Debate:What are the limits of "free speech" on Rationalwiki?

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In recent weeks, a few articles have appeared that have espoused views which are problematic at best, such as an essay on why men are superior to women. The essay author's user page warns us that women are a threat to men, and tells us that a gang of feminists kicked him off of WP. A new essay wants us to frame bin Laden as a freedom fighter, and that author tried to portray the official abuse of gay Iranians as a Western construct.

Does Rationalwiki's "free speech" policy extend to covering those sorts of discourses? Should it? Discuss. PFoster 14:53, 26 November 2008 (EST)

I think the policy should be very broad, at least as long as other editors are willing to take the time to refute those kinds of articles. Moreover, we don't need to delete a really nasty essay, as we do have the "buried" template. On the other hand, if it dips into hate/violent speech, delete, ban, block, and burn. (We didn't allow the MP vandals their say, no need to allow other hateful people.) I didn't read the "Woman" essay all the way through, but if it was like the MP stuff, burn it and boot the bastard. Researcher 15:02, 26 November 2008 (EST)
We've recently, and quite quickly, put into the vandal bin an editor who had extreme views on women, an editor who wanted to promote his views on militant Islam, and another who wanted to push his (perhaps religiously-based) views on abortion. Obviously these individuals had opinions which differ from most of the opinions held here. However, our main page says: We welcome contributors, and encourage those who disagree with us to register and engage in constructive dialogue.
If we are not going to permit alternative points of view, or those that damage our liberal sensitivities we need to make this clear. I think we need to find some way of communicating or engaging with such people rather than dumping them in the vandal bin the moment we feel irritated with them. It's really almost the same as a perma-ban.--Bobbing up 15:11, 26 November 2008 (EST)
As the guy who put two of those guys in the bin, let me point out that i did so after reverting many many really questionable edits one after the other over the course of an afternoon when nobody else seemed to be around to clean up after them. What else was I to do? PFoster 15:15, 26 November 2008 (EST)
EC: I suggested to the abortion guy that he used the talk pages rather then the article pages. I think he later said that he would. The Muslim chap was starting to appear on talk when you put him in the bin. Personally, I would have given them both more rope, told them they they needed to start justifying their comments etc.--Bobbing up 15:20, 26 November 2008 (EST)
I binned the other one (the jihadist guy.) My general rule is that you can say anything in the essay space except anything that would come dangerously close to criminal if you said it on the street. I don't think we really ought to tolerate the metapedia racists or people writing propaganda for terrorist organisations like Hamas. --JeevesMkII 18:33, 26 November 2008 (EST)
(Obvious EC since this took more than 10 seconds to write) At the risk of sounding like someone who is going to be blasted for enforcing a "90/10 Rule" esque attitude, I believe the key part is "engage in constructive dialogue.". Abusing the essay space and creating articles out of the blue that defend terrorists is most certainly not constructive dialogue. Although since that has happened, we have kicked off the conversation on Freedom Fighters that may go somewhere. If such a thought was brought up on a talk page, it would have lead to the same conclusion and qualifed as constructive dialogue. I wouldn't say we're against people who "damage our liberal sensitivities" because this is not a liberal site, it is a rational one, and certainly liberal sensitivities most certainly could do with being damaged when they're irrational just as much as conservative sensitivities should. ArmondikoVbomination 15:18, 26 November 2008 (EST)

I am always concerned of a certain group mentality cropping up here. Do we want a place made up entirely of people that were thrown of Conservapedia for not agreeing with the administrators views, only for us to go and do the same? Our goals here are;

  1. Analyzing and refuting the anti-science movement.
  2. Analyzing and refuting crank ideas.
  3. Explorations of authoritarianism and fundamentalism.

Our recent visitors have brought the last two in spades. Do we let them post their warped world view? Yes. Do we leave it unchallenged? No. Why do you find someone so intimidating, if you are so sure they are wrong? If they are obviously wrong it should be no trouble for you to refute them. Burning and banning is the easy way to deal with things we disagree with, which is why they do it at CP. Are we that intellectually lazy?- User 17:51, 26 November 2008 (EST)

Yes, I agree. If we can't win the debate with these here people then there is something wrong with us. It should be an opportunity to develop our arguments.--Bobbing up 18:07, 26 November 2008 (EST)
PI, I agree with you in principle but: Essay spaces and User Pages stand on their own, and the arguments against them need to appear on separate pages. no good. I have reverted, and will continue to revert ad nauseum, misogynist statements on Fall Down's user page. PFoster 18:10, 26 November 2008 (EST)
So you are going to cave in your principals because the going got tough? - User 19:17, 26 November 2008 (EST)
I'm not sure I follow. Part of me thinks that staying here of Falldown's user page comments and essay are allowed to stand would be caving in my principles. But I'm torn on that. I like, hells, I love this place, even though I'm a minor player in it. And mostly we fight the good fight. But Fall Down really got to me. Maybe I just need a nap. or a drink.PFoster 19:23, 26 November 2008 (EST)
The simple soultion to anyone offended by the content of FallDown's userpage is don't look at it. I propose we create a Luser template to go on idiots like his talkpage denying all responsibility of RW of the contents of his Userpage. - User 20:24, 26 November 2008 (EST)
I tried to open this debate before (here) but it sort of petered out without real resolution. The buried template was one thing that came out of it. In practise, though, it proved a bit flawed, as the user (Fall Down) could still link directly to the "buried" essay, internally or externally, which makes burying it a bit ineffective. I'm inclined towards agreeing with PFoster about deleting things that are unacceptably offensive. Freedom of speech has its limits (when it comes to hate speech) & I don't see a reason why we as a site should insist on absolute freedom of speech. RW has a POV - it isn't harshly defined in political terms, but is basically pro-science, pro-rationality & pro-tolerance. Articles are subject to be ammended, reworded or deleted by other users if they don't fit that. Essays are a little different because we respect the author's rights to express their views, but there are limits to that too. It depends on how disturbing the essay's POV is, & also who the author is & whether they're a regular contributor or just somebody who swings by to troll us with offensive crap. weaseLOIdWeaselly.jpg~ 18:40, 26 November 2008 (EST)
Personally, I think that we should try to follow more or less the same publicist golden rule that most independent newspapers do - obviously promote freedom of speech, but also exercise a certain editorial prudency. Just like a newspaper won't publish just any Letter to the Editor, but only those that actually have something to say and are of public interest, neither should we necessarily waste time and energy on everything that any random troll out there finds amusing to post here. Fall Down's little recent manifesto certainly fell into the latter category, and I imagine that he and his mates got a good laugh out of watching us milling about trying to figure out how to deal with it. Good for them, but I really don't think it's worth the effort. Essays that actually have something interesting to say, yet are opposed to the dominant point of view here - those remain an entirely different matter. --AKjeldsenCum dissensie 18:51, 26 November 2008 (EST)

I repeat for the fifteenth time[edit]

Fall Down's "Women" piece was not written as an essay - we put it there, rather by accident. Please keep this in mind, as I see a lot of confusion above assuming they wrote it in the essay space. ħumanUser talk:Human 20:11, 26 November 2008 (EST)

Yes, but this isn't just a debate about the Fall Down piece. Ultimately we still need to decide what we do when this situation arises again (which it will), whether it's in mainspace or essay. Fall Down's next piece of trash is in his user space. Does that give it special priveleges? & If we decide to honour everything that's in user space or essay space, that could leave the door open for Metapedia users to decide to spam us with racialist or holocaust denialist essays. Would we tolerate that? I don't think so. weaseLOIdWeaselly.jpg~ 20:33, 26 November 2008 (EST)
True, but let's be careful not to mix up our "examples" with our "mistakes". We have template:driveby for crap essays we don't delete. I'll see if I can come up with any constructive comments for the main discussion ;) ħumanUser talk:Human 20:35, 26 November 2008 (EST)
I think it's a tricky subject all around. While we don't want to start bullying around minority points of view ala CP, we don't want RationalWiki to be come a haven for racist trolls and morons either. Had the whole Women thing been put in civil terms, we would have happily shot it all to hell, but it was created as a very hostile article that got moved to the essay space. I think the general idea is that, while we allow freedom of speech, we also have limits on it. I myslef would be very offended if the women essay was about black people being inferior to white people or something along those lines, and I would have burned the article, and blocked the user with a really really pissy block comment. We also need to keep in mind that, should someone stumble upon that page, or get linked from a blog or something, what would their first opinion of us be? SirChuckBThat is all 21:32, 26 November 2008 (EST)
All we need is a very clear template saying this is the rambling thoughts of someone considered a luser by the users of this website and we don't condone it and here is why they are wrong. What ever happened to critiquing and analysing bullshit? Isn't that the entire point of RationalWiki? - User 21:41, 26 November 2008 (EST)
but by letting any random crank post their BS on our wiki, we give their inane ramblings credit. Some ideas are not worth debating and refuting. Besides, if some idiot wants to spout their thoughts to the ends of the internet, they're welcome to, but we're not here to give them a platform. SirChuckBThat is all 23:53, 26 November 2008 (EST)
By saying there is an idea that is not worth a rebuttal, you are already yielding to the irrational as their first response will be "you can't do it because I am right, I win !!!111eleventy1!!!!" If we immediately had them their arse on a platter, we are only giving them a platform to show case how stupid their ideas are. One of the problems I have found is collecting material which is not CP related for refuting, these people are delivering it to our door. Maybe we could have a page generally refuting misogynistic crap using some of FallDown's ramblings as an example and put it in a subpage there as a reference, with a note saying typical incorrect rant. Are we going to take the fight to these people or are we going to let them turn us into CP? (I know that is something of a false dichotomy, but it is how I feel). - User 00:36, 27 November 2008 (EST)
Dude, spare us the "reductio ad Schlaflium." It's fucking tiresome. Having a clear set of community standards and not providing people with forums for hate speech does not turn us into Conservapedia. Free speech is not absolute, there are some ideas not worth debating, and user pages and essays--ostensible castles, if we play by the rules--stand on their own with no chance of a same-page rebuttal or disavowal.PFoster 00:45, 27 November 2008 (EST)
I can't believe that someone who describes themselves as rational would have such a hard time dealing with someone they whose opinions they strongly object to without resorting to trying to silence them. The best way to deal with unsavoury opinions, such as racist, bigots and misogynist, is to throw open the window and expose them rather than pretending they don't exist an hoping to make it true. Who was it here that said "sunlight is the best disinfectant"? Essays and Userspace are one person only and non-endorsed by RW it says that in our community standards, or something approximating that effect. Are your opinions really that weak that they can't stand dissent? - User 00:57, 27 November 2008 (EST)
"Sunlight is the best disinfectant," eh? Well here's another pithy quote for you--actually a paraphrase to keep me away from Godwin's law: Woody Allen once said "if you are dealing with people making hate speech, you don’t argue with them, you smash their heads with baseball bats." There's no reason to dignify Falldown and others of his ilk with arguments, space or time. PFoster 01:06, 27 November 2008 (EST)
"[S]mash their heads with baseball bats." What a mature and grown up way to deal with things. What constitutes hate speech any way? Are you going to be the final arbitrator? Is anyone that finds something offensive going to throw a tantrum and delete it? Is what FallDown said true? No, so why does it bother you? - User 01:09, 27 November 2008 (EST)
<afterthought>Actually what Woody Allen says sounds like hate speech I might have to go get a baseball bat.</afterthought>
Afterthought this--it's called subtle sarcasm. Get a clue, nobody, not Woody, not me, is going after anybody with a bat. Yet. And, no, i'm not going to be the final arbitrator: like i keep saying, it's a community, and it should be a community decision--unlike your final arbitration, as opposed to what a few people beside me have said on this page, that anything should go. PFoster 01:21, 27 November 2008 (EST)

Then why revert to comments of violence to people you disagree with? Simply because your comments are based at an irrational level. Not only is their no need for violence, their is no need for a call to violence. Last time I looked this was called RationalWiki and we should deal with things in a rational way. Violence, banning and deletion is the simple, and largely irrational, way of dealing with people who hold opinions you disagree with because you are largely behaving on emotion.

I am not the final arbitrator, but you have to question the value of a project which professes to refute crank ideas and fundamentalism, but runs around screaming when one shows up and tries to instead suppress the idea and pretend it is not there. - User 01:30, 27 November 2008 (EST)

Are you fucking dense? Did you not read my last post? Nobody is calling for violence--it's a joke, for Christ's sake--a sarcastic jab at those who want to dignify hateful morons and their base ideas with debate. "Simply because you are comments based at an irrational level." What do you mean by this--are you saying it is irrational to question the idea that freedom of speech is absolute? That's why you can't yell "FIRE" in a crowded theatre--and why you shouldn't be allowed to say that women are inherently inferior to men. Who are we gonna convince by arguing that point? Certainly not anyone who believes that shit. But what does qualify as "violent" in my books is saying things like what FallDown said. PFoster 01:40, 27 November 2008 (EST)
I am saying that instead of taking the intellectual approach to an idea you find repugnant and state the reasons why you find it wrong. You have taken the emotional response and wanted to just destroy the comments in the hope that they will go away. They wont go away, and people like FallDown will claim they are right, as you wont argue so they see this a victory that they are so correct you can't rebuttal it as you have nothing to rebuttal it with. Is the "that women are inherently inferior to men" true? No. So why are you so deeply offended at something that you can easily show to be false? Why is opinion so contrary to yours threatening enough that you feel injured by it? - User 01:47, 27 November 2008 (EST)
I would hope that any rational person would feel injured by hateful comments that denigrate half the world's population. Maybe the problem is that you don't. whatever. You win, put the essay back up, revert his user page. i don't really give a shit at this point. PFoster 01:52, 27 November 2008 (EST)
I don't feel injured by FallDown's comments because they are patently wrong. - User 02:01, 27 November 2008 (EST)
Wow, Pis and PFs, lets get friendlier here. For starters, perhaps if we had redirected women to feminism there'd be no argument above, since we already have an article on the topic. Then, keep in mind it's a fucking wiki - any article content can be edited and improved. So the only remaining issue are user name spaces (easy enough to template with "hate speech" markers) and the essay space - which no-one has ever polluted except maybe once or twice.
I think it's more important for us all to remain friends while disagreeing than to come up with a strict set of rules and procedures to deal with things that occur about once every two months. (And wondering about the great an glorious day when we are bigger than wikipedia is just silly egotism). ħumanUser talk:Human 03:32, 27 November 2008 (EST)

Ideals and Practicality[edit]

Rationalwiki is supposed to approach the issues and conflicts in a rational way; it's at the heart of our credo - to all appearances anyway. And rationally speaking, merely because an idea or opinion is unpopular here is no reason to delete or ban it out of hand. I think we can all agree on that. The question appears to simply be where we compromise between this ideal and the practical reality. Practically speaking, we are a small community and one prolific editor could spew a great deal into many articles. So this must certainly be guarded against. It is a separate issue from the question of essays and talkspace, however. Inasmuch as I can see, the best course seems to be:

  • Use the vandal classification or a similar new classification for very prolific editors whose edits seem to conflict with the intentions of this site. Specifically, if an editor has made five or more edits to articles and these edits appear to be inserting information or opinions that are not supported by solid references or logic, they should be warned on their talk page accordingly. A template for this warning would be good. If they continue in this behavior, then it is reasonable to put them in the vandal classification temporarily. This gives all opinions and approaches a fair chance, while still providing criteria and guidelines to keep things under control in an even-handed way. There will always be an element of subjectivity -and thus potential abuse - but this would keep us honest, I think.
  • Permit people to write whatever essays they please, and anyone has the discretion to put the buried template on. There seems little good reason to try to restrict unpopular opinions or essays. If it becomes a significant problem, then that is the time to worry about it.

This is just how I see it, but I do agree we need policy.--Tom Moorefiat justitia ruat coelum 01:53, 27 November 2008 (EST)

Good ideas Tom. Explain what they are doing which is not in line with the site. If they continue down that route publicly disown them. If they still cause problems put them in the Vandal cat with the option of coming back if they want to play by the rules and ethos of the site - or put them in the vcat for a week. Clarify the rules surrounding essays. Sounds like the basis for some guidelines anyway.--Bobbing up 02:18, 27 November 2008 (EST)
My idea now is that there is only one copy of the essay in the history, with a template explaining why we don't want it displayed, blank and replaced with the buried template on top of that and the locked to prevent random reverting. The template above the essay should have three parameters, who wrote, who's decision it was to bury it and a link to an essay with a rebuttal of the essay. I will write an Essay called "Why women and men are inherently equal" anyone who want to help is welcome, any other misogynistic trash can be linked to it. Is this happy to all? - User 03:09, 27 November 2008 (EST)
Overkill. Really overkill. Shit, why don't we just delete garbage articles and template "driveby" the occasional rare essay? It ain't like we are under attack from metapeadioa or anything. ħumanUser talk:Human 03:19, 27 November 2008 (EST)
By and large, I think that will pretty much be sufficient, actually, which is why what you just described fits pretty well in what I said. Simple garbage and vandalism can still be dealt with just as swiftly. But it would pay to have some sort of system and such in place for the rarer instance of ideologues dancing on the border. Otherwise we get a few powerful personalities acting arbitrarily, and it leads to abrasiveness and problems.--Tom Moorefiat justitia ruat coelum 05:51, 27 November 2008 (EST)

Well I have made this anyway:

Essay grave.png
This essay is not endorsed by The Thought Police and is felt to be contrary to our mission statement.
If you are reading this either you have voluntarily chosen to view this essay or you really like this sort of tripe. This essay is entirely the work of Fall down and its comments were found to be offensive and so was buried by some random censor.
To see a reason why this "thinking", or approach to dissent, is generally wrong please read Animal Farm.

I think we should put this on the single page history we keep of the "essay". - User 03:33, 27 November 2008 (EST)

I think we should just relax and get over it. ħumanUser talk:Human 03:37, 27 November 2008 (EST)
I like the more relaxed version. I say we go with it. - User 03:42, 27 November 2008 (EST)
It's getting close, yeah. We need a nice balance of snark and PC, and of "censorship" and "ownership". Remember, friends, we' own this site. Not some random drive-by idiot. And we do love to debate what we want to do with it, don't we? (I think that ought to be added to our mission statement: "Debating what we are doing and why"). Catch you all after lunch at my neighbors, I am over and out for now :) ħumanUser talk:Human 03:58, 27 November 2008 (EST)
Has anyone ever considered voting (up/down) on the essays? If the essay writer can back themselves up properly we should be prepared to accept it. If they can't (which is likely in these cases), then we can laugh them off, or preferably rebute the interprations, correct the facts and direct any external readers to something else that. We shouldn't just go "oooh, this disagrees with my inner liberal, kill it", we should read it and go "well, I'm not convinced in the slightest, anyone else? Okay, let rip with rationality...". Either way, these things are worth talking about over talk pages, leave the unilateral blocking and burning to the likes of Andrew Schlafly. ArmondikoVbomination 05:07, 27 November 2008 (EST)
I think that voting and hubbub and whatnot with essays are just asking for rules we will ignore. To be frank, who really cares about some nonsense like like that women essay (to use the example with which we are all familiar)? It's really obvious it's crap; the question is just how can we easily yet fairly deal with such things. I believe that the original template works best, just slapped on by whoever thinks it's needed. If there is disagreement about that, then voting and discussion could easily take place. But hopefully such is going to be rare.--Tom Moorefiat justitia ruat coelum 05:48, 27 November 2008 (EST)
Actually I quite like the idea of up/down or slider-bar voting on essays. Put it on top of the essays (all essays), that way if an innocent bystander wanders by they could identity if it represented our opinions or not. It might also inspire us to write more of own essays and see who could get top votes.--Bobbing up 06:04, 27 November 2008 (EST)

This essay is an original work by signed users. Please comment only on the talk page.

no votes

This essay is an original work by signed users. Please comment only on the talk page.

3Was this a good essay or what?
They might need another parameter so as to be able to name the poll. - User 07:56, 27 November 2008 (EST)

I went ahead and made RationalWiki:Dealing_with_Disagreement. If we reach some kind of consensus, we can put it there. Or we will revert to the previous take-it-as-it-comes and I'll delete it. But it's progress.--Tom Moorefiat justitia ruat coelum 06:09, 27 November 2008 (EST)

Free speech should be absolute.[edit]

I agree with the remarks of "Pi" above. In what sense is a position "rational," if arguments against it cannot be dismissed as irrational and invalid through the same process of argument? In what sense is a position "irrational," if its absurdity cannot be exposed by a hearty dose of reason? And what claim has anyone to the title of "rational," who uses the decidedly irrational instrument of censorship against ideological opponents?

And if free speech be "not absolute," as "PFoster" suggests, why should the anti-communist majority not muzzle communists, using much the same logic as is being proposed here for use against hate-speech purveyors (viz., none at all)? — ListenerX 01:42, 27 November 2008 (EST)

Listener--go to the movies. yell "FIRE" as loud as you can. See what happens. That's why reasonable societies--even the most liberal ones--put reasonable limits on expression. Think of it another way. Hurting people is wrong. Words can hurt people. That's why there are laws against hate speech. Yes, this means we have to talk about and negotiate and navigate what counts as "hate speech," and some people aren't going to be happy with the outcome of those negotiations--that's the price of living in a free, respectful,democratic and RATIONAL society. PFoster 01:48, 27 November 2008 (EST)
PFoster, the fine you receive for yelling fire is not because you yelled fire, it is because you created a disturbance, it is not restriction of freedom of speech it is restriction of a behaviour that is contrary to orderly conduct. It is actually a health and safety violation. - User 01:54, 27 November 2008 (EST)
Or you could see it as an acknowledgement/illustration of the fact that discourse has consequences, and thus needs to be controlled in a reasonable way. Anyway, see my comment above. I'm done, you win. Let anyone say whatever they want. it's all good. PFoster 01:59, 27 November 2008 (EST)
I would suggest that we develop Tom's ideas above. It sounds like a middle course between dropping what is, virtually, a permanent ban on people and allowing utter freedom for fanatics with a particular axe to grind.
Also let's think about CreationWiki and CP. Creation wiki says: Debate is only appropriate from those holding to a Creation POV..... Meanwhile, CP drops five-year bans on people who don't toe the party line. And we criticize them for that. Do we want to do the same sort of things?--Bobbing up 02:31, 27 November 2008 (EST)
First, the header is stupid - and I say that as a freedom of thought absolutist. Second, who cares what CW or CP do? Turd, who left that smell on my shoe? ħumanUser talk:Human 03:25, 27 November 2008 (EST)
Well, we obviously care to a certain extent about what CP does because we spend a large (perhaps even disproportionate) part of our time and energy monitoring and criticizing them. It would seem to be appropriate therefore to not emulate the actions for which we criticise them. For instance, not allowing differing views.--Bobbing up 03:56, 27 November 2008 (EST)

I'm Insulted[edit]

I can't believe I wasn't invited to Headless Chicken Mode :( -caius (heckuva job!) 02:33, 27 November 2008 (EST)

You are mistaken, This isn't HCM, it's a Frank Exchange of Views.--Bobbing up 02:46, 27 November 2008 (EST)
Well, I like them both...-caius (heckuva job!) 02:49, 27 November 2008 (EST)
Hiya sock of the infamous "AmesG" and welcome to whatever the hell this is. ħumanUser talk:Human 03:24, 27 November 2008 (EST)
No, definitely not headless yet. Although I'm not sure, it's a bit too much to take in since the last time I logged in and checked so it may well appear to be HCM. ArmondikoVbomination 04:58, 27 November 2008 (EST)
What? Only three uses of the word "fuck" or its forms. And only on one page. We need multiple "fuck you"'s and userpages on fire before we can declare HCM.--Bobbing up 05:04, 27 November 2008 (EST)
Let's not tell people exactly how to do it... that's just inviting people to try :P ArmondikoVbomination 08:18, 27 November 2008 (EST)

Freedom of Speech[edit]

Ain't free. Some people pay for this microphone (I love saying that). Also, what makes anyone think that the reason RW exists is to provide some sort of message board whereby anyone can exercise "freedom of speech"? Come on you idiots, this is our wiki and we control it. Oh, yeah, I see. We have no idea how to do so. Awesome! ħumanUser talk:Human 03:24, 27 November 2008 (EST)

So long as we leave the door open we don't control it. - User 03:28, 27 November 2008 (EST)
The problem with letting trolls like Fall Down post their hate speech here is that even if we analyse & refute it, we're still ultimately hosting their hate speech. They might encourage others to post similar trash here (see Fall Down's/Usher's comments on the men.soc forum). The Buried template failed, at least the way I used it, because FD could still link directly to a previous version of it, effectively meaning that we were still hosting it intact. Another option would be to delete then put the template over it, so the essay could only be viewed by sysops - i.e. regular community members & not drive-by trolls. Or just delete it & put a short explanation on the talk page to justify it. Or just delete it. As per Human's commennt, the wiki belongs to us, the people who use it & edit it, not to people who just try to trash it. weaseLOIdWeaselly.jpg~ 06:40, 27 November 2008 (EST)
I was previously against anything that was "sysop only" because that limits openness, but it's now the case that it needs to be looked at from a practical point of view. Lets just declare the "burried" experiment in it's current form as a failed one, it was just an experiment after all. As sysops are practically everyone, but we're not likely to give trolls sysop priverlages, that would work. It'd be a case of just letting people know that this is how it will be done and instruct people not to needlessly ressurect it. ArmondikoVbomination 08:24, 27 November 2008 (EST)

For the record, I'm a regular donor here, so I'm partly paying for the microphone, and I don't mind the crazies having insane things on their user page (because it doesn't imply the community's agreement), or in the essay namespace so long as there's sufficient disclaimer (NOT OUR VIEW, etc.). It makes me very uncomfortable to outright delete user essays, etc, or refuse to display it publicly. But I also note that I'm coming to this discussion late...-caius (heckuva job!) 14:49, 27 November 2008 (EST)

I thought it was a given that essays and userpages are the opinions only of the contributing authors, you could cement that with a template or in the help files on what essays are but it seems like common sense? An essay will clearly be the opinion of the author(s) and any disagreements are free to be brought up on the talk page, which is hardly a locked away private afair. Providing it's done in an open manner, there's no harm. No one is going to read something marked "essay by such-and-such a user" and think that's the opinion of the entire site, particularly if there's an associated talk page that's discussing and refuting it. However, I'd still subject this to the clause that if you want the right to express a view, you need the accept the responsibility to defend it and back it up. ArmondikoVbomination 10:47, 29 November 2008 (EST)

My solution, as always, involves mockery[edit]

Just get rid of the sanctity of essays, and let everyone edit them. Possibly in a different color. Instant correction of obvious falsehoods, and hate rants will get the MST3K treatment they so desperately need! --Gulik 16:09, 27 November 2008 (EST)

Might rather remove the distinction between owned essays and articles though.--Bobbing up 16:38, 27 November 2008 (EST)
That's why I'd like to see a "heckle" tag for comments made by the non-owner, to make it more obvious who's saying what. And seeing how "Chaotic discussionboard" is the natural state of wikis (Wikipedia is a MAJOR stretch for the wiki format), it's be a return to its roots. --Gulik 16:48, 27 November 2008 (EST)
I think Gulik's idea is a good one. The essay space was not really "planned" so much as a place for Trent to move RobS' weird articles to way back when. Surely we can use our user spaces for essays anyway? ħumanUser talk:Human 23:20, 27 November 2008 (EST)
I actually kinda dig that idea too.... For essays you don't want touched, put them in a subpage of your userpage, and we'll know not to do anything, for others, put them in the essay space, and if someone wants to comment on it, they can create a subpage (Essay:whatver/critic) and let em have a broadside. That way, we're not infringing on anyone's free speech (althought I still think we shouldn't deal with these idiots anyway) but we can still let others know exactly what we think of them. SirChuckBThat is all 17:58, 28 November 2008 (EST)
I like the Using another color idea . myself if I can figure out how to do it. Carptrash 18:43, 28 November 2008 (EST)
I think these are good ideas for essays which are a little bit contentious but by people who are fairly regular contributors here. (Case in point, Fox's current essay about the Holocaust being caused by Christianity). But the situation isn't the same for essays which 1. are overtly offensive, & 2. are by people who have no interest in what RW is about & just exploit it as a dumping ground for hate speech. I don't think we need to dignify those kind of contributions by analysing, refuting, voting and responding. weaseLOIdWeaselly.jpg~ 18:56, 28 November 2008 (EST)
"That way, we're not infringing on anyone's free speech" - deleting some crap someone adds to our site is not infringing on their free speech in any way. It's just, really, protecting ours. They are still completely free to post their stuff either on sites that don't mind or encourage it, or even (whodathunkit?!) hosting their own site to get their message out. It's not our job to do that for them. ħumanUser talk:Human 17:27, 29 November 2008 (EST)
What he said. PFoster 17:34, 29 November 2008 (EST)
I agree with you Human and Foster, I'm just letting it known that I'm willing to comprimise. SirChuckBThat is all 00:11, 30 November 2008 (EST)


Crazy views should be expressed by the nuts who express them. We should counter them, and humilitate their proponents. — Unsigned, by: / talk / contribs

But the stuff we're talking about is usually dumped on us by a troll or parodist passing through, who won't really be humiliated if we refute it. weaseLOIdWeaselly.jpg~ 19:00, 27 November 2008 (EST)
If you put a" "This will be removed in 24 hours if you don't defend it." or something tag it will get rid of the edits of folks who don't at least stick around to make fools of us or themselves or whomever. Carptrash 18:49, 28 November 2008 (EST).
Maybe a week? I know even I don't always check RW every day. (PS: And call the template "DriveBy". :) ) --Gulik 20:45, 28 November 2008 (EST)
We already have Template:Drive-by, albeit we don't use it very often, & just for things like this which we can pretty-much ignore. But the things we're talking about in this debate are essays which cross the line into being overtly offensive & arguably an embarrassment for RW to be hosting - the point being that some of us don't think identifying them as a drive-by essay goes far enough. weaseLOIdWeaselly.jpg~ 21:35, 28 November 2008 (EST)
Ah well, . . .... if we have rules and procedures and processes already in place and don't use them, it gets tougher to deal with these types. How about some sort of, when three or more of us are gathered in WP's name then we can do things to these drive by types. Like delete 'em? Carptrash 21:38, 28 November 2008 (EST)

There's a quote I went looking for to add to this, got it from PZ Myers... basically, it says that we should tolerate everyone except those who don't tolerate others, and that should be the limit of our tolerance. I think that's a good guideline. Wazza (Not Wazzock, Wazza)Approach the Presence 05:28, 29 November 2008 (EST)

But if we don't tolerate the intolerant, then we are intolerant and we should tolerate ourselves.... arghh recursion! - User 05:54, 29 November 2008 (EST)
And PZ Myers, of course, is himself an unshakable bastion of tolerance... no, let's not go there. --AKjeldsenCum dissensie 12:39, 30 November 2008 (EST)

I'm sure it can be formulated in such a way as to avoid headsplosions... Wazza (Not Wazzock, Wazza)Approach the Presence 06:58, 29 November 2008 (EST)

Thanks for breaking my brain... anyway, when you come to limiting you concept of tollerance, you really cease to become tollerant. You can tollerate x and y, but you're still intollerant because you don't accept z. Anyway, I can get behind the idea of people having to defend a controversial or offensive essay or it gets deleted. If they put it up and leave it, that sort of proves that it's a drive-by and can be considered for deletion with no guilt at all about limiting freedom of speech or expression; if you want the right to express a view, you must accept the responsibility of backing it up and fighting that corner when challenged. Using another color idea myself.ArmondikoVbomination 10:36, 29 November 2008 (EST)
I crashed a picket line (something I rarely do) at the Michael Moore movie Blood in their faces. where 'liberals" were objecting to the amount of time neo-nazis were given in the film to expounding their philosophy with no rebuttal. And one picketer carried a sigh proclaiming NO FREE SPEECH FOR FASCISTS, and it stuck with me and seems to be sort of what we are doing here. Of course (another of the 26 words that mean "my opinion") sort of not. Carptrash 11:20, 29 November 2008 (EST)
It's not like we're demanding they never espouse their views... just not on our server space. It's the difference between putting a sign up on your own lawn or on someone else's. Wazza (Not Wazzock, Wazza)Approach the Presence 07:21, 30 November 2008 (EST)
Yes, I see your point. We always burn our crosses on other people's lawns.

Carptrash 10:55, 30 November 2008 (EST)

So it's not really an issue about whether speech is free, but where it's free. So by extension, free speech isn't really free. It costs you money to buy a server, or an ad campaign or some banners or posters to put up. I hate to sound all "wooly and and so far left I'm going to injure myself" liberal (eugh) but that basically puts speech in the hands of the richer and more powerful so it's not free by any definition of the word "free". However, when you own a space you do posses the choice; we can say "our space, our rules, get the f**k out" to whoever any of the contributors/donors or web-admins like, or you can say "fine, we'll give you a free platform, out of the kindness, generosity and the goodness inherent in our beliefs, providing you, equally graciously, accept the criticism that may come your way and fight your corner when that criticism comes because this is our space and this is the very least we can ask". ArmondikoVbomination 09:18, 1 December 2008 (EST)

There's such a thing as being TOO "tolerant", and as usual, The Onion sums it up pretty well: ACLU Defends Nazis' Right To Burn Down ACLU Headquarters --Gulik 16:45, 2 December 2008 (EST)

Freedom of Speech isn't free?[edit]

I've seen this statement a lot on this page and others (and we're climbing up the HCM scale, I think we're at about HCM 3 now...). I would argue that freedom of speech is free; it's listeners that cost. You can shout whatever you want from your rooftop, or harangue people from a soapbox, but if you want people to listen you need a trustworthy (or trusworthy) medium, which is what we provide, and since some of us are paying the costs of maintaining this medium, they should be allowed to decide what type of message is acceptable. Those who have other views will find places more to their liking. If we host them here, it should only be so that we can do a point-by-point refutation of their arguments. We're not NPOV, after all. Wazza (Not Wazzock, Wazza)Approach the Presence 08:33, 2 December 2008 (EST)

Freedom of speech and POV shouldn't be confused. POV is what slants what speech we say is right and wrong, not what you allow to be said. CP censors info, while RW can allow it to be said while thoroughly refuting it to prove that it's wrong, because that's exercising the POV that the site has; to prove that it's right, not just "because we say so" like elsewhere. Well, that's what it should be like, but if people want to buy in a controlling stake instead and restrict the allowences to what they say is allowed, so be it, they're well within their right. But that's surely changing the entire ethos of the site. ArmondikoVbomination 08:54, 2 December 2008 (EST)
What I meant was that things that are outside the POV shouldn't be presented as the views of the site, but rather as a view we want to refute, which is what the whole debate is about. I think. WazzaHello? Is there anybody in there? Just nod if you can hear me... 09:00, 2 December 2008 (EST)


I would propose that we do this:

1. Adopt a standard for user pages and user talk pages that looks something like this (although probably shorter):

User namespace - used for user pages, talk pages, and as a place for personal projects by RationalWiki users that are not yet complete or don't fit anywhere else. User pages and user subpages belong to that user and should not be edited by anyone else. A user's talk page is a public space others should use to communicate with that user and comment on their contributions. Nothing should be deleted from a user talk page by that user or anyone else; talk pages should be archived periodically and clearly accessible links to the archived pages should be provided.

2. Uphold the current policy on the essay namespace:

Essay namespace - used for original works by a particular editor. The article will be well marked as an original piece with the name of the submitting user and direct readers to the talk page for community reaction and discussion. The actual articles under Essay should only be edited by the original author.

3. Mark undesirable or potentially offensive essays with the appropriate templates, such as "drive-by" and "POV"

4. If someone feels like doing the legwork, make a new template for organizing a rebuttal of the offensive essay. As others have already argued, the rebuttal should be easy in most cases.

5. Only delete pages in cases where the author is clearly just posting a bunch of spam (when in doubt, I would err on the side of not deleting).

I welcome counter-proposals. OneForLogic 13:16, 2 December 2008 (EST)

The biggest problem I have with this is it opens the door for idiots to spam us with their repugnant essays. Once we formalize the idea that we won't delete them under the grounds of this misguided free speech (misguided in that some feel free speech means we have to host every idiotic idea on the planet) we're opening the door for all kinds of shit to come raining down. Also keep in mind that CP isn't the only wiki to have to deal with vandals and parody. SirChuckBThat is all 14:18, 2 December 2008 (EST) PS: Oneforlogic, I changed the template links to interwiki links because otherwise this page shows up in wierd categorys.
Good call on the template links; I didn't think at all about the effects they might have.
I'm not arguing that we should never delete anything. See item 5 in my original post. I'm entirely in favor of deleting obvious spam. OneForLogic 16:09, 2 December 2008 (EST)

Dredging up the past to raise a point[edit]

I do dare to raise an example regarding the essay that I consider to be irrational, my own views on illegal immigration. While my core beliefs remain unchanged (illegal immigration as crime, the person chooses to immigrate, et all) the language and terminology I used to describe such was highly inflammatory, leading to a... friendly talk with SusanG. I suppose the difference between me and Fall Down is that I put the essay to the side, and started working on other sections of the wiki, now and then getting into arguments about various small things.

The point that I want to raise is this: Some people with harsh views can be rational, I would consider myself to be a friendly enough person to accept ideas and apologise where need be, but some people are just so insanly crazy, that they want to cause chaos, and get a primitive thrill from harassing a website, even to the point where they believe they are "right" to harrass the website. Now, the core difference is that I did not go on a vandal spree trying to link to extreme anti-immigrant information (and there are some sites I steer away from!) into this wiki, which I knew would offend and irk the rest of the community. ĴάΛäšςǍ₰ yes, JAVASCAP

"Some people with harsh views can be rational"...I 100% agree, and I would like to add that the recent misogynist vandal certainly did not fall into that category. There's obviously a difference between having harsh views and saying them harshly, and - rhetoric aside - there's not really a rational reason to continually assert the same offensive thing over and over, especially if you are never going to offer any evidence whatsoever. I guess that's the difference between a rational radical and a vandal: one gives reasons, and the other defies reason. Thinker 00:39, 14 December 2008 (EST)