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    1. I see this a lot on the internet these days. The phrase "just because [some agreed-upon statement], it doesn't mean that [contested statement]." That's fine when used correctly, but I've seen a...

      I see this a lot on the internet these days. The phrase "just because [some agreed-upon statement], it doesn't mean that [contested statement]."

      That's fine when used correctly, but I've seen a lot of cases where it's used in a questionable way and people just jump on board with the phrase anyway.

      I saw it again today in a conversation about video games, and one game in particular that everybody loves to hate. Someone said "I enjoy this game though," and someone else said "Just because you enjoy a game doesn't mean it's good."

      Now, the impulse is to agree with the second statement because agreeing that there might be hidden subtlety in a matter is almost always safe, and nearly everyone involved in the conversation upvoted/reacted positively to that statement.

      But the statement was really used to say "your opinion is wrong because there might be hidden subtleties that make me right," which seems like a fallacious position to me, or at least a pretty meaningless one. And when you stop to think about what was said, you realize that in fact, enjoying a video game might indeed be the most important, if not the only, metric in assessing its quality.

      But the inclination to agree with anyone using the "just because, doesn't mean" format is definitely there I think. I'm not sure if that falls under the category of some other identifiable fallacy or not, but I thought I'd see what others thought.

      8 votes
    2. I've been meaning to make this post for a while, and it's actually going to wind up being a series of several posts. It's kind of a long meditation on what it means to socialize online and the...

      I've been meaning to make this post for a while, and it's actually going to wind up being a series of several posts. It's kind of a long meditation on what it means to socialize online and the ways in which the services we use to do that help or hinder us in doing so. Along the way I'm going to be going into some thoughts on how online discourse works, how it should work, and what can be done to drive a more communal, less toxic, and more inclusive of non-traditional (read: non-technical) voices. I'm going to be throwing out a lot of inchoate opinions here, so I'm hoping to pressure test my views and solicit other viewpoints and experiences from the community.

      I mentioned in an introduction thread that I'm a policy analyst and my work is focused on how to structure policies and procedures to build a constructive organizational culture. I've been a moderator in some large PHP forums and IRC channels in the old days, and I've developed some really strong and meaningful friendships through the web. So I've always had a soft spot for socializing on the interwebs.

      Okay, so that's the introduction out of the way. The main point I want to focus on is the title: Remember the Person. This was the something Ellen Pao, former CEO of Reddit, suggested in a farewell message as she stepped down from the role in the wake of a community outcry regarding her changes to Reddit's moderation practices. The gist of it was that online communication makes it too easy to see the people you're interacting with in abstract terms rather than as human beings with feelings. It's a bit of a clichéd thought if we're being honest, but I think we still tend not to pay enough attention to how true it is and how deeply it alters the way we interact and behave and how it privileges certain kinds of interaction over others. So let's dig in on how we chat today, how it's different from how we chatted before in discussion forums, and what we're actually looking for when we gather online.

      Since this is the first in a series, I want to focus on getting some clarity on terms and jargon that we'll be using going forward. I'd like to start by establishing some typologies for social media platforms. A lot of these will probably overlap with each other, and I'll probably be missing a few, but it's just to get a general sense of categories.

      To start with we have the "Content Aggregator" sites. Reddit is the most notable, HackerNews is big but niche, and Tildes is one too. This would also include other sites like old Digg, Fark.com, and possibly even include things like IMGUR or 9Gag. The common thread among all of these is user submitted content, curation and editorial decisions made largely by popular vote, and continued engagement being driven by comment threads associated with the submitted content (e.g. links, images, videos, posts). In any case, the key thing you interact with on these sites is atomized pieces of "content."

      Next up are the "Running Feed" services. Twitter and Mastodon are the classic examples as is Facebook's newsfeed. Instagram is an example with a different spin on it. These services are functionally just glorified status updates. Indeed, Twitter was originally pitched as "What if we had a site that was ONLY the status updates from AOL Instant Messager/GChat?" The key thing with how you interact with these services is the "social graph." You need to friend, follow, or subscribe to accounts to actually get anything. And in order to contribute anything, you need people following or subscribing to you. Otherwise you're just talking to yourself (although if we're being honest, that's what most people are doing anyway they just don't know it). This means the key thing you interact with on these sites is an account. You follow accounts get to put content on your feed. Follower counts, consequently, become a sort of "currency" on the site.

      Then you've got the "Blogs" of old and their descendants. This one is a bit tricky since it's largely just websites so they can be really heterogenous. As far as platforms go, though, Tumblr is one of the few left and I think LiveJournal is still kicking. Lots of online newspapers and magazines also kind of count. And in the past there were a lot more services, like Xanga and MySpace. The key thing you interact with here is the site. The page itself is the content and they develop a distinct editorial voice. Follower counts are still kind of a thing, but the content itself has more persistence so immediacy is less of an issue than in feed based paradigms where anything older than a day might as well not exist. This one gets even trickier because the blogs tend to have comment sections and those comment sections can have a bunch little social media paradigms of their own. It's like a matroishka doll of social platforms.

      The penultimate category is the "Bulletin Board" forum. PHP BB was usually the platform of choice. There are still a few of these kicking around, but once upon a time these were the predominant forms of online discourse. Ars Technica and Something Awful still have somewhat active ones, but I'm not sure where else. These also have user posted content, but there is no content curation or editorial action. As a result, these sites tend to need more empowered and active moderators to thrive. And the critical thing you're interacting with in these platforms is the thread. Threads are discussion topics, but it's a different vibe from the way you interact on a content aggregator. On a site like Reddit or Tildes all discussion under a topic is 1 to 1. Posts come under content. On a bulletin board it works like an actual bulletin board. You're responding under a discussion about a topic rather than making individual statements about an individual post or comment. Another way to put it is on an aggregator site each participant is functionally writing individual notes to each other participant. On a bulletin board each participant is writing an open letter to add to the overall discussion as a whole.

      And finally, you've got the "Chat Clients." This is the oldest form besides email newsletters. This began with Usenet and then into IRC. The paradigm lives on today in the form of instant messaging/group texts, WhatsApp, Discord, Slack, etc. In this system you're primarily interacting with the room(s) as a whole. There isn't really an organizing framework for the conversation, it's really just a free-flowing conversation between the participants. You might be able to enforce on-topic restrictions, but that's about as structured as it gets.

      That about covers the typologies I can think of. Next up I want to delve into the ways in which the UI and design patterns with each of these platforms affects the way users engage with them, what sorts of social dynamics they encourage, and what sorts of interactions they discourage. In the mean time, I'm eager to hear what people think about the way I've divided these up, whether you think I've missed anything, or have any additional thoughts on the ones I put up.

      30 votes
    3. Firstly, I'd like to dismiss any claims of pandering or fishing here. I need to say this and I need to write it out. I was a reddit user for 8 years. I thought it was 5 but another commenter...

      Firstly, I'd like to dismiss any claims of pandering or fishing here. I need to say this and I need to write it out.

      I was a reddit user for 8 years. I thought it was 5 but another commenter reminded me what it was. It put me into a bit of a reflective mood. I thought about some of the more meaningful insightful interactions I've had, and some of the more bitterly memorable ones where I was at best annoyed but more recently feeling attacked, shot down, rudely treated. It was profound as a sensitive human being to receive these things, to be made to feel through text, written for you by someone else. These weren't friends, people you held at arms length as you got to know them, they were complete strangers. And these people could be brutal. Make you feel so small. And yet I am a grown man, this environment I spent easily 30% of my waking time on for the best part of a decade was interacting with people and how much I enjoyed it. It was more than a website it was a place that I called home during bouts of depression, social drought and personal hardships. I found myself seeking help and for the most part finding it.

      I have learned something valuable that I want to share here and I had to learn it the hard way, through hypocrisy, through mistakes, through mis-spoken words and harsh tongue thrashings both ways. I have realised for the first time that the people reading these things, the people writing them, the sentiments involved and the content/context is important. They are real, they are human, they feel, they are like me.

      We are seeking some assembly, some community, some lectern from which to state our case. My whole life I looked for togetherness online and thought I found it in the early days of reddit. That is gone now. Even intelligent well thought out research style posts cannot culminate properly, they do not ascend, the public discourse is dead. I see now first hand the destruction of community the facebook exec spoke about. Our actual confident, open, readily invited opinionated perspectives are being replaced by circle jerks and shallow agree/disagree type statements. Upvotes have become likes. Now I see how it is broken.

      Someone saw me having a meltdown and invited me here. I was told it was invite only, and that it was made by someone who had the same feelings as me. I don't want to be surrounded by likeminded people, thats not what I joined reddit for. I joined because open and honest perspectives based on experience were readily available; academics, workers, parents, billionaires, could just shoot-the-shit they didn't need to cite sources or write something popular. But upvotes were reserved for contributors, not jesters or people ridiculing/attacking/berating others. The reddit bandwagon has become savagely toxic in many respects. It is (sorry was) frustrating.

      So here I am. Fresh off the boats as a reddit refugee. I hope than I can find my place here and contribute to the discussions, help build the site, build something that hopefully cannot be corrupted by growth, investors and advertisers.

      We discussed in the hundred or comments attached to my meltdown that the lowering average age of the site population and possible the general dumbing down of internet users happening the past 10 years was largely responsible. I can imagine previously mentioned factors also drove it over the cliff. What is the current hope for Tildes future? I read the announcement post and it mentioned that a baseline level of activity will ensure that topics cycle regularly and user engagement is high enough to stimulate people coming back. Or that is at least what I think the baseline is for.

      I hope this topic starts a discussion and doesn't get moderated away. But the lack of real debate, insight, coupled with a responsive and welcoming attitude is something the whole internet is missing right now, this is where we could make a positive change to the current online environment.

      41 votes
    4. I recall recently seeing an article posted that was related to euthanasia, and I started thinking about the subject. I see both potential pros and potential cons associated with it. For example,...

      I recall recently seeing an article posted that was related to euthanasia, and I started thinking about the subject. I see both potential pros and potential cons associated with it. For example, there's the concern about family members or authority pressuring an ill person to opt for doctor-assisted suicide to ease financial burdens, for instance. There's also the benefit, on the other hand, of allowing someone who is terminally ill or guaranteed to live the rest of their life in excruciating pain the option to go out on their own terms. With proper oversight and ethical considerations, it generally seems to be an all-around ideal to provide an "opt-out" for those who would only continue to suffer and would rather not prolong it, as a merciful alternative to forcing them to live it out.

      But then there are some trickier questions.

      As a disclaimer, I spent nearly a couple of decades struggling through depression and have been surrounded (and still am surrounded) by people who struggle with their own mental illnesses. Because of this, I'm perfectly aware of the stigma and subpar treatment of mental illness in general. With that in mind, I completely recognize that there are certain conditions which are, at this time, completely untreatable and result in peoples' quality of life deteriorating to the point that they become perpetually miserable, particularly with certain neurodegenerative diseases.

      Thus, the question occurred to me: wouldn't such a condition be the mental health equivalent of a terminal illness? Would it not be unethical to force someone to continue living under conditions in which their quality of life will only diminish? Shouldn't someone who has such a condition, and is either of sound enough mind or with a written statement of their wishes from a time when they were of sound enough mind, be able to make the same decision about whether or not to opt to go out on their own terms?

      And yet, as reasonable as it sounds, for some reason the thought of it feels wrong.

      Is there something fundamentally more wrong about euthanasia for mental health vs. euthanasia for physical health? Is it just a culturally-learned ideal?

      More importantly, what makes euthanasia acceptable in some cases and not others? Which cases do you think exemplify the divide? Is there something more fundamental that we can latch onto? Is there a clear line we can draw? Is psychology itself just too young a field for us to be drawing that ethical line?

      I'm genuinely not sure how to feel about this subject. I would be interested in hearing some other thoughts on the subject. The questions above don't necessarily have to be answered, but I thought they could be good priming points.

      25 votes
    5. Trying out an experiment in Oxford-style debating on Tildes. General rules: Top-level comments should explicitly state pro or con. Take a position and defend it. If you want to "on the one...

      Trying out an experiment in Oxford-style debating on Tildes.

      General rules:

      • Top-level comments should explicitly state pro or con. Take a position and defend it. If you want to "on the one hand...on the other hand..." do it in replies to the top-level comments.
      • Link to sources. This is where we can actually do better than an in-person Oxford debate.
      • Keep it civil. Seriously. I've picked a bit of a softball topic for this first round, so it shouldn't be too hard, but if this works well we should be able to expand it to more controversial topics.
      • Don't feel obligated to argue the position you personally believe in. Making a strong argument for a position you don't necessarily believe strongly is excellent practice in critical thinking. If you're undecided, flip a coin, and argue the Pro side for heads and the Con side for tails.

      For the initial topic I wanted to find something just polarizing enough to make a good debate, but also a bit off-the-beaten path from most internet arguments:

      Resolved: hosting the Olympic Games or World Cup is a net benefit for the host country

      15 votes
    6. On my way to work this morning, I saw a bumper sticker on a truck in front of me. It said "Ecology is not a religion", my first thought was this guy is an idiot, etc. etc. Then I began dismantling...

      On my way to work this morning, I saw a bumper sticker on a truck in front of me. It said "Ecology is not a religion", my first thought was this guy is an idiot, etc. etc. Then I began dismantling the entire bumper sticker in my head while I drove. "Of course ecology isn't a religion, it is a science! -ology denotes a field of study!" I don't know why, I guess to reassure myself the world wasn't falling to pieces. This brought up a question that often crosses my mind but I've never had an answer for: How do you discuss open minded topics with close minded people?

      This doesn't necessarily have to focus on ecology and environmental issues, any "controversial" issue that one side might become completely close minded to could qualify. Homosexuality, gender identity, gun rights, and privacy all come to mind. If you spend any amount of time on Internet forums and boards, you've come across someone like this. No matter how much scientific fact, evidence and truth you show them, they simply deny it. They cherry pick what you presented to make their point, they pull the fake news card, etc. How does one deal with this?

      In my mind, I don't think there is any way one can deal with it. How do you reason with someone who is explicitly rejecting reason? I'm not asking "how do you change their mind?", doing such a thing is quite difficult and shouldn't be the primary goal of a debate (though it could be a byproduct of a healthy debate). I don't like to attribute one's opinions on some topic to their entire personality. Just because I disagree with them doesn't make them bad, nor I to them. Sometimes, this is a hard pill to swallow. How do you a) converse or debate with these people with an end product being improved mindsets on both sides, and b) swallow the proverbial pill?

      In the end, we all need to talk to each other, or else we end up in 2018 where the sitting president rejects scientific fact, politicians are being elected on planks of homophobia, racism, and denial of science, and intolerance is the new norm it seems.

      36 votes
    7. I'll level with you right now: I hate both of these terms. "Political Correctness" is a term that gets used by a lot of people to talk about what I would consider to be basic politeness ("don't...

      I'll level with you right now: I hate both of these terms.

      "Political Correctness" is a term that gets used by a lot of people to talk about what I would consider to be basic politeness ("don't intentionally offend someone if they've made it clear they don't like a word, or would prefer to be referred in a certain way; just try"). I have suspected for a while that what these people typically really mean when they talk about political correctness is a fatigue with feeling like they're being forced to meet standards of politeness that are decided by others, and which they do not share.

      "Civility" is a term that gets used just about every way you can imagine. It can mean politeness, it can mean "nonviolent protest," it can mean voting, it can mean only certain kinds of protest, and it can mean meeting decorum (which is a more formal way of saying politeness, but it has its nuanced differences, so I suppose I'll list it, goddamn, twist my arm why don't you). The range of possible meanings makes it pretty annoying, and borderline useless to talk about directly.

      The title of this thread is an intentional play on one of my frustrations with a munk debate which was shared about a month ago. I believed the terms were too dependent on who "you" are in the statement. So rather than have them redo the munk debate, I thought we could have one of our own.

      I definitely have my own views on this claim (that I'll be sharing below), but this has been such an awkward issue on this site that I think it's worth exploring directly. So explore with me:

      1. Is there a difference between "political correctness" and "civility"?
      2. Is either term valuable to society?
      3. Why the hell are so many people so hot and bothered about these two terms, and also seemingly unable to interact meaningfully with anyone else?
      21 votes
    8. So, where do you draw the limits on what constitutes as a sandwich? I am kind of fond of this alignment chart as a starting point. I think I fall somewhere around True Neutral-ish. While I think...

      So, where do you draw the limits on what constitutes as a sandwich?

      I am kind of fond of this alignment chart as a starting point.

      I think I fall somewhere around True Neutral-ish. While I think everything in the structural purist row constitutes as a sandwich, I do not consider Choctacos, burritos or poptarts sandwiches.

      Speaking of poptarts, potential spin-off debate: Is a poptart a ravioli?

      13 votes
    9. Tildes effect

      For the past few months I felt less and less inclined to engage in conversation on Reddit and other discussions platforms. The risk of any expression being met with a (severely) negative response...

      For the past few months I felt less and less inclined to engage in conversation on Reddit and other discussions platforms. The risk of any expression being met with a (severely) negative response is just too great. I don't know if it was always like this and that I just don't find it worth it any more or if there is an actual trend of people being more of an asshole more of the time to each other online.

      I've only joined Tildes a couple of days ago, and enjoy most of my time here. I've also noticed that I'm now more active again on other platforms. It's made me want to express myself again. I put more effort in my contributions. I'm not necessarily getting more pleasant responses, but there are fewer negative ones, I think.

      Does this sound familiar to any of you?

      51 votes
    10. I've been enjoying reading peoples conversations on Tildes. There's been in-depth discussions and debates and open dialogue with a genuine attempt at understanding the other side's opinions. I...

      I've been enjoying reading peoples conversations on Tildes. There's been in-depth discussions and debates and open dialogue with a genuine attempt at understanding the other side's opinions. I really enjoy discussing spirituality with all angles of beliefs, so I thought it could be fun to try that here :)

      I think it will be important to understand while discussing this that we all have different understandings and definitions of loaded words when referring to things that, by definition, are indefinable. I think it'll help to keep that in mind. One person may use the word "God" and have a picture in their head of a literal being in the clouds with a robe and beard. Another may use the word "God" and it means something else entirely. Like the creative power behind the ongoing evolution of the universe.

      Two very different things.

      I'll start with a little bit about my own beliefs, and where I'm coming from.

      I was raised conservative christian, being taught to believe in a literal 6-day creation, with God resting on the 7th. And we took the commandment to also rest on the 7th day very seriously. Seventh-Day Adventist. We were right in our interpretation of the bible, and everyone else was wrong and in danger of going to hell, including all other religions.

      I had an experience about 7 or 8 years ago that shifted my perspective completely. Essentially, I fell into a state of samadhi, had a kundalini awakening, became one with god. Whatever the words used to describe it, or the belief structures that have been built around it, I was there. My body and mind fell away into stillness, and it was just conscious awareness of Peace and Love. No thoughts about it, or physical sensations in my body, just awareness of.

      Since then, I've been opened up to an understanding about the universe that's bigger than beliefs. I see my experience and the "Truth" reflected in all sorts of religious texts and beliefs, as well as in non-religious things. I've said to many people while talking about these topics that I believe there are atheists who have a closer "relationship" with god. Looking into the makeup of the universe with curiosity. It's great. I don't believe anyone needs a belief in god or religious theology to be headed in the "right" direction. And at the end of the day I think that's where we're all at. Headed on a path. We've all got our own personal journey and having compassion and love for others where they are at is what Jesus was talking about and trying to teach to people who had no understanding of that level of understanding.

      My wife and I are reading a book right now called Unbelievable: Why Neither Ancient Creeds Nor the Reformation Can Produce a Living Faith Today - by John Spong

      My wife was raised conservative christian and is just starting the exciting journey of questioning all of it. We're reading it together. So far the author's understanding of spirituality, god, etc. seem to line up closely with mine.

      In the book he speaks about the inability to use limited human language to discuss this sort of thing, and why christianity has gotten it so confused over the years, as it's hard to put into words, and then have others read it and understand it. Experience vs Belief. Very different things.

      Anyhow, I think I've rambled enough. I'd love to see the kind of discussion we can get going about such a typically decisive topic :)

      Tell me what you know...

      30 votes