my need for straight answers

Before I post one more post here I want anwers to the following:-

These are simple questions, and if they seem too simple , I guess you’ve never been told that there is no such thing as a dumb question.

First of all ,since I came to this board, I’ve been trying to understand just who’s who. If you think the answer to that is obvious, well pardon me , but I don’t think I’m unusual in my unwillingness to comb through a message board to figure out what’s what, esp. when I can’t take much time.

Should I recognize who the heck this “Cecil” is? I’ll admit I haven’t taken too much time here, but so far “Cecil” is just a name with no attachments for me.

From the e-mailers I’ve gotten from “Straight D” there is more than one top -gun, or are you just individuas (or individualists) with self-appointed possitions?

Who do I mail to when there is something I want to confide to the webmaster? I still am not sure.

What is the purpose of confirmation mail ? I’m not complaining, but why do you operate that way? I told you I was on the unsofisticated side when it comes to computers and all their customary methods of dealing with one thing or the other, so bear with me.

I get the feeling I’ve been criticized for some of the questions I’ve presented, and maybe I have it coming ; still, I would like to know how YOU DISCERN what questions belong in what place. I mean, WHERE DO YOU DRAW THE LINE between a " mundane" (etc.) question belonging on that board and an important question that belongs on the other board? As far as I’m concerned , whether a question is important or not is a matter of personal veiw.

Too often I can’t seem to get the board to “move” for me. In other words it gets “stuck” if I may use that discription. Maybe I havn’t done enough reading here and should know why by now but I don’t . Is my experiance unusual or what? Could be I just need patience.

Also, I am not really happy with the name of your website; sorry, but I’m not. The word "dope " doesn’t have good connnotations for many people, if not most. Why not call it “The Real Thing” or “Real People” ? Everybody likes real people. They are so rare and desirable in a society.

Now are you going to tell me all my questions belong on the idle chatter board ?
Thank you , Dee

**Gasp! - INFIDEL!. Cecil have mercy on you. (seriously, have a browse of the Straight Dope Home Page)

The board is adminstered and moderated by a crack team of crack professional dedicated Administrators and Moderators, who take their payment in the form of china mugs. (they don’t get paid).

**If you’re really sure they want and need to hear it, then email Tuba or Lynn, would be my advice.

**So far you’ve only made seven posts to about four threads; too soon to be drawing conclusions - give it a chance. The only questions that are really likely to be frowned upon are those that might mutate into a discussion of how to do illegal things, or questions that could very easily be answered by picking up a dictionary, doing three seconds’ searching on the net or paying closer attention at infants’ school.

**There are techincal issues, I believe, at the moment; the board is still reeling from the shock of upgrading to the latest version.

**I’m not really happy with rainy days, mediocre television, male-pattern baldness, people who park their cars across two spaces, imitation chocolate cake covering, loud rap music and many other things; some of these things are within my power to control or avoid, others are not. The Straight Dope is a very strong and well-established identity; I don’t see it changing anytime soon.


I’m going to TRY to give some straight answers…that is, the straight dope on the Straight Dope.

First of all, a good many of your questions would be answered if you visited the FAQ page:

There are currently Members, Moderators, and Administrators who can post items on the board. Also one guy with a custom title “Deserves to die”, that I bestowed upon him. He likes to startle his wife out of a sound sleep. I may relent later on and give him a regular member status again.

Anyway, members are just whoever happens to wander into the message board. We’ve got doctors, lawyers, vet techs, unemployed, burgerflippers, and who knows what else. As far as I know, we DON’T have any Indian chiefs, though we do have at least one person who works in the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Straight Dope Science Advisory Board members are not marked as such, but they will often answer Mailbag questions. They do not have any board editing powers, unless they also happen to be a moderator or administrator.

Moderators are part of the Straight Dope staff team. They monitor the message board, trying to instill a little order out of this chaos. They have powers that are not granted to mere ordinary mortal members, such as the power to move threads, edit or delete posts, and a few other goodies. They are not at all self-appointed. Each one has been examined thoroughly, and tested for worthiness.

Administrators do all that moderators do, plus we (you will notice that I myself am an administrator) can alter the board settings, ban people, and change people’s profiles. This much power is very, very tempting. So far we’ve had to restrain Noodles from changing the color scheme of the message board to his own bizarro fantasy.

Banned posters are those who have incurred the wrath of the administrators. Generally, trolling (making posts simply to aggravate people) and advertising is what gets people banned quickly. The primary rule on the Straight Dope Message Board is “Don’t be a jerk.” This means, if you’re only here to make people miserable, you’re not welcome. If you’re only here to advertise your product, you’re not welcome. There’s other things that will get you banned, but generally you’ll get warned first.

As it says in the FAQ,

You can also email the administrators.

This makes it more inconvenient for trolls. There may be other reasons as well.

Partly it is a personal point of view. Read the other threads in the forums, read the forum description, and usually you’ll be able to tell. If you are still unsure, email one or more of the moderators in the forum that YOU think it belongs in, and ask!

You’re not alone, the board DOES bog down at times. We are a victim of our own success. We’ve got a LOT of people visiting us at any time, and searches take a lot of computing power. We, the staff, are always discussing ways to improve the board. It’s damn aggravating. I usually keep my knitting in a desk drawer for especially slow times. I also usually have 3 or 4 windows open, with my mailbox open in one, the SDMB in another, and a solitaire game going in the third.

“Dope” in this sense means information. It’s an older meaning of the word, I agree. However, the column has been called “The Straight Dope” for a quarter of a century now, and it’s well recognized. There’s several fine books of Straight Dope columns out, all of which you can buy either in a bookstore or online (hint, hint). I do not think that the Chicago Reader is going to change the name of the column anytime soon.

Mangetout has given some good answers, but I’ll add my own spin.

I’m sure you don’t mean you want the real name / address / phone number of everyone that posts here. Are you wondering what user titles mean?
Members are people that post at the SDMB. Moderators are people that are in charge of reviewing the posts in a certain forum to make sure they meet forum guidelines. Administrators are people who are in charge of resolving user access issues and customising the software features for the message board.
In addition, there is a group of people who write “Staff Reports” on some issues that are interesting enough to merit an article, but not challenging enough for Cecil Adams. These people constitute the Straight Dope Science Advisory Board (SDSAB).

Yes, you should recognize the name of your host. Cecil Adams writes the Straight Dope newspaper column whence the board gets its name. These columns appear in some local alternative newspapers and are also collected in book form, in addition to being archived at this site. Also read the FAQs on that subject.

Each forum has a list of moderators. The set of all moderators forms the Straight Dope Message Board staff.

If it’s something concerning the message board, e-mail all the moderators for the forum in which the thread occurs and/or which relates to your question. (You can easily do this using the “report post to moderator function” if your question concerns a post in a thread.)
If it’s something concerning your inability to post at the message board, e-mail all the administrators (TubaDiva, C K Dexter Haven, Lynn Bodoni, Arnold Winkelried, Gaudere). The e-mail addresses for administrators and moderators can be found in their user profile.

For one thing, it ensures that posters use a valid e-mail adress. This is useful because if you forget your password it can be e-mailed to you.

Read the descriptions of each forum at the message board home page. In particular you seem interested in the difference between “General Questions” and “MPSIMS”.
Questions that have a factual answer belong in General Questions. e.g. “Who was the King of France in 1715?”
Posts that are not asking a question with a factual answer, but instead are off-the-cuff comments, belong in MPSIMS. e.g. “I saw a policeman with blue hair on my way to work today. I was shocked and amused.” or “I am so sad, my pet snake just died. Please offer me words of comfort.”

Read the FAQ on technical issues that is a sticky thread in this forum.

Read a few of the Straight Dope columns (buy one of the books, or go browse through the archives) and you will see that the Straight Dope name gives a fairly good indication of the contents of the articles - information on sometimes controversial or shocking subjects, presented in an irreverent fashion.

Beware of generalizations. I’m sure we can find some SDMB posters that don’t like real people.

No. These questions are in the purview of the “About This Message Board” forum.

And Lynn Bodoni snuck one in there too. Will I always be relegated to second banana? :frowning:

You’ll always be Number One to me, Arnold. :wink:

Lynn, I think Noodles deserves to be “First Banana”

You do have the power to edit titles, don’t you? :wink:

Polycarp, don’t encourage her! Otherwise your custom title might become “What hath he wrought? He knowest not what he dideth.”

I just knew Arnold was going to start using “whence” at every opportunity after his GQ thread about it. :smiley:

A couple of other points: The “Noodles” to whom the beautiful Lynn Bodoni refers in her post is another name for the Administrator you see just above me, otherwise named Arnold Winkelhowerevertheheckyouspellit. Cecil Adams, being the World’s Smartest Human Being, is the official Head Honcho, but he tends not to get involved in the board much; when top-level intervention is absolutely necessary, his editor, Ed Zotti, steps in. Even Ed doesn’t have much time to spend with the board, though, so most administrative issues are handled by TubaDiva, Lynn Bodoni, or one of the other admins.

In regards to the various fora: It is not required that a thread in General Questions (GQ) be in any way “serious”, only that it have a factual answer. For instance, we’ve had threads in GQ on things like the speed at which gasses are expelled from the lower gastrointestinal tract, which while completely frivolous, is still a question of fact. By contrast, if you wanted to ask about the existence of God, that’d go in Great Debates (GD), since it’s not a question of fact, and folks will have many different strong opinions on it.

One more thing: The fact that you’re asking these questions in the first place already puts you a bit ahead of the game. Some folks just barge in without any regard for the “proper” way to do things, and make a mess: By asking, you’re out of that category. Welcome!

Dang, Mangetout, didn’t deeward just say that kind of talk had negative connotations?


Good Lord, people, forgive me if I’m being mean, but couldn’t we just have agreed to

and left it at that?

Our admins’ time is important, and those are the biggest posts I’ve seen from both Lynn Bodoni and Arnold Winkelried in a long time, when a simple ‘RTFFAQ’ might have been worked just as well.

Yes it is, because…


Yeah, but he can edit his title right back. So I’m gonna tease him mercilessly instead.

Arnold, if you’re trying to hint that one-banana jobs would be more to your liking, just say so.

Here, have a grape.

Ouch! OK, I’ll give you another if you stop beating me. :smiley:

White Lightning - thank you for reminding people that they should read the FAQ. However, deeward’s questions did give me a couple of ideas of things to add to the FAQ, so let’s not be too harsh on the new poster.

femtosecond - How about a mango instead?

You are right of course, Arnold Winkelried. Actually, deeward, I apologize if I came off as overly dismissive or condescending to you in my last post. I reread it this morning and I was thinking, I posted that? Great gallopin’ arsehole, Batman!

It’s just that I love you guys so much and I can’t stand to see your time wasted. But I didn’t need to be snide about it.