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Author Topic: About the Special Topic Discussions Forum (Special Rules)  (Read 8534 times)


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About the Special Topic Discussions Forum (Special Rules)
« on: June 23, 2011, 05:55:56 pm »
Special Topic Discussions Forum Purpose
This forum is a place for focused discussions on subjects selected by forum staff (such as particular religions, rituals, holidays, etc.) and for Symposia.
Focused Discussions
Focused discussions are intended to be easy to find places to get information on (and questions answered about) specific topics. Focused discussion threads from this forum will be linked to directly from The Cauldron's web site. Thread drift is normally tolerated most places on The Cauldron's message board, but it will not be tolerated in threads in this forum. Posts to focused discussion threads need to be clearly and directly related to the thread's topic as described in the first post of a thread.
Additional Rules for Focused Discussion threads in this forum:
1. Thread drift is unwelcome. Posts in threads in this forum need to be clearly and directly related to the thread's topic as described in the first post of a thread. If a discussion sparks questions or ideas outside the narrow focus of the discussion, feel free to start a new topic in elsewhere on the message board.
The "Special Topics Discussion forum" exists to enable a more tightly focused, in-depth discussion of a specific topic than is feasible on the board as a whole. One of TC's great strengths is the level of expertise possessed by its members in a variety of different fields;  Symposia threads are a chance for one or more members to lead a discussion in their particular area of expertise, as relevant to the theory and practice of pagan religions.
1. Depth: We envision Symposia threads as modeled on presentations at a conference. One or more members, by prior arrangement with forum mods Chabas and Catja, will present a short "lecture" on the topic at hand. Other members can then respond to the essays, and to the comments on the essays. Our usual forum discussions begin with a question; here, discussion will be kickstarted by a specific essay or essays. The presenters will be able to share their knowledge in a more thorough and detailed way than is usually appropriate on a message board, and the audience will be able to engage with the topic in far more depth.
2. Focus: At TC, thread drift is a way of life, and it's often both informative and entertaining. But in Special Topics Discussions, in keeping with the "conference" format, a tighter focus on the topic at hand will be expected. The discussion will not be "directed" as such, just gently prodded by the presenters and mods to stay on topic. Of course, members are not prevented from going off on interesting tangents, but are encouraged to start new threads on said tangents within the appropriate topic board on the main board.
3. Sharing: At conferences, papers are presented to an interested, educated audience who have knowledge of the field in general, but may not be familiar with the specific topic under consideration, and who wish to know more. At TC, many of us have a general acquaintance with various pagan religions and practices, but only a few of us know anything in-depth about, say, Feri or chaos magic or Celtic Reconstructionism. This is a chance to share your own knowledge, and to ask questions of knowledgeable people in other areas. This is not the Grand High Poobah descending from the mountain to enlighten the ignorant masses, but an opportunity to share and learn about a specific area of interest.

Rules and Procedures
1. All TC members are invited to propose Symposia topics. However, preference will be given to those with a demonstrated familiarity with TC's rules and discussion expectations. Since presentation on the forum in this manner comes very close to a TC endorsement of the information contained therein, we'd prefer to deal with those with a demonstrated commitment to the forum, rather than random passers-by. This is not to say that brand-new members may not submit proposals; all proposals will be judged primarily on the quality of the proposal itself. We would suggest, however, that new members find an experienced TC member to co-present with them, who will help smooth over any forum issues.
2. While any qualified TC member may lead a tutorial, only staff may actually start threads in this forum. This simply ensures that all discussion in this forum is related to a specific tutorial.
3. If you wish to make a proposal, please write up a short description of your topic and the arguments you intend to make. Please include some personal information regarding your experience and expertise in this area, such as "I have been practicing this for X years," "I have a formal degree in this field," or "I founded the religion, dammit!" Email (don't PM) your proposal to Chabas and Catja, who are the staff members in charge of this forum.
4. In the case of a panel discussion (multiple presenters), we request that all panelists' opening essays be posted as close to the same time as possible. We will work with all panel members to find the most convenient time for all panelists to do so.
5. Unlike on the main board, discussions in the Symposia threads are required to stay on-topic; if members wish to discuss a tangential issue, they are requested to start a new thread in the appropriate message board forum (i.e., if the tutorial is about hoodoo and someone wishes to discuss chaos magic in relation to hoodoo, that someone should start a new thread in the appropriate "Magic and Occult" forum). What constitutes "on-topic" is the call of the mods and the presenters: what may look off-topic to the non-expert mods may in fact be a crucial issue in the topic at hand, and therefore the presenters also have a say in enforcing this rule.
Symposia Tips
If you're interested in leading a symposium in the Special Topics Discussion forum, here are some suggestions for your proposal.
1. It must be relevant to the theory, practice, history, or culture of Pagan religions, magical systems, or other topics of special interest to forum members. This does not mean that your topic has to be specifically Pagan, only that it has to be presented in such a way as to be relevant to Pagan religions, magical systems, etc. For example, a specialist in liturgy could run a tutorial in constructing ritual, or an historian on the historical method with regard to evaluating Pagan sources, or a folklorist on the use of folk material in Pagan religions.
2. Be specific! No one expects you to cover absolutely every possible issue encountered in your topic, so don't set yourself up for grief by entitling your tutorial "Magic," "The Afterlife," or "Images of Deity." Try "British Folk Magic," "The Afterlife in Egyptian Thought," or "Images of Pagan Deities in Northern Europe."
3. This is a conference presentation, not "My Thoughts on Life, the Universe, and Everything." Likewise, this is not "Enlighten the Ignorami to the True Face of the Divine." Keep in mind that, while discussion is structured somewhat differently, TC's usual rules still apply for all participants. Leading a discussion here is not your free pass for proselytizing or making uncontested claims of absolute truth. In fact, since this position involves some claim of expertise, you might well be subject to even closer scrutiny than usual. Don't attempt to convince us that "all gods are One"; tell us about how your group believes all gods are One, and how this is reflected in that group's myths, rituals, ethical system, and so forth. You are presenting information, not attempting to win converts to your religion, philosophy, or worldview.
4. A presentation is not just a list of uncontextualized information; present your knowledge in a coherent manner. Again, think conference paper.
5. If you have any questions, please feel free to email Chabas or Catja.
« Last Edit: June 23, 2011, 05:57:20 pm by RandallS »
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