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Old 2013-10-21, 09:23   #1
Brian-E
 
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Lightbulb Our discussions here: how can we improve things?

The posting below has concerned me enough to start this thread whereby anyone should feel they can air any grievances they have about the style of discussion which occurs on mersenneforum.org and especially here in the soapbox. At least as welcome are constructive suggestions about how things can be improved.

I realise that this is rather like examining our collective navel when in fact we all have better things to do. Also, there is a risk that the personal feelings involved, which have developed over many years and began long before I joined the forum myself for example, may be too sensitive to be discussed. My judgment in starting this thread could well be bad. However if, as Ernst suggests below, some previously highly-valued and prolific contributors have been scared away, then maybe we do need to address some issues?

If any supermod feels that this is not a good idea, naturally just feel free to remove this thread. I won't be in the least bit put out.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ewmayer View Post
I'm really glad I spent yesterday afternoon at a winetasting in the Saratoga foothills, otherwise I would likely have checked in here and gotten thoroughly depressed as a result.
Quote:
Originally Posted by cheesehead View Post
It was Ernst's previous history of deception that eroded trust.
Given that you apparently are unable to distinguish between both humorous wordplay and legitimate differences on matters of opinion and malicious deception and further assume-the-latter-as-default when in doubt, no wonder you feel yourself as being the victim of "an evil campaign of deception".
Quote:
I do apologize for being "in a hurry" when composing and editing that post, and not being clearer.
Given your long-established history of difficulty at the above distinctions, may I suggest "Remaining silent when not 100% sure about poster intent" as a better strategy than repeatedly blowing up threads and forcing others to gently and patiently lead you by the hand through your misapprehensions?

When one can no longer safely make a mild play on words in the bloody Soap Box subforum, the inmates really are running the asylum. I understand now why folks like Alex and George no longer venture near this nuthouse (Alex the forum as a whole, George the Soapbox).
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Old 2013-10-21, 10:52   #2
retina
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It's the Internet, everybody is going to try to offend you. Or, at least, that is how I treat it. And if by chance someone doesn't offend you then it's all just a bonus.

If we treat all postings as mere throwaway nonsense then potentially offending posts can simply be ignored and we move on to other more interesting things. And if by chance some post isn't mere throwaway nonsense then it's all just a bonus.

Expect the worst and you won't ever be disappointed, and occasionally you will be delighted.

If this post offends anyone then it wasn't intentional. But if it does offend you anyway and you feel the need to flame me in response then I'll probably just ignore what you wrote so your time will likely be wasted.

If you think this post is mere throwaway nonsense then go ahead and ignore it, I won't care, my feelings won't be hurt, I'm a big boy now.
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Old 2013-10-21, 12:36   #3
kladner
 
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Retina's solution might work in an ideal world, but clearly that's not where we are, or solutions would not be needed.

I share Brian's concerns, as well as the trepidation which seems to have kept some people away from the forum. It is a very tricky field to negotiate, with plenty of potential
cluster-fscksbombs scattered about to stumble over.

I am still too much of a newcomer to understand the depth of the roots of these conflicts. I consider it obligatory to avoid judgements, as these would undoubtedly be ill-informed. This begs the question of whether there's any point in trying to address the issues.

I have to conclude that the conflicts need to be addressed in some way. They keep coming back for the proverbial bite in the backside. In that light, I return to Retina's statement, and put my trust in having adequately fireproofed pants.

Bites or burns? What a choice!

Last fiddled with by kladner on 2013-10-21 at 12:37 Reason: adjusting spacing for best effect :-)
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Old 2013-10-21, 13:11   #4
BudgieJane
 
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I just wish everybody would be polite to one another. We're not all experts in the field that you are, so if someone says something that you feel is outrageous, take a deep breath and politely explain what a load of rubbish it is, and why. It's easy to do.

If you find it difficult, think of the person you're replying to as the head of state wherever you live. You wouldn't be offensively rude to that person, would you? So don't be offensively rude here.
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Old 2013-10-21, 13:51   #5
cheesehead
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by retina View Post
It's the Internet, everybody is going to try to offend you.
But what Ernst is doing in his recent comments about me is not mere offense; it's a deliberate attempt to deceive readers (but only in political discussions until recently).

Note that Ernst was making offensive remarks about me long before May 2012, but I never complained to moderators about them. What's been different since late May 2012 is that Ernst has been actively trying to deceive readers about me, not just making offensive remarks about me.

Looking back at past posting history (evidence!) reveals a pattern: when Ernst started doing this (May 2012), it was always just after I had posted a correction to one of his errors, or a factual refutation of something he had claimed. But after I publicly pointed out that pattern, Ernst has extended his attacks so that that simple pattern isn't so applicable now. But anyone who goes back to check the evidence and is willing to spend time for careful analysis can see the pattern. I myself didn't notice the pattern until I did that work, examining the evidence, after wondering why Ernst had become so hostile toward me.

Quote:
Or, at least, that is how I treat it.
If you couldn't distinguish between offense and deliberate deception, that would be one thing. But I think you can recognize the difference, but are not saying so.

- - -

Quote:
Originally Posted by kladner View Post
I have to conclude that the conflicts need to be addressed in some way. They keep coming back for the proverbial bite in the backside.
It will require moderators to notice Ernst's verbal manipulations and to take some action about them. I'm not trying to specify what -- they can probably figure out a better solution than I can.

Note that Ernst laid low for a while after he was banned for a week, but now has resumed using deception to try to convince readers not to take what I say seriously. I'm not saying Ernst needs to be banned; I'm saying that the evidence shows that Ernst will not necessarily be dissuaded for long after only a ban.

My guess is that Ernst will be dissuaded only by being shown, somehow, that he will not be able to slip in his deceptions without any prompt action being taken by moderators.

From my point of view, an ideal effective solution probably would be for moderators to monitor Ernst's postings -- especially in political threads -- to notice when his posts contain verbal manipulations/lies designed to deceive readers about the credibility of someone who had posted factual corrections*, and take some kind of immediate action or warning sufficient to let Ernst know that he can't get away with those. Also, delete the deceptions. (Of course, I volunteer to be subject to a similar scrutiny. But I don't try to deceive readers.) I regret that this would be intensive work for moderators; if I could think of an effective measure that didn't require much moderator attention, I'd have described it.

- - -

* By factual correction, I don't mean the sort of comments I'm making here now.

I mean postings such as linking and quoting an article that includes a factual refutation of some political claim Ernst made, or pointing out an error or flaw in Ernst's logic that isn't a personal comment about Ernst himself. Those are the sorts of non-personal-attacking posts I made, just after which Ernst started trying to deceive readers into not giving my posts credibility.

Last fiddled with by cheesehead on 2013-10-21 at 14:44
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Old 2013-10-21, 14:27   #6
cheesehead
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BudgieJane View Post
I just wish everybody would be polite to one another. We're not all experts in the field that you are, so if someone says something that you feel is outrageous, take a deep breath and politely explain what a load of rubbish it is, and why. It's easy to do.
I tried that at first. It doesn't work with Ernst.

Quote:
If you find it difficult, think of the person you're replying to as the head of state wherever you live.
Would that head of state actively try to deceive other people into thinking your objective criticisms (about factual matters) were to be ignored because (as he falsely accused) you had a mental disorder that prevented you from properly distinguishing reality? That's what Ernst is doing.

Quote:
You wouldn't be offensively rude to that person, would you? So don't be offensively rude here.
Ernst writes his attacks very smoothly, so that they don't immediately seem rude. I'm more direct, but I stick to the truth.

I've had previous direct experience with a couple of people who do the things Ernst does (though they didn't go nearly as far because they weren't doing it in mere forum discussion from hundreds of miles away) that I'm complaining about. They aren't deterred by ordinary, polite social measures. They change their behavior only when they know that others are aware of their deceptions and are watching them.

Last fiddled with by cheesehead on 2013-10-21 at 14:50
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Old 2013-10-21, 14:42   #7
retina
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cheesehead View Post
If you couldn't distinguish between offense and deliberate deception, that would be one thing. But I think you can recognize the difference, but are not saying so.
Okay I shall amend my post to this:

It's the Internet, everybody is going to try to offend and deceive you.

It doesn't make much difference though. It is just a minor extension to the point I was making that such things (bad actors on the Internet) are going to happen. And getting mad about it only affects the reader not the poster. I personally have much better things to get mad about than Internet postings in a fora or three.

I am not saying that you, cheesehead, are correct, or that Ernst is correct (I am not trying to takes sides here (I haven't even been following your discussions with each other)). And I am not implying that Ernst is a bad actor either. Just that bad actors do exist (either in reality, or only in our own interpretation) and we can only feel offended if we allow ourselves to be offended.

I enjoy a good intellectual discussion but once it starts to become an emotion discussion I move on to other things. Well, I try to do that. I don't always succeed, but the thought is there.
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Old 2013-10-21, 15:01   #8
cheesehead
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by retina View Post
Okay I shall amend my post to this:

It's the Internet, everybody is going to try to offend and deceive you.
You still don't have it. Ernst isn't trying to deceive _me_. He's trying to deceive others about my credibility.

Quote:
It doesn't make much difference though.
... unless it succeeds at convincing casual readers not to pay attention to someone else who posts factual corrections of false statements that the deceiver wants those readers to believe.

Quote:
It is just a minor extension to the point I was making that such things (bad actors on the Internet) are going to happen.
Yes, they are. Learning to detect when someone habitually and skillfully lies to them about someone else doesn't matter much -- unless it's a constant attack in a long-term forum like mersenneforum.org

Quote:
And getting mad about it only affects the reader not the poster.
Once again, you miss that Ernst is trying to deceive other readers, not me.

Quote:
I personally have much better things to get mad about than Internet postings in a fora or three.
Have you been character-attacked by someone who's trying to destroy your credibility?

Quote:
Just that bad actors do exist (either in reality, or only in our own interpretation) and we can only feel offended if we allow ourselves to be offended.
You still aren't getting it.

It's not a matter of my being offended. It's a matter of active malicious deception of others, about me, for the purpose of eliminating a critic who notices Ernst's factual mistakes about political matters and calls them to the attention of readers.

- - -

That's all from me for today here.
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Old 2013-10-21, 15:54   #9
chalsall
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cheesehead View Post
Have you been character-attacked by someone who's trying to destroy your credibility?
Speaking for myself, yes. Many times.

I have found that the best way to manage such situations is to find amusement in it, rather than get angry. One's responses to statements shows an aspect of one's character.

And, sometimes negative feedback is not entirely wrong; one might gain benefit from considering it.

If I may give some sincere constructive criticism Cheesehead, personally I find you come across a bit like someone who never figured out how to manage the school-yard bullies.

Namaste.
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Old 2013-10-21, 17:02   #10
firejuggler
 
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I'm going to side with retina. This is Internet, where the worst and the best of humanity gather. As a part of the worst, added to the fact that I do not know personnally any of you (the math above my head and the fact that i'm a non US citizen help too), nothing you say will be of utmost importance to me. And , even if you manage to offend me, ignore is easy.

Last fiddled with by firejuggler on 2013-10-21 at 17:02
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Old 2013-10-21, 19:57   #11
gd_barnes
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by retina View Post
Expect the worst and you won't ever be disappointed, and occasionally you will be delighted.
Expecting the worst in any endeavor is a terrible way to live. If you expect the worst, you will frequently get the worst. My motto:

Expect the best but always prepare for the worst.
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