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. Kimball_Kinnison Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 28, 2001
    star 6
    Exactly.

    That's why I linked to TrainingForUtopia's information for the current mods. TFU was doing the exact same thing in the Mormonism and Catholicism threads back in the day, and those two threads provide a good example of how to handle such people. In fact, I encourage anyone to look through his post history in the Mormonism thread and see for yourself how he was handled.

    Kimball Kinnison
  2. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    Ah, but there is a difference here.

    In the Mormonism thread, you generally keep the high ground, and currently, you're really good about notifying a mod when someone takes that thread off track. You give a simple, but neutral warning to the person about the environment in the thread, and send off a PM to one of us. Since this is this case, someone like TrainingForUtopia can be looked at as a clear example compared to the rest of the thread.

    What what if instead of the above, when someone disrupted the Mormonism thread, you responded with a "Your opinion isn't worth anything, and you're delusional as well.." The result is less straightforward.

    One of the issues that was brought up in the MS, just before this discussion, is the back and forth nature of the involvement here. Someone would complain about one person, but then another person would complain about a different person, and upon review, both actually have examples of behavior that could have action taken against them. Since it's not so cut and dried, the result was typically a mass "everyone needs to calm down" type of warning.

    So, as much as someone might be seen to be disruptive, if others give back to them as much as they give, it turns the potential for action against one into more of a mutual prospect.

  3. SuperWatto Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 19, 2000
    star 5
    I don´t dislike Nancyallen. I disapprove of a lot of things she posts. I think she's pretty much shown that she's incapable of having a mature discussion about this stuff. It's happened so often that people speak to her directly and she just doesn't reply but instead resumes her rampage. That's annoying. People be wasting their time... SWBob, I feel for ya man!

    On the topic of preferential treatment - Lowie, Mr44, do you recognize that?

    KK, Brooksie, and other believers have come here and have been treated with respect. This is not about discrimination. Whenever Nancy says 'theists', she's only talking about herself. Removing Nancy from this conversation - as she certainly doesn't seem to be willing to listen to what we're saying here - is the ONLY way to go. That's not discrimination, that's just the result of perpetual hostile posting.

    A thread about antitheism in which she can rile by herself is perfectly alright by me.

    I waded through the Mormonism thread but I couldn't really see how TFU was handled effectively. KK, can you elaborate?
  4. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    On the topic of preferential treatment - Lowie, Mr44, do you recognize that?

    Well, I can't really go into specifics without mentioning specific action taken, and that's something we generally don't do.

    I will say that with anything, context is the key. Deeper issues with someone specific might have been simmering for a while, but before we started this discussion, I'll say exactly 2 people have ever sent me a PM regarding them, and they've both been relatively recent.

    You- Watto, were one, and Quix was the other. Quix sent his PM to me just 2 weeks or so ago, and it was really the ball that got this thing going. It outlined specific concerns, went into detail, and laid out all of his thoughts. Other people might have had issues that have been simmering for a lot longer time, but if they never outlined them, then they stay under the surface.

    Before Quix's PM, people raised concerns about a completely different person, and his inappropriate behavior was dealt with at the time as well.

    *-I'll add that SWBob also sent a PM a couple of days ago outlining his thoughts about this thread, but this and other action had already been initiated. His note was helpful and added perspective though.



  5. KnightWriter Administrator Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 6, 2001
    star 8
    44, it's just like being in a classroom and dealing with discipline issues, and probably police work as well. You go for the catalyst of the problem, the person or people that's making things happen (in a not so good way). In this case, if Nancy were to stop posting, this thread (or a new one) would have a much different dynamic than it has now. Other people are responding to Nancy, not the other way around. She is the focal point here.

    This isn't a muddled sort of thing. It's pretty clear cut to me. I don't think I'm alone in that view either. I haven't been particularly involved here, so it's not like I've got a big attachment. I could get involved, but that seems unlikely, given the atmosphere here over the months. My view here is the same one I would have had as a moderator (back in those more reasonable days, as you would say).

    Since it's not so cut and dried, the result was typically a mass "everyone needs to calm down" type of warning.


    But it is cut and dried, 44. This isn't a an old style war between social groups that has no real focal point or catalyst. You have to ask yourself, "Whose absence would change this thread completely?," or something along those lines. It was the same problem with Wilderness_Comedian, only spread out over an entire forum. Everyone responded to him and he created most problems himself. When he was finally (if belatedly) removed, all the problems involving him stopped, and people were pleased all around. Things went back to a certain equilibrium. As they would here, I think.
  6. dizfactor Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 12, 2002
    star 5
    In an atmosphere of real or perceived preferential treatment, that's to be expected. If people do not believe that the mods will actually do anything, they won't bother to write the PM.

    To be frank, based on my conversations with people, the mod squad does not have a lot of public confidence or credibility with this issue. It's widely believed that there are long-standing (as in years, not months) double standards with the modding here, and those who haven't accepted that as the price of posting here have largely moved on.

    If you want people to take you more seriously and bring these sorts of issues to you, you, the mods, need to be more proactive in enforcing the TOS in cases like this, until you earn the credibility you don't currently have on this issue.
  7. Kimball_Kinnison Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 28, 2001
    star 6
    Then what is needed to to deal with both sides, not just the one that complains loudest.

    As you said, one of the reasons the Mormonism thread has worked is that we do try to keep the high ground. If someone is trolling, they are looking for a reaction. If you refuse to give it to them, then it is far easier to have the mods deal with them.

    It's not easy. It requires hard work to keep yourself in check. It's natural to want to get defensive, and dive into the trenches and get dirty. But doing that only creates the sort of ambiguity that you talk about. The key is to remember that other people's behavior does not justify your own misbehavior.

    Especially in religious discussion, the only way to win an argument is to avoid it all together.

    If you give me a while (I had a server blow up that I need to rebuild today) I can post links to examples in that thread and the Catholicism thread. There are also a few other example users I could point you to (whose names escape me right now) who similarly caused problems.

    I would disagree here, for one reason.

    Yes, they may be reacting to nancyallen, but last I checked, "She started it" has never been accepted as excusing inappropriate behavior on these boards. It might be used to mitigate punishment to some extent, but it doesn't excuse it. If you simply focus on the "catalyst", then you only encourage the responders to continue responding in the same fashion, which then exacerbates the problem in the future.

    It's a two part problem. One part is the catalyst, but the other part is the response. You need to address both parts in order to actually solve the issue.

    Kimball Kinnison
  8. KnightWriter Administrator Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 6, 2001
    star 8
    It's a two part problem. One part is the catalyst, but the other part is the response. You need to address both parts in order to actually solve the issue.


    When both parties are equally at fault, absolutely. I agree. That's not the case, though.

    . If you simply focus on the "catalyst", then you only encourage the responders to continue responding in the same fashion, which then exacerbates the problem in the future.

    That's not true, and makes it seem like a significant number of people jumped to Defcon 1 toward Nancy from the minute she started posting anything they deemed inappropriate. That's not what happened. This is something that has built up over many months, and people have simply grown tried of dealing with the same problem over and over. If Nancy were to stop posting in this thread for whatever reason, the problems would pretty much cease to exist. If SuperWatto or LostOnHoth were to stop posting, nothing much would change. Same for DorkmanScott. You've got to look at the practical elements of the situation. "She started it" isn't the reasoning here. Instead, Nancy's posting is simply the catalyst for what has happened here. Scott's posting isn't, nor is anyone else's.

    If someone else were to come into the atheist thread that caused initial problems with their posting, I think the other posters here would collectively react as generously as possible at first, rather than immediately running to 44 or Lowbacca, or pointing e-nuclear weapons. This isn't elementary school, KK. I don't think it's possible to do the sort of thing you're talking about (i.e. cause people to respond in the same way in the future if something happens again).
  9. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    KW, a lot of what you are pointing out simply does not apply, because there is a progression here.

    No one- in any forum- would have simply gone from 0 to banned for six months without following the steps in between, without some sort of obvious, swearing/porn/death hoax/etc.. type of rules infraction.

    You also know that we don't discuss bannings in public. But if someone gets banned for a day, then the next ban is for 2, then 4 days to a week, and it keeps jumping up. The periods in between also consist of explaining to the person what is wrong, and opening a dialog with them to get them to change their behavior.

    The outside observer may not notice a 24hr ban or a 2 day ban, and think nothing has been done. In fact, the person being banned may actually be on their third banning, and approaching a week time frame for the next one. Longer ban lengths are discussed in the MS, so there is a system of checks and balances, but it also removes direct control from the specific mod.

    This isn't news to you, and I can't be any more clear.

    The "gang mentality" you also describe has never been tolerated or condoned, so I'm unsure of why you are suggesting it.

    What if a dedicated group of people simply claim the gun control thread, and entrench themselves? Hey, suddenly Jabbadabadoo is the outsider, and if he's removed- as you say, nothing much would change in the thread... Except of course, for the exchange of ideas.

    (Note-Jabba isn't involved in anything remotely like this, and is strictly being used for example purposes)

    The "detriment to the community doctrine" is a last resort, and used when other methods have been exhausted. It's not a surgical strike tool that's used to preemptively remove those who simply don't agree with others.

    That's the balance that exists- The need to promote discussion and debate has to be weighed against the few examples who legitimately impede this.

    Just so you know, there were other "eyes on" this thread that consisted of other mods and admins. The general consensus was that yes, the atmosphere in the thread had become increasingly hostile, but it wasn't just limited to one person. So the best course of action began to be formulated. As you even mention, the thread itself experienced it's own ebb and flow, which also fit within a progression.

    Practically, we're talking about a period of 2 weeks from when the issue was specifically addressed to now- the reason why we're posting this.
  10. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    I do think we're coming to the end of being productive here, simply due to the natural course of things.

    Any other final thoughts?

    After a summary is posted, we'll move on to the new thread.
  11. DorkmanScott Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 26, 2001
    star 6
    That's assuming there's a productive exchange of ideas going on.

    You say yourself that you've only been aware of this for two weeks. I implore you to read back over the last couple of months before you start declaring that everyone is equally to blame or that there's any "entrenching" going on.

    Also, I may not have PM'ed you, but I PM'ed Lowbacca several times about this issue, and I know others like SuperWatto have done the same. If he didn't bring it up to you then that's something else you guys ought to discuss.
  12. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    You say yourself that you've only been aware of this for two weeks.

    No, I didn't say I was only aware of the issue for 2 weeks. 2 weeks ago, after Quix's PM, was the point when the normal response was "ramped up," so to speak.

    The other issue is an important one as well.

  13. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    I should note here that I really am an atheist troublemaker, so I banned myself from this thread a while back. Every once in a while the devil tempts me to wade into religion themed discussions. I always regret it later.
  14. SuperWatto Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 19, 2000
    star 5
    QFT. Couldn´t have said it any better. The thread speaks for itself. Moreover, Mr44, I think it's your responsiblity to read up. Modding: it's a dirty job but someone has to do it...

    If you have already done so, forget I said anything. And FWIW - I'm glad you're looking into it now.

    I really don't buy the both sides are at fault argument. At first (read: May 2007), the reactions to the anti-atheist generalisations and mudslinging were patient and tolerant (first reactions were by king_alvarez and VadersLament - both have been missing from this thread for a while now. Who's won?). but if the anti-atheist generalisations and mudslinging continues for a year without visible, constructive mod interference, of course someone's going to write "*bangs head against wall*" or "please stop posting here". We´re only human.

    And can anyone enlighten me as to why making a new thread would make any difference?
  15. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6

    QFT. Couldn´t have said it any better. The thread speaks for itself. Moreover, Mr44, I think it's your responsiblity to read up. Modding: it's a dirty job but someone has to do it...

    If you have already done so, forget I said anything. And FWIW - I'm glad you're looking into it now


    Ok, see this is what I mean. Guys, there are procedures in place. Since everyone is reviewing the thread, for how far back do both of us have standard actions in the thread that are comprised of warnings, cool down lockings, edits and such?

    Watto, it's not a case of completely ignoring the thread, but as we already discussed between us, moderating is a 2 way street. If you send in a request that you want action taken against "user A." And at the same time "user A" wants action taken against you, a robot would simply take action against both of you, without really stopping to sort the particulars out. That's not what our job is here. Since we're not robots, the overall situation has to be looked at.

    Once the issues are identified, the first step is to warn the person and try and work with them. In the meantime- a week or two may pass, and things might not be as bad as they were.

    Then another incident pops up which may get the person an initial 24 hr ban. After that, another week or so may pass were things settle down again.

    Then incident 3 happens, and the person gets a 2 day ban, and another week or so may pass.

    From an outsider's perspective, 2 months or more may have passed, and to them, it looks like nothing has happened. In reality, during that time, multiple mods have sent multiple PM's trying to work with the other person- in addition to bans and unban requests, and so on.

    However, also by this time, enough information has been collected and enough incidents have been documented to start increasing the consequences.

    This is the procedure that has existed for years and years. It's never been policy to simply point to a potential problem and go in and remove it without following the steps.

    The benefit of a new thread is that the baggage of the old thread is left behind, and the perimeters are known to all from the get go. There should be no doubt as to what will happen to someone who is disruptive from this point on.
  16. DorkmanScott Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 26, 2001
    star 6
    I don't understand why you're lecturing some of us who have been mods on moderating procedure. It is exactly BECAUSE we know the procedure that the fact it's gotten this far is absurd.

    As you pointed out, repeated bans for the same offense escalate the ban time. Hence, BY NOW, if you had actually been banning according to procedure, nancyallen would be on a very, very long term ban by now. And maybe I would too, though I don't think you could even sort of argue that the behavior has been in the same league.

    I can remember one "cool-down" locking of the thread, and recently. And maybe two "calm down" posts. And in all cases, the problem would have gone away if you had simply dealt with the problem user.

    It's as simple as reviewing post history and behavior patterns. We did it all the time as mods. Any other thread a poster like nancyallen would be on a six month ban by now -- having worked her way up according to the process you outlined. Whether we know her banning history or not (and I happen to, up until I stepped down, but I'll respect MS privacy), the fact is that she is posting NOW, in this very "roundtable" discussion, which means she ISN'T banned right now, which means no long term ban has kicked into effect, which means her banning history can't be very extensive. Which means she has been getting away with the kind of behavior that would never be tolerated in any other religion thread, and we've ALL been getting warnings when only ONE person is the problem.

    We know the procedures. She appears to be exempt from them, because we all know that WE, as mods, would not have let that stand. Why the preferential treatment?
  17. nancyallen Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 19, 2007
    star 4
    A legal case could have been made for stalking if you prefer. It is exactly because there is a problem all around that the situation is taking place, whether it be an issue of one user being banned and another doing exactly the same thing and getting away with it or the hostility that arises when asked to be reassured that an example of atheism isn't true for everyone.
  18. DorkmanScott Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 26, 2001
    star 6
    Go ahead and try. Seriously, I dare you.

    Otherwise keep this nonsense to yourself, because you're not helping your case.

    Sorry nancy, no. There is not a problem all around. There is a problem with you being unable to play nice with others, unable to respect the differing opinions of others, and/or unable to see the difference between attacking an idea or attacking a person. And the fact that you have been told and told and told and continue to say the same things over and over and over indicates that you are either unwilling or incapable of understanding anything anyone else says, which is not conducive to any kind of discussion.

    Your posts have been accusatory, inflammatory, and inappropriate almost 100% of the time. You are obsessed, you are disrespectful, YOU are the "problem all around". Period.
  19. dianethx Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 1, 2002
    star 6
    44 - I would like to explain that I didn't send you PMs about the situation because relatively newbie-to-the-Senate that I am, I figured since there were so many mods and former mods here that the powers-that-be realized the situation and condoned it.

    But from a newbie's perspective, it looked like the mods were doing nothing to help the situation so I figured they wouldn't listen to me anyway.

    That was my assumption and apparently a poor one. I'll remember it in future.
  20. LostOnHoth Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 15, 2000
    star 5
    A legal case could have been made for stalking if you prefer.

    This is great. An attempt at e-intimidation by the use of an oblique reference to legal action. Truly inspirational material. This in a closely monitored 'roundtable' discussion.

    I'm supremely confident that we are wasting our time here. It would be great if some of the rational, intelligent, articulate and legally sane theists that frequent the christianity thread would come to this thread and play. If that were to happen, I think we would have a good little discussion. As it stands though, I can see more of the same within 48 hours of this 'roundtable' being concluded and the thread returning to business as usual (albeit perhaps in a different format).
  21. KnightWriter Administrator Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 6, 2001
    star 8
    44, our disagreement boils down to a difference in philosophy. You continue to overthink this particular issue, when the solution in fact is very easy. You seem to give everyone's opinion and approach equal weight, and that just isn't a good way to go in my view. No one said anything about immediately jumping to a six month ban (I never said anything of the sort), but I would have taken action quickly and decisively. The action would initially have been nothing more than verbal, but in time it would have progressed to either a ban from the thread or a ban from the JC in general.

    You can't take the same deliberate approach to everything and expect success. Your first duty is to the overall thread/discussion and the forum. If something or someone is disrupting that thread, you take action. Decisively. There are complex problems, but this isn't one of them.

    The "detriment to the community doctrine" is a last resort, and used when other methods have been exhausted. It's not a surgical strike tool that's used to preemptively remove those who simply don't agree with others.


    It's something that's more obvious in some cases than in others. Rarely is it more clear than it is here.

    Practically, we're talking about a period of 2 weeks from when the issue was specifically addressed to now- the reason why we're posting this.


    Based on what I've seen, you've missed the boat for months. This is a problem that has apparently gone on for months now, and you're only now getting to it? I would have dealt with it quickly, as it is plain that Nancy simply is unwilling to change her posting style, disrupts the overall thread and flow of discussion and causes the thread to revolve around her. Nothing more can be done to help her, and something must be done to help the thread.

    You give far too much credit to Nancy and not enough to everyone else.

    This is how I would have handled it as a moderator, and how I handled some situations in the past. I didn't do too poorly, and didn't have many complaints.

    Moderators don't need to chain themselves to some kind of deliberate pattern of escalation when the solution becomes obvious. That's not to say at all that any moderator should jump, as I said before, to Defcon 1 immediately. But it does mean that when it's obvious to everyone watching (or nearly everyone) what the problem is and what the solution is, you act.
  22. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    dianethx, no problem. We all learned as we went along, and your thoughts are not absolutely not wrong or anything of the sort.

    With other issues, the goal is to keep moving in a positive direction, so I'm going to lock this right now.

    For Dorkman and Nancy- just so there is no doubt on who is being proactive and when, and I'll even use old school style bold type:

    BOTH OF YOUR BEHAVIOR IS INAPPROPRIATE, AND WILL NO LONGER BE CONDONED. IF EITHER OF YOU TRANSFER THIS FEUD INTO THE NEW THREAD, ACTION WILL BE IMMEDIATELY TAKEN
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