Comment Policy Update

This afternoon we deleted a number of comments in a way that isn’t compliant with the way we usually moderate comments. We’re sorry about that and we’re tightening up our moderation procedures.

There are better ways to keep conversation focused on the topic at hand, and we’ll do better to use them.

This is as good a time as any to link to our comment policy. It’s good to check on it periodically if you comment here.

Comments

  1. Kyle S. says

    Deleting comments for profanity or expletives is also not covered under the Comments Policy, so why was my perfectly-understandable reaction to Ben’s capricious moderation deleted?

    And so help me if this comment gets deleted for “whining about comment policy” when it’s specifically on-topic…

  2. Michael H. says

    I didn’t see the content of the deleted comments, but Ben’s history of trying to silence points he finds inconvenient have certainly eroded my trust. It would be great if he were prevented from abusing comment moderation tools here.

    • Ben Schiendelman says

      Michael, there are points that are wrong, but take hold and people think could be plausible. PRT is one of those – we don’t write about PRT here because people get excited about it despite it being totally crazy. We’ve been over the downtown transit tunnel’s capacity many times, for instance:

      http://seattletransitblog.com/2012/06/20/help-accelerate-rail-to-ballard/#comment-233405

      Claiming that I, Sound Transit and SDOT staff, and many others are wrong about the capacity of the downtown tunnel is pointless, because the politicians who will actually make these decisions trust the people who articulate clearly that there is no way to add trains without negatively impacting operations.

      And it’s worse than pointless to bring it up over, and over, and over, because it leads people to believe that there’s some other option on the table when we’re successfully fighting to bring transit to Ballard.

      Adding weight to “alternatives” to what we’re fighting for, such as Kevin Wallace’s “Vision Line”, do damage to our ability to get transit, because they split well meaning supporters who don’t yet understand why these “alternatives” are infeasible. Well timed opposition campaigns often bring up “BRT” late in light rail campaigns – same thing.

      • d.p. says

        Successfully fighting?

        Do you not see how dangerously close you’ve gotten us to “STREETCAR NOW, STREETCAR FOREVER!”??

        Man, am I glad those nameless “clear articulaters” aren’t running New York, Seoul, and Paris!

      • Ben Schiendelman says

        No, I don’t see that, and I don’t see why you think that.

        My post today was about how great it is that a huge amount of organizing work got Sound Transit to move up their corridor studies for light rail (in exclusive right of way) to 2013, opening up the possibility of ST3 in 2016.

        With Sound Transit 3 on track, it’s WAY less likely that we’ll end up with a streetcar, because Sound Transit can say “hey, we plan to build there, and we want to build higher capacity than a streetcar”.

        Today, you’ve attacked me for supporting streetcars, and also for supporting high capacity rail, with claims such as that I want a “$100 billion” system. That doesn’t make sense.

        The central thrust of the work I’ve done just got us $10 million in 2013 for something between streetcar and subway. If you want something between the two, we just got a big step toward it! Why can’t you be happy with that?

      • Michael H. says

        On the whole I find your arguments about DSTT capacity more persuasive than the alternatives, although I am not 100 percent convinced. Maybe that’s because I haven’t yet read all the convincing material that’s out there, but deleting any dissent isn’t going to help educate me or anyone else.

        Even in a case like the “Vision Line” for which I share your view, I believe the right response is to correct misconceptions rather than silence them.

        The people bringing up dissenting views are people who I assume are doing so in good faith, unlike rail opponents bringing up BRT to kill rail. You may believe that the effect is the same, but I believe that their arguments deserve a response on the merits and not framed as if they are personally responsible for stopping effective high-capacity transit just by raising an alternative point of view.

      • d.p. says

        You support ANYTHING that runs on rails. That’s how you’ve wound up endorsing $100 billion worth of bridges and streetcars and tunnels and regional “vision” networks over the past year.

        How in the world do you actually think all of that will come to pass?

        Meanwhile, if everyone in power is as much on the same page as you seem to believe, then you might want to start asking your contacts why the public/media face given to the Ballard studies is “streetcar all the time”.

      • David L says

        Claiming that I, Sound Transit and SDOT staff, and many others are wrong about the capacity of the downtown tunnel is pointless, because the politicians who will actually make these decisions trust the people who articulate clearly that there is no way to add trains without negatively impacting operations.

        I have to disagree here. The staff has never addressed in any public way, as far as I know, why they are so insistent that the tunnel now only has 67% of the capacity it was originally envisioned to accommodate. And d.p. is right that there are plenty of counterexamples, although some of the ones he likes to cite most are inapposite. In cases where we have an entrenched staff position that has not been well explained, and that affects the potential future options we have available, I think it’s beneficial to examine it. Perhaps you have heard a more detailed explanation of the 2-minute versus 3-minute discrepancy. If so, you should present it, or tell us what event we should attend to learn about it! d.p. hasn’t, and I haven’t, heard a good explanation.

        You operate on the correct assumption that unity is more likely to lead to action, but sometimes that can go too far. It would be a shame if we built a slow streetcar in part because we didn’t challenge an assumption which, it’s at least possible, is groundless.

      • Ben Schiendelman says

        The problem with the DSTT issue is that the only way to really get documentation on the issue would be for ST to publish something that says “we’re limited and can’t do more.” That would be damaging to them – it would make a bunch of us happy, but it would also lead to a Seattle Times article saying “Sound Transit built stuff that could never be expanded and wastes your money!”

        It costs a lot – volunteer time, advertising money, all sorts of work – to correct misconceptions. And every time someone creates an “alternative view”, some small portion of people decide it’s correct regardless of what information they’re given. It’s a great way to battle progress with attrition, because even if it’s an STB post first, and we have a great discussion here, then the “alternative view” gets picked up by someone like the Times or the Bellevue Reporter, and suddenly there’s no way to have a conversation with all the people who then doubt the status quo. And even if you could, there’s an opportunity cost. Talking about the Vision Line and fighting that battle took limited time and energy away from other fights. If we have to argue about a Ballard spur during Sound Transit 3, it’ll cost us votes.

        I don’t think d.p. argues in good faith. Most of the other people curious about the ballard spur idea do, but d.p. only comments to attack, and when responded to, he doesn’t take my arguments in good faith. He often pivots his attacks to ad hominem, fearmongering, reductio ad absurdum fallacies, or other tools to distract from the fact that I made a point at all.

      • Ben Schiendelman says

        David, the DSTT does not “have less capacity than it was designed to”. Right now, Link is often several minutes off schedule – they measure their performance by “how often a train comes”, not the actual time the train arrives. The variation in the arrival times of trains coming from the at-grade section (and this may yet happen in Bel-Red as well) means that they need padding, enough that it would be very poor planning to bring trains in from several endpoints when they need to be threaded into small headways.

        I have probably typed parts of this explanation twenty or thirty times in different ways. Every time it’s brought up, the thread explodes – d.p. gets vitriolic, people who are honestly curious ask questions, and it’s a mess. I want to respond to all of these with my best knowledge framed in a way that’s going to be accessible to whoever comments, because I want people to understand the issues and be supportive of what’s on the table. It’s really hard to do this, especially when I might spend a couple of hours replying to things here when I could be organizing people to get us ST3 revenue instead.

        So, back to the central point: The tunnel can handle trains every 2 minutes. That’s never been an issue. The issue is that if you interlined with a spur, you’d end up with East Link and South Link capped at 8 minute headways forever, when we’re going to need more capacity than that as Bellevue and the Rainier Valley grow.

      • d.p. says

        Ben, I think that you believe your own arguments.

        That doesn’t make them inherently rational or sound.

      • d.p. says

        For example, your last statement makes no sense. How does the existence of two branches from the south end of the 2-minute tunnel section have ANY bearing on branching out of the north end of the same 2-minute section?

      • Ben Schiendelman says

        d.p., the same reason traffic congestion travels in waves throughout a system. The schedule impacts of variations at any point when your headways are that low would move throughout the high capacity section.

        Also, the *other* major issue is that you wouldn’t have time for switching with 2 minute peak headways. You have to switch the tracks to go north or to Ballard…

      • d.p. says

        You JUST accused me of arguing in bad faith (untrue).

        I said that you seemingly argue in good faith, but can’t seem to handle having your logical errors investigated.

        Which of these is a harsher accusation?

      • d.p. says

        Again, Ben, that’s the “Seattle is a unique snowflake” fallacy.

        Your switching time estimates would come as a surprise to hundreds of cities around the world.

      • David L says

        Ben, the first of d.p.’s posts is a personal attack, but the second is correct. One train every 2 minutes through the core UW-IDS segment, with two branches from each end of that segment, translates into one train every 4 (not 8) minutes for each branch.

        And, from my perspective… even if you conceded that the tunnel will bog down at frequencies under 3 minutes, I don’t think we’ve seen a solid argument against the crosstown spur. It would preserve current design capacity to Capitol Hill and UW, and result in a train every 6 minutes on all four branches (crosstown, North Link, South Link, East Link). With four-car trains, I think that’s plenty of capacity for the foreseeable future on all four of those branches. Nothing ST has written has rebutted that notion — the 3-minute frequency is really necessary for expected UW ridership, but not for expected Northgate ridership.

      • Ben Schiendelman says

        David, the problem with these long threads is that I think you missed my other reply.

        We won’t really have trains every 8 minutes on those two lines. Sometimes it’ll be 7, sometimes it’ll be 9. The tunnel’s capacity isn’t the issue, it’s that Link isn’t reliable enough (and won’t be even after buses are gone). So you won’t actually be able to thread a train between those “4 minute” peak headways, because sometimes they’ll be 2-3 already! Trains will end up sitting and waiting, and if a train is late getting into the tunnel with headways that small, it’ll mean several trains behind it will get stacked up too.

        I have explained that so many times, but DP never addresses it, so it gets lost and ignored over and over. :(

        Then, of course, there’s the other issue. 8 minutes is a 2022 headway, when Northgate and Bellevue are open. Then in 2030, if Redmond and Lynnwood and Federal Way are open, we might want to decrease those to 6… for 3 minute peak. You can’t do that if you’ve already got 2 minute peak headways – you’d doom a lot of the lines we’ve built to 8 minutes peak.

      • Martin H. Duke says

        d.p.,

        You are factually incorrect. Ben is the biggest opponent of Eastside commuter rail in the group, so steel wheels isn’t quite enough to get his seal of approval.

        I really wish you’d take YES for an answer. Partly through Ben’s efforts, we have the planning money to flesh out three different corridors to get rail to Ballard, two of them as true traffic-separated light rail. I wish you could have your affinity for that overcome your hatred of the idea that any other neighborhood in the region might get rail too.

        But because he envisions a different kind of junction at UW than you do, and reports that ST won’t consider what you propose, he must be destroyed.

      • d.p. says

        Ben, you’re still claiming that southerly branching somehow restricts northerly branching, which is simply untrue. The same number of trains go through the actual capacity-constrained segment!

        But it’s immaterial.

        Here’s the crux of what happened today:

        Ben gleefully announced that Ballard-UW-Laurelhurst-Kirkland-Redmond was being consolidated into a unified corridor for the sake of study.

        That’s insane. Completely, utterly insane. And if the planning authorities at Sound Transit are actually viewing it and filtering proposals through it in the manner that Ben implies, they too must be regarded as insane.

        I said as much. Not in any aggressive manner — more flabbergasted than anything. Many expressed similar concerns. Ben freaked out and deleted everything.

        Anyway, Ben wins by virtue of perseverance. I’m leaving the computer behind for the evening. I’ve got better things to do (inasmuch as literally anything I could be doing is better than this).

        Good night, all.

      • Ben Schiendelman says

        d.p., please stop making things up.

        I made no such announcement. I even went back and clarified it in the post when you freaked out because you thought that.

        You can’t just run with something you misunderstood from a post I wrote, when I even specifically clarified to say no, that wasn’t the case.

      • d.p. says

        “Studied as a single unit” = “consolidated” = “made dependent upon one another linguistically and then politically”.

        Is that not what has happened?

      • Nathanael says

        Ben, I agree that *comprehensively* disproven talking points should not be allowed to be repeated over and over again by the same person here, because of the fact that they do tend to catch hold in people’s minds.

        But you’ve been engaging in a double standard here. You allow Norman to spew Wendell Cox / Randall O’Toole style dishonest talking points over and over again. We *have* to respond to these because otherwise they’ll sit here unrebutted and influence people. “Not responding” to that sort of troll is a stupid political error, even if you recommend it in your comment policy.

        By the way, you should change that policy, given that it’s an idiotic recommendation.

        So it becomes necessary to have cut-and-paste responses and drop them on nearly every comment from Norman, just to prevent the peanut gallery from getting misled by the propaganda.

        So, PRT? Same problem of providing bad ideas to fill people’s heads, requiring rebutting of every single comment. But much less of a problem than Norman’s cars-uber-alles nonsense. And yet you recognize the problem when it comes to PRT but not when it comes to Norman?

      • d.p. says

        So your “clarification” is that three contracts were awarded, to study three “corridors” — each of which you described in detail, each of which is a multi-dozen-mile regional mega-corridor.

        Is that correct? If so, how does the word “consolidated” not apply?

        PLEASE explain to me how these studies will be conducted, under these contracts, in a way that does NOT constitute a focus on “consolidated” corridors!

      • Ben Schiendelman says

        As far as I can tell, you’ve made up your mind that nothing I say is useful and it’s all wrong. So why on earth should I spend time explaining why something you have made up is wrong? It just validates your behavior.

      • Mike Orr says

        Corridors are not routes, remember? A corridor is an imaginary “road” in which one or more routes may travel, possibly overlapping (Dexter: buses 26/28), possibly turning off it at various points (15th NE: 71/72/73), possibly not serving some segments at all (MLK between Jackson and Yesler), or possibly terminating at a common station (thus requiring a transfer to continue in the same direction; Aurora: 358/Swift). A corridor study can include all of these, and it should include any routes that have even a small reason to recommend themselves, so that we can get a cost/benefit analysis on each of them.

      • d.p. says

        There is simply no possible benefit whatsoever to treating a 20-mile line on a piece of paper — a line that includes North Seattle’s densest and most congested crosstown corridor on one end, miles of sprawl on the other, and a massive hypothetical bridge in the middle — as a single “imaginary transit road”.

        None. Whatsoever. They have zero functional relationship, zero physical connection, nothing!

        Unless you intend to try to connect them with one gigantic railway line. Which is a terrible idea. But which is clearly happening in this post!

        There is no other honest way to read this! Ben’s suggestions that I have “misinterpreted” him are well past the point of insane!

      • Jim Cusick says

        @Martin H. Duke

        “You are factually incorrect. Ben is the biggest opponent of Eastside commuter rail in the group, so steel wheels isn’t quite enough to get his seal of approval.”

        Which is too bad, since Eastside commuter rail support might be one thing that helps Ben get his beloved Seattle Subway passed in the next ballot measure.

        But that is another [ot] subject, right? See my other wonderful suggestion, somewhere in this thread.

      • Ben Schiendelman says

        Jim, the Sound Transit board commissioned a study of eastside commuter rail that showed it was clearly not cost effective compared to buses. In the long run, connecting the centers of the cities with light rail probably makes sense. But that commuter rail line doesn’t go to the centers of Kirkland or Bellevue, so it wouldn’t generate ridership. It would be *worse than Sounder North*.

      • Ben Schiendelman says

        I don’t think it’s true that there’s been an erosion of trust. I’ve been quite transparent. I think Michael just disagrees with my policy goals, and this is a convenient way to spin that.

      • Michael H. says

        Ben wrote a comment here about his views on my motivations, claiming that I am merely opposed to his policy goals and that asking for comment moderation abuse to stop is a way for me to “spin” that.

        I would like to know which policy goals he thinks I disagree with and what his evidence for that is.

        Maybe he thought better of that statement, since he has no reasonable basis for believing that, and it reveals a disturbing with-me-or-against-me mindset. I think it is Orwellian to delete the comment altogether. I thought the usual practice here was to edit comments, leaving the rationale for doing so visible to everyone, rather than simply flushing things down the memory hole as if they never existed.

      • Bruce Nourish says

        My sympathies. It is indeed hard to have a conversation with posts disappearing around yours.

      • Ben Schiendelman says

        Yeah, I made a comment and then thought better of it and got rid of it a minute later – I didn’t think it had stuck around long enough to be seen, sorry.

        I don’t see what, exactly, the trust issue is. Deleting a vitriolic and unproductive OT thread is well within our comment moderation guidelines.

      • Charles says

        Perhaps in the future, comment moderation should be done by someone other than the author of the STB article in situ.

    • Jason says

      Agreed. Too much emotion and bling being thrown around with this grassroots campaign stuff. I have difficulty seeing his views as credible at times. STB used to provide technical, well-founded arguments and insights. It’s been replaced by extreme unsupported opinions while being abused as a platform for this grassroots campaign thing.

      • Ben Schiendelman says

        Let me be clear: STB *is* a campaign. We founded it in 2007 to help fight for Roads and Transit, and to keep pushing past that.

        If you’ve found a view you find not to be credible, let me know.

      • Andrew Smith says

        Let me be clear: STB *is* a campaign. We founded it in 2007 to help fight for Roads and Transit, and to keep pushing past that.

        Yes, the original mission was advocacy, community and education, in that order.

      • Adam Bejan Parast says

        Credibility and advocacy are not inherently mutually exclusive. Credibility and spin are generally mutually exclusive.

      • Ben Schiendelman says

        I do not appreciate the backhanded accusation of spin as your only contribution to the discussion.

  3. aw says

    I’ll point out that in your comment policy you refer to “The three people with moderation powers”, and then list five such persons.

  4. John Bailo says

    I know there were problems with Disqus but how about going with Facebook comments.

    Many here are calling for real names and verifiable identities.

    I’m all for that and Facebook is a great way to verify trust and authenticity.

    Also it allows for some degree of editing and user control (like deletion).

      • John Bailo says

        There are several identity services, Twitter, Facebook, Disqus, some others. Any of which provide consistent names for posting and a way to back track to previous posts and posts in other areas that would give you a broader idea of who the person and his ideas are.

    • Nathanael says

      Real names are completely unhelpful to anything. Well, they’re helpful for harrassment campaigns.

      The Founding Fathers rejected real names in their political literature — look it up.

      I don’t trust anyone who thinks “real names” are a source of trust. :-)

      • Nathanael says

        “Well, they’re helpful for harrassment campaigns.”

        I’ll unpack. If you want to encourage dangerous physical and personal harrassment of commenters, stalking, going to their homes, etc., then forcing people to use real names is real helpful.

        It’s not useful for anything else. All the best sites allow consistent pseudonyms. The pseudonym stands or falls on its own comments. Norman, for example, has thoroughly discredited himself and I have no idea what his real name is.

      • Ben Schiendelman says

        My home address is completely public, as is my phone number. Lots of people are angry with me. Nobody even calls to yell at me! I feel so unloved. :)

      • Mike Orr says

        Every article is signed by the author’s real name, even if they’ve only been known by a pseudonym in the comments. It would make STB a different kind of forum if the boardmembers and article writers all hid behind pseudonyms. Would you value or trust the articles as much if they were hidden behind pseudonyms? I wouldn’t. At some point the virtual world has to meet the real world. Would you vote for a city councilmember who was known only as “johndoe”? There’s nothing wrong with commenting behind pseudonyms, and the comment may be valuable and pursuasive regardless of who wrote it, but the thing is that I don’t know whether “Sam” is male or female, age 10 or 40 or 70, whether he takes transit as much or as little as he says, whether he believes what he writes, or whether he is also “Nathaniel”. All these limit one’s credibility and effectiveness as a transit advocate, even if they don’t eliminate it completely.

      • Matt the Engineer says

        Commenters of course can use their real name, if they value projecting this sense of credibility. But there are many, many reasons for pseudonyms. One is that many have professional careers and corresponding reputations, and wouldn’t want every comment made in an online forum tied to that reputation. The use of real names has a real chilling effect for this and other reasons.

        I’d love to see posts using pseudonyms, for instance by politicians that have an opinion but don’t want it tied to their names.

      • John Bailo says

        It’s funny that you should encourage psydonyms because I’ve had one and maybe more posters specifically attack me in these comment threads (and on publicola) saying (demanding!) I should use my real name! This took me a back quite a bit as the person was agitated and even threatening, but I’ve continued to use my real name (as I have been doing since the mid-2000s on the web) but it disturbs me that there was no STB policing of that person (people). And given recent events such specific and virulent attacks should be disturbing.

      • Matt the Engineer says

        I’m ok with your pseudonyms, John. I prefer you use only one per site, to provide a consistent identity that others can interact with (so we don’t have to have the same argument over and over again, us thinking you’re someone new that just doesn’t understand). Using more than one per post is what breaks policy, as I understand it.

        I see our society heading in two directions: either everyone using a single concrete verified identity everywhere, or people using a small set of different identities depending on the forum. I much prefer the later, and see the former as extremely chilling. Imagine a potential employer’s ability to search for and read every poorly-thought-out idea you had when you were a teenager. Most wouldn’t post what they really think, if it might be politically unpopular.

        Yes, this keeps people from being fully accountable for their actions online. But building up a solid online identity can carry its own respect as well, a respect that can be just as tarnished by poor behavior online as you real identity.

    • Charles says

      Facebook comes with a whole host of problems that I would not want to entangle STB with. Privacy is just the tip of the iceberg.

  5. Matthew Johnson says

    Would a giant [ot] pyramid be better just clearing it out and focusing discussion back on the topic?

    The thread wasn’t about DSTT capacity. Just b/c that is all some posters like to discuss in the face of others actually DOING things to move this city forward, that doesn’t mean every discussion needs to come back it.

    • d.p. says

      The post was about ridiculously consolidated corridors.

      The objections, and the discussion, were largely about the ridiculousness of the ridiculously consolidated corridors.

      Everything was perfectly germane.

      • Ben Schiendelman says

        How is it that you can claim the post consolidated corridors when I wrote the post, and went back to clarify that the corridors weren’t consolidated? They’re just going into the same contract so they get studied at once, not by independent groups.

        Stop making things up!

      • d.p. says

        Unless each and every segment and sub-corridor is receiving an alternatives study commensurate with its actual ridership needs, then the corridor has been “consolidated”. Lumped together. Unified. Attached.

        Are you saying that is not what has occurred?

      • Matthew Johnson says

        The post was about ST moving study work forward. But as usual, you can’t handle good news unless it is EXACTLY the news you want, so you diverted the discussion to your own little pet rabbit hole.

      • Ben Schiendelman says

        d.p., I’m the original source by which you thought it DID occur, so why the hell are you so convinced it did when I’m telling you that you misunderstood?

  6. Jack says

    Can we stop anonymous commenting? I suggest we use our Facebook or twitter credentials to post. This may cut down on much of the ridiculousness.

  7. Erik G. says

    I still think you should allow the attacking of the transportation engineering profession, since they are who got us into this auto-centric mess.

  8. Mike says

    It was my thread, which was a genuine and honest thread that got deleted. While I do not agree with the deletion, i do however thank the moderators including Ben for apologizing.

    • Ben Schiendelman says

      Yeah, I do realize how rarely you comment and don’t want to discourage you. But you can see where it’s gone. :(

      • Mike says

        Roger, I’ve read this full post. Heated stuff, but i think it’s life. If somebody makes bad arguments( read: personal. ) the intelligent reader will discard them. Likewise if somebody makes unfounded claims (read:capacity) people should be question for details.

        This is discussion, your arguments must win somebody over and visa versa… Nobody wants a world world be edict .

        Again thanks to the stb team for mentioning and addressing this issue. Btw I really do read every day!! Love it!

      • Ben Schiendelman says

        It’s life, but it incurs a cost. In order to *have* these discussions, I have to expend a lot of time to rebut someone who doesn’t actually get involved at all in helping build better transit – just creates FUD on the internet. It’s costing us.

  9. Mark Dublin says

    Really ticked off that the American Psychiatric Association now says there’s no such thing as Asperger’s Syndrome. That makes everybody effective who’s connected with STB, and transit, a “high-functioning autistic.”

    And people like me, just the regular kind- on good days.

    But am reminded right now of line in “Good Morning Viet Nam”, where the general in charge of the radio station is transferring a psychotically uptight sergeant to Guam:

    “Dick, I’ve covered for you a lot of times ‘cause I thought you were a little crazy. But you’re not crazy, you’re mean. And this is just radio.”

    Also all those World War II movies where the sarge breaks up a mess-hall fight and says: “Let’s save it for the enemy, men!”

    Of course, in those days, the American people in general across the political spectrum took good public transit for granted. And gotta say, I’m starting to get my back up over Metro’s refusal to let the Route 40 northbound say “Ballard” on the sign.

    A neighborhood that can’t even get on a destination sign on a bus is never going to get a subway.

    Mark Dublin

      • Mark Dublin says

        Dampening spirits is a serious charge this time of year. Look what almost happened to Ebeneezer Scrooge. In their minds’ eye, people are going to start seeing me with a green face riding the Route 40 in a Grinch suit grumbling about the sign.

        Around the time we met, my wife early on indentified me as the particular type of former boy whom early life exposure to the Chicago and North Shore interurban left irreparably focused on electric transit. Sort of like a human Shiba-Inu dog, another affection of hers.

        Hence instinctive affection for The Seattle Transit Blog, and gratitude for you guys running it. Years of meetings and discussion, especially surrounding transit, leave me strongly appreciative of your comment policy and the way you handle it.

        The blog world unsupervised rapidly becomes a public toilet wall without the illustrations.

        My own contributions to the world of ideas have always benefited from oversight with a loud gavel and a sharp red pencil. Same as how removed material sharpens a knife. For every “OT” I’ve ever gotten, there have been a dozen times I prayed you’d kill something really embarrassing the minute I hit the Post Comment key.

        I really do wonder about the amount of time, energy, and dedication certain commenters exert fighting rail transit in a transit blog. But like Tom Paine said, “Time makes more converts than reason.” I’m reminded of a friend of mine whose brief restaurant-owning career fell victim to his belief that defending smokers’ rights was the path to culinary success.

        The Seattle Subway will happen because time and experience are now providing a generation of young people who think that the sprawled life sucks. New Years’ resolution is to assist them with more serious contribution to transit writing, to make up for an admittedly lame year.

        Counting on “OT” if lameness persists. See you at the Meet-Up tonight.

        Mark Dublin

      • Ben Schiendelman says

        Mark, I look forward to seeing you! It’s going to be a good night.

        And I appreciate your contributions greatly. It will happen – we just want it sooner. :)

    • Kyle S says

      Mark, Route 40 NB displays Ballard on the head sign when the bus leaves Fremont. Route 40 SB displays Ballard until the bus reaches 85th.

      • d.p. says

        Yep. But if you’re downtown and you’re reading headsigns, all you’ll find out about is the RapidRide… which doesn’t actually go to Ballard.

  10. Mike Orr says

    Perhaps we need a Bad Ideas FAQ or wiki in the sidebar, where the recurring ideas opposed by STB editors can be organized, their purported merits listed, and then refuted. An official wikipedia of dissenting transit opinions. That way when somebody dwells on an old idea, we can point him to the FAQ, and that would cut down on repeated long circular discussions in the comments. And if somebody comes up with a genuinely new merit for a Bad Idea that hasn’t been listed, they can legtimately insist it be added to the FAQ. Here’s a Google document to collect ideas. If the editors consent to publish it, I’ll consolidate it into an article when it gets substantial enough.

    • Mike says

      Good idea , but don’t call the article ‘bad ideas’. That implies too strongly that the ideas are …. Well, bad. Rather the ideas are just controversial.

      • Matthew Johnson says

        I’m referring specifically to his derailment of any topic dealing with revenue. We all know what he is going to say, we all know he is going to ignore what we have to say and just keep repeating his tired old argument over and over. Happens every time.

        How many times do we have to go through that? Self moderation obviously doesn’t work. Even with half a dozen posters reminding people not to feed the troll there are always a few who lack the self control to do so. And it starts all over again. EVERY. TIME.

        Getti

      • Charles says

        While there would be significant value in collating redundant or recurring arguments with a summation, I’m of the opinion that people like Norman bring some value to the Seattle Transit Blog. In spite of his annoying and repeating arguments ad nauseum, contrarian opinions and viewpoints serve to contrast our thinking, to allow us to be rigorous in our analysis of data and to make sure we are not simply a closed cheerleading society.

        I commend STB for tolerating and rigorously moderating Norman’s posts.

        I also want to counter something Ben said that “we are a campaign”. I think STB needs to be a bit more nuanced here. STB certainly has function for advocacy but it is far more important as a primary news source for things transit related. Indeed, we are now seeing our old line news media either quoting or getting information for stories from STB. When I came to this blog first when I was still living in Chicago, direct advocacy wasn’t on my mind nor was it particularly practical for me to be engaged. But when I settled into town and understood how well connected the STB community was to transit decision makers and politicians, I came to understand how influential this thing had become.

        But I think out right advocacy should be in the domain of ancillary groups such as SeattleSubway.org which I have given a fair amount of my time and effort this past year. STB advocates via its editorial stances and they generally label such posts as such.

      • Mike Orr says

        Yes, Norman’s “transit trips should be unsubsidized” and “telecommuting is superior to rail” would be included.

    • Jim Cusick says

      Whenever it feels like we’re rehashing an old argument, a moderator could always step in and post a link to that thread.

      They’ve done it before.

      In fact, what they could do assign specific tags to these arguments, such as: “PRT Argument; Subject 4; Opinion XIV”

      That way, we could all jump over to that thread, read it, and then anything posted in a current subject has to be only new information, or some unique, new argument or opinion.

      This would help new readers of the blog, that way they wouldn’t have to worry that people’s opinions were being suppressed. We regulars might have heard it all, but most real people have lives.

      Heck, we could even use that method to our advantage when something comes up by posting our own “BRT Argument; Subject 1; Opinion 5″, and save ourselves a ton of typing!

      Just think how much memory could be saved, both organic and digital!

      • Mike Orr says

        We’re already doing that; people link to previous articles all the time. The problem is that it’s hard to search for things in articles later, or at least I have a lot of trouble finding a particular article or comment that I remember, and the arguments for one topic get scattered into multiple articles so you’d have to read all of them to get a complete picture. My suggestion is to have an organized reference place for these arguments. And it wouldn’t hurt to have an index of pro-STB arguments too, although the “Best Reference Posts” section partly does that. It depends on all the topic’s arguments successfully being covered in a single article, however.

  11. lazarus says

    I fully support Ben in his deletion of those comments – they served no purpose and had become a total distraction to the topic at hand.

    However, I would have preferred it if just the text had been deleted with a reason given. Do this early enough and you maintain control of the discussion and reinforce the comment policy. And nothing shuts down the people who are obviously just trolling faster than having the bulk of their posts deleted.

    That said, there should be no expectation of free speech on this blog. This is not a newspaper. If the moderators want to delete your comments purely because they disagree with you, or don’t like you, then so be it. It would make for a boring blog, and eventually be counterproductive, but the moderators are king and the rest of us participate solely at their discretion.

  12. CharlotteRoyal says

    I’m more inclined to remain anonymous on here. While I’ll admit the tone of my responses have been a bit rough at times, I have to avoid blog posts related to projects I am working on. A few STB visitors I work with recognize me and have called me out.

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