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Post 20

Wednesday, July 27, 2005 - 7:28pmSanction this postReply
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Phil Coates:

"If I were ever to start a list it would be a *heavily moderated* one."

Jimmy Wales tried that with Atlantis.  Within a few months, it had dwindled from hundreds of posts a month to an average of about six posts a month.  Almost everyone who had been worth reading walked out.

JR





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Post 21

Wednesday, July 27, 2005 - 7:59pmSanction this postReply
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Jeff,

That's because the rules of the game were changed in the middle. I agree with those who walked out of Atlantis because it was set up as an unmoderated forum.

Jim 




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Post 22

Wednesday, July 27, 2005 - 8:25pmSanction this postReply
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Joseph, if you're going to host "lost" content from defunct sites, the messages from WTL lists seems an obvious choice. There are several other mailing lists that have come and gone, for which someone might have archives to share. Jimmy Wales' old Moderated Discussion of Objectivist Philosophy, for example. For website content, the recently-pulled Daily Objectivist site comes to mind. They broke a bunch of links on my site when they disappeared.

--
Richard Lawrence
Webmaster, Objectivism Reference Center




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Post 23

Wednesday, July 27, 2005 - 9:10pmSanction this postReply
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" Atlantis [under moderation]...Almost everyone who had been worth reading walked out."

Hi Jeff...

Jeff R. has taken a lot of insults and personal ad hominem attacks on Solo for his anarchist and anti-war views.

This is a bit off-thread, but there is no other place to say this: I just want to say to the list that I know him personally...and while I don't agree with an entire truckload of his views (including the two just mentioned), he's a really good guy.

Don't judge people, their intellect, their character simply by whether or not you agree with their philosophy or their application (or mistaken application) of philosophy. You have to actually know the person and integrate a lot of factors.

Phil Coates



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Post 24

Thursday, July 28, 2005 - 5:21amSanction this postReply
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Robert Campbell wrote:
I helped Walter Foddis out at Psychology for a while...
Would either of you have interest in leading a SOLO Psychology forum?




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Post 25

Thursday, July 28, 2005 - 5:59amSanction this postReply
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Phil,

OWL was actually moderated.

But as far as I can tell the moderator rarely rejected posts for content reasons.

Robert Campbell




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Post 26

Thursday, July 28, 2005 - 9:02amSanction this postReply
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About OWL. OWL is owned by Kirez Korgan. And OWL was moderated by Neil Goodell, who on May 28, 2005 said that Jimmy Walesí decision to stop hosting OWL was not financial. Jimmy didnít make his reasons known. OWLers had a good month to raid the archives. After that, the archives went offline, but as I recall, Neil told us that someone was holding on to them for sake keeping. Looks like Pasotto mightíve done the same.

 

Jordan




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Post 27

Sunday, July 31, 2005 - 3:33pmSanction this postReply
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Here's a postmortem on wetheliving.com. I'm using initials, here, since I wish to provide useful information without populating the search engines with relevant names.

- I was one of the people who helped start the forum in 1998 or so. Together with DH (then DMB), I was one of the original moderators.

- KR (then KJK) was founder and owner of the forum, and is a long-time friend of mine.

- For many years, JW hosted the site for free, a service which he could offer easily since he was founder of a search engine company.

- KR lamented to me on many occasions, over the years, that he was not devoting more time to cultivating wetheliving's potential (by creating new features, recruiting new talent, and providing more worthwhile content). In short, he would readily admit that it was being poorly managed.

- In April of this year, I heard from DH, who was embarrassed to see what low quality the forum had sunk to. For example, it had reached the point where OWL was a more useful place to learn about determinism, anarchy, and animal rights than about reason, volition, and capitalism.

- She contacted JW and rather easily persuaded him to stop hosting the forum. Together, they pleaded with KR to let the forum die rather than trying to sustain it in its current form.

- I found myself agreeing, with some reluctance. Like many people, I probably could have arranged a way to save the forum, but I did not wish to do so because of the many negative attributes the forum had built up over the years.

Over the years, wetheliving helped many people learn and meet one another, and helped many other projects (such as my site, the Atlasphere) find their first core group of supporters.

But given the wide range of alternative (and often better-managed) Rand resources on the web today, I don't think the dissolution of wetheliving is all that tragic.

At the same time, I'm very glad that some people have backed up the archives. There's some good stuff in there, for anyone who has the time to wade through it.

So what can we learn from this post-mortem? I draw a couple big-picture conclusions:

1. Boy, do Objectivists love to argue. I think it takes vision and ingenuity to redirect this impulse into constructive endeavors. Otherwise they just bite one another's head off... All. Day. Long.

2. If your business model doesn't lend itself to making money somehow, you're pretty severely handicapped, because you'll always be limited in your resources.

According to The Daily Objectivist founder CJ, this is also why TDO died. The business model didn't work well enough to pay for all the work required to sustain the site. Ditto for the "Objectivism WWW Service" started by PV at the dawn of the internet. ...And probably for countless other Objectivist projects.

This was one of my innovations at the Atlasphere, from the beginning, and I encourage other Objectivists to explore its implications.

If you don't find a way to make money -- or at least regularly recruit and retain fresh talent -- then it's only a matter of time before your project will collapse, either out of lack of resources or lack of real-world relevance.

The dollar, you will recall, is a symbol of value. If people aren't giving you their dollars, chances are you aren't providing them with anything all that valuable.

I hope this information is helpful to some people who are in a position to do something with it.

I certainly plan to put it to use in the Atlasphere's new discussion forums, scheduled for launch this August.



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Post 28

Sunday, July 31, 2005 - 4:51pmSanction this postReply
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Joshua,

Good to see you here.

Of everything that has appeared on this thread, your post provides the most insight by far.

I do hope that when you launch your fora on the Atlassphere, you won't treat discussions of determinism, or anarchism, or even of animal rights as unworthy.  The discussions of these topics on OWL were often of low quality--but that is a different kind of problem.

For example, compliance with an Ayn Rand Institute standard of what is worth discussing, and how it should be discussed, would ensure that participants in the relevant forum learn about incompatibilist free will and not determinism.  But it would not enable them to understand why determinists believe that determinism is true--or even why determinism appeals to many whose thinking has been significantly influenced by Rand.

Robert Campbell




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Post 29

Sunday, July 31, 2005 - 9:44pmSanction this postReply
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Joshua, I agree with Robert that your post was very insightful and helpful, but I disagree with him on this:

"I do hope that when you launch your fora on the Atlassphere, you won't treat discussions of determinism, or anarchism, or even of animal rights as unworthy."

Endless, repetitive, and poorly informed discussions of determinism, anarchism, or animal rights are among the sorts of things which would make a forum something I would view as "spam". The fact that one should have tolerance for newbie or poorly-educated-about-Objectivism flailing, does not mean that one needs to host it (your choice of course) or to view it as particularly edifying.

Phil

Elaborating a bit more (I apologize for going off on a bit of a tangent here):

Wasting time on some of these issues which are easily refuted by those knowledgeable in Objectivism is a mistake TOC and the Advanced Seminar under David Kelley and Will Thomas have made repeatedly in the past. (I do not know whether they will be allowed to continue this pointless nonsense under Ed H.)

No one or almost no one emerges from these inconclusive and frequently highly rationalistic and floating semantic wrangles better informed (as witness years and years on OWL or the abysmally low level of discussion of the grad students and the failure to understand Objectivism at a number of TOC Advanced Seminars I've attended).

Most tragic of all, these discussions, at the expense of more "constructive" ones [building the philosophy rather than refuting nonsense] have actually caused once eager young grad students to abandon Objectivism, never having been fully trained in it before being exposed to sophistries and academic fallacies they are not yet mentally capable of untangling.

You don't learn Objectivism primarily or largely by shooting down nonsense propagated by too many modern philosophers. There is an endless fountain of nonsense and you will never get around to constructive or "system-building" work.

This is one area where ARI is right and Kelley-era TOC has been wrong, disastrously wrong: The ways in which the philosophical problems are formulated in the grad schools and the philosophical literature is quite frequently corrupt on a number of different levels - and the terminology is often too readily adopted by academic-leaning Objectivists.

If getting published requires that you accept corrupt philosophical formulations or 'stacked' problems, you don't really want to get published in those venues.

Nor will you likely be persuasive or change the history of philosophy.

Nor will you likely advance Objectivism or cause it to be taken more seriously by the most brilliant minds as opposed to the mediocrities.

Moreover, Socratic refutation is a tool, but it is not an entire toolkit. It has a specific context in which it is appropriate.

> "it would not enable them to understand why determinists believe that determinism is true--or even why determinism appeals to many whose thinking has been significantly influenced by Rand."

This has -some- quite limited value for some grad students, but it is not a primary value. And it only is integratable once one is rather fully knowledgeable about or trained in Objectivism.



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Post 30

Monday, August 1, 2005 - 11:55amSanction this postReply
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Here's the way I see it. If you find some topic unworthy, don't discuss it. If you want to discuss topics you find worthier, bring them up. But donít restrict others to your interest. I think it's stifling and a big waste of time to list a bunch of forbidden topics. The only time I find topic restriction acceptable is (1) within a thread or forum explicitly created for a specific topic, or (2) in a time when the discussion is between only a select few, who could just as easily carry on their discussion via email.

 

Anyway, in my view, the worst part of OWL is the worst part of most every forum Iíve seen: hostility. People have chips on their shoulders; they try to psychologize their opponents; they too quickly become adversarial rather than cooperative; they insult; they condescend; etc. Iíd so much prefer that people make like Howard Roark and just ignore others they dislike or disagree with. If I had a forum, I would heavily moderate etiquette.

 

I donít know how much etiquette affects a forumís existence, but I do know that a lack of etiquette can really make people unhappy. And people who are happy with a forum usually donít leave or try to start up their own.

 

Jordan




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Post 31

Monday, August 1, 2005 - 12:25pmSanction this postReply
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"If you find some topic unworthy, don't discuss it. If you want to discuss topics you find worthier, bring them up. But donít restrict others to your interest. I think it's stifling and a big waste of time to list a bunch of forbidden topics." [Jordan]

Why shouldn't someone have the right to start a forum which does just that? It's a free country. You can always say "We feel there has been plenty of discussion on x,y,z or of elementary topics. Go to site x if you want more. We prefer to be the one site that has these rules and which is devoted to these topics (or kinds of topics) which we feel have been under-discussed."

Another way to handle the problem of drowning in low-level or repetitious crap could be to limit the number of posts (or words--to encourage better editing) per week.

Another way is to moderate..and reject a very high percentage of posts (or send them back for rewriting). Or publishing articles like SOLO does and then only selecting the five or ten best posts each day on the article.
There are seldom more than that. Reject the too blatant thread-hijacks, etc.

Another kind of discussion site is a deliberately elitist one one where article writing or posting is by invitation only: the best minds in Objectivism (at least in the opinion of the website owner.)

You should have the right to start up whichever of these you think would work best, without having to listen to a lot of crap about freedom of speech or completely "open" standardless forums on your property.

Phil



Post 32

Monday, August 1, 2005 - 12:30pmSanction this postReply
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To elaborate on my last post: I think it is healthy for there to exist both kinds of forums, just like their are many channels on television - i) completely open ones re topic (but with civility moderated for) & ii) "advanced" or elitist ones in which thre is very strong chaff or quality filtering and a very percentage of posts or posters are not posted.


(Edited by Philip Coates
on 8/01, 12:37pm)




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Post 33

Monday, August 1, 2005 - 12:50pmSanction this postReply
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Hi Phil,

 

I agree with what you wrote. Like I said, if hosts want to limit topics, Iím fine with them making a forum or thread explicitly stating as much, an advanced or elitist thread, as you would put it. I think SOLO does that by making all the different rooms (e.g., econ, law, science, education, etc.), and like you said, by publishing select articles. 

 

Of course, if hosts would rather pretend to have an open forum, then harp on folks who delve into topics they find unworthy, well, thatís their prerogative too.

 

 

Jordan




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Post 34

Monday, August 1, 2005 - 8:21pmSanction this postReply
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Phil,

I think the main points in your post #29 would be a good starter for a different thread, on advanced education and training in Objectivism.

You and I both agree that the TOC model has not been very successful, though I suspect we will disagree about some of the ways in which it has fallen down.

But the kind of intellectual grounding that ARI provides in Objectivism comes at a steep price, and ARI's actual accomplishments in the intellectual realm need to be examined very closely.

I think we also need to look more dispassionately at academia and what can be reasonably expected from it.  (You and I debated that issue on OWL, 3 years ago, on one of those inconclusive threads.)

Although I didn't think so then, I'm now convinced that the Peikovian doctrine that Objectivism is a "closed system" will help to inform this discussion.  If Objectivism is the system of ideas developed by Ayn Rand over her lifetime, full stop, then that system has no growth potential per se.  If philosophy does not depend on any of the sciences, as Rand claimed in her late period, then any philosophical work that depends in any way on advances in science will be non-Objectivist.

So further advances in philosophy will have to be non-Objectivist, though they may of course be informed by basic ideas or themes in Rand's philosophy.

There may be a few implications for Objectivist education in all of that...

Robert Campbell

(Edited by Robert Campbell on 8/02, 4:32am)




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Post 35

Monday, August 1, 2005 - 9:11pmSanction this postReply
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Hi Robert,

I agree; it should be a different thread.

(I'm a bit burned out on Solo right now as a vehicle for serious ideas - as I indicated today in #75 of the "Drooling Beast" thread, so I may or may not invest the time.)

Phil



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Post 36

Monday, August 1, 2005 - 9:57pmSanction this postReply
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Robert Campbell wrote:
If Objectivism is the system of ideas developed by Ayn Rand over her lifetime, full stop, then that system has no growth potential per se.  If philosophy does not depend on any of the sciences, as Rand claimed in her late period, then any philosophical [work that] depends in any way on advances in science will be non-Objectivist. So further advances in philosophy will have to be non-Objectivist, though they may of course be informed by basic ideas or themes in Rand's philosophy.
That's right. Whatever is developed by Peikoff beyond his Rand-approved writings, and whatever is developed by Binswanger et al, is not Objectivism, on the ARI's "closed system" model. Interesting, isn't it. A whole school of thought that is forbidden by their own standard or criterion to attach the label of that school to their work! Isn't there a bit of a disconnect there? I mean, if you agree 100% with Rand's philosophy and are a philosopher, you are an Objectivist, but your own philosophizing, even if consistent with Objectivism, is not part of Objectivism. It's not Objectivist philosophy -- just philosophy by an Objectivist. Huh?

The sciences (as Rand apparently understood them in the 60s and 70s) certainly did inform Rand's philosophical writings, including epistemology (the Jamesian view of infant cognition supposedly not including perception) and the politics of abortion (there supposedly being no essential difference between third-trimester fetuses and earlier ones). However, and this is another irony, any corrections to Objectivism that flow logically from new developments in the sciences are not part of Objectivism either!

ARI seems to have fostered a bit of an identity crisis, if nothing else. I'm not sure what Leonard Peikoff's opinion is on this, but I guess we could axiom. :-)

Best to all,
REB





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Post 37

Monday, August 1, 2005 - 10:44pmSanction this postReply
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Robert, Roger,

We are all RANDIANS now.



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Post 38

Monday, August 1, 2005 - 10:46pmSanction this postReply
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Philip,

So you are "a bit burned out on Solo right now as a vehicle for serious ideas." Where else is there?

(Edited by Adam Reed
on 8/01, 10:47pm)




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Post 39

Tuesday, August 2, 2005 - 7:57amSanction this postReply
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"So you are "a bit burned out on Solo right now as a vehicle for serious ideas." Where else is there?" [Adam]

They are everywhere.

Serious ideas don't have to be Objectivist or on Objectivist sites. They can be found reading history, preparing a course on western civ, doing one's own writing on logic, creating something of value which is not in the realm of philosophy but another subject.



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