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  1. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Political Threads and Forum Behavior

    Discussion in 'Announcements' started by minstrel, Jul 17, 2013.

    General Announcement for Everybody:

    Over the past few weeks, members have started several political threads in the Lounge, and some of the other threads have taken political turns. Of course, political discussions tend to get heated. Those of us on the moderator team want to thank the members who contribute to these discussions in a civil and respectful way.

    However, these threads are resulting in a large number of “reported” posts – posts some members find offensive enough to ask moderators to take action. More often than not, we’re finding these reports justified.

    We do not enjoy giving out infractions, despite what some of you may think. Infractions invariably result in our receiving angry PMs from the infracted members accusing us of abuse of power, favoritism, selective moderation, etc. This is not fun. However, we are prepared to infract, and if necessary ban, any member who violates the forum rules, insults other members, or otherwise conducts themselves in an inappropriate manner on this forum.

    Please remember that this is a WRITING forum, not a political one. The focus of our time here should be on discussing writing issues and on critiquing each other’s work.

    If you must talk politics, please keep it civil and respectful.
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    This is an outcome I fully expected with the relaxed moderation policy. I also have to note that some of the most troublesome voices in these threads participate little, if at all, in writing-related parts of the site.

    I doubt that this is what Daniel was aiming for when he decided on a looser policy, and perhaps it's time for him to reconsider some aspects of that policy change.
     
  3. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    I can only second everything minstrel has here said.
     
  4. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    I think we need to have a standard for what constitutes a rude or offensive post. Apart from obvious ad hominem attacks, whether or not a post is offensive is subjective. Of course, when in doubt, a member should report a post, but perhaps having some examples/guidelines would decrease the number of offensive posts (and as a result, reported posts).
     
  5. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    It's hard to teach people how to express their opinions without getting angry that others don't share them. You have to know when to walk away. You have to know you can't control the world by telling people the way you believe it should be.

    While I empathize with Minstrel who has to moderate, I don't agree with Cog who would limit the forum to the safe zone where no one's feathers are ruffled but people can't start discussions they would like to have.


    I have an interest in the political forums, one, because sometimes current events leave me with things I'd like to say out loud, two, because once in a while I might find a teachable moment or learn something myself, and three, because the way people see the world so differently from each other is a big theme in the story I'm writing. I suspect more than a few of us have political and social unrest within our stories.


    Any chance of starting a new sub-forum, one that allows a little more heat while letting people who don't tolerate discord more easily steer clear? I'm one who doesn't care if people are battling it out behind the door as long as they aren't breaking anything I care about. Learning how to walk away is akin to reaching that last level of nirvana: you don't care that people hold beliefs you find intolerable, those people are out there whether they are posting in the forum or not.
     
  6. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    One can always hope it would. :)
     
  7. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    I would think that, as adults, most of us understand what rude or offensive behavior is. The trouble lies in people deciding they are exempt.
     
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  8. Macaberz
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    Macaberz Pay it forward Contributor

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    I support the middle of the road solution to have a subforum. Perhaps it could also have a dedicated sidebar to the right, like the rpg one, which doesn't clutter the actual writing related posts.

    As much as I enjoy these discussions, I havent seen much writing related threads in the sidebar, they get pushed away by the political discussions, and that is a real loss, I think.
     
  9. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'd be sad to see the political posts completely go away, in that they do offer a good chance to think through an issue and to exercise one's writing skills in presenting an opinion on the issue. But yes, when they get into ad hominem attacks or accusations of stupidity, etc. they do detract from the idea that this is, first and foremost a writing forum.

    I've never reported a post, except for one that told me to go f myself, but that was in response to some writing advice, and I had no idea why my advice caused such anger. In the political threads, I tend to ignore them or take them with a grain of salt once they start going off the rails, or I feel that my points have been made, and the only responses are that I'm simply wrong, with no desire to reflect on the issue, but just to make a broader political point.
     
  10. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I am again confused by this as I was with the RPG issue when it came up. Can someone explain the problem to me.:confused:

    Thanks.
     
  11. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    There are plenty of sites for arguing politics, religion, and the news, and just arguing for the sake of one's ego. I think it's a mistake to try to make this site serve all purposes and all potential joiners.

    I joined this site looking for ways to improve my writing, not to listen to a bunch of chest-thumping. The site is diminished by all the bickering and topical debate, in my opinion. It's becoming just another soapbox to attract blowhards and prima donnas.
     
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  12. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I've seen this work well on at least one other writing site, if it is decided to continue to allow these discussions. Set up that way, no one came across the threads on accident. People who came to the site only for the topics directly related to writing (I think politics can certainly be related, but it's not necessarily direct) didn't go to that sub-forum at all. You just never saw them posting there. A different subset of the population posted there regularly. It saved a lot of problems because the people who gravitated there knew that things were expected to become more contentious from time to time. You still don't want a free-for-all, but when you separate it out like that it established expectations. Another alternative is to simply ban contemporary politics (though the idea that as writers we have to consider certain topics verboten seems a bit much).
     
  13. Macaberz
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    Macaberz Pay it forward Contributor

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    When you visit the hompage you have sidebars to the right where you can quickly navigate to recent posts in threads. A while back the RPG subforum did not have a seperate sidebar, at a specific rush hour of every day the RPG subforum would be very active. Hence, there would be a lot of new posts and all the RPG threads showed up in the sidebar. So if someone came on the side and checked the sidebar, all he or she would see was RPG threads, not writing threads. Also, the rpg posts often came in quick succesion so even if a new, writing related thread would be posted, it was often quickly pushed off b new posts in the RPG subforum.

    Does it make sense to you now? :)
     
  14. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I don't mind the political threads when people treat them seriously, as you suggest. If people actually think through and issue and present an opinion, that's great. That's why I thanked those members who participate in a civil and respectful way.

    What annoys me is when someone says, "You're wrong. I'm not going to tell you why - I'm not going to talk to you any more, but you're ignorant and you're wrong." That's not presenting an argument, it's a childish dodge. It's saying (to me, at least), "You're wrong, and I'm not going to talk to you any more because I don't want your intelligent and well-thought-out ideas penetrating the mighty fortress of bullshit I've spent years building in my skull."

    I also get annoyed when a person can't express an idea without trashing another person for expressing a different idea.

    We should always remember that we have members here of all ages, all religions, all political stripes, from every corner of the world. We all have very different experiences of life. What may be natural and obvious to one of us is likely to be strange and bewildering to another.
     
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  15. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    So why does it bother you other people are having these discussions? No one makes you read or join the threads do they?

    I understand you'd like the forum to fit your needs. I don't understand why you can't find that by more selective choosing of which threads to read.
     
  16. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Yes but I guess I'll have to hunt for the sidebar you speak of. I've not seen it.

    I usually click on "New Posts" or "Today's Posts" and rather than showing all the posts it merely shows the threads with new or unread posts, not the posts individually.
     
  17. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I think it is the "Latest Forum Posts" section on the right side. You could eliminate a politics subforum from appearing there.
     
  18. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    This is the most sensible idea, in my opinion. I frankly detest those threads, but I detest more the idea of telling people to shut up. If it were in a sub-forum, away from the main traffic of the forum, it wouldn't exist to those of us who are here because we were looking for a writing forum, not a debate forum. Humans are curious monkeys and, like it or not, the same phenomenon that makes us morbidly slow down and rubber-neck traffic accidents is what's pulling participation away from the rest of the forum right now. Put it in its own room like the RPG forum. Shit, for all I know the RPG folks are having wild orgies in there, but it wouldn't matter if they were because it doesn't affect the rest of the forum for its compartmentalization.
     
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  19. jmhoffer
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    jmhoffer Contributing Member

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    I support not being given infractions over harmless jokes and sentences being interpreted incorrectly.

    I was given 4 infractions points for things that weren't infractions.

    I was accused of racism when I was referencing ideology. I even explained it and the infractions weren't removed.

    I was told I broke the rules when I posted a joke about people that feel the need to report seemingly everything.

    Neither violate the rules. The infractions were given based on an incorrect interpretation from a moderator. That is an massive issue.
     
  20. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    From my POV, the infractions policy works exactly as it should. I don't see it as an issue at all.
     
  21. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    I really like the idea of a separate subforum for politics and other such topics (something I've been wanting for a long time). Perhaps having a moderator just for that particular section might help lighten the load for the other mods. Just a thought.
     
  22. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I suppose it will fall on deaf ears if I simply ask you to consider how others might read what you think they should know are jokes. Communication is both writing and reading, talking and listening. If your posts are being mis-interpreted in your opinion, consider that people can't read your mind. This is a writer's forum. It should matter to you that you write in a way people understand what you meant. And if they don't, hey, you need to work on it, not lament that people misunderstand you.

    And I'm not one who has reported any of your posts, in case you're wondering. When I don't like what people write, I chose the one option I have complete control over, I ignore them.
     
  23. jmhoffer
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    jmhoffer Contributing Member

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    That justifies a request for clarification, not a threat of a ban.

    The joke was this picture.

    1017677_618336368200041_2104536392_n.jpg

    Seriously, how can that be taken as anything other than funny?
     
  24. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    Actually this isn't true. I hate having to call people out on things like this, but infractory action against you was taken because of a number of posts. It was an accumulation.

    It's the effect, not the intention; what you might have thought of as an innocent joke wouldn't have been taken as such by others. That's the rule, dude, and it needs to be kept in mind.
     
  25. jmhoffer
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    jmhoffer Contributing Member

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    No 'accumulation' was brought to my attention. One warning and three infractions linked to a single comment each, most of which made zero sense.

    I made no racist comments and never would, yet received an infraction for racism. I made a joke and was told I was putting down people that report others. Nearly every joke puts someone down in some way, the idea is to find the humour in it. For God's sake, it's a picture of baby cream!

    Since this is the response I'm getting, though, I'm done. I have rarely seen cases of such pathetic moderation and have gotten nothing but grief from this forum, with zero help towards my writing. Offense is in the eye of the beholder and rather than dealing with it in an adult fashion, ie. true moderation, the rule here is to threaten with banning at every turn. I honestly don't feel like this is a forum for adults, but for school children. People here behave far too amateurish for my tastes.
     
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