# Physicsforums censorship?

## Do we moderate fairly?

16 vote(s)
80.0%

4 vote(s)
20.0%
1. Feb 4, 2004

### chroot

Staff Emeritus
Do any of our posters feel that physicsforum's moderators routinely commit censorship?

We have to walk a fine line sometimes, keeping discussions on topic, while permitting as much free speech as possible. Sometimes, clearly, we need to step in and clean things up -- but do we ever go too far?

I'd like to hear about instances where you feel any of pf's moderators have censored posters unfairly. We'll use your feedback only to learn to become better moderators.

(If you feel that we already do a good job of separating the appropriate from the inappropriate, we'd like to know that, also.)

- Warren

2. Feb 4, 2004

### NateTG

What removed posts? I can't find any. It's really hard to tell because most of the changes that I've run into have been relatively subtle.

3. Feb 4, 2004

### Tom Mattson

Staff Emeritus
That's because they've been removed!

Muhahahaha!

4. Feb 4, 2004

### chroot

Staff Emeritus
I hoped he was making a joke.

- Warren

5. Feb 5, 2004

### Bystander

You omitted "Allow too much 'mushroom farming.' " There are the odd posts that really do need to be moved to TD, Debunk, GD/P&WA.

6. Feb 6, 2004

### wolram

i always find PF open and just, i admit that i have
put my foot in it, and expected to have a B***ing,
but never have, i would give all mentors 5 stars.

7. Feb 7, 2004

### himanshu121

Agreed with Wolram So far Excellent

8. Feb 7, 2004

### Staff: Mentor

Ditto to Wolram's post also.

You guys do an incredible job!

9. Feb 23, 2004

### wbeaty

OH yeah.

I'm very suprised that you would ask this question. I've been under the impression that this whole place is corrupt and totally beyond help. I removed all links, and I've been warning my own users away from this site.

Why?

Within a couple of days of finding physicsforums in January, I started conversing about the nature of electrical current. I was immediately flamed by some guy who I (eventually) figured out was a moderator, "Integral." When I complained to him about his bad behavior, he made no apology, nor did he call in higher moderation. Instead he made an excuse, then declared my complaint "off topic" and deleted the message.

This was in "classical physics" under "electric flow."

So, I tried to find the site owners to ask for higher moderation, but apparently there are none. I only found a couple of email addresses via WHOIS for physicsforums.com, but those people do not respond. (Also, the "support" address for this site says mailbox full, message bounced.)

I inspected some of the other threads, and saw a few instances of another moderator "Cheroot" ridiculing users. Hmmmm. VERY bad sign.

Then I tried to find the forum rules. Apparently there are none. GAAHH!

That settled it for me. I gave up and never returned.

I've been moderating several list servers for the last ten years, and in my (repeated) experience, a service with no standards of behavior and no higher authorities to ride herd on moderators is guaranteed to descend to the lowest levels.

I just happened to return here today because I received an automated message. I thought I'd have another go at looking for links to higher moderators or to a "forum rules" page.

Maybe I'm wrong about this site. Maybe it was a string of unfortunate coincidences which led me to declare this site "moderated by flamers, steer clear." Lets find out. Can you do any of the following?

1. Please undelete the message that "Integral" removed.

2. Please tell me where the forum rules are listed.

3. Please tell me where the "Complaint about a moderator" response form may be, or direct me to whatever mechanism has been set up for reporting when certain moderators prove to be "flamer" types. An email address for a site owner would be best.

William J. Beaty
Research Engineer
University of Washington
http://amasci.com

10. Feb 23, 2004

### Mr. Robin Parsons

Mr. Beaty did you attempt to PM the mentor?

Getting one 'open' complaint, removed, is not the most serious of reasons to be leaving somewhere, unless you happen to be in Nirvana where everything IS supposed to be perfect, here, people try talking, via post and sometimes PM's...

Finding the guidelines to the forums is real easy, would you like me to do it for you? a link?

<<EDIT sorry, see there is no need of that one, now, thanks!>>

11. Feb 23, 2004

### wbeaty

"PM?" Ah.

No, when moderators behave like that, the list owner is the one to handle the situation.

Sure it is, if the censorship incident happens within two days after using a forum for the very first time. That's a big clue that I can expect similar things to happen many times per month, should I choose to stay. First impressions are important because they are so often accurate.

Or perhaps it was just a bizarre coincidence, one which gave me a very bad first impression regarding the way things are done here? I seriously doubt it. I've never had such problems elsewhere. I'm a list moderator, also a heavy user on numerous sci/tech forums over the last ten years. I don't flame, I don't start fights. I find it totally weird to have a fellow moderator coming after me *not* with nice clear complaints about specific statements of mine which break specific rules, but with odd accusations about my overall "tone." Huh? And then mild insults, then when I object to this, excuses rather than apologies, and finally outright censorship.

All within two days of joining this forum!

Just amazing.

What does that say to you? That strongly suggests to me that something needs fixing.

In addition, I could see no obvious way to complain about moderator abuse. The identity of the forum owner is not advertized, and "support@physicsforums.com" does not work. I found ghb@umw.edu, but no response either. The "report this post" feature goes right to the offending moderator, no? Not only can they delete my posted complaints, but they can "lose" any messages. [No. Bad assumption on my part. I've heard that copies of Report-This-Post actually go to the list owner. My opinion of physicsforums just rose considerably.]

Perhaps I'm used to "The Straight Dope," where over several years I've never encountered a moderator who issues insults, ever. Nor have I ever seen any messages deleted or even edited, much less seeing threads about censorship problems. The site owners there apparently demand very high standards of behavior from their moderators and don't tolerate the slightest funny business. They represent a city newspaper, and cannot afford to present a lousy first impression to new users. Very professional.

Not the same here! Really too bad. It doesn't have to be like this. But obviously the regular users have no objections, and only a new user would ever complain.

William J. Beaty
Research Engineer
University of Washington
http://staff.washington.edu/wbeaty/
http://amasci.com

12. Feb 23, 2004

### chroot

Staff Emeritus
wbeaty,

I suggest you hang around a bit more. You can't make a fair judgement of our moderatorship when you were only here for two days, and admit to using very strong language yourself.

I suggest you let the incident that happened between you and Integral (what, a month or two ago) go.

Put your coat down, stay a while, and see if you like what you see.

- Warren

13. Feb 24, 2004

### wbeaty

I only used strong language in complaining about the misbehavior of a moderator (in that one message that was deleted.) I stand behind it. I used no strong language elsewhere despite what Integral repeatedly tried to imply in that thread. Take a look yourself.

I will happily repair my horrible rule-violating misbehavior as soon as someone somewhere can TELL ME WHAT IT IS.

Ummm... Nothing has changed that would improve things; the situation is ongoing, but now it's between you and me.

Today I answered Integral's Jan 8th message on "Electric flow". I also sent private mail to GHB about my take on this situation. Then I attempted to answer this physics message below, from a person who posted today. (His auto-notify message to me is what brought me back here in the first place.)

Then I found that the "electric flow" thread has been closed by you moments ago.

Why?

A user was asking me a question, and perhaps other users were watching that thread. Now I cannot answer him. Perhaps you didn't notice: the thread was *not* inactive. There were other posts today as well.

Comments on them have been stopped.

Chroot said:

Very convenient reasoning in my opinion. The usual test for attempts at intellectual suppression is to look for double standards. If it was a user rather than a moderator who was causing problems, would you use such an argument as above? Also, there is certainly a need to continue that thread: several users were posting messages on Feb. 23 about "electric flow."

Anyway, I would like to answer the following user's question on a thread devoted to exploring the direction of electric current (see below)

As a new user here, I'm asking, please tell me how to do this.

I also stand behind my objections to Integral's behavior, and hope that there is someone here who holds moderators to high standards and will take a close look at that situation rather than trying to sweep it under the carpet and pretend it didn't happen.

I'm starting to get the impression that the present "censorship" thread has a purpose; that perhaps moderators here are allowed to control user behavior without much oversight, but if moderators misbehave, then users who complain are stopped. It happened to me once back then, after only two days on the forum. Now here it is again, right this moment. After just a few hours this time. Looks like it's getting worse. (Honestly, I've never encountered these problems before, not anywhere. They're not coming from me, they obviously were here when I arrived. I'm just complaining!)

So. I take your closing of that thread as an obvious attempt to silence my public objections to moderator misbehavior. In other words, more censorship. Am I wrong? If so, then please tell me what else can it be? It wasn't an old inactive thread that you were closing.

If you're trying to get on my good side, you're doing a VERY VERY bad job.

I could start another thread with the same title (classical physics, Electric Flow) and try to answer the question from the user below, but that wouldn't send out the auto-notify to the guy asking the question below. And there were other messages posted today.

This is screwed up. And SO UNNECESSARY. Just behave with impeccable professionalism, stop screwing around, and the problems will rapidly be fixed in the usual way.

14. Feb 24, 2004

There certainly is unreasonable censorship.

This thread https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=12080 was closed with the reason "We no longer carry relgious threads." However, discussing religion clearly comes under the umbrella of Philosophy. And clearly there have been discussion involving religion since then, which have not been locked. That's Kerrie's area.

Now in Zero's area, for a time I could barely post a word without having the entire post deleted of the thread locked. When I posted the Mencken quote "Freedom of the press is limited to those who own one.", the result was as expected: "Yep and we own the press, so our rules." Now while I agree that a site's owner makes the rules, I do not believe it is reasonable to censor with discrimination. One rule for all, should be the modus operandi.

As people have pointed out in this thread https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=13846 sciforums is crap. One of the reasons for this is a complete lack of intelligent moderation. A different rule for each poster. Moderators, those expected to enforce the site owner's rules and set an example, are instead the worst violators of the rules. The way to avoid this is for moderators to behave rationally and adhere steadfastly to one set of rules.

15. Feb 24, 2004

### Mr. Robin Parsons

Thanks the for the responce Mr. wbeaty, I too have been deleted and had threads closed, (before I could respond completely) what it makes it is a responcible place, with moderators who are sometimes overly cautious, sometimes not, judgement would be seen as perfect only if they argee with the one 'sitting in the judges chair'.

There are many younger persons in these forum, some very young and very knowledgable on the matters of the subjects entertained in this forum....leading them astray, or exposing them to what is a pespective that creates confusion in them, while they are here looking for homework help....well you can figure some of that out, right? you are in the education system...

Please, read a little of that thread, you seem knowledgeable so would be a good contributor, but only if you are willing to give the chance you would want, so, do whatever you want to do, be Free! (by practise)

Thanks

16. Feb 24, 2004

### Phobos

Staff Emeritus
wbeaty - Some of your questions posted here (re: rules, ownership, protocols, etc.) have been answered in your other topics...

Stick around. I too have used many forums on the internet and I have found this to be one of the best. Sorry you're getting a bad first impression.

That's certainly another quality forum (when the server is not jammed ). I have over 2000 posts there accumulated over several years. But I have seen SDMB moderators get tough there too (tough, but fair). Check out their "BBQ pit" forum (members swearing at moderators and each other). I don't recall much thread editing at SDMB, but I do recall lots of thread locking & deleting & member banning.

Personally, I consider PF to be on par with SDMB, quality-wise.

Last edited: Feb 24, 2004
17. Feb 24, 2004

### Phobos

Staff Emeritus
PF used to have a Religion subforum under Philosophy. It was a constant source of angry arguments. Greg stopped carrying that forum because he wants PF to be a science forum. We still have Philosophy (perhaps we should drop that forum too) and it can be a tough line to walk figuring out what crosses over into religion. Kerrie's short response was probably because she's been through that debate 100 times now. But ask her about it.

18. Feb 24, 2004

### Monique

Staff Emeritus
Hi wbeaty, I'm sorry that feel violated so shortly after joining PF. I can assure you though, that we have an organized network of mentors and all have special interest, if not expertise on the forums we are watching over.

It is true we watch the content of posts and are alerted when wrong information is given or when someone has an attitude problem. That is what we are mentors for. Apparently not all decisions are appreciated, we have a messaging system and Physics Forums feedback forum to be made aware of this.

I don't know the specifics of your issue, but as suggested by other mentors: please move past this issue and see how things go from there :)

Last edited by a moderator: Apr 20, 2017
19. Feb 24, 2004

### Monique

Staff Emeritus
Last edited by a moderator: Apr 20, 2017
20. Feb 24, 2004

### Kerrie

Staff Emeritus
Moderating a religion forum was mentally exhausting and frustrating because of the heated arguements. When Greg announced he would shut it down, I was relieved. Moderators are not paid to do what they do, it's strictly a volunteered thing. Recently I resigned my mentor status at another philosophy website where I was governing the religion forums as well. It just gets too much.

21. Feb 24, 2004

### FZ+

Mr Beaty...

Regarding what it is you are doing wrong... To be blunt, what you are currently doing is what you are doing wrong.

Perhaps Integral was too harsh on you. I was not there, so I am not able to judge. But a rather critical action is to let things go. For what appears to be 1 edited post, you have posted several replies in complaint. I think the message has already been made rather clearly.

That are way to find trouble in PF, certainly. The easiest way is to issue a personal vendetta... it may do good to look up certain ex-members - logicalatheist, lifegazer... Their behaviour was far worse than yours, I can guess, and yet they were tolerated for an astonishingly long time, until they decided to directly attack the forum mentors.

Mentors are humans, sometimes they make mistakes. You simply need to learn their weaknesses, and manipulate them ad infinitum. (Er... hmm...) As a matter of realism, very few people apologise online, but it is more often to forgive, and hopefully forget.

Integral has been very fair in my experience. Zero is probably the most gun-ho and radical, but he does a difficult forum, and the recent promotion of Russ does set up a friendly state of Mutually Assured Destruction. Chroot has a bit of an anger management issue, but is generally ok unless you try to pick a fight. Ivan is very open minded (some would argue, too open minded), Monique is very nice, Hallsofivy is very helpful, and Tom is just tom. And I forget the rest.

Lifegazer, Logicalatheist, Gino, Futurist et al's actions are what probably led to the end of the religion forum. Discussions of God, IIRC, are still allowed, unless they attack/preach specific religions and are deemed a flame war on the rise.

22. Feb 24, 2004

### chroot

Staff Emeritus
WHY YOU LITTLE %$#@$!\$@!!!!! HOW DARE YOU SPEAK TO ME THAT WAY!!!! I'M GOING TO BAN YOU IMMEDIATELY!!!!

- Warren

23. Feb 24, 2004

### Mr. Robin Parsons

...and "To err is human, to forgive divine" Intelligently, Which would you rather be? (personally, I prefer the "Acting Divine" one, sometimes, it is so much nicer...)

24. Feb 25, 2004

### Staff: Mentor

I tend to agree - you can help by reporting posts to the moderator of the particular forum. We can't be everywhere at once and you can help us to be more effective at our jobs.
As long as no one takes me too seriously (but also understands that I'm always right), we'll be just fine.

Last edited: Feb 25, 2004
25. Feb 27, 2004

### Integral

Staff Emeritus
Just poked in here and found this thread.

Wbeaty, actually you are speaking of an area of which I do have a significant amount of knowledge and experience. I found your entire approach unnecessarily argumentative, self contradictory and only partially correct. You make absolute statements as if you are speaking with complete authority, when in reality you are simply expressing your strongly held opinions. My personal experience tells that in much of what you say you are simply incorrect. It is entirely possible to teach all current flow concepts based on sound physical properties without resorting to artificial concepts (ie positive current flow). I will stand by my actions and words in that thread.

If you wish to express opinion please make what you are doing clear. Do not push your opinions as if they were the last word in physical principle. Even you could learn more.

The post I edited did not contain a single word on the topic of the thread, only insults directed at me. I customarily edit or delete such posts irregardless of who they are pointed at.

Last edited: Feb 27, 2004