IMO one of the major issues with online debates, arguments and heated discussions is that they often tend to escalate rather steadily over time, and as each side gets more frustrated with the other they also tend to slowly get more personal as well. I am admittedly guilty of falling into this trap occasionally myself too, which has got me thinking about ways that Tildes (the site and the users here) can potentially help deescalate unproductive arguments and allow people to disengage more effectively from them. To this end I thought it might be a good idea to have a brainstorming session regarding that.
To start things off, here are most of the ideas I could find related to this issue that have previously been proposed and are already on Tildes Gitlab (click ▶ to read the full details):
Add ability to hide topics (and view/unhide ones users have previously hidden)
Add community based thread locking
We have labels now, which help moderation and can help hide comments that hurt the discussion. But maybe we need some sort of similar function for locking or temp-locking threads when they get out of hand due to drama or something. As long as we only really have Deimos doing the moderating, that can help avoid things blowing up when he is unavailable.
Add "block user" feature
This would more effectively allow people to avoid arguments but has some potential downsides worth considering as well, e.g. users getting trapped in a filter bubble. However, other than for moderators, that is probably not a major drawback compared to the benefits, IMO.
How deep the block goes is also something that probably needs to be investigated and discussed. E.g. Does blocking a user just prevent PMs? Does it prevent their replies from notifying the user? Does it hide their comments/topics, and if so does it hide all the replies to those hidden comments as well? Etc.
Add "unfollow" feature, allowing users to turn off notifications for replies to their comments/topics
This would allow users to more effectively disengage from arguments. It should probably be something disabled by default and only enabled on a case-by-case basis, not a global user setting though, IMO.
edit: Feature also requested again, but for a slightly different reason (avoiding getting spammed on busy topics)
Add placebo comment labels
Related to the other "disengage" feature suggestions, I think a "placebo" comment label could also potentially help the culture of the site. What I mean by that is perhaps adding some comment labels that have no effect, or only an effect for the person that applied it. e.g. A "Disagree" comment label, that has no effect whatsoever, or perhaps makes the comment collapse (like a "noise" labeled comments), but only to the user that applied the "disagree".
Comments related to this.
Add "argument/bickering" label for users to apply on unproductive arguments
This label, once it reaches a certain threshold could even have effects applied to it, E.g. imposing a forced time delay on replies between all involved parties, adding a delay before the replies even show up (to give time for people to cool off), or even simply locking that particular thread entirely if enough labels are applied.
Show whether a comment has already been replied to in users' /notifications/unread page
I suspect that people often reply directly from their /notifications/unread page, which can lead to needless repetition in the comments. It also potentially further escalates arguments as well, since a user may feel obligated to reply since they do not realize that someone has already addressed the comment effectively.
Embedding the other replies somehow, perhaps by using a `details` like expando, might be nice as well.
Feel free to voice your support or criticism regarding the above suggestions, offer up ideas to potentially improve them, or even propose your own brand new ideas related to this issue in the comments here as well.
p.s. Once again, the point here is to open up the conversation and get ideas flowing freely, so let's please try to keep things positive, and keep any criticism purely constructive and friendly so as not to discourage people from participating.
Previous Unofficial Weekly Discussions:
Week #1, #2
Other relevant links:
Donate to Tildes - Tildes Gitlab : Issues Board - Tildes Official Docs