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Old 06-21-2008, 01:36 PM   #61
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Before reading this post I didn't even KNOW there WAS a Soap Box .....but I DID know what day it was!!....uhhh, but that was yesterday....or was it the day before??
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Old 06-21-2008, 01:40 PM   #62
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Old 06-21-2008, 01:52 PM   #63
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Old 06-21-2008, 03:09 PM   #64
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Ahhhhh.

I'm taking a breath before posting again to this thread.

Hmmmmmm.

Feels good.


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Old 06-21-2008, 03:51 PM   #65
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I agree with clifp a few posts above. I would like to point out a few things that I thing are contributing to some of the issues:

1) The TITLE 'Soap Box' is just wrong, IMO. This is supposed to be (I think?) a discussion forum, and the term Soap Box is generally used to describe someone that is just talking with no regard or desire for feedback or debate. You don't 'stand on a Soap Box' to discuss something face-to-face, you stand on a Soap box to make pronouncements. So why be surprised when some people do this? The title is asking for it.

2) Also in the Title: 'Headline News'? Don't we already have plenty of sources for news? Again, it seems to be asking people to just regurgitate headline news, w/o any thought behind discussion/debate, or 'what can we learn from this'.

Maybe the forum 'Other Topics' just needs to be split - 'General Topics not related to ER' And 'Political and Current Topics not Related to ER', or 'Hot Button Topics not related to ER' ( to help people who wish to totally ignore the 'hot button' topics), or something. What's in a name? Sometimes a lot.

3) FEEDBACK! I'm not sure I know what threads anyone is talking about. What threads caused trouble, where, which posts were OK, which are viewed as inflammatory? I'm sure many won't even bother to try to figure it out, so we don't get feedback on what is right/wrong. I am also confused about the infraction system here, because there is no feedback. How does anyone learn what is right/wrong when it is all secret?

As an example, after this '3 infractions and measures will be taken' was set up, I saw a thread where a long time poster engaged in very direct, obscene, degrading personal attacks, attacks on the OP, not the subject matter - it must have been four or five separate posts in that thread from him like that - yet, did anything happen? It appears not, he kept posting. All we saw was 'moderator edit' on the worst of it.

That thread was so bad, I would have been embarrassed if anyone looked over my shoulder - it would have been 'what the heck are you reading!!??'. It sends the message that personal, obscene, degrading attacks ARE OK, no problem, the mods will just edit the worst of it, have a nice day.

I'm not thrilled with the practice of shutting down threads because *some* poster/s push the rules. Sometimes, that means they 'win', and the rest of us who actually wanted to discuss the topic respectfully are left out. Punish the 'offenders', not everybody in the same thread.

Suggestions:

1) Mods should LABEL any posts that resulted in infractions - we will all see what is considered trouble. Maybe even show a count of how many times that post was reported as a problem (whether it resulted in infraction or not - at least we would know if the mods were made aware of the problem).

2) I'm sure this will be controversial, but think about it: It sounds like the mods have a little spreadsheet they share, so they can track the '3 violations in 120 days' rule. I say make it public. No, not to humiliate any specific posters, but so that we can see what is being tolerated, what is not, and also - maybe some of us will report offensive, disruptive posts that don't appear on that list. That should help clean the place up.

-ERD50
I am reminded by your comment of the charming short novel Candide, in which Voltaire commented on the case of British admiral John Byng -- executed for failure to fight the French with the utmost vigor -- thusly: "in this country, it is found requisite, now and then, to put an admiral to death, in order to encourage the others". (Trans. Smollet)

As Rich notes, moderation is inherently subjective. There is a fine line to walk between policing behavior and squelching discussion. We do our best, but you will never find the mathematical precision you seek between offense and outcome.
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Old 06-21-2008, 04:22 PM   #66
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If there were no economic issues there would be no politics. I've been thinking about some challenging things that I would like to post here, but I know I will get rotten tomatoes from a certain quarter. Should I post it or not? Should I post it on the Soap Box, which it seems half the people have tuned out? It's not strictly a retirement argument, but purely economics, and it affects FIRE quite a bit. There's no one else I can discuss these ideas with.

I wish people would not be so sensitive, on the one hand, and so aggressively juvenile on the other. I used to appreciate the board for its breadth and tolerance; it was quite like a real conversation with people kicking thoughts around. I guess its growth means more cops and hall monitors, and I do appreciate their efforts. I just wish they weren't necessary.

If you get rid of the Soap Box, you're not going to get rid of the issues, but some people like the ability to tune it out. I'm torn as to whether "separate but equal" is the way to go.

I've seen other blogs where comments can be individually rated both positively and negatively. If people unanimously love a post it might get a +10; if they unanimously hate it, a -10; if there's a mixed reaction, zero out of 10 votes. I don't know if that's a possibility for the ER forum or not, but it could be a way for the offended to register disdain without resorting to name-calling, and would also give collective feedback to posters, as well as people viewing posts, in a more immediate and spontaneous way than the current private "thanks" and the thread star ratings.
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Old 06-21-2008, 04:43 PM   #67
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I see the cancer has spread to this thread.

This is why we need to keep the soapbox. It will help contain the cancer so it doesn't spread to other locations. If it happens to spread, then it may just require a surgical ignore here or there.

This is why I pushed so hard for the "ignore thread" and "ignore forum" feature. I'm very glad we have this new ignore weapon against the cancer. The cancer can be ignored as if it doesn't even exist, unless it tries to infect other areas.

Time to put this thread on ignore now.

Over and out.
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Old 06-21-2008, 04:44 PM   #68
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Originally Posted by ERD50 View Post

1) The TITLE 'Soap Box' is just wrong, IMO. This is supposed to be (I think?) a discussion forum, and the term Soap Box is generally used to describe someone that is just talking with no regard or desire for feedback or debate. You don't 'stand on a Soap Box' to discuss something face-to-face, you stand on a Soap box to make pronouncements. So why be surprised when some people do this? The title is asking for it.

3) FEEDBACK! I'm not sure I know what threads anyone is talking about. What threads caused trouble, where, which posts were OK, which are viewed as inflammatory? I'm sure many won't even bother to try to figure it out, so we don't get feedback on what is right/wrong. I am also confused about the infraction system here, because there is no feedback. How does anyone learn what is right/wrong when it is all secret?

I'm not thrilled with the practice of shutting down threads because *some* poster/s push the rules. Sometimes, that means they 'win', and the rest of us who actually wanted to discuss the topic respectfully are left out. Punish the 'offenders', not everybody in the same thread.

Suggestions:

1) Mods should LABEL any posts that resulted in infractions - we will all see what is considered trouble. Maybe even show a count of how many times that post was reported as a problem (whether it resulted in infraction or not - at least we would know if the mods were made aware of the problem).

2) I'm sure this will be controversial, but think about it: It sounds like the mods have a little spreadsheet they share, so they can track the '3 violations in 120 days' rule. I say make it public. No, not to humiliate any specific posters, but so that we can see what is being tolerated, what is not, and also - maybe some of us will report offensive, disruptive posts that don't appear on that list. That should help clean the place up.

-ERD50
I agree with everything in ERD (edited) post. I especially echo his suggestion to make the moderation more visible. While I agree that long-time active contributors get and deserve more latitude than say drop in annuity saleman, the perception is that they can post damn near anything they want.

I've learned that through discussion with current and past moderators that isn't the case. However, because much of the moderation is done behind the scenes it looks non-existent. Lets keep the level of moderation where it is but make the enforcement more visible.

I also appreciate the work that moderators do to make this my favorite discussion forum on the net. A big mahalo. I hope Andy is increasing your pay at a least double the rate of inflation

P.S. I now fully appreciate the wisdom of the moderator emeritus guys!
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Old 06-21-2008, 04:44 PM   #69
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II've been thinking about some challenging things that I would like to post here, but I know I will get rotten tomatoes from a certain quarter. Should I post it or not?
Have you considered that the noise filtering and virtual ignore features apply in two directions? You could post, anticipate lots of good replies and likely some not so good ones. At your end, why not just ignore the noise, almost as if it didn't exist. Don't dignify them by reacting to them.

In my view, most of the habitual trolls, antagonistic posters, and weirdos are basically seeking attention and little more. Remove the attention (good or bad) and they don't get their rewards.

You know the kinds of replies you were hoping for. Assume the others are invisible. Just another way to look at this.
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Old 06-21-2008, 04:52 PM   #70
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As Rich notes, moderation is inherently subjective. There is a fine line to walk between policing behavior and squelching discussion. We do our best, but you will never find the mathematical precision you seek between offense and outcome.
I agree, and I think my point is not coming across.

Moderation will be subjective - I am not expecting precision. And it's not about seeing someone hung out to dry as an example (other than to learn from), what I suggested was, a feedback mechanism so that people can at least observe what posts were considered infractions, and which were not. A way for people to understand how the rules are being administered - it's all hidden from view now. If someone stops posting, is it because the mods shut them down for a while, or did they just go away for a while? We can't know. So we never know if a certain post triggered action, or not.

I will also say that I think the idea of giving long time posters more leniency is exactly backwards. The early poster maybe just needs a bit of 'counseling' to learn the lay of the land. The seasoned poster here should know how to interact. Everyone can make a mistake and slip, but I thought that was what the ' 3 infractions in 120 days' rule was about?


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I've seen other blogs where comments can be individually rated both positively and negatively. If people unanimously love a post it might get a +10; if they unanimously hate it, a -10; if there's a mixed reaction, zero out of 10 votes.
I've seen that on some other forums, and personally, I don't really like it. You never know what the '+' was for, especially if several comments were made in the same post. And it can turn into a popularity contest - detracting from the value of the content.

But as I mentioned, I think a count of 'This post has been reported for violation of the rules of conduct' could be valuable. If 20 people all reported a post, I think that would mean something. It has nothing to do with whether you agree or disagree with the content, just a matter of whether they appeared to violate the guidelines.

And a follow up note on the post, something like: 'This post was rated in violation by the mods' would give people feedback about how the mods are viewing things. We could learn.

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Old 06-21-2008, 05:00 PM   #71
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I think my Catholic grade school was less rule bound than what many would apparently like to see here.

As for ratings- why would anyone expect a post that got more yeahs to be better in any way other than most popular? What raings would Galileo have gotten? Oh yes, we know don't we?

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Old 06-21-2008, 05:20 PM   #72
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Dr. Laura Says: Stop the Whining!



It appears that this forum has turned into The Legion of Decency.


But guess what I am not taking my basketball and leaving.

Folks, It's time to quit with the whining and continue with the posting.

God Bless Us All
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Old 06-21-2008, 05:38 PM   #73
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Hey Everyone,
I've been active here since I made the decision to retire early last November. I guess this makes me pretty much a "newbie". This has been a great place for me to get advice and have some of the social interaction I lost when I quit working.

Even though I'm new here, I have noticed some negativity of late. Really, it's no different than some of the negative waves that flowed through my office when I was working. Usually, this situation came about due to uncertainty or stress. At least in my office it was. Be it a merger or a new manager, when things were unsettled and uncertain, people tended to go off on each other more. Given what's happening in the economy and political arena, I can understand why folks here are touchy.

I find this a good place to communicate with others and get advice on so many topics. Frankly, I have not been troubled by the political stuff because I don't choose to read much of it or get into arguments. I do care about politics but choose not to air my opinions here. Others do and that's OK.

Anyway, I hope this passes. I do like this place and look forward to sharing more with folks here.
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Old 06-21-2008, 05:56 PM   #74
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Have you considered that the noise filtering and virtual ignore features apply in two directions? You could post, anticipate lots of good replies and likely some not so good ones. At your end, why not just ignore the noise, almost as if it didn't exist. Don't dignify them by reacting to them.

In my view, most of the habitual trolls, antagonistic posters, and weirdos are basically seeking attention and little more. Remove the attention (good or bad) and they don't get their rewards.

You know the kinds of replies you were hoping for. Assume the others are invisible. Just another way to look at this.
Rich, you are right on, and that's what I had been doing. But it's not pleasant feeling like a target either. Whether it's the crappy economy or the phase of the moon or whatever, there seems to be more crankiness and piling on, and the aggression is creeping into the longtime, 'rational' posters. Look at retire@40's post just after my previous one here. Who is "the cancer" and why would anyone even call someone "a cancer"? Why expend the negative energy on it?

I don't remember how much I agreed or disagreed with R@40 in the past, but somehow something has brought out a new level of nastiness in him and in others that's just freaky. I know for sure that I have appreciated some of R@40's posts in the pasts, so to ignore him because of his recent post here is cutting off my nose to spite my face. I doubt he is referring to me, but that is not the point. The more people put threads and posters on "ignore" then the less possibility there is to exchange ideas and the more limited the board becomes as more people throw the baby out with the bathwater.. that's just IMHO. How hard is it really to just gloss over what you don't agree with, or what doesn't interest you? Surely there are more narrow forums about [I was going to list insultingly banal topics here] where people could browse "risk"-free. The interesting thing to me about the ER forums has been the level of challenge. If that went away, it would be like losing a friend.

Everyone's got their own problems, their own prejudices, and their own schtick, and similar to what Haha said (perhaps elsewhere?), I tend to prefer to celebrate all of it. The tide on the board seems to have recently turned against that philosophy!
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Old 06-22-2008, 12:38 AM   #75
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I hope we keep the Soapbox since some of the potentially flammable subjects discussed are so important to er's that they will probably come up anyway in other threads. This way people can take it or leave it.

I find the Soapbox easier to take than watching some of the "news" channels. There are some very quick wits here and it's quite entertaining at times even though at times it seems like a dysfunctional family - there are a few that you'd rather not invite to Thanksgiving Dinner - but they come anyway and start an argument right in the middle of everything.
The moderators deserve gold stars.
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Old 06-22-2008, 05:56 AM   #76
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And then there's the heightened sensitivity and thinking that negative comments are directed at them personally that comes from having these kind of discussions....Ladelfina, I got nothing from Retire@40s post that was directed at you. Retire@40 didn't say anyone was a cancer, he said the whole kit and caboodle of political postings has spread to this thread and that it is a cancer. I really don't think retire@40 had one person in mind.

As a new moderator, I see how posts that I wouldn't have given much thought to, except, wow, so-and-so needs less coffee or something like that, now require a great deal of consideration: is that a personal attack, is he/she warming up for a big throwdown, etc.

I do remember this phase on the board in past election seasons, and I guess there are people who just must post about political topics, and I think the Soapbox is a great place for that, so that all of us that don't want to read about it (except your new moderator here, who now has to wade through it daily) aren't obligated.
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Old 06-22-2008, 12:14 PM   #77
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I have been a member of this community for 18 months, but only consider myself a fringe dweller rather than a fully fledged member. Truthfully over this time I have seen things go in cycle of niceness to nastiness and I am sure the cycle will see it revert.

I think there is a place for the Soap Box. We are all adults and each of us has the choice whether or not to enter that area, knowing full well what we can expect. I rarely go there as I have no interest in those type of threads whether or not they degenerate into abuse. I am actually relieved that they are no longer in Other Topics clogging up that board.

However there does seem to be people who enjoy attacking others. I see long timers get away with it yet if a newbie does it they are labelled troll. I believe I have been innocuous in my time here and have not offended anyway, yet some responses I have received I could have interpreted to be personal attacks. I have taken the line that say what you want in response to something I post and I am not going to enter into an argument which is entirely different to a fact based debate. I try and respond the same as I would in real life. My job in life is not to cause unnecessary pain nor is it to blindly agree with something that I believe to be wrong.

Like Ladelfina I often hesitate to post because I know what reactions I will get from certain quarters.

I don't think there is any real answer to be found. Much of what goes on perhaps goes over my head perhaps being partly due to cultural differences me being a non-american and not really understanding why people carry on as they do.
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Old 06-22-2008, 12:29 PM   #78
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I don't think that the forum loses anything by eliminating the soapbox. Dumping it would strengthen the forum, IMHO.
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Getting rid of the Soap Box is tempting. But given the political climate and in a political election year, it at least allows the mods to isolate the toxic political sludge into one place. I fear that if it were removed, the politics and the insults and disrespect it brings would bleed back into other forums. At least with this setup, those wishing to avoid it completely have a solution: avoid the Soap Box.
Ding ding ding. If there was an easy answer to this situation it would've been implemented during the 2004 election. And thank goodness the major elections are on a two-year cycle!

Moderators have essentially three choices: to edit/delete posts, to ban posters, or to relocate the posts to a more appropriate SandSoapbox. The Soapbox offers the "better" alternative because too many posters are too quick to confuse the first with excessive censorship.

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I agree with everything in ERD (edited) post. I especially echo his suggestion to make the moderation more visible. While I agree that long-time active contributors get and deserve more latitude than say drop in annuity saleman, the perception is that they can post damn near anything they want.
I've learned that through discussion with current and past moderators that isn't the case. However, because much of the moderation is done behind the scenes it looks non-existent. Lets keep the level of moderation where it is but make the enforcement more visible.
I also appreciate the work that moderators do to make this my favorite discussion forum on the net. A big mahalo. I hope Andy is increasing your pay at a least double the rate of inflation
It's a function of getting what you pay for. The posting volume on this board has grown far beyond the capacity of all but the most obsessed dedicated moderators. Thoughtfully moderating the offending posts while educating the one or two percent of the offenders is a waste of time. Those who can't figure out the issues that resulted in a "[moderator edit]" will not be educated by a more in-depth explanation.

Moderators have learned another, more practical tool. The 1-2% who don't get it, and who refuse to get it, will be moderated until they either change their behavior, volunteer to leave on their own, or are banned. This is a far more effective means of training than justifying explaining a moderator's actions to the whole populace.

There's a whole panoply of "praise in public, criticize in private" happening via PMs & e-mails. If it doesn't happen to you then you can probably stop worrying about it. If it has happened to you then review the three choices for the 1-2% in the last paragraph. It ain't rocket science, folks.

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P.S. I now fully appreciate the wisdom of the moderator emeritus guys!
Absolutely!
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