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On RoR I've now been banned to the Dissent Forum. I even can no longer read the Science and the Music forums. Not really a surprise, this only confirms my notion that Objectivists are not interested in really discussing ideas: they want to convert, not to convince.

However, I must say that I was rather disappointed by Robert Bidinotto's reaction:

Great idea, Joe. The thread hijacking by trolls was getting to be a real bother.

I hereby suggest that we all affectionately refer to the "Dissent Forum" as "Siberia."

I always thought he was one of the more reasonable and non-dogmatic Objectivists. Oh well, one learns.

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I would've expected more out of Robert than that. I don't know him at all, but I've read a ton of his stuff. Butt-kissing?

That's pretty nasty if you think about it- letting people into a forum, but putting them in a gulag. What do they do next- stand around and poke at the cage with sharp sticks?

But that's Joe's choice. Site owners have to make choices that not everyone will agree with. Least of all you in this case! What the heck did you do?

r

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On RoR I've now been banned to the Dissent Forum. I even can no longer read the Science and the Music forums. Not really a surprise, this only confirms my notion that Objectivists are not interested in really discussing ideas: they want to convert, not to convince.

However, I must say that I was rather disappointed by Robert Bidinotto's reaction:

Great idea, Joe. The thread hijacking by trolls was getting to be a real bother.

I hereby suggest that we all affectionately refer to the "Dissent Forum" as "Siberia."

I always thought he was one of the more reasonable and non-dogmatic Objectivists. Oh well, one learns.

Dragonfly...what makes you think I was specifically singling YOU out?

I have seen a lot of acrimony and anti-Objectivist trolling on the boards, including RoR, and simply thought that Joe had a great solution to it, in principle: don't necessarily ban the stuff, just quarantine it. But since he provided no names of anyone sent to "Siberia," how could I possibly know that you were included?

I honestly haven't followed your posts closely enough to have an opinion of you, one way or the other.

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Well, I guess anyone that puts up with being sent to a place that got called "Siberia" would kind of deserve it anyway... :o

rde

Gulag, Scmulag

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Dragonfly...what makes you think I was specifically singling YOU out?

I have seen a lot of acrimony and anti-Objectivist trolling on the boards, including RoR, and simply thought that Joe had a great solution to it, in principle: don't necessarily ban the stuff, just quarantine it. But since he provided no names of anyone sent to "Siberia," how could I possibly know that you were included?

I honestly haven't followed your posts closely enough to have an opinion of you, one way or the other.

Then I'm curious to know who these anti-Objectivist "trolls" were, I must have missed them. There were a few persons who were critical about some aspects of Objectivism; I was one of them, and I've practically only criticized Objectivist viewpoints in scientific matters. Does that make us trolls? And are the people who are critical of Objectivism really always the troublemakers and the cause of acrimony on the forum? I don't think so, and I think the acrimony on the forum will hardly if at all diminish.

Anyway, from an Objectivist viewpoint I think it's a dumb move; it only confirms the notion that many outsiders have that Objectivism is a cult. The point is not the acrimony, it is the fact that some people disagree that is the reason to ban them. Here you see clearly the difference with scientific forums. Some years ago I participated in a forum discussing the text of a book that the owner of the forum (a physicist) was writing. I was quite critical about some of his ideas and we had some fierce discussions about his text (most of which was excellent btw). But he welcomed such criticisms and when the book appeared I was (among many others) personally thanked in the foreword. I've had exactly the same experience with another physicist who wrote a book. Not so in Objectivist circles, however. There people who have any criticism, no matter how carefully articulated, have to be put away out of sight. I thought this was rather obvious when I read Joe's announcement, and therefore I was rather surprised that you endorsed his policy so enthusiastically.

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But that's Joe's choice. Site owners have to make choices that not everyone will agree with. Least of all you in this case! What the heck did you do?

I disagreed with something. Didn't you know that that is a mortal sin in Objectivist circles?

Of course it's his choice, I only think it's not the best way to promote Objectivism as a rational philosophy.

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Dragonfly,

This will be an interesting experiment: physical separation of posters based on their ideas. Ultimately, mental "purity" of the tribe with obedience to the leader is the whole point of excommunication. The policy I read was banishment from a restricted area based on ideological reasons only - who is an Objectivist (or, I presume, Objectivism-friendly) and who is an "anti-Objectivist" as determined by the site owner. I am curious to see what results.

(As an aside, the posture of saying that the chosen posters are "put in a group" so they are limited to the Dissent forum is an inferior way to notify this. A far better way is to say that chosen posters are prohibited from entering an area restricted against them that is otherwise open to the general public. This is subtle rhetoric, but the first way emphasizes control over the posters - "putting them in a group" - and the second emphasizes control over the forum - not allowing them to enter. The first emphasizes power over people and the second, power over property.)

At the outset, I criticize any measure that limits the intelligent challenge of ideas. I don't see any value in "trouncing" easy opponents or avoiding intelligent ones. I need men and women who hold their own mind as their final arbitrar around me for my own personal growth, even where they disagree with me. This is the very selfish reason why I foster intelligent debate and promote the idea that "no premise is so sacred that it cannot be checked." Objectivism-wise, the attitude I hold is that strong challenges to Objectivist ideas are beneficial and weak challenges offer nothing. Strong challenges - made in goodwill - either make Objectivist ideas stronger or they help eliminate the flaws.

TAS, in addition to tolerant outreach, is built around this attitude. This is one of the reasons I have such a strong spiritual identification with TAS.

On a personal note, you, Dragonfly, are a valued member of OL and I consider you a friend.

The only behavior I try to restrict here on OL is the level of personal insults and obnoxious behavior, like excessive sarcasm and constant belittling of another poster and so forth. The behavior Barbara brilliantly dissected in her Objectivism and Rage article is actively combated - not by decree, but by personal attention through off line communication.

Here is how I have handled this so far. If a post crosses the line in personal insults, I simply delete the post and send the text to the author by email, stating my objections. (Also, I don't provide audiences for temper tantrums, which is why I don't even publicize my actions.) I have only had to do this about 3 or 4 times, so this isn't something that happens everyday. One poster understood, removed the insults and immediately reposted the post - without asking my permission to do so or even sending it to me to see if it was all right. He "got it." But then, he wanted to "get it." Underneath, he wanted to interact with others in a civil manner and the ideas were far more important to him than sticking to his insults or having some kind of chip on his shoulder. I saw nothing at all wrong with what he did, so I left the post up without comment. Other posters have gotten angry and the responses have been varied - but they all have included a "nobody is going to push me around" attitude, when they were completely blind to the fact that they were pushing other people around with their insults.

In a couple of other cases, posters (good people) who should not have clashed on a personal level did so because each presented ideas similar to what the other encountered at the different forums before where they were royally cussed out. Once they understood that they were reacting to their past, not their present, they lowered their guns and have become quite cordial to each other - even while disagreeing. They did this on their own and some excellent thought-provoking discussion has resulted. We are all richer for it. I didn't have to do anything but point out some things from a different perspective and count on their goodwill.

Kat and I don't have all the answers on how to keep the peace. We are still finding our way. We are putting together some kind of addition to our posting guidelines that will incorporate the new technical facilities we have acquired with this new program and build on our experience so far. We will announce this in due time.

Neither of us is into power trips, but we are firm in our commitment to keeping a civil environment on OL. For the rest, the goodwill and intelligence of the posters do much more productively than we ever could do by trying "govern" them.

Michael

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I agree. The only thing I ever heard over there (mostly from members) as to the why was along the lines of how it is a by Objectivists/for Objectivists kind of line... I was often asked why I bothered being there. Anyone that has ever read me on the forums would find that ridiculous- I've read and reread practically everything that Rand ever wrote, most all of NB's work, and even did some relatively meaningful projects with him (like converting the "The Benefits and Hazards of the Philsophy of Ayn Rand" and "Love and Sex in the Novels of Ayn Rand" to high-quality audio format, as well as a number of others- heck, I even designed CD covers for those, pre-MP3 days).

But what happened with me was that I changed my spiritual orientation- well actually I simply got one for the first time. I converted to Unitarian Universalist, and, while I retained maybe ninety percent of my core (which prior to that was Objectivist)- there were big changes, particularly in the area of tolerance.

Anyway, I felt inclined to argue some of my new found positions, because I saw some behaviors in the O-world that troubled me. The only way to do it right was to totally decloak, and frankly state that I was Unitarian. This of course became a hot point- religion being an area that's generally thrown into one giant boat, the boat of mysticism (something else that is its own, even bigger, less-defined boat).

I never did, nor had any intention of proselytyzing or converting, at all, period. My desire was mostly to throw in with those who are looking for an equitable solution for the serious conflict between science and religion (a la Ken Wilber's work in this area). I was accused of proselytyzing and conversion. Joe sent me an email saying something like "no more religion." By then I did not see making too much more headway (I did some), and I excused myself from then-SOLO.

So sometimes I think many of them want a place where they can argue about some things, but definitely always agree on others (ex: "All Religion Bad")

Edited by Rich Engle
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Dragonfly,

The moderation to the Dissent Board is for those people who have been categorized as "dissenters." That means people who are, in the view of RoR managment, immune to the arguments of others and who fill up many threads with their consistent behavior as such.

There are plenty of people who post dissenting opinions and argue on RoR. There will continue to be too. Moderation to the Dissent section is just for the invincible black knights of the board.

As for the other opinions here about this policy being bad, etc. it will merely affect RoR, so no worries. I have no such fear however.

Ethan

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Dragonfly,

The moderation to the Dissent Board is for those people who have been categorized as "dissenters."

Key word being "categorized," Ethan.

On a forum, you are either excommunicated, or put on moderation, or you or not. What happened to Dragonfly is pseudo-moderation, and, let's be honest- what it really resembles is segregation. Back of the bus, baby. I've always found it condescending, if not flat out hypocritical. But I suppose some people buy into the theory, so it keeps management looking progressive.

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Ethan,

Strange to see you here after all the hostility, but welcome back. Please read our guidelines in Purpose of Objectivist Living and Legal Stuff (please read) when you get the time.

In my experience, Dragonfly has not been immune to arguments, so I don't really understand trying to characterize him that way. I have seen him admit to a different viewpoint than one he held previously because of a discussion. I have seen that a number of times. He does argue well and intelligently, though. He makes you work to hold your own with him. We value this quality here.

Michael

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Dragonfly,

The moderation to the Dissent Board is for those people who have been categorized as "dissenters." That means people who are, in the view of RoR managment, immune to the arguments of others and who fill up many threads with their consistent behavior as such.

Hmmm, I can't remember filling up so many threads, it must be a very small percentage of all threads. And I know a lot of people who are also immune to the arguments of others...

As for the other opinions here about this policy being bad, etc. it will merely affect RoR, so no worries. I have no such fear however.

I'm not worrying, I'm just struck by the counterproductiveness of it when there is so much emphasis on outreach. And RoR is certainly not the only forum where this happens, it's a characteristic of most Objectivist forums, OL excepted of course... (one other excellent exception was Nathan Hawking's forum We the thinking).

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And yes, I second the welcome back. Why not?

A little more to say on this...

Being put in a "special place" sends a message from management to the minions. It says "these are not really our people." You know what might have been an even better idea? Why not give them all special-colored avatars, or put a big "D" on them? Then, maybe one could, with confidence, let them post wherever they want, since the de-credibility label would show loud and clear.

But that wouldn't really speak to the actual purpose behind this, would it? These people aren't trolls or flamers- those are people you kick off a site because they're nasty bastards. These are people that aren't regularly or fully fitting into the mainstream, the mix that management wants. And management has every right to do that, despite what it connotes to anyone who can see what's under the covers in such an action. I'm not sure if I admire the people that remain content being voted off the island and rowed out to the smaller, quarantined island; I kind of do, but I sure as heck would be questioning why I would hang with such an arrangement. How do you get off? (Subtly) repent, until management decides you are once again fit (under moderation at first, of course) for the general population? But in a way I suppose I do admire them for their mettle.

I like the way Michael handles it. The Outer Limits, er, "category," for instance. It says "we know you, from time to time, write about things that are way off the beaten path of AR, O'ism, Brandens, etc. But, we give you a place to go do that, because we value your writing, your approach, your ideas- air it out!"

His soft moderation approach (sending nasty bits back, with a second chance) is a respectful one.

Edited by Rich Engle
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Key word being "categorized," Ethan.

On a forum, you are either excommunicated, or put on moderation, or you or not. What happened to Dragonfly is pseudo-moderation, and, let's be honest- what it really resembles is segregation. Back of the bus, baby. I've always found it condescending, if not flat out hypocritical. But I suppose some people buy into the theory, so it keeps management looking progressive.

Based upon the owners evaluation of his actions he is being segregated. He is not being segregated based upon some uncontrolled factor such as the color of his skin. He is being segregated based on the evaluation of his actions. Attempts to draw a line of comparision between these two things is innacurate.

The reason they are not banned or completely moderated is that some people can learn from engaging them. Others who have done so and/or who don't care need not read the Dissent section. RoR has a Dissent section, and that says a lot. The fact that you find Michael's methods more to your liking is why you are here is it not? That's the free market.

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Strange to see you here after all the hostility, but welcome back.

I came here to answer what amounted to a question about which I knew something.

In my experience, Dragonfly has not been immune to arguments, so I don't really understand trying to characterize him that way.

We have different experiences and views, as should be evident. He's not moderated in any way on your site, but is on RoR. He is characterized that way for his actions there. He's not forced to participate. Heck, we have posters who post only in the Dissent section anyways.

Edited by ethan dawe
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"He is being segregated based on the evaluation of his actions."

Actions, schmactions. Poppycock. He is being segregated because of his thoughts, in a convenient area where other not-right-thinkers are located, as well. And, segregation is segregation, whether it's a restroom, a forum, or a leper colony, the last of which is what it most resembles, but for the fact that the leper colony, crude and wrong as it was, actually had some kind of survival reasoning in back of it.

"The reason they are not banned or completely moderated is that some people can learn from engaging them."

Engaging "them." Them being the not-right-thinkers. Ever been to an old-style carnival? The main show is inside, the geeks and freeks are all outside, in a big line, for easy viewing. The first thing we learn when going into a segregated zone is that many of those inside have been placed there by someone. In terms of group behavior, welcome to the bad side of the tracks. There, I was going to say the colored restroom, but the track thing is better, no? :blink:

"Others who have done so and/or who don't care need not read the Dissent section."

Therby maintaining mainstream purity. Wouldn't want to confuse the riff-raff intellectuals with the real deal intellectuals...have the boss pin tags on 'em!

"RoR has a Dissent section, and that says a lot."

In terms of its applied purpose, oh yeah- volumes. There, we definitely agree.

"The fact that you find Michael's methods more to your liking is why you are here is it not? That's the free market."

Gawd bless the free market. Gawd double bless tolerance and freethinking. Gawd double-damn the intellectual pillories and ghettos of the world.

Now that I think more on it, no, I don't admire anyone that stays in dissent if they are segregated to it- they are boobies.

What's that smell? Oh, it's the smell of unwarranted control. No...wait.... it's the smell of fear . Yuck.

EDIT: Oh yes, and one more question--why does Dragonfly's prepaid trip to the Red Zone also include the perk of not being able to read those other two forums? Is that so he can "learn" too? I've always found learning difficult when I can't see the material. On the other hand, I've always found it difficult to opine on things that are hidden under lock and key from me. Idea: why doesn't someone cut and paste those over to the poor fellow-- in the name of progressive education, of course... Tell me it ain't so, Joe. Tell me it's just a little glitch. Otherwise, you got some 'splainin to do, Lucy...

Edited by Rich Engle
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Now that I think more on it, no, I don't admire anyone that stays in dissent if they are segregated to it- they are boobies.

Ho ho, wait a moment... perhaps I'm just too benevolent, but I just can't let Bill get away with all that nonsense, perhaps I can still save some souls from that kind of irrationality. But when they start moderating I'm gone, there are limits.

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The moderation to the Dissent Board is for those people who have been categorized as "dissenters." That means people who are, in the view of RoR managment, immune to the arguments of others and who fill up many threads with their consistent behavior as such.

How does this work in practice, Ethan? By this I mean how does moderation to the RoR Dissent Board happen and how is it announced/implemented (Joe Rowlands introduction of this new feature is a bit opaque)?

-- does a 'dissenter' receive notice?

-- will a RoR dissenter's profile show that they are dissenters when viewd by other RoR members?

-- does the 'dissenter' remain a member of RoR?

-- does the 'promotion' to RoR's Dissent Forum mean that a person so promoted is no longer able to read any other Forum save Dissent?

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Hey, I've been tagged as a Dissenter on RoR as well.

Ethan Dawe wrote,

"The moderation to the Dissent Board is for those people who have been categorized as "dissenters." That means people who are, in the view of RoR managment, immune to the arguments of others and who fill up many threads with their consistent behavior as such."

Christ. What a joke. Joe Rowlands has been immune to ~my~ arguments.

You know, in Objectivist discussions on art I often feel like I'm in that moment from Annie Hall when Woody Allen's character is waiting in line to see a film. Some know-it-all in line is yapping to his date about the writings of Marshall McLuhan. Allen's character finally gets sick of the pompous twit and pulls McLuhan out from behind a post. McLuhan tells the twit that he knows nothing about his work. The only difference is that when I "pull a McLuhan" -- when I provide extensive quotes from the artists themselves -- Objectivists like Joe deny reality and keep asserting that they're right. They sometimes even go so far as to insist that the artist is wrong about his own work, that they know his real intentions and the real meaning of his work better than he does. It's embarrassing.

What would I have to do to lose my Dissenter stigma on RoR? Would I have to disregard my own experiences and knowledge of art, and mindlessly agree with Joe's rather shallow interpretations? How about if I just admit that Rand was right after all, and confess that the characters in Vermeer's paintings are not shown as pursuing or achieving values? Could I then post freely again on RoR?

(Actually, I'm confused now about one of the first acts of alleged evil that I committed in an Objectivist forum and for which I might apologize in order to redeem myself. I had defended Goya against Objectivists' charges that he was anti-reason and anti-life for having painted images of cannibalism (among other things). My opponents' position was that Goya was in favor of such horrors and should be condemned accordingly. Now how do I apologize for disagreeing with Objectivists about Goya when many of them on RoR now appear to believe that cannibalism is an Objectivist virtue? I'm really lost on this one. Someone please help.)

Thanks,

J

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I can answer at least some of your questions:

-- does a 'dissenter' receive notice? No.

-- will a RoR <i>dissenter</i>'s profile show that they are <i>dissenters</i> when viewd by other RoR members?

-- does the 'dissenter' remain a member of RoR?

-- does the 'promotion' to RoR's Dissent Forum mean that a person so promoted is no longer able to read any other Forum save Dissent? I can read the General Interest Boards and the Gallery Boards, but not the Interest Groups to which I was subscribed.

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Let me begin by saying that I don't really have a dog in this race. There is no single, absolutely right kind of a forum: the rules for each depend entirely on the purposes of their respective hosts, and what they wish to accomplish.

An "introductory" forum trying to attract newbies and non-Objectivists might invite their fundamental challenges to Objectivism about the basics of the philosophy. There's definitely a value in that kind of forum. By contrast, though, a forum intended for committed Objectivists, who prefer to probe and debate the nuances of the system, might well wish to exclude opponents and newbies, who sidetrack such discussions with questions and comments about matters that most Objectivists regard as "settled." There's value in that kind of forum, too.

I read Joe Rowlands's announcement of the new RoR policy as an attempt to make his site more of a forum for discussion and development of Objectivist ideas by self-identified Objectivists, rather than as a place where non-Objectivists or anti-Objectivists may weigh in at every turn, demanding justification for basic premises that most Objectivists have already worked through. Now, if that interpretation is accurate, I don't see anything wrong with it. Nor do I see anything wrong with a more inclusive kind of forum, such as OL appears to be.

So I have to disagree with those who read some kind of Orwellian mind control into Joe's agenda of providing a forum for committed Objectivists, rather than for Unitarians, Christians, Buddhists, or others who wish to challenge Objectivism at every turn. I also sense from the remarks by Joe and Ethan that there is an additional concern for the tone and manner of some critics -- not just for disagreeing with Objectivism, but in a disagreeable manner. Rather than simply ban such people, which they'd have every right to do, I think it's a mature alternative to provide a separate place for them to say whatever they want, and to allow those who find value in their comments to engage them there...while sparing participants in the main forums all such distractions.

If that's a roughly accurate description of what the folks at RoR are trying to do -- and perhaps Joe or Ethan can clarify if it is or isn't -- then what, exactly, is "wrong" with it?

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Rich,

I'm not going to debate the issue with you. You don't like it, but it's a matter of private property. If it's ultimately bad, then the RoR forum will suffer for it. You post here on OL, so your concern is puzzling.

I also find your tone and your racist equivocation angle. While you have expressed a wide tolerance for things in the past and in this post, The owner of RoR has expressed a tolerance to a certain degree. Beyond that, access to the forum could become restricted. Call it what you like and cast whatever stones you wish at those so rotten and intolerant to come up with such a system.

I didn't come here to piss people off, merely to present some facts. I have no wish to disturb anyone here, so I'll leave shortly.

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Hi Robert,

Sounds right.

There were plenty of times on SOLOHQ when people would be up in arms about banning or moderation. Those banned or moderated always railed against the tyrannical owners for being hypocrites or thought controllers. There is no need to rehash the whole thing. What's done is done and the moderated peoples posts stand for themselves. I don't have to defend it or justify why this one or that one was banned. I just wanted to provide a few facts about what was done.

Regards,

Ethan

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