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  #1  
Old 01-20-2009, 07:29 AM
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Default Thread Necromancy


While we appreciate that a thread may spark a thought or an opinion you feel you must share, we would appreciate it if members didn't revive threads that are more than a year old. Many of the people who posted in such threads may be gone or not interested in the thread any longer. If you feel you have something beneficial to add, by all means start a new thread on the subject at hand, but please don't revive old threads.

Thank you.

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  #2  
Old 01-20-2009, 09:40 AM
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Why?
I've never understood what the problem is with that. If it sparks new commentary, and new people get interested, who cares? Is there something I'm missing here?


Of course the universal mod trick that REALLY blows my mind is locking threads for flaming.

Thus:
1) Punishing everybody in the thread equally
2) ALLOWING THE FLAMES TO STILL BE THERE TO BE READ
3)Denying the resolution of the thread

I always deleted the offending posts and warned the offenders. I have NEVER locked a thread. I just don't get it.
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Old 01-20-2009, 09:48 AM
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When a thread gets out of hand, to the point of flaming, and subsequent warnings to return to the OP go unheeded, what other option is there? Delete threads? If we do that, we get accused of being the thought police. If we don't, people complain about the flaming. It's like the hydra -- cut one head off and another sprouts up in its place. So, what is there left to do? Cut the heart out by ending the thread.

If a thread has died, it died for a reason -- because there was nothing left to talk about. Resurrecting it for one post is pointless. Okay, if it sparks a conversation again, but if you have nothing relevant to add, why bother? Start a new thread on the same subject.
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Old 01-20-2009, 05:12 PM
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How does anybody know whether their comments are "relevant" or will spark a new conversation. Again, I just don't understand what possible downside there is to this.

As far as locking threads, I'm surprised you would even mention deleting the thread. MUCH easier to delete offending posts. It's not like this forum (or most of them) are using an articulated response. Somebody warns, then pow, the thread is locked. So everybody that posted is spiked off.

As opposed to what I suggested. DELETE THE BAD POSTS. Otherwise they just stay there. Warnings are one thing, but when you delete posts people realize there is no point in continuing what they were doing. And the thread is still there for those who weren't messing up. The original poster, who got his thread hijacked, perhaps. And now it's gone but the bad posts are still there.

It just doesn't make sense.
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Old 01-20-2009, 05:47 PM
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Hi Lin! I appreciate your concerns. I thought I'd give my perspective on locking threads, based on my experiences here.

The staff dislike locking threads as much as you dislike seeing them locked. It's done rarely. I searched the Intellectual forum (a contentious spot on occasion) back to 2007 and only found three locked threads. As Daedalus said, it's only done in cases of flaming, when multiple PM warnings and in-thread warnings have been ineffectual.

I don't know much about the inner workings of a forum program. I don't know, for instance, what an "articulated response" is. However, from a staff perspective, there is a lot more going on than "somebody warns, then pow, the thread is locked". Many reminders and warnings are issued through PM first, in order to give contending members the benefit of the doubt and the chance to cool down privately. An in-thread warning is the next step, which lets all posters know what's going on. By the time a thread is locked, it should come as no surprise.

To answer your specific concerns...

1) Punishing everybody in the thread equally

We only lock a thread when people within it are already abusing each other. It's not meant to punish anyone, but to keep people from a futile and damaging interaction. It's also meant to protect other members from the fire... no-one likes to watch a nasty argument.

2) ALLOWING THE FLAMES TO STILL BE THERE TO BE READ

Deleting flaming posts is problematic. Many non-flaming posts are made in response to the flames, so they'd make no sense out of context. Meanwhile the flames stand as justification for closing.

Deleting the entire thread is also problematic, as you point out. That would give a false impression of our forums, making it seem that we never disagree or squabble. It would also make it hard for people to gauge which topics are good for discussion and which ones have been done to death. Finally, a total delete seems to invalidate the obviously deep feelings people have about the issue.

Ultimately, we respect our members enough to let them see the whole progression and make up their own minds about why the thread was locked.

3) Denying the resolution of the thread

Again, we only lock threads which have deteriorated into flame wars, where the posters are chasing each other in circles, restating their positions with little variation, throwing insults rather than opinions, etc. Intellectual discussions have life and breath in them. Flame wars have only fire. Such threads are unlikely to find a resolution.

I hope this explains a little of why we occasionally lock threads. It is a last resort for us, and not done with any pleasure or desire to stamp out comments.

That's my take on it. I thank you for your feedback, since it makes it clear that our policies and reasons may be misunderstood. And perhaps another way of handling things might serve the community better, I don't know. We'll give it due consideration. It's hard to handle such things without causing some discontent.

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  #6  
Old 01-20-2009, 05:58 PM
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I completely understand what you're saying Lin, but sometimes it's hard to figure out exactly where the problem begins. Kind of like, where do I start deleting the posts?

Let's say a political discussion arises, in which, Member A says something like, "I'm a democrat, because there's no way in He** I'd be a republican. They're all just a bunch of jerks!"

In response to that, Member B says, "I'm a republican. Are you saying I'm a jerk? That's just stupid thinking, and if you really believe that then you're stupid too!"

Keep in mind that this is just a sad example, but it's hard to know how far our censoring should go. Do we delete Member A's post? It didn't have anything negative to anyone specific - although it was rude to any republicans that may be reading the thread. Yet, it IS just their opinion... Or do we delete Member B's post, because it contains a specific name-calling towards Member A (in doing the latter, Member B would be pretty upset that A's comments were left, and theirs deleted.) Or do we delete both and feel like we're stopping all communication anyways?

No matter what, someone will be unhappy about our decisions. Sometimes, it's best to just let it ride and other times it's better to nip it in the bud. We try to work together to come to the best conclusion and hope that not too many are upset.

I'm all for the heated debate, but where it starts to get personal is a thin line. Sometimes I think it's called for to end it, before a "challenging of a duel" ensues By locking the thread it ensures that no favoritism is deployed and that everyone is treated equally. It sucks, yes, but there's not very many better options sometimes.

Maybe if everyone here could give some feedback on what they think should be done in cases like these, a more accepted system could be devised for certain situations. Just my thought!
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  #7  
Old 01-20-2009, 09:28 PM
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Okay, if you guys are going to be that way, I think this thread should be locked and the key swallowed by a three headed dog.
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  #8  
Old 01-21-2009, 12:22 AM
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Does the term "exhaust all options" not mean anything, Lin? How many times on WF did you see topics become a pi**ing war between a bunch of people who couldn't agree and who started flaming the hell out of each other? No matter what way we handle that situation (closing thread, deleting posts, warning members in thread or backstage) we run the risk of upsetting people.

Okay, we delete the offending posts. That makes things good for a day maybe, and then someone brings up another boiling point, and the entire thing starts again. Where do you draw the line?

HoiLei is right: I've locked one thread in my entire time here as a moderator. And even that decision was deliberated for days. Warnings were made, both in the thread and by PM, and it didn't seem to do anything. An hour before the thread was locked, an Administrator told people to get back on topic, and was ignored completely. The flaming continued. That's why the thread was locked. It's not like we wake up every day thinking: I wonder what thread we can lock today? Locking threads stifles discussion, and that's the last thing any forum needs. And on this forum, it's done as a last resort.
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  #9  
Old 01-21-2009, 06:31 AM
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Actually, I thought this was all handled pretty well, by this point.


But since you bring it back up, I have never said anything about running around looking for threads to lock. And made it clear throughout that I was talking not just about you evil threadkillers, but a lot of forum mods.

But I have seen locked threads here, and they still contain the bad posts. And on other forums as well. So to me, "exhaust all options" would mean "wipe out the last couple of pages, eliminating the weirdness, and post a warning that if the discussion resumes the thread will be purged and/or locked.
This is something I don't see done. People just slap on a padlock.

I didn't expect this to make anybody defensive. I was just inquiring because I've often wondered about this on several forums.

Kind of like I always wonder why it's so horrible and evil and commercially polluting for somebody who's been posting on a forum to mention their new book. (Don't go off, guys: I'm not talking about WB)

(And I still see absolutely no reason why it's bad to open old threads)
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Old 01-21-2009, 06:34 AM
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I'm not being defensive, Lin. Sorry if it came across that way. It's interesting to hear what people think on the policy of locking threads. I stil stand by my earlier comment: I hate doing it, but the alternative will pi** just as many people off. There's no winning.
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  #11  
Old 01-21-2009, 07:02 AM
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We appreciate your opinion, Lin. (And if anyone else would care to make their views known, please do!)

First off, there are few threads that we lock. We lock things in the Reference Room because they are there for reference and nothing else. Usually they've appeared in the zine or elsewhere on the forum, so people can comment on them. Otherwise, they can always be discussed in Tips & Advice or Writing Help & Issues.

Occasionally we lock threads in the Notice Board because they do not require feedback. Usually, though, we just leave them open.

The only other time we will consider closing a thread is when arguments get out of hand. Even then, closing threads is really a last resort for us. But, being as it doesn't happen that often, we don't have a firm policy on how to handle it. At the present time, we tend to lock the thread and leave it at that, but I can see how leaving the inappropriate posts might look bad. Then again, as HoiLei points out, if we remove them people will wonder why the discussion was closed.

I suppose we could try what you are suggesting: delete all the appropriate posts, post a note that if the trouble resumes the thread will be locked, and maybe even send a PM to participants requesting them to cool down. Of course, we would have to be as good as our word then, and close the thread at the first sign of misbehaviour, after deleting the offensive post and leaving a note that the thread was closed because the discussion became too heated. I suspect that we would still be accused of censorhsip and acting like Big Brother, though. But we can try it, if we have to.


As for people reviving old threads, that is another kettle of fish. We don't want to lock old threads because sometimes members return, and that wouldn't be a very warm welcome back, so we tend to leave them. Also, that way new members can still read through old threads, even though the original poster may be long gone. The problem really lies in people dredging up old threads and leaving irrelevant remarks - purely to up their post count so they can post their own work. Surely there are enough active threads for them to comment on; they don't need to find some thread that no one has commented in since 2006 to post in. I can see that a discussion thread might seem interesting to revive, but even then, the passage of time will mean that previous comments could no longer be accurate. Why not just start a new discussion? You can always add a link to the previous one if you think some people might be interested in the opinions of past members. Just my tuppenceworth.
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  #12  
Old 01-21-2009, 08:02 AM
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I suspect that we would still be accused of censorhsip and acting like Big Brother, though.
Drat, you saw through my clever trap.
I'm not trying to change anybody's policies, just trying to get the viewpoint on thread closure.

Reviving old threads seems to meet the same reply hear as elsewhere. I get, "Why go in old threads?" and "Why not start new threads?" but no real reason why that's an awful thing.

I don't know, of course, but have a hard time thinking that people digging up old threads to boost their post count would be a problem. Why hunt up old threads when you can just chime in with four "Ditto" remarks on new ones?

I just keep getting the feeling its one of those no-nos that nobody can really come up why.

Same with members promoting their new books, or business or whatever, for that matter.
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  #13  
Old 01-21-2009, 09:09 AM
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Well, I hope you know that here at WB we have no trouble with members promoting their books. In fact, we're happy to give you plugs in the zine, and might even review your work (as we did with Josie Henley-Einion, whose book is fantastic by the way ). A writing site that does not allow members to plug their books is just silly, and while we might all be happy to play fools, we're really smarter than that.

As for old threads, I think maybe the thing that rankles is seeing older works get comments while new ones are overlooked. Somehow that seems wrong. But, as someone who has been around a while now, I would have no objection to a newbie digging out an old story of mine and offering a comment. So to be fair, I guess maybe we need to rethink our atttitude towards necromancy - so long as it isn't a case of someone reviving an old thread just to say, "yeah, mate", because that is pointless.

As always, Lin, you make me think. Thank you!
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Old 01-21-2009, 10:37 AM
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A newby's dos centavos: Keep the archives accessible. When an individual is disruptive to civil discourse, deal with that person. Explain the rules, warn, impose time-outs, then maybe kick the rude ass out on his ass. I consider myself a guest here, and as such, I don't want to wear out my welcome. Like Lin, I see no point in closing threads, unless you are running short on bandwidth.
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Old 01-21-2009, 10:43 AM
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Thank you, Paco. This is what we need, to hear members' views so that you don't feel we are acting in an overbearing manner.

Anyone else?
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Old 01-21-2009, 06:25 PM
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Oh, look... I think that if enough people want to discuss it, shouldn't it be allowed?

Although I suppose one could look back at all the other posts, and their 'argument' or case would probably have been mentioned.
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Old 01-21-2009, 07:02 PM
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I have no problem with people with people posting in old threads. Either it will thrive, or die again. Oh well, no harm done.

I don't believe that threads/posts should be deleted, let the record show peoples thoughts and their actions. If they want to edit their own post, by all means, but otherwise we should be able to see the mistakes people make so they have to man up to them.
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  #18  
Old 01-22-2009, 10:41 AM
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There's always a lot of prejudice and misgivings about the Undead
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Old 01-22-2009, 04:16 PM
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Ain't that the truth. Now excuse me while I crawl back into my coffin.
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Old 02-27-2009, 05:23 PM
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Trust Lin to be just as vocal here as he is on SFReader. He's harmless though. Mostly.

Lin, if you want to start a heated debate, go use the Anything Goes forum on SFReader and leave these nice people alone, you're scaring them.
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Old 02-27-2009, 05:41 PM
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Ah, we're used to him now.
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Old 02-27-2009, 08:51 PM
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Have I eaten a single brain here? Have I? No, I haven't. I rest my case.
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Old 02-27-2009, 09:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Lin View Post
Have I eaten a single brain here? Have I? No, I haven't. I rest my case.
*peers at the pile of half-eaten brains hiding behind Lin*

A single brain?

hrmmmm
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Old 02-27-2009, 09:52 PM
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He's telling the truth, actually. He's only eaten brains that have a significant other. All the single brains are still in the single brain's bar, searching for solace at the bottom of a snifter of spinal fluid...
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Old 02-27-2009, 10:09 PM
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I so hope this thread's around in 12 months, 'cause I've got an awesome joke...
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Old 02-27-2009, 10:11 PM
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We have to wait twelve months for a joke? I can't take the suspense that long!

Plus, in twelve months, you, I, and the cat that is lazily casting her eye over my computer screen will have forgotten this exchange ever took place.
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Old 02-27-2009, 10:51 PM
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Married brains are just empty calories.
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Old 02-28-2009, 12:12 AM
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How about that, eh? Necromancing a thread about necromancy.

Oh the irony.
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Old 02-28-2009, 06:42 AM
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We so post-modern here you can practically smell the self-referential ambivalence.
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Old 06-08-2009, 12:11 PM
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Came across thise thread and got all excited thinking it was about actually necromancy - dagnabbit! I had an awesome poem!
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