Why do we keep coming to these here ERE forums?

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GandK
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Re: Why do we keep coming to these here ERE forums?

Post by GandK »

I'm sure that's true. Many thanks to our moderators.

And many more to those who conduct themselves in such a manner that moderation is not necessary. 8-)

jacob
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Re: Why do we keep coming to these here ERE forums?

Post by jacob »

Oh yes!!!!!!

Dragline
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Re: Why do we keep coming to these here ERE forums?

Post by Dragline »

Too many exclamation points.

That guy ought to be banned or something. ;-)

jacob
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Re: Why do we keep coming to these here ERE forums?

Post by jacob »

Hey now!!!!!!1111one

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Re: Why do we keep coming to these here ERE forums?

Post by Devil's Advocate »

jacob wrote:At least some of that "reasonable behavior" is thanks to our team of moderators who do their part to ensure that the conversations don't default to, uh, normal human standards ;P
Is that right? I had no idea these conversations here were “moderated”!

Stands to reason, actually. How else keep the crazies out? (Although the merely eccentric you’ll HAVE to let in, since most people here—including our dear old [no, make that dear YOUNG] “first citizen”—are generally some variety of oddballs! So I’m safe, it seems, heh heh.)

But really, great job. If you people are moderating this stuff so well that one does not even realize that there’s moderation afoot, then you’re obviously doing a really wonderful job.

Thanks for taking the time and effort, Moderators! I say that with especial sincerity, since I know how very measured—non-EREers might say miserly—we EREers generally are about volunteering either time or money. We simply DON’T volunteer anything unless we really believe in it, and can be very thick-skinned about not doing what we don’t really want. So again, guys : many thanks!

- - - - -

You guys are doing this so well, but here’s a suggestion that might help make your job easier. Perhaps you could just lay out explicitly somewhere on this site, perhaps via a link at the top of the ERE Forums page, the “commenting policy” here, spell out what sort of behaviour/speech is unacceptable here. I expect most people, if they realize that they mustn’t say F### over here, or mustn’t plan mayhem and murder here, will use asterisks instead, or skip that word (or context) altogether, and leave you that much less editing to do. You know, self-moderate. Unless they’re crazies, in which case you can have fun : come in with your guns and interrogate them or take them out or whatever it is you do.

- - - - -

So who ARE these mysterious moderators, then? Unless you’re sworn in blood to eternal secrecy, come on out and take a bow, guys!

Dragline
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Re: Why do we keep coming to these here ERE forums?

Post by Dragline »

There's one or more threads on this. Search "moderator" and ye shall find:

viewtopic.php?f=21&t=3788&hilit=moderator

jacob
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Re: Why do we keep coming to these here ERE forums?

Post by jacob »

Lest you think moderating these boards is a huge effort, the main work is killing spam posts and deleting spam accounts. Still, it only takes one person to lower the level, so we try to contain breakouts early.

Here are the specific rules ...

1) No ad hominems.
2) No public lynching of individuals based on speculation.
3) No trolling.
4) No signatures (it just looks bad and wastes bandwidth).

Here are the general rules ...

http://www.albion.com/netiquette/corerules.html (especially 7)

The actions I take in case of 1 is either to delete the offending post or let it stand as a shameful example. If it repeats and turns into 7, I lock the thread. In case of 2 I delete the entire thread. I will not allow doucherious libel on my boards. Case 3 really depends whether the response is adding value or not---mostly it doesn't. In case 4 I will manually edit out the cursed signature for each and every post until the person gets it ;-P

Here is the golden principle:

If someone is behaving like an asshat (breaking rule 1) try not to be offended and don't shot back (thus breaking rule 7). Turning the other cheek saves everybody a lot of grief.

Since everybody follows these rules almost all the time, moderation is almost effortless.

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Re: Why do we keep coming to these here ERE forums?

Post by Devil's Advocate »

Thanks for the link, Dragline. Plugging in “Moderator” in Search also led to some interesting old threads. Gives you an interesting view of how these forums developed over the years, and how the current moderating policy (or non-policy) evolved (devolved?), from what seems to have been a much smaller collection of people some years back.

I could make out six names (of moderators) there in those posts : m741, bigato, jennypenny, KevinW, then secretwealth (unless he’s now out), and of course Jacob himself. And I’ve recently seen Chad split a thread to prevent the original one derailing, so—although anyone here could conceivably do a copy-paste, of course, so I could be wrong here—I’m guessing he’s a moderator too. So that’s six names (one perhaps defunct) out of what is mentioned someplace as 20+ names in all. [I trust I don’t risk your safety or that of near & dear by disclosing your names? Anonymous handles after all : you can still quietly put on your Moderator tights and knickers (in that order) at home or work when needed, no one here will know.]

Of course the exact details and names aren’t really important. Since you guys end up toiling out of sight, and no longer get to wear your green costumes and rings in public (read about that in the back-posts), I just wanted to call out and shake your hands, is all. All seven (six?) of you, then, and the rest of you in your invisible cloaks : Great job, and a rousing THREE CHEERS! from us all.



Jacob : Those “rules” sound eminently reasonable and commonsense. That is all just basic etiquette and decent behavior, no rules at all per se, really. (Apparently, then, people are allowed to talk here of both kinds of biological functions without necessarily having to resort to asterisks. Which is as it should be : bare minimum rules.)

I found one old rule interesting (that has since been discarded) : that conversations/threads ought in some way have something to do with ERE, if only remotely. You come to the ERE forums, you don’t talk of or post pictures of car models (unless you’re discussing relative running costs and pollution) : makes sense. On the other hand, not bothering too much with that rule (as now), that makes sense too (people want to talk about it, so let them).



I do have one small concern, though. The confidential information that one puts in here (without explicitly volunteering to share that information, e.g. via posts), like email id and IP address (from which I believe location can be deduced) : are these available to the moderators too?

No doubt everyone here is discreet and honest, but still. I’m very much the noob on matters Internet, if I say so myself, and don’t frequent online communities : else I’d no doubt have thought of this before starting to participate in these forum discussions.

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Re: Why do we keep coming to these here ERE forums?

Post by jacob »

@DA - Without having to dig this out of the settings, bigato & I (admin group) can definitely see emails and IPs. Not sure about the moderators---I think they can see the IP from which a post was made.

In general, unless you take steps yourself (encryption, proxies, secure rooms,...), confidentiality generally/always relies on someone's discretion and confidentiality somewhere along the path. For example, sysadmins can read every unencrypted email you send at each routing point between you and the recipient. The etiquette is that admins shouldn't do that, ever! Also, as far as I know everything on these forums are kept in SQL databases (including PMs) and so I think if I wanted to, I could dig out the content of people's PMs. This requires server access, but I have that access and presumably several people at my hosting company has that access too.

PS: you share your IP every time you access anything on the net. Without your IP, the server you're accessing doesn't know where to send it back to.

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Re: Why do we keep coming to these here ERE forums?

Post by jennypenny »

@DA--As a moderator, I can see IP addresses for each post but I can't see user email addresses (unless I'm looking in the wrong place?).

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Re: Why do we keep coming to these here ERE forums?

Post by Devil's Advocate »

Jacob, Jenny : Thanks for those inputs.

I have to say that I find this disconcerting. I am not comfortable having my personal details available to heaps of people, not unless it is strictly necessary.

I am not familiar with general discussion-board customs and conventions, nor the technical software requirements, and so I do not know if this is generally the case with all discussion boards. Irrespective, I do not see any reason why Moderators need to have access to such personal information as IP address and email id. They do need to be able to edit and delete posts and threads, certainly (to take care of spam, as well as—depending on rules on individual forums—objectionable posts) : but I don’t see any point at all in their having access to individual forum members’ personal details. It is not as if spam removal requires detective work. In extreme cases a serial spammer's mail id or IP may need to be blocked : but surely such instances will be rare enough that referral back to you (the admin team, which is much smaller than the moderator team--just two people at this time, in fact, as I gather) will probably offer a manageable way out.

It isn't as if one doesn’t trust the Mods! Great people here, one and all, which is why one keeps returning here! It’s the principle of the thing : unless it is strictly necessary, I prefer my personal information to stay private (unless I choose to share it).

Perhaps you could talk this over amongst yourselves, and then, if what I suggest appears reasonable—and provided that there are no overriding technical/software reasons that make such a change either impossible or very difficult—then you could ensure that, going ahead, these personal details (IP address and email address) are no longer made available to Moderators.



Not a big deal. Just a suggestion. If you can do this, great. If not, no issues. I'm saying this more from the perspective of new members who may have the extreme privacy fetish that I myself have. As far as I am concerned, my posts thus far have mainly been gab-gab-gab, with little hard info or numbers, so it's cool really : and that is how it will continue to be, for me, irrespective. I won't now, for instance, post the expense figures I've already started tracking to help me cut down my expenses, irrespective : which is no one's loss but mine own. I ought to have checked myself, before starting off here, and taken adequate precautions.

I do realize that this may appear somewhat ridiculous to some, my being so finicky about my piddling little finances and generally insignificant life and situation, as well as the generally harmless content and friendly interactions within these forums : but still. Perhaps it’s because I take a crazy long time to really trust people at a personal level or really open up in any meaningful way with people in the real world, and perhaps that’s influencing how I act online. (Not that I’m online much, unlike most people here.)

Many here use their own names, and divulge location as well. This does not, generally, stop them from posting personal details, including detailed financial information. Which is great : whatever works for you, and don’t let my fetish for privacy influence you if you’re comfortable doing and saying what you do and say here. Different people have different privacy preferences.

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Re: Why do we keep coming to these here ERE forums?

Post by henrik »

@DA - I don't think it makes much sense to consider your IP address private or sensitive. It doesn't take much technical skill for anyone on this forum to gather a list of active members' IP addresses without anyone knowing (for example, by embedding an image whose access log is available to the interested party). See Jacob's PS above.

Your IP is also also quite unlikely to betray anything about your real life identity to any moderator unless they work for a three letter agency of some kind. Most commonly what they will see is a dynamic IP belonging to an internet service provider. In a few hours, that IP could be in use by someone else. (This is also why IP based blocking is not very efficient except against dumb trolls.)

You are *never* anonymous on the Internet though. If you wish to strive to be, it can really only be up to you to take precautions. For example, start here.

Your e-mail is possibly a different story, but you can always create a disposable one for an extra layer of obscurity.

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Re: Why do we keep coming to these here ERE forums?

Post by Devil's Advocate »

henrik wrote:@DA - I don't think it makes much sense to consider your IP address private or sensitive. It doesn't take much technical skill for anyone on this forum to gather a list of active members' IP addresses without anyone knowing (for example, by embedding an image whose access log is available to the interested party). See Jacob's PS above.

Your IP is also also quite unlikely to betray anything about your real life identity to any moderator unless they work for a three letter agency of some kind. Most commonly what they will see is a dynamic IP belonging to an internet service provider. In a few hours, that IP could be in use by someone else. (This is also why IP based blocking is not very efficient except against dumb trolls.)

You are *never* anonymous on the Internet though. If you wish to strive to be, it can really only be up to you to take precautions. For example, start here.

Your e-mail is possibly a different story, but you can always create a disposable one for an extra layer of obscurity.

Oh. I didn't follow all of the tech-talk I'm afraid (just as a good deal of Jacob's tech-talk too was sort of beyond me), but okay, I take your point.

(Thanks for the link, by the way. I know little enough of things Internet, and it should be interesting learning more about this. I'll check it out.)

Using proxy servers or fake email IDs can work : but I find using that kind of subterfuge distasteful. It's not as if we're planning terrorist attacks or even watching porn here. Rather than do all that cloak-and-dagger stuff to get in someplace, I'd probably not venture in at all.

I take your point : but there's the principle of the thing. If knowing these details isn't necessary for doing mod-work, then why should they be known? (Unless there's some technical compulsion.)

But like I said, not a big deal. This was just a suggestion. Seemed reasonable to me, so I said it.

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Re: Why do we keep coming to these here ERE forums?

Post by henrik »

Devil's Advocate wrote:If knowing these details isn't necessary for doing mod-work, then why should they be known? (Unless there's some technical compulsion.)
That's a valid point.

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Re: Why do we keep coming to these here ERE forums?

Post by jacob »

Sorry, I'm not going to change anything here because even though mods don't need to know, it's quite helpful to know in certain cases.

Admins know emails so that when a user forgets their password or somehow can't figure out how to login (this happens 1-2 times a month), it's actually possible to see that they are who they claim they are. If the request doesn't come from the registered email, people are SOL.

Admins also know IPs.

Moderators only know IPs (not emails) because it makes it possible to see where spam comes from and that helps to check if spammers are being subtle.

Basically, if you're concerned about showing your IP to the world, you should fix the problem at your end by using a proxy server.

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Re: Why do we keep coming to these here ERE forums?

Post by George the original one »

> I prefer my personal information to stay private (unless I choose to share it).

You are being naive. The instant you interact on the internet, you are sharing information. Whether that information is just a matter of knowing where you go or more vital, like credit card numbers when you shop online, the information is out there and you are always relying on the goodwill of other people.

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Re: Why do we keep coming to these here ERE forums?

Post by Devil's Advocate »

Henrik : Checked that link out. Plus nosed around a bit more on TOR and VPNs in general : VPNs seems easy to use, at least in theory. Incidentally, found a thread on this very topic on these very forums (by plugging TOR in the Search box).


Jacob : No problem. Your call entirely.

Incidentally, I love these new words and usages that I get to know of out here. Your "SOL" up there, for instance. Urban Dictionary deciphered that one for me.

Also : If I ask you for my password, can you look it up for me, or will you have to reset it like banking sites do? Would you know if other sites, like airlines for instance, can look up your password directly? I ask because I tend to use the same password most places! (What do people generally do re. passwords? After all, you can't remember 10 passwords for your email, bank, card, reservations, ERE forum, et al.)


George : How is my bank login etc dependent on goodwill for privacy? They claim to use encryption that masks these even from their employees. Also for cards, airline reservations and hotel reservations. Appreciate your inputs/details on this : if what you say is true, esp. for bank websites and the like, then that is very worrisome.

If what you say does hold for banks etc, then what would be the best way to protect oneself? Might using VPNs for online financial transactions help? How do you make online banking transactions etc, and what precautions do you take?

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Re: Why do we keep coming to these here ERE forums?

Post by henrik »

Devil's Advocate wrote:Also : If I ask you for my password, can you look it up for me, or will you have to reset it like banking sites do?
Unless jacob and bigato made made some very backward changes in the (widely used) forum software, they would have to reset any lost password. Passwords are usually stored as hashes, meaning that it's easy to check whether the password you entered matches a hash value in the database, but intentionally very hard to do the opposite, i.e. recreate the password from the stored hash value.

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Re: Why do we keep coming to these here ERE forums?

Post by jacob »

I reset the password. These days passwords are generally encrypted to some (minor) degree. A determined miscreant could probably decrypt it. (BTW about 1/3 of people use passwords that can be cracked with simple dictionary searches---e.g. if your password is something like "puppy" or "holiday2000" it can be cracked in less than a second, whereas if it's more like "fs%gGRE3@1^yhh$9" it could take years or decades). You're relying on the general observation that evil people aren't snooping on various parts of the system. This, as history has shown, is apparently a somewhat naive assumption. Basically, presume everything can be cracked if someone is willing to budget enough resources for it.

In general, the best and only way to protect yourself is to avoid connecting your computer to the internet. For everything else, privacy is just a matter of degree which you can take to any degree of paranoia that you wish. In general---for any system---the safer it is, the more annoying it is to deal with because safety comes at a hassle-cost.

Of course every institution will say there's nothing to worry about and that their systems are safe. What does "safe" mean anyway? However, if you read the news you'll note that a major breach happens every few months. Target and Home Depot comes to mind for this year alone.

And even if their systems are safe, yours might not be. Your security definitely has PEBCAK problem right now. NEVER EVER USE THE SAME PASSWORD IN MORE THAN ONE PLACE!!! This is far far far more worrisome [for you] than our resident moderators being able to see your temporary dynamic IP. If you can't remember all your passwords then write them down and store them in a way that you trust.

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Re: Why do we keep coming to these here ERE forums?

Post by Devil's Advocate »

Using separate passwords for every account ... Hmm, as you say, additional hassle does seem to be the cost of additional safety.

Do people really do this, or is that just the theory?

If you tech-savvy folks tell me that's the only way to be safe, in practice not just theory, I'll take your advice. At least for sites involving money transactions.

And if I'm writing down my passwords, as opposed to memorizing them, I suppose I can throw in some @%& characters as well.

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