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Posted: 19 February 2009 09:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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Ecrasez l’infame! - 19 February 2009 09:16 AM

I have a question for you, Dougsmith.  Technically, can this board develop secondary threads?  For example, if during a discussion there is a new diversion or the introduction of another, clearly different thought, can this board link the new direction to a new but branched thread so that the original thread can continue while the secondary thought is investigated by members as a new but associated thought?

Not that I know of.

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Posted: 19 February 2009 09:31 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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dougsmith - 19 February 2009 09:26 AM
Ecrasez l’infame! - 19 February 2009 09:16 AM

I have a question for you, Dougsmith.  Technically, can this board develop secondary threads?  For example, if during a discussion there is a new diversion or the introduction of another, clearly different thought, can this board link the new direction to a new but branched thread so that the original thread can continue while the secondary thought is investigated by members as a new but associated thought?

Not that I know of.

Can you find out from our technical support, please, sir?

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Posted: 19 February 2009 10:15 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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Quoting Ecrasez:

I have also been involved in BBS development and discussions since 1981.

  As have I.  However, since you have the experience and also seem to have quite a few objections to the structure, content, and members of this forum, it would seem only reasonable for you to start your own website and forum which you could admiinstrate as you desired.  I think Doug would let you post a link to that site so you could ask those members here who agree with your forum philosophy to switch to yours.

Occam

To correct quotation symbol.

[ Edited: 19 February 2009 04:34 PM by Occam ]
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Posted: 19 February 2009 11:43 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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I must ask, Chris, is your assessment based on any standardized assessment process or scientific reasoning, or is it simply a subjective impression?

It is solely a subjective impression, but it is based on an enormous amount of experience with BBS discussions. I have stayed here longer than anywhere else because this place provides the most penetrating and civil discussions.

I’ve been on this forum for only a short while and it seems to me that it depends, largely, on who is doing the debating as to whether there is a fostering of “serious disagreement while preserving good will,“ as the successful application of “one end we’re aiming for”.

Yes, there are better interlocutors and worse interlocutors. I have blacklisted just two people, and ignoring them insures that the remainder of the discussions are quite illuminating. I have had run-ins with a few people, but I have found that even those I have disagreed with remain pretty mature; I’ve been able to have fierce disagreements with both Vyazma and sate in one topic without feeling that any of that has bled over into other topics.

I’ve seen some miserable responses between members here, and have been the brunt of what I consider to be moderator group victimization, too.

I have not had that impression about moderator response to you. It’s almost impossible for you to make an objective assessment here, as you’re caught up in the middle of it. Just remember, we’re guests in their “home”, and we play by their rules. I find this intellectual salon a stimulating and educational place, and the rules they enforce do a good job of keeping it stimulating and educational. Moderating is a thankless task, because it is implemented in a primarily negative style. A moderator doesn’t interject comments such as “Gosh, X, that was a really civil response to a rather pointed comment!” A moderator instead injects comments such as “Gosh, X, that was a really pointed response. Please tone it down.” Like any cop, you don’t see the warm and cuddly side, you just see the enforcer side. So you have to make your assessment not on the explicit actions but on the overall resulting tone of discussion. And I think you have to admit, the tone of discussion here is truly excellent. If you can name a better site, please do!

Lastly, I have a tongue-in-cheek suggestion for the moderators: perhaps you should rate this site “OF” for “old fogey: nobody under 30 allowed”. I think that age mellows a lot of people and reduces the amount of flaming that goes on. I suspect that all the regulars here are old fogeys, or at least semi-fogeys. I can only recall a few whippersnappers here—and I don’t recall them adding much to the discussion. My conclusion: never trust anybody under 30 to discuss issues civilly.

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Posted: 19 February 2009 11:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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Occam - 19 February 2009 10:15 AM

Quoting Ecrasez: [qoute]I have also been involved in BBS development and discussions since 1981.

  As have I.  However, since you have the experience and also seem to have quite a few objections to the structure, content, and members of this forum, it would seem only reasonable for you to start your own website and forum which you could admiinstrate as you desired.  I think Doug would let you post a link to that site so you could ask those members here who agree with your forum philosophy to switch to yours.

Occam

Since I am staring into the maw of the bucket, I’m not sure that I would be able to complete the task you offer me.  But thank you for your kind suggestion.  I did help develop an international system known as IEARN (International Education and Resource Network) some years ago (please go look at it at http://www.iearn.org), it is now the largest educational forum/network in the world, functioning - when last I looked - in 114 countries and in as many languages.  The discussions are often very enlightening, and lead to some surprisingly successful projects on the ground.  Its structure is really quite amazing.  But it is for young people, so I backed out some years ago to let them get on with it - I found that my visions, knowledge, and ideas were just not up to their standards any more.  I also used to row and enjoyed crewing on weekends, but there came a time when the old bones held the boat back - so I withdrew from that, too, so that the younger members could get on with it.  One thing I’ve always thought is that there are too many of us who hang on too long in places where we hold others back; nowadays I keep warm, read my books, argue with my wife, talk to my sons and daughters (making quite sure they always make their own decisions, now), and participate on the CFI Forums to enjoy the companionship, thoughtfulness and thinking of others like me.

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Posted: 19 February 2009 04:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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Ecrasez l’infame! - 19 February 2009 09:31 AM

Can you find out from our technical support, please, sir?

Apparently this program does not do nested or treed threads. Really you can manage the same sort of structure by responding to a particular post in the thread rather than the OP.

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Posted: 19 February 2009 05:52 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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dougsmith - 19 February 2009 04:47 PM
Ecrasez l’infame! - 19 February 2009 09:31 AM

Can you find out from our technical support, please, sir?

Apparently this program does not do nested or treed threads. Really you can manage the same sort of structure by responding to a particular post in the thread rather than the OP.

Thank you, I appreciate the information.  The only problem is that you can’t extend the double discussion at the same time so comparisons and more complex arguments can be made.  If others respond to your particular tangential thought and it is off the original target, and they continue to do so, then the thread loses its original intent focus.  However, there could be some management methods which might help.  I want to think some more on this and I might come back with some suggestions if that is okay.

While I am responding to you, thank you also for moving my other thread.

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Posted: 24 February 2009 09:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
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REPORT 02/24/2009

USING HUMANIST ETHICS AND NON-LINEAR DISCUSSIONS IN A LINEAR ENVIRONMENT:

This consideration will begin with relevant definitions of terms.  These terms are important because they are central to the CFI system and the doctrines within which it should function as a humanist system.  They are also relevant because they are an integral part of the suggested measures for improvement.


Definition #1:  Humanism (from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humanism)

“Humanism is a broad category of ethical philosophies that affirm the dignity and worth of all people, based on the ability to determine right and wrong by appealing to universal human qualities, particularly rationality, without resorting to the supernatural or alleged divine authority from religious texts. It is a component of a variety of more specific philosophical systems. Humanism can be considered as a process by which truth and morality is sought through human investigation and as such views on morals can change when new knowledge and information is discovered. In focusing on the capacity for self-determination, humanism rejects transcendental justifications, such as a dependence on belief without reason, the supernatural, or texts of allegedly divine origin. Humanists endorse universal morality based on the commonality of the human condition, suggesting that solutions to human social and cultural problems cannot be parochial.”


The following terms within the first definition of Humanism are relevant:

Definition #2:  Ethical Philosophy (from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethics)

“Ethics is the major branch of philosophy that encompasses proper conduct and good living. It is significantly broader than the common conception of ethics as the analyzing of right and wrong. A central aspect of ethics is “the good life”, the life worth living or that is simply satisfying, which is held by many philosophers to be more important than moral conduct.”

Definition #3:  Rationalism (from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rationalism)

“In epistemology and in its modern sense, rationalism is “any view appealing to reason as a source of knowledge or justification” (Lacey 286). In more technical terms it is a method or a theory “in which the criterion of the truth is not sensory but intellectual and deductive” (Bourke 263). Different degrees of emphasis on this method or theory lead to a range of rationalist standpoints, from the moderate position “that reason has precedence over other ways of acquiring knowledge” to the radical position that reason is “the unique path to knowledge” (Audi 771). Given a pre-modern understanding of reason, “rationalism” is identical to philosophy, the Socratic life of inquiry, or the zetetic interpretation of authority (open to the underlying or essential cause of things as they appear to our sense of certainty). In recent decades, Leo Strauss sought to revive Classical Political Rationalism as a discipline that understands the task of reasoning, not as foundational, but as maieutic.”

Definition #4: Maieutics (from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maieutics)

“Maieutics (pronunciation in IPA: [mejutks]), by analogy is Maia, the eldest of the Pleiades, is a complex procedure of research. It is based on the idea that the truth is latent in the mind of every human being due to his innate reason but has to be “given birth” by answering questions (or problems) intelligently proposed. Normally it is thought that maieutics was created by the historical Socrates, because it is placed in the character of Socrates in the Theatetus of Plato.” 

Definition #5:  Epistemology (from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epistemology)

“Epistemology (from Greek - episteme, “knowledge” + “logos”) or theory of knowledge is the branch of philosophy concerned with the nature and scope (limitations) of knowledge. It addresses the questions:
  •  What is knowledge?
  •  How is knowledge acquired?
  •  What do people know?
  •  How do we know what we know?
Much of the debate in this field has focused on analyzing the nature of knowledge and how it relates to similar notions such as truth, belief, and justification. It also deals with the means of production of knowledge, as well as skepticism about different knowledge claims.
The term was introduced into English by the Scottish philosopher James Frederick Ferrier (1808–1864).”


There are three items which should be carefully considered to improve the CFI Forums and their associated threads:

1.  Information and Intention Provision
2.  Planning Procedures
3.  Suggested Structures

The CFI forums software is of a limited, largely linear, structure.  Therefore, technically it can be of no help in developing branched discussions.  The following recommendations are, therefore, limited to possibilities designed and developed by CFI forum members themselves as they use the software.

Currently, it is suggested, the linear nature of the CFI Forums software, the regulatory process - which includes “no discussion” decisions made by moderators and administrators, a list of “regulations” which may not be questioned, and which were (apparently) designed by a single administrator or group of administrators with little or no input from regular members, a continuing control structure, which again must remain unquestioned, and a response system and process which encourages no easy interactive reasoning - is antithetical to Humanist thinking and involvement.  In other words, this system itself and the way it is currently maintained is anti-humanistic:

• It discourages the questioning of ethical aspects of in-forum interaction including multiple member participation in decision-making.
• It does not use or encourage rational thinking because of its linear and administrator controlled format.
• It discourages true investigation and methods of information discovery and knowledge creation through open discussion and sharing.
• It ignores the “universality of the human condition” by rejecting the right of all members to participate in decision-making about its regulation, control and structure.
• While it welcomes the process of scientific research, its control structure and software form make it impossible for it to embrace this process itself (if systems can be called hypocritical - the CFI Forums are hypocritical).
•  Its form and the Laissez-faire attitude of its current members makes it extremely difficult to develop logical, formal reasoning strategies: induction, deduction and the use of maieutics related to common humanistic epistemology.

This is why the described procedures (as stated) need attention and could be used to improve the CFI Forums:


1.  Information and Intention Provision

When new members join this system, there are no instructions which explain what the system can be used for, how it can be used, and why it is different from other systems that offer similar options.  There is a list of regulations that is not humanistic but authoritarian, and, it is suggested, this is not acceptable.

The information and intention provision should embrace, absolutely, the humanist cause, value structure, and reasoning principles, which must be stated.  Regulations should be flexible and changeable combined with a process (biannually or annually) where regulations can be changed by member recommendation and simple majority vote.

Administrators/Moderators should be a part of a similar process where either they can nominate themselves or be nominated by members (biannually or annually), and where they are elected by members.

The Forums, themselves should be flexible, and open to change and much more careful usage.  For example, although this software is linear and inflexible, forums could be created which focus on one limited topic only, and any threads created within such limited forums could process information about its limited application until the function of the forum is exhausted, when it can be deleted or archived.


2.  Planning Procedures

Members should understand that this system is linear and that its structure does not easily support a true humanist approach to information development and knowledge creation through scientific research, open, branched discussions, and scientific method.

Here are some suggestions for members: 

a.  Plan you thread before you start it.
b.  Plan a start that explains what you are doing and how you intend to do it.
c.  State your intentions in the first statement of your thread including your targeted focus, how you would like the discussion to progress, what kind of statements you would like to see (opinions, quoted backups, references, open arguments etc.)
d.  Explain how long (time and length - such as number of responses) you want the thread to be.
e.  Explain that you will end by summarizing the thread responses or in whatever way you want to end it.
f.  Invite comment, but explain that you will not accept diversions (or hot air) and that if there are irrelevant comments you will intervene and bring the thread back on track.
g.  State that the summary at the end of this current thread will lead to a new thread.
h.  Name your threads carefully so that the names summarize your focus and do not mislead members.
i.  Remind members that this is a humanist forum and that you want responses to embrace humanist method, values and procedures (see the definitions provided).
j.  Offer a brief bibliography after the thread has begun so that members can look at some of the literature that might back up (or detract from) your arguments.
k.  Reject all personal comments or nasty and argumentative responses.


3.  Suggested Structures

a.  Linear discussion
b.  Linear discussion with forced ending, summary, and branching, associated threads.
c.  Several threads running parallel on similar, but slightly different topics and ended with a “summary thread” which takes all of the parallel threads, links them, and provides them with a common final discussion.
d.  “Limited use” forums with specified threads (no choice) which force the investigation into specific aspects of one limited subject and end in a thread summary.
e.  A Forum in which selected common threads from other forums are posted for further comment, discussion and conclusion.
f.  Linked forums created where they are tied directly to CFI’s projects and programs, and even to other programs outside the scope of CFI work and which may be of particular interest to members.

Why is it that we never see the CFI brass and scholars participating on the forums?  Are the forums that irrelevant or are they meant to be strictly for the CFI plebeian society so they all have a place to blabber?  Just a question!

It is suggested that this report be posted as a forum, discussed as a series of threads, and that summaries, common agreements and where other pieces of member recommendations be posted for debate.  If anything comes of this, changes should be made, and the CFI forums should continue as requested by members.

[ Edited: 26 February 2009 10:30 PM by Fat Man ]
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Posted: 24 February 2009 10:51 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
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Um, EL, could you present that in triplicate?

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Posted: 24 February 2009 11:55 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
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Wow, I thought this was just a forum where I could let my atheist hair down and have stimulating conversations and exchange of information with people I may or may not agree with and learn along the way! I left college a LONG time ago, and really have no interest in returning excepting for the occasional classes.

Do you plan to grade our posts too???

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Posted: 25 February 2009 09:46 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]
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Seriously, EI, you need to just run your own forum. You are clearly dissatisfied with this forum and you’re deluded if you think anyone is going to let you impose your particular notion of how they should should talk to each other. I’ve tried to engage you in discussion about your specific critiques before, but you ignore anything anyone says and continue to monolgue, so that is clearly pointless. The beauty of the internet is that it is enormous and cheap to participate in, so if you can’t find the milieu that suits you, you can create it.

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Posted: 25 February 2009 03:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]
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What is the purpose of such a thing, El?  It seem very imposing for starters and I agree with Brennen- start your own board.

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“Sometimes in order to see the light, you have to risk the dark.” ~ Iris Hineman (Lois Smith) The Minority Report

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Posted: 25 February 2009 05:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]
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I would never want to control the structure of my thread. Sometime I am introduced to lines of thought I would/could have never come up with on my own. I like the diversity of opinions and positions (even, sometimes, Bryan LOL ) the board represents. There is such a wide range of educational, professional, and life experiences among our members here.

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Posted: 25 February 2009 05:56 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]
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I agree, asanta, and sometimes I little levity in the conversation is good too.  Even if the thread diverges to a related subject, I don’t think that is a bad thing either- ie birth control diverging to say, the mother of 8 babies.

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“Sometimes in order to see the light, you have to risk the dark.” ~ Iris Hineman (Lois Smith) The Minority Report

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Posted: 26 February 2009 10:34 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 30 ]
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Chris Crawford - 24 February 2009 10:51 PM

Um, EL, could you present that in triplicate?

Sure, if it will help someone read it: keep a copy in your car, one in your bedroom, and one at work. 

I’m not suggesting that members have to follow it, but it may give some of them some ideas about how to do things differently and, if they are strict humanists, more ethically, than the current environment allows them to.  It may even get them thinking about developing their own ideas on how to be more productive on this forum.

I’m just trying (very trying)!

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