TED Conversations

greg dahlen

Alumnus, academy of achievement

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Have you ever tried to put a conversation on TED and had it rejected by TED and not go up? Do you know why? Did you agree?

I've enjoyed putting a number of conversations on TED conversations, and I've also had a certain number rejected and not go up. I'm batting about 70% accepted/30% rejected. How about you, have you had some rejected? What were the reasons, do you know? Did you agree with the reasons?

Possibly I'll tell you some of mine that were rejected, but let's see if TED accepts this conversation first.

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  • Jun 26 2013: Hey Greg, M. West here. I submitted my question a couple of weeks ago. The folks at Ted responded again, today. They are looking into things. Told me the volume of mail is heavy.
    The question was a request for a number. The gravitational radius of the single object the universe once was. Using the dark star hypothesis as a starting point, it is logical to theorize the universe was a single object in the past. The gravitational radius of this theoretical object was my request. I will repost it soon if I don't hear from them. Thanks.
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      Jun 26 2013: whew, Michael, you're going to have to find a way to get that question across to us non-science types, well, you don't have to, but.....

      If you do repost the question, maybe you can find a way to show people in the humanities why the question should matter to them, or at least make the question comprehensible to a range of people, as it stands here I wouldn't really have a grasp of what you're getting at here. Or maybe you just want to speak with scientific people, one of the cool things about TED conversations is it's pretty flexible, you can go for a general audience, or a specific one.
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    Jun 5 2013: All of my rejections were the standard .... not considered approperiate for TED .... some I could agree with after reflection and some made me scratch my head.

    When I first started in TED the conversations had high number of hits .... we agreed we disagreed .... we got to know each other and there appeared to be a lot of respect between hawks and doves. In the box of recent commenters today there are only five conversations represented by the 12 recent commenters. Slim pickins.

    Of the thousands of members ... There is only a handfull of conservatives left .... There was more at one time. You have to admit that conservatives take a lot of hard hits on TED.

    Speaking of those who are no longer with us on TED ..... Hey TED staff .... bring Debra Smith back. We disagreed on almost everything but it was with respect and friendship.

    Greg ... If I took the TED motto and applied "Ideas worth spreading" to all of the conversations on this page .... that I have responded to .... that I have submitted ..... only a few would meet that criteria.

    All in all TED does a pretty good job .... I do not always agree with them .... hell I do not always agree with me.

    I wish you well. Bob.
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      Jun 5 2013: Hey Bob,

      I thought that maybe you'd like to know that I've spoken with Debra a couple of months ago, she's been thorough some serious illness but is getting better now. Her account was still banned from TED though, and I read the emails conversation she had with TED and it wasn't all the pleasing to me... For some reason the won't give her her account back, and I know of a lot of people that deserve to be banned before Deb...
      I don't think that I've actually seen another ban of ANY account before...
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        Jun 5 2013: That is interesting Jimmy. I remember when she quit commenting but I didn't know she was banned. I have a copy of her last comments.

        Tell me more in my email.
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        Jun 6 2013: Jimmy thanks for the info. If you speak to her again please convey my well wishes ... I am curious though about the circumstances .... if she agrees and you do not mind would you share them in a e-mail through my account please.

        Thanks .... Bob.
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          Jun 6 2013: Yeah, I could do that.
          Or I could just send her Email address in an email to both of you. She wasn't very easy to find, I had to ask 5-6 different Debras on Facebook and Google+ to find the right one...

          Anyway, I'll send you her email, I'm sure she wont disprove. And if she does, well her email is out there on the internet, it's just not very easy to find.
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    Jun 5 2013: No... I've never had one rejected. I've written some iffy comments and had those tossed out but after reading them I agreed. Sometimes I delete them before TED does. My big problem with many people here is they fail to notice there is a "DELETE" button and it works. I love the edit button.

    I see they implemented an "unlike" function and I think that is great also.

    I think TED wants a touch of originality, backed by some research, combined with a touch of social focus (sincerity). That is, it should make people think, want to look deeper into the idea and seek applications in furthering the general goals of humankind.

    Of course if your desperate to publish, you can always argue about evolution, creative design, or making education more accessible to the poor. Those are sure winners.


    Pabitra Mukhopadhyay's theme on Poetry is going well. That's pretty original and appears to inspire people to actually contribute and bare their souls a bit. I'm working on a poem myself. I think he should add more time to the conversation.

    I really like questions that inspire people to reveal more about themselves than they normally would, especially people who lack a profile and return email.


    http://www.ted.com/conversations/18494/what_is_your_poetry.html
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    Jun 4 2013: Yeah, I've had as many rejected as I have had accepted. I think the main quality they are looking for is "room to discuss" and/or "a topic that nobody finds boring." Also, it helps if there have been TED talks related to your conversation subject.

    Most of my conversations that were rejected either contained my political views - or were (obviously) set up by me as a "soap box" so I could spout off on this or that personal issue. And by personal, I mean personal to ME! So this second reason for rejection is obvious.

    But the first is more esoteric. For example: the Abc Conjecture: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abc_conjecture.
    In August 2012, Shinichi Mochizuki released a series of four preprints containing a claim to a proof of the abc conjecture. He works in arithmetic geometry, Hodge theory, and anabelian geometry, and he introduced p-adic Teichmüller theory, Hodge–Arakelov theory, Frobenioids, and inter-universal Teichmüller theory. He was an invited speaker at the International Congress of Mathematicians in 1998. He gave a well received presentation at an academic conference in Berlin and then retreated. He's spent the last 14 years sitting at a card table next to his mom's sewing machine. He's been working on his esoteric proof of the Abc conjecture.

    Ted Nelson thinks Shinichi Mochuzuki invented bitcoin. And Ted Nelson is a big player! He coined the terms "hypertext" and "hypermedia" in 1963 and published them in 1965. (Wikipedia - check the google). Ted Nelson may be right. And Shinichi Mochuzuki might be the next Einstein in the field of Mathematics.

    Supposedly, in that time, Shinichi Mochuzuki has developed an entirely new sub-field of mathematics. And the work he's done, by extension, proves four more as-yet-unproven assertions in his field(s) of study.

    Bitcoin I get (but I've never learned how to use Bitcoin) -- and the rest? How the heck could I make THAT into a TED conversation. If I did, it would probably get rejected anyway
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    Jun 4 2013: I have been told they were not appropriate for TED.

    I would say there is undeniably a left leaning on TED which effects their judgement on what gets accepted. To quote fast Eddy they need people like me otherwise TED would appear to be elitist and exclusive and I would add too far left.
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      Jun 4 2013: Could you give an example of a topic you proposed that you believe was rejected because it was not left-leaning?
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        Jun 4 2013: This video and the ideas behind it.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ODXgGS50AVY&feature=share
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        Jun 5 2013: Inappropriate?
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          Jun 5 2013: It kind of depends where you were going with it. It represents a very extreme, negative, and exaggerated characterization of everyone who isn't extremely conservative. Extreme postures of this kind seldom lend themselves to constructive conversations.

          What I would ask yourself is how you imagined a conversation with that launch would unfold.

          I hope this is not how you view all of us to the left of you.
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          Jun 5 2013: He expressed his views at Heritage, having indicated that he used to be liberal before he became a conservative Republican.. The beliefs of others in his childhood neighborhood are not, I think, on point.
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          Jun 6 2013: Pat, while Evan may hang with the Jewish crowd, saying he is a Jew is akin to saying that any natural born US citizen is a Christian. I don't get the impression he is as religious as a "Jew". I believe he, "has no religion too". I'm a Jew and I'm a US born, genetically aligned Northern European person.

          I think it would be more appropriate if a person takes the time to make sure they are not insulting someone in a colloquial fashion. If that's too hard to manage then, at least get your labelling terminology straight when it concerns people.

          Evans more of writer and commentator for the movie production industry than a political expressionist. I'd call his comments personal opinion rather than expert analysis.

          Hope this helps. :)
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        Jun 5 2013: I think the on point part is that he was talking about the water we swim in, and how his childhood friends were saying what water. Perhaps you remember being criticized for bringing up something to one of your students as not being appropriate?

        The DNA of a culture is it's agreements, naturally when you talk about agreements you will get disagreements. So what, this is where the learning occurs. To do otherwise is to substitute form for substance.

        FWIW Republicans and Democrats are 2 sides of the same coin. I have been a registered Libertarian for 35 years.
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          Jun 5 2013: I know you are Libertarian. The comedian in the video you linked is a conservative Republican. I think of you as having more nuanced views than he does. This probably has more to do with you as people than with party affiliation.
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          Jun 6 2013: It's not his nuanced views, Fritzie; it's his DNA. He can't help it.
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        Jun 5 2013: Yes, have a nice day
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        Jun 6 2013: John would prefer it be called the nuisance views.
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      Jun 5 2013: :) I think that is why they allow me to hang around pat.
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    Jun 4 2013: it is hard to believe that anything gets rejected, considering the quality and similarity of those that accepted
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      Jun 4 2013: well, I've had about eight rejected. But Krisztian, seems you're suggesting they're low quality. But what would you consider a high-quality topic, I can't recall that I've seen you post one in the time I've been on TED, I'd love to see you host one.
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    Jun 4 2013: I think LaMar has made good observations. That is, it makes sense to limit redundant conversations (though we do have lots of questions that are asked over and over, particularly as newcomers find the site) and also not to let a single person host many threads simultaneously on the platform. It is more interesting to see a variety of interests and points of view.

    There are also some topics that are more appropriate for a chat or social venue than for TED and some potential conversations that would violate the terms of use. For example, prior to the policy of screening topics, there were threads that were explicit advertisements for people's service offerings, goods for sale, and blogs and ebooks. Once a place becomes known as a free site for such advertisements, that sort of use can easily come to dominate.

    Another common phenomenon was a new person coming onto the site and posting four or more threads a day. Sometimes these were duplicates of each other and other times different ways of asking the same question. With so many threads underway, threads would get one or two replies, because attention was spread too thinly.

    Sometimes someone would open a thread that truly was not seeking an exchange of ideas at all but was a person's article posted in many 2000 word chunks as a vehicle of publishing it for an audience.

    The current policy gives a lot more focus- more like taking turns with topics rather than having everything visible at once.

    If you ever do not understand why your thread was not accepted, have you not been able to find out why?
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      Jun 5 2013: Hey Reisner...... I have a question in the queue. How long is the turn around these days?

      I jumped off TED for a while when I started some studies at Courserea and Udacity. (Great site by the way).

      After I came back, the over all tone of TED had changed in a serious way. There was a feeling of authoritarianism, is the only way I could describe it. Am I over inflating a bit you think?

      I also noticed that there were many Islamic questions that were being entertained that I would consider as challenging the western world way of life. I don't mind challenges but the few comments I've had deleted by TED occurred in these type of question areas.

      Do you have any idea why the are given more lee way?
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        Jun 5 2013: I think when you put forward a thread, the turnaround time says it is 24 hours. I don't know whether that is true on weekends or only weekdays.

        I too have taken a class with Coursera and one with EdX. What a convenience for us all to have these free learning opportunities!

        I haven't noticed any authoritarianism myself. I feel like Conversations has gotten a lot more active, though, than it was a few months ago. I haven't noticed whether we have more threads or just whether we have more threads that draw hundreds of posts.

        I don't follow the religious threads at all, so I would not notice a change in that area. But we have long had lots of threads challenging western ways of life. That is absolutely within the mission and terms of use of the site, as I read them.
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          Jun 5 2013: Reisner stated: "...I haven't noticed any authoritarianism myself."

          So what are these labels attached to our names...... and Yellow too! Given, it not a star of David :)
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        Jun 6 2013: You mean the ted cred yellow boxes? Those have been here longer than I have been, I know. But how are they related to authoritarianism?

        For example, Colleen has 500+, as much as anyone I have noticed. But she participates on the same terms as anyone else.
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          Jun 6 2013: Perhaps authoritarianism is a misnomer I should edit that.

          Yes, I have 30 and I've posted a lot and have been here since before the last Presidential elections. Ted was hot back then. :)

          Sometimes I feel like a lab rat on TED.

          You have 100 points so your a top rat. The ones with over 200 are the really fast maze runner rats and Robert, of course is a Conservative rat (just kidding Robert).

          Colleen no longer speaks to me. Sad, she was a very inspiring person.
          Just how is the point system calculated?
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        Jun 6 2013: I don't think there is a published algorithm for ted creds, but I think it is closely connected to the thumbs ups you get.

        There also seems to be a block of points for being a TEDx organizer.
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          Jun 6 2013: I wasn't aware of that. I do notice that you have been here a long time and do contribute much effort to the community. In fact, you’ve been somewhat of an inspiration to me. :)

          I think my time on TED has done more to enlighten and coerce me to study more than I was before becoming a member. My curiosity was diminishing. I was falling behind. Since I've been on TED, I've made up for lost time and gained much knowledge in many areas. The online educational resources are a strong impetus to people like me. I've also become more tolerant and respectful of others. TED is good. God bless TED or the moral high-five, which ever should apply. :)
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          Jun 6 2013: Here's what I think about how the cred system works, I've Googled it, can't find the algorithm or any attempt at decoding it so this is purely speculation, but it is built on my observations of studying TED for almost three years now.

          It is also a combined speculation of how I would award behavior to maximize plenty and good content.

          I believe that every post* and every character in those posts is assigned a score.
          I believe that every badge (except those with points) is also assigned a score, I noticed my score went up by 10 perhaps when I became a translator.
          I also believe that every translation done is assigned a score.
          I also believe that you get a set amount of points every time you say attend a TED conference or host a TEDx or become a live member.
          I also believe that every thumb up and every reply you get gives points
          And naturally every conversation you post and perhaps even every thumb up you give(?)

          Martin Hassel is the person with the highest TED Cred that I've seen, he's currently at 15825,60.
          http://www.ted.com/profiles/165498
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        Jun 6 2013: Here is all I know about ted cred: http://www.ted.com/pages/conversations_tedcred
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    Jun 4 2013: I haven't actually posted a question yet, I have found that what is already up provides me with adequate options. That said tho I envisage when I do have one to post I will put one up and if someone is deemed to have already put up one much the same, I will simply smile wrily to myself and think, great minds do think alike ! :D
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      Jun 4 2013: Yeah, but TT, similarity is not the only reason they reject. For example, I attempted to post one asking if North Korea really is an "evil empire" as the media calls it, and they rejected that even though noone else had asked. When they first reject, they send you a form that says "we feel it would be appropriate for some other venue," but then if you write and appeal it, a live person (in my case it's always been Morton Bast) will write back and try to give you some insight into their thinking. I pretty much always disagree with his reasons, though, so I'll write back and tell him why I still disagree, but he usually won't reply a second time, and I don't push it any more, I don't know, maybe I should keep pushing until I get an answer I can live with, although perhaps one doesn't want to appear too pushy.
  • Jun 24 2013: My first and so far only attempt at a question has never posted, to my knowledge. I asked about it and received a request for an exact title so the moderator could find out what happened to it. As of this post, no news, no reason. It would be great if it went to 'feature' as the answer will be controversial.
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      Jun 24 2013: Thanks, m. How long ago was it? Maybe you should just re-submit it, type the whole thing again, they don't take that long, it doesn't have to be the exact same wording as the original submission if you can't remember. If they suddenly find the original and you have two up on the same thing, I think you can cancel one, or drastically cut the time one will run. What was it about, you have me salivating to see it up on the conversations.
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    Jun 5 2013: Okay so I have a total of 8 email packages considering of 37 emails with Conversation@TED.com in my inbox that has the subject "TED Conversation removal" from what I can gather 2 of them (and I remember both) have gone from the removed section to the featured page. Skimming through it I view 2-3 of the (8) packages as justified and 3-4 as unjustified (subtracting the two that went to the featured section, those were clearly unjustified).

    By justified I mean that I consider them being of use for the community as a whole and abiding to the terms of use.
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    Jun 5 2013: I think if they were posted in a trash or recycle area users could be both more informed and entertained.

    You might think about a polling area as well.

    Less of a, "Wizard of Ozz" effect.
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      Jun 6 2013: Hey Ben,

      Those are some good ideas! Perhaps you's like to help in adding them to "The Great TED Conversation (gathering all the conversations about improving TED)". It would be much appreciated if you did.

      http://www.ted.com/conversations/18816/the_great_ted_conversation_ga.html
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      Jun 6 2013: Yes, they'd be quite informed and entertained, but Ben, wouldn't TED have to censor the trash bin as well, for example if a Ku Klux Klan had tried to start a debate on whether whites are better than blacks, well, come to think of it, I'm pretty sure TED wouldn't permit that, or would they? But would they want to put it in the trash, maybe they don't want that anywhere on TED.

      If they're filtering the trash it seems a little weak, we're still not going to know all the stuff that got submitted.

      Yeah, I wrote to Morton and he said TED would never put a hate-promoting conversation either in conversations or in the trash, so that means they would be filtering the trash just like they filter the conversations, keeping some and getting rid of others, so you're still not going to get a 100% clear view of what they're seeing.
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        Jun 11 2013: Hate of a race of humans is a little shocking for most, but it boils down to fear... and not talking about it is not going to help in any way... You say KKK, I say at one point in time a very large number of people set out to murder Americans just so they could keep humans as pets... Never, ever talk about that and look what happens... Where did they go after the war..? Did they say,"OK, you're right, we quit"... Or did they all sneak into one political party to make us all pets..?

        Trash is trash... fear kills.

        Gay scouts..? No such thing... kids that age should not be messing with sex or put in a situation where they can (no supervision)... If humans want to teach, "Survival of the Fittest", you are always going to have a distasteful pecking order.

        If you look at your trash, chances are you can tell exactly what to do to cut back on the amount of trash... How many people in the world drink coffee..? every day, more and more filters in the trash... What happens if every coffee drinker uses that same filter 3 or 4 times... Change for the planet..?

        What if all this plastic crap all my stuff is sold in could be filled with sand and used to build with..?

        One mans trash :)
  • Jun 5 2013: When it comes back (is itCRSF attck?) What does that mean?
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      Jun 5 2013: My first attempt was what ever a CRSF attack is... (might be nice to add this to the, "Help" section)

      No clue what it is... and never bothered to try posting even a question.

      I think my question was about this mythical study teachers use to say reading makes your brain do more... so like your arms & legs, your brain gets stronger (but not exhausted at all)... so, should I be teaching mores code and braille as well.

      And just because NASA developed a program using Play Station video games to train astronauts (now sold just for problem learners)... And some games are made to be electronic book you move around in, explore, and solve problems... how many books will max out your blood pressure, heart rate, and not just give you,"goose bumps", but make you sweat..?

      But because teachers have no time to learn about a tool that is so coveted by most students... the most they can come up with is... to use it as a bribe to force the use of books (a tool almost as old as fire).
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        Jun 6 2013: Ben, I wrote to conversations@ted.com. Morton Bast says "a CRSF attack is a security warning that sometimes occurs when a connection has timed out. Refreshing the page and then posting your text back in and submitting will usually take care of it." Does this speak to what you experienced?
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      Jun 6 2013: Robert, I wrote to conversations@ted.com. Morton Bast said "CRSF attack if a security warning sometimes occurs when connection has timed out. Refreshing the page and then pasting your text back in and submitting will usually take care of it." Does this sound correct?
  • Jun 4 2013: Yes,I did:) I tried to put some topics in conversation,but some of them got rejection:the reason is some topics are similar had already in TED.
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      Jun 5 2013: But that's not the only reason, ed. For example, here in the U.S. we are often told by our media and government that North Korea is "evil." I tried to start a conversation about this, I wanted to know if the TED community thinks North Korea is evil, but TED rejected the conversation, even though noone else was hosting this topic.

      What do you think, is North Korea evil?

      By the way, which do you like better, China, or America?
      • Jun 5 2013: I haven't been to North Korea,and haven't chance to talk to any local North Korea,so all what I know about it is from media,so I prefer not judge it,just know things for things,no right or wrong,either good or bad.
        There is an old saying in china:who doesn't say self-hometown is good?We should,because hometown's every land,water...plants people raise us up.No matter how poor it is,hometown is good.
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    Jun 4 2013: The reasons are usually similar and non-specific for not publishing.

    It presents no opportunity or incentive to agree or disagree.
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      Jun 4 2013: Well, adesh, are you talking about when they initially reject, because when they first reject they send you an impersonal form, but then you can reply and get a more specific explanation from a live person.
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      Jun 6 2013: adesh, if you read Jimmy Strobl's reply at the top of this conversation, it sounds like he was able to get TED to change their mind, he had two conversations that were initially rejected, but then they were accepted and even "featured." So it can be done.
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        Jun 6 2013: This could easily be timing. Sometimes we have a conversation running and someone posts essentially the same question, not noticing there is already one open.

        So at that moment, it may seem prudent to site administrators to let the person who posted earlier run with it instead of having two and dividing the discussion.

        But two or three weeks later, it is perfectly appropriate to open an identical conversation.

        For example, we have questions running all the time that read something like "How would you change the educational system?" or "How did you find your passion?" I could see preferring not to have more than a couple about the very same topic at the same time, but once one expires, another could open.
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          Jun 18 2013: It wasn't timing in these cases Fritzie, the Admin team simply did not admin those conversations very well, when I pointed that out to them they saw their mistake and changed it, with apologies.
          When they do realize their mistake (they don't always do, we're all fallible) they usually correct it and try to make up for it some way I think.
          My two Conversations that went from deleted to featured were done directly after my complaint was sent.

          But it's a nice theory and I think that your speculation is sound.
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      Jun 4 2013: Excellent point, L, hadn't thought that they were trying to prevent a monopoly.
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      Jun 5 2013: As it was previously stated, there really isn't that much activity taking place. I remember when I had to really stay on top of my email. Now, I can see a few days go by and most weekends without a response. Perhaps the real story is economics. They use many outside contractors to handle stuff for them. That costs money.
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          Jun 6 2013: How do they count the number of unemployed people? How old are their figures?
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