Can someone please explain the rules for Great Debates?

I rarely venture into Great Debates because I am easily intimidated by people who think they can prove me wrong just by out-talking me. I am not a great debater and, at least to me, making a slip of the tongue does not invalidate a valid argument. Debaters seem to think it does, however, so I tend to avoid them. I do skim the forum occasionally, as I do find it interesting, at times.

In this thread,, UltraVires poses some questions about how Georgia law on Citizens Arrest applies to the Aubrey case. Now, he does not state that he believes the perpetrators should be considered innocent, or does he try to excuse their actions, he merely poses some questions on how Georgia law, as written, would apply. To me, the way the OP was written, it should have been in General Questions, as there really is no debate in what is being asked, but there (should be) a unbiased, truthful answer to the OP.

The first response, was this threadshit:

Now, in General Questions, particularly as the first post, it should have been modded as a threadshit. Perhaps, also, as an accusation of trolling. Are either of these considered a violation of the rules in Great Debates? It certainly does not seem to be a legitimate debating technique.

Now, before Czarcasm shows up and asks if I reported it as a violation, I want to point out that he responded to the thread before I ever saw it. IIRC, Czarcasm is an ex-moderator, meaning he knows the rules of the different fora better than I. I would assume he would have reported as a violation (hence this post) if he was concerned about whether this board adheres to its rules. If he reported it, it obviously was ignored. If he didn’t report it, he is obviously not concerned with the board rules or fairness in the Great Debates forum. I tend to believe that other “occasional posters” of this board would make the same assumption. That is, if long-time posters do not follow the procedures for keeping the board “fair” for all, then by not taking action on these long-time posters, the board administration does not care about being “fair”, at least to some of the posters on this board.

Now, as I have mentioned, UtraVires does not express any views that he feels the perpetrators of this horrible crime should be, in any way, excused for their actions, only if the way the Georgia law is written would give them a legitimate defense. As one would expect, many posters, perhaps called to action by Stranger’s dog whistle, closed in to attack the poster. Admittedly, most responses were an explanation, or debate, on UltraVires understanding of the statue in question, but others were decidedly antagonistic towards the OP for the audacity of even asking the question. For example:

I assume there was supposed to be a comma between “fought” and “it”. The OP was asking (paraphrased) IF it was legal for the killers to arrest Aubrey, was killing him a crime, under Georgia law? Again, a GQ question and not much of a debate. But the thread pretty much deflects the question by pointing out that, in this case, there was no legal right for the killers to arrest Aubrey. Absent that, it is clearly assault with a deadly weapon and the self-defense argument is without merit (at least, is seems so to me).

What prompted this post, though, was when I followed Whack-a-Mole’s link, I found this:

Which would suggest that both Stranger’s post and the referenced Whack-a-Mole’s post should both be at least a Note, if not a Warning, from moderation for violating GD rules. If they don’t violate any existing GD rules, they certainly should be rules in this forum to prevent such dishonest tactics.

This rule from the stickied GD rules would seem to apply:

How does that apply when the respondents are attacking what they believe the poster is saying, rather than what the poster is actually saying? Stranger’s response is clearly a threadshit. For most of the other hateful responses, the responses were not to what was given in the post, but what the responders believed the poster was trying to imply? It seems to me that to attack a poster because the responder is putting words into the OP that are not there is a violation of this rule. But, like I said, I don’t know if this is allowed or not.

But isnt that attacking the poster rather than addressing the post? Or maybe I am misunderstanding how the rule works.

I agree. I guess I thought you were trying to imply that threashitting was perfectly OK in GD if it was shitting on the post and somehow did not shit on the poster. While I do not think there is much to be gained by trying to show these murderers were acting in a perfectly legal manner, trying to gain a better understanding of the way the law is written is worth perusing as a worthwhile discussion. Having it derailed by opinionated posters who care nothing about the methods, only about the the results weakens this board, IMHO, the reason for this post.

I am not a moderator, so this is my understanding.

The rules for threadshitting are looser in every other forum than General Questions. GQ is really meant to be for facts, and even jokes aren’t allowed until the question has been addressed.

That particular thread’s questions were already raised in the other thread on that exact topic. The person asking the questions is actually a lawyer and should, in fact, be able to read the statutes himself and provide us with the answers, so it was curious that he interpreted the laws so wrong.

That said, I agree that Stranger’s post was unnecessary threadshitting and was mod notable or even warnable for essentially accusing the OP of that thread of posting insincerely. I’m pretty sure that accusations of JAQing are not allowed in GD (possibly not outside the Pit) because it’s really an accusation of trolling.

Czarcasm’s role as a former moderator is irrelevant to his current posting style and whether he does or does not report posts, IMO.

I am also disappointed to see such posts tolerated in Great Debates. I’m not one of the most active SDMB users, but probably I would engage in GD discussions a little more if I didn’t have to come across such minor debating practices.

Side note: I haven’t been a moderator for years, and I have no more(or less) insight as to rules of this board than anyone else.

It may be just an impression of mine, but your posts tend to include advice or clarifications as to how other users should act or react on SDMB.

You are absolutely correct.
That is just an impression of yours.
And since this thread isn’t about me, that’s my last word here on that subject.

Yes, Czarcasm was a moderator. Truth.

But - all love - that was several iterations of the rules of Great Debates and Politics and Elections ago AND he didn’t moderate those fora.

The best way to find out if something should be moderated is to report it and ask int he body of the report.

For myself - not speaking for Tom - I’d prefer not to be seeing people accusation other posters of posting in bad faith. And that’s what an accusation of JAQing off is: accusing another poster of acting in bad faith.

However, I didn’t receive a single Report about the thread or post in question. We try to cover all bases here at the SDMB. Fine. But we’re very low on moderators at the moment and the odds that something will be seen just in the normal run of business is lower than I believe it’s ever been.

In short: you think a post violates the rules? Report it. We don’t mind when you do.

I’m not commenting on the moderation, but I do see a common misunderstanding in the OP.

One does not have to explicitly say that you support someone or are defending them. It can be implied. One such situation is when you make a thread arguing that what they did might be legal. If you don’t say otherwise, then you are presumed to be arguing that they didn’t do anything wrong.

The OP of that thread specifically said that, before joining in getting mad at their actions, they wanted to check if their actions were legal. That is pretty much directly saying that, if their actions are legal, they would not see them as a problem.

Finally, throughout the thread said OP is clearly taking one side, so I do personally object to their feigned neutrality. Maybe don’t call it “JAQing off,” but I think it is valid to point out that they clearly are taking a side and thus can no longer claim neutrality.

How is the word itself not a personal insult, per se?

Just in case anyone doesn’t understand, “you’re JAQing off” sounds a lot like “you’re jacking off”, meaning “you are masturbating”, “you are a wanker.” Did anyone not get that?

There have been occasions where I have been tempted to call someone a ‘master debater.’ I have refrained from it because I thought I would get a Warning for it. But if you permit JAQing off, perhaps you would allow that too?

Forget it, Peter Morris, it’s Chinatown. So many good posters have left the board including Bricker and John Mace, but the new moderation rules seem to set a standard so hard that a conservative poster is only within the rules so long as he makes an almost Harvard level argument worthy of strict debate, and as conservative arguments are so terribly wrong, none can meet the standard and are therefore trolling.

I took a break for four months hoping that sanity would control, but then I come back and Shodan gets banned and there are posters arguing that my sincere thread, hoping to see where there might be something different than an execution of a black man in Georgia, is met with accusations of racism and trolling and a suggestion that the topic should have been moderation.

The lunatics are running the asylum. What made this board great is no longer there, and as I have said before, I blame the moderation staff for embracing the whole “misogyny” thing as a reason to ban words and ideas under the pretext of protecting the delicate flowers of “half the board” when in reality it is just a vocal minority of posters (well perhaps a majority considering who is left after the bannings and the voluntary exits).

It’s a damn shame.

You sure are dismayed by personal insults, aren’t you?

Nice try, and that’s from a position of agreeing that recent bannings were ridiculous. As I stated in my comment in that thread, you seem to disregard the other threads because they don’t lead to the conclusion that those two morons were in their rights to follow a black guy and kill him so you started another thread to see if you could find a path to their actions being legitimate.

Aren’t you a lawyer? Why are you on a message board asking for clarification about laws anyway? Shouldn’t we be asking YOU to clarify the laws?

Perhaps you don’t mind it when a post gets reported, but it can easily get ignored. I have reported several posts over the years, one was responded with a “CUT IT OUT” post, two days later, the others were totally ignored. No response to me why no action was taken, nothing. As a reference, it was less than 12 hours that Shodan posted his “Harvard Harpy” post that you issued a Warning and within minutes of that, he was banned.

Jonathan, you are a moderator of GD, no? You are clearly aware of Stranger’s threadshit, as well as others. You admit, above, that you, as moderator of GD, prefer not to see such posts. Whether or not they have been reported (although UltraVires claims he reported posts in that thread), you are certainly aware of the situation, yet you chose not to take any action? Do you consider tomndebb’s [del]slap on the wrist[/del] stern glare :wink: to be adequate? What about the other offenders in that thread?

That’s the whole point of the promotion of the concept of forbidden language. Why do you think accusations of blasphemy and being a witch were punishable by death? It wasn’t to stamp out sorcery. It was to prevent the articulation of ideas. One doesn’t even have to argue a point anymore. All one has to do is accuse a person advocating a particular point of view of some form of bigotry and the entire focus is shifted. It’s a purposeful tactic and it works very well here. When pointed out how well it works that itself is silenced or closed.

As I understand it you are an attorney.

Why would you post a question on a matter of law when, if anything, you should be one of the people tutoring the rest of us on what the law in Georgia is telling us?

The Law is a very big subject. You wouldn’t ask a tax attorney for advice on a divorce. You wouldn’t ask a constitutional lawyer to help you draft a will. I don’t know what branch of law **UltraVires **practises, but there’s no reason why he shouldn’t ask for information on a legal question.