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Alistair S

Should Off Topic become unmoderated?

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It is always difficult to get the balance right in this forum. It can feel like a losing battle at times. 

 

However, I don't want to lose it (so it stays). It's a place where we get to see more of people than we do elsewhere - warts and all - and I see value in that.

 

Now, we could make it un-moderated - no holds barred. If we did, I think I would give it a password and people would need to enter that (once) to get in - but I would publish the password. Why? So that people have to choose to come in here and, if they do, they understand that it will be different.

 

I guess I have one question. Is that the way to go?

 

My alternative is to keep the status quo. And I will try (not always successfully) to moderate against personal attacks. Let me know what you would prefer. 

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It might be a good way to go...It would be kind of like a virtual "smoking section" where the "non-smokers" don't have to inhale the other fumes if they don't want to.  Of course, people could do that with PMs as well couldn't they?  Take it outside you two!

 

Speaking for myself, I don't come to this forum to watch people launch personal insults at other musers.  I'm assuming that is the case for most of us.  Unfortunately, we all are exposed to it whether we like it or not, as we try to keep up to speed on other topics.  The other option is to have clear rules and sanction people that don't follow the rules.

 

I participate in a couple of other forums for musicians that speak to politics and other hot button issues.  For what it's worth here are their rules:

 

https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/faq.php?

https://www.banjohangout.org/forum/rules.asp

 

I think a songwriting forum is different however.  Songs are often about ideas, they can be controversial.  And we all should be able to have discourse about politics or other controversial topics in a civil manner if we choose to do so.

 

 

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A couple quick thoughts....

  • If you make it unmoderated, will ongoing activity still display in the general site feed?
  • Honestly, if it were to become a separate section requiring an additional log-in, I doubt I'd participate. Depending on how many other feel that way, it could impact your overall activity levels.
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8 minutes ago, tunesmithth said:
  • Honestly, if it were to become a separate section requiring an additional log-in, I doubt I'd participate. Depending on how many other feel that way, it could impact your overall activity levels.

I think that's kind of the beauty of Alistair's idea...how much of this would be going on if it was just between two or three people without any audience.  Would they engage in the same behavior? 

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54 minutes ago, tunesmithth said:

A couple quick thoughts....

  • If you make it unmoderated, will ongoing activity still display in the general site feed?
  • Honestly, if it were to become a separate section requiring an additional log-in, I doubt I'd participate. Depending on how many other feel that way, it could impact your overall activity levels.

It would be part of the same site. No separate link. 

 

When looking at the site, you would see it exists. However, new posts would not come up on notifications, etc.

 

To enter it, you would need a password that is openly available - and I believe you would enter this once (rather than every time).

 

I'd have to try it, though.

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1 hour ago, Alistair S said:

It is always difficult to get the balance right in this forum. It can feel like a losing battle at times. 

 

However, I don't want to lose it (so it stays). It's a place where we get to see more of people than we do elsewhere - warts and all - and I see value in that.

 

Now, we could make it un-moderated - no holds barred. If we did, I think I would give it a password and people would need to enter that (once) to get in - but I would publish the password. Why? So that people have to choose to come in here and, if they do, they understand that it will be different.

 

I guess I have one question. Is that the way to go?

 

My alternative is to keep the status quo. And I will try (not always successfully) to moderate against personal attacks. Let me know what you would prefer. 

Make it a free speech zone - no holds bar - a password defeats the spirit of free speech. I would still be here if not for biased moderators and offended minds who could not take the heat.

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Ummm... you are still here :P

 

A freely available password doesn't prevent free speech. It simply provides a means to signify that people enter at their own risk (and can't complain if they don't like it). 

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56 minutes ago, Short Order Kook said:

I think that's kind of the beauty of Alistair's idea...how much of this would be going on if it was just between two or three people without any audience.  Would they engage in the same behavior? 

Unfortunately, I have extensive experience in this area :blush:

The site I was affiliated with previously tried an invite-only section for non-musical topics (political, religious, etc)

If I recall correctly, it was completely invisible to anyone other than the invited participants...invisible on the general boards as well as the activity feed.

Bottom line - restricting the nature of it did NOT help control the escalation of conflicts.

Matter of fact, to some degree, it lessened peoples inhibitions because they knew outside visibility was limited.

We did maintain some degree of moderation, but it was understood that our tolerance for abuse was higher than on the general boards.

That's why I asked.

 

In the case of MuseSongwriters, it may make life a bit easier for the mods.

But I'm not sure how much benefit it would have in the area of conflict control.

The only way I know to find out for certain is to try it. ;)

 

Tom

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Oh - there would be no conflict control!

 

Let's be clear on that.

 

There would be policing of people spamming links and such, but that's about it.

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I should probably add that it's tough for me to make a direct comparison.

  • My previous did NOT allow off-topic discussions before the experimental section, nor after it was discontinued.
  • To the best of my knowledge, Muse has always allowed some form of it. So here, it would not represent as radical a change.

Tom

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Hmmm.. sounds like a slippery slope to me.

What about posts with pornographic material?

What about kids signing up - how would we know?

Is there any liability on your part, Alistair if nefarious use of the site happens?

I'm all for free speech but not for hate speech.

I think you've been more than fair in moderating this forum, but I know it must be a lot of work too.

So maybe "Off Topic" shouldn't be on the muse at all, after all it is a songwriter's site. :)

 

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2 minutes ago, PaulCanuck said:

Hmmm.. sounds like a slippery slope to me.

What about posts with pornographic material?

What about kids signing up - how would we know?

Is there any liability on your part, Alistair if nefarious use of the site happens?

I'm all for free speech but not for hate speech.

I think you've been more than fair in moderating this forum, but I know it must be a lot of work too.

So maybe "Off Topic" shouldn't be on the muse at all, after all it is a songwriter's site. :)

 

Good questions. 

 

No, no porn. Normal laws would apply. That would include hate speech that incites violence. I would expect controversial views to be argued against - strongly. If there is no dissent, I would simply close down the forum rather than host an echo chamber of hate. And yes, I could do that. There is no right to free speech here. Another example is that I don't believe we should tolerate any "outing" of personal information about other people.

 

Kids can sign up and their parents can decide whether they can stay. I can't police that. 

 

It would be clear that this is an area that people may not want to participate in. The rest would be down to those choosing to participate. It would be largely self-policing.

 

Yes, this is songwriters' site. It's also a community of songwriters. I do think that any community needs a place to air it's differences, even though that can be uncomfortable and can breed discord. 

 

Thus far, this forum has had one rule - no personal attacks. Attacking ideas is fine and always has been. "Bad" language is fine, etc. Just no personal attacks - i.e. discuss the topic rather than go to ad hominems. Maybe we should stay that way (and that would be fine with me). 

 

I'm just testing the waters here. This site, if it is anything, is here to meet the needs of the community - so I'm asking the community. That's all. 

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1 hour ago, Alistair S said:

Ummm... you are still here :P

 

A freely available password doesn't prevent free speech. It simply provides a means to signify that people enter at their own risk (and can't complain if they don't like it). 

Oh, I am here but my speech has been restricted.  I think that is what I meant. Let the offended complain all they want - they will do so whether or not there is a password. As long as the conversation is specific to the individual and not family/friends or other innocent folk then let us rumble. 

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27 minutes ago, Barneyboy said:

Oh, I am here but my speech has been restricted.  I think that is what I meant. Let the offended complain all they want - they will do so whether or not there is a password. As long as the conversation is specific to the individual and not family/friends or other innocent folk then let us rumble. 

OK - I just couldn't make head or tail of this sentence ... " I would still be here if not for biased moderators and offended minds who could not take the heat."

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I say leave it as is. It’s very easy to click off if you don’t like the content. You can always put “enter at your own risk” under the Off Topic. But I don’t think that’s really necessary either. 

 I probably wouldn’t look nearly as much if I had to use another password. But that’s me.

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      I don't think there's anything unreasonable about expecting people to remain civil regardless of what the topic might be. As the proprietor of this site I think it's perfectly reasonable  for you to have certain expectations for civility. 

       I don't find it entertaining to watch people trade insults. Not the kind traded here.  I don't enjoy seeing people gang up on someone with dismissive putdowns and heated insults only because that person has a different viewpoint. I'd rather see an opinion dissected than someone's character. 

      It's kind of pathetic when the insults fly because we're supposedly attempting to be wordsmiths here. 

      If anyone finds civility too restrictive then they really have a personal problem.  Civility isn't really a restriction at all. It's an invitation to others to participate. 

       

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9 hours ago, Alistair S said:

It is always difficult to get the balance right in this forum. It can feel like a losing battle at times.    What does that mean specifically?

 

However, I don't want to lose it (so it stays). It's a place where we get to see more of people than we do elsewhere - warts and all - and I see value in that.

 

Now, we could make it un-moderated - no holds barred Why even postulate the thought?  What brought about this post?  If we did, I think I would give it a password and people would need to enter that (once) to get in - but I would publish the password. Why? So that people have to choose to come in here and, if they do, they understand that it will be different.   How would it be different?

 

I guess I have one question. Is that the way to go?   

 

My alternative is to keep the status quo. Status quo sucks. The site polices itself. We (the regulars) are all mindful adults. We all say things from time to time (including moderators) that others might not like. It may not always be an attack and if it is viewed that way by some (administration included) then the person or persons who's comments precipitated "the attack or attacks" should examine their own remarks to determine if anything they said could have been worded differently without provoking what is deemed "an attack". Many of us without administrative help will and have stepped in to point something out in multiple forums we think is wrong or not rightSo,  my question to you is what's the problem? And I will try (not always successfully) to moderate against personal attacks. What does that mean?   Let me know what you would prefer.   I prefer to keep things simple.  I guess that means......the way things are, but we could experiment and have no moderation in off topic without having to use a password.  Again, the place should police itself and many times it does.  We're all human (all of us included).  We owe it to ourselves to try out no moderation and see if it works out without a special room.  If we can't handle trying that out, then leave it as is. 

 

I underlined your comments I responded to and placed them in bold black above in order to not confuse your original remarks and my responses.  My remarks are in bold purple above to some of your sentences from your opening post. 

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As far as the Off Topic Discussions section being unmoderated, you can do what you like. I always cringe when I see a thread that I think strongly on there, as it is.

The Trolls crap it up with on / off the cuff insults, and distract with sarcastic diversion.  Kuya spelled it out pretty well.

Talk about a Pandora's box 😵Count me out...…..it wasn't that good when moderated!!

Trolls do what "PRO Wrestling" does to the UFC, by comparison. And now that there isn't going to be a "Ref"...say, is that a chair Moso has in his hands 😋

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Sorry I was supposed to have 2 pints but an old friend cruised in so I had 5, man I've got 7 more diseases to meet tonight to make quota, whoa that's a cool blue. 

 

If we go full unbridled, don't need to be civil, it's gonna be nasty. There are a few characters I think itching for that. You're restricting their freedoms, man. And then a Nazi calls an admin a Nazi. 

 

In general, people who are losing the dominant conversation are going to feel ganged up on. And they'll call it that way. Immediate context dictates. Especially when you don't like the way something feels. 

 

Speaking of feels, and this is just my opinion, I think the main page should be clean. It should be low stress, and about art and constructive criticism. Allow people to be happy to come here, not because they want an argument, but because there is beautiful art in words and music.

 

...Which we have for the most part, so in other words I think that instead of utilizing a password, it may be simpler just to purge the main page of our contentions, keeping the front of this page topical/cleaner/more artistic, but allowing us to carry on our arguments on the side. Just not publicized. Interested parties will check. Perhaps another strategy for moderation can be applied if things are taking too much time/energy.

--------

Sorry, had to step away. 

 

You know, I'm not sure if I thanked you guys for making this site. It was really cool of you all to pick up the torch when the original Muse faded stage left. 

We're all going to piss off people if we allow ourselves to be. But if you're trying to be fair, you're doing it right. The details are for character assassins and grammarians. Or statisticians in which case please fill me in.. 

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OK, mixed views.

 

However, overall, I think the feedback is to keep it as it is (and no password). However, posts here should not show in the sidebars on the front page ("Posts" and "What are people looking at?"). They won't show there any more.

 

3 hours ago, spanishbuddha said:
10 hours ago, Alistair S said:

It is always difficult to get the balance right in this forum. It can feel like a losing battle at times.    What does that mean specifically?

 

However, I don't want to lose it (so it stays). It's a place where we get to see more of people than we do elsewhere - warts and all - and I see value in that.

 

Now, we could make it un-moderated - no holds barred Why even postulate the thought?  What brought about this post?  If we did, I think I would give it a password and people would need to enter that (once) to get in - but I would publish the password. Why? So that people have to choose to come in here and, if they do, they understand that it will be different.   How would it be different?

 

I guess I have one question. Is that the way to go?   

 

My alternative is to keep the status quo. Status quo sucks. The site polices itself. We (the regulars) are all mindful adults. We all say things from time to time (including moderators) that others might not like. It may not always be an attack and if it is viewed that way by some (administration included) then the person or persons who's comments precipitated "the attack or attacks" should examine their own remarks to determine if anything they said could have been worded differently without provoking what is deemed "an attack". Many of us without administrative help will and have stepped in to point something out in multiple forums we think is wrong or not rightSo,  my question to you is what's the problem? And I will try (not always successfully) to moderate against personal attacks. What does that mean?   Let me know what you would prefer.   I prefer to keep things simple.  I guess that means......the way things are, but we could experiment and have no moderation in off topic without having to use a password.  Again, the place should police itself and many times it does.  We're all human (all of us included).  We owe it to ourselves to try out no moderation and see if it works out without a special room.  If we can't handle trying that out, then leave it as is. 

 

I underlined your comments I responded to and placed them in bold black above in order to not confuse your original remarks and my responses.  My remarks are in bold purple above to some of your sentences from your opening post. 

What I meant by a losing battle is that posts are often borderline attacks and some of the argument is borderline insulting - but whether or not to do anything about it can be difficult to determine. Some cases are obvious, though. 

 

You say "We all say things from time to time (including moderators) that others might not like". I agree - and doing so is not a problem. Saying something someone else may not like is not, in itself, a personal attack (and is unavoidable). 

 

Let's be clear on what a personal attack is. It's name-calling or the use of ad hominem. Basically, it is whenever someone attacks the poster rather than addressing the content of their post.

 

"You are an idiot" is a personal attack. "That idea is stupid" (preferably with some explanation as to why) is not. Saying "Obama/Trump/May is a enterderogatorytermhere" may be a weak argument (unless supported somehow) but is not a personal attack. Responding by saying "You are a enterderogatorytermhere" is both a non-argument and a personal attack.

 

If anyone is confused by this, my suggestion would be to stay out of Off Topic. Even though the rules are a little more relaxed in here, it is perfectly possible to post in Off Topic using the same "rules" that apply elsewhere (and, in my opinion, arguments are more persuasive that way, anyway).

 

Thanks to everyone for their input. As I say, we will stay as we are (except that no posts from Off Topic will appear in the sidebars on the front page any more). I'll close the thread now.

 

 

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