From the horses mouth; Collapse of the Richard Dawkins Forum

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Re: From the horses mouth; Collapse of the Richard Dawkins Forum

#41  Postby Boadacia! » Feb 27, 2010 5:08 am

There's so many rubbish articles out there by reporters knobs, that we need to get the actual truth on show as much as we all can.

I posted this on the Guardian comments to help balance some of the witless moronic shyte I read.

Bodacia wrote:Dear Dr Dawkins,

If you were to ever read this, which I somehow doubt, you must obviously realise by now that some of the reasoning by those representing you and running your forum, were not as you might have envisaged. The evidence is online if you only seek it.

I feel it is not too late for you to reconsider the events leading up to and after the closure of your forum. I am also sure you have received other much more impressive vitreous comments from many a religious fundamentalist than the mined samples you have written into your 'Outrage' post, which you now know were 'not' posted on your RDF site, and were not the cause of its closure.

I think you will be able to save your reputation amongst many thousands of your most avid supporters, if only you communicate more adequately, and at least post some appreciation of their immense efforts and work, in the name of your cause. That is all it would have taken to achieve the changes you so desired, without the damage you have inflicted upon yourself.


Also, the BBC, which is under a moderators investigative eyes at the moment. (doesn't sound too hopeful)

We can live in hope I suppose, that RD might learn something here? And if that's not the case, we certainly have.
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Re: From the horses mouth; Collapse of the Richard Dawkins Forum

#42  Postby FACT-MAN-2 » Feb 27, 2010 6:30 am

Stephen wrote:
Thanks for your encouragement, and believe me, I'm taking that advice! I'm relocating later this year and slowly but surely being nearer to unadulterated nature has superseded my love of the city hum and buzz as my number one priority. I already feel more at peace having come to this realization. :cheers:

Just to acknowledge, it is as you noted, quite OT.

But you're on the right path, just keep going! :clap:
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When will large scale corporate capitalism and government metamorphose to embrace modern thinking and allow us to live sustainably?
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Re: From the horses mouth; Collapse of the Richard Dawkins Forum

#43  Postby anthonzi » Feb 27, 2010 6:39 am

Phenomenal letters guys :clap:
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Re: From the horses mouth; Collapse of the Richard Dawkins Forum

#44  Postby Mr.Samsa » Feb 27, 2010 6:54 am

Great idea, Hugh :cheers:

This is a copy of the PM I sent to RD after reading his "Outrage" announcement. I don't know it's of any use to you, but here it is:

Dear Prof. Dawkins,

I know you are busy with your current tour throughout Australia and New Zealand, and I know the events of the forum are not a high priority for you at this time, so I will try to keep this brief.

There have already been a number of members who have messaged you with extensive details of the event that took place so I will try not to repeat information of which you are already aware, but I feel that your representation of events in your "Outrage" post is so far removed from reality that I could not leave it without trying to reason with you.

The short version is: people are not angry about the change in forum software. In fact a lot of people really are quite excited about this. The vitriol, the anger and the protests were in direct reply to the way they were poorly treated.

To expand on this, in your post, the basic timeline of events appears to be "Announcement of a new website structure" then "Nasty comments being made about Josh". In reality, the timeline of events following the announcement included the creation of a thread where the members congregated to discuss how upset they were, how confused they were and how excited they were over the new changes. There was some anger in this thread, but it was reasonably mild and it was all aimed at the moderators. I should mention that I am/was a moderator of this forum and I, along with my fellow volunteers, were shocked and confused to find ourselves thrust into this situation where we were forced to defend ourselves by pointing out that the new changes were as much a surprise to us as they were to the members (whilst we had been promised "new and exciting changes coming soon", we had no real details of what was to happen).

So, whilst trying to defend ourselves, a moderator posted the message Josh and Andrew had sent to us as evidence of our innocence. This act was met with the immediate deletion of this moderator's membership and his entire post history being removed. The forum was then locked and the thread where everyone was trying to understand what the new changes entailed was deleted. In protest, a member went to the front page asking the admin to explain their decision as it seemed highly unjust and unnecessary - this member was then deleted, along with his entire posting history.

On the forum, people were eager to contact their friends, internet adversaries, even research collaborators to try to exchange details or to organise a meeting point to discuss what had just occurred. However, they found that the Private Messaging feature has been limited to what seems to be about 1 post being allowed to be sent per every 12 hours. All signatures were removed after people had left details about where they can be contacted and found if people wished to do so. On top of this, when people attempted to archive the remaining posts in the forum (at this stage, 30-40,000 posts had been deleted over the space of a couple of hours) they found that someone had stored the Rick Astley video clip "Never Gonna Give You Up" onto the forum database (a common internet meme where people pretend to link to some site or location of information, only to be met with Rick Astley - otherwise known as a "rickroll"), making it impossible to save any data unless you could write your own code to get around this.

After numerous prolific posters had been deleted without warning nor reason, after the search system had been taken down and the messaging feature had been disabled beyond practical functionality, some people gathered on an external site and vented their frustrations at a person who they saw as not only treating them very poorly, but also a person who seemed intent on making it impossible for them to retain their contacts they had made over their years here at the Oasis.

Now here I should note that I in no way condone the nasty messages that were made about Josh (although I do feel that taken out of context in your announcement they appeared worse than they were in context - however, still ultimately inexcusable), but you have to understand that RDF was a community of people who valued science, reason and rationality. To accuse them of becoming rabid animals when faced with the prospect of change not only does the members a disservice, but I also feel it does you and this Oasis you built a disservice. If the people were becoming angry because the person who owns this entire website wants to change/remove the forum section, then I would join you and tell them to stop acting like children.

But this is not what the people are angry about. The people who have dedicated not only thousands of hours of their time supporting your goals, but also donated significant sums of money to the foundation, those who have literally risked their lives to come to this forum and to expand their knowledge of science (by using dummy IP addresses in the Middle East to avoid being arrested), came online on Monday to find a couple of users they don't recognise deleting members and thousands of posts without reason. In other words, those who dedicated a substantial amount of time to supporting you, felt like they were given a kick in the teeth for their loyalty.

I understand if this message doesn't change your view of the situation, and I do apologise for it being much lengthier than I had hoped for, but if there is one point I can try to drive home then it is this: the change in forum software is absolutely irrelevant to the events that transpired, all that matters is that the members here were treated like something you step in on a farm when valuable information was wiped from existence before their very eyes.

The internet is a wonderful new place in this world, and the information that is stored here is no longer meaningless strings of text - it is books, research, knowledge. The wanton deletion of this information invokes the same feelings of the members here as those of the people unfortunate enough to live through the days of book burnings. This is why we are angry, not because of some silly software change.

Again, I apologise for taking up so much of your time with this message, I know you have much more important matters to attend to. I wish you all the best with your tour and I hope the new discussion board proves to be highly successful for the foundation - I know that personally I will be there when it opens doing everything I can to help.

Thank you for listening,
Michael O.
("Mr.Samsa" - Ex-forum moderator)

NOTE: The opinions I have stated in this post are purely my own and I do not speak on behalf of the members, nor do I speak for any of the other ex-moderators.
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Re: From the horses mouth; Collapse of the Richard Dawkins Forum

#45  Postby anthonzi » Feb 27, 2010 7:07 am

Mr.Samsa wrote:Great idea, Hugh :cheers:

This is a copy of the PM I sent to RD after reading his "Outrage" announcement.


I'm not too sure if sending him a PM will be effective, seeing as Smegol seems to be controlling everything that is coming in and out of that forum.
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Re: From the horses mouth; Collapse of the Richard Dawkins Forum

#46  Postby Mr.Samsa » Feb 27, 2010 7:11 am

anthonzi wrote:
Mr.Samsa wrote:Great idea, Hugh :cheers:

This is a copy of the PM I sent to RD after reading his "Outrage" announcement.


I'm not too sure if sending him a PM will be effective, seeing as Smegol seems to be controlling everything that is coming in and out of that forum.


Yeah I was worried about that but the other moderators have already sent him a few emails to various email addresses, so I figured he's not going to reply anyway.
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Re: From the horses mouth; Collapse of the Richard Dawkins Forum

#47  Postby Calilasseia » Feb 27, 2010 11:35 am

I've just issued this challenge to Ruth Gledhill over at The Times newspaper:

Dear Ruth,

Given that the misinformation persists with respect to this situation, I hereby offer you a challenge.

Namely, to publish, in your newspaper, the open letter that I have written to Richard Dawkins, without any abridgement or editing. Since the text exists in several places in the public domain, any editing will be easy for those in the know to spot. I am prepared to see my letter appear in print, and support the charges contained therein. Are you prepared to accept this challenge, or are you more interested in delivering a sensational story than presenting the facts?

I await your response eagerly.


David Edwards.


Let's see if the challenge is taken up, shall we?
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Re: From the horses mouth; Collapse of the Richard Dawkins Forum

#48  Postby Matt H » Feb 27, 2010 12:15 pm

David/Cali, the problem is Ruth does not have any editorial control over her newspaper. She's just a columnist.

I've worked at a newspaper and trust me, the editors do what they want to do. The best a columnist can do is cross their fingers and hope.
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Re: From the horses mouth; Collapse of the Richard Dawkins Forum

#49  Postby Calilasseia » Feb 27, 2010 12:25 pm

Well since she has a vested interest in this spat, I think it might be interesting to see what happens.

Incidentally, someone over at rationalia launched this thread, and I felt it apposite to post a reply, which I shall repeat here verbatim.

Me over at Rationalia wrote:Just to let you all know.

After the manner in which the people who decided that they are the only ones who matter over at RDF acted as they did, they will have to offer a lot of incentives to entice me back. Indeed, as a measure of my displeasure at the manner in which Timonen and his recycled yuppie lapdog engaged in egregious duplicity, and also to counter the misinformation in the press, I have just challenged Ruth Gledhill at The Times, and Heidi Blake at The Daily Telegraph, to publish my letter to Dawkins in their newspapers, along with admonitions to the effect that I prefer to see facts in newspapers, not fiction. If that challenge is accepted by either or both of these persons, I cannot see any way in which the Richard Dawkins Foundation would ever want to invite me back, once I exposed their mendacity in the national press. I think it's safe to say that Dawkins has, as a result of supporting his incompetent and mendacious protegé over and above people who worked tirelessly on his behalf, shot himself regally in the foot, and this will become apparent on an epic scale, once the disparity between the level of discourse over there in future, and the level of discourse maintained by people here and elsewhere, becomes visibly manifest.

Dawkins has, in my view, condemned his website irreparably, courtesy of this supernova detonation, and the feeble pulses of the remaining neutron star will be less and less important in the world of secular affairs. Bright new stars are in the wings to replace it.
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Re: From the horses mouth; Collapse of the Richard Dawkins Forum

#51  Postby DanDare » Feb 27, 2010 1:03 pm

Ok, here are my two blog posts over at AtheistNexus. Because so many comments were being made about the unimportance of closing a forum, a mere coffee lounge, I felt my posts had to be about the value of what was lost.

http://www.atheistnexus.org/profiles/blogs/surviving-the-dawk-bust
Surviving the Dawk Bust

Many of you should know by now the events that resulted in the crushing of the RichardDawkins.net forum. If you dont you can find a poigniant description on Peter Harrison's blog. I'm still dizzy from the disruption to my life and my virtual community so I need to chat, but I don't want to chat about those events.

I believe the Dawkins admin folk are planning to replace the forum with something like this system at Atheist Nexus. I want to discuss why the community was awesome and why set ups like this one at Atheist Nexus don't have the same dynamics. The problem is that a blog is not a discussion, its a presentation, and it breaks my sense of conversation. I know that Atheist Nexus actually has a forum so I will be chatting there later, but for my purposes this medium provides an example of my thesis so I will stick to it.

The Richard Dawkins forum operated for over three years and formed what many consider the worlds largest atheist community boasting somewhat over 80,000 members. Actually calling it an atheist community is not entirely correct. We had long standing theist members, some well respected as rationalists (with a minor god delusion problem) and some not..quite so..well respected. We also had heaps of cretinist drive by commenters and woo wingnuts of every description. These later drawn to the site by Richards flame.

This constant appearance of adversarial chew toys actually helped the community develop skills in dealing with sophistry, allowed us to model standing up for your beliefs to the timid lurkers who were hiding from oppressive religious communities, occasionally deconvert someone whose delusion was not chronic, and build a sense of activism, logical criticism and outspokenness. I know for me it has led to doing things politically here in Oz.

As well as the delusion wars there was an extensive political and scientific arena and resources of scientific and secular value that were priceless. All this contributed by the kind of free wheeling "just start something" system that the forum allowed.

The moderation of the forum, done by volunteers, was spectacular and allowed enormous free speech but protected individuals from attack. Many of the theists with batshit ideas had difficulty learning the difference between criticising ideas and criticising the person, but some got it and became adept at it. I learnt how to disagree strongly with someone and not bring anger into it. For me that has been a great move to intellectual maturity.

Being a forum where you could start any thread, as long as it was on topic for the given forum area, meant that even the most timid would sometimes throw in an interesting thread. Often with no more than a title and opening sentence a vast sprawling conversation of some merit would ensue. That's how I started and that's how many of the best contributors as well as the chew toys made themselves known.

The new functionality at the Richard Dawkins website apparently wont be like that. It will be a blog like system, much like this, where blog entries must be approved before anyone gets to see them. The volunteer mods will not exist so approval will be channelled through one or two staff. That will inhibit the vibrancy to the point of community death I am afraid. No more dissenting voices. No more people seeking refuge and finding warm welcome. No more training one another in the art of reasoned discourse.

Apart from the very bad way it was handled the change at the website seems to me a huge failure to understand what was there and to harness it. This makes me sad, but also determined to gather together the amazing people that formed that community and build something new somewhere on the web that captures the strengths of the old site.


http://www.atheistnexus.org/profiles/blogs/prof-dawkins-had-the-right-to

Prof Dawkins had the right to do it..well ah..

Yes, RichardDawkins.net belonged to Richard Dawkins. So, in that sense he had the right to close the forum and replaces it with a narrower blog system instead. Of course that is not taking into account what the good Professor wished to use his web site for and the impact of his change upon his own purposes.

Richard spearheaded a movement to try and build up science and reason in the face of growing irrationality. That movement needed a number of things, activists, resources and a refuge for those that wanted to come "out" as atheists. The later being the sole purpose of the Out Campaign.

The forum fulfilled an important role in all this: allowing thousands of members to organise activity; taking in new members who were either outing themselves or finding refuge from places where outing was too dangerous for them; building up scientific and reasoning resources; generating a community out of the proverbial herd of cats. To do all this required a great deal of effort and investment of both time and emotion by the volunteers.

What Richard has done is to disconnect that community, replaced real social connection with presentation and simple response, and told everyone in that community that their body of work over four years was a small, unimportant, trivial thing that can just be thrown away. He certainly has the right to do it but he does not have the right to avoid the consequences of such an action. the consequences are that he lost the activists and shut down one of the key instruments of his campaign. Maybe he doesn't understand this but that is what has happened nevertheless.

Don't be sad, its not all doom and gloom. Why? Because hundereds of rd.net refugees have built a new site with the idea of keeping on, but no longer under Richards banner. You will find us at http://www.rationalskepticism.org.

We are somewhat new and improved there. We are still committed to the guidelines allowing criticism of ideas but not attacks on the person. Now we have been able to rationalise the structure without the Richard Dawkins sales/fan aspect and with wider science range. On the old site there was General Science and then evolution and biology. The new site now includes Physics, Astronomy, Chemistry, Geology and more. The area on religion is more comprehensive and focussed as is the scope of topic areas for debunking creationism, pseudo science and other enemy of reason stuff. There are years worth of resources we are trying to salvage from the old site but its going to be a long task and some of it has been lost forever. So it goes.
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Re: From the horses mouth; Collapse of the Richard Dawkins Forum

#52  Postby hackenslash » Feb 27, 2010 1:15 pm

:clap:

Excellent posts, Dan, and I share many of your sentiments.
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Re: From the horses mouth; The Collapse of Richard Dawkins Forum

#53  Postby locutus7 » Feb 27, 2010 2:39 pm

Ilovelucy wrote:It appears that the latest mass delusion about RDF was that it wasn't moderated. Even the terrible articles have mentioned a team of 15 volunteer moderators and the moderator Peter Harrison, and yet people are spouting off that the forum wasn't moderated. Strewth, how can one keep up with the laziness, stupidity, information entropy and knee jerkery?


Now one can understand how the beginnings of christianity was so contorted. This, after only a couple of days. Imagine after 30 years what the "official" version will look like.
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Re: From the horses mouth; Collapse of the Richard Dawkins Forum

#54  Postby Boadacia! » Feb 27, 2010 3:07 pm

Perhaps we all need to remember we are still in a small minority of the population, and by what I'm seeing out there, - we're making great targeting for the xtian right influenced reporters, and their agendas.

They see Dawkins as the one that spoiled the Santa story, and now are in glee that his children are rebelling. The more they can twist the truth, the happier it makes them.
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Re: From the horses mouth; Collapse of the Richard Dawkins Forum

#55  Postby anthonzi » Feb 27, 2010 3:15 pm

Boadacia! wrote:
They see Dawkins as the one that spoiled the Santa story, and now are in glee that his children are rebelling. The more they can twist the truth, the happier it makes them.

Let them scoff. It makes little difference in the long run.
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Re: From the horses mouth; Collapse of the Richard Dawkins Forum

#56  Postby DanDare » Feb 27, 2010 3:15 pm

Boadacia! wrote:They see Dawkins as the one that spoiled the Santa story, and now are in glee that his children are rebelling. The more they can twist the truth, the happier it makes them.

Oh well, all children eventually grow up and leave home. ;)
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Re: From the horses mouth; Collapse of the Richard Dawkins Forum

#57  Postby cursuswalker » Feb 27, 2010 3:17 pm

In the long term the realisation that atheism continues to grow without Dawkins at its centre might be a good thing.
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Re: From the horses mouth; Collapse of the Richard Dawkins Forum

#58  Postby Boadacia! » Feb 27, 2010 3:38 pm

cursuswalker wrote:In the long term the realisation that atheism continues to grow without Dawkins at its centre might be a good thing.


I hope you're right. But reading of the times of the 'Spanish Inquisition' can give one an ominous feeling. :cry:

I think many realised Dawky was a little crabby at the best of times. But I suppose too that the 'bulldog approach' can sometimes be amusing.

I like your sig.' 8-)
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Re: From the horses mouth; Collapse of the Richard Dawkins Forum

#59  Postby cursuswalker » Feb 27, 2010 3:42 pm

Boadacia! wrote:
cursuswalker wrote:In the long term the realisation that atheism continues to grow without Dawkins at its centre might be a good thing.


I hope you're right. But reading of the times of the 'Spanish Inquisition' can give one an ominous feeling. :cry:


Coincidentally I have just made a metaphorical parallel comparing RD to a Pope :)

I think many realised Dawky was a little crabby at the best of times. But I suppose too that the 'bulldog approach' can sometimes be amusing.


Quite. I am a fellow bulldog. But to be good at it you HAVE to be capable of self-control.

I like your sig.' 8-)


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Re: From the horses mouth; Collapse of the Richard Dawkins Forum

#60  Postby fredbear » Feb 27, 2010 4:11 pm

some of you may have seen gavin orland (the guy behind the "thought or the day" campaign) thread on ratz.

here's his latest pronouncement on our community.

http://www.gavinorland.org/human-relati ... /#comments

i've been :deadhorse: trying to replace my comments that keep being deleted on his blogs. my latest comment which so far remains intact references this super thread.

my comment (in the event of its demise) is as follows;

ah that’s better.thank you gavin. maybe my other comments were removed in error in which case i apologise.

now this was my last deleted comment;
“please gavin do publish this venom you are deleting to prove your point. it seems to me that my perfectly reasoned comments are being routinely deleted leaving only those that are in line with your own view. those would be your comments then.”
on the original thread i posted a long reasoned defence of the valued rdf community but no need to repeat it as others have spoken more eloquently than i and from a more informed position.
i referred you to peter harrison’s blog. rather than post a number of links i will post this link to a thread on a new forum for former members of rdf. this is attempting to collate a comprehensive answer to what actually happened.

viewtopic.php?f=40&t=454

this open letter to richard dawkins will give an idea of the human story too;

rdf/

i will post a copy of this comment on the other sites to let them know that your readership can have access to the full facts now.

thank you gavin.

ps i do apologise for my preference for lower case. it’s a lazy affectation not necessarily an indication of illiteracy. i think i posted that previously.



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