- 1 What information is required to register?
- 2 Why do we have to register with real names and party affiliation?
- 3 What does this forum do that others don't?
What information is required to register?
Your real first and last name
...without a space between them, goes in the top field. Middle name optional. Capitalizing both names is suggested. Should the computer tell you that someone has already registered with the same name, please distinguish your name by adding a middle name or initial, or any symbols. This will be made public as you edit. (See "Exception" below.)
...address must be validated before you can edit. That is, you will be sent an email at the address you provide; clicking on that will "validate" that the address is really yours. Your email will not be made public. With your permission you will be able to email other participants who have consented to receive "Inmail".
Your political party and state
...with which you are actually registered goes in the lowest field. Optional: add any information about yourself, such as your political or religious perspective or contact info, that you would like to share with readers. This will be made public with your edits. Abbreviations are suggested: for example, D-IA, R-OR, I-MO for Democrat from Iowa, Republican from Oregon, or Independent from Missouri.
You can get by with U for Unaffiliated, which may be appropriate if you won't be editing articles involving U.S. politics. But if you will be working with such articles, knowing the political party you favor is part of knowing who we are communicating with.
If you can't register to vote because you are a noncitizen, you may abbreviate with "NC". If you are a minor, "Minor" or "Child". If you are an adult citizen who has not registered to vote, please register to vote!
Why do we have to register with real names and party affiliation?
Our goal is agreement among real people so that we may work together: not merely agreeing what corrections ought to be made in the world and how they should be made, which would be heroic enough, but making them. Consensus between anonymous faceless contributors is meaningless, to the extent action is the goal.
Another reason anonymity will defeat our purpose is that this discussion desperately needs decency, clean language, and respect – if not for each other’s views, at least for each other as human beings made in the Image of God whom God loves even if we can’t figure out why.
In an anonymous blog you can spew heartless nonsense from the shadows of anonymity so that your friends, family, and coworkers will never learn this side of you and will continue to think you are normal. What you say here, you say publicly, with your real name.
The “comments” sections of internet articles are dominated by anonymous “trolls” to whom relationship skills are The Enemy. They are divisive, profane, insulting, off the subject of the article, and they lie, misrepresenting even their own positions. They appear to be driven to shock and offend rather than to elucidate. They wear rudeness like a badge of courage.
Newspapers don’t publish anonymous letters to the editor. Before the internet, it was very difficult for people who wanted to publish their views anonymously to find an outlet. People with opinions were expected to take responsibility for them. Even when that may be a little bit costly. Names with opinions make them way more credible. One’s expertise or personal knowledge of a subject can be established only with a name. Your name on your positions also tells readers how committed you are to your positions. They see that you take them seriously, which makes them take you more seriously.
You can’t “take a stand” anonymously. People pay more attention to people who “take a stand” than to people who hide from accountability.
Wikipedia allows anonymous edits, which creates huge problems. Edits aren’t entirely anonymous; the numerical “IP address” of the web host used by the contributor is recorded, which is about as informative as knowing someone’s voter registration number but not their name. But in 2007 a tool was developed to match people with IP addresses, and Wikipedia found out that the groups making anonymous edits favorable to themselves included the CIA, the BBC, the Australian government, the National Republican Congressional Committee, and the Democratic National Campaign Committee. The BBC used anonymous edits to vandalize an article about President G. W. Bush. By using anonymous browsers like Tor, though, anonymous posts may be truly anonymous, although there is a Mediawiki tool used by Wikipedia which "restricts Tor exit nodes".
Exception: When Anonymous Posts Are Allowed
In this “land of the free, and home of the brave”, real danger is seldom anyone’s reason for posting anonymously. But if your life or the lives of your relatives would be at risk from posting your ideas with your real name, for example if you are a refugee living in safety but you have relatives living under tyranny, you may enter another name followed by the number sign #. Don't do this if the risk is only to your reputation or even your business. It is critical to serious dialog that participants know who they are talking to, just as, in American courts, our Bill of Rights protects the right of defendants to face their accusers.
If you post anonymously, we will be more sensitive to and less patient with personal attacks, profanity, ads, spam, or other non-constructive stuff. You will be blocked with greater dispatch and less patience than if you use your real name. And you will not be taken as seriously as if we know who you are.
What does this forum do that others don't?
Here is an overview of other formats, showing their limitations in serving the need addressed by our Forum:
The potential for robust dialog here compares with the Platform Committee discussions/debates of the Democrat and Republican parties. Among in-person, face-to-face meetings, the most robust verbal dialog is surely found there. (The "platforms" are the official positions that the parties "stand" on. The individual positions are called "planks" in the "platform".) Those discussions provide the rare experience of reasoning with very intelligent people who disagree on a few things, longer than most people will allow, in a mood of really remarkable mutual respect considering the passions aroused by the importance of the topics. Unfortunately participation in them is very limited: there is room for very few, and time for very few meetings every two years.
Yet it is hard to imagine anywhere else that welcomes that much disagreement about public issues, for that long.
Anywhere else, the discovery that you disagree with someone about something very important to the other fellow is usually enough to end the conversation after a pithy insult from the other guy about how closed minded you presumably are.
The potential for dialog here is greater than that of an political party’s Platform Committee in that (1) we interact continuously, not just for a couple of months every two years;(2)and anyone can participate, without any numerical limit; and (3) we don’t just interact with people in our own party, or even religion, or with those who even a little agree with us. We interact with everyone willing to enter our forum.
Disagreement is absolutely welcome there! Disagreement is their candy!
But their purpose, and their format, where they are routinely assigned to defend positions they don't even believe, is a very clumsy way to establish truth, or to achieve consensus on either evidence, facts, or logic, much less is it a forum where strategies can be prayed about and public action taken together.
Their purpose is like that of the ancient Greeks, who debated for the glory of personally winning, not for the healing for the nation, of the Truth winning. In fact in ancient Greece there was skepticism whether truth even existed. When Pilate asked Jesus "'Truth'? What's that?" in John 18:38, that was a very Greek idea. Debate societies don't necessarily take the position that Truth doesn't exist, but they do operate as if Truth is irrelevant. Deception that "wins" is praised more than truth that "loses".
While that is very clumsy preparation in the love and pursuit of Truth to champion what you believe, it is the perfect preparation for becoming a lawyer and arguing in Court.
But at least debaters learn to not just tune out anyone who disagrees.
Articles by staff reporters are featured. They are supposed to report both sides of issues, and usually they do at least call someone opposed to the positions they favor to get some quote from them.
But reporters are unaccountable when they don’t explain the angle of the story, ignore the context of quotes, doctor the wording of quotes, ignore the evidence or reasoning given during an hour-long interview which they summarize in 50 words, or otherwise transform the positions of their ideological opponents into “straw men” - positions never taken by their opponents, but which they find much easier to ridicule even to fellow opponents of their views. An angle never hinted at during the hour-long, friendly, sympathetic interview. This format leaves a trail of destroyed reputations which reduce the ability of opponents of the newspaper’s favored positions to contribute to society for decades.
Limited accountability is found in the “Opinion” page far from the front page. Anyone able to stuff “the rest of the story” into 200 words is welcome to submit, and some of the criticism will be printed. There is also a “corrections” box in tiny print, stuffed on any random page with a half inch to spare. This is a place for misspelled names or wrong dates, not a place to report distortions of a reporter. It is this lack of accountability, enabling abuse of their monopoly on information, which has led to the dramatic decline of newspapers over the past half century as a growing segment of the population finds the facts they know unrepresented and distorted, so they find alternative news sources or create their own. This decline began before the internet and continues even as they have gone online.
Any individual may post his own articles or opinions on his own website. Unfortunately it is rare to find such a writer who even makes a show of contacting an ideological opponent to learn his view.
Accountability is limited to the “comments” below the article. Unfortunately the “comments” sections are dominated by anonymous “trolls” to whom relationship skills are The Enemy. They are divisive, profane, insulting, off the subject of the article, and they lie, misrepresenting their own positions, and apparently are driven to shock rather than elucidate.
Some comment sections are “moderated”, meaning they are not posted until a moderator approves them. One problem with that is most websites can’t afford enough staff or attract enough volunteers for the job. A second problem is the difficulty of developing objective enough rules to distinguish between valuable ideas from borderline ideas and spam. This leads to the third problem: suspicion among readers that the moderator is only there to censor disagreement, so there is no use submitting a comment if you disagree.
The more fundamental problem is that few comments, even of those most acceptable, add to the information in the article. Most are only tangentally relevant to it. They typically consist more of reactions to each other than to the subject. And indeed, bloggers rarely express any interest in having their claims added to or corrected, which supports the suspicion that moderators might incline to censor such contributions.
Yet another problem, for the purposes addressed by PMF, is that comments are not organized by subject. You can’t look through a file of 500 comments and find the two or three that address a particular aspect of the subject. You can’t even search them, because the website displays only a few comments at a time, which take a little time to load because of the “avatars” (pictures by each name) and the ads. These challenges face the comments section after articles in online newspapers, as well as after individuals’ blogs.
“Think Tanks” are organizations which hire scholars to produce articles and research on a variety of topics. They fill the need to create much better researched information on current topics of public concern than is possible in 500 word newspaper articles or 300 word blogs, by researchers with university credentials on their topic unlike news reporters whose credentials are in reporting, which is kept continuously available as opposed to blogs and articles which are mostly forgotten after a few days.
But if they are accountable to anybody for their errors, there is no transparency about it. Not all researchers even post contact information. Their organizations do, but if you contact them with a proposal or a correction there is no assurance that you will hear back from them, or if they do, that they will seriously consider your idea. Wikipedia. Wikipedia is a remarkable forum that consistently turns up in the first page of search results if not in the top two or three results. It is a Think Tank with the resources to produce over 5 million articles as of January 2016, growing by 20,000 a month, and to keep them reasonably updated and perpetually available. By comparison, Encyclopedia Britannica has 40,000 articles in paper and 120,000 online. Microsoft’s Encarta has 70,000.
Snopes and Factcheck
We, too, check alleged facts and will respond to suggestions about what to check, except that here, you see who does the research, and you can see how people on conflicting sides of controversial facts reason with each other about the facts. And we are accountable to the public: anyone can correct an error or omission they spot, and a record is kept of every proposed correction even if it is rejected, like on Wikipedia.
...is the personification of accountability; anyone can correct its articles, and yet is in turn subject to others who may remove edits based on rather objective criteria. Yet none of this information or debate is forever deleted; a record of all edits, as well as deletions of edits with reasons given, is kept available, although they are organized only by date and not by subject.
By comparison, there was little accountability in the encyclopedias of the past, in which there was no process for correcting errors or biases which got past staff.
In Wikipedia, the ad hominem attacks, irrelevance, self promotion, spam etc which plague comments sections is effectively dealt with by Wikipedia volunteers.
There will certainly be overlap between our articles and Wikipedia articles, and overlap between our rules and theirs.
But Wikipedia has limits which prevent it meeting the needs which this wiki addresses.
Original thinking censored. Wikipedia does not allow original research, original ideas, or even original syntheses of published opinions or research. Our forum welcomes original thinking, because we want solutions.
Mainstream publishers must approve. Wikipedia accepts only references to opinions and facts published by “a published, reliable source”, even though Wikipedia acknowledges controversy about what sources are “reliable”. There is no consideration for the fact that the two sides of a controversy have different views about which sources are “reliable”, not to mention that within each of the "two sides" are many other opinions. Wikipedia's examples favor “mainstream”, “established” sources, which, on controversial political topics, lean liberal enough to have launched "Conservapedia". Generally, “Most international and national newspapers, magazines, and scientific journals” are reliable, but “"Self-published books, personal Web sites, and blogs are largely not acceptable as sources." (Wikipedia:Verifiability)” Which raises at least one question: if the subject is a person and his positions, is HIS personal website an "acceptable...source"?
Mythical “Neutrality”. Wikipedia requires the mythical “Neutral Point of View” (POV). Our forum does not honor neutrality on whether a claim or opinion is right or wrong. We want right to be vindicated, and wrong to be put out of its misery.
No new information. Wikipedia does not allow new information, or breaking news. Wikipedia actually says:
Such content may well be true, but as far as Wikipedia's policies are concerned, true isn't enough. Information must be verifiable, which means it must be backed by a published source outside Wikipedia. Simply put, Wikipedia must never be the first place that news appears. If a tree falls in a forest and it's not reported elsewhere, then Wikipedia isn't going to report it either. 
Nothing about yourself. You can’t write about yourself; not even in an article others have written about you that contains lies about you. There is an exception, but the exception is limited enough to make a truly balanced, fair article difficult.
We also tend to discourage authors from writing about themselves or their own accomplishments, as this is a conflict of interest. If you have notable accomplishments, someone else will write an article about you (eventually). Wikipedia:Autobiography has more detail on this.
By contrast, the Bible says it is scandalous to judge a man without first listening to his complete defense.
Proverbs 18:13 He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.
Not allowing the subjects of articles to fully correct mischaracterizations of their positions is what Wikipedia calls balanced reporting that avoids a "conflict of interest". Allowing them to respond would be “autobiographical”. Wikipedia wants articles to be “objective”. What Wikipedia calls “objective”, God calls “folly and shame”.
Wikipedia's problem is made worse by its policy of keeping editors unidentified in the articles they edit. Here, if someone says something about you, you can respond, and sign your name to your response, which solves the fairness problem and the conflict of interest problem together.
Wikipedia likewise discourages people from linking to evidence that they have published elsewhere. Thus, the top world experts on a topic can’t contribute their expertise to Wikipedia’s articles edited by relative amateurs. This is probably the primary cause of a higher error rate in Wikipedia articles than in encyclopedias. Again, there is an exception, but the exception has awkward limits and its use is discouraged.
It is Wikipedia’s goal of the mythical “neutral point of view” that creates the possibility of a “conflict of interest” in writing about your own research. Normally, in writing about themselves, people emphasize the good stuff and omit the bad, leaving a picture that is not “neutral”. Our forum values any contribution that is relevant, and the more expert it is, the better.
Complicated rules. Wikipedia reports criticism of the complexity of its rules. “It's harder and harder for new people to adjust.” “... the sheer complexity of the rules and laws governing content and editor behavior has become excessive and creates a learning burden for new editors.” “Wikipedia's rules have had the unintended effect of driving away new contributors to the site.” (See “Excessive rule making”.)
However, the 4th “rule” in the “Simplified Rule Set” is:
Ignore all rules (IAR): Rules on Wikipedia are not fixed in stone. The spirit of the rule trumps the letter of the rule. The common purpose of building an encyclopedia trumps both. This means that any rule can be broken for a very good reason, if it ultimately helps to improve the encyclopedia. It doesn't mean that anything can be done just by claiming IAR, or that discussion is not necessary to explain one's decision.
Nevertheless our forum has Wikipedia beat for simplicity. Our rules fit in a short paragraph. Our “tips” are completely optional; violation of them will not get your contributions deleted or reverted, as happens in Wikipedia: they are strictly for your benefit. They are principles that will help make you more persuasive in any situation where you are trying to reason with people who disagree.
|To summarize, we are like Wikipedia in that we are accountable to anyone who can find any error in anything we publish, except that top experts on a subject are allowed to participate and to cite their own articles or research, which is not allowed there, which limits participation to the less informed. Original ideas and solutions are also welcome here but not there. Also, discussion and debate about the substance of the issue; there, discussion can only be about what information can be posted. Plus we welcome far more information than is welcome in Wikipedia’s issue summaries. Like Wikipedia, we preserve a record of contributions which the majority rejects for inaccuracy, except that we make it easier to find: we encourage “Minority Reports” at the end of our main articles or within the arguments wherever there is a disputed fact or argument.|
Is information thought by the conservatives running this site to be "liberal" allowed there? For example, would they allow a Bible study showing that by the two tests of of "conservative" - "Does it line up with the Bible?" and "Is it consistent with the policies of America's Founders?" - repeal of numerical limits on immigration is "conservative"? Apparently not. I posted the question but my question wasn't answered.
Even the Bible fully articulates the reasoning of God's enemies. Persuasive reasoning has to address its critics, as 1 Peter 3:15 confirms. Every attempt of any forum to censor dissent produces a lot of "grey area" around the censored content, in which people do not know whether they are welcome or not, and in which people who assumed they were fully welcome discover they are not.