we do not remove other people's comments here, unless conversation is old and done, very stale, and (often) the insights reworked into the DocumentMode. Or, alternatively, if everyone feels that the conversation is basically done, and that there's nothing to be reworked.LionKimbro, from another page

If this is a rule it should be added to the list on WelcomeVisitors.

But I'm not sure it should be a rule — I guess I agree that it can be confusing to remove others' comments in the heat of discussion, but I think that, practically speaking, after the discussion is "old and done, very stale", it's less likely that someone will bother to clean it up.

Also, I am big on saving the reader time, so if there is a comment that they don't need to read, I'd rather it be deleted as soon as possible.

So I think it's a tradeoff between possibly confusing the reader and possibly wasting their time.

Now there's also the issue of (intentionally or not) forcibly "shutting someone up" by removing their comments. This is something we want to avoid, but I think that we should feel free to remove comments during active discussion if:

  • You think it will save the reader more time in not reading them than it wastes by confusing everyone
  • You are pretty sure that the comment poster won't mind

Now let's look at an example which happened recently:

It seems to me that what happened was:

  • We were talking about CommunityProgrammableWiki, and where to host it
  • PatrickAnderson said he'd love to be "part owner" in this scheme
  • LionKimbro said, lets not talk about ownership
  • Patrick said but there has to be some ownership, and we gotta make sure that the community has control, not just one individual (who might abuse power) – via a legal agreement
  • Lion says he totally trusts that BayleShanks would never abuse power even if not legally bound (thanks, Lion!). And he says that he thinks a TrustedModerator? is better for small groups than a LegalSolution.
  • Patrick deleted his and Lion's previous comments and rephrased his previous comment so that it was clear that he wanted this on general principal, not because he doesn't trust us – he also made it more concise.
    • I am assuming Patrick deleted Lion's comment because he figured that it was irrelevant now that he had deleted the part of his own comment that he thought Lion was replying to
  • Lion, however, undeleted his comment
    • I am assuming because Patrick had misinterpreted the scope of the comment; Lion's comment actually contained commentary that he wanted to save, not just fo this discussion, but for all time. In addition, many of the arguments Lion made actually applied not just to Patrick's old comment (which he deleted) but also to his rephrased comment – so the effect was that Patrick had left his own contentions standing, but deleted the counter-arguments of someone who disagreed with him.

So, should Patrick have deleted Lion's comment? No, because he should have realized that if he was going to leave his own contention standing, he shouldn't delete someone else's counter argument! (this is probably an honest mistake though)

But what if he had deleted both his own comment and Lion's? It would have been reasonable for him to assume that if he had dropped the issue, then Lion would no longer care about his own comment. Lion still would have undeleted the comment, since he was planning to edit some of it into TrustedModerator? later on, but Patrick wouldn't have known that.

In that hypothetical case, I think Patrick should have gone ahead and deleted both of the comments. Even though the discussion was active. Because he would have been pretty sure that no one cared about the comments anymore, and that he would be saving the reader time. Lion could still have undeleted the comment if he wanted. This would have been a small annoyance for Lion, but it would have been worth it for the potential time savings of future readers.

Thank you for indulging my long polemic on a tiny issue that almost never comes up in practice.

The last line is my favorite. ;)

For the record: I felt that my rebutting arguments were deleted, and I was a little upset about that. But, he's new, and I know there are wiki communities where people do that, so I AssumeGoodFaith, which was correct: There was no malice, this was just his wiki tradition.

Now as for:

  • You think it will save the reader more time in not reading them than it wastes by confusing everyone
  • You are pretty sure that the comment poster won't mind

…then, sure, sure.

But there's the thing: You have to be pretty sure the comment poster won't mind.

In a discussion where one person is contradicting another person, (UnderCut, DefeasibleReasoning?,) then, at least on CommunityWiki, we should have a policy of assuming, by default: "The other comment poster will mind."

OK, how about just adding that, then: the complete rule would be

  • You think it will save the reader more time in not reading them than it wastes by confusing everyone
  • You are pretty sure that the comment poster won't mind
  • This part of the conversation is not a debate or argument

of course the safest thing for newcomers to do is just not to remove comments in active discussions, and it's probably best just to put that ("it's safest for newcomers not to remove comments in an active discussion (see RemovingComments for more)") on the WelcomeNewcomers? page this. But I feel it's important to make it permissible for people to edit content on a wiki whenever possible, so I still think it is valuable to say somewhere "edit an active conversation if these three things are true" rather than "don't edit an active conversation".

I like it!

Yipes! I'm sorry if this happened the way explained. I very much do not want to remove "counter argument" - for that is the only reason I post! Without negative feedback, I would not know what is wrong with my thinking.

I sincerely apologize for this, but would also like to see the "counter argument" that was removed and then restored, as it is not clear to me what occured.

The post was as follows:

(new:LionKimbro:2006-02-28 19:53 UTC)
BayleShanks is completely trustworthy and utterly stewardly. The idea that he might "sell us out" for profiteering is totally bizarre to my mind.
Basically, I see it like this:
Whenever there's a friendly interesting conversational space, the people in that space appoint a moderator, usually completely unconsciously, without even thinking about it.
The moderator is assigned the power to shut down conversations, to solicit opinion from someone who is quiet, to manage the conversation, to manipulate the agenda, to be a political go-between, etc., etc.,. The moderator is expected to be fair, generally friendly, receptive, and quiet. By "quiet," I mean: Not the person who introduces ideas, and not a controller of the agenda, except when it is necessary. The moderator is a moderator.
If a discussion is going in a way that is dangerous, the moderator can curb the discussion with just a handful of words, and thus make it utterly clear to all participants that that is not the direction that the conversation should go, in the given space.
This all happens completely transparently, completely unconsciously, and most people don't have a clue that they do it. The contracts are written and signed, but it doesn't even register on anything, anywhere.
In this community, the moderator is the person of AlexSchroeder, who has our collective trust. It is very rare that he has to exercise the power, and when he does, I doubt we notice. This is a big part of the reason why we trust Alex.
Alex also maintains the servers, (or at least the server scripts,) and the data, etc., etc.,. He is intensely reliable, in a way that I am not (on the TaoRiver? WikiHive.)
When we talk about collective ownership of a new server space, it makes me very nervous, because it speaks to removing the concept of the trusted moderator.
If we are all chipping in, (say,) to account for a server, then we have more people to think about, more powers to think about. What if someone wants to take their contribution, and split? What if someone has a hard month? Now we suddenly act as if we have to come up with the (what, 2 bucks?) that the person can't pay, for whatever reason. Suddenly there is a community issue, to be dealt with, probably with some sort of meeting or process or something. (That perhaps gets documented.)
Frankly, I don't see the significance. It seems like a lot of trouble, and all for nothing. Color me facist, but I'd rather just have the trusted moderator. It's just plain economic, it's natural, and it works.
This is CommunityWiki, not a model for a 1,000 person society. Things are different in the 1,000 person society, and we can think about those things when we get to those sorts of situations. But the CommunityWiki hardly needs (nor desires, I believe-) a government. This is where I emphasise that we are a clique, not a community.
I may be just overreacting, but these are my thoughts on the subject.
If I participate in a CommunityProgrammableWiki, my thoughts are that I would rather participate in it as a clique, with one person doing principle maintenance and paying the bills. In this case, that would be BayleShanks. He could accept "help," in the form of us paying him, I don't know, what, $10? But that help does not imply authority or obligation or shared ownership. That help is just what it said: "help."
I would trust BayleShanks' moderation authority much more than I would trust a groups democratic authority. Hell, I would trust BayleShanks' authority far more than I would trust my own authority! I mean, I don't know if you've noticed this, but I am completely and totally insane. I do not make a good moderator. I do make a good speaker, but part of the reason I can speak my heart is because I can trust that someone will tap me on the shoulder and smile, if I'm taking things too far.
This is not an argument against Democracy or Anarchist ideals, which I'm all in favor of. I'm working hard to make the world a more Democratic place, by building and promoting and exploring communications technologies. But small groups (up to, say, 15 people?) operate differently, and I think having a trusted moderator is a very good thing.
(This reminds me of living in East Dorm at Mudd; We elected two people (Rob & …what was his name?) to Dorm President. We called one the "Dic," and the other the "Tater." It worked out well, there were never any problems, which should alleviate my feelings here, but anyways.)

You replaced the above comment in the ThreadMode, with the following in the DocumentMode:

There is reason to be nervous when owners of community resources are not bound by the community.
The problem is not ownership, but excessive ownership.
Hoarding community resources increase scarcity and profit by denying access.
This excessive profit causes most "dangerous economic situations".
FreeSociety? might grow on community resources protected through PropertyLeft leasing.

That's quite a leap!

This DocumentMode text does not (in my opinion) accurately represent my position, I don't consent to it.

But, don't worry; There's no blood. You're just new, wiki itself is new, communities have different ideas about how things are done. We're not upset.

This was either a (tremendous) mistake on my part, or the 'lock' mechanism for this wiki doesn't work quite right.

My guess is the my slow editing allowed you to insert your comment while I was editing; then I saved over your new material with the old text I was still working on.

Allowing other edits to occur while a lock is held is dangerous if the 'merge' procedure isn't perfect, but sometimes the lock is held too long…

Maybe we could have a "Cancel" button next to the "Save" and "Preview" buttons - to release the lock in case we want to abandon the edit.

What do you think of (in light of the security needed for CommunityProgrammableWiki) a secure 'Definition' area (changable only by consensus) and secure 'Comments' (changable only by original author)?

Oddmuse doesn't use locks; like CVS it just merges files using a three-way merge using the two revisions and their common ancestor.

Define external redirect: TrustedModerator DefeasibleReasoning WelcomeNewcomers FreeSociety TaoRiver

EditNearLinks: PatrickAnderson DocumentMode LegalSolution