Serious Discussion: Does It Belong Here?

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Serious Discussion: Does It Belong Here?

Postby Monk Ed » Sun Dec 14, 2014 9:09 pm

We've been considering a blanket ban on political and similar discussion in Completely and Utterly Off-Topic, be it just a moratorium for a number of months or something more permanent. Thoughts?
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Postby Merridian » Sun Dec 14, 2014 9:13 pm

What qualifies as "political discussion"?

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Postby Dream » Sun Dec 14, 2014 9:19 pm

Yeah, both the definition/scope of what the ban would uhh, ban and the purpose behind it is pretty nebulous. If it's the reasons i'm thinking of then i believe it's an extremely bad idea (even if it might not seem so in the short run...) althought to be honest the fact this is being considered -and that things got to the point where this needed to be considered- is already a pretty bad sign in itself.

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Postby Merridian » Sun Dec 14, 2014 9:20 pm

^TBH I've always gotten the impression that it isn't the topics so much as what's posted and how the discourse reads that probably necessitates the drastic measures.
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Postby Monk Ed » Sun Dec 14, 2014 9:21 pm

It's hard to tell where that line is sometimes, I know. I'm not entirely sure where to draw it myself. The spirit of it in my mind is that it essentially comes down to the level of controversy associated. There's judgement calls to be made there, for sure, but the essence of such a blanket ban would be to try to make OT more of a fun place where we talk about our favorite shows and games and whatnot and maybe personal issues (exemplified by threads like RML/FML and Lonely Hearts) but leave divisive topics off-site.

Dream wrote:althought to be honest the fact this is being considered -and that things got to the point where this needed to be considered- is already a pretty bad sign in itself.

Of what?
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Postby Nuclear Lunchbox » Sun Dec 14, 2014 9:28 pm

Monk, I think the intent is sound. However, if something like this is to actually be put into place, I'd want to see a lot more of the specifics behind the ban. I think I agree with what Merridian has said-- a lot of the problems seem to come from the ways the topics are discussed, not necessarily the topics themselves. Personally, I think the issue might be solved by easing restrictions on disciplinary action.

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Postby Monk Ed » Sun Dec 14, 2014 9:41 pm

View Original PostNuclear Lunchbox wrote:Personally, I think the issue might be solved by easing restrictions on disciplinary action.

In other words, being quicker to ban offenders?
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Postby Chuckman » Sun Dec 14, 2014 9:46 pm

That's far too harsh. There have been a number of interesting discussions lately that would fall under this blanket ban. If some people can't handle themselves, that's not a reason to chastise everyone. I think the rules in place provide adequate guidance and the mods need to step in when there starts to be acrimony. Give threads a temporary lock to give everybody a time out, PM the participants and offer a cooling off period.

Instead of rules I think we could try collectively following the Tao of Elsa a bit better and certain members I shall not name could remember that there are other human beings on the opposite end of that screen reading what we/they post.

If these topics break out into arguments and bad behavior all the time it's indicative of a problem with people involved, not these topics. Plenty of people here can have rational discussions over deep disagreements and even have a pretty heated back and forth and remain friends. The fucking trees do not have souls.
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Postby Dream » Sun Dec 14, 2014 10:06 pm

Hmm, i'm afraid that's even worse than i thought. If i didn't know you i'd assume shutting down discussion on the basis of how controversial it is so that OT would be a "fun place" to be a subtle attempt to instill some really Orwellian stuff on the forum. Nice to see staff hasn't changed though.

I think i can see where the idea comes from as i'm sure we all have things like the gender text field thread in recent memory and things like that have made the forum a very unpleasant experience for many. But at the same time i must say that this blanket ban on "controversial" topics would do far more to turn me (further) away from the forum than all that bickering ever did. I can take assholes or recurrent members acting like assholes from time to time, and all the shit-flinging and drama that implies. But to see the staff not only failing to enforce standards of civility, but appeasing such behavior and imposing a ban on everyone to avoid trouble... No, that is just too much.

This whole thing sits extremely wrong with me. It just feels very wrong for the kind of forum EGF is. Obviously i don't know how a matter like this would look to an outsider, but i doubt it would say stellar things about the quality of the forum.

View Original PostMonk Ed wrote:Of what?


Of well intentioned but bad/harmful administration needlesly applying blanket or glove-fits-all policies that don't try to address the causes behind the problems and of rather questionable side-effects. As Nuke and Merri mentioned a lot (well, all really) was the way members behaved in those threads and the way they spoke to each other. Imposing a blanket ban on divisive topics isn't going to make me forget who were the agitators nor address the factors that lead to such nastiness being expected of the community.

On it's logical basis maybe i think i can see it working... but not with the staff and forum culture we have. Really, really sorry for being so negative about the whole concept, but the more i hear about this the more it sounds like a really bad idea... or at least a needlessly costly/prohibitive solution when there are healthier alternatives.

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Postby Nuclear Lunchbox » Sun Dec 14, 2014 10:25 pm

I'm back from dinner, and I took time to think about a solution to the nastiness that can break out around controversial topics.

Install a fourth subforum in the off-topic section for all political/hot-button topics to be created in. (Any topics belonging here created in other sections can be moved.) Within this fourth subforum (titled "Serious Discussion" or something along those lines), impose harsh policies on the guidelines for discussion. Rulebreaking and incivility is targeted with a subforum-exclusive ban for a set period of time depending on the offense. Restrictions on moderator/administrative action would be less than on the rest of the forum, resulting in an environment where those among us that can engage in intelligent debate may do so in peace, and those who cannot are quickly removed.

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Postby Gob Hobblin » Sun Dec 14, 2014 10:26 pm

View Original PostMonk Ed wrote:In other words, being quicker to ban offenders?


Yes. Hands down.

This, more than anything, would go a long way to easing a lot of the controversy we see in those threads.
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Postby UrsusArctos » Sun Dec 14, 2014 10:35 pm

I'm not sure how far I'd want to extend that. As much as I like the satisfaction of banning someone who deserves it, a quick-draw banhammer would only draw the ire of posters, and justifiably so. I would much rather isolate or get rid of politics discussions altogether than swing the hammer for any incivility that results from those.
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Postby Nuclear Lunchbox » Sun Dec 14, 2014 10:37 pm

Hence my suggestion above, solving the need for forum-wide bans with subforum-specific ones.

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Postby Xard » Sun Dec 14, 2014 10:38 pm

We're already very, err, eager with our ban policies in comparison to most other forums member of which I've been. Typically we give out one serious warning and second offence lands a ban. Of course warnings for minor stuff can accumulate for longer period of time but really, we're anything but lax with using hammer. Going clearly further than now would just result in playing whack-a-mole on even minor offences.

View Original PostNuclear Lunchbox wrote:Hence my suggestion above, solving the need for forum-wide bans with subforum-specific ones.


"Serious threads" we've got so far are ones that are spontaneously born from tangents that gain significant traffic or some special issue someone *really really really* wants to address/discuss. The initial level of inhibition users have to pass before creating these topics is pretty high and should remain that way.

Creating separate subforum for "serious topics" will undoubtedly lower the trigger point as people start creating topics for each and every slightest thing that interests them and fit under that subforum heading. You can see this effect with creation of vidya subforum for example. We didn't have anywhere near as much vidya discussion before that subforum was created. Same for film and television discussion before creation of relevant subforum.


Since whether or not there'll be such thing as straightforward ban of certain subjects of discussion containing and controlling existence of these topics and inevitably resulting flareups are our chief interest creating separate subforum is contrary to our basic aims here in my view.
Last edited by Xard on Sun Dec 14, 2014 10:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby UrsusArctos » Sun Dec 14, 2014 10:42 pm

What Xard said. Even if it's a subforum-specific ban, I really don't think it's wise to set the tolerance level low and dish them out this quickly.
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Postby NemZ » Sun Dec 14, 2014 10:48 pm

I favor Nuke's suggestion, with permanent forum-specific bans for those who can't stay civil. Possibly also also denying permission by default so noobs and spammers are kept firmly out until they prove themselves part of the larger community and not just here to shill for candidate X or whatever.
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Postby Chuckman » Sun Dec 14, 2014 10:49 pm

Since I came at it a little obliquely earlier I'll be more blunt: I feel the staff should try individually addressing people rather than going from zero to ban or banning a nebulous group of topics. Swinging around bans and red text posts and yelling at people only raises tensions and spurs people who are already irate and uncivil to become defensive.

Or simply tell individual people to knock it off, rather than simply posting a "stop doing X" post in a thread. Throw individuals out of threads. If there's nothing but the acrimony the thread will then die on its own.

Edit: I would support creation of a serious discussion only forum. It works well with the eva chitchat/discussion forums, does it not?
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Postby Xard » Sun Dec 14, 2014 10:51 pm

We don't actually have ability to make thread-specific bans on the current forum software (I'm not sure if subforum specific bans would work after some tweaking, I'm not techie)
Last edited by Xard on Sun Dec 14, 2014 10:55 pm, edited 2 times in total.
ran1: Oh gosh this sentence gave me an internet boner. You're so tsundere.
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Postby Dream » Sun Dec 14, 2014 10:51 pm

View Original PostUrsusArctos wrote:As much as I like the satisfaction of banning someone who deserves it,


No offense Ursus but it's exactly phrases like these (and having seen some of treatment members got from admins back then) that make me so nervous about this idea. When you say things like that it makes me very uncomfortable that you're an admin. I also, like i said, really wouldn't want to be part of a forum that so calmly decides to just lock out an entire part of discussion just to not deal with particular cases of incivility.

What Xard said on the matter of specific forum and quicker bans.

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Postby Chuckman » Sun Dec 14, 2014 10:52 pm

View Original PostXard wrote:We don't actually have ability to make thread-specific bans on the current forum software (I'm not sure if subforum specific bans would work after some tweaking, I'm not techie)


When I say throw people out I mean tell them to stay out of a thread and ban them if they don't. Not everything has to be done directly with a function of the forum software, after all.

Any action on anyone's part -be they mod, admin, or regular user- that encourages people to think of the other members of the forum mechanistically and forget that there is a human being on the other side of the screen only contributes to the problem.
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