A thread that shows exactly why discussion should be allowed in polls.

I opened this thread about gorgons a few days again. I thought it was a fairly straightforward question which the poll options covered adequately; frankly I had little interest in anything but the poll results. But because there were several options I didn’t take into account–including one I didn’t even realize existed – I’ve learned about things I didn’t even realize I could have asked about.

In sum: you may now count me among those who things discussion should be allowed in polls.

Who was barred from discussing in that thread?

No one. I was alluding to the mild controversy earlier this month on discussing things in poll threads.

I don’t recall that there was any general dictat issued barring discussion in all poll threads.

The controversy was over whether or not the Board should have avatars. The anger and tempers flared over to other threads and went way beyond the original issue. AFAIK there is no movement afoot towards a general prohibition on discussion within poll threads.

What would the point of threads even be if we weren’t allowed to actually discuss the polls?

Real discussion is one thing, but when 85% of the “discussion” is people simply saying how they voted and nothing more (which seems to be more often than not)? The whole purpose of the poll apparatus itself is to quantify that kind of fluff so we don’t have to wade through what effectively is a bunch of “me toos.”

To the people who do that: Sorry, nobody’s keeping track of your personal poll answers.

False. There was a very specific wave of threads last week that were about allowing the OP of an IMHO poll to dictate terms of participation (in particular, being able to dictate zero participation/discussion beyond completing the poll). Skald is saying that is absurd - because in his example, if he had prohibited discussion in his thread, he wouldn’t have seen all the possibilities that he failed to include, etc.

No one is keeping track of what you say in this thread, either. That doesn’t stop you from posting, now does it?

No, the purpose of a poll is to make it easy for you to be able to see all our answers in one place. When polls were set up, we were specifically worried about people doing exactly what you recommend (and what the OP wanted in the avatar thread fiasco). The whole point is that the polls are there to supplement discussion, not to replace it. The only reason we voted to allow polls was that we determined that discussion would not stop.

The purpose of polls has never been so that you don’t have to read, or so people can’t express their own opinions, even when that opinion lines up with the poll exactly. If all you want is the raw data, you have it. But for those of us who want to actually read who thinks what and why they think it, we can read the thread.

Let me try to sum all this up in one posting.

First, a correction. I did not say I would like to see polls without comment – I said there might be times when that would be appropriate but the current software didn’t support it. I was not implying a hack of the system but rather looking towards further developments in potential future upgrades of vBulletin – we are running an older version. I am not aware of any updates planned at the present time.

Might this situation happen again? I don’t know. I didn’t know we’d even be in this place to begin with. I don’t expect it to be a regular thing but the circumstances might occur that it would happen again. I hope that if that is the case that we resolve it better.

Do we always moderate in view of the wishes of the original poster in a thread? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. As in all situations, it depends. The OP can always request a limitation of discussion, for a poll or for any other post. Depending on circumstances, on the specifics of the situation, the OP’s wishes might be enforced by the mods and might not.

Similarly, the question of whether some tangential discussion is a “hijack” that needs to reined in, or simply a few side comments that are fine, that question has no global answer. It depends on circumstances.

Illustrative examples (that were decided long ago as policy):

  • In threads about celebrity deaths, the OP’s request all comments be nice or respectful will NOT be enforced by the mods. Negative comments about celebrities are permitted.
  • In threads about the death of a near relative or friend, the OP’s request that all comments be nice and respectful, WILL be enforced by the mods.

How do you know? The mod will say something before issuing warnings. The mods will first say, “Please, get back to topic” or “Please respect the OP’s request that etc etc” The Official Warnings (if any are necessary) will almost always be for failure to follow a moderator instructions.

This is the general procedure for hijacks vs tangential asides, as well. One can find circumstances where the hijack was so egregious as to deserve Official Warning immediately, but normal procedure is to alert people via a mod note or instruction first.

Is there now an established rule about debating in IMHO?

No. But again, as circumstances dictate, threads that look more like Great Debates territory will be moved there OR the thread will be closed and the combatants asked to take it to Great Debates or even The Pit, as appropriate.

Does that cover all the bases?

What makes a thread “look more like Great Debates”? Is it the subject, or the tone of the discussion?

The forum descriptions suggest the former, but recent moderation the latter, as best I can tell.

Every situation is different and when the thread is being evaluated it’s looked at for what it’s showing and where it appears to be going.

Sometimes a mod note properly placed can right the course … but sometimes there’s nothing left to do but close it or move it as appropriate.

There’s also at times the constraints of time and scheduling: Do the mods have time to watch over a thread to see that it doesn’t go off the tracks? Sometimes they do and they let things run … but that’s not always the case and in those situations the decision comes to expediency; what’s going to be best all around with the resources available.

Do we make this come out right first time all the time? No. Sometimes we miss things. Sometimes we misread situations. Sometimes things get out of hand. Sometimes regardless of what we do it just all goes pear-shaped anyway.

We’ll take 'em as they come.

Of course. I think the comments are extremely important, especially when the poll is missing something, or is methodologically flawed. No poll should be read on face-value alone, and if the commentary/interpretation enlightens then it’s what really is interesting. My observation is only that an awful lot of the commentary in poll threads seems to be people simply saying how they voted, and nothing more. Sometimes I wonder: Do they even know that they can actually click on their choice, or is it that they just want the whole internet to know which shoe they put on first, (or whatever)?

If there’s no rule prohibiting discussion in poll threads, then what is Czarcasm doing issuing warnings, mod notes and cryptic “is it a mod note or is he stating his preference as a poster” notes* left and right in random threads for people who dare to discuss the topic at hand? His moderation is bumbling incompetent and he keeps enforcing this non-rule. This is the third? forth? time in the last three weeks he’s done it.

I can’t find
A) A single instance of this occurring during the brief, pleasant time that he wasn’t a mod and/or
B) A single instance of this idiocy of trying to stop discussion…on a freakin’ discussion board enforced by any other mod…ever.

You all keep talking about how all mods need to be on the same page, it’s not a ‘hive-mind’, it’s reaching consensus on issues and agreeing on how to handle things…fair enough. So why is Czarcasm allowed to keep enforcing his own idiot non-rule, completely out of step with every other mod?

*And if it’s his preference as a poster, then “Shut the hell up Czarcasm”. It’s junior modding to come wading into a thread and say “I don’t like discussion–start a new thread”.

I’ve asked this in a couple different threads now, and it hasn’t been addressed. So, I’ll ask one more time since you seem to be participating here, Tuba. Why don’t you just turn on polls in Great Debates?

Because the staff – and most importantly, the Great Debates moderators, who are most directly affected – believe polls are not appropriate in that forum area.

OK, but that’s not an answer. WHY do they believe that they are inappropriate? If there is too much debate breaking out in IMHO polls, then maybe it makes sense to allow polls in GD. The issue to me seems to not be the polls per se, it’s the subjects of them. If there’s a poll about some weighty subject that is likely to spark heated debate that is not appropriate for IMHO, then how can it be INappropriate for that poll to be in GD?

I think Sarahfeena wants to know why the GD moderators believe polls are inappropriate for that subforum.

I tend to agree, in fact, but I have difficulty articulating why (and, anyway, I’m not a mod, so who cares what I think).

So–wait a sec…‘splain somthin’ to me.

Czarcasm unilaterally makes up the rule that since polls become contentious, there’s no discussion in (some) poll threads.

GD, where contentious discussion goes doesn’t want polls because they…what? generate contentious discussion?

It makes sense to me because taking a show of hands isn’t a way to resolve a factual debate. The minority position might be right based on factual evidence while the popular opinion is wrong and based on bias or mere opinion.

What good would it do in a forum like GD to demonstrate that more people would vote one way or another on an issue? Popular opinion often turns out to be incorrect in the light of a good debate of the facts. So forums like GD and GQ can’t benefit from polls. Unless the debate or factual question at hand is: “How would the Dopers vote on this?” it would be superfluous to have polls there. (IMHO).