Requesting Comment: Proposed Structure and Rules

(Jon Garvey) #23


My source for this is experience at BioLogos, where the more the numbers grew, the more threads asking old, old questions like “Hey, I’m wondering if anyone here thinks evolution is compatible with Christianity?” would be started and clutter up the boards with helpful moderators, belligerent creationists, cynical scientists and atheists with too much time on their hands!

Eventually I’d scroll down and see an ancient buried thread with a title like “Jon Garvey’s view on Babylonian geography,” which might have been handy to find months before!

(Nathan H. Lents) #24

I have no experience with this kind of thing, but it seems sensible to me.

(Paul A Nelson) #25

I hope it will work. I value this forum and want it to succeed as a meeting-ground for diverse viewpoints.

(Dan Eastwood) #26

@swamidass will we be phasing out (or renaming) some of the old categories?

I suggest adding the TL as a prefix to the category name.

If we have room for one more category, I’d like to suggest “Featured Discussions”. This would be a place to put some of the best discussions (comments closed) along with Side comments (open).

Scratch that last one, I just found the Reference category. :slight_smile:

(Curtis Henderson) #27

I’ve been out of the loop for a while now, but it seems like this structuring is an attempt to have Discourse regulate itself instead of you having to invest tremendous amounts of time and energy to keep it running smoothly. If so, I think it is a well-devised plan to accomplish just that. Looking forward to seeing how it all works out!

(Steve Schaffner) #28

Starting with some general comments. . .

Something needed to be done, so kudos for shaking things up. What you want to do with this site requires getting people to act unnaturally in some ways, so structures and incentives to encourage that behavior are probably needed. Even those of us who buy into your goals may need prodding from time to time when things get heated.

As someone trying to participate here, I currently perceive two major obstacles to the site’s success. One is that the noise level has risen. The other is a frequently adversarial stance and a lack of civility. (Aside: in answer to a question I think @Agauger asked, yes, scientists behave this way. Not all of them or all the time, but often enough that it’s a recognized feature of science, and not a good one.) Both obstacles lead to fewer patient, in-depth explorations of arguments and more standard evo/creationist debates.

Some of the problems come with increased size, and I do wonder whether you should be thinking in terms of maintaining a smaller, more focused forum (or collection of forums, e.g. one on theology and one on science) – think Gordon Conferences (but in public view) rather than the annual meeting of the American Society of Whatever with its cast of thousands. Quite a lot of what’s being posted here now seems to have little directly to do with your stated mission and some ruthless pruning might improve the longterm health of the garden.

As for the proposed specifics, they seem like a step in the right direction, although I have difficulty envisioning how they’ll look in practice. There seem to be a lot of moving parts, which is a concern, but maybe all of the machinery will hum quietly in the background. One thing that does seem essential is that platformed exchanges be highly visible, and that it be easy to get from them to the associated side comments.

(Jordan Mantha) #29

I think this is something that I find hard about online forums. People gravitate towards “birds-of-a-feather” smaller, high impact conversations because it’s hard to go through all the justification of every statement to make one point. While some of the conversations here between vastly different folks is very helpful, it’s also very difficult to spend time trying to hold a conversation with several people with polar opposite ways of thinking, at the same time.

In my experience, discussion forums mostly seem to go towards one of two ways:

  1. echo chamber group-think: the main point is to reinforce what you already believe, mostly to gain ammunition for,
  2. free-for-all intellectual slug fest: the main point is to show how stupid the “other” view/person is and how completely justified you are in your position by being an obnoxious troll, but hey, we’re having a “conversation”, right?

I think the trick may be to allow for both “birds of a feather” areas where people can enter work out their beliefs and arguments in a relatively “safe” environment where there is a lot of common ground, but also encouraging good healthy cross-disciplinary discussion where we can challenge each other and test our beliefs.

For instance, it’s great for me to be able to talk with other Christian scholars, as I work at a religious private university, without having to justify Christianity at every step. It’s also helpful for me to be able to (separately) talk with other scientists about cutting edge research, etc. without having to justify mainstream science at every turn. From that place of having one or more “home” communities, I would then feel more confident in engaging with the broader “mess” of a forum with all kinds of people, opinions, etc. Does that make sense?

(S. Joshua Swamidass) #30

We can make use of the group system to enable this if it becomes necessary. We would have user managed groups, each with their own private or public lounge.

(S. Joshua Swamidass) #31

Right now, we are neither of these things. I"m confident that we can prevent both of these. At this point, we’ve known there was a problem, and found a solution. We need more mild ways of moderating bad patterns, and also ways for the forum to self moderate.

Soon we will be switching over to the new rules. Bonus points to those who start playing by them now:

(Jordan Mantha) #32

Yes, Peaceful Science is a remarkable forum, I was just wondering how to keep it that way as it scales. I think you’re being proactive about it and allowing iterative adjustments to help things grow organically. This is a pretty special place.

(Guy Coe) #33

It certainly is a place where gifted “professional students” have assembled… glad of the collegiality in the midst of controversy.

(Anjeanette AJ Roberts) #34

Yes, it makes sense and I share your sentiments and thoughtful concerns.

Two independent comments on feedback to Josh’s Proposed Structures and Rules.

  1. for TL2 to TL3 advancement seems a big hurdle to cross and maintain to be out here at least every other day for 100 days. And it sounds like many of the really good discussions will take place only at a TL3 level. Wondering if the 50% of 100 days could be less stringent? And does TL3 get you access to all discussions at TL3 levels regardless of moderator group? (I’m not sure I understand all the proposed dynamics.)

  2. Also, not sure of the language and its implications re: “A Secular-Confessional Society” Since RTB’s position is one that operates from a primary foundation of two-books (i.e. God’s revelation in nature and the Scriptures and the integration possible of those two things when both are rightly interpreted), it is not a “personal confession” but part of the RTB model or starting philosophical/worldview position. The language seems to suggest to me that such a model will be marginalized if all attempts to present that model where it touches on points of theology are deemed personal confessions.

Otherwise, I think it looks promising and indicate my shared sentiments with those who have already posted by “liking” their comments.

(S. Joshua Swamidass) #35

Does not apply to @AJRoberts, you and other scholars from RTB are in the @scholars group which gives you automatic TL3 status.

This is merely our philosophy here, and you do not have to agree with it, though you seem to have no problem operating within it. I explain it here: A Secular-Confessional Society

Not at all. It would dignify at as a legitimate way to understand scientific findings insofar as it is consistent with the evidence. Even if there were challenges, our goal would be to help make sense of it in light of the evidence.

(George) #36

@swamidass is very quick to defend the role of theological stance here.

If there were no theological stances permitted, there would be no Genealogical Adam to discuss.

I interpreted the rule now being discussed as referring to church-style testimonials … rather than theological explications.

(Dan Eastwood) #37

Moderators can promote people more quickly if they are making positive contributions. The rules have a lot of sticks, but this makes a nice carrot.

(S. Joshua Swamidass) #38

(Timothy Horton) #39

How many “flags” does it take to have a post hidden? 2? 4? I see the potential for system misuse when a handful of ID-creationists block criticisms of ID they can’t address. I’ve noticed this especially happens with posts critical of the Discovery Institute.

Why are the identities of the flaggers not shown in the same way the “like” posters are shown? Can this be done? Don’t the accused deserve the privilege of knowing their accusers?

It’s irritating to log on only to find your post hidden with no idea who did the flagging and no explanation why.

(S. Joshua Swamidass) #40

1 flag from a TL3 will hide, it but that sends it to moderator review. The moderators decide if it is a valid flag or not. If it is cleared, then the post would reappear.

The issue is not being critical of DI, it is because you need make substantive critique. We are taking a tougher view of against non-substantive and negative posts. They add nothing to the conversation. In the future just explain evidentially and dispassionately (in the spirit of science) what the issues are. We will allow those posts, and encourage DI advocates to engage.

This is a change from our prior policy, however this is a good change. We want to engage the issues, and posts that are not substantive, or dip into ridicule, will no longer be retained. @Timothy_Horton, I know you dislike ID. No problem with that view here. Just make your case, rather than merely declaring it with a non-substantive and negative post.

(S. Joshua Swamidass) #41

You can always PM the @moderators to ask. We will attempt to respond within 48 hrs. Usually we do far more quickly than this. If something was flagged inappropriately, it will be returned. We know how often flags are rejected by individual users, so it is a bad idea to indiscriminately flag posts.

The real problem we have now, however, is that not enough flags are being dropped.

(Timothy Horton) #42

How do we know who is a TL3 and which TL3 did the flagging? Why can’t the identify of the flagger be provided in the way the “like” givers are provided?