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#9871 - 10/31/06 05:27 AM New Forum Ideas
Kate Offline

Senior Member

Registered: 10/16/04
Posts: 334
Hello all,

We are going to re-jig the forums soon-ish to create some new ones (Climate Change and Physics are confirmed) and possibly change/get rid of the old ones.

It would be helpful to hear your thoughts on these matters. Specifically,

* Ideas for new forums
* Thoughts on existing (do we really want "Origins"? Does it serve a purpose?) forums etc.

Your comments and ideas are appreciated!



#9872 - 10/31/06 05:42 AM Re: New Forum Ideas
eternauta Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/23/06
Posts: 16
Loc: BC, Canada
biology maybe?

Origins forum is a huge, bright sign reading: "Creationists, come, show your fury and save your soul"

If someone wants to chat about oparin or panspermia, he or she can biology or physics.

My $0.02
Pruebas de ADN Paternidad

#9873 - 10/31/06 06:32 AM Re: New Forum Ideas
RicS Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 03/26/06
Posts: 310
Loc: Sydney, Australia
G'day Kate,

Perhaps a way to cross reference posts between forums without posting twice. There might be a physics topic of interest to global warming or a general science topic such as solar activity of similar relevance but primarily it belongs in the one group.

I've only just started reading the "Origins" forum but it seems to throw up reasonable debate, even if it does also tend to attract those that religious texts are taken to be the literal truth. Perhaps its guidelines could be tweaked or it be renamed differently if the purpose is to discuss "the big questions" but not just always become bogged down in religion v science.

Perhaps the origins forum could be split into a forum that welcomes religious debate and one that relates to speculations as to our origins, the universes' origins, evolution, etc, etc, but without religious faith based topics posts. Just a thought.


Sane=fits in. Unreasonable=world needs to fit to him. All Progress requires unreasonableness

#9874 - 10/31/06 06:49 AM Re: New Forum Ideas
terrytnewzealand Offline

Registered: 08/02/06
Posts: 1031
Loc: Whangarei New Zealand
Kate. A climate forum seems a good idea. I read the comments re. climate although I don't think I have made any myself. I'm not persuaded one way or t'other yet. Astronomy might be another category. The Asian flu post hasn't attracted much comment lately.

It would be a little unfair to prevent creationists posting comments. Some could surely have a rational outlook on some science subjects. Besides, could you get people to state their religious beliefs before they join? I doubt it.

#9875 - 10/31/06 01:55 PM Re: New Forum Ideas
TheFallibleFiend Offline

Registered: 06/08/05
Posts: 1940
Loc: http://thefalliblefiend.blogsp...
I'm open to anything.

If it weren't for the origins forum, a lot of that would be in the general science forum. It would be the first thing most people would see when they came here - and that would definitely turn off most people really interested in science. So my vote would be to keep the origins forum.

Same reason for the "not quite science" forum - partly keeps some of the crazier stuff out of the main view, and also there are topics that are relevant to, say, the philosophy and culture of science, or to the ethics and social responsibility angle that might get diluted in the main fora, or might themselves dilute the purpose or concentration of them.

My own interest is in complex adaptive systems (real and artificial), which is the umbrella under which I do most of my reading. I've actually started a CAS lunchtime group where I work that includes about 50 people, about 2/3rds of whom are PhDs. OTOH, I don't know most people would find it all that interesting, and for now there seems to be a bit of the golly-gee-whiz sort of aura about the thing. Also, I don't know if my thoughts are mature enough to contribute regularly. OTOOH, it might be interesting to hear even shoddy ideas.

One benefit of the, ahem, 'discussion' with Trilobyte over on origin is that it's got me thinking a lot about what are called neutral mutations and their importance to diversity and what Stuart Kauffman calls "preadaptation." So even a completely inane post might spur the development of legitimate ideas. OTOOOH, I might have become interested in this aspect anyway.

#9876 - 10/31/06 05:14 PM Re: New Forum Ideas
jjw Offline

Registered: 09/07/05
Posts: 636
Loc: USA
Science in contention.

#9877 - 10/31/06 07:33 PM Re: New Forum Ideas
dehammer Offline

Registered: 03/23/06
Posts: 1089
im afraid that if you took out the origins all together that they would just post in the scientific one.

IMHO, i also believe that there should be one that is just for discussing religion, just to get them out of the other areas.

its gotten to where i hardly even look at the origins forum any more because its so full of the same religions stuff, thread after thread.
the more man learns, the more he realises, he really does not know anything.

#9878 - 10/31/06 08:47 PM Re: New Forum Ideas
samwik Offline

Registered: 10/10/06
Posts: 1164
Loc: Colorado
I like the diversity and diversion of the existing fora; I couldn?t have said things better than TheFallibleFiend?s first two paragraphs about Origins and Not-Quite-Science. I also strongly agree with TheFallibleFiend?s, ?One benefit of the, ahem, 'discussion' with Trilobyte over on origin is that it's got me thinking a lot?.?
Eternautu also has a good point in, ?Origins forum is a huge, bright sign reading: ?Creationists, come?.?" There?s probably no avoiding that even if we ?code? the title with something such as ?Family Tree.? The other above points are well taken too.

In terms of the Science fora, I think the distinction (Science Discussion and Not-Quite-Science) should be abandoned, but that the resulting large umbrella of ?General Science? should be split 3 ways (these would still exclude evolution, climate change, & cosmology) (see below**).

First split would be Science News (postings based on news releases).

Second split would be Science Reports (postings based on journal/peer-reviewed reports).

Third split would be Science Letters (posting of an original nature, speculative musings, the Not-Quite-Science stuff in general, and requests for information and input.

RicS?s idea of splitting Origins got me thinking of a split between ?Living Origins? (subsuming evolution) and ?Cosmologies? (which would subsume a lot of the ?Physics? postings from the Sci. fora). Additionally, I would add the ?Planetary Sciences? (climate change) Forum here, to these other ?hot topic? fora.

These Big-Three (hot-topics) (?family/home/environment? or life/planet/cosmos) would not be split up by the nature of their sources (reports, news & letters) as with the ?General Science? Forum; but threads could be flagged to indicate the type of posting (report, news, or letter). The initial post of a thread could be duplicated on the appropriate Gen.Sci forum (rpt./news/letter) based on the flag; but in order to reply, one would have to move to the thread?s home (originating) forum.

Alternatively, all post could originate on one of the three General Science fora (based on source); but, if desired, could be flagged (based on topic) to re-post on the appropriate ?big-three? forum, for receiving comments. Is it possible to block comments and direct people to the right place for comments, or automatically direct a reply (to the re-post) on the appropriate forum?

Replies to general threads on the General Science, ?sourced fora,? would continue as they are currently done; but only replies to flagged threads would be directed over to the appropriate Big-Three forum (life, planet, or cosmos).

Avian Flu would fit under the ?Living Origins? Forum if needed; but until there is a transmissible human variant (and it becomes a hot topic), the ?sourced fora? could handle this topic.

A master list of all threads (w/ no comments allowed), that would direct people to one of the 6 fora where comments could be added, would be helpful.

Some rules about following guidelines (based on the flags) in the Big-Three fora might help keep discussions on track, but ultimately, I think we want the diversity and serendipity that currently exists.

Even if things can?t be automatically processed and routed/restricted or flagged as I?m imagining, we could make ?rules? about these distinctions more prominent, hope for the best, and see what evolves.

Summary: 6 fora:
Three general science fora (based on sources)-see above
Three ?hot topic? fora (evolution (etc.), cosmologies, and climate change)

Thanks, ~samwik
Pyrolysis creates reduced carbon! ...Time for the next step in our evolutionary symbiosis with fire.

#9879 - 11/01/06 02:10 AM Re: New Forum Ideas
Mike Kremer Offline


Registered: 10/16/04
Posts: 1696
Loc: London UK
Hello Kate,

At the moment you/we have "Four different Forums Divisions"
As you say, you are ready to possibly create some new divisions, AND get rid of some old ones?

The net result is, that we/you will end up with MORE divisions than ever.

Not only more divisions....but Sub-Divisions of divisions which can and will be argued about as to which category it should be put in.

Each division now,- occupies a different page. Which many of us do not even look at...like "Origins" or "Asian Flue" etc.
Even if we did, we might decide NOT to post a reply.....since we rightly surmise that, that particular post has become days old and dead.
With a reply not expected.

My contention is:- the more divisions, the more problems (both for you and us) due to the more pages, (which can't be seen) and have to be actively viewed, before replying.

Taking a leaf out of the old type of forum which a few of us remember....where the posting was fast and furious......is:-

Have just ONE long page, as in the old Forum.
But instead of having two rows of (un-useful letter) icons, on the extreme left side.
Allow the poster to PICK one of say ten icons
that you supply, which gives everyone the basic info as to what the posting is about.
The date on the right hand ensures everyone that the post is still alive, and worth posting to.

These icons which YOU supply (instead of smileys)
Could be minature pics:-
- Cloud/lightning - Flask/testube -Oil/power -
Planets - Televisn/Radio - Computer/chip -
Skeleton/underground - Preacher/book/Church -
Cogs/engineering - DNA/Human - Aeroplane -
Weight/Gravity - Earth/mountain - Trees -

I'm sure everyone has got the idea
In my opinion with everything on ONE page, you MUST get an INCREASE in postings, as all your dinky little icons will be there for all to see, and access, and easily read.

Oh well I tried frown frown
Keep up the good work Kate, you are ALL doing a great job. Just let me know when you've made your first million. smile

"You will never find a real Human being - Even in a mirror." ....Mike Kremer.

#9880 - 11/01/06 07:33 AM Re: New Forum Ideas
Kate Offline

Senior Member

Registered: 10/16/04
Posts: 334
That's great!

Thanks to everyone who contributed. I'll read them all. Keep 'em coming!

A question: Could "Origins" and "Not quite Science" be merged?


#9881 - 11/01/06 03:42 PM Re: New Forum Ideas
TheFallibleFiend Offline

Registered: 06/08/05
Posts: 1940
Loc: http://thefalliblefiend.blogsp...
Kate asked: Could "Origins" and "Not quite Science" be merged?

They could be merged, but I think it wouldn't have the same effect. The word "origins" is a perfect attractor for most of the creationist stuff.

I like the NQS forum for things that are related to science (like the quotes), but the original intent was that it be something like an attractor for all the other creationistic-like nonscience stuff. Problem is that cranks never self-identify.

#9882 - 11/01/06 05:17 PM Re: New Forum Ideas
DA Morgan Offline

Registered: 10/17/04
Posts: 4136
Loc: Seattle, WA
I think merge them. I support limiting, to a single forum, discussions of those topics that are not strictly science.
DA Morgan

#9883 - 11/01/06 05:22 PM Re: New Forum Ideas
dr_rocket Offline

Registered: 12/06/06
Posts: 196
Loc: Palo Alto, CA, USA
Hi Kate,

I think that's a great idea. Maybe a Physics & Chemistry or a Physical Sciences forum would be good.

The thing about climate, global warming, etc. is that a lot of ink is spilled. While these are valid scientific pursuits, most of what appears here is hot air (pun intended) and I just skip over it.

Another thought that occurs is a SciFi forum. Seems like many of the folks that hang out here have some interest in this. The physics library at my institution, for example, has a collection of SciFi. Really, I'm not kidding. (Some of my colleagues write in this genre in their spare time.)

Dr. R.

#9884 - 11/01/06 05:27 PM Re: New Forum Ideas
TheFallibleFiend Offline

Registered: 06/08/05
Posts: 1940
Loc: http://thefalliblefiend.blogsp...
I was unclear in my previous post. I don't support merger of NQS and Origins.

I think NQS should be eliminated as a failed experiment. Origins should be kept as-is.

An SF forum seems worthwhile, although I wonder what kind of people would be attracted to the forum. It's not my place to wonder such things, but I do anyway.

I'm reminded of something I read about child molestors recently - turns out in a study that was done, all but one of the study group of pervs was an ST fanatic.

#9885 - 11/01/06 10:49 PM Re: New Forum Ideas
Blacknad Offline

Registered: 10/05/05
Posts: 901
Loc: Coventry, England
Well, Bird Flu should probably go now as the whole subject has lost its piquancy somewhat. It may rear its head at some point but for the time being its a dead parrot.

Origins is a good board. I remember pre-origins, and many good science threads were hijacked by religious debate. Origins has served a purpose and kept the science board clean. Besides, the debates with Trilobyte and so on are lively, interesting and fun - and with TFF, Terry T and Soilguy's responses it has been informative for me.

Please keep Origins in its current form - It is not unrelated to science.

'Not Quite Science' works well to allow more speculative discussions and prevents the real serious scientists from getting too frustrated with people posting way-out ideas in the science board.

I wonder, along with TFF, what kind of people will be attracted to a SF board. Probably people like the Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons:


Yellow skin
Brown hair worn in a pony-tail
Fat and constantly eating
Waddles when walking
Highly sarcastic attitude
Owns the Android's Dungeon & Baseball Card Shop
45 years Old
Lives with parents
I.Q. of 170
Has prescription pants


CBG: Alec, Alec, regarding that so called "silent" propulsion system in "The Hunt For Red October", I printed out a list of technical errors which I think you'd enjoy discussing.

CBG: Inspired by the most logical race in the galaxy, the Vulcans, breeding will be permitted once every seven years. For many of you this will mean much less breeding, for me, much much more.

Only joking, I'm a big fan of Niven, Asimov, C Clarke etc. and I stopped living with my parents five years ago at the age of thirty. smile


#9886 - 11/02/06 02:06 AM Re: New Forum Ideas
terrytnewzealand Offline

Registered: 08/02/06
Posts: 1031
Loc: Whangarei New Zealand
Not relevant but I'm a big fan of the Simpsons.

#9887 - 11/02/06 03:31 AM Re: New Forum Ideas
samwik Offline

Registered: 10/10/06
Posts: 1164
Loc: Colorado
The Sci. page and the NQSci. page look pretty much the same to me. Most of what goes on "Sci." is news reports, and the result is lots of arguing over sources. Most NQ Sci. topics rise to this level, and the rest would be do better on a "hot-topic" forum.

Origins is a great place to draw fundies, and for anyone who wants to practice their evo theory it's a great opportunity. How many would really be discussing some climate or string or evo- theory stuff/reports if not for the fundies, or people just curious about these new/hot topics?
DA's very neat post ("News") about the Ice-age Cave found in MO should have been on the Science forum as an archaeology type topic, and probably someone would have commented on it, if not just to say "Cool!". People avoid the Origins forum, thinking it's all funky, fundy stuff.
If it had been "Re-peated" on the Sci forum, I bet it would have drawn some comments over on the Origins (or "Living Origins," or "Life Sciences," or "Evolution") Forum, or whatever you end up calling it (hopefully it will draw fundies away from...other fora). If there was just one big forum, it'd be too much to wade through all the funky stuff to find the "hard science" discussions.

Regardless of topic, so much arguing over sources could be avoided if we started topics on a page that was based on the source's authority type [News interpretation vs. Scientific Reports vs. "Letters," (blogs, personal opinion, conjectures, requests for help, NQsci. stuff etc.)].

In this suggested "source" or "authority" model (re: my previous post):
Technically anything posted on the "Hot Topic" pages could have been started on one of the 3 "Sourced Fora;" but to keep the "sourced fora" pages more focused, it's good to have those hot topic outlets, and just "re-post" their topics on the appropriate "sourced forum" page (as a sort of Table of Contents function for the hot-topic fora), with comments restricted to the originating forum's page.
Even the "sourced fora" could re-post each other's topics (but still direct comments to the originating forum).
This could be done manually, following rules, if hard/software preclude it.

I love the way most recently active topics rise to the top, but that wouldn't be good if all the fora, everything, was all one page.
I'd like to see each topic displayed as one long page, but I think some initial filtering (4-6 fora) is a good idea. By looking at dates, # of pages (# of comments, if a 1-page style?), and position on the forum, you can tell how "dead" a topic is.
I bet there are software/hardware restriction on how things are structured, but what about one page (current style) to start, and if a topic generates enough posts to generate a second page, that second page should be endless (with the first page repeated at the top) to allow for easy viewing and commenting.
If you keep topic pages as is, at least add a "Back to Top" button (along with an "All Fora" tab in the drop-down "directory of fora") at the bottom of the page.

My "Shower-curtain Effect" topic (NQSci) is a good example of how "sourcing" could work. A "Letter" (topic) from me was requesting help (input/ observations) regarding a "News" article that, based on one scientist's observations, has been given the authority of a "Report" (by the media). -...or words to that effect.

Since this was a "Letter" (about a news article), I posted it on the NQSci. forum, but it got a lot less activity until RicS brought it up on the Sci. forum. I was new at the time, but if I'd known that "News" was standard on the Sci Forum, I would have posted there first. As it was, if it had been "re-posted" on the Sci. page (no comments allowed; comments directed to topic on originating forum) it all would have worked better. A "re-post" on a "sourced Sci" forum would track the activity & dates/times, but not move to the top every time the topic was active on the originating forum.

Bottom line is I like the multi-fora format, but the "real" science forum should be split into at least two based on authority (the librarian in me talking), the source that the topic is based on. I'd vote for three (see above), but....
And there needs to be some open (regardless of source) page(s), forum(s) that is, to attract and absorb funky, fundy polemics and diatribes (whether about evo/creat theories, or relativity/string theories, or anthros/naturas climate change theories).

Pyrolysis creates reduced carbon! ...Time for the next step in our evolutionary symbiosis with fire.

#9888 - 11/02/06 03:38 AM Re: New Forum Ideas
anyman Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 12/18/04
Posts: 134
i'm with kremer on this...but i doubt that we will return to the old format or anything like it

assuming that won't happen...i suggest that we leavee it as is

it ain't broke...don't try to fix it

#9889 - 11/02/06 06:56 AM Re: New Forum Ideas
terrytnewzealand Offline

Registered: 08/02/06
Posts: 1031
Loc: Whangarei New Zealand
For what it's worth, I agree with anyman. I find it easy to flick to each site, see who's made comments and how long ago. Simple. Perhaps change avian flu to something encompassing interpretation of evidence, say climate.

Besides we have to think of any continued increased work load once any changes have been made.

#9890 - 11/02/06 07:04 AM Re: New Forum Ideas
anyman Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 12/18/04
Posts: 134
another couple of cents here...

i really don't see the point of a special climate board

that subject is very worthy of being discussed on the main science board (as are all others :-)

climate science/global warming sf/etc are contemporary hot topics, highly relelvant, controversial, and debate/discussion generating

it ain't broke...don't try to fix it :-)

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