TED Conversations

Pabitra Mukhopadhyay


This conversation is closed.

TED conversation conduct

Can we jointly define it? Beyond the obvious foul, hateful and distasteful language?
I shall propose a few thumb rules and request you to populate/edit the list. I think it can be of great help for all of us.
1. No personal attack.
2. Disagree with respect
3. Give humor a chance.
4. Don't loose an opportunity to complement a poster.
5. Let go the first chance to criticize.
6. Be succinct but expand when necessary.
7. Try to be on topic but if a thread developed a question more interesting than the original, continue it.
8. Make your stand clear, if you have one.
9. Don't withdraw a comment unless you are compelled by consideration. Please leave a hint why you did so.
10. Please leave a concluding message for a conversation that is closing.

Thanks to everybody.


Closing Statement from Pabitra Mukhopadhyay

Based on inputs from TEDsters here in open discourse it appears that an unofficial TED conversation conduct guideline may be as below:
1. No personal attack.
2. Disagree respectfully.
3. Give humor a chance.
4. Don't lose an opportunity to compliment a poster.
5. Let go the first chance to criticize a post.
6. Be succinct but expand when necessary.
7. Try to be on topic. If a thread develops a new question open a new conversation.
8. Make your stand clear, if you have one.
9. Don't withdraw a comment unless you are compelled by consideration. Please explain why you did so.
10. Please leave a concluding message for a conversation that is closing.
11. Never edit your comment beyond spelling and grammatical mistakes after someone has replied to it. If it is felt absolutely necessary for an edit after a reply, keep the original comment and add correction clearly mentioning it is an edited version.
12. Try to back up your comment with references if you are forwarding a claim. Your arguments will be more convincing if you provide supporting evidence, such as references for any statistics you cite or for claims about what scientific research says or what scientists believe.
13. Please interact with the commenters as a host of a conversation you started.
14. Draw your line between intellectual sparring and hazing. No trolls, bullying, multiple profile ganging up either.
15. Uphold the right of free speech but with responsibility and modesty.
16. Use TED email when you need to contact a poster directly.

Thanks to all participants and the TED conversation moderation team. Cheers!!

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  • Apr 25 2013: On a rating scale:
    I give #4 a 2. (mispelling)
    #8 is a 1. sneaky there Pabitra.
    #1 is both a 1 and a 10. That makes 11, a good score.
    #5 got a 4 but could have gone higher if the option existed to criticize on the second or third chance.
    #9 got a 3. Hint: compelled by what?
    #2 All 1's
    The rest failed to make the final round.

    Language is beautiful even when foul or distasteful. In both, is humor.
    I agree with no hateful language but............learning comes hard sometimes.

    A land of zero-tolerance (even Ted-land), would be a very dangerous place indeed.
    Acceptance of others, of what people say, how people feel, what they think, believe and what they come from, along with their personal life experiences, brings peace to the one who practices it.
    In order to learn it, one needs an abundance of things that make them want to not accept.

    Tolerance is for when one really cannot accept, then one tolerates the other.
    To practice or have a zero-tolerance policy is dangerous and builds a prison around those who believe, think and live in this manner.
    Some children in America have been led to jail, in handcuffs, for writing how much they love their friends on their school desk. With erasable ink. It is a zero-tolerance policy practiced by the school.
    Some children from Scotland have been expelled from school in America for celebrating their Scottish holiday (after recently moving to the U.S.), by wearing a traditional Scottish kilt.
    They were accused of cross-dressing and nothing could enlighten the accusers, zero-tolerance minds.
    Four-year olds have been expelled for planting a kiss on another child's cheek. Again, zero-tolerance equates to zero-thinking which equates to very, very dangerous terrible-territory.
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      Apr 25 2013: Thanks for the spell check. I do not understand why you have to rate the points. It's a discussion, you can modify, object or accept. Or ignore. Anyway....
      I do not agree with you that language is beautiful even when foul or distasteful and there is humor in foul/distasteful language. Certainly not in a discussion where the language is primarily for clarity and explanation of a point.

      EDIT1 (after you added the last 4 paras): I take it that you are not inclined towards forming of such conduct rules?
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        Apr 25 2013: "I do not understand why you have to rate the points"

        I think he was using humor......I was laughing when I read what he wrote.
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          Apr 25 2013: I am sorry, the humor, if any, has been lost on me. I shall lift my antennae higher next time. :)
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      Apr 25 2013: "To practice zero-tolerance policy is dangerous"

      Not at all........that is why people are attracted to TED.

      Many newcomers are amazed that many on here participate in conversations on a variety of very controversial hot topics and do so with respect and using appropriate language.

      Other sites are not as nice, and it's a free for all.

      I, for one, like the fact that TED removes people who come on here with foul language, demeaning remarks, and show no inclination to change how they choose to communicate their thoughts.
      • Apr 26 2013: Thank you for telling us about the editorial policy in weeding out postings with foul languages as well as those containing pure speculation without any sense. I also agree that in a scholarly discussion of many topics, we simply should never refuse any topics with no clear "evidence" or "facts" to back up. What about someone "dreamed up" something that has no evidence, but it is REMOTELY POSSIBLE? Furthermore, if people want to form an opinion, they can cite many so-called evidence which involves no statistics at all.
        I am a professor in statistics. I don't want to confuse people by lot of statistical jargon. But, statisticians are invited to supervise to MAKE EVIDENCE from lab experiments or clinical trials. Of course, many opinions or study results in public opinion or drug effects are just a probabilistic measurement with no absolute certainty in the so-called evidence. But that's what we do, and I believe that these studies are absolutely necessary and worth doing.
        Anyway, I also worked with people in psychology and sociology; so called soft sciences. When an opinion about the right or wrong policy, we always have opposite "evidence" from different parties. Even in that situation, should or shouldn't we allow discussions about the topic? In my view, we should not blindly refuse any topic, unless the topic is based on a clear rumor already refuted by reputable source. However, if it is a scenario dreamed up by somebody, it probably is justified to allow such conversation, because who are we to make a judgment that such thing will never happen?
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          Apr 26 2013: Hi Bart, hey, you're welcome.

          I have been around TED a while, and have seen the removal of posts and posters who had no respect for the 'civilized' way in which we share information on here.

          However, I have never seen people removed for pure speculation......that is, personal opinions and such.

          Some of the conversations on here are very techniqual in nature, but others are more social or philosophical.

          There's a little bit for everybody.

          How neat that you are a professor of statistics. You have wonderful insights to share.
          I really enjoyed reading your reply to me.

          I wholeheartedly agree with you...."we should not blindly refuse any topic, unless it is based on a clear rumor already refuted by reputable sources. We are noone to make a judgment of whether some things will never happen."

          By the way have you seen the wonderful talk on statistics by Hans Rosling:


          Enjoy.....and welcome to TED
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        Apr 26 2013: I have observed the same thing, Mary. Sometimes when a person's comment is deleted, the person claims it was because TED didn't like the idea- because it challenged the status quo or something, but in truth a discussion site like TED loves to see a variety of uncommon ideas presented, including speculative ones. Discussion would not be meaningful or interesting without a range of ideas in play.

        Comments, as I understand it, are deleted when they are personal attacks, when they are really over-the-top rude, when they are commercial promotions, or when it is something like a person posting under several aliases in the same thread to make it appear that a whole bunch of people are ridiculing a person or his position when, in fact, it is only one bully-type.
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          Apr 27 2013: You know Fritzie, when I joined TED alot of my comments were deleted. Then my conversations were destroyed to smithereens (did I spell that right?)
          I remember a TEDster that would get really angry when TED removed comments that quoted from the Bible. And removed conversations dealing with spiritual issues.
          Alot of people left the site because of it, or at least they do not post comments any more.

          I have found that TED has realized that people want to talk about all kinds of stuff/topics/issues.....I mean, how can you post talks by evangelists, then tell the TED community that they cannot discuss the Bible?

          And even though alot of the conversations are kinda like personal blogs, so what?
          We all learn about topics we've wondered about, or get educated in something we had no idea about, and every once in a while have an exchange of really encouraging thoughts that bring smiles to our faces.

          Look at Mr. Pinter below.....he once said in a conversation about popular scientists...

          "Name of first scientist"----Gold
          "Name of second scientist"----Fool's Gold

          I still remember those humorous expressions to voice his opinion.

          We've got ourselves some high class individuals here at TED.........don't we? ;)
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          Apr 27 2013: I agree with Mary because of my personal experience here in TED. At one point of time, I left TED as I had issues about how the site is moderated. I made public my stand on this in my own website and I believe many have read that. I came back here after I saw that TED has changed it's terms of use clauses meaningfully. Even then I was ready to leave the site at any point of time had there been issues between TED and I. I think I am still in a trust building (mutual) stage.

          While I respect TED's obligations and founding principles to run the site, I also believe that the whole set up, that is TED and the commenters are in a learning process about the ideas of free speech, constructive conversations, conducts and responsibilities towards an emerging human knowledge repertoire. I sincerely believe that the conversations should not be directed towards any specific set of ideals (beyond etiquette and language based moderation).

          I don't believe in God. So I find it necessary to talk to as many believers as non-believers to always keep on testing my belief. There is no guarantee that I may not change my belief someday.
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        Apr 27 2013: You have been here much longer than I have, Mary. And yes, I remember Kristzian's statement . Neil Degrasse Tyson was the Gold and Kaku the Fool's Gold. I remember it because it connects to the interesting problem of how people without any science background other than high school can learn science through internet sources, given how difficult it is for the layperson to distinguish the high quality from the low quality. Sometimes you can have people who really know "their stuff" but who lecture public audiences, or write for them, about other stuff. Other times you have perfectly knowledgeable people whose public words are shaped very much for crowd appeal.

        Anyway, interesting question for anyone thinking about how lifelong learning or lifelong study works.

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