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DavidV

Ideas for increasing participation in ObjectivismOnline

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Let's brainstorm some ideas for increasing participation on this website.

What can we/I do promote the website and make it more attractive to people?

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I've had many private discussions with people who have posted here, but were driven away by the heavy and arbitrary hand of the moderators. They sometimes ask me why I still put up with it.

You'd think that it would be obvious to Objectivists that stifling free expression drives people away, especially people who are attracted to Objectivism because they have an independent streak.

My suggestion would be to have the moderators lighten up, allow more freedom, differences of opinion and actual discussions rather than shutting them down or interfering with them because the moderators either feel personally insulted (because someone has dared to be as direct or blunt with them as they are with others) or because the moderators don't grasp the arguments being made by those of us who are critical of aspects of Objectivism.

I don't know how many times I've had my posts meddled with, or have received warnings or threats from moderators because they've had incredible difficulty in grasping the very simple and obvious relevance of the content of my posts. And that's merely on the subject of aesthetics, which they see as relatively unimportant. I can't imagine the level at which they're probably impeding freedom of discussion when it comes to the other branches of philosophy which they think are much more important. Well, actually I can begin to imagine it since I've read, in private conversations, some of the absurd and highly emotionalist "reasoning" that they've used when banning or limiting others. They've driven away some very intelligent people.

The more that moderators' actions suggest to members that independent thinking is not welcomed here, the fewer people you're going to attract, and the less intelligent the participation will be.

J

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My suggestion would be to have the moderators lighten up, allow more freedom, differences of opinion and actual discussions rather than shutting them down or interfering with them because the moderators either feel personally insulted (because someone has dared to be as direct or blunt with them as they are with others) or because the moderators don't grasp the arguments being made by those of us who are critical of aspects of Objectivism.

To what extent do you mean "allow more freedom/differences of opinion"? All I can judge here is that you think you've been moderated too harshly without mentioning anyone else. If you dislike it that much, well, I don't understand why you posted in here. If you want to post something more constructive, please do so.

It would be more useful I think to suggest something to do about promotion of the site or improving the site. Moderation is a separate topic.

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You'd think that it would be obvious to Objectivists that stifling free expression drives people away, especially people who are attracted to Objectivism because they have an independent streak.

I agree with Jonathan. I’ve had enough posts deleted that I’m much less interested in contributing. I gave up on the “closed system” thread for that reason, my next reply needed to be extensive, and it didn’t make sense to put in the time since the content would have to be very controversial and thus subject to being deleted.

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To what extent do you mean "allow more freedom/differences of opinion"? All I can judge here is that you think you've been moderated too harshly without mentioning anyone else...

No, I mentioned that many people have had the same experiences here as I have.

If you dislike it that much, well, I don't understand why you posted in here. If you want to post something more constructive, please do so.

Do you seriously not understand that I am offering something constructive?

It would be more useful I think to suggest something to do about promotion of the site or improving the site.

That's exactly what I'm doing: I'm suggesting a way to improve the site.

Moderation is a separate topic.

No, it's not a separate topic just because you weren't expecting it, or because you don't want to hear that improving moderators' behavior would be a good way to improve the site. The initial post on this thread asks for suggestions on how to attract more people. OO has rightfully earned a reputation of having moderators who impede discussions either with their personal biases or their inability to grasp the obvious relevance of a post (just as you appear to be having difficulty grasping the relevance of my points on this current thread -- it's almost as if you're trying to illustrate my point). Getting rid of the reputation of having intrusive and/or intellectually challenged moderators would attract more people, and that would result in better conversations, which in turn would attract more people.

Heh. Why is that almost every post that I write which does not contain exactly what the moderators expected to hear is deemed by them to be "off topic" or a "separate topic"? Man, it is so annoying having to walk moderators through the simplest of points.

J

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Do you seriously not understand that I am offering something constructive?

What about the rules do you not like? You're talking about moderation, and if you think the rules are bad, then of course you'd think moderation is bad. If you think the rules are good and the moderation bad, then you'd have to be more specific about what moderation you think is not in line with the rules.

Heh. Why is that almost every post that I write which does not contain exactly what the moderators expected to hear is deemed by them to be "off topic" or a "separate topic"? Man, it is so annoying having to walk moderators through the simplest of points.

Please be constructive rather than rude.

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I do not know who this Jonathan is, but I am pretty sure that he is not being rude and that he is at least attempting to be constructive. Though it would perhaps be better if he was more specific.

For the record, it is possible to think the rules are bad while not having a problem with the moderation. One can think the rules suck but that they are enforced in a manner which is "fair" in relation to the rules. Though it would seem that this is not the case here.

While I am on it : I actually have had very few disagreements with moderation on the forum. I think I might have had a few instances were I thought the moderators were perhaps being a little over-zealous or something, however I think they were largely very minor instances.

It is only really the chat moderation which I recall have any major issues with. However the moderators here generally heard my opinion about this by now, so I think I shall refrain from elaborating on that [ for now].

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I found this site by doing a search on "circular time theory".

To my delight, there was enough to glean a tease of the gist of the topic. To my disappointment, the "meat" of the thread had been removed at the author's behest.

From a marketing perspective, to promote and make the website more attractive to people is pretty broad. What might be a potential profile of a people you desire to attract? Young, old - male, female - pro-Objectivists, anti-Objectivists - ?

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I know what I might like if I was somebody that did not already read the forum now and again : More cross-posts from blogs etc that deal with a broader range of topics or perhaps ones that deal with specialist ones I am more interested in. Though given that in my case those would largely constitute stuff from philosophy of physics/math and the like, that might not be very likely to happen for me...

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I don't think this is exactly what you had in mind, but how about recruiting from other forums? I actually found this forum while searching for information on agnosticism. There is an intelligent young person on a libertarian forum with whom I have been discussing agnosticism. He is a huge fan of Rothbard and insists that a negative can be proven, and that since I can't prove flying purple turtles do not exist then by coming to the conclusion that they do not, proves that I have faith. Why not "troll" other forums for candidates, like my "agnostic, young friend"?

As regards the moderation of forums, I must admit that I have had bad experiences on other forums with overzealous moderators who act as if they have never had power before and let it go to their heads. I have not been on this forum long enough to know if that happens here or not, but I did sense some defensiveness in regard to Jonathan 13's seemingly reasonable suggestion.

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I have not been on this forum long enough to know if that happens here or not, but I did sense some defensiveness in regard to Jonathan 13's seemingly reasonable suggestion.

This has been seen on here before though. Some folks come here wishing to discuss things outside of the scope on which this board focuses. The way I usually put it; they want to buy hammers at a shoe store. This site has a particular and defined focus on the discussion and advocacy of the philosophy of Objectivism. When people are not allowed to take it beyond that, they tend to get upset. They seem to think that they should be allowed to discuss whatever they want here, regardless of the focus of this site, and when denied they typically make accusations that the forum is incestuous and narrow minded in nature. They are oblivious to the fact that MANY participants here also use other forums for broader discussion, but come here for more focused discussion. There are many avenues on the internet which any forum member can use outside of this forum to discuss whatever it is they want to discuss without requiring or demanding that this forum dilute the focus it is intended to have. Until they understand that, they will be frustrated at being reigned in when they go off course. That people left this board in a huff is not necessarily an indication of failure on the part of the forum or the moderation; it is more likely a failure on their part to grasp the focus and purpose of this board. The moral of the story; don't go to a shoe store and get pissed off when they won't sell you a screwdriver.

So the idea is not to simply increase popularity or membership of the board by any means, it is to increase popularity or membership within the bounds of the purpose of the forum. I'm sure we could have membership swell to great bounds if we, for example, decided to open it up for the discussion and advocacy of Libertarianism or Communism.

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I'm sure we could have membership swell to great bounds if we, for example, decided to open it up for the discussion and advocacy of Libertarianism or Communism.

From here on out, I think this place should be the first Christian-leaning Objectivist forum! Loads of Christians are sure to come, even just to "bear witness." I can personally guarantee a slew of newcomers with my (ever-dwindling) real-life Christian ties!

In seriousness, though, your response addressing the real issue, forum scope, is perfect for objections toward the moderation team. Having started out from the "other side," I am here to say that this moderating team has to be (and has been) one of the best on the net. All decisions are thought-out in ways exemplified in the best posts available throughout the threads on this forum. If I had to sum it up: "Benevolent Coolheadedness."

As for the thread topic, the two main reasons to participate on the forum, social interaction and discussing Objectivist ideas, tend to have a related down-curve as people meet other new people of like minds while learning the philosophy's principles better over time -- they'll move on to more appropriate venues (facebook) as they reach their own knowledge peak and after they've met a bunch of new internet-friends. I think this is inevitable. A third purpose the forum could serve, if tweaked a little, would be as a reference, just like the Objectivist Answers site. That site has the benefit of succinct answers, this site has the benefit of "tumbling" or "chewing up" ideas.

So to me, at this point in the forum and the internet's history, a focus on new young people who are still forming some main ideas, or new older people who lean toward Objectivist-friendly ideas, would be best, so long as there were enough regulars good-and-familiar with Objectivism sticking around to keep things on track. I don't think "trolling" would be right, as trolling is just awful and would also do more harm than good, but friendly recommendations toward OO.net could work. I liked the OO.net facebook updates, but I think they're preaching to the choir. I've been out of the student loop for a while now, but maybe those going to school could hit the universities.

I also think tagging old forum content for easier searching could sharply increase the long-term value of the forum as it already stands. Hopefully the IPB people will do this with a future update.

Edited by JASKN

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Well if facebook is the problem leaching people away, you could always seek out people who don't like facebook so they won't be a risk to jump ship. :P In general though, it seems like lately we have rather limited and repetitive content and participation. I wish I could come up with a good potential remedy, but I'm drawing a blank presently. If anybody else has ideas for this though, that would be great.

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In general though, it seems like lately we have rather limited and repetitive content and participation. I wish I could come up with a good potential remedy, but I'm drawing a blank presently. If anybody else has ideas for this though, that would be great.

I agree on this. My only ideas relate to non-newbies (to Objectivism, not the site) posting more content, so that people like myself are more interested in reading and posting. I like on occasion helping someone new along with ideas, but that's different than discussing a topic I've thought about which isn't beaten to death already (prudent predator, especially). Or a topic I haven't thought about at all. I've made some threads which do discuss things I don't see much of, and other people as well, without regularity, unfortunately.

Edited by Eiuol

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If you can get the forum listed here and here as a safe haven for students wanting to start their own campus club, it could be an excellent growth opportunity. The Local Forums could be expanded to accommodate them, and moderation could be delegated as needed.

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What about the rules do you not like? You're talking about moderation, and if you think the rules are bad, then of course you'd think moderation is bad.

I have no problem with the rules. The problem that I have is when moderators enforce things beyond the rules, or when they have difficulty understanding that posters are following rules, such as the rule about staying on topic, or when they try to inappropriately misuse the rules as an excuse to impede discussions which they either don't like or understand. That and they often speak to members with a very rude, sarcastic and authoritarian tone, and sometimes taunt or otherwise throw gasoline on a fire rather than dousing it. Sometimes their actions seem to be more about personal insecurities and vendettas than about enforcing any of the forum's actual rules.

If you think the rules are good and the moderation bad, then you'd have to be more specific about what moderation you think is not in line with the rules.

I've already explained one of the things that I find irritating, which is that the moderators often fail to grasp the relevance of the simplest of points, and then they claim that they are enforcing the rule of staying on topic when demanding that I not discuss certain things (things which only they personally don't grasp as relevant), or when splitting my posts off onto new threads, thus defeating any chance of my getting them or anyone else who shares their mindset to understand the relevance of my posts to the topic at hand.

Anyway, beyond my frustration with moderators' interference due to their inability to understand a post's relevance, there are several more issues that I've dealt with, and there are also issues that others have written to me about, but I don't think you'd get the full impact of moderators' behavior unless I could post some of their private messages as examples. I've seen it many times before -- if I were to just say that a certain person was told X by a moderator, people will respond defensively and say that I've probably misunderstood or misinterpreted something, or that I'm exaggerating or making things up, and that I've offered no proof (when it comes to criticizing the moderators here, people seem to have an "NPH wouldn't do that!" attitude). So, here's what I propose: If I publicly request that others send me copies of the most insulting and abusive messages that they've received from moderators, will the owners and moderators here give me permission to post them publicly? I think that posting such examples would be the only way to really show people what I'm talking about.

Please be constructive rather than rude.

I am being constructive. I'm suggesting to the moderators exactly what you're suggesting to me: I'm asking moderators to "please be constructive rather than rude." I'm sorry if you think that my doing so is rude, but I know of no way to say it more politely. My purpose is not to offend, but to improve this forum. Aren't you interested in getting honest feedback and looking into the possibility that the moderators might have areas in which they could improve? Or is the idea that the moderators might be doing something to drive good people away just too insulting to even consider?

J

Edited by Jonathan13

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I am being constructive.

I quoted a specific part because I was responding to specifically that portion of the post, not the entirety of it. Mentioning moderation is worthwhile, and since you said you don't have a problem with the rules, all that can be said on your end I think is that you disapprove of how moderation is done, and it is up to moderators to acknowledge that. It's not so much a policy alteration you're criticizing or proposing. Perhaps you have an idea on how to better call attention to things users believe are moderation issues?

I should mention I like Sirius' idea; it's a good start of an idea.

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If you can get the forum listed here and here as a safe haven for students wanting to start their own campus club, it could be an excellent growth opportunity. The Local Forums could be expanded to accommodate them, and moderation could be delegated as needed.

Now that sounds like a great idea!

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If you can get the forum listed here and here as a safe haven for students wanting to start their own campus club, it could be an excellent growth opportunity. The Local Forums could be expanded to accommodate them, and moderation could be delegated as needed.

I'm not saying this is a bad idea, but there are already much better resources for starting clubs and organizing social events (FB, Meetup). From my experience, clubs only post on a forum when they have an event that they want to advertise - they do not use the forum as a place to discuss club activities or organize events.

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I would like to see people with some Objectivism-related book or lecture course for sale get a dedicated thread were they can make further sales pitches and answer questions about it. Maybe there can be some kind of Diana Hsieh-like pledge arrangement where if 5 or 6 six people buy the course with an OO.net connection they agree to come and tend to their thread for a month.

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