babble-intro-img
babble is rabble.ca's discussion board but it's much more than that: it's an online community for folks who just won't shut up. It's a place to tell each other — and the world — what's up with our work and campaigns.

Please stop closing threads where productive discussion is happening

jas
Offline
Joined: Jun 6 2005

Catchfire, what's the deal?

I can't even mention "Boston Bombing" (OMG!!!11!!) without you swooping in and closing the thread down.

The thread was about how discussion about conspiracy theories gets shut down, even in progressive, democratic forums. It was  producing some good dialogue that was respectful and making headway on issues that actually need to be addressed here, as your actions so obviously demonstrate. And here you go again, shutting the conversation down, with a non-explanatory, "I don't see this conversation going anywhere." Are you being instructed by someone?

No, we have not made all our points -- clearly, since you have just shut another thread down.

If you don't want us mentioning "Boston Bombing" give us a heads up at least (and ideally an explanation of why) but let us continue the conversation we were having. Otherwise you were allowing Magoo to set me up.


Comments

jas
Offline
Joined: Jun 6 2005

Here were the last two posts that apparently were so offensive to Catchfire:

jas wrote:
Being new to this information myself, I was simply approaching it from an everyday, common sense perspective, having many years first aid training myself, assuming others would also, and just asking questions about these images which, to my mind, depict a bizarre and completely counter-to-all-common-sense first aid approach in treating supposed trauma. I would not be able to construct an entire theory about how such a hoax could be pulled off in plain view. But many of the details of this event, and certainly the official images raise questions. So rather than dismiss something right off the bat out of incredulity, I was asking folks here to simply look at the images and give their impressions of it. I understand why my posting of those images was repugnant to some, but this what I mean by being able to examine the facts alone, on their own merit, before demanding an entire, elaborate explanation of what those facts suggest.

Sean in Ottawa wrote:
Too bad the concept of implausibility did not define the term more than the concept of conspiracy. I wish I could lump all the implausible ideas in a basket defined by implausibility rather than conspiracy. A good many implausible ideas have nothing to do with conspiracy and a number of conspiracy ideas are quite plausible.

I do understand the point that grand conspiracy is hard to do and the greater the numbers of people who must be involved the less plausible the idea is. Perhaps even a term: grand conspiracy theorist would be better.

As a point of logic there is no benefit in having such pejorative connotation to something that exists. Conspiracy exists. Check out the criminal code of any nation on earth -- and it is proven in courts. White collar conspiracy also exists and it is not all tax fraud.


jas
Offline
Joined: Jun 6 2005

Catchfire, can you answer my question, please?

Why did you shut down a thread that several people were participating in, and that was operating within Babble guidelines?

Kinda need to know, because I would like to continue the discussion.


Catchfire
Offline
Joined: Apr 16 2003

Hi jas, I don't agree that it's a productive discussion and I don't think that babble is the place for it. It's really as simple as that and it's not personal. I'm sorry if you consider it so. I welcome dissent on this subject, although my feelings are quite clear and have been for awhile, but I also think that most babblers agree with me.


ygtbk
Offline
Joined: Jul 16 2009

Catchfire wrote:

Hi jas, I don't agree that it's a productive discussion and I don't think that babble is the place for it. It's really as simple as that and it's not personal. I'm sorry if you consider it so. I welcome dissent on this subject, although my feelings are quite clear and have been for awhile, but I also think that most babblers agree with me.

(* sighs - if I claim to be in favour of free speech, I am obliged to defend jas, even if I disagree... *)

Catchfire, that was really not a responsive answer and I think you know it. jas was asking what babble policy was being violated and you responded on the basis of your feelings. And "I welcome dissent" when you just shut down the thread is obvious shenanigans.

I was just going to tell jas that once in a while you have to exercise your authority as an alpha mod, just because you can, don't take it personally.

Can you do better?


Catchfire
Offline
Joined: Apr 16 2003

I don't think conspiracy theory discussions are valuable because the people who engage in them are more interested in mocking the other side rather than convincing them. While that may be true for most of babble, it is particularly true for conspiracy theory discussions which exist almost entirely in the performative.

I'm sorry if you think I'm just trying on my alpha mod hat, as if I enjoy this. I don't have time to turn every decision over to committee or put it in the next omnibus bill I bring to the babble senate. This discussion on the validity of conspiracy theories on babble has gone on a long time and at some point you just have to make a decision. I'll note that this was a decision to close one particular thread that had long since departed its original intent and had become a catch all bucket for conspiracy theories in general. It was unfortunately revived after a few weeks when I should have killed it, but better late than never.


jas
Offline
Joined: Jun 6 2005

Thanks, ygtbk. If it was just an 'alpha mod' phenom, I'd say he goes 'alpha' on me quite a bit, which would need its own explanation.

And I agree that Catchfire has failed to point out what part of the discussion was "unproductive" in his mind, given that there was a productive dialogue happening, it was within guidelines, and it was not producing any hassles for the mods.

Plus, I just plain need to know for future reference, and to decide whether I can continue to be on this forum (after ten years of posting here): is a discussion about the political agenda of labels like "conspiracy theory" off bounds for Babble? And if so, why?


ygtbk
Offline
Joined: Jul 16 2009

@ Catchfire:

Thanks for responding.

I myself am not particularly enamored of conspiracy theory threads (although the RAW book I cited is excellent).

So, is it safe to say that although babble has at present no formal policy against conspiracy theory threads, they are nonetheless severely frowned at?


jas
Offline
Joined: Jun 6 2005

Catchfire wrote:
I don't think conspiracy theory discussions are valuable because the people who engage in them are more interested in mocking the other side rather than convincing them. While that may be true for most of babble, it is particularly true for conspiracy theory discussions which exist almost entirely in the performative.

The discussion you closed was about how gatekeepers use the term, the political history of which has been demonstrated, to shut down discussion. And then you shut down discussion. And don't explain yourself. Surely you can see how this is a prime example of what the discussion was about, and therefore the need for it.

It was happening in a respectful fashion that produced no more acrimony than many of the other moronic threads that exist on Babble.

Catchfire wrote:
This discussion on the validity of conspiracy theories on babble has gone on a long time and at some point you just have to make a decision. I'll note that this was a decision to close one particular thread that had long since departed its original intent and had become a catch all bucket for conspiracy theories in general. It was unfortunately revived after a few weeks when I should have killed it, but better late than never.

The OP of the thread you closed was exactly what the discussion was about. It wasn't about what you describe as "the validity of conspiracy theories". If you can't recognize that distinction, Catchfire, you shouldn't be moderating the thread. So, no, there was no derailment there. And it was in Babble Banter, for frig'sake. How is that threatening to anyone?

Your reasons here are not adequately justified, and you do seem to be acting out of a personal bias. That's not a good basis for moderating a progressive forum.


jas
Offline
Joined: Jun 6 2005

ygtbk wrote:
So, is it safe to say that although babble has at present no formal policy against conspiracy theory threads, they are nonetheless severely frowned at?

First, we'd need a definition of what a "conspiracy theory thread" is, which would, secondly, require a definition of what a "conspiracy theory" is, and thirdly, not a "severe frown" but a formal guideline, available and applied to all, that eliminates the kangaroo-court style of moderation that Catchfire feels the need to employ on these occasions.


ygtbk
Offline
Joined: Jul 16 2009

jas wrote:

ygtbk wrote:
So, is it safe to say that although babble has at present no formal policy against conspiracy theory threads, they are nonetheless severely frowned at?

First, we'd need a definition of what a "conspiracy theory thread" is, which would, secondly, require a definition of what a "conspiracy theory" is, and thirdly, not a "severe frown" but a formal guideline, available and applied to all, that eliminates the kangaroo-court style of moderation that Catchfire feels the need to employ on these occasions.

Well, without getting too meta, when policies have been changed because I was ruthlessly applying the actual policy as written, I counted it as a moral victory - but it was still a PITA, and still only a moral victory. So if babble formalizes such a policy, I doubt it will actually make you happier.


jas
Offline
Joined: Jun 6 2005

ygtbk wrote:

Well, without getting too meta, when policies have been changed because I was ruthlessly applying the actual policy as written, I counted it as a moral victory - but it was still a PITA, and still only a moral victory. So if babble formalizes such a policy, I doubt it will actually make you happier

No, but it will force the community to define its terms, which would expose any such policy for what it is: invalid, and democratically unsupportable.


ygtbk
Offline
Joined: Jul 16 2009

jas wrote:

ygtbk wrote:

Well, without getting too meta, when policies have been changed because I was ruthlessly applying the actual policy as written, I counted it as a moral victory - but it was still a PITA, and still only a moral victory. So if babble formalizes such a policy, I doubt it will actually make you happier

No, but it will force the community to define its terms, which would expose any such policy for what it is: invalid, and democratically unsupportable.

You may be right. I was attempting to be more descriptive than normative. 


jas
Offline
Joined: Jun 6 2005

Anyway, I'd appreciate an answer to my question in post #6.

And it would be good to get some other mod opinions -- MegB and even oldgoat, who I believe is still a volunteer mod here, and whose opinion seems to be respected. 


MegB
Offline
Joined: Nov 28 2001

One of the things that help us mods do our job is a sense of history. We've been around for a long time (too long, it feels, sometimes) so we have an understanding of when things can go south before they actually do so. So, rather than wait for the inevitable trainwreck, we stop it before it happens. It might look arbitrary or unfair but the decision is based on long experience.


jas
Offline
Joined: Jun 6 2005

You didn't seem to care about stopping all the whitesplainin' in the Aboriginal Issues forum on what's real medicine and what isn't that went on for weeks and months. Despite people flagging the posts, and despite someone asking for moderator input right in the thread itself. No mods swooping in on that thread, and no corrective action taken, except to suspend the one FN voice (as I understand it) in that discussion.

I'm not sure what "train wreck" could be expected from a thread discussing the political nature of labels like "conspiracy theory" on a progressive political forum. It's not exactly a controversial topic, as the political agenda behind many mainstream memes will demonstrate. The only thing I can think of (because neither of you are actually telling me anything) is that you're concerned that some of your Babble buddies may not play nice. If that's the case, shouldn't you be addressing their behaviour, rather than shutting down threads where civil discourse is occurring? How ridiculous can you get that you would shut down a discussion about the very problem of discussions being shut down based on the currency of a false meme?


Slumberjack
Offline
Joined: Aug 8 2005

I think it's a conspiracy to tidy up the place for current and prospective donors.  It's sort of like, I browse the cbcnews.ca site and often lament the fact that I'm helping to support it financially.  Here there are some big player donors that probably wouldn't want to be associated with some of the intrigues that gets discussed here.  Babble is a marginal area of the site as it is.  They could probably gut it completely in favour of the new format and just allow for commentary on Rabble features and blogs.


Slumberjack
Offline
Joined: Aug 8 2005

Because other than that, who would really care if some conspiracy theiry gets discussed until everyone involved is blue in the face, so long as it was within the normal policy.


MegB
Offline
Joined: Nov 28 2001

Slumberjack wrote:

I think it's a conspiracy to tidy up the place for current and prospective donors.  It's sort of like, I browse the cbcnews.ca site and often lament the fact that I'm helping to support it financially.  Here there are some big player donors that probably wouldn't want to be associated with some of the intrigues that gets discussed here.  Babble is a marginal area of the site as it is.  They could probably gut it completely in favour of the new format and just allow for commentary on Rabble features and blogs.

Actually, babble is consistently one of the most visited places, according to our monthly stat reports. You should all know that babble is read by thousands of people.


Slumberjack
Offline
Joined: Aug 8 2005

I stand corrected.  Which in a way does lend itself to my hypothesis about the need to tidy things up for company. 

But come to think of it, that wouldn't explain everything else that gets a pass would it?  Hmmm.  Scratches head.


Catchfire
Offline
Joined: Apr 16 2003

Or maybe we're telling the truth and wat we actually think. But whatever, SJ. I'm just in the pocket of Big Labour.


jas
Offline
Joined: Jun 6 2005

Slumberjack wrote:
Because other than that, who would really care if some conspiracy theiry gets discussed until everyone involved is blue in the face, so long as it was within the normal policy.

I can understand why a site would want to outlaw discussions about known conspiracy theories. I can see this from an optics consideration (which actually just proves my point about how such inquiry gets silenced and 'invisibled' in progressive discourse.) I can also see it from a moderation perspective: the 9/11 threads, for example, do get obsessive, with obsessive posting from both sides of the debate.

What I'm protesting here is the shutting down not just of conspiracy topics, but of a meta-discussion about how the "conspiracy theory" meme gets constructed by powerful parties that clearly don't want public examination of certain topics. And how these memes then get reinforced through media, and then social media.

So it is, by definition, a topic not only worthy of academic study --this is what communication studies is about-- but obviously worthy of progressive analysis, and absolutely should be discussed on Rabble/Babble. If the mods want me to take a break from it, I'm fine with that, but it's inevitable that it will come up again in future conversations because it's a very dominant element in what's happening to democratic discourse right now.


Slumberjack
Offline
Joined: Aug 8 2005

Catchfire wrote:
Or maybe we're telling the truth and wat we actually think. But whatever, SJ. I'm just in the pocket of Big Labour.

The fact that there's a good deal of truth in the non-productivity of conspiracy theory threads where people just mock one another is not really in contention.  It's about getting at the reason why they're singled out for closing as opposed to every thread currently underway within the Election 2015 forum where similar observations could be made, ie: mockery and non-productivity.  It is in that context that I offered aesthetics as a potential motivation.  Some forms of mockery are given more licence than others, which is understandable.  It doesn't say anything about you personally.  It was just an opinion as to the rationale.


NDPP
Online
Joined: Dec 27 2008

The problem  with a decision to close down a thread deemed a 'conspiracy theory', is that there may be considerably more evidence and foundation for the 'conspiracy' than the closer is aware of. Not so very long ago, the contention that the 'Arab Spring' was a West based strategem for regional destabilization, was also deemed a 'conspiracy theory', and threads were closed. It wasn't and they shouldn't.

It is clear that frequently we may know far less of a topic than someone else. It should not be the practice here, for those with a minimal understanding of a topic to arbitrarily impose this upon those pursuing a discussion of greater depth or possibility. The Boston bombing incident is very much such a topic. And there are a great deal of inconsistencies and problems with the official narrative.

I see no good reason to terminate such explorations which are, or should be, entirely legitimate here. And besides, it's called 'babble' with good reason. All sorts of nonsense goes on. Who cares? Leave it alone..


Mr. Magoo
Offline
Joined: Dec 13 2002

Quote:

The Boston bombing incident is very much such a topic. And there are a great deal of inconsistencies and problems with the official narrative.

I see no good reason to terminate such explorations which are, or should be, entirely legitimate here. And besides, it's called 'babble' with good reason. All sorts of nonsense goes on. Who cares? Leave it alone..

But are you really ready for babble to host threads like:

"Climate change: hoax or lie??"

"What *if* Phillipe Rushton got it right??"

"If there really is a God, shouldn't we be following HIS laws??"

 


Sean in Ottawa
Offline
Joined: Jun 3 2003

Mr. Magoo wrote:

Quote:

The Boston bombing incident is very much such a topic. And there are a great deal of inconsistencies and problems with the official narrative.

I see no good reason to terminate such explorations which are, or should be, entirely legitimate here. And besides, it's called 'babble' with good reason. All sorts of nonsense goes on. Who cares? Leave it alone..

But are you really ready for babble to host threads like:

"Climate change: hoax or lie??"

"What *if* Phillipe Rushton got it right??"

"If there really is a God, shouldn't we be following HIS laws??"

 

I thought there was some effort to avoid ANY discussion about the merits of a particular or controversial "conspiracy theory."

It was an effort to find balance between burying legitimate discussion in the noise of indulgence in so-called conspiracy theories and rejecting legitimate alternate ideas out of hand.

I did not think the discussion was controversial, acrimonious or pointless to ANY of the participants -- and is that not the point?

 


jas
Offline
Joined: Jun 6 2005

Mr. Magoo wrote:
But are you really ready for babble to host threads like:

"Climate change: hoax or lie??"

"What *if* Phillipe Rushton got it right??"

"If there really is a God, shouldn't we be following HIS laws??"

Would any of these topics be violating Babble policy? If so, then they can be shut down.

If not, here's an idea: DON'T CLICK ON THEM. Threads with dumb topics will fall off the TAT pretty quick if people stopped engaging them.


Sean in Ottawa
Offline
Joined: Jun 3 2003

-


jas
Offline
Joined: Jun 6 2005

I'm going to edit that anyway. I don't think it's sexist, as people of all genders use the term. ANd I'm female if that gives me any extra licence. But thanks for stating it.


Sean in Ottawa
Offline
Joined: Jun 3 2003

Ok -- I will delete my comment.

 


Mr. Magoo
Offline
Joined: Dec 13 2002

Quote:
Threads with dumb topics will fall off the TAT pretty quick if people stopped engaging them.

Seems to me that way back in the day there was a certain reluctance to respond to one's own post -- a bit like laughing at your own joke, or complimenting your own meal.

But these days if your dumb topic is in danger of falling off the TAT, and nobody's interested in discussing it, just post to it again.  And again.  However often it takes.


Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
Login or register to post comments