[Senate] Proposed Rules Revision

Discussion in 'Communications' started by Jabba-wocky, Jul 24, 2013.

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Should The Senate Reconsider Its Forum Rules

Yes 33 vote(s) 84.6%
No 6 vote(s) 15.4%
Moderators: JoinTheSchwarz, LAJ_FETT, Ramza
  1. Jabba-wocky Chosen One

    Member Since:
    May 4, 2003
    star 8
    @Jedi Merkurian: If you're stepping out of this thread, I don't expect you to respond to this immediately (or necessarily at all). But I want to be clear about what happened. I don't think anyone has necessarily accused you of of consciously doing anything. As I said earlier, though, sometimes we all act contrary to our best intentions. The fact is that until yesterday--in a separate thread, and never cross-posted here, for whatever reason--we had never received a single announcement about a time we could expect to hear an update on Senate situation. We just kept hearing "soon." For someone to suggest that something else was the case--that perhaps we just didn't like the answer we received--was incorrect. I needn't speculate about why they made that mistake in order to recognize it, and the main point was to identify the factual oversight, not to attack the person who made it.

    On the broader issue of trustworthiness, I think that it's generally the case the most people find you a good guy. I certainly do. But I think what's happening here is an object lesson. Up until yesterday, the validity of this process was staked largely on the personal reputation of moderators. Rather than sharing information that would allow us to see that the process was moving forward or that it was fair, you simply kept asking us to trust you. As the process dragged out and people became frustrated, the only real alternative in this situation was to lose faith in the people who had staked their reputation on it. We couldn't point to any understandable hiccups in the process, because no one had bothered to tell us about them until long after the fact. Clamping down is the wrong instinct. I think that more openness about this process is the way to both a better final outcome and better MS-user relations. See you around.

    I don't see why you think this is such a stunning hypothetical. The JCC has repeatedly proved its capacity. It can certainly handle the volume of threads, and can also take on their content. Take the recent discussion on Christian music, for instance. While there were some jokes initially, it is an overwhelmingly serious thread. Beyond usual posters who engage in threads about religious topics, or those who enjoy these sorts of discussions, we got meaningful contributions from the likes of halibut, Even, Chorus of Disapproval, mrsvos, and solojones. We learned all sorts of interesting back stories about both musical artists and our users. There were encyclopedia length posts and there were some that were nothing but a Youtube link. We had meaningful debates on the importance of authorial intention, the value of self-criticism, and whether putting to much emphasis on ideological content can skew in favor of simplified lyrics/composition. Along the way, a lot of people discovered great new music they hadn't encountered before but greatly enjoyed. The thread crested at over 100 posts in under a week. Can you explain which Senate thread had succeeded in having such rich discussion, with such a wide array of users from such diverse backgrounds, accommodating so many different posting styles while not degenerating into something that generated hurt feelings or required moderator intervention? Because I still see Merkurian over in the Christianity thread making purple posts to pull timmo/Vivec/Someone and [generic Christian conservative] off one anothers' throats.


    That's the thing that's so bizarre about this whole debate. Most of the hesitancy about a merger seems to date back about 2005. Guess what? Not only is the Senate not what it used to be. The "Community" forum isn't either. It has proven several times that it can do serious discussion well, and there's scant acknowledgment of that fact. Instead, people trot out the same "concerns" over and over again, even when, as in this case, they are literally thread topics that the Community has just successfully completed. That's why I ask, as I ever have, if any anti-merger people would actually like to give a reason they think the forums should stay separate? Because if they can't we ought to move forward.
    Last edited by Jabba-wocky, Jan 16, 2014
  2. Merkual Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 3, 2013
    star 4
    You guys have known me for years
    ------------

    I haven't, despite us having similar usernames :p

    I gotta say I enjoy reading Jabba-Wocky's posts.
  3. Ender Sai Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 18, 2001
    star 8
    @Jedi Merkurian;

    [IMG]

    If I have offended you, then I am sorry.

    You can understand our frustrations here; we feel a bit like the colloquial mushroom based on our perceived diet and being kept in the dark.

    When a former Senate mod, one too arrogant to ever debate his views with us in this thread (but happy to say his piece with a special invite from MS), gets to see the MS discussion but this former mod doesn't, how does that strike you?

    Honestly, you guys need to **** or get off the pot on this. I've offered to get involved and as it stands I'm the only person who has proposed a framework for how a proposal should work. And no disrespect to Lowie (though respect is earned and he's earned none by being too arrogant to debate the matter in public) but "don't change" is not a framework, it's a loving ode to complacency.

    Either get me access to the conversation, or start a FG with a 1 week deadline, or make a decision today but for the love of Mod the pace needs to be upped. There's clear consensus from users that my model works. There's clear consensus that the Senate hiding behind the skirts of it's own insular subforum was not in the interest of users. So keeping the Senate open is not an option. So we know what has to be done, we just need to create the rules. To quote an old Incubus song (and feel dirty doing it), what are you waiting for - a certain shade of green?
  4. Rogue_Ten Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Aug 18, 2002
    star 6
    i just cant wait for them to announce that the senate is staying open so i can be proven right all along that this is a big snowjob and a waste of time
    Ender Sai likes this.
  5. I Are The Internets Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Nov 20, 2012
    star 7
    It is still kinda sorta not really active.
  6. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    You misunderstand me Wocky. First off, I wish everyone would stop referring to a past year like 2005 as if it's some lofty goal. Past times, are just that, they sit in the past, and it's impossible to turn back the clock. Every forum here has changed since then, and the focus should be how to integrate each one under current realities. Besides that, moving on:

    I just think that there are a lot of expectations that haven't been fully examined, at least in public here. You can't just throw up a "serious plz" tag and then expect it to work if there are a dozen different interpretations about what it means. Or if there is a legitimate upswing in actual Senate forum interest, then that has to be examined as well. Just going by the Comms discussion, there are a handful of different desired goals regarding what is being called for here. No single view is more "correct" than the other, but I think that they should be vetted for what works and what doesn't before any decision is made, as I assume is happening in the MS.

    Everyone is certainly capable of handling any change, or even lack of change. My point was more along the lines that everyone has to be on the same sheet of music as much as possible, or there will be a lot of confusion to what the expectations are.
    Jedi Merkurian likes this.
  7. harpua Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Mar 12, 2005
    star 8
    Serious biz... not plz. :p

    My guess is the expectation would be that people follow the TOS.

    Getting more specific, Ender Sai outlined some potential rules on the first page of this thread, and they're pretty decent. I don't see why anything more would be necessary.

    1) Nothing says that the flavour of an old forum cannot be maintained in the new format. Census, Amp and Arena are proof of this.
    2) Nothing about compromise is bad if it's required to survive. I used the example of Porsche in the Senate, and it works
    3) The Senate gets merged back into the Community forum and the Old Senate rules are archived for those who want to pine for bygone days
    4) All serious topic discussion in the JC is branded Senate. That means topics on politics, religion, sex and sexuality, gender, race, equality, climate change, science (when not pop culture science).
    5) The requirement to not post one liner drive-bys is dropped
    6) Other users may insist upon proof to support claims but it is no longer mandatory to support claims with proof
    7) The only rule is you discuss the idea, not the person. Saying "that idea smacks of fascism", not "you're a fascist"
    8) Be respectful and open minded.
    9) Stick to the topic
  8. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    Yeah, that's the list. But for example, just a couple of questions off the top of my head in no particular order:

    1) What is the very nature of serious discussion? On its face, this type of arrangement was tried with the JCC and Senate, and is what contributed to a lot of the territoriality. Would everyone automatically recognize that a thread on "climate change" (from the list above) is "serious," and labeled under a new expectation? Would there potentially be 2 threads, one that is serious, and one that is more free form?

    2)Is the overall community ready to transition from a mindset of interacting with the person which has been the JCC's mainstay, to a paradigm of "The only rule is you discuss the idea, not the person?" That single rule is a very "Senate-like" idea. Does everyone know what that means?

    3)What are the ideas of "respect" and "open-mindedness" on an online forum, and more importantly, what would examples of "disrespect" and so on?

    That list highlights what I've been saying. I think if a person is familiar with both the old Senate and the old JCC, then it would be easy to combine the two in order to meet the expectations outlined on that list. However, I think if someone is only familiar with the JCC, then the idea of focusing on the idea, not the person is going to be completely foreign and more difficult to achieve. On the flip side, I think if someone is only familiar with the Senate, then the idea of drive by posts are going to be distracting and again, completely foreign. All I'm saying is that it's easy to supply a list, but it's more difficult to implement the specifics.
  9. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    I hesitate to think of the harm that could result if we blindly rush into a remerge. Let's revisit this in 16-24 months and see where everybody stands. Then, if the mods want to consider it, we can open the topic to a 10-12 week debate before tabling it until 2017. Everyone ok with that?
    Rogue_Ten, Mr44, LostOnHoth and 2 others like this.
  10. harpua Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Mar 12, 2005
    star 8
    This is where you keep getting tripped up, I think. The proposal is to get rid of the expectations. It would be serious discussion in a "free-form" format. The "senate style" posting would be done away with, more or less.

    Ender covered this... basically, instead of "You are a fascist," one should say, "That idea reeks of fascism."

    "You're a moron.."
    "You only feel that way because you're a homosexual..."
    "All the black people in this thread need to stfu..."

    etc...
    LostOnHoth likes this.
  11. I Are The Internets Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Nov 20, 2012
    star 7
    On the plus side, Episode VII - LXI will have been released by then.
  12. LostOnHoth Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 15, 2000
    star 5
    I'm just briefing my kids so they can take over from me. I love it when an internet issue sees generational change.

    edit: at the end of the day these forums are designed to foster online discussion between people. That kind of interaction has to have a high degree of flexibility in order for it to work. If you impose too many rules and over think it, the whole concept just doesn't work. It's like putting the "now discussing.." lines in thread headings - completely fails because the best discussion in a thread generally happens spontaneously and organically imho and not because of a particular set of rules. Serious discussion can just happen spontaneously, even in a thread which was not intended to be serious.

    Whatever we do let's just not over engineer it.
    Last edited by LostOnHoth, Jan 17, 2014
  13. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    Harps, just some quick things:

    1)Is that but a single interpretation? The prior list that was mentioned comes with 9 expectations. What exactly is "free form" serious discussion, and does everyone consider it to be the same? I don't have issue with the list. It just seems that there are a lot of assumptions that come with it, and there seems to be an all or nothing aspect to this. Isn't there more than one solution that can be decided on? You even ended your first sentence with a "more or less..." It's the "more or less" part where all the discussion takes place. If the goal is to make the Senate less restrictive, but also elevate the juvenile aspects of the JCC, then assumptions with both are going to have to meet somewhere in the middle.

    2)[1] basically, instead of "You are a fascist," one should say, "That idea reeks of fascism."[/I]

    Yeah, I understand the concept as it was the cornerstone for the Senate zero tolerance policy for years.....But this is an ideal. What happens when someone doesn't do this? It seems to conflict with the free form aspect mentioned above. Is it actionable under the TOS? under forum standard? Would someone who continues to do it be shunned and sent to a Star Trek fan forum? Does everyone even agree that this should happen, because again, it's a very Senate like concept. Is the community prepared?

    3)"You're a moron.."
    "You only feel that way because you're a homosexual..."
    "All the black people in this thread need to stfu..."

    Ok, but how about things that sit on equal footing with the concept?

    What if, in the middle of a serious thread, someone says "All the christians in this thread need to stfu?" Isn't that just as much a barrier to communication as attacking skin color? Or someone says "you only feel that way because you're from the South.." It is still demeaning to the person no matter if it unfairly attacks their sexual orientation or their geographic origin. All the Senate mods have grappled with this exact same standard for as long as the forum existed. I'm saying that it is one thing to mention hypotheticals, but it's another thing entirely to implement them and make sure everyone understands what the expectation is.

    Even this quick post has all sorts of questions. Ironically, your 3 points here perfectly represent why the Senate was created in the first place, and why it continued to develop as it did when the boards where packed with people. The forum traffic level might not be there any more, but there still seems to be the same desire for serious discussion.
    Last edited by Mr44, Jan 17, 2014
  14. harpua Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Mar 12, 2005
    star 8
    You're seriously over-thinking this.

    The jcc already runs under the "attack the idea not the poster" rule already--we have for years. Actually, I'm pretty sure that's a forum-wide guideline. This isn't a new concept. We function just fine under that guideline.

    The examples I gave are just that... examples. No, I didn't cover every single possible scenario. I suppose that's where the "etc" comes into play.
    Last edited by harpua, Jan 17, 2014
  15. Rogue_Ten Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Aug 18, 2002
    star 6

    @Mr44 liked this post unironically
  16. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    Harpua, Sure I can accept that. I would disagree about the "attack the idea, not the poster" rule in the sense that you're talking about though. I just think if you remove the existing outlet for serious discussion the overall parameters are going to change. People don't strongly care about a thread which examines the last thing you put in your mouth, or Anne Hathaway's haircut, so personal attacks occur less frequently. The people behind the keyboard absolutely begin to care when the topic is abortion, or same sex marriage, or a war somewhere, so the incentive to make personal attacks is higher. If you just throw serious discussion into a new area without an understanding, the potential for problems shoot up.

    Is it better to keep see-sawing things, or examining them before yet another change relating to this is thrown out there? For as much as this can be admittedly over-thought, there's no immediate need to call out Bruce Willis to go drill a hole in a astroid to save the world either.

    EDIT: And Rogue, will you please, please, please quit mentioning me in things you have absolutely no idea what you are talking about. I know Jabba, and I know the sarcastic nature of his post, and how he could be referring specifically to me. I liked his post in the absolute light-hearted sense. Your seeming obsession with everything I post has long crossed the line between being merely annoying and exhibiting clinically stalker-esque behavior. It would be refreshing if you just asked me directly what my thought was instead of trying to make all these "gotcha" posts, especially since they are always incorrect in every sense. What your post did do though is represent the "attack the idea, not the poster" ideal that I'm illustrating, so thank you for that.
    Last edited by Mr44, Jan 17, 2014
    Jedi Merkurian likes this.
  17. Rogue_Ten Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Aug 18, 2002
    star 6
    Stop baiting and spamming.
    Last edited by JoinTheSchwarz, Jan 17, 2014
  18. Jabba-wocky Chosen One

    Member Since:
    May 4, 2003
    star 8
    Mr44, we've already had multiple serious discussions in the JCC. Several in the past two weeks. Would you like to point out the ones that required moderator intervention because of personal attacks? You keep talking about a theoretical fear. But there have been plenty of chances for it to come up. If it really hasn't yet, then harpuah is more or less proven correct. What evidence do you have for some huge groundswell of interpersonal conflict on the horizon? If you can't provide any, then I don't see why the issue you are trying to raise is particularly important.

    We may as well go on about what would happen if everyone started posting in Latin and then the only moderator who could read to police things was Jello, and don't we need to develop a rule set about when and how often you can use other languages and et cetera. Or what if after the merger, people started trying to text responses on their mobile devices and got into an inordinate number of car accidents, so that it became a national issue and national laws were passed censuring the theForce.net message boards in several countries as a result. Don't we need to have some sort of clear banner at the top disavowing texting while driving so we will have plausible deniability? What if now that discussions are moved to a place people actually read, young teenagers use it as a source for a black market trade in school essays? Should we code a special system that informs the schools of users under 18 of their membership here so teachers can scan the site for plagiarism?

    It's perfectly alright to try and think through potential problems. Better to see something ahead of time than get stuck dealing with it in a crisis. But you also have to show why your idea is worth devoting time to, as opposed to one of the countless scenarios that are technically possible but practically so remote as to be irrelevant.
  19. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    Dem stimme ich zu. Ich befuerchte z.B., dass die neuen Regeln zu viele Deutsche und Oesterreicher ins Forum bringen koennten, und das koennte dazu fuehren, dass irgendwann Deutsch zur offiziellen und einzigen erlaubten Sprache des Forums wird.
    Last edited by Jabbadabbado, Jan 18, 2014
  20. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    JW, I'd only say that no one has been proven correct or incorrect because nothing has been adopted yet. I'd point out that right now, the traditional Senate still exists, so all those who are so inclined...(ie the serious, in-depth religious threads, the threads on unemployment and economics, terrorist attacks, etc. etc..) are still posting there. There is still a buffer, so you can't make a direct comparison. I guess my overall point is that you can't just close down the existing outlet for such things, throw half a dozen abortion threads or similar into JCC, and expect things to continue as they have without problems. I would also add that the foray into serious discussion that has been tried in the JCC is as you have said, but the existing ones wouldn't meet the standards of the list that has formed the backbone of this proposal, and which I believe you support as well:

    1) Nothing says that the flavour of an old forum cannot be maintained in the new format. Census, Amp and Arena are proof of this.
    2) Nothing about compromise is bad if it's required to survive. I used the example of Porsche in the Senate, and it works
    3) The Senate gets merged back into the Community forum and the Old Senate rules are archived for those who want to pine for bygone days
    4) All serious topic discussion in the JC is branded Senate. That means topics on politics, religion, sex and sexuality, gender, race, equality, climate change, science (when not pop culture science).
    5) The requirement to not post one liner drive-bys is dropped
    6) Other users may insist upon proof to support claims but it is no longer mandatory to support claims with proof
    7) The only rule is you discuss the idea, not the person. Saying "that idea smacks of fascism", not "you're a fascist"
    8) Be respectful and open minded.
    9) Stick to the topic


    I'd point to points 4, 7, and 9 in particular here. Remember, the proposal for "Serious biz... not plz. :p" isn't just to continue pseudo-serious discussion in the JCC, it's to create an all new tab that would the outlet for serious discussion in a sort of JCC-Senate hybrid. Under this list, all such serious discussion would be moved to its own area. Is everyone ready for something like that? But even this is just a singe proposal out of a couple of different options.
  21. KnightWriter Administrator Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 6, 2001
    star 8
    44 cannot offer any examples, of course, but then attempts to rationalize that away.

    guess my overall point is that you can't just close down the existing outlet for such things, throw half a dozen abortion threads or similar into JCC, and expect things to continue as they have without problems.

    Yes, you can, and you know, if there are problems, they can and will be dealt with. It's not theoretical physics, 44. It's just people talking. That's all.
  22. harpua Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Mar 12, 2005
    star 8
    I'm just going to take a moment to repost an excellent point by LostOnHoth, because it is definitely relevant here.

    This thread itself is evidence that jcc and senate people can have a constructive debate without having to follow an iron-fisted rule set. On this page, there is an example of somebody getting personal and somewhat out of line. It was dealt with by a mod, and the conversation continued. It's all right here... it's happening right now.
    Last edited by harpua, Jan 18, 2014
  23. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    KW, I don't have to offer any examples, because I agree with JW and as a result, there is nothing to counter. But not only that, but your post works both ways, KW. I could take your post verbatim, not change one word, and use it as a solid justification why the Senate should just be left open. What harm is there for just leaving the Senate forum for those who want it, and having another for those who want it as well? It's just people talking, right?

    However, look at any example-let's use the JCC's "US politics thread." That one, while successful, wouldn't meet the standards outlined in E_S's list that is being used as the basis for this proposal. Again, if this proposal is adopted, that thread would be moved from its current location to the new serious area, where it would be more single-purposed. In a nutshell, you can't point to the current arrangement and use it as "proof" that a proposed arrangement would be the same.

    Look at all the active threads of the Senate. Look at removing all the current serious threads in the JCC. Combine these and they would make up the proposed "serious tag." This isn't about adding in a single thread to the JCC that may focus on religion or terrorism or politics once and while. It's about potentially creating the sole area for ALL such themed discussion. Do you recognize the difference? The point is, of course, that you have to put some thought into forum arrangement and structure.
  24. harpua Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Mar 12, 2005
    star 8
  25. Jabba-wocky Chosen One

    Member Since:
    May 4, 2003
    star 8
    Mr44, what rule violations do you see regarding points 4, 7, and 9? Take the Christian music thread I brought up earlier. All posts were either about music that discussed Christianity, had Christian themes, or discussed the meaning, quality, or significance of such songs. That's staying on topic. Ideas were discussed throughout, in compliance with rule 7. Literally the only thing you can say is that it was not tagged "Senate"--and that tag doesn't exist yet.

    Or consider the Bible Universities thread. Even jokes were topical (sexular, Oral Roberts/terrible names, a riff on modern art after a discussion of curriculum). So the thread stayed on topic. There were some very charged, weighty subjects that came up in the thread, including accusations of bigotry, and calling people's central religious beliefs "imaginary." Yet, throughout, the conversation remained respectful. Some people's ideas about the universe (eg sun at the center) were lampooned, but those individuals were not belittled. No one was ever personally attacked. The closest we came to insults in over 200 posts was someone saying that the Star Wars EU novels are dorky, and a remark that someone's grasp of history was terrible because they were totally unaware of the role of Catholic universities in early Europe. Again, the only thing you can really find fault with here is that the topic failed to use a non-existent tag.

    So again I ask, do you have some examples of egregious mistakes that we're somehow overlooking, or is this concern just purely theoretical?
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