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May 2nd 2012




A perennial issue raised its head again recently - that of moderator impartiality.
I had to remove a posting (no details will be provided) because I considered it racist.
Unfortunately it occurred in a thread in which I was participating. This is never ideal - no moderator likes to have to change hats from poster to moderator (or at least I can say that no moderator I know does). In this case I knew there were no other mods available and this, in my opinion, needed swift action - so I acted.
The inevitable happened - allegations of bias. Specifically the allegation was that I was somehow in trouble in the debate and used my moderator status to get me out of it.
There are a couple of points that I would like to make generally about this.
Firstly - anyone who thinks I would try to rig a debate in which I was in trouble knows nothing about me. One of the reasons I like to debate is because I know, for an absolute certainty, that I have views which are not properly worked-out on some things. By debating them I can resolve any inconsistencies in those views. Another reason is that I get an intellectual 'thrill' from learning. It is, in fact, one of the things near the top of my list when theists ask (as they often do) why an atheist bothers to get up in the morning. One of the greatest thrills is to find that something you had believed to be nailed-down is, in fact, completely different to the model you had formed. It sounds masochistic to say that I like to be proved wrong, but that is, in fact, the truth. Again, anyone who has followed my postings on these forums should be aware that:
a) I am not often wrong Smile (OK - hubris you might say, and I have my tongue partially in my cheek, but only partially. The reason is that I CHECK my facts before asserting.)
b) When I have been shown to be wrong - and it happens (the most recent example is only a couple of days ago) - I will firstly admit it, and secondly thank the person for demonstrating it. This is not some cheesy attempt to curry favour, it is genuine. The views which I hold most strongly are held because I have done much work in sorting them out. I appreciate that showing they are wrong requires similar amounts of work and I am genuinely grateful that anyone who has done that work is sharing it with me. I learn something and it costs me nothing.

In fact I find the notion that I would rig a debate in which I was losing [ed - corrected for spelling] to be repugnant at a deep visceral level - it offends me to my core, it strikes at everything I believe in and everything I try to do.
Again, anyone who has followed debates in which I participate will know that I pull few punches. I have been accused of being a bully, of trampling on deeply held beliefs...and so on. I make no apology for this and I think that anyone choosing to enter public debate has no right to make accusations of bullying when they are trounced in such debate. By the same token I EXPECT any opponent in debate to swing his/her best punches my way. In fact I feel slighted if they do not - as if they are saying 'you are not worth my really killer arguments' - I find that patronising.
If someone wants to say I am lying, disingenuous, misleading - or whatever - then SAY IT. But, be prepared to justify it because I will expect that, if nothing else.

So, I reject absolutely any notion that I would rig a debate.

But there is a secondary issue - that of using moderator status. I have said before, and I will say again, I don't like having to put the moderator hat on. I try to avoid it wherever possible. I believe in free speech and the moderator role is a constant reminder that this is not possible. I understand the reasons and I support those reasons,, but they don't fill me with joy. I believe that idiots should be given the space to demonstrate their idiocy. I believe that bigots should be allowed to demonstrate their bigotry. I cannot, however, allow such demonstrations on this forum because they are specifically against the terms and conditions of use - which I have signed and which every other poster has accepted implicitly.
In order to deal with this potential conflict, I keep my moderating role distinct from my posting. This is, incidentally, why I don't like moderating threads in which I am active - it forces the two together.
In the particular case I'm talking about here, I didn't mention the fact that I had removed a posting because I knew that would be to potentially damage the credibility of the person who posted the offensive comments, and would therefore be a clear case of using my status in debate. To their credit, the person concerned did not mention it either - we carried on a conversation in private, away from the thread concerned.

So, in summary, you get the moderators you deserve. Some, I know, think that my atheism is an issue and others think that my ability to debate coherently puts off people from posting because they are afraid of being shown-up. I reject both - what they are essentially saying is that they want debate dumbed-down and they want a special consideration for theist views.

To use a word which seems to be becoming a catchword if not catch-phrase - BOLLOX.



18 blog comments below

Bikerman rig a debate. That is a laugh. I am sure that being a moderator on these boards can sometimes be a pain so I thank you for your efforts.
standready on Wed May 02, 2012 9:59 pm
Quote:
In fact I find the notion that I would rig a debate in which I was loosing to be repugnant at a deep visceral level - it offends me to my core, it strikes at everything I believe in and everything I try to do.


I don't normally spell check people but as your a teacher and its one i see all the time from you i think it fair to point it out as that mistake will be passed on. Wink Smile

Regarding the moderator issue,i don't really see one,moderating forums isn't easy,but as long as the site admin is happy with his moderators and how they moderate then moderators shouldn't be made to feel as if they have to justify every decision they make to the users.
truespeed on Thu May 03, 2012 1:00 am
As I said, I'm always grateful for correction - thanks. For some reason I have always had trouble with a couple of words - chose and lose. I can never remember whether they take a single or double 'o'.

PS - Please accept this in the same spirit - you're (you are) not your (of you).

PS - I should make it absolutely clear that Bondings is extremely supportive of staff, including moderators. He has never over-ruled me (or any other mod I know of) and generally trusts us to get on with the job. I didn't write this as a criticism of policy, simply to explain to users that my decisions as a mod are not partial (or at least they are as impartial as I know how to make them).
Bikerman on Thu May 03, 2012 1:26 am
Thanks,your and you're is one i always get mixed up with,well not really mixed up,just when i am typing without thinking its a common error for me.
truespeed on Thu May 03, 2012 1:29 am
I usually go by the simple rule - apostrophe to replace letter. Thus it is = it's, you are = you're etc etc. That simple rule frequently gets me out of trouble.
Bikerman on Thu May 03, 2012 1:34 am
I think you're nice guy, Mr Bikerman. The truth is that you'll never be able to always please everybody and people tend to use the lousiest excuses when they don't know what to say next. Smile
Vanilla on Thu May 03, 2012 2:46 am
truespeed wrote:
Regarding the moderator issue,i don't really see one,moderating forums isn't easy,but as long as the site admin is happy with his moderators and how they moderate then moderators shouldn't be made to feel as if they have to justify every decision they make to the users.

This.
It's a point that a lot of users don't seem to get on this and many messageboards; the moderators aren't there to answer to the users, only to the administrator(s)... and the administrators don't answer to anyone. Unfair? Sure, but most people running boards that I spend any time on are generally fair people.
Ankhanu on Thu May 03, 2012 3:06 am
<I think you're nice guy, Mr Bikerman>
Arghh....now you've done it. It has taken me years to build up a reputation for being a cold logical heartless robot....If people think I'm a nice guy then the whole thing is blown......
....out of cheese error...redo from start...system instability....does not compute does not compute.....
Bikerman on Thu May 03, 2012 3:25 am
Bikerman can argue any way he likes but I will never accept that it is right for a Moderator to moderate a discussion where he is part of the debate. Particularly if that Moderator has a bias against religion to the extent Bikerman has. Just read his blog post about Christians being immoral - how can he even begin to be an unbiased moderator in the religion forum? Vanilla obviously hasn't made a study of all the discussions Bikerman has been involved in. Or being able to place herself in the position of those Christians he completely beat to a bloody pulp with dripping sarcasm, talking down at them or just simply tearing that which is sacred to them apart. Or argue Christians into trolls so he could get rid of them with his troll sticky.

Every one is quite OK with Bikerman tearing Christians apart, but being racist is subject to censorship? Talk of hypocrisy and here is a great example.
deanhills on Thu May 03, 2012 6:17 pm
Would you like some cheese with your Whine Dean?

Most people will be familiar with Dean's continual hypocrisy but for those who aren't, Dean believes that people should not attack religion and complains that I am trying to 'deconvert' people. He has no problem with Christians using the boards to evangelise, of course, but nasty atheists like me are completely different.

The fact that he apparently finds no moral difference between a strong but reasoned critique of religion and an anti-semitic smear should tell you all you need to know about his moral sensibilities.

I've lost count of the number of complaints that Dean has filed against me. None have been upheld, which led him to accuse the entire staff of being my puppets, so watch-out Vanilla - if you don't agree that I'm a dangerous radical, not fit to moderate, Dean will think I'm pulling your strings too and add you to his extensive list Smile

(You may gather that I stopped taking him seriously some while ago - probably after his last marathan rant, which you can read in his blog if you are feeling particularly masochistic and have a couple of hours to spare).

OK Dean - you've said your piece, now push-off and whine in your own blog, you are not going to turn mine into a bitching session.
Bikerman on Thu May 03, 2012 7:45 pm
This sure is looking to be like an awfully familiar blog argument about moderation. Including yet again, Dean and Bikerman. Laughing

Quote:
Bikerman can argue any way he likes but I will never accept that it is right for a Moderator to moderate a discussion where he is part of the debate.

The fact that he agrees that he will attempt to NOT moderate in any discussions, by his OWN decision is quite generous of him.

As far as I know, Bondings has never told him to not moderate in a discussion in which he is apart of in the debate.

In my opinion, he has every right to moderate whoever he wants, in any thread, whether his involvement is extremely large or extremely small with the matter.

There is no use arguing here. We've been through this a hundred times.
Ghost Rider103 on Thu May 03, 2012 8:00 pm
Actually I posted in the staff forum when I removed the posting in question and bondings confirmed that it was the correct action to have taken. Had you or ocalhoun been around I would have asked you to do the honours, but it needed removing sharpish (check the spamcan to see what I mean).
Bikerman on Thu May 03, 2012 8:08 pm
I was well aware of the thread you made about the post in question. I just didn't see a need for me to respond. But I did read the removed post in question.

You were definitely in the right and Bondings agreed with it as well, so my confirmation wasn't needed. Saying that, well, you know my point of view. I don't think there would be any difference in me removing the post or you removing the post. I'm sure any of the active staff would have removed it.
Ghost Rider103 on Thu May 03, 2012 8:14 pm
Thanks - I was sure of it Smile
Anyhoo, where's my extra-heavy keyboard....? Time to beat some theists into a bloody pulp with the ENTER key and a strategically placed ironic statement.
Smile LOL
Bikerman on Thu May 03, 2012 8:21 pm
Awww. What did I miss?

Bikerman is an OK moderator.
but he's scary. You don't want to mess with him. Maybe that's just me having anxiety issues. I can't take criticism very well. For me, stepping into P&R is just as scary as stepping outside my house. You have NO idea.

However, I'm often comfortable posting in there. When I'm not, that means I know I have to think twice about my views. I guess that's good?
loremar on Fri May 04, 2012 3:27 am
deanhills wrote:
Vanilla obviously hasn't made a study of all the discussions Bikerman has been involved in. Or being able to place herself in the position of those Christians he completely beat to a bloody pulp with dripping sarcasm, talking down at them or just simply tearing that which is sacred to them apart.


There is a very good reason why I don't go into the P&R forums: I'm hot blooded. You can blame my Latin blood or something like that. The fact is I don't like to argue about religion because I tend to transform into a very bad person when doing so. So I try to stay away from those discussions. I have read some of the threads and that's why I posted about finding Mr Bikerman a nice guy. I do think so. I saw the post that is being discussed here and I agree 100% with its removal. This is not about being a mod and interfering with the discussion. The post was meant to be removed because it was oh so wrong. Very Happy
Vanilla on Fri May 04, 2012 4:10 am
loremar wrote:
However, I'm often comfortable posting in there. When I'm not, that means I know I have to think twice about my views. I guess that's good?

I would say it is. Not because I think you should change your views, but rather, because I think we should review and question our views and stances from time to time to evaluate why we hold them... and how better to go about it than to have them challenged?? There are other methods, but a good challenge, whether it is accepted or renounced in the end, is probably the best way to really get to the root of things Smile
Ankhanu on Fri May 04, 2012 4:17 am
I've just removed a posting from here (my blog). Some will probably guess what and why, but I don't plan to elaborate for the rest. Suffice it to say that I'm not having my blog turned into a 3-day orgy of self-pity and petulance, so I'm posting this to say that postings of that nature here will be removed without further notice, justification or explanation.
ta
C.
Bikerman on Fri May 04, 2012 7:16 pm



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