I think I was participant in the thread Dot mentions. I write more about that in the Revisions thread. Since the moderators had a ‘dog’ in the race, one gets to see where biased moderation leads and that is another problem.
When any discussion goes into a debate the moderators have to maintain a balance of freedom and decorum. Night clubs have bouncers. Clubs that don’t and gain a reputation for being rowdy and having fights and loose a significant number of their customer base. Forums are the same. Just as one knows what parts of town to stay out of, so to one knows what to expect on some forums.
Mac_Fife wrote:And I put myself in the frame there - There are certain forums or threads that I hesitate to look at, because I simply despair when I see the same old arguments going on They often feature half-informed statements of "fact" purporting to be authoritative. I don't post to them, because trying to correct those "facts" simply fans the flames. In any case, the activists have become so entrenched in their positions that no amount of argument or evidence will ever change their opinions anyway. These are cases where moderation should have put an end to the debate much, much earlier.
I think I understand Mac_Fife’s viewpoint. I’ve thought about this problem. I agree that ‘true believers’ can’t be affected by my posts, or probably anyone’s or even any number of facts. But, I decided I will post anyway. I am thinking of what new fans and infrequent posters will think. Any good propagandist knows repetition is the key to acceptance. A sour grape repeatedly posts their bitterness… sort of a striving for vindication. If that is not offset then all that is there is the bitterness. Those with an agenda promote it every chance they get.
While I think it is important to offset misinformation whenever it appears, that is a personal choice. For moderators the old debates and mischaracterizations are an ongoing problem. I believe locking the threads can create its own problems. But, a monotonous board that perpetually rehashes the same subject gets boring. While I don’t like locking threads, I think the best solution is to lock a re-debate/rehash thread with a closing post with a link sending people to the old thread. Other forum members can also send people to the original thread. I think voicing one's opinion of the thread also helps. Often a number of voices does get a closed mind wondering.
One of the problems is that some forums see moderation as an interventionist evil, an unwanted form of censorship, a restriction on free speech. The reality is that moderation, applied well, allows everyone fair opportunity to comment, while a lack of moderation allows a vocal minority to browbeat everyone else.
I agree with the idea that good moderation improves communication. I’ve have seen vocal minorities shout down those with opposing viewpoints.
However, the forums are not bastions of free speech. MOUL, GoMa and others are PG forums. (Is OU PG? – My assumption is that it is) These are fan forums. Some have off topic sections, others don’t. Threads on global warming will draw heat and forum owners and moderators may not want the head ache. Controlling the topics is a matter for the owners and moderators to decide. The forums are privately owned. We don’t have to allow everyone’s soapboxes in our living room.