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!!

  • Apr 28 2013: Hi.
    A zero-tolerance policy is still dangerous.
    People who are genuine assholes, generally do not stick around.
    The more they are ignored, the less they wind up saying and the shorter they stay.

    To illustrate (maybe good, maybe not), I worked with African-American men for many years.
    They were newly out of prison and trying to put their lives together. A difficult task.
    They were always ready to see racism everywhere, in everything and though to a degree they were right, it also did not serve them well to do so.
    Why? Because every time they felt racism raised its ugly head, they felt they had to beat it back down in order to win, and when they did so, felt they were winning the fight.

    However, I pointed out how racism still owned them because every time it appeared, they reacted, as though there was a string attached to them.

    They got the point. There comes a time when ignoring it (using tolerance), is the most powerful tool and may open the door to helping others change their behavior and then their beliefs.
    What if we, or if someone, finds your comments so offending that they wish to have a zero-tolerance policy on you? Are you okay with that?
    There are people who seem to live at some extreme opposite of most others.
    An opposite end that is so far removed that they appear as a small dot on the horizon.
    What in the world do you think you look like to them? A small dot on the horizon, yet you expect and even demand they tolerate you!
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      Apr 28 2013: I tend to agree with you Random. I don't prefer to be in a community that has zero-tolerance. But I don't think TED is a zero-tolerance community either.
      However, I also think it is not in the best interest of us to silently ignore hateful, aggressive, racial or otherwise socially unacceptable attitude by way of comments.
      Thanks for your views :)
      • Apr 29 2013: Hi Pabitra.
        I hope you see this because in respect to your recent response to me,
        "However, I also think it is not in the best interest of us to silently ignore hateful, aggressive, racial or otherwise socially unacceptable attitude by way of comments. "

        I would like to ask you how would you respond to speech that is Fascist or Totalitarian, or how you would even grade such speech? Grade, so to speak. I couldn't think of the right word.
        Maybe appraise or discern. Hope you get my meaning.
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          Apr 29 2013: I'd grade such speech as politically incorrect. I am having difficulty imagining any attitude as fascist/totalitarian because normally such attitudes are derivatives of authoritarian behavior. Unless a commenter is consistently behaving in that manner, it may be difficult to be sure about a fascist agenda in a single comment.
          Identified, I shall denounce such attitude/speech/behavior strongly of course. It is tacitly assumed that this platform is founded on democratic ideals (barring few cases of censoring/deletions).
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    Apr 28 2013: So slightly off topic question, but one which in my opinion could be arguably more interesting..... who likes cake?
    Haha :D

    I must agree with the general theme developing in the preceding comments that all 10 are important though to some extent I disagree with number 7 on the basis that people post their questions looking for insight and answers, not random chit chat about something different. Yes it is brilliant to read and most of the comments posted are a joy to browse through, but sometimes they simply are not offering any help to the poster, if anything, they maybe sidetrack them to lose focus on what was concerning/intriguing them originally.
    I must add however, that this is a slightly hypocritical contribution to this question as I seem to find myself adding in rhetorical and somewhat off-topic questions through my answers!

    Also, in regard to number 4 I think this is of importance both of a fellow TED comment-er level and whomever posted the question to begin with. If you feel someone has really put a lot of passion and thought into an answer and you enjoyed the moments of your time used reading it, the show that appreciation and 'thumbs up' the comment. I am sure that this will not only make them smile, but encourage them to put as much energy into future comments. With question posters, it is lovely to see those who interact throughout the conversations and reply to comments which they feel are necessary/worthy.
    The TED community and conversations are wonderful, I'm sure that these rules are already strongly imprinted within most of us anyway, though thank you for the clarification of them Pabitra - Hopefully this will help to deter those who don't follow and remind everyone what is acceptable! :D
    • Apr 28 2013: You know what helps conversations stay on track? A slice of cake :D haha

      I liked your post.

      But now to my question......I think that if the person posting the question or idea, or debate, came back and responded to the posted comments, it would help the conversation stay on track.

      Sometimes people highjack conversations....because they start to argue statistics or semantics or just about anything.
      And yes, we are all hypocrites when it comes to adhering to this point.
      Mainly because our brains are wired to make connections, and sometimes what one member will share, may remind us of something else, and we feel the impulse to share it.

      I had a university professor who called these extraneous details "nickel knowledge"......and boy, have I got nickels in my piggy bank.

      Are you done with the slice of cake? OK, now wipe your mouth. May I offer you a spot of tea? :D
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      Apr 28 2013: Hi Becky :)
      The 10 rules in the opening text have since been amended to 12 in an independent post by me some where below. Kindly look that up and offer your comments. There is also a #13 now and I hope to post a further amendment soon.
      I use thumbs up pretty often and have not flagged any comment as inappropriate. I think it is better to mistake on the happier side of life than the bitter. I prefer to express clearly why I did not like the style, manner or rational of a comment instead of flagging it. That's community manager's job.
      Thank you for your response :)
      • Apr 28 2013: Pabitra, I agree with your view of flagging, with one exception....spam.

        Sometimes the moderators need a little bit of help, but that's just my opinion.
        Some spam is so the one about making alot of money....remember when those popped up everywhere?
        When it is obviously spam, I will flag it.
        Otherwise, I leave comments alone.
  • 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?
      • 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. :)
    • 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?
        • 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.
        • 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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    Apr 25 2013: Go, Pabitra, go! :) (in a positive way, of course. I'm just giving humour a chance.)

    "Hi Fritzie,
    I think you are right about 7. So it should read:
    7. Try to be on topic. If a thread develops a question more interesting than the original, please open a new discussion. "

    ...and if a thread develops into a discussion that may not be interesting for everybody, use e-mail to continue it.
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      Apr 25 2013: "...and if a thread develops into a discussion that may not be interesting for everybody, use e-mail to continue it." Good humor Anna :) But I think there is an easier alternative. Don't join the discussion.
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        Apr 26 2013: ...or join and and get 'hit-the-nail-on-the-head' award or... not :)

        But seriously - do join, respectful of all participants and assuming good faith.
  • Apr 25 2013: This seems a good list, but I've never seen anyone be especially rude.
    • Apr 25 2013: The few times someone has come on here and posted rude remarks, someone will swiftly flag them, and then TED will delete all comments.

      It is a rare indeed to read rude remarks.

      It's nice to have a place where there is zero tolerance for rudeness.

      I think that sometimes the place where the most arguing (discussion) goes on is under the daily talks.
  • Apr 25 2013: Regarding #10:

    Did you know that "AFTER" a conversation closes, the TEDster who opened the conversation can access it and write a conclusion?

    It's true!!

    Alot of people don't know is a link to one of my conversations, and you will see my closing remarks in a
    gray box at the top of the page.

    It's a nice way to wrap up a conversation.

    What I have always disliked here on TED is that many young people post threads, and they never participate in it.
    I tend to stay away from conversations where the person who originates it, never comes in and talks, or thanks you for your participation or acknowledges you.

    I don't know, to me, it's kind of rude.
    But I guess social media is like that?

    So, Pabitra, I hope you put a "Closing statement" after your conversations end.

    If you have started other conversations, and they ended already, go back and do it. It's never too late. :)
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      Apr 25 2013: Hi, Mary. I don't think the practice you identify is particular to young people (depending how young you mean!)

      I too find that if a person doesn't seem to be checking up on his own thread or sharing his own ideas in the thread, I don't stay in. I don't like to feel that someone is just giving the community an assignment to do for him while he watches.

      I don't know anything about social media in general, but I think there are websites that are not conversation/discussion sites where a person posts a question and then just collects other people's answers.
      • Apr 25 2013: Can you tell I'm old?

        By young I mean 40 and under?
        I mostly see this phenomena with the TEDsters in their 20's and early 30"s.

        I don't know anything about social media either.....bu I know a little about common courtesy.......which like common sense, appears to be not so common anymore.... :(
    • Comment deleted

      • Apr 25 2013: Well, you and me just have a name and no picture.

        But, if my memory serves me right..... the conversations which I have seen where no comments have been provided by the poster and there was a picture attached to the name, appeared to conversations started by younger folk........

        Maybe I'll do a sweep and see if I am just imagining it.....I'll come back.
      • Apr 25 2013: I don't think TED needs to oblige anyone to do anything.

        The information of what is readily available to us is on the site.

        Alot of people choose not to read directions.

        When you log on, you have the ability to see all the conversations you have participated in.

        As they close, you can see it, and you can click and see if a conclusion was written.

        Also, you can monitor your conversations this same way. Sometimes a conversation will be winding down to it's last days and then someone will come in and contribute something that gets it going again. I personally monitor my conversations this way....I click under my TED cred where it says "My conversations" in red letters.

        What I have noticed though, is that there are so many conversations that get started, and then fall by the wayside. This happens all too often.
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      Apr 25 2013: Thanks Mary! I didn't know I can add closing remarks even after the conversation closed. I shall try to leave my closing remarks in all conversations started by me.
      • Apr 25 2013: I know!!!

        Alot of people don't know it.

        You are not the first person I have informed of this, but it is usually a nice surprise for everybody.
        It is the one time you get to have the last word.....hey!!!!! :D
  • May 1 2013: Who better than all the constituents, via the net.
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    Apr 30 2013: Many community participates have TED email. Try contacting a person directly, when appropriate
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    Apr 29 2013: Second amendment of TED conversation conduct rules ! :)
    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 as many references as you can if you are forwarding a claim.
    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.

    Anything to add, folks?
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      Apr 30 2013: This may be petty, but I don't think it is necessary to back up a comment "with as many references as you can."

      Perhaps, "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."
  • Apr 28 2013: So you would outlaw arguements?
  • Comment deleted

    • Apr 28 2013: Hi Kate,

      I enjoyed reading your input.
      You know, I have always had M after my name....well, before I had my full last name, but then I felt uncomfortable and removed it.

      I have gone back and deleted my comments from conversations where the person who started it never went in and acknowledged any of the commenters.

      If you ever share information you are not comfortable with, make sure you delete it before the conversation closes, because after it closes, you cannot go back into it. Did you know this?

      When I first joined TED I would sometimes get upset and erase my comments......this came from lack of experience in online communities. TED was the first site where I contributed my views. Since then I've changed quite a bit. It takes a while to get used to online conversations.

      I really like our community.

      I have flagged spam on various occassions. I think alot of people have.

      Pleasure talking to you Kate....hope you are enjoying your weekend.
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        Apr 29 2013: What I was referring to was not someones data collection for school, but I am sure you do have excellent instincts for that sort of thing, Mary.
        • Apr 29 2013: Fritzie......either my coffee has not kicked in yet, or you posted this comment in the wrong place.

          Which is it?

          [EDIT]...I see you are referring to my comment below. Yes, of course, I know you are not referring to data collection for school. But I just wanted to interject how I sometimes perceive questions that come with that certain "aroma" of a research paper.
      • Comment deleted

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        Apr 29 2013: Yes, Mary, I posted a response to you in the closest place where I could find a reply button for you.
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      Apr 28 2013: Hi Kate :)
      Thanks for your observation, I really appreciate it.
      Editing a post after a reply can give a reader (who is reading the conversation for the first time) a completely wrong idea, I guess. For example say I made a spelling mistake in a comment, you indicated that in your reply to me, I went back and edited the spelling. Now someone who will read the conversation will be confused as to why you at all indicated something which is apparently not there!
      This is more serious when someone edits semantic or contextual content of a post without ever mentioning it. That may make the replies look silly or inappropriate.
      I completely understand your rational to delete comments and respect your right to do so. All I am suggesting is that please leave a remark why you deleted your comments, in case of deleting a number of comments from a conversation.
      This brings us to a very hotly debated issue of conversation ownership.
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          Apr 28 2013: That will be very sad for me Kate and I am being very honest about it.
          I think I have a very personal conviction that many, even you, may not agree to. I believe that the real ownership of the vast collection human thoughts, expressions, opinions and scholarship like one in TED belongs to the community. I am very aware of the copyright act that is prevalent in the country of incorporation of TED and not aware about TED's personal feeling about the ownership - but that notwithstanding, it's the people who contribute to enrich this platform and I firmly believe no one can claim an exclusive right to it. So deleting a comment must be given a very careful thought.
          I think you know that I requested TED admin once to remove my account with all my contribution to it. They kept my request reluctantly. I was having issues with the TED admin over some principles and that was a condition I gave them to show if they were keen to acknowledge my contribution. They couldn't and I left with my posts and account deleted. I feel sad about my fellow contributors at that time since I could not leave any clarification.
          Save and except that, I think I have a modest presence in the www for 10 years now. I never felt the necessity of using an alias despite many negative experiences. My naivety and mistakes are all emblazoned over the net for anybody to see :) If anything, how a common folk slowly learnt things by interacting with people and could make a little progress (however modest) over years can itself be more interesting to all than my ramblings, I believe.
          But this is how i personally think. I fully respect your choice and feelings in this matter.
          This is one limitation of such virtual interaction, you know. Had we been talking over a cup of coffee in person, dear Kate Blake, I could use my non-vocal charms to make you come back to the table. I think you could too, no?
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          Apr 28 2013: Thanks :) I have many Aussie friends and I am very fond of them. I think us Indians too have strange sense of humor.
          Keep your right and keep in touch.
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          Apr 28 2013: Kate and Pabitra,
          Regarding deleting comments. There were a couple people (or maybe it was one person with multiple accounts) who used to consistantly delete all their comments right before a discussion closed, and some folks who consistantly edited or deleted comments. Most of the time I simply stopped interacting with them.

          I also learned to form comments so they could stand alone if everything around my comment was deleted either by the author, or by TED. Of course my comments are usually directed to a certain person, I address that person by name, and I am aware that the comment is shared with the entire TED community and beyond:>)

          When I was little, my mom used to ask a question for the purpose of teaching....."how would you feel if everyone in the world knew what you were saying or doing right now"?

          Way back then, we didn't have an internet connection whereby our words could be passed around the world instantaniously! The lesson was to be aware and conscious of my words and actions. That question was planted in my brain, and it is still a foundation for everything I say and do. I say what I mean, and mean what I say with as much respect, consideration, open mind and open heart as I can have at the moment:>)
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        Apr 28 2013: I have only once deleted my comments in a conversation, other than when I inadvertently posted twice. It was a conversation in which someone posed a question, to which a couple of us responded multiple times in good faith, Theodore and I, but the person who opened the conversation would not answer questions back at all. Even when Theodore stated he would answer no further questions unless the thread-initiator responded also to questions, the thread-initiator replied, "What sort of response from me would you be interested in?" rather than providing an authentic response.

        Realizing it was in the eye of the thread-initiator only NLP practice and that he had no intention of sharing his thoughts authentically, both Theodore and I, as I recall, withdraw our comments, as there was no exchange going on.
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          Apr 28 2013: I understand your feeling Fritzie. In my experience I have seldom asked questions to the conversation initiator, rather I like to join the conversation when it develops a bit and usually with a reply to somebody. I agree that it feels really bad when someone just chooses to ignore an honest question.
          I also have the knack of leaving one liners in the conversations, which may look like wise cracking to some :) But I do it with the hope to stir things up or receive insight from other commenters.
          It's a pleasure reading your comments (more so because you seem to have a background in science). I hope in time people will feel less intimidated to discuss interesting science related issues.
        • Apr 29 2013: I remember that conversation Fritzie!!

          At times, when a question pops up that sounds like a research paper topic for school, I will click on the person's name who initiated the question. If I see that it is a new member, and he/she has not contributed to the TED community, and If I see lots of posts, but the person who posted the question does not interact.....I will ignore the conversation.

          The teacher in me hears bells and whistles in the brain...."plagiarism'.....

          But that's me.

          But, if, on the other hand, the person posting the question comes out and says they are working on a project, and give an introduction showing knowledge of the subject matter, and asks questions and interacts with the posters, then I will contributte.

          That's what I do.........for now anyways.
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    Apr 27 2013: Hi Pabitra:>)
    I agree with everything you propose except #7. I do not believe in supporting different topics that may evolve from the original, unless they are very closly related. On this forum, people pop in and out of conversations all the time, and if it is left open to continue with different questions/topics, the discussion becomes confused and confusing. Sometimes, the conversation topic can keep evolving until it has nothing to do with the original topic. So, I'm not in favor of encouraging that. If a topic other than the original, becomes more interesting to some folks, it is not that difficult to start another conversation.

    One thing that I like, is for the facilitator (person who starts the conversation) to be engaged with the discussion. I don't understand why some people start a bunch of discussions, then disappear! The conversations generally flow much better when the facilitator is involved and genuinely engaged with the discussion.

    One thing that helps me tie your proposed elements together, is to read comments several times carefully before responding, and to read my comments several times before submitting. I evaluate I commenting respectfully? Without personal attack? I believe we see some "knee jerk" comments that may not be well thought out. Sometimes, when someone has a personal agenda that s/he is trying to promote, it appears that s/he is not even really listening to, or hearing the comment they are responding to.

    Is humor used appropriately? I tend to use humor, and/or more personal comments with those I have interacted with and know a little better, believing that they will understand the humor and/or more personal comments. I've seen people use humor and personal comments with new people on TED, and that seems kind of weird to me.....just my personal observation and feeling:>)

    Thanks for the conversation Pabitra my friend.....I sincerely hope that is not too personal...LOL:>)
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      Apr 27 2013: You raise an issue, Colleen, that I have noticed as well in relation to newcomers. Sometimes someone new posts a question and someone jumps in in a hostile way that would be easy for the newcomer to take personally. The newcomer therefore gets the impression that the site is about ridicule or personal attack and doesn't stay to learn otherwise. And we lose a member who might have brought a new perspective to the table.

      A recent example was a newcomer from a country in Europe- can't remember which- who described himself in his profile as a public servant. His thread was unrelated to his work in anyway.

      A person who had been part of TED Conversations for awhile, rather than addressing the actual question in the thread, launched an attack on government employees and on the idea of a government employee's calling himself a public servant. Then someone else, or the same person under a second name, joined in that attack.

      The newcomer deleted his name quickly and has not been seen since.

      Personal attacks, as Pabitra writes in his number 1, are never good, but courtesy is particularly important, I think, in relation to newcomers.
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        Apr 27 2013: Hi Fritzie :)
        Will you kindly check my reply below to Colleen where I tried to explain my thoughts about your observation? Thank you.
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        Apr 27 2013: Fritzie and Pabitra,
        While it is allowed for newcomers to post questions/ideas/debates, I think it would be helpful for them to participate in a few discussions BEFORE posting a question. That way, they can get a better feel for how the forum works, and be a little more familier with some participants. It is a choice. It seems that when someone simply pops in and starts a conversation, they often have a specific agenda to promote. I agree that courtesy is everyone. Of course, some folks will say we are not courtious or respectful when we simply disagree with them...LOL:>)
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      Apr 27 2013: Hi Colleen :)
      I think that your objection about #7 has been taken care of in the first amendment of TED conversation conduct rules. You can find that below as an independent post by me down somewhere. Both you and Fritzie raise some thought provoking issues about our conduct towards newcomers. I shall take the liberty to explain both here and would request Fritzie to refer to this reply.
      1. Humor and personal comment towards a new comer : Your observation is justified. But at the same time one should imagine this platform like a public place where many people are discussing many things and everyone is free to join any discussion. Beyond a common standard of etiquette, politeness and matured behavior, it may not be, perhaps, very practical or interesting to expect everybody would be reacting similarly. i think one, even a newcomer, should be prepared to face a little banter, jibe or poke done tastefully. Otherwise, I feel, the platform will be too boring. :) I am guileless enough to admit when some humor is lost on me.
      2. Hostility towards a newcomer that may be mistaken as a personal attack : I think every platform collectively decides its own level of aggression towards a newcomer. In TED its pretty mild. I have experience of Project Reason, where one is grilled a little (purely intellectually of course) as a customary initiation. I survived it with few bruises. If am not wrong, I think I remember the particular discourse where the Govt. Servant seemed to have issues with few commenters previously. I neither condone nor condemn it. How I create my credibility in public is also dependent on my conduct.

      I completely agree with both you and Fritzie that it is very confusing to see some members posing questions, ideas or debates and then completely remain silent. I think Mary also pointed that out. I am including this as #13.
      13. Please interact with the commenters as a host of a conversation you started.
      Thanks for sharing your views. :)
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        Apr 27 2013: Pabitra,
        I LOVE banter, jibe or poke done tastefully. You realize that one's perception of "tasteful" is subjective? I certainly do not expect everyone to "be reacting similarly", and I don't perceive Fritzie to be advocating that either.

        We are all from different cultures....different primary languages. I have seen some folks use very common jokes or statements that mistify and confuse someone from another culture/different language. Sometimes, the person to whom these are directed will ask, sometimes, they simply cancel membership and disappear from TED. It would be helpful to be aware and mindful of this.....that's all:>)

        I do not agree that the "platform collectively" decides anything. I have observed some comments to newcommers that I sometimes feel embarrassed about, because they sometimes REFLECT the "platform collectively", when that certainly is NOT the case......see what I mean? We DO NOT collectively as a forum decide a "level of aggression towards a newcomer", because I personally would not be involved in aggression, and there certainly are lots of other folks who do not participate in "collective aggression".

        I "survived" a few things on TED when I first came on....a person threatened to track me down and kill me... also threatened to throw acid in my face before killing me......on and on and on. Thankfully that person is gone......I think! Hopefully, we continue to evolve as a community, and as long as we say it's ok.....I survived's an "initiation"...etc., the behavior will continue. Hazing was an "initiation" know....."boys will be boys" until so many young boys were killed or injured so badly that communities and institutions started looking at, and discouraging the practice.
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          Apr 27 2013: I have seen people urging someone to put up a profile only three times, but I know you have been involved here much longer and more extensively than I have. One case was when someone with a pseudonym and no profile came in with an extremely aggressive posture of a sort many would label as trolling or extremely rude. The person who urged the other to put up a profile was just disturbed that someone would come in with that posture while hiding behind an anonymous identity.

          The other was a case in which someone used an ID photo that was recognizably someone else- not a celebrity but an actual other person. I know I would be extremely unhappy were someone to lift my picture and start posting content beside it of his own that someone might think were my views. So I understand how someone would urge upon another not to do that.

          There was one other case I remember but I don't remember the details. I remember only responding on the thread that profiles are not required. Both parties in that exchange are now gone.

          I agree, though, with your general point, Colleen, that communities work better if people understand that some people have good reasons to keep their private data private.

          But I think this sort of stuff is part of what the Terms of Use mean by civility.
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        Apr 27 2013: Neither Colleen nor I was talking about intellectual sparring. I think what we are concerned about (and Colleen can correct me if I misread her posts) is more like "hazing."
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          Apr 27 2013: Yes....I think we're on the same page Fritzie. I don't see why anyone needs to be challenged in an abusive, demanding or agressive way.

          A person on TED has demanded that newcomers provide more information on their profile so he can know more about them. There is NO rule or regulation that demands or requires any information at all on our profile, and I trust that people will provide whatever they are comfortable providing. I've observed a couple of those people disappear.

          The problem with some of these behaviors, when allowed to continue, is that it attracts more people with some of the same behaviors. I've mentioned this to the TED moderators....the longer abusive, aggressive or off topic statements stay on the threads, the more people it attracts who comment in the same way. The more we encourage respectful, thoughtful, on topic comments, the more we attract people who want to communicate in that way.
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          Apr 28 2013: Point noted Fritzie. Thanks for clarifying.
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      Apr 28 2013: But Colleen, you can surely get a bit too personal, mon amie ;) Haha :D
      I think you and Fritzie clarified something that is most important for any TED commenter to benefit from. It goes down in the list as #14.
      14. Draw your line between intellectual sparring and hazing. No trolls, bullying, multiple profile ganging up either.
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        Apr 28 2013: LOL......Yes my friend is true...I will be careful about that:>)

        The challenge with the task, is that some folks are not aware of the difference between intellectual sparring, hazing and bullying. A couple of those folks think they are being reasonable, logical, and their asertive, aggressive comments are simply showing everyone how intelligent they are...they appear to be out to "win".......something......!!! LOL:>)
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    Apr 25 2013: I hereby let go the first chance to criticise. Now about the second chance, number 2 seems to command disagreement. Did you mean to say "IF you disagree, do it with respect."? In number 4 did you actually intend to use the word "complement", which means to complete or bring to perfection, or did you intend the word "compliment", which means to express courtesy or respect? Number 5 does not allow criticism when there is but one, isolated point of criticism. Number 7 should command being on-topic, it weakly suggests being on-topic. Number 8 allows posting when there is no stand. Do not post if you have no stand to make. number 10 is an existing requirement which very few people honor.
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      Apr 25 2013: Compliment it is. Thanks for pointing.
      I think 'Disagree respectfully' does not necessarily mean a command to disagree. One can say that No personal attack implies encouragement for other kinds of attacks. That would be too much extension of imagination. What is your suggestion? Should no. 2 be modified to 'IF you disagree, do it with respect.'?

      For criticism to be constructive and not just for the heck of it, it is preferable to seek clarification on a point. In my opinion overtly enthusiastic criticism can ruin a whole discussion. In any case, what exactly do you suggest? Drop no.5? Modify it?

      I have noticed previously an unjustly strong emphasis on being 'on topic' in TED. I think I have seen whole conversations dedicated on the issues of on-topic/off-topic. In my opinion, a lively discussion may not always insist commenters being strictly on-topic - some humor, some banter, some personal exchanges are normal and simulates a real 'face-to-face' discussion. So, yes my suggestion on being on-topic is not very strong, if not weak.
      Completely disagree that 'Make your stand clear, if you have one' is equivalent to 'Do not post if you have no stand to make.'
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        Apr 25 2013: No problem. Simply suggestions offered in a spirit of helpfulness. No need to defend yourself. Be well, and thanks for trying to improve the free exchange of ideas!
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          Apr 25 2013: Welcome. Was just clarifying, not defending.
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          Apr 27 2013: Yes, Edward, I think people should post only with a point or purpose, but I think the fact that someone chose to post means he had a purpose. The only question is whether the purpose he had was connected to moving forward understanding of the subject at hand.

          Perhaps I am being too literal.
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        Apr 25 2013: I agree, Pabitra, that people can make valuable contributions to discussion without taking a stand. People can, for example, contribute information, raise a question, try to clarify an argument someone else has made, and so forth.

        I also agree that some banter can work well and I doubt people flag it very much. In contrast, I think people can usually recognize when they are steering a conversation from the topic at hand to a topic they would really prefer to discuss and it would be nice if they were to exercise some restraint in this. It is a habit some people have as well in offline discussion, which is how in some families everyone gets to hear the same story over and over!
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          Apr 27 2013: Thank you, Fritzie, for pointing-out that I may have over-extended the meaning of the word "stand". I was using it interchangeably with "point". You are correct that posting on TED does not require that there be a point/stand in the post. It may be academic, or historical information germane to. . . to what? Isn't it true that every poster should be able to answer the question (even if TED does not ask it): "What is the point, or purpose of this post?" If the answer is "There is no point/purpose.", then it should not be posted.
  • Apr 25 2013: You know what would by nice.........if TED allowed us to italicize and bold when we copy/pasted from others' comments.

    You know how sometimes you are addressing just one part of somebody else's comment and you copy/paste it, then you have to put quotation marks around it?
    It would be nice if we could italicize, or bold the letters to make them pop......and then we can break down parts of other's conversation to address different points easier.

    I just think that is a nice thing to have.....I use it on another site, and it makes it easier to follow conversations, also when you bring in information from an outside source, you can italicize and bold as well.

    This of course has nothing to do w/ conversation conduct, but I thought I'd include it. Shall I start a new thread? (this is humor....or my attempt at it)

    [EDIT] The way it is done on another site, is we put at the beginning and end of the section we want to italicize, and use b for bold instead of i. Very simple, and very effective.
    Hope you read this TED.

    [EDIT...2] Guess what? It did not let me tell you how it's done. I will write it out. You type the sign on top of the comma, then type i, then type the sign on top of the period. You do this at the beginning and at the end of the statement.

    If what I typed doesn't make sense to you, let me know.
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      Apr 25 2013: Dear Mary,
      That is an interesting suggestion. But I think what you are indicating is a text editor that is sensitive to hypertext scripting. TED does not use that. May be TED wants to keep the server light. For example you cannot insert a picture/media in a comment.
      • Apr 28 2013: So what you are saying is that it would be too much work to do something like that?
        Oh bummer.
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          Apr 28 2013: :) TED knows best Mary. It's quite a task reigning in wild horses in a stable with too few people. I think they want to keep things simple.
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    Apr 25 2013: First amendment of TED conversation conduct rules ! :)
    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 as many references as you can if you are forwarding a claim.


    Regarding rudeness : I think it is subjective. I have never flagged any comment as inappropriate till date. I can protest, reason, even caution if rudeness compels me to, but not flag.
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    Apr 25 2013: Well said Pabitra. Calm are the Wise. I have another point to add to your wise words. May I call it number eleven? 11. Back up facts with precise documentation references in a scientific manner when possible will help the argument. Statistics are often flawed.

    Thankyou Pabitra. May you receive many blessings.

    I have edited always flawed to often flawed. Because I cannot substantiate in precise mathematical or scientific manner to substantiate using the word always. I have also changed the wording to third party so as not to be mis-understood. As you can see from the comment by esteemed Tedster Edward Long below my overall message to be precise is important to the community.

    This actually brings me to the suggestion of a twelfth thumb rule. 12. Carefully word your comments and check over them twice.
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      Apr 25 2013: Mr. Stewart, can you provide precise documentation references in a scientific manner to back-up your statement that statistics are ALWAYS (my emphasis) flawed? What I have learned about statistics is that they are like a bikini in that what they reveal is less important than what they do not reveal. Thank you!
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        Apr 25 2013: Mr Long, Thank you for providing me with this exercise in communication and the delightful analogy you use to explain your understanding of statistics. You will see that I have changed the word always to often. Can you agree with that?

        Your comment actually substantiates the point I was trying to make. That is that statistics are to be questioned. I am not a statistician or even a mathematician but I have used or understood statistics in quantitative analysis and psychological studies. Particularly the study entitled The effects of Mirror Training on Self-recognition in a Gorilla. All of the statistics in both of these applications were subject to certain confidence limits and other measures of accuracy. This allows for an acceptable deviation from the actual value without dismissing the evidence all together.

        Wow! As the first comment I have ever made here I must say that I am delighted with the prospect of exercising my rather average intellectual ability. Delightful altogether!
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          Apr 25 2013: That's what the "D" in TED stands for. . . DELIGHT! (Not really, actually it is DESIGN). I agree completely that statistics are OFTEN flawed. So you're the guy who has been Mirror Training Gorillas? Cool job. Welcome to TED.
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      Apr 25 2013: I don't think it is practical, Greg, on a site like this to demand that people back up statements with the sort of documentation you suggest. It may be more reasonable to accept that statements made here without such support are the opinions and beliefs of the speaker rather than necessarily assertions of fact.

      I think if something is presented as a statement of fact but evidence is not offered, the writer should not be offended to be asked for evidence, as in many cases people are talking about things here where they are not expert.
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        Apr 25 2013: Right Fritzie, We can transcend the dubious nature of opinions and beliefs with hard evidence where the evidence is available. It is merely my intention to say that words are not so powerful when they haven't any evidence to back them up. Well said and thank you for the opportunity to expound.
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          Apr 25 2013: I understand your point, Greg. In scholarly or academic discussion, such support would be required unless a point is so well understood in the discipline that it needs no citation. Providing evidence also allows the reader to decide whether she considers the basis for the statement sound. For example, most people would accept Richard Feynman on quantum mechanics. But many online sources on that same topic are not credible.
    • Apr 25 2013: Of course this depends on what the conversation is about.

      Sometimes anecdotal evidence may be sufficient, don't you think.
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        Apr 25 2013: Absolutely Mary, Thank you for pointing out my less than perfectly worded advice. I just wanted to point out that it is much easier to argue a point when you have the evidence.
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          Apr 27 2013: Mr. Stewart, I am sure you agree with the old adage that there is nothing more annoying than arguing with someone who knows what they are talking about! :-)
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    Apr 25 2013: i'm behind 3, 6, 7 and half of 9
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    Apr 24 2013: Hi, Pabitra. That first one is particularly important. Challenging a position is one thing, while attacking or harassing a discussant is another.
    I think your number 7 might benefit from revision. Sometimes a person opens a thread here posing a particular legitimate question and someone else posts a somewhat tangentially related "reply" on the thread that that poster may, in fact, find more interesting but that steers the discussion well away from what the questioner was asking. In that case, I think it is more productive for the second person to open a new thread for his special interest.
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      Apr 25 2013: Hi Fritzie,
      I think you are right about 7. So it should read:
      7. Try to be on topic. If a thread develops a question more interesting than the original, please open a new discussion.
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        Apr 25 2013: I think I would just say a new question rather than a more interesting one. The original question may be more interesting to some people and the new one to others.
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          Apr 30 2013: But wouldn't discussing around the original subject in the same thread, potentially end up with better informed answers/conclusions?

          I agree that steering the question too far away from the original is tantamount to hijacking a conversation, but sometimes approaching a subject 'from the left field' can reveal new answers - even though it looks at first as though it's going off-topic.

          I must admit that I go off on tangents in discussions which may be annoying for some, but rightly or wrongly I am trying to view the subject from afar and then work my way in towards it, rather than confining myself to a subject too tightly closed on topic from the start.
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        Apr 30 2013: Allan, I understood Pabitra to refer to diversions that steer the subject away from the subject at hand. An example might be, in the thread now open about whether everything in life revolves around finding a mate, if someone were to divert the discussion to questions about gravity, school reform, or the corruption of public institutions, Pabitra's guidelines would say to start a new thread. Another example might be, in the thread now open about whether general relativity is wrong, if someone thinks that some theory in economics is also wrong, it would be better to start a new thread for that so that the discussion about relativity could remain focused on that rather than everyone's forgetting the thread is about science and start talking about economics.