was more just a bad negative answer than a thread hijack). Keep politics and culture wars to very  limited threads. Label thread in red to indicate it could be troubling. If someone keeps on answering every post with more or less the same grievances against the tenure system, maybe give them some guidance, but don’t ban.

Maybe, at any rate, I would say that unless something is truly egregious incredibly offensive language, truly vicious personal attacks), warnings should be reserved for a pattern of problematic behavior. It wouldn't have to be about policing every ill thought out comment or attack that went over the line a bit into an insult. The issue is  posters who like to tap-dance around the line and I think policies would provide a better way to deal with that. Agree about the politics and culture war stuff going to separate threads and maybe a separate folder. The general folder seems like it could use some subthreads anyway.

I don't have a problem with this, but I'll make a prediction: Moving all of the threads with strong debate to a separate folder will also most most of the activity and views to that folder as well. Whatever complaints people may make about "upsetting" discussions, many will still be drawn to follow them even if they don't contribute, and even if they can be easily avoided.

(Take a look in each folder at how few threads have had a single comment in the last week, let alone the past 24 hours.)
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: Ruralguy on February 24, 2021, 06:53:03 AM
I dunno, maybe us "culture war" avoiders are a rarer breed than we think, but I get a sense that I am not alone in only rarely looking at these threads and even more rarely do I post to them.  My primary problem with them is that it often looks like obvious trolling, boring repeats of the same opinions, etc.  To me that's all much more of a turn off than debating racism per se (I'm against racism), which also gets old and occasionally offensive even to a "just deal with" person like me.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: Caracal on February 24, 2021, 04:58:23 PM

As for what I would propose. I'd suggest something like:
1. A clear ban on personal attacks and name calling. It's fine to say somebody is being overly optimistic, but it isn't ok to call them a "professor sparkle pony."


I may be mistaken, but I can't recall "professor sparkle pony" being applied to any specific person; it's more generic like "Joe Public". I've never seen it as even specific to a discipline, tenure status, etc. It's just a person who always gives unreasonably optimistic advice.



I mean at this point we are really just talking about one particular poster-who shall not be named lest we summon them. The poster likes to use insulting language to demean other members, but never explicitly directs an insult at that. It is hard to describe. Maybe the Germans have a word for you when you throw insults around someone, rather than directly at them?

I think this actually illustrates the need for a clearer and more explicit code of conduct, rather than just a few rules. The problem with having a rule that says "no personal attacks" and leaving it at that, is that you allow people to walk right up to the line, toss some pine cones over it and then step back and proclaim their innocence. Obviously, if you're having pinecones tossed at you on some Internet forum, the mature and appropriate response is to ignore it and move safely out of  range. In practice, some of us aren't so good at doing that. As the moderators often remind us, the best thing to do is to just report things that seem wrong, and not respond, however, that only works if we can believe that there are rules and a process where people who are trolling, bullying and deliberately provoking get dealt with.

Again, I really do think the trick is to make this about patterns. The problem isn't that there's an occasional post that's a bit too intemperate or a bit too much of a personal attack or is perceived that way. Most of that kind of stuff is actually pretty self regulating with posters either toning down the volume when people get angry or apologizing. The problem comes when you have people who are just trying to offend and anger.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: Caracal on February 24, 2021, 05:06:28 PM
I dunno, maybe us "culture war" avoiders are a rarer breed than we think, but I get a sense that I am not alone in only rarely looking at these threads and even more rarely do I post to them.  My primary problem with them is that it often looks like obvious trolling, boring repeats of the same opinions, etc.  To me that's all much more of a turn off than debating racism per se (I'm against racism), which also gets old and occasionally offensive even to a "just deal with" person like me.

Yeah. Look, I sometimes look at things that drive me crazy, but at least then I know what I'm getting into. Right now, its all right at the top of the general issues forum, next to discussions of Covid and bird watching and sometimes just seeing the post title is depressing. I'd also argue that, despite drawing a lot of posts, that kind of stuff isn't much of an advertisement for this community. If you want to argue about politics and race, you can find lots of places on the internet to do that. There's no particular reason people in academia should go here if thats what's on offer.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: Hibush on February 24, 2021, 05:41:59 PM
Just popping in to opine that I enjoy The Fora a lot. Thanks to everyone who makes them work and to everyone who provides their perspective. I learn a lot here. It's a great place to discover the great variation in academe, among institution type, among disciplines and among political persuasions. 

I first got into the forum type of community in the Usenet era. (It's scary to be able to google stuff I said under my real name in 1994!) The dynamics of this kind of community have not changed in all this time. I don't expect a lot of success in fighting underlying dynamics here. The mods are hitting the balance well. After this many years of engaging, my route to happiness is to pay attention to what interests me and to let the rest go.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: marshwiggle on February 25, 2021, 04:36:22 AM

I mean at this point we are really just talking about one particular poster-who shall not be named lest we summon them. The poster likes to use insulting language to demean other members, but never explicitly directs an insult at that. It is hard to describe.

Are "we"? I have no idea how many posters anyone on here thinks ought to be sanctioned. I'd be surprised if everyone thinks it's just one.

Quote
I think this actually illustrates the need for a clearer and more explicit code of conduct, rather than just a few rules. The problem with having a rule that says "no personal attacks" and leaving it at that, is that you allow people to walk right up to the line, toss some pine cones over it and then step back and proclaim their innocence.

Perhaps you've heard this:
"There once was a young man of Wheeling,
who was of such delicate feeling
when he read on the door
'Don't spit on the floor'
he jumped up and spat on the ceiling."


It's human nature to push boundaries (as anyone who has raised a 2 year old well knows). Whatever line you make, people will walk up to it and toss pine cones over it.

Look, I sometimes look at things that drive me crazy, but at least then I know what I'm getting into. Right now, its all right at the top of the general issues forum, next to discussions of Covid and bird watching and sometimes just seeing the post title is depressing. I'd also argue that, despite drawing a lot of posts, that kind of stuff isn't much of an advertisement for this community. If you want to argue about politics and race, you can find lots of places on the internet to do that. There's no particular reason people in academia should go here if thats what's on offer.

So how are Covid and bird-watching more appropriate to an academic forum than politics?
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: Caracal on February 25, 2021, 05:29:24 AM

I mean at this point we are really just talking about one particular poster-who shall not be named lest we summon them. The poster likes to use insulting language to demean other members, but never explicitly directs an insult at that. It is hard to describe.

Are "we"? I have no idea how many posters anyone on here thinks ought to be sanctioned. I'd be surprised if everyone thinks it's just one.

Quote
I think this actually illustrates the need for a clearer and more explicit code of conduct, rather than just a few rules. The problem with having a rule that says "no personal attacks" and leaving it at that, is that you allow people to walk right up to the line, toss some pine cones over it and then step back and proclaim their innocence.

Perhaps you've heard this:
"There once was a young man of Wheeling,
who was of such delicate feeling
when he read on the door
'Don't spit on the floor'
he jumped up and spat on the ceiling."


It's human nature to push boundaries (as anyone who has raised a 2 year old well knows). Whatever line you make, people will walk up to it and toss pine cones over it.



Indeed, but so is violence, aggression and picking your nose in public and you'll get in trouble if you do them in the public library. (Well, ok, you can probably pick your nose to your heart's content in the library as long as you don't mind disapproving looks.)

Moderation works when you have clear standards and a clear commitment to applying them. The thing about bullies and trolls is that they enjoy provoking a reaction and annoying people. If they are getting warned and suspended they'll either decide they care enough about posting to behave, or they'll stalk off and go find somewhere else where people tolerate bad behavior.

And we really could figure out exactly what we want to allow and not allow. My suggestion would be that we could workshop broad rules or adapt the ones we have, find controversial posts and essentially workshop them, and discuss if they were a problem and then zero in on things that we would want to prohibit and craft rules around that.

However, if its really true that the consensus is that we shouldn't do that, there's obviously not much point discussing it more. But, I wish we could drop the "nothing we can do" argument. There's a lot we could do, we'd just have to decide to do it.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: eigen on February 25, 2021, 09:47:43 AM
It's human nature to push boundaries (as anyone who has raised a 2 year old well knows). Whatever line you make, people will walk up to it and toss pine cones over it.

I mean, it's true, but it's always been my sincere hope that every member of this community cares enough about the other members of the community and the time and effort of the moderation staff to, well, not constantly push boundaries making more emotional and actual labor for everyone else just because they can.

As with many things, just because you have the legal right to do something doesn't mean you should. I see far too many people here that don't seem to consider (or maybe they just don't care about) how what they do impacts other people.

However, if its really true that the consensus is that we shouldn't do that, there's obviously not much point discussing it more. But, I wish we could drop the "nothing we can do" argument. There's a lot we could do, we'd just have to decide to do it.

Pretty much this. We're choosing not to do anything by force, but I really wish people would stop to think about others before they posted. There is, indeed, a posting while plastered thread, and an asides thread, for all of those other times.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: Caracal on February 25, 2021, 10:04:09 AM


Pretty much this. We're choosing not to do anything by force, but I really wish people would stop to think about others before they posted. There is, indeed, a posting while plastered thread, and an asides thread, for all of those other times.

There's also a lot to be said for apologizing when you realize something you wrote  was over the line or taken the wrong way. Its meant a surprising amount to me when people have responded to me saying I was offended by something by clarifying they weren't trying to attack me. On the other side, people are generally quite gracious when you just say you wrote something ill considered or unkind and you're sorry.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: marshwiggle on February 25, 2021, 11:21:29 AM
It's human nature to push boundaries (as anyone who has raised a 2 year old well knows). Whatever line you make, people will walk up to it and toss pine cones over it.

I mean, it's true, but it's always been my sincere hope that every member of this community cares enough about the other members of the community and the time and effort of the moderation staff to, well, not constantly push boundaries making more emotional and actual labor for everyone else just because they can.


As I mentioned earlier, boundaries are subjective, and so I don't have any idea how many people think that I have pushed boundaries, or how often.
 
It has occurred to me that it might be somewhat discipline-related. In disciplines like STEM, where grading is much more objective, my sense is that people are much less comfortable with subjective judgement that goes with increased moderation. On the other hand, in disciplines where subjective assessments are the norm, they may have much more trust in moderators' judgement, and even in the idea of vague standards being sufficiently well-defined to not be rife for abuse.

If there were to be a poll about moderation, I'd be really curious to see the results tallied by discipline.
 
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: eigen on February 25, 2021, 12:12:38 PM
It's human nature to push boundaries (as anyone who has raised a 2 year old well knows). Whatever line you make, people will walk up to it and toss pine cones over it.

I mean, it's true, but it's always been my sincere hope that every member of this community cares enough about the other members of the community and the time and effort of the moderation staff to, well, not constantly push boundaries making more emotional and actual labor for everyone else just because they can.


As I mentioned earlier, boundaries are subjective, and so I don't have any idea how many people think that I have pushed boundaries, or how often.
 
It has occurred to me that it might be somewhat discipline-related. In disciplines like STEM, where grading is much more objective, my sense is that people are much less comfortable with subjective judgement that goes with increased moderation. On the other hand, in disciplines where subjective assessments are the norm, they may have much more trust in moderators' judgement, and even in the idea of vague standards being sufficiently well-defined to not be rife for abuse.

If there were to be a poll about moderation, I'd be really curious to see the results tallied by discipline.

"Don't be an asshole" really isn't that hard, from my perspective.

I am consistently on these forums when someone tells another poster that what they wrote upset or offended them and the answer is some variant on "grow a thicker skin / that's not my problem" or devolves into identity politics.

I also disagree with your assertion that STEM is a bastion of objectivity. It's got a metric ton of subjectivity cloaked in a facade of objectivity.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: Caracal on February 26, 2021, 10:46:25 AM
It's human nature to push boundaries (as anyone who has raised a 2 year old well knows). Whatever line you make, people will walk up to it and toss pine cones over it.

I mean, it's true, but it's always been my sincere hope that every member of this community cares enough about the other members of the community and the time and effort of the moderation staff to, well, not constantly push boundaries making more emotional and actual labor for everyone else just because they can.


As I mentioned earlier, boundaries are subjective, and so I don't have any idea how many people think that I have pushed boundaries, or how often.
 
It has occurred to me that it might be somewhat discipline-related. In disciplines like STEM, where grading is much more objective, my sense is that people are much less comfortable with subjective judgement that goes with increased moderation. On the other hand, in disciplines where subjective assessments are the norm, they may have much more trust in moderators' judgement, and even in the idea of vague standards being sufficiently well-defined to not be rife for abuse.

If there were to be a poll about moderation, I'd be really curious to see the results tallied by discipline.

"Don't be an asshole" really isn't that hard, from my perspective.

I am consistently on these forums when someone tells another poster that what they wrote upset or offended them and the answer is some variant on "grow a thicker skin / that's not my problem" or devolves into identity politics.

I also disagree with your assertion that STEM is a bastion of objectivity. It's got a metric ton of subjectivity cloaked in a facade of objectivity.

Yes, I think STEM people sometimes get themselves into trouble by starting from the assumption that whatever they are doing is objective and therefore they don't need to worry about their own biases, blind spots and assumptions. I'm not an expert but when I follow discussions on twitter between scientists, a lot of the arguments don't seem all that different from the arguments we have in the humanities. Is the evidence being used to support the claim sufficient?  Could it mean something else? Can we trust the evidence we are getting or does it have inherent biases we have to correct for or understand before you can draw conclusions from it? These arguments seem most productive when the scientists involve recognize that these are subjective judgements and debate them as such. They get unproductive and stuck when people start yelling about what the "science says," as if science has opinions.

Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: reverist on February 26, 2021, 11:37:40 AM
Again, I really do think the trick is to make this about patterns. The problem isn't that there's an occasional post that's a bit too intemperate or a bit too much of a personal attack or is perceived that way. Most of that kind of stuff is actually pretty self regulating with posters either toning down the volume when people get angry or apologizing. The problem comes when you have people who are just trying to offend and anger.

As a philosopher, I cannot help but be reminded of Aristotelian virtue ethics. In these cases, you're not failing because you have neglected a duty or otherwise violated a single norm; you're failing because you've cultivated a character such that the virtues are lacking, with vices instead. Not the worst way to view things, really.

I don't post much in part due to wanting to stay out of controversy. I stick almost exclusively to the Teaching area, and enjoy reading what people write there. I do appreciate what people contribute, and wanted to communicate that!
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: Caracal on February 27, 2021, 08:31:23 AM
Again, I really do think the trick is to make this about patterns. The problem isn't that there's an occasional post that's a bit too intemperate or a bit too much of a personal attack or is perceived that way. Most of that kind of stuff is actually pretty self regulating with posters either toning down the volume when people get angry or apologizing. The problem comes when you have people who are just trying to offend and anger.

As a philosopher, I cannot help but be reminded of Aristotelian virtue ethics. In these cases, you're not failing because you have neglected a duty or otherwise violated a single norm; you're failing because you've cultivated a character such that the virtues are lacking, with vices instead. Not the worst way to view things, really.


It does provide a useful framework for understanding some of the worse behavior in virtual spaces. When people are called on incivility, rudeness or violations of norms, they often respond not by arguing that what they are doing is necessary to accomplish their greater goals, but by denying that empathy or kindness is a good at all. Instead they see it as a weakness. Once you've adopted that sort of value system, the actual utility of language or actions doesn't matter. It becomes a way of expressing your devotion to a cause or idea and people who express horror at your tactics are just apologists for ideas you don't like.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: mahagonny on February 27, 2021, 11:39:31 AM
Again, I really do think the trick is to make this about patterns. The problem isn't that there's an occasional post that's a bit too intemperate or a bit too much of a personal attack or is perceived that way. Most of that kind of stuff is actually pretty self regulating with posters either toning down the volume when people get angry or apologizing. The problem comes when you have people who are just trying to offend and anger.

As a philosopher, I cannot help but be reminded of Aristotelian virtue ethics. In these cases, you're not failing because you have neglected a duty or otherwise violated a single norm; you're failing because you've cultivated a character such that the virtues are lacking, with vices instead. Not the worst way to view things, really.


It does provide a useful framework for understanding some of the worse behavior in virtual spaces. When people are called on incivility, rudeness or violations of norms, they often respond not by arguing that what they are doing is necessary to accomplish their greater goals, but by denying that empathy or kindness is a good at all. Instead they see it as a weakness. Once you've adopted that sort of value system, the actual utility of language or actions doesn't matter. It becomes a way of expressing your devotion to a cause or idea and people who express horror at your tactics are just apologists for ideas you don't like.

I wouldn't argue that empathy and kindness are a weakness. More that they are only limitedly plausible as something liberal higher education culture can identify itself with.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: marshwiggle on February 27, 2021, 02:06:04 PM
It does provide a useful framework for understanding some of the worse behavior in virtual spaces. When people are called on incivility, rudeness or violations of norms, they often respond not by arguing that what they are doing is necessary to accomplish their greater goals, but by denying that empathy or kindness is a good at all.

It seems to me that many progressives who say things like "silence is violence" might question whether empathy or kindness even exist outside of explicit activism.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: Caracal on February 28, 2021, 05:47:27 AM
It does provide a useful framework for understanding some of the worse behavior in virtual spaces. When people are called on incivility, rudeness or violations of norms, they often respond not by arguing that what they are doing is necessary to accomplish their greater goals, but by denying that empathy or kindness is a good at all.

It seems to me that many progressives who say things like "silence is violence" might question whether empathy or kindness even exist outside of explicit activism.

Are you sure you guys aren't bots?
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: marshwiggle on February 28, 2021, 09:05:14 AM
It does provide a useful framework for understanding some of the worse behavior in virtual spaces. When people are called on incivility, rudeness or violations of norms, they often respond not by arguing that what they are doing is necessary to accomplish their greater goals, but by denying that empathy or kindness is a good at all.

It seems to me that many progressives who say things like "silence is violence" might question whether empathy or kindness even exist outside of explicit activism.

Are you sure you guys aren't bots?

There was a time, when common advice given to people was "Don't discuss sex, religion, or politics". The idea was that there were topics where disagreements were considered normal, and on topics which mattered to everyone, but that people could still treat each other with respect and dignity by simply not having to engage on those topics. However, as "activism" has become more of an expectation of progressives, the implication of the statement "silence is violence" is that the only morally acceptable action is to come out on one specific side of an issue.

In that regard, can one show "kindness and empathy" in each of these situations?

As I said above, not that long ago the way one treated other people was the judge of character. However, it is increasingly the case that behaviour in the absence of virtue signalling is suspect or even disparaged. Without supporting the correct ideological position, there is no such thing as "kindness and empathy".

Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: stemer on February 28, 2021, 09:36:25 AM
I am not as active as I used to be on the old Chronicle forum (under a different moniker). Frankly, I more frequently hear myself say "this person, not again..." rather than before, when I used to say more, "hmmm interesting..." and this has been putting me off.  In the interest of full disclosure, I was in favor of a Reddit group when we made the transition from the Chronicle to here. Reddit's threading makes it easier to ignore/skip tirades that may now dominate an interesting thread and it is much simpler to downvote, report, and personally block from ever seeing again, specific, obnoxious posters.  Having said this, I am always grateful for this community and more so the work of the moderators.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: Hibush on February 28, 2021, 12:26:56 PM
IIn the interest of full disclosure, I was in favor of a Reddit group when we made the transition from the Chronicle to here. Reddit's threading makes it easier to ignore/skip tirades that may now dominate an interesting thread and it is much simpler to downvote, report, and personally block from ever seeing again, specific, obnoxious posters.  Having said this, I am always grateful for this community and more so the work of the moderators.

I recall your interest in reddit then and again when IHE dropped their comments and the r/insidehighered subreddit was formed.  Unfortunately that subreddit has devolved to be mostly the kind of comments that you find frustrating. It would take the concerted effort of a lot of thoughtful redditors to bring it up to the kind of interesting discussion we have here.

In both cases, as with all online communities, satisfying participation takes being intentional about seeing where the good stuff is and recognizing that 10 to 99% of the overall content is just not for you. Perhaps even aggravating. But building on the good stuff.

Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: Hibush on April 15, 2021, 03:40:09 AM
The effort to continue IHE comments on Reddit r/InsideHigherEd (https://www.reddit.com/r/InsideHigherEd/) has officially failed. The organizer u/splunge (https://www.reddit.com/user/Splunge-/), put a lot of effort into posting several articles every day. However, the comments that resulted were not quality discussion. The subreddit has been locked with a farewell note (https://www.reddit.com/r/InsideHigherEd/comments/mqqwbl/so_long_and_thanks_for_all_the_fish/) from u/splunge.
"I appreciate that it gives people an outlet for complaining about every little thing, and I appreciate that such an outlet is needed. But reading through all this has become more of a chore than a passion."

The other subreddits covering similar material include
r/professors
r/highereducation
r/highered
r/faculty
r/college
r/universities

Thanks to Splunge for giving it a shot.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: Bbmaj7b5 on April 15, 2021, 04:34:05 AM
I was a big loudmouth over on the old Fora. I'm also in engineering and there weren't a lot of engineers (though some notable ones for sure) around the old place, so I kept most of my discussions general. Got a lot of useful advice and tried to give out some that I hoped was useful.

I was looking at a guitar transcription of one of my favorite jazz tunes, ran across a Bbmaj7b5, and my new moniker emerged from the chrysalis.

I appreciate the work of Eigen in getting this place started, and Polly for helping to keep things going.

Since it's good to have goals, my immediate goal is to make it to "Member." After that, we'll see how it goes.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: traductio on April 15, 2021, 05:58:31 AM
I was looking at a guitar transcription of one of my favorite jazz tunes, ran across a Bbmaj7b5, and my new moniker emerged from the chrysalis.

Since first seeing your moniker, I've been contorting my hands trying to get the flat 5th into a Bbmaj7 chord (and reminding myself that I am not a jazz musician). It's an excellent moniker.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: eigen on April 15, 2021, 09:43:02 AM
The effort to continue IHE comments on Reddit r/InsideHigherEd (https://www.reddit.com/r/InsideHigherEd/) has officially failed. The organizer u/splunge (https://www.reddit.com/user/Splunge-/), put a lot of effort into posting several articles every day. However, the comments that resulted were not quality discussion. The subreddit has been locked with a farewell note (https://www.reddit.com/r/InsideHigherEd/comments/mqqwbl/so_long_and_thanks_for_all_the_fish/) from u/splunge.
"I appreciate that it gives people an outlet for complaining about every little thing, and I appreciate that such an outlet is needed. But reading through all this has become more of a chore than a passion."

The other subreddits covering similar material include
r/professors
r/highereducation
r/highered
r/faculty
r/college
r/universities

Thanks to Splunge for giving it a shot.

That's too bad, sorry to hear it folded. We'd welcome the discussion on r/professors, and most articles there seem to get pretty decent discussion if you want to migrate over. Only policy rule is against blind links- so if you post an article, also post some starting discussion.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: Bbmaj7b5 on April 15, 2021, 07:42:17 PM
I was looking at a guitar transcription of one of my favorite jazz tunes, ran across a Bbmaj7b5, and my new moniker emerged from the chrysalis.

Since first seeing your moniker, I've been contorting my hands trying to get the flat 5th into a Bbmaj7 chord (and reminding myself that I am not a jazz musician). It's an excellent moniker.

I usually play it as X-1-2-2-3-X, low to high. The E on the D string is the flatted 5th.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: dr_codex on April 15, 2021, 09:46:20 PM
I was looking at a guitar transcription of one of my favorite jazz tunes, ran across a Bbmaj7b5, and my new moniker emerged from the chrysalis.

Since first seeing your moniker, I've been contorting my hands trying to get the flat 5th into a Bbmaj7 chord (and reminding myself that I am not a jazz musician). It's an excellent moniker.

I usually play it as X-1-2-2-3-X, low to high. The E on the D string is the flatted 5th.

Now, that's a threadjack I'd endorse. My guitar is not accessible, but I'm trying out the fingering on my desk.

dc (dcdedcdf)
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: traductio on April 18, 2021, 12:12:56 PM
I was looking at a guitar transcription of one of my favorite jazz tunes, ran across a Bbmaj7b5, and my new moniker emerged from the chrysalis.

Since first seeing your moniker, I've been contorting my hands trying to get the flat 5th into a Bbmaj7 chord (and reminding myself that I am not a jazz musician). It's an excellent moniker.

I usually play it as X-1-2-2-3-X, low to high. The E on the D string is the flatted 5th.

I was trying to bar an Amaj7, which is easy enough, but it was danged flat 5th I couldn't work in. Didn't think of muting strings.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: Bbmaj7b5 on April 27, 2021, 05:04:26 AM
Threadjack:
I was looking at a guitar transcription of one of my favorite jazz tunes, ran across a Bbmaj7b5, and my new moniker emerged from the chrysalis.

Since first seeing your moniker, I've been contorting my hands trying to get the flat 5th into a Bbmaj7 chord (and reminding myself that I am not a jazz musician). It's an excellent moniker.

I usually play it as X-1-2-2-3-X, low to high. The E on the D string is the flatted 5th.

I was trying to bar an Amaj7, which is easy enough, but it was danged flat 5th I couldn't work in. Didn't think of muting strings.

Well, the old jazzer's trick (taught to me by an old jazzer) is to leave out the 5th (which would be F) since it typically doesn't add any appreciable harmonic content. The chord as written above would be root-flat5-maj7-third.

End threadjack
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: mahagonny on April 27, 2021, 06:39:03 AM
Quote
As I mentioned earlier, boundaries are subjective, and so I don't have any idea how many people think that I have pushed boundaries, or how often.

Boundaries may be subjective in the sense that anyone may decide or state that he is offended by anything and, while it's often easy to quickly find out who sympathizes and who dismisses the claim, it's almost impossible to challenge the veracity of the claim without running the risk of 'bullyhood' (though we have our suspicions when someone is being manipulative), since not one of us is any other one's shoes. At the same time, boundaries are not really subjective here, nor on most forums I have frequented. They tend to be characteristic of each forum community. On most forums that lean one side or the other politically (this one leaning left); they are established by de fact majority rule. Some might say the 'tyranny of the majority.' Since you Marshwiggle are politically moderate or perhaps just bit right of center, you are regularly seen as right-wing, and it's not surprising to me if you are surprised from time to time to find you are thought pushing a boundary, just by ruminating.
I can think of only one forum that I know of that leans neither left nor right. The people on the left would hate it.
Certain posters reveal themselves to have buttons that are easily pushed. Thus, Marshy or someone else is considered a troll in a discussion about transgenderism, and also considered just the guy on the corner in discussing committee work. Simultaneously! Yet the charge that someone is here 'with the goal of provoking reactions, without interest in conversation' almost always goes unchallenged.
Being offended is an especially big deal these days, because it either gets you political capital ('those racist cops') or ridicule ('white fragility utterance') depending on where the prevailing sensibility has assigned you on the victimhood/oppressor continuum. The trend has really consolidated itself into a mainstream practice in academia, I would say, during the last ten months or so. It's surprising how rapidly that happened; well, I guess not so surprising in the perfect storm of pandemic/George Floyd/social media/national elections.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: mahagonny on April 28, 2021, 05:41:36 PM
Hmm...slow day for the fora. It can't be that one wise guy adjunct with no terminal degree like me has such power....??

Clarifying from yesterday's post:

It's not that the accusation of trolling is always unanimously supported. It's more that the fact that the accusation of trolling involving an unsupported assumption about the motives of the poster who is being called 'troll' is not properly noted. The assumption takes on a life of its own.  The normal etiquette, when one's curiosity is aroused, is to ask the speaker for more information. Whereas, in online life, once the term 'troll' shows up, fear and suspicion take over. It's not exactly a hard thing to figure out, either. If I figured it out, all of you can. The obvious conclusion being the *fear of trolls* may be intentionally abused by the accuser, who may be calculating, his charge will fly because he's with the majority politically.
confession: whenever I hear so-and-so is a right wing troll, I think, that's someone I need to get acquainted with.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: Hibush on April 28, 2021, 05:52:02 PM
Whereas, in online life, once the term 'troll' shows up, fear and suspicion take over. It's not exactly a hard thing to figure out, either. If I figured it out, all of you can. The *fear of trolls* may be intentionally abused by the accuser, who may be calculating, his charge will fly because he's with the majority politically.
confession: whenever I hear so-and-so is a right wing troll, I think, that's someone I need to get acquainted with.

I agree. I have not seen any poster here that has been a troll, as it is understood in online forums. I've seen tired tropes, but no trolls. 

Ad hominem attacks don't look good in this venue. Call the idea unfounded, or immoral, or whatever is relevant. Or call out intemperate comments, in a sprit of collegiality if possible.  The vigorous discussion is good. We can let off some steam, and see some other perspectives. Persuading people to abandon their principles is not likely, and not needed.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: Parasaurolophus on April 28, 2021, 09:35:20 PM
I think one can troll without knowing that's what one is doing, simply by engaging in trollish behaviour.

Similarly, if I attach an outrigger to my canoe to stabilize it, I've made a catamaran--even if I don't know what a catamaran is, and thus didn't intend to build one. Actually, a lot of bullying works this way, come to think of it.

Some people are so focused on the (supposed) purity of their intentions that they don't recognize ther behaviour for what it is: a problem.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: mahagonny on April 29, 2021, 04:43:58 AM
I think one can troll without knowing that's what one is doing, simply by engaging in trollish behaviour.

Similarly, if I attach an outrigger to my canoe to stabilize it, I've made a catamaran--even if I don't know what a catamaran is, and thus didn't intend to build one. Actually, a lot of bullying works this way, come to think of it.

Some people are so focused on the (supposed) purity of their intentions that they don't recognize ther behaviour for what it is: a problem.


I don't think that's quite it. My intentions were never pure all the time, but yours weren't either. It's more that I'm less impressed with some folks' sanctimony.
Of course, the whole discussion is probably ruined even before we get going, because we've recently crossed into territory where having white skin means you now have to express yourself in a certain way in order to identify your 'ally ship' as defined by a panel of 'experts'. Congratulations to all who worked hard building this Frankenstein's monster of human race relations.
Half of us think this represents a triumph for human rights and the other half thinks it's the slippery slope to inevitable totalitarianism. Instead of your ally ship, I'll stick to my catamaran, even though I take my whips for it.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: marshwiggle on April 29, 2021, 05:24:05 AM
Some people are so focused on the (supposed) purity of their intentions that they don't recognize their behaviour for what it is: a problem.

This is the logical consequence of arguing that people should not be heard because of their "bad faith", or some -ism or -phobia.

If "behaviour" includes making statements that some people disagree with and don't want to hear, then the only non-"problematic" option is for everyone to live in their own non-intersecting bubble chambers and never interact.





Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: Parasaurolophus on April 29, 2021, 07:15:18 AM


If "behaviour" includes making statements that some people disagree with and don't want to hear, then the only non-"problematic" option is for everyone to live in their own non-intersecting bubble chambers and never interact.

That's not what I'm referring to. As you know, I'm all for engaging people who disagree with me. I do it all the time, and have done so for the last 21 years. Hell, I'm professionally employed to disagree with people about stuff we don't necessarily want to hear.

I'm not sure there's much point to my explaining this again, but here goes:

Sea lioning is a type of trolling that involves constant demands to engage in debate. Often, it takes the shape of demands for evidence for any and all claims, including very basic ones. If someone is constantly demanding that others engage them in debate in this way, they are sea lioning, even if they think they're just paragons of Reason made flesh who are Just Asking Questions. One's intentions are perhaps a sufficient, but certainly not a necessary, condition for sea lioning. Sea lioning does not require an intent to sea lion. (It does, however, require an intent to ask for evidence, or demand debate.)

Similarly, you count as driving drunk if you're driving and your blood alcohol content is above the legal limit, whatever that is in your jurisdiction. Your blood alcohol content doesn't care that you only had one beer, or that you don't feel drunk. It is what it is. Identifying intoxicated driving rests on external characteristics of your actions. To my mind, 'trolling' behaviour is the same in this respect. Intention to troll is not a necessary condition for trolling.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: mahagonny on April 29, 2021, 07:57:23 AM
Quote
Intention to troll is not a necessary condition for trolling.

For example posting while not woke would be trolling.

However you define it, when you, Paras think someone's a troll, chances are it's someone who is supplying ideas that are missing (and needed). Writingprof was one.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: Parasaurolophus on April 29, 2021, 09:28:19 AM
If you think that what's missing and needed are particularly low-quality posts, then yes, I agree: my application of the term 'troll' does indeed reliably track very low-quality posting.

My beef with substantive "non-woke" posts (as you would put it, though I don't care for the term) is different. I think they're by and large wrong, but as long as they're substantive I'm happy to entertain them in a good old-fashioned internet dustup.

But this isn't about me. I've said my piece on the application-conditions of 'troll'.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: lightning on April 29, 2021, 09:31:11 AM
Quote from: random troll

“Hi! I’m your favorite troll who likes to play Devil’s Advocate. I’m here to take up all the oxygen in the fora and exhaust people so that they are too tired to argue when a real threat emerges. Your vigilance is my cue to gainsay and tire you out.

I have no interest in learning; your frustration is my ultimate goal. Your exhaustion with people like me, means you will be too tired to put up a real fight when a real threat emerges like the second coming of MAGA 2022 or 2024.

Let’s engage!”

Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: mahagonny on April 29, 2021, 11:39:03 PM
OK Lightning. You love to follow me around and snipe. But, sincere question: what do you think of today's social turmoil and climate of accusation, radical reform, distrust of radical reform, urban homicide and polarization, deep in your amply educated heart? I'm honestly curious.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: Caracal on April 30, 2021, 08:13:27 AM



Sea lioning is a type of trolling that involves constant demands to engage in debate. Often, it takes the shape of demands for evidence for any and all claims, including very basic ones. If someone is constantly demanding that others engage them in debate in this way, they are sea lioning, even if they think they're just paragons of Reason made flesh who are Just Asking Questions. One's intentions are perhaps a sufficient, but certainly not a necessary, condition for sea lioning. Sea lioning does not require an intent to sea lion. (It does, however, require an intent to ask for evidence, or demand debate.)



The tricky part here is that the definition depends on the assumption that the claims are valid. The problem is that people often try to portray their beliefs as obvious truths and then respond incredulously when someone points out that the evidence isn't actually very convincing. For example, I've been screamed at for pointing out on here that it doesn't really make much sense to argue that affirmative action makes it incredibly difficult for white people to get jobs in academia when minorities make up a very small percentage of people getting jobs, or for just pointing out that the number of colleges closing in recent years isn't really as high as people often assume it is.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: Bbmaj7b5 on April 30, 2021, 07:00:10 PM
Hmm...slow day for the fora. It can't be that one wise guy adjunct with no terminal degree like me has such power....??

Well, when you bake the words "liberal elite" into the title of a thread, you're showing your hand.

I have regular meetings at the college level. I get Tucker-Carlson-esque "I'm Just Asking A Question Is That So Wrong?" five times a day. I don't have to engage with that here.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: mahagonny on May 01, 2021, 05:04:44 AM
Hmm...slow day for the fora. It can't be that one wise guy adjunct with no terminal degree like me has such power....??

Well, when you bake the words "liberal elite" into the title of a thread, you're showing your hand.

I have regular meetings at the college level. I get Tucker-Carlson-esque "I'm Just Asking A Question Is That So Wrong?" five times a day. I don't have to engage with that here.

Well, there's nothing to be gained. The forum is already hard left. But not through and through.
BTW, I'll reiterate: I didn't author that thread. It was reposted by one or more of the forum managers. I posted my remarks on the 'it's been two years' discussion. It's not a big deal, and I haven't been that temperate anyway so no position to complain much.
I am very frightened by where our society is headed and in particular as regards the recently enacted hoops one must jump through to maintain employment.
One of the things that's easy to notice about the tenure culture from the outside is everything said has been preceded by an habitual 'radar out' calculation of 'how is the comment going to be received.' If you didn't know how to do that, you would have been running a big risk of not getting tenure. Accordingly, people who do that clumsily or don't even bother with it are not respected or at the very least not real members of the community. Accordingly, the political sensibility of the majority is a big deal.

Re: your workplace
Let me take a guess. There question was something like 'why is it appropriate to say "justice was not served by the Chauvin verdict; justice would be George Floyd at home with his kids" when we know that Floyd did not choose to live with his kids?' (Heck, he's rumored to have fathered five children, but the media, who so loves the 'George Floyd, family man' narrative can only name three -- where are the rest?) And the answer is "so that means he deserved to be suffocated on the pavement."  They could have said 'all right; it's true, Floyd was not a family man in the way that the media are portraying him.' And Carlson would give them credit for admitting that. There's a reason people listen to Carlson. He sees the same bullshit they see. Y'all don't have to give him so much power.
'George Floyd the devoted family man' would be harmless flattery and hyperbole if it weren't for the fact that these things are quickly and willfully used to sort us into one camp or another and then draw swords. They become an ultimatum. 'You but this or you are a racist right wing kook.'
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: Sun_Worshiper on May 01, 2021, 09:36:03 AM
What to do if a certain poster ruins the forum by turning every thread (including this one) into a white grievance thread with posts that are redundant, evidence free, and often unrelated to the thread subject?

Sometimes when my dog is wound up I let her zoom around the yard until she's tired out; but we also don't let her on the nice furniture. Perhaps there is a parallel here: Forumites should collectively agree to let wound up posters with nothing interesting to say run around until they run out of steam, but perhaps there should be some rules as well to contain these posts in the parts of the forum where they are appropriate.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: eigen on May 01, 2021, 09:56:08 AM
Hmm...slow day for the fora. It can't be that one wise guy adjunct with no terminal degree like me has such power....??

Well, when you bake the words "liberal elite" into the title of a thread, you're showing your hand.

I have regular meetings at the college level. I get Tucker-Carlson-esque "I'm Just Asking A Question Is That So Wrong?" five times a day. I don't have to engage with that here.

To be fair, that title was on me. I was splitting those posts out of a thread where they didn't belong, and that seemed like the most applicable title based on the first post.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: eigen on May 01, 2021, 09:59:28 AM
What to do if a certain poster ruins the forum by turning every thread (including this one) into a white grievance thread with posts that are redundant, evidence free, and often unrelated to the thread subject?

Sometimes when my dog is wound up I let her zoom around the yard until she's tired out; but we also don't let her on the nice furniture. Perhaps there is a parallel here: Forumites should collectively agree to let wound up posters with nothing interesting to say run around until they run out of steam, but perhaps there should be some rules as well to contain these posts in the parts of the forum where they are appropriate.

Just a reminder to our gentle forum users that the ignore feature is a thing that exists.

If particular posters raise your blood pressure, you can ignore them.

You can also choose to just read on past what they say.

I do wish that some of our community members would stick to thread topics a bit more rather than disrupting with whatever their pet topic is, but honestly it takes multiple people to disrupt a thread. If everyone ignores disruptions rather than responding to it, the disruption is minimal.

So as convenient as it is to blame a specific person as a "troll".... The disruption occurs when we let ourselves be trolled by responding. If you feed the trolls, you're continuing the issue.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: Sun_Worshiper on May 01, 2021, 10:26:26 AM
What to do if a certain poster ruins the forum by turning every thread (including this one) into a white grievance thread with posts that are redundant, evidence free, and often unrelated to the thread subject?

Sometimes when my dog is wound up I let her zoom around the yard until she's tired out; but we also don't let her on the nice furniture. Perhaps there is a parallel here: Forumites should collectively agree to let wound up posters with nothing interesting to say run around until they run out of steam, but perhaps there should be some rules as well to contain these posts in the parts of the forum where they are appropriate.

Just a reminder to our gentle forum users that the ignore feature is a thing that exists.

If particular posters raise your blood pressure, you can ignore them.

You can also choose to just read on past what they say.

I do wish that some of our community members would stick to thread topics a bit more rather than disrupting with whatever their pet topic is, but honestly it takes multiple people to disrupt a thread. If everyone ignores disruptions rather than responding to it, the disruption is minimal.

So as convenient as it is to blame a specific person as a "troll".... The disruption occurs when we let ourselves be trolled by responding. If you feed the trolls, you're continuing the issue.

You are right that it takes two to tango and that it is the problem is exacerbated when posters feed the troll. But people seem not to be able to help themselves.

And my blood pressure is fine these days. I was just making a suggestion about how a little modding could improve the forum experience. But if the mod philosophy is laissez-faire here then so be it - that approach has its merits.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: marshwiggle on May 01, 2021, 10:32:58 AM

So as convenient as it is to blame a specific person as a "troll".... The disruption occurs when we let ourselves be trolled by responding. If you feed the trolls, you're continuing the issue.

You are right that it takes two to tango and that it is the problem is exacerbated when posters feed the troll. But people seem not to be able to help themselves.


One thing I do when I feel I'm getting overly sucked into a slanging match with someone else is to forbid myself responding until at least one other person has responded. Then, if there are only two of us who actually care enough to argue, it will stop at that point.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: eigen on May 01, 2021, 10:35:31 AM
What to do if a certain poster ruins the forum by turning every thread (including this one) into a white grievance thread with posts that are redundant, evidence free, and often unrelated to the thread subject?

Sometimes when my dog is wound up I let her zoom around the yard until she's tired out; but we also don't let her on the nice furniture. Perhaps there is a parallel here: Forumites should collectively agree to let wound up posters with nothing interesting to say run around until they run out of steam, but perhaps there should be some rules as well to contain these posts in the parts of the forum where they are appropriate.

Just a reminder to our gentle forum users that the ignore feature is a thing that exists.

If particular posters raise your blood pressure, you can ignore them.

You can also choose to just read on past what they say.

I do wish that some of our community members would stick to thread topics a bit more rather than disrupting with whatever their pet topic is, but honestly it takes multiple people to disrupt a thread. If everyone ignores disruptions rather than responding to it, the disruption is minimal.

So as convenient as it is to blame a specific person as a "troll".... The disruption occurs when we let ourselves be trolled by responding. If you feed the trolls, you're continuing the issue.

And my blood pressure is fine these days. I was just making a suggestion about how a little modding could improve the forum experience. But if the mod philosophy is laissez-faire here then so be it - that approach has its merits.

Mod policy here is based on the will of the community, it's not a "top down" approach where mods decide what the rules are. There seems to be no consistent interest in more active moderation, and quite a bit of distrust of it- so we have a laissez-faire approach. If the community as a whole decides they want that to change, we will change accordingly.

The rule discussions are open to the whole board, as is the moderation policy discussion.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: eigen on May 01, 2021, 10:36:37 AM

So as convenient as it is to blame a specific person as a "troll".... The disruption occurs when we let ourselves be trolled by responding. If you feed the trolls, you're continuing the issue.

You are right that it takes two to tango and that it is the problem is exacerbated when posters feed the troll. But people seem not to be able to help themselves.


One thing I do when I feel I'm getting overly sucked into a slanging match with someone else is to forbid myself responding until at least one other person has responded. Then, if there are only two of us who actually care enough to argue, it will stop at that point.

That's a really good strategy. There's another forum I'm a part of that pops up a notification if you respond to the same person 3 times in a row, suggesting that if you're only going back and forth with one person, private messages is more appropriate than a forum discussion.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: Parasaurolophus on May 01, 2021, 11:08:09 AM
I'll readily admit that I'm hesitant to let some things go if they've not yet been addressed in a thread, because I worry that doing so shows tacit or even widespread support for what's being said. There's a balance to be struck, and I'm not good at finding it. (It's also somewhat ironic that for a place where so many adopt the "more speech" defence of free speech, so many also advocate silence!) That said...



One thing I do when I feel I'm getting overly sucked into a slanging match with someone else is to forbid myself responding until at least one other person has responded. Then, if there are only two of us who actually care enough to argue, it will stop at that point.

That's a good idea. I'll try to practice it myself.



But if the mod philosophy is laissez-faire here then so be it - that approach has its merits.

As you probably know, I'm on Team More Active Modding. But, as eigen explained, we've not found much support for that here yet, so for now our duties primarily consist of rejecting spammer registrations. I'm all for it, but not without significant demand for it.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: downer on May 01, 2021, 12:36:33 PM
How do people know what mod policies there is community support for? Has there been a poll?
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: eigen on May 01, 2021, 01:04:16 PM
How do people know what mod policies there is community support for? Has there been a poll?

The discussion started on the old forums before the move. There hasn't been a poll, but there are threads with discussion, proposals, and worries. I had proposed policies that had a more substantial code of conduct than "no personal attacks" but that was shot down pretty vocally, and there was never support expressed for it that I recall.

That said, you can see (or continue) the discussion in these two threads. They both pick up from where our discussions on the old forums left off, but those are sadly no longer available to us.

Moderation Discussion: https://thefora.org/index.php?topic=5.0
Fora Rules: https://thefora.org/index.php?topic=4.0

Both of which are in this forum, stickied.

I've also asked for feedback on what is and isn't working for people at both our 1-year and 2-year anniversaries (just past) and so far have had no one reach out to suggest changes to our moderation policies.

I see people bring it up in threads, but absent any real discussion in the places that ask for it, it seems fleeting and doesn't outweigh the exiting discussion.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: Parasaurolophus on May 01, 2021, 01:18:32 PM
At one point I also invited people to contact me directly if they would like to say something but remain anonymous, and there were no takers at the time.

I've had a few PMs that suggest some people want more, but nothing more substantive than that.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: eigen on May 01, 2021, 01:31:32 PM
At one point I also invited people to contact me directly if they would like to say something but remain anonymous, and there were no takers at the time.

I've had a few PMs that suggest some people want more, but nothing more substantive than that.

Same.

I'll also note that I'm trying to distance my personal feelings from the discussions, since there (could be) a perceived feeling that since I'm the forum administrator and could unilaterally do things, my feelings matter more.

In fact, I've gotten accusations of being a tyrant and trying to block free speech and other such things before, not to mention conspiracy theories (PMs and otherwise) that I'm secretly banning people and removing posts. When I suggested a more robust code of conduct the comments were more along the lines of "why are you trying to ruin the forums, we've never needed that before". Although from talking to some of the old moderators, there used to be more heavy handed moderation they just did it quietly and no one knew about it.

But I'll happily take suggestions and, as in the threads above, collate member feedback into something cohesive.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: marshwiggle on May 01, 2021, 01:49:22 PM

But I'll happily take suggestions and, as in the threads above, collate member feedback into something cohesive.

If there is any feedback in favour of more moderation, I'd be curious to hear the rationale, given that:
I support action on personal attacks, but beyond that, given the two points above, it's not clear what the purpose is.

In a (physical) newspaper, for instance, because there is a real limit on space, letters to the editor sections have to be limited, so there are often policies like word limits, and one letter every X weeks by any one person. Those measures prevent someone very vocal from potentially blocking other people from expressing their views. But in a forum like this, there's no way that one person expressing views can prevent anyone else from presenting opposing views.  Certain views may be repeated ad nauseum, but again the two factors listed above make that at worst an inconvenience.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: mahagonny on May 02, 2021, 06:27:57 AM
I'll readily admit that I'm hesitant to let some things go if they've not yet been addressed in a thread, because I worry that doing so shows tacit or even widespread support for what's being said. There's a balance to be struck, and I'm not good at finding it. (It's also somewhat ironic that for a place where so many adopt the "more speech" defence of free speech, so many also advocate silence!) That said...

That's how they got tenure. By STFU'ing until they have something popular to say.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: Caracal on May 02, 2021, 01:08:47 PM

But I'll happily take suggestions and, as in the threads above, collate member feedback into something cohesive.

If there is any feedback in favour of more moderation, I'd be curious to hear the rationale, given that:
  • bits are essentially free
  • there's an "ignore" function


I think the issue is that when you have a very bare bones set of rules, you end up allowing a lot of unpleasant and inappropriate behavior and only taking action when things have already escalated. If you call someone a liar (my bad...) we can all agree that's a personal attack. But what about accusations that people who disagree with you have evil motives? Or vague, unsupported claims that other people lack the knowledge to participate in a conversation. I'd argue that in some forms things like that are personal attacks, just coded ones. If you look at the threads that tend to go south, often its because you see that sort of stuff going on early.

Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: Caracal on May 02, 2021, 01:19:32 PM
At one point I also invited people to contact me directly if they would like to say something but remain anonymous, and there were no takers at the time.

I've had a few PMs that suggest some people want more, but nothing more substantive than that.

Same.

I'll also note that I'm trying to distance my personal feelings from the discussions, since there (could be) a perceived feeling that since I'm the forum administrator and could unilaterally do things, my feelings matter more.

In fact, I've gotten accusations of being a tyrant and trying to block free speech and other such things before, not to mention conspiracy theories (PMs and otherwise) that I'm secretly banning people and removing posts. When I suggested a more robust code of conduct the comments were more along the lines of "why are you trying to ruin the forums, we've never needed that before". Although from talking to some of the old moderators, there used to be more heavy handed moderation they just did it quietly and no one knew about it.

But I'll happily take suggestions and, as in the threads above, collate member feedback into something cohesive.

Would there be any interest in some form of working group where people who were interested in a clearer set of rules formulated some sort of preliminary code of conduct, then examined posts over some period of time and discussed posts to test and tweak a code? It seems like these discussions always get bogged down in these really broad questions and fears that any code would stifle free discussion, without trying to actually look at what we would want to try to prohibit and what would we would want to allow.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: dismalist on May 02, 2021, 01:28:37 PM

But I'll happily take suggestions and, as in the threads above, collate member feedback into something cohesive.

If there is any feedback in favour of more moderation, I'd be curious to hear the rationale, given that:
  • bits are essentially free
  • there's an "ignore" function
I support action on personal attacks, but beyond that, given the two points above, it's not clear what the purpose is.

...

Agreed. Personal attacks aside, there is no need for more intense moderation given the ignore function.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: marshwiggle on May 02, 2021, 01:42:17 PM
I think the issue is that when you have a very bare bones set of rules, you end up allowing a lot of unpleasant and inappropriate behavior and only taking action when things have already escalated.

"Unpleasant" is a much lower bar than "inappropriate"; anyone saying something someone else disagrees with could be called "unpleasant".

Depending on what it means, "inappropriate" could be more useful.

Quote
If you call someone a liar (my bad...) we can all agree that's a personal attack. But what about accusations that people who disagree with you have evil motives? Or vague, unsupported claims that other people lack the knowledge to participate in a conversation.

Popular culture does this all the time, such as with the suggestion that someone's "lived experience" gives them an authority that another person cannot match, regardless of the evidence, logic, etc. of any statement they make.

Quote
I'd argue that in some forms things like that are personal attacks, just coded ones.

"Coded" is very subjective. Anyone who is old enough will remember back in the 70's all of the rock and roll albums that were supposed to contain "coded" messages, usually satanic, that could be "discovered" by playing the record backwards.

Would there be any interest in some form of working group where people who were interested in a clearer set of rules formulated some sort of preliminary code of conduct, then examined posts over some period of time and discussed posts to test and tweak a code? It seems like these discussions always get bogged down in these really broad questions and fears that any code would stifle free discussion, without trying to actually look at what we would want to try to prohibit and what would we would want to allow.

If anything were proposed, this idea of seeing how it would apply to existing posts would be useful. However, there are a couple of problems I see:

Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: dismalist on May 02, 2021, 01:45:51 PM
Anything other than prohibiting personal attacks opens the door to arbitrary and non-arbitrary censorship.

Wide use of the ignore function is to be encouraged.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: downer on May 02, 2021, 01:54:35 PM
I am not up for extra work.

It is all very much in a grey area.

There's been discussion here of trolling, but not so much of flaming and flame-baiting. None of these terms have clear definitions but they seem relevant.

Some places make a distinction between good faith and bad faith contributions to forums.

It's common to have a rule requiring politeness and respect towards other posters, which is a stronger requirement than "no flaming."

Some places have a "No Backseat Moderating" rule.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: mahagonny on May 02, 2021, 02:53:53 PM
How about this?  A lottery. The winner gets to delete a poster of their choice for one month.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: marshwiggle on May 03, 2021, 05:40:16 AM
Perhaps we need a bit of historical advice (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xpAvcGcEc0k) on this.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: Caracal on May 03, 2021, 07:09:04 AM
I guess this is what I mean. Some people seem to assume that a detailed set of rules is going to lead to unlimited power for mods and uneven enforcement. That doesn't really make sense. Right now, we have a very vague set of rules. If they were so inclined, the mods could choose to interpret rules like "no personal attacks," and "no bringing baggage from other threads," much more broadly. They aren't because they don't want to impose broad interpretations without a consensus.

That actually puts moderators in a position where they have to make more subjective calls. Para and Eigen can correct me if I'm wrong, but my impression is that they mostly only intervene when a thread is clearly spinning out of control and in those cases may take a slightly broader view of what is outside the bounds. If someone is sticking a toe over the line and everyone ignores the provocation, nothing happens. If someone gets angry and writes something clearly out of bounds, they may go back and give a warning to the toe sticker outer too.

We could actually make the mods calls less subjective with a clearer set of rules and I really think it wouldn't be that hard to craft rules that allowed for open and vigorous debate while curtailing bad behavior.

::Edited out a HUGE amount of white space. Eigen::
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: Sun_Worshiper on May 03, 2021, 08:03:27 AM
And volunteers can put it on their CV: Fora moderator policy working group (ad hoc)
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: eigen on May 03, 2021, 11:15:49 AM
I guess this is what I mean. Some people seem to assume that a detailed set of rules is going to lead to unlimited power for mods and uneven enforcement. That doesn't really make sense. Right now, we have a very vague set of rules. If they were so inclined, the mods could choose to interpret rules like "no personal attacks," and "no bringing baggage from other threads," much more broadly. They aren't because they don't want to impose broad interpretations without a consensus.

That actually puts moderators in a position where they have to make more subjective calls. Para and Eigen can correct me if I'm wrong, but my impression is that they mostly only intervene when a thread is clearly spinning out of control and in those cases may take a slightly broader view of what is outside the bounds. If someone is sticking a toe over the line and everyone ignores the provocation, nothing happens. If someone gets angry and writes something clearly out of bounds, they may go back and give a warning to the toe sticker outer too.

We could actually make the mods calls less subjective with a clearer set of rules and I really think it wouldn't be that hard to craft rules that allowed for open and vigorous debate while curtailing bad behavior.

::Edited out a HUGE amount of white space. Eigen::

I pretty much only step in when there's a report, and only at that point if it seems like it's egregious.

Our policy currently is that unless there is something that we really think needs to be handled immediately, that we discuss how to handle it so it's not a single person making the call.

We do very little "moderation", honestly.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: Caracal on May 03, 2021, 12:15:51 PM


::Edited out a HUGE amount of white space. Eigen::

See, free speech is being stifled!

Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: eigen on May 03, 2021, 12:48:51 PM


::Edited out a HUGE amount of white space. Eigen::

See, free speech is being stifled!

Oh no! I'm caught.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: dr_codex on May 03, 2021, 02:30:46 PM


::Edited out a HUGE amount of white space. Eigen::

See, free speech is being stifled!

Oh no! I'm caught.

Music is the space between the notes.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: Ruralguy on May 03, 2021, 05:08:28 PM
Until very recently, I think there was a lot of baggage carried over from other threads. I would prefer to see that stopped in its tracks, but I suppose we the people can exert pressure when we see it.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: mleok on May 07, 2021, 01:41:27 PM
there's an "ignore" function

Wait, there's an ignore function? How do you activate it?
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: Puget on May 07, 2021, 01:45:03 PM
there's an "ignore" function[/li][/list]

Wait, there's an ignore function? How do you activate it?
Not intuitive--
Profile (click on it, not anything in its menu)-->Modify Profile menu--> Buddies/Ignore List.
Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
Post by: Caracal on May 07, 2021, 04:18:10 PM
    there's an "ignore" function[/li][/list]

    Wait, there's an ignore function? How do you activate it?
    Not intuitive--
    Profile (click on it, not anything in its menu)-->Modify Profile menu--> Buddies/Ignore List.

    I still wish there was a way to modify it so you actually didn't even see that a person had posted in a thread. As it is, its like a little voice saying "don't you want to just see what terrible thing that person wrote? Don't you?"
    Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
    Post by: mleok on May 07, 2021, 11:25:29 PM
      there's an "ignore" function[/li][/list]

      Wait, there's an ignore function? How do you activate it?
      Not intuitive--
      Profile (click on it, not anything in its menu)-->Modify Profile menu--> Buddies/Ignore List.

      Okay, thanks. On some other forums, there is an option to add a person to the ignore list when you click on their profile.
      Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
      Post by: mamselle on May 08, 2021, 05:27:46 AM
      Or, you can just...ignore them.

      Don't open threads they start.
      Scroll past their moniker whenever you see it.
      Don't ever engage with them (or very, very rarely)
      Don't answer their posts.
      Abandon threads they take over, even if they're threads you started.

      Ignore them, unless there's a true cry for help, an honest effort to confront their own issues, or a noteworthy, generous, genuinely empathic response on their part to someone in pain.

      Reinforce those.

      But otherwise, avoid them the way you'd avoid you ex when  you realize they've turned up at a wedding you didn't know they'd been invited to.

      You're done with them. Nothing left to say. Move on.

      M.
      Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
      Post by: mahagonny on May 08, 2021, 06:51:19 AM
      Or, you can just...ignore them.

      Don't open threads they start.
      Scroll past their moniker whenever you see it.
      Don't ever engage with them (or very, very rarely)
      Don't answer their posts.
      Abandon threads they take over, even if they're threads you started.

      Ignore them, unless there's a true cry for help, an honest effort to confront their own issues, or a noteworthy, generous, genuinely empathic response on their part to someone in pain.

      Reinforce those.

      But otherwise, avoid them the way you'd avoid you ex when  you realize they've turned up at a wedding you didn't know they'd been invited to.

      You're done with them. Nothing left to say. Move on.

      M.

      But...if I ignore them then I can't complain about them. Why can't I have both?
      Title: Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
      Post by: lightning on May 08, 2021, 11:56:48 AM
      Or, you can just...ignore them.

      Don't open threads they start.
      Scroll past their moniker whenever you see it.
      Don't ever engage with them (or very, very rarely)
      Don't answer their posts.
      Abandon threads they take over, even if they're threads you started.

      Ignore them, unless there's a true cry for help, an honest effort to confront their own issues, or a noteworthy, generous, genuinely empathic response on their part to someone in pain.

      Reinforce those.

      But otherwise, avoid them the way you'd avoid you ex when  you realize they've turned up at a wedding you didn't know they'd been invited to.

      You're done with them. Nothing left to say. Move on.

      M.

      This works, and it can be entertaining to see their agonized follow-up posts when no one is engaging with them, as the only agency that they have in their pathetic world has been stripped from them.

      Unfortunately, this only makes some of them say things that are even more stupid and more outlandish in order to get any engagement--saying stuff that is so outlandish that no one could possibly sit back and allow the poster to go unchallenged.

      When a moronic poster is obviously at this point of saying outlandish stuff just to get an engagement, I don't think it's inappropriate to boot someone like that from the fora, for the sake of the fora itself.