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paul wheaton
master steward
Posts: 22170
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
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In the beginning, I made these forums because I was getting far too many questions via email.  And forums are one way to resolve stuff.  At the same time, I knew that there were some quick things I wanted to say and get feedback - and I knew that other forums might try to delete what I wanted to talk about.  A lot of the things I want to talk about are just too .... weird, for most folks. 

Weed control is a good example.  I might want to talk about controlling hawkweed, and in other forums I could get a deluge of people telling me what to spray.  And when I say I don't wanna spray, then I'm a dumbass lunatic, and my explanations are deleted because they are contrary to what somebody else said, and, therefore, a personal attack.    I needed forums where I could control the deleting.

I want forums about agriculture, homesteading, eco building, and all of the technical side of getting all of these things to work together.  Something far beyond organic.  So far beyond organic that not even one person would consider using a pesticide.

I want forums full of substance and light on fluff. 

I want discussion that is lean on "stop being bad" and heavy on "here's how you make ...."

I am very nervous about discussion involving politics or religion since I cannot help but think it is gonna blow up into a hate fest. 

There are folks that wanna talk about social justice and "the way things outta be".  While these are important things, I really hope there isn't a lot of that discussed here.  I would much rather see discussions about horticulture, root cellars and animal husbandry.

I suppose there are lots of folks that love, love, love to talk about this other stuff all the time.  And I would like to think that there are heaps of places on the internet already available to talk about that sort of thing.  And if there isn't, I hope folks start a new forum. 

I suppose that if a person writes a hundred posts about the things I like and then three or four about things I don't like, I don't mind.  But if a person writes nothing about what I like and writes a hundred posts about things I don't like, then I think this forum is not really a fit for that person. 

I'm putting a lot of time and money in a feeble attempt to nurture something rather specific.  I think there are a few people are really keen on the exact same thing.  And for each one of those people, I suspect that there are a thousand people that want something different. 

Are there ten people that can respond to this thread and wholeheatedly say that they understand exactly where I am coming from and they want exactly the same thing I want?


 
Ken Peavey
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Posts: 2524
Location: FL
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I came into these forums a few weeks ago without an understanding of what permaculture is all about.  I've had no exposure or conventional training in the realm of permaculture ideas.  Most of what I do I've figured out by myself.  It's a certainty that I do things differently than others.  This place talks about a wide range of topics which I find interesting.  More importantly, these topics fit together as pieces of a puzzle. 

There are no debates on politics or religion, no arguing about climate change, no ranting about upholding the party line (caveat: I'm a bit strict on home canning procedures).  There is no one demanding I MUST do something or telling me I'm doing it wrong.  I've got plenty of rules in my life when I go to work.  At home there are no rules. 

Some would say I lead my life by whim.  My father insists I look to the Fire Department for employment and retirement benefits.  My brother looks at the black tubing in my driveway and says its stupid.  If I'm not living my life the way most people live theirs, I'm a freak.  Bring it on!  I don't subscribe to prepackaged lifestyles and fitting in with everyone else.  To me that would be repulsive.  I'll take self-sufficient and independent path, thank you very much and if you don't like it, go watch TV.



 
                                      
Posts: 172
Location: Amsterdam, the netherlands
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hey paul,

i understand what you mean (really)

and i understand that the quality in this forum that attracted me is probably due to you moderating away a lot of non-practical content. aka drivel...

and thats appreciated, i havent come across any pc related forum that is so full of content, and practical knowledge, which is at the same time still accesible and easy to find. your forum is best to navigate and user friendly.

still there will be people, like me, who like to discuss deeper thoughts behind their homesteading, gardening or care of woods.

together with the light fluff you talk about, this can contribute to the community on a forum. i also have experienced that keeping drivell or nonsense topics contained, but giving them 'a place', or 'some space' really make a difference for the positive, like you have done in the 'other'/'drivell' part.

but i would plee (still) for adding a little subsection on ethics, or holmgrenesque topics, if u wish to make it clear that there are different takes on pc. that way there is a place for those (i guess a minority here) who like to talk about that without having to feel like a dissident.

at the other hand we, people who like talking like that, can promise if participating in those topics to keep it down, and especially there make sure we follow the "be nice" guideline. and stay away from hatefull remarks.

and also, as for me, it will not be the subsection where i will post mostly. the practicl and full contend of this site is main thing attracting me to this site.
a
 
tel jetson
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Location: woodland, washington
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well, I can't say I know exactly where you're coming from, but I think I have at least a relatively good idea.  and I certainly don't want exactly what you want, but I think what you want is entirely reasonable.  you started these forums with a particular purpose in mind, and I think they're going quite a distance toward achieving that purpose.  just due to the nature of opening it up to the public, you're going to have diverse and frequently conflicting points of view.  due to the fact that permaculture is still a bit of a fringe phenomenon, you're also going to attract a lot of folks interested in some other less-than-mainstream ideas that may or may not be directly related to permaculture.  there's also no easily discernible line between the how-to topics and the don't-do topics.  further complicating things is that it's probably hard for folks to compartmentalize their lives and thoughts.  my desire to grow delicious fruit is very much tied up with my desire to be good to people.  and it's also a surprisingly easy jump from seeing that you agree with me about how great building an efficient wood stove is to assuming you agree with me that there's a spaceship waiting behind the moon to take us to Altair.

that's all a really ineffective way of saying that I think you've done a pretty good job of keeping a balance between the technical discussions and the opinion discussions with the emphasis toward technical.  as far as I've seen, there's been very little actual shutting down of topics, even when they aren't of particular interest to you.  moving them is certainly going to be objectionable to some folks who feel strongly about them, but it seems like a pretty good compromise to me (and I'm not generally a fan of the compromise).  so I don't want the exact same thing that you want, but this forum certainly doesn't need to be everything to everybody.
 
                    
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I am very nervous about discussion involving politics or religion since I cannot help but think it is gonna blow up into a hate fest.


While I agree with and applaud your intentions and goals of these lovely forums, I cannot help but wonder if talking about politics (religion....yawn) is really the best (only?) way to get to know people's ethics, and to answer difficult questions that actually do matter.  It would be nice if it didn't dissolve into a big finger pointing tantrum, for sure.  I think this particular board might be the place to practice cautious and respectful political discussions.  But, whatever.  It's your show.    I don't think anybody using the site has a big problem with that, and if they do, you're right, they can just as well go use a different one to express their obnoxious opinions. 

I really appreciate the practical and how-shall-we-solve-this-elegantly slant to the forums, definitely.  And hope to contribute on some level, even!

There is a quote by Francis Bacon on the first pages of The Barefoot Beekeeper by PJ Chandler (which I just happened to read today because a neighbor brought it by to borrow - ask for company and ye shall receive):

"Read not to contradict and confute,
nor to believe and take for granted,
nor to find fault and discourse,
but to weigh and consider."

and....I think wanting exactly the same things wouldn't lead to very interesting and informative conversations.  That's the point of this whole thing, right? 
 
Chelle Lewis
Posts: 424
Location: Hartbeespoort, South Africa
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Your position is understandable, Paul, when explained so clearly. It would be acceptable should you never be seen to be waxing philosophical about certain matters close to your heart. The "Stop-being-bad" part you speak of.... rather than "here's how you make..."

It does not accomodate the name of the forums completely: Permaculture Forums, but if you do not want any other discussion you should add it to your Be Nice Intro so that everyone understands right off the main thrust you hope to achieve. And then strictly maintain that regulation yourself too.... to avoid confusion. I must admit in having spent some time cruising the different threads I find myself a little confused. You wax philosphical quite often... on subjects even less core to Permaculture than the thread that started this whole discussion..

I don't quite know how you will remove the philosphical side to the subject of Permaculture. This set of forums is successful because of the input of many people, and they should be thought to count, even if interested in different philosophical subjects to you. Assigning whatever isn't rigidly your personal preference to MD will not be thought reasonable.....  but then..... perhaps you don't think you have to be reasonable... ?  When I read you waxing philosophical on your thread ECO WITCH HUNT ..... as just one example..... it does leave a newbie to the forum like me with a sense of I-am-in-control-and-you-don't-matter-as-much .... an authoritarian standpoint that seems to overlook the fact that a forum such as this successful because of all the time and heart invested by many, and not just the owner. You could not get this message out alone. People are drawn to community. A sense of fair play is essential to healthy community.

Should you decide to relegate philosophical debate to some corner of the Forums then a name like Philosophical Ramblings ... or some such.... would be preferable to assigning some serious and important subjects to "meaningless drivel" just so that no-one can take it seriously should you decide to delete... It cannot help but be insulting. And then those who have no interest in such matters would not bother to go to any philosophical threads... and you would not be frightening off the purely practical crowd you say you truly welcome.

I am sad to have to feel the need to have my say on such matters so early on in our association without having really had time to establish the heart of who we are. I have formed enough of an idea of your heart to believe you a reasonable person and so worth taking the time to communicate with. You have produced a really good set of forums with the help of many. But there comes a time when community .... even community online.... cannot be said to be owned by one.... this is your message coming through ... if it is to survive intact as something worth preserving. Should there be a transgresssion on Be Nice [the hate-fest you fear], then authority must be felt, but to play with freedom of speech  .... that is on topic with the forum name.... at a personal and whimsical level.... is not fair play. It will produce a monoculture of ideas as expressed by someone on your IC thread. Very Not Permaculture.....  But if it is merely slavish coherence to your exact philosophy that you are looking for... you will get it in time. I don't think you will like the result. No learning curve. It is in struggle... even with ideas... that we grow.

Chelle
 
paul wheaton
master steward
Posts: 22170
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
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I've been running on-line forums for ....  wow ... 24 years.  It is my obnoxious opinion that ALL forums have a powerful urge to go in one of two directions:  100% fluff or 100% hostility.  The only thing that keeps forums out of either mess is moderation.  And moderation is definitely "an ounce of prevention" sort of thing. 

The fluff is easy to move to MD.  And it has more to do with wheat to chaff ratio than anything else.  Everybody can handle a little fluff.  But the hostility is something where the smallest spark can start a big fire.  And it can take five or more years or harsh moderation to recover (voice of experience). 

Setting that aside for a moment ....

In 2001 I was explaining to a neighbor what I was trying to do with my farm.  He said "oh, you're doing permaculture" - and that was the first I had heard the word.  I am nuts about permaculture.  And I really like how so much fits into one word.  And I feel that while I now have a great deal of knowledge in this space, I have a hundred times further to go - and these forums help me on my quest.  And "permaculture" is the word that best fits what I am up to. 

At the same time, I know that "permaculture" means a lot of things to other people and I really should facilitate that too, if I'm gonna call this "permaculture forums". 

I want to facilitate all permaculture discussion.  And, at the same time, I want to minimize the chance of a spark catching and the forums catching on fire.  And while 99.9% of the people reading these words will be certain that doing this is a piece of cake, my experience tells me otherwise. 

Every day I come onto the forum and I want to talk about peeing in a bucket, building a wofati, plant guilds, etc.  Instead, the first thing I open are all of the threads where there could be fire.  I don't really like those topics, but I know that it is my responsibility to watch for fire. 

So!  The moral of the story is that the path I have chosen is not very simple or clear.  And yet I do think it is best.  And I also understand that there will be a lot of folks that are certain that my choice is less than wise.  I respect that. 

I don't want to create a forum to encourage sparks.  It has been my experience that if the "philosophy" stuff is in MD, then folks are very cautious about choosing sparkless words - otherwise their whole post disappears.  And usually, if I delete stuff, people get REALLY, REALLY mad at me.  They can pontificate for days about the real reason for my deleting a post has to do with my poor heritage, poor education, lack of intellect, obvious lack of social skills, etc. with a final wrapper about how my mother dresses me funny.  And yet, in MD, I feel that if I delete something, I have a "get out of anger free card":  if there is anger, then the post must not have been a fit for "meaningless drivel" and it would therefore be appropriate to delete it.

If somebody really needs to express something that is outside of my comfort zone without worry about it being deleted, then it really needs to be on another forum or email or something. 

 
Chelle Lewis
Posts: 424
Location: Hartbeespoort, South Africa
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No fire here, Paul. And apologies that I seem to have upset you.

When you moved the thread to tinkering I thought you wanted opinion. Gave it... rejected... and no offence.

You obviously feel very strongly about this and I accept it. You must do what you think is best for the forums as a whole. If this is your experience then I can understand your determination. Your opinion is not obnoxious  You are right to prevent any fire. I learned something. Not an easy job you have, and you have been patient to explain.

Chelle
 
paul wheaton
master steward
Posts: 22170
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
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I am not upset at all! 

I think the forums are bee bopping along rather well. 

I understand that folks don't want their cool stuff to be posted under "meaningless drivel".  I feel that if I explain myself, they might think "oh, I get it.  I'm cool with that."

And then we all move forward.  Smooth as silk.

 
Chelle Lewis
Posts: 424
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Glad.

I have to agree. Lovely dynamic.

Now I get it too...   

Chelle
 
paul wheaton
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Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
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Gonna delete that.

I'm just not real keen on people telling me what I have to do on my site.

If you wanna talk about Ron Paul on this site, you will have to keep in mind that you are walking on very thin ice. 

If you really wanna talk about politics, you need to have that conversation on some other site.

 
Tony Elswick
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I agree.. nobody should tell you what to do with your site.

and I understand your point... you don't want this to turn away from practical methods which should be shared and not encumbered by politicizing the individuality of it all.

I thank you for having a site like this, it is an amazing exchange of ideas.

I will continue to talk about austrian economics though, but I won't discuss the man who must not be named.
 
paul wheaton
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Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
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Ron Paul is a ..... politician.

I work hard to minimize discussion of ..... politics.

It's not like I'm banning discussion of one guy. 

 
Brice Moss
Posts: 700
Location: rainier OR
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You know I have no hesitations about telling you when I  think you've made an error paul.

You are certianly doing a good thing with these forums. Because while discussion of the ethics of animal ownership are important I can't learn how to care for my critters if every thread about critter care has pages of ethics talk.
 
Benjamin Burchall
Posts: 182
Location: Long Beach, CA
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Paul,

I so appreciate this thread! I had only recently become familiar with you (although I believe I've seen your name in passing before). When I heard you on your podcast talking about your position on religion, politics and social justice in permaculture circles, I felt like I had finally come across someone who would get where I'm coming from. I have other places where I can freely delve into those topics and do so frequently. I just know the value of keeping permaculture free of those things. I haven't seen where presenting those topics in the context of permaculture does anything but hamper our ability to get permaculture out into the mainstream as much as we could.


I've gotten a bit of pushback on things like applying pee to a garden, trying to eliminate as much dependence on fossil fuel as possible in site set up and maintenance, and designing for low budget duplication in some "permaculture" settings. So I really like the things you present as they are pretty much in line with the direction I like to go in.

I also appreciate your honesty in laying out your limits and the way you say it. Believe me, I'm learning a bit from how you say what's on your mind.
 
paul wheaton
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Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
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I just deleted a thread in "meaningless drivel" that seemed a little too political.  So I thought I would give this thread a bump. 
 
Suzy Bean
pollinator
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Location: Stevensville, MT
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Paul and Kelda talk about permaculture ethics, social justice, and the bigger picture in this podcast: podcast
 
P Thickens
Posts: 177
Location: Bay Area, California (z8)
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Sounds brilliant, I completely agree. How about you move the threads that are censorious/religious/political/etc into a new forum made just for that so the rest of the forums don't have to navigate around those icebergs? Some of the Meaningless Drivel threads have a bit of redeeming permie value.

Since you want to focus on the constructive aspects, and not the critical aspects of modding... why don't you ask for a volunteer who can point out or move flaming threads? Or a "REPORT" button so you don't have to worry you're missing a fire somewhere?
 
paul wheaton
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Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
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The report button is implemented and should appear on our site soon.
 
P Thickens
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Location: Bay Area, California (z8)
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paul wheaton wrote:The report button is implemented and should appear on our site soon.


*does a cheer* Yeay! I'll help I promise!
 
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