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1timspalding
Edited: Jun 24, 2010, 7:02am Top

Okay, I've gone ahead and made fairly significant edits to the Privacy / Terms of Use page. Except for the no-personal-information rule, discussed elsewhere, nothing truly new has been added, but I've reorganized, condensed, expanded, rewritten and brought it up to data a fair amount.

Current version:
http://www.librarything.com/privacy

Previous version:
http://www.librarything.com/privacy_20100624.php

Wiki page, comparing the two:
http://www.librarything.com/wiki/index.php?title=Terms_of_Use&diff=28052&amp...

Unfortunately, the wiki page can't detect the reordering, so it marks a lot of stuff as inserted and deleted that is really just moved.

Comments appreciated.

2Bookmarque
Jun 24, 2010, 7:07am Top

You're up early. :) Having a gander now. Well not a bird, a look. Oy vey I need coffee.

3timspalding
Jun 24, 2010, 7:08am Top

Oy vey I need coffee

You, sir, are a genius. I was wondering what was wrong with me.

4vaneska
Edited: Jun 24, 2010, 7:11am Top

In the copyright section, in the sentence after the bolded bit, do you intend to say 'you do not restrict what you can do with it'? Don't you mean 'WE do not restrict...'?

v

eta: or perhaps you did mean that but it could be worded better?

5timspalding
Edited: Jun 24, 2010, 7:18am Top

No, I mean "you." But, yes, suggest something better or I will. The point, incidentally, is that Shelfari's TOS once seemed to assert they owned the copyright on stuff you posted—like you were some kind of unpaid staff writer, with "work for hire" terms. People often don't understand the distinction between giving us the right to use the review, and keeping your other rights.

Oh, members shall not delay me from coffee. Two points from Gryffindor!

Incidentally, I should have made that allusion somewhere. Anyone want to suggest some allusions to stick in there? I enjoy its slightly whacky tone, like it was written by a lawyer going to pieces.

6DaynaRT
Jun 24, 2010, 7:19am Top

"We will not use this for anything other than explicitly agreed to."

Something is missing at the end of this sentence. "anything other than what is explicitly agreed to" maybe?

7vaneska
Edited: Jun 24, 2010, 7:25am Top

5: So what you are saying is that while LT can use stuff posted by members, this does not impose any restriction on how members use their own stuff. Your last sentence hits it pretty close.

v

8justjim
Jun 24, 2010, 7:26am Top

Coffee? That's for the a.m. I'm enjoying a glass of red. I'm only on to my second glass though and I'm not sure I can tell all the differences between the original and the June 24 version (even with the side by side).

Would you hit the highlights for us, please?

9timspalding
Jun 24, 2010, 7:29am Top

>8 justjim:

*Reordering
*Rewriting
*Social rules grouped together and clarified
*The new language about personal attacks
*Mandatory drug tests

10justjim
Jun 24, 2010, 7:31am Top

Right. Thanks.

*Mandatory drug tests
Is being drugged a pass or a fail?

11reading_fox
Jun 24, 2010, 7:32am Top

Seems ok to me.

You've taken out the 'don't be a jerk' phrase though?! This I always thought was a useful guideline.

12timspalding
Jun 24, 2010, 7:35am Top

I did. The point about "Don't be a jerk" wasn't what some thought. It was a list of items that were obviously wrong. We'd add to it when new, idiotic abuses came up—like the person who took the user name "LibraryThing" or "fucktim" or whatever it was.

I agree it's a good guidelines. We could put it in the "Good advice" section. But it's not a Terms of Service violation to be a jerk.

13anglemark
Jun 24, 2010, 7:55am Top

This message has been deleted by its author.

14anglemark
Jun 24, 2010, 7:55am Top

But it's not a Terms of Service violation to be a jerk.

More's the a pity.

"Thou, sir, art a Jeurke and hast ybroken the Termes of Agreemaunt. Herewith I caste thee out!

15paulhurtley
Jun 24, 2010, 7:57am Top

Possible typo: in 'Good advice', should 'political religious dispute' be 'political or religious dispute' ?

16paulhurtley
Jun 24, 2010, 8:00am Top

In 'How to deal with abuse' you say a many-flagged post will be deleted. Is this true? I thought the post will be hidden.

17timspalding
Jun 24, 2010, 8:00am Top

An editing problem. I think I'll pick "political."

18timspalding
Jun 24, 2010, 8:01am Top

In 'How to deal with abuse' you say a many-flagged post will be deleted. Is this true? I thought the post will be hidden.

There are two levels. Hidden and then removed. I'll clarify.

19MrAndrew
Jun 24, 2010, 8:16am Top

>#5: Anyone want to suggest some allusions to stick in there?

hmmm. Don't know if i can contribute there, but i can help to bump up the slightly wacky tone.

Privacy Policy (as written by LibraryThing's crack team of slightly deranged lawyers)

The law

We take reader privacy very seriously. LibraryThing will not cooperate with US law enforcement unless compelled to do so by law. If you are using LibraryThing from a foreign country (ie not the USA) with an oppressive government (ie America in the 1950s), LibraryThing urges you not to put yourself at risk. Big Brother is watching you.

Freedom of discussion and personal attacks
* LibraryThing has no speech code. You can dispute ideas and words without limitation. However, you should be aware that many members are particular regarding spelling and syntax. Be careful with your lols and smiley faces. You have been warned. kthxbye.

Good advice

Consider the context before posting. A political religious dispute does not belong in a knitting group. A knitting discussion does not belong in a crotchet group. A crotchet discussion does not belong... anywhere. Get a life.

System integrity What are you doing, Dave?

Lifetime memberships Note: Sparkly vampires excluded

What, more? Please Sir, Can I Have More?

20DaynaRT
Jun 24, 2010, 8:22am Top

Also, where are the fnords?

21justjim
Jun 24, 2010, 8:30am Top

LibraryThing's crack team of slightly deranged lawyers
None of whom have ever been called to the bar except to discuss their tab, and all of whom delight, absolutely delight in using the acronym 'IANAL'.

(ie America in the 1950s), LibraryThing urges you not to put yourself at risk. Big Brother is watching you.
*cough* Patriot Act *cough*

A crotchet discussion does not belong... anywhere. Get a life.
You are so going to get a crochet hook in the ear when you least expect it for that one!

Lifetime memberships Note: Sparkly vampires excluded
We need to get the team of slightly deranged lawyers onto this. What about the other undead/vitally challenged?

22lilithcat
Jun 24, 2010, 8:56am Top

As a LibraryThing reviewer, you have the power to control whether their reviews are publicly available.

Should this not read "whether your reviews are publicly available"??

By posting to LibraryThing you let us use, but you do not restrict what you can do with it.

Ack! Very confusing sentence. I'd change it to "you let us use your content".

Egregious commercial solicitation is forbidden.

So does this mean that non-egregious commercial solicitation is okay? If so, where's the line?

Do not create "pointless," "meaningless" or "random" groups.

Why the quotation marks?

23timspalding
Edited: Jun 24, 2010, 9:08am Top

Thanks. As you can tell, it needed some edits. I'll make them.

So does this mean that non-egregious commercial solicitation is okay? If so, where's the line?

We're always working on that, aren't we? Talking about your book is fine. It's a book site. Pushing your book over and over and not listening, etc. isn't. That's why I linked to the thing.

Do not create "pointless," "meaningless" or "random" groups.

No, that's what they call them—especially "random" (or "ramdom"). I never really looked into it, but I think it's some sort of convention, as far as 12 year-olds have conventions.

24lilithcat
Jun 24, 2010, 9:15am Top

I think it's some sort of convention, as far as 12 year-olds have conventions.

Can you imagine? Thousands of 12-year-olds, holding workshops and listening to panel discussions on "Who's cuter? Edward or Jacob?", "Hw2txtmsg", "How to tell if he likes you!"

The horror, the horror! (And I say that as a former 12-year-old.)

25DaynaRT
Jun 24, 2010, 9:17am Top

Under "Other rules"

"Talk allows you to click something to see the flagged content."

The word something feels like a placeholder. How about something like "Talk allows you click through to see the flagged content."

26timspalding
Jun 24, 2010, 9:17am Top

Justin Bieber could deliver the keynote address.

27Foretopman
Jun 24, 2010, 9:24am Top

"If you believed you were flagged unfairly"

You probably meant "If you believe you were flagged unfairly"

28infiniteletters
Jun 24, 2010, 9:28am Top

"We will not use this for anything other than explicitly agreed to."

to

"We will not use this for anything without your explicit agreement."

29skittles
Jun 24, 2010, 9:31am Top

#9 & 10: Regarding the drug testing, is caffeine considered a banned substance, not banned substance or a required substance, in our test results? What other substances are required in our drug tests? Can I take the written instead of the participatory version?

30infiniteletters
Jun 24, 2010, 9:32am Top

25: ""Talk allows you to click a link to show the flagged content." ?

"Users of all ages are warned not to provide profile information without weighing the risks and benefits, and never to provide their phone number, address or other critical personal data on-line." -> "never to provide ... publicly."
*cough* Early Reviewers *cough*

31justjim
Jun 24, 2010, 9:34am Top

#30 *harumph* Hobnob with Authors *getoffofmylawn*

32majkia
Jun 24, 2010, 9:46am Top

I think you should warn poor unsuspecting newbies of Pedants (they prey upon newbies) and the fact that everyone here but me is OCD. ;-)

33anglemark
Jun 24, 2010, 9:55am Top

We could swap "flag" for "flog" throughout the site, for some rum,sodomy&thelash spice to it.

34justjim
Jun 24, 2010, 9:59am Top

The pedants of Pedants' corner would rather discuss 'prey' v 'pray' than worry about newbies.

Most of them (OK, us) consider OCD to be an incorrect appellation. We prefer 'CDO', which is much the same disorder, but the letters are in alphabetical order, AS THEY SHOULD BE!!

35keristars
Edited: Jun 24, 2010, 10:32am Top

34> To be pedantic, that joke has never made any sense to me. An obsession with alphabetic order despite context does not OCD/pedantry make.

To the main topic: despite being dead set against most of the suggestions regarding private comments and publication thereof, I'm satisfied with how it was settled. I do miss the dig at Yahoo! in China, though. There was something about the "Shame on them." at the end of the paragraph that added a lot of character and "this is how antithetical such a thing is to LT" to it. If that could somehow be restored, even without the dig...

36AnnaClaire
Jun 24, 2010, 10:39am Top

A knitting discussion does not belong in a crotchet group. A crotchet discussion does not belong... anywhere. Get a life. (#19)

You're just asking to be painfully assaulted with hooks and pointy sticks here.

37jjwilson61
Edited: Jun 24, 2010, 1:46pm Top

Avoid quoting or otherwise exposing private communication. While this does not necessarily violate the Terms of Service, you should consider whether it qualifies as a personal attack or a disclosure of private information.

I thought you had agreed to change "private communication" to "confidential communication" on the grounds that just because a profile comment had been posted with private set it does not necessarily mean that the comment is confidential.

ETA: The post where I thought you had agreed was: http://www.librarything.com/topic/93401#2043571

38justjim
Jun 24, 2010, 10:48am Top

An obsession with alphabetic order despite context does not OCD/pedantry make.

Oh yes it does!

I do miss the dig at Yahoo! in China, though.

I'd rather LT wasn't too smug about situations like that.

39keristars
Jun 24, 2010, 11:16am Top

I'd rather LT wasn't too smug about situations like that.

Yeah, it is overall better to not have it, but like I said, there was something about the Shame on them. part that underscored, for me, how LT stands when it comes to censorship and the Big Brother thing. I'd like to see the italics part restored somehow, even if it were changed to not be a dig at other parties (presumably unnamed, without specifics, in the new version) yet maintained that "this is so antithetical to what we believe that we don't even think it should need mentioning" feel.

40rsterling
Jun 24, 2010, 11:23am Top

I may have missed it, but I didn't see anything in the Terms about not spam/mass-friending, i.e. not sending out hundreds of friend invites at a time. I know there's something about this on the "What authors should and shouldn't do" page, but it seems like this would be appropriate for the TOS as well. The obvious place to add this would be with the sentence about mass commenting or mass group invites.

41staffordcastle
Jun 24, 2010, 11:51am Top

Under Payment Details: "credit cards numbers" should be "credit card numbers", right?

42KingRat
Jun 24, 2010, 12:43pm Top

I know it's in the old TOS as well as the new, but since you are updating I'll give you my pet peeve about it.

The first paragraph of the copyright section conflicts with the last paragraph. The first says LT can use stuff I post here however it wants. The last says that I can control who LT gives my reviews to. Both cannot be true.

43JGKC
Jun 24, 2010, 12:44pm Top

@ 18

Has this been clarified yet?

Looking at the new Terms of Use, my impression is that potentially abusive posts will be deleted after being flagged by four different users. But why are the posts to be deleted instead of hidden? Is this not problematic due to potentially deleting non-abusive posts?

44readafew
Jun 24, 2010, 12:52pm Top

43 > I believe all permanent deletion happens manually by staff.

45lorax
Jun 24, 2010, 1:11pm Top

23>

Do not create "pointless," "meaningless" or "random" groups.

"Pointless", "meaningless", and "random" chatter in existing groups, however, is totally okay? We've been told any number of times that teenagers using Book Talk as their private chat room are not flaggable, usually with missing-the-point statements about grammar not being a flaggable offense. I'd rather see them in their own groups than in Book Talk, myself.

46lilithcat
Jun 24, 2010, 1:33pm Top

> 45

The question really is: is "off-topic" talk flaggable. Teenagers aren't the only ones who do that.

47AnnaClaire
Jun 24, 2010, 1:39pm Top

>46 lilithcat:
And would it be flaggable in the Off Topic group? Or would on-topic talk be flaggable there?

<ducks and covers>

48_Zoe_
Jun 24, 2010, 2:07pm Top

I'd rather see them in their own groups than in Book Talk, myself.

I've found that this problem can easily be avoided; just don't look at Book Talk. It's not surprising that the level of discourse in the default group is lower than elsewhere, and it's not all the fault of "random", "meaningless" posts from teenagers.

49timspalding
Jun 24, 2010, 2:07pm Top

The first paragraph of the copyright section conflicts with the last paragraph. The first says LT can use stuff I post here however it wants. The last says that I can control who LT gives my reviews to. Both cannot be true.

The old one said something like "except when constrained by other promises, as with reviews, below" or something. I suppose you want that in there?

43 > I believe all permanent deletion happens manually by staff.

Enough flags and its totally hidden. There is no difference between deletion and permanent hiding in a digital environment.

"Pointless", "meaningless", and "random" chatter in existing groups, however, is totally okay? We've been told any number of times that teenagers using Book Talk as their private chat room are not flaggable, usually with missing-the-point statements about grammar not being a flaggable offense. I'd rather see them in their own groups than in Book Talk, myself.

Sorry, it's not flaggable. The problem with the "ramdom" groups was the abuse of the group system--duplicative groups, with "group" used as a sort of game. If teenagers want to make a single such group and yammer on it, fine.

The question really is: is "off-topic" talk flaggable. Teenagers aren't the only ones who do that.

No. It's too hard to know what's off topic. And anyway sometimes the off-topic is more interesting.

Or would on-topic talk be flaggable there?

We should have a group where all your posts start out flagged, and people have to flag them to see them.

50sqdancer
Jun 24, 2010, 2:13pm Top

We should have a group where all your posts start out flagged, and people have to flag them to see them.

Is that an allusion to next year's April Fools Day prank?

51timspalding
Jun 24, 2010, 2:16pm Top

OOh, I like it.

52justjim
Jun 24, 2010, 2:18pm Top

Arrr!

Oops, sorry.

53JGKC
Edited: Jun 24, 2010, 5:48pm Top

@ 49

When a post has been deleted or permanently hidden is that when we get the "this message has been flagged by multiple users and is no longer displayed (show)" placeholder? Or is it actually a case of no longer being able to read the flagged message at all.

If the former, then I think the wording of the Terms of Use should be changed to indicate that the post is hidden and not deleted (the two actually are different). If the latter, how many flags does it take before the post in question is deleted?

edited for punctuation

54jjwilson61
Jun 24, 2010, 3:13pm Top

49> Enough flags and its totally hidden.

Wow, I don't think I've ever seen that*. How many flags does that take?

*Or is it hidden to such an extent that you can't even see the smoking crater where it once was?

55lorax
Jun 24, 2010, 5:06pm Top

50>

"Pointless", "meaningless", and "random" chatter in existing groups, however, is totally okay? We've been told any number of times that teenagers using Book Talk as their private chat room are not flaggable, usually with missing-the-point statements about grammar not being a flaggable offense. I'd rather see them in their own groups than in Book Talk, myself.

Sorry, it's not flaggable. The problem with the "ramdom" groups was the abuse of the group system--duplicative groups, with "group" used as a sort of game. If teenagers want to make a single such group and yammer on it, fine.


That was my understanding, but the quoted excerpt omitted the key word "duplicative" that used to be there; was that an error in quoting, or an actual change?

56infiniteletters
Jun 24, 2010, 5:29pm Top

I agree with 53. This needs clarification.

57timspalding
Jun 24, 2010, 5:41pm Top

>55 lorax:

No, good. Thanks.

58jjwilson61
Jun 24, 2010, 6:23pm Top

56> And Tim has already said that he'd clarify way back in 18. Give him some time.

59PhaedraB
Jun 24, 2010, 6:25pm Top

Time? Time on the Internet? Post 18 was forever ago in Interwebs years.

60proximity1
Edited: Jun 25, 2010, 12:23pm Top

So, I wonder,

How many members "good and true" suffice to

a) "hide" a comment?

and,

b) "eliminate" definitively a comment?

Here, I'll answer that! :



•If you come across an abusive post, click the "flag abuse" link. The flag will be visible only after it has been flagged twice. After four different users have flagged a post, it will be deleted.



Wow! Four "users" can push any post off into oblivion. What does this mean, then, in effect?

It means that the "level of tolerance" here for unpopular opinion---since, recall that popular opinion isn't under threat---unpopular opinion here can't go coloring more outside the acceptable "lines" than what any four individuals consider, in their complete discretion, to be fit and proper for the rest of us to be allowed to read .

Is it just me or is that an absurdly low bar for censor-happy authoritarians to have to clear?

Is there a better way to signal to the readership that the frank expression of unconventional thinking will very likely not be easily tolerated here and that, to be on the "safe side", better try and refrain from writing something that four others might read and object to.

Oh, and those of you who, by your iconoclast tendencies, make yourselves "known for being a boat-rocker"?--- You lot now are susceptible to easy targeting upon the simple formation of a posse of any four like-minded friends who, once formed, and once on 'your trail', can target your commentaries and mercilessly sink them into non-view. But, hey, be of good cheer because, while any four "users" who happen to have a grudge against you can eliminate your posts, they can't, for all that, call you a bad name.

Whew. That was close!

61MrAndrew
Jun 25, 2010, 12:35pm Top

and i've heard, that some people, even eat their red jellybeans last!

The horror!

Excuse me, i must now go write a letter to the editor predicting the end of civilisation as we now know it.

62lorax
Jun 25, 2010, 12:42pm Top

60>

Don't be ridiculous.

For one thing, anything flagged is still readable. For another, anything flagged can be counter-flagged. For a third, even the slightest controversy about whether something is flagged that shouldn't have been draws tremendous antipathy toward the flaggers and sympathy toward the flagged.

63_Zoe_
Jun 25, 2010, 1:00pm Top

>60 proximity1: You're not some bold iconoclast deserving sympathy for being oppressed by others, only a borderline troll deliberately avoiding the inconvenient facts that were explained to you before when you posted an almost-identical rant.

Posts are hidden, not deleted. I believe only threads where the first post is flagged away and hasn't generated a single response actually disappear, along with messages from users who have been banned from the site, which happens very rarely. See all the widespread confusion in this very thread about the mention of deletion.

And counter-flagging means that four flaggers aren't enough even to hide a post; you need four more flaggers than counter-flaggers.

No, the issues don't lie with "censor-happy authoritarians" or some wide rejection of "unconventional thinking", but with your decision to ignore the facts when they don't fit your argument. Do you really wonder why people don't seem to be listening?

64JGKC
Jun 25, 2010, 1:04pm Top

@ 62

It's not ridiculous, Tim used the terms "deletion" and "permanently hidden" and some of us just want to know if the old system is still in place (the one that you describe) or if it has been replaced by a seemingly more problematic one.

65JGKC
Jun 25, 2010, 1:10pm Top

@ 63

What exactly has been explained so far? Any confusion in this thread is a direct result of the poorly worded Terms of Service and/or Tim further confusing the issue by using terms such as "deleted" and "permanently hidden."

66jjwilson61
Edited: Jun 25, 2010, 1:13pm Top

I'm quite certain that the changes to the TOS are only meant to make it more clear and do not indicate any changes in the coding of the site.

67_Zoe_
Jun 25, 2010, 1:52pm Top

>63 _Zoe_: Message 60 has nothing to do with any new confusion (which, as jjwilson says, is almost certainly just an issue of wording that doesn't reflect a change in how the site works). That user has posted almost exactly the same thing in the past; it's a generic rant that's only marginally related to the issue under discussion here. Mention of flagging? Cue rant on the evils of censorship and the oppression of minority viewpoints, complete with apparently-deliberate misrepresentation of how the system works. Nope, I'm not impressed.

68proximity1
Edited: Jun 26, 2010, 6:50am Top

If I've misinterpreted the copy, then, as Steve Martin would say, whoa-a-a-a-a-a--- e-x-c-u-u-u-u-u-u-s-e me,

but, so far, I see it just as JGKC's posts indicate he (or she) does.

If there's no difference between "hidden" (hidden from view but still accessible,) and, on the other hand, "deleted", "permanently hidden", then why not make that evident by using consistent terms?

Simple, no?

69_Zoe_
Jun 26, 2010, 7:50am Top

This message has been flagged by multiple users and is no longer displayed (show)
>68 proximity1: Yes, and I think it will eventually be clarified. In the meantime we can test by flagging this post, which will have the added benefit of drawing staff attention to the question.

*insert name-calling here*

70Bookmarque
Jun 26, 2010, 7:55am Top

Insert it where???? why you!! @#^#@^&*#**%$#!

71staffordcastle
Jun 26, 2010, 3:19pm Top

>69 _Zoe_: I can still reveal it after 14 flags.

72_Zoe_
Jun 26, 2010, 4:29pm Top

Well, at least the facts are clear, even if the staff don't seem to be policing flagrant ToS violations today. I assume Tim will eventually come and fix the wording.

73proximity1
Jun 27, 2010, 10:07am Top


at "18" flags, the post can still be viewed when "show" is clicked on.

So it would appear, at the least, that something more than 18 flags are required to make a post unviewable, or, it remains accessible though "hidden" no matter how many flags it gets.

74proximity1
Edited: Jun 27, 2010, 10:21am Top

> 61 "The horror!"

Quite.

By the way, is there any emphasis intended on "red" ? If not, then why the "...even..." --as though some other color is commonly known to be supposed to be saved and eaten last?

And also by the way, "jellybeans" should be hyphenated --in my opinion, "Andrew"

;^)

***

" decades! but shouldn't there be a hyphen?
— po, Nov 13 2007" http://www.halfbakery.com/idea/Jellybean_20Numerosity_20and_20Pumpkin_20Weight_2...

***

75MikeBriggs
Edited: Jun 29, 2010, 4:17pm Top

69> Interesting. I used that as a test of counter-flagging and nothing happened. Same number of flags and same number next to the flags. (it was at 18 before and after I counter-flagged it)

76lorax
Jun 29, 2010, 4:18pm Top

75>

Don't counter-flags only count as half?

77JGKC
Jun 29, 2010, 4:36pm Top

@ 76

Well, I just counter-flagged the message and it seems that you're right.

Which just makes the flagging system all the more ridiculous! Why should an opinion on one side be worth more than an opinion on the opposing side?

78MrAndrew
Jun 29, 2010, 4:38pm Top

... because i'm on one side?

79lorax
Edited: Jun 29, 2010, 4:54pm Top

77>

The idea is that the asymmetric situation prevents gaming the system and flag-wars -- anything that's actually misflagged will be regarded as such by a large majority, and flags will quickly disappear, but this raises the bar for sock-puppet unflagging of actually bad posts. Really, I think counterflagging is a rare scenario -- most people are extremely conservative about what they flag.

80JGKC
Jun 29, 2010, 5:09pm Top

@ 79

Maybe users are conservative about what they flag and maybe they aren't but the fact remains that whether a post should be flagged is, at least sometimes, just an opinion and it seems pretty wrong to give one side more power than the other, especially since people are more likely to flag a post once they see that the post has already been flagged.

If it's true that the majority of users will flag properly, then changing the system so counter-flagging is equal to flagging will give you the same results but in a more just manner.

But I think most people here know that flagging is often used improperly and the current system is not adequate to deal with such situations.

81proximity1
Edited: Jun 30, 2010, 6:30am Top

> 79

"the asymmetric situation prevents gaming the system and flag-wars -- anything that's actually misflagged will be regarded as such by a large majority, and flags will quickly disappear"...

LOL!

Hey, by the way: I also have it on the very highest authority (that of the longest-serving Chairman of the Board of the Federal Reserve, none other than the most august and esteemed Alan Greenspan) that financial markets automatically self-correct in such a way that price bubbles are preëmpted by skeptical traders who foresee the bubble's dangerous expansion and sell in quantities which bring the "fever" down to normal. Or, in mortal parlance, "markets can't crash and burn". Isn't that nice?

And so, by that same reasoning, I see the inherent and unanswerable logic of your claim. As I understand it, 'the wisdom' (and, in this case, the impeccable moral judgment ) of crowds" will "save us" from something that otherwise looks very much like "hive-mind" thinking, particularly in its intolerant and self-satisfying form when controversies are involved.

I really loved your explanation. Now I understand the answer not only to "Why Are We In Iraq?" but also, "Why Are We Still In Iraq?"

82prosfilaes
Jun 30, 2010, 7:34am Top

#81: Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.

83proximity1
Jun 30, 2010, 8:13am Top

This message has been flagged by multiple users and is no longer displayed (show)

What's that annoying buzzing noise?

"Message hidden because you blocked the member (show)."

Oh!, never mind.

84jjmcgaffey
Jun 30, 2010, 2:47pm Top

Oh, what a good idea. Bye.

85timspalding
Edited: Jul 1, 2010, 2:59pm Top

My head may explode at the notion of TOS violations when discussing the TOS.

86Jesse_wiedinmyer
Jul 1, 2010, 3:55pm Top

The series converges at least.

87JGKC
Jul 2, 2010, 2:35am Top

@ lorax/Tim/anyone else

Is flagging message 83 an example of how "most people are extremely conservative about what they flag?"

88anglemark
Jul 2, 2010, 3:35am Top

>87 JGKC::

Heh. Touché. To me that message was (like many of proximity1's messages) rude and obnoxious, but not flaggable.

89proximity1
Edited: Jul 2, 2010, 8:27am Top

> 88 notices how > 87 mentions the examples which come, ironically, from the flag's on > 83 and which support the insights previously expressed clearly and calmly and without sarcasm in 80. Interestingly enough, there were no flags on 83 prior to the post of a negative opinion of it in 84 --

and since the posting of 80 no one has presented any worthy rebuttal of those insights. And my strong hunch is that if flags appeared with the IDs of those responsible for them, the validity of the insights in 80 would become even more glaringly apparent. How interesting it would be to know who thought it fit to flag 83 as improper. But, here at LT, those who flag posts need bear no responsibility for flagging a comment. Imagine how different things might be if members had to assume responsibility for the flags they post.

It's interesting, too, in reading over the above comments, to notice Paul Krugman's New York Times column of today. Krugman's case in point happens to come from thinking about a different matter but his general point is very broadly applicable,



July 1, 2010

Myths of Austerity

By PAUL KRUGMAN

"When I was young and naïve, I believed that important people took positions based on careful consideration of the options. Now I know better. Much of what Serious People believe rests on prejudices, not analysis. And these prejudices are subject to fads and fashions.

"Which brings me to the subject of today’s column. For the last few months, I and others have watched, with amazement and horror, the emergence of a consensus in policy circles in favor of immediate fiscal austerity. That is, somehow it has become conventional wisdom that now is the time to slash spending, despite the fact that the world’s major economies remain deeply depressed.

"This conventional wisdom isn’t based on either evidence or careful analysis. Instead, it rests on what we might charitably call sheer speculation, and less charitably call figments of the policy elite’s imagination — specifically, on belief in what I’ve come to think of as the invisible bond vigilante and the confidence fairy."

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/02/opinion/02krugman.html?_r=1&hp=&pagewa...



90prosfilaes
Jul 2, 2010, 6:46am Top

#89: I'll accept responsibility for flagging it. Can you come up with an interpretation that doesn't make that that message a pure attack on another user in an attempt to stop him from posting?

91EveleenM
Jul 2, 2010, 7:03am Top

#90
To me, it came across as saying 'Nyah, nyah, I've blocked you!': an announcement of what they'd done rather than an attempt to stop you from posting. It certainly didn't strike me as flaggable.

92anglemark
Jul 2, 2010, 7:15am Top

Yeah, it's what on usenet used to be called plonking, demonstrating that you've killfiled someone.

*plonk*

Petty and unnecessary (I mean, just killfile them and be done with it without the f***ing drama). But not flaggable.

93MrAndrew
Jul 2, 2010, 7:58am Top

hmmm. every single post on this thread says:

Message hidden because you blocked the member (show).

Clearly, i've gone overboard.

...wait, now i can't see my own posts!

94anglemark
Jul 2, 2010, 8:01am Top

Who said that?

95proximity1
Edited: Jul 2, 2010, 8:14am Top

> 88

an after-thought on your comment:

I think that no matter what I wrote or censored myself from writing, there'd be someone who would, if he bothered to make his opinion known, find some of my comments "rude and obnoxious, but not flaggable." Even imagining that I tailored my expressions here down to conform to each and every objection, there'd still be the possibility that someone reproaches me at last for being unbearably bland.

Unless I either erase myself completely or drop commenting altogether, I'm probably going to express an opinion that isn't welcome in some quarter. It seems to me that this comes with the participation and that you wouldn't constantly reshape yourself here to suit any and every objector's whims either--right? If certain of my opinions as I express them strike you as rude and obnoxious it seems to me that this tells us as much about you as it does about me. And, I could add that I don't for a moment mind that you stated this opinion of yours here; it's your right as I see it.

Since I haven't and won't read it myself, I can't say for sure-- but you'd know whether or not posts 82 and 90 were directly or indirectly addressed to me or to comments I posted. If they were, then it's an example of how someone who now knows his views no longer interest me to read continues never the less to post such comments. And, yes, I grant you this is trivial stuff, incredibly trivial stuff --just as is so much of what goes on in these discussion fora is trivial. ETA: When people are so closed, so sensitive, so incapable of hearing anything that rubs them other than their favorite way, what's left is almost bound to be nauseatingly trivial in character. Of course, that's just my opinion and my opinion is very very often well outside the comfort zones here.

I think that the site would be improved by requiring some greater responsibility on the part of those who want to practise censorship-by-flagging and, as a minimum measure, require their IDs be shown with each flag they post. Personally, I'd go a good deal further if I were running the site. A rule would put people on notice that, while they are entirely free to flag any post as unfit and deserving elimination, they'd also, by that same act, permanently forfeit further accessibility to any further post made by someone they'd flagged in any "Talk" or "Group" discussion by any means --other than seeing the comments cited by others in their comments. If "X's" opinions are so offensive that a member thinks they deserve censorship, then that should carry with it an end to his ability to read any further of "X's" posts. ( And, again, personally, I'm going to take responsibility from here forward and, unless prohibited, give notice in a follow-up comment, indicating which comment I flagged.)

That, I think, would significantly dampen frivolous flagging.

96skittles
Jul 2, 2010, 9:55am Top

#93: MrAndrew, I will never block your posts. You always bring a smile to my grouchy days & frequently cause me to spew coffee on my keyboard.

Please continue to post even if I'm the only one who will read them.

They are sorely needed in the insane real world.

97brightcopy
Jul 2, 2010, 10:22am Top

89> I flagged it, and I wouldn't mind at all if my name were listed as such. I felt it was a gratuitous attack, just as a message solely consisting of "what a snob" would fall in the same category.

Methinks thou dost protest too much.

(BTW, I think the fact that most of proximity1's OTHER posts don't get flagged is a good example that flagging is conservative.)

98skittles
Jul 2, 2010, 10:33am Top

#97: or that many many people block the user.

99VisibleGhost
Jul 2, 2010, 10:34am Top

I thought they were probably 'plonk' flags even though LT doesn't have a specific plonking policy. Those kind of posts usually just annoy people.

100brightcopy
Jul 2, 2010, 10:39am Top

99> It has a "no personal attacks." A plonk is a statement that "Nothing this user says is worth reading. Regardless of what they just wrote, I'd like to happily state I'm not reading it because it was posted by user A."

That's a lot different than saying "You know, posts A, B and C you wrote in this thread simply make no sense and are a bit rude."

The latter does get closer to a personal attack, but it's much more firmly in the gray area than "nyah nyah I can't hear you cuz you're stupid pbbbbbbbbbt."

101lorax
Jul 2, 2010, 10:39am Top

87>

To me the fact that it did, in fact, get un-flagged (I unflagged it, for one) indicates that the system works. The poster knows enough to toe the line of posting a message that is rude but unflaggable. YMMV.

(Note to people who are about to hit "flag abuse" on this message on the basis of the word "rude": I am saying the message was rude, not the poster. Perfectly legitimate.)

102timspalding
Jul 2, 2010, 1:32pm Top

I think there's a limit to how much "censorship" there can be when all that ever happens is that a message is behind a "show" link. You may imagine an evil dictator who sends the police into your home not to burn or confiscate your books, but to put each one in a light, open-ended paper bag.

103Jesse_wiedinmyer
Edited: Jul 2, 2010, 1:43pm Top

I think there's a limit to how much "censorship" there can be when all that ever happens is that a message is behind a "show" link

Shut up, Fascist. Why ya gotta keep a brother down?

I think that the site would be improved by requiring some greater responsibility on the part of those who want to practise censorship-by-flagging and, as a minimum measure, require their IDs be shown with each flag they post. Personally, I'd go a good deal further if I were running the site.

I have no problems with that idea. If I flag something, I have no problems with people knowing that.

104prosfilaes
Jul 2, 2010, 7:09pm Top

#101: The poster knows enough to toe the line of posting a message that is rude but unflaggable.

I must say, it's a crying shame when a post in that style from that sort of person gets wrongfully flagged. I'm not sure how we could openly discuss controversial issues without those types of posts.

105infiniteletters
Jul 2, 2010, 10:18pm Top

104: Civilly? :)

106JGKC
Jul 3, 2010, 2:31am Top

@ 90, 100

The fact that you both used personal interpretations or assumptions to make a flagging decision rather than trying to be objective is pretty indicative of the flaws in the LT flagging system.

@ 101

I think that's a pretty spurious argument - do you think that the message would have been unflagged if it had been posted in a small thread that hardly anyone was reading?

More importantly, the message, although no longer hidden, is still showing two flags. Wouldn't a system that actually works properly have removed all the flags?

107JGKC
Jul 3, 2010, 2:32am Top

@ Tim

So, just to be clear, it's okay that there's censorship because it's limited?

108Jesse_wiedinmyer
Jul 3, 2010, 4:41am Top

So, just to be clear, it's okay that there's censorship because it's limited?

I'm a bit confused as to which part of this you consider censorship. Enlighten me, please. You get to post what you like. If another members consider your post a violation of the TOS, your post is hidden, yet still visible upon request.

109prosfilaes
Jul 3, 2010, 8:48am Top

#106: The fact that you both used personal interpretations or assumptions to make a flagging decision rather than trying to be objective is pretty indicative of the flaws in the LT flagging system.

Those aren't exclusive. There is no algorithmic means to interpret any human language, and on a purely denotative level, that message was almost incoherent. If you don't make interpretations, you can't understand human communication.

This is not unique to the LT flagging system. Take a look at any US Supreme Court decision, or any court decision anywhere. Consider, say, the US Supreme Court decision Texas v. Johnson; that's filled, on both sides, with assumptions about what speech is, and what the position of the flag of the United States is. That's the law for you; in many cases, it takes huge amounts of personal interpretation and assumption. That's life for you.

Wouldn't a system that actually works properly have removed all the flags?

So you want to censor all signs that someone thinks it violates the terms of service? Having the flags there is in no way censorship.

#107: So, just to be clear, it's okay that there's censorship because it's limited?

In any physical grouping of humans, if someone gets annoying enough, they'll get thrown out. If you can't throw them, then the entire group will either break up or move to some place where they can be thrown out, or get openly hostile until the person leaves. I don't see any reason to fuss about that principle when extended to the Internet; if you don't provide a way to throw people out, then either groups will die under this, or there will be escalating hostility towards people.

110proximity1
Edited: Jul 3, 2010, 9:24am Top

JGKC:

As usual, your points go right to the point and, as usual, no one has anything even resembling a respectable rebuttal. Instead, what you point up is left untouched and your critics absolve themselves of the intellectual responsibility for taking your points into real account. And that, really, is what I find most frustrating about not just the practical rules of "debate" here but also the manner in which participants engage in it. Here, not only is intellectual irresponsibility rampant, not only is it protected, it's seen and defended---though not under its deserved name as "intellectual irresponsibility"---as a kind of virtue, as though to say, "Freedom of opinion means just that: 'Black is White if I want it to be. That's my right.' "

In brief, Americans' widespread resignation from moral and intellectual responsibilities makes up the real roots of the nation's self-destruction now more than well under way. I ask: if a people cannot or will not practise in minor exercises meeting intellectual and moral issues and dealing with them responsibly, how can that people possibly hope to meet and handle the major challenges?

111PhaedraB
Jul 3, 2010, 11:18am Top

My brain hurts.

112jjwilson61
Jul 3, 2010, 11:54am Top

110> Instead, what you point up is left untouched and your critics absolve themselves of the intellectual responsibility for taking your points into real account.

First, I can't believe tat you're defending your post this way when it had no intellectual content at all.

Second, it isn't censorship. It's just some red flags at the bottom of the post and in the worst case the post is hidden but easily revealed again.

Third, some people see a personal attack there and some don't. That's the nature of public debate and the flagging system reflects it. Anybody who posts the stuff you do shouldn't be surprised to find that some people might flag it.

Fourth, the system is the way it is because it's better not to sidetrack the discussion to an argument about whether a certain post was an attack or not. To have everyone have to explain their flags means that the troll wins by making the discussion about him. (Not that I'm calling you a troll, just that you're suggestion would make it easier for trolls).

113brightcopy
Jul 3, 2010, 12:49pm Top

110> You're 100% absolutely and completely right. We're all terrible people. Probably the best thing you could do is find a place not filled with people like us. I wish you great luck.

114proximity1
Edited: Jul 4, 2010, 10:46am Top

> 112

The little flags are the least of it.

First-

The comment you cite of mine isn't intended to "defend {my} post". Post 83, doesn't need any defense. It's sarcasm and sarcasm is permitted here---and for me, sarcasm is almost all that remains when faced with people who are indifferent to reason and facts, and who claim the right to be indifferent to everything except what feeds their conceits above all else--who claim, in other words as their supreme right the right to resign from moral and intellectual responsibility.

Second-

That's the "stuff" of which terms such as "enemy combatants" are made. You don't see the connection I suppose. And that's very much the problem.

Third-

Do you seriously think that it's nothing more important than the practice of posting these censoring little flags that most concerns me in all this? Please!

People who can't think better or do better than to defend and practise a bankrupt discussion policy because they've resigned their moral and intellectual responsibilities shouldn't be surprised that much more serious consequences ensue from their resignations; they "shouldn't be surprised to find" that they get pointless and ruinous wars, economic and environmental catastrophes along with moral and intellectual rot. But that's another connection you and the others apparently can't make. Look around you at Californians' incredible follies. At what point do you begin to put 2 and 2 together?

Fourth-

Nowhere have I urged that people here should be obliged to explain their reasoning in flagging of another's post. What I said was that they should be obliged to be identified with each flag they post. The two are very different.

115fredbacon
Edited: Jul 4, 2010, 11:00am Top

This message has been flagged by multiple users and is no longer displayed (show)
I find you morally and intellectually tedious.

116proximity1
Jul 4, 2010, 11:07am Top


> 113:

" Probably the best thing you could do is find a place not filled with people like us. I wish you great luck."

What bullshit!!! And join you in your moral and intellectual flight from responsibility? You really don't understand the point, do you? Amazing!

"We're all terrible people."

Why "terrible people"? You don't suppose that the world's muck and misery is mainly the work of "terrible people" do you? There aren't enough "terrible people" to cause all the muck and misery in the world. But there are plenty of plain, ordinary people who simply can't be bothered. They are the "nice people" you meet everywhere, and they can even include those who show concern with furrowed brows and who even donate to food & clothing banks and other charities and help their neighbors in times of need. But for everything they give in dollars and hours, they reduce thousands-fold to emptiness with their ready resignation from seeing their part in a larger moral and intellectual collapse that dwarfs their material donations to charity.

While you take comfort in the knowledge that you are anything but a "terrible person", I suggest you try the less comforting truth that, for real savagery and social harm, the combined efforts of all the "terrible people" in the world don't make up a tenth of what genuinely nice people produce.

117proximity1
Edited: Jul 4, 2010, 11:23am Top

> 115:

Goodness! Now I'm devastated!

118Jesse_wiedinmyer
Jul 4, 2010, 11:35am Top

So if Librarything allows flagging, the terrorists are winning?

119Morphidae
Jul 4, 2010, 11:51am Top

*snickers*

120skittles
Jul 4, 2010, 11:52am Top

The blocking members feature on LT is extremely useful.

... and extremely satisfying!!

121Morphidae
Jul 4, 2010, 11:53am Top

>120 skittles:

Pumbaa: Slimy... yet satisfying.

122MarthaJeanne
Jul 4, 2010, 11:54am Top

120> Very.

123Jesse_wiedinmyer
Jul 4, 2010, 11:57am Top

The funny thing is, people wonder why I dislike them.

124proximity1
Edited: Jul 4, 2010, 12:40pm Top

> 118:

Gee, a straw-man! What a surprise!

Say, how much oil do you suppose all that straw could soak up, hmmm?

ETA: Flags now on this? Sheesh! A "straw-man" is a type of fallacious argument, get it? So now it's flaggable to object with the observation, "straw-man"?!!!!!

That is damn fool nonsense.

125timspalding
Jul 4, 2010, 12:04pm Top

I find you morally and intellectually tedious.

Flaggable, I think. The least vociferous, most politely worded flaggable statement ever, though.

126skittles
Jul 4, 2010, 12:14pm Top



Don't Feed 'Em, or they will take over the town... er.. thread!!

127proximity1
Edited: Jul 4, 2010, 12:52pm Top

> 125:

ETA: "Flaggable, I think. The least vociferous, most politely worded flaggable statement ever, though."

You "think"?, It just could be flaggable, hmm? Should we assemble in conclave and consult all the authorities? (see: "scholasticism")

It's not complicated: under the system in operation, --not "the rules" or the "theory" but the actual practices in effect here, what's "flaggable" is simply anything that anyone sees fit to flag. Period.

___________

I would really like to know how the site is actually improved by insisting on a rule that allows "Your posts, (or opinions, etc.) morally and intellectually tedious" .--but not " I find you morally and intellectually tedious," rather than recognizing that this is a distinction without a difference and that if allowing the one doesn't threaten the site's discussions then neither does allowing the other.

To me, it makes not the slightest difference whether the wording is "you" or "your posts", I get the message either way and I think either way the discussion's "health" doesn't turn or depend on such trivia.

On the other hand, it amazes me that my concerns, which are about the other (larger and truly catastrophic issues and their) consequences of the moral and intellectual irresponsibility that's so typical here, are the so ridiculed while what supposedly matters a lot is the difference between "you" and "your post(s)."

And, yeah, I agree: why not get off this focus on my views by accepting that the trivial issue of flagging posts reflects and should draw our attention to some things much larger and socially more important.

128Jesse_wiedinmyer
Jul 4, 2010, 12:44pm Top

I counter-flagged #124. Obviously not flaggable.

ETA: Flags now on this?

Have you considered that people might just be fucking with you because they enjoy watching you get wound up over nothing?

129timspalding
Jul 4, 2010, 12:53pm Top

>127 proximity1:

As said on many occasions, members of parliament and of Congress long ago learned how to make savage points against opponents without insulting them directly.

Still, I prefer a nominal rule to discuss ideas, in government and on LibraryThing, to the content-less free for all that would develop if members were allowed to call each other names. The rule serves to restrain some of the worse discussions that might ensue, and reminds us that LibraryThing, and intelligent discussion generally, is about ideas, not people.

130proximity1
Edited: Jul 4, 2010, 1:13pm Top


> 128: "Have you considered that people might just be fucking with you because they enjoy watching you get wound up over nothing?"

LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!

No! Surely you jest!!! These nice people?!!!! Please, sir, get a grip on your senses and banish such a wild thought!!! That would never come to mind, oh! never! ;^)

PS:

"Obviously not flaggable."

Yes, "obviously" so. It must be so obvious. You see? Hence the presence of flags. And now 127 is flagged. I wonder if that, too, is obviously flaggable or not flaggable.

131proximity1
Edited: Jul 4, 2010, 1:29pm Top

> 129:

Right. The insults practised in those legislative bodies are indirect ones, but they're quite real, and often obvious and prized for their artfulness. You're trading the right to write and discuss in openess and in straight-forward honesty for what amounts to the mere appearance of courtesy, a false and dishonest courtesy. And when you do that, you give encouragement to a demoralizing habit and make it your constantly implied message that the false and superficial are more to be valued than the sincerely stated and argued terms and phrases which are prohibited here. It apparently doesn't occur to you that in doing this, you lend something, however minor in these particular instances, to intellectual and moral habits which are ultimately corrupting and debasing and though that is ridiculed and scoffed at here, it's none the less the truth.

Offering the U.S. Congress as an example of any worthy conduct to be emulated strikes me as a very far-fetched move. In the House of Commons, they raise ducking the question to an even higher art. And for moral depths, I don't see a dime's worth of difference between Britain's Parliament and the U.S. Congress.

PS : by the way,

you miss the point when you say here:

"As said on many occasions, members of parliament and of Congress long ago learned how to make savage points against opponents without insulting them directly."

What you can observe in this very thread are flags on posts which aren't directly--i.e. "personally" "insulting." The example flagged posts mioght, by some people's views, insult another's claim, or argument, perhaps, but that's supposedly allowed as I read your views. Still, such posts draw flags. Why? Because it's up to each and all to decide what's an offense and what isn't. What does this thread demonstrate? It demonstrates exactly what JGKC pointed out above ( http://www.librarything.com/topic/93572#2062171 ) in post 106.

132timspalding
Jul 4, 2010, 1:23pm Top

You're trading the right to write and discuss in openess and in straight-forward honesty for what amounts to the mere appearance of courtesy, a false and dishonest courtesy.

I disagree. And in my capacity as LibraryThing's dictator, I shall continue our no-personal-attacks rule.

Some members of Congress aren't honorable. The teenage check-out girl does not really want you to "come again." When someone smelly wants to sit next to you on the bus we we do not really want them to "be our guest." As far as often insincere courtesy go, you have not discovered the great flaw in LibraryThing, but the great binding and peace-making principle of all society.

133Jesse_wiedinmyer
Jul 4, 2010, 1:36pm Top

The teenage check-out girl does not really want you to "come again."

Lying fucking bitch.

134Jesse_wiedinmyer
Jul 4, 2010, 1:39pm Top

She's not a member, right? I am allowed to say that?

135brightcopy
Jul 4, 2010, 1:42pm Top

Tim> Something I've noticed while counter-flagging proximity1's posts (yes, I do counter-flag them, even for you). It's much more obvious how to flag abuse than to how to counter-flag it. To flag something as NOT being abuse, you have to click "flag abuse." This is rather counter-intuitive UI. You'd basically only know it if a) somehow told you how it worked or b) you clicked to flag someone who was already flagged (rightfully or just to see what the link did) and saw the "counter-flag" bit. And even then, it might not be so obvious to some less computer savvy users.

As for this thread, I'm not with it. My suggestion still stands as the one most likely to solve proximity1's problems.

136timspalding
Jul 4, 2010, 1:54pm Top

>135 brightcopy:

Okay, how about if there's any flags it turns into "flag/unflag abuse"?

What's your suggestion again?

137proximity1
Edited: Jul 4, 2010, 2:07pm Top


"Peace-making"?

We have "peace" here or elsewhere in society?



Some members of Congress aren't honorable. The teenage check-out girl does not really want you to "come again." When someone smelly wants to sit next to you on the bus we we do not really want them to "be our guest." As far as often insincere courtesy go, you have not discovered the great flaw in LibraryThing, but the great binding and peace-making principle of all society.



Look, I understand you're the "dictator" here. At the same time, I thought the issues were the value and virtues which attach to the practice of debate on-line in general and here at LT in particular. Of course you're making the rules. If that's the alpha & omega of your argument, I'm sure we can all just shut up. But, if there's anything else to be taken into consideration---and what I've come to understand about you is that you recognize such things--- then neither the check-out counter cashier, nor the offensively odorous bus passenger, as elements of society's "gear-lubricating gestures" notwithstanding, are of much value in discussions of on-line circumstances.

Indeed, your actual argument consists of the (benign dictator's) determination that what applies or should out of concerns arising in actual face to face relations in the flesh also should and must in this instance also applyfor the computer-interface mediated world of on-line discussions---though why that is is left unexplained. It's simply implied that the exigencies of relations in the flesh should also be applied in "cyber societies".

Congress and Parliament actually need the rules of debating decorum because the participants are phyiscally present. On the other hand, no one on-line has ever had his skull cracked by a cane-wielding adversary on the other end of the discussion forum. But, somehow, the dictator says, in this detached venue, we need the protections under which truth and sincerity are made to wait in service or we'll dissolve into some sort of chaos, or poeple will leave, etc.

I've never seen any figures indicating the numbers who never show up or who choose not to remain not because there's so little courtesy but because there's so much phoney courtesy. It's assumed the losses are fewer and apparently less significant from that side of the coin. Yes, you have the grounds for your preferences staked out; but even by your own reasoning, they're shaky grounds as you really don't know which way the pluses and the minuses play out. You simply assume that what's (assumed to be) a practice which favors a lower-common denominator interest is the best policy.

I think that from a certain short and commercially-driven view, that's perhaps true. On the other hand, I think that I've indicated what is paid in terms both trivial and momentous by such a point of view. You're not moved by that. More's the pity.

Where I do give you unstinting credit is in your providing an alternative to those who find the courtesy demands of the conventional 'thinkers' here smothering. People can resort to private fora and though we aren't aware of how many do that, I'm more and more grateful for that alternative.

ETA > 135:

Indeed, no one ever explained to me the operation of a counter-flag and it was many months before I discovered it by chance. I'd never, you see, "flagged" anyone for any reason and it wasn't until one day when I did, that I discovered the counter-flag option--which I use fairly often and, as Brightcopy does, at times in favor of those who I don't happen to like or agree with much or at all.

138Morphidae
Jul 4, 2010, 2:01pm Top

Moving parts in rubbing contact require lubrication to avoid excessive wear. Honorifics and formal politeness provide lubrication where people rub together. Often the very young, the untraveled, the naive, the unsophisticated deplore these formalities as "empty," "meaningless," or "dishonest," and scorn to use them. No matter how "pure" their motives, they thereby throw sand into machinery that does not work too well at best. ~ Robert Heinlein

139brightcopy
Jul 4, 2010, 2:02pm Top

136> Okay, how about if there's any flags it turns into "flag/unflag abuse"?

Yeah, that sounds like a good approach.

What's your suggestion again?

Err... it was a bit... sarcastic.

140Jesse_wiedinmyer
Jul 4, 2010, 2:12pm Top

Congress and Parliament actually need the rules of debating decorum because the participants are phyiscally present. On the other hand, no one on-line has ever had his skull cracked by a cane-wielding adversary on the other end of the discussion forum.

Uhhh, actually there are numerous instances of online discussions erupting into "real life" violence.

141majkia
Jul 4, 2010, 2:16pm Top

#140 as well as stalking and phoned-in death threats.

142proximity1
Edited: Jul 5, 2010, 8:03am Top

> 138

It's ironic that you'd cite Heinlein whose iconoclasm was of such a pronounced sort that, not only would his views be neither welcomed here nor, to say the least, left unflagged and uncondemned, he'd also not waste more than the rather brief time required to discover that lack of welcome.

Heinlein, so admired by so many and so many of the ready-censors here, was a person who was wholly unfit in his most characteristic opinions for any conventional society. That's why he was fortunate to be such a talented writer. If they didn't know who he was by reputation---if he (or anyone similarly disposed) simply participated here without the highly-esteemed name "Robert Heinlein" for advanced credit and approval, his opinions would be excoriated by the average reader here---including, not least, those whose book shelves are lined with Heinlein's work.

LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

yes, Please, the defense calls Robert Heinlein. The witness will come forward....

143timspalding
Edited: Jul 4, 2010, 2:22pm Top

>137 proximity1:

I certainly applaud your desire to get to the issues here. And I have no desire to stop that conversation. These are interesting questions, which is one reason I continue to discuss them at great length, over literally years.

I do think it's appropriate, however, for people not to get their hopes--or fears--up here, thinking this question is about what might happen. We often discuss policies on the site and things change, even radically. I get convinced of the position, or at least feel the answer isn't a core one, and come to see many members want it another way. This isn't one of those situations; this policy isn't going to change.

You simply assume that what's (assumed to be) a practice which favors a lower-common denominator interest is the best policy.

You're right that I don't know the metrics of member gain and loss. I suspect we'd be in better shape generally if we had a "strong" policy--anti-trolls and anti-"hate speech" or even just impoliteness. LibraryThing is not a "safe place." We don't throw people out for being rude or having strong opinions. I bet, if we did, we'd get more than we lost.

So, ultimately, it's not about the gain/loss for me. It's about some unarguable core values. I believe in free discussion about ideas. I don't believe personal insults are necessary for that, and indeed that they detract from it. Whether allowing members to cast away nasty arguments against ideas and embrace straightforward attacks would raise or lower our membership doesn't, therefore, really matter to me. Even so, I have my suspicions that wouldn't help.

The other argument I have is simply that, if we are to have any standard at all, a personal-attacks standard is the only one that can be policed easily. Policing arguments requires a lot of context, and would quickly implicate my personal opinions about topics. I think, for example, a number of the arguments against Israel are at root anti-semitic. But many disagree with me, and I neither want nor think I should be in charge of policing that line. (A number of my favorite members wouldn't like that either!) Meanwhile, I think we can all agree that calling a member a smelly yid is easier to police.

Lastly, there is a disconnect between flags and administrative enforcement of the TOS. Flags are there primarily as a member tool. They can be abused. I think the abuse is limited by members conscientiously applying the TOS, even when they disagree with the opinion. And I think it's limited by the fact that flagged posts are never deleted, only masked--visible with a single click.

144proximity1
Edited: Jul 4, 2010, 2:42pm Top

> 140 & etc. :

"Uhhh, actually there are numerous instances of online discussions erupting into "real life" violence."

Right. And that's precluded by all the "genuine" courtesy on display ( and required ) here I suppose. You can assume, I guess, if you aren't more interested in grounded claims than to do that, that these 'numerous' (but unemumerated) instances wouldn't have occurred except for the fact that rules of courtesy in language were absent or left unenforced. I wonder. How many is 'numerous', and just how much did the forum's rules have to do with the incident?

Besides, have I defended or advocated threats of assault or battery? No. Have I defended or advocated anything beyond the use of words? No.

So if you're arguing that there should be none of those allowed, I'm in full agreement with you in both practice and theory.

If you're arguing, as it appears you may imply, that anything including direct verbal insults and name-calling is the inevitable precursor to actual physical violence, I don't agree with you.

And doesn't leaving one's real-life identity available also have something essential to do with the risks and the fact of these cases of assault and battery? The point is, the violence wasn't done on-line even if the instigations arose there. What about common sense and what about expecting that one can leave it at the curb-side when on-line because the rules of the house mean that you're protected whether you have any common sense on not? There is something terribly American in that line of argument: why should I have to wear a bike helmet? It's the drivers' responsibility to avoid hitting me!" Yep. Uh-huh.


145proximity1
Edited: Jul 4, 2010, 2:55pm Top

> 143:

"... which is one reason I continue to discuss them at great length, over literally years."

That fact isn't lost on me and I admire that about you. At the same time, I'd bet you that few if any of the participants here except you would show anything approaching this degree of patient, sincere, interest.

If almost any of them were making and administering the site's rules, I don't really think I'd still be able to post here. Of course, there's another thing that I think you show a hell of a lot more genuine practical appreciation for: the actual practice of one's rights is what counts, not how very lovely they seem when looked at on paper.

As for most people I see and read here, for all that they make use of them, how much would they actually notice and miss their rights when they're denied? Now, "free speech" gets a lovely little chained-off or roped-off "area" and, again in the idiot jargon fashionable today, too many Americans, indeed, apparently all but a relative few, "Have no problem with that." And neither does our wonderful rights-conscious president, Barack Obama.

ETA : For crying out loud!!! : Now posts 137 & 142 are flagged!!!

You do see, don't you, Tim, how narrow are the margins allowed here? For pity's sake!!!! What else do you need in indications of sloppy frivolous flagging? Can anyone explain what's objectionable about 137 and 142?

146jjwilson61
Jul 4, 2010, 2:42pm Top

To me, it makes not the slightest difference whether the wording is "you" or "your posts", I get the message either way and I think either way the discussion's "health" doesn't turn or depend on such trivia.

It occurs to me that the rule could be tightened a bit to include "your posts are blah blah blah" since if something is said about all of your posts, past and future apparently, then it's really saying something about you. So, "that post was dishonest" or "all your posts on this thread have faulty logic" would be ok, but "your posts are garbage" wouldn't be.

147Morphidae
Jul 4, 2010, 2:54pm Top

Dear lord, fine.

To disagree, one doesn't have to be disagreeable. ~Barry M. Goldwater and Jack Casserly, Goldwater

Whoever one is, and wherever one is, one is always in the wrong if one is rude. ~Maurice Baring

Rudeness is the weak man's imitation of strength. ~Eric Hoffer

So let us begin anew - remembering on both sides that civility is not a sign of weakness, and sincerity is always subject to proof. ~ John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Callousness and insolence bring to bare unanimous social condemnation, while the simple efforts of politeness are admired; even in those who are otherwise despised. ~ Bryant H. McGill

Life be not so short but that there is always time for courtesy. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Straightforwardness, without the rules of propriety, becomes rudeness. ~ Confucius

148proximity1
Edited: Jul 4, 2010, 3:38pm Top

> 147:

Okay, I'll play:

Loyalty to petrified opinion never yet broke a chain or freed a human soul. ~ Mark Twain.

___________

"dear Lord!" In citing those quotes, you take as plainly-implied fact that your opinion of my behavior here also exactly corresponds to what those you cite would also consider uncivil, rude, etc.

And this is absolutely typical of the easy assumptions that those arguing your view take (though, Tim is, again, a notable exception and this is one of the features that most distinguishes him from others here, it seems to me):

"If I find something rude, then, of course, it is, and famous names found speaking against "rudeness" would also speak against my ideas of examples of rudeness, too."

Now, that's a convenient line of reason, isn't it?

By the way, Maurice Baring, a diplomat by profession, is apparently considered by some (see his Wikipedia page) to have been "...staunch in his anti-intellectualism with respect to the arts." I wonder how Heinlein's writing would have fared under his control.

To disagree, one doesn't have to be disagreeable. ~Barry M. Goldwater and Jack Casserly, Goldwater

.......... besides the absent context: this leaves your idea of what's disagreeable as true, correct and by implication corresponding to that of B. Goldwater. Is that a valid, reasonably respectable assumption? (1)

Whoever one is, and wherever one is, one is always in the wrong if one is rude. ~ Maurice Baring

..... see above at (1).

Rudeness is the weak man's imitation of strength. ~ Eric Hoffer

....see above at (1)

So let us begin anew - remembering on both sides that civility is not a sign of weakness, and sincerity is always subject to proof. ~ John Fitzgerald Kennedy

... no argument. Civility isn't necessarily a sign of weakness nor did I ever claim this. And, indeed, sincerity is subject to proof but, notably, here in this forum it is never made subject to such proof. In other words, here, insincerity has the run of the place and is everywhere at home---indeed, notably, it's only where some dare to question it that sincerity is even considered at all. Most of the time, it's given more than the benefit of a doubt since, to openly question it runs afoul here of the politeness that is demanded de facto if not de jure.

Callousness and insolence bring to bare unanimous social condemnation, while the simple efforts of politeness are admired; even in those who are otherwise despised. ~ Bryant H. McGill

...are you calling me callous? An odd charge. My position is that there's a lot of callousness that fits very conveniently and comfortably within the accepted notions of polite behavior here. I am lots of things but callous isn't one of them. As for "Insolence" .... see (1) above.

Life be not so short but that there is always time for courtesy. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson .... see (1), assumes your notion of "courtesy". But I think the context missing here might also be instructive. You know, of course, what Emerson had in mind in this instance, don't you? You just didn't take time to mention it. And, there's the implication in citing this that, though of course you don't say so directly, that I am never "courteous". I dispute that implication.

Straightforwardness, without the rules of propriety, becomes rudeness. ~ Confucius ...... And I agree with Confucius in this. without rules of propriety at all, straightforwardness can easily become rudeness. I'm not, however, completely without rules of propriety and that's attested to by the fact that I've frequently objected here to unreasonable claims and behavior which violates my ideas of it---and found some of the comments flagged.

Next ?

149timspalding
Jul 4, 2010, 3:13pm Top

>146 jjwilson61:

Yeah, but doesn't that get slippery very quickly? "Your posts" is ambiguous. I at least generally use it to mean "your posts in question" not "every post you've made and will make." Right?

150bibliorex
Jul 4, 2010, 3:35pm Top

Folks, there's a simple solution to this problem, and it's one I use all the time. When you consistently don't like what a particular LT member says in Talk -- whether they are rude, offensive, hold differing political views from you, whatever -- simply block them. You can't see their posts at all in Talk unless you masochistically click on the individual message. It's very simple. There are a half-dozen people in this thread alone that I've blocked. It's great. I don't have to see any more of their nonsense.

151timspalding
Jul 4, 2010, 3:44pm Top

This message has been flagged by multiple users and is no longer displayed (show)
Bibliorex is a wormy apple! Testing, testing, testing...

152bibliorex
Jul 4, 2010, 3:45pm Top

Don't make me block you too, Tim!!!! :)

153proximity1
Jul 4, 2010, 3:47pm Top


> 150:

Your recommendation has the additional virtue of its leaving those others the liberty to express their opinions. Liberty, a virtue here by too many more honor'd in the breach than the observance. Some people are only too ready to find offense where'er they look.



Abraham: Do you bite your thumb at us, sir?
Sampson: I do bite my thumb, sir.
Abraham: Do you bite your thumb at us, sir?
Sampson (to Gregory): Is the law of our side if I say ay?
Gregory: No.
Sampson: No, sir, I do not bite my thumb at you sir; but I bite my thumb, sir.
Gregory: Do you quarrel, sir?
Abraham: Quarrel, sir? No, sir.
Sampson: If you do, sir, I am for you: I serve as good a man as you.
Abraham: No better.
Sampson: Well, sir.
Gregory: (to Sampson) Say 'better'; here comes one of my master's kinsmen.
Sampson: Yes, better, sir.


154Morphidae
Jul 4, 2010, 3:56pm Top

>150 bibliorex: You're right. I normally don't get embroiled in this type of thing as others can attest but was offended by the insistence that, in my own words, being polite was moronic and dishonest.

People have the right to be as rude or impolite as they want to be. Doesn't mean they should.

Anyway, I'll bow out now and will block as required. No need to bang my head against a wall.

155timspalding
Edited: Jul 4, 2010, 4:03pm Top

>154 Morphidae:

We will not bang your head against the wall. That's not allowed. That said, if would be fine if someone suggested that be a good idea if someone were to iteratively motivate the top-most part of the person who expressed the views to be found above in message 154 against a hard, vertical surface of some sort.

156jjwilson61
Jul 4, 2010, 4:02pm Top

Again, even if your post is flagged and hidden, you have not lost the liberty of expressing your opinion.

157proximity1
Jul 4, 2010, 4:04pm Top

> 154:

"People have the right to be as rude or impolite as they want to be. Doesn't mean they should."

Again, this once more begs the question of the definition of "rude" and, again, as is done again and again here, the objections to "rudeness" insist that theirs are the notions which define the term. And, in the second place, on the contrary, of the two---"People have the right to be as rude or impolite as they want to be"--- the former is certainly not allowed the same scope--by whatever definition--- as the latter. If this thread shows us anything, it shows us that.

I've seen many objections for alleged rudeness; but no objections to others who are more polite than they have a right to be.

158Morphidae
Jul 4, 2010, 4:12pm Top

>155 timspalding: Heh, you made me laugh. Thanks, I needed that. I was SO frustrated. :)

159skittles
Jul 4, 2010, 4:12pm Top

Question: If an LTer screams in the forest and no one (else) hears them scream, has the LTer screamed?

or have we prohibited their right to scream?

160Jesse_wiedinmyer
Jul 4, 2010, 4:15pm Top

We will not bang your head against the wall

May we bang a wall against her head?

161bibliorex
Jul 4, 2010, 4:21pm Top

154: It's a non-confrontational solution, and one that is eminently satisfying (the very act of blocking someone who's annoying me gives me a passive-aggressive thrill). Plus, this way, we're all equally free to type idiotic or disagreeable statements and we're free to ignore those who do this repeatedly. Life is too short to keep reading annoying posts. Shouldn't we all be, oh I don't know, *reading* or something? Now....if only I had the ability to block other people's comments in real life.... :)

The down side of blocking a member is that it's a blunt instrument. You won't see *any* of the member's posts unless you specifically click on them (which, of course, you're always free to do and, I have to admit, I do sometimes). I've even unblocked one member I had previously blocked because it had been a while since I had blocked him, I started reading his posts again, and realized that despite the earlier idiocy, he was saying interesting things. So I did later unblock him. So it goes.

162proximity1
Edited: Jul 4, 2010, 4:38pm Top


> 156:

How should I gather that you regard designated Free Speech Zones? As also a fair way to be heard, no stigma attached to remaining there, roped off, out of sight and earshot of the passing motorcade, there where your right to speak is assured to have the minimum value allowed by law?

Such is one more among countless examples of the way in which the logic of technology drives all before it, taking no prisoners.

Clearly, in this thread, my position is or often was, the distinctly minority one. At no point that I recall did any opposing post draw a flag, unlike numerous posts of mine. What I see in all this is another reflection of a society which seems weary of its once-useful civil rights and views them now as dangerous impediments to something which is apparently thought to be far more valuable: going along and getting along.

Were I the president, I'd recall every U.S. armed forces member stationed or serving abroad, and keep them from combat; after all, there is absolutely no sane or humane good reason to ask or expect any American to risk his life or health merely so that the public's rights to behave themselves in polite accordance with established and accepted norms of good behavior are made safe from foreign aggresion.

That, I suppose will also draw a scoffing denunciation as implying that "Woah! If the rules are too lax here in LT, then the nation's defenses are no longer worth defending."

That, of course, is not the point. Nor is it the point to make light of the real burdens and losses now being borne by U.S. forces who are risking their lives. For what? For a people whose fondest desire is that they not be obliged to countenance rude, uncivil words and argumentation?

What nation is this now? There's a valid and important relation somewhere, at some point, between the issues in this site's practice of civil liberties and out in the greater society at large, at some remove, anyway. No one can force the participants here to recognize it, however. The best-protected right you still possess is not to free speech, but rather to prefer to have nothing to do with controversy or even with civil rights at all. That right is yours above all and no one will take it from you.

I was bid to leave for some other more convenient place by another participant in a comment above: " Probably the best thing you could do is find a place not filled with people like us. I wish you great luck."

I assure you, there is no such place and even if there were, it serves nothing to resign from controversy since so much depends on the life and practice of controversy. But a people who dutifully go to the Free Speech Zone won't easily understand that or take reminders of it in a kind way.

> 154 :

I'm hard-pressed to find your own words a fair characterization of what has actually been argued here in opposition to the rather free, too free, in my opinion, use of flags. No one I've read in this entire thread ever once asserted, even by implication, that being polite was tantamount to being moronic or dishonest. And the allegation isn't fair--but who other than I objects to that unfair characterization of the actual criticisms levelled here?

163lorax
Jul 4, 2010, 4:47pm Top

161>

I've even unblocked one member I had previously blocked because it had been a while since I had blocked him, I started reading his posts again, and realized that despite the earlier idiocy, he was saying interesting things. So I did later unblock him. So it goes.

I've done that a few times. If I block people for stupid and pointless posts -- you know, the "teenagers using Book Talk as a private chatroom" sort of thing -- I leave a note to myself that it's a temporary one-month block, and I'll unblock them after that. Usually they aren't around any more by that time, but at least once they'd turned into intelligent human beings in the interim.

Bigots, though, don't get second chances. I'm not going to take the risk of needing to read hateful posts again to make sure that they're still hateful.

164jjwilson61
Jul 4, 2010, 5:18pm Top

How should I gather that you regard designated Free Speech Zones? As also a fair way to be heard, no stigma attached to remaining there, roped off, out of sight and earshot of the passing motorcade, there where your right to speak is assured to have the minimum value allowed by law?

That's in no way equivalent to a hidden post which is so easy to circumvent. I usually click to see the hidden posts in any event, just to see what all the fuss was about, and I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one.

165brightcopy
Jul 4, 2010, 8:37pm Top

What's bizarre is all this talk of rights. On LT, you have absolutely zero rights. It's a private forum owned by a business. There is absolutely no right to free speech inside such a private forum in the United States (where LT is located).

That's a plain matter of fact, not opinion. The only thing we have in terms of speech here on LT are privileges granted us by LT. This may make proximity1 claim that I'm some sheep that will easily give up my rights, but in reality its better to know what one's rights are under the law and act accordingly than grasp at non-existent liberties.

166prosfilaes
Jul 4, 2010, 9:22pm Top

#162: At no point that I recall did any opposing post draw a flag, unlike numerous posts of mine.

So much for intellectual rigor. Post #115 is flagged, a fact that was trivial to check.

It amazes me that you can spend so much time on your theoretical right to speak, but don't seem concerned about communicating to your audience. I can't imagine a good communicator speaking to a broad audience writing #83. They avoid bringing up issues (like Iraq) that will annoy or split their audience, and compliment their audience instead of accuse them of being sheep. Sure, if you're doing talk radio or otherwise have a narrow audience, you can beat on the outsider and accuse people (excluding your most intelligence audience, of course) of being sheeple, but note that that's the majority (in that arena) beating on the minority.

Your opinions, here and the Israel thread, are not that radical, and are not the reason you're getting the negative response you do.

167infiniteletters
Jul 4, 2010, 9:37pm Top

166: Yeah, the flaggability is the style, not the opinions.

168JGKC
Jul 4, 2010, 11:25pm Top

@ 167

So now we're flagging posts for the style in which they're written instead of what is written in them?

169infiniteletters
Jul 4, 2010, 11:28pm Top

It was a followup to 166, in particular, "Your opinions, here and the Israel thread, are not that radical, and are not the reason you're getting the negative response you do."

170brightcopy
Jul 4, 2010, 11:29pm Top

168> Who's "we"? You got a mouse in your pocket?

171timspalding
Jul 4, 2010, 11:55pm Top

There is absolutely no right to free speech inside such a private forum in the United States (where LT is located).

One one level, I agree with you. On another level, once LT's aspirations and standard is proclaimed--free discussion of any topic but not in any way--it's fair to criticize. We can imagine an alternate universe where Abby and I deleted posts because we disagreed with them. In a technical sense, that wouldn't be censorship, but the application of the right of property, or maybe a violation of a contract. But I'm comfortable calling it censorship as a sort of short-hand and in recognition that we aspire toward a standard other than "it's mine, not yours."

172JGKC
Jul 5, 2010, 12:14am Top

@ 108

It's pretty simple actually, hiding a post is, undeniably, censorship.

@ 108/Tim/anyone

Having said that, the current level of censorship (hiding posts) is perfectly acceptable as long as the post in question is clearly in violation of the TOS.

The problem I have is that users are clearly abusing their ability to flag posts (see post 83 and others by proximity1 in this thread as an example). Further aggravating the issue is the power imbalance between flagging and counter-flagging with the latter having only half the power of the former.

I hate to repeat myself but, since nobody has actually addressed this,the system needs to be changed so that counter-flagging becomes equal to flagging. If users are flagging conscientiously then abusive posts will still be flagged and eventually hidden. If, as the evidence seems to shows, users are not flagging conscientiously then making the two sides equal makes it easier to correct erroneous flaggings.

@ 109

No, you're wrong - we all use algorithms to analyze language. That the current flagging system doesn't work properly shows that some people are just petty or that they lack common sense.

Again, you're wrong - having the flags visible on post 83 is clearly a form of censorship since they represent an unjust use of authority (to keep an opinion down).

You don't see any reason to fuss about extending the right to remove people and their opinions that you find annoying? The only reason that you should need is that being annoying is not against the TOS.

173Jesse_wiedinmyer
Edited: Jul 5, 2010, 12:24am Top

168> Who's "we"? You got a mouse in your pocket?

Someone's gotta do it. Won't be me. Someone's gotta do it. Won't be me.

174timspalding
Jul 5, 2010, 12:30am Top

>172 JGKC:

There are two biases here. The first is the disequality between flag and counter flag. The second is the way flagged posts aren't actually removed.

So, if you want flag-equality, we will remove the posts forever.

Deal?

175JGKC
Jul 5, 2010, 12:37am Top

@ Tim/137

But this thread has shown that users are not conscientiously applying the TOS when they decide to flag a post.

And while the initial responsibility for flagging properly obviously falls upon users, I think that the ultimate responsibility falls upon you and the rest of the administration. So why not have some sort of system to identify and deal with those users who abuse their flagging responsibility?

Lastly, you clearly stated in this post (137) that flagged posts are never deleted just hidden/masked yet the TOS still states that posts will be deleted once they have been flagged by four different users. Can you please get around to chaging the TOS?

176JGKC
Edited: Jul 5, 2010, 12:45am Top

@ 174

I would have no problem with what you propose just as long as there was:

a) administrative oversight before deletion of messages (ie. someone in charge actually reads flagged messages to make sure they do in fact violate the TOS)

b) a system in place to deal with any users who flag messages erroneously

Other than that the only issue I can think of is how much time would there be between the fourth flag on a post and when the post would be deleted. There would need to be adequate time given to counter-flag messages.

177brightcopy
Jul 5, 2010, 1:45am Top

171> I don't disagree with any of that. But I just like the facts to stand for themselves. When there's a conversation based on a foundation of false assumptions and non-existent "rights" that are in reality privileges, it makes it hard to take seriously.

178proximity1
Edited: Jul 5, 2010, 8:40am Top


> 174:

"So, if you want flag-equality, we will remove the posts forever."

Wow. I see that things here could be worse.

This proposed "deal", I suspect, will one day be referred to as "the generous offer"---which I hope is decisively declined. JGKC has pointed out more than once that the current operation in flagging gives a pronounced advantage to those who'd censor a post and he (or she) has also explained how and why that's the case. I wish I could second JGKC's approval of Tim's proposition but I can't, even with his wisely noted reservations, because it seems to me those very reservations point up why the proposition would mean, in effect, that unpopular views would disappear not only just as quickly or nearly so, but also would be eliminated definitively.

In my view that's "No steps forward and eight steps backward."

A post which is actually so grievous a violation of the TOS as to require its removal (such as an actual threat of violence for example, or the posting of confidential information about a member) would be definitively removed anyway wouldn't it? So the deal proposed here significantly lowers the bar which definitive censorship has to clear.

In my view, the four-flags threshold is far, far too low---the central point of my objections from the start. Now that tiny set will not just "darken" a post, it will set it up for some sort of imagined management review prior to definitive removal (or, what? by the way? reinstatement in full view, because the managerial review deems it doesn't warrant removal?)

Then there's the additional time and effort that these reviews are going to imply. How long before they become so numerous that they're an onerous burden on the person, people, doing the review? How long before the reviewers let slip their standards and give way to easily taken decisions to eliminate what has been flagged?

Last, and once more, as JGCK points out, the matter of "how much time would there be between the fourth flag on a post and when the post would be deleted. There would need to be adequate time given to counter-flag messages" is, for me, an insurmountable obstacle to a system that is both fair and practical to implement.

Thank "God" that private fora---like ex-patriation---remain an option.

179proximity1
Edited: Jul 5, 2010, 8:44am Top

> 177:

"When there's a conversation based on a foundation of false assumptions and non-existent "rights" that are in reality privileges, it makes it hard to take seriously."

Whether they're privileges enjoyed in a private proprietary venue or once-meaningful public civil rights, supposedly protected by law, your posted views have consistently shown a negligent attitude toward them as things which are as disposable as tissue paper.

Tim's comments show the explicit design and desire to grant and defend a principled privilege not merely extend a favor upon a whim. Your comments seem to either ignore that distinction or to treat it is if it were nothing. And does that attitude indicate anything of significance about wht's going on as far as a larger general peril for the gamut of civil liberties in the U.S is concerned? does it suggest as a serious danger a significant portion of the public apparently joining such a negligent view of once-cherished rights? In my view, yes, absolutely it does.

--- --- ---

These words bear citing and framing:

"On another level, once LT's aspirations and standard is proclaimed--free discussion of any topic but not in any way--it's fair to criticize."

180235711
Edited: Jul 5, 2010, 11:04am Top

*coughs* I'll just ignore the flagging debate (except to say that if the debate is flagging, perhaps it will die down altogether soon), and be crotchety about the spelling of the word "crochet".

As for Tim's OOPS sorry, MrAndrew's opinion that discussions on this subject do not belong anywhere, I can only imagine the quiet satisfaction of those Thingamabrarian crocheters who will now be inspired to improvise a Tim MrAndrew amigurumi and use it to park their smaller hooks, pincushion-style.

And now that I am being crochety and pedantic, I might as well take the opportunity to point out that the kind of pedantry professed by many LT members would be more accurately labeled as OCPD (where P stands for "personality") than OCD. Also, it is grammatically incorrect to say that you are either disorder. And lastly, why would such avowedly precise-minded people want to contribute to word inflation?

Edited to correct a defamatory error and add: As you can see, I'm not exactly guiltless when it comes to matters of accuracy. But the point still stands. (That being the point about the popular misusage of psychiatric terminology. Not that I withdraw the point about crochet, although crochet hooks don't have points, strictly speaking.)

181prosfilaes
Jul 5, 2010, 9:24am Top

#172: No, you're wrong - we all use algorithms to analyze language.

I take it you say that with full knowledge of current AI theory. Prove it; exhibit for us an algorithm, written in some formal algorithmic language like APL, Prolog, Lisp, ML, or Perl, that shows a human-like ability to analyze language. It is one of the holy grails of computing, billions of dollars have been tossed at the problem, and to this day there's not a single program that can analyze Japanese and output meaningful English with similar meaning.

Roger Penrose wrote The Emperor's New Mind to argue that human thought (and we've never been able to disentangle language from human thought in general) is not simulatable by algorithm. It's widely disagreed with, but it's never been disproven.

having the flags visible on post 83 is clearly a form of censorship since they represent an unjust use of authority

A use of authority? It's flagged by the other people in the forum. In any case, I stand by my position that #83 is a violation of the TOS, and find the fact that you think that anyone who disagrees with you on that matter is being unreasonable worthy of an eyeroll.

You don't see any reason to fuss about extending the right to remove people and their opinions that you find annoying?

I certainly do see fuss in it; if we were talking serious proposal about extending the flagging, I would find a lot to argue about. But I agree with #143, that LibraryThing forums probably would see more traffic if there were more strict restrictions, and I think that some of the traffic would be more valuable than the lost speech that was driving it away. I don't see the real value of speech that all it does is annoy the other members. There's quite a few forums open by design on LT where any opinion, if lofted and argued for in a polite manner, wouldn't offend the members.

The only reason that you should need is that being annoying is not against the TOS.

Clearly the TOS is being discussed here, so I'm free discuss changes to it, like you are.

182bnielsen
Jul 5, 2010, 9:35am Top

#143 and #151: If I said you had a smelly yid would you hold it against me?

183proximity1
Edited: Jul 5, 2010, 10:01am Top

"There's quite a few forums open by design on LT where any opinion, if lofted and argued for in a polite manner, wouldn't offend the members." (sic)

If ever I read a "safe" assertion, that is one! LOL!!

Er, there's just the "little matter" of the whole point being that "what offends the members" is also (and most conveniently) by definition deemed not participating "in a polite manner".

The above (181) is subtle reasoning? And how! It poses a circularly self-confirming view which at one and the same time defines "a problem" and "its solution". Really, that's a most daring assertion, isn't it? Why, goodness me! If only people were polite, considerate, they could discuss whatever they please politely, and then they'd see what is so very obvious: whatever is denounced, is impolite, and hence something that they didn't discuss 'politely' for, surely if they had, it wouldn't have been "flagged", etc.

Let's review: "Impolite" are those comments, remarks, which are "flaggable", and those which are "flagged" are those which are "flaggable". And if no one breaches the rules of decorous discussion, why, then, nothing is prohibited --except, of course, discussion which is undecorous discussion, which of course is discussion which ought to be prohibited (flagged)and, by fortunate coincidence, invariably is.

In other words, "Everything is for the best in the best of all possible worlds." Subtlety personified.

Be afraid. Be very afraid: America is in a hell of a lot of trouble.

184timspalding
Jul 5, 2010, 10:13am Top

As for Tim's opinion that discussions on this subject do not belong anywhere

Excuse me, but WHAT!

185prosfilaes
Jul 5, 2010, 10:27am Top

#183: Er, there's just the "little matter" of the whole point being that "what offends the members" is also (and most conveniently) by definition deemed not participating "in a polite manner".

Nope. Being polite has to do with responding to the content of what they wrote and taking it seriously, instead of resorting to mockery. Responses that annoy the other participants but advance the discussion nowhere are right out.

186proximity1
Edited: Jul 5, 2010, 11:04am Top

RE the content of the "reply" in 185:

That is "Bullshit", "stuff, and nonsense."

ETA "Mockery" is expressly allowed here. So "politeness" defined as the absence of "mockery" and flagged on that ground would be a clear violation of the TOS as it flags content that the objectors simply don't happen to "like", i.e. "agree with" --and then try to disguise their real motive by the spurious claim that they are motivated by the offending post's being "impolite"--- ETA and yet, there is also nothing improper or against the TOS , as their acceptable use has been described, with treating "content" "impolitely". I am not obliged, as I understand it, to show "courtesy" or "politeness" to the content --- unless, that is, there's been yet another step down in the progress toward prohibiting everything other than enthusiastic agreement and approval.

*** *** *** ***

However, if what you are really advocating is that participation must always be respectful of the others' arguments, reasoning, as shown and indicated by taking it "seriously", I am tempted to dare you to live up to such a view in your own participation.

And likewise with this assertion of yours:

ETA 2 "Responses that annoy the other participants but advance the discussion nowhere are right out."

You would actually live up to such a standard? I would be pleased to see it. You've mocked people even as you've ignored the content of their arguments, ignored their reasoning and the evidence offered in support of it --apparently because you haven't a worthy reply--- and rather than concede a point to your opponent, which I've never seen you do here, you simply pass over in silence the rebuttals that reduce your arguments to nonsense.

*** *** ***

"Mockery" is at times the last resort of those who, indeed, can't get any serious respect or account taken of their reasoned argument, facts, etc. So, those who refuse to take their adversaries' arguments and evidence seriously--esp. when they read but ignore it---give those advesaries cause to resort to "mockery".

187235711
Jul 5, 2010, 10:44am Top

184: Arrgghh, sorry Tim. Humblest most abject apologies. It was MrAndrew. Obviously you weren't the only person who needed coffee... or sleep, for a more long-term solution.

188timspalding
Jul 5, 2010, 11:03am Top

Thanks :)

189proximity1
Jul 5, 2010, 11:07am Top


> 184:

Don't you also "need" a question-mark (?) in there somewhere--like at or near the end of the sentence?

;^)

190timspalding
Jul 5, 2010, 11:19am Top

My outrage was so great, my voice started high and couldn't rise higher. :)

191235711
Jul 5, 2010, 12:07pm Top

And my "Arrgghh" was followed by a comma rather than an exclamation mark because I started to make a noise but it got stuck in my throat. :)

192JGKC
Jul 5, 2010, 1:13pm Top

@ 181

In post 109 you said that "there is no algorithmic means to interpret any human language."

And that is flat-out wrong. You know how I know that? Because my brain is using a process or set of rules to calculate what you are saying. Is that not an algorithm?

Now, in your current post (181), you're using a different definition for algorithm. And that's fine but switching to a more restrictive definition doesn't make your previous post (109) any less wrong, it just means that you're arguing something completely different.

Let's try this again:
- LT grants users the authority to flag posts for TOS violations
- users flag post
- if flagged post is in violation of TOS then system works
- if flagged post in not in violation of TOS then this is an unjust use of authority and is, in fact, censorship

So you can stand by your position that post 83 is a violation of the TOS and roll your eyes at me all you want but your conviction doesn't change the fact that you're wrong. You unjustly used your authority to flag a post that is not, and never was, a TOS violation. That there are still flags on that post (now back up to three flags showing!) is indicative of the problems with the current flagging system.

193proximity1
Edited: Jul 5, 2010, 1:45pm Top

> 166:



Message 166: prosfilaes

#162: At no point that I recall did any opposing post draw a flag, unlike numerous posts of mine.

So much for intellectual rigor. Post #115 is flagged, a fact that was trivial to check.



As I saw, after seeing your comment (earlier today), post #115 was flagged. A fact the accuracy of which I am happy to acknowledge, while, at the same time, I happen to consider its flagging inappropriate. Since you mentioned dismissively "So much for intellectual rigor," let's consider yours:

My words were, precisely, and, at the time I wrote them completely true and accurate: "At no point that I recall did any opposing post draw a flag, unlike numerous posts of mine."

Although post #115 was posted at : (Yesterday (Sunday, 4 July) , 10:57am (top)Message 115: fredbacon ) 10:57, it remained there for some time, and was even the direct topic of comment about its appropriateness for some time as well without drawing a flag and, moreover, at the time I wrote, had still not, when I last checked or noticed, been flagged. There's no way for me to recall when I last looked at it nor at what time the first flags appeared on it, but I can say that I wasn't aware of them when I wrote. My statement was true then and in both spirit and letter it remains true now. (all emphasis above, added)

So much for your dismissive and inaccurate remark. ETA: (à propos of which, see also JGKC's reasoned rebuttal in Post # 192, above.)

______________________________

About the post # 115 itself, I counter-flagged it because,as I see it, it's well within the realm of what is proper to comment on in a member's expressed views and observed behavior.

194JGKC
Jul 5, 2010, 1:44pm Top

@ anyone who cares

My ideal solution would be to keep the end result of eventually hiding flagged posts but the rest of the system needs to be overhauled. Flagging and counter-flagging should absolutely carry the same weight and I still haven't seen a reason to why they don't. And I think that a system to hold users accountable for their flagging would increase the moral authority of said users and make Talk a better place overall.

As to the deletion system proposed by Tim, I don't understand why that is the only way to correct the power imbalance between flagging and counter-flagging.
In fact, it almost seems like Tim intentionally proposed a heavy-handed solution with the expectation that nobody will support it and then he can say that at least he tried to fix the problems.

Having said that, I am still okay with it as long as safeguards (see my post @ 176) are put into place and all relevant concerns are addressed (see proximity1's post @ 178, especially his point about the four-flag threshold).

195JGKC
Jul 5, 2010, 1:49pm Top

@ Tim

How about moderators for the Talk forums?

@ everyone

Possible pros and cons of using moderators?

196skittles
Jul 5, 2010, 1:53pm Top

... its like ghosts fighting on a sandy beach... you don't see the ghosts. you don't see the fight... you just see the messy sandy footprints....

and you wait for the wave to wash away the evidence that there was a fight.

197proximity1
Edited: Jul 5, 2010, 1:54pm Top

> 194:


"...the rest of the system needs to be overhauled." I agree.

"Flagging and counter-flagging should absolutely carry the same weight..." I agree there, too.

..."and I still haven't seen a reason to why they don't." (i.e. "shouldn't") Nor do I see a reason why they shouldn't.

..."I don't understand why that is the only way to correct the power imbalance between flagging and counter-flagging." Speaks for me as well.

..." I am still okay with it as long as safeguards (see my post @ 176) are put into place and all relevant concerns are addressed (see proximity1's post @ 178, especially his point about the four-flag threshold)."

And, for the same reasons---the problems of making those safe-guards actually effective in practice--- I remain unpersuaded that such a change, whatever the reason it was proposed, would be an improvement over what is now in place.

198timspalding
Edited: Jul 5, 2010, 2:05pm Top

I don't understand why that is the only way to correct the power imbalance between flagging and counter-flagging

My point is that the biases are intentional. They are a "tool not rule" approach to a difficult problem—terms of service abuse.

The bias toward flagging means that a significant group of members can hide a post, so that abuses are quickly addressed and anything that a significant number of members thinks is abuse is hidden.

The bias inherent in requiring a threshold of flag ensures that one or two members can't screw with someone's posts. In a fully "fair" world, where flags were equal and everything were by vote, there wouldn't be a threshold.

The bias inherent in not removing the post ensures that, whatever members think, and no matter how much the terms are violated, the post is still visible if you want to see it.

I propose the "deal" as a sort of joke--to remove all biases at the same time. What you really want, it seems to me, is a system in which it takes an absolute majority of members to hide a post, there's still a threshold, but the post is never ever removed. That is, I think, one "equal" rule and two rules that tilt strongly in favor of abuse.

I think that takes it too far.

199proximity1
Edited: Jul 5, 2010, 2:46pm Top

> 195:

My thoughts:

I've never known any discussion blog to successfully moderate controversial debates with moderators appointed by the site's owner/operator.

Judgments inevitably conflict. Members appeal moderators' decisions that go against them, and, unless the owner backs up the moderator's decision--which is easily apt to be a poor decision, and in any case depends on his or her personal qualities in judgment--- this can incite more doubt, confusion and difficulty in knowing in advance what's allowed and what is prohibited. Indeed, almost all the issues and problems relate in one way or another to members knowing clearly enough and in advance what's allowed and what isn't. There are inevitably going to be "gray areas". An intermediary arbitor might be excellent or truly terrible---and the doubtful cases would be appealed to whatever higher authority existed--unless that were prohibited.

You show excellent judgment and _might_ make a fine moderator. BUT I would not wish that post on _anyone_. ;^)

200prosfilaes
Jul 5, 2010, 2:04pm Top

#192: Because my brain is using a process or set of rules to calculate what you are saying. Is that not an algorithm?

No, that's not an algorithm, any more than what a juicer does is an algorithm. Penrose certainly didn't think it was an algorithm.

Now, in your current post (181), you're using a different definition for algorithm.

Given that your interpretation of what I wrote would make 109 vacuous, I submit that it's wrong. By what rule do you interpret the word algorithmic in 109 by a broad manner? What step in the process tells you you can do that?

your conviction doesn't change the fact that you're wrong

Prove it. Show me the algorithm. Hell, make a case in normal informal English. Raw assertions are just hubris.

That there are still flags on that post (now back up to three flags showing!) is indicative of the problems with the current flagging system.

It shows that people think it violates the TOS. The fact that you want to silence those opinions is censorship, pure and simple. Again, tears are not pouring down my face that a post designed to harass one person that added nothing to the conversation has tiny marks on it saying that some people think it's a personal attack.

201jjwilson61
Jul 5, 2010, 2:07pm Top

192> So you can stand by your position that post 83 is a violation of the TOS and roll your eyes at me all you want but your conviction doesn't change the fact that you're wrong. You unjustly used your authority to flag a post that is not, and never was, a TOS violation.

In your opinion. I hold the opinion that post 83 is at least arguably against the TOS. The TOS isn't completely black and white and different people will have different opinions which is why one flag doesn't show and it takes more than 4(?) flags to hide the post.

202proximity1
Jul 5, 2010, 2:08pm Top



> 198:

Hmmm.

"The bias toward flagging means that a significant group of members can hide a post,"....

Do you really mean "significant group" or "significantly small group" etc. ... ?
In my view, four means instead, that what I'd call an insignificant group of members can hide a post.

You wrote,

"I propose the "deal" as a sort of joke--"

thank you for clearing that up.

203jjwilson61
Jul 5, 2010, 2:09pm Top

193>Although post #115 was posted at : (Yesterday (Sunday, 4 July) , 10:57am (top)Message 115: fredbacon ) 10:57, it remained there for some time, and was even the direct topic of comment about its appropriateness for some time as well without drawing a flag

It may well have drawn a flag and you would not have known because single flags don't show. I flagged it as soon as I saw it but that was some hours after it was written.

204proximity1
Edited: Jul 5, 2010, 2:23pm Top

> 200: (framable, markable words,)

"Raw assertions are just hubris."

he asserted, rawly. LOL!!! More wonders of "reasoning" !

By his own definition, then, here we have more hubris:

¤ "Being polite has to do with responding to the content of what they wrote and taking it seriously, instead of resorting to mockery."

¤ "Responses that annoy the other participants but advance the discussion nowhere are right out."

¤ "In any physical grouping of humans, if someone gets annoying enough, they'll get thrown out.

¤ "If you can't throw them, then the entire group will either break up or move to some place where they can be thrown out, or get openly hostile until the person leaves."

¤ "I don't see any reason to fuss about that principle when extended to the Internet; if you don't provide a way to throw people out, then either groups will die under this, or there will be escalating hostility towards people."

So, whaddaya say? Shall we do the right thing and eject the hubristic? For the good of the site, of course! ;^)

205proximity1
Jul 5, 2010, 2:13pm Top


> 203:

all of which goes to my points. Thank you for adding that.

206timspalding
Edited: Jul 5, 2010, 2:19pm Top

For what it's worth, I think 83 is borderline too. It's a good case where the flag system is the right answer--it puts the borderline choice in the hands of the community. Members think you were making an attack and, in an important sense, they are the best judges.

On my part, I think it's borderline. Borderline cases generally revolve around questions of intent, and larger context. (Were you referring to a specific member? To a specific group of members? Did people know your targets? Were you being humorous or earnest? Is this all part of a pattern of such statements? Etc. etc.) Those are hard things for someone like me to know--they take time--and the question would implicate my personal opinions too much. So in borderline cases--and insignificant ones, which this also is--no "staff" action should follow.

So, borderline cases are yucky. I don't want 'em. So I'm glad a flagging system reduces some of the pressure on LibraryThing staff to intervene.

207JGKC
Jul 5, 2010, 2:24pm Top

@ 198

Okay, I can see why you implemented the system that you did but it still seems like there were unforeseen problems and that they haven't been dealt with because the current system is 'good enough'.

And how is requiring four users to flag a "significant number of members?" Furthermore, there's no real bias in not removing a post when you're not even sure that the flagged post is actually in violation of the TOS. That's not bias, that's just admitting that the system is flawed and that you're trying to minimize the damage of mistakes.

I don't see how my proposals are taking things too far when I'm actually advocating for a more balanced approach that protects unpopular opinions and users while still protecting against attacks. Equal power to flagging and counter-flagging just means that it might take a little longer to hide posts that are in violation of the TOS but it will get done if the post in question is actually in violation.

208proximity1
Jul 5, 2010, 2:31pm Top


> 206:

" Members think you were making an attack and, in an important sense, they are the best judges."

That's a rather flat and broad statement of general confidence---on into the horizon, isn't it?

"Members think..."

"...they are the best judges."

"Mistakes were made...."

But "members" vary over time, the circumstances of the controversies are wildly variable, (as, indeed, are those who happen in any given instance to comprise and determine what "members think".)

"Members" ---doesn't that have to mean the odd-lot chance-filled group who happen now to interest themselves today in this topic at this time? Thus my reaction: Good grief!!!

While I do recognize the difficulties inherent in any system for moderating opinions in group discussions--and indeed, that is why I view "four" as hopelessly too small a threshold---you'll excuse me, I hope, for seeing such a rationale as far too simple a view of reality.

209MarthaJeanne
Jul 5, 2010, 2:33pm Top

195> Who is going to do the moderating?

I would suggest that most members do not want the job, and those who do most members wouldn't want.

210proximity1
Jul 5, 2010, 2:39pm Top


> 209:

MJ: Who...?

The members. The ones with the torches and pitch-forks, of course---the, er, "members", who are the best judges.

"Thank you for asking," he ran.

211JGKC
Jul 5, 2010, 2:43pm Top

@ 209

I have no experience with this but I would assume that moderators would be chosen from a list of users who are willing to do the job.

And I don't see how it matters what members want in regards to who would be a moderator since moderators would obviously have to try and be impartial and would ultimately be accountable for the decisions that they did make. So what difference would there be between a moderator who is approved by the users and one who is not if they're both trying to objectively apply the same standards?

212brightcopy
Jul 5, 2010, 3:06pm Top

The biggest downside I see the to the existing flagging system is that a majority of the times that I've seen, whenever a post gets flagged enough to be hidden the entire thread is done. From that point, it devolves into discussion of flagging. Wish there was a TOS rule that said discussion of flagging any specific post had to go into a separate specific forum.

213proximity1
Edited: Jul 5, 2010, 3:10pm Top

> 206:

"For what it's worth, I think 83 is borderline too. It's a good case where the flag system is the right answer--it puts the borderline choice in the hands of the community."

The above is the portion of your comment I ought to have addressed. Since I wrote "#83", let me tell you about its reception. Briefly, its status as flagged in and out of view has waxed and waned through the course of this thread. It's now again not visible except by clicking on "see". But it had been in and out of view several times since this latest status.

That tells me that there is no clear or steady opinion about its fitness and that the "members" you trust with this decision are themselves simply divided. The status is purely a function, it seems to me, of the popularity at any given moment of the post's author. Yesterday, when, during the course of the discussion, observed comment and opinion seemed to generally hear and favor several of my posts' arguments, "#83" came out of its purgatorial state and was in open view. As that favorable trend waned, it drew flags.

Who knows how many people have by now posted "pro" or "con"? Or who they were? Or what, if any, familiarity they took the time to gain by actually reading the threads argued views back and forth.

You show a degree of confidence in popular opinion and its value in judging controversies in which the "judges" themselves are direct and interested "parties", which truly astounds me. The only way I can account for it is that it seems to you to be the only means--however faulty---to address the difficult problems.

I don't understand that view. It seems to me you could _keep_ the system you have _and_ improve its functioning by the simple change in the way a minimum "needed number of flags to hide" is determined. Again, in this site, in these circumstances, when the number is "four", you've set the tolerance threshold very low and the bar on conformity's demands, conversely, very high

-----------in my judgment.

214JGKC
Jul 5, 2010, 3:20pm Top

@ Tim

Your reasoning in 206 seems pretty problematic in terms assumptions about the level of familiarity and effort that users have and put in before flagging posts.

I'd go into it more but proximity1 has pretty much encapsulated the relevant issues.

215timspalding
Edited: Jul 5, 2010, 3:41pm Top

That tells me that there is no clear or steady opinion about its fitness and that the "members" you trust with this decision are themselves simply divided

Yes, so? Decisions about borderline issues will wax and wane. This is life among humans.

The status is purely a function, it seems to me, of the popularity at any given moment of the post's author

No, that doesn't follow. It's an element of it, I agree, but most members try with various degrees of consistency to apply a set of rules.

You might compare it to the Supreme Court. Does the court change its mind? Yes. Does its composition change? Yes. Does that mean its decisions have no connection to the law, but are merely popularity? No. Mutatis mutandis this applies to any similar endeavor where general rules are applied by humans.

The only way I can account for it is that it seems to you to be the only means--however faulty---to address the difficult problems.

I basically agree with this. Again, it's like judging or governing. We could make a Supreme Court robot, but I suspect it wouldn't work as well as any of the current justices. And we could discard democracy and decide everything by a caste of highly-educated supermen, but the result would, I think be worse. Democracy is a terrible system, but better than alternatives. Community flagging is a bad system, but better than the alternatives.

Again, in this site, in these circumstances, when the number is "four", you've set the tolerance threshold very low and the bar on conformity's demands, conversely, very high

The threshold is up for debate. Fundamentally, you have to remember that most members don't care about these issues, and won't flag anything. It would probably be most fair if we established a rule that balanced the number of flags against the number of people who have visited the topic, belong to the group or whatever. That would make the threshold different for an abusive post in, say, Ancient History and here. Fair enough.

But I think the simplicity of the model is itself a virtue. So, in this tradeoff between a better mathematical model and one people can more readily grasp, I go for the latter.

216StormRaven
Jul 5, 2010, 3:44pm Top

215: I believe that you have identified that proximity1 is engaged in what is called the nirvana fallacy.

217timspalding
Jul 5, 2010, 3:48pm Top

You being anti-religious again?

218StormRaven
Jul 5, 2010, 3:56pm Top

217: Not today. Maybe later.

219JGKC
Jul 5, 2010, 4:27pm Top

@ 216

I think Tim is just as guilty in the nirvana fallacy department.

@ Tim

How is post 83 a borderline decision at all? Which part of that message is either abusive and/or an attack?

"Community flagging is a bad system, but better than the alternatives."

That's kind of disingenuous since this thread has pretty much been about how to make the community flagging model work better as opposed to replacing it with another system.

The current system clearly marginalizes less popular opinions and users so why are you so insistent on keeping the status quo? That fact that most members don't even flag makes it even more of an issue because then it's a small group of people wielding the power.

So how about some sort of flagging accountability/oversight system? How does it make sense to have more scrutiny for tag combinations than hiding the thoughts of users?

220brightcopy
Jul 5, 2010, 4:41pm Top

How is post 83 a borderline decision at all? Which part of that message is either abusive and/or an attack?

I'm not Tim, but I'll take a shot.
1) it was aimed at a specific user (the one that was blocked - you don't have to name the user, just like posting "one of the users that posted up-thread is racist jackass" would be an attack on a specific user even though the user wasn't named.)
2) it was a judgment on that user as a whole (that they deserve to be blocked) rather than on the content of a specific post(s)

Good enough for a personal attack in my book. But yeah, borderline.

Just like I'm free to think user X is a drooling simpleton, and am free to privately express that opinion to whoever I want, it crosses the line when I express that publicly in a forum. Same here. If you blocked user X, we don't need to know about it.

221jjwilson61
Jul 5, 2010, 4:45pm Top

219> The current system clearly marginalizes less popular opinions and users

That is so not the case. Of all the posts by proximity1 in this thread, the one that got flagged didn't actually contain any opinions, offensive or otherwise. It's only purpose was to inform another member that his opinions aren't valid. But all his or her posts that actually took positions, that weren't about other members, didn't get flagged.

222timspalding
Jul 5, 2010, 4:54pm Top

223JGKC
Edited: Jul 5, 2010, 4:57pm Top

http://www.librarything.com/topic/94231

See messages 6 and 7 for another example of improper flagging and exactly how much effort users put into understanding, as Tim puts it, "questions of intent, and larger context."

224prosfilaes
Jul 5, 2010, 5:09pm Top

#223: So flagging a post calling another user "stupid" is improper flagging now? It fits well within the literal meaning of the TOS. Moreover, your statement, in that "lorax clearly wanted to know if he would would be considered lazy or stupid!", is not true; lorax's question was rhetorical.

225jjwilson61
Jul 5, 2010, 5:14pm Top

223> That's clearly an attack. It may have been intended to be funny but I think I would have been hurt if I had been on the receiving end of it.

226JGKC
Jul 5, 2010, 5:31pm Top

@ 224

From the post alone, you don't know that lorax is being rhetorical. Just like you don't know any of the things that you assumed about message 83.

@ 225

Why would you be hurt if you asked an either/or question of a user and they answered it using the options that you gave them? If you don't want an answer then don't ask a question.

227jjwilson61
Jul 5, 2010, 5:45pm Top

Because it was obviously a rhetorical question and having access to the full thread I know what the context of the discussion was.

I'm pretty baffled by your response. Are you saying the the TOS requires us to read everything in the most literal sense possible and using no context? I think that's the opposite of what Tim has said.

228timspalding
Jul 5, 2010, 6:06pm Top

Actually, something in between.

I think the TOS works best when context is not taken into account. Context is always more complicated and open to interpretation than the words on the page. It's harder to read context well, and considerably more time-consuming.

That said, sometimes you have to. Imagine a user who wrote "Man, what a ass!" Depending on context, they could mean themselves, or someone else, something nice about the ass or something not. (For the record, you can personally attack yourself, and you can compliment Orlando Bloom's buttocks, if that's what floats your boat.) We're not the bad-language police, so context is of importance in figuring out what's going on. I don't generally want to go much beyond that, though.

229brightcopy
Edited: Jul 5, 2010, 6:26pm Top

223> It seems, once again, you're shooting for nirvana. Yes, some people got it wrong in that thread because they missed the last line of lorax's post. I did, too, but I asked for a clarification rather than flagging (for all the good it did given C's response). So yes, a mistake.

But I could point you to PLENTY of threads where a remark was actually humorous but if taken out of context would appear as an attack (Tim's frequent suggestions that people blow him, for example) that never get flagged (at least, not up to the level of being hidden and not for very long). You're selectively pointing out where the system is imperfect and then wondering why we don't all agree with you that the system is completely broken. The disconnect is that most of us realize that these are the tradeoffs that have to be made in order to have ANY system.

At least, until Tim get's that nirvana code working..

230timspalding
Jul 5, 2010, 6:28pm Top

frequent suggestions

Okay, that is NOT true. (And don't bring up examples!)

231Collectorator
Jul 5, 2010, 6:35pm Top

Yes, some people got it wrong in that thread because they missed the last line of lorax's post. I did, too, but I asked for a clarification rather than flagging ...

Hold on. You missed the last line? And then you saw "Stupid." And then you DID NOT reread Lorax's post but instead posted a message? Asking for clarification? About something you had not even fully read yourself yet?

Please. I have already put the frying pan away for the day.

232brightcopy
Edited: Jul 5, 2010, 6:59pm Top

231> I had read lorax's posts and all the ones before them before you came along later with your post. I thought I already knew the content of the thread. Clearly, I was mistaken. Mea culpa. Etc. I also saw the flags on your post and thought "what am I missing here", I skimmed over the entire thread again and missed what your response was. So I figured "what would it hurt to ask?" You seem to think it was a stupid thing. Oh well, can't really help that.

ETA: What's funny is that, on third look, I think it really should be flagged and it wasn't a mistake by other users after all. I was just a bit slow on piecing it all together. Sorry, we're fresh out of nirvana today.

233proximity1
Jul 6, 2010, 10:32am Top


> 221: "That is so not the case. Of all the posts by proximity1 in this thread, the one that got flagged didn't actually contain any opinions, offensive or otherwise."

Though I've concluded here and exhausted my points and arguments on this issue (to no avail), I just want to set the record straight on the above-cited claim, in 221 :

That's not the case. Other posts, # 124 & 142, were flagged into invisibility--though they've since been "restored".

And, the posts 127 and 137 also drew numerous flags, even if these didn't necessarily get flagged into purgatory.

234jjwilson61
Jul 6, 2010, 10:42am Top

I agree that 124 wasn't an attack. Maybe people didn't realize what a strawman argument was, but that's hard to believe. And I don't have a clue why anyone would flag 142, unless they're huge Heinliein fans. In both those cases, though, the flags are no longer showing so the system worked.

And 127 and 137 don't currently have flags either, so I don't see the problem.

235proximity1
Jul 6, 2010, 11:00am Top


> 234:

Problem? No problem.

It's just that the claim you made in 221:

"That is so not the case. Of all the posts by proximity1 in this thread, the one that got flagged didn't actually contain any opinions, offensive or otherwise."

(my emphasis added above)

is not true. That's all. I posted, as I already indicated, to set the record straight.

236jjwilson61
Jul 6, 2010, 11:02am Top

Fair enough. Consider the record straightened.

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