I'm just wondering what your justification is for removing the content of James' posts in the relevant threads. Have you explained this somewhere?There's nothing about it in the "guidelines."In any case, I hope you don't think that, by posting this message, I am ignoring my promise to respond in full to the threads in which I have been participating. I'd hate to be banned for asking this question, and have the content of all of my posts removed.
Jason Streitfeld wrote:"I'm just wondering what your justification is for removing the content of James' posts in the relevant threads."We don't always hide a banned person's posts, but we do so in some cases, depending on the person's behavior and whether we think they're likely to try to post again, for example. There are limits to what we can do with Blogger in terms of banning people. We work with what we have. See here.
You mean it's a deterrent?That makes sense.In my opinion, it would be a little fairer to ban somebody and tell them that the content of any future posts will be delete. That way, you've got your deterrent, and you don't obscure the evidence supporting your decision to ban.But that's just my two cents.
Jason,For one thing, James's posts haven't been fully deleted yet. If he changes his actions, there's always a possibility they'll be displayed again.As for your concern about whether we've deleted the evidence to support our decision: first, it's our blog so we can act like dictators if we wanted to in the first place and if someone doesn't like it they can always leave; but more importantly people can read the rest of the non-banned comments and see we let an awful lot go through before we ban someone. Of course, those who are anti-Tblog in the first place wouldn't care about our reasons. But they aren't our audience. We don't cater to those who hate us, seeking their approval. If you (speaking generally, not you specifically) don't like us, the internet is a big, wide place; you are free to go elsewhere.
Whew! I thought you meant the book. I was ready to take it out of my Bible.
Peter,A couple points.First, you say if he "changes his actions, there's always a possibility they''ll be displayed again." Consider that James has been banned, I don't understand what future actions you could be referring to here which would result in James' posts being redisplayed. Can you explain this to me?Second, I did not mean to imply that you (or any other Triabloggers) have to justify your decisions to ban people. This is your blog, and you can ban whoever you want. You can delete whatever posts you want. However, as a contributor, it is in my best intersts to know what is considered a bannable offense, and what sort of behavior could result in having all of one's posts in a discussion deleted.By deleting James' posts, you make it hard for people to see exactly what constitutes bannable behavior.For people, like myself, who are likely to engage in heated discussions with the rulers of this blog, it is a little unsettling to see people's posts deleted without having a clear understanding of why it happened.Again, it's not that you don't have a right to do any of this. It's that you've made it hard for outside observers to understand your decision-making process. That makes it a little uncomfortable for people who are likely to express attitudes hostile to your own. In other words, it does not promote an open exchange of ideas.Note that I am not making any demands here. I don't think you need to explain yourselves to me. However, it would be nice to have a clear means of identifying exactly what constitutes a bannable offense, and exactly when one might expect to have all of their posts deleted.The fact is, you didn't even give James a warning, as far as I can tell. And it isn't clear that he did anything so terribly wrong.Based on what comments remain, it looks like he was banned for being argumentative without first thoroughly researching the Triablogue history, and for posting once in a new discussion before following through with a discussion that was already in progress.Maybe that's a justifiable reason to ban somebody and delete their posts. I think that's a debatable point. In any case, it is in my best interests to know exactly how the lines are being drawn here.Again, just to be clear, I'm not saying the decision to ban him was unjust. I'm not trying to defend James. I'm only saying that, from what remains available to view, it is very hard to see exactly where James went wrong.
JASON STREITFELD SAID:“However, as a contributor, it is in my best intersts to know what is considered a bannable offense, and what sort of behavior could result in having all of one's posts in a discussion deleted.”That would ruin the element of suspense. You clearly have no flair for the dramatic.“By deleting James' posts, you make it hard for people to see exactly what constitutes bannable behavior.”I know, it’s pretty Kafkaesque. “It's that you've made it hard for outside observers to understand your decision-making process.”That’s because you don’t know the secret handshake. And if we showed you, it wouldn’t be secret anymore.“It is a little unsettling...”Glad to see it’s having the desired effect.“That makes it a little uncomfortable…”Glad to see it’s having the desired effect.“The fact is, you didn't even give James a warning, as far as I can tell.”The fact is, I fired several warning shots across the bough.“Based on what comments remain, it looks like he was banned for being argumentative without first thoroughly researching the Triablogue history, and for posting once in a new discussion before following through with a discussion that was already in progress.”Engwer and I have pointed out his unacceptable modus operandi for some time now.“In any case, it is in my best interests to know exactly how the lines are being drawn here.”And it’s in our best interests to hide the tripwires in the grass. “I'm only saying that, from what remains available to view, it is very hard to see exactly where James went wrong.”We didn’t like the color of his tie.
Steve, ever the douche, says: "The fact is, I fired several warning shots across the bough."Any chance somebody can point these warnings out to me?I hope there are some Triabloggers out there who aren't as irrationally hostile to disagreement as Steve.
If the Triabloggers operated according to any fixed pattern of behaviour in their bannings, then people could just game the system. That's why James was banned for a very minor infringement, whereas other commenters (such as John Loftus) were allowed to do much worse for much longer without any consequences at all. Sometimes there'll just be a perfunctory statement from Engwer or Bridges saying three people are banned at once, on other occasions there'll be a 20 page document from Pike provided as evidence. With some banned commenters, selected at random, all the comments will be allowed to remain, but with James they thought it best to remove them, at least in some threads. This is the only way to run a blog IMHO
Mark,I'm afraid I don't understand why having clear rules of conduct would be a bad thing.You say people could "game the system." I don't see that.I don't see why a blog should be run any differently than any other community, at least when it comes to having a basic set of guidelines which indicate (even if only roughly) where the lines are drawn.But, hey, if the Triabloggers don't want their banning or deleting to be based on any clearly identifiable guidelines, that's their prerogative. I'll just have to keep it in mind.
Whew. Just checking. I'll refute you all someday!
Jason S. said:---Steve, ever the douche, says---Since you need help with the concept of what is bannable, perhaps a good first step for you to take to ensure you don't get banned is: Don't insult the people who run the blog.I mean, a rational person such as yourself shouldn't be hard pressed to find the logic behind that concept. Some might even call it "common sense" (although this is mostly lacking amongst atheists, so you are understandably handicapped here).
Jason Streitfeld wrote:"In my opinion, it would be a little fairer to ban somebody and tell them that the content of any future posts will be delete. That way, you've got your deterrent, and you don't obscure the evidence supporting your decision to ban."It's easy to view hidden posts. Hidden posts aren't the same as deleted posts. And there are factors involved other than what you're mentioning. Hiding a person's posts doesn't just hide their previous posts. It also hides any future posts from them. Thus, we don't have to be concerned about them posting in threads we're no longer following on a regular basis. If they post in such a thread, their post will automatically be hidden. The deletion of posts, as opposed to the hiding of posts, is something we rarely do. We've done it with individuals who were banned, but kept posting anyway.You write:"I don't see why a blog should be run any differently than any other community, at least when it comes to having a basic set of guidelines which indicate (even if only roughly) where the lines are drawn."We do have guidelines in our Rules of Engagement. For example:"Some trolls recycle the same stock objections no matter how often we’ve refuted them. This is dishonest. And it represents an abuse of the combox."Here and here are some examples of threads in which James was warned about such behavior.Our Rules of Engagement page also says:"Some trolls make no effort to be consistent in their objections. This is dishonest. And it represents an abuse of the combox. In both cases, there comes a point of diminishing returns."James was highly inconsistent, and he was warned about it repeatedly.The Rules of Engagement page says:"There are trolls who, left to their own devices, will infiltrate the combox and take it over, turning the combox into a parasitic, parallel universe to further their own agenda. This is impermissible."James would often attempt to redirect the discussion to some tangential topic he wanted to discuss, such as Hell. Or if the topic of the thread was Hell, he'd repeat objections, typically with little or no supporting argumentation or documentation, that had been answered already. There were some topics he would bring up many times, often when they were only tangential to the discussion and frequently without making much, if any, effort to interact with counterarguments already presented to him.The Rules of Engagement page also states:"We have no crystal ball. Hence, there may be unforeseen contingencies which the stated policy doesn’t cover....This is not the Talmud. We’re not going to lay down case law for every conceivable situation."For example, if James is going to keep abandoning discussions, ignoring what people have written in response to him while he goes to another thread and starts another discussion that he'll quickly abandon, we can make a judgment that such behavior is unacceptable, even if it's not something we anticipated and mentioned when composing the Rules of Engagement.We can be more specific about some things than others. We can warn people about vulgarity, but we won't list every unacceptable word or describe every conceivable image to which it would be inappropriate to link. And we shouldn't be expected to describe in a large amount of detail what does and doesn't constitute an unreasonable argument, for example.You tell us that we should have "a basic set of guidelines which indicate (even if only roughly) where the lines are drawn". Your next sentence refers to "clearly identifiable guidelines". If guidelines that are "only rough" constitute "clearly identifiable guidelines", then our Rules of Engagement page qualifies.We can't always be expected to keep a banned person's posts undeleted and unhidden so as to allow future readers to judge whether we made the right decision. If a banned person posted links to pornography, for example, should we keep those posts undeleted and unhidden, so that future readers can have more evidence that our decision to ban the person was reasonable? There are multiple factors to take into account in such a context, and sometimes one factor will conflict with another. Yes, you'd like to read James' posts without having to go to the place where the posts are hidden, but, on the other hand, leaving his posts unhidden would run contrary to other objectives we have, like the ones I described above. We have to weigh the factors involved and make a decision about what makes the most sense.
Thanks, Jason. That was very helpful.I didn't know the posts were only hidden. You said, "It's easy to view hidden posts." How do I do that?
Jason Streitfeld wrote:"You said, 'It's easy to view hidden posts.' How do I do that?"I don't know whether it works for everybody, but it works for me, and I've seen other people say that it works for them. Click on "POST A COMMENT". The screen that comes up should show all of the posts, including the hidden ones.
Yeah, that works for me. Thanks.
"The fact is, I fired several warning shots across the bough."Well at least the seafarers can rest easy...the environmentalist tree huggers, not so much.