Be...excellent...to each other.

General discussions of interest to readers and fans of Harlan Ellison.

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AndrewR
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Re: Be...excellent...to each other.

Postby AndrewR » Tue Aug 05, 2014 12:12 pm

Ezra,

Was that directed to me, Frank, or Rick?

It's not my intent to rile, nor assign motive. If my comments did so, I apologize. I was only trying to point out why Rick's use of the ban hammer (albeit short term) was, in my opinion, an appropriate disciplinary action. You disagree. That's cool. That's why we talk right?
Andrew Rogers

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Ezra Lb.
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Re: Be...excellent...to each other.

Postby Ezra Lb. » Tue Aug 05, 2014 12:15 pm

No, sorry Andrew that was purely a response to Rick. I didn't see your post before I submitted.
“We must not always talk in the marketplace,” Hester Prynne said, “of what happens to us in the forest.”
-Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter

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Re: Be...excellent...to each other.

Postby admin » Tue Aug 05, 2014 2:23 pm

No, Ezra, you are one of my poster boys for good behavior. I think you express yourself strongly without getting personal.

But a key element your post was to express how troubling and unsatisfactory you find my position to be. You opened and closed with pretty strong statements to that effect. This, to me, indicates a pretty strong criticism for my plan of action. Maybe I am misinterpreting, but coming in here and suggesting we have LESS policing when I am saying I am about to shut this place down for its lack doesn't seem to be to be supportive, either.

I don't have a lot of time to fiddlefuck around these days, and my life is a bloody mess. If you come into the one thread on the forums where I'm trying to ask people for help getting this place under control, and suggest you're prefer if we just let the beasts run free, yes, you're going to get a response.

Besides, showing the logical repercussions of those statements while stopping shy of assigning motive what you are SUPPOSED to do in a discussion. Am I to be pilloried for ALMOST assigning motive? Come on man, I went 63 mph in a 65 zone yesterday, too. You'd better get used to it because when there are rules in place people make a regular practice of seeing how close to the piers they can ski.

If it makes you uncomfortable, proceed to defending suspending someone from private forums as a fundamental free speech issue.

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Ezra Lb.
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Re: Be...excellent...to each other.

Postby Ezra Lb. » Tue Aug 05, 2014 7:39 pm

Rick, how can I respond? When I write

I will obey the rules whether I agree with them or not. (I mostly do actually.)

how can you get from this that I don't think there should be any rules? How can you get from this that I am questioning your authority to run the board?

As far as "silence" goes, I simply note that Andrew took my meaning in his post so the confusion here can't simply be chalked up to my lack of communication skills.

Aren't you troubled by having to ban somebody from participating? Your very posts here demonstrate that you are. So should we all be. It means there's been a failure of communication, communication being the whole point here, right?

Seems to me it's time to ask some questions.

A. What is the purpose of this board?

B. Can this purpose be fulfilled?

C. Is it worth doing?

But as you say, I'm the least of your worries.
“We must not always talk in the marketplace,” Hester Prynne said, “of what happens to us in the forest.”
-Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter

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Re: Be...excellent...to each other.

Postby admin » Tue Aug 05, 2014 8:13 pm

That's fair, Ezra. I tried really hard to figure it out and I'm not a dumb guy, but as you say it is a silly thing to argue about. To answer your questions:

Banning: I'm not troubled by having to ban Rob, not at all. It's probably one of the most justifiable acts of my life. What troubles me are the events that precipitated it. To wit, the loss of one of the pillars of the community for over a decade.

Harlan: Harlan DOES NOT CARE about this place. Many times in the past, when we've discussed whatever shit sandwich I had to eat that week on behalf of the forums, he has suggested, sometimes begged, that I shut it down. My response has always been that I will let him know when it's too much. It's been too much.

A. I'm similarly clear on the purpose of this board, which is to provide the community of Ellison fans a haven where they can talk without the one-a-day restriction of the Pavilion.

B and C: I agree that these are the questions you should be collectively asking and answering.

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Re: Be...excellent...to each other.

Postby admin » Tue Aug 05, 2014 8:14 pm

It's been pointed out to me that I'm unclear on what I mean by policing the forums. I'm not referring to Steve Barber. What I am pointing out is there is no way he can possibly run herd on this group with the support you give him. I already see anything he does dissected and second-guessed and thrown back in his face again and again. I can only imagine what will happen when the leash tightens, so I cannot justifiably ask him to enforce stricter rules.

At this point, thanks to many of you guys, I have the site on hosting for the foreseeable future regardless of what happens to me. And the Pavilion is easy enough to manage. SO what I have left is this place. Someone has to step up.

I am living at a time of great personal disappointment and trials. I cannot take up the mantle. The amount of scorn, personal attack, physical threats, financial loss I have already undergone purely because of the existence of this place and the pavilion is ridiculous. Not to mention the lies and deception. I've lost weeks of my life. And the vast majority of the time it was because of shit that started on the forums or pavilion that I had NOTHING TO DO WITH. You cannot ask me to add to that burden.

For this community to be a friendly place will require that a few of you give 10% of what he has and continues to give, and that all of you collectively agree to be supportive. Despite it all, I want this place to be around and I want it to thrive. When things are good, it is a fascinating exchange of ideas. You guys are some of the smartest and best critical thinkers around.

But many of the best Ellison scholars and personal friends won't come here any more because they consider it poisonous. And Doug is the last straw. I will not have another man like that hurt on my watch. It's not acceptable. Find me a path where that does not happen again, and I will take it. If no one cares enough to even try, then I really feel like I would be making the right decision in shutting it down.

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Re: Be...excellent...to each other.

Postby AndrewR » Tue Aug 05, 2014 8:37 pm

My thoughts, in no particular order.

- Heavier policing. Unpalatable as it may be, immediate removal of posts found to be out-of-bounds, personal attacks, ad-hominem, etc. Leave a removal notice, also remove any replies to such posts if need be.

- Reorganize the Topics/threads. Politics should be moved to a "Soapbox" that may easily be avoided by those who wish to do so. Moderation would be lighter here, but not absent.

- More moderator support. As it is currently, there's Rick and Steve. That's it. They are overburdened and should have more assistance. A couple of associate moderators would reduce stress levels for all involved. (I'd be able to act as associate as it looks like I'll have some additional free time now that the loinfruit will be in school)

- Published and agreed upon posting guidelines. Makes it easier for the mods and the posters.

- Posting restrictions wherein repeat offender's postings must receive mod approval prior to public posting. (this is a possible throwaway, just a though really).
Andrew Rogers

"Anything more than 500 yds from the car just isn't photogenic." - Brett Weston

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Re: Be...excellent...to each other.

Postby cynic » Tue Aug 05, 2014 10:03 pm

hello all;
hope this works out for the benefit of everyone here, sorry to find some in distress.
Odd coincidence, I stopped by to find a lead to the discussion forum Rick referred to a while back, on addressing potential rules of conduct for the forum (back to the search in a moment.)

best wishes
follow your bliss,mike

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Chuck Messer
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Re: Be...excellent...to each other.

Postby Chuck Messer » Tue Aug 05, 2014 10:31 pm

Another possible tool: if a thread gets too toxic and people aren't listening to the moderator(s), said moderator could have the ability to lock down the thread to let things cool off. It can be for a 24 hour period.

Rick, I'm sorry you have gotten so much shit thrown your way because of this forum. It really sucks that people have to go so goddamn far to redress what is most likely a rather petty complaint. I appreciate these forums, even when it gets obnoxious. I can moderate at least part time, though much of it would have to be from work, which is where I am now.

Thanks to both Rick Wyatt and Steve Barber for this place. Even with its faults, there are other places far more barbaric.

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Re: Be...excellent...to each other.

Postby diane bartels » Tue Aug 05, 2014 10:35 pm

Rick, I wish I had the technical know how to help run this place. I don't. Andrew gave a good summary of some rules. Other than that, I just hope this place will continue.

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Ezra Lb.
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Re: Be...excellent...to each other.

Postby Ezra Lb. » Tue Aug 05, 2014 10:35 pm

Sorry I was going to drop out and let other people talk but I noticed that the counter shows that this thread has received (at the moment of this post) 200 hits. Assuming the counter is accurate, I make the same point I did before. A lot more people are reading this than are participating. Now I can understand why people lurk at the Pavilion. HE posts and it allows fans to keep up with the doings and goings on in Ellison Wonderland. But here? I'm kind of mystified.

Are these people lurking because they want to post and don't for some reason? If they're repelled then why do they pay attention at all?

Hey lurkers! If you want to participate what's stopping you? Give us the word. What are we doing wrong?

If you don't want to participate why do you nevertheless hang out and lurk? What are we doing right?

Those are not rhetorical questions.
“We must not always talk in the marketplace,” Hester Prynne said, “of what happens to us in the forest.”
-Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter

Mark Tiedemann
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Re: Be...excellent...to each other.

Postby Mark Tiedemann » Wed Aug 06, 2014 5:31 am

In my opinion, the chief problem with the fora is the same as with any of these online spaces---it's too easy to forget that people are attached to these little boxes of words. Even when one "knows better" there's a distance inherent in the form that renders the whole thing perversely akin to a Turing Test. I'm not sure how to deal with that other than take longer pauses before responding, but that brings up another, related, problem. Most people, I think, engage in "drive by" posting. I, for one, am doing others things during the day and dip in at odd moments to see what may be happening. Who knows what else may have happened in our lives in that hour or two or ten between one statement and the next? And rather than take the aforementioned pause, we respond RIGHT NOW because we don't know if we'll have a chance an hour later.

In any case, I've been in several of these places over the years and I have noticed that the trend follows a regular pattern. Everything is fine, good exchanges happen, then someone shows up and throws a lot of spaghetti. Sometimes this is really great and the new respondent is sincere and engaging, but a lot of times it may be someone who wants to appear smarter or better informed than he or she really is and when it becomes obvious that they aren't, then the invective emerges. Reasonable people work on this for a time, get tired, and leave. What remains is a field filled with what Milton called "blind mouths" shouting at each other. If they were other than that, they would leave, but that doesn't happen. It only takes a couple of them to drive off a dozen or a hundred worthy contributors.

I do not know how you police for that before it reaches the point of too late.

However, Rick has my full support. Whatever rules he lays down...

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Re: Be...excellent...to each other.

Postby Moderator » Wed Aug 06, 2014 7:24 am

This is good, so far. To the point made above, the lurkers really need to take the opportunity to tell us why you are reluctant to join the conversation.

Rick is absolutely correct in the need for community policing. Do not hesitate to call people out for improper posting. All too often a misunderstood, or deliberately provocative, post is met with argument --reverse flaming -- rather than policing. That builds upon itself to the point we have Doug leaving the boards, and Rob earning a ban.

Neither of which is healthy for this place. Nor is the attitude of being angry about something and simply leaving versus fighting to make it better. We have to, collectively, take ownership of the Forums and make them what WE want.

My buck and a quarter.

Otherwise, Andrew and Chuck would be excellent "assistants" and I would gladly welcome the help. Thank you both for stepping up.

If we can take advantage of this pause and rebuild something better it's to everyone's benefit.
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Re: Be...excellent...to each other.

Postby Moderator » Wed Aug 06, 2014 7:37 am

By way of general announcement, Rob has earned a permanent ban for violating Rick's specific instructions.
- I love to find adventure. All I need is a change of clothes, my Nikon, an open mind and a strong cup of coffee.

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Re: Be...excellent...to each other.

Postby Rick Keeney » Wed Aug 06, 2014 7:45 am

admin wrote:What troubles me are the events that precipitated it. To wit, the loss of one of the pillars of the community for over a decade.


This bothers me in more ways than one. I look at a few quality people who have left Jan, David Loftus, Mark Goldberg and it frustrates me no end. Then I read this:

FrankChurch wrote:I am going to wait for Ezra's response but I will say there are posters who used to come here that I am glad they no longer post, because I found them severely thin skinned and lacking in respect for norms of Socratic dialogue. I will not name names and I do not mean Doug or Andrew, I mean distant posters from the past.

Just remember guys that nothing I post here is meant with immoral intent. We all have moments of idiocy.

We do follow a certain writer who actually broke someones pelvis.


And this:

FrankChurch wrote:Wyatt, you may not believe this but we do like you. I don't agree with some of what you said, but this ain't my room. Be good.


And there sits the 800 pound gorilla.

I think for things to change here, Frank needs to get his shit together. From now on.

Doesn't the concept of Socratic dialogue hinge upon responding to one's detractors? In over 15,000 posts, how many times has Frank done that? That's just one glaringly obvious point about his behavior. And we don't all have quite so many "moments of idiocy." And few of us bait people the way Frank does.

If Frank is allowed to continue behaving this way then I agree with Rick. I think "burning this place down" is a viable and wholly acceptable option.

That said, just tell me how I can help. My confusion and disgust over this issue do not detract in the least from my fondness for this place.

Rick, you're one of the most reasonable and generous people I know. I appreciate everything you do here. And I am chagrined to hear of your personal struggles. I hope things get better for you...today.


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