Forum demagoguery?

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Forum demagoguery?

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Postby Dream » Mon Mar 30, 2015 11:29 pm

First off i'd like to apologize if this post comes off as rambly, it's just some things about EGF that have been spinning on my head for a while and thought i might as well write some of it out.

It's probably no secret that my opinion of EGF is extremely low, and probaby neither is the fact i'm not alone in this sentiment. The reasons behind this disenchantment are multiple, but the core reason can be traced back into something aptly described by a fellow member "I considered coming back after a year or so but then i saw they descended to a level of demagoguery that makes even me seem like a temperate monk by comparison". More often than not it seems to me that members prefer to go for some clever/pithy line in arguments rather than a polite, proper discussion and this behavior is either unpunished by staff or even displayed by some of the staff itself.

I believe This harms both the thread in specific by killing or derailing the discussion due to either hotheads taking the thread down in a flamewar or people simply not wanting to deal with the toxicity anymore, as well as the forum in general by creating a culture where it's ok or even expected to reply to someone's opposing argument/point/etc with things like "You are a good captain, sir, as I can see that you’ve decided to sink with your ship. I salute you from my lifeboat.". This was certainly clever and funny, but frankly it came off as patronizing dismissal... which while probably intended, i'm not sure belongs in a thread attempting to be serious.

Furthermore, here are a bunch of gems gleaned almost entirely from one EGF visit:

Gentlemen wrote:you gotta just suck it up. You are not a special little snowflake. (...) like how retarded can you fucking be to take waifu culture and otaku drama that seriously? (...) Rightists please stop embarrassing yourselves this is worse than (...) Geez, nerds are so fucking touchy. (...) Ah, we already had this discussion. He quickly noticed that I'm no match for his analytic überbrain; I simply dislike some things, and he got bored. The next time I saw him he dropped a mega post about why my penis is wrong. Then he left. I miss this wicked motherfucker. (...) I mean idiots lost their mind over (...)


My problem with these examples isn't so much their particular snark or their "appropiateness" for their respective threads or even how much they might or might not skirt the rules. It's that to some degree it seems to have become more common and ok to talk like this. I fear that this not only will make the case of threads going to shit more frequent, but likely will also dissuade potentially constructive members from joining and therefore the possibility for good discussions starting in the first place get diminished further contributing to a toxic or at least unproductive forum atmosphere.

Well, hope that isn't too rambling and carries the point i tried to make somewhat clearly. Thoughts?
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Postby cyharding » Mon Mar 30, 2015 11:52 pm

I can see your point and understand where this is coming from. Off the top of head, I can only think of two possible reasons why this could be happening.

1. There are people on the forum here who have been members here for many years, if not a whole decade. Over that time, not only would people get to know each other and act more easygoing around them, but they would get to know each other's faults, and every person has some faults. So there would be times where someone would get on someone else's nerves with something that was posted and would be more willing to call them out on it.

2. As this is an Eva forum, there really hasn't been much news dealing with the franchise. There is nothing that gets the forum members excited (or to "get hype" as some put it) such solid news on Final as an example. Without that sort of unifying force for people to get behind, there is not too much else for them to discuss with excitement, which might lead to more bickering. Of course, once we get some news on the last film or when the blu-rays come out at the end of August, things might be different on that front.

Of course, these are just some quick ideas on the matter that I have, which I could be wrong about, and I'm afraid this is pretty much a ramble as well.
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Postby Chuckman » Tue Mar 31, 2015 1:46 am

View Original Postcyharding wrote:There is nothing that gets the forum members excited (or to "get hype" as some put it)


The true hype is within yourself.
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Postby Nuclear Lunchbox » Tue Mar 31, 2015 2:21 am

Sounds about right, Dream. There's a reason why I haven't been displaying anywhere near my normal level of activity for nearly three months-- I just don't miss the conversations in this place anymore. Hell, I'm only here right now because Monk Ed told me that somebody created a thread here in feedback that kind of echoed my own sentiments about the forums and pointed me in the general direction. The place feels pretty toxic to me, which is a pretty big change from when I joined up over two years ago. There's definitely been a shift-- one that's pushing me in the other direction, away from the forums. The vast majority of my interaction with the place, if not all of it, is with a select few over Skype.

The short of it is that despite having sunk two years of my life into EGF, I just don't miss the place.

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Postby pwhodges » Tue Mar 31, 2015 6:56 am

As someone who has in the past deliberately set out to change the way a forum of this size functioned (and I guess largely succeeded), I can tell you that such changes (a) are not easy, and (b) may be traumatic to some, even many. Essentially, it is easier to change the membership of a forum than to change the established behaviour of existing members, and this quickly becomes a point of contention in its own right if people feel they are being driven away.

Choosing the balance of how to impose changes, through persuasion, rules, or bans (and impose it is, because people won't simply change because you ask them) is difficult; and so it may be hard for the staff to agree on it, the "what" of it as well as the "how" (when I did it elsewhere I had the advantage of being essentially alone), or to make themselves available for the time and effort that it undoubtedly requires.

Balancing the raison d'etre of the forum against the off-topic community aspect is also tricky. Too much friendship within a forum can even become a problem, as it leads people towards forming cliques which can affect their behaviour towards new people or those who want to discuss something different (like Eva!). A somewhat closed group of friends can be less than friendly in their dealings outside the group, or may simply josh each other in a way that is easily misunderstood by others. This is why I try to emphasise civility - behaving well towards others whether you know them or agree with them or not.
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Postby NemZ » Tue Mar 31, 2015 9:13 am

The staff are indeed discussing the matter but we haven't yet come to any agreement on what exactly we want to accomplish much less how to go about making it happen. Opinions are mixed.

So what is it exactly that you want EGF to be like in some hypothetical perfect world? No promises of course, but it certainly wouldn't hurt to have more info.
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Re: Forum demagoguery?

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Postby FreakyFilmFan4ever » Tue Mar 31, 2015 9:53 am

View Original PostDream wrote:I believe This harms both the thread in specific by killing or derailing the discussion due to either hotheads taking the thread down in a flamewar or people simply not wanting to deal with the toxicity anymore, as well as the forum in general by creating a culture where it's ok or even expected to reply to someone's opposing argument/point/etc with things like "You are a good captain, sir, as I can see that you’ve decided to sink with your ship. I salute you from my lifeboat.". This was certainly clever and funny, but frankly it came off as patronizing dismissal... which while probably intended, i'm not sure belongs in a thread attempting to be serious.

Heh. You know, that very comment popped in my head while reading the beginning of your post, and then you mentioned it. I guess that says something about my posting habits that I may not be proud of.

I will point out, though, that my previous post did have a link that relayed information more relavent to the discussion, but it was equally dismissed and never addressed specifically. I guess I should not have stooped to the same level of unuanced rhetoric while comedicly recognizing the other's unwillingness to see the nuances of a situation provided in that more helpful link.

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Postby Reichu » Tue Mar 31, 2015 10:31 am

View Original PostDream wrote:My problem with these examples

I'm pretty sure the first example in there is from a post of mine, and as we should all know by now, I am no "Gentleman". :p Perhaps more importantly, that comment is a good example of how toxicity feeds into itself. People in the Avatar thread (Rose, et al.) were, after all, saying very unkind things about somebody, though they didn't know whom. Being mean doesn't exactly inspire others to retaliate with kind words.

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Postby Mr. Tines » Tue Mar 31, 2015 10:35 am

View Original Postcyharding wrote:As this is an Eva forum, there really hasn't been much news dealing with the franchise.
I think this is at the root of the problem. If it hadn't been for the Rebuilds, I would have expected the day to come when we declared things done (setting aside the effectively moribund commentary project and the painfully slow progress of the manga) five years ago. As it is, we can't even write a line under the whole enterprise because the new movies haven't finished yet, so somehow things have to keep ticking over while running on empty.

Feelings of frustration are inevitable in these circumstances, and will start to leak out; couple that with the lack of the unifying interest (as much as the highly divisive Rebuilds can be labelled such), and it's not surprising a level of bickering breaks out.
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Postby Tankred » Tue Mar 31, 2015 11:33 am

View Original PostDream wrote:Well, hope that isn't too rambling and carries the point i tried to make somewhat clearly. Thoughts?


You do have a point, I think that example you gave from the whitewashing thread probably the only real example of any snark, that talk over James Bond was probably one of the most stable I've had in a while. Indeed, I could have let myself be pulled in and thrown out more snark at FFF4E but I try and remind myself not to get too riled up in things, and seeing as that thread needed no moderation I'd argue that was rather successful.

I think people on EGF can be quite harsh to their fellow members. I think it's more to do with peoples discipline when replying to others than anything else, people really should try and control their temper more, it's certainly more to do with self control, preventing a situation from being created instead of having the mods have to clear up after us is preferable. We don't frequent this forum to make enemies out of one another, more so to engage in discussion, and I think we often get caught up in the heat of our discussions and arguments.

I'm not saying it should be a huge non conflicting hugbox for people either, that would be make this place terribly boring, what I think needs to be found is that right balance without teetering too hard on either side.

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Postby Shamsiel-kun » Tue Mar 31, 2015 1:43 pm

View Original PostReichu wrote:I'm pretty sure the first example in there is from a post of mine, and as we should all know by now, I am no "Gentleman". :p Perhaps more importantly, that comment is a good example of how toxicity feeds into itself. People in the Avatar thread (Rose, et al.) were, after all, saying very unkind things about somebody, though they didn't know whom. Being mean doesn't exactly inspire others to retaliate with kind words.


Having read the whole set of posts in the Avatar thread, I actually have to agree with Rose up to a certain degree, and disagree with Monk Ed's post here a little bit. First taking it to the person who has the 'offending' avatar would have been more polite, especially if worded in a non-offensive way. Besides, it's not hard to extract a non-moving avatar out of an animated GIF...

At work I also encounter people who always complain to others (e.g. my boss) about things, yet never take it to the person concerned (me), so the information is always filtered by the intermediary's perception and I never manage to figure out what exactly the problem is after all, because the complainers deny ever making the complaint, don't bother to react, or can't actually explain things* whenever I ask them directly. Basically some people seem to kick shit just for the sake of kicking shit, instead of actually trying to communicate.

* Example of actual exchange:
Them: "You know, like this, it does not do that...maybe...what, I don't really know, it doesn't do what I think it should do."
Me: "So what should it do?"
Them: "Oh I don't know, things. Something. Just, it should work better. This, maybe."
Me: "Could you please explain that better? What do you mean by 'this' and 'that'?"
Them: "Oh don't be so complicated, it is just not good enough."
Me: :headdesk:

It sometimes makes me want to take a baseball bat to their heads to try to hammer in some common sense and out the sociopathy...


As for the problems of this forum, what I notice is that some people have a fairly extreme form of hubris and seem to think they are experts on everything, with only THEIR opinion being the most (or only) valid one. Usually these people are white, male and fairly young, although I also know some real world examples that are closer to 50-60...(and I once also witnessed one of them use the term "hubris" positively in an unironic way :facepalm: )

As how to resolve that, that can be very hard, because the poster in question should be able to recognise that, perhaps, they were wrong, or wrote something that others may have read differently than what they meant. One trick is to clearly indicate that something is your opinion on something by using words such as "I think..." or "In my opinion" instead of "X is fact, deal with it" when it's not. Also, consider the source of information. Referring to a Blog with personal opinions does not consist "providing facts (TM)". A respected newspaper, scientific source, or official opinion poll, however, can be. Also, don't fling off the handle by taking an opinion you don't like personally and start accusing the other person of being the bringer of the apocalyps, the Antichrist, or Hitler reincarnated. Often not reacting or reacting only after a cooldown period is better than attempting to take care of a mosquito bite with a nuclear holocaust.
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Postby Bagheera » Tue Mar 31, 2015 1:45 pm

View Original PostNemZ wrote:The staff are indeed discussing the matter but we haven't yet come to any agreement on what exactly we want to accomplish much less how to go about making it happen. Opinions are mixed.

So what is it exactly that you want EGF to be like in some hypothetical perfect world? No promises of course, but it certainly wouldn't hurt to have more info.


In a perfect world?

  • Few to no partisan political threads
  • No snark
  • No sniping
  • No shitposting
  • No attacks on other members, whether direct or otherwise
  • No group attacks on groups that might reasonably include members of the forum (so no broad attacks on religions, no saying someone's mentally ill because they belong to a particular group, No claiming a particular lifestyle is morallly wrong if it doesn't hurt anyone, etc).

Basically, the forums would be as welcoming as possible to the largest number of people possible. You wanna call it a hugbox? Fine, I don't care. I just want the forums to be a place people want to visit. I really don't see why that would be considered a bad thing.

This doesn't mean tolerating nonsense or stupidity, btw; if someone says something stupid it's fine to call them out on it. But we'd do it with tact instead of being assholes about it.
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Re: Forum demagoguery?

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Postby Reichu » Tue Mar 31, 2015 2:37 pm

View Original PostShamsiel-kun wrote:Having read the whole set of posts in the Avatar thread, I actually have to agree with Rose up to a certain degree (...) First taking it to the person who has the 'offending' avatar would have been more polite, especially if worded in a non-offensive way.

Rose was basically expecting people to be psychic, while taking no responsibility for the way she presents herself. I'd be hard-pressed to view her as friendly and approachable. Maybe other people are fine with her, but from there, we dive right into the problem of cliques and the magic of social reinforcement. If you see somebody as part of your group, you're going to be generally forgiving of their lapses and light on the criticism, whereas anyone who is "other" easily gets brushed off as some idiot with no gonads. Smooth.

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Postby robersora » Tue Mar 31, 2015 3:02 pm

^
Ok, lashing out to someone in a thread that tries to talk about the issue and how to prevent it might not be the best solution. Not that I have a better one at hand.

Ah, we already had this discussion. He quickly noticed that I'm no match for his analytic überbrain; I simply dislike some things, and he got bored. The next time I saw him he dropped a mega post about why my penis is wrong. Then he left. I miss this wicked motherfucker


This one is mine, and I don't see any hostility at all. All I tried was to illustrate our debate in a funny way. Next time I'll be sure to add in a smiley, so that misunderstanding won't happen again.
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Postby Tankred » Tue Mar 31, 2015 3:11 pm

View Original PostReichu wrote:Rose was basically expecting people to be psychic, while taking no responsibility for the way she presents herself. I'd be hard-pressed to view her as friendly and approachable.


At her age it's not all that surprising that she reacted in such a way, I am not vindicating her actions. She's in control of how she acts and she will reap the consequences. However that emotional outburst could have been avoided if the people who disagreed with her animated avatar privately messaged her instead of going through the staff. This also shows another hierarchy in responsibility: the staff themselves. As they can take action to remove offending avatars, in regards to animated avatars they have been quite strict in the past in what is deemed "acceptable". I feel this is just single slip up that has been blown out of proportions personally.

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Postby A.T. Fish » Tue Mar 31, 2015 3:13 pm

It's not the first time this issue has been brought up and just like before I remain puzzled as to what exactly is this behavioral shift people are seeing on EGF. At least for the time I've been here EGF hasn't changed much in this regard, snark and flame wars have always existed, and I don't think their occurrence has increased significantly. Maybe moderation has been a bit lax as of late, probably because mods haven't been as active, but even if the mod posts instructing people to chill or take it to PMs have been rare, the toxic posts that usually precede them remain just as common as they once were. That's the way I see it, if there's been any change it wasn't drastic enough for me to notice it.

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Postby NemZ » Tue Mar 31, 2015 3:38 pm

I don't think there's much to be gained by looking at specific cases here. Keep it general... we're talking about the whole 'forum environment' afterall.
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Postby TehDonutKing » Tue Mar 31, 2015 4:15 pm

View Original PostBagheera wrote:In a perfect world?

  • Few to no partisan political threads
  • No snark
  • No sniping
  • No shitposting
  • No attacks on other members, whether direct or otherwise
  • No group attacks on groups that might reasonable include members of the forum (so no broad attacks on religions, no saying someone's mentally ill because they belong to a particular group, No claiming a particular lifestyle is morallly wrong if it doesn't hurt anyone, etc).

Basically, the forums would be as welcoming as possible to the largest number of people possible. You wanna call it a hugbox? Fine, I don't care. I just want the forums to be a place people want to visit. I really don't see why that would be considered a bad thing.

Because for it to be enforced, it would require mass censorship of any dissenting views. I would rather visit a forum where hate and bile are allowed, but ignored, than one where anything potentially offensive is forbidden from mention.
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Postby Bagheera » Tue Mar 31, 2015 4:24 pm

View Original PostTehDonutKing wrote:Because for it to be enforced, it would require mass censorship of any dissenting views.


No, it wouldn't. What I posted concerns how people behave, not what they say. The two are by no means the same thing. If you can't post your point without being an asshole you have no legitimate point to make.
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I hate myself. But maybe I can learn to love myself. Maybe it's okay for me to be here! That's right! I'm me, nothing more, nothing less! I'm me. I want to be me! I want to be here! And it's okay for me to be here! -- Shinji Ikari, Neon Genesis Evangelion
Yes, I know. You thought it would be something about Asuka. You're such idiots.

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Postby Chuckman » Tue Mar 31, 2015 4:29 pm

I think this thread is proof that any toxicity in this environment, if there is such a thing, comes from a bunch of people really really really overthinking shit.
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