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Thread: Can Anyone Play This Game?

  1. #31
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    Dave,
    In reading your posts it is evident to me that the main difference between the two of us is you believe your are an authority figure.
    Knowing this I have a pretty solid understanding of how our dialog will ultimately end every time. I don't have the bandwidth nor patience to deal with insatiable appeals to your tangential questions and presumed authority. I don't need your approval to make my points in this environment. In fact, I would argue that the more irritated you become with my presence, the more successful this site will be.

    To appease your thirst for the debate, I will respond one last time to your "multi-quotes" but I refuse to appease everyone that does this to my posts. Life is too short.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Bernstein View Post
    I see why you'd rather post anonymously.
    You are making a false, presumptous cop-out reply and never addressed my point that you like to engage in the art of logical fallacy.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Bernstein View Post
    Does your right to privacy mean that every discussion forum must permit anonymous posts?
    No. That was never stated. This is an irrelevant straw man tactic to discredit my underlying message.

    The last four weeks' postings here alone provide many counter-examples to your above claims of uniformity, insularity, and meekness -- as does this very thread.
    All the posts here in DF are dominated by about a dozen people as far as I can tell that, as has been already commented on, spend a lot of time pandering to one another. Does this not qualify as insular?

    Perhaps. Nasty posters exploiting their anonymity often drive out other participants. Do you seek to maximize the total number of participants, or the total number of constructive participants? If the latter, my experience is that non-anonymous fora are more effective.
    Anonymity does not imply nastiness. This is a false presumption you make. I would rather see a maximum level of participation rather than leaving it up to someone like you to decide the fate of whether they are "constructive" or not.

    Again, this forum's archives provide plenty of counter-examples. There are anonymous fora in which Wayland issues are frequently discussed; for example, see the comments following the letters in http://www.wickedlocal.com/wayland/h...-to-the-editor . So there is a vehicle available to timid whistleblowers.
    This doesn't really seem to respond to my point that in instances when the stakes are high, especially when something highly unethical is happening, anonymity is a very useful tool. While the Crier site is a means, it is by no means as targeted as this DF.


    Can you cite an example of an un-moderated anonymous discussion forum with 50 or more participants that was able to maintain a civil and constructive equilibrium for, say, 3 consecutive months?
    I don't know what is going to meet your exacting standards with this open ended yet highly refined request. (yes, I get the trap you are setting) How about a discussion board where an anonymous engineers working for a large computer manufacturer offers candid and materially better help outside the "system" put into place by their controlling employer.
    Also, I really don't know what civility has to do with it. People in Burma are pretty civil when you talk to them, even after they get roughhoused by a soldier holding an AK-47. And our government and Chrysler bondholders had a civil exchange as Uncle Sam threw contract law out the window to pander to the UAW. I will leave it up to your own personal beliefs as to whether or not those examples have benefited from the appearance of civil and constructive equilibrium.

  2. #32
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    It would be interesting if the Town Crier used the vBulletin platform. While it wouldn't be a perfect comparison, we'd at least learn something about comparative number of threads, posts, and views for two sites covering roughly the same topics.

    It would also be interesting to see how much traffic WayandeNews.com feeds to the Town Crier and vice versa. I strongly suspect that WaylandeNews.com does substantially more feeding, as links on the TC site to the DF are few and far between (and almost all my doing).

  3. #33
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    Default My turn

    Quote Originally Posted by Vernon Essi View Post
    All the posts here in DF are dominated by about a dozen people as far as I can tell that, as has been already commented on, spend a lot of time pandering to one another. Does this not qualify as insular?
    While it is true that a relatively small number of people actually 'jump into the water' on discussion boards; the venue is open to all and if domination is the correct word to use then its domination by choice of those who wish to be dominated.

    I think a more valid question to ponder would be why do such a relatively small percentage of registered voters actually vote? Those who do not vote are dominated by those who do and, again, this is by choice.

    Last, and as a point of clarity, 'insular' is a word for narrow mindedness and, while I admit that I have my own view of the world about what is right; I never thought of myself as being narrow minded. I also don't think that those who have a different opinion from myself are narrow minded in the same way - ie. I think that those who don't agree with me certainly consider what I'm saying and I even think I've changed some minds over time. I actually have proof of this !!

    So my take on your wording is that 'discussers' are 'dominated by choice' and may seem 'insular' while they are able to consider other points of view for those who discuss here.

    Quote Originally Posted by Vernon Essi View Post
    Anonymity does not imply nastiness. This is a false presumption you make. I would rather see a maximum level of participation rather than leaving it up to someone like you to decide the fate of whether they are "constructive" or not.
    There is no doubt that Anonymity will increase participation. But I have to say Vern; that my own observation is that anonymity breeds nastiness and that is human nature. The analogy I used once before has to do with road rage and being protected by a cocoon of steel and 300 HP of getaway power. That is what an anonymous blog ultimately degrades into and it will always do that when the issues are taken personally and people see so much at stake.

    I see on the Crier that you post with your name. When I do, I do the same and I have one post right now under a septage article. If that blog went nasty against me then I would just stop blogging there and wait for another time to start afresh.

    Away, I'm glad you discuss here and I'm glad Dave does too.

  4. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vernon Essi View Post
    Dave,
    In reading your posts it is evident to me that the main difference between the two of us is you believe your are an authority figure. Knowing this I have a pretty solid understanding of how our dialog will ultimately end every time.
    Sounds like a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    Quote Originally Posted by Vernon Essi View Post
    I don't have the bandwidth nor patience to deal with insatiable appeals to your tangential questions and presumed authority.
    Two questions constitute insatiability? Asking you to clarify your conflation of privacy and anonymity, or to cite well-functioning anonymous fora are tangential questions?

    Quote Originally Posted by Vernon Essi View Post
    I don't need your approval to make my points in this environment. In fact, I would argue that the more irritated you become with my presence, the more successful this site will be.
    I am not the least bit irritated by your presence here, Vernon, though I will admit to occasionally being amused by it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Vernon Essi View Post
    To appease your thirst for the debate, I will respond one last time to your "multi-quotes" but I refuse to appease everyone that does this to my posts. Life is too short.

    Question from ealier post: "Does your right to privacy mean that every discussion forum must permit anonymous posts?"

    Quote Originally Posted by Vernon Essi View Post
    No. That was never stated. This is an irrelevant straw man tactic to discredit my underlying message.
    I didn't accuse you of taking this position, nor was this question a tactic . Your argument for permitting anonymous posting is grounded on our constitutional right to privacy. I was simply trying to understand the scope of your position. Since your answer to the question is "no", my response is "Great. This is a forum whose ground rules exclude anonymity; it has attracted participants who prefer non-anonymous posts. There is at least one other forum for Wayland residents who prefer anonymous posting, so there is no compelling reason to change this forum's policy."

    Quote Originally Posted by Vernon Essi View Post
    All the posts here in DF are dominated by about a dozen people as far as I can tell that, as has been already commented on, spend a lot of time pandering to one another. Does this not qualify as insular?
    No, it qualifies as a loaded question. There is a core of people here who initiate new threads and post frequently, there is a larger group whose members participate but rarely initiate threads (like me), and there are new participants who either create new threads (e.g. Rene's "power line" thread of last week) or who participate in existing threads. Given the forum's stated focus on Wayland, I would not characterize this forum as insular, or its participation as unusually concentrated.


    From an earlier post: "Nasty posters exploiting their anonymity often drive out other participants."

    Quote Originally Posted by Vernon Essi View Post
    Anonymity does not imply nastiness. This is a false presumption you make. I would rather see a maximum level of participation rather than leaving it up to someone like you to decide the fate of whether they are "constructive" or not.
    That's not a presumption, Vernon, its an observation based on 20+ years of experience (going back to the BBS and timesharing systems that preceded the publicly-accessible internet). Forum participants vote with their feet; if a forum becomes nasty and non-constructive, those who prefer a more civil environment tend to leave.


    From an earlier post: "There are anonymous fora in which Wayland issues are frequently discussed; for example, see the comments following the letters in ..."

    Quote Originally Posted by Vernon Essi View Post
    This doesn't really seem to respond to my point that in instances when the stakes are high, especially when something highly unethical is happening, anonymity is a very useful tool. While the Crier site is a means, it is by no means as targeted as this DF.
    If something highly unethical is happening, the anonymous message board associated with the local newspaper is certainly as appropriate as this forum, if not more so.


    Question from an earlier post: "Can you cite an example of an un-moderated anonymous discussion forum with 50 or more participants that was able to maintain a civil and constructive equilibrium for, say, 3 consecutive months?"

    Quote Originally Posted by Vernon Essi View Post
    I don't know what is going to meet your exacting standards with this open ended yet highly refined request. (yes, I get the trap you are setting)
    Asking for one example is hardly open-ended. Sorry to disappoint you, but I am not setting a trap.

    Quote Originally Posted by Vernon Essi View Post
    How about a discussion board where an anonymous engineers working for a large computer manufacturer offers candid and materially better help outside the "system" put into place by their controlling employer.
    What's the URL? Owners of products purchased from a large computer manufacturer who are likely posting from work accounts seems a bit "apples and oranges" in comparison to the open public forum we've been discussing, but I'll defer judgement until I've taken a first-hand look.

    Quote Originally Posted by Vernon Essi View Post
    Also, I really don't know what civility has to do with it. People in Burma are pretty civil when you talk to them, even after they get roughhoused by a soldier holding an AK-47. And our government and Chrysler bondholders had a civil exchange as Uncle Sam threw contract law out the window to pander to the UAW. I will leave it up to your own personal beliefs as to whether or not those examples have benefited from the appearance of civil and constructive equilibrium.
    Yes, people can speak in a civil manner while acting in a horrible manner, but this does not reduce the value of civility. There are those who prefer discussing Wayland's issues in a generally civil manner, even when we strongly disagree. From my experience, I believe that permitting anonymous posts here would alter the environment in a profoundly negative way.

  5. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Bernstein View Post
    Forum participants vote with their feet; if a forum becomes nasty and non-constructive, those who prefer a more civil environment tend to leave.
    I did not know that we were discussing the Republican Party's dwindling membership! [grin]

    Seriously (and maybe seriously off-topic, although the thread name is fairly ambiguous), the GOP seems to be in something of a negative feedback loop. By steering hard right on social issues, by abandoning fiscal conservatism (except the tax cuts for the affluent part), and by making life unpleasant for moderate members (with Arlen Specter gone, are Maine Senators Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins the only two left?), the percentage of voters self-identifying as Republican is on the downturn.

    Put another way, as moderates such as Specter and Powell are or feel pushed away, the party's center of mass shifts further right, resulting in an even smaller tent (or at least a smaller number of tent-dwellers). I have no doubts that the GOP will recover--I just don't know when or how.

  6. #36
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    There's an interesting article in the June 2009 issue of Wired related to the Long Tail. The article discusses citations of scientific papers and notes the development of the "h-index."

    Imagine that your most cited paper has been cited 10,000 times. Your second most cited paper has been cited 8,000 times. Your 32nd most cited paper has been cited 33 times and your 33rd most cited paper has been cited 28 times. Your h-index would therefore be 32, your nth paper with at least n citations.

  7. #37
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    Default Oh where oh where did I go?

    Seems there was a Memorial Day holiday and then a death – plenty to make me wonder about the significance of Wayland’s problems and plenty to kill any desire to read all these words. But today I read the past week’s postings and was reminded of problems I have with my own mind.

    Posts on several different threads, many different ideas. Fine ideas actually. But just like me, a burst of mental activity about one subject, then a burst about another subject, and then another burst about something else, etc. Soon I‘m confused. Can’t remember the good ideas from earlier thoughts, haven’t made any decisions about anything, and haven’t planned or taken any action. Yup.

    Another thought. Perhaps participation is low, not because our posts are lacking “a nanny moose” but because we’re not putting on a good enough show. Not providing information that people just can’t live without.

    So, over at the Septage thread Kim has been having a pretty good discussion all by herself on the pros and cons of shutting the facility down. Think I’ll go over there for a while. Maybe our collective intelligence could pick apart the opposing arguments and we could develop a consensus of what we think about it all.

    It’s a simple issue, but Wayland being Wayland, it’ll probably get complex, and probably things won’t be as transparent as we might like. Who knows, maybe I’ll see you there.

    donBustin@verizon.net

  8. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by don Bustin View Post
    Another thought. Perhaps participation is low, not because our posts are lacking “a nanny moose” but because we’re not putting on a good enough show. Not providing information that people just can’t live without.
    Did I miss the introduction of the "nanny moose?" What's a nanny moose?

    Don, I think you've pointed out something worth thinking about (and maybe obvious, but I lose track of it sometimes). To generate DF activity, it's not enough to provide information (no matter how useful). Instead you need to say provocative things and/or ask provocative questions. Doing so may not change the number of people participating, but at least it's likely to increase the number of posts by the "regulars."

    Examples that have worked well in the past:
    • What do you think about controversial School Committee "decision X?"
    • Is "action Y" legal?
    • Should "region Z" secede?

    Kim's Septage Facility post was interesting, but not overly provocative. Sure, there were a few dissenters, but the central question about whether the facility could be cost-effectively modernized is the realm of engineers familiar with the details and therefore well beyond the ability of most of us to weigh in.

  9. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    I have no doubts that the GOP will recover--I just don't know when or how.
    The Onion offers some thoughts on this topic.

  10. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    Instead you need to say provocative things and/or ask provocative questions.
    Provocation for the sake of attention or audience-building is called trolling, and is a turn-off for most users. Sincerity is essential.

  11. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Bernstein View Post
    Provocation for the sake of attention or audience-building is called trolling, and is a turn-off for most users. Sincerity is essential.
    Actually, Dave, that's not what Wikipedia says at all.

    Quote Originally Posted by Wikipedia
    In Internet slang, a troll is someone who posts controversial, inflammatory, irrelevant or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum or chat room, with the primary intent of provoking other users into an emotional response[1] or to generally disrupt normal on-topic discussion.
    But then, perhaps you were just trolling! [grin] I won't go all Latin on the DF, as some of you know how far beyond my skill set that is, but I'm pretty sure that "provocative" is related to "provoke" as in "thought-provoking." At dictionary.com, most of the definitions include some form of "stimulate." I contend that an antonym is "boring."

    I see nothing wrong with being provocative for the sake of getting attention (after all, part of my job includes advertising!) or building audience, as long as it's done done in a thoughtful (sincere) and respectful (which can include humorous) fashion.

    As for whether I'm a troller, well, I'll let other users of the DF be the judge, but I think I'll come out okay on that measure.

  12. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    Actually, Dave, that's not what Wikipedia says at all.

    But then, perhaps you were just trolling! [grin] I won't go all Latin on the DF, as some of you know how far beyond my skill set that is, but I'm pretty sure that "provocative" is related to "provoke" as in "thought-provoking." At dictionary.com, most of the definitions include some form of "stimulate." I contend that an antonym is "boring."

    I see nothing wrong with being provocative for the sake of getting attention (after all, part of my job includes advertising!) or building audience, as long as it's done done in a thoughtful (sincere) and respectful (which can include humorous) fashion.

    As for whether I'm a troller, well, I'll let other users of the DF be the judge, but I think I'll come out okay on that measure.
    No, I wasn't trolling. I believe that being provocative for the sake of getting attention is unquestionably a form of trolling, and think you'll find that its counterproductive with respect to increasing participation. Yes, there are several folks here who will occasionally rise to the bait, but few will be new members.

  13. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Bernstein View Post
    No, I wasn't trolling. I believe that being provocative for the sake of getting attention is unquestionably a form of trolling, and think you'll find that its counterproductive with respect to increasing participation. Yes, there are several folks here who will occasionally rise to the bait, but few will be new members.
    It depends what you mean by "getting attention." I mean it in the sense of sincerely building audience. I can only think of one instance of trolling on my part, and that was highly tongue-in-cheek.

  14. #44
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    Dave, I appreciate much of what you contribute, and I don’t know any of the “history” of your relationship to the others here, but I hope you might consider giving people a little more slack, as I also wish they’d give you some. I took Jeff’s “provocative” comment as both an explanation of why Kim’s septage thread had gathered no posts and advice to me that it was better to focus on subjects that people are interested in (i.e., “provocative”) and therefore might have something they want to say. No more, no less.

    And Jeff, if the septage facility decision should be left to the cost-effective engineering professionals, couldn’t that be said of most aspects of town governance? And where would that leave us mere mortals? Note that Mr. Turkington said multiple times that the decision was influenced by the fact that the “engineers couldn’t guarantee” meeting new standards or the increased flow necessary to provide profitability. But not which engineers or any link to their report so that we could find out/check for ourselves. Not very transparent, he could be interpreting. OK, so nobody cares. I was just trying to find something that we all could try to understand together.

    Boring me and what I want

    I’ll probably badger this point to death, but if DF is some sort of rudimentary developing “collective intelligence” than it can’t stay just a talking shop. I think back to the many good ideas touched on in this thread (and others), and they’re forgotten, fading quietly into the past. There’s smart and sincere people here, and many more about town, and if they learned as a group how to approach better government services, provided in an efficient, affordable manner... Well... I think it would make for a better show.

    Jeff left a list of school committee retreat education issues on another thread, implying that we should pick one issue that’s “provocative” and discuss it. Good idea. But the HSBC meeting is tonight, and they’re selecting the HS option to request funding for. At the last override vote, everyone said that voting for the override didn’t mean the HSBC wouldn’t consider the option of remodeling/rebuilding the existing HS. (Which is what I would do if it was my project and I faced fiscal constraints.) Do you actually think anyone related to the school system seriously entertained anything but a new HS, cost be damned?

    donBustin@verizon.net

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    Quote Originally Posted by don Bustin View Post
    But the HSBC meeting is tonight, and they’re selecting the HS option to request funding for. At the last override vote, everyone said that voting for the override didn’t mean the HSBC wouldn’t consider the option of remodeling/rebuilding the existing HS. (Which is what I would do if it was my project and I faced fiscal constraints.) Do you actually think anyone related to the school system seriously entertained anything but a new HS, cost be damned?
    Don, the HSBC *has* considered a remodeling/rebuilding option, just as it promised. And that option came out to be considerably more expensive than the two "build new" options.

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