Wesley R. Elsberry posted Entry 1281 on August 2, 2005 08:10 PM.
Trackback URL: http://www.pandasthumb.org/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.fcgi/1279

We’re considering making things a bit easier on ourselves here by moving to a user registration system for comments. How many of you simply can’t be bothered to register to leave comments here at PT?

We’re looking specifically at the TypeKey system.

Commenters are responsible for the content of comments. The opinions expressed in articles, linked materials, and comments are not necessarily those of PandasThumb.org. See our full disclaimer.

Comment #40996

Posted by Moses on August 2, 2005 8:19 PM (e)

Great! Cuts down on the quick-hitting trolls.

Comment #40999

Posted by ethan fremen on August 2, 2005 9:03 PM (e)

Syntax Error: mismatched tag 'url'

Comment #41002

Posted by Geral Corasjo on August 2, 2005 9:28 PM (e)

I wouldn’t mind, as long as it keeps me logged in whenever I visit. And it would help cut down on trolls that leave a bad message and never visit again.

Comment #41003

Posted by Mike Walker on August 2, 2005 9:30 PM (e)

Long overdue - count me in.

Comment #41004

Posted by H. Humbert on August 2, 2005 9:34 PM (e)

Woud it mean we can finally edit are posts so we don’t look so dence becauze of a few mis-spelligns?

Comment #41005

Posted by Engineer-Poet, FCD on August 2, 2005 9:50 PM (e)

I have one complaint about this:

I couldn’t add FCD to my moniker just for PT, and I’m not about to get another Typekey account just to sport it.

Comment #41006

Posted by Joseph O'Donnell on August 2, 2005 9:53 PM (e)

I don’t particularly mind either way. If it helps squish the various idiots that sometimes pop up here then I’m all for it.

Comment #41007

Posted by DrJohn on August 2, 2005 9:53 PM (e)

Centralized Registration System? Somewhere outside of The Thumb?

In that case, no. (Not that I leave lots of comments.)

An internal to The Thumb registration, sure. Not a problem. I certainly do not want a universal identifier to all blogs world wide. The closest I’ve come to that is with a gravatar. Only that and nothing more.

Comment #41008

Posted by Steven Laskoske on August 2, 2005 9:57 PM (e)

Quoth the Raven… Nevermore.

Comment #41011

Posted by Reed A. Cartwright on August 2, 2005 10:12 PM (e)

H. Humbert wrote:

Woud it mean we can finally edit are posts so we don’t look so dence becauze of a few mis-spelligns?

No it would not.

Comment #41013

Posted by Apesnake on August 2, 2005 10:18 PM (e)

I would be concerned that the creationists would be deterred and the high pitched whining would cause ears to bleed. ID blogs tend to either not allow comments or delete any that make good points. It is kind of a point of pride that sites like this do not.

Do either of these systems allow anonymous posting without registering? While this might seem to defeat the purpose it would mean that regulars would not have to worry about someone posting as them (I assume that is the intended goal?) and yet a young or otherwise open minded ‘evolution-skeptic’ would not be put off interacting by asking a question.

I know that a site like www.talkorigins.org is a better place for that kind of interaction but this site is a significant educational opportunity not just in regards to evolution but the politics.

A casual reader might be more likely to ask a question like: “Even if evolution is true why can’t creationism be taught along side it and let people make up their own minds?” at a site like this and it would be a pity if they did not hear the answer simply because they were put off by the thought of registering. While questions like that might get exasperating at times (after the one hundred thousandth time, it is better that they ask it here than at the anti-neodarwinist sites.

Comment #41014

Posted by Gary Hurd on August 2, 2005 10:45 PM (e)

I doubt that it would deter any motivated poster but if it were sufficiently onerous it might dissuade the rare “drive by posting.”

Comment #41021

Posted by Harq al-Ada on August 2, 2005 11:10 PM (e)

I don’t think that anyone does a drive-by posting without coming back to look at responses to his handiwork. We are too into attention as a species to resist feedback. I like to think that, rarity among rarities, the occasional drive-by guy learns something from some comments.

Comment #41023

Posted by ts on August 2, 2005 11:22 PM (e)

It would help to know what this is expected to achieve and how.

Comment #41031

Posted by Carlos on August 3, 2005 12:36 AM (e)

This is my second post and I very much appreciate the user-friendly option to post. I’m a long time lurker and would likely not post if I had to register. I’ve enjoyed reading the comments here, and I assume you get more varied postings by the lack of registration requirements. The frequent and repetitive/vicious posters would probably register, but they’re not what make this site worth visiting.

I’ll take the moment to comment on how many responses the “trolls”, or anti-evolutionists evoke. It seems the guy with the high IQ and waterfront property, and the ousted university professor with the theory about front loaded genetic programming (or something) were bound to keep many folks here busy with rebuttals (100+), yet PvM’s great articles that actually present the contemporary literature in a reasonable fashion seldom get more than 4 or 5 comments. The folks replying to these two knew they were not going to change their opinions, yet they kept going on and on. Apparently it’s easier to lash out or demonstrate superior intelligence (which may or may not have been designed ;-) than to contribute thoughtful questions/comments. Mind you, I’m not saying there haven’t been some golden nuggets here and there…

Comment #41032

Posted by scott pilutik on August 3, 2005 12:42 AM (e)

When you say ‘make things easier on ourselves’, I assumed you were talking about comment and trackback spam, which I’m surprised no one has mentioned.

I eventually killed comments from my blog entirely, as I don’t have the time to update it often, much less spend the hours nuking a thousand or so robo-comments for texas viagra poker refinancing. I considered Typekey because it would’ve solved the problem entirely, but since I don’t get a lot of traffic to begin with, just didn’t bother.

I don’t know if you have a comment/trackback spam problem, but I’d be shocked if you didn’t. Nearly every defense you can adopt against it has been worked around by the comment/spam genius assholes - except registration.

Anyway, I’d happily register for this site.

Comment #41036

Posted by Reed A. Cartwright on August 3, 2005 1:38 AM (e)

We actually don’t have a spam problem. Our blacklist has some really good custom rules in it that block virtually all spam. (It’s good to be rare.)

We do have a problem with banned users staying banned.

Comment #41037

Posted by degustibus on August 3, 2005 1:43 AM (e)

Nope– don’t like registrations. But do what you want, the comments aren’t the most important part of this blog.

Comment #41038

Posted by Raven on August 3, 2005 2:17 AM (e)

I’m not sure what I ever did to you, Steven, but if I was a jerk, then I apologize.

Comment #41040

Posted by ts on August 3, 2005 2:25 AM (e)

We do have a problem with banned users staying banned.

I don’t see how registration will help. Registration discourages drive-bys and spam, but you can only block reregistration by blocking IP addresses, and you don’t need registration for that.

Comment #41041

Posted by Nic George on August 3, 2005 2:27 AM (e)

I think the openness of Pandas Thumb is desirable because any one can speak their mind and over an opinion. With a login some people might think it is too much trouble and we lose some diversity. Who cares if we get a few trolls? It keeps us acquainted with creationist arguments, regardless of how stupid they are. A login in system won’t deter serious trouble makers. Over at Nightlight I am arguing with a particularly frustrating ‘troll’ and Nightlight does require a login.

Comment #41045

Posted by Reed A. Cartwright on August 3, 2005 3:21 AM (e)

ts wrote:

block reregistration by blocking IP addresses

Not everyone has a static IP or comes from a range that is easily blockable without collateral damage.

Comment #41046

Posted by Nic George on August 3, 2005 3:25 AM (e)

H. Humbert wrote:

Woud it mean we can finally edit are posts so we don’t look so dence becauze of a few mis-spelligns?

Point illustrated nicely:

“speak their mind and over an opinion” = “speak their mind and OFFER an opinion”

Comment #41047

Posted by SEF on August 3, 2005 3:36 AM (e)

We do have a problem with banned users staying banned.

Then I don’t see that typekey will really help if an existing user of it (who presumably should know) says he could (but won’t) get another account, ie:

I’m not about to get another Typekey account

Comment #41048

Posted by ts on August 3, 2005 3:48 AM (e)

block reregistration by blocking IP addresses

Not everyone has a static IP or comes from a range that is easily blockable without collateral damage.

Um, yes, so? Blocking IP addresses is the best you can do to keep people banned, and registration isn’t needed for that. Why don’t you simply answer the questions: what are the goals, and how do you expect to achieve them via registration? It’s like pulling teeth, or trying to get a theory out of an IDist.

Comment #41054

Posted by Jack Krebs on August 3, 2005 6:26 AM (e)

My question is why? What problem are we trying to solve. In general, I prefer no registration myself, I think.

Comment #41058

Posted by Expateggheaf on August 3, 2005 6:49 AM (e)

I wouldn’t mind.

Comment #41060

Posted by Savagemutt on August 3, 2005 7:31 AM (e)

I wouldn’t love it, but I understand the headaches of dealing with folks like JAD (or “george” or whatever the hell he’s calling himself today).

It would also, unfortunately, reduce burrito-related posts…but that’s a personal thing.

Comment #41062

Posted by bcpmoon on August 3, 2005 7:48 AM (e)

It’s ok by me, but I do not see the need. I would rather keep the door open. Is drive-by posting really a problem here?

Comment #41066

Posted by Bayesian Bouffant, FCD on August 3, 2005 8:14 AM (e)

What’s in it for me? How about if everyone who signs up gets to refer to themself as a ‘registered student of the University of Ediacara’ or some such?

Really, scientists are so bad at marketing.

Registration means I would probably stop my occasional practice of posting under a different name.

I third the thought about being able to edit typos, but that might open up the possibility of people substantially changing posts after replies have been made to change the sense of a discussion.

Comment #41094

Posted by harold on August 3, 2005 11:22 AM (e)

I’m probably against it.

I might continue to comment here, since I’m a semi-regular visitor. But I routinely decide not to read things or make comments at other sites, because someone asks for registration. I have to echo the question of ts - what are the SPECIFIC benefits that are expected to accrue?

The last thing we need to do is to isolate ourselves from creationists, and allow their ideas to go unanswered. They already have a tendency to flock to their own closed sites, where pro-science comments are deleted. And then the New York Times and the Washington Post print editorials by “credentialled” creationists, or doorknob-dumb “journalists”, about the “controversy” and the “bold new idea” of “intelligent design”.

The open discussion and high threshold for deletions and banning at PT are not superficial traits. They stand in sharp contrast to the goings-on at ID sites. Even “drive-by” trollisms are not worthless. They reveal to third parties the contrast between the pro-science approach and the irrational and negative characteristics of the ID crowd. The more open, the better. Anything that restricts comments is probably bad.

Openness and transparency are luxuries which only the honest can afford. If you’ve got it, flaunt it.

Comment #41096

Posted by David Margolies on August 3, 2005 11:42 AM (e)

I am against it because I am lazy. I like to be able to add a comment when I wish without having to remember what I have to do to log in. Thus it is unlikely I would post again, likely no big loss, but how many are like me? I think it would reduce the diversity of comments and reduce the value of the site.

Making things easier on oneself is not necessarily the best policy (indeed it is often a sign of moving from having a service goal to being a bureaucracy – think of any System Administration department is any large organization).

Comment #41100

Posted by Alex Merz on August 3, 2005 12:30 PM (e)

Do it.

Comment #41105

Posted by Tom Gillespie on August 3, 2005 1:39 PM (e)

Fine with me - it would be best if a name and password I already have registered with yahoo groups coud be used so I don’t have to remember another set of them.

Comment #41106

Posted by Gary Hurd on August 3, 2005 1:45 PM (e)

This is not intended to be a BB, but with the inevitable attraction of “regulars” it has begun to feel like one. But registered ‘members’ would take us even further into the BB world.

I think that the contributers need to work a bit on either moderating the comments under their posts, or (at their opption) closing comments. It isn’t hard to do either, particularly after Wes and (particularly) Reed’s great job updating the software.

Comment #41112

Posted by Psychonaut on August 3, 2005 2:27 PM (e)

Count me as another supporter of OpenID. I don’t like the idea of having my identity depend on some central server; OpenID uses a distributed model.

Comment #41120

Posted by DrJohn on August 3, 2005 3:15 PM (e)

There were burritos? I mean other than Jason’s comments from Liberty U?

Comment #41124

Posted by Mike Walker on August 3, 2005 3:47 PM (e)

Goodness me, I don’t know what all the fuss is about regarding having to register to comment.

If the issue is about convenience, frankly, if you can’t be bothered to spend about 30 seconds registering a valid email address and clicking on the confirming link, *one time* then having to type your name and an email address every time you post today is beyond you too - what’s the big deal?

And, I’m sorry, I have no time for people who are paranoid about PT having their email address on record. What’s the worst case that can happen? Realistically, more spam (if the list gets loose). UNrealistically, the right wing thought-police will come after you and lock you up for your anti-creationist sentiments - if that’s your worry, then methinks you worry far too much.

I would prefer to see Panda’s Thumb evolve much more into a community like, say, Bad Astronomy. That is a fine site and welcomes and attracts people on both sides of the debate (i.e. those that believe in Martians, astrology, etc, and those that don’t). There is no suppression of discussion, and only disorderly conduct will get you banned.

The benefit to something like this is that the longer you stay in such a community, the more you have invested in it, and the more your likely to want to “behave” and stay around.

In the long run, please move this board to a community-based system. Bad Astronomy is a good example, and probably DailyKos is the ultimate - not because of the political leanings, but because of the features it provides, including being able to blog your own entries, though I’m not sure you want to go that far.

If you want to know how much extra effort is involved, then you could try contacting the Bad Astronomer himself, Philip Plait. I’m sure he would be willing to help.

Comment #41125

Posted by geogeek on August 3, 2005 3:49 PM (e)

Another no registration, thanks, vote.

As to typing errors, if I say more than one or two lines I generally type in an editor, run spillcheck, and copy in.

Comment #41127

Posted by ts on August 3, 2005 4:27 PM (e)

Gary Hurd wrote:

This is not intended to be a BB

Say what? Where did you get that notion? It’s at odds with the description box:

The Panda’s Thumb is the virtual pub of the University of Ediacara. The patrons gather to discuss evolutionary theory, critique the claims of the antievolution movement, defend the integrity of both science and science education, and share good conversation.

Comment #41128

Posted by ts on August 3, 2005 4:29 PM (e)

So, what are the goals, and how is registration expected to achieve them? Anyone?

Comment #41133

Posted by Flint on August 3, 2005 4:46 PM (e)

So, what are the goals, and how is registration expected to achieve them? Anyone?

I’m willing to guess that those with the key to the software are spending more time than I was aware of, handling administrative chores like deleting spam and banning undesirables, and they hope this registration mechanism might reduce their workload. But if that’s the problem, I doubt the proposal will help much. And if that’s not the problem, I wish someone would produce a couple paragraphs explaining the goals.

Comment #41134

Posted by Frank J on August 3, 2005 4:59 PM (e)

Between work and home I have ~100 usernames, passwords, and PINs. I need a cheat sheet to keep track. I guess one more for a worthy cause can’t hurt.

Comment #41146

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 3, 2005 6:09 PM (e)

I prefer things to be as open and accessible as possible. To anyone and everyone who wanders by.

Comment #41151

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 3, 2005 6:39 PM (e)

It seems the guy with the high IQ and waterfront property, and the ousted university professor with the theory about front loaded genetic programming (or something) were bound to keep many folks here busy with rebuttals (100+), yet PvM’s great articles that actually present the contemporary literature in a reasonable fashion seldom get more than 4 or 5 comments.

Indeed, the evolution and science posts are great. The problem is, as far as the evolution-ID fight goes, they are also utterly irrelevant.

ID is a political movement, not a scientific one. It will be beaten by political methods, not by scientific discussion or education. I know that many scientists here don’t want to hear that, but that doesn’t lessen its truth one iota. We can lecture science until we all turn purple in the face, and it won’t help, because this fight IS NOT ABOUT SCIENCE.

So I think we need to make a basic decision about what PT *is*. Is it a *science* blog, or is it a blog to fight the ID movement. If it’s a *science* blog, then the solution to all our problems is a simple one — don’t let the ID/creationists post. They have no science to offer anyway. We can just post our academic articles for each other and soak up knowledge like a sponge, and we won’t have to waste any time responding to the nutters.

If, on the other hand, this is a blog to fight the ID movement, then we MUST focus on the political strengths and supports of the ID movement and how to beat it – in all of its aspects. That involves talking about politics and such — and many science types don’t like getting their hands dirty with that sort of thing. But if we want to beat the IDers, well, all of us will have to leave the ivory tower and get our hands dirty. Baqrricading ourselves inside only makes it all that much easier for them to burn it down.

My method of discrediting the IDers is very simple, and, if I must say so myself, damned effective. The bottom line is that I refuse to let *them* set the agenda. I simply ask questions of them —– and then I don’t let them run away from those questions. If I have to ask the very same question a hundred times to get an answer, then I will. I do understand that some of the long-termers might get bored with that, but then, you are not my target audience anyway. There are lots of lurkers here who have not been here before, will not stay long, and won’t come here again. And I want **every one of them** to see, during their short time here, with their own two eyes, that when nutters like Sal or Nelson or FL or Blast are asked simple questions, they tuck tail and run. I do NOT want to give these guys the opportunity to successfully evade and avoid my questions. If the longtimers don’t want to read them (again), don’t. They’re not aimed at you anyway.

I think the simple effectiveness of that method speaks for itself. Just ask Heddle, Sal, Nelson, FL and Blast. I would hate to lose the opportunity to use it. It’s too damn effective.

One way to avoid things like the recent acrimony, I think, would be to simply ban any discussion of religion or religious opinions. This was the policy of the old FidoNet EVOLUTION echo, and also the policy of my DebunkCreation email list at Yahoogroups. The IDers cannot make any complaint about that at all whatsoever, since they keep telling us (ad nauseum) that their crap isn’t really about religion anyway. I’d like to force them to live up to those words (and therefore show everyone that they CAN’T). Let them shut their Bibles, shut their mouths, and just SHOW US THEIR SCIENCE. They won’t. They can’t. They don’t have any.

A “no religious discussion” policy prevents two things; (1) it stops all the nutters whose sole “argument” is “you are all god-haters and you’re all going to HELL!!!!!!”, and (2) it stops the counterproductive (and irrelevant) war between the theists and the atheists from intruding into the evolution/ID fight, where it has no purpose. The downside of this, though, as I noted before, is that when lurkers and curious visitors come here and see “evolutionists” defending religion from the rabid atheists, they can see clearly and simply, with their own two eyes, that when IDers yammer to them that science and evolution are “atheistic” and “incompatible”, they are flat-out lying to them.

I would also hate to see the freedom of commentators to comment become restricted or constrained. One of the things I like about PT is the free give and take. I also like the occasional “offtopic” forays, since they allow us regulars to see each other as real live humans, instead of just words on a computer screen. If the poor unwashed masses are going to be limited simply to saying “yea” or “nay” to the words of wisdom passed down from the high exalted pooh-bahs, then I think we will have lost something that we should not lose. I’d hate to see that happen.

Just my tuppence.

Comment #41152

Posted by KiwiInOz on August 3, 2005 6:39 PM (e)

I’m afraid that this lurking luddite has a very limited understanding of just what you are proposing. Can you please spell out just what you hope to achieve with registration relative to the current situation, and what the pros and cons would be. There may be a blog created every minute, but it’ll be a wee while (in geologic time) before I work out how to do it. Hell, I’ve only got a PhD in ecology.

To me this site is one part sport (troll baiting and beating), one part entertainment (troll baiting and beating, contributing to the decals on the PT cruiser) and two parts education (a la PZ Myers). It’d be a shame to update this virtual pub to pink and chrome (yeah that was the 80’s) or coffee machines and techno and loose the atmosphere.

Cheers.

Comment #41157

Posted by SEF on August 3, 2005 6:55 PM (e)

If you (Lenny or anyone else) want to lose the distractions (ie from the ID has no science in it message) into religious discussions by banning those but yet still retain the point that people who accept and understand evolution include many theists, then that might be achievable by (voluntarily) tagging people’s names on posts with some representative religious symbol and sub-sect title. Eg the obvious one for Christian would be a cross and the qualifying word onto that might be Baptist, Catholic etc. That would be a clearly visible indication, sans discussion, that those allegedly non-existent scientific theists do exist and don’t have a problem with being who they are.

Comment #41158

Posted by ts on August 3, 2005 6:57 PM (e)

chores like deleting spam and banning undesirables

But Reed says spam isn’t a problem.

and they hope this registration mechanism might reduce their workload

That’s like the drunk hoping to find his keys under the lamppost.

But if that’s the problem, I doubt the proposal will help much.

Indeed.

And if that’s not the problem, I wish someone would produce a couple paragraphs explaining the goals.

Reed has implied that the goal is to keep banned people banned: “We do have a problem with banned users staying banned.”

But, as I’ve noted, registration can’t achieve that (AFAIK). When I mentioned IP blocking, Reed pointed out the problems with it. Well yes, but he didn’t respond to my comment that IP is the only method that is even somewhat effective for enforcing bans. When I write

I don’t see how registration will help. Registration discourages drive-bys and spam, but you can only block reregistration by blocking IP addresses, and you don’t need registration for that.

(“only block reregistration” was a mistake; I meant “only enforce bans”)

Reed snips that down to “block reregistration by blocking IP addresses”, failing address “how registration will help”. Weird. I still await a theory of ban enforcement via registration.

Comment #41159

Posted by ts on August 3, 2005 7:06 PM (e)

simply ban any discussion of religion or religious opinions.

It isn’t simple at all, because the IDists say it’s not about religion and the trolls come here to debate religion, equating evolution to atheism. Then some theistic evolutionist makes some blanket claim about science being compatible with religion (which goes far beyond denying the bogus equation), or some skeptical philosopher claims that science and religion are on equal footing as epistemic sources, and we’re off to the races.

Comment #41160

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 3, 2005 7:10 PM (e)

that might be achievable by (voluntarily) tagging people’s names on posts with some representative religious symbol and sub-sect title. Eg the obvious one for Christian would be a cross and the qualifying word onto that might be Baptist, Catholic etc. That would be a clearly visible indication, sans discussion, that those allegedly non-existent scientific theists do exist and don’t have a problem with being who they are.

Hmmmm … do I choose the @ (circle A) symbol, since I’m basically an anarchist at heart?

or do I choose the % symbol, since it looks sort of like the Taoist yin-yang symbol?

For Zen, I suppose we’d have to just leave a blank space….

(grin)

Comment #41161

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 3, 2005 7:13 PM (e)

It isn’t simple at all, because the IDists say it’s not about religion and the trolls come here to debate religion, equating evolution to atheism. Then some theistic evolutionist makes some blanket claim about science being compatible with religion (which goes far beyond denying the bogus equation), or some skeptical philosopher claims that science and religion are on equal footing as epistemic sources, and we’re off to the races.

And then all those posts find themselves relegated to the Big Bit Bucket In The Sky, and the races end abruptly.

And those who insist on bringing their dragster here again and again, find themselves locked outside.

Comment #41162

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 3, 2005 7:17 PM (e)

Between work and home I have ~100 usernames, passwords, and PINs. I need a cheat sheet to keep track. I guess one more for a worthy cause can’t hurt.

Gee, I only use one username and password for everything.

Is that a bad idea? ;)

Comment #41165

Posted by SEF on August 3, 2005 7:25 PM (e)

Following down the side-track after you again because the main road seems to be blocked: your singular userid is probably less bad (if you don’t tell it to people) than the stealable cheat sheet is.

PS I was actually thinking the symbols could be tiny graphics, but some symbol fonts could supplement your letter approach.

Comment #41167

Posted by ts on August 3, 2005 7:33 PM (e)

And those who insist on bringing their dragster here again and again, find themselves locked outside.

That doesn’t seem to square with

I prefer things to be as open and accessible as possible. To anyone and everyone who wanders by.

My point, again, is that it isn’t as simple as “simply ban any discussion of religion or religious opinions”. This thread opened with “We’re considering making things a bit easier on ourselves here”. Monitoring the content of discussions to see if religion is being discussed will make things a lot harder on them, especially since the topics of evolution, ID, and religion, in practice, get interwoven.

Comment #41190

Posted by Mike Walker on August 4, 2005 1:44 AM (e)

I know I may be beating a dead horse, but if you guys really want to make things a little easier on yourselves, then how about this idea..? (taken from DailyKos, but I’m sure there are others)

If this was more of a community-based board, (i.e. with a low threshold membership, not to scare those paranoid users away) you could allow all members to create new blog entries(perhaps as new threads in a specific forum) and, if they were good enough, “promote” them to the main page of the site.

That way, if someone has already blogged an issue/event/debate etc, and it is sufficiently well written, you won’t have to write it up youself, just promote it. (Kos has a voting system, but the final say is always the moderator’s)

In addition, if you have a proper community, over time you can allow trusted members to take over some of the grunt work of managing the board from you - share the load.

This site is *the* anti-creationism blog site (no offense to the others). If you would consider a more radical transformation I believe you will get the best of both worlds - better coverage with less hassle. (There will be growing pains, of course, but worthwhile).

The key thing is that even if you open this site up more, you can maintain editorial control over the main pages which are, and should remain, the critical part of PT.

Comment #41194

Posted by tony g on August 4, 2005 2:39 AM (e)

i haven’t commented here in a long time, so i guess i’m a troll, BUT, i think it’s chilling, and i come here for the more open debate. not that i post much, but i won’t bother at all in this system. and i am a systematist, a pro-PT type.

tg

Comment #41207

Posted by Reed A. Cartwright on August 4, 2005 5:25 AM (e)

ts wrote:

So, what are the goals, and how is registration expected to achieve them? Anyone?

The goal is to find a way to better manage comments. We could go the route of the “intelligent design” blogs and simply close comments althogther. But that is the last thing we want to do.

Banning ips solves some of our problems, but we think that registration would offer another layer of management over commenters who have worn out their welcome. We can’t identify every commenter by IP and adding another layer of identification may help us in identifying and blocking individuals who have been banned.

Now, you may disagree with us that this will be effective, but we’re not asking your opinion on effectiveness. We’re asking whether you would be willing to use TypeKey Logins on PT.

Comment #41215

Posted by ts on August 4, 2005 6:43 AM (e)

The goal is to find a way to better manage comments

This is so broad as to say virtually nothing. You’ve talked about keeping banned people banned. Now you talk of “another layer of management over commenters who have worn out their welcome”, which sounds like simple banning, not keeping people banned. You write “adding another layer of identification may help us in identifying and blocking individuals who have been banned” – blocking them how? It’s trivial to reregister under another name or email address; registration doesn’t identify people.

Now, you may disagree with us that this will be effective, but we’re not asking your opinion on effectiveness. We’re asking whether you would be willing to use TypeKey Logins on PT.

If I thought that registration would have some positive effect, then I would be a lot more willing than if it appears that you are bent on doing something that won’t be effective against your intended target but which will inconvenience everyone else and which will discourage some number of them (as per their comments above) from posting. The question is a bit like asking people whether they would be willing to be searched on the subway; it depends upon whether or not it would prevent terrorist attacks.

Comment #41217

Posted by Louis on August 4, 2005 6:53 AM (e)

Reed,

I am willing to register in pretty much any way I have to to use/read PT! I registered at Pharyngula and find it perfectly acceptable.

I have to say I am not sure what registration would achieve/resolve. But then I am not a computer person.

On a seperate note, one thing I’d like to say to Lenny (probably better on the Wall, but eh, what the hell):

The ID/creationism vs evolution “debate” is a religious and political debate, as you mention, it certainly isn’t a scientific one. I’m not saying evolutionary biology is a religion, of course it isn’t, I’m just saying that for one side of the “debate” the problem is very much about religion. Specifically their interpretation of it (which as we know is fun to play with).

Atheism, although not a part of science, explicitly enters this equation. Science is inherently weakly atheistic as it stands at the moment. I.e. we currently have no reliable, reproducible evidence pointing to the existance of anything that fits the description of a deity, therefore the claim remains unproven. That “weakly” is a very key word, because it describes the type of atheism in use. Atheism is expressedly not the belief that god does not exist. That is it is not ONLY (or even completely) that, the belief that a specific god does not exist is a subset of atheism, more correctly called strong atheism. There is a key difference between weak and strong atheism. A lack of belief is not a belief of lack. It’s something that a lot of people get wrong for some reason. I am fairly sure (at least I hope this is the case) that this is all old news to you.

Science as a body of knowledge as it stands today has no data regarding deities. I would strongly argue that should deities exist, and intervene in the set up or running of the universe, then these deities fall within the purview of science. Their handiwork can potentially be detected. Deist deities, non-interventionist deities, or deities defined out of existance by their believers shifting the evidenciary goalposts further and further away do not fall within the purview of science (except perhaps aberrant psychology ;-) ). There is no way we can establish if they exist or not. They are merely phantasms, ideas, possible realities that are forever unattainable.

This is partly why the “war between atheists and theists” is relevant to the evolution “debate”. It depends on the nature of the deity being promoted by the creationst half. So I guess what I mean is that part of the war between atheists and theists is relevant, if only in order that it allows us to better understand the motivations for one side’s participation.

More than that though, the “debate” is fundamentally between faith and reason. The IDists etc wish to BELIEVE that something is the case despite the evidence to the contrary, the scientists say that it doesn’t matter what you believe as long as the idea you have is supported by the reasoned, reliable, reproducible evidence. The IDists etc are seeking an ultimate 100% certainty that can only be obtained by faith. Reason always allows room for doubt, there is always the possibility that the next experiment/observation will show your idea to be wrong (or at least in need of a tweak).

That is the crux of this conflict and many others. It’s why homeopaths still peddle sugar pills, why astrologers still waffle on about Mercury in Uranus, why some aspects of the “nature=good” enviromental organisation persist, and it’s why a specific type of religious person will fight tooth and nail against any bit of science they see as conflicting with their beliefs. What you believe ain’t the problem. Believing at the expense of reason is. It’s the disease not the symptom that needs curing.

Comment #41222

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 4, 2005 7:28 AM (e)

The goal is to find a way to better manage comments.

Well, let’s ask the IDers — they have lots of experience in “managing comments”….

Comment #41223

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 4, 2005 7:32 AM (e)

I’m just saying that for one side of the “debate” the problem is very much about religion.

Of course, they claim that it’s NOT about religion. At all. In any way.

THAT is, I think, one of the best reasons to ban religious debates and comments. the *IDers* are the ones who cliam that their crap is SCIENCE and is NOT, repeat NOT, religion. That is THEIR claim, not mine. So I think that here, if nowhere else, they should be forced to live up to that claim. If ID is science and not religion, then they have NO reason, none at all whatsoever, to talk about Christianity or God or the Bible or faith or supernaturalism or any other religious idea or topic. Every time they do anyway, they demonstrate clearly for everyone that they are simply lying to us when they claim that their crap is SCIENCE and NOT religion.

I say, force them to live up to their own claims. Force them to show the whole world that they are simply lying to us. Force them to either put up or shut up.

In court, if they mention even once that ID is religion, it’s “game over”.

No reason to treat them any differently here.

Comment #41234

Posted by harold on August 4, 2005 9:27 AM (e)

I see what’s going on here now.

After years or whatever of dealing with creationists going over the top and needing to be banned, a new type of “fight” started on PT a few weeks ago, when pro-science atheist posters raised philosophic objections to the “compatibility” of any religion with science, and pro-science religious posters objected.

Ultimately, however, when the smoke cleared, everyone agreed that religious people should not be excluded from science or science education, and no-one proposed an empirical and scientific, as opposed to philosophical, “disproof” of any pro-science posters religious stance, or the known religious stance of prominent scientists such as Miller and Dawkins (including atheism, which I will refer to hear as a “religious stance”, for convenience, with the caveat that some may find the terminology sub-obptimal).

Thus, while the broad philosophical issue of whether religion is “compatible” with science is not now, and likely will never be, resolved among pro-science posters, it has been rendered irrelevant, and is unlikely to resurface as an issue.

The dishonest creationist use of religious claims is far too important to ignore, for reasons that I will explain in a second post.

Comment #41238

Posted by harold on August 4, 2005 9:42 AM (e)

Continued from above…

This is on topic since I now realize that the registration proposal, which I somewhat oppose (while acknowledging that it’s not a big deal either way), was driven by the fact that religion came up a great deal a week or two ago.

Please read this carefully - In the United States, a common political debate strategy among the nefarious is to anticipate how others will critique their position, and direct the critique at them, however inappropriate it may be when reversed.

Creationism IS an effort, among other things, to claim that many peoples’ religious views, or their lack thereof, are “disproven by science”.

YEC claims that everyone except a few US, Canadian, and Australian Protestant fanatics, in essence, are following a religion (or lack thereof) which is “scientifically wrong” (since in their claims, “science supports” only a “literal” interpretation of Genesis).

ID merely pretends to narrow the range of targets to those whose religious tradition accepts scientific explanations for things like the bacterial flagellum. But since that means everyone but fundamentalists in practice, the real message is the same.

But creationists try to turn the charge around, and claim that it is THEY who are being falsely taught that “science disproves” their religion. In fact, to some degree, they are being taught that, by necessity, but only because they choose to define their religion in rigid terms, and to disdain other Christian traditions. Biblical “literalism” is DESIGNED to provoke confict with other traditions, and with science. There was no “literalism” in the Middle Ages.

Unlike creationists, scientists do not make up science in an effort to contradict someone else’s religion. If it happens, it’s unintentional, a side effect of science.

The false claim of creationists needs to be rebutted. It has the power to turn ordinary, well-meaning people against science education at the local level, ie THE LEVEL WHERE THE DECISIONS ARE MADE.

http://www.mindandlife.org/hhdl.science_section.html

http://www.ncseweb.org/resources/articles/5025_statements_from_religious_orga_12_19_2002.asp

Comment #41239

Posted by Louis on August 4, 2005 9:45 AM (e)

Lenny,

Totally with as a point of strategy or method of argument within the PT etc.

My point was about the origins of the “debate”, and the motivations for it. Exposing those origins and motivations is one very good way of dealing with the proximate problem, but we also need to deal with the distal cause of the problem.

It’s all well and good showing THIS bunch of frothing religious loons up as religious loons, but that doesn’t prevent the next bunch of religious loons coming up with ever more veiled attempts to enforce their doctrines. Look how (relatively) simple it was to deal with “good, honest” creationism. It didn’t make the cultural headway that the current pseudocreationism (ID) has done. ID is more insidious, it requires a slightly better knowledge of the relevant science to expose its core, it requires slightly more effort to sort out, and it appeals slightly better to common prejudice. By virtue of the distribution of human abilities, ID will garner greater support (and it has). A more insidious post-ID creationism will potentially do better, and so on.

It’s (kind of) analogous to treating amoebic dysentry (and not just in terms of output). It’s all well and good to give the patient morphine to stop them from from pouring crap everywhere, but eventually the morphine will wear off and the crap will come back. It’s better to add a few anti-amoebic drugs to the morphine mix (compatible of course). That way when the morphine wears off, no poo! Pretending that the poo won’t return, or that the poo is irrelevant won’t help us.

Comment #41279

Posted by ts on August 4, 2005 5:05 PM (e)

Hmm, well, in addition to misrepresenting the origin and nature of the religious debates that occur here, Harold is wrong that they aren’t likely to re-occur, and wrong that “science disproves their religion” is limited to religious fundamentalism. With topics like “Is Evolution Religion?”, religion gets put on the table in numerous ways, and provides a context for someone like Harold to make false charges about atheists wanting to exclude religious people from science; the “dust settles” when Harold gets tired of making this false charge, and switches to claiming that he had said something else entirely. Or we will see such tendentious claims as Harold’s that atheism is “religion”. So even while discussing banning debate on religion, we see people reiterating their talking points. The historic encroachment of science on religion, both its empirical findings and its rationalistic epistemology, has resulted in a large fraction of scientists being atheists, some of whom are more militant about it than others, and will drop casual remarks that are hostile to religion, or respond to remarks such as Harold’s – or Lenny’s, echoing the trolls, that “ideological atheists” are equivalent to IDists and creationists. And some of the religious, like Harold, are adamant about defending their religious beliefs against the fundamental challenge that science poses to them, and will respond strongly to any statement that they see as threatening to those beliefs. It is a mistake to think that this clash is limited to creationists who “choose” to define their religion in narrow terms. That’s a very uninformed view of the sociology of religion and fundamentalism specifically. Rigidity is in large part reactive, and fed by the greater culture clash, but it is not “chosen”, at least by the bulk of fundamentalists, any more than Harold “chooses” a form of Christianity that he thinks is compatible with science, or I “choose” to be an atheist. That sort of simplistic view doesn’t provide any guidance for how to proceed.

Comment #41281

Posted by ts on August 4, 2005 5:11 PM (e)

“With the ever growing impact of science on our lives, religion and spirituality have a greater role to play reminding us of our humanity. There is no contradiction between the two. Each gives us valuable insights into the other. Both science and the teachings of the Buddha tell us of the fundamental unity of all things.” – The Dalai Lama

It’s instructive to contrast this with

Murray Gell-mann wrote:

One project I worked on at Caltech involved trying to understand the approximate symmetries of the elementary particle system — particularly the hadrons or strongly interacting particles (including the neutron and proton and their brothers and sisters and the pi mesons and their brothers and sisters). I tried various higher symmetry schemes and then finally hit upon what I called the eightfold way, with the group SU(3) as an approximate symmetry. That worked very nicely. At the time I was interested in India and in the various religious traditions of India — not that I would embrace any religion — my interest was merely academic. I thought it would be a good joke to call the scheme the eightfold way, since the particles tended in many cases to come in sets of eight. Some silly people wrote books trying to connect my work on particle physics with oriental mysticism, whereas the connection was only a joke.

Comment #41295

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 4, 2005 6:06 PM (e)

Harold is wrong that they aren’t likely to re-occur

I think so too.

And I think I know why.

Comment #41300

Posted by ts on August 4, 2005 6:55 PM (e)

Matt Young, who posted the “Is Evolution Religion?” article, gets at an element of why these debates recur in his final post (although I, of course, don’t think it’s as equivocal as all that). If religious debates are verboten here, you’ll need at least to get all the moderators on the same track.

Posted by Matt Young on August 4, 2005 05:50 PM (e) (s)

Your fearless moderator has let us wander off task for several days now, perhaps because we aren’t as far off task as it looks - in a way, we have merely expanded the title from “Is Evolution Religion?” to “Is Empiricism Religion?”

My good friend Eric, a theoretical physicist, claims that the less evidence there is for a given proposition, the harder people will fight over it. I think that may be so because they talk past each other, as is sometimes happening here.

So let me reiterate what I claimed in an earlier essay: Antonio Damasio has taught us (well, taught me) that you can’t make a supposedly logical decision without an emotional component. Thus, those whose political inclination is toward the supremacy of the individual simply cannot understand what, say, a democratic socialist is going on about, and vice versa.

Here it seems that those whose inclination is toward strict empiricism (or perhaps materialism) cannot understand those who incline toward an underlying theological explanation. All sides draw “logical” conclusions that are informed by their underlying philosophies and think the other sides are being stubborn or obtuse. (I know that’s how I react when I read a defense of the so-called free market. Can’t they see that there is no such thing as a free market? Haven’t they ever heard of the robber barons? Rhetorical questions, but perhaps you see what I mean.)

If I allow further comments, we will go on forever, so let’s stop here. Thanks to all who contributed and to almost all for the polite tone of the comments.

Comment #41306

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 4, 2005 7:35 PM (e)

If this was more of a community-based board, (i.e. with a low threshold membership, not to scare those paranoid users away) you could allow all members to create new blog entries(perhaps as new threads in a specific forum) and, if they were good enough, “promote” them to the main page of the site.

That way, if someone has already blogged an issue/event/debate etc, and it is sufficiently well written, you won’t have to write it up youself, just promote it. (Kos has a voting system, but the final say is always the moderator’s)

In addition, if you have a proper community, over time you can allow trusted members to take over some of the grunt work of managing the board from you - share the load.

I think I like this idea.

“Contributors” and “commentators” sounds an awful lot like “leaders” and “followers”, or “overseers” and “oversee-ees”. The anarchist inside me doesn’t like the sound of that.

Free the Thumb !!!!

:)

Comment #41312

Posted by ts on August 4, 2005 8:00 PM (e)

DailyKos really is an excellent setup, but it may require more software maintenance than PT has at it’s disposal (I have no idea). It’s certainly something to look into.

Kos has a voting system, but the final say is always the moderator’s

Not quite. DailyKos has a voting system for “recommended diaries”, and those with the most votes go to the top of the list. That’s different from the front page articles, which are written by Kos or his deputies or are sometimes promoted from the diaries at their discretion. Other than that, there’s very little top-down moderation; rather, there’s a rating system addressed mostly at trolling and offensive remarks, and posts with a rating less than 1 are hidden from all but long-time (“trusted”) users – these users are also the only ones who can give a 0 score.

Comment #41347

Posted by Registered User on August 5, 2005 1:58 AM (e)

Lenny

“Contributors” and “commentators” sounds an awful lot like “leaders” and “followers”, or “overseers” and “oversee-ees”. The anarchist inside me doesn’t like the sound of that.

Dig it.

Somewhere I imagine Great White Wonder is laughing his ass off at this thread.

Comment #41350

Posted by ts on August 5, 2005 2:36 AM (e)

Somewhere I imagine Great White Wonder is laughing his ass off at this thread.

He (?) may well be one of us posters. Of course registration will be the end of that, right?

Comment #41392

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 5, 2005 7:29 AM (e)

Somewhere I imagine Great White Wonder is laughing his ass off at this thread.

As I noted at the time, I thought it was a mistake to ban GWW. As abrasive as he might have been, he was also very insightful and very effective.

Comment #41444

Posted by Henry J on August 5, 2005 1:50 PM (e)

Re “This is not intended to be a BB, but with the inevitable attraction of “regulars” it has begun to feel like one.”

To borrow a phrase:

If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck…

(Now let me duck for cover… )

Comment #41601

Posted by steve on August 5, 2005 10:18 PM (e)

I was recently a casualty of friendly fire in the War on JAD. So many IPs were banned from commenting, I was caught incidentally. Even before that, I supported a registration system, but now I do even more so. Requiring that people identify themselves in some small way is a tiny price to pay, to keep out the psychos. Also it might cut down on people posting under stupid pseudonyms.

Comment #41602

Posted by steve on August 5, 2005 10:24 PM (e)

Though GWW was on the pro-science side, he was diminishing the property values.

Comment #41604

Posted by ts on August 5, 2005 10:42 PM (e)

Requiring that people identify themselves in some small way is a tiny price to pay, to keep out the psychos.

I still don’t understand how it would achieve that, and the fact that no one has said suggests to me that no one knows.

Also it might cut down on people posting under stupid pseudonyms.

So registering with a stupid pseudonym would be blocked? That means that every registration would have to be manually approved. I thought this was supposed to make things easier.

Comment #41654

Posted by csa on August 6, 2005 9:31 AM (e)

It’s my impression that the PT admins are volunteers. It seems only reasonable that the option that causes them the fewest headaches should be adopted.

BTW, thanks for moving the worst of the personal attacks to the bathroom wall.

Comment #41797

Posted by ts on August 7, 2005 2:53 PM (e)

It seems only reasonable that the option that causes them the fewest headaches should be adopted.

No doubt. But what reason is there to think that registration is such an option?

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Comment #68953

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