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jeffryjon
We have a problem with sidetracking, especially in longer threads in the Philosophy and Religion section.

1) Obviously, we could report this to a moderator, though it could get tedious and cause unnecessary bad feeling between postees.

2) We could take it upon ourselves to make a new thread, though that could easily lead to accusations of hijacking ideas.

Would it be possible to have a 'Suggest new thread' button with a vote-counter for situations where a side-subject comes up that's of enough interest to be pursued to encourage the originator of the side-subject to create a new thread?
deanhills
jeffryjon wrote:
We have a problem with sidetracking, especially in longer threads in the Philosophy and Religion section.

1) Obviously, we could report this to a moderator, though it could get tedious and cause unnecessary bad feeling between postees.

2) We could take it upon ourselves to make a new thread, though that could easily lead to accusations of hijacking ideas.

Would it be possible to have a 'Suggest new thread' button with a vote-counter for situations where a side-subject comes up that's of enough interest to be pursued to encourage the originator of the side-subject to create a new thread?

Jeffryjon, if you cannot report to the Moderator of that forum, then obviously there is a problem. I don't see the solution as a button. We need a Moderator for the Philosophy and Religion Forum who is less involved in the postings, and who can steer threads instead of domineer and control them. A good Moderator would be very sensitive to side-tracking, and if he sees side-tracking would immediately announce what is happening, and then take it upon himself to open up a new thread. I would have thought that would have been a key function of a Moderator.

For me the right kind of Moderator would be one to call time out when two posters have been hugging a thread exclusively for too long. When two posters hug the thread too long, it becomes very clumsy for other posters to even want to be involved. Not to mention to have to read through reams of "chats" that are exclusive to only two people. And I'm sure you must have noticed that some of those one on one discussions are not always on topic. Since the Moderator is very often one of the parties of those side-tracking sessions, how could any person feel comfortable to be able to report to him? It probably would also be helpful if we could get a Moderator who is neither a passionate atheist, nor a passionate theist. Preferably someone who is less involved in the debates, who is unbiased and has a cool head. Someone who is distant enough from the discussion so that people can feel comfortable to report to.
jeffryjon
Deanhills, I haven't been in the forums as long as you and certainly didn't feel sure enough to work on the premise that we only have one moderator overseeing things. The evidence that I've seen though would suggest that if there are any other moderators, they support Chris in the way he chooses to handle things.

I've seen more than one request since joining, for a thread to be allowed to flow without the I'm right and therefore you're wrong approach, which is something I'd support. The atheists have just as much right to air their views and put forward their cases as anyone else, though I'd prefer it to be more a case of my view is, and another's view is, rather than a constant challenge. This would leave the readers free to draw their own conclusions.

I'm not sure replacing a moderator would have a beneficial effect in the long run as we all have some level of bias based on our personal experiences of life. At the risk of being repetitive, what I'd prefer to see though is more along the lines of 'have you considered this, that or the other approach' leaving others feeling less intimidated. I wasn't actually aware that we couldn't report a moderator just like anybody else, though if that's the case, it makes a good case for a new topic and I would participate.

As for going off-track (which is what I want to discuss here), I'm just as guilty as the next guy in getting caught up in responding to the latest post rather than the topic of the original one. Personally I'd feel quite happy if someone prompted me to start a new thread (even if the post I'd written had some kind of connection with the subject matter). That would allow a deeper exploration of side and sub-topics as appropriate and is the reason I proposed a softly, softly approach so people would see it as a positive thing. I'm wide open to looking at alternatives that could have the same effect so please - feel free to come up with anything that may be more workable.
watersoul
Its human nature to respond to a connected-side issue that appears in any topic, especially when the new point is along the lines of "I think this because X or Y", and as human beings we can't help but want to challenge X or Y if we disagree with it.
It's difficult to find an answer, I'm as guilty as anyone else with getting side-tracked and going off topic sometimes, but a new button suggesting a new topic will (in my mind) just result in a new discussion that will ultimately result in the original OP being forgotton about.

Personally, I'm usually quite happy being reminded or chastised that I've gone off topic by the people involved in whatever discussions, so generally I'll say sorry and briefly explain why I did, then move back.
But then, the problems you mention are probably why I tend to shy away from the philosophy/religion section as most of the issues there are so deep it seemingly cannot be helped.

In fact, I really can't see an answer to the challenges in that particular subject, so I'll just shut up now and shy away again!
deanhills
@jeffryjon. Perhaps you need to check back to the postings that were made during 2006 in the Philosophy and Religion Forum, and compare those with the present threads. You may see a difference, and that would probably be a more factual way of judging my posting instead of just on the current status. You may also notice the difference in number of participants as well as the different ambience.

As far as Moderators supporting Chris, I have no doubt that they do, why wouldn't they? However, that has nothing to do with the suggestion I made. I suggested that a Moderator is needed who is less actively involved in the postings of the Philosophy and Religion Forum than the current Moderator is, in HIS interest as well. As how can a moderator who is as involved and as openly judgmental as he is in his debates, moderate a discussion in which he is the other debater as well? Surely there is a conflict of interest involved in that and does not leave much energy for directing discussions that do go off track. Given that there is a good chance that he would be the other party in the twosome off-track debate it is quite reasonable to expect that he may be even unaware of the situation as again to post to that extent and moderate at the same time can't work well together.
Bluedoll
I want to be helpful and offer solutions if possible.
I think the problems have been defined and it should be obvious there does need to be a change. If the present problems are not addressed, it is or will eventually hurt the forum. I think everyone is in consensus that they would like to see improvements that promote (good posts, new people, new ideas, a growing community etc) as it makes posting that much more enjoyable. If members and staff disagree with the latter and think everything is just fine the way it is well then I guess it simply stays the way it is. In the the Philosophy and Religion section with it’s history a complete change is needed.

Here is a suggestion for the Philosophy and Religion section. Change the name to simply Philosophy. Science and Philosophy opens lots of doors for discussion and moderation in those topics is superb. When it comes to religions and associated topics however, another personality and approach is absolutely needed in moderation to improve posts.

As a trial, create a new section, with a new name and different moderator. I suggest creating a new Spirituality section rather than using the topic religion to collect posts. The philosophy section can still debate using philosophy and science (example “whether there is a God or not or if religion is good or not”) but a new section can develop and function a lot differently (for instance - a shared exploration experience without the debating style presently applied) or ask the people that post how they want to see a section develop.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spirituality

Not sure buttons are the answer to everything. Too many buttons could be confusing for new members? However addressing these issues is absolutely needed, certainly.
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