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  • jensend
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How to reduce unproductive discussion?
It seems to me that over the years productive discussions at HA have slowed down while useless bickering and retreading of the same old misconceptions has increased. How many thousands of threads like "Vynil or digital?" does this world of ours really need? And there's a good chance that thread and others like it are deliberate (and very successful) trolls.

I don't think this decline is just the way of all the world. I think there are things that can be done to change the atmosphere and reputation of this community and spare a lot of wasted time and antagonism.

I'd like to hear proposals for how to change this. I'll repeat my proposal, earlier mentioned here and here:

When a "newbie" posts a question that shows they are either ignorant of or misinformed about basic audio topics, DON'T let them bait people with misinformation that borders on TOS violations, and DON'T let regulars fall all over each other with nitpicking each others' corrections or rehashing old arguments without addressing the OP. Instead, point the newbie to good resources for learning basic audio topics (like the Xiph digital audio primer or the HA wiki), which will do a better job of informing people than a forum argument will, and LOCK THE THREAD until the "newbie" demonstrates that they've absorbed that information and can ask a better question.

If regulars really must have it out with each other again over the same old arguments, they can do it in another thread rather than turning the OP's question into an only-tangentially-related boxing match.

Perhaps some amendment to the TOS would be advisable to codify this.

The thread-locking boilerplate I suggested earlier follows:
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"Hello and welcome to HydrogenAudio! It appears that your post is heavily based on some common misunderstandings about digital audio, human auditory perception, blind testing and scientific method, or related topics. Here are some well-designed resources that teach our best scientific understanding of these concepts: (insert links to xiph videos, wiki pages, other things that people have spent real effort turning into good educational tools). Even if you think the science here is incomplete, it's vital that you understand it before critiquing it, and without that shared foundation, conversations often consist of people talking past each other. To help keep the quality of discussion here at HA high we have locked this thread until you pass this linked multiple-choice quiz about digital audio. PM me with the passcode you get when you pass the quiz and I'll unlock the topic. If you have questions about what you're learning from the above links, or if you are interested in discussing something else, feel free to start a new topic!"

  • shadowking
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Re: How to reduce unproductive discussion?
Reply #1
"Unproductive " according to whom ??

If everything will be locked down or TOS then this is steering into 'Politically correct audio' or something similar..

IMO not a good move and I could see this forum becoming less attractive for myself and some others, eventually ruining itself.
  • Last Edit: 06 July, 2017, 12:57:10 AM by shadowking
wavpack 4.8 -b4x4s0.75c

  • ajinfla
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Re: How to reduce unproductive discussion?
Reply #2
It's like the guy who absolutely hates talk radio....but is forced to listen to it everyday ;-)
Loudspeaker manufacturer

  • Kasi1560k
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Re: How to reduce unproductive discussion?
Reply #3
Yeah let's chase away people/call them troll's because there new to the tech side of audio or never heard vinyl/tape.

  • jensend
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Re: How to reduce unproductive discussion?
Reply #4
Kasi1560k, the current system is what is chasing people away and resulting in newbies being called names. If the "vynil" question was being asked sincerely, it's tragic that its author took one look at the responses he was getting at this site and ran away as far and fast as he could.

Subjecting people who ask basic questions to 30,000 word confusing flamefests is not a winning way to spread audio knowledge and good will.

Directing newbies to resources which will do a better job of answering their questions and dispelling their confusions -- and simultaneously pumping the brakes on repetitive stupid discussions -- is being kinder to them, not harsher.

shadowking: really, using a newbie's basic question as a way to start hurling insults at each other over arguments which are only tangentially related is already at minimum a TOS#5 violation.

None of my proposal involves telling people they can't have their stupid endlessly rehashed arguments about turntable styli or whatever. It's just saying they can't use jumping down a newbie's throat as an occasion for so doing. They just have to start their own thread if they want to pick a pointless fight.

My proposal doesn't make mods any more responsible for determining what counts as "unproductive" conversation than they already are, and it isn't going to lead to a "political correctness" regime. It's just changing how the board operates in a way that will give people less incentive to sit there in their cave perpetually bashing each other over the heads with the same well-worn wooden clubs.

  • 2tec
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Re: How to reduce unproductive discussion?
Reply #5
It seems to me that over the years productive discussions at HA have slowed down while useless bickering and retreading of the same old misconceptions has increased. How many thousands of threads like "Vynil or digital?" does this world of ours really need? And there's a good chance that thread and others like it are deliberate (and very successful) trolls.

I don't think this decline is just the way of all the world. I think there are things that can be done to change the atmosphere and reputation of this community and spare a lot of wasted time and antagonism.

While I can appreciate your frustration in this regard, one of my questions would be, who decides which topic is acceptable? First off, would that require that all "new" members wait until their post is "approved"? Would such a lag encourage new members to ask questions?  Second, isn't that a lot of work for volunteers, who already spend a considerable amount of time and energy? Third, how would you ensure that this doesn't become a form of intellectual censorship that limits the discussion to what an "elite" few have come to accept as the "truth"?

As well, without being a mind reader, how would anyone know whether the new user's question was sincere? Furthermore, isn't an open discussion the best way of explaining and informing others of what it is that concerns you?

“Everyone is in favor of free speech. Hardly a day passes without its being extolled, but some people's idea of it is that they are free to say what they like, but if anyone else says anything back, that is an outrage.” ― Winston S. Churchill
  • Last Edit: 06 July, 2017, 09:55:06 PM by 2tec
Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?  ;~)

  • jensend
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Re: How to reduce unproductive discussion?
Reply #6
2tec, the only "intellectual elite" under consideration are those willing to adjust their audio-related beliefs to accord with objective evidence. Censoring the rantings of those unwilling to adjust their audio-related beliefs to accord with objective evidence is precisely what TOS#8 is supposed to accomplish. It's supposed to clear a space for people to have rational evidence-based discussion about audio. TOS#8 is the thing that sets HydrogenAudio apart in the first place.

The freedom of speech Churchill or the 1st Amendment speak of has to do with freedom from government intervention prohibiting your speech. HydrogenAudio, like any private forum, is not obligated to give people a platform for whatever speech they want to spew forth. Instead, HA has a purpose and rules - the Terms of Service - that restrict what speech is acceptable here.

No judgment of whether a question is sincere or trolling is involved in my proposal. If a moderator judges that a newbie question should be addressed this way in order to better help the newbie and to avoid a flamefest, they simply politely refer the newbie to relevant reference materials and lock the thread. No judgments are made about the newbie's intentions or intelligence.

For the cases I'm talking about, the answer to your "isn't an open discussion the best way?" is a resounding NO. 30,000 word flamefests are not the best way to answer newbies' basic questions. Every one of these kinds of threads utterly fails at being helpful to the person initiating them. They only succeed at irritating people while scaring the newbie away (or making a troll laugh at how easily nerds take the bait).

As for logistics: I wasn't thinking of a wait time. If a wait time for first time posters or newbie status posters were involved, I don't think that would really be that much of an impediment. And moderators' time is already being wasted by the unproductive discussions; the proposal would actually save a huge amount of moderator time and effort.
  • Last Edit: 06 July, 2017, 11:59:54 PM by jensend

  • jensend
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Re: How to reduce unproductive discussion?
Reply #7
So far, other than ajinfla's humorous take, what I'm hearing is people defending the practice of scaring away newcomers by replying to their basic questions with hundreds of posts of angry bickering.

I would prefer to hear either improvements to my proposal or alternative proposals to deal with this dysfunction. I'd be especially interested in hearing from mods or admins.

  • 2tec
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Re: How to reduce unproductive discussion?
Reply #8
“The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum....” ~ Noam Chomsky
Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?  ;~)

Re: How to reduce unproductive discussion?
Reply #9
Everybody on this forum fights like their married to each other or something.  Sometimes for days on end like that Vinyl or Digital thread.

There's a lot of that kind of discussion and I don't think it's politically correct to improve the level of discussion on the forum either if it can be done and is possible.

Having a series of videos on general audio that explain things might or might not help when comes to very common questions asked.  A locked sticky thread with very commonly asked questions on certain subject matter may or may not help.  I'm not sure if they been tried before or not.

  • andy o
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Re: How to reduce unproductive discussion?
Reply #10
I don't see the OP of that vynil thread being mistreated at all, it's after someone starts dropping fallacies left and right that the "bickering" starts, and it doesn't involve the OP. In fact the first few answers were right to the point and simple enough for a newbie. If you want to wage a war on improper behavior, maybe it's more productive to make it against intellectual dishonesty, rather than some perceived rudeness.

Re: How to reduce unproductive discussion?
Reply #11
It seems to me that over the years productive discussions at HA have slowed down while useless bickering and retreading of the same old misconceptions has increased.

Oh, so you're running for the position of Administrator Of Politically Correct Thought?

Retreading of the same old misconceptions is one of those things that audio forums do.  Throttling that is a sure fire way to slow the place down even more.

I agree that it would be kinda nice to not bother with the old misconceptions, but we have before us many peope, even some who are regulars, who harbor and cherish theirs.

BTW, why don't you tell us about those "new misconceptions" - you know the ones that don't net out to be some kind of ignorance of how audio workds, placebophilia or solipsism.

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How many thousands of threads like "Vynil or digital?" does this world of ours really need?

As many as it takes to disabuse people of the same old myths, I guess.

Quote
And there's a good chance that thread and others like it are deliberate (and very successful) trolls.
[

So what?

You and I have different definitions of successful trolls. To me a successful trolls is one that sways people over to my viewpoint, and an unsuccessful one is one that sways people over to a viewpoint that I strongly disagree with. The best troll is one that creates sales for something that I want to see sold.   The fact that the OP ran away after one post suggests to me that he thought he was unsuccessful. After all, if you are having a great success, why run away from it?  Of course, most of the people are posting under aliases, so the OP could be posting away as a cast of thousands...

Re: How to reduce unproductive discussion?
Reply #12
Jensend, I totally get your point. I registered here a while ago and still didn't have a strong reason to post, cause 99 % percent of what I could ask had already been discussed somewhere on HA. But we have to remember that people come to forums for debate and a lot of those who come to places like HA are somewhat paranoid about audio (that's just the way it is), even the long term members tend to reask the same questions and ressurect those old topics just to get reassured of their choices and freshen their knowledge. While those other members don't hesitate too much to repeat their answers for the same reasons. Of course, mods could set up some simple test at a stage of registration, which would require some basic reading and learning before members would be able to post, that could filter out some extremely senseless posts. But that would probably scare a lot of people off, since after that they would still be TOS-beaten to death even harder than before. As a result, new members afraid to ask questions, cause "it's probably stupid anyway, so I'll just go elsewhere and try not to disturb Their Highnesses" ))) That whould make HA a really boring place to be. And we don't want that, do we?

  • bilbo
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Re: How to reduce unproductive discussion?
Reply #13
Jensend, I agree with your basic thought. I don't feel it is unreasonable to restrict reply's to a post to address the OP's question. As you pointed out, those unrelated posts should be in there very own posts. There is no restriction of speech if it can be accomplished is a separate post. Like in the world today, you have the right to yell and scream about the perceived evils of society, but not in the middle of my wedding ceremony.

If the OP asks a question, he probably doesn't want to read through 197 posts to find the few that answer the question. In this case, most people4 new to HA would simply look for a better place to ask the question. A lack of new blood would lead to the demise of HA.
Glass half full!

  • Heliologue
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Re: How to reduce unproductive discussion?
Reply #14
I think it would take a Moderator to influence the discussion here.

There's always a stream of Woo or somesuch nonsense, but I think the current Moderators have done a good job of keeping such things in check (i.e., the reason for the ToS in the first place).  Unless the mods have a problem with how things are set up, this seems like a solution in search of a problem, even if I might agree with it in principle.

  • 4season
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Re: How to reduce unproductive discussion?
Reply #15
Does it matter if we have a consensus on this matter? I figure there's room for some people to take the questions at face value, while others perceive them as troll bait.

Traffic-wise, HA seems to be doing okay. Seriously, go to any popular site, then subtract the inane, off-topic and stupid posts, and just like that you eliminate at least 95% of the posts.

Arriving at HA is a bit of a culture shock what with the lack of gear-fetishizing, but I've gotten used to that.

  • ajinfla
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Re: How to reduce unproductive discussion?
Reply #16
Maybe Troll sensitivity training classes for skeptics?
Loudspeaker manufacturer

  • jensend
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Re: How to reduce unproductive discussion?
Reply #17
I don't see the OP of that vynil thread being mistreated at all
I wasn't saying the OP was being insulted.
In fact the first few answers were right to the point and simple enough for a newbie.
Well, only the first two. Then you have one ok but prevaricating answer, and then you have a hundred and forty off topic bickering rants.
Oh, so you're running for the position of Administrator Of Politically Correct Thought?
This is an unreasonable and undeserved personal attack. My point has nothing to do with political correctness and I was advocating that existing moderators and administrators make these interventions, not me.
Retreading of the same old misconceptions is one of those things that audio forums do.  Throttling that is a sure fire way to slow the place down even more.
There's nothing inevitable about having stupid arguments for eternity. If the forum slowed down by removing useless drivel, it would make it a nicer place for everyone. Improve the SNR.
I agree that it would be kinda nice to not bother with the old misconceptions
So let's not bother with them then. People only need to develop the response to a question or misconception once. Then, instead of futile exercises in mud-wrestling with pigs, we can refer them to the facts and pay them no further heed. You won't "disabuse (pigs) of the same old myths" by mud-wrestling them again.
You and I have different definitions of successful trolls.
Apparently you don't understand what "trolling" means in an Internet context.

Though it came to be associated with the mythical creature, the Internet meaning came from fishing by dragging bait around hoping something would bite.

Expressing an honest opinion, no matter how stupid, isn't trolling. Trolling also has nothing to do with winning people over to a point of view or selling a product. Trolling has everything to do with posting just to see how much of a reaction you can get and then snickering from a distance at the fools who took the bait. This is why as soon as the vynil discussion went off track ajinfla, figuring people must have been trolled, said
It's always a great day for fishing here.
For a troll, seeing their post provoke people into making a hundred and forty useless posts and thus waste hours of people's time is a wonderful return on their small initial investment.

  • jensend
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Re: How to reduce unproductive discussion?
Reply #18
Bilbo, thank you. Yes, that's my point. If people don't like my idea of a standard more helpful response to those confused about audio basics, stricter TOS#5 enforcement on newbie question threads would be a place to start.

ajinfla, would you like to write the course manual? Perhaps something like "Don't Be Played: A Guide To Recognizing and Avoiding Counterproductive or Insincere Internet Discussions."

  • smok3
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  • Moderator
Re: How to reduce unproductive discussion?
Reply #19
So people who are "convinced" that earth is flat are fishing? Or is that trolling?
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"Don't Be Played: A Guide To Recognizing and Avoiding Counterproductive or Insincere Internet Discussions."
Why not audio specific title?
  • Last Edit: 10 July, 2017, 06:19:15 AM by smok3
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Re: How to reduce unproductive discussion?
Reply #20
There is no difficulty at all in recognising "unproductive." It is not necessary to have a degree in engineering to recognise bickering, or to see that those eternal pantomime threads (oh-yes-it-is-oh-no-it-isn't) lead nowhere. But if that's what people want to do, well, I suppose they'll do it. (Probably I have too sometimes).

jensend's approach to might-not-be-troll newbies seems to have a lot of merit.

TOS-wise, the forum might seem to be quite restrictive and potentially heavily moderated. Reality is that whatever goes down goes down until the participants collapse from exhaustion or the powers-that-be eventually get fed up. Give people a chance. But if they are not prepared to learn/adjust their fixed views then what are they doing here?


The most important audio cables are the ones in the brain

  • ajinfla
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Re: How to reduce unproductive discussion?
Reply #21
For a troll, seeing their post provoke people into making a hundred and forty useless posts and thus waste hours of people's time is a wonderful return on their small initial investment.
So you're with the Time Wasting police?
Who holds the gun to your head forcing you to read these waste of time posts? Have you thought of reporting them to the police, freeing you of being forced to read this stuff you obviously dislike?
Just curious
  • Last Edit: 10 July, 2017, 09:35:27 AM by ajinfla
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  • jensend
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Re: How to reduce unproductive discussion?
Reply #22
ajinfla, you needle me for making that point, but you were making exactly the same observation with your post saying OP got his moneys worth for sure LOL. If that OP was a troll he or she must be gratified by how thoroughly people swallowed the bait.

This isn't about my time being wasted; I've generally just stayed far away from pointless discussions. But when the forum is totally dominated by them, and when almost every discussion devolves into such blather, it affects the character of the forum and how useful it is for others. Sticking with particular topics and maintaining particular standards are what keep HA from becoming stereophile or 4chan or some other forum of little use to many of us who value HA. Advocating for reasonable discussion and asking that the TOS actually be enforced is not the extreme position some seem to claim it is.

  • ajinfla
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Re: How to reduce unproductive discussion?
Reply #23
ajinfla, you needle me for making that point, but you were making exactly the same observation with your post saying OP got his moneys worth for sure LOL.
No. I'm laughing about it, you are whining about it. I find it amusing (including the deliberate misspelling, etc), you don't.
Here's a crazy idea, ignore those type threads...unless there really is a gun to your head.
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