Skeptiko Community Heart to Heart

#1
Hello All,

There is something that I'd like to get off my chest, and since maybe some of you also have similar thoughts and feelings, I thought it appropriate to share openly.

I'd like to discuss the forum and the quality of posting.

Unfortunately, I've noticed that the quality of posting has reduced quite substantially, at least in the past 3 months or so. There seems to be little to no moderation. I've seen people replying to their own posts with bizarre commentary when no-one responds to them. A flat earther has taken up residence in the forum and is now using it to spam their nonsense beliefs all over. There are constantly new bot/spam accounts popping up, starting new threads on products. And generally the level of discourse is approaching reddit levels of silly (my choice of analogy, others will probably have their own!).

I believe if the forum continues to degrade in this manner, then any sensible individual will take one look at the forum, and be put off. I'd even hazard to extend that, and suggest that it may put off podcast guests from participating in threads about their own interview.

I'd like to see better moderation (any?) because at the end of the day, I think the forum will suffer if it continues to be left unattended, so to speak, and people may just gravitate elsewhere.

Interested to hear what others think.


DD
 
#2
For moderation to work, you have to report problem posts.

I think the fundamental problem is that the podcast is offensive to atheists and Christians. Once you have alienated both of those groups you don't have a large enough pool of English speakers left from which to obtain forum posters.
 
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#3
I basically agree with DD.

I gave up moderating because Alex wanted me to moderate anonymously - as if that were even possible after years of my moderating using my name. I think a number of factors are wrecking this forum. Because I am not a moderator, I don't even bother with all the junk on the forum, but I realise that a serious person thinking of joining is instantly put off by flat earth type stuff.

1) Alex sees this place as a place to discuss his podcasts, whereas in the past there were loads of open threads in which all manner of psi-related discussions took place as well.

2) I have come to the conclusion that politics just don't mix well in a psi-forum. Yes there may well be a connection, but politics is just so polarising right now.

3) Alex isn't moderating much, and it shows. Serious discussions can just be drowned out by people posting frivolous stuff in the same thread. The ignore switch can help a bit if people know about it - also it is probably not available if you are a guest just perusing the forum.

4) I think all the podcasts related to really evil practices have put a lot of people off. I for one do not want to read about girls being raped, tortured or such like stuff. I respect people who read such material in order to bring people to justice, but otherwise it is just horrible.

I now post more here:

https://psiencequest.net/forums/index.php

as David001

That forum is slower than this place used to be, but most discussions are sensible. I don't know how they keep the noise down, because when this group split from Skeptiko some years ago, they seemed to want to operate with minimum moderation, and there is at least one idiot who I permanently banned while he was on Skeptiko.

My view is that forums need to be moderated just as dinner parties are moderated. If someone comes to a dinner party and is just a pain - he doesn't get asked again!

Moderation is a pretty thankless task!

David
 
#4
For moderation to work, you have to report problem posts.

I think the fundamental problem is that the podcast is offensive to atheists and Christians. Once you have alienated both of those groups you don't have a large enough pool of English speakers left from which to obtain forum posters.
Well in the past as moderator, I used to squash a lot of spam without waiting for anyone to complain.

I think there is a fair pool of non-religious people who are interested in psychic matters. However, as I said above, they don't want to plough through discussions that make them feel sick.

We currently have two 'wasted' entries in the top-level menu, and I think it would be a great start if these were re-activated but with new titles, such as:

Personal experiences

The non-materialisic roots of evolution.

David
 
#5
I know very well a couple of smart articulate people who left the forum a few years back because of all the conspiracy theory that weaves its way into almost every podcast and the forum discussions. These people are very interested in and well educated in consciousness studies/paranormal. They just couldn't take it any longer. They told me to stay away when I first started coming here because of it. I guess I took that as a challenge and decided to remain and argue against it all; not just for the sake of arguing, but because I truly find it to be low grade sophistry and a distraction from the value of the truly excellent paranormal podcasts and discussions. It also creates a certain atmosphere that attracts flat earth type nonsense.

I also had a private conversation with someone who still posts here, but has been labeled in a negative way and marginalized. This individual also eschews the conspiracy theory stuff and told me that a few years ago, before my arrival, that there were a lot more high quality commenters and that they were all purged for disagreeing with conspiracy theory material.

Nature abhors a vacuum. So the site gets filled with lower quality and lower volume.

Then I observed a lot of people left more recently over the political differences during the 2020 election and the run up to it and ensuing arguments. I don't know about the religious issues being an issue. I don't pay attention to any of that myself.

But mostly I find that the site and podcasts have become an insiders' club. You either buy into the fringe conspiracy world view or you're out of the club. There are a lot of people that are into the paranormal, but not conspiracy theories. They don't want that crap thrown in their faces every other podcast and in most every thread. If that's what Alex is into, then that's his choice, but I think it does have ramifications in the comments section.
 
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#6
I know very well a couple of smart articulate people who left the forum a few years back because of all the conspiracy theory that weaves its way into almost every podcast and the forum discussions. These people are very interested in and well educated in consciousness studies/paranormal. They just couldn't take it any longer. They told me to stay away when I first started coming here because of it. I guess I took that as a challenge and decided to remain and argue against it all; not just for the sake of arguing, but because I truly find it to be low grade sophistry and a distraction from the value of the truly excellent paranormal podcasts and discussions. It also creates a certain atmosphere that attracts flat earth type nonsense.

I also had a private conversation with someone who still posts here, but has been labeled in a negative way and marginalized. This individual also eschews the conspiracy theory stuff and told me that a few years ago, before my arrival, that there were a lot more high quality commenters and that they were all purged for disagreeing with conspiracy theory material.

Nature abhors a vacuum. So the site gets filled with lower quality and lower volume.

Then I observed a lot of people left more recently over the political differences during the 2020 election and the run up to it and ensuing arguments. I don't know about the religious issues being an issue. I don't pay attention to any of that myself.

But mostly I find that the site and podcasts have become an insiders' club. You either buy into the fringe conspiracy world view or you're out of the club. There are a lot of people that are into the paranormal, but not conspiracy theories. They don't want that crap thrown in their faces every other podcast and in most every thread. If that's what Alex is into, then that's his choice, but I think it does have ramifications in the comments section.
Eric, your thoughts are always appreciated and deep.
 
#7
For moderation to work, you have to report problem posts.

I think the fundamental problem is that the podcast is offensive to atheists and Christians. Once you have alienated both of those groups you don't have a large enough pool of English speakers left from which to obtain forum posters.
Thing is Jim, I report a post, and nothing happens.

That's because literally no-one is moderating the forums apart from Alex, and he is hardly on. He already said to just 'ignore' them when I messaged him.

I don't think that works because we are seeing what we are seeing now.
 
#9
Hello All,

There is something that I'd like to get off my chest, and since maybe some of you also have similar thoughts and feelings, I thought it appropriate to share openly.

I'd like to discuss the forum and the quality of posting.

Unfortunately, I've noticed that the quality of posting has reduced quite substantially, at least in the past 3 months or so. There seems to be little to no moderation. I've seen people replying to their own posts with bizarre commentary when no-one responds to them. A flat earther has taken up residence in the forum and is now using it to spam their nonsense beliefs all over. There are constantly new bot/spam accounts popping up, starting new threads on products. And generally the level of discourse is approaching reddit levels of silly (my choice of analogy, others will probably have their own!).

I believe if the forum continues to degrade in this manner, then any sensible individual will take one look at the forum, and be put off. I'd even hazard to extend that, and suggest that it may put off podcast guests from participating in threads about their own interview.

I'd like to see better moderation (any?) because at the end of the day, I think the forum will suffer if it continues to be left unattended, so to speak, and people may just gravitate elsewhere.

Interested to hear what others think.


DD
The solution to the plight you are apparently experiencing is simple: select what to read, choose what and with whom to debate, decide on what threads and in what company to spend your time. I, for example, never pay even a passing visit to the threads dedicated to moral panics and witch-hunts (e.g., all that has to do with Alex's and many others' here obsession with a modern-Western-sex-taboo-centered, flight-of-fantasy version of "evil"). I don't give a damn what is being written and debated there. All this hysteria is happily a transient phenomenon anyway. It is doomed to fade and fail as the historical develpoment of the sexual attitudes of the Western society will inevitably come to the end of its current reactionary, restrictive and repressive - and willigly blind to empirical evidence and rational argumentation contradicting its vehemently held basic assertions - moralistic phase and once again strat moving forward to an progressive, egalitarian and liberatory - and open to evidential and argumentative debate - ethical ideal; an ideal toward that it was already actively moving just a few decades ago. I hope, I am young enough (35 years old) to be able to witness this turn for the better myself one day. But I'm not willing to sacrifice myself to the punitive fervour right here and now - what is the sense of doing this? It won't help.

You are well-advised to do the same concerning the topics you yourself evaluate negatively, such as Flat Earth theory. Wesley, for example, are now apparently left alone on the Moon Hoax thread, where he is busy debating himself. Wish him a good time, then leave him be. You won't be able to talk him out of his Flat Earth world-picture, I won't be able to talk moral panickers out of their moral panic - as well as they won't be able to talk you out of your worldview, and me out of mine. Only problems for yourself will come from the attempts to engage, and no good fruits; so, just move further and to the better places - here on Skeptiko, one can always find a better topic to debate and better people to debate with.

Just remember: Wesley's Flat Earth perspective is as inevitably doomed to fail, historically, as the moralistic witch-hunts: as more people will visit space theselves - "space tourism" is now just in its infancy, but in the future it will become a massive phenomenon. Then, Flat Earth worldview will become increasingly forgotten and ultimately will disappear. And, if compared to the damage that moral panic and moral panickers may (and do) bring to the world, it is actually quite harmless...
 
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#10
The solution to the plight you are apparently experiencing is simple: select what to read, choose what and with whom to debate, decide on what threads and in what company to spend your time. I, for example, never pay even a passing visit to the threads dedicated to moral panics and witch-hunts (e.g., all that has to do with Alex's and many others' here obsession with a modern-Western-sex-taboo-centered, flight-of-fantasy version of "evil"). I don't give a damn what is being written and debated there. All this hysteria is happily a transient phenomenon anyway. It is doomed to fade and fail as the historical develpoment of the sexual attitudes of the Western society will inevitably come to the end of its current reactionary, restrictive and repressive - and willigly blind to empirical evidence and rational argumentation contradicting its vehemently held basic assertions - moralistic phase and once again strat moving forward to an progressive, egalitarian and liberatory - and open to evidential and argumentative debate - ethical ideal; an ideal toward that it was already actively moving just a few decades ago. I hope, I am young enough (35 years old) to be able to witness this turn for the better myself one day. But I'm not willing to sacrifice myself to the punitive fervour right here and now - what is the sense of doing this? It won't help.

You are well-advised to do the same concerning the topics you yourself evaluate negatively, such as Flat Earth theory. Wesley, for example, are now apparently left alone on the Moon Hoax thread, where he is busy debating himself. Wish him a good time, then leave him be. You won't be able to talk him out of his Flat Earth world-picture, I won't be able to talk moral panickers out of their moral panic - as well as they won't be able to talk you out of your worldview, and me out of mine. Only problems for yourself will come from the attempts to engage, and no good fruits; so, just move further and to the better places - here on Skeptiko, one can always find a better topic to debate and better people to debate with.

Just remember: Wesley's Flat Earth perspective is as inevitably doomed to fail, historically, as the moralistic witch-hunts: as more people will visit space theselves - "space tourism" is now just in its infancy, but in the future it will become a massive phenomenon. Then, Flat Earth worldview will become increasingly forgotten and ultimately will disappear. And, if compared to the damage that moral panic and moral panickers may (and do) bring to the world, it is actually quite harmless...
I don't like the implication that you consider the 'evil' topics to be just the result of moral panic - is that really what you meant?

Yes people can skip over the stuff they don't like, but the podcasts have been full of it, and that pushes out more interesting talks.

Remember that with Skeptiko as it is now, the podcasts and ensuing discussion is most of what goes on here.

Also new people see stuff they don't like and move on. It is like creating a forum devoted to gardening and putting on podcasts about detailed insect anatomy. Yes there is a link, but if people want a gardening podcast they go away.

David
 
#11
Yeah. It's all gone to pot, and a lot of that is to do, I think, with Alex's frequent dalliances with "3rd level" stuff. Honestly, half the time I have no idea what the heck he's talking about, or what he's trying to get at -- it's mostly mumbo jumbo to me.

He seems to assume that listeners are on his wavelength, so no explanations are required, and, what the heck, even if they are required (at least so it seems), he isn't that bothered about supplying them. He could effectively be restricting the audience to those deeply into conspiracy theories -- so perhaps it's no wonder that the level of comments we're getting is becoming weirder and weirder.

He rarely used to swear in podcasts, but it's become a regular thing. Not that I'm personally bothered per se by that, but it might be taken as a kind of signal that anything goes, so come on and comment and swear all you like, say whatever you like. Now and then, he still has the odd decent interview, which is why I'm still here, but by and large, imho, Skeptiko is gradually disappearing down the plughole.

It's quite sad, really. It's still fixable if Alex wants to fix it. But will he? I honestly don't know.
 
#12
The solution to the plight you are apparently experiencing is simple: select what to read, choose what and with whom to debate, decide on what threads and in what company to spend your time. I, for example, never pay even a passing visit to the threads dedicated to moral panics and witch-hunts (e.g., all that has to do with Alex's and many others' here obsession with a modern-Western-sex-taboo-centered, flight-of-fantasy version of "evil"). I don't give a damn what is being written and debated there. All this hysteria is happily a transient phenomenon anyway. It is doomed to fade and fail as the historical develpoment of the sexual attitudes of the Western society will inevitably come to the end of its current reactionary, restrictive and repressive - and willigly blind to empirical evidence and rational argumentation contradicting its vehemently held basic assertions - moralistic phase and once again strat moving forward to an progressive, egalitarian and liberatory - and open to evidential and argumentative debate - ethical ideal; an ideal toward that it was already actively moving just a few decades ago. I hope, I am young enough (35 years old) to be able to witness this turn for the better myself one day. But I'm not willing to sacrifice myself to the punitive fervour right here and now - what is the sense of doing this? It won't help.

You are well-advised to do the same concerning the topics you yourself evaluate negatively, such as Flat Earth theory. Wesley, for example, are now apparently left alone on the Moon Hoax thread, where he is busy debating himself. Wish him a good time, then leave him be. You won't be able to talk him out of his Flat Earth world-picture, I won't be able to talk moral panickers out of their moral panic - as well as they won't be able to talk you out of your worldview, and me out of mine. Only problems for yourself will come from the attempts to engage, and no good fruits; so, just move further and to the better places - here on Skeptiko, one can always find a better topic to debate and better people to debate with.

Just remember: Wesley's Flat Earth perspective is as inevitably doomed to fail, historically, as the moralistic witch-hunts: as more people will visit space theselves - "space tourism" is now just in its infancy, but in the future it will become a massive phenomenon. Then, Flat Earth worldview will become increasingly forgotten and ultimately will disappear. And, if compared to the damage that moral panic and moral panickers may (and do) bring to the world, it is actually quite harmless...
Thanks. Enjoyed that read. I think I can understand where you are coming from regarding the moralising. If I am understanding you correctly, you argue that perhaps especially in this online age, we should not continue to 'go after people' in the usual ways that people have done in the past, with respect to misinformation or even just peoples view points, regardless of right and wrong? As this only creates more of the same chaos that we have been experiencing worldwide?

If so, an interesting hypothesis. And in many ways, I agree and I think such ideas sounds good in an ideal world. But I also think I have to agree with Eric that overall that it really is true that nature abhors a vacuum, and that without constant 'pushback' to such silly misinformation, we basically signal to others (newcomers especially) on this forum that we are okay with low quality discourse.
 
#13
Yeah. It's all gone to pot, and a lot of that is to do, I think, with Alex's frequent dalliances with "3rd level" stuff. Honestly, half the time I have no idea what the heck he's talking about, or what he's trying to get at -- it's mostly mumbo jumbo to me.

He seems to assume that listeners are on his wavelength, so no explanations are required, and, what the heck, even if they are required (at least so it seems), he isn't that bothered about supplying them. He could effectively be restricting the audience to those deeply into conspiracy theories -- so perhaps it's no wonder that the level of comments we're getting is becoming weirder and weirder.

He rarely used to swear in podcasts, but it's become a regular thing. Not that I'm personally bothered per se by that, but it might be taken as a kind of signal that anything goes, so come on and comment and swear all you like, say whatever you like. Now and then, he still has the odd decent interview, which is why I'm still here, but by and large, imho, Skeptiko is gradually disappearing down the plughole.

It's quite sad, really. It's still fixable if Alex wants to fix it. But will he? I honestly don't know.
I agree with that, except that I think I would delete the word 'gradually' :(

One of the really sad things is that buried in this forum is a mass of interesting discussions and podcasts. It is such a waste.

David
 

Alex

Administrator
#15
1) Alex sees this place as a place to discuss his podcasts
correct. and I understand that some people would like more moderation. I'm up for doing this within the skeptiko shows node, but I don't want to do it in the other nodes so I'm going to close those down on 9/18/21.
 
#16
I just looked at reported posts i.e. "Reports." there were none from you.
Hi Alex,

I definitely clicked on that report button for Wesley. Must be an error somewhere in that case.

correct. and I understand that some people would like more moderation. I'm up for doing this within the skeptiko shows node, but I don't want to do it in the other nodes so I'm going to close those down on 9/18/21.
I'm guessing that you don't want the hassle of moderating and keeping the other forms online, and I get that, but I think you might loose a fair few of the community if you do so. That isn't some kind of emotional appeal or anything (well maybe a little!), but I think that's what will happen.

Obviously it's your forum man. You bear the costs and all that. You go after the guys for interviews and you produce the podcast. That's great. It's just that the community also like to discuss other things too. I know things evolve over time, and I'm guessing the forum is no different, but to get rid of everything pretty much bar the skeptiko shows section just seems a bit much. You feel me?

Is there no other alternative?

This is DB!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
 
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#17
Obviously it's your forum man. You bear the costs and all that. You go after the guys for interviews and you produce the podcast. That's great. It's just that the community also like to discuss other things too. I know things evolve over time, and I'm guessing the forum is no different, but to get rid of everything pretty much bar the skeptiko shows section just seems a bit much.
Well Alex bears the costs in a literal sense, but for example, I contributed many years of moderation here, and people like Rupert Sheldrake contributed their podcasts here, it is a bit myopic to simply look at who foots the bill.

@Alex

Skeptiko has, I think been your major life's work, and you must be known on every continent for what it contains. Nobody knows where Skeptiko might have gone, but I know damn well where it will go if you prune it as you plan.

You react as if you are angry at everyone for pointing out the error of your ways, but honestly we all loved Skeptiko and want to keep it as the force it once was.

David
 
#18
I am guessing you don't want the hassle of moderating and keeping the other forms online, and I get that, but I think you might loose a fair few of the community if you do so.
Actually it didn't normally take much effort because newcomers who simply misbehaved got chucked off, and most of the others knew what the rules were and more or less kept to them. People reported spam, and I just splatted that.

However, I'll let you into a little secret. When I stopped moderation I told Alex that I wanted to return to being an ordinary user because I felt that as a moderator I was responsible for what was permitted here. It turned out that Alex didn't know how to do that, so I have remained as a moderator in all but name! Just to prove the point I have made a small alteration to your most recent post.

My point is that I don't think Alex has much of a grip on this forum at all.

David
 
#19
Well Alex bears the costs in a literal sense, but for example, I contributed many years of moderation here, and people like Rupert Sheldrake contributed their podcasts here, it is a bit myopic to simply look at who foots the bill.
Of course David, didn't mean to downplay the time and effort you and others who have also contributed to the forum in the years gone by.

It's also a key point.


Just to prove the point I have made a small alteration to your most recent post.
Just to add a little bit of humour, I was reminded of this when I seen that.....


 
#20
Hello All,

There is something that I'd like to get off my chest, and since maybe some of you also have similar thoughts and feelings, I thought it appropriate to share openly.

I'd like to discuss the forum and the quality of posting.

Unfortunately, I've noticed that the quality of posting has reduced quite substantially, at least in the past 3 months or so.
DD
Hasn't it been much longer than 3 months? I still don't understand why you guys are upset about the flat-farther? He seems to fit right in with the kind of thinking here. I mean, you have Alex and Eric claiming, with a straight face, that anyone wearing masks during a pandemic on the advice of people who have the expertise to understand research and public health is a pawn/willing participant in a fascist takeover by Satanic/occult forces. Wesley actually looks pretty sane and rational by comparison.
 
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