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David Morrow

I fear that you're right, Marcus, about the impossibility of achieving a sufficiently safe and supportive environment for everyone. Especially in cyberspace, where it's harder to gauge speakers' intentions, I don't think it's possible to walk the fine line you'd need to walk as a moderator.

Jerry Green

I'm a little more optimistic, Marcus. I think the folks on this blog do a pretty good job of self-policing their comments (though of course I wouldn't have seen the ones that you've moderated yourself). You have every right to veto the obviously inappropriate comments, but beyond that I think you can leave it up to the community.

For example, I remember saying something dumb in a comment a few weeks back, and rather than getting flamed, the responses were respectful and informative (I'm having trouble finding find the post now, and I think this was back when I still commented anonymously). This was a learning experience for me, and I'd like to think the same sort of thing might happen for others.

Marcus Arvan

David and JG: Thanks to you both for your comments. I'll wait to see what others have to say, but for now I'm still inclined to hold off.

JG: Unfortunately, I don't know if you remember them, but on the several occasions that I have posted on matters relating to gender equity in the past, the comments section almost *immediately* threatened the blog's atmosphere (this despite the fact that I tried my best as blog moderator to protect against it). Moreover, there was in every case a good number of very aggressive and not-at-all supportive comments that, as moderator, I had to reject.

The really difficult thing -- and I have to admit, it *really* surprised me the first time around -- is that it is really hard to imagine how difficult blog moderating is until you've done it. You "second-, third-, and fourth-guess" yourself on just about everything. You wonder if you're being too strict, not strict enough, whether you are letting your own emotional responses get in the way -- and then of course there are your own blinds-spots that (for better or for worse) other people (whether in the comments section, or by private email) will criticize you for, in a way that (as moderator!) does not feel safe or supportive.

In other words, although, like you, I would *like* to think we could pull off a good, supportive, moderated discussion here, past experience makes me worry a great deal. However, I thank you for expressing optimism, and agree that we have a lot of good people who contribute greatly to the blog, in ways that fulfill its mission. In any case, I will wait to hear what the rest of the community has to say. Thanks again for your comment!

Brad Cokelet

Hi Marcus,

If you want to broach the topic, perhaps you could do it in a positive way.

For example, you could start form E. Stump's comment on Leiter: "I applaud and support the recommendation made on Facebook by my colleague Jon Jacobs that the top ten ranked philosophy departments in this country lead the way by asking for site visits from the APA." You could then ask readers to propose other things that the top ten department could all do as a unit in order to help lead a cultural shift with a positive message? Basically you could ask: How can we construct a positive manifesto and program for top departments to publicly endorse? And then you can just say at the outset that the assumption is that we have a problem and we want proposals to fix it; constructive criticisms of proposals must come with alternative positive proposals. Attacks on the whole claim that there is a problem or purely negative attacks on one proposal (without a revised, better alternative) are not welcome. And that might not be hard for you to enforce while approving comments.

Marcus Arvan

Hi Brad,

Thanks for the suggestion! It sounds like a great idea to me, and I may well give it a shot. Let's see what others think.

(Hey all, what does everyone think of Brad's suggestion?)



I don't view it as a glaring omission. I think it'll create too much work for you.

Justin Caouette

I would stay away from it, Marcus.

There are enough avenues open to folks who wish to discuss these issues and it may be a nice gesture to point folks in that direction. As Rachel said, it would create a lot of work for you.

That said, I do like Brad's suggestion.

Scott Robertson

If we _must_ discuss diversity/climate issues on this blog as well as on all the others, I have a request: let's talk about the _real_ 'elephant in the room' (that is, the one that is actually not being discussed anywhere else).

That elephant is the fact that racial diversity in the discipline is much worse than sex/gender diversity, and that social class diversity is worse in the profession than racial diversity. And yet, for all that, none of the philosophy blogs discuss these more glaring problems. There is no 'What it's Like to be Black in Philosophy' blog, no 'Working-Class Philosophers' blog, and no news on Leiter or elsewhere about the major difficulties people from low-income, non-educated backgrounds face when attempting to enter the profession.

First-generation students from poor families must overcome poor nutrition, homes with no books, an anti-intellectual family environment, and a lack of assistance and second chances in a K-12 system that is biased against them. Then they reach university, where subtle social cues mark them out from their peers. On those rare occasions when students from those backgrounds make it to grad school, they have no family connections or other safety nets to fall back upon if Plan A fails.

The result? Well, ask your colleagues (or fellow grad students) what their parents do for a living, and you might see an interesting class-related pattern.

So: _if_ the Cocoon is going into the business of discussing diversity/equity issues and news, _please_ let's not add to the already overexposed and oversaturated discussions about sex and gender, and instead start balance things out by talking about the more pervasive problems of class and race diversity and obstacles.

And if you can't find news items on those topics, it might be worth considering why that is!

Thanks again. Love the blog! Again, my vote is not to change it.

Marcus Arvan

Hi Scott: Thank you for your comment, and for your compliments on the blog. I'm glad to hear you enjoy it! I think you make very important points, and I hope to approach the issues you mention in the future in a manner that is consistent with this blog's mission!

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