A fellow moderator, Chris G, recommended that I terminate discussions such as "Why Do You Dislike Jesus So Much?" and redirect members to new discussions I'd begin, on the tangential topics to which it has drifted.
I may not be assertive enough in discussion management. I realized that the discussion had long ago drifted away from the original topic. My reluctance to stop it wasn't that I was unaware of the termination option, it was that I hate to see my own mug in front of so many of the discussions. It's important to me to encourage members to initiate their own discussions, to voice their own thoughts instead of merely reacting to mine. Perhaps this has blinded me to the greater need to keep discussions coherent.
I don't like to take arbitrary action of this sort. It feels too dictatorial. However I'll do it, if you want me to. So here's your question... Should I
A. Allow discussions to drift about untill they "die a natural death", or
B. Terminate discussions I think are getting too far off of the original topic and attempt to create new ones, to redirect the discourse, to where I think they've gone.
Well, I think a major point is whether the discussion is still productive, or whether it is drifting into a flame war or total irrelevancy. Sometimes discussions drift, but the new direction is pretty cohesive, and remains interesting; some become either ugly, or a discussion of what color did you paint your bathroom. The ugliness should be nipped in the bud, but often the off-topicness dies a natural death. So you have to use some judgment.
Personally, I don't mind you picture on the discussion -- I admire your creativity and thinking mind. If I could think of topics more often I would, but I'm more of a reactive writer than a proactive writer. So I applaud proactivity -- keep up the good work! :-)
Natalie, I like your response.
I vote for plan B.
Closing discussions is a superficial remedy. I think atheism needs to be re-oriented.
Madhukar, I agree.
Justalysn, I agree, we are adults. Individuals whose comments are insensitive, judgmental or threatening reveal immaturity and usually are consistent. A reader has the option to become a guide, a confronter, or Deleter, and probably there are others as well. The choice depends on the situation.
B. Terminate - this would be more helpful for us that want to follow specific threads.
The problem I have with terminating a thread discussion is this:
Often I will scroll down through older threads - looking for those that interest me that were written before I joined - I migh want to add something 'useful' to that thread thus 'resurrecting' (OH NO!) it for a new life - if only perhaps for a short period of time until it once again goes down the line into the dust bin of history.
If a thread gets off subject - let the people involved attempt to bring it back on subject - if that fails - we'll send the .moderator' a short private note at which time the 'moderator' can send out a private message.
Terminating any thread that is causing no harm is censorship. You've already eliminated the 'problem' and that should be enough. If you stop/terminate this involved thread - what's next? When will it stop?
Steven, I agree. Censorship has a cost/benefit/risk attached; the situation makes a difference, but also, who is to be the censor when that is chosen? Who benefits by censorship? What risks result from censoring/not-censoring.
Hi Ruth. First of all, thank you for taking such a democratic approach to moderating your group and asking for our opinions.
I vote for option "A."
These discussions are just like having a conversation. Yes, they can tend to drift away from the original topic but I feel bringing up other topics can be informative and provide useful background information as to why people have come to form certain opinions and views about the original topic. This group is filled with tons of educated and intelligent people. I think we can decide for ourselves what is relevant to the discussion.
Regarding the unfortunate recent episode: one member got out of hand because of uncalled-for insults toward others, not for drifting off topic, and I think you took the right action. If you take into account all of our discussions past and current, I'd say we have a highly successful track record for having civil conversations. Please let these discussions take their natural course. We shouldn't let one recent blemish dictate a stifling change.
Thanks again, Carl.
Carl, I agree, totally.
I am sometimes slightly confused when the title of the topic seems unrelated to any recent posts. On the other hand I am sometimes guilty of causing such a shift. Do what you like, Ruth. I trust your judgement!