Member # 1
posted 05. May 2002 18:51
[note: this is a work in progress and will be edited over time]
[Added December 07, 2002]
All critiques at Brainstorms must be in the spirit of helping to improve the hypothesis. If the argument is just too far removed and off base, then participants are required to refrain from posting to the thread. If participants can't refrain from consistent efforts to merely shoot down ideas, rather than sometimes affirming the positives, their posting privileges will be removed.
Being even more explicit...
All posts on the first page of a thread must be what Edward de Bono calls of the "green hat" type. The earliest posts must be confined to positive construction, re-construction and modification of the ideas in the original post. In other words, on the first page of a thread, participants are required to show that they have an interest in helping the argument to be developed and not just in shooting it down.
After the first page of a thread, participants are then allowed to provide more forceful, "hole-picking" critiques.
There are several purposes to this new rule. First, to prevent an idea from being killed before it is given a chance to breathe. Second, to encourage a cooperative environment. Third, to give the moderator additional tools for removing participants from the board who are unable to participate in a cooperative environment and who constrain their behaviour to shooting down ideas and disrupting conversation.
[Added December 07, 2002]
On Criticism - Four General Types
This post is intended to give the new user a general sense of what the moderators are looking out for. What we intend by this post is to merely identify certain patterns of behavior, which are not welcome at Brainstorms. By identifying behavior patterns, both participants and moderators will have a better sense of what we expect out of Brainstorms conversations. These are some categories of criticism that are often reflected in the posts at Brainstorms:
1. Open-minded skepticism: I'm interested, even interested in helping develop the idea, but certainly not convinced.
2. Closed-minded skepticism: Not convinced and no longer interested in being convinced. Call me only if something new develops somewhere to cause quite a commotion.
3. Debunker: Not convinced; no longer interested in being convinced; interested only in convincing others they are wrong.
4. Debunking Crusader: Debunking to save humanity.
At Brainstorms, the only type of criticisms that is allowed is #1.
[Added September 23, 2002]
Because most contributors to this discussion board work hard on their postings, ISCID is committed to maintaining and backing up this board. Contributors need not worry about losing their material or having it removed. The only exception is irrelevant or hostile postings. Contributors of such postings will have them removed and emailed back to them with a warning. Thus even in this eventuality no contributor's work will be lost.
[Added June 23, 2002]
I have responded to a widespread misunderstanding regarding the purpose of Brainstorms. In particular, I have tried to make it clear that Brainstorms intention is not to be an intelligent design discussion forum but rather a "brainstorming ballpark" for a wide variety of perspectives on complex systems. Read more here.
[Added May 5, 2002]
In order to clarify the way that I operate, and to answer some frequently asked questions, I've written what amounts to the following:
To begin, let me state that I've always disliked the prospects of giving rules for moderation. Why? Because I trust my instinct (my subjective sense) more than I trust my ability to define lists. So, with that in mind, this is an attempt to give Brainstorms participators a sense of my ethos: how I operate.
Brainstorms is not intended to be a discussion board to promote intelligent design. Despite this fact, many are under the impression that it is. This is easy to understand, given the fact that the society is ID friendly. In any case, to set the record straight, William Dembski, the executive director of ISCID, came to me and said, "Do whatever you want with this discussion board. It's all yours, even if that means keeping me in check." So, I started to think about what I wanted to see. The easiest solution would have been to just recreate the standard talk.orgins format of harsh and bitter debate between people, who quite frankly, dislike each other. But I have become quite tired of seeing civilized people ramming things down each other's throats. How could Brainstorms be different? Well, for starters, it could be a creative outlet rather than a debating forum. The positive would be emphasized rather than the negative. That was the vision I started with. I wanted to see positive hypotheses developed in a friendly but critical environment. Criticism was to be welcomed, but only when focusing on the relevant ideas. Attempts to reconstruct strawmen would not be tolerated. The typical worn-out and rehashed talk.orgins type debates would not be welcomed here. In addition, I wanted this to be a forum where serious Darwinists, teleologists, and self-organizationalists could come together cooperatively. To some degree (though not to the extent of my vision) this has come to pass.
Maintaining this board has been quite a challenge. Desiring to be fair yet knowing that you have to crack down sometimes can be unnerving (everyone is going to think you are biased at some point). Early on, at Brainstorms, we received a rush of posters who were ingrained with the talk.origins battle warrior mentality. To some degree we all are, I would expect. But some simply can not break out of it, and thus I had to take serious action and ban participants after they were given several chances to comply with my requests. To this day, I still see fragments of this mentality even pop up in posts from established members. However, I discovered an important insight early on: don't micromanage the board by moderating every slip of the tongue, but focus on the newbies. So, that is what I have been doing ever since. When new or unactive participants start a new thread, it receives my fullest attention and I moderate, hoping to initiate the new member as soon as possible. This way, nobody gets comfortable in the talk.origins battle mentality.
Still, I do occasionally find reason to warn established members. The infraction that draws my wrath most strongly is an unfair or irrelevant reading of another's post. Regardless, I will be the first to acknowledge that I am a subjective human being who makes mistakes. I am more than happy to discuss my decisions off board at firstname.lastname@example.org. If I become convinced that I was wrong, I will make a public apology.
Ok. Having said the above, I'd like to emphasize that my main intention in moderating is to avoid escalation. Sometimes I email the participant behind the scenes. Sometimes I publicly moderate. Normally, I like to deal with newer users by making a public moderation. In addition, if I feel like a thread needs redirection, I'll make the moderation public. Minor infractions are dealt with privately, and are most abundant. They will often involve a suggestion for wording change.
Here are some general questions for critics of any model (design, general teleology, darwinian evolution, self-organization, etc). Again, criticism is welcomed (and even solicited at times) at Brainstorms. But it has to be a certain type of criticism.
1. Is the criticism constructive or destructive?
2. Does the criticism give a fair reading to the idea that is being criticized?
3. Are the criticisms designed to show once and for all that a certain model has been "exploded"?
4. Is there an either/or mentality (warrior in a battle mindset)?
5. Does the critic give his dialogue partner the benefit of the doubt?
Here are some general questions I ask myself as I moderate Brainstorms:
1. Length of post: quick pithy comments will be deleted or merged with other posts.
2. Is the poster at Brainstorms to make a point, to win a battle, etc?
3. Is the post antagonistic?
4. Does the post have promise: will it lead to productive dialogue.
5. Does the post cover new territory?
6. Does the post look like a cookie cutter argument found elsewhere on the internet?
7. Was the post written casually or with care?
8. Does the post add insight to the discussion?
9. Is the post on topic (or within a manageable range)?
10. How much of the post is "quotes" and how much is original content. I will slim down or delete posts that are quote for quote refutations.
To discuss any of this, please email email@example.com
[ 26. February 2003, 08:51: Message edited by: Moderator ]