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Mike
Please keep all discussion of the Constructive & Civil Debate: Info & Expectations announcement in this topic.

Thanks,

Mike
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phaedrus
I applaud Americas Debate for the painstaking process it has went through to maintain civil and substantive debate. You can lose your best friend debating politics and it refreshing to see a moderated forum that is serious about keeping things civil.
BoF
Apparently the incivility Mike talks about in this thread, recently came full blown to cable news—Robert Novak has been suspended by CNN. Novak used an “obscenity” (Note: I’m not easily offended by such) and stomped off the set of a live news show. Regardless of how it got that way, it seems to be everywhere--part of our culture.

Here’s the story on Novak.

http://www.themoderatevoice.com/posts/1123296713.shtml

Perhaps ad.gif is and can continue to be an oasis, reasonably free from juvenile tantrums like the one Novak pulled.
Mike
QUOTE(phaedrus @ Aug 5 2005, 10:11 PM)

I applaud Americas Debate for the painstaking process it has went through to maintain civil and substantive debate. You can lose your best friend debating politics and it refreshing to see a moderated forum that is serious about keeping things civil.
*


Thanks, Phaedrus.

QUOTE(BoF @ Aug 6 2005, 06:34 AM)

Apparently the incivility Mike talks about in this thread, recently came full blown to cable news—Robert Novak has been suspended by CNN. Novak used an “obscenity”  (Note: I’m not easily offended by such) and stomped off the set of a live news show. Regardless of how it got that way, it seems to be everywhere--part of our culture.

Here’s the story on Novak.

http://www.themoderatevoice.com/posts/1123296713.shtml

Perhaps  ad.gif is and can continue to be an oasis, reasonably free from juvenile tantrums like the one Novak pulled.
*


That's kind of a bad example, BoF. unsure.gif

Even without Novak's actions, those shows represent everything that America's Debate is NOT.

The cable shows like that are not constructive, and they are not civil. They consist mainly of Guest A shouting over Guest B, followed by Guest B shouting over Guest A. They are all regurgitating their partisan talking points. They rarely offer any verifiable facts or sources to confirm their assertions. There is very little substance and very little to be learned from those shows. Nothing is ever accomplished. Shows like that are part of the reason we started AD in the first place.

Have you ever heard someone on a talking head show say, "You know, you made a convincing argument. You made some excellent points, and I may have been wrong all this time. While I am not entirely convinced, I am going to do some more research on the subject."

There is no "perhaps" that AD can continue to be an oasis, reasonably free from juvenile tantrums-- AD WILL continue to be an oasis, reasonably free from juvenile tantrums.

Otherwise, we have no interest in continuing.

smile.gif

Mike
phaedrus
I wonder if there could be a FAQ with examples of offenses linked somewhere in the forums. AD is a high traffic forum and potential political debaters might not realize that something they post is simply not tolerated. Every now and then I will see a post by someone who has been banned and I wonder what it was they did. Perhaps this is confidential, I don't know, at any rate it's just a suggestion.
lordhelmet
QUOTE(Mike @ Aug 5 2005, 02:34 PM)
Please keep all discussion of the Constructive & Civil Debate: Info & Expectations announcement in this topic.

Thanks,

Mike
*



First off, you and Jaime are entitled to create the type of forum that you want. You created it. You do all the work managing it.

But, I have a few suggestions that could make it go better for more people.

1. Clarify the rules. If one posts within the rules but is still informed that they are "brinking" and admonished, the rules need to be clarified. In any contest, you are either in the rules or outside. In fact, some of the most effective ways to play most sports, debate, practice law, run a business... in other words MOST competitive arenas, is to stay inside the rules/laws but push the boundaries to your advantage when possible.

2. Reform the moderation system. I believe that it doesn't make sense to make ultra-partisan, and outspoken members of A-D moderators. Moderators are essentially judges and A-D has to decide whether they want moderate judges or outspoken activist judges. I also suggest that the group as a whole vote on who the moderators are and that they be given set terms where they act as referee. I also think that during that period of time, they should not be allowed to participate in any debates. In any sporting contests, one would never accept a referree who is playing on one team at the same time. It's unfair and it biases the discussions and the enforcement of the rules.

3. Make the insistence on "sourcing" more realistic. I can see the need for references, footnotes, links, etc., to back up "factual" claims such as the population of Canada is "x", or the unemployment rate in 1994 was x.x%, etc. However, if the assertion is "political", it's just opinion therefore quoting "sources" is just bogus in my view. All people do when they "source" their political point of view is refer to other individuals who share the same viewpoint. I maintain that ALL of politics, most of history, and a significant portion of what passes for "science" today has been heavily infested with political opinions. Therefore, a political assertion that references a bunch of work of some like-minded opinion isn't any more valid than someone's unreferenced opinion.

4. Don't suck the life out of the forum by shutting down a threat everytime it gets "heated". Personal attacks are one thing, but attacks on someones IDEAS should be allowed. Some debates are prone to get emotional. That's the nature of the beast. Showing emotion is a HUMAN characteristic. We are not all android computers like the "HAL" system in 2001 or the "Spock" character in Star Trek. We are people with strong feelings and sometimes a topic doesn't lend itself to "cvil" debate. If we were debating the pros and cons of Nazi Germany, wouldn't it be natural and normal for strong feelings to be expressed? Would that thread be shut down because of the emotion and because strong personal feelings were shared? I would hope not. The law of unintended consequences should be examined in the quest to make A-D free of conflict, ultra-civil, and "constructive". The end result, if completely enforced, would be a lifeless forum that would sound more like an internet coffee chat club between like-minded friends and a few token opponents who don't like confronting the majority. Is that what A-D wants to become? I've participated in that sort of board before and I'll tell you.... it eventually would bore you to tears.

With that, I'm done posting for the day and for the week. Thanks in advance for any comments on this post.
Renger
I have to agree with what Phaedrus said. Even though sometimes debates can become intense it is nice to see that you guys are trying to maintain a civil and substansive debate. thumbsup.gif

Cursing and name-calling is easy, trying to convince other people of your view in a civilised debate is much harder, but more rewarding. smile.gif




Mike
QUOTE(lordhelmet @ Aug 15 2005, 07:50 AM)
But, I have a few suggestions that could make it go better for more people. 

1.  Clarify the rules.  If one posts within the rules but is still informed that they are "brinking" and admonished, the rules need to be clarified.  In any contest, you are either in the rules or outside.  In fact, some of the most effective ways to play most sports, debate, practice law, run a business... in other words MOST competitive arenas, is to stay inside the rules/laws but push the boundaries to your advantage when possible.

Clarifying the rules is a double-edged sword. On one hand, it helps members who are truly here for civil debate understand what is and is not permitted. But, for brinkers, it only serves to help them push the rules even further. Specifying every single little expectation is just unrealistic, and would create a set of rules so large and so verbose that most people would either not join AD, or would not read or follow the rules altogether.

For example, one of the most requested enhancements to the rules is a list of words that are not acceptable on the forum. We have consistently refused to provide such a list, and with good reason. For example, the two letter abbreviation for cow excrement. We had to block that. The word that specifically represents the word "excrement" is clearly not allowed, yet some people thought that using an abbreviation of the exact same word was fine to use. If we were to then say that you couldn't use the abbreviation but that "crap" was acceptable, then "crap" would be used excessively on the forum.

QUOTE
2.  Reform the moderation system.  I believe that it doesn't make sense to make ultra-partisan, and outspoken members of A-D moderators.  Moderators are essentially judges and A-D has to decide whether they want moderate judges or outspoken activist judges.  I also suggest that the group as a whole vote on who the moderators are and that they be given set terms where they act as referee.  I also think that during that period of time, they should not be allowed to participate in any debates.  In any sporting contests, one would never accept a referree who is playing on one team at the same time.  It's unfair and it biases the discussions and the enforcement of the rules.

We don't choose "ultra-partisan" members for the staff. We choose members from all ends of the political spectrum. Staff members are not chosen for their political views or their outspokenness. Staffers are chosen because they understand and share the goals AD.

It is important to have our moderators function not as "activist judges," but as "activists" and "judges." They are separate and distinct, and are a large part of why AD as a site can remain impartial and apolitical.

For example, Jaime and I are right of center, with me being much further right than her. If we did not have a balanced moderation staff, there would be a greater possibility that we would impose our views upon the members, which is obviously contrary to our goals. Staff members who hold opposite views are not "activist judges" but instead are "activists" and "judges."

There have been debates amongst the staff where one staffer has informed another that it appeared they were acting in a partisan fashion. It is up to the staffers with opposing political opinions to act as an advocate for people who share similar views to ensure that the rules are applied in a fair fashion, and not along party lines.

Staffers are chosen by staff vote, and we have no intentions upon changing that. Opening the choosing of staff up to the general membership would create a situation where people vote for their friends, or for those who share similar political opinions. A populist election process for choosing staffers would be just that-- populism. Sometimes the goals of the site are not the popular opinion, and so the best method of picking staff for us is to let the decisions be made by those who have already made it clear that they understand and share the goals of the site.

We are not about to block the moderators from participating in any debate at any time. It is unreasonable to ask people to donate their time to the site via a position on the staff, and then tell them they can not debate anymore. We have a general understanding that moderators do not directly moderate in topics in which they are actively participating, although that does not stop them from providing input to the rest of the staff on topics in which they are participating.

QUOTE
3.  Make the insistence on "sourcing" more realistic.  I can see the need for references, footnotes, links, etc., to back up "factual" claims such as the population of Canada is "x", or the unemployment rate in 1994 was x.x%, etc.  However, if the assertion is "political", it's just opinion therefore quoting "sources" is just bogus in my view.  All people do when they "source" their political point of view is refer to other individuals who share the same viewpoint.  I maintain that ALL of politics, most of history, and a significant portion of what passes for "science" today has been heavily infested with political opinions.  Therefore, a political assertion that references a bunch of work of some like-minded opinion isn't any more valid than someone's unreferenced opinion.

As a site or a staff, we are not fact checkers. It is up to the members to request sources. It is up to the members to provide sources. It is up to the members to determine the quality of the sources. It is up to the members to determine the believability of the sources.

QUOTE
4.  Don't suck the life out of the forum by shutting down a threat everytime it gets "heated".  Personal attacks are one thing, but attacks on someones IDEAS should be allowed.  Some debates are prone to get emotional.  That's the nature of the beast.  Showing emotion is a HUMAN characteristic.  We are not all android computers like the "HAL" system in 2001 or the "Spock" character in Star Trek.  We are people with strong feelings and sometimes a topic doesn't lend itself to "cvil" debate.  If we were debating the pros and cons of Nazi Germany, wouldn't it be natural and normal for strong feelings to be expressed?  Would that thread be shut down because of the emotion and because strong personal feelings were shared?  I would hope not.  The law of unintended consequences should be examined in the quest to make A-D free of conflict, ultra-civil, and "constructive".  The end result, if completely enforced, would be a lifeless forum that would sound more like an internet coffee chat club between like-minded friends and a few token opponents who don't like confronting the majority.  Is that what A-D wants to become?  I've participated in that sort of board before and I'll tell you.... it eventually would bore you to tears.

The word "attack" has such a negative connotation. "Attacks" are never appropriate at AD. You can challenge someone's opinions. You can question their sources. You can pick their assertions apart line by line. But "attacking" is inappropriate at AD.

There are definitely subjects that are emotional for some people. For those people who cannot set their emotion aside and debate on the facts, the best solution is for them to debate in a different topic or at a different site. Our goal is civil, constructive debate. People who debate purely in an emotional fashion are not debating on reason or facts, but instead debating on instinct and feelings. That is the very definition of "emotional," and it is in direct conflict with our stated goals.

Judging by the past three years, I have no fear that AD will become a lifeless forum that is more like a coffee chat club than an exchange of ideas amongst people with differing opinions. Those who see it that way, at any time, are fully aware of their options.

QUOTE
With that, I'm done posting for the day and for the week.  Thanks in advance for any comments on this post.
*


Thanks for the comments! smile.gif

Mike
Erasmussimo
Although Mike has already responded to these comments, I'd like to take a moment to present my objections to these comments, as I think they would have a corrosive effect on discussion here at AD.

QUOTE(lordhelmet @ Aug 15 2005, 04:50 AM)
1.  Clarify the rules.  If one posts within the rules but is still informed that they are "brinking" and admonished, the rules need to be clarified.  In any contest, you are either in the rules or outside.  In fact, some of the most effective ways to play most sports, debate, practice law, run a business... in other words MOST competitive arenas, is to stay inside the rules/laws but push the boundaries to your advantage when possible.

I find this suggestion repugnant. I do not seek advantage over others; I do not believe that I am in competition with them, either. I am here to teach and to learn, not to win some puerile game. I very much hope that AD never becomes a place for debating ploys.

QUOTE(lordhelmet @ Aug 15 2005, 04:50 AM)
2.  Reform the moderation system.  I believe that it doesn't make sense to make ultra-partisan, and outspoken members of A-D moderators.

This suggestion presumes that there are ultra-partisan moderators. I have yet to see any evidence of such. I once mentioned to Jaime that I had not been able to determine her political stance from anything she had said or done on AD. While it is true that some moderators have political opinions, I have never seen any of those political opinions intrude into moderator actions. I suspect that there is a rule that a moderator, having participated in a discussion, may not exercise any moderation powers -- a sound rule. In any case, I cannot think of any moderator whom I would call "ultra-partisan"; indeed, in the spectrum of opinion found at AD, the moderators are closer to the center than the participants.

QUOTE(lordhelmet @ Aug 15 2005, 04:50 AM)
3.  Make the insistence on "sourcing" more realistic... However, if the assertion is "political", it's just opinion therefore quoting "sources" is just bogus in my view...  I maintain that ALL of politics, most of history, and a significant portion of what passes for "science" today has been heavily infested with political opinions.  Therefore, a political assertion that references a bunch of work of some like-minded opinion isn't any more valid than someone's unreferenced opinion.

I find this suggestion repugnant. It denies the very notion of rationalism, rejects the notion of reasoning from evidence, and would reduce AD to a demolition derby of opinions.

QUOTE(lordhelmet @ Aug 15 2005, 04:50 AM)
4.  Don't suck the life out of the forum by shutting down a threat everytime it gets "heated"... Some debates are prone to get emotional.  That's the nature of the beast.  Showing emotion is a HUMAN characteristic... We are people with strong feelings and sometimes a topic doesn't lend itself to "cvil" debate...  The law of unintended consequences should be examined in the quest to make A-D free of conflict, ultra-civil, and "constructive".

I find this line of thought particularly repugnant. The Internet teems with cockfight sites celebrating intellectual conflict as a blood sport; AD is unique in the civility of its tone and its intolerance of trolls. Fundamental to all civilization is the establishment of constraints on emotional behavior in pursuit of the common good. The tone of this suggestion reminds me of some lines from the song "Fie on Goodness!" from the musical "Camelot":

"Ah, but to burn a little town or slay a dozen men!
Anything to laugh again!"

and

"Ah, but to spend a tortured evening staring at the fire,
guilty and alive once more!"


CruisingRam
3. Make the insistence on "sourcing" more realistic. I can see the need for references, footnotes, links, etc., to back up "factual" claims such as the population of Canada is "x", or the unemployment rate in 1994 was x.x%, etc. However, if the assertion is "political", it's just opinion therefore quoting "sources" is just bogus in my view. All people do when they "source" their political point of view is refer to other individuals who share the same viewpoint. I maintain that ALL of politics, most of history, and a significant portion of what passes for "science" today has been heavily infested with political opinions. Therefore, a political assertion that references a bunch of work of some like-minded opinion isn't any more valid than someone's unreferenced opinion.


Though I find the entire post "repugnant" as Erasmussimo said- I find this one particularly repugnant. The problem is- science frequently flies in the face of "conventional wisdom" and contradicts some notions folks might have. The evolution of scientific writing in the last 400 years has "come a long way baby" due to it's ideals of journal publishing and peer review. If there is a scientific study you don't believe is right- you have some very easy ways to deal with it

1) Is it published in a recognized journal? - If no, it is not a scientific article- it is an opinion piece for mass media- because it is not subject to peer review. Quite frankly, if the item is published in an international recognized journal for that particular field, it is NEVER "JUNK SCIENCE" - why? Because it has to adhere to the standards that allow it to be replicated- all it's methodology MUST be published, so a person with a different theory can test it- thereby circumventing the political angle

That is not to say SCIENTIFIC FUNDING is not political- it is, but that is a whole different subject than this asinine current trend of calling things published in journals "junk science"

2) If it has been published in a Journal, it is subject to peer review- great for you- because, here is the deal- someone else, that has experiance and study in this field, probably disagrees with him/her as well, tested thier methodology, perhaps could not repeat it, and published THIER OWN paper that very well MAY agree with you- and it is very, very easy to source- www.pubmed.com can lead you right to that competing viewpoint of peer review.

If you can't bother with that, and just prefer to poo-poo away any scientific evidence you don't like- well, you don't belong on a debate site, you belong on some site like freerepublic, where you can bash away at your opponent without logic or reason all day long and without any real debate.
Google
Vibiana
QUOTE(CruisingRam @ Aug 15 2005, 03:53 PM)
If you can't bother with that, and just prefer to poo-poo away any scientific evidence you don't like- well, you don't belong on a debate site, you belong on some site like freerepublic, where you can bash away at your opponent without logic or reason all day long and without any real debate.
*



*giggle* I just got banned from freerepublic last week for daring to post a liberal-ish viewpoint about a particular subject. I was also the target of a nasty 'pile on' before I was banned.

I tend to be eclectic in my views ... quite conservative on some points, more liberal on others. I found out the hard way that freerepublic is for straight-Republican-ticket types ... and apparently it's only 'free' when you agree with the folks who are running it.

I am grateful for a place that has a good assortment of diverse minds. I've never been 'piled on' here, although I haven't posted much.
lordhelmet

QUOTE(CruisingRam @ Aug 15 2005, 11:53 AM)
 
Though I find the entire post "repugnant" as Erasmussimo said- I find this one particularly repugnant. The problem is- science frequently flies in the face of "conventional wisdom" and contradicts some notions folks might have. The evolution of scientific writing in the last 400 years has "come a long way baby" due to it's ideals of journal publishing and peer review. If there is a scientific study you don't believe is right- you have some very easy ways to deal with it 
*
 


QUOTE(Erasmussimo @ Aug 15 2005, 11:19 AM)
   
I find this suggestion repugnant. It denies the very notion of rationalism, rejects the notion of reasoning from evidence, and would reduce AD to a demolition derby of opinions.


Cruising Ram and Erasmussimo, please list your "sources" to back up your assertions that the opinions contained within my post are "repugnant".

These sources should be well researched, contain objective information from "respected" sources, and be civil, constructive, and within the rules of A-D.

Definition of "repugnant"

If the opinions contained in my post elicited the following response from you both are literally:

"Arousing disgust or aversion; offensive or repulsive: morally repugnant behavior."

Please describe, with appropriate outside references, why your hostile reaction to my post is justifiable given the charter of A-D. Attacking my thoughts and ideas, using words like "repugnant" can hardly be constructive. Can they?

Aren't you really trying to say that you just don't like me and what I have to say because I don't see the world as you do? Wouldn't that just be your "opinion"?

Otherwise, perhaps both of you should include scientific, and thus peer-reviewed sources to back up your sentiments?

Or, perhaps, you have just illustrated my point unintentionally?
Mike
Wow... I am starting to wonder if my unmatched passion for the rules has been matched. unsure.gif

This topic is in Comments and Suggestions. It is to discuss an announcement. It is not to single out any single member, their views, or their debating style.

Lordhelmet made a series of points in a reasonable fashion. I posted my opinion on them in a reasonable fashion. It was all going so well until the semantical pile-up began.

I do not see anything that was "repugnant," really. Did any of you honestly feel repulsed by a post about the rules-- so much so that you had to turn away?

Or are we just being sticklers here, and adding nothing constructive to the topic? huh.gif

Let's stick to discussing the announcement please.

Mike
nemov
Just to chime in I do not believe that a stricter adherence to the rules is going to be negative. No matter how clear the rules are there will always be people joining ad.gif and jumping into a debate without reading the rules.

Mike correct me if I am wrong, but there really isn't a way to keep that from happening beside creating a waiting period before a membership is active. As ad.gif continues to grow this will become a larger problem.

Is it possible to have a newbie forum? After so many posts they could graduate to the full forum? I'm not even sure I like that idea... LOL

Lord Helmet I have mentioned you before as someone fiercely (almost blindly) partisan so I feel apt to say that your post here was not repugnant (the ad.gif “word of the day”) regardless of my opinion on your points.
Goldblum
QUOTE(lordhelmet @ Aug 15 2005, 07:50 AM)
QUOTE(Mike @ Aug 5 2005, 02:34 PM)
Please keep all discussion of the Constructive & Civil Debate: Info & Expectations announcement in this topic.

Thanks,

Mike
*



First off, you and Jaime are entitled to create the type of forum that you want. You created it. You do all the work managing it.

But, I have a few suggestions that could make it go better for more people.

1. Clarify the rules. If one posts within the rules but is still informed that they are "brinking" and admonished, the rules need to be clarified. In any contest, you are either in the rules or outside. In fact, some of the most effective ways to play most sports, debate, practice law, run a business... in other words MOST competitive arenas, is to stay inside the rules/laws but push the boundaries to your advantage when possible.

2. Reform the moderation system. I believe that it doesn't make sense to make ultra-partisan, and outspoken members of A-D moderators. Moderators are essentially judges and A-D has to decide whether they want moderate judges or outspoken activist judges. I also suggest that the group as a whole vote on who the moderators are and that they be given set terms where they act as referee. I also think that during that period of time, they should not be allowed to participate in any debates. In any sporting contests, one would never accept a referree who is playing on one team at the same time. It's unfair and it biases the discussions and the enforcement of the rules.

3. Make the insistence on "sourcing" more realistic. I can see the need for references, footnotes, links, etc., to back up "factual" claims such as the population of Canada is "x", or the unemployment rate in 1994 was x.x%, etc. However, if the assertion is "political", it's just opinion therefore quoting "sources" is just bogus in my view. All people do when they "source" their political point of view is refer to other individuals who share the same viewpoint. I maintain that ALL of politics, most of history, and a significant portion of what passes for "science" today has been heavily infested with political opinions. Therefore, a political assertion that references a bunch of work of some like-minded opinion isn't any more valid than someone's unreferenced opinion.

4. Don't suck the life out of the forum by shutting down a threat everytime it gets "heated". Personal attacks are one thing, but attacks on someones IDEAS should be allowed. Some debates are prone to get emotional. That's the nature of the beast. Showing emotion is a HUMAN characteristic. We are not all android computers like the "HAL" system in 2001 or the "Spock" character in Star Trek. We are people with strong feelings and sometimes a topic doesn't lend itself to "cvil" debate. If we were debating the pros and cons of Nazi Germany, wouldn't it be natural and normal for strong feelings to be expressed? Would that thread be shut down because of the emotion and because strong personal feelings were shared? I would hope not. The law of unintended consequences should be examined in the quest to make A-D free of conflict, ultra-civil, and "constructive". The end result, if completely enforced, would be a lifeless forum that would sound more like an internet coffee chat club between like-minded friends and a few token opponents who don't like confronting the majority. Is that what A-D wants to become? I've participated in that sort of board before and I'll tell you.... it eventually would bore you to tears.

With that, I'm done posting for the day and for the week. Thanks in advance for any comments on this post.
*


You really took the words out of my mouth. I really appreciate the concept behind AD in that it is totally different from those talking head nonsense shows discussed earlier. However, to execute such a system, it's important that the moderators remain detached from the substance of the debate itself. I also completely agree on the distinction between heated and uncivil. Heated is okay, uncivil is not.

Thanks for a great forum.

Edited to add: Hopefully I have not repulsed some of you with my comment. rolleyes.gif
Wertz
Further to a couple of suggestions raised:

QUOTE(lordhelmet @ Aug 15 2005, 07:50 AM)
1.  Clarify the rules.  If one posts within the rules but is still informed that they are "brinking" and admonished, the rules need to be clarified.  In any contest, you are either in the rules or outside.  In fact, some of the most effective ways to play most sports, debate, practice law, run a business... in other words MOST competitive arenas, is to stay inside the rules/laws but push the boundaries to your advantage when possible.

I think there may be a bit of a misunderstanding here, lordhelmet. America's Debate is not a contest, this is not a "competitive arena". There is no score-keeping here, no winners, no losers (except, maybe, those who get themselves banned). America's Debate is a forum for the civil, constructive exchange of ideas. The rules exist here to keep the discussion as civil and constructive as possible. Period. That is what Mike meant when he said that the staff is made up of those who "understand and share the goals of AD". The rules don't exist to stifle constructive debate, but to enable it. Those who feel they can - or even should - "push the boundaries of the rules to their advantage" simply don't get it.

There are, of course, people who will try to stretch the boundaries of the rules or persistently post on the brink of rule violations. If they have been warned about such behavior repeatedly, they can expect to be on the receiving end of disciplinary action.

It is worth noting that the enforcement of the rules should not be taken personally. They are applied evenly and without prejudice. Apart from members who are banned, disciplinary action in relation to participants is never published. If you receive a strike or spend some time in the Mod Queue, no one knows about it except you and the staff.

QUOTE(lordhelmet @ Aug 15 2005, 07:50 AM)
2.  Reform the moderation system.  I believe that it doesn't make sense to make ultra-partisan, and outspoken members of A-D moderators.  Moderators are essentially judges and A-D has to decide whether they want moderate judges or outspoken activist judges.  I also suggest that the group as a whole vote on who the moderators are and that they be given set terms where they act as referee.  I also think that during that period of time, they should not be allowed to participate in any debates.  In any sporting contests, one would never accept a referree who is playing on one team at the same time.  It's unfair and it biases the discussions and the enforcement of the rules.

Again, this is not a "sporting contest" - and the moderators are not "referees". They are people who are interested in civil, constructive debate, people who are familiar with the rules and know why they exist. Jaime and Mike are to be commended for seeking as much political balance as possible in the selection of staff members (which, as owners of the site, they are under no obligation to do) and deserve props for having used that staff to maintain the level of civil, constructive debate that all of us enjoy - despite incorrigible "brinkers".

For what it's worth (speaking as an "insider"), the communication among the staff is generally quite non-partisan, with almost all correspondence relating to the specific content of posts - not the political leanings of the contributor. The staff is large and varied enough to spot any such partisanship that may creep in. Indeed, the multi-partisan Committee exists largely "to provide input to the Moderators and Administrators on all aspects of the site, such as disciplinary issues and site policies" - and that includes the issuing of warnings and strikes and placement in the Moderation Queue. But, trust me, no one on the staff likes "brinkers" - even when we might agree with their positions. Finally, as Erasmussimo suggested, there are staff guidelines that discourage Administrators or Moderators from moderating threads to which they have contributed.

QUOTE(lordhelmet @ Aug 15 2005, 07:50 AM)
3.  Make the insistence on "sourcing" more realistic.  I can see the need for references, footnotes, links, etc., to back up "factual" claims such as the population of Canada is "x", or the unemployment rate in 1994 was x.x%, etc.  However, if the assertion is "political", it's just opinion therefore quoting "sources" is just bogus in my view.  All people do when they "source" their political point of view is refer to other individuals who share the same viewpoint.  I maintain that ALL of politics, most of history, and a significant portion of what passes for "science" today has been heavily infested with political opinions.  Therefore, a political assertion that references a bunch of work of some like-minded opinion isn't any more valid than someone's unreferenced opinion.

I have never asked for foundation for something that wasn't an unsourced "statistic", "study", "poll" or assertion of fact. Until your last post here, lordhelmet, I do not recall anyone else ever having done so. Should someone ever ask you for a source for an opinion, you need simply tell them that it is just that: an opinion. However, should someone ask you for source on a "statistic", "study", "poll" or assertion of fact, you should provide it - or retract your original assertion. Should someone persistently ask a participant for sources for opinions, than can be reported for unconstructive contributions. I see no need for a change in the rules.

QUOTE(lordhelmet @ Aug 15 2005, 07:50 AM)
4.  Don't suck the life out of the forum by shutting down a threat everytime it gets "heated".  Personal attacks are one thing, but attacks on someones IDEAS should be allowed.  Some debates are prone to get emotional.  That's the nature of the beast.  Showing emotion is a HUMAN characteristic.  We are not all android computers like the "HAL" system in 2001 or the "Spock" character in Star Trek.  We are people with strong feelings and sometimes a topic doesn't lend itself to "cvil" debate.  If we were debating the pros and cons of Nazi Germany, wouldn't it be natural and normal for strong feelings to be expressed?  Would that thread be shut down because of the emotion and because strong personal feelings were shared?  I would hope not.  The law of unintended consequences should be examined in the quest to make A-D free of conflict, ultra-civil, and "constructive".  The end result, if completely enforced, would be a lifeless forum that would sound more like an internet coffee chat club between like-minded friends and a few token opponents who don't like confronting the majority.  Is that what A-D wants to become?  I've participated in that sort of board before and I'll tell you.... it eventually would bore you to tears.
*

Threads are seldom, if ever, closed simply because they are "heated", but because too many people are making the debate too personal - belittling, attacking, name-calling, and the like - or because some contributors are "brinking" a bit too much. The most heated, emotionally charged debate is possible without any of the above, should contributors be concentrating on the issues rather than the character of other participants. Most people here are capable of doing that. Those who are not, find themselves in the Moderation Queue, often with attendant strikes. And, sadly, they will sometimes get threads closed in the process.

To me - and to 95% of the regular contributors here - the rules are perfectly clear, easily understandable, and entirely sufficient. For those to whom the rules are not perfectly clear and easily understandable, the disciplinary process is entirely sufficient. As Mike pointed out, America's Debate has been doing fine for three years with the rules that he, Jaime, and the staff have carefully crafted.

nemov: Just as a point of information, newer members are generally given the benefit of the doubt. "First offenses" are usually addressed via PM, with links to the Rules and Survival Guide. Most people understand the nature and purpose of America's Debate (and how it differs from other discussion boards) in a fairly short span of time. Those that don't, may never get it. Sadly, most of the disciplinary problems that we have are with people who have been here long enough to know better. The Moderation Queue is sort of our variation on a "newbie forum". If a contributor seems incapable of posting in a constructive fashion or violates any of the rules, all of their posts must be approved by an Administrator or Moderator for a period of time. For the most part, that seems to do the trick.
Erasmussimo
QUOTE(Mike @ Aug 15 2005, 11:20 AM)
I do not see anything that was "repugnant," really. Did any of you honestly feel repulsed by a post about the rules-- so much so that you had to turn away?


I suppose it is incumbent upon me to explain my use of the term "repugnant". I have visited a number of websites that offer political discussion, and none of the ones I found maintained any kind of civility. I tried with several of them to disagree with the greatest courtesy and tactfulness, but even such politely presented demurrals evinced ferocious vituperation. Chastened, I abandoned my search until a friend directed me here. I was greatly surprised and pleased at the generally civil tone, the intellectual quality of the discussions, and the lack of barbarisms.

There were a few flies in the ointment, but I figured that eventually the Fates would catch up with them. For the most part, the moderators were, if anything, too lenient with rudeness. However, I noted a slow deterioration in the overall quality of the discussions. Some of the more interesting commentators drifted away (chased away, I fear, by the trolls), and more truculent commentators began playing a larger role. In late June, I finally reached the end of my tether and gave up on AD. I wasn't learning anything and I felt that I wasn't teaching anything either. So I walked away. However, over the ensuing weeks several AD'ers contacted me and requested that I return, as they missed my commentary. I was skeptical at first, but they offered me several tips, the most salient of which was simple: ignore the trolls. Don't respond to them, act like they don't exist. They just want attention; if you ignore them, eventually they'll go away. I decided that was a sound policy, so I dipped my toe into the waters and slowly resumed my participation.

Apparently this topic was initiated by an ugly incident in which the moderators had to assert their principles. I know nothing of this incident, but I note with much pleasure that in the last few weeks the tenor of discussion has been much nicer here. I very much appreciate that.

Thus it was when one commentator suggested a loosening of the rules, explicitly advocating more heated arguments, I had visions of the uglier moments of the past, only worse. Were those suggestion implemented, then AD would be not unlike the barbaric websites of which there are too many. The suggestions would deprive AD of the very attributes that I find most appealing. The emotional content of my response resulted from my repugnance to the idea of AD becoming just another shoot-em-up argument site. Although Mike had already rejected the suggestions, I wanted to express my own hope that AD retains its commitment to civility and reasoned discussion.
lordhelmet
QUOTE(Wertz @ Aug 15 2005, 03:04 PM)

Further to a couple of suggestions raised: 
 
QUOTE(lordhelmet @ Aug 15 2005, 07:50 AM)
1.  Clarify the rules.  If one posts within the rules but is still informed that they are "brinking" and admonished, the rules need to be clarified.  In any contest, you are either in the rules or outside.  In fact, some of the most effective ways to play most sports, debate, practice law, run a business... in other words MOST competitive arenas, is to stay inside the rules/laws but push the boundaries to your advantage when possible.

I think there may be a bit of a misunderstanding here, lordhelmet. America's Debate is not a contest, this is not a "competitive arena". There is no score-keeping here, no winners, no losers (except, maybe, those who get themselves banned). America's Debate is a forum for the civil, constructive exchange of ideas. The rules exist here to keep the discussion as civil and constructive as possible. Period. That is what Mike meant when he said that the staff is made up of those who "understand and share the goals of AD". The rules don't exist to stifle constructive debate, but to enable it. Those who feel they can - or even should - "push the boundaries of the rules to their advantage" simply don't get it.

There are, of course, people who will try to stretch the boundaries of the rules or persistently post on the brink of rule violations. If they have been warned about such behavior repeatedly, they can expect to be on the receiving end of disciplinary action.

It is worth noting that the enforcement of the rules should not be taken personally. They are applied evenly and without prejudice. Apart from members who are banned, disciplinary action in relation to participants is never published. If you receive a strike or spend some time in the Mod Queue, no one knows about it except you and the staff.


Really? Debate isn't a contest?

Per the dictionary: Debate: A formal contest of argumentation in which two opposing teams defend and attack a given proposition.

The forum we're in is "America's Debate". It isn't "America's Water-cooler Discussion Forum", "America's Chat Room", or even "American Idol". Debate means that you have multiple people, with differing opinions, ARGUING in a way where OPPOSING views are CONTESTING for dominance.

That, sir, is a competitive arena.

This isn't one of those lame soccer matches (as practiced in Ann Arbor Michigan) for kids where nobody wins and nobody loses and they just "play" out of concern for the potential loss of self esteem suffered by the little tykes who fail to score enough goals. Perhaps some day, the parents of those kids will have to break the news to those kids that life doesn't follow that model... but I digress.

My point was in this thread HOW the contest should take place in a more fair way. I didn't imagine that someone would chime in with the premise that this debate forum isn't a contest at all.

Of course, we try to be "civil". We aren't suicide bombers after all. At least, I hope not. But, we have distinctly different views of the world and thus debate, elections, battles over court nominees, and the rest. If one side prevails... logically, one side does not.

Of course, with respect to civility, there are many ways to display hostility. One is the blatant personal attack (i.e, "you're such a jerk, etc").

The other one is the put down along the lines of "you just don't get it" which is displayed, along with paragraphs of similar condescension that are designed to display the assertion that your "opponent" is just "not that smart". Or, one can throw around terms like "vituperation" (did I even SPELL that one right?) and proclaim they are here to "teach" us (I don't recall signing up for that class and if I did, I plan to drop).

Civil debate is one of those things like beauty. It's in the eye of the beholder. While crude profanity and namecalling is easy to spot as ugliness.... condescending arrogance, which is equally aggressive and hostile, tries in a pseudo sophisticated way to hide behind "civility".

In my humble view, that dog doesn't hunt. Communication is best when it's clear and to the point. Flowery rhetoric, designed to indirectly put down a debate opponent (yes, opponent) in this contest (yes, contest) is not any more "civil" than me calling someone a horse's behind.

And, I stand by my views with respect to moderation in this forum.
Cube Jockey
QUOTE(lordhelmet @ Aug 15 2005, 05:15 PM)
In my humble view, that dog doesn't hunt.  Communication is best when it's clear and to the point.  Flowery rhetoric, designed to indirectly put down a debate opponent (yes, opponent) in this contest (yes, contest) is not any more "civil" than me calling someone a horse's behind.

And, I stand by my views with respect to moderation in this forum.
*


LH that is all well and good and you are certainly entitled to your opinion on how things should be run around here. However, I think it has been made quite clear by the administrators, Mike and Jaime, how things are going to be run around here and the Rules we are going to abide by. Rules all of us agreed to follow when we signed up for ad.gif

The administrators, and by extension the staff and committee members, decide on a daily basis what and what does not constitute civil debate based on the Rules and reports from our members. All of us do volunteer a decent amount of time to ensure that things continue to run smoothly around here day in and day out. All decisions are made in the best interest of the AD community as a whole and not with some sort of bias or prejudice against specific members.

If you feel that someone is violating the Rules in a topic then it is your obligation as a member to report that violation using the report button at the bottom of each post. There are simply too many posts made on a daily basis for the staff to read every single one, we absolutely rely on people to let us know about problems by reporting them.
Ultimatejoe
You know, there was a time that I read every post daily on AD. But that was in an unpleasant stretch of my life where I couldn't venture outside because of some feet problems. Trust me, it's not practical to do it while maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Charming personal anecdotes about my dysfunctional feet aside...

QUOTE
The forum we're in is "America's Debate". It isn't "America's Water-cooler Discussion Forum", "America's Chat Room", or even "American Idol". Debate means that you have multiple people, with differing opinions, ARGUING in a way where OPPOSING views are CONTESTING for dominance.

That, sir, is a competitive arena.


The fact remains that the tenor of discussion on America's Debate is set my the administrators, namely Jaime and Mike. If they decide that we are not going to be competitive, then we quite simply aren't going to be. I appreciate your concerns. In fact, I am inclined to agree with you in some respects. I like to feel that I've "won" after I've gotten involved in a discussion. But the fact is that there is no way to have a won/loss formula and maintain our level of discussion. If we did encourage more delineated contests many of our forums would be wittled down to a few participants rehashing the same arguments in topic after topic; AD would compartmentalize and we would all lose something.
popeye47
I hope it is okay if I put in my 2 cents worth.

When I joined AD almost 2 years ago, I was going to set the world on fire. I started my first post with vim and vigor and a few other things I shouldn't have.

I also thought it was a contest and I had to win almost everyone that I became involved. To my unpleasant discovery this was not true. Hopefully I have learned a few things and matured more also.

I still get very involved in a few topics, but not like I used to. Why? To mention just a few: blood pressure, stress,headaches and hardheaded.

What do I receive from AD now. Most of all, I enjoy the well informed discussion and disagreements from both sides. No I don't call it CONTESTS. I enjoy the benefits of AD much more this way thanks to Jamie and Mike. They have been so helpful and nice, even though I was such a hardhead at one time(still a hardhead at times, but that is my moms fault wacko.gif ).

There have been so many helpful individuals on AD to which I am grateful.

I will never pretend to be in a league with some of you, but I enjoy being associated with this wonderful staff at AD.

Thanks for being the best Debating Site on the internet.

Please keep it the same. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
nighttimer
QUOTE(lordhelmet @ Aug 15 2005, 07:50 AM)
With that, I'm done posting for the day and for the week.  Thanks in advance for any comments on this post.


laugh.gif Wow. Short day. Shorter week. laugh.gif

QUOTE
Really? Debate isn't a contest?

Per the dictionary: Debate: A formal contest of argumentation in which two opposing teams defend and attack a given proposition.

The forum we're in is "America's Debate". It isn't "America's Water-cooler Discussion Forum", "America's Chat Room", or even "American Idol". Debate means that you have multiple people, with differing opinions, ARGUING in a way where OPPOSING views are CONTESTING for dominance.

That, sir, is a competitive arena.


Debate is a "contest" if you use it as a noun. Use it as a verb and it means:

To consider something; deliberate.
To engage in argument by discussing opposing points.
To engage in a formal discussion or argument


I don't believe most of us come to this board with the idea that we're going to "win" a debate. Nobody gets a trophy. Nobody gets declared a winner unless you want to demand a recount of this year's "Best of" awards. The essayist Ishmael Reed once said, "writin' is fightin'." I know what he means and sometimes we are boxing on 17-inch monitor screens, but nobody gets anything bruised and scarred but our egos and vanity.

QUOTE
Of course, we try to be "civil". We aren't suicide bombers after all. At least, I hope not. But, we have distinctly different views of the world and thus debate, elections, battles over court nominees, and the rest. If one side prevails... logically, one side does not.

Of course, with respect to civility, there are many ways to display hostility. One is the blatant personal attack (i.e, "you're such a jerk, etc").

The other one is the put down along the lines of "you just don't get it" which is displayed, along with paragraphs of similar condescension that are designed to display the assertion that your "opponent" is just "not that smart". Or, one can throw around terms like "vituperation" (did I even SPELL that one right?) and proclaim they are here to "teach" us (I don't recall signing up for that class and if I did, I plan to drop).

Civil debate is one of those things like beauty. It's in the eye of the beholder. While crude profanity and namecalling is easy to spot as ugliness.... condescending arrogance, which is equally aggressive and hostile, tries in a pseudo sophisticated way to hide behind "civility".

In my humble view, that dog doesn't hunt. Communication is best when it's clear and to the point. Flowery rhetoric, designed to indirectly put down a debate opponent (yes, opponent) in this contest (yes, contest) is not any more "civil" than me calling someone a horse's behind.


Civility isn't a request on this board. It's a requirement. When we misbehave and don't play well with others we get a time out. If we still insist on kicking everyone in the shins and throwing sand out of the sandbox, we get no ice cream and a rap across the knuckles. And if we STILL won't straighten up and fly right, we get a permanent vacation and we can go play with our ball somewhere else.

That takes some getting used to. Yeah, sometimes it seems like the Moderators stop all the fun just before I'm about to get medieval on some poor sap, but they are equal-opportunity killjoys and they don't play favorites. Really. They don't.

Some of us have mastered the art of diplomacy. And diplomacy is the way to say the nastiest thing in the nicest way. Ever watch the U.S. Senate on C-SPAN? It's almost comical to watch them say, "I am afraid I must disagree with my good friend, the distinguished Senator from Ohio." And then they diplomatically call into question the distinguished Senator's sanity, power of reason, sobriety and ability to walk and chew gum at the same time. Oh, it's hilarious! It's debating refined to a art form while calling your opponent a babbling idiot to his face.

Some of us have mastered the fine art of destroying an "opponents" argument and leaving his person untouched. I don't have to question another debater's family tree, intelligence or relationship with their mother to find the flaws in their posts and fillet it like a trout.

Any idiot can throw around four-letter words and barroom taunts. It takes a certain finesse and panache to do it with style and wit and demolish the post without demolishing the poster. There's a subtle, but discernible difference between the two points, but it is there.

Debatings on this board isn't about slaying the enemy and forcing them to bend the knee to the superior force of your argument. Who needs that hassle? Ain't there enough stress in our live already? Who wants to come on America's Debate to get stressed out even more? Not me. I could be reading a book or playing Monopoly with my kids or something.

You want to know what's really funny about all this? This entire board, our debates, our throwdowns, steel cage death matches and blood feuds only matter to US . We've convinced ourselves of their importance, but just for giggles try telling someone who doesn't "get" America's Debate about what goes on here. Next time you're at a bar bending an elbow and pounding a brew, tell your buddies, "Yeah man, I ripped into this right-wing weenie on the board today. He tried to say that the Establishment Clause wasn't relevant to the next Supreme Court nominee and I just tore him a new one!"

Your buddies will look at you as if you have lost your mind. wacko.gif The point being is outside of this board, our well-spun words don't mean all that much to anybody but us.

QUOTE
And, I stand by my views with respect to moderation in this forum.


That's fine, lordhelmet. That's probably to be expected. But to be sure it is a isolated and minority view. The majority of the members here apparently are not chafing under the way the Moderators administer the board. Just go through the Members List and see how many vote with their feet and go elsewhere where they are doubtlessly happier.

I personally have invited several individuals to post here, but the VERY FIRST THING I tell them is that the board takes moderating it seriously. Some folks can't deal with it and move on. Some make it for a few weeks. Others barely last a day.

But constructive criticism has its value. We might all owe LH a heads-up for stimulating this debate a bit. Sometimes having an opinion and be willing to express and defend it (like Cindy Sheehan) can require a little courage and a thick hide.

There's nothing wrong with holding a dissenting view. In time, it may become the prevailing view. But if not enough of us agree that something is broken, there's not going to be a consensus that it needs to be fixed.

Just my two cents and worth exactly what you paid for it.
lordhelmet
QUOTE(nighttimer @ Aug 16 2005, 01:49 AM)
 
 
QUOTE(lordhelmet)
 
Of course, we try to be "civil". We aren't suicide bombers after all. At least, I hope not. But, we have distinctly different views of the world and thus debate, elections, battles over court nominees, and the rest. If one side prevails... logically, one side does not. 
 
Of course, with respect to civility, there are many ways to display hostility. One is the blatant personal attack (i.e, "you're such a jerk, etc"). 
 
The other one is the put down along the lines of "you just don't get it" which is displayed, along with paragraphs of similar condescension that are designed to display the assertion that your "opponent" is just "not that smart". Or, one can throw around terms like "vituperation" (did I even SPELL that one right?) and proclaim they are here to "teach" us (I don't recall signing up for that class and if I did, I plan to drop). 
 
Civil debate is one of those things like beauty. It's in the eye of the beholder. While crude profanity and namecalling is easy to spot as ugliness.... condescending arrogance, which is equally aggressive and hostile, tries in a pseudo sophisticated way to hide behind "civility". 
 
In my humble view, that dog doesn't hunt. Communication is best when it's clear and to the point. Flowery rhetoric, designed to indirectly put down a debate opponent (yes, opponent) in this contest (yes, contest) is not any more "civil" than me calling someone a horse's behind.


Civility isn't a request on this board. It's a requirement. When we misbehave and don't play well with others we get a time out. If we still insist on kicking everyone in the shins and throwing sand out of the sandbox, we get no ice cream and a rap across the knuckles. And if we STILL won't straighten up and fly right, we get a permanent vacation and we can go play with our ball somewhere else.

That takes some getting used to. Yeah, sometimes it seems like the Moderators stop all the fun just before I'm about to get medieval on some poor sap, but they are equal-opportunity killjoys and they don't play favorites. Really. They don't.

Some of us have mastered the art of diplomacy. And diplomacy is the way to say the nastiest thing in the nicest way. Ever watch the U.S. Senate on C-SPAN? It's almost comical to watch them say, "I am afraid I must disagree with my good friend, the distinguished Senator from Ohio." And then they diplomatically call into question the distinguished Senator's sanity, power of reason, sobriety and ability to walk and chew gum at the same time. Oh, it's hilarious! It's debating refined to a art form while calling your opponent a babbling idiot to his face.

Some of us have mastered the fine art of destroying an "opponents" argument and leaving his person untouched. I don't have to question another debater's family tree, intelligence or relationship with their mother to find the flaws in their posts and fillet it like a trout.

Any idiot can throw around four-letter words and barroom taunts. It takes a certain finesse and panache to do it with style and wit and demolish the post without demolishing the poster. There's a subtle, but discernible difference between the two points, but it is there.

*



I must thank you for making my point as did at least two other posters in this thread.

As I said, there are many ways to be uncivil and you've described some of the ways that it's commonly done in here.

My point is that the rules should be enforced fairly and equally in this forum.

If there is a demand for "civility" and "constructive debate", and then you have several posters who routinely belittle others with a pseudo "fine-art", which at the end of the day aren't really different than using those four letter words that you refer to, in Quentin Tarantino inspired bluster, wish to go "medieval" on some "poor sap", then "civility" is being left on the side of the road.

That's not "diplomacy" and it's not "civility". It's sanctimonious condescension, hostility, and it's distinctly uncivil.

If civility in this forum is a "requirement" as you maintain, then it should be enforced equally and on all posters; ESPECIALLY on those who call themselves staff members and moderators.

Or, we should realize that debate is inherently a "contest", and contains elements of hostility and aggression and the rules around such behavior should be spelled out more clearly for the "poor saps" who fell of the back of the turnip truck while they were "galloping" to the forum.

Julian
QUOTE(American Heritage Dictionary)
civility
n
1. Courteous behaviour; politeness
2. A courteous act or utterance


Where does this definition exclude any kind of criticism (or even insult)? Particularly when, in accordance with ad.gif rules, the critical civilities are directed against a poster's argument, and not against them personally?

I applaud your tenacity, and I can see your point - on occasion, flowery personal insults have been given more of a pass here than base and crude ones.

However, it's been reiterated by several staff members that unless these flowery personal insults are reported as rule violations, it's pretty unlikely that anything will be done about them, given the size of the ad.gif site.

That doesn't mean that the staff and moderators don't take a dim view of any ad hominem attacks - it may just be that we don't know about them. And yes, even some staffers occasionally give in to temptation and do the same themselves - we're only human, and unless they are reported the rest of the staff is not going to do anything about them.

Think of the moderators as a police force. They can deter crime (by posting things like Mike announcement). They can detect and prosecute crimes - but only really those that are reported by the public - if no body is found, there's no visible evidence in plain view, and nobody is reported missing, they can't start a murder investigation until one or more of these factors change.

And they can't really prevent crime at all - they don't come into your house and fit CCTV and alarms and window locks, nor do they provide you with a gun and the training to use it effectively. You have to do that yourself.

In the same way - more so, in fact - the ad.gif moderators rely on the staff to behave themselves in accordance with the rules, and to report other posters who they think may have violated them.

Unlike the police force, ad.gif is not a democracally accountable institution except to the extent that if posters don't like the rules here, they can leave. In very simple terms, Mike and Jaime are absolute (if benign) monarchs, with a group of selected privy counsellors (the staff) and appointed sherriffs (the moderators).

In light of that - and maybe I am being a literal-minded simpleton, here - but it seems to me that there is one thing you should take from Mike's detailed response to your suggested rule changes that your declared debating style of win/lose should enable you to clearly understand:

You lose.

The rules are not going to change to better suit your debating style - or mine, or anybody else's.
nighttimer
QUOTE(lordhelmet @ Aug 16 2005, 07:09 AM)
If civility in this forum is a "requirement" as you maintain, then it should be enforced equally and on all posters; ESPECIALLY on those who call themselves staff members and moderators. 
 
Or, we should realize that debate is inherently a "contest", and contains elements of hostility and aggression and the rules around such behavior should be spelled out more clearly for the "poor saps" who fell of the back of the turnip truck while they were "galloping" to the forum.


Maybe it's just me but I'm not getting what has you so incensed lordhelmet.

QUOTE
This week— a week when we should be celebrating the 3rd anniversary of AD—has been one of the worst weeks in AD history. We have received 24 reported posts, issued 3 strikes, and suspended 1 member this month, and it is only August 5. We do not enjoy issuing strikes, we do not enjoy placing members in the moderation queue, and we do not enjoy suspending members. We enjoy civil, constructive political debate.


Seems to me The Rules are enforced equally and on all posters just fine.

It is also equally apparent that the majority of members do not agree that debate is a contest, a football game, a world series of poker or The Apprentice with some rich goof with a bad comb-over.

Sometimes the hardest thing for posters to do is to get over themselves. Words are very important but if they're taken too seriously it just becomes a bloodsport. You can't take yourself too seriously and you can't fall in love with your words because as I said before, outside of this forum THEY. DON'T. MATTER.

"Civility" becomes difficult when one party extends it but the other is focused soley on "winning" and not "losing" a debate. I don't even know how a "winner" can be declared. Whomever gets the most abusive posts in without getting a strike or the thread closed?

Apparently, lordhelmet feels the fix is in and the Moderators are in on it. Well, if you buy into conspiracy theories perhaps, but most of the time I find they're just ordinary people doing a thankless job the majority of us lack the temperament for. Rather than dump on them we should try to make their jobs easier.
Erasmussimo
I have a suggestion to make that, I confess, is likely impossible to administer. I propose a new rule to the effect that no reference, direct or indirect, may be made to any other participant (except, of course, in the casual conversation areas). No use of second person. No use of handles. This forces the discussion to address ideas only, not people.

This rule looks fine at first, but additional consideration raises difficulties. Consider the following spectrum of statements:

"You are ignorant."
"You don't know what you are talking about."
"Your statement reveals massive ignorance."
"That statement reveals massive ignorance."

The first two statements are covered by existing rules. The third statement might be covered under existing rules, and would certainly be covered under my "No second-person" rule. But the last statement clearly slips by my proposed rule. Thus, to be effective, my rule would have to be amended to include any reference to any personal attribute of any participant. Thus, under such an expanded rule, the following statements would be illegal:

"That statement is ignorant."
"That statement is a fogeyism."
"Only fools believe that."

While these statements would be legal:

"That statement is absurd."
"That statement is ridiculous."
"That statement is contemptible."

As you can see, the semantic discrimination required to implement the rule is beyond most people, and in any event would be difficult to administer. Nevertheless, I think that the rule could be watered down to a guideline: purge your writing of references to other participants, and concentrate on the statements only.

I'd like to raise another difficult point. In a discussion with another participant, that participant began behaving with a bit of prickliness. She wrote, "I resent your attempt to portray me as manipulative or unjustified." I responded by reminding her that I was not her enemy and asking her not to be so hostile (I wish I could present the quote here to demonstrate its temperature but it's gone.) Apparently she reported that comment, which resulted in its removal as belittling. This situation drips with irony. I was genuinely attempting to discuss the matter with good will, and the temperature of her phrasing was rising. I attempted to lower the temperature of the situation and for my efforts suffered the public humiliation of being branded a "belittler". The only logical conclusion I can draw here is that I should not try to cool things off myself, but should go running to mommy and daddy every time somebody isn't nice. If I were to follow the recommended procedure faithfully, I fear that I would deluge the moderators with reports, for there are a great many cases every day of people engaging in rude behavior.

Now, in all honesty, I would actually prefer that situation. I'd much prefer to have the moderators breathing down the necks of the rudesters, pouncing on every tiny transgression. This would, I think, dramatically improve the quality of the discussion. But the moderators have also indicated their fatigue in coping with all this petty nonsense. So what is it to be? Where do you draw the line between "too petty to report" and "too rude to ignore"?
Sleeper
I don't think I have seen a better example of irony than I have in this one paragraph.

QUOTE
I'd like to raise another difficult point. In a discussion with another participant, that participant began behaving with a bit of prickliness. She wrote, "I resent your attempt to portray me as manipulative or unjustified." I responded by reminding her that I was not her enemy and asking her not to be so hostile (I wish I could present the quote here to demonstrate its temperature but it's gone.) Apparently she reported that comment, which resulted in its removal as belittling. This situation drips with irony. I was genuinely attempting to discuss the matter with good will, and the temperature of her phrasing was rising. I attempted to lower the temperature of the situation and for my efforts suffered the public humiliation of being branded a "belittler". The only logical conclusion I can draw here is that I should not try to cool things off myself, but should go running to mommy and daddy every time somebody isn't nice. If I were to follow the recommended procedure faithfully, I fear that I would deluge the moderators with reports, for there are a great many cases every day of people engaging in rude behavior.


You said that you suffered the public humiliation of being branded a belittler. This statement is implying that you do not believe that to be so, correct? But then almost in the same breath you say "I should not try to cool things off myself, but should go running to mommy and daddy every time somebody isn't nice"
You just belittled her again!!!! Even though she remains unnamed in this instance she will most likely see this post. How can you not see your own words are belittling.



logophage
QUOTE(Sleeper @ Aug 16 2005, 11:04 AM)
You said that you suffered the public humiliation of being branded a belittler. This statement is implying that you do not believe that to be so, correct?  But then almost in the same breath you say "I should not try to cool things off myself, but should go running to mommy and daddy every time somebody isn't nice" 
You just belittled her again!!!! Even though she remains unnamed in this instance she will most likely see this post. How can you not see your own words are belittling. 
*

I don't want to derail this into a "who belittled whom" polemic, however I didn't read Erasmussimo's comment the way you did, Sleeper. I read it as a fairly honest (from his perspective) view on the sociology of AD. He seems to view flagging posts for belittling comments as a form of tattle-telling. I have sympathy for this position as I viewed it this way for a while too. I've since changed my position (though reluctantly wink.gif).

It's easy to interpret statements in the negative sense if one is already inclined to view the debater as one's political nemesis. I suggest that we take a step back to realize that we're all people behind these usernames (well...until sentient AI is developed). There will always be the opportunity to interpret statements in a belittling manner even if the author had no intention. A little empathy can go a long way towards improving both the tone and the readability of a post.
bucket
Oh I think it is more than obvious the unnamed she is me. It was hardly an anonymous grievance.

I think these sort of things should be taken to PM. I did not report your post..or as you have said go running to mommy and daddy and logophage I don't know why you think I or anyone here should have to take that sort of imagery as not belittling. It is quite apparent I am being portrayed as a baby.

I don't understand Erasmussimo's desire for this public spectacle. I think it is silly and not something that needs to be splattered all over the AD board. Makes the place look trashy.

Here is my comment or suggestion...you have a problem with something someone specifically said to you either ignore it or PM them. If they don't respond well and continue then PM the admin.

Cube Jockey
Bucket - I don't think logophage was talking about you - he was speaking in general terms that reporting belittling behavior feels like tattling on someone. He wrote that he initially felt that way and eventually got over it.

Reporting posts isn't tattling, if you care about ad.gif then you have an obligation to do so. The staff won't know about a problem unless people report it. So if you see something written that looks like it violates the Rules then please report it.
Erasmussimo
QUOTE(bucket @ Aug 16 2005, 08:43 PM)
I did not report  your post..or as you have said go running to mommy and daddy and logophage I don't know why you think I or anyone here should have to take that sort of imagery as not belittling.  It is quite apparent I am being portrayed as a baby.


I suggest that a careful re-reading of my statement may induce you to retract this claim that you are being portrayed as a baby. The statement in question was as follows:

"The only logical conclusion I can draw here is that I should not try to cool things off myself, but should go running to mommy and daddy every time somebody isn't nice. "

Note that the subject of the verb "go running" is "I". The subject of the verb is not you. The statement is subjunctive in tone and refers to the scenario in which I go running, etc. The entire context and meaning of the surrounding sentences addresses what I should do, and in no way refers to your actions in this regard.

Please take note and respond accordingly.
Jaime
How pathetic. A topic on being civil resorts to petty, personal bickering.

It's real simple folks. Be civil and stay. Be a jerk and leave.

If you would like to generally discuss the announcement that inspired this thread, please do so in a constructive way. Keep the personal crap out of it.
schmed
Mike,

I hesitate to offer suggestions to what I believe to be a truly great site! You and Jaime have done wonders and have created something remarkable. If you change absolutely nothing, you are still orders of magnitude ahead of anything else out there. AD is one of a kind. Please keep that in mind as you contemplate any change at all.


That being said, I ask you to look again at some of Wertz' thoughts below. Wertz, my apologies, I have edited your words a little:

Statement of Purpose

America's Debate is a forum for the civil, constructive exchange of ideas. The rules exist here to keep the discussion as civil and constructive as possible. Period. The rules don't exist to stifle constructive debate, but to enable it. America's Debate is not a contest. There is no score-keeping here, no winners, no losers (except, maybe, those who get themselves banned). Those who feel they can - or even should - "push the boundaries of the rules to their advantage" simply don't get it.


I think Wertz' words can serve as a foundation for a very simple statement of purpose. You know, an "ABOUT US" button on the menu bar that gives a clear statement as to what this site is all about and how we're different. I believe such a concise statement, prominently displayed, will improve civility and increase unity.


The closest to a purpose statement I could find was in the survival guide:

Survival Guide
America's Debate hosts some of the most civil and most constructive political debate on the internet. Our community is thriving thanks to combination of involved members, dedicated staff, and elementary rules. Our members are very protective of the America's Debate community, and actively involve themselves in improving the quality of debate.

The Survival Guide serves to assist all members, new and old, in what behavior is appreciated and expected when participating at America's Debate. It includes details on debating tactics and the citing of sources, as well as personal attacks, communicating with the staff and members, and more.


I believe Wertz' statement is much clearer and more direct. It explicitly says what Americas Debate is and what it should be. The statement from the survival guide does not. Remember, your site is unique! Other sites may claim to be civil, but yours is the only site that means it. To a new visitor, you are just another debate site. For the visitor to know differently, you have to tell them--up front. As it is now, they have to dig deep into the rules section to find the embedded Survival Guide statement.

1. Respectfully, I believe America's Debate needs a statement of purpose that is clear and visible. The statement needs to emphasize the unique, civil nature of the site.



Along these same lines--clarity of purpose and visibility--I believe you would be greatly served by incorporating this same civil nature of America's Debate into a motto.

Short and simple, you could convey your message to every viewer, on every page. Your motto could be ideally displayed below "America's Debate" in the title. Your message would be a clear introduction to new viewers, and a subtle reminder to the veteran members. And mottos unite people around a central theme. You could even solicit suggested mottos from the members. In any case, your message of civility would be gently communicated to each viewer, while serving to explicitly state the true, unique nature of America's Debate.

2. Respectfully, I believe America's Debate needs a motto reflecting the unique, civil nature of the site.



Please take my thoughts in the positive manner in which I tried to present them. Whatever you do, your site will remain the best on the entire web for civil and constructive debate.
BoF
Debate has been presented as a contest to be won or lost in this thread. While, it has that element, it is much more. If everyone thought the same way, there really wouldn't be any need for a debate board to sort out iossues of the day.

Someone sent me this in email and it reminded me of this thread, the importance of a variety of views, etc.

Battle of the Colors
Cylinder
So, does anyone really see any improvement on the quality of debate?
Jaime
QUOTE(Cylinder @ Mar 3 2006, 02:13 AM)
So, does anyone really see any improvement on the quality of debate?
*


Could you please be more specific? We have had a very low number of reports since this topic last started. Plus, in my personal opinion, I don't don't agree. I think overall our members have regained their civility since the last wave of nastiness.

If we're not getting reports, it indicates the members aren't seeing any rule violations, which includes uncivil debate. We rely on all of you to help set the tone here. smile.gif
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