Site Updates

| 78 Comments

We will soon be making some changes to PT, including moving it to a new server.

If you have any constructive ideas on how to improve the site, please express them in the comments.

78 Comments

I’d like to see a couple of things:

1) An improved search function, so that I can search for comments by specific usernames with specified keywords.

2) An edit function available for perhaps the first 10 minutes after a comment is posted. I preview my comments except when my fingers are going fast, but come across typos anyway. The edit function should turn off automatically to prevent mischief (“I would never post anything like that!”).

3) A block user function to make it easier to avoid feeding trolls (mea maxima culpa)

Overall, I really like the site – the balance of technical posts, relevant political/legal posts, and humor is quite good.

I don’t know how often you’re told this, but your work here is truly appreciated. Thank you for all you do to keep PT interesting and informative!

Overall this is generally an interesting and informative site. One can lurk here as well as comment; and I do both.

Even a few of the mindless troll infestations bring out some good technical and scientific rebuttals from those with the expertise to respond; and I like to see the responses of those with other expertise.

The Bathroom Wall is a good alternative to outright banning; however, not all exchanges that need to be shipped there actually get shipped there soon enough. I realize the crew members are busy.

And there is also the problem of the BW slowing down browsers by some of the script that is running; especially after the page count increases significantly. Normally that would not be an issue if the off-topic exchanges that get sent there are not interesting.

But there are too many occasions where the troll infestations are so annoying and inane that I don’t enjoy this site at all.

It would be nice to have some kind of “voting” system that would alert the crew to ship a particularly annoying set of exchanges and trolls over to the Bathroom Wall much sooner than happens now.

Maybe an “Annoyance Meter” that counts the number of “no votes.” Unfortunately that could be easily abused by trolls, I suspect.

I’d start by making this place a LOT less tolerant of Creationist trolls that make a mockery of this cause the blog was made for. In particular, FL and IBelieveInGod should have been banned a loooooooooooooooong time ago. Let the bigots when they arrive here rant for a few weeks, never delete their posts or move them to the Bathroom Wall (unless the posts contain profanity), but BAN then like P Z Myers does from his Pharyngula blog.

Dale Husband said:

I’d start by making this place a LOT less tolerant of Creationist trolls that make a mockery of this cause the blog was made for. In particular, FL and IBelieveInGod should have been banned a loooooooooooooooong time ago. Let the bigots when they arrive here rant for a few weeks, never delete their posts or move them to the Bathroom Wall (unless the posts contain profanity), but BAN then like P Z Myers does from his Pharyngula blog.

You are more tolerant of mentally ill creationist trolls than virtually anyone here; you seem to think their “arguments” are worth addressing endlessly. I bet 5-10% of all comments on PT are made by you, in response to them. If PT banned them, what would you do with your time?

The ‘recent comments’ box on the main page: Why not have it on all pages? Also, this feature might be more useful if it contained pointers to the most-recently-updated threads. If one particular thread has gained umpty-leven comments in the past half-hour, that one thread will monopolize the ‘recent comments’ box as it stands, crowding out all other threads. Wouldn’t it be better if each thread could only appear once in that box? It might also be appropriate to note the time at which the latest comment in a thread happens to have been posted.

This may be out of control due to time constraints etc, but I’d like to see a bit more detailed science and ID rebuttals being posted. There’s still good stuff, particularly from Steve Matheson, but I remember a few years ago when there were more regular (or so it seemed) and very good essays from the likes of Nick Matzke or Ian Musgrave or Art Hunt. Perhaps this was because there was more stuff to critique but the ID crowd haven’t gone away, particularly now that the Biologic institute appear to actually be doing something, so perhaps a shift back towards detailed critiques could be in order? Obviously if those involved are no longer able to, that’s fine.

Other than that, more troll control. To some extent that could be self policing, though some people have an insatiable need to respond to trolls.

I second the request for a better search function.

As for the trolls, what works for me is to avoid answering PRATTs about “weaknesses” of evolution (that only gives them more facts to misrepresent) and instead ask for details about their “theory.” If they regurgitate any Behe sound bites I make sure to ask if they agree with Behe on common descent. ~90% of the time they evade my questions and troll for those better at feeding them. When they do answer them, I follow up with more questions. By the 3rd round they all ignore me completely.

Can you provide access to an archive? Links will be broken, but it would be nice to be able to search for the old posts somewhere. A lot of the intelligent design fiasco links are broken, and it would be nice to have some searchable archive. It was over 9 years ago that the ID perps began running the bait and switch scam on their own creationist support base and most of those web links are broken.

It is hard to believe that there are still IDiot supporters when the bait and switch has been going down for nearly a decade. No IDiot rube ever got the intelligent design science to teach in the public schools. The switch scam that they were given by the ID perps from organizations like the Discovery Institute or Intelligent Design Network doesn’t even mention that ID ever existed. The ID perps sold the rubes the science of intelligent design, but what did they ever deliver?

The ID perps are still selling the intelligent design junk, but all the IDiots ever get when it comes time to put up or shut up is the bogus switch scam. We seem to all accept that as normal, but it wasn’t normal 10 years ago. Really, the ID perps began running the bait and switch on their own creationist support base several years before they lost in court in Dover, so they didn’t even have that excuse for not putting forward their own ID junk to teach. Just that fact should have dropped the IDiot population to zero, but now it is normal business as usual. A lot of IDiots are bending over and taking the stupid switch scam from the same guys that they know lied to them about the science of intelligent design. There isn’t really any legitimate excuse for that, but even the PT regulars accept it as normal.

For the past 9 years the science side hasn’t had to do much to keep intelligent design out of the public school classroom. The ID perps are among the first responders when some IDiots want to teach intelligent design, and they make sure that the bait and switch goes down. Most of the activity for the last decade has been countering the obfuscation switch scam that doesn’t even mention that ID ever existed.

There have been several times when I wanted to go back to some old posts around the time the bait and switch went down on the Ohio rubes back in 2002 and all the links are broken and the archive only goes back to 2004.

When we visit the new site, will we get a sound bite which says, “I’ll be your server today”? C’mon, do it!

Cubist’s comment reminds me of something else: exclude Bathroom Wall comments from the “recent comments” on the front page. They’re rarely useful and often obscure what’s going on in the non-BW threads.

Mike Elzinga said: And there is also the problem of the BW slowing down browsers by some of the script that is running; especially after the page count increases significantly.

I also have this issue. If PT could throw in a feature that automatically archives after, say, 50 screens, that would be useful. (Yeah, I know a human could do that too, but this is a thread about website features.)

SWT said:

Cubist’s comment reminds me of something else: exclude Bathroom Wall comments from the “recent comments” on the front page. They’re rarely useful and often obscure what’s going on in the non-BW threads.

Yeah, if people want to feed trolls, fine, but they don’t need to pollute the rest of the site doing it.

And would REALLY REALLY REALLY appreciate a killfile capability … I have people ALREADY IN MIND for that feature. A voting feature would be nice, but that’s more of a “like” than hot item.

SteveF said: To some extent that could be self policing, though some people have an insatiable need to respond to trolls.

If there was a prize for understatement, you’d be rich. Some will tell you they’re all but saving the world by giving nutjobs the arguments they came here to provoke. “Think globally, screw up locally.”

Dale Husband said:

I’d start by making this place a LOT less tolerant of Creationist trolls that make a mockery of this cause the blog was made for. In particular, FL and IBelieveInGod should have been banned a loooooooooooooooong time ago. Let the bigots when they arrive here rant for a few weeks, never delete their posts or move them to the Bathroom Wall (unless the posts contain profanity), but BAN then like P Z Myers does from his Pharyngula blog.

I mostly lurk here, but I find this site incredibly valuable and appreciate the effort expended by the maintainers.

I must disagree with the concept of banning posters. Moving off-topic discussions to the Bathroom Wall is a far superior alternative. Providing each user with the tools to killfile posters they don’t find valuable is even better. Yes, trolls are annoying, but it’s better to put up with the irritations that come with free speech than to take the risk of becoming like the censors at Uncommon Descent.

Patrick said:

Yes, trolls are annoying, but it’s better to put up with the irritations that come with free speech than to take the risk of becoming like the censors at Uncommon Descent.

Hear, hear.

I agree with continuing the policy of moving trolls and troll-responses to the Bathroom Wall, rather than banning people. But I have found that, as I post as a Guest Contributer, it is frustratingly hard for me to get any comments moved there. There should be someone on the Team who can be asked by a Guest Contributer to intervene and send comments to the Bathroom Wall, and who will respond quickly. When I have tried to get this to happen you (Reed) have been too busy and nothing much has happened.

Joe Felsenstein said:

I agree with continuing the policy of moving trolls and troll-responses to the Bathroom Wall, rather than banning people. But I have found that, as I post as a Guest Contributer, it is frustratingly hard for me to get any comments moved there. There should be someone on the Team who can be asked by a Guest Contributer to intervene and send comments to the Bathroom Wall, and who will respond quickly. When I have tried to get this to happen you (Reed) have been too busy and nothing much has happened.

I will throw out a proposal that I don’t think will fly, but rather than not bother to say it …

I hang around here quite a bit, and if someone’s been tagged as a nuisance I would be only too happy to deal with them. That requires giving me permissions, but I wouldn’t act against anyone on my own initiative, and if I broke the rules my privileges could be yanked.

We might be able to set up a little unit of police for the site. OK, lots of issues here; if it doesn’t fly at all, no need to comment further.

I would like to see an option where people can keep a debate going after Panda Thumbers who support the mindset of a Michael Newdow can keep getting their butts thrashed after they have lost the fight and resort to name calling and mob mentality.

Newdow just lost another court battle to have “under God” removed from the Pledge of Allegiance. it is important that Panda Thumbers have their noses rubbed in this and that their only power in our culture happens via leftists who violate actual law and scientific information

More effective spam filters?

“Ditto” was in response to swg’s suggestion that the Recent Comments list exclude those to The Bathroom Wall.

The ‘recent comments’ box on the main page: […] this feature might be more useful if it contained pointers to the most-recently-updated threads. If one particular thread has gained umpty-leven comments in the past half-hour, that one thread will monopolize the ‘recent comments’ box as it stands, crowding out all other threads. Wouldn’t it be better if each thread could only appear once in that box? It might also be appropriate to note the time at which the latest comment in a thread happens to have been posted.

Seconded!

Cubist’s comment reminds me of something else: exclude Bathroom Wall comments from the “recent comments” on the front page. They’re rarely useful and often obscure what’s going on in the non-BW threads.

Seconded!

Maybe put a link to the Index of Creationist Claims in a prominent place on the side bar.

Henry J said:

The ‘recent comments’ box on the main page: […] this feature might be more useful if it contained pointers to the most-recently-updated threads.…

Seconded!

Negatived!

I like seeing the author listed rather than the thread. There’s people who’s thoughts on any thread are likely to peak my interest, and conversely, a number of people who I’m not interested in reading no matter which thread they post to.

Henry J said:

More effective spam filters?

Our spam filters are nearly perfect. I turned them off yesterday for a minute and got 5 Chinese spams instantly. In otherwords, we are constantly bombarded with spam that you do not see.

The spam that is getting through is put in there manually. I can look at the logs and watch someone use google to find us, load up the page, find the comment area, and the copy and paste their spam text.

I’m working on some tricks to slow them down, but the only “real” solution is force everyone to register in order to post comments.

Reed A. Cartwright said:

I’m working on some tricks to slow them down, but the only “real” solution is force everyone to register in order to post comments.

I would be very OK with that!

SWT said:

Reed A. Cartwright said:

I’m working on some tricks to slow them down, but the only “real” solution is force everyone to register in order to post comments.

I would be very OK with that!

That would be fine with me also.

mrg said:

I will throw out a proposal that I don’t think will fly, but rather than not bother to say it …

I hang around here quite a bit, and if someone’s been tagged as a nuisance I would be only too happy to deal with them. That requires giving me permissions, but I wouldn’t act against anyone on my own initiative, and if I broke the rules my privileges could be yanked.

We might be able to set up a little unit of police for the site. OK, lots of issues here; if it doesn’t fly at all, no need to comment further.

I help moderate a music site – most of the moderation activity is simply (a) enforcing the usage agreement for the site, which is more restrictive than the agreement here, (b) moving junk out of dedicated forums, and (c) banning spammers and trolls that break the usage agreement. The moderation team was hand-picked by the site owner; the owner and other moderators hold moderators accountable for their actions.

The system works well, but only because the original choices for moderators (full disclosure: I was not on that original team) were excellent.

However, it is, if you’ll pardon the expression, a leap of faith for the site owner if you don’t know the moderators in real life.

A small thing, but I dislike the little photos wasting space over on the left.

Do not fall into the trap of thinking that exercising reasonable standards for censoring those who refuse to engage in rational, on-topic, quid pro quo discussion is the equivalent of what goes on at places like UD. People like IBIG who are happy to ask questions but refuse to answer them should be banned. There’s nothing productive that comes from letting him clog up 60 pages with nonsense. Anyone paying attention got it in the first 30.

I prefer “latest thread” to “latest post”.

I’d also like to see a limit on the number of posts someone can make consecutively on a thread (2?), and a limit on proportion of posts on the thread (50%?). There have been many threads on this site that had potentially interesting conversations strangled by the excessive pedantic posting of the few.

Mark me down as another person annoyed by those who quote 60 lines to post two.

I think exile to the BW for obnoxious trolls should do the job, if links to the postings don’t show up on the main PT page. Add a killfile mechanism, and I don’t believe there will be any real reason for concern any more. Once I killfile the standard trolls and most of the people who habitually feed them, the noise level will drop precipitously.

mrg said:

I think exile to the BW for obnoxious trolls should do the job, if links to the postings don’t show up on the main PT page. Add a killfile mechanism, and I don’t believe there will be any real reason for concern any more. Once I killfile the standard trolls and most of the people who habitually feed them, the noise level will drop precipitously.

I agree. Provide users with the ability to control who they see and there is no need for banning and the associated risks of censorship (perceived or real).

Two suggestions:

1. Visibly number the comments per thread post. I realize the internal comment number is hidden in the date reference, but it would sometimes be easier to refer to a related comment by number, especially when the reference might not be in a direct reply chain. (eg: “Re: mrg @32”)

2. Allow the comments to be sorted by comment-reply thread. I don’t know what facilities like that might be available.

Thank you, everyone, for the continuing education and thoughtful stimulation.

Scott F said:

Two suggestions:

2. Allow the comments to be sorted by comment-reply thread. I don’t know what facilities like that might be available.

Sorry, I was *not* voting for a site organized by reply threads, which I generally do not prefer. Rather, I was suggesting the ability to *optionally* sort the posts by thread, similar to what most mail programs can do. It would be very handy to be able to change the sort order from “date” to “thread” at will. Though, AFAIK that is probably impractical for a web site.

mrg said:

I will throw out a proposal that I don’t think will fly, but rather than not bother to say it …

I hang around here quite a bit, and if someone’s been tagged as a nuisance I would be only too happy to deal with them. That requires giving me permissions, but I wouldn’t act against anyone on my own initiative, and if I broke the rules my privileges could be yanked.

We might be able to set up a little unit of police for the site. OK, lots of issues here; if it doesn’t fly at all, no need to comment further.

Could there be a wiki-like solution to that problem? With a few trusted editors, and herds of less-trusted editors? That would probably also benefit from a registration process, though I *do* dislike sites requiring registration.

mrg said:

I think exile to the BW for obnoxious trolls should do the job, if links to the postings don’t show up on the main PT page. Add a killfile mechanism, and I don’t believe there will be any real reason for concern any more. Once I killfile the standard trolls and most of the people who habitually feed them, the noise level will drop precipitously.

I agree with this, with the proviso that the Crew should have the ability to send trolls to the BW both for a thread and for all threads. I also like the idea of personal killfiles. Finally, I’m for the idea of monitors and registration of poster. Let anyone read, but only those registered comment.

dpr

Scott F said: Could there be a wiki-like solution to that problem? With a few trusted editors, and herds of less-trusted editors? That would probably also benefit from a registration process, though I *do* dislike sites requiring registration.

I think it’s worth consideration. After all, if the owners don’t have time to do the watching, they cannot simply reject the idea of delegating the watching to others. Then the task for the owners becomes the simpler one of watching the watchers. Make sure the watchers have clear rules and, if they don’t stick to them, get the boot.

Panda’s Thumb has shown a tendency to be harsh if a commenter does not share their view on certain subjects, often both opinions are passionately fought for on both sides. I think it would be a shame if this opportunity given by Panda’s Thumb to air your view were not given provision for, I think on one hand this is one of Panda’s Thumb assets, as well as the theme of its vocation. I think a lot is achieved from these discussions and on occasions they are fought for right to the bitter end, though sometimes the point of the post has been lost entirely. The role of the bathroom wall is a good idea. If there was an easier way to find and comment on past posts perhaps by numbering that would be a help.

Marilyn said:

Panda’s Thumb has shown a tendency to be harsh if a commenter does not share their view on certain subjects, often both opinions are passionately fought for on both sides.

Actually, other commenters tend to be harsh when a commenter makes stupid statements or is a troll. Do not be foolish enough to confuse that with unhospitality

I think it would be a shame if this opportunity given by Panda’s Thumb to air your view were not given provision for…

points to the Bathroom Wall

Come now, Stanton, after intrusions by kaykay, in comparison Marylyn seems relatively pleasant – merely somewhat illucid.

Marilyn Wrote:

Panda’s Thumb has shown a tendency to be harsh if a commenter does not share their view on certain subjects, often both opinions are passionately fought for on both sides.

Do you think that PT is more, less, or equally “harsh” as those who come here denying (or pretending to deny) evolution?

I would like to see more civility from all parties, but more importantly I see much too much “bait taking” (answering PRATTs, accusations of “lying for Jesus” etc.) from the PT “side” (same for all boards devoted to evolution/creationism/ID). I would like to see many more questions of the evolution-denier about their “theory,” especially the “whats, whens, where’s and hows.”

Frank J said:

Marilyn Wrote:

Panda’s Thumb has shown a tendency to be harsh if a commenter does not share their view on certain subjects, often both opinions are passionately fought for on both sides.

Do you think that PT is more, less, or equally “harsh” as those who come here denying (or pretending to deny) evolution?

I would like to see more civility from all parties, but more importantly I see much too much “bait taking” (answering PRATTs, accusations of “lying for Jesus” etc.) from the PT “side” (same for all boards devoted to evolution/creationism/ID). I would like to see many more questions of the evolution-denier about their “theory,” especially the “whats, whens, where’s and hows.”

Agreed. Moreover there is no need that we need to emulate Uncommon Dissent in its posting policies, which is why I am opposed to killfiles or any other means to ignore or restrict commentators. Of course trolls and others who post obnoxious comments - of which I know I am guilty of on occasion - need to have their comments moved immediately to the Bathroom Wall (no exceptions please).

John Kwok Wrote:

Moreover there is no need that we need to emulate Uncommon Dissent in its posting policies…

Not only “not emulate,” but frequently remind everyone how much less tolerant UcD is. And how many evolution-deniers have the incredible chutzpah of complaining about PT’s “censorship” while ignoring UcD’s real censorship.

Let’s face it – every blog runs its own show and has its own policies regarding trolls. There’s no “fairness” rule, and the policies of one blog have no effect on those of another.

Some blogs seem to love the action and the traffic. My own humble blog won’t tolerate creationists. I don’t care what creationist blogs do; my policies aren’t a response to theirs. PT seems to be steering a middle course. It’s all fine with me.

I must say that I lose interest when when trolls (and those who respond to them) start to dominate a thread. But others may find that’s when the thread gets interesting. It’s a big internet out there, with something for everyone.

I am opposed to killfiles or any other means to ignore or restrict commentators.

It is important to distinguish between killfiles, which give control to individual participants, and banning, which imposes the decisions of one or a few people on all participants. I encourage the administrators to empower individuals and eschew censorship.

Marilyn said:

Panda’s Thumb has shown a tendency to be harsh if a commenter does not share their view on certain subjects…

Who is “their” above? I ask because Panda’s Thumb proper, and those of us who merely post, represent a wide variety of opinions on just about every subject where opinions can be had. We have atheists and Christians, Republicans and Democrats, militants and accomodationists, and everything in between. There is no one “view” on anything, and good for us on that.

Can you give an example or two of a “view” that was dealt with unfairly here merely because there was disagreement, as opposed to the various forms of dishonesty, or manipulative obtuseness?

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This page contains a single entry by Reed A. Cartwright published on June 15, 2011 11:07 PM.

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