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America's Debate > Forum Information > Comments and Suggestions
Like clockwork, once the Democratic nominee was decided and we had two candidates for President the interesting and engaging topics rolled out. sour.gif There are a couple of members who are more responsible for this growth than others and of course I will not single anyone out. But I think that its time someone said something about it. Now I have no problem talking about the policies of Obama and McCain - this is a debate site and we should be discussing the policies of the nominees. I just do not think it is necessary to have two topics a day on Obama and one topic a day on McCain. It isnt necessary. Many of the topics are slight variations of topics that already exist. Now Jaime and Mike do a real good job of running a tight ship here while still fostering opennes to all ideas. I am not suggesting that the moderators become more vigilant with the closing of topics, but I think it would be a service to the ad.gif community if we were more careful about posting brand new topics about something that is already being discussed. It clogs the discussion board and force people to rehash the same points over and over without furthering the debate. This could just be me, and if it is ignore this and go on your merry way. I just thought I could appeal to the members to find a much better medium.
As someone who has noted the proliferation of Barack Obama threads on ad.gif I can identify with what you're saying, lederuvdapac. At one point I counted 12 active threads about Obama among the board's Top 100 and most were based upon a negative premise.

I'm probably the most closely identified Barack Obama supporter on the board and its driven up my daily posting count far higher than normal responding to some of the more outrageous attacks. Yesterday, I came across an article about John MCCain's forgotten first wife which I briefly thought about spinning off into its own thread. Upon further consideration, I placed in its proper place; TinFoilLiberal's "Is this really what this campaign is going to be about?"

There are many topics worthy of discussion, but not ever topic deserves its own thread. America's Debate is first and foremost a political board as most of the posters here are considerably more politically aware and astute than the average American. But there can be too much of a good thing. Endless variations of Obama vs. McCain and what you get is The History Channel approach to Adolf Hitler: All Hitler all the time.

My feeling is this too shall pass. We are about to enter a relatively fallow period of presidential campaign coverage. The primaries are over. Besides an external event forcing Obama and John McCain to comment or respond to, the only major announcement they can make is who they might select as their running mate. That won't be forthcoming until at least before the respective national conventions.

I know I'm looking forward to the lull as an opportunity to post less. The heart of the summer is coming and there are far better things to do than sitting inside the house bloviating about politicians. cool.gif
nighttimer's right - this will pass. It has the last two elections we went through. We'll make it through this one too.

My suggestion for now? If you think the topic is lacking in actual substance (and yeah, a handful of them lately...are....well...) - then simply ignore it. Topics without replies die quiet lonely deaths, as it should be.

Thanks for bringing this up though, leder. It's good this was put up for discussion. smile.gif
Good points, all. I would add another suggestion to Jaime's - this one for those who are starting new threads. Before posting, ask yourself if there's an actual issue to be debated - and consider whether or not you might be starting a debate just to score some sort of political point in relation to one candidate or one party. If, as you compose your opening post, you are thinking "This will get to the McCain/Obama supporters" or "This'll show those liberals/conservatives/Republicans/Democrats", maybe you should think twice - or three or four times - before clicking on that "Post New Topic" button. (And that doesn't just go for election season, though I realize that, especially with a presidential election in the offing, the temptation is mighty.)

Even if you do decide to litter the board with every spurious smear that comes down the pike, the board will survive you as it has weathered so many others who were here solely to inject invective into the debate. And when you finally decide to stop posting because you've been unable to make your opponents bleed from every orifice with the brilliance of your talking point regurgitation, you won't be missed.

Everyone else, try not to feed the trolls - they thrive on the attention and, if ignored, most of them will eventually go away and the rest of the participants here can go on enjoying the discussion. Meanwhile, fasten your seat belts, remember the "Report" button, and try to keep your sense of humor and proportion: it's an election year. unsure.gif
QUOTE(Wertz @ Jun 15 2008, 10:21 PM) *
remember the "Report" button

Here's the thing about the report button... it's like that button on busy intersections on the traffic light pole. In theory you press it and the light changes for you but the truth is it's not connected to anything. It's there to keep you busy while the light changes. The Report button seems to be there so you can blow steam into a vacuum instead of posting nasty things about the person you reported. Nothing seems to come of it. The same posters pull the same stunts and no amount of Report will change that.

Think about it... Can you imagine the amount of times one of my posts has been reported for being off topic, containing gratuitous Winona Ryder references or just plain mean? Thousands probably and yet... I'm still here.
QUOTE(quarkhead @ Jun 23 2008, 05:53 PM) *
BTW: If you are routinely going to start this type thread between now and the election, I would respectfully suggest that you recuse yourself from moderating those self-initiated threads.

A moderator's aside, if I may, before things get too snippy 'round here. As a general rule we don't moderate our own threads, and with very little exception, we don't moderate threads we participate in. Amlord's arguments may or may not be specious, so why don't we stick to those.

With all due respect, quarkhead, I think BoF's concern is a legitimate one.

It's one thing for a member to open three threads in a week that are highly critical of the presumptive Democratic Presidential nominee. It's another thing entirely when its a Moderator doing it.

Certainly Amlord is free to open any thread on any topic he desires. Nobody is denying his right to do so. I would expect him not to moderate his own threads.

However, when it becomes clear that a Moderator Is taking an active political stance that calls into question whether he is now objective and impartial in any related political thread or just another partisan--albeit one who wields more power than the ordinary member.

Four out of seven of Amlord's most recent topics have been critical of Senator Obama.

This makes it difficult, if not impossible to believe he can offer impartial and dispassionate oversight in Election 2008 threads.

I am not saying Amlord has compromised his ability to be a fair and just Moderator. But it is a legitimate question to be asked as it is within the realm of possibility.
When any of you see a moderator moderating their own topic, report it or PM me directly.

Otherwise, I have NO idea how to make our moderation staff any more fair than it already is. Seriously. We'll take suggestions. From what I see, our staff is fabulous and does a stellar job.

Let's remember it IS election season. If you've been here for awhile, you already know that a very small number of you will get so mad at this place you'll need a break. You'll probably need a break from all things politics. Do it. Take that break. It's OK. We'll all be here when you get back. We'll all remember you. We'll still respect you. Don't hurt your mental health because you couldn't step back for a few weeks.

Stay rational, we'll get through this. flowers.gif

And yes, we WILL still be here when you get back - we just renewed our domain until 2011!
QUOTE(Jaime @ Jun 23 2008, 07:08 PM) *
When any of you see a moderator moderating their own topic, report it or PM me directly.

Otherwise, I have NO idea how to make our moderation staff any more fair than it already is. Seriously. We'll take suggestions. From what I see, our staff is fabulous and does a stellar job.

I wasn't questioning how fabulous a staffer is or is not. Nor am I casting aspersions on the job anyone is doing.

My point was it is difficult to be both a referee and a player at the same time and be expected to handle both tasks fairly and well.

If you're inviting suggestions Jaime here is one; Any Moderator who makes posts clearly indicating their personal political slant, should refrain from moderating similar posts.

That's all.
QUOTE(nighttimer @ Jun 23 2008, 11:37 PM) *
My point was it is difficult to be both a referee and a player at the same time and be expected to handle both tasks fairly and well.

If you're inviting suggestions Jaime here is one; Any Moderator who makes posts clearly indicating their personal political slant, should refrain from moderating similar posts.

Given that most moderators participate from time to time in most topics and that the political leanings of most moderators are pretty clear to anyone who's been around here for a few months (never mind several years), I think this would be difficult to enforce - especially as everyone's definition of "similar" is bound to differ. However, it may allay some concerns to know that every effort is - and has always been - made to ensure that the moderation of the site is as neutral as possible.

As has been mentioned, moderators are not supposed to moderate any thread in which they've participated (never mind threads which they've started). There have been rare exceptions, but only when there was a clear violation of the rules or when a thread has very clearly departed from the topic at hand - and never, to my knowledge, when the moderator in question started the thread in question.

Further, Mod Notes and edits are only done in response to posts that have been reported. Reported posts are almost always discussed among staff members (administrators, moderators, and/or committee members) before action is taken and, in contentious, partisan threads, a diversity of opinion is solicited and (usually) a general consensus reached before any action is taken. I say "almost always" because, again, there are some instances in which there is a very clear breach of the rules (unequivocal name-calling or attacks, inflammatory slurs based on race, gender, etc., profanity filter violations, and so on) in which edits are made as quickly as possible.

When there is any doubt, though, reported posts are discussed in a multi-partisan fashion before being acted upon. This is one of the reasons that there is often an apparent delay in reported posts resulting in a response from the staff, one of the reasons that some reported posts are not acted upon at all (or, at least, not acted upon publicly), and one of the reasons that threads are sometimes closed altogether for "Staff Review" (some of which are re-opened, occasionally with edits, and some of which are permanently closed - after due deliberation among staffers of differing political positions).

Finally, while any member of the staff, like any other participant, can report posts for violations of the rules or when a thread is straying from the topic, moderators will seldom take any action on a post that they themselves have reported - except, again, where the violation is unequivocal. The moderator or administrator who ends up making an edit, issuing a Mod Note, or closing a thread is fairly random: it's often whoever happens to be around once a decision has been made on a reported post or thread. We take great pains to avoid even the semblance of partisanship in the moderation of the site, but sometimes the appearance of staff bias may be unavoidable - especially if the alternative would be to allow a flame war to escalate.

Trust me, if I ever thought a member of the staff was exercising partisanship in the moderation of any thread, you would all hear about it - right before I resigned from the committee and quit the site. And I think every member of the staff feels exactly the same. That may not be good enough for some participants, but it is the very best that we are able to do.

If any of you ever feel that partisanship has been involved in a Mod Note, post edit, or thread closure, feel free to report it or get in touch with Jaime, Mike, or the staff member you most trust (if any). But we do strive to be as neutral as is humanly possible, given the constraints of time, ability, and availability of the staff.

Oh - and read my current signature. It is as applicable to this site as it was to the Constitutional Convention. happy.gif
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