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Old 08-22-2016, 01:48 PM
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Intentional ignorance

I would be interested to hear the mod's stated opinions on a certain behaviour. This is something I see frequently and this question is prompted by a very obvious example I just saw posted in the elections forum, but I'll try to keep it hypothetical.

  • In a particular thread, Poster A makes a certain claim or statement. Multiple posters respond by showing or even proving beyond a doubt that the claim is false and does not stand up to reason.
  • In a different thread at a later time, Poster A makes the exact same claim or statement. Once again multiple posters respond directly to Poster A and clearly demonstrate that the claim is false or not supported by the evidence.
  • In yet another thread, Poster A once again makes the exact same claim or statement. Rinse and repeat.

In terms of this message board why is this behaviour allowed? Its not a question of ignorance, Poster A must know full well that his claim is false, that it has been proven to be false and his repeating the claim yet again won't change the result. When typing out the words Poster A must know that he is not debating honestly, that he is typing something he knows has been corrected previously and that he knows will just antagonise other posters yet again.

In short, I believe this type of behaviour is intentional and is trolling. Am I missing something? And if it is trolling, should this behaviour be policed more stringently?
Old 08-22-2016, 02:03 PM
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There's an old saying, "never attribute to malice what can be explained by stupidity". It is possible for a person to simply be so dense that none of the refutations sink in, and being that dense is not against the rules.
Old 08-22-2016, 02:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
There's an old saying, "never attribute to malice what can be explained by stupidity". It is possible for a person to simply be so dense that none of the refutations sink in, and being that dense is not against the rules.
There is also another aspect that I should have included in the OP. The scenario in which Poster A makes a statement, then multiple posters respond by asking for a cite to what is clearly a false claim. These requests are ignored.

The claim is made again, requests for a cite are made again, these requests are again ignored.

Rinse and repeat.

The direct request for a cite is not a refutation that needs to sink in.

Last edited by bucketybuck; 08-22-2016 at 02:08 PM.
Old 08-22-2016, 02:08 PM
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This is a good point, but can be tricky.

I'm sure lots of folks here think that "Bush lied" is an established fact beyond dispute. But proving that someone lied is extremely difficult.

If it's something along the lines of: "The unemployment rate in the US never got below 8% while Obama was president", then that's something that is much more easily judged true/false (but even then we have to make sure we are using the same measure of unemployment).

I think your point is well taken that mod action, in some cases, is warranted, but I'd like to see the moderators temper such action and make sure the poster is well over the line between my first and second examples, above.

ETA: I'm fairly certain I've seen mods step in during situation like you described in post #3.

Last edited by John Mace; 08-22-2016 at 02:09 PM.
Old 08-22-2016, 03:42 PM
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One problem is the board rule against calling another poster a liar. Which makes it difficult to say something like "Poster A is saying things which he knows aren't true." Essentially a quirk in the board rules means that a person can post "Everything I write is true." and nobody is allowed to dispute it. All you can do is repeatedly point out that the statements Poster A makes aren't true without pointing out his pattern of making them.
Old 08-22-2016, 03:57 PM
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Start a Pit thread.

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Old 08-22-2016, 04:19 PM
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Probably a good idea.

Yes, very rarely I've intervened with an 'asked and answered' instruction to posters so that certain points are out-of-bounds as having been refuted. But it's rare. There was that same sex marriage thread where someone kept bringing up 'but can I marry my dishwasher?' or something similar. It looked like it was crossing into trolling for response so I told him to stop it.

Other than something like that, where it seems obvious - to me, not the rest of you - that someone is doing it to be intentionally frustrating I'm leery of intervening in such a way.
Old 08-22-2016, 06:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Little Nemo View Post
One problem is the board rule against calling another poster a liar. Which makes it difficult to say something like "Poster A is saying things which he knows aren't true." Essentially a quirk in the board rules means that a person can post "Everything I write is true." and nobody is allowed to dispute it. All you can do is repeatedly point out that the statements Poster A makes aren't true without pointing out his pattern of making them.
Would the following be allowed?

"Poster A made the same claim in this thread. Poster B showed that it was wrong in this message."

"The statement 'everything I write is true' seems to be contradicted by what you wrote here."
Old 08-22-2016, 06:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Little Nemo View Post
One problem is the board rule against calling another poster a liar. Which makes it difficult to say something like "Poster A is saying things which he knows aren't true." Essentially a quirk in the board rules means that a person can post "Everything I write is true." and nobody is allowed to dispute it. All you can do is repeatedly point out that the statements Poster A makes aren't true without pointing out his pattern of making them.
I think the idea is that you report the post to a moderator and ask the mod to intervene. No need to call anyone anything.
Old 08-22-2016, 06:56 PM
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Part of the problem is that some people don't know how to generalize from specifics. They think that although an idea has been refuted in one context, it's still valid in another, and needs to be refuted in every context imaginable. So they keep bringing up the idea repeatedly, not realizing that it's already been refuted.
Old 08-22-2016, 07:06 PM
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I'm pretty sure I've repeated a claim that I made years earlier that was refuted. It happens. (Other times I've been falsely accused of doing that - my second claim was modified to incorporate the new information.)

Not surprisingly my memory of the 2nd instance (I was right!) is clearer than the first (I was wrong!).

That said, I hope I haven't needed to be corrected more than twice.

Last edited by Measure for Measure; 08-22-2016 at 07:07 PM.
Old 08-22-2016, 07:33 PM
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If truly intentional the behaviour outlined in the OP could be considered trolling but out of context it would be hard to make a blanket statement. It could be that there is more grey area in the subject than you personally feel there is. Or, as suggested earlier, it could just be stupidity.
Old 08-22-2016, 08:41 PM
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It would be courteous, at least, for them to acknowledge the earlier corrections.

"[XYZ]. Yes, I know, a number of you don't agree, and have told me so in previous posts. Still, I happen to believe it."

Ideally with, "...and here's why: [actual evidence.]"
Old 08-22-2016, 09:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trinopus View Post
It would be courteous, at least, for them to acknowledge the earlier corrections.

"[XYZ]. Yes, I know, a number of you don't agree, and have told me so in previous posts. Still, I happen to believe it."

Ideally with, "...and here's why: [actual evidence.]"
Not gonna happen in this case. I'm pretty sure the OP is referring to a particular poster who has repeatedly asserted that Hillary Clinton is guilty of multiple felonies. When called on it, he disappears from the thread.
Old 08-22-2016, 09:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trinopus View Post
It would be courteous, at least, for them to acknowledge the earlier corrections.

"[XYZ]. Yes, I know, a number of you don't agree, and have told me so in previous posts. Still, I happen to believe it."

Ideally with, "...and here's why: [actual evidence.]"
Quote:
Originally Posted by splatterpunk View Post
Not gonna happen in this case. I'm pretty sure the OP is referring to a particular poster who has repeatedly asserted that Hillary Clinton is guilty of multiple felonies. When called on it, he disappears from the thread.
Yeah, there's a rule that says "be civil" but no rule that says 'be courteous".
Old 08-22-2016, 09:49 PM
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To me it depends on where and what subject. Take something like the various often-repeated-topic threads in Great Debates and you see stuff like that a lot and it annoys me a little. In say IMHO or MPSIMS there are a couple people who make the same statement over and over about whatever whenever the topic-that-inflames-their-heart comes up. In that case its no biggie to me and no skin off my nose. Try in in GQ and I will probably hit "report post" and let a mod take a look at it.
Old 08-22-2016, 10:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Mace View Post
Yeah, there's a rule that says "be civil" but no rule that says 'be courteous".
Well, there's sort of a general rule about "good manners and common courtesy" which is often stretched but generally OK as long as specific rules about personal insults aren't violated. There are also rules that say that obsessive and obstinate posters will (within reason) be tolerated in the interest of promoting discussion and debate.

Which raises IMHO a philosophical but eminently pragmatic question about the purpose of the rules, which that last point seems to answer. ISTM that what we (as a community) are trying to promote here is an environment for productive discussion based on established facts. Gratuitous personal insults, flaming, etc. run counter to that objective so they're prohibited. And ISTM that many of the behaviors cited by the OP are just as clear as personal insults, but there is a reluctance to moderate them for fear of appearing to take sides on a contentious issue.

Yet as the OP asserts -- and I agree -- if someone fails to provide credible cites, ignores requests to do so, and even worse, repeatedly starts threads or hijacks existing threads with exactly the same pattern of behavior, it's not really that hard to identify the lack of good-faith interest in legitimate debate. And it's at least as great, if not greater, an obstacle to productive discussion as flaming and insults. In many cases -- certainly not all -- it's really not that hard to distinguish between good-faith and bad-faith posting, between simple ignorance and willful ignorance and trolling. But I think here I may have a basic disagreement with TPTB. I have also expressed my opposition to the threads on "witnessing", and I would note how many of them have been summarily closed as stupid and unproductive, and how many of those posters have -- voluntarily or involuntarily -- never been seen again.
Old 08-22-2016, 10:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trinopus View Post
It would be courteous, at least, for them to acknowledge the earlier corrections.



"[XYZ]. Yes, I know, a number of you don't agree, and have told me so in previous posts. Still, I happen to believe it."



Ideally with, "...and here's why: [actual evidence.]"

Yes, but as has been mentioned, often times these types simply don't return or refuse to acknowledge the evidence. I saw it happen in another thread too, perhaps the one about children dying in cars. There's just nothing to do.
Old 08-23-2016, 02:48 PM
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Originally Posted by wolfpup View Post
Yet as the OP asserts -- and I agree -- if someone fails to provide credible cites, ignores requests to do so, and even worse, repeatedly starts threads or hijacks existing threads with exactly the same pattern of behavior, it's not really that hard to identify the lack of good-faith interest in legitimate debate. And it's at least as great, if not greater, an obstacle to productive discussion as flaming and insults. In many cases -- certainly not all -- it's really not that hard to distinguish between good-faith and bad-faith posting, between simple ignorance and willful ignorance and trolling.
Indeed. While it may never be an issue that will have black and white rule breaking we all know this behaviour when we see it, and on a board that has the standing rule of "Don't be a jerk" it seems to be a huge violation of that rule at least.

But why is there nothing that can be done? If this pattern of behaviour is reported to the mods is it something that will be addressed with warnings?
Old 08-23-2016, 03:27 PM
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You could start a Pit thread.

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Old 08-23-2016, 03:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Mace View Post
This is a good point, but can be tricky.

I'm sure lots of folks here think that "Bush lied" is an established fact beyond dispute. But proving that someone lied is extremely difficult.

If it's something along the lines of: "The unemployment rate in the US never got below 8% while Obama was president", then that's something that is much more easily judged true/false (but even then we have to make sure we are using the same measure of unemployment).
This. It's going to depend on what the question was and how it was 'refuted'. I remember years of 'the US's illegal war!' threads, where both sides pretty much thought they HAD refuted the other. Or 2nd Amendment threads about what 'well ordered' and 'militia' actually were and meant and how the original authors viewed them in the context of whether gun ownership is an individual protected right or not. Obviously, if someone is asking a GQ type question that has a cut and dried answer and someone is repeatedly bringing that up and questioning it then that's one matter. But in GD the 'truth' is, IMHO, a bit more fuzzy and hard to define in some of the debates on this board...and the world view of the poster is going to heavily impact whether they believe the citations and refutations provided to disprove their view. The mods have to walk a fine line in debate territory.
Old 08-23-2016, 03:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bucketybuck View Post
Indeed. While it may never be an issue that will have black and white rule breaking we all know this behaviour when we see it, and on a board that has the standing rule of "Don't be a jerk" it seems to be a huge violation of that rule at least.

But why is there nothing that can be done? If this pattern of behaviour is reported to the mods is it something that will be addressed with warnings?
There is something that can be done and bad faith posting has been dealt with in the past. It's something that would have to be looked at on a case by case basis and I couldn't state how I would mod something out of context.
Old 08-23-2016, 05:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bucketybuck View Post
But why is there nothing that can be done? If this pattern of behaviour is reported to the mods is it something that will be addressed with warnings?
Speaking in generalities here.

We're probably not going to moderate someone just because they are particularly thick about a certain subject and refuse to change their beliefs no matter what the evidence. Some people "just know" things and you can't change their minds. That doesn't mean they are being malicious or jerkish.

On the other hand, if we think that it's intentional, that falls pretty clearly under our "don't be a jerk" rule and would definitely be moderated.

It's also possible that if someone keeps derailing threads with a particular type of post, even if they aren't being intentionally malicious, that we will restrict them from posting to certain threads or certain topics. There are quite a few topic bans in place at the moment.

Different forums will have different rules as well. There are things that you can bring up in GD that are arguable and that's fine within the context of GD, but something whose factual aspects are debatable would be much less acceptable in GQ, for example.

If you see someone posting in this type of fashion, report it. We may not be aware that they are continuously making the same kind of statements in multiple threads. Or maybe we'll decide that it's not a problem, or maybe we'll moderate it. So report it, even if you aren't sure if it's a problem or not. We'd rather have too many post reports than too few.

Don't ever be afraid to report a post. The worst that can happen is we decide it's not a problem. No biggie.

Last edited by engineer_comp_geek; 08-23-2016 at 05:27 PM.
Old 08-23-2016, 06:34 PM
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When do the mods step in? The poster in question is, in fact, interjecting his position into multiple threads, refusing to provide cites, ignoring any and all rebuttals. Is it two threads? Three? Upon receipt of complaints?

I myself found it irritating by the second thread where I found it (and suspect it's happened in others) and it might rise to the level of notifying a mod if I see it again. From the mod perspective, is it similar? Forgive a few slips, then correct? The behavior seems particularly ingrained in this case.

Note, btw that I am not upset by the poster's views per se, if he would debate them, but he does not. In fact, I would actually like to understand the viewpoint and what informs it.
Old 08-23-2016, 09:36 PM
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Report the post. If we see enough of those there's a higher chance of us intervening.
Old 08-23-2016, 10:20 PM
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I hope it doesn't, but, in theory, this could happen to me completely unintentionally. I don't do the whole "subscribe to threads and check back in" thing. I respond, then I move on. If the thread pops back up again and I'm still interested, I may check back in again.

So it's very possible I just didn't see the refutation. And, if that happens, I don't know how to deal with that short of just PMing me to let me know what I've said has been refuted. As long as you do it nicely, I won't mind, and I doubt anyone else would either.
Old 08-23-2016, 10:58 PM
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Quote:
Quoth Measure for Measure:

I'm pretty sure I've repeated a claim that I made years earlier that was refuted. It happens.
I can think of at least a couple of specific times when I've done it, both of them in what I would consider areas of expertise (once on physics, and once on Tolkien). Thanks to CalMeacham and Qadgop the Mercotan for (eventually) getting through to me, by the way.
Old 08-24-2016, 09:55 AM
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Problem is that there's frequently considerable disagreement as to whether or not something has been "refuted". It's very common for partisans of one side of an argument to believe that they and their allies have conclusively refuted their opponents, and you sometimes see these people expressing frustration over the fact that these opponents keep maintaining the same position in other threads. But these opponents likely just disagree as to whether in fact they were refuted, and they may well believe that the first group is the ones who were refuted and keeps bringing up their position anyway.

The only way to have moderator action would be to have the moderators take official positions on who "won" each argument, which is not something many people would be in favor of.
Old 08-24-2016, 11:20 AM
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Nor I, for that matter. The day I have to be a judge and not a referee is the day I stop trying to wrangle Great Debates.

It needs to be fairly straightforward to get me to try to moderate argument and such. Like the 'marry my dishwasher' nonsense. That was patently silly beyond words.
Old 08-24-2016, 08:19 PM
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Right, we're dancing with this. What spawned this thread is not BigT or anyone else who has selflessly thrown themselves on the grenade. We've all probably held onto a position longer than we should have. In this case, we've got a "seagull" debater. Drop a bomb and run. Like so:

"Politician X has multiple felonies."

"Really, what are they?"

*Crickets.*

Next thread.

"Don't forget about all of those felonies!"

"Cite?"

*Crickets.*

If you want to talk about felonious behavior, fine. Bring your evidence and let's talk about it. Stop dropping little conversational bombs and running away. I believe that would be the type of behavior that the OP is referencing. In this sort of instance, the Mod is not being asked to judge whether the argument was "won" or rebutted successfully, although I know several mentioned rebuttals (including me - apologies for muddying the waters). As I think about this behavior more, it really leans more towards thread-shitting. IMHO.

Last edited by Sunny Daze; 08-24-2016 at 08:19 PM.
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