The atmosphere of the forum...

Questions and comments
FBeyer
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Re: The atmosphere of the forum...

Post by FBeyer » Sat Mar 16, 2019 12:49 pm

Kriegsspiel wrote:
Sat Mar 16, 2019 6:07 am
...I kinda think it's a misuse of the internet to say "well, nobody's talked about that thing from the 3rd page of the thread, so I can't bring it up anymore; the thread's derailed!"
This. Jesus you just nailed why forums are inherently much more productive in the long term than f**** facebook/Slack/Discord.
The existence of an easy-to-navigate communication history, and the quote function, makes participants able to fork a conversation wherever they want.

For the longest time I figured it was only the library-like layout of a forum that made it superior, but it still felt like a half-assed explanation. The availability of the history makes a major difference!

:idea: :idea: :idea:


And so I have to second your post: Forum users should respond freely to those select parts of a discussion that they feel are worth discussing. The derailed current topic is an inconsequential artifact.

Jason
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Re: The atmosphere of the forum...

Post by Jason » Sat Mar 16, 2019 12:49 pm

I never understood the necessity for these type of conversations. Just use the foe button. Forums are the one place in the world where you can block people out. Imagine if you had such a button at work, or at family reunion or I don't know, the post office. Life would be so much better. I mean God knows how many people aren't reading this post. I'm sure that skews a lot of people's r vs. k graph in their favor. Its like a redacted transcript where you can't read the parts that you don't want to read. It spares you the trip to the boss's office to whine about the co-worker who doesn't shower and boasts about how man slaves his great great great grandfather owned or having to snort an eight ball before listening to the illegitimate douchebag son of your step-uncle at Thanksgiving when all you want to do is ogle his ex-hooker girlfriend. I know posters gave JLF an "either him or me" with "him" being me. Why couldn't they just block the "him" that was me? Unless I'm missing something. If I recall correctly, I was mentioned throughout the not-up-to Fish's-lofty-standards thread and for the life of me I couldn't understand why people just didn't block me, which, as a big fucking DUH FYI, only makes someone like myself worse, knowing people are bothered yet still reading them.

Augustus
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Re: The atmosphere of the forum...

Post by Augustus » Sat Mar 16, 2019 1:13 pm

FBeyer wrote:
Sat Mar 16, 2019 12:49 pm
And so I have to second your post: Forum users should respond freely to those select parts of a discussion that they feel are worth discussing. The derailed current topic is an inconsequential artifact.
My favorite discussions with friends function the same way. They range over tangentially related topics. If I had to stick to some rigid script about how everyone's day is going I would go insane. Derailment is often a good thing.

Augustus
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Re: The atmosphere of the forum...

Post by Augustus » Sat Mar 16, 2019 1:17 pm

Jason wrote:
Sat Mar 16, 2019 12:49 pm
I actually enjoy your posts. We can be (forum button) friends!

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C40
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Re: The atmosphere of the forum...

Post by C40 » Sat Mar 16, 2019 1:26 pm

I've used the Foe function before, years ago. It is about halfway effective (which is a lot better than nothing). Because:

1 - I think you can actually see that the foe posted, but the post is not shown.
2 - Their posts become a part of the conversation, and other people respond to them. Then you get lost. And so when you see that button to show the foe's post you are faced with whether you want to read it. (even before you're confused by subsequent conversation, in order to avoid the confusion. Also, because one can interpret seeing the button as: "hey, wanna see what that dickhead wrote?" .. every time you see it.)

(I'm not totally sure whether the functionality still works this way, as I think I was using it before a forum change/migration)

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Dream of Freedom
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Re: The atmosphere of the forum...

Post by Dream of Freedom » Sat Mar 16, 2019 1:28 pm

What is this gender divide you speak of? I hadn't noticed. Are you referring to the Gillette thread?

Edit: I hadn't read the relationship derailment thread yet when I posted that. Never mind.
Last edited by Dream of Freedom on Sun Mar 17, 2019 4:13 am, edited 1 time in total.

theanimal
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Re: The atmosphere of the forum...

Post by theanimal » Sat Mar 16, 2019 1:37 pm

You're not alone, jp. Multiple times a week I think about responding to a thread and refrain because I don't think it'll match standards advocated by that thread and other miscellaneous posts from the past.

ETA: @ fish The main reason people seem to lurk here is that they feel their input is not meaningful or not up to some arbitrary intellectual level. Saying responses within a thread weren't worth creating it in the first place only further exacerbates the problem you wish to solve. At least that's the case for me.
Last edited by theanimal on Sat Mar 16, 2019 1:44 pm, edited 2 times in total.

luxagraf
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Re: The atmosphere of the forum...

Post by luxagraf » Sat Mar 16, 2019 3:02 pm

FWIW, I think you generally do an amazing job here Jacob. I started to message you once to ask you how the hell you do it.

I will say that about once a week I start to respond to a post and then think, meh, so what if someone is wrong on the internet, I have better things to do with my life. Which might be me having internalized your moderation approach to a degree.

I do feel like it's not quite what it used to be. I miss some of the people from back in the day, and feel like I relate to younger generations less well than I do to the older ones, but then that's just me and not really something that can be moderated.

7Wannabe5
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Re: The atmosphere of the forum...

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Sat Mar 16, 2019 4:08 pm

Jacob wrote: I'd rather be annoyed than bored.
Well, then maybe this could be auto-played as appropriate atmospheric music for the forum?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SQNymNaTr-Y


Seriously, I have always appreciated the overall relatively low level of reaction as opposed to response on this forum. I think this is due to the Spock-like nature of many INTJs.

cimorene12
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Re: The atmosphere of the forum...

Post by cimorene12 » Sat Mar 16, 2019 8:02 pm

luxagraf wrote:
Sat Mar 16, 2019 3:02 pm
FWIW, I think you generally do an amazing job here Jacob. [snip]
I will say that about once a week I start to respond to a post and then think, meh, so what if someone is wrong on the internet, I have better things to do with my life.
To pull from the derailment thread:
CS wrote:
Fri Mar 15, 2019 5:10 pm
YAY @dragline!!! Thank you! The truth comes out. It is Plato's cave in here - and getting mansplained, and shouted down and rationalized away is not going to change it - it's just going to drive out people who are not completely in the cave.
[snip]
I feel bad for JFL because 1) his posts are thoughtful, respectful of all and frankly wonderful, and 2) he bends over backward to let people speak and gives them the benefit of the doubt. I would perhaps wish for less tolerance of some of the BS, but hey, I understand where he is coming from... and it's a benefit I've probably personally been given in the past.
Yeah, I think that Jacob himself is great and does what he can.

Even though I read the ERE forums fairly frequently, I'm less likely to speak up now than I was back in 2014. I don't have the spoons* to try and tussle with random strangers on the Internet.

(*) I'm referring to spoon theory.

prognastat
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Re: The atmosphere of the forum...

Post by prognastat » Sat Mar 16, 2019 8:26 pm

I've mentioned it in the derailment thread, but I guess I'll add my opinion on forum moderation here.

I actually think for mostly doing it himself he does an admirable job keeping up with the forums. I also respect his decision to moderate on tone rather than content and him sticking to this despite some trying times.

I definitely can definitely add a +1 to the concerns about being worried of posting low quality responses. I generally try to make sure my posts are well thought out, but also at a certain point have to just say f* it to myself and just post or I would rarely post at all. I've got limited time and can't spend hours agonizing over a single post/reply. Given that I'm pretty disagreeable in temperament I'm sure other people experience this multiple times over what I do. If we stripped out all of the posts that weren't high level there would be little personalized discussion and I think fewer and fewer people would be present due to the dearth of content.

jacob
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Re: The atmosphere of the forum...

Post by jacob » Sun Mar 17, 2019 2:37 am

@Jason -

The foe function does not work, so it SHOULD not be relied on. Its existence is definitely not a pass on making toxic posts.

In the land of metaphors, the foe function is like putting on a gas mask. However, one is still left wondering why other people are still croaking around you and more importantly, why everybody else just changed their behavior during the gas attack/change in atmosphere. In short, the foe function works if and only if 1) Everybody already uses it. 2) The forums are set to private so unregistered readers aren't affected either(*).

This means that a better way would be to exercise some personal restraint in terms of what/when/why something is appropriate. Cursing is a good example. For some it's a fine art form, others just wield it crudely, while some wishes to outright disallow it. It exists on a scale and it doesn't take a super-high levels of adulting to understand how it's better applied with some situational awareness rather than relying on one's surroundings to shut their ears.

(*) The forum used to have a Bozo-plugin that would render a person's post invisible to everybody but themselves. That is the only kind of foe function that would actually work as intended.

Seppia
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Re: The atmosphere of the forum...

Post by Seppia » Sun Mar 17, 2019 2:56 am

A few considerations

I think this forum is very unique in terms of average quality of posts. It is the only forum that I read and participate in regularly these days and I do so with great pleasure. So keep this in mind while reading the next observations.

I really like Jacob’s attitude towards moderation, and I will try responding more rather than staying silent when I disagree, but in my opinion certain threads/discussions are better served by not responding.
If the central theme of a hypothetical thread is “I think whites are better than blacks”, engaging with the OP in a serious discussion is counterproductive as it kind of gives his/her unacceptable opinion some credit.
I’m all for open discussion and open mind but there has to be some sort of boundary that must not be crossed.
I felt at times this boundary has been crossed in gender related discussions.

While one of the qualities I appreciate the most here is the overwhelming preference of this forum in general for quality over quantity, I personally welcome light hearted/fun comments. We aren’t discussing a genetics paper, it’s a forum populated by human beings that have the ultimate goal of being happy.
Happy people laugh and joke all the time.

Last, as an Italian with some mandatory % of mafioso culture in me ( :lol: ), I must say that ratting people out without confronting them openly is a NO-NO in my view. So is in general asking for bans and purges of forum members.
If I don’t like someone, I will say it in public and then avoid he/she if needed. It’s not my place, it’s not up to me to decide who stays and who leaves.

slowtraveler
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Re: The atmosphere of the forum...

Post by slowtraveler » Sun Mar 17, 2019 11:53 am

I actually really appreciate this thread. Jacob, thank you for the moderation you provide, I better understand what it takes to create a healthy atmosphere for intellectual growth and progress towards a shared goal that avoids group think and other toxic thought processes. This forum has changed my mind on certain situations.

Ie-I remember JennyPenny advocating against doxing someone who was spreading negativity for the sake of it. I initially disagreed with her and changed my mind, she was right because of the toxic atmosphere an action like doing creates. (jp- I can remove this paragraph if you'd rather I don't share it.)

A long winded way of thanking those on this forum for facilitating the development of my emotional intelligence.

I am also guilty of just ignoring many negative comments and waiting for the atmosphere to change or something intellectually productive to interact with to come up. It often feels it isn't worth the effort so I appreciate those like C40 and JP stepping in and writing beautifully thought out essays regarding the situation. A sincere thank you to all the effort out into helping out the forum. I often feel I take more than I give here. Hopefully, I will change that one day.

Fish
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Re: The atmosphere of the forum...

Post by Fish » Sun Mar 17, 2019 1:29 pm

Crazylemon wrote:
Sat Mar 16, 2019 6:25 am
Thank you for writing that thoughtful reply and I agree with all the points. It would be a terrible thing for conversations to take place at the “letters to the editor” level or even worse, peer-reviewed academic journals. I will write at a level hovering around “informal email” (about the same level of care as writing to a colleague at work) for the reason that ERE forum discussions are public and permanent and have been quoted in articles in a negative light. I do not request or expect the same from others and I certainly enjoy reading light-hearted banter between friends.

I see what you mean about serendipity, for example my linking to a negative fashion critique eventually resulted in C40 offering Jacob a portrait shoot. I nearly didn’t post that because I couldn’t see any immediate upside for anyone. And this kind of serendipity occurs frequently enough for many to visit and lurk on a regular basis. I will also concede that it almost always results from the r-level posts.
jennypenny wrote:
Sat Mar 16, 2019 12:02 pm
To your last point, to anyone who interpreted your previous comments as I did, K posters would be more inclined to refrain from posting than r posters, amplifying the undesired effect on your threads.
theanimal wrote:
Sat Mar 16, 2019 1:37 pm
ETA: @ fish The main reason people seem to lurk here is that they feel their input is not meaningful or not up to some arbitrary intellectual level. Saying responses within a thread weren't worth creating it in the first place only further exacerbates the problem you wish to solve. At least that's the case for me.
To both of you, a sincere thanks from me for explaining how my actions have been self-defeating. I was not self-aware the first time around.

I probably suffer from some kind of intellectual insecurity due to having being labeled “intelligent” by others since a child. For the most part I lived up to their expectations but even though it does not matter to me at the core, it is a burden and pushes me to be more K-level in writing.

I am not the kind of person who, after e.g. finding that @jacob has made an arithmetic mistake in a post, will point it out for all to see. It does not even cross my mind to think “haha, PhD physicist can’t even do math properly” or similar. You’ll not get that from me. I also am not inclined to point out unimportant mistakes and I’m glad others extend that same courtesy to me because hey, this is just an informal conversation. I don’t want this to be an environment where we are so uptight about being 100% correct all of the time that we cannot discuss the big picture. That is directed at the lurkers who are turned off by this perception that I am silently judging every post against stringent quality standards. I certainly do not. I care about as much as you care about others’ writing, which is not much at all.

Where I care just a little more is the types of topics that get responded to. I know this is a rare oasis for relatively civil internet discussion of contentious political and social issues, and I understand why that will be popular even if I don’t see the upside. But where I slightly disagree with “silence = a vote for the current environment” is when one person is off planting never-before-seen seeds that you like. Without feedback and encouragement, it will stop when that person’s intrinsic motivation runs out. Don’t wait for that to happen before asking for more.

Jean
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Re: The atmosphere of the forum...

Post by Jean » Sun Mar 17, 2019 2:04 pm

I find that some appear to don't show any empathy to young males struggling with relationships. I have real troubles to understand the motivation of those attacking them so strongly. It seems that they take for common knowledge something that isn't. I think it would greatly help if they were to expand more about why they are annoyed by those posts. I remember spartan warrior repeating "but they are nazis" without answering how they are nazis despite me asking him a dozen time. Some of the individual I'm targeting now are probably very smart and empathic. Speaking out in a smart and empathic manner could realy help.

black_son_of_gray
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Re: The atmosphere of the forum...

Post by black_son_of_gray » Sun Mar 17, 2019 4:16 pm

@ jacob - I largely agree with what you wrote in your OP, in particular your stated values (favoring form over content). I'm also a little in awe at how you always seem to frame situations from one hierarchical level higher, which always brings insight and a fresh perspective. You stay out of the muck, while looking down on it and explaining it to the rest of us. Kudos!

That being said, while I agree with your ends, I disagree about where to draw the line. Over the last few years, I've started to think that "culling the herd" is the better strategy, for two main reasons:

1. Your "be the change you want to see in the forums" advice works better in closed systems with limited options, but the Internet is an open system with many options. It's not bad advice, but it imposes a cost. Which costs less: to steadfastly build the community you want, or to find an existing community that is already acceptable? In the beginning, when there were few communities online that cared about this stuff, it clearly made sense to build. If it was to survive at all, it was because of the internal efforts of each member of the group to make it work. ERE blog comment sections and the nascent forum thrived. Now, with the dramatic growth/mainstreaming of FIRE on the internet, it is easier to find what you want by grazing among different sources without deep-diving, participating, or committing. There are other options now - good ones- which this forum is in open competition with for readers' attention and posters' ideas. Competition between groups means group-level selection.
My priority is not making this forum more welcoming according to whatever lens is trending in general society. Basically, what I want to promote here is intellectual discussion with the aim of expanding the Overton window (for any and all lenses). After all, I believe such an attitude is the progenitor ingredient to puruse something as open-minded as an ERE lifestyle.
I'm going to push back a little on this. Two points. First: If the aim is "expanding the Overton window (for any and all lenses)", then expect to lose the competition (and quality forum members) to other FIRE communities. You're trying to interest people from outside the community by pushing the boundaries of what they find comfortable? [Serious] Am I interpreting that correctly? If you are going to be pushing boundaries, then tone becomes all the more important - and as such it would make more sense to take a conservative moderation stance with respect to tone. Otherwise, the whole experience is just off-putting. Second: To be honest, I don't think ERE requires that much intellectual bootstrapping. Understanding of personal finance, yes. Thinking in systems, yes. These are the core elements as I see them. Political theory, sure maybe, but on the edges of the core ERE principles and more as a hedge/anti-fragility exercise. Gender theories, hardly. Opinions about specific social commentators, nah. The fires don't typically start in topics or with members discussing bread-and-butter ERE principles. Maybe a flexible moderation approach is in order? That is, tighter standards on some topics/contexts than others?

2. Speech silences other speech, and WYSIATI. Freedom of speech is paradoxical and can't fully exist for everyone at once. When one person speaks without censorship or restraint, it will influence, subtly or overtly, what others feel inclined to express, the so-called "chilling effect." Everyone has their own subjective line in the sand, but I draw mine a bit more conservatively for the following reason. One of our deepest, core biases is that we constantly discount/disregard what we don't know exists, what Kahneman calls "what you see is all there is", or WYSIATI. When someone makes a "borderline" post right on the edge of community standards, we see that post… but we don't see all the posts that have been stymied (which could be many), we don't hear from users who have been "chilled" (which could be many), we don't see new members sign up that were ready to chime in but reconsidered (which could be many). So, we tend to underestimate the negative effects simply because we can't see them. Now, I don't know how big a loss is incurred by allowing these borderline posts - that's the whole point of WYSIATI - but I do have my suspicions that the losses are way bigger than the gains from allowing such posts. Specifically, the people who have left the forum over the years were, in my opinion, way more insightful, diverse (demographically and in thought), helpful, and better community members than those that drove them away have been. It isn't even close. So my take on maximizing diversity of opinion sounds a little backwards: If someone's speech is going to be silenced regardless, because freedom of speech for everyone cannot exist, you might as well choose the speech that silences the least. In my opinion, because speech silences other speech and WYSIATI, that means "culling the herd".

Personally, I have been posting less here, and I have been finding other outlets for sharing information and ideas, specifically because of the current atmosphere. Anyway, to reiterate: I agree with your goals, I'm just inclined to be less lenient. That's my two cents.

Edit: Worth adding here that my concern with respect to speech is "tone", civility, etc. in forum posts. In other words, if the goal is "form over content", I think the standards on "form" should be tightened.
Last edited by black_son_of_gray on Sun Mar 17, 2019 5:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.

prognastat
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Re: The atmosphere of the forum...

Post by prognastat » Sun Mar 17, 2019 4:50 pm

@black_son_of_gray
I'm going to have to disagree that forced censorship by Jacob and self censorship by posters is even in the same ballpark. If you choose not to speak you haven't been censored and the only one in the end preventing you from speaking was yourself not someone else.

As for the group selection. It may be easier to find an existing community that already agrees with what you believe, however I believe this is one of the biggest detrimental things the internet has brought on. Self segregation and the political polarisation that has grown from it. Yes you can find yourself a community where everyone is just like you instead of arguing for your point of view in a place where there is disagreement, but I think you aren't doing yourself favours in the long run.

black_son_of_gray
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Re: The atmosphere of the forum...

Post by black_son_of_gray » Sun Mar 17, 2019 5:11 pm

@prognastat
I suppose I should clarify. My post, which is woefully lacking in clarity on this point, was mostly concerning "tone", manners, civility, etc. That is where I think the forum would benefit by having much stricter standards. (I'll edit the post to note this)

prognastat
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Re: The atmosphere of the forum...

Post by prognastat » Sun Mar 17, 2019 5:13 pm

Ah well then disregard most of what I said, I definitely agree keeping it civil is the best policy.

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