Off-topic comments are the bane of useful content creation

I’ve often mentioned the issue of off-topic comments on LENR Forum. Discussion of issues there is often heavily derailed by off-topic comments. Some of these are from trolls (who choose what to claim or evidence by the anticipated — or easily anticipable — emotional responses, or pursuing their Favorite Topic, everywhere, and with the LF access paradigm and the lack of comment threading, this heavily damages the utility of LF.) One might think that if one is researching the stated topic, one could read a variety of opinions or find evidence on that topic, but these can be buried under piles of irrelevancies, personal arguments, etc.

What can be done about this?

Even fully sincere and competent users may be distracted by off-topic claims, because they might have opinions or even strong opinions about them, and may also think that the claims are possibly damaging, so must be addressed. And some administrators, as well, are themselves undisciplined, commenting knee-jerk about whatever they think without stopping to consider if it is off-topic.

It’s easy to criticize the administrative practice on LF, but it is mostly based, my opinion, on it being or being considered too much trouble to address. One admin response was to delete off-topic posts. That response actually triggered my declaration of a boycott posting to LF, because this was censorship of content based solely on a single administrator’s judgment of “off-topic,” while that same administrator is routinely off-topic.

There was a better response, and LF moderation seems to have settled on it, which was moving comments either to a more appropriate topic or to a generic off-topic thread, such as the Playground, or for offensive posts, Clearance items. This is not the kind of censorship that would have offended me. It is still, sometimes, mild censorship, because some of the moved comments still have on-topic relevance.

Drawing that line can be difficult, and I would not expect any administrator to do it perfectly, by any standard. But if the goal is content creation, making the site more useful, it would be laudable.

So what can I do here, because discussions here often stray off-topic? I installed a plug-in, Tako Moveable Comments. I’ve moved a few comments to locations where they won’t derail the primary discussion. I could just move them without comment, but to be fair to the original authors, I leave behind notes that they are moved. This actually provides such comments more visibility, in a way, not less.

I will be acting to create more users with administrative privileges like mine. At this point, however, I don’t have full measures in place to make content safe from a rogue administrator, as unlikely as that is. So the steps I can safely take now are limited. I will be exploring this; the goal here is to empower the cold fusion community (which includes all interested people, not just “supporters”) to manage it’s own processes.

For now, I have created a new user capability set, Editor, with the power to edit all posts. For now, an Editor does not have the ability to delete any posts or comments other than his or her own, but they may edit them, and there is backup in edit history of all content until that is deleted by admin with the deletion privilege.

(I had already created the Author privilege, which allows creation of posts and pages, but we only have two or three users with that privilege, and it’s not being used.) Little by little, however, we create the future. My standard for awarding privileges is the likelihood that the privileges will not be abused. I do not require that the user be in agreement with me on anything other than how they would use the privilege, which can include the fail promotion of their own point of view.)

I will add examples of moving comments here as comments on this post. Public comment or critique of our policies and administrative decisions is welcome.

Ugh. Tako Movable Comments is not working, with WP 4.8.1, at least. It was only certified up to 4.6.6, but there may have been a bug before that, from looking at the support page.

Author: Abd ulRahman Lomax


4 thoughts on “Off-topic comments are the bane of useful content creation”

  1. I believe if someone think that Rossi demonstration is a fraud can demonstrate it to do a demonstration like Rossi did and show to all “believers” how easy is make something like this.

    1. Look, I’m an electronics engineer of sorts. It would be easy, but … it would still be work. Why should anyone care to do that? Are you offering to fund it?

      For $1000 I would arrange bids, and some of that might be left to actually go into design, and so the full funding could be determined and an effort made to raise it. Or we could simply ask experts, there are several. THH is an electronics engineer, an actual professor. He’s already put in substantial work for no compensation.

      Maybe someone will do it as a volunteer. Paradigmnoia may be designing something. The actual setup would not be expensive. Black plastic electrical tape is cheap. So are neon bulbs and chokes. If we can skip the spectrophotometer part, it would be simpler (otherwise we may not be able to use off-the-shelf plasma devices and that could get expensive.)

      Part of the problem is that we don’t know the full set-up. How was the oscilloscope connected? What did it show? What was the actual duty cycle? Average power in includes power to strike the plasma, and that was totally ignored in the measurements. So, imagine a plasma created, by electrical heating of the gas in the device, and this lowers resistance, and a maintenance current is provided. That is the DC input. The hot gas will cool, releasing heat. Self-Sustain-Mode! For this to truly be self-sustain, there must be additional energy released, and if we don’t know how much energy was input, we have no idea if there was any additional.

      Seat-of-the-pants estimates are not measurements. This is clear from what could be seen, if I understand it correctly. When Rossi triggered the plasma, there was visible light emission. That emission did not continue. The measurement of temperature by assuming black body radiation was bullshit, but bright visible light would show high temperature even if the mass of the hot gas is very small. Because the bright light did not continue, that temperature was not maintained: the gas rapidly cooled. There was no continued high plasma current, then. What I think, very roughly at this point, is that there was a choke in parallel with the device. A high-voltage pulse would strike the plasma, but would then increase current in the choke, building up a magnetic field. Then when the high-voltage is turned off, the field would collapse, maintaining current for a short time. With additional components, internal to the tested device, quite substantial energy could be stored. That power supply was working hard! That’s why it needed cooling. It would not need that or anything close to that from the DC periods.

      To me, the DPS is positive evidence Rossi has nothing. Without quantitative evidence, it is not proof, but the indication is strong.

      Ordinarily, one could exclude from a test all the “support power” that does not actually go into the device. However, to do that, one would need clear measurements of the actual inputs to the device. This DPS was bullshit, that’s clear.

      Given all that has come down with Rossi, it is no longer necessary or appropriate to reserve judgment. We are the market, and we have decided against investing further in Rossi. There may be some who persist, who hold on to hope. That is a market of a kind, a market for lies and deception and flim-flam, a word I actually heard applied to Rossi for the first time from someone who is far from a pseudoskeptic.

      Rossi says “in mercato veritas,” which is far from the whole story. There is a market for bullshit, true bullshit.

  2. Abd,
    I often leave (insert) off topics on LENR in the playground, I just preface this with OT: blah blah bah linky. It is to new science and information.

    I am now lurking more there. I am not seeing the science. I have other things to wonder about. I am beginning to think we will not crack this nut. People make fun of Axil but I defend him to all that I can.
    I am not sure when people criticize, why they do not come up with a more reasonable response. I admire the depth of thought that some people put into responses. But not the off the cuff BS.

    1. Axil has, for years, shown up with idiosyncratic word-salad to “explain” this and that. His current kick is muons. Muons as an explanation for cold fusion is very, very unlikely. Muon behavior is quite well-known; the result would be the same branching ratio (or not far from it) as with hot fusion. As to Holmlid, Holmlid is getting further and further out on a limb with no independent confirmation. He doesn’t seem to care, he’s just doing his work, building more and more extraordinary claims, citing himself, mostly. That doesn’t mean he’s wrong, but … this is not how science moves forward, not any more, anyway. He has every right to conduct his research and report it … but … at some point, if it’s not confirmed, good chance it dies with him. Essentially, I wouldn’t count on it for anything.

      I don’t know if this is “making fun” of Axil. I’d certainly like to meet him, but he’s very secretive about his identity. That alone puts me off, and probably makes it impossible to meet.

      There isn’t a lot of science on LENR Forum, but there is some.

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