(a) Sometimes "stupidity" is useful. Newer members need to make mistakes and learn from them (by not getting positive feedback or attention)
What I mean to suggest is that the learning process for beginners could be enhanced by treating beginners bluntly (but without personal attacks of course) and moreover by cracking down on any positive feedback or attention they receive when they say something off the mark.
and there needs to be some room for screwing around, like there is in the blog comments.
I agree a certain amount of screwing around does not fall into the realm of 'stupidity', even if that amount is probably far greater than I'd personally like.
Too much of a managed situation is the bad side of fascism.
In my view, if truth is at issue, then the responsibility lies upon those in power to make the right decisions and succeed to cultivate a great forum, or to make the wrong decisions and fail. Ultimately the only manager of the situation is logic, and it's up to all of us, mods and admins and users alike, to try and follow it as best as we can and determine what is and isn't true or right. This allows for the greatest degree of creativity and free-flow, because when issues are considered from a perspective of understanding and awareness then the discourse is free to evolve brilliantly and in all sorts of directions, whereas ignorance generally tends to limit the conversation.
(b) I'll support calling out bad arguments and in rare cases, pointing out where someone has done nothing but spam/antagonize/post stupidity.
Do I misunderstand, or are you saying you wouldn't want members of the forum to always directly point out where someone has done nothing but spam / antagonize / post stupidity?
However, I'm not a big fan of us forming any kind of witch hunts.
I admit it's not the best option, only the least worst. I'm not in favor of personal vendettas or personal attacks or emotion getting in the way in any form. But where people living under fascism are hard-pressed to find alternatives, if members don't like this forum they can easily leave or switch forums or start a forum of their own. This is the whole point, the internet allows for specialization, this forum is unique, and the borders delineating its uniqueness are already enforced - I'm only suggesting they be enforced more (to what precise extent is not my decision).
Sometimes people start off posting dumbass stuff and turn out OK as they learn the rules of the road.
Sacrifices have to be made, think of how much could be gained. Besides, they would be given a fair chance, and if they really want to re-apply surely they could do so later on once they're more aware.
and require some kind of very active admin, which we don't have.
Hum, this is always one of the more difficult parts. I would point out that you aren't generating advertising revenue at the moment (that I'm aware of), and there are also other kinds of collaboration and innovative ways of compensating moderators for their work.
Mistakes may be made and certain members who aught not be banned may be, but at the end of the day should we not strip bear the marketplace of ideas in the spirit of survival of the fittest and maintain conviction that if you're really up to par then you can fucking elucidate as much by putting words together in things called sentences and successfully delivering your message?
You know, you're right. We need a Ninja Warrior-style obstacle course and then an IQ test. Anyone who fails gets shot in the penis with a 12 gauge.
I just believe there should be some options available which lie in between on one hand posting a couple strongly-worded threads denouncing stupidity and on the other hand the notion of challenging someone to a physical duel to the death when you disagree.