Thoughts about the popularity of this forum

#1
Recently, a lot of people have discussed why this forum is less active than it used to be, and what might be done about it.

I think this is important, so I thought it was worth giving it a thread of its own.

I would encourage anyone who has posted on this subject recently to cut and paste their posts into this thread.

I really want this to be a serious discussion, so I reserve the right to remove frivolous or off topic discussions.

It isn't MOD+, so everyone can contribute.

David
 
#2
Forum rules that are impenetrable and ephemeral coupled with moderation that has a history of petulant, erratic, opaque and nonsensical decisions.
 
#3
Forum rules that are impenetrable and ephemeral coupled with moderation that has a history of petulant, erratic, opaque and nonsensical decisions.
I agree. The moderation has been either entirely absent (which I think is better) or stupid and arbitrary. And I'm talking about for many years, not just recently.
 
#4
I realise that some members have exactly the forum they always wanted. However, the intolerance of contrary viewpoints is never going to provide the vibrancy of robust debate and knock-about fun :)
 
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#5
Recently, a lot of people have discussed why this forum is less active than it used to be, and what might be done about it.

I think this is important, so I thought it was worth giving it a thread of its own.

I would encourage anyone who has posted on this subject recently to cut and paste their posts into this thread.

I really want this to be a serious discussion, so I reserve the right to remove frivolous or off topic discussions.

It isn't MOD+, so everyone can contribute.

David
These forums don't rank very high on Google for popular keywords that might drag in new users. Almost certainly part of the problem is a poor web site structure
 
#7
Finding out that analytical thinking is counterproductive to the pursuit of happiness has made me extremely reluctant to become involved in debates. I don't advocate eliminating analytical thinking, I do advocate keeping it in balance and cultivating empathic thinking. The idea is to avoid being out of balance, ie. being overly dependent on analytical thinking to the exclusion of empathic thinking..
 
#8
Finding out that analytical thinking is counterproductive to the pursuit of happiness has made me extremely reluctant to become involved in debates. I don't advocate eliminating analytical thinking, I do advocate keeping it in balance and cultivating empathic thinking. The idea is to avoid being out of balance, ie. being overly dependent on analytical thinking to the exclusion of empathic thinking..
I disagree with this. How do you cultivate empathic thinking without analytical thinking? Please help me to understand your rather incoherent idea.
 
#9
I agree. The moderation has been either entirely absent (which I think is better) or stupid and arbitrary. And I'm talking about for many years, not just recently.
Moderation is inevitably somewhat arbitrary, for one thing, it is up to everyone to report articles in order to kick the process off. Even legal processes often produce arbitrary results, I try to do my best, interfering as little as possible.

However, the old forum was initially very lightly moderated. It ran for a while, but gradually a few individuals simply ran riot and set about wrecking the place. Moderation made a huge difference. I think if all moderation stopped on this forum, roughly the same thing would happen - it would run OK for a bit and then get invaded by idiots!

David
 
#10
Finding out that analytical thinking is counterproductive to the pursuit of happiness has made me extremely reluctant to become involved in debates. I don't advocate eliminating analytical thinking, I do advocate keeping it in balance and cultivating empathic thinking. The idea is to avoid being out of balance, ie. being overly dependent on analytical thinking to the exclusion of empathic thinking..
I rather agree with this, in that there are some issues that I feel strongly about - 'Climate Change' being one example - but I now avoid because, yes, they make me frustrated and out of balance.

I think it might help if we treated most subjects not as arguments but as people stating their views without explicitly challenging others. There is a precedence for this. When we have a MOD+ thread about personal experiences, people don't challenge others experiences (on the whole), even if they may think that a certain experience wasn't too convincing.

David
 
#11
Moderation is inevitably somewhat arbitrary, for one thing, it is up to everyone to report articles in order to kick the process off. Even legal processes often produce arbitrary results, I try to do my best, interfering as little as possible.

However, the old forum was initially very lightly moderated. It ran for a while, but gradually a few individuals simply ran riot and set about wrecking the place. Moderation made a huge difference. I think if all moderation stopped on this forum, roughly the same thing would happen - it would run OK for a bit and then get invaded by idiots!

David
How about just managing/moderating the idiots?
 
#12
I know there are many who disagree with me on this point, but I think that a forum dies without opposing viewpoints, amongst it members. I've seen a fair share of forums who have died down after they kick-banned everyone who had an opposing view, of the subject discussed, on that particular forum. Having 50 people sitting around agreeing, and doing thumbs-up to each other, is hardly challenging or interesting in the long run. But a forum also dies when it is over-run as well, from either side. The trick is to keep it balanced.

I think the sub-forum "Critical Discussions Among Proponents and Skeptics", should be very loosely moderated - except from blatant abuse of course. Those who post a topic there should be prepared to have it challenged. If one wants to have a philosophic discussion, or sharing personal experiences, the rest of the forum is available. That is hardly an unfair deal for us proponents, is it?

And, as I've mentioned before; the confrontations from skeptics on this forum is like a flabby fart compared to the holocausts one encounters on many other forums, debating the paranormal. Skeptiko-forum is one of the nicest on the whole net. We could be far worse off.
 
#13
I rather agree with this, in that there are some issues that I feel strongly about - 'Climate Change' being one example - but I now avoid because, yes, they make me frustrated and out of balance.David
Amen, brother. The climate change gravy train carries on regardless of my and thousands of others' disagreement with it. So many things discussed here are like that, and after a while, it becomes frustrating to argue about them. As I've indicated elsewhere, I've already said pretty much everything I can say about them and it's tiring and pointless reiterating it over and over.

I feel that Alex's podcast has covered most topics, and some of his recent podcasts don't seem to be breaking new ground. That's not his fault, as there's only so much one can say about psi, but it does mean that there's less and less to comment about that we haven't already discussed. He's trying new approaches, and maybe he'll find one that works, you never know.

I agree that the Skeptiko Web site may be a little difficult for newbies to come to grips with, but each time I've tried to make suggestions to Alex, he doesn't seem to have been very responsive; perhaps he doesn't see it as I do, and perhaps even if he did and changed it, it wouldn't encourage many more comments.

I'm increasingly finding that the stimulus for me to respond is prompted by the postings of others--often including a video that sparks some new thought. That, as much as anything, is why I keep coming here, so thanks to those contributors who stimulate me in that way.
 
#14
Amen, brother. The climate change gravy train carries on regardless of my and thousands of others' disagreement with it. So many things discussed here are like that, and after a while, it becomes frustrating to argue about them. As I've indicated elsewhere, I've already said pretty much everything I can say about them and it's tiring and pointless reiterating it over and over.
The problem is, that we need to keep a resource that new people can connect with. It is like societies in the real world - people will drop away, but others will join. There is one new user right now - SciFiFanatic101 - who seems seriously keen to understand the issues and discuss them.

I don't think the subject is exhausted, but I'd sure like to see some of the topics we have covered, pulled together in some way. For example, I don't know what has happened to LoneShaman, but he contributed a mass of information about a range of subjects from problems with evolution theory through to some severe problems with standard cosmology. It would be great to have some easily accessible place where all the really good information is stored. For some reason, Alex is reluctant to alter the front page to provide a new section to quality must-read material, but I think this is part of the way forward.

I still feel frustrated that it isn't possible to pick up a book or a web page and read about a ψ technique, and try it successfully. Surely if we all pulled together we could devise something.

I don't want Skeptiko to be over!

David
 
#15
I think the replies so far may, unintentionally, show part of the problem. In some ways most people want the forum to be what they want it to be. Added to that is there are already many very large forums discussing these issues from what they see as a neutral stance although that stance is decidedly physicalist. Both those things make it tough for a smaller forum that wants to posit itself as neutral.

I think this forum could become one of the most effective and popular forums for those who have moved beyond thinking constrained by physicalism. But to do that there'd have to be a move to let go of the paean to neutrality.
 
#16
I think the sub-forum "Critical Discussions Among Proponents and Skeptics", should be very loosely moderated - except from blatant abuse of course. Those who post a topic there should be prepared to have it challenged. If one wants to have a philosophic discussion, or sharing personal experiences, the rest of the forum is available. That is hardly an unfair deal for us proponents, is it?
I agree with this, just so long as the rest of the forum, including "Other Stuff", is moderated. It might be worth actually labeling CD as "The Unmoderated Forum" (with the exception of spambots, moderate the hell out of those buggers wherever they show up).

I would like to see a reference sub-forum for videos and articles of interest. The thread on upcoming events could go in there as well. A Skeptiko youtube channel could include playlists of relevant videos. I do think Skeptiko needs a bigger youtube presence, with links to the forum embedded in the podcast videos.
 
#17
I know there are many who disagree with me on this point, but I think that a forum dies without opposing viewpoints, amongst it members.
I think you're incorrect - and correct.

If by opposing views you mean those who advocate physicalism then no - that isn't needed at all. That can be seen by the fact that the big physicalist forums are in no way hampered by keeping out other viewpoints. It's a very self-defeating approach to think that a site cannot thrive if it is dedicated to discourse focused solely on thingsbeyond physicalism.

But if you mean opposing viewpoints within "beyond physicalism" such as various opinions on what there is -then yeah I agree with you.

But TBH as you've mentioned CD (which is often a go nowhere exercise in wheel-spinning) I'm guessing that you mean the former.
 
#18
I think you're incorrect - and correct.

If by opposing views you mean those who advocate physicalism then no - that isn't needed at all. That can be seen by the fact that the big physicalist forums are in no way hampered by keeping out other viewpoints. It's a very self-defeating approach to think that a site cannot thrive if it is dedicated to discourse focused solely on thingsbeyond physicalism.

But if you mean opposing viewpoints within "beyond physicalism" such as various opinions on what there is -then yeah I agree with you.

But TBH as you've mentioned CD (which is often a go nowhere exercise in wheel-spinning) I'm guessing that you mean the former.
Yeah, I mean the former for the Critical Discussions-section. I know many think it's tedious to "battle" skeptics on every issue, but I think it is healthy to have ones own beliefs or theories challenged. Not for the purpose of maybe you changing your mind on it, but maybe to strengthen it by finding & adding arguments when it is challenged from another P.O.W . An angle that you might have missed, or never thought about.

I know though, that many here are "battle-weary" and believe you have covered every angle on every subject, that has to do with PSI & NDE's, at least 5 times already. And that you cant be arsed to go another "round in the ring" just to rehash "old news" - and that is fine. But there are new members here, many of whom just started out exploring these subjects, and like to have their thoughts tested.
 
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#19
Alex has to be true to his avuncular invitation at the end of every episode; the show threads must be open to all listeners who consume his output. Moderated as necessary.
 
#20
Yeah, I mean the former for the Critical Discussions-section. I know many think it's tedious to "battle" skeptics on every issue, but I think it is healthy to have ones own beliefs or theories challenged. Not for the purpose of maybe you changing your mind on it, but maybe for you to strengthen it by adding arguments from a P.O.W against it that you might have missed or not thought about.

I know though, that many here are "battle-weary" and believe you have covered all, and every, angle on every subject that has to do with PSI & NDE's at least 5 times already, and you cant be arsed to go another "round in the ring" just to rehash "old news" - and that is fine. But there are new members here, many of whom just started out exploring these subjects, and like to have their thoughts tested.
I think there would be less wheel spinning or the feeling of another "round in the ring" if there was no assumption of physicalism, one way or the other, in the CD section. What about giving that a try? Most of the "battle" seems to be centered around an idea nobody is arguing for anyways. If neither side feels like their wheels are spinning, I expect that the conversations would take on a different tenor. Maybe that would make it more attractive to new or lurking members?

Linda
 
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