Request for Comment on Provisional Changes to the Forum


I have to say, I think you are asking for too much.

Your Creationist friends who are NOT dumb, should read Joshua’s GAE book… and read what the academically sound people are writing.

How do we “vet” the difference between a completely UN-MODERATED area (like Peaceful Science used to be!) … while operating at the very same time a “High-Concept” tool for academics to exchange views?

Do we call it the Purgatory Group?

I think you MIGHT be suffering a hangover from these two (USELESS?) categories of discussion:

A) Those discussions where Atheistic scientists are trying to convince you that God isn’t needed to get primate evolution. << This is just more of the same stuff for the last 50 years… we don’t need it.


B) Those discussions where Christian enthusiasts flood the bandwidth with the idea that Science can somehow prove God designed humans and other creatures. << This is just more of the same stuff for decades… we don’t need that either.

Both of these ||HIGH HEAT//LOW LIGHT|| thread topics provide very little value to the bridge building operation that PeacefulScience hopes to work on. The more vigorous the debate on these two topics, the further away the two sides become.

How about THIS idea?: (@swamidass, have a look below!) -

A more-or-less unmoderated section that focuses on the BRIDGE and nothing else!

It would be called God-Guided Evolution (or maybe EGG?, aka Evolution: God-Guided). And nobody at any time can hijack the postings with ANY discussion of Evolution-with-Gods-Guidance… period.

As soon as someone starts talking about Evolution doesn’t require God… he or she is warned and then the second offense the post (or posts) are deleted. And conversely, as soon as someone starts suggesting that science can prove Design … that is ALSO off topic (because it is divisive for obvious political reasons). Same warning; some penalty.

If you, or your Creationist colleagues have “agita” or “heart burn” over a section with these kinds of limitations - - I would suggest that the reason for the heartburn is obvious - - they want to talk about THEIR favorite topics… and not the favorite topics of Peaceful Science.

Thoughts, @cdods?

Excellent idea!

Lets focus on bidding and play and banish those who are only interested in the social side of the game.

Oh. :cry:

Won’t this produce a safe haven for false claims that evolution can’t produce this/that/other?

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My hope is that it will create a safer place for anyone to come in and ask a question, even on a publicly visible thread.

I entirely agree.

That is not likely. Trolls love attention. Posts off the front page are inherently deflating. Poor behavior there risks them being excluded from more public threads. So at least now the incentives are set up correctly.

One important thing about this change is that now anyone can post on public threads if their post is professional and quality. That opens up the most visible parts of the forum for people who were not scholar and are new.

A better approach will be creating solid content at the blog level, published in the literature, and in public threads. We can make such content very visible.


You will have better information than I do, if you are running good analytics. But I wonder how many people access the site via the front page rather than directly to the forums (once they have access to the forums). Personally I forget the front page even exists. Content on the front page, shows up in the forum, so I don’t need to access the front page.

Just something to keep in mind. It may not be front page visibility that drives “trolls” but simply visibility within the community on the forum.


You are misunderstanding. I’m talking about the front page of the forum. See here:

Now that these changes are public, we may move #conversation into the muted state for everyone. For now, I will change your personal settings so you can how the forum looks to all new people. Anyone else can do this for themselves, or ask for helpm to see what this does.


3 posts were split to a new topic: Comments on Provisional Changes to Forum

Thought I’d comment on how things look and feel, after a few days of the new approach. I never really used the Categories view before, since I usually wanted to visit a few times a day to monitor any conversations of interest. I would instead use the Latest view. (Relying on notifications usually works but not if others in the conversation don’t know how to respond and tag.) But in the new model, with (to me) a stronger emphasis on semi-curated (and therefore higher-quality) conversations, I find the Conversations category a nuisance, and this can be mitigated somewhat in the Categories view, since the sheer volume of threads in the Conversations category can’t dominate the view.

Again, there’s the slight risk that I (and perhaps others) will start ignoring Conversations entirely. Since I can always be tagged and/or invited to a conversation, maybe that’s okay. Time will tell.

But just today I figured out the importance of Featured Conversations. In my standard views, this seems this is just a subcategory. But visiting incognito reveals what this category can do for my views: even when Conversations are muted by default, the Featured Conversations appear in every view. I now see the utility of Featured Conversations, and I am seriously considering muting Conversations to clean up my views (and thereby avoid my personal annoyance at spammy stuff.)

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@sfmatheson, yes that’s right. You are seeing how it functions now.

Conversations muted is now the default for new people. I imagine some people will not want Conversations muted, either to better monitor the forum, or because they like to get into the scrum of things.

At any time we can move a conversation into the featured Category section. I expect we will continue to see really good conversations arise unmoderated, but moving it to featured will protect them from degrading, and make them more visible.

One change that I will be making is swapping the order there, so that conversations is a subcategory of featured conversations. This will make it more clear to non-logged in users what is going on.

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I’ve now made this change.

“Featured Conversations” is now just “Conversations”
“Conversations” is now “Side Conversations”

@Moderators note this change, so you are not confused.

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@swamidass, what is the new user experience like with this? My understanding is that if somebody wants to do their first post they may not even see Side Conversations (since they aren’t on the front page) so they would naturally post to Conversations, which is now requires post approvals? Is that right?

I confess I’m having a little trouble keeping track of all the sub-categories because they don’t always show up. For instance, if I go to Categories - Peaceful Science I don’t see the Side Conversations category there. The only sub-category to Conversation is “Lounge” for me. Similarly I don’t see the Attic.

I think the changes are great, I’m just finding it a little hard to find things and I’m a little nervous about the new user experience if there is a high barrier to any posting.



This actually reduces barriers that new users have complained about.

  1. “Which category can I post in? Why can’t I reply?” Well, now they can post in any category and reply in any category. It will require approval, and may be moved to #conversation:side, but they can at least submit something without seeing a disabled arrow.

  2. “The quality of conversations is not very high.” Well now, the higher quality conversations are fore-fronted.

It is there, as a subcategory of #conversations. Look again.

Very good concerns. We will watch closely to see how it goes from here. I think this will actually help quite a bit.

Also @John_Harshman complained about the new link colors, which were not as obvious. That has been changed, and links are now underlined, making them very easy to pick out.


This is what I see:

I have to click into Conversation (Conversation - Peaceful Science) before I see it:


Try again now. I just unmuted the category for you. The reason it looked that way was because side-conversations are muted. That is intended functionality. New users have clues that #conversation:side is there, but they won’t see it unless they look. I’m pretty sure it will still appear in their “unread” feed, just not their “latest”.

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Ah yes, now all the sub-categories are showing up on the Categories page. I get it, thanks!

Good fix.


I think trying to improve the quality and professionalism of dialogue is a great idea.


Great to see you @PDPrice. As one of the few YECs here, I hope you try starting a moderated conversation on a focused topic you care about. I hope that it will be easier to make progress in understanding each other this time around.



It is not clear to me why Conversations-being-Muted is the DEFAULT setting for newbies. Can you explain?

Isn’t Conversations the one place where moderation of postings is not required? If so, is this the default position so that new people don’t START by thinking they have unlimited posting rights?


Ahhh… I think I understand now … Conversations have the least guidelines for good quality discussion… and so you don’t want to FEATURE that department.

I’m in sync… I gotcha now.

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Will new users still need approval to create new topics even on that “side conversation” category? Or will they still need to get to TL1 to post a new topic?

When new users join, will they be told that there is a separate category (called side conversations) which they can “un-silence”? Or will they just start to notice those as they use the site more frequently?

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