Skeptics Guide to the Universe Forums

Forum Admin => Forum Administration and Rules => Topic started by: brilligtove on August 13, 2018, 11:23:20 AM

Title: Who wants to modify the Rules to deal with trolls?
Post by: brilligtove on August 13, 2018, 11:23:20 AM
I propose SGUForums update The Rules (https://sguforums.com/index.php/topic,4.msg4.html#msg4) as follows:

Conduct
You may not post pornography or obscenity.
Pornographic or obscene content, and hyperlinks to pornographic or obscene content will be removed.

While we do not prohibit profanity, we do ask users to avoid using excessive foul language. Generally, we will consider "weighted phrases" such as those often used to advertise x-rated websites as content that will definitely be disallowed as well as truly obscene content.

We do prefer people to avoid using foul language, but we won't worry about isolated usage. We trust that the forum will not be swamped in a deluge of "bad words." A user who posts a lot of foul language is likely to have their posting privileges restricted or removed.
Conduct
You may not post pornography or obscenity. Pornographic or obscene content, and hyperlinks to pornographic or obscene content will be removed.

While we do not prohibit profanity, we do ask users to avoid using excessive foul language. Generally, we will consider "weighted phrases" such as those often used to advertise x-rated websites as content that will definitely be disallowed as well as truly obscene content.

We do prefer people to avoid using foul language, but we won't worry about isolated usage. We trust that the forum will not be swamped in a deluge of "bad words." A user who posts a lot of foul language is likely to have their posting privileges restricted or removed.

Any forum user who is identified as a troll by a large portion of the active user community is likely to have their posting privileges restricted or removed for continued disruption of the community.

You may not encourage others to commit violence or suicide.

Any forum user who posts a credible threat of bodily harm to another user of this forum will be banned immediately.

You may not post or link to computer viruses or malicious code.
You may not encourage others to commit violence or suicide.

Any forum user who posts a credible threat of bodily harm to another user of this forum will be banned immediately.

You may not post or link to computer viruses or malicious code.

I suggest that "a large portion of active participants" ⅓ of posters who meet at least one of these criteria:
- Post at least [once per week] and have posted [in the last month].
- Have posted more than [200] times in at least [2] topics.

(Square brackets to indicate factors I pulled out of the air, and which I expect to be debated.)

Reporting a troll could be achieved by:
- sending private message to mods,
- reporting a comment for trolling, or
- calling out trolling publicly in a message thread.

Please debate.
Title: Re: Who wants to modify the Rules to deal with trolls?
Post by: brilligtove on August 13, 2018, 11:25:48 AM
As a practical example of how this might work, I would propose Pdb is a troll and should be banned.

If enough active users agree, Mods can follow Mod policy for warnings, etc., and take action.
Title: Re: Who wants to modify the Rules to deal with trolls?
Post by: Ah.hell on August 13, 2018, 11:42:56 AM
I would need a much more clear statement of what constitutes a "large portions of active users".  And probably still wouldn't like that much.
Title: Re: Who wants to modify the Rules to deal with trolls?
Post by: brilligtove on August 13, 2018, 11:48:08 AM
I would need a much more clear statement of what constitutes a "large portions of active users".  And probably still wouldn't like that much.

What do you propose?
Title: Re: Who wants to modify the Rules to deal with trolls?
Post by: Ah.hell on August 13, 2018, 12:08:11 PM
I would need a much more clear statement of what constitutes a "large portions of active users".  And probably still wouldn't like that much.

What do you propose?
A specific percentage, 3/4, 2/3,.....

A definition of active user, 10 post in the last week, 30 posts in the last month?  Don't really know, just something more definitive.  I'm still not too keen on the idea that would amount to an unpopularity contest. 
Title: Re: Who wants to modify the Rules to deal with trolls?
Post by: Belgarath on August 13, 2018, 12:48:20 PM
I get worried about an unpopular opinion vs. a troll.  I'd actually like the term defined just a bit more.
Title: Re: Who wants to modify the Rules to deal with trolls?
Post by: brilligtove on August 13, 2018, 01:02:34 PM
I would need a much more clear statement of what constitutes a "large portions of active users".  And probably still wouldn't like that much.

What do you propose?
A specific percentage, 3/4, 2/3,.....

A definition of active user, 10 post in the last week, 30 posts in the last month?  Don't really know, just something more definitive.  I'm still not too keen on the idea that would amount to an unpopularity contest.

My suggestion is a bit clumsy in phrasing...

I suggest that "a large portion of active participants" ⅓ of posters who meet at least one of these criteria:
- Post at least [once per week] and have posted [in the last month].
- Have posted more than [200] times in at least [2] topics.

(Square brackets to indicate factors I pulled out of the air, and which I expect to be debated.)

Basically, I would set the threshold for "active" relatively low, as long as the person has committed a bit of time and effort to the conversations here.

The definition of an Active User could be as specific as having to meet some or all of the following conditions:

A. Posted at least [P] times in the last [D] days.
B. Posted an average of at least [A] posts/week since account creation.
C. Has posted at least [C] times.

The Threshhold for trollness could also be specific:

D. When [R]% of Active Users raise a troll complaint about a user, Mods take appropriate action.

I am more concerned about the words in the Rules, and less concerned about the exact details of P, D, C, and R. We have good Mods who have exhibited good judgement in my experience, so at this point I would be happy for them to declare that they have a standard for assessing trollness, and a threshold for action.

I get worried about an unpopular opinion vs. a troll.  I'd actually like the term defined just a bit more.

I'm not so worried about that, especially in this community. Very few opinions are universally unpopular here.

My working definition of a troll is a user acting to undermine effective discourse, and to disrupt meaningful discussion. Pdb meets that criteria for me. A single issue jerk - like that anti-self-driving-car person from a while back - would not meet that definition of a troll.

In addition, this is not an invitation to mob justice. We have Mods - and not a Chinese-style social value score - for reasons beyond the technical.
Title: Re: Who wants to modify the Rules to deal with trolls?
Post by: The Latinist on August 13, 2018, 01:20:42 PM
I don’t know if I’d be in favor of this; I prefer that moderation decisions be let entirely in the hands of our esteemed moderation team. I would propose instead that the rule against personal attacks be extended to prohibit posts which promote bigotry or which promote hatred or violence against any individual or group.  The mods would then be responsible for determining when people run afoul of the rule.
Title: Re: Who wants to modify the Rules to deal with trolls?
Post by: brilligtove on August 13, 2018, 01:40:52 PM
I don’t know if I’d be in favor of this; I prefer that moderation decisions be let entirely in the hands of our esteemed moderation team. I would propose instead that the rule against personal attacks be extended to prohibit posts which promote bigotry or which promote hatred or violence against any individual or group.  The mods would then be responsible for determining when people run afoul of the rule.

A reasonable position.
Title: Re: Who wants to modify the Rules to deal with trolls?
Post by: random poet on August 13, 2018, 02:55:51 PM
Yeah, I like the intent of this rule amendment, but not the method. Leaving it to a popular vote is just too mob-like to me. The mod team, with suggestions from the user base, could come up with enforceable rules for dealing with trolls, especially with regards to hate speech. If a large number of users report someone for this type of offense, they would investigate and take the proper actions, just like any other rule breaking.
Title: Re: Who wants to modify the Rules to deal with trolls?
Post by: brilligtove on August 13, 2018, 03:22:32 PM
My desire for a ruleset for the community to engage Mods is to promote community engagement with this concern and related concerns. Maybe it is enough to report to the mods and then have judgement in secret? That doesn't show off the community culture though - not to visitors or to ourselves. I suspect some of the anger that gets poured into our threads has to do with some members feeling that their concerns are not taken seriously, or are not heard.

In any case, the requirement that drove the active users stuff is for the community to be able to show what behaviours are not welcome without the vitriol we get now.
Title: Re: Who wants to modify the Rules to deal with trolls?
Post by: Nosmas on August 13, 2018, 05:27:32 PM
I'm not so sure. I'm also worried about the popular opinion kicking out people with views they just don't like. Pdb is the only user that I thought of as maybe falling under this (I lurk far more than I post). I'm still not sure he's an actual troll rather than someone who believes many things I think are wrong. To be honest though after reading a few of his posts in the past I mostly see the wall of text and Excel graphs and skip to the next person. I guess a lot hinges on what you define as a troll. I've always seen it as more than a jerk who argues in bad faith. My memory may be failing me but I recall seeing troll accusations in the past which I just didn't agree with which shakes my confidence in this method.

Curious. Do you think it could apply to more than one person who currently frequents these forums?
Title: Re: Who wants to modify the Rules to deal with trolls?
Post by: PANTS! on August 13, 2018, 05:49:29 PM
I would modify the suggest to say something like some or all of this:

Should not repeatedly post unrelated memes or videos with little to no comment, and/or little to no follow up or defense of the posts. 

Should not repeatedly post off-thread-topic messages, and/or little to no follow up or defense of the posts. (I have been dinged for this, so I thought it was a rule, but if it was it is no longer enforced)

Should not repeatedly post "Tu-Quoque" messages or engage in both-sides-ism- especially if

Should not repeatedly post or link to known unskeptical sites as a means to promote those sites, especially ones that promote hateful, factually incorrect, blatantly proselytizing, or harmful ideologies.  That is at best an attempt to get better page rankings, you tube views, or whatever metic they make money off of for fringe sites.  At worst it is an attempt to associate the SGU and skepticism with such bunkum.  No trying to get mainstream buy in for your Holocaust Denial (or Mormons Were Right, or Alex Jones, or whatever)  site by constantly linking to it with a fawning post.

Should not be deliberately inflammatory.  (As defined by the mods), but should include - referring to someone by a name they have asked they not be referred to by.  To not repeatedly use "dog-whistle" language - especially after such language is pointed out as being as such.

Should not continuously strawman or change the subject when engaged.  "If you though it was important enough to bring up, then it should be important enough to defend"

In general, all posters should strive to engage in logical discussion over mere rhetoric alone.  Everyone slips, and there is nothing wrong with giving a rhetorical flourish to a well thought out logical point or immaculate data, but that is in contrast to substanceless cliches, statements rife with logical flaws and bereft of facts, etc.  (This one should be enforced much more loosely by the mods, but, really we all know when it has gone waaaay to far, and someone is giving the old razzle dazzle and not interested in discussion).

In addition, there is much to be said for being a part of the community.  One of the best ways to tell a troll is to see if they ever talk in the personal or entertainment threads.  Not sure how that translates into mod rules, but it feels right to say it counts for something.
Title: Re: Who wants to modify the Rules to deal with trolls?
Post by: Nosmas on August 13, 2018, 06:09:36 PM
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This actually sounds pretty good. I agree with the Tu-Quoque as long as it's the fallacy where someone is claiming your statement is false because you're guilty of not following it. I don't think there's anything wrong with simply pointing out hypocrisy or inconsistency. The dog whistle seems like it's assuming intent. Some dog whistles are still legit statements without a more nefarious intent to signal to horrible people or to take a further step to something worse. For some, just criticizing Islam is a dog whistle.
Title: Re: Who wants to modify the Rules to deal with trolls?
Post by: PANTS! on August 13, 2018, 06:18:38 PM
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This actually sounds pretty good. I agree with the Tu-Quoque as long as it's the fallacy where someone is claiming your statement is false because you're guilty of not following it. I don't think there's anything wrong with simply pointing out hypocrisy or inconsistency. The dog whistle seems like it's assuming intent. Some dog whistles are still legit statements without a more nefarious intent to signal to horrible people or to take a further step to something worse. For some, just criticizing Islam is a dog whistle.

Yeah - but I also trust the mods.  They make calls on this sort of thing all the time.  And most of the time they assume good intent - especially for first time posters. 
Title: Re: Who wants to modify the Rules to deal with trolls?
Post by: arthwollipot on August 13, 2018, 10:00:35 PM
I would not support the proposed modification.
Title: Re: Who wants to modify the Rules to deal with trolls?
Post by: xenu on August 13, 2018, 10:28:45 PM
I think we should leave it up to the mods. Most situations are unique.  The mods should get together and vote out or in on each situation.
The way we should all deal with trolls is to just ignore them. I do. Trolls want feed back and to stir shit up. Ignore them and they are screaming into the void.
Title: Re: Who wants to modify the Rules to deal with trolls?
Post by: brilligtove on August 13, 2018, 11:06:42 PM
I think we should leave it up to the mods. Most situations are unique.  The mods should get together and vote out or in on each situation.
The way we should all deal with trolls is to just ignore them. I do. Trolls want feed back and to stir shit up. Ignore them and they are screaming into the void.

Most situations are not unique - at relevant levels of detail.

Right now our community dumps energy into good-faith arguing with people who are clearly manipulating us: Trolls. That's not the same as "I don't agree with you on [topic]." It's a persistent pattern of disruptive behaviour.

I'm not in favour of a ream of regulations, but I think we need something to guide our Mods to deali with trolls effectively. Right now 'troll' is not considered a real threat to the community. I think recent events in social media manipulation provide ample evidence that trolls are a real threat that should be dealt with at least as vigourously as persistent vulgarity. To that end, a Rule to address persistent disrupting of the good faith discussions in the community needs adding. I can't imagine the Mods helplessly disussing their impotence in dealing with a polite saboteur who drains our Skeptical efforts away from meaningful discussions. I can imagine them not having a basic anti-trolling rule to base their judgments on.

So yeah, I'd like to leave it up to the Mods - as long as they have a basis for dealing with trolls.
Title: Re: Who wants to modify the Rules to deal with trolls?
Post by: brilligtove on August 13, 2018, 11:07:45 PM
I would not support the proposed modification.

Please discuss.
Title: Re: Who wants to modify the Rules to deal with trolls?
Post by: brilligtove on August 13, 2018, 11:10:07 PM
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This actually sounds pretty good. I agree with the Tu-Quoque as long as it's the fallacy where someone is claiming your statement is false because you're guilty of not following it. I don't think there's anything wrong with simply pointing out hypocrisy or inconsistency. The dog whistle seems like it's assuming intent. Some dog whistles are still legit statements without a more nefarious intent to signal to horrible people or to take a further step to something worse. For some, just criticizing Islam is a dog whistle.

Yeah - but I also trust the mods.  They make calls on this sort of thing all the time.  And most of the time they assume good intent - especially for first time posters.

I trust them too. It's when the assumption of good intent is drained away and persistent disruption of the community becomes prominent that we have a real troll. (It can be polite disruption, but it is still a form of sabotage.)

ETA: We have many ideologues here who argue in good faith. We often challenge each other's assumptions. Sometimes an individual is able to incorporate new evidence and arguments into their worldview. Whether it's cars, carbs, climate change, or cultural appropriation, we have had many productive, passionate disagreements that don't instantly descend into "eat vomit you ignorant fucklip asselbow!" I see more "you're a damn dirty liar" being thrown about now, though, and I suspect that trolls are poisoning our attitudes to each other.

I like this deeply flawed community, and want to see it get better at being a community. Trolls... they don't want that at all.
Title: Re: Who wants to modify the Rules to deal with trolls?
Post by: The Latinist on August 13, 2018, 11:13:31 PM
The problem I have is with setting up a system that attempts to ban people on the basis of (the popular perception of) their motives, rather than on the basis of their behaviors.  If there are behaviors that are not currently covered by the rules but should be, let’s talk about it and fix it.  But let’s not create some brand new “vote people off the island” system.
Title: Re: Who wants to modify the Rules to deal with trolls?
Post by: arthwollipot on August 13, 2018, 11:19:29 PM
I would not support the proposed modification.

Please discuss.

Pdb is not a troll.
Title: Re: Who wants to modify the Rules to deal with trolls?
Post by: brilligtove on August 13, 2018, 11:21:13 PM
I would not support the proposed modification.

Please discuss.

Pdb is not a troll.

Please discuss, as opposed to declaim. Pdb is an example I used to provide context for my proposal. What are your thoughts on the proposal independent of any one user?
Title: Re: Who wants to modify the Rules to deal with trolls?
Post by: brilligtove on August 13, 2018, 11:24:15 PM
The problem I have is with setting up a system that attempts to ban people on the basis of (the popular perception of) their motives, rather than on the basis of their behaviors.  If there are behaviors that are not currently covered by the rules but should be, let’s talk about it and fix it.  But let’s not create some brand new “vote people off the island” system.

That's a fair criticism. The proposed rule change covers a set of behaviours that are not currently addressed. Basically the rules say, "If you're a belligerent asshole, abusive, or threatening we'll give you the boot." They do not cover the polite saboteur.
Title: Re: Who wants to modify the Rules to deal with trolls?
Post by: arthwollipot on August 13, 2018, 11:32:53 PM
I would not support the proposed modification.

Please discuss.

Pdb is not a troll.

Please discuss, as opposed to declaim. Pdb is an example I used to provide context for my proposal. What are your thoughts on the proposal independent of any one user?

I've already indicated my thoughts in the poll. The rules don't need to be changed to account for trolling behaviour, especially since we can't even agree on what that means. You're trying to put power in the hands of the users when the task is already being adequately performed by the mod team. There is no need to change the rules.

The problem I have is with setting up a system that attempts to ban people on the basis of (the popular perception of) their motives, rather than on the basis of their behaviors.  If there are behaviors that are not currently covered by the rules but should be, let’s talk about it and fix it.  But let’s not create some brand new “vote people off the island” system.

That's a fair criticism. The proposed rule change covers a set of behaviours that are not currently addressed. Basically the rules say, "If you're a belligerent asshole, abusive, or threatening we'll give you the boot." They do not cover the polite saboteur.

So now you're going to need to define what "polite saboteur" means and why there should be a rule against it.
Title: Re: Who wants to modify the Rules to deal with trolls?
Post by: brilligtove on August 13, 2018, 11:48:06 PM
I would not support the proposed modification.

Please discuss.

Pdb is not a troll.

Please discuss, as opposed to declaim. Pdb is an example I used to provide context for my proposal. What are your thoughts on the proposal independent of any one user?

I've already indicated my thoughts in the poll.


Twelve words clearly articulate your thoughts? You usually have a more nuanced position.

The rules don't need to be changed to account for trolling behaviour, especially since we can't even agree on what that means. You're trying to put power in the hands of the users when the task is already being adequately performed by the mod team. There is no need to change the rules.

The problem I have is with setting up a system that attempts to ban people on the basis of (the popular perception of) their motives, rather than on the basis of their behaviors.  If there are behaviors that are not currently covered by the rules but should be, let’s talk about it and fix it.  But let’s not create some brand new “vote people off the island” system.

That's a fair criticism. The proposed rule change covers a set of behaviours that are not currently addressed. Basically the rules say, "If you're a belligerent asshole, abusive, or threatening we'll give you the boot." They do not cover the polite saboteur.

So now you're going to need to define what "polite saboteur" means and why there should be a rule against it.

That's splitting hairs that don't need splitting. The rules also cite pornography, obscenity, and fucking profanity, if you can believe it the cunts. These are wildly subjective concepts with Venn diagrams that may barely kiss across cultures if they intersect at all. (Heck, I got shaky typing in that last crossed out profanity from my Toronto kitchen. I also know Aussies who would be baffled by my sweaty palms.)

We can have a perfectly usable definition for trolling without having a perfect definition of trolling. It's culturally contextual, of course, but can still be a useful guideline.

perfect good something enemy something something ;)
Title: Re: Who wants to modify the Rules to deal with trolls?
Post by: The Latinist on August 14, 2018, 12:03:30 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?
Title: Re: Who wants to modify the Rules to deal with trolls?
Post by: PANTS! on August 14, 2018, 12:25:28 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.
Title: Re: Who wants to modify the Rules to deal with trolls?
Post by: arthwollipot on August 14, 2018, 01:17:29 AM
Twelve words clearly articulate your thoughts? You usually have a more nuanced position.

No, one word clearly articulates my thoughts. The word that is attached to the poll option that I put my vote on: "No".
Title: Re: Who wants to modify the Rules to deal with trolls?
Post by: arthwollipot on August 14, 2018, 01:19:02 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.

Who decides whether a particular behaviour is trolling? I can see this re-opening the discussion about downvoting posts, and I remind readers of the objections made to that possibility.

Let the mod team do their jobs.
Title: Re: Who wants to modify the Rules to deal with trolls?
Post by: The Latinist 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.
Title: Re: Who wants to modify the Rules to deal with trolls?
Post by: SkeptiQueer 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.
Title: Re: Who wants to modify the Rules to deal with trolls?
Post by: arthwollipot on August 14, 2018, 03:31:35 AM
I think the existing rules already cover such things.
Title: Re: Who wants to modify the Rules to deal with trolls?
Post by: xenu 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.
Title: Re: Who wants to modify the Rules to deal with trolls?
Post by: brilligtove 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.
Title: Re: Who wants to modify the Rules to deal with trolls?
Post by: PANTS! 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.
Title: Re: Who wants to modify the Rules to deal with trolls?
Post by: The Latinist 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.
Title: Re: Who wants to modify the Rules to deal with trolls?
Post by: xenu 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.
Title: Re: Who wants to modify the Rules to deal with trolls?
Post by: The Latinist 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.
Title: Re: Who wants to modify the Rules to deal with trolls?
Post by: PANTS! on August 14, 2018, 10:03:05 AM
Fair enuf.  Sorry for the misunderstanding.
Title: Re: Who wants to modify the Rules to deal with trolls?
Post by: brilligtove 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.
Title: Re: Who wants to modify the Rules to deal with trolls?
Post by: arthwollipot 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.
Title: Re: Who wants to modify the Rules to deal with trolls?
Post by: CarbShark 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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Title: Re: Who wants to modify the Rules to deal with trolls?
Post by: moj 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.
Title: Re: Who wants to modify the Rules to deal with trolls?
Post by: Rai 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.
Title: Re: Who wants to modify the Rules to deal with trolls?
Post by: brilligtove on August 15, 2018, 11:53:20 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.

Thanks for the update. Please consider this thread to be proactive feedback - feedforward? - on your efforts.

-----

The following was written before the Mod Comment.

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.

I'm a bit confused. When presented with a fuzzy rule - such as "Don't be a troll" - you pointed out that 'troll' is not specific enough to be useful, since (at least) you and I don't agree on what constitutes trolling. When presented with a more specific rule about what trolling might be - disruptive behaviours - you point out that it is too specific to be useful. Is there middle ground? Do the existing rules fall in that middle ground in your opinion? (What I proposed last was intended to be around the same level of detail as the rest of the rules.)

It sounds like you would advocate for a single rule: "Don't be an asshole." I'm not mocking: I ran a social media site for a nonprofit using that as the primary policy, and it worked reasonably well. The situation is not completely analogous since it was a site where named professionals went to ask for and provide advice, not a site where anonymous persons go to argue, teach, learn, and play. Still, I'd be interested in at least a pair of guiding principles like:

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

That's a good question. I would expect Mods to take action on disruptive behaviours whether there is a complaint or not, and to use their collective judgement about the action to take.
Title: Re: Who wants to modify the Rules to deal with trolls?
Post by: arthwollipot on August 15, 2018, 08:05:09 PM
I'm a bit confused. When presented with a fuzzy rule - such as "Don't be a troll" - you pointed out that 'troll' is not specific enough to be useful, since (at least) you and I don't agree on what constitutes trolling. When presented with a more specific rule about what trolling might be - disruptive behaviours - you point out that it is too specific to be useful. Is there middle ground? Do the existing rules fall in that middle ground in your opinion? (What I proposed last was intended to be around the same level of detail as the rest of the rules.)

Yes.
Title: Re: Who wants to modify the Rules to deal with trolls?
Post by: random poet on August 15, 2018, 08:18:28 PM
I changed my mind.

We don't need to change the rules at all. Let's just ban any and all nazis. Trolls or not.
Title: Re: Who wants to modify the Rules to deal with trolls?
Post by: arthwollipot on August 15, 2018, 08:36:42 PM
I changed my mind.

We don't need to change the rules at all. Let's just ban any and all nazis. Trolls or not.

How do we know they're nazis?
Title: Re: Who wants to modify the Rules to deal with trolls?
Post by: Belgarath on August 15, 2018, 08:52:29 PM
I’m probably going to get in trouble but I do want to call out that this particular topic has been on the Mods mind (The Latinist and I are not mods) and they have been discussing the best way to do something along these lines since well before this thread started.  It’s not a particularly easy thing to do. 

I’m going to say let’s let them keep working on it and I think they may come up with something that works.  It probably won’t satisfy everyone (nothing will) but I’m willing to let them take a shot. 
Title: Re: Who wants to modify the Rules to deal with trolls?
Post by: arthwollipot on August 15, 2018, 08:53:38 PM
I've said my bit. There's not a lot of room for nuance in it.
Title: Re: Who wants to modify the Rules to deal with trolls?
Post by: random poet on August 15, 2018, 11:09:44 PM
I changed my mind.

We don't need to change the rules at all. Let's just ban any and all nazis. Trolls or not.

How do we know they're nazis?
Well, sometimes they helpfully put a nazi callsign in their username.
Title: Re: Who wants to modify the Rules to deal with trolls?
Post by: arthwollipot on August 15, 2018, 11:30:42 PM
I changed my mind.

We don't need to change the rules at all. Let's just ban any and all nazis. Trolls or not.

How do we know they're nazis?
Well, sometimes they helpfully put a nazi callsign in their username.

And if they don't?
Title: Re: Who wants to modify the Rules to deal with trolls?
Post by: brilligtove on August 16, 2018, 12:21:00 AM
I’m probably going to get in trouble but I do want to call out that this particular topic has been on the Mods mind (The Latinist and I are not mods) and they have been discussing the best way to do something along these lines since well before this thread started.  It’s not a particularly easy thing to do. 

I’m going to say let’s let them keep working on it and I think they may come up with something that works.  It probably won’t satisfy everyone (nothing will) but I’m willing to let them take a shot.

I'm glad that the Mods are working on this. I'm not at all glad that the Mods were working on this in silence. I spent a lot of years as a change manager of one sort or another. One of the most common causes of utter failure to achieve positive change is imposing a change without engaging the people who will be changed. It's atrocious. Itis also my professional demesne and I have done it to my stakeholders more often than I'd like to admit. It is terribly easy to slip silently into the pit of "knowing what they need for their own good".

This is not a plea or demand for transparency, or 'activist Mods' or such. I know why I have left this community for months at a time and felt better about my life as a result. I know why I've come back in metered doses, too.

Whether it is the rules, the way the rules are enforced, or both, I think this community suffers from a lack of effective moderation. Trolling, IMO, is the standout offender - therefore this thread.

It's late and I'm tired and frustrated. I think our mods are top shelf and have enjoyed actual physical contact with at least one. Even so, I'm not willing to stop talking about the problems in our community because "a shadowy cabal is working on it." (See above, sarcasm, etc.)

Tell us more about what you're thinking about, Mods. Engage the modded with the modding more. Build a consensus with us. Clearly we care - whether we want changes or want no changes.
Title: Re: Who wants to modify the Rules to deal with trolls?
Post by: arthwollipot on August 16, 2018, 01:47:12 AM
In contrast, I am in no way interested in being informed about every little thing that the mod team are working on or considering. They didn't advise us that they were working on the troll problem because there was no need to advise us that they were working on it. If moderation here is anything like the moderation on other boards that I've been a moderator on, the team is always working on something, and the general membership has no need to see how the sausage is made. It's a hard job, full of difficult judgement calls, and the moderators are all volunteers donating their time because of their love for the community. I would like to extend my praise and my thanks for the work that they do.
Title: Re: Who wants to modify the Rules to deal with trolls?
Post by: SkeptiQueer on August 16, 2018, 04:39:43 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.

Those are things detrimental to discussion, period. If you think you've engaged in those behaviors than you should stop doing that. I don't keep an enemies list, you're literally not that important.
Title: Re: Who wants to modify the Rules to deal with trolls?
Post by: jt512 on August 16, 2018, 05:14:56 AM
As a practical example of how this might work, I would propose Pdb is a troll and should be banned.

If enough active users agree, Mods can follow Mod policy for warnings, etc., and take action.

We could nickname the new rule the Echo Chamber Clause or maybe Mob Rule Clause. If enough cool kids don‘t like someone‘s ideas they can kick him out of the club. Perhaps we should call the club the Pure Ideology Clause.

Good way to doom a forum which has already become almost complete uninteresting due to the steadily increasing homogeneity of the participants.

Skepticism, my ass.


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Title: Re: Who wants to modify the Rules to deal with trolls?
Post by: Belgarath on August 16, 2018, 07:48:31 AM

 I'm not at all glad that the Mods were working on this in silence. I spent a lot of years as a change manager of one sort or another. One of the most common causes of utter failure to achieve positive change is imposing a change without engaging the people who will be changed. It's atrocious. Itis also my professional demesne and I have done it to my stakeholders more often than I'd like to admit. It is terribly easy to slip silently into the pit of "knowing what they need for their own good".


Thankfully, that's a complete misunderstanding of what is going on.
Title: Re: Who wants to modify the Rules to deal with trolls?
Post by: brilligtove on August 16, 2018, 10:09:20 AM
As a practical example of how this might work, I would propose Pdb is a troll and should be banned.

If enough active users agree, Mods can follow Mod policy for warnings, etc., and take action.

We could nickname the new rule the Echo Chamber Clause or maybe Mob Rule Clause. If enough cool kids don‘t like someone‘s ideas they can kick him out of the club. Perhaps we should call the club the Pure Ideology Clause.

Good way to doom a forum which has already become almost complete uninteresting due to the steadily increasing homogeneity of the participants.

Skepticism, my ass.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

I have changed my position on the based on criticism and discussion. Keep reading.
Title: Re: Who wants to modify the Rules to deal with trolls?
Post by: brilligtove on August 16, 2018, 10:10:27 AM

 I'm not at all glad that the Mods were working on this in silence. I spent a lot of years as a change manager of one sort or another. One of the most common causes of utter failure to achieve positive change is imposing a change without engaging the people who will be changed. It's atrocious. Itis also my professional demesne and I have done it to my stakeholders more often than I'd like to admit. It is terribly easy to slip silently into the pit of "knowing what they need for their own good".


Thankfully, that's a complete misunderstanding of what is going on.

Cool. What's going on?

ETA: I am not looking for detailed information about the process. I'm interested in the broad strokes and overall direction.
Title: Re: Who wants to modify the Rules to deal with trolls?
Post by: CarbShark on August 16, 2018, 01:02:05 PM
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.

Those are things detrimental to discussion, period. If you think you've engaged in those behaviors than you should stop doing that. I don't keep an enemies list, you're literally not that important.

I think you think I have engaged in those behaviors and I think you are wrong and you should stop being so wrong.
Title: Re: Who wants to modify the Rules to deal with trolls?
Post by: Sawyer on August 16, 2018, 01:27:29 PM
As a practical example of how this might work, I would propose Pdb is a troll and should be banned.

If enough active users agree, Mods can follow Mod policy for warnings, etc., and take action.

We could nickname the new rule the Echo Chamber Clause or maybe Mob Rule Clause. If enough cool kids don‘t like someone‘s ideas they can kick him out of the club. Perhaps we should call the club the Pure Ideology Clause.

Good way to doom a forum which has already become almost complete uninteresting due to the steadily increasing homogeneity of the participants.

Skepticism, my ass.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
The person in question has absolutely fostered a decrease in the diversity of the political opinions expressed on this forum.  I always point to our old friend FX as an perfect example of how this works, as he could box out anyone else that may have had legitimate critiques regarding climate change.  This appears to be the current situation with conservative politics on this forum.

Not endorsing the rule suggestion, but let's not pretend that the crackpots add "diversity".

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Title: Re: Who wants to modify the Rules to deal with trolls?
Post by: PANTS! on August 16, 2018, 01:33:14 PM
As a practical example of how this might work, I would propose Pdb is a troll and should be banned.

If enough active users agree, Mods can follow Mod policy for warnings, etc., and take action.

We could nickname the new rule the Echo Chamber Clause or maybe Mob Rule Clause. If enough cool kids don‘t like someone‘s ideas they can kick him out of the club. Perhaps we should call the club the Pure Ideology Clause.

Good way to doom a forum which has already become almost complete uninteresting due to the steadily increasing homogeneity of the participants.

Skepticism, my ass.


We have long since moved past the initial suggestion of this thread as being too problematic and cliquey.  Do try to keep up.
Title: Re: Who wants to modify the Rules to deal with trolls?
Post by: The Latinist on August 16, 2018, 04:28:25 PM
Just to be clear, the mod team is not designing any rules to target individual posters. They have identified a few behaviors that have caused repeated disruption in the forum, and they are considering policy changes to address them. These policy changes will probably be conservative in nature and will be introduced slowly, targeting the most egregious behaviors first—and for this reason, at least initially, they will probably not satisfy those who are looking for enforcement of a broad anti-trolling policy. As someone who is not a mod but who is privy to some of their deliberation, I encourage everyone to give them a chance.

ETA: Because it can sometimes be confusing, like Belgarath, I want to emphasize that we Technical Administrators are not Moderators and do not set policies for the Forum.  We keep the site up and running, and we advise the Mod Team on technical implications of policy decisions, but the Mod Team is the ultimate authority on this forum.
Title: Re: Who wants to modify the Rules to deal with trolls?
Post by: brilligtove on August 16, 2018, 05:06:13 PM
Just to be clear, the mod team is not designing any rules to target individual posters. They have identified a few behaviors that have caused repeated disruption in the forum, and they are considering policy changes to address them. These policy changes will probably be conservative in nature and will be introduced slowly, targeting the most egregious behaviors first—and for this reason, at least initially, they will probably not satisfy those who are looking for enforcement of a broad anti-trolling policy. As someone who is not a mod but who is privy to some of their deliberation, I encourage everyone to give them a chance.

ETA: Because it can sometimes be confusing, like Belgarath, I want to emphasize that we Technical Administrators are not Moderators and do not set policies for the Forum.  We keep the site up and running, and we advise the Mod Team on technical implications of policy decisions, but the Mod Team is the ultimate authority on this forum.

Thank you. That was the level of detail I was looking for.
Title: Re: Who wants to modify the Rules to deal with trolls?
Post by: Eternally Learning on August 16, 2018, 10:54:54 PM
I'll go out on a limb and say that I would rather have a meaningful discussion with a full-blown neo-nazi for whom Hitler is a personal hero, than a trollish discussion with someone I mostly agree with and I would like the rules to reflect that.  Let's not lose track of the fact that there are a lot of lurkers on this site and while we may have no chance of changing the minds of some people we talk to, if the conversation is conducted in an earnest manner on both sides with sincere attempts to respond to points made then it's entirely plausible we change the minds of people we didn't even know were there.  More than that, I've found that encountering people I feel are so obviously wrong but are nonetheless intelligent and interested in proving their views right has only served to give me a much better handle on my views and sharpen my ability to defend them.  If nothing else, they've prompted me to question things that'd never even occurred to me to question before and as a skeptic, I find that invaluable.

That all in mind:

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).

I don't think any of those things means you are a troll, but if something like 90% of what you post falls under those categories (except for fallacious arguments as it's pretty easy to do that by accident) than it seems pretty likely to me you may be a troll.  I think the bar should be set somewhere at that level if we're talking about banning someone for reasons that aren't already covered in the rules because if they aren't, then we risk getting rid of well-intentioned people who may just be bad at arguing.  Shit, I'm certainly guilty most of those to one degree or another from time to time.
Title: Re: Who wants to modify the Rules to deal with trolls?
Post by: Belgarath on August 17, 2018, 10:26:57 AM
Thanks Lat for clarifying and adding color.
Title: Re: Who wants to modify the Rules to deal with trolls?
Post by: brilligtove on August 17, 2018, 06:02:56 PM
I'll go out on a limb and say that I would rather have a meaningful discussion with a full-blown neo-nazi for whom Hitler is a personal hero, than a trollish discussion with someone I mostly agree with and I would like the rules to reflect that.  Let's not lose track of the fact that there are a lot of lurkers on this site and while we may have no chance of changing the minds of some people we talk to, if the conversation is conducted in an earnest manner on both sides with sincere attempts to respond to points made then it's entirely plausible we change the minds of people we didn't even know were there.  More than that, I've found that encountering people I feel are so obviously wrong but are nonetheless intelligent and interested in proving their views right has only served to give me a much better handle on my views and sharpen my ability to defend them.  If nothing else, they've prompted me to question things that'd never even occurred to me to question before and as a skeptic, I find that invaluable.

That all in mind:

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).

I don't think any of those things means you are a troll, but if something like 90% of what you post falls under those categories (except for fallacious arguments as it's pretty easy to do that by accident) than it seems pretty likely to me you may be a troll.  I think the bar should be set somewhere at that level if we're talking about banning someone for reasons that aren't already covered in the rules because if they aren't, then we risk getting rid of well-intentioned people who may just be bad at arguing.  Shit, I'm certainly guilty most of those to one degree or another from time to time.

I agree with you. The point of this addition would be to cover longer term disruptive behaviour, not errors, ignorance, or a lack of skill in writing arguments.