Re: Meta comment (was: transmission)

From: Scott Chase (
Date: Wed 21 May 2003 - 04:09:14 GMT

  • Next message: Scott Chase: "Re: transmission"

    >From: Keith Henson <>
    >Subject: Meta comment (was: transmission)
    >Date: Tue, 20 May 2003 21:48:13 -0400
    >Joe, I think what we are seeing in these exchanges is "DS" syndrome (after
    >the type case). In a number of news groups I was reading 5-10 years ago,
    >DS would often make postings where it looked like he was *trying* to get
    >flamed. He engaged in long running flame threads defending points
    >generally considered out of line by the group--such as advocating
    >government controls on a news group with a strong libertarian bent.
    >(Anyone wanting to research this is welcome to email and ask for URLs.)
    >The news group alt.religion.scientology has had perhaps a dozen or two DS
    >cases posting there. (And that's not counting the trolls, scientology
    >agents, and the just psychotic that drop in.)
    >What I finally figured out is that people with the DS syndrome don't
    >distinguish well between negative and positive feedback. This may partly
    >be because all-text communication lacks verbal and non-verbal elements
    >present in face-to-face or telephone conversations. (Some of them are
    >completely different people in person.) It seems that either kind of
    >attention rewards them. Since outrageous or ridiculous postings usually
    >get more follow-ups than sensible ones, people with this bent are
    >conditioned to take and defend nonsense or illogical positions in a
    >voluminous correspondence.
    >There isn't an effective way to deal with such people in a decentralized
    >news group with a lot of readers. At the personal level, twit files help,
    >but they don't keep you from seeing the postings when others (who you don't
    >have twit filed) respond. Unfortunately low quality bickering annoys the
    >thoughtful people you would like to be reading and posting and at some
    >point they sign off the list or news group.
    >Since mailing lists are centrally administered, there might be a way to
    >provide counter feedback to people with "DS" syndrome. As a possibility,
    >there could be a way for a dynamic threshold of list members complaining to
    >automatically block a person with "DS" syndrome from being able to send to
    >a list for a few weeks. (This would surely need tuning.)
    >The reason for the block being short term is that you want behavior
    >modification, not censorship. Some of these people can provide interesting
    >insights, but as Richard and I discussed recently they are discouraged to
    >do so because insightful postings often get few if any follow ups.
    >Attention is the currency in which people are paid to contribute. There
    >really needs to be a better reward feedback system.
    >Keith Henson
    >PS. A *lot* of meme replication is driven by attention rewards.
    I would think that, on the contrary (but of course), folks would tend to be rewarded by posting comments that are geared towards agreeing with others on the group to foster that all important sense of belonging. When the group has a central topic, that topic is a sacred cow in a sense and an almost blind deference tends to be shown towards the figures a group considers its gurus. I've seen this on other venues.

    Some folks will try to exercise some deliberate form of critical or skeptical bent, out a hope that others will follow suit and try looking at the sacred cow in a more critical light and not be so "meme too"-ish. The folks with a deep intellectual investment in the sacred cow will label these noconformists and marginalize them sharing a laugh with others that they feel meet the standards of being in their charmed circle.

    Who cares? I don't.

    The Jungians got rather irked with me for not towing their line. I'd bet the scifi cult has gotten quite irked with you for tearing their line to shreds. I'm not about to tow anybody's line but my own. Everyone else can agree to agree and pat each other on the back for the books they wrote. I'd just hope they'd put some effort into having some degree of critical distance and be less deferent to the chosen gurus.

    Gurus and dogma are detrimental to the growth of knowledge, where dissension can be quite healthy.

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