227. Your Help Needed Defining Rules of New Skeptiko Forum

Status
Not open for further replies.
I can't add much to what everybody's been saying. Creating a "safe harbor" in order to facilitate civility between paranormalists and anti-paranormalists is, of course, a great idea. But what happens when the sea gets choppy? Free speech is free speech, sarcasm is sarcasm, and hate speech is hate speech. Drawing lines between these various modes of self-expression must be a very difficult thing. Just an obvious hunch: there's a difference between insulting an idea and insulting the holder of that idea. Moderators should call a halt when posters get personal with other posters - but not necessarily when posters simply get sarcastic with other posters' claims and ideas.
A couple things for readers (this is not a direct reply, so don't read this as one):

1) This forum is a part of the Internet, not the U.S.A. There is no "free speech" protection. That is what moderation is for. We are looking for intelligent discussion on science and spirituality, that's it. Anything else, unless it has some other appealing quality, may disappear.
2) Personal posts are always off-limits, but so are inflammatory posts, even if they constrain themselves to claims and ideas. There may be slightly more leniency with one than the other, but I wouldn't bet on it.
3) Sarcasm is not an appealing mode of expression. One problem is that it comes across as careless. Another is that it is not honest. Dishonest posting is frowned upon. Having said that, there are examples of sarcasm that would probably be fine, but again, I'd be careful to avoid sarcasm that you think has the real potential to annoy someone else. This isn't a hard rule, just something that is covered by the four rules Alex posted in the rules thread.

AP
 
Not a fan of the naked mole rat?
Well ok, I can change that (though I'm pretty sure that it's, like, my totem animal or something;))
As a general comment, I really dislike seeing grotesque or rude usernames and avatars. I didn't see yours so I can't comment on it, but Skeptiko is not designed around lowest common denominator ideals. To whoever posted it, I am still mulling the question about usernames. I prefer real names, but understand sometimes that may not be possible or advisable. Second opinions? We had some big problems with this on the other forum and I don't want to see it repeated.

On a related note, names like the following "ILG*T&*Y)PYPGVB" will not be approved simply because random character strings are obnoxious to type.

AP
 
Last edited:

Ian Gordon

Ninshub
Member
I posted this in the old forum but it's taking a while to get an answer:

I decided to join in under the new rule No. 2:
2) Be transparent... from your username to the content of your posts.

I asked for clarification as to what this means, especially regarding the username.

Is our real name or a portion of it required? Many members have joined in already using their regular nontransparent user names! ;)

Over the last few months, many forum members of the old forum got upset over what they perceived (justified or not) to be incoherence in the moderation in regards to the forum rules.

In the spirit of making a fresh start, I suggest any new rule be as clear as it can be, and applied.

So that in regard to rule No. 2, it should be clarified. If it stays vague, I don't think there's a point to it and I think it should be removed. In regards to the username, it should be spelled out what the intention is.

---

p.s. Ninshub here! (in case it wasn't obvious)
Any responses from Alex and Andy to this point? (Even if it's a minor one, maybe?) Alex, any thoughts?

(Edit: Oops, I see Andy just partially responded to it.)

@Michael L., I'm cool using this new username. It's close to my real name (Ian is my first name). When I first joined the Skeptiko forum, I noticed there were a lot of Ian's on it!
 
As a general comment, I really dislike seeing grotesque or rude usernames and avatars. I didn't see yours so I can't comment on it, but Skeptiko is not designed around lowest common denominator ideals. To whoever posted it, I am still mulling the question about usernames. I prefer real names, but understand sometimes that may not be possible or advisable. Second opinions? We had some big problems with this on the other forum and I don't want to see it repeated.

On a related note, names like the following "ILG*T&*Y)PYPGVB" will not be approved simply because random character strings are obnoxious to type.

AP
Is it possible to change a user name? Or does one have to start over? If it's a thing ya'll (Andy or Alex) can do, then I'd change mine to Reece.

(Mine, though I'm aware no one would ever get this, is a string from the first two initials of my three names Cl Re Su . . . but phonetically reminds me of Klaatu, the band that was alledegly The Beatles after The Bealtes broke up.)
 

Alex

Administrator
Alex, this is lifted directly from your homepage (the very first paragraph) "This podcast is a leading source for intelligent, hard-nosed skeptic vs. believer debate on science and spirituality. Each episode features lively discussion with leading researchers, thinkers, and their critics."

Additionally you mention that the science is controversial at the beginning of each episode. To stifle debate on the main podcast forum would seem contrary to the very aims of the project.
point taken... but there is another reality at play as well. check out:

The Sheldrake Wikipedia Biography Discussion

we need some boundaries on debate or it degrades into "that depends on what the meaning of 'is' is" kinda stuff.
 

Alex

Administrator
Any responses from Alex and Andy to this point? (Even if it's a minor one, maybe?) Alex, any thoughts?

(Edit: Oops, I see Andy just partially responded to it.)

@Michael L., I'm cool using this new username. It's close to my real name (Ian is my first name). When I first joined the Skeptiko forum, I noticed there were a lot of Ian's on it!
Hi Ian... transparency re user name is not a requirement, but it does set a different tone -- I'm a real person :)
 

Alex

Administrator
I can't add much to what everybody's been saying. Creating a "safe harbor" in order to facilitate civility between paranormalists and anti-paranormalists is, of course, a great idea. But what happens when the sea gets choppy? Free speech is free speech, sarcasm is sarcasm, and hate speech is hate speech. Drawing lines between these various modes of self-expression must be a very difficult thing. Just an obvious hunch: there's a difference between insulting an idea and insulting the holder of that idea. Moderators should call a halt when posters get personal with other posters - but not necessarily when posters simply get sarcastic with other posters' claims and ideas.
devil in details, eh.
 

Alex

Administrator
Is it possible to change a user name? Or does one have to start over? If it's a thing ya'll (Andy or Alex) can do, then I'd change mine to Reece.

(Mine, though I'm aware no one would ever get this, is a string from the first two initials of my three names Cl Re Su . . . but phonetically reminds me of Klaatu, the band that was alledegly The Beatles after The Bealtes broke up.)
done. Hi Reece :)
 

Ian Gordon

Ninshub
Member
3) Sarcasm is not an appealing mode of expression. One problem is that it comes across as careless. Another is that it is not honest. Dishonest posting is frowned upon. Having said that, there are examples of sarcasm that would probably be fine, but again, I'd be careful to avoid sarcasm that you think has the real potential to annoy someone else. This isn't a hard rule, just something that is covered by the four rules Alex posted in the rules thread.

AP
Completely agree on this point. Sarcasm also helps to contribute a tone of nastiness. One should try to disagree with another person's ideas, or the rhetoric and strategies that person is using, without resorting to sarcasm: it breeds misunderstanding and lack of clarity, lack of confidence in the good faith of the contributors, feelings of not being respected or having one's dignity attacked, and ultimately hostility. If the rules are still up to discussion (and I think this thread is what it's about), then I would suggest making it something close to a hard rule.

I don't want to pick anybody out. But the idea to respond to this post came to me looking at the old forum, and checking up on what my old buddy Bucky is up to on the skeptic movement is pseudoscience thread.

An example by

Originally Posted by Wayne J Denits


Ah, the Internet technique of link to verbose article in lieu of argument. Nice.

http://forum.mind-energy.net/skepti...-effectively-pseudoscience-12.html#post172130

Now admittedly this isn't the strongest example, or the meanest one, it's just one I came upon. But I'd argue it promotes the chance of hostility rather than a civil and respectful debate. A duller but more polite response could have been:

Sorry Frankmat (whom I dearly admire as a fellow human being and seeker - OK I can't resist a little humour, it doesn't have to be that sugar-coated) - but: Sorry Frankmat, but I think linking to a long article isn't a productive argument. (You see - for one thing, it requires interpretation - is Wayne J Denits saying what Frankmat is doing is lazy, is not a legitimate argument, is making him read an overly long article that perhaps isn't worth ultimately the bother?.So that the clarity suffers, in addition to creating a bad vibe.

My 2 cents on this point.
 

Ian Gordon

Ninshub
Member
Another idea, which I can understand if it gets shot down and if skeptics, or even proponents friendly to the skeptic-proponent exchange, find them unappealing.

Maybe there should be something akin to a Skeptiko Haven rule that doesn't allow flat out denial of evidence "strongly suggestive" of psi or survival, without getting to the specifics of a specific case and being ready to defend it. (Not that that would mean a skeptic of psi or survival is not allowed to present him as such - but to present his case on specific cases.) Would this be too harsh or constraining? I was proposing these ideas in the light of what appeared to be comments here about the changes that should be brought about, "what voices to include or exclude" (voices here not meaning specific members, but a type of expression or argumentation) according to the latest podcast, and to the change of heading to "intelligent discussion on science and spirituality" (which I find really nice).

To be more precise by way of illustration, someone coming and saying "Psi and survival are all bunk" and leaving at that would not be tolerated. But saying or implying that one happens to be skeptic of psi and/or survival and is expressly making a point about a specific case, would be welcomed.

Then perhaps a further point under consideration should be: should skeptics be allowed to say NDEs are bunk, or telepathy is bunk (subcategories of psi or surival), without also going into the specifics of a case. This may too constraining, off-putting, and I would respect that. I'm just throwing out ideas that I understand many skeptics might be uncomfortable with, but seeing if they have any worth.

There really are just 2 cents worth' and feel free to toss them.
.
 
Another idea, which I can understand if it gets shot down and if skeptics, or even proponents friendly to the skeptic-proponent exchange, find them unappealing.

Maybe there should be something akin to a Skeptiko Haven rule that doesn't allow flat out denial of evidence "strongly suggestive" of psi or survival, without getting to the specifics of a specific case and being ready to defend it. (Not that that would mean a skeptic of psi or survival is not allowed to present him as such - but to present his case on specific cases.) Would this be too harsh or constraining? I was proposing these ideas in the light of what appeared to be comments here about the changes that should be brought about, "what voices to include or exclude" (voices here not meaning specific members, but a type of expression or argumentation) according to the latest podcast, and to the change of heading to "intelligent discussion on science and spirituality" (which I find really nice).

To be more precise by way of illustration, someone coming and saying "Psi and survival are all bunk" and leaving at that would not be tolerated. But saying or implying that one happens to be skeptic of psi and/or survival and is expressly making a point about a specific case, would be welcomed.

Then perhaps a further point under consideration should be: should skeptics be allowed to say NDEs are bunk, or telepathy is bunk (subcategories of psi or surival), without also going into the specifics of a case. This may too constraining, off-putting, and I would respect that. I'm just throwing out ideas that I understand many skeptics might be uncomfortable with, but seeing if they have any worth.

There really are just 2 cents worth' and feel free to toss them.
.
This is one of those things that I think is already covered by the "respect other members" rule. I prefer leaving it as broad as that for moderating flexibility and to prevent our rules from starting to look they came from the IRS.

AP
 
I would add to the rules: No memes & Stay on topic.

And just to be frank, I have my privacy in higher regards than the transparency of this forum. And in all honesty, regarding the nature of the topic we are discussing, I don't see why aiming for transparency and real names is 'a thing' while knowing full well that such information can be harmful both professionally and personally. If you want to take a lesson out of the wikipedia battle, than that is that there are groups that are willing to do anything in their power to remove you from a position of influence. They are relentless and not to be underestimated. Rationality, reason and evidence should not be overestimated in how they change minds. If the main focus of this forum is going to be set up with the mindset 'to take on the fight' instead of 'creating a safe haven for psi related science' it would be a move in the futile direction for as far as I'm concerned. We have the last century to look back on and we can clearly see that the proponents have lost the battle. We lost. The 'war' however is still going on and what we need is a place to approach the psi-sciences rationally, with reason and pile up the evidence. That is what we need. In most other places we are screamed over and woo-woo'd away. The sole reason of self-protection should be enough to not go after transparency. And if the intention was to induce a more rational and reasonable attitude, together with a respect for the science and scientists in the field, then put that clearly in the rules. Don't use 'transparency' as a fuzzy detour to accomplish that effect.
 
I would add to the rules: No memes & Stay on topic.

And just to be frank, I have my privacy in higher regards than the transparency of this forum. And in all honesty, regarding the nature of the topic we are discussing, I don't see why aiming for transparency and real names is 'a thing' while knowing full well that such information can be harmful both professionally and personally. If you want to take a lesson out of the wikipedia battle, than that is that there are groups that are willing to do anything in their power to remove you from a position of influence. They are relentless and not to be underestimated. Rationality, reason and evidence should not be overestimated in how they change minds. If the main focus of this forum is going to be set up with the mindset 'to take on the fight' instead of 'creating a safe haven for psi related science' it would be a move in the futile direction for as far as I'm concerned. We have the last century to look back on and we can clearly see that the proponents have lost the battle. We lost. The 'war' however is still going on and what we need is a place to approach the psi-sciences rationally, with reason and pile up the evidence. That is what we need. In most other places we are screamed over and woo-woo'd away. The sole reason of self-protection should be enough to not go after transparency. And if the intention was to induce a more rational and reasonable attitude, together with a respect for the science and scientists in the field, then put that clearly in the rules. Don't use 'transparency' as a fuzzy detour to accomplish that effect.
Sorry Riesgo, this doesn't fly with me. I understand your concern, but on the other end of the spectrum we have guerrilla skeptics and trolls trying to invade Skeptiko daily. Using real names makes it more difficult for them even if it exposes everyone else a little more. I also don't like how some posters use anonymity as a weapon against other posters. Most of the people here have been responsible when it comes to that and I have no problem with them using aliases. This rule has nothing to do with the kind of concerns you mention. This is about ground level nuts and bolts problems. I don't want anonymous users tracking down real names of other anonymous posters and threatening to expose them. When that happened in the other forum, I was tempted to say that if anyone outed anyone else, then their email address would also be published, but that isn't a good idea either.

If you want anonymity, that is fine. If you establish a good reputation, then great. However, if people with anonymous names establish themselves as mischief-makers, and I am saying this generally, not to you specifically, then they may be asked to use their real names as a condition of continued posting.

AP
 
The thing about real names is they vary in their inherent anonymity. For example "Steve Smith" is not so easy to google as certain other names. In that sense, the idea of using real names is one which doesn't doesn't treat everyone with equal fairness.
 
The thing about real names is they vary in their inherent anonymity. For example "Steve Smith" is not so easy to google as certain other names. In that sense, the idea of using real names is one which doesn't doesn't treat everyone with equal fairness.
Alex, please weigh in on this. I prefer real names, but also don't mind when someone uses an alias as long as they don't abuse it. Arouet, OpenMind, and Bishop all fall into this category. Others have abused it and I don't like that at all. Personally, I'd like to leave this up to the users, but with the caveat that we strongly prefer real names. If they are fake and we can't tell, it won't matter unless we have some other reason to moderate your privileges.

AP
 
Sorry Riesgo, this doesn't fly with me. I understand your concern, but on the other end of the spectrum we have guerrilla skeptics and trolls trying to invade Skeptiko daily. Using real names makes it more difficult for them even if it exposes everyone else a little more. I also don't like how some posters use anonymity as a weapon against other posters. Most of the people here have been responsible when it comes to that and I have no problem with them using aliases. This rule has nothing to do with the kind of concerns you mention. This is about ground level nuts and bolts problems. I don't want anonymous users tracking down real names of other anonymous posters and threatening to expose them. When that happened in the other forum, I was tempted to say that if anyone outed anyone else, then their email address would also be published, but that isn't a good idea either.

If you want anonymity, that is fine. If you establish a good reputation, then great. However, if people with anonymous names establish themselves as mischief-makers, and I am saying this generally, not to you specifically, then they may be asked to use their real names as a condition of continued posting.

AP
I understand that being a moderator on a forum like this is a difficult one. You however already have tools to your disposal to address these problems. What worries me is that you want the removal of anonymity as an extra tool to combat the problems you knew were coming when you accepted this community role. A role for which, by the way, you have all my respect. But if exposing is the problem, which I agree that it is. Why solve it with further exposing people? Name one skeptic that would mind being 'publicly known' in the majority position going against what is perceived to be woo-woo. Who are you thinking you protect? We are a minority group in a minority position, we need the ability to keep our heads down. And what are these names going to give us extra what wasn't there in the old forum? We all know how rational the public skeptic figures that we do know by name are, we all know how reasonable they are... did being a public figure and knowing their names changed anything for them or for us? I would seriously reconsider thinking that 'transparency' is a solution for the problems that we face. What this idea here would be somewhat helpful towards is if we create another wiki, one in which credentials actually do matter. Then yes, I would be on your side about this. Here on this forum I want to explore, make mistakes, change my mind, etc. All the things that being anonymous allow me to do. And establishing a good reputation with you and others here is as simple as using common sense. Being respectful etc.

My privacy and my anonymity is my own responsibility, not yours or skeptiko's. I don't want anonymous posters tracking down my real name and exposing me. I don't see how your proposal is going to stop people from trying or succeeding. And I wouldn't be so thick as to blame you for when they do, that would be silly. It's not your responsibility. I appreciate your concerns, but those nuts and bolts are my nuts and bolts. All I expect of you is to keep this forum relatively free of trolls and mischief, ban the users that are crossing the line and I trust you in your judgement of where that line is.

edit: and going against the grain resulting in dislikes instead of discussion is also a nice indicator of a 'like/dislike' system not being helpful in a discussion forum at all. What do you want me to say here? Sorry that I protect mine, yours and others anonymity? I don't care what opinion you have, your privacy is a right not a gift.
 
Last edited:
I understand that being a moderator on a forum like this is a difficult one. You however already have tools to your disposal to address these problems. What worries me is that you want the removal of anonymity as an extra tool to combat the problems you knew were coming when you accepted this community role. A role for which, by the way, you have all my respect. But if exposing is the problem, which I agree that it is. Why solve it with further exposing people? Name one skeptic that would mind being 'publicly known' in the majority position going against what is perceived to be woo-woo. Who are you thinking you protect? We are a minority group in a minority position, we need the ability to keep our heads down. And what are these names going to give us extra what wasn't there in the old forum? We all know how rational the public skeptic figures that we do know by name are, we all know how reasonable they are... did being a public figure and knowing their names changed anything for them or for us? I would seriously reconsider thinking that 'transparency' is a solution for the problems that we face. What this idea here would be somewhat helpful towards is if we create another wiki, one in which credentials actually do matter. Then yes, I would be on your side about this. Here on this forum I want to explore, make mistakes, change my mind, etc. All the things that being anonymous allow me to do. And establishing a good reputation with you and others here is as simple as using common sense. Being respectful etc.

My privacy and my anonymity is my own responsibility, not yours or skeptiko's. I don't want anonymous posters tracking down my real name and exposing me. I don't see how your proposal is going to stop people from trying or succeeding. And I wouldn't be so thick as to blame you for when they do, that would be silly. It's not your responsibility. I appreciate your concerns, but those nuts and bolts are my nuts and bolts. All I expect of you is to keep this forum relatively free of trolls and mischief, ban the users that are crossing the line and I trust you in your judgement of where that line is.
First, this isn't my proposal, but after looking at it, I prefer non-anonymous users to anonymous users just as Alex does. If you look at my previous post, you'll see this isn't going to be enforced, but it is recommended. So please, stay anonymous.

Rude, nonsense, or offensive names will be moderated at their first appearance, but that is a separate issue.

My advice: don't worry about this.

AP
 
First, this isn't my proposal, but after looking at it, I prefer non-anonymous users to anonymous users just as Alex does. If you look at my previous post, you'll see this isn't going to be enforced, but it is recommended. So please, stay anonymous.

Rude, nonsense, or offensive names will be moderated at their first appearance, but that is a separate issue.

My advice: don't worry about this.

AP
I'll take that advice.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top