Author Topic: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community  (Read 9478 times)

Hibush

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Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
« Reply #120 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.

marshwiggle

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Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
« Reply #121 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?
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Caracal

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Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
« Reply #122 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.

eigen

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Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
« Reply #123 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.
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Caracal

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Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
« Reply #124 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.

marshwiggle

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Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
« Reply #125 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.
 
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eigen

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Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
« Reply #126 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.
Quote from: Caracal
Actually reading posts before responding to them seems to be a problem for a number of people on here...

Caracal

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Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
« Reply #127 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.


reverist

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Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
« Reply #128 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!

Caracal

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Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
« Reply #129 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.

mahagonny

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Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
« Reply #130 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.

marshwiggle

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Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
« Reply #131 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.
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Caracal

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Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
« Reply #132 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.

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marshwiggle

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Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
« Reply #133 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?
  • to women, if one does not call oneself a "feminist"?
  • to gay people, if one does not attend Pride parades?
  • to black people, if one does not say "black lives matter"?

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".

It takes so little to be above average.

stemer

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Re: Polly's Thoughts on Future of Our Community
« Reply #134 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.