Destructive (As Opposed To Constructive) Behavior In The Political Thread

When a person enters the Political Thread and engages in discussion, it is often said that they go in that thread at their own risk – a stance that the Staff and Moderators try to keep in mind whenever there are heated debates going on there.

Moderators and Staff try to stay as hands off as possible in this thread unless basic ground rules that form the bedrock of this community and its beliefs are violated.

Ground rules, such as: defending fascism is not o.k., are pretty much adhered to, and the moderators and staff really appreciate this. I think it has been six months since we banned a user for doing this… things are looking up.

Except for the ground rule of not engaging in destructive behavior established by @jasonstevanhill one year and one month ago.

It is sometimes said that political discourse is not always friendly and respectful and that you can’t have a political discussion without letting it flow, even if it gets a bit heated.

If this was a community built on politics, I would tend to agree with that assessment. Our community here is not built on politics it is built on civilized discussion and respect for each other.

The FAQ laying out our community’s guidelines state:

Specifically this means:

Micro-aggressive opining and nonconstructive opining not only go against the guidelines to keep the forums clean and well-lighted but these types of opining are disrespectful to both the politics being discussed and the people involved in the discourse.

The actual ground rule for entering the political discourse here is: Enter at your own risk, secure in the knowledge that you and your topics will be treated with respect.

Posts that include micro-aggressive opining and/or nonconstructive opining have been specifically called out as going against forum etiquette and for over a year, should not have been a part of any community discussion being made here.

This type of destructive behavior in the Politics Thread has been increasing during the year and month since it was first called out and despite moderator warnings and temporary thread closings this type of behavior is often found in this thread.

The staff and moderators are divided on whether this community should have a Politics Thread … now is the time to speak about this subject.

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I don’t know if this is going to be an unpopular opinion, but I’d definitely go with just closing the thread if it was my decision.

I’d say all off-topic threads are to some extent unnecessary in that they add nothing to the community’s primary purpose of discussing IF, but there’s obviously a difference between an innocent topic about, say, music, and one about a contentious issue such as politics. It’s very difficult to discuss such things in a civilized way, and we are on the Internet so that just makes it worse.

I don’t know, since people are sure to fight over this stuff and I don’t think that’s great for the forum’s atmosphere as a whole (besides it taking up valuable mod resources), and there’s just so many places people can go to have political arguments, if they are so inclined, I personally just don’t feel that this topic is something we really need?

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Is this a Political forum? No.
Is this a public state forum? No.
This is a Company forum, to talk about their games, and literature data and other subjects that can help new readers and readers to get a better knowledge of If and specially Cog and Hosted games.

This company has a core set of rules. You can’t like them or not. But this is a PRIVATE forum not public, they can manage the topics and their nature. Same thing you go to Macdonalds and doesn’t expect to engage about Politics or Interactive fiction.

A political thread could make sense ten years ago, when people here were few, and games volume were minor. Nowadays, It doesn’t make sense, too many people, and there are too many games and wips that should be the focus of the forum. The fans have a discord that should be a better place for that kind of political fights.

Here each time people engaged in a stupid petty political fight, staff and mods have to deal with stuff when they could be writing and editing games instead.

Places to talking about politics are everywhere, here due there is a core set of rules, and some people is totally oblivious to those rules. The best solution, not political threads here.

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Yeah, I pretty much agree with everything Mara says above. Especially:

Like Mara says, it’s not a core part of the purpose of the forum to debate politics. I’m not sure what’s to be gained with the discussion, though I’m very willing to learn from anyone who’s had a positive experience of the thread.

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I do think the thread is a problem magnet, but it has also had very good conversation and discussion over the years.

My one concern is that the thread can be really useful as a dumping ground or a catch-all for discussions that may be hard to classify as politics or not-politics but which do seem tangentially to deal with matters of IF or the industry.

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I agree with both of these observations.

This part of your post, I need to think about because off the top of my head, I can’t remember one discussion held within the Politics thread that was IF-related, game related, or even literary related.

I guess one can tie tenuous connections between minimum wages and crunch time in developer studios or you can talk about the politics of non-representation in some soon-to-be released or just recently released games and both of these discussions would be relevant political discussions for our community.

The trouble here is this: Not one person tied the existing minimum wage discussion to either IF game making nor game making in general. Also, the very important recent discussion on representation that was sparked within the last month had copy given across the industry, but no one here brought it into our Politics thread …

So is the thread even being utilized for matters of IF or the industry?

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I think by and large it had remained largely free of acrimonious attacking, by the standards of an Internet politics thread. That being said, the Giant in the Playground forums banned discussion of both politics and religion many years ago, and overall it has likely been a huge load off for the mods there. The more people are passionate about something, the better chance that passion can be turned into something unkind.

I decided to give my two cents.

I believe keeping the politics thread would be necessary. My reason of this is an admittedly naive notion. Aside from keeping us aware of world affairs and expressing one’s opinion, it was also to try and avoid political talk on other games. Now, granted, not every COG, HG and WiPs deals with political tones or world affairs, but those that do, it’s kind of easy to slip into political chatter without us realising it and risk derailing discussions on things related to games and getting possibly heated.

At the same time, I also feel it’s our prerogative to educate, if not, clarify to people who might not have the whole picture related to one’s country or abroad. Lord knows for every one thing I learned about the world, I get told about it from a different angle from someone more in touch with the issue.

Yes, I will acknowledge that things have been heated on said thread and I also know we will probably stand by their viewpoints, but I feel like I understand the world a little better just from talking from other like minded individuals.

As I said, this is my two cents and I know everyone on here may disagree with me.

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I feel the same way about this thread as I did about the Funny Thread.

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Is there a way to ban people from individual threads? If so, that might be the ideal solution. Not do any of them right now, but say from here on out that rousers of rabble would simply be chucked out into the cold, and eventually the only ones left will be the core group that knows how to have a civil discussion and shouldn’t really be punished for the less frequent posters that might come in and shake the tree too much.

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That’s a temporary solution at best. Even if we ban every troublemaker in the thread, new ones will join and the process will continue ad nauseam. It’s pretty much a given that any hub for political discussion that exists will attract these kinds of people.

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Yeah, it’s also a lot of time and effort for staff and moderators for a thread that isn’t really what the forum is for.

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My vote would be for keeping it. Or would we need to get rid of every offtopic thread? I mean there is a reason why every forum regardless what it’s originally aimed for has offtopic category. In this case several people seem to enjoy discussing political stuff and if they can do it in a civil way then why take it away from them? As for those who can’t keep a discussion civil, I’d vote for warning them and if they keep up with the disruptive behavior then banning them from the forum alltogether, after all if they are constantly breaking forum rules despite recieving warnings in one thread then they could be doing it in another thread too which isn’t an offtopic one.

Edit: I wonder if making a core member of that thread, who has proven trustworthy in keeping things civil even if someone has a different opinion from their own, a leader would maybe help to reduce other mods work with that thread?

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Will it happen forever? Yes. Will it happen frequently? I doubt it. After the initial wave that would likely occur, how many new people do you see meriting a ban from this one thread, who would be interested in it in the first place, who won’t also be troublesome enough that you end up having to do something with them on the forum at large (which would thusly remove them from this thread as well)? That seems like a really, really small group of people where the Venn circles are going to overlap. Like, potentially less than 10 a year. You might be able to count them on a shop teacher’s fingers. So as mod timesinks go this seems like less of one than a lot of things.

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I am not aware that it is possible to ban someone from a particular thread–I feel like I would have used that tool many times over if it existed!

Yes, that’s my reservation–I’m wondering whether we want to say “we don’t want anything but IF threads” (which would degrade the “community” feeling of the forum) and thus eliminate stuff like the books, video games, Doctor Who threads, etc, to grab some examples.

Or is the politics thread so corrosive that it is a special case (like the so-called “funny” thread), and other off-topic stuff is fine?

My instinct is to want to preserve community even as I recognize that the politics thread needs extra tending.

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I would like to point out that a good chunk of our mods and leaders are already on the thread to begin with, either to participate or to pop in every day or so to keep an eye on discussion (as I do). So I’m not certain how many more moderators this thread requires.

It’s not, lol, I’ve looked into it.

If I remember correctly, it’s really really low on Discourse’s to-do list (if it’s even on there at all, now that I think on it), way below single category leadership—that is, giving users leader/mod powers but limited to a single category.

And that’s already pretty low to begin with. :pensive:

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Does the politics thread really foster a sense of community? I would argue that the other Off-Topic threads – even the Funny Thread to an extremely minor extent – do a better job of that. The Politics Thread feels too divisive to claim that it bolsters the community spirit.

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I feel like the Politics thread is a special case because of the personal, passionate nature of politics. I don’t see that many people getting into fights over Doctor Who or books, but I see the Politics Thread being locked frequently to allow cooler heads to prevail. Especially in this political climate…

I don’t think that discussing the fate of the Politics Thread is particularly indicative of a slippery slope that will lead to other Off-topic threads being scrutinized, simply because Politics takes up so much mod and leader time and resources to keep track of, and the other threads don’t do that–nor do they foster the potential atmosphere of controversy and divisiveness that I’ve seen (as @trevers17 states). I’d be very interested to know how many people have come out of the Politics thread with new friends versus new grudges or frustrations, from the interactions I’ve seen… but I’m open to being told otherwise!

As for me, I’m actually fairly neutral on the actual fate of the thread; I just don’t think that doing anything with it either way means anything about the Off-topic category as a whole or other “leisure” threads that see occasional action (versus the Politics thread, which can accumulate hundreds of replies in a day). Speaking as a moderator, I know it’s definitely wearing to go in there and try to keep a constant tab on things, as eruptions can be frequent… and it’s hard to moderate without censoring or tone-policing simply because of the subjective nature of politics; I definitely rely on user flags, and even then it requires lots of context and research and time to come to what feels like an “objective” conclusion… but if we keep the thread, I’m not sure what the solution to any of that would be. Just throwing in my own experience!

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I see. I rarely look at the politics thread so when I made that suggestion I wasn’t aware how active the current mods and leaders are on that thread, @Eiwynn’s post made it sound like the mods have to go out of their ways just to check on that thread thus adding extra work for them with something they aren’t even that interested in to begin with. Thanks for clearing that up for me.

On the other hand, since it was established in 2012, one can argue it’s been that the Politics thread had been a part of this forum. It’s also been one of the most active Off-Topic thread and filled with diverse posters that participate almost daily. Contrast that to other Off-Topic threads, some of which even going derelict, like the Funny Thread. The reality is, if we take something like this thread away, we admittedly take away something from this forum.

The thing is, this is a response from a friend of mine,@Jjcb

“I know people that would tell you of positive interactions, like @lovinglydull and @Verand and @HomicidialFrog but who are unable to, because the thread is closed to everyone except about 20 members, most of which don’t even look at the thread, instead of it being a discussion with the people who engage on it and know what goes on in it.”

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