Re: Call for a vote of nonconfidence in the moderator of the AmSci Forum

From: (wrong string) édon <>
Date: Mon, 13 Oct 2008 10:46:44 -0400

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I was on the road in the last few days, cut off from the Internet.
This will explain my silence.

I agree with all the people that believe Stevan's interventions on
this list (and elsewhere) have been invaluable. Sometimes
infuriating, but invaluable nonetheless. I have long debated against
some of Stevan's theses, but I have learnt a lot from these

The point of my earlier remarks was absolutely not to push Stevan out
of this list. This would be total nonsense. The point was a worry
about a confusion of roles. As Jan Velterop states it below, doing so
ended up in "not making it easy on himself" for Stevan.

I had not thought about JaNs, BBC-inspired, host/moderator
distinction, but I find it interesting and useful. It would certainly
clarify Stevan's position on this list while not cramping his
inimitable style, and it would free him from negative reactions,
especially when these have been the result of possible technical
delays rather than intent (a reference to my own, inaccurate,
outburst that seems to have started this whole discussion).

In conclusion, what I was arguing about was not about a vote of
confidence (or nonconfidence) with regard to Stevan. I was arguing in
favour of a simple clarification of roles. What Stevan has constantly
striven to do ultimately strikes me as very difficult and ultimately
contradictory: attempting to be as fair as possible, as Stevan has
constantly tried to do, while simultaneously adopting a highly
polemical style of intervention may not be mutually exclusive stances
in theory, but, in practise, they are damn hard to maintain under a
single brain.

Jean-Claude Guédon

Le lundi 13 octobre 2008 à 08:22 +0100, Jan Velterop a écrit :

 Apologies for the lateness of my comments on this matter. Stevan has
my full support. He is fully entitled to post on this list what he
wants and to withold submissions if he deems that right. Those who
hold the view that a list such as this one should - or indeed can -
be run 'objectively' and according to some pseudo-democratic rules
are, frankly, a bit naïve. Those who don't like Stevan's judgement
with regard to acceptance of submissions can always start their own

That said, Stevan hasn't made it easy on himself, combining the task
of moderator with that of host. Other lists separate these roles, and
he may wish to consider drafting someone in to help him run the list
and do the same (Stevan being the host; someone else being the
moderator, I would have thought, given the definitions of the roles,
see below).

The definitions that, for instance, the BBC uses for the two roles
are along the following lines:
A host's job is to encourage interesting discussions and to help
resolve disagreements. They post regularly on the lists, start
discussions or reply to questions. Hosts do not reject messages.
A moderator's job is to reject messages that break the `House Rules'.
Messages will not be rejected for any other reason. Moderators do not
post messages on the lists.

Among the BBC `House Rules' are the following (there are more).
Messages are rejected that
...Are racist, sexist, homophobic, sexually explicit, abusive or
otherwise objectionable
...Contain swear words or other language likely to offend
...Break the law or condone or encourage unlawful activity.
...Are considered to be off-topic
...Are considered to be `spam', that is posts containing the same, or
similar, message posted multiple times.

Apart from the possible problem of finding such help, the only
difficulty of my suggestion that I can foresee is perhaps dealing
with the last house rule mentioned. But then again, Stevan is free to
set his own house rules.

Jan Velterop

Jean-Claude Guédon
Université de Montréal
Received on Mon Oct 13 2008 - 16:56:58 BST

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