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  1. #1
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    Forum Rules...Thread Splits.

    Hey all,

    I'm just wondering what people's thoughts are on the topic of "thread splits."

    In the "What is a True Christian" thread, I admit it got WAY off topic of what a True Christian is. But, to me, it is difficult to split a thread. To me, usually it is something within the original topic that sparks the ideas that take us off in different tangents and I have a difficult time separating them. I admit that is a flaw of mine. I get caught up in the moment and I get caught up in whatever conflict presents itself and don't pay much attention to the original topic.

    If I get an idea that is not on topic, it is difficult for me to take it to a new thread, because for me, it loses it's vigor to do so. I also tend to lose my train of thought. I never have a problem with a moderator coming in with their Red Hand to restore order and split the thread. I respect their authority to know when a split is appropriate or to carry it out if the person who started the thread requests it or if a person directly involved in taking the thread off topic requests it. Actually, I depend on the moderators to do that, because I never will do it myself and don't consider it a member responsibility. I tend to let ideas ramble where they will. What I do have a problem with is members who are not moderators inhibiting a discussion to remind everyone to get back on topic.

    Spartacus said,

    Quote Originally Posted by Spartacus
    No....some new members here have no regard for staying on topic...and some members who should know better are allowing posts to get farther and farther off topic.....without ever attempting to bring them back in......
    I know that I was a key player in the "What is a True Christian" thread getting so off topic. But I don't think it is a flaw that this happens. I don't think "some members should know better". I think that rambling off in different directions makes the debate experience more exciting and profitable for all. Sometimes, we are debating a more superficial idea, and to get to the core of it, it means going off in several different directions.

    I know we have "member guidelines." But I read them and nowhere does it say exploring other ideas that off the topic is prohibited. It says nowhere that members are to carry out the duties of moderators in their absence either.

    I'm just curious what others' thoughts and perceptions are on this issue. How do you feel when a thread goes off topic? Do you think the members have a responsibility to "bring them back in"? Do you like having the threads split for organizational purposes? Or do you like having the flexibility of discussing other topics within the same thread?
    Souls of the animal kingdom: eagle, fox, bottle-nose dolphin, octopus, house cat. Okay, let's jump this jump. -- Rod Kimble

  2. #2
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    Re: Forum Rules...Thread Splits.

    I lose patience with some tangents that never converge back to the topic. Threads can be hijacked by strawmen in this manner, and it is frustrating to those interested in the topic at-hand.

    That does not mean that an iron-fist policy is required. Posters should be given some allowance to be able to bring-in an argument that may appear off topic until it is completed. But, the tangents that clearly will never come back to the topic should be re-opened in new threads.
    Its turtles, all the way down.

  3. #3
    ODN's Crotchety Old Man

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    Re: Forum Rules...Thread Splits.

    I feel that the way for some topics to be fully explored is to allow them to veer off into other pertinent areas from time to time.

    If the creator of the thread takes issue with it, we should be courteous and set it right.

    On the other hand, if the originator has no problem with it, what's the problem?

  4. #4
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    Re: Forum Rules...Thread Splits.

    I'm just curious what others' thoughts and perceptions are on this issue. How do you feel when a thread goes off topic? Do you think the members have a responsibility to "bring them back in"? Do you like having the threads split for organizational purposes? Or do you like having the flexibility of discussing other topics within the same thread?
    I partly agree with all who have posted thus far. I can understand why some members may be frustrated when threads stray way off topic. I can also understand why some members may believe this is okay (a la Fyshhed's response). I believe Anti-Materialist explained it fairly well a while back by saying that--and I'm paraphrasing here--discussing the nuances of any given topic is sometimes necessary to thoroughly explore and effectively discuss the original topic at hand.

    I admit it does irritate me a bit when John Kerry as a presidential candidate is brought into a discussion solely regarding sexual habits/orientation/education, etc... It in no way relates. However, a more recent example is the mention (and subsequent 'mini-discussion') of stem cell research during a debate over the Issue of Life--specifically concerning abortion laws. This can relate, so it doesn't bother me much personally. All in all, though, to my understanding, it is at least in part the responsibility of members to bring threads back on topic. Thread splitting, on the other hand, is the responsibility of a staff member. No other member has the ability to do so.

    Where thread topics and relevant discussion matter is concerned, I suggest the 'golden rule': Treat others as you would like to be treated. In relation to ODN, look at it this way: If you were the thread starter, what direction would you like your thread to take? Would you prefer your topic be discussed, or for it to be ignored and everything else to take over?
    Judge of a man by his questions rather than by his answers.--Voltaire

  5. #5
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    Re: Forum Rules...Thread Splits.

    Quote Originally Posted by HappyLady
    I know we have "member guidelines." But I read them and nowhere does it say exploring other ideas that off the topic is prohibited. It says nowhere that members are to carry out the duties of moderators in their absence either.

    I'm just curious what others' thoughts and perceptions are on this issue. How do you feel when a thread goes off topic? Do you think the members have a responsibility to "bring them back in"? Do you like having the threads split for organizational purposes? Or do you like having the flexibility of discussing other topics within the same thread?
    I think if the majority of those in the depth of the discussion are willing to go on, despite a new direction, that the moderators should have no problem either. Rules have a purpose, but they shouldn't be so rigid that it affects negatively on something so dynamic as a discussion on some topic. I suspect that how one might begin only introduces the more viable one, and trying to cut and divide the discussions can lead to two dead topics.

    It's one thing to begin talk about rocks and end up on music. But it's not too far off to begin talk about why Christians believe and end up discussing the difference between atheististic and theistic belief structures and reasons.
    Just another hostile non-theist.

  6. #6
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    Re: Forum Rules...Thread Splits.

    Perhaps I need to expand upon our rules page here concerning this issue.

    Threads need to stay on topic, period. The problem is: "what is off-topic"? Obviously side-arguments can easily pop up from time, and in many instances, have led to a better understanding or a more engaging discussion of the original topic.

    Off-topic here, is defined by: a topic that has very little relation to the original topic started in the opening post.

    Going from "What is an True Christian" to: 1) the existence of God, 2) the beliefs of other religions, 3) atheism, etc...are considered off-topic.

    If you read a post that sparks a new idea for a topic, start a new thread. If you are unsure if that new topic is too far "off-topic" from the original topic....simply ask the question: "Does this new topic, have many commonalities with the original topic?" or "Does this new topic speak to the argument of the original topic?" If it doesn't...do not post it in that thread.

    As far as older members here being responsible for keeping the thread off topic...the most they can do, is not participate in the off-topic discussion, or suggest to the poster who is off-topic, that they start a new thread.

    It isn't always easy. I have made off-topic statements/arguments in threads as well. But this truly doesn't help the thread, it only detracts from the author's intent.

    And while this policy may appear to be too "iron-fisted" for some...I'm convinced after 5+ years or so administrating and creating online communities/discussion forums, that it is the best policy if the desired outcome is to create an environment that promotes a more intellectual discourse. There has to be ground rules for the argumentation, else it becomes chaos.

    That particular thread was actually intended to be a discussion between GodlessSkeptic and myself. Currently, that thread is so out of whack, I have no interest participating in it. Instead, I will create a NEW thread, answering objections from the first couple posts in that very thread.

    Summary: If the new topic doesn't have much in common with the original topic, don't engage in the new topic (either in starting it, or in responding to it). Single off-topic posts are much easier to manage (split) than threads that have gone off on all sorts of tangents with many posts. We simply do not have the resources as staff, to sort through all that mumbo-jumbo. It's much easier to 1) rename the thread as a free-for-all, 2) delete the guilty posts, or 3) close the thread.

    #3, is never an option here at ODN. That leaves only 1 & 2.
    -=]Apokalupsis[=-
    Senior Administrator
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    I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend. - Thomas Jefferson




  7. #7
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    Re: Forum Rules...Thread Splits.

    HappyLady

    I know we have "member guidelines." But I read them and nowhere does it say exploring other ideas that off the topic is prohibited. It says nowhere that members are to carry out the duties of moderators in their absence either.
    This is the problem. Because we are human and not involved in formal debates, there must be flexibility. As has been said, a dictatorship is the most efficient form of government, but is it really desirable? You could say it depends on the dictator but then they soon go sour.

    The bottom line is what I've been trying to bring out in my distinction between discussion and debate. Religion and ideas associated with it, because it touches our emotions, can invite a lot of negativity if allowed to do so. It is almost like alcohol in this way. It can intensify emotional states.

    Religious and spiritual idea can rarely be "proven" so to speak so the questions remain open. If Apok were to be the one to "handle" these things exclusively, freedoms' would have to be sacrificed.

    First let me say that though I am new here, Apok seems to have a quality that is lacking on another large site that many of you know. It is called "backbone", the ability to stand by what you profess to be the values of the site. Just this simple strength minimizes problems IMO. This backbone I believe would not allow him to openly sanction religious bias and its related abuse for "convenient" reasons. It is part of "character" and I send out a toast in that direction. So when he says: "#3, is never an option here at ODN. That leaves only 1 & 2", I believe it and respect it.

    But what does it mean to respect it? Talk is cheap. It has to do with all our attitudes. Is the attitude to "win", to "Put down" to become heated in ways that the whole idea of the thread is lost? In matters of religion I believe that the attitude must be of mutual respect where there is concern for the feelings of the others while knowing how difficult it is, but valueing the sincerity to express the depth or personal importance of what you believe. Ain't easy.

    So I would have to conclude that the primary emphasis must be on attitude. It can I believe allow for the atmosphere that would make these questions of religion much more meaningful since most of these problems would automatically disappear. We benefit and the site benefits. What is so bad about that?

  8. #8
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    Re: Forum Rules...Thread Splits.

    I would like to make the following siggestions to all:

    Before you finish your post ask yourself "is what I have written relevant to the thread topic?"

    If the answer is "no" then ask yourself.....Am I looking to build a foundation for somethiung that will eventually get us back on topic or is critical for me to make my point on the topic?

    If there are more than 4 posts in a row that have gone astray then someone needs to make a post asking "Are we going to eventually get back to the topic or should we start a new thread?"

    The most polite thing to do is to addres this in one of your off-topic posts with something like


    "I know we are getting off topic here but I think this is important to the question of the thread and you will all see where I am going....If not then we'll start another thread."

    Or you can just come out and state "Let's bring this back on topic......"....and then make a post that does just that.

    What I like about ODN is the threads are pretty on-topic....you can go far back and find arguments pro and con on many different issues....Imagine the archive and resource we are helping to build here? A record of society's thoughts, ideas and beliefs on hundreds of topics....It is truly a privelige to be part of this.

    By straying hopelessly off topic we are doing a disservice to ourselves and any and all future readers.

  9. #9
    ODN's Crotchety Old Man

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    Re: Forum Rules...Thread Splits.

    Good points, Spart.

  10. #10
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    Re: Forum Rules...Thread Splits.

    What I like about ODN is the threads are pretty on-topic....you can go far back and find arguments pro and con on many different issues....Imagine the archive and resource we are helping to build here? A record of society's thoughts, ideas and beliefs on hundreds of topics....It is truly a privelige to be part of this.

    By straying hopelessly off topic we are doing a disservice to ourselves and any and all future readers.
    when we agree spart...we really agree...........:O)
    When the power of love becomes stronger than the love of power, there will be peace..........jimi hendrix.

 

 

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