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

From: Jeffery, KG (Keith) <"Jeffery,>
Date: Mon, 13 Oct 2008 21:59:55 +0100

All -
actually I find Stevan's style invigorating and stimulating.  I may
get annoyed (which stimulates thought) but Stevan has an impeccable
style of scholarly discusssion which could - with benefit - be
emulated by others.  I do not see any conflict of interest or role -
Stevan appears to me to be even-handed, putting up postings critical
of his opinions and adds much to the discussion by his
interpolations.  I am happy to trust Stevan's judgement to exclude
from posting minimally and only then when the proposed posting
contravenes the well-known ethics of lists (and listed by Jan quoting
the BBC website). 
I have just seen Derek's latest post to the list and agree; let's
discusss the real issues!

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From: American Scientist Open Access Forum
On Behalf Of Jean-Claude Guédon
Sent: 13 October 2008 15:47
Subject: Re: Call for a vote of nonconfidence in the moderator
of the AmSci Forum

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 discussions.

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

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 ~V or indeed can ~V
be run 'objectively' and according to some pseudo-democratic rules
are, frankly, a bit naïve. Those who don~Rt like Stevan~Rs judgement
with regard to acceptance of submissions can always start their own

That said, Stevan hasn~Rt 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 ~QHouse Rules~R.
Messages will not be rejected for any other reason. Moderators do not
post messages on the lists.

Among the BBC ~QHouse Rules~R are the following (there are more).
Messages are rejected that
~EAre racist, sexist, homophobic, sexually explicit, abusive or
otherwise objectionable
~EContain swear words or other language likely to offend
~EBreak the law or condone or encourage unlawful activity.
~EAre considered to be off-topic
~EAre considered to be ~Qspam~R, 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

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Received on Mon Oct 13 2008 - 22:42:41 BST

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