Over the past 24 hrs, several members have demonstrated that they strongly object to and are unable to follow the 'no politics' rule, citing words such as 'censorship' and 'subjective'. How or why people find it so hard to not discuss politics still amazes me and fellow admins. So - I'm going to make it a little easier for you.
Three things in terms of Forum admin are happening as of today.
Firstly, the manned space flight section is to be turned into a read-only archive. This is NOT a statement regarding my or the forum's support or otherwise for Manned Spaceflight. It is simply a symptom of the sorts of discussion that happen there that so many brush against or dive straight into issues of, around or referencing politics. I thought (perhaps naievly) that UMSF members would be able to use an enjoy such a subsection without political issues creeping in as often as they have. Time has demonstrated that assumption to be wrong. Time has demonstrated that the vast majority of administrative headaches have their genesis in that sub-forum. If you try to argue that it's impossible to have discussions without politics, I would suggest you look at the 117,000 posts and more than 5,000 topics that managed to do exactly that. If you honestly can't see a way to have a discussion without politics, please find another forum, UMSF is not for you. Given that the manned-v-unmanned debate is against forum rules, and there is now no platform for manned spaceflight debate - this will almost certainly mean the end of any manned spaceflight discussion at UMSF. I repeat, this is not a statement regarding the pros and cons of one versus the other.
Secondly - the politics rule is staying - and is to be enforced even more strongly than ever before. So often I have heard comments such as 'I really like UMSF but.....' with that 'but' always citing one of the key things we do as an admin team to make UMSF the forum the person says they really like. Zero-tolerance of fringe theories, conspiracies etc is one. Zero-politics is another. Dictatorship style administration is another. Because UMSF is a good place to discuss image processing, MER, Cassini and so on, that does not mean it should be a good place to discuss anything any visitor wants to. It is precisely because they CAN'T that it is the place that it is. This forum was started as and will remain focused on particular discussions.
Thirdly - the Policy and Strategy subforum is to be renamed . I can understand that some might see a 'no politics' rule, but a 'policy' subforum as see confusion. This forum will be renamed 'Exploration Strategy' and is a home for debate about mission selection, pre-mission approval debate, ideas for new missions and so on. But, it does NOT become a new home for political debate.
Administration by its nature is subjective. If you are unable to establish for yourself what is or is not acceptable at UMSF, please find another forum. The forum guidelines make it rather obvious. It is when people decide to selectively ignore them that we have to subjectively enforce them.
As for censorship - this still strikes me as the most blinkered criticism I can imagine. No one is saying that you can not discuss Politics, or Cydonia. The rules simply state that you can not discuss them here.. There are plenty of other forums that you can visit if you want to have discussions outside the remit of UMSF - four popular ones are listed below.
http://www.nasaspaceflight.com : Well moderated, the closest thing to UMSF for manned spaceflight.
http://www.bautforum.com : Well moderated, has conspiracy and against the mainstream sub-forums with well crafted rules to insist such discussions make progress and are well structured within a time frame. Religion and Politics not welcome.
http://www.habitablezone.com : Little moderation, has a current-events section for political debate.
http://www.marsroverblog.com : Near zero moderation, anything goes.
I frequent all, contribute to some, and enjoy (for a variety of reasons) all of them.
If you have a problem with forum rules - send us a private message (the 'report a post' tool is probably useful for this). The reason I have assembled the admin team that I have, is because I trust them more than I trust the general UMSF membership when it comes to decisions about UMSF. Emily, Dan, Glen, Nico, Joe and I have a similar vision of UMSF. We're not all immature 20-somethings ( infact, I'm the only 20-something out of the lot, and that's not true much longer). I picked that team because they're not me - because they're older (sorry guys - it's true), more worldly, and certainly wiser than I. It's no secret that we have a virtual underground lair where we discuss the forum, most major forum decisions, and generally moan about the more pedantic and troublesome UMSF members. If a decision has to be made about UMSF, it will happen there. We may ask you for your input, but until we need it, that decision making process happens in the admin section with the mods and admins tossing ideas around.
Ultimately, however, UMSF is my responsibility, and I've made decisions this morning, on my own, that I was hoping the maturity of UMSF members would mean I wouldn't have to make. Sadly, that's turned out not to be the case. Some will inevitably accuse me of another baby+bathwater reaction. In response, I will say yes - some interesting and good discourse may well fall by the wayside because of this. I have contributed to and enjoyed the manned section myself. However, as the source of so much trouble, it has been a thorn in the side of UMSF as long as it existed, and I have hinted at it's future demise for some time. It helps clarify a grey area and of course, there are many other forums where those debates can happen instead - indeed, far better and more appropriate places where more fruitful and informative discussions can take place. If you think it's a shame that it's gone - ask yourself why you come here, and if that sub-forum really was a key part of what UMSF is about. All we're really doing is enforcing this..
- 1.1 The clue is in the name of the forum. If what you are posting is not related either to Unmanned Spaceflight, or a directly related matter, it may be deleted without notice.
The forum guidelines ( http://www.unmannedspaceflight.com/index.php?act=boardrules ) have been appropriately adjusted. Further tweaks to the 'EVA' section will happen over the next day or so.