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SuzySteamboat
I don't know about the rest of you guys, but I come to ad.gif for intelligent, informed debate. When I feel like sifting through the muck of logical fallacies, irrelevant personal attacks, and hit-and-run posts, I simply visit my local newspaper's website and read those comments. Why I do this myself is anyone's guess, but in the end I always felt like I could load ad.gif for some sanity. Not necessarily people who agree with me, but people genuinely interested in debate. I hold the opinion that the only way we can ever grow and mature as individuals is if we open our minds to the thoughts of others.

As most of you know, there is a survival guide to debating on ad.gif. I've observed several members of ad.gif ignoring these guidelines. A few times, okay. Everyone slips up. Everyone has bad days. These particular members, however, make a habit out of blanket statements, personal attacks, and employing logical fallacies - and when confronted, simply ignore the posts and continue babbling in the aforementioned manner, change the topic, or make a post attacking the person and ignoring the substance of their post completely.

I do theoretically have a choice to put such individuals on "ignore" - however, this is simply not practical. Even if I ignore all of these members' posts, there are still others whom I respect who choose to quote and respond to the post, which of course is their right. But of course, in reading these respected members' responses, I also read the quoted text of the "ignored" members. There's simply no way around this - you can't debate if you don't quote what you're responding to. However, even if I myself choose to avoid the pitfalls of what will inevitably be another demonstration of blatantly ignoring survival guide etiquette, I see others fall into the same trap when I read their responses (which are predictably completely ignored in favor of personal attacks or moving on to the next hit job).

We have members putting words in others' mouths. We have members citing made-up statistics. We have members introducing new questions for debate in the middle of an existing thread. We have members that respond to others' posts with a hyperlink and little (if any) additional personal dialogue. We have members questioning what the meaning of "is" is... okay, we haven't gotten quite to that point yet, but there has been more than one member attempt to redefine existing words. How can you debate anything if you don't consider language to have set definitions?

In whose opinion is any of the above debating?

I don't know a solution to this, but I do know I am very frustrated with the quality of debate for the past several months. The members (including moderators) of ad.gif are what make the site. One (admittedly flawed) suggestion is to incorporate adherence to the survival guide (yes, that is the third time I've linked to that in this post alone in the vain wishes that people not only read it, but decide it's a good idea to adhere to its suggestions) into the three strikes policy. As of right now, there are very good reasons for issuing a strike (found here) but in and of themselves, do not necessarily ensure that debate is informed and intelligent. The items listed in the survival guide do. I honestly think that if someone is not interested in maturely and intelligently debating a topic, they do not deserve to be here and continue causing chaos and thread derailment. I honestly don't think I'm the only one who's noticed a decline in debate quality and has thought about what can be done about it.
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Trouble
QUOTE
We have members putting words in others' mouths. We have members citing made-up statistics. We have members introducing new questions for debate in the middle of an existing thread. We have members that respond to others' posts with a hyperlink and little (if any) additional personal dialogue. We have members questioning what the meaning of "is" is... okay, we haven't gotten quite to that point yet, but there has been more than one member attempt to redefine existing words. How can you debate anything if you don't consider language to have set definitions?


These are concerns which are based on a method of approach to any given arguement. This is akin to a 'poor grammar' complaint. I'll admit some people have refined their approach better than others. There are reasonable expectations and unreasonable ones. I think your expectations are pushing the envelope on what is realistic.

For what it is worth, I thought we were in better shape than last year in terms of civility. The mods have taken on a more active roll and I thought the threads themselves were rolling through their evolution more smoothly. Perhaps you could state your case with examples so we could better grasp the context in which these infractions happened? Perfection requires patience SuzySteamboat.
Hobbes
QUOTE(Trouble @ Sep 18 2008, 11:22 AM) *
For what it is worth, I thought we were in better shape than last year in terms of civility.


Is there a reason civility shouldn't be expected at all times? Achieving that isn't 'perfection', it is merely the foundation on which a reasonable debate can take place.
AuthorMusician
I am losing my sense of seriousness about debate. Maybe it's just the election season and getting far more network shullbit than I'm used to.

It does look like too much personal attack going on, must keep the mods real busy.
Trouble
QUOTE(Hobbes)
Is there a reason civility shouldn't be expected at all times? Achieving that isn't 'perfection', it is merely the foundation on which a reasonable debate can take place.


The comment was derived from the more active role in the implementation of the rules. I would describe them as moving in a positive direction. It was a compliment. Seemed plain to me. If you interpreted my comments as a pass on sloppy debating than you are reading into things which are not there. There is a fine line in holding a rigid debate stance in the hopes of encouraging constructive debate and barking like a chihuahua which then increases the likelihood of sarcastic responses. The latter two sentences make my intentions were quite clear.

The mods have taken on a more active roll and I thought the threads themselves were rolling through their evolution more smoothly. Perhaps you could state your case with examples so we could better grasp the context in which these infractions happened?

What concerns me is everyone has fallen prey to the well-meaning, innocuous lapses I've witnessed over the years. Others would fall into the flame-bait category. SuzySteamboat's request to open up the strike guidelines would be very difficult to implement. I have seen some of the most seasoned representatives of this board (myself included) breach one of the criteria on one occasion or another. The difference is we are not intentionally trying to be disruptive.

The only way to make SuzySteamboat's idea work is to have a continuing education points system in place where after so many "loose points" are built up (just like strikes) a decision will then have to be made with that individual poster. Now if you ask me that sounds like an enormous amount of work and I'm not sure it can or should be handled by the mod squad.

The problem is different people are sensitive to different tones. I'm not sure how any more enforcement of the guidelines can increase the debating standard. It won't if one becomes tacky, immature, vindictive, or disagreeable with those who don't see things their way. The proposal is an attempt at legislating morality. It is not an easy thing to implement. Simply demanding it may not get you where you want to go. It will probably encourage an opposite reaction. I repeat, perfection requires patience.
SuzySteamboat
QUOTE(Trouble @ Sep 18 2008, 04:01 PM) *
What concerns me is everyone has fallen prey to the well-meaning, innocuous lapses I've witnessed over the years. Others would fall into the flame-bait category. SuzySteamboat's request to open up the strike guidelines would be very difficult to implement. I have seen some of the most seasoned representatives of this board (myself included) breach one of the criteria on one occasion or another. The difference is we are not intentionally trying to be disruptive.


Trouble, I've already stated that "Everyone slips up. Everyone has bad days. These particular members, however, make a habit out of blanket statements, personal attacks, and employing logical fallacies - and when confronted, simply ignore the posts and continue babbling in the aforementioned manner, change the topic, or make a post attacking the person and ignoring the substance of their post completely." I don't know what point you're trying to make here.

In other, far-less-stringently moderated forums, these people who do the underlined portion of the above text are called trolls. They are banned. I completely understand that due to the subjective nature of this board's purpose - debating - that the mods may be far less likely to do such a thing to members of this board. I'm just of the opinion that when these individuals are allowed to keep baiting, keep switching, keep ignoring, keep attacking (among many other things) that the level of discourse on this forum is greatly compromised.

QUOTE(Trouble)
The problem is different people are sensitive to different tones. I'm not sure how any more enforcement of the guidelines can increase the debating standard. It won't if one becomes tacky, immature, vindictive, or disagreeable with those who don't see things their way. The proposal is an attempt at legislating morality. It is not an easy thing to implement. Simply demanding it may not get you where you want to go. It will probably encourage an opposite reaction. I repeat, perfection requires patience.


I'd like to understand how taking action against people who engage in trolling behavior is "legislating morality."
Trouble
QUOTE
I don't know what point you're trying to make here.


My point was directed at Hobbes. There becomes a point where being argumentative within the rules must be not be confused with being disruptive outside the given guidelines. It is a drawn out process trying to prove someone is harassing your comments Suzy. Proving I am: ignoring, cherry picking, or irrationally reasoning with you requires a fair bit of data collection on the part of the staff to prove your point. I am not saying they should not be on the look out for unconstructive behaviour, rather I am saying there are limits to what they can be expected to do, especially in more nuanced situations.

QUOTE
I'd like to understand how taking action against people who engage in trolling behavior is "legislating morality."


Can you prove the individual(s) are being abusive? Will the matter devolve into your word against theirs? Is there a cutoff for unfriendly rebuttals? If I call you a blankety-blank it is obvious, if it isn't then what?

The staff must then evaluate how accurate your observations are and then decide to take action. If one is emotionally invested in the thread their emotion may work against them. If the evaluation presents the image of "you just don't agree with me so I'll make your life difficult" then the mods will feel they are being manipulated over trivial matters. I am not saying these concerns are trivial but we must be aware of the challenges faced with prosecuting such infractions. Will the decisions always end up on your side? How well do the debators accept these changes and follow them? Will the implemenation of these new guidelines create a tit for tat situation of narcs that frustrates all involved to the point where Mike and Jaime pull the plug on the website? This is not a small thing you are asking SuzySteamboat.
La Herring Rouge
I have to agree with Suzy on this.

I have been an off-and-on debater here since early 2003 and I always tell people to come here for intelligent, well-moderated debate.
Early on in my AD days I posted a link to The Flame Warriors pointing out to someone who was most certainly being a Troll, that they should check out the definition of it. I was warned severely and my post was edited by a moderator. (BTW, check out the site, it's hilarious)

I have recently started coming to AD more often and have noticed shrillness and vitriol in many posts. Also, some debaters seem too willing to ignore good counter-arguments and just redirect the argument. It can be annoying to see someone make a claim that, five pages ago, was refuted without contest. To a certain extent we are dealing with the reality that no one can change another person's mind.

However, Suzy, if you seek consolation, read the posts of people violently defending George Bush concerning WMD's and Iraq in the 2004 (I believe) archives. I noticed recently that some of those people are vehemently defending McCain against the comparison to the incompetency and war-mongering of George bush. They certainly don't agree with Bush's policies anymore! So you see, minds can and do change, it's just a slow process. mrsparkle.gif

But seriously, AD has a special quality to it. I have been involved in debates here in which I find myself agreeing with people I never would have believed could come to consensus with me. There are shining moments on this board! Many people, including myself, have gone a long way toward developing a broad, insightful approach to looking at the world around them while debating here. Perhaps it is necessary that we slog through mud and cleave our way through some chaos in order to be just a bit more enlightened.

Julian
Suzy

You make some excellent points. With my committee hat on, I can't breach any confidences, but I think I am staying within the spirit of committee impartiality by saying that ideas like yours have been under condieration for several days now (indeed your thread-opening post has been raised for consideration in committee discussions also).

Election season makes temperatures rise like nothing I've seen in my 5 years on ad.gif. Even the Iraq War threads - while they caused a lot of heated debate - didn't cause as many concerns about the way ad.gif rules were implemented as the 2004 campaign did, and the 2008 campaign is already shaping up to be even more of a threat to the way we do business here.

In part, that has to be a compliment to the standard of application of the ad.gif rules - people have learned (probably in a Pavlovian way) that the rules are pretty firmly enforced. You are right, however, to point out that the Survival Guide is being flouted on occasion. (Recently, on rather too many occasions.)

Basically, I just wanted you (and everyone else who uses ad.gif) to know that the Committee, Moderators and Administrators share your concerns and are giving hard thought to ways of addressing them. More news as it happens... biggrin.gif

I'm hopeful that, in saying these things, I am not breaching any Committee confidences (I quite like being on the Committee, so I don't want to say anything that'll get me kicked off!). Custom and practice is that Committee business is not discussed openly on the main boards (imagine the chaos that would descend if every reported post were visible to everyone, including alleged offenders. Life is too short to endure the endless threads of he-said she-said that would follow!), so I have said everything I feel comfortable in saying.
Looms
QUOTE(Julian @ Sep 18 2008, 07:48 PM) *
I'm hopeful that, in saying these things, I am not breaching any Committee confidences (I quite like being on the Committee, so I don't want to say anything that'll get me kicked off!). Custom and practice is that Committee business is not discussed openly on the main boards (imagine the chaos that would descend if every reported post were visible to everyone, including alleged offenders. Life is too short to endure the endless threads of he-said she-said that would follow!), so I have said everything I feel comfortable in saying.


I must say that I disagree. In fact, I think that a bit of transparency would go a long way as far as people understanding what will and what will not earn them a strike, and at the same time remove the "sneaking behind your back" factor of reporting posts, whether that factor is real or perceived. I'm not saying that every reported post should be discussed in a thread; as you mentioned chaos would likely ensue. But I do think that it is a lot harder for people to take ownership of the site (in a good way, not mutiny!) when these issues are addressed behind the scenes, in secrecy.
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Julian
QUOTE(Looms @ Sep 19 2008, 01:26 AM) *
QUOTE(Julian @ Sep 18 2008, 07:48 PM) *
I'm hopeful that, in saying these things, I am not breaching any Committee confidences (I quite like being on the Committee, so I don't want to say anything that'll get me kicked off!). Custom and practice is that Committee business is not discussed openly on the main boards (imagine the chaos that would descend if every reported post were visible to everyone, including alleged offenders. Life is too short to endure the endless threads of he-said she-said that would follow!), so I have said everything I feel comfortable in saying.


I must say that I disagree. In fact, I think that a bit of transparency would go a long way as far as people understanding what will and what will not earn them a strike, and at the same time remove the "sneaking behind your back" factor of reporting posts, whether that factor is real or perceived. I'm not saying that every reported post should be discussed in a thread; as you mentioned chaos would likely ensue. But I do think that it is a lot harder for people to take ownership of the site (in a good way, not mutiny!) when these issues are addressed behind the scenes, in secrecy.


It's not so much "in secrecy" as "in confidence".

Usually, the person who made the reported post (i.e. the reportee, not the reporter) is contact by one of the Staff (usually a Moderator or Administrator) if there is a genuine rule breach or there is no rule breach but the Survival Guide's spirit is repeatedly being broken. This happens before a strike is applied.

Everyone has access to the Rules, so it's not hard to work out what'll happen if someone egregiously or repeatedly breaks them. Strikes aren't automatic - the most frequent Rule breaking is done by new members who aren't used to how firmly they are enforced here, and issues strikes to people like that in circumstances like that wouldn't be productive.

In the past, the circumstance that SuzySteamboat is talking about (Survival Guide breaches that aren't outright rule breaking) has, on occasion, caused the Staff to get in touch with the person being reported an ask them to tone things down, adhere to the Survival Guide, etc. Only if that person continues with such behaviour, will strikes get issued.

Trust me, users that are about to get issued with strikes for repeatedly brinking the Rules are kept informed of what they have done and are given the opportunity to take corrective action before the strike gets issued.

What doesn't happen is a public commentary on what is happening, for the reasons we've already gone into. I don't expect this aspect of ad.gif policy will change any time soon, though it never hurts to have this sort of review in public. (i.e. I am categorically not trying to get you to shut up. wink.gif )

We don't keep the reporter informed of the progress of their report - that might be what you're referring to?
nighttimer
Suzy, as Julian points out in a political season as the temperature outside cools, the temperature here rises.

I am not trying to diminish your frustration. There are certain individuals who have honed the talent to reply with just enough words to avoid a one-liner, while managing to do little more than regurgitate talking points and recycled riffs from blogs and talk radio.

In less than 60 days this will all pass and a degree of calm, civility and something approaching relevant and on-topic posts will return.

There will also a drastic fall-off of new Sarah Palin and Barack Obama threads. Something to look forward to. thumbsup.gif

This is a political and partisan board. Everyone says they want to be polite and kind and respectful of the other guy's or gal's opinion, but that's right up to the point where the first chair gets tossed. Then it is ON.

Me? I'm trying not to stress over it. If I haven't posted at least one thing that annoys someone I start to worry if I've lost my fastball.

This too shall pass. And so will the flurry of flame-throwing posts on the board.

It's all mind over matter. If you don't mind, it don't matter. cool.gif
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