A space for conversations in a time of global disruption
I recently deleted a music video that Wolfbird had posted on the forum, and asked him not to post any more on other people's threads .... and suggested that it would be better if he posted things like that on his blog page. In response he made a complaint on the Forum Moderation thread about me deleting his post. I had already been thinking of starting a discussion about the purpose of the forum and the difference between it and other parts of the site; now that Wolfbird has decided to make that public complaint, this seems a good time to start that discussion.
I consider that the way Wolfbird has been using the forum over the last few months makes it virtually unusable as a place for thoughtful discussion - which I regard as its primary purpose. He has been constantly posting music videos and links to things which happen to have caught his attention, regardless of whether they have any relevance to the thread they're posted in. Every time he (or anyone else) does that, anybody who is following the thread receives an e-mail notifying them of the post; with the amount of spam there is generally, it's likely people get irritated by being alerted to trivial posts which are clearly irrelevant, and therefore stop following the discussion.
I believe it's also very off-putting for people looking at the site for the first time. If they look at two or three active threads and see that the most recent posts are nearly all music videos or links to miscellaneous sites which have no obvious connection to the topic, they're likely to dismiss the forum out of hand and never see any of the more stimulating exchanges. In my view, that kind of posting behaviour is likely to deter both long-term members and newcomers; if there's too much noise on the forum, the people who are looking for thoughtful discussion don't have anywhere to engage in it.
However, this site does provide a place for posting videos, and it also gives every member their own blog page on which they can post (more or less) whatever they like (and it allows for others, who are interested in them, to be alerted when they do post something). In view of that, I don't see any reason to allow people to post links or videos to the forum other than ones which are clearly relevant to a discussion - they should be posted either to the video section or the member's own page. Unless someone can offer a good reason to allow it, I intend to treat that kind of posting behaviour as a form of spam, in which case anyone who persists with it after being asked to stop would be suspended.
Replies are closed for this discussion.
Wolfbird: "I note that you failed to address what I asked of you,...."
I wonder what you asked,.. will you tell us?
About Malcolm breaking his moderating rules - is it this rule you mean :
"I will only suspend someone, or delete posts (unless they're blatantly offensive), after receiving complaints from at least two members, .."
I don't know what Malcolm received, but I did in fact comment to you Wolfbird more than once. On what I perceive as excessive multi posting .... like give 'us' some time to resond,.. or you are drifting away from the topic. Others did too : Jeez! We can't keep up with you!
Maybe Malcolm read some of that and took it as 'received complaints.'
I also take that you do have more followers than the people that react. I myself followed you without reacting for the many interesting links you post. I did express to you my admiration and pure bafflement on you uncanny linking ability.
On first sight I receive Malcolm's post as a positive contribution to the functioning of the forum - by addressing the dominance of the one over the many.
Don't get me wrong Wolfbird. I would be sad, and might even leave the forum, if you were no longer here.
You inspire me to think and rethink again and again my understanding of this knowledge logos/ mythos thing, of 'cultural narratives' and more.
Also and maybe most important for me, your many fierce characterizations of my person and your indications of my mental abilities serve me very well as a cleansing agent for my ego.
But that's just me. This moderator post is about the functioning of the forum.
Wolfbird wrote: "I note that you failed to address what I asked of you, and instead slyly made the excuse that you had been thinking of asking us, all along"
I posted an answer to your question a minute or two after I'd started this discussion (I submitted the opening post here first so that I could link to it from my answer).
What I said about thinking of starting a discussion on the question was nothing more than a statement of fact; that's why my message to you contained a suggestion that you post things like that to your own blog page.
"You say people will be put off by receiving email notifications when I've posted music videos that don't interest them ?
Well, if it's that much of a nuisance, to anyone, they can click 'Stop Following'. "
Yes, Wolfbird, that's my point - I think that's exactly what they do. That's why I say that that kind of behaviour makes the forum unusable for thoughtful discussion.
"If new rules are to be decided, then they'll have to be accepted by everyone."
Actually, Wolfbird, they just have to be accepted by Dougald and Paul. I'm satisfied that my view of the purpose of the forum is in accordance with theirs, so I will moderate it to support that purpose. It might be different if there had been any discussion, in the last six months, about the members taking over responsibility for the site (as I suggested should happen in the discussions which took place while you were suspended), but nobody has shown any interest in that.
"I wish you'd all be more serious about what this forum is really about."
That's why I started this thread. As far as I'm concerned the forum is a space for discussion. If there were nowhere else on the site for sharing videos and links, it might be reasonable to post them here, but there is a section specifically for videos, and there is space for members' blogs. If you think you can provide some justification for posting them in the forum rather than in those other places then please offer it. But unless you can, I'm not going to allow it beyond the end of this month.
"If I stop posting, I expect it'll be just like before, the whole forum will dry up and die."
Going quiet isn't the same as dying. Thoughtful discussion can't happen in a noisy place, and it often includes long silences; the kind of forum which encourages it is bound to have long periods when nothing is posted. I don't think that's a problem for anyone except people who are primarily looking for entertainment.
Yes, Malcolm, they have to be decided by Dougald and Paul (if they can be arsed!)
"Yes, Malcolm, they have to be decided by Dougald and Paul (if they can be arsed!)"
Dougald's post about moderation made it clear that they don't have time to get involved with the site, Annie. He also made it clear that shutting down the forum is an option .... but keeping it open without a moderator probably is not.
I have no intention of consulting them over a change as trivial, and obvious, as this, but if anyone doesn't like it they're free to contact Dougald or Paul directly and ask them to intervene.
I have no clue as to why you're doing this, Malcolm???? It just doesn't make any sense to me. Are you a for real?
"Just because people use the 'stop following' facility, to stop receiving emails, doesn't mean they don't visit the thread everyday, or at their convenience."
The reason sites like this provide a 'Follow' facility is precisely so that people don't have to keep visiting it - because many people find it tiresome to have to do that. In practice, people only do it if they keep finding new content that interests them, so constant irrelevant posts effectively destroy their ability to keep in touch with slow-moving discussions.
"Anyway, what's this so-called spam problem ?"
I quite often see people commenting that they have difficulty keeping up with all the e-mails they receive, particularly if they subscribe to a few forums - a lot of which is cross-posted or off-topic or just bickering. 'Spam' probably wasn't the right word, but I don't know what else it should be called.
"Since when is any forum required to satisfy the moderator ? It's your job to serve the needs and wishes of the community, not vice versa."
Every forum has to satisfy the moderator one way or another, otherwise they wouldn't do the job. I've said that I'll moderate this one until the end of June - but if it doesn't provide an environment which serves my needs and wishes, I certainly won't bother with it after that. I doubt Dougald and Paul will want it to continue unmoderated after what has happened in the past, so anyone who wants it to continue either has to find another moderator or conform to my rules. I don't mind either way, but the way it's operated over the last few months, it's a waste of my time.
"A space for discussion. To which you have contributed very little."
How much I personally contribute is irrelevant. As it stands, I've no more inclination to engage in discussion on the forum than I would have to conduct a serious conversation in a room where a child is banging a drum. I did put a few blog posts on my own page when I first came to the site (you posted a comment on one of them thanking me for the interesting remarks), but my first post to the forum resulted in weeks of argument with someone who had jumped to a ridiculous interpretation of what I'd written. In any case, for the last few months my focus has been elsewhere.
"the thread where I have posted all the stuff which you are objecting to, has received 240 hits. About 100 above the average. I take that as a signal of endorsement and approval, the very opposite of what YOU are claiming, that people are put off."
The number of hits your thread is getting says nothing about how appropriate it is for the forum. What I'll take as a signal of endorsement and approval of you is some posts in this thread from others, saying why they think the stuff you've been posting belongs on a discussion forum rather than on a personal blog or a section of the site dedicated to videos. The only reason you yourself have given is that the blogs don't allow people 15 minutes to edit comments after they've posted them, which I'm afraid I can't take seriously.
"The fact that you put yourself on the line over something as ludicrous and irrelevant as where people put music videos is an exact indication of precisely what sort of person you are"
I don't know what you think I'm putting on the line, Wolfbird, but I'll point out that you're risking being suspended from a forum you obviously value, over precisely that trivial issue.
In case anyone's wondering, I'm prepared to tolerate the abusive language Wolfbird has been using on this thread - for now - but only because it's directed at me. If it was directed at anyone else I'd delete those posts as soon as I saw them.
The heading of uncivilisation.ning.com reads:
UNCIVILISATION: The Dark Mountain Network
A space for conversations in a time of global disruption.
The heading also shows that there are 10 division from home, .. members,.. videos, forum,.. to blogs and groups
One of these division - the forum - has 9 categories, among which are:
- Stories &Journeys.
- Discussions, debates & arguments.
So the same heading, appearing on all pages, makes it clear that there is actually a specific space for debate & argument.
The Wolfbird has no business in the debate & argument section because he does not debate his case with arguments but with ad hominem.
That means that he discards opposition to his view, not because of any evidence against it (or lack of evidence for it,) but because of the person who argues his position.
So I agree with our moderator Malcolm that the Wolfbird ought to post in other sections than the debate & argument section.
When the Wolfbird was barred from this forum for a while, in that time I pointed out that to make a constructive conversation even possible, basic knowledge of the art of debate & argument is necessary. I also proposed that the basics of it ought to be written in a (yet to make) must read sticky head post upfront in the debate & and argument section. .... Stuff like don't multi post, don't cite the entire post you are reacting to - just the bits that count. Don't try to react to everything, just try to follow one line of thought till it brakes under argument. Things like how to make and identify an argument, how to recognize fallacies (like ad hominem) and a strong appeal to avoid making them, with a banning sanction attached to it.
After many month it has now become clear that the Wolfbird has not even started to clime the debate & argument learning curve. Considering the above, the ultimatum of our moderator Malcolm to the Wolfbird (to move his act to other divisions of the website - or else his posts will be removed from the discussion & debate section) is just to me.
There is enough space in several other sections of the site, for the Wolfbird to unfold his strong and unique view on reality. I'm sure his followers will follow him there. I for one will visit him, because I did get inspiration from his links. On an artistic level I do appreciate his own text, with which he wants to imbue the reader with his strong sense of the wonder of life and the utter mystery of existence, but he is unable to discuss his views - one can only accept them .
I also enjoy it when he wields his mighty polemic sword , and I think he enjoys it too. I'm Dutch, what can I say :)
To summarise: ban the Wolfbird from the discussion & argument section of the forum altogether.
... Why do you think I'm always so kind and generous to you ?
Because you love me?
I am one of those surfers and now new members that Malcolm has referred to earlier in this thread. I would like to say that although I appreciate the desire to keep threads strictly on topic and edited so that they are clearly constructed with a coherent argument, it is also completely human to have threads grow and develop organically. My (limited & short term) understanding is that this is a forum for people with a broadly similar take on the world to have conversations. I don't know about other people but I know that unless I am actually taking part in a formal debate my conversations meander and flow into all sorts of unexpected places and imo that's a good thing. The expectation that every word, statement and image should be specifically focused on the proposed statement and its arguments is a very demanding one and one that limits response in a way that I find unhelpful. The desire to weed out anything that does not conform to one person's view of relevance is one that is profoundly at odds with creative and organic culture that I expected here. I have (and had prior to joining) no problem at all with wolfbird's music and other posts.
TBH if I was looking for highly focused, intense and rigidly structured discussion and analysis I'd be reading news sites, professional journals and well edited non fiction.
I have also found this thread extremely off putting in terms of what, where and when I should post and that can't be a good thing - can it?
"It has absolutely NOTHING to do with YOUR needs and wishes whatsoever. It's an office, a function, that someone has to perform, where they set themselves aside, and cater for the community of people who give them the HONOUR of that role.
You still think that you are entitled to get something out of this for yourself"
You've misunderstood, Wolfbird. I don't expect to get anything out of being moderator here. I do expect to get something out of being a member. At the moment there's nothing for me here except the potential for a worthwhile discussion forum.
As for your suggestion about you being moderator for two weeks, I suggest you refresh your memory of why you were suspended and why a moderator was appointed.
Thanks for that post, Bert, but ....
"The Wolfbird has no business in the debate & argument section because he does not debate his case with arguments but with ad hominem.
That means that he discards opposition to his view, not because of any evidence against it (or lack of evidence for it,) but because of the person who argues his position. "
That's certainly true, though only up to a point (he frequently does debate his case with good arguments) .... but it's not relevant to the current issue. I'm not suggesting that Wolfbird shouldn't post in this part of the site at all, I'm simply saying that he shouldn't put particular kinds of posts here.
"to make a constructive conversation even possible [....] don't multi post, don't cite the entire post you are reacting to - just the bits that count. Don't try to react to everything, just try to follow one line of thought till it brakes under argument"
There are arguments for and against rules like that .... but they really belong in a separate thread. The issue here is whether a particular kind of posting behaviour is compatible with the purpose of the forum. I think it's better if we keep this thread focused on that.
Thanks for your post, Karen. I'll post a proper reply later, but much of what you said came up in the discussions we had last autumn which led to me becoming moderator, so you might want to read them. I suggest you start with 'Reasoning with cantankerous gits' to understand why it was thought necessary. You could also read Dougald's thread 'All things in Moderation'.