Poll

Should we update the Conduct section of the Rules to address trolling?  

Yes.
4 (33.3%)
Yes, but with a different standard (see my comment).
1 (8.3%)
No.
7 (58.3%)

Total Members Voted: 12

Author Topic: Who wants to modify the Rules to deal with trolls?  (Read 2809 times)

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Online The Latinist

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Re: Who wants to modify the Rules to deal with trolls?
« Reply #30 on: August 14, 2018, 01:22:06 AM »
The problem is that “trolling” is a concept that is fundamentally dependent upon intent, and I do not think that our moderators should be imputing intent to members’ posts.  If you can come up with specific behaviors that trolls engage in which should be prohibited regardless of who is using them or their motive in doing so, then I have no problem considering them. For instance, I have already suggested some behaviors that are not currently prohibited but that I believe should be (promoting bigotry and inciting hatred or violence against individuals or groups).  These are behaviors which, while subjective, are concrete and do lot require moderators to pretend to peer into the hearts and minds of those who engage in them.

Can You describe other behaviors like these that you think we should consider banning?

I fundamentally reject that premise, and point you to the behavioral based definitions I crudely outlined.  Trolling may be about intent, but it is possible to curtail behavior that is basically trolling.

I think you may have missed the point of my post, which was precisely that any rules we make should be neutral to intent and should prohibit specific concrete behavior regardless of the intent of those committing it. If you think that inflammatory language should be prohibited, that’s something we could consider; but any rule prohibiting it should apply to any inflammatory language, not merely to that the moderators think is intended to be disruptive.
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Offline SkeptiQueer

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Re: Who wants to modify the Rules to deal with trolls?
« Reply #31 on: August 14, 2018, 03:28:18 AM »
Rather than something as squishy as "trolling" I would propose something more along the lines of "posting in bad faith" to invoice things like frequently derailing topics towards pet ideas or topics, ignoring or rejecting evidence or arguments asked for (example: "Show me evidence for _____" and then ignoring when evidence is presented, then repeating the question), accusations of shilling, or beginning a discussion and then refusing to engage with other good-faith discussion.
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Offline arthwollipot

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Re: Who wants to modify the Rules to deal with trolls?
« Reply #32 on: August 14, 2018, 03:31:35 AM »
I think the existing rules already cover such things.
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Re: Who wants to modify the Rules to deal with trolls?
« Reply #33 on: August 14, 2018, 07:37:21 AM »
I think the mods do a great job and unless they ask or need guidance we should just leave things the way they are. If things get to heated the mods step in and tell everyone to chill out. Have the mods asked for help in defining their role? I just don't see the need for things to change if all is working out ok.
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Offline brilligtove

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Re: Who wants to modify the Rules to deal with trolls?
« Reply #34 on: August 14, 2018, 09:12:08 AM »
Several people have stated that the existing rules and moderation based on those rules are working fine. Obviously, I disagree.

In my reading of the rules I did not see anything that directly addressed behaviours that broadly fall under the umbrella of 'trolling'. There are rules against being hateful, obscene, vulgar, insulting, threatening, and so on. These tend to be focussed on individual posts, and are fine as far as they go. I don't see Trolling as limited to single posts, single threads, or even single topics, however. It is a pattern of behaviours that bleed off energy and focus, that divide, enrage and alienate. They are disruptive in a destructive way that harms the community.

Whether the existing rules cover this or not, the current standard of moderation does not appear to address trolling effectively. I have noted Pdb as an example of someone some of us consider to be a troll. This is my attempt to find a systemic approach to limit the ability of folks like Pdb to disrupt this community.

If you don't see a few bad actors disrupting our community, that's fine. Some of us do, and would like to address it.

I'm not particularly attached to my original proposal, by the way. I do think a new section in the rules would be useful, and that more active moderation around some behaviours is needed.

---

Based on the criticisms, concerns, and suggestions (and drawing on PANTS! list), here's a proposed section on disruptive behaviours that might be useful in guiding Mods. Thoughts?

Disruptive Behaviours
Some behaviours disrupt conversations, discussions, and debates over time and across the community. Mods may limit or remove your ability to post based on ongoing disruptive behaviours.

Disruptive behaviours include repeatedly posting content or links that are:
* unrelated to the topic of a thread,
* factually incorrect,
* blatant proselytizing.

Your behaviour may be considered disruptive through repeatedly making use of some kinds of inflammatory speech, such as:
* claims that are abandoned (e.g., gish gallops, not supporting claims with follow up discussion, changing the subject instead of addressing a claim),
* insulting or hateful language (e.g., ad hominem attacks, name calling, dog-whistles),
* fallacious arguments (e.g., Tu-Quoque, strawman).

Rhetoric, sarcasm, satire, and other dramatic language are generally not an issue. A long term pattern of disruptive behaviour across topics and threads will draw the attention of the Mods.
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Offline PANTS!

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Re: Who wants to modify the Rules to deal with trolls?
« Reply #35 on: August 14, 2018, 09:29:26 AM »
The problem is that “trolling” is a concept that is fundamentally dependent upon intent, and I do not think that our moderators should be imputing intent to members’ posts.  If you can come up with specific behaviors that trolls engage in which should be prohibited regardless of who is using them or their motive in doing so, then I have no problem considering them. For instance, I have already suggested some behaviors that are not currently prohibited but that I believe should be (promoting bigotry and inciting hatred or violence against individuals or groups).  These are behaviors which, while subjective, are concrete and do lot require moderators to pretend to peer into the hearts and minds of those who engage in them.

Can You describe other behaviors like these that you think we should consider banning?

I fundamentally reject that premise, and point you to the behavioral based definitions I crudely outlined.  Trolling may be about intent, but it is possible to curtail behavior that is basically trolling.

I think you may have missed the point of my post, which was precisely that any rules we make should be neutral to intent and should prohibit specific concrete behavior regardless of the intent of those committing it. If you think that inflammatory language should be prohibited, that’s something we could consider; but any rule prohibiting it should apply to any inflammatory language, not merely to that the moderators think is intended to be disruptive.

No I rejected your premise that this can not be done in a way that is neutral to intent. 

The mods are not here to draw a line and say do not cross.  Time and again this has been said.  So why now do you insist that we draw a bright line for this kind of behavior.  As with other behaviors, there will be instances where one can quibble that it has crossed a line, and then there is obvious, egregious thread-shitting.
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Online The Latinist

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Re: Who wants to modify the Rules to deal with trolls?
« Reply #36 on: August 14, 2018, 09:38:01 AM »
I don't think most people were saying that that current rules were adequate to cover this issue; most of us were instead objecting to the methods you proposed, in particular that of labeling trolling based on consensus of posters rather than focusing on concrete behaviors.

As such, I have far fewer objections to this proposal, especially as it focuses entirely upon concrete behaviors.  I'm not sure I would write the list the same, and I'm not sure I agree entirely with the goal, but this is a more reasonable proposal that could serve as the basis for a discussion.

Personally, my priority is more on the behaviors I mentioned above (promotion of bigotry, hatred, and violence) at the moment, but I recognize that this isn't a zero-sum game and that we can discuss multiple proposals for reform simultaneously.
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Online xenu

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Re: Who wants to modify the Rules to deal with trolls?
« Reply #37 on: August 14, 2018, 09:42:33 AM »
Maybe we could have a mod come in and say how they determine someone crossing the line. This might give use a better idea on the process.
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Online The Latinist

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Re: Who wants to modify the Rules to deal with trolls?
« Reply #38 on: August 14, 2018, 09:45:45 AM »
The problem is that “trolling” is a concept that is fundamentally dependent upon intent, and I do not think that our moderators should be imputing intent to members’ posts.  If you can come up with specific behaviors that trolls engage in which should be prohibited regardless of who is using them or their motive in doing so, then I have no problem considering them. For instance, I have already suggested some behaviors that are not currently prohibited but that I believe should be (promoting bigotry and inciting hatred or violence against individuals or groups).  These are behaviors which, while subjective, are concrete and do lot require moderators to pretend to peer into the hearts and minds of those who engage in them.

Can You describe other behaviors like these that you think we should consider banning?

I fundamentally reject that premise, and point you to the behavioral based definitions I crudely outlined.  Trolling may be about intent, but it is possible to curtail behavior that is basically trolling.

I think you may have missed the point of my post, which was precisely that any rules we make should be neutral to intent and should prohibit specific concrete behavior regardless of the intent of those committing it. If you think that inflammatory language should be prohibited, that’s something we could consider; but any rule prohibiting it should apply to any inflammatory language, not merely to that the moderators think is intended to be disruptive.

No I rejected your premise that this can not be done in a way that is neutral to intent. 

The mods are not here to draw a line and say do not cross.  Time and again this has been said.  So why now do you insist that we draw a bright line for this kind of behavior.  As with other behaviors, there will be instances where one can quibble that it has crossed a line, and then there is obvious, egregious thread-shitting.

But my argument was not based upon the premise you say you are rejecting; indeed, my argument was precisely that it was possible to do so by creating intent-neutral rules governing concrete behaviors. I also explicitly acknowledged that such rules would be subjective and expressed my confidence in the mod team's judgment in enforcing them. Nowhere did I argue for any sort of bright line.  In fact, I think we're in complete agreement (except perhaps as to the specificity of rules) and that you are arguing against an argument you think I made but that I did not.
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Offline PANTS!

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Re: Who wants to modify the Rules to deal with trolls?
« Reply #39 on: August 14, 2018, 10:03:05 AM »
Fair enuf.  Sorry for the misunderstanding.
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Offline brilligtove

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Re: Who wants to modify the Rules to deal with trolls?
« Reply #40 on: August 14, 2018, 10:21:00 AM »
I don't think most people were saying that that current rules were adequate to cover this issue; most of us were instead objecting to the methods you proposed, in particular that of labeling trolling based on consensus of posters rather than focusing on concrete behaviors.

As such, I have far fewer objections to this proposal, especially as it focuses entirely upon concrete behaviors.  I'm not sure I would write the list the same, and I'm not sure I agree entirely with the goal, but this is a more reasonable proposal that could serve as the basis for a discussion.

Personally, my priority is more on the behaviors I mentioned above (promotion of bigotry, hatred, and violence) at the moment, but I recognize that this isn't a zero-sum game and that we can discuss multiple proposals for reform simultaneously.

In terms of the goal, could you clarify? My motivations with respect to this community are not at all universally shared, but I think you and I are mostly pulling in the same direction.

Your concerns about my proposed 'consensus of posters' are reasonable. That part of my proposal should be dropped. I also agree that concrete behaviours are the way to go. I wrote the list thinking the existing rules cover hatred and violence, and they do for specific posts. A statement in a section dealing with broader behaviours does make sense. What do you think of this?

Quote
Disruptive Behaviours
Some behaviours disrupt conversations, discussions, and debates over time and across the community. Mods may limit or remove your ability to post based on ongoing disruptive behaviours.

Disruptive behaviours include repeatedly posting content or links that are:
  • unrelated to the topic of a thread,
  • factually incorrect,
  • blatant proselytizing.

Your behaviour may be considered disruptive through repeatedly making use of some kinds of inflammatory speech, such as:
  • claims that are abandoned (e.g., gish gallops, not supporting claims with follow up discussion, changing the subject instead of addressing a claim),
  • promotion of bigotry, hatred, or violence (e.g., racist and sexist slurs, dog-whistles),
  • insulting or hateful language (e.g., ad hominem attacks, name calling, dog-whistles),
  • fallacious arguments (e.g., Tu-Quoque, strawman).

Rhetoric, sarcasm, satire, and other dramatic language are generally not an issue. Neither is discussion of contentious or potentially offensive topics. A long term pattern of disruptive behaviour across topics and threads will draw the attention of the Mods.
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Offline arthwollipot

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Re: Who wants to modify the Rules to deal with trolls?
« Reply #41 on: August 14, 2018, 07:50:20 PM »
I also agree that concrete behaviours are the way to go.

Behaviour isn't concrete. People don't behave in specific, easy-to-identify modes. The line between acceptable and unacceptable behaviour is always going to be fuzzy and wooly and open to interpretation. You can ban specific language, but the nice thing about language is that you can always find another way to say the same thing. The other nice thing about language is that it's almost always subject to interpretation. It's always going to be a judgement call. It has to be. There's no way around that. The moderators are empowered to make that call on behalf of the membership

You brought up Pdb as an example of what you consider to be trolling. I said that Pdb is not a troll not because I thought you were asking for judgement in that specific case, but to illustrate that trolling behaviour is subject to interpretation. What is trolling to one person is not trolling to another. You can't lay out a specific and definitive set of rules that directly govern how particular behaviours should be interpreted. You can try, but they will always be insufficient to cover the ingenious and creative use of language. And furthermore, laying out such rules will only encourage people to game the system by deliberately and carefully working around those rules.

You can't govern fuzzy behaviour with specific rules. You need fuzzy rules, and people who are empowered to interpret them. That's what we have now, and that's how I feel it should stay.
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Online CarbShark

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Re: Who wants to modify the Rules to deal with trolls?
« Reply #42 on: August 15, 2018, 10:40:05 AM »
Rather than something as squishy as "trolling" I would propose something more along the lines of "posting in bad faith" to invoice things like frequently derailing topics towards pet ideas or topics, ignoring or rejecting evidence or arguments asked for (example: "Show me evidence for _____" and then ignoring when evidence is presented, then repeating the question), accusations of shilling, or beginning a discussion and then refusing to engage with other good-faith discussion.

This laundry list sounds very much like your own personal pet peeves and frustrations in engaging in discussions here.

It’s as if  you want the moderators to ban people you don’t like arguing with.

I’m guessing I’m at the top of your list.

Actually I’ve been accused of trolling here and wonder how much of these new rules would be applied to me.



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Re: Who wants to modify the Rules to deal with trolls?
« Reply #43 on: August 15, 2018, 11:28:00 AM »
I mostly trust mods to make the call, but would have thought they would have made the call and banned PDB in 2017.

Offline Rai

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Re: Who wants to modify the Rules to deal with trolls?
« Reply #44 on: August 15, 2018, 11:34:37 AM »
Moderator Comment Just thought I'd pop in to say that we are very much aware of the problem, and have been working on a proposed solution for a few weeks now.

We will make the announcement in the near future.