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Can we talk about talking about politics?

Discussion in 'Anything goes' started by Versatile, Aug 16, 2012.

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  1. Versatile

    Versatile Active Member

    Let me preface this post by saying that I know there's at least a 20 percent chance it won't exist when I wake up tomorrow. With that out of the way ...

    I don't talk about politics here. For one, I don't care that much. I read the news, but I have a hard time emotionally investing myself in most political debates. But it's also that I don't really enjoy some of the pissing matches that those threads often devolve into here. I get why the moderators close those threads. Some people can't talk passionately without talking angrily.

    But many of us love those threads. They're consistently among the most popular on the board. I think many people try to avoid political discourse among colleagues and friends because there's no ignore button in real life, and those relationships are too important to dissolve with every disagreement. A message board such as this one offers us a place to open up, expose ourselves and our views on the world in ways that we might not feel comfortable with at work or among all but the closest friends. I know I don't go around making speeches about pornography reform at work.

    So I think political threads are important. This board seems more active and more fun when all topics are on the table. And even when someone ruins one thread, another comes along. We're adults, which is to say we're prone to making mistakes and blowing our tops but also capable of putting the past behind us and rectifying mistakes. Most of us, at least.

    There has to be a way to reopen political debate on SportsJournalists.com. But I don't think it can be accomplished through moderator personal messages or angrily starting threads without permission from those who work hard to keep this place under control. The moderators don't have an easy task, and there are a lot of gray lines and a lot of difficult rulings to make. We've all disagreed with them in the past, and I'm sure they've disagreed with one another, too.

    But maybe we can figure out a way to make it work. Maybe there can be a singular thread that politics are limited to. Maybe we can create a subforum for political debate, perhaps with a three-strikes policy that would keep abusive members from posting in that subforum without being banned from the board entirely. Maybe we can segregate liberal and political posters, though that would seem to limit discourse.

    There are other ideas, I'm sure. And I'm hoping maybe we can talk about them openly, maybe we can come up with a solution that fits everyone. Or maybe this thread will devolve into a blur of personal attacks and be gone when I wake up.

    So, anyone have any thoughts?
  2. Tarheel316

    Tarheel316 Well-Known Member

    I like your enthusiasm but I don't think it can be done. Too many trolls on this board.
  3. Tom Petty

    Tom Petty New Member

  4. Bubbler

    Bubbler Active Member

    I will preface my comments by saying I'm not a mod. I've never been a mod. I've never walked a mile in their shoes. I have nothing against any of the mods. I've always been treated well here.

    But I think the ban on politics is too much. I don't think there's ever been a time in my (good Lord) eight years here where acrimony and arguing wasn't part of the SJ scene. There are some here who like to act like it hasn't been, but it always has. I know I don't have to police it, but it's always been here.

    Arguing on SJ has never bothered me. Much of it is entertaining, some of it can be enlightening. I get that it can devolve into personal attacks, etc. That's wrong, and I've been on the receiving end of some of them (as well delivering a few too).

    Unless it truly gets personal, I shrug it off. My impression is that the mods have to deal with people who aren't quite as thick-skinned and they understandably get tired of the high maintenance.

    But it's more than that. Sometimes there's a well-intended, but I think, overly-idealistic notion that we're supposed to be some high-minded place that's above sniping. That we're supposed to be "better" than that.

    That pre-supposes, though, that arguing can't be high-minded. That a good argument can't make this place better. That even a good partisan argument can't enlighten.

    Do all of the arguments on here reach the level of making this place better? Hell no. But some do. And some of the political ones do too.

    Perhaps the compromise solution -- and I don't advocate it, I'm just suggesting it -- is that the partisanship in political threads is controlled, but not the dissemination of political news. After all, it's the partisanship that kicks things off.

    Maybe this site treats partisanship in the same way a newsroom would. In other words, it's strictly controlled. So we can talk about Paul Ryan being named VP, but talk about it in a just-the-facts-ma'am context. No quick strikes from the uber-conservatives or uber-liberals on the site.

    Maybe that's a pipe dream. I don't know.

    I will say this, and I say it at risk of pissing the mods off, but since threads on these topics are always locked without comment, I'm going to say it anyway ... the comments made by mods when politics are locked/banned/limited, whatever, can be irksome.

    When I read the threads that are banned, etc., and see the editorial comments made by mods when they're locked, it hits me wrong.

    We're told, as a group, to take those kinds of comments to PM's when we're locked in a feud. I'm not sure why those mod comments can't be saved for the guilty parties in a PM rather than painting us all with a broad brush. Just lock the thread and be done with it.

    To wit, if I'm catching up with a thread, or reading a locked one, and I see something like this from a mod ...

    ... I just roll my eyes. I don't care for the sensibility that's in the subtext of that comment. It screams, "you're children, we're adults." Some members may be, many others are not.

    I'm not a child. I don't need to be talked to like I'm one. I may not like a decision made by the mods, but I'll live with it. I just don't need to be talked down to in the process, especially if I'm not a guilty party.

    Soap box rant over.
  5. The Big Ragu

    The Big Ragu Moderator Staff Member

    Honestly, no, we can't talk about politics. We opened up the thread with the VP pick. Moddy posted something straightforward asking people to behave a certain way. The thread fell apart anyway.

    It wasn't one or two people. It was several. They blatantly ignored what Moddy asked for, and they couldn't control themselves.

    So politics is off limits again. It is impossible to moderate, because of a handful of jackasses, and it turns the board into a joke.

    That said, none of us wanted to close it off. None of us want to close off any topic. We are discussing right now how to deal with it. There is a chance we may reintroduce politics, except this time with very clear guidelines. ... but also more teeth behind how we will handle anyone who violates the guidelines. Because as I believe a bunch of you are trying to point out, a bunch of people shouldn't ruin it for the 90 percent of people who are not idiots.

    If we do that, though (and not saying it is going to happen, because frankly, half the moderators on here are worn out from those threads), we are just going to remove people from the board who ignore the guidelines and post inflammatory things or turn threads into a debate on the moderating (and post over and over again about who deserves to be banned from the site in their opinion) because they are in a third grade "my guy / no, my guy" fight with someone and can't communicate like an adult. There will be quick triggers and it will end up removing a bunch of people from this board (many long-time posters) who I think are so oblivious that they don't realize they are part of the problem.

    So if that happens, and we do reintroduce politics sometime before the election, I am giving first warning. We will give guidelines. We will warn that we are going to have a quick trigger, be pretty rigid about it, and just remove people's participation from the board the FIRST time they ignore those guidelines and do anything that screws up one of those threads.

    If we reopen politics by chance, and you are not 100 percent sure you can control your emotions, or live with the rules we lay out, or post like an adult, my suggestion would be to stay entirely away from those threads.
  6. Tom Petty

    Tom Petty New Member

    not that you were asking for opinions from people who actually, ya know, use the board, but i think you completely either ignored what bubbler wrote or didn't read it. i think i've responded to maybe 10 of bubbler's posts since i've been on this site, but the cat made a decent point that should at least be digested.
  7. Azrael

    Azrael Active Member

    I guess I'm not sure how this becomes so complicated. It's the same half dozen provocateurs and flamethrowers it's always been.

    Rather than tell hundreds of others to 'use the button,' or ban politics entirely, why not just discipline the handful of repeat offenders?
  8. Tarheel316

    Tarheel316 Well-Known Member

    Azrael, that sounds good on the surface but I still think there are too many trolls on the board for it to work.
  9. The Big Ragu

    The Big Ragu Moderator Staff Member

    I've read every post on this thread. And I personally find Bubbler to be one of the more reasonable people on here. I'll listen to anything Bubbler suggests any time.

    Bubbler is right on, but we have aleady tried the approach he suggests. First, it's not a problem with debate or a level of argument that we have. It's a problem of personal attacks, third grade responses to people, the same jackasses who suddenly step in every time and pour fuel all over the thread and start making "suggestions" about who the moderators need to ban.

    We also can't just make it about the news, because we still have the same jackasses who will come on and take it to a personal place. Once that happens, it usually degrades pretty quickly and the thread can't be salvaged. We tried that approach already. It didn't work. Which leaves us in the same position.

    As for the comments when a thread gets locked, you are usually reading the result of a lot of frustration. By the time you see that lock, you don't know how many whining people we have heard from, with "he said / she said" complaints, the abusive PMs we have gotten for not doing what poster X things needs to be done, stuff blaming us for this, that and the other thing, and all the posts we had to remove because they crossed some serious lines (and all of that takes time to sort out and then clean up_. I'm sorry if I have ever posted anything preachy after a good 15 to 20 minutes of my life cleaning up a mess after waking up to find a bunch of idiots acting like monkeys at the zoo, but I am sure you'll forgive me some frustration. I usually just remove stuff and don't give a sermon nowadays. It's not worth my time.

    What I posted still holds true. We have made at least a dozen passes at opening up politics threads on here. It is actually more than a half dozen people, Azrael, but you are about right. This time around, we each sort of had our own mental list of who was going to step in and destroy the thread. I don't think any of us were all that surprised.

    That is why I said. ... we do want a free flowing board. If we do open up the topic again sometime before the election, it will probably be the last attempt we make. And the only way we might go about it is to have a zero tolerance policy, which sucks, because it now puts us into the role of "bad guys." We're actually better off just cutting it off completely, and making it so we don't have to deal with it all. Because the only way we can think of right now to reopen those threads is to have a quick trigger finger and start removing participation for certain people. And that is going to make the same bitter people go crazy about how awful the moderators on here are. The sad thing is, from the complaints we get from certain posters, I am certain they don't understand that THEY are among the ones who are likely to go, if that happens. They just don't get it that while someone else may be a problem, they are the ying to that person's yang, and they are the other half of the problem.
  10. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Well-Known Member

    When can we talk about Josh Hamilton again?
  11. Tom Petty

    Tom Petty New Member

    thanks for the honest reply, ragu ... seriously.

    and an honest reply from me: it seems as though the board mods are a little hyper sensitive to political threads. sports journalists by nature pretty much are assholes when it comes to arguing, and that pretty much shows through on every other thread on this board. yet if somebody gets a little sideways on a political thread, well, then, it seems as though you guys tend to go a little over the top, hence the decree leading into the discussion on the VP thread.

    i've pretty much been told to go have sex with farm animals on "does player X belong in the HOF?" threads in the past, and those posts weren't deleted. i have no idea why there is such a heightened sensitivity when it comes to talking politics on this board.

    and, while we're here: is outing a banning offense for every person on this board or just some of us?

    that's all i have on the subject. peace out.
  12. TigerVols

    TigerVols Well-Known Member

    Hit me up with a PM and I'll give you the link to a like-minded place where politics talk is strongly encouraged.
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