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

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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Something’s existence for a specific length of time doesn’t inherently justify keeping it around.

The people who engage in the thread are the reason it was closed in the first place. Additionally, many of the people in this thread are the moderators and leaders who consistently review the thread.

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Does the political thread helps the Hosted games and Cog games an authors or the readers? No.
It only helps to create divisions and petty battles that make no sense.

The rest of off topics more or less help to make community or give great tips to readers. The threads about social inclusion, pronouns etc are a great way to expand the company core beliefs. I am not against the political thread, I am just being practical, I don’t get why staff and mods have to babysit that thread every day when it doesn’t give any benefits to the company or the readers

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Well…it is and it isn’t.

I know that all of us mods pop into the thread with frequency, and quite a few of us are active participants in the discussion. For some of us though, it is very difficult to stay abreast of the latest topic of discussion as talk on that thread either has a half-life or it goes on for days. The latter is the most difficult for me to deal with because I then have to do my best to read through a couple of essays’ worth of replies on a topic that—because of time constraints in my life—I’m generally unfamiliar with so that I don’t unfairly reprimand people.

Basically, it’s easy to see when an argument has crossed a line and the thread needs a warning or to be closed and users need to be reprimanded, but for me personally it’s a lot harder to discern between sniping vs. what is the baseline level of tension in the thread. And that’s made even more difficult for me when I have to scroll up a few days’ worth of discussion to see what set things off and who needs to be reprimanded.

That isn’t a bad thing, by the way. We have lots of threads on the forum that result in entire books of in-depth discussion that I try to keep on top of in case of thread flare-ups, but the frequency at which the politics thread has needed to be closed of late is higher than that of other threads. And it’s a lot harder to justify its existence because the gender discussion threads are a goldmine for WIP authors to go through to get a better idea of how to represent gender in their games. The politics thread…not so much. I don’t see very many authors (WIP or published) hang out there at all, actually, and when they do it’s very infrequent. At most they pop in to give their two cents, reply a bit, and then go back to work.

edit: my phone autocorrected thread to interest check thread at the top and totally undermined my comment, lol

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For those who do not have the regular status and desire to contribute, make a companion thread in Off-Topic and I will transfer your posts to this thread.

Do not spam-flag due to frustration; do not make wild accusations about other members – be very careful about attacking other members on a personal level.

Criticize me for making this thread restrictive or better yet criticize the Discourse development team for their constant low prioritizing or even ignoring the trust level issue (eg the posts made in “semi-closed topics” not counting towards requirements met …

I will try to get as many voices involved as I can but I do want to exercise as much moderation over this thread as I can … this topic and this discussion deserves such.

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Please also keep in mind that the trust level needed to participate in the Plaza is totally within a user’s ability to reach, as it is based entirely on user activity. You earn regular status by interacting with the community at large and with frequency, not simply engaging in only a handful of threads.

You can even take a look at your current stats on your user summary page and compare them to the trust level requirements listed here if you’re curious.

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At its core, this is a question about the fundamental purpose of this forum: is it primarily a corporate forum for CoG and HG news and discussion, or is it first and foremost a community forum for lovers of said labels? If the former, the Politics thread is a liability and should be nuked immediately. It offers little to no tangible benefit and risks alienating some new or even longtime readers. A lot less people would leave over it being closed than might eventually leave over fights that originated in it over time. If the forum’s purpose is the latter, closing one of (if not the) most popular threads outside of a couple WIP threads should only be considered after all other alternatives are exhausted, and maybe not even then. That activity won’t just go to other threads, it will disappear, leaving the forum a little emptier and slower than it was before.

Keep in mind I’m not laying these out as having a strong preference for one direction over the other, since I have a stake in it on both sides. This has become my primary Internet forum over the last couple years and I hate to see anything make that community constrict or become less open, but it’s also a site tied to a publisher putting out stories for me and many others, and things that put that at risk, however minimally or tangentially, should definitely not be tolerated to become too much of an issue.

Now I know that either way, this place is paid for by the company. And in the end their decision will always reign supreme, as well it should given they are not only the ones paying for this website but also the ones primarily dealing with any fallout caused by it. But thus far it seems like they have left the issue to the mod team and the community at large to make this call. And while this obviously won’t have any impact on what happens, I am curious as to the overall opinion of the forum. So here’s a poll, and just this once I won’t include Pie as an option. We also won’t go into what it would take the thread open; that would likely be a wholly separate poll in and of itself, given the various options and their effectiveness (or lack thereof) in keeping people from being at each other’s throats.

  • Keep the Politics thread open!
  • Close the Politics thread!

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It is achievable, but not easily, and maintaining it harder still. I spent so much time writing Nuclear Powered Toaster that I was only rarely a Regular during that time, and never for more than a couple of weeks (which was a bit confusing when I would post in a thread and then fail to see that post later). If I didn’t have that status locked in these days I would likely have lost it other times still, curse my lurker hide. I hate to see it made a prerequisite to speak, and I’m glad @Eiwynn is allowing for another option. Even if folks bringing this drama to the Emotion thread is definitely not helping matters right now.

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Once again I wonder: Wouldn’t it have been easier to create a thread available for everyone in the first place instead of creating this and adding another thread later so non-regulars could chime in too?

There are always essentially two different kind of posters in the political thread. The first are people who take the time to be well researched, constructive, and earnest. The second are people who express their opinions raw, with little research, and are ignorant.

That’s not a problem in of itself. The difference between the two is that people need to show nuance between them. I run an active discord of around twenty or so regulars with people who come in and out as needed. The twenty regulars go and have complex discussions all the time and sometimes it gets heated. The thing I stress is that you have to always strive to have a flexible grading standard. Don’t treat raw, opinion posts the same way you’d treat a researched opinion.

That tends to avoid the worst of it.

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Another practical solution can make a private unaccessible group similar to the adult section only for people who wants to discuss politics and let the rest of the forum free of it. That could help mods and give more room to actually things related with the company that pays the forum.

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The trouble with this solution is, like the adult section, Discourse would consider it a “semi-private” discussion and that means nothing posted there or done there (likes, flags, etc) will count towards maintaining one’s trust level.

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The politics thread is also a useful destination for spin-off conversations from other threads. Politics is an inherent subject to many works of interactive fiction, and the subject will come up in other discussions. This provides a venue for continuing these conversations without derailing their points of origin, and these discussions can be valuable.

It is also completely understandable that, when something significant occurs politically, people will want to bring it up with members of a community that they care about and are interested in conversing with. I don’t see this as a bad thing.

I definitely would disagree with any idea of making politics an off-limits topic entirely, which I don’t think is really being proposed, but I saw it mentioned. That would shut down many extremely relevant lines of conversation. But even closing the politics thread would be putting in place a similar, albeit less extreme, limit.

I believe it’s entirely possible to discuss political issues in a mature manner while respecting CoG’s values. There have been people in the thread who don’t do so, but there’ve been many more who do, and I’d hate to see the former ruin it for everyone else.

I wouldn’t mind that, either. I could see that as a reasonable way to keep things more manageable without having to get rid of it entirely. And having it as a group would make it possible to remove people from the group if they can’t handle it responsibly.

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Yeah, The group access is what makes it more manageable for mods and far less likely that random new people stumble across it without regard to the rules. That could be a nice middle ground

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