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Why ER.org works or "Thanks Mods"
Old 07-25-2011, 07:59 AM   #1
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Why ER.org works or "Thanks Mods"

I just read an article in the Guardian that got me thinking about why this forum works. How the Internet Created an Age of Rage discusses the phenomenon of "deindividuation" which the article describes thusly:

It's what happens when social norms are withdrawn because identities are concealed. The classic deindividuation experiment concerned American children at Halloween. Trick-or-treaters were invited to take sweets left in the hall of a house on a table on which there was also a sum of money. When children arrived singly, and not wearing masks, only 8% of them stole any of the money. When they were in larger groups, with their identities concealed by fancy dress, that number rose to 80%. The combination of a faceless crowd and personal anonymity provoked individuals into breaking rules that under "normal" circumstances they would not have considered.

The article goes on to explore how this problem can destroy a blog when anonymous posters pile on with enraged comments. It is an interesting read describing a problem that could easily ruin ER.org but doesn't. Why? I think because, to a large degree, we are not truly anonymous. Most long term participants develop an online reputation that we don't want to destroy. Even though we are not generally known by real world names we are not completely anonymous. So, even in the political forum, where opinions can get hot and even hostile, we almost always hold the line to reasonable discourse. And, although we get irritated at the mods at times, they really do play a key role making sure that we don't go over the line. Probably more important, the mods (and regulars as well) ensure that trolls can't successfully sneak in and break up a conversation.

So, I hereby toast the mods and the regular posters who keep this forum such a vibrant retreat.

By the way, reading about trolls reminded me of an article I read in the early days of the Internet (before browsers were big and Usenet was the place to be). The War between alt.tasteless and rec.pets.cats, Wired, circa 1994, is a hilarious (and sad) look at how a group of anonymous posters from one newsgroup ganged up to destroy another newsgroup. It was my first intro to how bad anonymity can get but still a great read - like watching an oncoming train wreck. (I think the correct name of the evil newsgroup was alt.humor.tasteless but who knows.)
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Old 07-25-2011, 08:20 AM   #2
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So, I hereby toast the mods and the regular posters who keep this forum such a vibrant retreat.

Amen!
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Old 07-25-2011, 08:44 AM   #3
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Interesting, and timely, as I was talking to DH last night about how hard it is to find people who model smart financial behavior among our friends. Here on the ER.org forum is one of the few places where we can actually talk to people who have the same financial focus.
Without it, we'd be in a desert as far as financial savvy friends go! So here's to the rest of the members for being such model financial citizens.
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I don't really want to be like most of the people we know in RL. Far better role models here on the forum.
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Old 07-25-2011, 10:13 AM   #4
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Amen!
+1 on that. Forum has provided me with valuable information in the past, at present, and ( I'm sure ) for the foreseeable future.
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Old 07-25-2011, 10:34 AM   #5
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Thanks for posting the link. The sites I tried before ER.org were much too contentious for my liking. I had enough conflict at work and wanted a more congenial atmosphere to hang out on-line.

I used to be a soccer ref and firmly believed that, while it was important to have a competent set of refs, the atmosphere of, and conflict in the game had a lot more to do with the players.

I've been a member for 6 years now and would like to add my thanks to the many folks here who effectively police the forums and keep it a pleasant place to spend time.
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Old 07-25-2011, 10:37 AM   #6
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I might get scolded for this....


But I think the Mods close down a lot of threads that really don't need it... heck, I have seen some that I really don't know what was 'offensive'... sure, some back and forth debates that go nowhere... but not really hostile... I don't care if someone is


But overall I think they do a good job... and think of all that extra income they get
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Old 07-25-2011, 10:43 AM   #7
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But I think the Mods close down a lot of threads that really don't need it... heck, I have seen some that I really don't know what was 'offensive'... sure, some back and forth debates that go nowhere... but not really hostile... I don't care if someone is

(Bolded is mine)

But you can't see the posts in a thread that have been deleted to try and keep it alive. It can get very tedious and time consuming, and even a 100% pay raise would not be enough to compensate.
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Old 07-25-2011, 10:57 AM   #8
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I have seen some back and forth debates that go nowhere... but not really hostile.
I gotta tell you, that is my idea of hell, trapped in a room with people who have no chance of agreeing, but arguing to the death anyway.

But thanks for your compliments!
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Old 07-25-2011, 11:06 AM   #9
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That's funny, I was talking about this very subject with my mom last weekend.

Anonymity on the internet allows people to say the vilest things. The fact that, after almost 10 years of existence, ER.org has not degenerated into some sordid cyber hellhole is a tribute to the mods and the quality of the membership.
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Old 07-25-2011, 11:12 AM   #10
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I have never objected to any action a Mod has taken here, I think their decisions are pretty much right on, and I've been (fairly) lightly counseled twice, but never to an extreme. I have seen a few they've let go on longer than I might have even.

This place wouldn't be the same without them, I appreciate all they do.

I wonder if the median age here has something to do with the relative civility? I am a member of other non-investing forums (sailing, photography, cars, etc.) that were unbelievably hostile, but you just learned who to engage and who to ignore. I have visited a few political forums and been appalled, but that seems the nature of our modern polarized political culture.

This is the second most civilized forum I participate in (by a narrow margin), Bogleheads being the most tightly moderated IMO - both are wonderful sites. Maybe being financially savvy correlates with some decorum, who knows?
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Old 07-25-2011, 11:18 AM   #11
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With all the depressing news out there, it's a good time for a group hug.
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Old 07-25-2011, 11:21 AM   #12
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With all the depressing news out there, it's a good time for a group hug.
I just came back from a weeklong long distance sail race with almost no phone, radio, TV - amazing how different, even liberating, it feels. My first news coming back was the Norway shooting and still no debt ceiling progress (what a surprise). I don't watch much news on TV any more, I get enough bad news online.
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Old 07-25-2011, 12:36 PM   #13
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(Bolded is mine)

But you can't see the posts in a thread that have been deleted to try and keep it alive. It can get very tedious and time consuming, and even a 100% pay raise would not be enough to compensate.

True.... there could have been something that someone wrote that was over the line... but I still think the offending post deleted, the person warned (like I have been) and the thread kept open... but then again, what do I know

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I gotta tell you, that is my idea of hell, trapped in a room with people who have no chance of agreeing, but arguing to the death anyway.

But thanks for your compliments!

Many years ago I used to go to lunch with a liberal guy 3 or 4 times a week... we had vastly different viewpoints on many subjects... and we would debate back and forth on them... very few chances of us chaning our position, but it was interesting to hear how someone else thought on many of the various subjects.... I agree that if it was the same recording over and over it would not be good... but I am open to hearing about an issue even though I disagree with it.... heck, I am married and get it all the time

And you all are welcome....
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Old 07-25-2011, 01:01 PM   #14
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Thanks for the nice compliments, y'all!

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True.... there could have been something that someone wrote that was over the line... but I still think the offending post deleted, the person warned (like I have been) and the thread kept open... but then again, what do I know
Something? Often half a dozen posts or more are over the line before we can remove them and close the thread.

Honestly I am flattered that our actions seem so seamless and simple and easy that you aren't even aware of them. That's the goal and I am pleased that your reading pleasure is apparently pretty much unaffected by what we do. It's a jungle out there.

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I wonder if the median age here has something to do with the relative civility?
Since you ask, the answer is honestly no (though one can dream). Some of our older members even tend to react a little more strongly than the younger folks.
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Old 07-25-2011, 01:01 PM   #15
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I gotta tell you, that is my idea of hell, trapped in a room with people who have no chance of agreeing, but arguing to the death anyway.
Well that's why you get the big bucks, I took my mod stock options and FIRED............
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Old 07-25-2011, 01:07 PM   #16
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Many years ago I used to go to lunch with a liberal guy 3 or 4 times a week... we had vastly different viewpoints on many subjects... and we would debate back and forth on them... very few chances of us chaning our position, but it was interesting to hear how someone else thought on many of the various subjects.... I agree that if it was the same recording over and over it would not be good... but I am open to hearing about an issue even though I disagree with it.... heck, I am married and get it all the time

And you all are welcome....
I often feel like I am that liberal guy around here. But when I find myself tossing out the same tired bromide for the tenth time, I do try to rephrase my argument or mix the metaphors up a bit. Like Texas Proud, I like hearing opposing opinions in a civil forum, even if they seem to be repetitious. Otherwise I am in too much of a like minded bubble out here in Disneyland East.
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Old 07-25-2011, 05:42 PM   #17
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True.... there could have been something that someone wrote that was over the line... but I still think the offending post deleted, the person warned (like I have been) and the thread kept open...
If a thread is closed, it usually involved more than one bad post being deleted. After the third or fourth post is pulled, one can readily conclude that the thread is a magnet for trouble and would be better off closed. It is simply too hard to constantly watch such a thread to weed out the offending posts. (Indeed, most of the mods can tell from the start that a thread will be problematic, but we usually try to give people a chance to behave.)
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Old 07-25-2011, 06:08 PM   #18
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I have to agree. This is a very civil place to discuss things. Even the political threads are fairly civil. I'm sure the fact we mostly discuss an issue we all basically agree on, early retirement, helps.

I was just perusing a Canon camera forum. I've learned to read a forum a little before joining to get a feel for a place. Talk about snarky. The thread I just read was started by a guy looking for a second camera body and he wanted some opinions. Instead of answering the question, the responses were questioning his need. Why would a non professional need a second body? Then someone accused him of being a gadget junkie. These we're not friendly ribbing and it was one of the more friendly posts I read. I don't think I will be joining.

So, thanks Mods! Good job.
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Old 07-25-2011, 06:12 PM   #19
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Thanks Mods for all you do!
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Old 07-25-2011, 06:19 PM   #20
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Having seem other forums turn toxic or go dead, I am very grateful for the civil, moderated tone here.
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