A Discussion about Discussions

More conversation about moderated conversations.

This is a continuation of a discussion started in the comment section of a previous post.

The bottom line is this: we have a policy, which I will admit we don’t adhere to fully (such as the line about language–I just read it). By the same token, this is a private space not a public service, run by people who have full time jobs and other obligations, so some inconsistency is just life.

Speaking for myself, I look at this place like having people over to your house–they are there by invitation (maybe a very broad one, like a block party) but they have no claim to a right to be there. At some point some people have to be asked to leave because they are truly making other guests uncomfortable or they are making the situation unpleasant for the hosts.

The main thing we want is for people to be reasonable, stay on topic on a given thread, and try to argue in good faith. It is especially welcome when people actually try and contribute to a conversation rather than just engaging in hit-and-run insults.

I enjoy writing here and engaging in interchange with the commenters (I am pretty sure that I am the most interactive of all the site’s authors). I genuinely want dialog. I am also under no obligation to tolerate everyone for all eternity. Sometimes I just adopt a policy of non-response to certain people. Others I have invited not to comment on my threads. Others I have recommended for banning (this almost always happens when at least James or Doug are also having trouble with a specific guest). I always point out to people when they are truly getting off the rails.

I have also pointed out to regular commenters, on occasion, that their tone is off. I defended a regular from being called a troll just this weekend. I have defended annoying commenters from being accused of being Jenos.

Having said all of that, I do not foresee (nor do I personally want) a system any more complex than what we have. No one is banned outright without a discussion among the main hosts. Occasionally I delete truly offensive posts, but when I do that I post an explanation.

Some comments caught in moderation, like an antisemitic one this morning, never see the light of day.

I think I speak for all the main hosts, and I think most of the readers, the goal here is civil dialog. Hopefully there is room for learning. I welcome opposing points of view, but find rants and talking point tiresome.

Please feel free to continue this conversation in the comments.

FILED UNDER: *FEATURED, Blogosphere
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is Professor of Political Science and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Troy University. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. Teve says:

    RECENT COMMENTS

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  2. Not the IT Dept. says:

    I think the three of you have enough experience to tell which commenters – however rough and rude they may be – are here to participate and which ones are here to derail and insult. Weeding out the latter would be applauded by serious commenters along with a reminder that this is not Twitter.

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  3. CSK says:

    Whatever the problems posed by some commenters here, I still think that OTB attracts and keeps some of the sanest, best-informed, most articulate, and politest people around.

    Look at the comments following an article almost anywhere else. They’re not worth reading. By the third comment, they’ve descended into semi-literate profanity, obscenity, and gross personal insults.

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  4. Teve says:

    @CSK: YOURE MOM!

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  5. Teve says:

    @Not the IT Dept.: Twitter isn’t even Twitter anymore, they’re going to give tweeters the ability to select options which won’t let 1 million rando idiots avalanche them in replies.

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  6. Teve says:

    Where that open thread is?

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  7. Kathy says:

    I’ve long experience in internet message boards. I first went online in 1991 (that’s like ten years ago, right?) on a local Bulletin Board System (BBS), essentially a message board with email and shareware files and crude online games.

    In the end, the quality of the conversation reflects the intellectual qualities, and writing skills, of the people who take part in it. The pleasantness or unpleasantness of the place depends on the manners of those who take part in the conversation.

    There’s little the site hosts/managers can do to teach, or enforce, good manners, and it’s not their duty to do so.

    IMO, lastly the number of people makes a difference. You want enough to have a diverse set of opinions and interests, but not so many that threads get too long, tangled, and especially contentious.

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  8. Andy says:

    Moderation is a difficult and thankless task that often pleases no one. My 2 cents is that I think you strike the correct balance with moderation and I appreciate your efforts. I would just keep doing what you’re doing.

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  9. CSK says:

    @Teve: No commenting for you till you’ve done your homework and your chores, young man.

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  10. Not the IT Dept. says:

    Two concrete suggestions I will make, based on rules on other blogs I follow:

    1. Think hard, get your thoughts together and post it once. Consecutive posts are annoying. We have an edit function now; you can correct things in real time.

    2. Repeating yourself over and over (and over and over…) again just to make the same point, as if repetition is an aid to understanding, is not only futile, it’s incredibly annoying.

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  11. Teve says:

    @CSK: this is bullshit, and I’m going to get my own place, and I won’t have to do anything you say.

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  12. gVOR08 says:

    Dr. Taylor, your patience, and your dedication to pedagogy are legendary, at least within this small circle. I would greatly miss this blog were it to go away. Doug, James, I’m starting to really miss your words of wisdom.

    I’m good with the commenting policies, and their enforcement, as is. A few irritants is a small price for generally good discussion. Much as I enjoy these comment threads, I confess I often don’t read many comments, at least not beyond, ‘Oh, him again’ or, ‘Oh God, he’s still off on that’. Ignoring certain comments is an option we all have.

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  13. de stijl says:

    How firm is that whole “staying on topic” stipulation? That could be problematic.

    I often wander into weird territory.

    Btw, I love, love, love the institution of Open Threads. We needed that hard.

    As long as we don’t devolve into ritual recipe sharing and “U R Awesome!” a la recent Balloon Juice. I like community, but too much is just internet death. A self – supporting community that is just not interesting at all. Unless I need a queso recipe, Balloon Juice is a dead end.

    Seriously, if I asked for a queso recipe on Balloon Juice perhaps dozens or fifty community members would immediately respond.

    It is a good community, but just uninteresting. I want low level conflict and discourse.

    Again, your party, we are the guests.

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  14. gVOR08 says:

    @Not the IT Dept.: I had a friend years ago who would walk up and say out of the blue things like, ‘No, the left front was flat.’ It took awhile to realize he was remembering a conversation from a week or two ago and starting up right where it left off.

    I’m reminded of him by some of these long exchanges. Sorry guys, I may not have been following every word. Continuity may have been lost.

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  15. de stijl says:

    @Not the IT Dept.:

    You are totally an engineer or a coder!

    I do apologize if I mischaracterized, I was merely boosting off your point.

    The urge to simplify and codify. I totally get that. I understand that deeply. Taxonomy.

    Complex systems are hard. Simple systems are easy to solve. Simple systems are a trap.

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  16. Gustopher says:

    I think you guys (our fine hosts) strike a good balance between enforcing the rules and letting people chatter freely without having to watch over their shoulder — only dropping the ban hammer when someone is being persistently and aggressively disruptive.

    If the rules were actually enforced as written, the drive-by shitposting of Guanario would have gotten him banned, and de stilj’s random meanderings (although, Bucky apparently tried to ban him), and about a quarter of the other commenters would be gone. But, none of them actually disrupt things.

    I don’t think we need timed bans — if people can’t take a warning, fuck ‘em. I’ve gotten the occasional “that was out of line” and I’ve paused, reread what I posted, and then dialed it back.

    I have noticed that at some point language here shifted from misspelled obscenities to properly spelled obscenities. Was there a potty-mouth filter that got lost in the site upgrades, or is that just a slow cultural shift?

    And the ad hominem attacks have gotten a little nastier. I’m wondering if having to type “fvck” was an effective reminder to watch one’s tone overall.

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  17. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Speaking for myself, I look at this place like having people over to your house–they are there by invitation (maybe a very broad one, like a block party) but they have no claim to a right to be there.

    This goes without saying. Therefor it has to be repeated loudly and often.

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  18. gVOR08 says:

    @de stijl: I got no problem with the recipe threads. Or the golden oldies music threads. Or off topic comments, if they don’t seem meant to derail. I’m not required to read them. Dr. Taylor’s not going to pull a snap quiz.

    ETA – I was going to add a snarky question about moderation policy until I realized I’d fat fingered my own handle.

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  19. Mister Bluster says:

    Booker books…

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  20. CSK says:

    @Teve:
    How dare you speak to your mother that way?

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  21. Gustopher says:

    @Mister Bluster: Sad. I liked him, but he really did not catch on at all.

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  22. Teve says:

    Booker says peace out bitches.

    ETA dang beaten by 4 mins.

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  23. Teve says:

    @Gustopher: probably 15 or so of the candidates would’ve made pretty good presidents.

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  24. de stijl says:

    @Gustopher:

    I totally cop to that. I do meander a lot. I apologize.

    Since the inception of Open Thread I try to park that stuff there.

    Btw, have you heard this obscure version of a song I love by this really weird band?

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  25. de stijl says:

    I like Cory. He seems like a decent dude.

    Maybe next time.

    2024 is soon politically. He needs to buff up on straight policy.

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  26. Moosebreath says:

    @Andy:

    “Moderation is a difficult and thankless task that often pleases no one. My 2 cents is that I think you strike the correct balance with moderation and I appreciate your efforts. I would just keep doing what you’re doing.”

    Seconded.

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  27. Gustopher says:

    @de stijl:

    2024 is soon politically. He needs to buff up on straight policy.

    I guess that if we have LGBTQ policy we also have straight policy, but I think we might want to give identity politics a rest.

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  28. Slugger says:

    There is a kind of Gresham’s law in internet discussions where increasingly marginal opinions get expressed louder and louder. This was kind of amusing in the early days of the internet when PC vs. Mac flamewars were big. Lots of political and economic to-and-fro appears to be generated by people who don’t know much but are willing to yell loudly. My local newspaper just terminated comments because a small number of people dominated the space with diatribes. This site is much better than most others, and I thank the keepers of the flame.
    I used to amuse myself by putting bland comments on my local paper.
    People restrain themselves in face to face conversations. Let’s try to not post things we would not say IRL.

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  29. Mister Bluster says:

    @Gustopher:..I guess that if we have LGBTQ policy we also have straight policy, but I think we might want to give identity politics a rest.

    You crack me up Gus. Does that make you a cracker?

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  30. de stijl says:

    @Kathy:

    Remember Usenet?

    There was a subgroup that officiated whether or not a new forum would be allowed.

    It was so fascinating! There were rules. Proper proposal was a requirement to get your foot in the door. Discussion period, voting to go forward, final vote. Weighted voting. It was a complex system.

    Some people absolutely did get it, some did not. It was asonishing. Loved it. Alpha folks tried to barrel roll the process and just antagonized everybody, but it was rational; if the proposed group did not overly interfere with an existing group discussion and was a clear new cut out, it would routinely pass, despite what the proponent said or did.

    Usenet/newgroup, something like that. I am very old. That was late 80’s very early 90’s. I found my way there because I was and still am a coin collector. There was mishigas about something something numistmatist group breaking into subgroups something.There was a pressing really unimportant thing on a discussion board I read, anyway, and I followed it upstream.

    The process of approving new Usenet forums was fascinating.

    I was hooked day one I read that.

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  31. de stijl says:

    @Gustopher:

    I didn’t mean heterosexual! You made me laugh.

    Proper policy. Actual policy proposals.

    About straight people. And kittens. Taxes, whatever. Words on paper: this is what I believe in and I promise to deliver on if elected.

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  32. Kathy says:

    @de stijl:

    Remember Usenet?

    Vaguely. I didn’t get much involved in it. When I got internet access(*), I gravitated to mailing lists.

    (*) My first access involved a local university, and using telnet to connect with the Cleveland Freenet at Case Western Reserve University, which was my fist email address.

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  33. Michael Reynolds says:

    I comment here to get answers. I have plenty of places where I get to voice my opinions essentially unchallenged. At last count I’ve got something like 30,000 published pages in which I get to push the world-according-to-Michael. That’s of no use to me in coming to a greater understanding of the world.

    To me this is a dialectical process. I propose an idea, someone comes along and either says ‘yes’, or ‘kinda agree but not on this detail’, or says ‘you’re full of shit, Michael and here’s why.’ People who say ‘you’re full of shit and here’s why’ and make a good case are doing exactly what I hope for, and when they succeed in proving me wrong I am grateful. Really, because my goal is understanding. I’m not here to see my words in print or to have my ego stroked, I’m here to see whether an idea I have is useful, and whether someone else has a better idea that I can adopt. (And pretend to have come up with on my own.)

    But this is precisely why I despise liars who come here for no reason but to push a narrow agenda and are indifferent to argument or fact. Argue with me, hammer me with data, prove me wrong, but don’t lie to me or try to manipulate me because then you’re of no use to me, you’re just a crying baby on a plane – an irritant.

    I value this place because there are a bunch of people who know things I don’t, and a bunch of smart people who can challenge me. The circumstances of my life and career mean I can get my ass kissed any time. I’ve always been leery of that – one reason I stay off Facebook and Instagram. Praise, while appreciated, doesn’t get me any closer to understanding.

    I fight hard because it’s the only way to stress test an idea. I am grateful to have a place where people care about ideas and are willing to engage meaningfully, even passionately.

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  34. Kit says:

    Steven, is there any reason that you don’t announce when people are banned? It would put a stop to a certain amount of speculation down here.

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  35. de stijl says:

    @Gustopher:

    I was watching old episodes of Gaycation with Ellen Page. Old enough where Ted Cruz was a comer and a might be. Early 2016? That range.

    I am not gay, but decidedly queer in the old-timey definition of that word.

    It was heartbreaking watching that. This cause of equal rights for all Americans has always resonated with me. Queer folk deserve all the rights and privileges as white, straight, male me inhereted.

    There was a thing. In Miami, in the late 70’s, where gay rights were up for a vote. Anita Bryant got involved because reasons. I was totally up for that. Which freaked my parents out, but fuck them, they were assholes in that regard, and just in general.

    I learned how you behave and be a decent human by acting and speaking the opposite of what I was raised to speak and act.

    I am sure there are benefits to having parents that care and are capable. There are also benefits by having crappy parents. You get strong fast.

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  36. MarkedMan says:

    I’ve actually got about a decade on Kathy when it comes to on line discussion, having watched a group devolve into uselessness in the early 80’s (maybe even 1980). That would be on ARPAnet, the predecessor to the Internet. And over the past 40 years I’ve learned that although trolls and sh*tposters eventually kill all groups, they do so indirectly. The direct cause is the people that respond to such posters. People respond, the T/SP responds, more people jump in and next thing you know a thread has 100 replies of what is basically ten people shouting at the T/SP. Gradually the group returns to normal. But eventually this cycle happens often enough that some people just get sick of it and depart. Which increases the ratio of sh*tposts and responses, as well as the frequency. So more leave. And so on until the group is dead.

    There is only one absolute law in the universe: you cannot stop people from responding to a sh*tposter.

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  37. MarkedMan says:

    @Kit: I’m 100% in favor of silent banning, despite being curious myself. If it is announced then the sh*tposter gets additional attention as the justice/injustice of their fate is hashed out. I suspect such discussion would also encourage them to come back under another name so as to participate in the flagellation.

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  38. Teve says:

    @MarkedMan: the obscure biology forum i moderate has stayed useful for 15 years. Only three bans, but there’s another tactic we have. Shitposters and all replies get kicked to a garbage thread called The Bathroom Wall.

    The shitposter doesn’t get to complain about censorship because all the comments are still there on the site, but the original thread isn’t disrupted. After several dozen or hundred failed attempts to wreck the discussions, the troll loses interest and leaves.

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  39. Neil Hudelson says:

    @de stijl:

    Ellen came to our office when doing an episode of Gaycation about Indianapolis. She and her partner in the show were polite, but seemed entirely uninterested in anything positive. When we would say “here’s something that happened that was damaging to the LGBTQ community, BUT here is how the community responded, here’s how the LGBTQ community’s incredibly hard work created changes, and now the fight at hand looks entirely different,” only the damaging part was included in the show.

    It felt like that if they had decided a place was miserable, any evidence that that place wasn’t miserable had to be excluded. And I get it to a degree–it undercuts their message (that Pence was a horrible governor and would be a horrible VP). But, it still left a bad taste in my mouth.

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  40. Kathy says:

    @MarkedMan:

    I recall ads for Compuserve in the mid-80s, and mentions of “modems” in computer classes at school as “input/output” devices. But I didn’t really know there was a real use for them until 1990.

    And over the past 40 years I’ve learned that although trolls and sh*tposters eventually kill all groups, they do so indirectly. The direct cause is the people that respond to such posters. People respond, the T/SP responds, more people jump in and next thing you know a thread has 100 replies of what is basically ten people shouting at the T/SP.

    Yup. Therefore: don’t feed the trolls.

    What I like about this comment area is the downvote/upvote option. This way one can voice opposition to a troll without feeding them.

    The other thing that can kill groups is spam. this happened to an SF/Asimov board I frequented early in the century. It had been far in decline, but what killed it was tons and tons of spam.

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  41. Teve says:

    @Kathy: The owner of the biology website originally gave me moderator powers just to deal with the spam, which was a daily thing at that time. But it seems to have declined quite a bit lately.

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  42. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Teve: 😀 (and the spelling was a nice touch, too)

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  43. Mister Bluster says:

    ..the downvote/upvote option. This way one can voice opposition to a troll without feeding them.

    I rarely do thumbs. I figure the trolls wear the down thumbs on their belt. Like an onion.

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  44. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @de stijl: Are you looking for a recipe for making queso or only for using it in cooking. If there are dozens to 50 people who know how to make queso that’s a seriously big community that should start it’s own blog. 😉

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  45. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Teve: Which is significantly different from earlier primaries where the Republicans had 15 candidates and none of them would have made a good president.

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  46. de stijl says:

    @Neil Hudelson:

    That’s really sad. I like Ellen a lot.

    I saw a bit of that in the Iowa episode. Dismissiveness. Enlightened folk come to elevate us. Hard pass.

    They did a thing for Gaycation at Blazing Saddles. Best karaoke in town. The Saturday night show is spectacular, btw.

    Seriously good karaoke bar Monday – Thursday. My friend Jen can hook you up with a tasty cocktail.

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  47. de stijl says:

    @Kathy:

    Way back when, I was the person responsible to communicate with Iron Mountain.

    I needed a modem. Which required a sign off by the security office. I had to get bonded. Which means exactly jack shit.

    Every day roughly 8:15 there was bzzzt-uuuummm connection protocol and I sent something to Iron Mountain. I have no idea what. Burn this, shred that, hyper secure this. Whatever. I had no idea.

    If you are a Mr. Robot fan, this will resonate. I was an exploitable, social engineering victim in waiting.

    I was such a pup. The White Rose or fsociety would have steamrolled me.

    I would have acceeded. I liked my boss, she was cool. But her boss sucked, as did his boss and so on up the line.

    These big ass corporations we are owned by and kinda rule the world are run by dullards, idiots and sycophants.

    Most of the middle management of any major corporation is the most banal person you’ve ever met. Mike Judge’s Office Space is not really an exaggeration. It’s quite spot on, actually. There are Gary Cole type dudes every ladder up the chain.

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  48. de stijl says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    Check Balloon Juice.

    There are hundreds of regulars, and x times that lurkers.

    This is an issue of scale. Imagine the system of OTB. BJ, in terms of audience is what, something like 5 times larger, in that arena.

    And they all have recipes.

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  49. Kathy says:

    @de stijl:

    These big ass corporations we are owned by and kinda rule the world are run by dullards, idiots and sycophants.

    I know. I’ve had bosses 😉

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  50. barbintheboonies says:

    @Andy: I have not attacked anyone yet I was censored out. IMO the moderator picks and chooses who he wants others to hear, including himself.

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  51. barbintheboonies says:

    @Kathy: All of them?

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  52. barbintheboonies says:

    @Mister Bluster: I admit sometimes I do too but I have got the same treatment from those people too.

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  53. @barbintheboonies:

    I have not attacked anyone yet I was censored out. IMO the moderator picks and chooses who he wants others to hear, including himself.

    This is simply not true.

    What do you think has been deleted? (I ask for the second time).

    I just looked in the deleted folder and none of your posts have been deleted. I see none in the spam folder, either.

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  54. barbintheboonies says:

    @Michael Reynolds: I have listened to you over the years and my opinion of you has had its ups and downs. On one hand you come off as an intelligent self assured person, on the other hand you seem to love the praise you get with everyone here. You never actually take a risk of having others down you, because you seem to thrive on adoration. You have attacked me on several occasions and it pissed me off. Now I could care less. Some of you remind me of the person sitting in front of a canvas smeared in crap and waiting for some pretentious fool to analyze it as the best art they ever seen. Then some other idiot gives a million dollars to purchase it. I’ll bet I get a lot of down thumb’s on this or thrown out on my ass. Ah well.

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  55. barbintheboonies says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: I posted two things that were not there when I looked. If I made a mistake I apologize to you and others for it.

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  56. Jax says:

    @barbintheboonies: The admins around here are short-handed with Doug MIA, I would hazard a guess that if Steven says nothing you posted is in the Deleted folder, you’re missing your posts because they’re higher up on the thread. There’s been a lot of comments on the active threads today.

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  57. barbintheboonies says:

    @Gustopher: Sometimes the regulars are the ones who do most of the attacking, and nothing is done about it, I don’t care, but these same people get bent out of shape when the shoe is on the other foot.

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  58. @barbintheboonies:

    I posted two things that were not there when I looked. If I made a mistake I apologize to you and others for it.

    If you could tell me the basic topic, I am betting they are on a different post. You have commented here (“A Discussion about Discussions”) as well as: “More on NATOME,” “Open Forum,” as well as “Actions have Consequences.”

    I am fairly certain that your discussion of cities has spanned at least two of those comment threads.

    (BTW: if my goal was to censor you, why would I be going to all this trouble to help?)

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  59. @Jax:

    The admins around here are short-handed with Doug MIA

    Indeed. Doug is not around for the moment and based on some communication with James, I am pretty sure I am the only one minding the store at the moment–and have done more on a weekday than usual (far more, in fact).

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  60. Andy says:

    @barbintheboonies:

    I get a lot of disagreement from other commenters on this site. I don’t consider any of it “attacking” unless they purposely impugn my integrity which does occasionally happen. But this is the internet where debate has always been less civil than real life and thus requires a thicker skin, especially if your views are heterodox to the community you’re posting in.

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  61. @barbintheboonies:

    Some of you remind me of the person sitting in front of a canvas smeared in crap and waiting for some pretentious fool to analyze it as the best art they ever seen. Then some other idiot gives a million dollars to purchase it. I’ll bet I get a lot of down thumb’s on this or thrown out on my ass. Ah well.Some of you remind me of the person sitting in front of a canvas smeared in crap and waiting for some pretentious fool to analyze it as the best art they ever seen. Then some other idiot gives a million dollars to purchase it. I’ll bet I get a lot of down thumb’s on this or thrown out on my ass. Ah well.

    Gee, I can’t imagine why you might think insulting folks might get you downvoted.

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  62. Kathy says:

    One question I’ve asked myself is: why did you get so riled up about whatever the flame wars you’ve been in were about?

    Some are incredibly petty. For instance, in an Asimov board, I got into a rather long one over the number os US states in 1953. This one deserves an explanation:

    In Asimov’s Robot novels, Earth is kept down by the Spacer worlds (formerly Earth’s interstellar colonies), which happen to number 50. Someone in the board claimed this number represented an allegory of the Spacer worlds as the USA as an oppressor. The problem is the first book in the series, The Caves of Steel, was written in 1953, when the US consisted of 48 states.

    It struck me as stupid to base an analogy on incorrect data. ergo, flamewar.

    At a gambling board around 2011, I got into it with a very prolific poster, who claimed all casinos cheat. Now, it’s well known casino games give the casinos a mathematical advantage over the players, this is called the house edge. some people consider this cheating (it’s not), but not this person. No, this person claimed the games were rigged, that dealers counted cards, the dice were weighted, roulettes have magnets or something, etc.

    Again, this struck me as intensely stupid. Let alone the fact that simply running an honest game with fair dice and cards and wheels, a casino will make a killing on all players on average (with exceptions). there is a gaming commission, federal regulations, laws against fraud, etc.

    But worth getting into a full-fledged flame war?

    Perhaps not.

    There were flame wars on more relevant subjects, like equal rights for all, which were perhaps worth getting into. But a subject I often debate, the non-existence of supernatural beings and deities, tend not to stray into flame war territory. they do get intense, sometimes, and there are strong words now and then, and plenty of rhetorical tricks. But overall, no full-on flame wars.

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  63. de stijl says:

    @barbintheboonies:

    That was really personal and heartfelt.

    Keep that up. That impulse to really share.

    You will not find a friendly hug here, unfortunately.

    I’m the best you get.

    Sorry, but it’s adapt and overcome, or skedaddle. Pick one.

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  64. de stijl says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    You have an enormous amount of patience.

    I’d have run out a while ago.

    You are a good man.

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  65. Mu Yixiao says:

    @gVOR08:

    I had a friend years ago who would walk up and say out of the blue things like, ‘No, the left front was flat.’ It took awhile to realize he was remembering a conversation from a week or two ago and starting up right where it left off.

    My ex and I used to do that–in both directions. We would have 7 conversations going on at any one time, and responses could take days. We’d be out with friends and I’d say something like “It was purple” and she’d respond “I thought that was Bob’s”. Our friends would look at us like we’d lost our minds. We, however, were just picking up a conversation from a few days ago (“What color was Sue’s first car?”)

    I love that the internet has a record of the previous conversations (and the ability to quote) so now it just looks like I’m too lazy to reply promptly, rather than being crazy. 🙂

    (I miss those conversations)

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  66. de stijl says:

    @Kathy:

    I like what you post.

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  67. Jax says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Might I suggest a daily Open Forum for the duration of Doug’s absence? You may have noticed it’s kind of a competition to see who can find the weirdest daily news headlines in the early morning, then we kind of entertain ourselves as people check in throughout the day. 😉

    Not that I mind hearing more from you, by the way. But I realize you and James both have full time jobs and lives outside of this blog, and keeping up with Doug as far as writing frequency is hard.

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  68. Gustopher says:

    @Kathy:

    What I like about this comment area is the downvote/upvote option. This way one can voice opposition to a troll without feeding them.

    I love the downvotes. I think they are part of what makes the site readable, since it diverts a lot of the negative reactions to a single, easily-ignored click.

    It’s a little too easy to pile on, but there are lots of times I want to tell someone they’re an idiot and go with the down button instead, and then everyone is happier. I’d encourage people not to read too much into downvotes on their own posts though.

    @barbintheboonies:

    I’ll bet I get a lot of down thumb’s on this or thrown out on my ass.

    You have to be persistent to get thrown out on your ass here.

    And, your missing posts might be a caching issue — your bowser caches the pages here for a bit, so when I post, I see my post, but if I come back a few minutes later it’s “missing” (along with any other new posts) but a little while later I can see them. Or if I hit the refresh button, it clears the cache.

    It’s annoying. Coming from a software background, I find it an annoying software issue, but I can see how you might mistake it for a human doing things, because it really can look like that.

    Rest assured that our hosts don’t have that much time on their hands to review everything.

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  69. de stijl says:

    @barbintheboonies:

    You came in with sharp elbows.

    Is that the best opening gambit?

    Be better than your opponent. Be kind, generous, open.

    You fluffed this opening. You can do better. I believe you are entirely capable of not being obnoxiously confrontational.

    Focus. Prepare.

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  70. Gustopher says:

    @MarkedMan: I agree. I don’t know what purpose announcing bans would have.

    That said, I might have enjoyed a “Pour one out for Superdestroyer” thread when he was banned. Other than his single-minded focus on the merits of white supremacy, he struck me as a nice guy. You know, aside from the racism. He was just so earnest. And racist.

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  71. Kathy says:

    @de stijl:

    Thank you. I like what you post as well.

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  72. Kathy says:

    @Jax:

    Might I suggest a daily Open Forum for the duration of Doug’s absence?

    Second!

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  73. CSK says:

    @Kathy:
    That is a good idea.

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  74. Jax says:

    @Kathy: I mean, for real, who can downvote you telling de Stijl you like what he posts, as well? Only a grinch, that’s who.

    Now…..what’re we gonna do if Doug got Guantanamo’d, like Gvor8 said?

    I say….we ride at dawn!!!

    You are most familiar with warfare tactics, so you take the lead.
    I’ve got a drone. It has the capability of carrying….a donut? I don’t know, but I can try!
    I hear Michael Reynolds is big and intimidating in a leather coat.
    de Stijl can distract them with the distant sound of illicit punk rock
    MarkedMan, Dr. Dave, Kylopod, MattBernius, HarvardLaw92 and Andy can read them the Constitution and statistical facts until they die, and…..
    Jen, Rachel, Lynn and our other ladies who don’t comment much sneak in to break Doug out!!

    EddieinCA, you’re gonna have to run the video on this misfit band of commenters breaking into Guantanamo to save their rebel leader.

    If I missed anybody who wants in, feel free. 😉

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  75. Meh says:

    The comments section should be removed. Zero value has ever been added to any post, ever, in the entire OTB history – and in fact skimming through the comments only makes me less likely to come back (I realize that isn’t entirely rational but it’s a fact for many people). The comments are a waste of the reader’s time, and only serve to distract from the point(s) made by each of you authors.

    So please ask James to do away with the comments. They add nothing, yet detract quite a lot and turn people off from OTB generally.

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  76. Kathy says:

    @Jax:

    You are most familiar with warfare tactics, so you take the lead.
    I’ve got a drone. It has the capability of carrying….a donut? I don’t know, but I can try!

    Me?

    Well, if we have a drone, we put Bumblebee, the Atom and Ant-man on it, and cheer from the sidelines.

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  77. Jax says:

    @Kathy: No, at the very least, we have to ride Animorph’s. It’s only fitting. 😉

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  78. Jax says:

    @Meh: Well, aren’t you just a no-fun-having type of person.

    I think Flower said it best….”If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”

    You are not required to read the comments. You are fully capable of clicking your way to somewhere else after you’ve read the article, since you clicked your way here.

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  79. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Meh: Which is why there have been 100+ comments on most of the posts for the past week, of course.

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  80. MarkedMan says:

    @barbintheboonies: I wasn’t going to come in on this, but your comment to Michael:

    You never actually take a risk of having others down you, because you seem to thrive on adoration.

    Is so far divorced from reality I don’t even know what to say. Michael, god love him, has never had a problem laying it out. It’s one of his good points, and also certainly one of his bad ones…

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  81. MarkedMan says:

    @barbintheboonies: And this one:

    Sometimes the regulars are the ones who do most of the attacking

    I don’t think I’ve ever read a post from you that didn’t call someone, or more likely everyone, an idiot or worse in the first three sentences.

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  82. MarkedMan says:

    @Meh: I’m assuming this is some kind of meta-joke right? You pipe in on something like the 75th comment (many of them long) that reading comments is a waste of time. I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt and say, “Well played, Sir or Madam, well played.”

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  83. de stijl says:

    Jax sees true.

    Seriously, barb. Don’t be a dick! Impressions are important.

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  84. mattbernius says:

    @Andy:

    I get a lot of disagreement from other commenters on this site. I don’t consider any of it “attacking” unless they purposely impugn my integrity which does occasionally happen. But this is the internet where debate has always been less civil than real life and thus requires a thicker skin, especially if your views are heterodox to the community you’re posting in.

    Well stated. You definitely have been attacked on occasion, but I’ve always been happy to see that many in the community have, in those situations, defended you. And you’re entirely correct that running against the majority of the community on any position takes a thick skin.

    It also doesn’t help that folks like Reynolds thrive on a good give and take (and yes, he can take as good as he gets at times… and even has said he’s been wrong at least once or twice).

    Where things fall apart is when people take the down votes to seriously (which I do get) or mistake the difference between opinion and fact and get called when they present the latter as the former.

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  85. barbintheboonies says:

    @MarkedMan: That is not true.

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  86. barbintheboonies says:

    @de stijl: No I did not come in with sharp elbows, I used to post here all the time years back. I was a Democrat then and I said things that everybody liked. Then I started seeing things in my party and here that I did not agree with. I posted that too, I was attacked on all sides, and from then on I was out. I do not agree with most of you now, because you went too far left IMO. I am no far right winger either I try to be reasonable.

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  87. barbintheboonies says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: If you see yourself in this maybe you would feel that way, but it was not meant for you. I said it for the people who really need a dose of reality.

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  88. @barbintheboonies:

    No I did not come in with sharp elbows

    Yeah, you did.

    @barbintheboonies:

    If you see yourself in this maybe you would feel that way, but it was not meant for you. I said it for the people who really need a dose of reality.

    I was making a general comment. You have been pretty insulting in a mass way in several posts, and yet then want to act like are being attacked.

    You aren’t coming across very well, I will say.

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  89. mattbernius says:

    @Meh:

    The comments section should be removed. Zero value has ever been added to any post, ever, in the entire OTB history – and in fact skimming through the comments only makes me less likely to come back (I realize that isn’t entirely rational but it’s a fact for many people).

    I am always fascinated that people who don’t like comments cannot apparently stop reading at the end of a post. This is akin to the claim that a not insignificant portion of talk radio listenership are people who are “hate listening.”

    Researcher : The average radio listener listens for eighteen minutes. The average Howard Stern fan listens for – are you ready for this? – an hour and twenty minutes.

    Pig Vomit : How can that be?

    Researcher : Answer most commonly given? “I want to see what he’ll say next.”

    Pig Vomit : Okay, fine. But what about the people who hate Stern?

    Researcher : Good point. The average Stern hater listens for two and a half hours a day.

    Pig Vomit : But… if they hate him, why do they listen?

    Researcher : Most common answer? “I want to see what he’ll say next.”

    “Private Parts: The Movie”

    I cannot understand how/why the comments would drive people away if the core site content is valuable.

    ReplyReply
  90. Andre Kenji de Sousa says:

    James Pearce asked me to send a message to the people here. If there is someone willing to listen I might post it here, I’m not enamored of long online fights.

    ReplyReply
  91. @Andre Kenji de Sousa: Feel free, if you think it would be constructive.

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  92. Tony W says:

    I am late to the party due to being heads-down on some real estate stuff this last week or two, but I want to pile on to the consensus that the discussions we have here are at least as valuable as the postings themselves.

    As Michael points out early on in this thread, I come here to learn and to be challenged. To put my ideas out in the marketplace of ideas to see if they withstand scrutiny. There are few forums for that, and I appreciate this one enough to keep me around for over a decade.

    Keep up the great work!

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