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Keeping UMSF at an 'impressively high level', Please take a moment to read
djellison
post Apr 4 2006, 07:57 PM
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I had no idea on the flood control - perhaps us admin's don't experience it. I've set the normal member flood control time out to 10 seconds - I hope that's not too bad. It helps keep the SQL load under control, or something... smile.gif

I'm not too keen on FAQ's. There are 1001 places to go and learn about a mission, a planet, an instrument etc. This isn't an encyclopedia, it's a discussion forum. I do agree on the 'questions and answers' sort of sub forum though. People are always going to ask the more simple question and if they're going to do so, it would make sense for there to be a home for it, perhaps a 'Beginners Forum' - for the more basic questions.

However - this isn't a forum for 'everyone' - I don't think it's fair to ask people to consider the layman in every post, it's just inappropriate. To have a thread tackle something from the ground up in the 'beginners forum' would make sense.

Doug
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climber
post Apr 4 2006, 09:51 PM
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I personaly agree with what you're saying. I understand how hard he can be to balance between a high standard and a free forum. Administrators rule have to be THE rules.
May be one suggestion. If technicaly possible, you may include reading "the rules" in the inscription form for Newbie ?
Then, I also understand how hard it can be for you to keep the site "up and clean" but, we, Newbie, members, etc, we realy need your expertise/moderation on the topics even more. I'm too new here without any authority, but I'd love too help any time in the future if needed... and if I'm not on the "2-4 list"..


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djellison
post Apr 4 2006, 10:08 PM
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I think a link to the rules, once properly sorted and made final, will go into the 'welcome to' email to all new members - I can sort that no problem.

Doug
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The Messenger
post Apr 5 2006, 04:40 AM
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Do you want threads on topics such as Seti and LIGO discontinued?

I think they are relevant, because of the close association between LIGO and Gravity probe B, for example,
and they compete with unmanned space for funding and VLA time. But it is your call.

Thanks, Doug,
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djellison
post Apr 5 2006, 07:21 AM
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Their focus, however ,is on observational astronomy and physics - which don't relaly fit under the UMSF banner at all - but then nor do the Hubble images of Mars that I've been playing with. It's a difficult call, and will probably be made on a case by case basis, depending on where the thread is going.

Seti, yes, that thread is not to continue. It's not UMSF in any way shape or form, unquestionably. There are other places to talk about it.

Doug
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ngunn
post Apr 5 2006, 10:39 AM
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This is a plea for allowing 'newbies' to continue posting in mainstream discussions, rather than being relegated to a part of the forum the experts will ignore. There's a huge amount to say but I'll try to be short.

Everyone can have useful ideas, including farmers(!) and especially young people. When it comes to spotting connections between widely separated fields of expertise even the inexpert is in with a genuine chance. Of course it is the various experts who form the heart of the forum and most newbies like myself are more likely to be looking for answers to questions than posting new information. I have never - anywhere - found the answer to a question I wanted to ask in a FAQ list. On the other hand I have learned much, for example, about Titanian weather from excellent summaries by a certain B.M. (surely not one of those 'on report' for polemics??). Professionals like volcanopele have not only generously posted fantastic insider insights keeping forum readers well ahead of the game on the interpretation of Cassini images, but he and others have been willing to respond to casual points and queries raised by a wide range of members. Long may this continue. (But where is the new blog - are we allowed to know?)

If spaceflight itself (not just this forum) is to have a great future the excitement of millions of people must be engaged. This is where the will and means for exploring the universe must come from in the end, not just from the odd maverick billionnaire. I think UMSF has an immensely valuable role to play here by enabling interested 'newbies' to participate genuinely, in however small a way, in the discourse of discovery.

People who rightly praise the forum for its immediate value as an academic fringe resource should not overlook the time dimension and the wider social context in which science operates. There will be a future world and a future space programme - and they will be run by newbies.
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ljk4-1
post Apr 5 2006, 11:30 AM
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QUOTE (djellison @ Apr 5 2006, 03:21 AM) *
Their focus, however ,is on observational astronomy and physics - which don't relaly fit under the UMSF banner at all - but then nor do the Hubble images of Mars that I've been playing with. It's a difficult call, and will probably be made on a case by case basis, depending on where the thread is going.

Seti, yes, that thread is not to continue. It's not UMSF in any way shape or form, unquestionably. There are other places to talk about it.

Doug


What about reporting on unmanned probes that conduct SETI? Believe it or not,
it has been done with the Copernicus astronomy satellite and the Soviet Mars 7
probe in the early 1970s, both of which looked for optical signals from ETI.

http://www.daviddarling.info/encyclopedia/S/SETI.html

And Corot has a connection with an Active SETI project, though even I consider
it to be more of a publicity stunt than actual science.

http://www.cosmicconnexion.com/static/index.html


--------------------
"After having some business dealings with men, I am occasionally chagrined,
and feel as if I had done some wrong, and it is hard to forget the ugly circumstance.
I see that such intercourse long continued would make one thoroughly prosaic, hard,
and coarse. But the longest intercourse with Nature, though in her rudest moods, does
not thus harden and make coarse. A hard, sensible man whom we liken to a rock is
indeed much harder than a rock. From hard, coarse, insensible men with whom I have
no sympathy, I go to commune with the rocks, whose hearts are comparatively soft."

- Henry David Thoreau, November 15, 1853

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djellison
post Apr 5 2006, 12:03 PM
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QUOTE (ljk4-1 @ Apr 5 2006, 11:30 AM) *
What about reporting on unmanned probes that conduct SETI?


Same rule applies - there are places to talk about SETI, in any incarnation, this isn't one.

Doug
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odave
post Apr 5 2006, 01:24 PM
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QUOTE (djellison @ Apr 5 2006, 03:21 AM) *
Their focus, however ,is on observational astronomy and physics - which don't relaly fit under the UMSF banner at all

I think it depends on the definition of UMSF that we're using. If the view is broad - something flying in space (or had previously flown in space to get there), without people on it, making scientific observations - then Hubble et.al. fit. Taking everything down to basics, the biggest difference between MRO and Hubble is the distance from them to their subjects wink.gif If the view is more narrow - say observation/investigation of planets and small bodies only, then I guess they don't fit.

QUOTE (ngunn @ Apr 5 2006, 06:39 AM) *
This is a plea for allowing 'newbies' to continue posting in mainstream discussions, rather than being relegated to a part of the forum the experts will ignore.

I don't think this proposed forum would be a place beginners are asked to stay until they are ready to "leave the nest". Say there's a discussion going on in one of the MER forums, and someone asks a basic question about how basalts form. Rather than have the thread spin off into a background lecture on basalt, someone else would post something like "hey, that's a good question, let's move it over to the beginner forum" and then start a new topic there. And it would be a place where beginners can start basic topics of their own. I'm sure some of the experts hanging around UMSF have the heart of a teacher and would gladly participate in that forum.

And just a clarification to my earlier post - I was talking about a FAQ in the purest sense, a list of questions that come up often enough to irritate the regulars, not a comprehensive encyclopedia. But after thinking about it for a while, I agree that a beginner forum is a much better way to handle it.

Again, UMSF is a wonderful exception to the rule as far as Internet discussion goes, and I'm glad Doug and the other admins care enough to keep it that way smile.gif


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ljk4-1
post Apr 5 2006, 04:05 PM
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I think it needs to be determined exactly what is and is not wanted for the
UMSF forum.

Here is my take on the matter:

Apparently just because a spacecraft is unmanned (robotic), that does not
automatically qualify it for discussion here.

If the robot craft is designed for exploring planets (besides Earth), moons,
planetoids, comets, and the interplanetary medium, that is okay.

Space-based robot observatories like Hubble are not, even though they
have imaged various bodies in the Sol system. Personally I think excluding
such satellites gets into murky waters, as the science and the Universe are
not subject themselves to strict borders and definitions as created by humans.

All manned missions are out, even if their destinations are among the above-
mentioned celestial objects.

SETI, interstellar spacecraft drives, and speculations on the Cosmos are out,
even though the missions of virtually all space probes are to analyze a part
of the mysteries of the Universe. And how often have we heard from NASA
that finding extraterrestrial life is one of their ultimate goals, poor as their
current behavior with astrobiology budgets are?

What about space probes designed to look for alien life on other worlds? If
the said target is not intelligent, does that make it okay? This would make
MER okay, as its discovery of ancient water on Mars does not necessarily
lead to intelligent alien natives of the Red Planet. And Cassini's exploration
of Titan and Enceladus are okay because the highest life forms on those
worlds could not be more than microbes and maybe segmented worms.

Europa is okay, even if its life forms might reach the jellyfish and fish level.

What about other worlds we currently do not think could have life? This could
change as we continue to explore and discover new things about these worlds.

You say there are other places to discuss many of the topics I have brought up.
I haven't found many with the quality level I find here. Either the discussions
and information levels are nil, or they degrade into Hoaxland territory. It is a
true shame that in the year 2006, talking about alien life is still being placed in
the science ficiton and science "ghetto" category, even decades after we have
found creatures that can live miles under the ocean next to boiling hot
hydrothermal vents. Recent satellites have even determined that simple
microbes can handle being directly exposed to space.

My suggestion is that UMSF split into two forums, one for the unmanned probes
to other worlds and the other for the rest of the Universe. I would hate to lose
all the great info and talk that has gone on here already, to say nothing of losing
some valuable members who may not be intimately involved with, say, the geology
of certain areas on Mars or know how to process their own moon maps, but who
are valuable nonetheless.

I also do not want to see "newbies" chased away, as everyone was new to the field
at one time, and if someone turned them off to the subject, their loss to the field
would be ours as well.

And while I cannot host such a second forum physically, I would put my money
where my mouth is by offering to help moderate and build such a forum.


--------------------
"After having some business dealings with men, I am occasionally chagrined,
and feel as if I had done some wrong, and it is hard to forget the ugly circumstance.
I see that such intercourse long continued would make one thoroughly prosaic, hard,
and coarse. But the longest intercourse with Nature, though in her rudest moods, does
not thus harden and make coarse. A hard, sensible man whom we liken to a rock is
indeed much harder than a rock. From hard, coarse, insensible men with whom I have
no sympathy, I go to commune with the rocks, whose hearts are comparatively soft."

- Henry David Thoreau, November 15, 1853

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The Messenger
post Apr 5 2006, 04:44 PM
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QUOTE (ngunn @ Apr 5 2006, 04:39 AM) *
This is a plea for allowing 'newbies' to continue posting in mainstream discussions, rather than being relegated to a part of the forum the experts will ignore. There's a huge amount to say but I'll try to be short.

Everyone can have useful ideas, including farmers(!) and especially young people. When it comes to spotting connections between widely separated fields of expertise even the inexpert is in with a genuine chance....

Hear Hear!

I grow much more tired of the jokes than the basic and/or uninformed questions/speculation - and I hope all of these site assets will continue to be tolerated within reason. (Except for Lipovan, which has a life of its own that is well beyond reason;)
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chris
post Apr 5 2006, 04:59 PM
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It seems to me that the essence of what we are talking about could be summed up as "Unmanned Space Exploration". Its where robots are, will be, or might be sent in place of humans. It is about those spacecraft that we all would kill to get a seat on if we could.

If you think like this, Cassini and the rovers are a dead cert, and things like LIGO and Hubble, while worthy in their own right, don't fit.

Chris
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djellison
post Apr 5 2006, 05:04 PM
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QUOTE (ljk4-1 @ Apr 5 2006, 04:05 PM) *
My suggestion is that UMSF split into two forums, one for the unmanned probes
to other worlds and the other for the rest of the Universe.


I'd be happy for there to be a spin-off forum for things outside the remit of what UMSF has always been about (going places and doing science basically) - I'm not sure if it's easy to do, but I'm sure there's a way to export a subforum or set of posts to transfer them over if using Invision board elsewhere. It's not something I could do - UMSF already limits what spare time I have, there are so many things I want to do (mosaics, 3d anims, maps, the book ) but they all have to move to a back burner when it comes to maintaining this place (and that means basically reading every single post that gets made). I'd be happy to advise and give guidence if someone wants to start a 'spin out' for Observational Astronomy or Cosmology, Astrophysics that sort of thing.

This place started with a very very specific focus - MER imaging. It spread to other Mars spacecraft, and then to Cassini, and now to where it is today - which I consider too broad. However - it is totally impossible to have simple guidelines that dictate what can and can not be discussed - and it's always going to be a case by case basis on the 'edge' of the cut off. One can go on and on about it, get anal to the n'th degree - but it's simply going to be a judgement call by me at the end of the day. Seti, Astrobiology, they're the subject most likely to attract the sort of person I simply do not want here. There are about 15, 20 posters here who make up the very core of this place. For it to retain the quality it must, then UMSF must be the perfect forum for those few people - not everyone - just a few.

Just because this is a forum with a good SNR, that doesnt immediately make it a home for topics for which people can not find somewhere else . To justify the discussion of SETI here because the SNR is good isn't going to cut it - one might as well say "well - there's a forum for Man Utd, but it's really noisy - let's talk about it here!" - No - this place was founded with a specific group of people in mind, a specific type of discussion at its heart - and whilst it's grown beyond that - it's not going to cover anything and everything. Ask yourself why there are no high SNR boards about SETI and astrobiology...then imagine bringing that sort of discussion here...and you can see why it's just not going to happen. I will not let the scope of this place grow to the detriment of it's core subjects and values - that's going to dissapoint some people, it's going to turn some people away, but I'm afraid that's 100% OK in my opinion to maintain the UMSF that is considered with high regard by professional scientists and engineers.

Chris has it about right - this forum is about those mission that go to explore, the things they do, the data they collect, and the magic people can work with that data. It's not a catch all for space science and astronomy, and it never will be. It is small and focused, and because of that it produces great things. If it becomes big, fat and bloated, it's achievments will be lost in the noise.


Doug
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elakdawalla
post Apr 5 2006, 05:22 PM
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One place that interested folks could take discussions of SETI, cosmology, etc. would be The Planetary Society Members Forum (if, that is, you are members). Because it's members-only it should screen out some of the kooks. We have a very open policy toward the topics that can be discussed on that forum, because it's really meant just to be a meeting place for our members to discuss whatever is on their minds, though we have a strict policy against conspiracy theories and outright looniness. We would be delighted to see some of the quality discussions that Doug is trying to excise from this forum moved there.

http://planetary.org/members/

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helvick
post Apr 5 2006, 05:30 PM
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QUOTE (chris @ Apr 5 2006, 04:59 PM) *
Its where robots are, will be, or might be sent in place of humans. It is about those spacecraft that we all would kill to get a seat on if we could.

That's seems to capture it quite succinctly, for me at any rate.

My position on all this is that Doug's very single minded vision and dedication have made this place what it is more than anything else. He hasn't been wrong in the past and I'm glad to see that he still has a clear vision of where he wants this to go. This demonstration of strong and decisive management is very welcome, great things rarely happen without it.

On the issue of topics that are now out of bounds but which clearly interest a significant number of the denizens here (myself included) there really is no reason to be annoyed. An alternate forum can be set up very easily if anyone really cares sufficiently. I honestly don't care enough to do it though.
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