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Author Topic: Politics Topic to be Discontinued  (Read 19003 times)

adamwc

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Re: Politics Topic to be Discontinued
« Reply #30 on: February 17, 2008, 06:04:30 PM »
Actually, I was looking for a compelling title to encourage people to click on the thread and solicit feedback. I am interested in hearing other's ideas, which is why I appreciate hearing the feedback. But, the title does represent where my mindset is at the moment.

To demonstrate the seriousness of what you're considering doing and your genuine interest in and respect for our feedback, all you needed to do was title your thread, "Seriously Considering Ending Political Speech In This Community," or "No More Politics Topic?" But now you have many of us thinking that you've posted this thread as an exercise in seeming courteous in light of your foregone conclusion.

That's the unintended consequence of your titling the thread in an unnecessarily sensationalist manner.

The reasons for keeping a politics section have been stated well here I think, and those of you who'd like to keep it make valid points. I recognize that taking it away will narrow the focus of conversation on the board, and I do see that there is a negative side to removing it. However, these kinds of choices are never clear cut, at some point the scale tips where the risks and negative effects of political discussion outweigh the benefits it creates for the site.

People can visit Astorians.com every day for a year and never be bothered by the Politics and Rants section. All they have to do is not click on it. Those who do click on it are likely to find some agreeable, some disagreeable, some thought-provoking, some upsetting material. But we clicked on it. We made a choice to enter it and, guess what, we can make a choice to exit. All on our own.

Your proposition that Astorians.com as a whole will benefit from removing a section that is completely voluntary is specious. It would be different if people who visited your site were somehow forced to enter the Politics and Rants section, forced to read things they would never choose to. But they're not.  All that removing the Politics and Rants section does is eliminate an outlet for local Astorians to share their perspectives and ideas about relevant topics. And I repeat, the site is about Astorians, not Astoria. We are as much what Astoria is about as Astoria's shops and dining options and museums and parks, etc.

Now, if the principal problem is that the moderators are annoyed by the amount of time it takes to read through all of the threads and posts, then that problem is easily enough addressed by changing your moderating approach to that part of the site. But to terminate the whole section is radical.

Of course, you have the right to do it, but dong so is inconsistent with the spirit of free and open discourse that the web represents.  

The more I have to ban normally friendly people from the site because they lose their cool, the more it feels that this kind of discussion detracts from the site more than it benefits it. It is especially annoying when I have to ban people who are my friends, and especially annoying when I have to do it repeatedly.

Stop banning your friends, Merm. Just stop banning people. Let us work it out. We will work it out. Cooler heads will prevail. Most if not all of the people on these boards are decent to the core and mature, too. People will calm down and apologize for flaming, other posters will call for a return to arguments instead of name-calling. If you let it be, it will be fine.

As a site-wide policy, if somebody is constantly mean-spirited and always engages in ad hominen attacks and/or explicit bigotry of any sort, ban them for life, don't suspend them. Make that clear and then let the Politics and Rants section govern itself.

I sincerely hope that you will experiment with changing your moderating approach to Politics and Rants before terminating it altogether. Thank you for your time and consideration.

adamwc

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Nothing is More Local Than Astorians.com
« Reply #31 on: February 18, 2008, 01:09:53 PM »
Good afternoon and Happy President's Day!  :-)  Remember, today you get to celebrate whichever president(s) you like, not merely the one we currently have.

I'm writing here to address an extremely local issue involving a development at astorians.com. You may or may not know that the owner of this web site, merm, is "seriously considering" discontinuing the "Politics Topic" on this site. I encourage you to read about this by visiting http://www.astorians.com/community/index.php?topic=9507.0.

I hope you'll join me in letting Merm know that we want Astorians.com to continue to offer users a forum for the discussion of the full spectrum of political issues (e.g., political science, political philosophy, political economy, public policy, both historical and current events, etc.) Speak up!  :mrgreen:

[mod: merged duplicate topics together]
« Last Edit: February 18, 2008, 01:24:27 PM by merm »

Handyman

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Re: Nothing is More Local Than Astorians.com
« Reply #32 on: February 18, 2008, 01:34:18 PM »
[mod: merged duplicate topics together]

Not sure if that was merm with the merge, but see how hard it is to run this board?  (not including server problems)   I say kill the politics thread.    The "enter at your own risk" suggestion was ok too, but I could see how unsensored animosities there could spill over into unrelated topics.

Tough decision merm, but I think Billy Joel said it best...

"Do what's good for you, or you're not good for anybody"

Whatever your decision, I don't think anyone will hold it against you.

adamwc

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Re: Nothing is More Local Than Astorians.com
« Reply #33 on: February 18, 2008, 02:19:09 PM »
Not sure if that was merm with the merge, but see how hard it is to run this board?  (not including server problems)   I say kill the politics thread.    The "enter at your own risk" suggestion was ok too, but I could see how unsensored animosities there could spill over into unrelated topics.

Tough decision merm, but I think Billy Joel said it best...

"Do what's good for you, or you're not good for anybody"

Whatever your decision, I don't think anyone will hold it against you.

I posted this in Local Talk to make people aware of this issue because I'm sure many folks don't pay close attention to the Board Announcements area. I know I never had until now.

I'm trying to make people aware of what's at stake here. Merm has explicitly expressed his interest in hearing from people about this, so whoever moved my post here is letting a zeal for technicalities undermine his best interests.

Offline megc

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Re: Politics Topic to be Discontinued
« Reply #34 on: February 18, 2008, 02:24:50 PM »
I posted this in Local Talk to make people aware of this issue because I'm sure many folks don't pay close attention to the Board Announcements area.

There are at least a couple of ways the original thread was highlighted and accessible:

1. It shows up when you click Show unread posts since last visit (that's how I found it).

2. The forum title, Board Annoucements & Information would have been bolded in the Forum index.

adamwc

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Random Gabblers, So Off-Topic, It's About a Topic
« Reply #35 on: February 18, 2008, 02:28:37 PM »
Hey Random Gabble folks,

I hope you'll find a moment to check out an Astorians.com site development and register your feedback before it's too late to have your voices heard.  :mrgreen:

Check out the random discussion about whether Astorians.com should continue to offer a forum for political discourse right here. http://www.astorians.com/community/index.php?topic=9507.0

Randomly Yours,  :lol:
Adam

Offline enigmacat

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Re: Politics Topic to be Discontinued
« Reply #36 on: February 18, 2008, 02:32:06 PM »
It sounds like this is a resources issue. I know it is probably difficult to find enough moderators to manage the content flow of the site in a way that doesn't lead to burnout. I personally don't spend much time in Politics and Rants, but I know it's important to the community and a lot of people would hate to see it go. Some thoughts -

1. Find more moderators- maybe some astorians.com members in good standing could moderate on a rotating schedule.
2. Spin off non-local politics onto another forum or blog, passing along the ownership to someone else. (It would be really easy for one of the wonks to start a blog and point other politically minded astorians there).
3. Don't make access to politics and rants immediately available for posting. It could be an area that comes available when you reach a certain number of posts, have been around for a certain amount of time, specifically request to join, or a combination of all 3. This would reduce the likelihood of a random troll surfing by and joining the site just to stir the pot.

That's all I've got. I hope you find a solution that eases the burden of running the site as well as keeping a healthy political debate option available to astorians.

adamwc

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Re: Politics Topic to be Discontinued
« Reply #37 on: February 18, 2008, 02:33:12 PM »
There are at least a couple of ways the original thread was highlighted and accessible:

1. It shows up when you click Show unread posts since last visit (that's how I found it).

2. The forum title, Board Annoucements & Information would have been bolded in the Forum index.

The patient is about to go in for major surgery, Meg. I just want to make sure the surgeon hears from as many of the experts as possible before he starts cutting.  :mrgreen:

Offline NYCMacUser

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Re: Politics Topic to be Discontinued
« Reply #38 on: February 18, 2008, 02:39:24 PM »
I am in such conflict over this. It seems to me that argumentative people always find something to argue over. If politics is banned, what will pop it's ugly head up next? Will you have to ban discussions on religion? The decriminalization of drugs? The whole Applebee thing got pretty ugly for a while, too. But there was no talk about locking the thread. There will always be hot topics where there can virtually never be any consensus. Banning voices on any particular subject, even in a privately run forum, is a form of censorship. If it was the vituperative or demeaning language of the posters that got out of hand, then perhaps more strenuous moderation should be in order. The first offense could result in a 48 hour site ban. The second in a 1 week ban. The third a total, forever banishment. People will soon catch on that there are certain things that are simply not allowed as they are deemed inappropriate for the forum.

Too many people have left the site entirely because of something someone said - I'm not inclined to allow a single (or a few) trolls offend the entire board and drive the community away leaving only those with the thickest skin left on the site.
Was what was said really uncalled for, or mean, threatening? Did you ban the poster? How was this handled?

Most people know to keep away from certain radio or TV stations as they find them offensive. Just like people here don't read certain threads because they simply aren't interested in the topic.

I believe there must be a compromise between banning a topic and allowing a free-for-all.

Unfortunately, I am not the smartest person around this site and cannot offer you any resolution to the problem. But I do know that you have allocated so much of your time, effort and money to maintaining astorians.com, and that you are dedicated to seeing it become successful, that I must trust your instinct to listen to those who you have requested guidance from, with the understanding that whichever way your decision goes there will be people leaving the forum because they disagree with that decision.
Women are like teabags.
We don't know our true strength
until we are in hot water! â€”Eleanor Roosevelt

adamwc

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Re: Random Gabblers, So Off-Topic, It's About a Topic
« Reply #39 on: February 18, 2008, 03:12:55 PM »
we get it.
i don't think it's necessary to post about it everywhere.

I agree. I've only posted about it in two forums beyond the Board Announcement thread. Hardly "everywhere."

My Local Talk post, short and sweet and basically a heads-up, was almost immediately moved directly into the Board Announcement thread, which defeated the intent of giving an important topic more visibility. This post is even shorter and points to the thread where the conversation belongs (i.e., it doesn't belong here).

I apologize, firelight, for bothering you with this post. And I apologize to anyone else adversely affected by it, as well. If I've disrupted the Random Gabble thread's flow or energy, well, I promise not to do it again.

For what it's worth, I won't be posting about this anywhere else.

Warm and Random Regards to All,
Adam

Offline essen

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Re: Nothing is More Local Than Astorians.com
« Reply #40 on: February 18, 2008, 04:21:59 PM »
Not sure if that was merm with the merge, but see how hard it is to run this board? 

It doesn't have to be that hard, though. One of the reasons presented for getting rid of the politics category is that the posts get too long. But if people don't want to read them, they don't have to. I don't think merm should have to read every single post any more than I think anyone else should. A better solution might be to have someone other than merm monitor just the politics/rants section, since obviously it is a subject a lot of people find important to this community, and there are probably some people who would be happy to keep tabs on what's going on there. Maybe make that category members-only, also.

Unfortunately, if the objective is to rid the board of conflict, getting rid of a couple categories isn't going to do it.

Offline merm

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Re: Politics Topic to be Discontinued
« Reply #41 on: February 18, 2008, 06:27:32 PM »
I'm grateful for the discussion surrounding this issue. As I see it the politics/rants section is among the most unruly of the site, and over the years most of the people that either get suspended from the site, or leave the site do so because of a rant or a political flame war that starts in that section.

That being said, I do recognize the positive effect that diverse discussion can have on the site if civil. I'd like to try something on a trial basis.

First, I've updated the board rules/guidelines, borrowing from some of the points made in the eGullet forum rules. I think there are some good guidelines for posting there that we can all benefit from. Please review them if you haven't lately. These rules especially apply in the discussion of politics/rants.

Second, I'm going to narrow the number of users that can access that board. Only those above a certain post count will be able to post there (TBD). I'm still considering whether or not people without the ability to post will see the board, or if I'll require people to be logged in.

Third, I'll evaluate the politics/rants board closely and may make tweaks in upcoming weeks. I'll post those here.


adamwc

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Re: Politics Topic to be Discontinued
« Reply #42 on: February 18, 2008, 06:33:27 PM »
Was what was said really uncalled for, or mean, threatening? Did you ban the poster? How was this handled?

That's a good question, NYCMacUser. Thanks for your thoughtful post. I hope the following is helpful. So that you and others know, there are at least two people who merm temporarily banned from this forum.

Merm, is there a set length to a temporary banning or is that up to your discretion?

***

Here's the post, in response to Debbie, that got Billz1981 banned.

"That hardly sounds constructive.  Is the situation a joke to you, and the punchline is that you get to laugh at what you assume to be the ignorance of the original posters?  Neither of us were there, and it may or may not have gone down the way they say it did.  But I fail to see why you going to the gas station would be of benefit.  You were not there, you have no quarrel with the guys who own the station, and it is none of your business.

Besides, how will you find the time?  Aren't you busy knowing more gay people and diverse friends than anyone else, being discriminated against, running a business that is more successful than anyone else, reading many diverse publications with many viewpoints because you recognize the U.S. media isn't as good as the European one, baking cookies for the troops, founding peace organizations, etc. etc?

Ok, I guess that was a little mean on my part.  Nothing personal.  I just feel that lately, for the past year or so that I have participated on this board, your posts have been a little goading and condescending.  You constantly purport to be a person of tolerance, but then find a way to slam someone else who holds viewpoints that differ from yours.  If you were really interested in diversity, you would welcome an honest discussion with the conservatives on this board (all two or so of them) instead of grandstanding with your snide comments."


Here's the post, in response to Debbie, that got paratactical banned.

"Your blanket disapproval of anyone fitting under this label is just as disgusting, close-minded and ignorant as blanket disapproval of Muslims, gays or any other group."

"...this label..." refers to "conservative" in the context of her whole post.

It's worth noting that it is, in fact, Debbie's "blanket disapproval" that is being criticized. This is passionate, but by no means a personal attack.

***

I don't know if anyone else was banned, NYCMacUser. You should read the above posts in context. It's so much more poignant when you see that everybody is getting along on page 7 until Debbie ... oh hell, I don't want to ruin it for any of you! Check it out: http://www.astorians.com/community/index.php?topic=9418.0.

It's a fascinating read!

Note the wide-ranging, free-flowing nature of the conversation and how it demonstrates the participants' inclinations at various points to moderate themselves.

Fans of Greek tragedy will recognize the ironic role played in the thread by Debbie, who called for the thread to be locked immediately on page 1 and then instigated the exchanges starting on page 6 that resulted in merm feeling it was necessary to lock it by page 8.  Maybe by page 10, everything would have resolved itself peacefully, with everyone better off for persevering, but the opportunity cost of merm shutting the thread down is that, alas, we'll never know.

I hope this has been enlightening.

L'Chaim,
Adam

Offline merm

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Re: Politics Topic to be Discontinued
« Reply #43 on: February 18, 2008, 06:59:13 PM »
Account suspensions range from 1 day, to permanent depending on circumstances. It's typical to see durations of 1 day, 3 days, 1 week, 1 month, and permanent.

For something like duplicate posting users are usually suspended for a short time to ensure they get a chance to read the board guidelines. For personally directed inflammatory comments it can be 3-7 days. However, in some cases people are permanently banned on the first infraction, and in cases where someone has been warned or suspended once in the past they may be permanently banned on their second or subsequent infraction.

But we digress..

adamwc

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Re: Politics Topic to be Discontinued
« Reply #44 on: February 18, 2008, 08:07:03 PM »
Account suspensions range from 1 day, to permanent depending on circumstances. It's typical to see durations of 1 day, 3 days, 1 week, 1 month, and permanent.

For something like duplicate posting users are usually suspended for a short time to ensure they get a chance to read the board guidelines. For personally directed inflammatory comments it can be 3-7 days. However, in some cases people are permanently banned on the first infraction, and in cases where someone has been warned or suspended once in the past they may be permanently banned on their second or subsequent infraction.

But we digress..

Thanks for your response, merm.

I hope that you will please end paratactical's and Billz1981's bans now.

Bill sensed he was being too sarcastic and literally apologized in the midst of his post.
Paratactical was essentially moderating Debbie, whose statements were filled with the kinds of generalizations that cause problems. Nothing paratatical wrote was a personal attack. She was characterizing as offensive to her the exact behavior that you proscribe in your Rules section.

So, again, please end these bans.

And, if you banned Debbie, please end that now, too.
Debbie was ranting in the Politics and Rants thread. She is clearly contrite about it.

Your new Rules remain far too arbitrary. To quote, "- Act appropriately: We do not permit comments that we deem abusive, baiting, defamatory, insulting, harassing, inflammatory, hateful, obscene, inappropriately rude or personal, retaliatory, threatening, invasive of privacy or violative of any law." That is a long list of highly subjective excuses to interfere in people's debates with one another.

Merm, it seems as if you are chasing a level of control that is neither feasible nor, in the final analysis, desirable for any of us. You sent a chill through the Politics and Rants board when you locked that thread. Locking that thread and the bans have been far more damaging to that section than the discussion that was transpiring there.

I hope you will come to the conclusion, sooner rather than later, that free and open debate, that is, debate by people who feel genuinely free to express themselves thoroughly and honestly, is itself nearly always the best way to moderate exchanges of ideas.

Sincerely Yours,
Adam


 

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