Atheism Discussion 2.0 - Roundtable Discussion in Progress

Discussion in 'Archive: The Senate Floor' started by Fire_Ice_Death, Sep 17, 2005.

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  1. VoijaRisa Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 12, 2002
    star 5
    Responding to the topic at hand:

    The amount with which I'm open about my atheism depends on the context. My immediate family is well aware that I'm atheistic. My father's and step-father's side of the family are completely unaware as far as I know (which is to say they don't know given that they're extreme bible thumping Christians to the extent that one said before the last election, "I hope Bush gets reelected so he can put an end to all those homo weddings." If they knew, they'd try to re-convert me.)

    In my professional life, I just make it a non-issue. In teaching college courses I avoided the issue whenever possible and when I was forced to mention it, I only gave quotations and informed opinions of others from both the theistic side and atheistic side so as to not reveal my own standing.

    In the semi-inbetween realm of being a science blogger, I wear my atheism on my sleeve as it were as it's one of my main topics.
  2. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    Sounds good to me, Mr44. I look forward to it

    Excellent!

    Well, you can read the MS thread, but for others, we're waiting on one or two things here, and then we'll "officially/unofficially" get started.... Maybe by tonight or tomorrow.

    Either way, Lowie and myself will kick things off with the official discussion points, but anyone with an interest can join in...
  3. dianethx Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 1, 2002
    star 6
    Focus group sounds good. Keep in mind that 4th of July weekend a lot of people are away since it's a holiday here.
  4. SuperWatto Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 19, 2000
    star 5
    I applaud the fact that Mr44 has decided to cast his Modly light over this topic.

    On topic:
    I am my own employer. Since I don't have colleagues, there are no belief problems within the company. Among my clients are the Dutch Protestant Church and the first head of the biggest Dutch Christian party, former prime minister. No religious problems with them, either, and I'm not hiding anything... In fact, I have discussed the topic of crusades at length with the latter. I have come to realize that the way some people give expression to their faith can be inspiring. When it's a frank, open, level-headed exchange, the topic of religion can make for fascinating discussions.

    Update:
    My daughter doesn't really believe in Heaven or Hell anymore - and she came to this all by herself... What's funny is that she brought up the topic, and she sort of came up with Pascal's wager! Made me think of this thread. She said 'might as well believe in case there is a heaven and a hell'. I said 'but is that really believing?' She made a face... Then she asked for a popsicle.
  5. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    Remember, normal topic discussion has been put on hold in the thread. Everyone is free to think about what they want their atheism thread to consist of, and post ideas on how all the participants can come together to achieve it.
  6. LostOnHoth Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 15, 2000
    star 5
    KnightWriter posted:

    Frankly, I think the key is to remove antagonizers rather rapidly. If I may say so, I think there's more antagonism from the theistic side, but that's my skewed perspective. I think it needs to be okay to express general disgust, displeasure or outright anger toward religion, God or whatever else on the theistic side (so long as it's not aimed at anyone here) without having a believer in God get huffy about it or take offense in some way.

    I also think a new thread would be a good idea.


    I agree with this. Not sure why this thread has been singled out for special 'focus group' treatment but I think any topic that revolves around something so personal as religious beliefs/faith (or a lack thereof) will inevitably get emotional at some point in time, much like the politics thread. The quality of the thread really depends on the quality of those participating, something which is completely out of anyone's hands and cannot be resolved by a focus group unfortunately.

    I think the key here is active moderation. I realise that that a thread cannot be monitored 24 hours a day but if someone is getting out of line then pull them back into line or remove them from the discussion.
  7. FatBurt Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 21, 2003
    star 5

    I agree 100% with this.

    I'm not an active participant in this thread but I read it daily and while most of the antagonism and issues that I've seen have come from a small group of theistic posters the moderating does have to continue to be balanced against both sides.

    E.g. a rampant anti religionist would not be a constructive poster just as much as the rampant anti atheist from this thread was not constructive.
  8. DorkmanScott Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 26, 2001
    star 6
    Also agreed. Mod presence or intervention has been almost nonexistent in this thread, even after I've directly PMed several mods. I get a *shrug* and a "Yeah, I know." more often than not, when what is really needed is a moderator to come in and get the conversation back on track -- and if a certain poster has a history of trying to pull it off, dealing with that poster directly.
  9. SWBob Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 19, 2003
    star 4
    What they said. But maybe what we can do is like someone said(I forget who). Maybe we can start a couple new threads each detailing a certian aspect of the debate, and then one thread as sort of a general disscusion thread.

    Like one thread be about morality, one about political effects of athiesm, and then a general disscussion that covers everything inbetween.

    Then when certain posters get off track or off topic, you can point them in the right direction.

  10. dianethx Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 1, 2002
    star 6
    I am somewhat distressed that this thread has been singled out for special 'focus group' treatment (why not the Christianity thread or the homosexual thread or even the evolution thread?). I do understand that it can get rather hot at times but I don't think the majority of people want it to be so.

    I do very much agree that active moderation is key to keeping it civil.

    A 'Stay on topic' warning to all and sundry would be very helpful in that regard. Can the posters say that as well? Or does it have to be a mod or the thread owner?

    I just worry that active modding won't be enough for some of the posters. :(
  11. Spike2002 Former FF-UK RSA and Arena Manager

    Member Since:
    Feb 4, 2002
    star 6
    I am somewhat distressed that this thread has been singled out for special 'focus group' treatment (why not the Christianity thread or the homosexual thread or even the evolution thread?). I do understand that it can get rather hot at times but I don't think the majority of people want it to be so.

    I think the big problem in this thread has been the singling out of people, rather than topics.

    In this thread I think we can all reserve the right to criticise religion if we so wish, but we shouldn't criticise the religious, especially if they are posters here. I would also like to expect the same from theistic visitors and participants in here. They should, if they're going to argue, argue against atheism, not atheists. And they should do so in a manner that isn't going to antagonise. This should mean avoiding generalisations, trying to "save us" and sourcing their arguments, as people like Dorkman and Quix have been doing in here, and are an example for us all to follow.

    As for active modding here, well, I sometimes find myself torn between being a moderator posting in here, and also not wanting to step on Lowbacca's and Mr44's toes when the thread goes belly-up. There have been many, really good topics of discussion in here, that have been derailed and abandoned when there could've been an extremely interesting discussion relating to it. I think we can all agree that when it comes to topics in here, we should remain on-topic, and people that derail the discussion, theists and atheists alike, should be told to stop and keep on-topic and bring up what they want to say to the Senate Mods and allow them to start a line of discussion in that direction.


    Also, perhaps the thread subtitle should be changed to reflect this new line of discussion, Mr44/Lowbacca?
  12. SuperWatto Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 19, 2000
    star 5
    QFT. Actually, to be perfectly clear, I think Lowie has been trying but it looks like Mr44 just let him swim. The last PM I sent to Mr44 - months ago - wasn´t even replied to, even though I´ve always just been looking for a peaceful solution.

    This is the pits. I'm posting some stuff, following up on the current topic in the subject line and a topic from pages back, and only NOW we're being told to stay on topic.

    Mr44, you can't leave it to DorkmanScott, Lowie and Quix. They're very active participants in the thread, and when there's a problem, they can't come across as objective to the antagonizers because they're on the other side, they're seen as the enemy and their modding will come across as unfair. What we need is a mod who's in the middle. If you're not that guy... I think we need a third mod.
  13. dianethx Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 1, 2002
    star 6
    Is it possible for the mods that frequent here to put on their mod hats when necessary and say so in the first line of the post so that it's very clear that they are acting as mods and not as posters?

    Besides, telling all of us to 'stay on topic' is a good way of reminding everyone (myself included) that it needs to be less about the posters and more about the topic.
  14. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    This is the stuff we need to discuss, so keep it coming.

    dianethx, The boards has a long standing tradition of using colored text to denote official action. The Senate mods have always matched the color to their user name. (Mine is olive, Lowie's is blue, etc..) When you see colored text, the mod in question is acting in official capacity. Now, for quick notes, there might not be colored text, but if the mod is posting about board mechanics (ie "stay on topic") it's a general reminder.

    Anything "on topic" is just going to be as a regular contributor to the discussion.

    Watto, this I have no idea what you're talking about:

    The last PM I sent to Mr44 - months ago - wasn´t even replied to, even though I´ve always just been looking for a peaceful solution.

    The last series of PM's you sent to me were on 5/19 and 5/20:

    5/19 10:52PM
    5/20 4:07AM
    5/20 7:34AM
    5/20 8:46AM

    And I made numerous replies- 10:30, 6:48, 8:00, respectively. That exchange consisted of paragraph long PM's and replies.

    Before that, the only other PM you sent to me was on 1/14, and I replied to that as well. If there is a PM that you sent between January and May that I may have missed, or that there was a problem with it being sent, this is the first I'm hearing about it.

    When you say I "didn't reply to your PM," do you mean that I didn't give an answer that you agreed with? Because the connotations are vastly different.
  15. dianethx Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 1, 2002
    star 6
    Ah, well I've been on the boards for many years - admittedly not here but mostly in fan fiction - and this is the first I've heard that colored text means official action. I'll keep that in mind in future. Perhaps it can be emphasized in the Rules and Regulations. I did read them before I started posting here and it wasn't mentioned.

    I just thought you were being colorful - literally.

  16. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    A former Fanfic mod labeled it as "Senate GQ" a couple of years ago. If I remember- during a discussion to see if Fanfic mods were going to adopt a similar practice. When we told her what the royalty payments would be, I think Fanfic backed off.... [face_mischief]
  17. KnightWriter Administrator Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 6, 2001
    star 8
    dianethx, The boards has a long standing tradition of using colored text to denote official action.

    I've never understood the point of that. Bold text (Rhonda and I both stuck to that for the duration of our tenures) works just fine, and is more visible, plus easier to read.
  18. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    Yeah, I don't want to derail this too much with a discussion on text style, but bold is another method as well. Others have used red. If you remember, we used to have a scale:

    normal text
    official text
    final warning!

    But this isn't that common anymore.
  19. SuperWatto Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 19, 2000
    star 5
    Is it possible that PMs don´t arrive?
    Man, Mr44, I wrote you such a long PM, I thought you didn't reply because you just thought 'tl;dr'... :p

    It was the last PM on 5/20, different subject line ("well... taking sides").

    Anyway, what do the mods in this thread think of my contention that only a mod who's right in the middle between religion and atheims can guide this thing properly, without risking looking as if they're advancing a cause?
  20. FatBurt Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 21, 2003
    star 5
    I would imagine trying to find a true fence sitter on this subject would be very difficult and arranging a mod for one specific thread would be going a tad too far.


    Provided any modding done is fair and impartial on both sides then fair enough regardless whether it's a theist or non theist that's getting spanked.


  21. KnightWriter Administrator Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 6, 2001
    star 8
    Anyway, what do the mods in this thread think of my contention that only a mod who's right in the middle between religion and atheims can guide this thing properly, without risking looking as if they're advancing a cause?


    Disagree with that. Just need someone who's proactive and around often.
  22. dianethx Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 1, 2002
    star 6
    I also think that a mod that's proactive and around often should be enough. I just think it needs to be clearer when a mod is acting like a mod and acting like a poster. I think it's wonderful that so many mods are here and participating.

    The real problem is what to do when the topic does get derailed - whether it's deliberately done or not. Wait a couple of posts? Lambast the derailer and/or the reactors to the derailer? Ignore the derailer? Remind us all about what the topic is?

    At times, it's hard to know at which point the thread has lost focus. Other times... not so much. :p
  23. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    Yeah, this is an issue that comes up now and again, and it used to be a lot stronger.

    The general consensus, and I agree with it, is that mods have to be allowed to participate in the threads within the forum. Otherwise, it becomes a very sterile prospect for the mods.

    Keep in mind that with this thread, there are two sides to every issue. For every PM that someone sends pointing out that one person is wrong, there's a reverse PM requesting the opposite. From my experience, if I were to take action simply based on the PM's I received, Quix, Dorkman, Nancy, and Watto would all be banned. But that's were being a moderator requires a bit of discretion. I'm sure each of these would say "But why would that include me-It's the other person who is wrong!" But that's the dilemma.

    We're not going to discuss specifics in the thread, but what does the overall situation represent?

    1)Is there hostility on both sides? How can that hostility be reduced, without us implementing something like the "Zero Tolerance" policy?

    2)How does the basic Senate tenet that says a person has to have thick skin to post here fit in?

    All, or nearly all, of the topics here are controversial. Obvious flaming is dealt with, but there are posts that while people don't agree with them, that's all they represent.

    3)What exactly are people looking for when they say they want strong moderator presence?

    The last focus groups we held that dealt with overall forum issues, the majority of forum participants wanted the mods to be more like guides, and nudge the topics, (not including obvious rules violations) while at the same time, allowing the participants to take "ownership" of the thread.

    4)Is this no longer the case, and if not, what action would be seen as beneficial to all?
  24. DorkmanScott Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 26, 2001
    star 6
    No, I know quite well why someone would PM a mod complaining about me. And if I am actually out of line I expect a warning, and then if I keep doing whatever I'm doing out of line, I deserve a ban. I have a tendency to push the limit in general, and now that I've stepped down as a mod, I'm free of the responsibility of having to "represent" the MS. So maybe I'm going over the line just as a reaction to that. If that's the case, put me back in line. I know how the game works.

    The question is, am I REALLY out of line, or am I just saying things that someone disagrees with and would take offense to no matter how I present it?

    While I'm fairly hostile towards the notion of organized religion, I don't think you'll find anywhere in my post history where I have gone into the "What is Christianity" thread and behaved in anything like the manner of the theists that have come into this thread. Out of respect for those posters and the conversation they want to have, I leave it alone. And I'm guessing you'll find the same across the board -- and those who do post in there ask genuine questions. Difficult, maybe, but genuine.

    It is only from the theist side that open hostility toward the POSTERS and not their beliefs suddenly rise up and compel them to go out of their way to post antagonizingly in this thread, which they could just as easily not read at all. So I know it sounds like a "they started it", but it's not; they not only started it, they kept it going when plenty of us -- all of us -- wanted to move on to actually rewarding conversations.

    I don't care if someone disagrees with me. I don't get my feelings hurt by posts people make on the internet -- in fact, genuine, rational disagreement is quite stimulating. But when someone comes in with blatant disregard and disrespect for the conversation and for the posters, seeking only to cause trouble or to PREVENT any kind of stimulating conversation, that's a clear violation of the terms of service, and it's destructive toward the actual conversation.

    Obvious flaming is dealt with, but what about obvious trolling?

    If a user is not adding to the conversation and clearly has no intention of doing so -- for example, posting the same questions or accusations repeatedly even after they have been answered repeatedly and patiently, or even (as one poster did) outright saying she had no intention of adding to the conversation or accepting any answers given -- then that user should be banned, if not from the board then from the discussion. And really, users shouldn't be posting accusations at all, at least not towards each other.

    I don't know about an
  25. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    Let me also offer some general observations.

    1)Not all of us are interested in posting in every thread. I'm not religious and don't have a lot of religious knowledge, so I don't actively participate in the religious discussions.

    I do check each thread as a matter of business daily, but that's to check the overall progression of the thread, and/or to catch any obvious violations that crop up. This leads to my second point:

    2)With aspects that may be unique or personal to someone- or less clear from a moderation standpoint, we are but a PM away. Things that don't bother one person may bother someone else, but if we don't know, little issues become big issues.

    3)However, if a PM is sent, it's best to remain neutral as possible. Describe the concern and ask for clarification.

    I can't begin to describe how many PM's I receive that say "I want you to ban so and so right now!" But when I look at the incident, nothing seems wrong to me. So I have to ask questions like what about the situation warrants action? Would clarification work with everyone involved? There's a process in place, and both sides of an issue have to be looked at.
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