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 What kind of machine is MachineNation? -- Participatory Site Development Discussion : All Invited --

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PostSubject: What kind of machine is MachineNation? -- Participatory Site Development Discussion : All Invited --   Wed Nov 26, 2008 12:29 am

I think it would be interesting to discuss how different online discussion forums are moderated. Having posted on a few different boards, I have noticed different administrative systems and tendencies in each and it would be good, I think, to talk about these different systems and how they influence and are influenced by the board's audience. It's a question that runs very close to the central aim of this board; to discuss machinery in all its forms. It's also quite relevant in light of recent commotion.

I'll start by outlining the administrative systems of three different boards, hopefully you guys can contribute after that.
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PostSubject: Re: What kind of machine is MachineNation? -- Participatory Site Development Discussion : All Invited --   Wed Nov 26, 2008 12:29 am

First we have MachineNation, which shouldn't need a particularly large explanation. The moderation team, as I understand it, consists largely of those who originally agreed to set it up and put the work into its early development. Appointment of new mods, I presume, is a relatively informal procedure. MachineNation has a Charter which mods enforce, and by which mods and users must abide. It deals largely with the manner of posting on the site, with little in the way of administrative procedure or restrictions as to substantive subject-matter.

MN has remained largely hassle-free thus far, and its moderation system has not faced any major problems. However, this could be due in part to the fact that it is still a very small forum, and a good portion of the posters know each other very well. This ensures that posters will be more likely to be civil to each other, and allows for more informal resolution of most disputes. Thus it can be said that MN's administrative policies have not reallyhad the chance to prove themselves, in the absence of any major challenges. One challenge which did arise only today resulted in the leaving of a long-term poster due to what he alleged was institutional bias against his organization and several of its members/leaders. To quote ibis: "Hmmm."
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PostSubject: Re: What kind of machine is MachineNation? -- Participatory Site Development Discussion : All Invited --   Wed Nov 26, 2008 12:31 am

There is of course Politics.ie, from the failures of which this humble little board grew. Politics.ie is similar to MN in that it deals largely with Irish social, political and economic issues. However, it is much larger and much more established. In terms of the administrative structure of P.ie, there appears to be very little. There is no binding Charter. Moderators are, again, appointed informally (it would appear) but because the site is older than MN the moderation team has evolved beyond the original founders of the site. People and posts appear to be dealt with on a largely case by case basis by mods who may act on a consensus or unilaterally. Rules can be made by the administrator but without something resembling a Charter it is easy for them to be forgotten. Some mods are more activist than others, which has of course led to major controversies over partial moderation in the past.

In practice, for all its flaws, P.ie has established and maintained itself as the primary Irish political forum. It has received attention from the media and from several notable persons. It has also, however, received attention from certain sections of the political establishent, namely an EC report (correct me if I'm wrong here ibis) which identified P.ie as being partly responsible for some of the anti-Lisbon and anti-EU sentiment in the run up to June 12th. Indeed, the political persuasions of certain members of the administration at P.ie and their veracity in advocating tha persuasion has raised more than a few eyebrows. Whether or not P.ie is institutionally biased is another topic (one which I don't think we should be discussing at all, let alone in this thread) but the danger, and to some the perception, is there.


Last edited by evercloserunion on Wed Nov 26, 2008 12:32 am; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: What kind of machine is MachineNation? -- Participatory Site Development Discussion : All Invited --   Wed Nov 26, 2008 12:31 am

The other forum I want to mention here is RevLeft. RevLeft was my first true online discussion board love, and I have more posts there than here and P.ie combined. I want to mention it because of its administrative system, which is radically different and quite advanced.

First of all, a short introduction to RL is required. It is a discussion board for revolutionary leftists to discuss the various far-left ideologies, practical aspects of class struggle etc. I'm unsure how old it is but it's a fair bit older than this place and has gone through many changes in its life. Its active membership is about the same size as P.ie, slightly less. However, the forum is international in nature and has not received any major attention from any reputed sources. the majority of RevLeft is exclusive to far-leftists. This is a broad area of the political spectrum and includes everyone from Stalinists to anarchists and all in between. There is one section of the board, entitled "Opposing Ideologies", where people outside the far-left such as capitalists, conservatives etc. can post. Fascists and Nazis are banned from posting on the site at all. It is important to note that, contrary to popular perception, RL deals with a much more diverse range of viewpoints than MN or P.ie. There is a tendency to view all leftists as being leftists and not distinguishing between them. But the differences between anarchists and Maoists, Trotskyists and Stalinists etc. are much greater than the difference between any two political parties here. Also, the restriction system requires some objective definition of "revolutionary left" which is broad enough to encompass all the different tendencies within the leftist movement but not so broad as to defeat the purpose of the restriction system altogether (to prevent every discussion from being derailed by debates over the merits of class struggle).

RevLeft's main administrative unit is called the "Commie Club" (the name was chosen as a joke). This consists of probably a few hundred members of the board, including all mods and admins, who discuss and vote on administrative topics such as board policy and case by case restrictions, unrestrictions, bannings etc. The CC also votes to allow new members into its ranks when they apply to join. CC members, unless they are mods/admins, do not have any powers above or beyond those of normal members except to be able to see and post in the CC forum, and to vote on CC polls. Mods and admins use their powers to implement the will of the CC. Mods and admins also unilaterally restrict or ban very obvious candidates for restriction or banning, but must log all their actions in the appropriate threads and can these actions can be scrutinized by the CC. There are general guidelines in place for the benefit of members, but these are largely non-binding. When the CC vote on policy decisions, the result is logged in a sub-forum and becomes binding in theory, though not always in practice should the CC choose to vote the other way next time.

In practice, I think the system has worked quite well. Discussion seems to be more orderly and civil than on P.ie, and the troll problem is kept very much under control (an achievment since RevLeft would attract many more trolls than P.ie or MN). The CC, though self-perpetuating and self-regulating, is more democratic than on P.ie or MN because of the minimal requirements required to gain access (a basic knowledge of leftist theory and having the board's interests genuinely at heart). There have in the past been major controversies (more major than anything you'd see here) over certain issues, particularly when the CC is split more less 50-50 or the issue is an inherently emotional one. generally these issues resolve themselves after a while, but there have been a few incidents where the system faced major problems; in one incident half the CC simply refused to obey a rule that was passed, and it would have been ridiculous to expel half the CC. Another topic poses problems in that, regardless of which way a vote goes, another topic will inevitably spring up to discuss the topic and hold another vote, and at any one time the CC can be littered with several of these threads.

That's all I have to say for now. Hopefully I've given you some food for thought. I'm curious to know how other boards are moderated, such as Boards.ie of the Property Pin. Any thoughts?

And of course, if anything I have posted is factually incorrect just let me know and I'll rectify it, or if you're a mod just rectify it yourself.
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PostSubject: Re: What kind of machine is MachineNation? -- Participatory Site Development Discussion : All Invited --   Wed Nov 26, 2008 1:31 am

Very interesting post, evercloserunion. It had occurred to me to start a thread to discuss site interaction. This creates a useful framework for discussion with extra dimensions.

Machine Nation, I would add to your description, is still a very young forum, less than one year old, and is still in a formative stage. In its early stages, the Site Rules and Charter were made through long discussions and trawling of posters views from the threads, that involved a lot of the members. That meant that there was a generally consensus-formed Charter and members were familiar with its contents. There was also a feeling on the site that civil posting is best fostered by example, and that where possible, disputes should be resolved by mediation and reflection, rather than by applying the rules.

Modding procedures are still evolving and are under regular discussion, and from time to time threads like this allow for review and new ideas.

Machine Nation was set up entirely spontaneously and the site and its structures were built around the members. The evolution of its structures and practices tend to reflect this.
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PostSubject: Re: What kind of machine is MachineNation? -- Participatory Site Development Discussion : All Invited --   Wed Nov 26, 2008 1:38 am

I've no idea how the Property Pin or boards are run but it sounds like you've got here and P.ie spot on. RevLeft - hadn't heard of that one before now, thanks for that.

There really is very little agenda here beyond an attempt at discussion of systems as you say very well yourself about the forum. The place was originated by and kept going by posters perhaps of a similar nature - I'm not sure - enquiring types willing to do a little work I suppose. People interested in a broader view... and at the same time interested in picking out details.

It did get out of hand here today but johnfas dealt with it very well, fair play (he was here alone I think ??) The mod team will take action in light of the events of today and as you say very well in your opening post on MN, the Admin system here hasn't really been tested before today and we're learning as these things occur.

There is a line somewhere between robust argumentation and the zealous persecution of opponents. Crossing that line has been happening too much on the Libertas threads recently and it will not be tolerated further. The Mod team have taken action on this now.
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PostSubject: Re: What kind of machine is MachineNation? -- Participatory Site Development Discussion : All Invited --   Wed Nov 26, 2008 11:21 am

This is a timely discussion, ecu.

This is a small and rather wonderful board and as a mod team we try to act by consensus rather than unilaterally (moving posts for discussion rather than deleting them, for example) and we have a small core mod team but one that's perhaps big enough except for major (on an MN scale) crises.

It is always, always a pity to lose posters but the reason they have left so far is because of over-modding rather than under-modding. It's very difficult to get the balance right.

I'd like to see posters report more posts than they currently do, rather than continuing a discussion about them on a thread. If you don't like the thread, report it, send a pm to the ed team and don't nest it, continue the discussion and make the thread messy for everyone, would be my motto. It makes editing very difficult if nothing else.
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PostSubject: Re: What kind of machine is MachineNation? -- Participatory Site Development Discussion : All Invited --   Thu Dec 04, 2008 4:42 pm

Any further thoughts on what the contributors here feel MachineNation is, should or shouldn't be ? We're getting famous now that the site was featured on the phenomenall prestigious Golden Spider Awards - in internet terms to be nominated ifor these glorious awards s almost as popular as having a hit #1 Christmas song in The Basque Country or Latvia. At least that's what I understand from an email in my inbox in Gallego or whatever they speak in Northern Spain.

So any thoughts on what it is, should, or shouldn't be ? Am I onto anything by focusing on machines, systems and other tech and infrastructure as a potential source of our salvation or is it moreso a source of further of our ills, this technology, engineering and science ?
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PostSubject: Re: What kind of machine is MachineNation? -- Participatory Site Development Discussion : All Invited --   Thu Dec 04, 2008 8:24 pm

I think Machine Nation does a very good job as it is. It
continues to develop embryonically and I'm sure it will continue to be a very
useful source of information on debate.

That said, I think the now deceased Libertas thread provides a useful warning.
I know the thread is gone now but I personally regret some of the remarks that
I made. I think they were rather lazy and reactionary (although not I would
argue, personally abusive) and I do think that thread went off the cliff. Kate
P flagged the potentially problematic direction of said thread early on and I
was one of the posters who indicated that a hands off moderation style would be
best. As the thread developed, it became clear that Kate P's initial feeling
was correct. I think it is incredibly important that personal abuse is
monitored and avoided. It is an unpleasant spectacle to see various posters
painted into a corner where defensiveness is by necessity, their default
position.

I am a firm advocate of full and frank debate but I think it would be a mistake
to tolerate virulently agenda based discussion. I disagree with CM's politics
and I am suspicious of Libertas’ motives but at least he placed his cards on
the table, unlike many of those who attacked him in some way (I include myself
in that). I do think the site needs to be cautious about what exactly constitutes
personal abuse.

Anyway, all that aside I think it is a fantastic little site and congratulations
to all of you who have moved it forward. Are there any plans to buy an ie.
domain name?
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PostSubject: Re: What kind of machine is MachineNation? -- Participatory Site Development Discussion : All Invited --   Thu Dec 04, 2008 9:15 pm

Auditor #9 wrote:
Any further thoughts on what the contributors here feel MachineNation is, should or shouldn't be ? We're getting famous now that the site was featured on the phenomenall prestigious Golden Spider Awards - in internet terms to be nominated ifor these glorious awards s almost as popular as having a hit #1 Christmas song in The Basque Country or Latvia. At least that's what I understand from an email in my inbox in Gallego or whatever they speak in Northern Spain.

So any thoughts on what it is, should, or shouldn't be ? Am I onto anything by focusing on machines, systems and other tech and infrastructure as a potential source of our salvation or is it moreso a source of further of our ills, this technology, engineering and science ?
To be honest Audi I always viewed the machine reference as something different, and thought it meant that this site was about discussing mechanisms and systems in all their forms - not only machines in the narrow technological sense, but political, economic and social systems as well. In many ways societies and economies as well as political structures act in ways similar to machines, acting according to certain principles depending on the interaction of complex internal and external factors. That is what I had in mind when I started this thread; all sites in order to be successful require some form of administration, and the administration of these sites generally involves forming a mechanism for moderating discussion.
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PostSubject: Re: What kind of machine is MachineNation? -- Participatory Site Development Discussion : All Invited --   Thu Dec 04, 2008 9:29 pm

Perhaps the biggest danger, with an influx of posters from elsewhere, is that it becomes a kind of P.ie Version 2. Maybe short-termist political argument should be discouraged in favour of discussion of trends, historical context, and long-term ideas. There are one or two threads here that posts could be interchanged with corresponding threads elsewhere, including the usual yah-boo stuff. I like it here, though, it's a chill-out room away from the noise...
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PostSubject: Re: What kind of machine is MachineNation? -- Participatory Site Development Discussion : All Invited --   Thu Dec 04, 2008 10:00 pm

I like the idea of discussing techniques and how they apply. I don't know if we have the collective expertise to pontificate on such things but some of the links are very interesting.
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PostSubject: Re: What kind of machine is MachineNation? -- Participatory Site Development Discussion : All Invited --   Thu Dec 04, 2008 10:01 pm

Indeed. But is there anyone posting here who has not come from the other place? What would the mods here do if trolls turned up en masse? One man's trolling is another man's debate.

It is a lot easier to do on something like the RevLeft setup described where everyone shares a basic set of values and conception of what constitutes common sense. Here or in the other place there isn't that unity of outlook.
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PostSubject: Re: What kind of machine is MachineNation? -- Participatory Site Development Discussion : All Invited --   Thu Dec 04, 2008 10:26 pm

evercloserunion wrote:
To be honest Audi I always viewed the machine reference as something different, and thought it meant that this site was about discussing mechanisms and systems in all their forms - not only machines in the narrow technological sense, but political, economic and social systems as well. In many ways societies and economies as well as political structures act in ways similar to machines, acting according to certain principles depending on the interaction of complex internal and external factors. That is what I had in mind when I started this thread; all sites in order to be successful require some form of administration, and the administration of these sites generally involves forming a mechanism for moderating discussion.

That's it. The machine motif attempts to be a sort of way to remember that the site should be about exactly what you say above - systems, mechanisms, structures in all their forms - physical, social, political, biological etc. Big theme but between all of us I think we've done a fair job so far. Even this thread which you started yourself is about the device, mechanism or system of the internet forum. Yourself and unaligned below can expect to see bits of your posts here turn up elsewhere Wink

unaligned wrote:
I think Machine Nation does a very good job as it is. It continues to develop embryonically and I'm sure it will continue to be a very useful source of information on debate.

That said, I think the now deceased Libertas thread provides a useful warning. I know the thread is gone now but I personally regret some of the remarks that
I made. I think they were rather lazy and reactionary (although not I would argue, personally abusive) and I do think that thread went off the cliff. Kate P flagged the potentially problematic direction of said thread early on and I was one of the posters who indicated that a hands off moderation style would be best. As the thread developed, it became clear that Kate P's initial feeling was correct. I think it is incredibly important that personal abuse is monitored and avoided. It is an unpleasant spectacle to see various posters painted into a corner where defensiveness is by necessity, their default position.

I am a firm advocate of full and frank debate but I think it would be a mistake to tolerate virulently agenda based discussion. I disagree with CM's politics and I am suspicious of Libertas’ motives but at least he placed his cards on the table, unlike many of those who attacked him in some way (I include myself in that). I do think the site needs to be cautious about what exactly constitutes personal abuse.

Anyway, all that aside I think it is a fantastic little site and congratulations to all of you who have moved it forward. Are there any plans to buy an ie. domain name?
There's a little talk about getting a dot something domain name alright - perhaps .ie.

Zhou_Enlai wrote:
I like the idea of discussing techniques and how they apply. I don't know if we have the collective expertise to pontificate on such things but some of the links are very interesting.

Yeah I worry that the discussion might appear amateurish at times - it probably does, who cares? you have to be an amateur before you become a professional. Someone we hope will turn up and correct us who has authority, hopefully. Anyhow, discussion about generic systems requires so much different form of expertise that a site with that theme is bound to look funny for a while. The principles behind many systems are the same anyhow that it's often those common elements to all systems that we are looking for. Where does anyone ever do a degree in generic systems theory ? Isn't it called "cybernetics" - the science of systems ?

coc wrote:
Indeed. But is there anyone posting here who has not come from the other place? What would the mods here do if trolls turned up en masse? One man's trolling is another man's debate.

It is a lot easier to do on something like the RevLeft setup described where everyone shares a basic set of values and conception of what constitutes common sense. Here or in the other place there isn't that unity of outlook.

The lad Atticus came here via the Cedar Lounge and cactus and I have been putting some seeds around on various websites, blogs, youtube accounts and others all over the place so hopefully that will generate some interest in the site. It gets up to 600 visitors per day at present - around 11,000 per month - that's a handy little audience so far although only upto 150 people are returning to the site every day. That number has been growing slowly though since July.
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PostSubject: Re: What kind of machine is MachineNation? -- Participatory Site Development Discussion : All Invited --   Sat Dec 06, 2008 8:02 pm

coc wrote:
Indeed. But is there anyone posting here who has not come from the other place? What would the mods here do if trolls turned up en masse? One man's trolling is another man's debate.

It is a lot easier to do on something like the RevLeft setup described where everyone shares a basic set of values and conception of what constitutes common sense. Here or in the other place there isn't that unity of outlook.

Yes, but I think other boards are open and all kinds of views coexist without descent to abuse. Politics.ie is not the only model = if you look at the Pin, or Cedar Lounge Revolution, or Boards.ie, or that great little Cork site, you'll see people with conflicting views go at it with good humour, or at minimum with civility.
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PostSubject: Re: What kind of machine is MachineNation? -- Participatory Site Development Discussion : All Invited --   Sat Dec 06, 2008 8:41 pm

I have to disagree with this notion of one man's trolling being another man's debate. We have defined parameters within which we accept debate, outside of which we do not. If trolls came on masse we'd just promote some of your responsible people to the content team in order to continue the revolution Razz.

I have seen before that people have posted that we all seem to share alot of the same opinions here. I don't think that is the case at all. We have here centrists, people both economically liberal and economically conservative, the same goes for social views, we have Christians, both Protestant and Catholic, we have atheists. We have most things here.

Perhaps the difference is that we aim to act with a degree of civility.
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PostSubject: Re: What kind of machine is MachineNation? -- Participatory Site Development Discussion : All Invited --   Sat Jan 10, 2009 2:41 pm

This is the fourth annual quarter of the life of MN and it has made remarkable progress. A spontaneous atmosphere is often evident here as being civil and reserved etc. Our main aim in my view is to gather information and progressions of events in as factual a way as possible.

That's not always possible though and I put my hand up for spitting bile at the Regulator for one. Overall though the site has developed a great balance between noise and information. Besides that we've got some excellent writers here, there's no doubt about that. We all have our favourites too and we naturally gravitate to those we find agreeable, informative, amusing.

I'd like to continue this as a discussion on the site in general and its progress and make up. Like any growing entity it will change over time and evolve and develop and it's not always easy to predict where it will go but I feel it's on as good a route as any at present.

Where could it end up and how could it get there ? There are posters here who have put in plenty of time and effort - namely cactus flower, kate p and others and without them the site would have less moral shape I'd hazard.

How can we continue to keep the site standards up without over burdening these posters? Should we clone cactus, kate, zhou, squire and others and put them to work ? If I had my way I would anyway



Public congratulations to Zhou who has recently accumulated a megabyte of great posts. cheers
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PostSubject: Re: What kind of machine is MachineNation? -- Participatory Site Development Discussion : All Invited --   Mon Jan 12, 2009 12:43 am

To me the crucial hallmark of machinenation is its civility. There are a wide spectrum of regular posters here and the pace at which posts are made also informs the atmosphere.
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PostSubject: Re: What kind of machine is MachineNation? -- Participatory Site Development Discussion : All Invited --   Mon Jan 12, 2009 1:06 am

Ronald Binge wrote:
To me the crucial hallmark of machinenation is its civility. There are a wide spectrum of regular posters here and the pace at which posts are made also informs the atmosphere.
It seems we like to go for our discussions from that angle alright. Why is civility important to you though ? Shouldn't forums like this not be set up for primal screaming and ranting and being a bollox to your worst enemy online so you can be nice to them in the real world ?

I like the way youngdan expressed it - it's just a bunch of conversations. A forum can be a little bit more though, can't it ?
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PostSubject: Re: What kind of machine is MachineNation? -- Participatory Site Development Discussion : All Invited --   Mon Jan 12, 2009 1:21 am

Auditor #9 wrote:
Ronald Binge wrote:
To me the crucial hallmark of machinenation is its civility. There are a wide spectrum of regular posters here and the pace at which posts are made also informs the atmosphere.
It seems we like to go for our discussions from that angle alright. Why is civility important to you though ? Shouldn't forums like this not be set up for primal screaming and ranting and being a bollox to your worst enemy online so you can be nice to them in the real world ?

I like the way youngdan expressed it - it's just a bunch of conversations. A forum can be a little bit more though, can't it ?

I posted on p.ie for a long time and finally sickened of the atmosphere there. Each to their own way of dealing with others. I see no advantage personally to be either the irresistible force or the immovable object. Nobody on an internet forum is my enemy, that would be childish and stupid to my mind, but I can chose who I do interact with or not. Roaring and shouting at any one isn't what I do in real life and nor do I want to do it online. I won't stop anyone else from doing it though.
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PostSubject: Re: What kind of machine is MachineNation? -- Participatory Site Development Discussion : All Invited --   Mon Jan 12, 2009 1:41 am

johnfás wrote:
I have to disagree with this notion of one man's trolling being another man's debate. We have defined parameters within which we accept debate, outside of which we do not. If trolls came on masse we'd just promote some of your responsible people to the content team in order to continue the revolution Razz.

I have seen before that people have posted that we all seem to share alot of the same opinions here. I don't think that is the case at all. We have here centrists, people both economically liberal and economically conservative, the same goes for social views, we have Christians, both Protestant and Catholic, we have atheists. We have most things here.

Perhaps the difference is that we aim to act with a degree of civility.

A lot of it is to do with premises as well. It is easy to dismiss as trolling that which we simply do not want to discuss, and while it is often unfair to label people as trolls for bringing up these topics it's perfectly fair to not want to discuss them. Every discussion/debate must have some common premises - or rather, every discussion/debate must have an adequate number of common premises which are reasonably proximate to the topic at hand. Any two people will, at some point, hold some common belief or value but sometimes in order to arrive back at this common value could take months of back-tracking in order to find it. Few have the time or patience for that.

So a decent discussion requires numerous proximate common premises (this is becoming a bit of a mouthful). Luckily these are in abundance in the Western world and especially in Ireland where our political differences are often deliciously subtle, unlike, for example, in the US. The rise of extremism and the diversification of Irish politics brings with it not only great opportunities but also great challenges for any forum which, like this one, seeks to provide a platform for civilized but inclusive discussion. As some people begin to question what was once common ground in social, economic and political discussion, these discussions will find themselves working their way backwards and slowly devolving into discussions we might not be used to hearing, discussions which were drowned out by the Celtic Tiger.

Make no mistake, this re-revaluation of our common starting premises is welcome and beneficial in many respects. Diversity of opinion is always good to have. It leads to discussions which, while we are, as I have said, unused to them, are often merited and helpful and in some cases long overdue. Certainly one advantage is that in discussions about more fundamental concepts and the underlying principles of political, social and economic trends and structures, there is much less room for waffling, bluffing, personality politics and the general unhelpfulness that tends to infect discussions which take place in the context of certain dominant, secure and inevitably complacent systems.

The problems, on the other hand, mainly relate to inclusiveness of discussion; if people's underlying value systems become too diverse and too isolated, a common premise may be impossible to find in certain contexts and the discussion of some important topics may become difficult or even impossible. The challenge, therefore, is to create an atmosphere where common premises are emphasised while being careful not to stifle difference of opinion. The ideal would be to have a theme whereby common values are juxtaposed against differing opinions; the contrast can at times be quite striking and is sure to invoke curiosity and interest. A machinery theme, in my opinion, captures that very well. Machines all run on the same basic laws and principles yet are more diverse than one could imagine. Many different machines can be built from the same parts with radically different outcomes. That is why I think our theme works.

Of course it goes without saying that the underlying principles of the board can only work in conjunction with the civility and cooperation of its members to produce good results. But that's been working well so far, and as the parts get more numerous and more diverse the machine can only really get stronger as long as we remember how and why it was built in the first place.
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PostSubject: Re: What kind of machine is MachineNation? -- Participatory Site Development Discussion : All Invited --   Mon Jan 12, 2009 2:33 am

evercloserunion said [quote]S

Quote :
To be honest Audi I always viewed the machine reference as something different, and thought it meant that this site was about discussing mechanisms and systems in all their forms - not only machines in the narrow technological sense, but political, economic and social systems as well. In many ways societies and economies as well as political structures act in ways similar to machines, acting according to certain principles depending on the interaction of complex internal and external factors. That is what I had in mind when I started this thread; all sites in order to be successful require some form of administration, and the administration of these sites generally involves forming a mechanism for moderating discussion.

So a decent discussion requires numerous proximate common premises (this is becoming a bit of a mouthful). Luckily these are in abundance in the Western world and especially in Ireland where our political differences are often deliciously subtle, unlike, for example, in the US. The rise of extremism and the diversification of Irish politics brings with it not only great opportunities but also great challenges for any forum which, like this one, seeks to provide a platform for civilized but inclusive discussion. As some people begin to question what was once common ground in social, economic and political discussion, these discussions will find themselves working their way backwards and slowly devolving into discussions we might not be used to hearing, discussions which were drowned out by the Celtic Tiger.

Quote :
Make no mistake, this re-revaluation of our common starting premises is welcome and beneficial in many respects. Diversity of opinion is always good to have. It leads to discussions which, while we are, as I have said, unused to them, are often merited and helpful and in some cases long overdue. Certainly one advantage is that in discussions about more fundamental concepts and the underlying principles of political, social and economic trends and structures, there is much less room for waffling, bluffing, personality politics and the general unhelpfulness that tends to infect discussions which take place in the context of certain dominant, secure and inevitably complacent systems

Part of the value of a forum which is open, and which encourages civil debate between people of widely differing views and attitudes as well as exploration of ideas, is that this is something which rarely takes place in the "real world". Holding opposite ideas close together forces closer examination and can produce new thinking. Sometimes of course it provokes a flare up, but if the Site's ethos is strong enough it can withstand that. As time goes on, there may be a tendency for some more specialised discussion between groups of members starting from a shared premise.

We're living with very rapid change and a lot of uncertainty, and there are heavy demands on us personally and as part of society to grasp what is going on. I hope that Machine Nation can be a place in which discussion and exchange of information generates understanding and ground for constructive action.
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PostSubject: Re: What kind of machine is MachineNation? -- Participatory Site Development Discussion : All Invited --   Mon Jan 12, 2009 1:15 pm

cactus flower wrote:
constructive action

Kate P wrote:
I've often admitted to getting things wrong (mostly again because of ibis and what I've learned from him about the EU) and many other posters do the same on a regular basis. It's not about backing down - and that's borne out in the generally unconfrontational nature of chat here, it's about discussion and learning. The vision that the site is based upon is not about being right, but about learning how the various machines work, looking under the bonnets of social, political, environmental and even mechanical structures. That's why ad hominem attacks are rapped on the knuckles. They distract from what most people come here for, are tiresome and frustrating

I've learned tons from these places which is why I come back so I suppose the push to have it as non-partisan as possible in order to eliminate the 'noise' so we can all learn and build up some knowledge is a valuable aim of the site. However, as cookiemonster said recently about SeathrúnCeitinn - it's nice to see a bit of passion around too, which is why I liked Ronald Binge's post. We can look at loads of machines but the human device often brims with emotions. Perhaps it's no use always trying to put a lid on them, they will out somewhere, busted valve-style.
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PostSubject: Re: What kind of machine is MachineNation? -- Participatory Site Development Discussion : All Invited --   Tue Jan 13, 2009 10:32 am

This article may help explain the site's moderation policy. Extract:

Quote :
Much of the tone of discourse online is governed by the level of moderation and to what extent people are encouraged to "own" their words. When forums, message boards, and blog comment threads with more than a handful of participants are unmoderated, bad behavior follows. The appearance of one troll encourages others. Undeleted hateful or ad hominem comments are an indication that that sort of thing is allowable behavior and encourages more of the same. Those commenters who are normally respectable participants are emboldened by the uptick in bad behavior and misbehave themselves. More likely, they're discouraged from helping with the community moderation process of keeping their peers in line with social pressure. Or they stop visiting the site altogether.

Unchecked comment spam signals that the owner/moderator of the forum or blog isn't paying attention, stimulating further improper conduct. Anonymity provides commenters with immunity from being associated with their speech and actions, making the whole situation worse...how does the community punish or police someone they don't know? Very quickly, the situation is out of control and your message board is the online equivalent of South Central Los Angeles in the 1980s, inhabited by roving gangs armed with hate speech, fueled by the need for attention, making things difficult for those who wish to carry on useful conversations.
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PostSubject: Re: What kind of machine is MachineNation? -- Participatory Site Development Discussion : All Invited --   Tue Jan 13, 2009 12:40 pm

Its always a pleasure when posters, even when disagreeing, take the trouble to be polite and this happens quite frequently.
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