43 votes

Political discussion here seems to be really bad. Is it even possible for it to be good?

I think it's clear that all tildes political discussion leads to intractable arguments. Considering tildes was created to foster high quality discussion, I was wondering if it's even possible to have nuanced political discussions online. In person discussions work for me because I have base levels of respect for all the people I talk to, but that's quite difficult to get online. Are we doomed to snark and condescension filled megathreads, or is there a better way to structure the conversations? Are there additional political ground rules that need to be set up?

110 comments

  1. kfwyre
    (edited )
    Link
    I'm currently reading Hate Inc. by Matt Taibbi, which is a pretty pessimistic takedown of modern political discourse and journalism from a career journalist. Early in the book he outlines what he...

    I'm currently reading Hate Inc. by Matt Taibbi, which is a pretty pessimistic takedown of modern political discourse and journalism from a career journalist. Early in the book he outlines what he calls the media's 10 Rules of Hate. Here's the preamble he gives them:

    The problem we (in the media) all have is the commercial structure of the business. To make money, we’ve had to train audiences to consume news in a certain way. We need you anxious, pre-pissed, addicted to conflict. Moreover we need you to bring a series of assumptions every time you open a paper or turn on your phone, TV, or car radio. Without them, most of what we produce will seem illogical and offensive.

    In Manufacturing Consent, Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky highlighted how the press “manufactured” public unity by making sure the population was only exposed to a narrow median strip of political ideas, stretching from Republican to Democrat (with the Democrat usually more like an Eisenhower Republican).

    The difference now: we encourage full-fledged division on that strip. We’ve discovered we can sell hate, and the more vituperative the rhetoric, the better. This also serves larger political purposes.

    So long as the public is busy hating each other and not aiming its ire at the more complex financial and political processes going on off-camera, there’s very little danger of anything like a popular uprising.

    That’s not why we do what we do. But it is why we’re allowed to operate this way. It boggles the mind that people think they’re practicing real political advocacy by watching any major corporate TV channel, be it Fox or MSNBC or CNN. Does anyone seriously believe that powerful people would allow truly dangerous ideas to be broadcast on TV? The news today is a reality show where you’re part of the cast: America vs. America, on every channel.

    The trick here is getting audiences to think they’re punching up, when they’re actually punching sideways, at other media consumers just like themselves, who happen to be in a different silo. Hate is a great blinding mechanism. Once you’ve been in the business long enough, you become immersed in its nuances. If you can get people to accept a sequence of simple, powerful ideas, they’re yours forever.

    It's interesting to see it laid out so clearly here, with an acknowledgement that there is definitive intent behind this. I don't want this to come across as a sort of "it's all the media's fault!" (which would actually just play into item #4 on his list: Everything Is Someone Else's Fault). Instead I'm using it to highlight something larger, which is that I think we are currently living in an environment in which conflict feels like political participation and, conversely, a lack of conflict feels like political capitulation.

    This does not mean that there aren't some things that are worth fighting for or fighting over -- only that fighting has become a dominant and even preferred method of interaction for many people out there. We are conditioned to believe that, if you see someone you disagree with, you must fight them for the good of society, and if you fail to do so, you are complicit in allowing the ongoing problems of society to persist.

    In another book, Antisocial by Andrew Marantz, the author talks extensively about how "high-arousal" posts generate action online, while "low-arousal" ones die on the vine. High-arousal posts are things that generate significant emotional impact in us, whether that's anger, sympathy, or disdain. If you want to see the effect right here on Tildes, take a look at a low-arousal thread. 77 comments, 19 different conversation threads, 22 votes on the overall post, and the maximum comment score is a 9. Did more than 9 people read that top comment? Almost certainly, but there isn't anything about the post that drives people to want to mash that vote button. There's nothing wrong with the comment itself; it's just a low-arousal comment.

    Here's a high-arousal thread. Less comments overall, less total threads, and less votes on the overall post, but the top comment has a score of 19. The first reply to it has a score of 23. High-arousal posts make us do things; low-arousal ones don't. On much of the internet, doing things yields visibility. The absence of doing anything, meanwhile, yields invisibility.

    When we tie together these ideas of high-arousal and conflict as political participation, we get a pretty ugly feedback loop. Conflict, which is naturally high-arousal, garners visibility, and this widespread visibility helps reinforce the expectation that proper participation is conflict. This allows us to engage in the online forever war and feel like we're doing something of substance, just as it allows us to look down on those who don't engage for enabling injustice.

    What I think we need to remember is that political discussion on the internet is a funhouse mirror representation of actual human interaction and political process. It isn't accurate and often isn't even productive to engage with. There are countless other ways you could spend your energy. If you're feeling the need to write something contentious, there are dozens of other ways you could approach the situation. We often fail to realize these, however, as we've been continually primed to believe that there is only one way forward, and it just so happens to be the way that makes a lot of money for social media platforms, news organizations, and websites.

    People often talk about how, in real life interactions, there are a lot of things that soften discourse when you're face to face with another human being. Even this is a distortion, because that makes it seem like we have to default to faceless monsters online. What I hardly ever see mentioned about online discourse is that it too has a huge softening factor: a lack of immediacy. When I post, I don't have to respond immediately (if at all!). I can type out everything I want to say in advance. I can edit it. I can sit on it for a while without posting while I cool off. I can start typing something out and then choose to delete it. I can redirect where I'm going with a post. Until I click "submit" I have complete authorial control (and even afterwards I can still edit what I've said, though that is more time sensitive). We have a far greater latitude for forethought in text than we do in speech.

    The paradigms of discourse on the internet want us to forget about this idea. The internet loves high-arousal content because it puts our basest natures in the driver's seat. It wants to make us purely reactive, which is a complete injustice to the type of discourse that the internet, more than any other medium, enables: thoughtful, considered comments and commentary. The lack of immediacy of internet conversation gives it a far greater potential for contemplation and reflection than face to face interactions. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people and platforms aimed at separating us from this truth.

    The truth of political discourse is that our words are ours alone. We are in control of every single keystroke we put forth for others. We can choose how we phrase things, how to find common ground, how to reach out, and, most importantly, when to step away. Conflict-first paradigms frame walking away as losing. They frame it as ceding ground to the enemy. This is not the truth. We all have the ability to conduct ourselves with dignity and we must understand the need for others to feel the same. In fact, it's only in seeing the parameters of someone else's agency that we can understand how our actions can affect them. Instead of breaching those boundaries to make conflict and, also, make conflict visible, we can choose to do so for any other number of reasons or results. Even when someone wants conflict with us, we have the choice to show them our humanity instead. People can't know how cruel they're being, whether intentional or not, until they see they see their cruelty as damaging, and they can't see the damage they're doing when they don't see their targets as human. Failing to engage in conflict, or choosing against conflict when presented with it is not capitulation. Do not limit the scope of your widespread and powerful agency to the narrow space of acting out in anger.

    This is not easy. I'm high up here on my soapbox saying all of this, and just recently I had to delete two posts I made here on Tildes because I wrote them from a place of anger and frustration. These comments were not contributions. They did not make the world a better place, nor the people who read them better people. We as a community were not better off for having them. I was adding to the noise, and, the hardest truth in this, is that I did so knowingly. It would be easy to say that these comments were the fault of the people I was speaking to or about, but that's not the truth. I chose to write them. I chose to hit the submit button. At any point in that process I could have chosen a different course of action, but I didn't. Anger was driving my bus, and I let it navigate for me. Believe me when I say that It is not easy to override this. I understand how difficult it is. In many ways, I'm afraid for how much more difficult it's going to be for everyone in the future.

    No matter what, however, we can't forget that we can choose to use our words in ways that build or that burn. Building is a lot more challenging, but it's also a lot more worthwhile. On an internet that wants to make nothing but conflict visible, we can choose instead to be visible in ways that are much more meaningful. We always have that choice. Always.

    32 votes
  2. [46]
    Deimos
    (edited )
    Link
    It's just not really possible to be good. This segment of Charles' Rules of Argument covers it well: It's not exclusive to politics, but that's definitely one of the places where it's most common...

    It's just not really possible to be good. This segment of Charles' Rules of Argument covers it well:

    Rule one is scarily simple. You will never change anyone's mind on a matter of opinion. Someone going into an argument believing one thing, and coming out the other side not believing it is a freak occurrence ranking somewhere alongside virgin birth and victorious English sporting teams. People change their minds gradually, and if anything a prolonged argument only serves to back someone into a corner, huddling closer to the security blanket of what they believe.

    It's not exclusive to politics, but that's definitely one of the places where it's most common to see it. You'll also never convince someone that enjoys programming in PHP that they actually hate it, someone that enjoys League of Legends that it's inferior to Dota 2, someone that hates rap music that it's actually good, or any number of other arguments that have been getting repeated perpetually for years.

    So when arguments like that happen and it's obvious someone's opinion isn't budging (because of course it won't), people start resorting to personal attacks or being condescending. They feel like they can't reason with the person, so they try to make them feel (or at least look) inferior for their opinion instead. Even if it still doesn't do anything (and it won't), it lets them feel like they're scoring points against the other side. It ends up not being so much a "discussion" any more, and more just people performing for the audience on the same side as them.

    Honestly, I think a lot about doing one of two things:

    1. Banning "overt politics" entirely (or at least the ability to comment on it). It's not really feasible to "ban politics" because it's an aspect of so many things, but there's a lot of stuff that's just politics (horse-race poll results, "Republicans do bad thing", etc.) that has practically zero chance of generating a reasonable discussion. It's either everyone on the same side basically circlejerking, or people on opposite sides going for each other's throats. There's very little in between.
    2. Banning the < 10 users that seem completely unable to resist getting into the exact same tedious arguments every time a topic comes up that's even tangentially related.

    I doubt I'll ever actually do anything that drastic, but the arguments are incredibly tiresome overall and I think about it often. It doesn't seem like there are many other options that aren't so heavy-handed. Things like shoving politics into a sub-group that isn't shown by default or rate-limiting how often users are allowed to post in political threads probably won't actually solve anything, just hide or slow it down a little.

    46 votes
    1. [22]
      Atvelonis
      Link Parent
      There are plenty of systemic ways to encourage thoughtful, academic discussions on the internet. I think that when you did that experiment where you removed the ability of users to see how many...

      There are plenty of systemic ways to encourage thoughtful, academic discussions on the internet. I think that when you did that experiment where you removed the ability of users to see how many votes their posts got, the overall atmosphere of the site improved a lot, just for a few days, and I felt a lot better about my own comments.

      One-line zingers and other generally aggravating comments are only marginally less common here than on Reddit, almost always because whoever's making them knows that they have support from the crowd. My impression from the vote-hiding experiment was really that people just liked feeling good about getting votes, which I understand. I'd personally like to see this feature come back, with the caveat that the votes should be unhidden to the poster after some great-but-not-too-great amount of time, at which point the discussion will have ceased and people won't be commenting for the sake of votes anyway.

      But we should also remember that what fundamentally allows Tildes to work is the demographic that the site attracts (and that which it repels). I think that structural/institutional changes are the solution, not individualized bans (which don't scale well), but your structural fix necessarily has to discourage certain people from commenting at all, or it will do literally nothing. Plenty of people on the internet really get their kicks out of arguing, even if they veil it as "passionate, in-depth discussion" (it's just a long-form argument). Like you said, it's not really possible for you to change their mindset. You simply need to not have those people on Tildes. Maybe their mindset will get changed over time, while they're off-site. Not really your job to teach them that. It's not something that they can realistically learn quickly enough on-site for it to work, so you just don't need to worry about it. Your system should be focused on who is commenting first; the how are they commenting is contingent on who they are to begin with.

      If you want to have non-terrible discussions about politics, you pretty much need to turn this place into a JSTOR forum. Scholars argue with each other all the time, but it's usually better-informed, and not that personal. At the very least, it's certainly better than the discourse you see anywhere else. I'm not saying to institute a rule "PhD required in order to comment," but academics are systemically encouraged to keep their research focused on what actually matters in a way that random internet commenters are not. I don't really have a fleshed-out plan here, but there has to be less of an expectation of replying quickly (I think that less emphasis on votes will help a lot here) and more on replying well (in a scholarly style).

      /r/AskHistorians has pretty heavy-handed moderation, but that's mostly just because they're on Reddit, which attracts an extremely non-scholarly demographic through /r/all. Within the community itself, powerusers are comfortable spending hours or days researching before replying to a thread. This will obviously not net them any karma; they do it because they actually want to answer the question. This is the ethos that needs to be encouraged more on Tildes! I personally think that it starts with less of an emphasis on votes, but I'm not really sure where to take it from there.

      24 votes
      1. [7]
        gpl
        Link Parent
        This is completely anecdotal but I hated the no-votes experiment here. I found myself participating way less, and I in general just felt like I was yelling into the void since the most basic and...

        This is completely anecdotal but I hated the no-votes experiment here. I found myself participating way less, and I in general just felt like I was yelling into the void since the most basic and common form of feedback was removed. It's nice to know someone is reading your stuff, even if there aren't many responses.

        I'm not really convinced that the goal of online discussion should even be to change the mind of someone you are arguing with. In debate society's, legislatures, and other forums for debate the goal is always to persuade the audience. I think that's probably okay, as long as the audience is one that doesn't value things like personal attacks or over-simplification. This ties in with your comment on demographics - people will regulate themselves away from low-effort conversations if that doesn't get rewarded. I think more liberal usage of the noise tag for example would do a lot to counteract votes for lazy content. If the noise tag counts more than a vote, then you only need x% (where x depends on the label weighting) users to not support a flippant remark on a particular topic.

        This is more of what you're saying - less emphasis on votes, more emphasis on other, descriptive form of feedback. But I think my point is if you want to encourage high quality content, you need to provide a feedback mechanism or else people simply won't be motivated to post, especially when the site is so small. That mechanism doesn't have to be votes, but there has to be something there.

        22 votes
        1. [5]
          skybrian
          Link Parent
          Another possibility would be to have a cap on comment voting. Suppose the cap was 5 votes. Would be that good enough validation to make commenting feel worthwhile?

          Another possibility would be to have a cap on comment voting. Suppose the cap was 5 votes. Would be that good enough validation to make commenting feel worthwhile?

          4 votes
          1. [2]
            Adys
            Link Parent
            Interesting suggestion, I wonder if there'd be a change should the vote count become mostly-invisible after a number. Eg. "10+", "50+" and "100+".

            Interesting suggestion, I wonder if there'd be a change should the vote count become mostly-invisible after a number. Eg. "10+", "50+" and "100+".

            10 votes
            1. Atvelonis
              Link Parent
              That's an interesting idea. Is this used on any forums on the internet? I would be worried that it would have the capacity to exaggerate the issue a bit. If everything is separated into distinct...

              That's an interesting idea. Is this used on any forums on the internet? I would be worried that it would have the capacity to exaggerate the issue a bit. If everything is separated into distinct groups of popularity like that, I feel like that could reinforce the implicit belief that some opinions are "low-tier" and some are "high-tier." i.e. a particular opinion or type of opinion would be characterized as belonging to a certain tier, and as people see it in that tier there's just an extra structural boundary telling them "this opinion has this level of popularity," which may influence how they vote on it.

              5 votes
          2. [2]
            Moonchild
            Link Parent
            Or, maybe, something similar to slashdot's rating system. You can rate comments on a scale from 1 to 5, and the average is shown, along with the number of ratings.

            Or, maybe, something similar to slashdot's rating system. You can rate comments on a scale from 1 to 5, and the average is shown, along with the number of ratings.

            1 vote
            1. skybrian
              Link Parent
              I'm not a fan of 1-5 rating systems, because it seems like too much mental effort to maintain any sort of consistency in how you rate things. Upvoting the comments you like seems about right, but...

              I'm not a fan of 1-5 rating systems, because it seems like too much mental effort to maintain any sort of consistency in how you rate things. Upvoting the comments you like seems about right, but the question is what to do with the information.

              9 votes
        2. Atvelonis
          (edited )
          Link Parent
          Yeah, that's an useful clarification. I don't mean to imply that votes should be removed altogether. I think that they serve an important role in letting us know how our ideas our received....

          Yeah, that's an useful clarification. I don't mean to imply that votes should be removed altogether. I think that they serve an important role in letting us know how our ideas our received. Gratification is psychologically significant! I just don't think Tildes benefits from receiving this gratification mid-discussion.

          I'm glad you brought up the labeling system, because I think that it's a huge reason why I prefer Tildes' system over Reddit's. I love the option to mark things as "exemplary" and write a nice little comment about it. The fact that it's anonymous could conceivably lead to issues as the site grows, but I think it encourages people to use it. It's different from just replying to the comment, because that draws you into the space in a way that voting isn't supposed to. And since it's designed to only be used once per day, I think people are fairly judicious with their labeling. I would prefer one "exemplary" comment with a note to a bunch of votes any day of the week. The fact that the exemplary tags can't be seen by people (like Reddit gold can) helps prevent it from contributing to the echo chamber-gratification problem.

          I also think that the other labels are valuable, although there are occasions when they seem to be overused by people who are just arguing with each other. If we apply more mechanisms like the way the exemplary tag works to the labeling system, all very little things, I think it could entirely supersede votes as the way that people give feedback.

          3 votes
      2. Wes
        Link Parent
        I also really enjoyed the no-score experiment, and felt it was a better version of the site. I'd like to see the idea revisited, perhaps as a profile setting. (sorry - not to get too far away from...

        I also really enjoyed the no-score experiment, and felt it was a better version of the site. I'd like to see the idea revisited, perhaps as a profile setting.

        (sorry - not to get too far away from the deeper issue you're discussing)

        4 votes
      3. [6]
        Menio_Mercina
        Link Parent
        Another possibility could be to only hide votes in controversial tildes groups/topics such as for politics. I think there is nothing wrong with votes 90% of the time (and most people are...

        Another possibility could be to only hide votes in controversial tildes groups/topics such as for politics.

        I think there is nothing wrong with votes 90% of the time (and most people are comfortable with them) but I could definitely see how in argumentative discussions they encourage people to play for their own crowd so to speak so their removal could serve to just turn things down a notch in those environments.

        4 votes
        1. [4]
          9000
          Link Parent
          Could this be set up to just be a mod option? It could be seen as a lighter intervention than locking a thread, where Deimos can just turn off vote counts on individual threads that start getting...

          Could this be set up to just be a mod option? It could be seen as a lighter intervention than locking a thread, where Deimos can just turn off vote counts on individual threads that start getting feisty.

          3 votes
          1. [3]
            Loire
            Link Parent
            Do we genuinely believe that political threads get feisty for the upvotes? That seems to trivialize the opinions of our posters.

            Do we genuinely believe that political threads get feisty for the upvotes? That seems to trivialize the opinions of our posters.

            3 votes
            1. 9000
              Link Parent
              I mean, I'm by no means certain, no. But it seems like a pretty cheap experiment to run. If it doesn't help much, we don't have to keep using it. I try my best to post high quality comments when I...

              I mean, I'm by no means certain, no. But it seems like a pretty cheap experiment to run. If it doesn't help much, we don't have to keep using it.

              I try my best to post high quality comments when I write, but I would be lying if I said that my vote counts don't affect my confidence.

              4 votes
            2. Kuromantis
              Link Parent
              I don't think the people writing are looking to get their karma up, at least in Tildes, but if you see a comment with 2 votes and a reply, even if it's just a crappy hot take with 8 it sends a...

              I don't think the people writing are looking to get their karma up, at least in Tildes, but if you see a comment with 2 votes and a reply, even if it's just a crappy hot take with 8 it sends a pretty clear message as to which one has won.

              2 votes
        2. Atvelonis
          Link Parent
          That could be beneficial! And not only because it would probably make people a little more focused on the discussion than the points, but because it would actively and specifically discourage...

          That could be beneficial! And not only because it would probably make people a little more focused on the discussion than the points, but because it would actively and specifically discourage political discussion as a whole to some extent. I actually think it's true that hiding votes at all, even if it's just for a while, makes people less interested in commenting. So you could interpret that as a con of the policy—literally decreasing interaction—but I honestly think that it's what Tildes needs. I personally enjoy the niche stories and weird discussions that get posted on this site a lot more than I enjoy any discussion about politics, even if it's a good one. I can read about politics anywhere; offbeat news, discoveries, and ideas, not so much.

          2 votes
      4. [3]
        NaraVara
        Link Parent
        You clearly do not follow many academics on twitter. :-p

        Scholars argue with each other all the time, but it's usually better-informed, and not that personal.

        You clearly do not follow many academics on twitter. :-p

        3 votes
        1. Atvelonis
          Link Parent
          I don't! I try to avoid Twitter in general. I was more referring to the peer-review process, and the way that academics argue with each other in print. They definitely target specific works and/or...

          I don't! I try to avoid Twitter in general. I was more referring to the peer-review process, and the way that academics argue with each other in print. They definitely target specific works and/or specific people, but their work has to have some credibility and value in and of itself to get published in the first place. That's a structural incentive to direct their attention away from score-settling and toward research.

          8 votes
        2. Kuromantis
          Link Parent
          To be fair the word limit isn't helping them and twitter wasn't meant for anything close to academic discourse.

          To be fair the word limit isn't helping them and twitter wasn't meant for anything close to academic discourse.

      5. [4]
        DougM
        Link Parent
        This may be a super obvious answer to some but why have the votes on comments? Couldn't you just add voting to overall posts and then remove them for comments?

        My impression from the vote-hiding experiment was really that people just liked feeling good about getting votes, which I understand.

        This may be a super obvious answer to some but why have the votes on comments? Couldn't you just add voting to overall posts and then remove them for comments?

        1 vote
        1. mrbig
          Link Parent
          Voting provides a sense of community without which Tildes feels lonely and dry.

          Voting provides a sense of community without which Tildes feels lonely and dry.

          14 votes
        2. [2]
          Algernon_Asimov
          Link Parent
          For sorting. High-voted comments, which are generally comments that people think are high quality, can be sorted to the top of a thread.

          why have the votes on comments?

          For sorting. High-voted comments, which are generally comments that people think are high quality, can be sorted to the top of a thread.

          12 votes
          1. gpl
            Link Parent
            Sure, but in principle that doesn't require the votes being public.

            Sure, but in principle that doesn't require the votes being public.

            9 votes
    2. [2]
      hungariantoast
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      I am suddenly reminded of a message that I sent you two days ago. I am also suddenly reminded of a comment you made recently. You mentioned that you wanted Tildes to be more of a "neighborhood...

      I am suddenly reminded of a message that I sent you two days ago.


      Things like shoving politics into a sub-group that isn't shown by default or rate-limiting how often users are allowed to post in political threads probably won't actually solve anything, just hide or slow it down a little.

      I am also suddenly reminded of a comment you made recently. You mentioned that you wanted Tildes to be more of a "neighborhood pub" rather than a "public square".

      I don't want to be rude, I don't want to insult you, but Tildes is never going to solve the issues you have identified with online communities at the scale you wish for it to exist at. Those issues will persist, inside and outside of Tildes.

      Tildes will never solve them outside of itself because it will never be, at the scale you want it to be at, large or influential enough to do so. At best, Tildes can survive, as a refuge, over the next decade or two while social media evolves and the corporate giants like Facebook crumble (hopefully), and then maybe the next few generations of websites will be better than what we have now, and they will follow Tildes' lead as an example.

      But Tildes will still never solve those issues within itself. Those issues will always exist here, because they originate outside of Tildes, and find their way in. To solve these problems, you have to exert influence. Tildes will not be, at the scale you have targeted, large enough to do that.

      I am not saying any of this to discourage you. What you've accomplished here is inspirational and Tildes is already a success. You should take pride in what you have accomplished and, to be honest, I'm not sure you ever had "fixing the Internet" planned as one of Tildes' goals.

      If that recent comment of yours is any indication, I think you always just wanted Tildes to be a place where people could get away from all the nasty shit elsewhere, and any influence projected outward would just be a bonus.


      So we cannot solve these kinds of problems. Political discussion on Tildes will always be problematic at times.

      What we can hope for though, and what you have already largely accomplished, is reducing the occurrence of those issues.

      As others have pointed out, political discussion here on Tildes really is not that bad, compared to other places. Is it perfect? No. Is it good enough? Not yet.

      But we can't solve the problem of bad discussion, we can only reduce its occurrence.

      How? I have no clue. I do have some suggestions though:

      Implement the ability to apply additional effects to topics. If a topic gets posted that you think might be especially problematic, go ahead and disable the visibility of comment votes (including for our own comments).

      Does this break our rule about trusting users and what not? Yep. Are we at that point? Maybe. I think yes, especially if you find yourself busy and unable (or not wanting to) watch a specific topic.

      Or randomize the sorting order of comments.

      Or rate-limit replies.

      Or do two, or all three of these things at once.

      Additionally, the ability to lock specific comment threads also might be useful.

      In the end though, implementing these features is not going to solve the issue of problematic discussion. On their own, they probably won't do much to reduce it either.


      I think, for maximal effect, this is the kind of problem that just requires moderation. If you have to ban users, do it. You have done it before. Hand out temporary bans if you feel like that would be more suitable, but get the point across: we need to improve.

      New features might slow down rapid, problematic discussions and allow you to remove them before they balloon into dozens of comments, but to really reduce the occurrence of issues like this in the future, moderation is needed.

      And frankly, you do moderate, a lot. I've seen you remove countless comments, lock topics, and publicly reply to users (even several at a time) asking them to knock it off. I have no doubt you also send plenty of private messages.

      But it clearly is not enough...

      And you clearly cannot be online 24/7...

      Do you see where I am going with this?

      I know you have been... hesitant, is perhaps the correct word, to instate additional moderators who can lock topics and even remove comments, but I think now is the perfect time to do that.

      There is an election coming up. It is going to, in a lot of ways, decide the fate of the most powerful entity on our planet, and affect the lives of billions of people. There will be "problematic occurrences" on Tildes as a result. There will be plenty of outrage and other nastiness throughout the rest of the Internet as well, and I would not be surprised if we see another influx of users from all of it. While as a community we are equipped with tools to moderate ourselves, as we have seen recently, that is sometimes not enough.

      So please, I am asking you personally, because I really think this is a strong, opportune moment, instate a moderator aside from yourself that can help to maintain the site under your direction.

      I know Tildes is small, I know "problematic occurrences" are rare, but I think that's all the more reason to start sooner, than later.

      Now is a good time to look ahead.

      18 votes
      1. Algernon_Asimov
        Link Parent
        The intention for this site has always been to add more moderators... eventually... via the "reputation" mechanic. The philosophy behind that is to decentralise and democratise moderation, so it's...

        The intention for this site has always been to add more moderators... eventually... via the "reputation" mechanic. The philosophy behind that is to decentralise and democratise moderation, so it's not in the hands of a chosen few. It also spreads the workload so moderators don't feel stressed or obligated.

        I would therefore add a qualification to your otherwise good suggestion (which I also have made previously): rather than add a moderator, add a few moderators.

        I'm sure @Deimos could, unlike Abraham in Sodom, find 10(ish) righteous people in Tildes to help out. He could hand-pick some lieutenants, put them through a mini moderation school to tell them what he wants and doesn't want, give them some mod powers, and set them to work. And, of surety, whatsoever Deimos giveth, Deimos can also taketh away.

        12 votes
    3. skybrian
      Link Parent
      I think rate-limiting would help somewhat. Often, heated discussions don't continue more than a day.

      I think rate-limiting would help somewhat. Often, heated discussions don't continue more than a day.

      10 votes
    4. suspended
      Link Parent
      I'm so glad that you have mentioned this reference several times on Tildes. I've read through it many times. I've been engaged in Biblical scholarship for around thirty years and one of the most...

      This segment of Charles' Rules of Argument covers it well...

      I'm so glad that you have mentioned this reference several times on Tildes. I've read through it many times.

      I've been engaged in Biblical scholarship for around thirty years and one of the most quoted sayings from scholars goes something like this:

      As scholars we try to bracket and set aside our own personal beliefs when engaging with the texts...

      So on and so forth.

      Most all of the scholars that I've come across have made statements like this. Not surprisingly, it is nearly impossible to do this.

      As an example of a particularly prominent and/or popular scholar there is Bart Ehrman. He has made this statement almost verbatim many times. He, also, has divulged his particular belief system as an agnostic atheist.

      Would you be surprised that all of his popular books (which are NOT peer reviewed by the way) have an overwhelming slant towards his own belief system?

      8 votes
    5. Eric_the_Cerise
      Link Parent
      Maybe obvious to some, this was a minor revelation for me, just now, for why all online human interaction tends towards the horrific. I've often seen claims that the issue underlying bad behavior...

      people performing for the audience on the same side as them

      Maybe obvious to some, this was a minor revelation for me, just now, for why all online human interaction tends towards the horrific.

      I've often seen claims that the issue underlying bad behavior online stems from not being face-to-face, and thus easily being able to mentally dehumanize one another. I'm sure that's a factor.

      But this may be the first time it's really occurred to me that all online conversations are performed for an audience, and must strongly color our behavior, knowingly or not.

      8 votes
    6. Autoxidation
      Link Parent
      I can understand your sentiment, but I'm someone who has had their views pretty drastically changed over my past ~20 years on the internet, and a large part of that is due to well intentioned...

      I can understand your sentiment, but I'm someone who has had their views pretty drastically changed over my past ~20 years on the internet, and a large part of that is due to well intentioned discussions on forums. Because of that, I have always enjoyed good discussion on many topics, but politics especially. It's very hard getting perspectives of different people around the world when you only engage in politics with people you know, unless you live in a very diverse area (booo southeastern US).

      I participated a decent amount in forums like /r/NeutralPolitics and /r/NeutralNews (when it wasn't locked) precisely because I was looking for well sourced information to keep a grounded view on the world and politics. I was hopeful Tildes would be similar, but it's been kind of hard without a dedicated politics area to see regular posts or have good discussions.

      7 votes
    7. post_below
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      My observations support your theories :) Science has something to say about why it's particularly a problem where politics is concerned. Political conversations light up areas of the brain...

      My observations support your theories :)

      Science has something to say about why it's particularly a problem where politics is concerned. Political conversations light up areas of the brain associated with identity and threat response:
      https://news.usc.edu/114481/which-brain-networks-respond-when-someone-sticks-to-a-belief/

      Which says it all. We all know what happens when someone's identity is threatened. Also interesting:
      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5793824/

      So if it's an unsolvable problem then the answer is culture rather than structure (short of banning politics outright).

      People's response to what they perceive to be the cultural norms of a space is almost as strong (and semi-autonomous) as their reaction to politics. So culture can do most of the work. Individual banning still plays a part (sorry internet, but you're the internet) but it can be minimal if the overall culture leans toward rationality and self awareness.

      6 votes
    8. [2]
      Macil
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      I think politics discussions can go bad, but I think the idea of a "no politics" rule is worse. I think it's bad in aggregate for sites that make thoughtful discussions a goal to opt out of...

      I think politics discussions can go bad, but I think the idea of a "no politics" rule is worse.

      • I think it's bad in aggregate for sites that make thoughtful discussions a goal to opt out of politics, because that increasingly makes politics the domain of worse places. Maybe it can make the individual site better, but everyone following that protocol makes politics worse. The discussion is ceded to people that don't value thoughtful discussion, and even the people into thoughtful discussion internalize the idea that thoughtfulness shouldn't be brought into politics discussions.
      • Political opinions will shine through regardless, and a no politics rule just means it can't be questioned when it does. I think knowing you might have to defend an opinion makes for better informed discussions, even if it's unpleasant when it happens.
      6 votes
      1. NaraVara
        Link Parent
        Honestly the most toxic political threads usually end up being about elections and politicians because people develop strong team-cohesion biases and incentives. When I was in policy school we...

        Honestly the most toxic political threads usually end up being about elections and politicians because people develop strong team-cohesion biases and incentives.

        When I was in policy school we mostly got along regardless of political stripe because all of our discussion was focused on policy--which is much more amenable to a dispassionate, analytical approach--than politics itself. It becomes clearer to figure out which discussion points are based on disagreements about how to interpret specific facts and which ones are based on differences in basic values, priorities, or first-principles. Stuff in the latter group we tended to sort of ignore.

        That was waaaay back in the late aughts though. Nowadays I've noticed an endemic problem where bad information is just too accessible. You can google "Evidence for [whatever position I want to be true]" and find an endless supply of "facts" to back your position. Stuff wasn't compiled so neatly with a bow on it in the past. It was harder for people to willfully BS themselves. We were also, you know, in school so simply having an audience (and a professor) around tends to make people tamp down on trying to sound too strident. I think audience response ends up having a big impact on these things. Sadly the upvote/downvote or labeling systems don't quite get the nuances of inflection we need. What we really need is some kind of emote that expresses a sense of "okay okay, that's enough."

        The other big problem is the tendency to focus on replying to, rather than understanding what people are trying to say. That's a personal peeve of mine and the tell that it's happening usually is when you see posts that have a lot of individual snippets of quotes from the post they're responding to rather than addressing it holistically. This usually has the effect of pissing off everyone involved and makes it impossible to keep the discussion civil since everyone feels like they're being lied to.

        12 votes
    9. Icarus
      Link Parent
      I am in favor of this. I am all in for reading and asking questions on topics that are in-depth analysis of things that have already happened. I don't see much value in discussing things that are...

      Banning "overt politics" entirely (or at least the ability to comment on it). It's not really feasible to "ban politics" because it's an aspect of so many things, but there's a lot of stuff that's just politics (horse-race poll results, "Republicans do bad thing", etc.) that has practically zero chance of generating a reasonable discussion. It's either everyone on the same side basically circlejerking, or people on opposite sides going for each other's throats. There's very little in between.

      I am in favor of this.

      I am all in for reading and asking questions on topics that are in-depth analysis of things that have already happened. I don't see much value in discussing things that are currently happening because its just hot takes (my comments included). Even when it comes to current events, I think there has to be more rigor in what is valuable to post here versus what isn't. I don't think political opinion pieces are valuable because they sit among other legitimate, factual news that is posted which may give the impression that the opinion is on the same level as real news. And when it comes to real news, the more direct the source, the better. If it can be sourced from the AP, that should be the source. If someone makes a comment on the post, they should be required to put a source if they make a claim. Unless someone has a question, top level comments with a politics tag should contain a source that adds to the posted article's context.

      I've seen forums implode just from politics, causing them to try to quarantine them off to a dedicated section of the site or let the toxic communication fester to the point where everything suddenly became political. I don't think this is preferable because it signals a lack of moderation capability and individual decorum that is perceived by me as essentially giving up. I strongly believe in systems that are designed around reinforcement of behaviors, and I think identifying what behaviors are ideal for political topics and then putting controls in place will help drive the effect you intend to have.

      6 votes
    10. aphoenix
      Link Parent
      I remembered Charles' Rules after I posted about Bernie dropping out. After the first absolute shitshow of a comment, I just ignored the post and left it. I won't submit more political things, but...

      I remembered Charles' Rules after I posted about Bernie dropping out. After the first absolute shitshow of a comment, I just ignored the post and left it. I won't submit more political things, but that one seemed important, and nobody had brought it up yet.

      5 votes
    11. mrbig
      Link Parent
      I don’t see a need to solve something like this. A community is like a live organism, it needs space to grow. Too much constraints can prevent its healthy growth, too little will make it sick....

      I don’t see a need to solve something like this. A community is like a live organism, it needs space to grow. Too much constraints can prevent its healthy growth, too little will make it sick. Palliative measures are entirely acceptable. I’d rather have an interesting and lively community in which shit sometimes hit the fan than an excessively constrained one.

      5 votes
    12. [11]
      emdash
      Link Parent
      Completely off topic (flag as needed), but as someone who does enjoy programming, I've never found a programming language I don't hate either ;).

      You'll also never convince someone that enjoys programming in PHP that they actually hate it

      Completely off topic (flag as needed), but as someone who does enjoy programming, I've never found a programming language I don't hate either ;).

      3 votes
      1. [2]
        Moonchild
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        How dare you! <insert favourite language here> is amazing, and everyone who hates it is either stupid or ignorant

        How dare you! <insert favourite language here> is amazing, and everyone who hates it is either stupid or ignorant

        3 votes
        1. Loire
          Link Parent
          COBOL is the one true Lord and let all who challenge him be smited.

          COBOL is the one true Lord and let all who challenge him be smited.

          2 votes
      2. [8]
        suspended
        Link Parent
        Is PHP really that bad?

        Is PHP really that bad?

        1 vote
        1. [2]
          vegai
          Link Parent
          It's pretty bad, but what PHP proponents are totally right about is that it doesn't really matter in real products. Customers hardly ever require or demand technically perfect software. Definitely...

          It's pretty bad, but what PHP proponents are totally right about is that it doesn't really matter in real products. Customers hardly ever require or demand technically perfect software. Definitely they don't want to pay for it.

          1 vote
          1. NaraVara
            Link Parent
            Bit of nuance here. Customers absolutely demand technically perfect software, it's just that they have absolutely no idea how to judge whether something is any good or not so they don't check for...

            Customers hardly ever require or demand technically perfect software.

            Bit of nuance here. Customers absolutely demand technically perfect software, it's just that they have absolutely no idea how to judge whether something is any good or not so they don't check for it and can't pay for it.

            It's a bit like how luxury clothes used to be really well made and use top-quality materials. Back in the day just about everyone knew how to sew and had members of their families who could knit a sweater or a shirt. So there was just general cultural knowledge about how to tell the difference between a well made garment and a shoddy one. Now most of that baseline knowledge has atrophied and people can't tell, so luxury becomes more about branding than workmanship. Tech is too new for brands to sell themselves on brand alone. Apple is probably the only company that comes close enough for people to associate the brand with things being well-made.

            5 votes
        2. [5]
          emdash
          Link Parent
          I do a bit (read: a lot) of mostly Laravel framework development, and my main issues with PHP, as someone who deals with the language a lot, stem from: Excessive use of functions that should be...

          I do a bit (read: a lot) of mostly Laravel framework development, and my main issues with PHP, as someone who deals with the language a lot, stem from:

          1. Excessive use of functions that should be methods off objects (arrays come to mind).
          2. Inconsistent function names and argument order (array_filter takes its callback first, array_map takes its callback second, or is it the other way around?).
          3. No generics, and very basic type support (no way of specifying "array of strings" other than through a @var string[] doc-comment).
          4. No native enums (SplEnum does not count, and public const's in a class are just hacks).
          5. Configuration of debugging is frustrating. Xdebug is finicky, and getting your configuration right can be a chore.
          6. Composer might be one of the worst package manager ecosystems to deal with, or at the very least, is a close competitor to NPM.

          It's not "bad", per se, I don't mind dealing with it, and it's fantastic for rapid prototyping. I can point to just as many flaws with C#, Java, or any other language I've used. Programming is simultaneously really fun and also just terrible.

          4 votes
          1. suspended
            Link Parent
            Haha! I see your points. I've been dorking around with classic ASP, ASP.NET, PHP, etc for over twenty years. I get that most of it has particularly annoying shortcomings. On the other hand, I was...

            Haha! I see your points. I've been dorking around with classic ASP, ASP.NET, PHP, etc for over twenty years. I get that most of it has particularly annoying shortcomings. On the other hand, I was able to earn part of a living off of it while satisfying many customers.

            1 vote
          2. Omnicrola
            Link Parent
            C# is my favorite language of all the ones I've learned. It just feels nice to go back to when I've been away. The MS ecosystem is usually the most frustrating part of it, which can be a huge...

            C# is my favorite language of all the ones I've learned. It just feels nice to go back to when I've been away. The MS ecosystem is usually the most frustrating part of it, which can be a huge pain. PHP was one of the first languages I learned, but I learned it (self-taught) before I know what OOP was and wrote some pretty horrible things. Going back to it after spending a few years in Java was rather jarring and I didn't like how it felt so I've never gone back to it again.

            1 vote
          3. LukeZaz
            Link Parent
            If you don't mind my asking, what are those? I should note that C# is my favorite language at the moment, but I've definitely come up with things that I've wanted to be different before —...

            I can point to just as many flaws with C# [...]

            If you don't mind my asking, what are those? I should note that C# is my favorite language at the moment, but I've definitely come up with things that I've wanted to be different before — especially since learning Rust. I'm not under any delusion that it's perfect, so if there's any bugbears I might not be aware of I'd be glad to learn about them!

            1 vote
          4. vakieh
            Link Parent
            Laravel is the delicious icing on a cake made of shit though - I can't stand PHP but love laravel, so it hardly counts. Try Zend if you want to truly despise a language and framework consistently.

            Laravel is the delicious icing on a cake made of shit though - I can't stand PHP but love laravel, so it hardly counts.

            Try Zend if you want to truly despise a language and framework consistently.

  3. [31]
    AnthonyB
    Link
    I guess I'm looking at things with a different lens because I think the political discussion on tildes is pretty good and almost always insightful and respectful. I sincerely hope I'm not the only...

    I guess I'm looking at things with a different lens because I think the political discussion on tildes is pretty good and almost always insightful and respectful. I sincerely hope I'm not the only one who does this, but I come into a tildes thread and assume the people are smart and have good intentions behind their comments. That, in my opinion, is the most important thing about this site. I definitely stopped feeling that way about reddit threads a long time ago and I notice the difference any time I go back. Obviously, when we discuss politics, things aren't going to always be pretty. Yesterday's Bernie thread started to go in a direction we don't often see here on this site, but it was a sad/cathartic moment for a few people who have expressed their passion for Sanders during this cycle. At the end of the day, this is a small community - small enough that I recognize most usernames and usually have an idea of who the poster is when reading their comment. There are users that have been warned and called out for being a bit snarky in political threads, but I rarely have a problem with those posts because I see those same usernames being kind and polite in all their non-political posts. If the user has a good reputation, we should excuse a little bit of snark and chalk it up to passion - especially if they're still providing some decent insight. I think allowing some leeway with political posts is fine because I'm not sure it's possible to always guarantee a nuanced/respectful political conversation anywhere on Earth. Hell, even my best friends and I have had yelling matches when discussing certain issues in real life and we're all level-headed. When it comes to tildes, and real life, I have a much bigger problem if someone here is an asshole when discussing something mundane. If we see low effort and snarky comments in non-political threads then we have a real problem.

    29 votes
    1. [30]
      LukeZaz
      Link Parent
      No worries, you're not alone! Tildes may have issues with politics just like any other platform is bound to encounter, but it's still the best I've seen so far. Sure, it could just be that I...

      No worries, you're not alone! Tildes may have issues with politics just like any other platform is bound to encounter, but it's still the best I've seen so far. Sure, it could just be that I haven't been to enough platforms to know for sure, but given that I've repeatedly seen people readily admit or apologize for when they were wrong here (not easy to do!), I'd like to think this place is pretty sound.

      Realistically, the only problem I think Tildes has a lot of is echo chambers. Left-wing ideas here are lauded at every corner and very rarely seem to receive challenge. I might not disagree with many of these ideas, but I still recognize that an idea getting challenged is a good way to see if it can hold up under scrutiny, and things like progressive policy doesn't seem to receive much of that here.

      10 votes
      1. [10]
        kfwyre
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        I've actually been thinking recently about how much or little our composition plays a role Tildes' leftist "echo chamber" leanings. I do agree that there is a general lack of critique of certain...

        I've actually been thinking recently about how much or little our composition plays a role Tildes' leftist "echo chamber" leanings. I do agree that there is a general lack of critique of certain ideas here, and I think it's common to point to it simply as a function of who is here versus who is not. Instead, I've started thinking of it more as a function of how our discourse has been shaped.

        With hyper-partisan "with us or against us" rhetoric being so common, and with so many people acting in bad faith on the internet, it's easy to come to the conclusion that a critique of the left is coming from the "other side", and that it's being done so tactically, rather than genuinely. I will admit to seeing posts, usually elsewhere but even here on Tildes that have caused me to do a user profile dive in an attempt to suss out whether the commenter was genuinely commenting in good faith or whether they were simply stirring the pot or trying to subtly pave the way for more destructive talking points.

        Furthermore, I know that I have limited myself from saying certain things here because doing so closely aligns with often anti-left talking points. These are critiques that I want to make and think are important, but I don't want to appear as if I'm acting in bad faith, nor do I want to give any steam to those with genuinely noxious beliefs. This is part of why bad faith actions are so effective, because even if they fail to convince or persuade, they still sow distrust and muddy the waters of discourse.

        There's also the idea that, in expressing disagreement with those on the "same side" as me, all I'm doing is increasing our attack surface in the ongoing partisan war. Critiquing the left from within only highlights our cracks on the outside, so all those people wanting to take us down or act in bad faith exactly know where to target.

        I would genuinely like to see more critique of leftist ideas here, and think that a mostly homogeneous group of leftists would actually be the ideal group of people to do so since it's easier to disarm oneself and listen to others when you're operating on a largely shared worldview and values system. I can't help but wonder if part of the reason we don't see a lot of left-on-left critique is because of the damage and fallout from the larger cultural war going on everywhere.

        I'd love to hear other people's thoughts on this, as I feel like I've projected a lot of my own feelings onto this situation, and I have no idea if that's shared by others in the slightest. Do the more "echo chambery" threads on the site come more from who we are, or how we speak? Is the solution to simply bring in more differing viewpoints from the outside, or do we need to make more room for those within ourselves?

        14 votes
        1. [9]
          Algernon_Asimov
          Link Parent
          I've learned that even a series of leading questions intended to tease out the underlying basis for a belief someone states, can be seen as aggressive or malicious. So I've stopped asking in many...

          I've learned that even a series of leading questions intended to tease out the underlying basis for a belief someone states, can be seen as aggressive or malicious. So I've stopped asking in many cases. People simply do not like being questioned or challenged. Even the perception of disagreement is enough to get people's hackles up.

          I also observed this in my previous experiences moderating on Reddit. If someone dares to utter any opinion that differs from the accepted orthodoxy - even if they're operating in good faith - they are labelled as evil and become the target of insults. This is true of left-leaning and right-leaning subreddits (it's even true of some science-fiction subreddits!). I've been accused of being a nazi and fascist myself because I dared to tell people that right-wing opinions were allowed to be aired in /r/Australia or /r/PoliticalDiscussion (ironically, I disagreed with many of the opinions I was protecting).

          One must toe the line or get the fuck out.

          8 votes
          1. [2]
            skybrian
            Link Parent
            I'm optimistic that arguing in favor of uncertainty might have better results than getting tolerance for strong opposing views. (Around here, anyway.)

            I'm optimistic that arguing in favor of uncertainty might have better results than getting tolerance for strong opposing views. (Around here, anyway.)

            5 votes
            1. Algernon_Asimov
              Link Parent
              Arguing for uncertainty is the same as implying that something a person is certain about may be wrong. I've seen that, too - most often in religious debate subreddits, but also elsewhere.

              Arguing for uncertainty is the same as implying that something a person is certain about may be wrong. I've seen that, too - most often in religious debate subreddits, but also elsewhere.

              3 votes
          2. [3]
            arp242
            Link Parent
            One of the problems with Reddit is that there are quite a few "trolls" around who try to push a certain agenda or just stir up controversy for the fun of it. Taking everyone with good faith on...

            One of the problems with Reddit is that there are quite a few "trolls" around who try to push a certain agenda or just stir up controversy for the fun of it. Taking everyone with good faith on Reddit would be naïve and foolish, but sometimes this turns in to outright paranoia where suddenly everyone who attempts to add some nuance is a Nazi or whatever.

            This is probably one of the greatest advantage of Tildes over Reddit – one I haven't seen anyone else mention before: that even in heated discussions you can be reasonably sure everyone is engaging in good faith, and isn't either playing out some sort of hidden agenda or just "trolling for teh lulz".

            4 votes
            1. [2]
              Algernon_Asimov
              Link Parent
              That may be true, but I pride myself on being a fairly good judge of character - in real life and online. It took me a couple of hard years of elbow-deep moderating to learn how to figure out who...

              One of the problems with Reddit is that there are quite a few "trolls" around who try to push a certain agenda or just stir up controversy for the fun of it.

              That may be true, but I pride myself on being a fairly good judge of character - in real life and online. It took me a couple of hard years of elbow-deep moderating to learn how to figure out who was acting in good faith online and who wasn't, but I think I can now do so with reasonably high accuracy. As a moderator, I know who to defend and give second chances to, and who to ban on sight with no possibility of redemption. And, I have noticed that my dividing line is very different to many people on Reddit. They condemn many good faith commenters merely because they don't like those commenters' opinions, rather than because the commenter is trying to stir up controversy.

              This is probably one of the greatest advantage of Tildes over Reddit – one I haven't seen anyone else mention before: that even in heated discussions you can be reasonably sure everyone is engaging in good faith

              Well... there have been exceptions (including a very notable person who caused a lot of fuss during the middle of last year!).

              But, even here, good faith isn't always enough. Even if someone is acting in good faith, people can misinterpret good faith comments as being in bad faith. I know: I've been on the receiving end of some of this misinterpretation. I won't pretend I'm a saint, and I know I have been troublesome. However, even when I'm behaving myself, people have still assumed the worst of me.

              Good faith isn't enough. "Good faith must not only be done, it must be seen to be done."

              5 votes
              1. arp242
                Link Parent
                Yeah, it's not like good faith is the only thing required, it's just one thing that I've noticed is markedly different between engaging here vs. Reddit. It's not infrequently that people assume...

                Yeah, it's not like good faith is the only thing required, it's just one thing that I've noticed is markedly different between engaging here vs. Reddit. It's not infrequently that people assume the worst of you on Reddit, even when you do your best to make a nuanced argument, and I've probably been guilty of that as well.

                I've only been here since last December, so didn't experience that particular incident last year; all I know is my part of the elephant 😅

                5 votes
          3. [3]
            ThatFanficGuy
            Link Parent
            "[Q]uestioned or challenged" people don't like to be, and it's sufficiently-different from "teas[ing] out the underlying basis for a belief" that not only is it more likely to be confused for...

            I've learned that even a series of leading questions intended to tease out the underlying basis for a belief someone states, can be seen as aggressive or malicious. So I've stopped asking in many cases. People simply do not like being questioned or challenged. Even the perception of disagreement is enough to get people's hackles up.

            "[Q]uestioned or challenged" people don't like to be, and it's sufficiently-different from "teas[ing] out the underlying basis for a belief" that not only is it more likely to be confused for "being questioned" from its form, it's also more likely to shut down a potentially-enlightening conversation.

            In my case of having been on the receiving end of this, it comes out as aggressive, far more so than the underlying matter would dictate. I felt unduly attacked about giving an advice. Instead of following through, at the moment, I felt it best to withdraw from the conversation entirely.

            Which isn't to say "shutup nobody lieks u go awa". The reason rhetoric exists as a field is because people are complicated creatures whose perceptions differ from yours. Navigating the human maze is necessary if you want your message relayed authentically.

            3 votes
            1. [2]
              Algernon_Asimov
              Link Parent
              I know. I got told. A lot! So I stopped.

              In my case of having been on the receiving end of this, it comes out as aggressive

              I know. I got told. A lot! So I stopped.

              3 votes
              1. ThatFanficGuy
                Link Parent
                Reframing is a possibility should you choose to try something else. So is elaboration on a matter understood wrongly. All this rests on an assumption that your curiosity is stronger – or requires...

                Reframing is a possibility should you choose to try something else. So is elaboration on a matter understood wrongly.

                All this rests on an assumption that your curiosity is stronger – or requires more feeding – than your sense of alienation. I can speak for neither as far as you're concerned: I don't know you that well.

                Most people are not above working with those who show an interest in doing so, even if their first common footing was rough.

                1 vote
      2. [7]
        Loire
        Link Parent
        There are a number of posters that challenge the left wing bias on tildes but we end up just perpetuating the endless threads of back and forth that @Deimos mentions in the top reply. Very few...

        Realistically, the only problem I think Tildes has a lot of is echo chambers. Left-wing ideas here are lauded at every corner and very rarely seem to receive challenge.

        There are a number of posters that challenge the left wing bias on tildes but we end up just perpetuating the endless threads of back and forth that @Deimos mentions in the top reply. Very few people are willing to change their opinions, so any sort of push back is inherently pointless.

        8 votes
        1. [4]
          AnthonyB
          Link Parent
          For what it's worth, I really appreciate reading those threads. Changing the opinion of the person you're arguing with is extremely rare, but there are other people reading and taking interest in...

          For what it's worth, I really appreciate reading those threads. Changing the opinion of the person you're arguing with is extremely rare, but there are other people reading and taking interest in the two opposing viewpoints. When it comes to debating on social media, I like to think of it as an appeal to the undecided reader rather than the person I'm arguing with. I think there's a lot of value in those discussions, regardless of how they might end up.

          12 votes
          1. NaraVara
            (edited )
            Link Parent
            There's a dark side to this approach. This is how pundits on TV argue, and it's why pundit arguments are usually so chock-full of half-truths and BS. If you're concerned solely with the...

            When it comes to debating on social media, I like to think of it as an appeal to the undecided reader rather than the person I'm arguing with.

            There's a dark side to this approach. This is how pundits on TV argue, and it's why pundit arguments are usually so chock-full of half-truths and BS. If you're concerned solely with the hypothetical audience, then you have no drive to understand the other person's position well or listen to what they're trying to say. Your only drive is to make them look bad to others, which opens the door to willfully misinterpreting their statements, strawmen, gish gallops, and all kinds of other fallacious sophistries.

            Usually, decent debates have a moderator who isn't just there to tone police but actually helps the participants clarify what they mean. The moderator establishes the facts of each person's position and, if necessary, clarifies factual inaccuracies. That way you don't get into circular arguments about what people mean. But forums like this (parallel 1-to-1 threads instead of addressing a full group at once as in IRC or a bulletin board), don't have third parties active in the individual discussion.

            10 votes
          2. [2]
            Algernon_Asimov
            Link Parent
            Me too. I often have regard for the wider audience whenever I'm debating someone. I know I'm probably not going to change that someone's mind, but I can at least present another point of view for...

            When it comes to debating on social media, I like to think of it as an appeal to the undecided reader rather than the person I'm arguing with.

            Me too. I often have regard for the wider audience whenever I'm debating someone. I know I'm probably not going to change that someone's mind, but I can at least present another point of view for anyone else reading the discussion. I've sometimes written replies solely for the wider audience, rather than the person I'm replying to (and I've occasionally sometimes told them this).

            4 votes
            1. vord
              Link Parent
              I 100% agree. This drive is one reason I spiral so much, and I think one reason why is that not everyone has the same context, and short of writing thesis papers and citing everything you say, it...

              I 100% agree. This drive is one reason I spiral so much, and I think one reason why is that not everyone has the same context, and short of writing thesis papers and citing everything you say, it gets hard to let go when a person who replies to you taking quotes out of context, nitpicking a detail, or replying in such a way that triggers a reflexive 'if I don't reply it looks like I'm conceding to this point.'

              All of those factors result in heated arguements, and in part it's because you know this is a public forum and not a private conversation.

              I've pondered an idea like a flag you could make on a reply to your post to indicate something like 'I disagree, but need to disengage.' This could act as a sort of invitation for others to take the reigns and point out why the also agree/disagree. I know I'm far more likely to disengage if the conversation involves more than just one other person, because it helps reenforce validity of one side or the other, far moreso than just votes, especially since votes tend to dwindle as threads get deeper.

              Perhaps this function could be paired with a limitation like 'no more than two back and forth replies with the same person,' at least in divisive threads.

              4 votes
        2. [2]
          Keegan
          Link Parent
          I have noticed a decline in seeing any other of these posters in the past few months and myself have stopped challenging much since I can't remember a single time where we came to any other...

          I have noticed a decline in seeing any other of these posters in the past few months and myself have stopped challenging much since I can't remember a single time where we came to any other conclusion besides "we should stop arguing since we aren't going to agree", which I often have to be the one to post. It's quite frustrating and it really killed a lot of my joy for this site, and I've really been here less frequently. Non-political threads are so much more fun anyways.

          10 votes
          1. Maddox
            Link Parent
            I try to lurk more, and post less 🤖

            I try to lurk more, and post less 🤖

            4 votes
      3. [12]
        vegai
        Link Parent
        I've found that people are unable to counter most left-wing ideas in a high quality discussion. "Reality has a well-known liberal bias." Politics is for issues that humans are unable to find...

        I've found that people are unable to counter most left-wing ideas in a high quality discussion. "Reality has a well-known liberal bias."

        Politics is for issues that humans are unable to find correct answers easily, but that doesn't mean that those answers don't exist.

        2 votes
        1. [2]
          Algernon_Asimov
          Link Parent
          We all know that was a joke, right?

          "Reality has a well-known liberal bias."

          We all know that was a joke, right?

          6 votes
          1. vegai
            Link Parent
            Of course, but like many jokes, has an inch of truth in it.

            Of course, but like many jokes, has an inch of truth in it.

            3 votes
        2. [9]
          culturedleftfoot
          Link Parent
          There are no correct or incorrect answers in politics, it's all opinion. That we don't consistently remember or understand the implications of that is often at the root of the problematic...

          There are no correct or incorrect answers in politics, it's all opinion. That we don't consistently remember or understand the implications of that is often at the root of the problematic discussions on Tildes, IRL, pretty much everywhere.

          5 votes
          1. [4]
            NaraVara
            Link Parent
            This is just moral relativism which is, itself, an opinion.

            There are no correct or incorrect answers in politics, it's all opinion.

            This is just moral relativism which is, itself, an opinion.

            5 votes
            1. [3]
              culturedleftfoot
              Link Parent
              No doubt, but some opinions are potentially more useful than others, depending on how you wield them. How do you engage with someone on the basis of right and wrong? You're essentially trying to...

              No doubt, but some opinions are potentially more useful than others, depending on how you wield them. How do you engage with someone on the basis of right and wrong? You're essentially trying to argue someone into reevaluating their entire value system. That's not something you're going to convince people into doing, it's something they have to open up to themselves. If you don't understand that, you're going to waste a lot of time and energy... which is what many of us do on a daily basis.

              3 votes
              1. [2]
                NaraVara
                Link Parent
                It happens. It just takes active engagement over a long time and mutual trust/good faith between both parties.

                You're essentially trying to argue someone into reevaluating their entire value system.

                It happens. It just takes active engagement over a long time and mutual trust/good faith between both parties.

                2 votes
                1. culturedleftfoot
                  Link Parent
                  That's the understanding the implications part :)

                  That's the understanding the implications part :)

          2. moonbathers
            (edited )
            Link Parent
            The problem is that at least in the United States, some of these "opinions" are things like "we should deport everyone who isn't white". One of our political parties has decided that they don't...

            The problem is that at least in the United States, some of these "opinions" are things like "we should deport everyone who isn't white". One of our political parties has decided that they don't care about democracy or justice or anything beyond hurting who they believe to be their enemies. The time for engaging such people in good faith is past. (passed?)

            5 votes
          3. arp242
            Link Parent
            I both agree and disagree. If I say "I believe [policy A] is better for the economy because [reason B]" then this is a measurable question where there are most certainly "correct" and "incorrect"...

            I both agree and disagree.

            If I say "I believe [policy A] is better for the economy because [reason B]" then this is a measurable question where there are most certainly "correct" and "incorrect" answers.

            But even if it's shown that policy A isn't better for the economy, this doesn't mean it's invalid or "incorrect"; you can still argue it's the better policy based on morality, ideas of "fairness", etc.

            So while I agree that politics as such is not a scientific endeavour with clear correct or incorrect answers, there are certainly arguments people use which can be correct or incorrect.

            I think a lot of people are confused by this, and a lot of the time I see nonsense in politics it's because people believe in a certain policy that has certain negative effects – which is fair enough, a lot of things are a trade-off – but then try to convince people with with pseudo-scientific nonsense instead of just admitting it's really about what they consider to be a fair and just society.

            Perhaps the best (and hopefully uncontroversial) example of this is climate change denial, which isn't really about denying climate change, but about not wanting to increase government control. The latter is something that's neither "correct" or "incorrect", but the former is.

            3 votes
          4. [2]
            ThatFanficGuy
            Link Parent
            Do you mean "politics" as in "an often-heated personal discussion" or "the field of state governance"?

            Do you mean "politics" as in "an often-heated personal discussion" or "the field of state governance"?

            1 vote
            1. culturedleftfoot
              Link Parent
              The latter, particularly the beliefs and principles which shape policy.

              The latter, particularly the beliefs and principles which shape policy.

              1 vote
  4. [5]
    stu2b50
    Link
    One thing I've noticed with heated discussion on reddit and tildes and everything with the tree format, is that it feels like NO ONE has actually read the thread in its entirety. The same...

    One thing I've noticed with heated discussion on reddit and tildes and everything with the tree format, is that it feels like NO ONE has actually read the thread in its entirety. The same arguments, sometimes with the same people, go on 3-4 or different times with the same conclusion sometimes. Sometimes a point gets completely disproven, but it gets revived by people apparently ignorant of that elsewhere and the same conversation happens AGAIN. It gets exhausting when replies split so much.

    That's one point where I feel like traditional forums did better. Because everything is displayed linearly chronologically, at least everyone has read the preceding posts, and you don't get the same points rehashed over and over again.

    15 votes
    1. [4]
      Deimos
      Link Parent
      A lot of this is because replies go into each person's inbox/notifications area, and they just reply from there, without even going back to the thread. That's a big factor in why back-and-forth...

      A lot of this is because replies go into each person's inbox/notifications area, and they just reply from there, without even going back to the thread. That's a big factor in why back-and-forth arguments between two people go on forever too, they just keep replying to the comments in their inbox, even if the rest of the thread has been dead for days.

      12 votes
      1. vord
        Link Parent
        I've been guilty of this myself, and I think an answer might be for notifications just be a way to hot-link back to your original comment so you can see the broader context that might have...

        I've been guilty of this myself, and I think an answer might be for notifications just be a way to hot-link back to your original comment so you can see the broader context that might have developed in the thread.

        @stu2b50's comment about traditional forums made me think about my work's Slack usage. There's a broad age range, but I can usually divide people into two groups: Those who use forums and those who use Reddit. The forum folks tend to use Slack like an IRC chatroom...they read last post, type their reply, hit enter. Those of us who grew accustomed to sites like Reddit really embrace the threading aspect and branch off into a side thread far more often than the forum folks.

        The most important design decision Slack made that I think would work well for Tildes was to only allow a single thread to split off any given comment in a channel. I think that really allows the strengths of both forum-style and threaded conversations to shine.

        6 votes
      2. [2]
        Amarok
        Link Parent
        That sounds like a good trigger for the whisper mechanic. At some point that could auto-collapse the thread. We're dancing on the line between one to many and one to one... where do we flip that...

        That sounds like a good trigger for the whisper mechanic. At some point that could auto-collapse the thread. We're dancing on the line between one to many and one to one... where do we flip that switch, for the sanity of the conversation?

        5 votes
        1. Keegan
          Link Parent
          "flip that switch" gave me an idea that may or may not be good. Perhaps when replying users can flip a toggle to turn the conversation into a PM with a copy of the chain already in it. This could...

          "flip that switch" gave me an idea that may or may not be good. Perhaps when replying users can flip a toggle to turn the conversation into a PM with a copy of the chain already in it. This could add a message below a comment in the regular view saying "this conversation has been moved to PM".

          6 votes
  5. [7]
    Amarok
    Link
    Go ahead, please link me to intelligent political discussions in forum format.. ;) One thing I have noticed. They follow the exact same pattern as sports threads. It's the same style of back and...

    Go ahead, please link me to intelligent political discussions in forum format.. ;)

    One thing I have noticed. They follow the exact same pattern as sports threads. It's the same style of back and forth, smack talk, and team dynamics. Pop over to reddit and open up any thread for a major game with a rivalry in play, any sport. Compare it to your average political thread and tell me I'm wrong. :P

    Once upon a time, people didn't discuss religion and they didn't discuss politics. Those were keep-to-yourself topics. That wasn't a solution, but it goes to show you that this problem is far larger than internet forums. These topics have bedeviled us for centuries, people were even jailed or executed for daring to have them. Now that we've got them, all day, all night, what have we gained? What have we lost?

    If people are so determined to turn it into a sporting event, maybe we should lean into that somehow. Where's our panel of fact checkers handing out points?

    Here's another one that bothers me. Are the political threads uniquely cursed or do they just bring out more of the same pedantic behaviors and back-forth slapfights that show up in all threads? Perhaps it's the underlying conversation that's at issue and politics just happens to pull us all in that direction for some reason. A smarter comment model might help take some of the sting out of that.

    This is one of those issues where I wonder if there's even a solution possible. There's no system that can do it for us. Is there a system that can help us do it better?

    13 votes
    1. tindall
      Link Parent
      The medium is the message indeed. When we are shown a conversation that looks like a tennis match, it's hard to avoid engaging with it as such. That said, I think it's pretty important to separate...

      The medium is the message indeed. When we are shown a conversation that looks like a tennis match, it's hard to avoid engaging with it as such.

      That said, I think it's pretty important to separate conversations about safety from this. When trans issues come up, or other LGBTQ+ issues, or someone brings up some Jewish conspiracy theory or some horrendously racist nonsense, I'm going to get heated, because demonstrating to other readers that such behaviour isn't tolerated by the site in general. Why? Because when I see someone (especially on "no politics" sites like Lobste.rs) say something that is advocating direct harm to me or people I care about, or is reinforcing ideologies that do so (like "Jews control the media" narratives, for instance), I feel unsafe and don't want to spend as much time in that space, and that feeling is lessened a lot if there are others there who have my back.

      When someone expresses a bigoted viewpoint, it's often the case that the person telling them it's bigoted is accused of "bringing politics to the discussion", which makes me wary of the idea of "no politics discussion" rules.

      10 votes
    2. [3]
      ThatFanficGuy
      Link Parent
      I've observed over however long I've been actively engaging in online conversations that there are several topics that appear to bring about the same – or at least similar – argumentativeness,...

      Perhaps it's the underlying conversation that's at issue and politics just happens to pull us all in that direction for some reason.

      I've observed over however long I've been actively engaging in online conversations that there are several topics that appear to bring about the same – or at least similar – argumentativeness, polarity, and tribalism. As far as I'm aware, those are, broadly speaking: politics, religion, sports, language. (You can go deeper if you want to: consoles vs. PC, this game vs. that game etc.)

      I think the reason all these act along the same lines is because they're inherently bound to our identities, most of the time, for most of the people. We fight not just to be right on a subject matter: we fight to be right about ourselves. If someone questions something we feel deeply connected to, in our eyes, they question who we are, and questioning parts of our existence is a terrifying prospect.

      Ackowledging that... well, I don't know if it would lead to a better solution. Perhaps there isn't a solution as such: existential self-preservation isn't exactly a problem. Perhaps what we need is to acknowledge our imperfections and keep moving.

      8 votes
      1. [2]
        LukeZaz
        Link Parent
        I definitely agree that this is probably the issue. I think a lot of the time when I've seen someone change their opinion, it's been under a context where they appeared to purposefully "disarm"...

        I definitely agree that this is probably the issue. I think a lot of the time when I've seen someone change their opinion, it's been under a context where they appeared to purposefully "disarm" (so-to-speak) themselves beforehand. That is to say, they prepared themselves for being wrong, and made sure they were okay with admitting and fixing that.

        It's all too easy to start believing in something enough that you don't want to let it go, especially if you haven't explicitly prepared in advance to do so. I absolutely think learning to disassociate your ideas from yourself is almost certainly integral to productive discussion, but it's in no way easy to do. I'm not sure how it'd be fixed, but I'm sure there's almost certainly a way to encourage it.

        5 votes
        1. ThatFanficGuy
          Link Parent
          What helped me get over a lot of that – not everything, but a lot of what would a year ago bury me in a bullshit conversation – was recognizing which ideas aren't essential to me. It was a part of...

          What helped me get over a lot of that – not everything, but a lot of what would a year ago bury me in a bullshit conversation – was recognizing which ideas aren't essential to me. It was a part of my process of self-discovery: the path of paying attention to and recognizing which elements spark my interest implies a lot of sieving.

          I'm defined by my creativity; by my curiosity about the world and its people; by the way I choose to engage with language and speech... The core aspects of my being. I'm not defined by sports teams, or nationality, or how others choose to live their lives, even if I share some form of ties with them. I'm not defined by the way I speak – which, in a roundabout way, means I only speak in a way that I'd feel content with, which is more meaningful and satisfactory to me. And so on.

          This topic is more complex than what could fit in a couple of paragraphs of a forum comment, and the above is not a definitive solution. I do, however, think that sharing one example of coming to head with an issue could illuminate it for those who yet haven't. Maybe this would end up shedding some light on making things a little easier for oneself, one person at a time.

          5 votes
    3. Icarus
      Link Parent
      Your comment is interesting because after I read it last night, I coincidentally read the following in the very beginning of Chapter 1 of The Gentleman's Book Of Etiquette And Manual of Politeness...

      Once upon a time, people didn't discuss religion and they didn't discuss politics. Those were keep-to-yourself topics. That wasn't a solution, but it goes to show you that this problem is far larger than internet forums. These topics have bedeviled us for centuries, people were even jailed or executed for daring to have them. Now that we've got them, all day, all night, what have we gained? What have we lost?

      Your comment is interesting because after I read it last night, I coincidentally read the following in the very beginning of Chapter 1 of The
      Gentleman's Book Of Etiquette And Manual of Politeness (1860 via Project Gutenberg):

      One of the first rules for a guide in polite conversation, is to avoid political or religious discussions in general society. Such discussions lead almost invariably to irritating differences of opinion, often to open quarrels, and a coolness of feeling which might have been avoided by dropping the distasteful subject as soon as marked differences of opinion arose. It is but one out of many that can discuss either political or religious differences, with candor and judgment, and yet so far control his language and temper as to avoid either giving or taking offence.

      In their place, in circles which have met for such discussions, in a tête à tête conversation, in a small party of gentlemen where each is ready courteously to listen to the others, politics may be discussed with perfect propriety, but in the drawing-room, at the dinner-table, or in the society of ladies, these topics are best avoided.

      If you are drawn into such a discussion without intending to be so, be careful that your individual opinion does not lead you into language and actions unbecoming a gentleman. Listen courteously to those whose opinions do not agree with yours, and keep your temper. A man in a passion ceases to be a gentleman.

      Even if convinced that your opponent is utterly wrong, yield gracefully, decline further discussion, or dextrously turn the conversation, but do not obstinately defend your own opinion until you become angry, or more excited than is becoming to a gentleman.

      Many there are who, giving their opinion, not as an opinion but as a law, will defend their position by such phrases, as: “Well, if I were president, or governor, I would,” &c.—and while by the warmth of their argument they prove that they are utterly unable to govern their own temper, they will endeavor to persuade you that they are perfectly competent to take charge of the government of the nation.

      Retain, if you will, a fixed political opinion, yet do not parade it upon all occasions, and, above all, do not endeavor to force others to agree with you. Listen calmly to their ideas upon the same subjects, and if you cannot agree, differ politely, and while your opponent may set you down as a bad politician, let him be obliged to admit that you are a gentleman.

      8 votes
    4. NaraVara
      Link Parent
      The Roosterteeth Politics and Current Events forum had lots of them. But they just nuked the archive a few months ago :-( Granted, that forum's been dead for about 10 years now. But in its...

      Go ahead, please link me to intelligent political discussions in forum format.. ;)

      The Roosterteeth Politics and Current Events forum had lots of them. But they just nuked the archive a few months ago :-(

      Granted, that forum's been dead for about 10 years now. But in its glory-days it was really something. Atheists convinced Christians to become agnostic. Agnostics became religious. Republicans flipped and voted for Obama. It was bananas!

      4 votes
  6. [2]
    cptcobalt
    Link
    Yes. In political/controversial threads, people should always feel free to politely state their most salient opinions/perspectives, with a clarifying response or two if others reply, but shouldn't...

    Yes.

    In political/controversial threads, people should always feel free to politely state their most salient opinions/perspectives, with a clarifying response or two if others reply, but shouldn't engage by descending into reply storms.

    Wait for others to speak. If you're on "one side" of a discussion and have already contributed a seemingly spiraling and thread, and you're tempted to reply and make it longer, just wait for someone else to reply. There's probably someone else that agrees with you and can make a similar point. They can probably add color to a perspective in a slightly different way than you.

    Also:

    • Don't bait.
    • Don't willingly misunderstand others.
    • Don't ask questions to provoke a reply if it's unnecessary unless you're genuinely seeking clarification.
    12 votes
    1. Keegan
      Link Parent
      This is a big one IMO. A lot of time questions like that are sarcastic or snarky. Do you really think that's a good idea? Why would you want to do that? A lot of questions can be interpreted as...

      Don't ask questions to provoke a reply if it's unnecessary unless you're genuinely seeking clarification.

      This is a big one IMO. A lot of time questions like that are sarcastic or snarky. Do you really think that's a good idea? Why would you want to do that? A lot of questions can be interpreted as genuine, but are really just users being assholes.

      7 votes
  7. [3]
    skybrian
    (edited )
    Link
    To me it doesn't seem that bad. Although I do ignore some heated discussions (the one on Bernie Sanders was pretty bad), I'm more likely to say what I think here with a possibility of being heard,...

    To me it doesn't seem that bad. Although I do ignore some heated discussions (the one on Bernie Sanders was pretty bad), I'm more likely to say what I think here with a possibility of being heard, and with a chance that I'll talk to the same person again sometime. Without that chance, I probably wouldn't bother.

    Also, I've gotten into some back-and-forths where, even if we didn't agree, I think we still respected each other at the end, so that's better than usual.

    I think the discussions would improve a bit if we knew each other better. The UI could help with this. Sometimes it's hard to remember people by usernames alone.

    12 votes
    1. kfwyre
      Link Parent
      I think this is an underappreciated force when it comes to communication here. Because we're a relatively small community, we all occupy similar spaces and see each other around the site a lot....

      and with a chance that I'll talk to the same person again sometime

      I think this is an underappreciated force when it comes to communication here. Because we're a relatively small community, we all occupy similar spaces and see each other around the site a lot. This makes the relationships between us less disposable than they would be on other platforms. On larger social media sites, I could shout someone down with little to no recourse, as both of us are insulated enough by larger crowds that we're unlikely to interact ever again. Here, we're instead very likely to see that person again, frequently, in the future.

      I've described this dynamic before as the idea of flipping off someone in traffic versus flipping off your neighbor. In traffic there's little downside -- you drive your separate way, never to see the other person again. Your neighbor, on the other hand, is someone you still have to share a space with. That relationship is not only better to invest more in, it's, at the very least, not worth eliminating, especially in a really ugly way.

      8 votes
    2. suspended
      Link Parent
      That's why I use Tildes ReExtended. One of the main features allows you to add colored text labels next to someone's username.

      The UI could help with this. Sometimes it's hard to remember people by usernames alone.

      That's why I use Tildes ReExtended. One of the main features allows you to add colored text labels next to someone's username.

      5 votes
  8. [5]
    sigma
    Link
    Honestly, just stop getting political analysis and politics hot takes from people you don't know. As with any complicated subject, you have to trust that the other person is both arguing in good...

    Honestly, just stop getting political analysis and politics hot takes from people you don't know. As with any complicated subject, you have to trust that the other person is both arguing in good faith and that they know what they are talking about, or are at least willing to provide proof to back up their claims or have some expertise in the field.

    The vast majority of the time on any social media platform, most of the people talking about complex topics are some edgy high school/college kid who read a few articles with hot takes and just pushes it out there for others to read. Other people take them seriously because they have no idea who is behind the message and assume expertise, and it gets pushed out more. Thats why Coronavirus discussion is such a shit show; most people have zero training in statistics and know nothing about how medicine works practically.

    Social media platforms are great for finding niche subjects when there is no general public interest driving people to that subject, but once something like Coronavirus or politics becomes pop culture, all nuanced discussion gets blown away. That or just treat everyone you meet like a high schooler and demand proof and evidence for basic claims, and demand an analysis for how they reach it like any professional in any field.

    9 votes
    1. [4]
      AnthonyB
      Link Parent
      I totally get where you're coming from, and I agree that it is naive to listen to strangers on the internet, but we need to be careful in how we apply this. One way to quickly turn a potentially...

      That or just treat everyone you meet like a high schooler and demand proof and evidence for basic claims, and demand an analysis for how they reach it like any professional in any field.

      I totally get where you're coming from, and I agree that it is naive to listen to strangers on the internet, but we need to be careful in how we apply this. One way to quickly turn a potentially good conversation into a shitshow is to dismiss a thoughtful comment by replying with "source?" or something else that ignores the big picture and demands proof for a smaller detail. It's definitely a good principle, but one that requires a respectful interaction if it's going to be helpful. When it comes to tildes, we should all expect that everyone is arguing in good faith. The moderation system has done a great job at removing people who don't abide by that standard. So hopefully we all keep that in mind when requesting additional information to back up someone's claim.

      9 votes
      1. [3]
        sigma
        Link Parent
        Thats a naive assumption. Tildes is a small community, but its not a utopia, and arguing in bad faith doesnt mean you are an asshole per se. Even if you go on the Coronavirus tildes, there is...

        Thats a naive assumption. Tildes is a small community, but its not a utopia, and arguing in bad faith doesnt mean you are an asshole per se. Even if you go on the Coronavirus tildes, there is plenty of misinformation and random articles/statements cited as fact when it is very questionable. You should always ask for sources or analysis breakdown if you are discussing something that requires it and isn't easily google-able.

        Tildes and other social media platforms arent exactly conducive to long format conversations anyway; a long conversation on Tildes would be a 10 comment chain, and there is only so much you can say. You can also be tactful about it, like "I'll accept this for now, but Ill PM/email you later for a source/cite", like you would in real life when you are speaking to a professional.

        4 votes
        1. AnthonyB
          Link Parent
          I think we might be talking about two different things. I'm saying I don't think anyone here is deliberately trying to misinform or be an asshole. While it's certainly possible for someone to do...

          I think we might be talking about two different things. I'm saying I don't think anyone here is deliberately trying to misinform or be an asshole. While it's certainly possible for someone to do that, those users don't last long enough around here to make their presence felt. Personally, I think the most appealing aspect of this site is that users can engage in a discussion with the assumption that the person they're talking to is also trying to have a nice, insightful discussion. Having said that, you're definitely right; discussing complicated issues like coronavirus or politics can lead to bad information, and following up and asking questions is important. I just don't want tildes to turn into mini-reddit where everyone assumes the person they're talking to is either a total moron or a troll and asking for sources becomes a weaponized go-to rebuttal for any argument.

          4 votes
        2. skybrian
          Link Parent
          This seems mostly a matter of having cultural norms for politeness, and we will probably need to do a better job of that as Tildes grows. I don't think a norm of sending the source privately would...

          This seems mostly a matter of having cultural norms for politeness, and we will probably need to do a better job of that as Tildes grows.

          I don't think a norm of sending the source privately would be a good idea, because then other people reading along wouldn't have it. Also, we aren't talking in real time so it's fine to take a while to respond, or even to drop the conversation if real life intrudes. Unlike in a professional relationship, nobody is required to continue any discussion any longer than they want to.

          Instead I think we should follow the lead of AskHistorians on Reddit. As I understand it, nobody is expected to provide a citation right away, but it is fine and totally normal to ask someone where they found some interesting bit of information, and it usually gets a good response.

          2 votes
  9. [5]
    Keegan
    (edited )
    Link
    I assume this is related to this thread that I had not even seen until I logged in for the first time in a while a few minutes ago. I've read some of it, but I don't have the time on my hands to...

    I assume this is related to this thread that I had not even seen until I logged in for the first time in a while a few minutes ago. I've read some of it, but I don't have the time on my hands to read 123 comments, and doing so seems like it would only disappoint me after reading the comment @Deimos posted in locking it.

    if it's even possible to have nuanced political discussions online

    It is certainly possible, as for a long time there have been dozens of political posts with no such issues happening, but with a subject as dear to many people's hearts, and with many stressed with the times and needing a place to take it out, I'm not entirely shocked such a thing happened. As such, I don't believe we are doomed to having bad megathreads, as many end up fine, but I think there are certainly some possibilities for better structuring to minimize such issues.

    Are there additional political ground rules that need to be set up?

    I don't personally believe that there are any additional rules that need to be made, but existing rules could be more strict. I don't know exactly how @Deimos moderates, but I do have some inklings based off our interactions and interactions I have seen in other threads, and he does a good job. I suspect some moderation goes on behind the scenes where only he and the problematic users can see (in messages).


    Here is a list of suggestions that came to mind when pondering this subject. Not all of them are ideal, but I am just throwing ideas out there.
    1. I think adding a link to the code of conduct next to "formatting help" when writing comments would be an easy change that would remind users to "not act like an asshole".
    2. Having a "strikes" system where users get strikes for being naughty, and can earn their way to getting strikes removed by an appeal system or by making certain types of good contributions to the site. This system would be very objective though and a lot of work for @Deimos, so it might not work.
    3. An option for topic authors to make "cooldowns" on comments.
    4. A new tag where if enough users mark a chain as "argumentative" (different wording perhaps?) that would temporarily lock the chain for an hour or some other time period.
    5. Extended moderation abilities for non-admins. Just as some people can add tags, a few users should get the ability to lock comments (if 2+ of them mark a post with it) and remove comments (if 2+ of them mark a comment with it). I realize this may not be ideal, as many have complained in the past about superusers being an issue with controlling what is going on, and this would give them more power, but in reality if it is abused it could be solved with a permanent revocation of their permissions for moderation.
    6. Finding a way to remove the hesitation about marking comments "Malice", and further emphasizing the need for "Noise" comments to be made less frequently, which seems to me (I have no data to support this) like they happen more often in politics topics.
    7. When posting a comment, add a confirmation dialog of sorts to make people think deeper about what they are posting.
    8. When posting a comment, change so politics-tagged posts have a 15 second timer between pressing "Post Comment" and the final post prompt is given. This will slow them down and perhaps decrease tensions.

    Edit: fixed formatting for details box. Forgot a /

    6 votes
    1. Algernon_Asimov
      Link Parent
      Having been the subject of moderation myself in the past, I can confirm this does happen.

      I suspect some moderation goes on behind the scenes where only he and the problematic users can see (in messages).

      Having been the subject of moderation myself in the past, I can confirm this does happen.

      5 votes
    2. [3]
      timo
      Link Parent
      Same here. I have seen and participated in some good political discussions on here, which all were positive interactions. Maybe this thread was an exception?

      I assume this is related to this thread that I had not even seen until I logged in for the first time in a while a few minutes ago. I've read some of it, but I don't have the time on my hands to read 123 comments, and doing so seems like it would only disappoint me after reading the comment @Deimos posted in locking it.

      Same here. I have seen and participated in some good political discussions on here, which all were positive interactions. Maybe this thread was an exception?

      4 votes
      1. Loire
        Link Parent
        Bernie dropping out created a bit of an... lets call it agitated state of posting amongst a certain population across the internet. This thread was the tildes epicenter for that agitation to get...

        Bernie dropping out created a bit of an... lets call it agitated state of posting amongst a certain population across the internet. This thread was the tildes epicenter for that agitation to get vented.

        There's a lot of talk about "performative posting" and what not, which, honestly, I think is disrespectful to our fellow tildes posters, and off base. People were upset about an outcome, other people (for which I was one), weren't reading the room, and essentially dunking on them trying to explain away this or that. Like telling your friend "its not so bad!" in their time of grief, this only served to fan the flames.

        Generally speaking, for the little over a year I've been here, there has been a lot of disdain for political threads of any type on tildes, so anytime one gets out of hand theres a lot of talk about "what can we do"?

        9 votes
      2. Keegan
        Link Parent
        It certainly isn't a one time thing, but you are right and the majority of the threads are decent.

        It certainly isn't a one time thing, but you are right and the majority of the threads are decent.

        4 votes
  10. spacecowboy
    (edited )
    Link
    Politics is how we believe the world should be. Political discussions focus on persuading others by any means possible (because it is for the greater good, right?) As a reader though, I am looking...

    Politics is how we believe the world should be. Political discussions focus on persuading others by any means possible (because it is for the greater good, right?)

    As a reader though, I am looking to be informed, not persuaded. The problem is how to separate one dimension from the other.

    Popular voting does not help, because people who upvote informative comments are outnumbered by those who vote on persuasive comments that promote their view of how the world should be.

    But there could be a solution: imagine you have a personal downvote button which works like this:
    If you downvote a comment that does not inform you then it does not change the ranking of this comment for others, but instead it reduces how much weight the ranking algorithm gives to all other upvotes of people who upvoted this comment. This downranking only applies to what you see. That's why it is your personal downvote button. Let's say you reduce it by 10% with some time expiration. So next time you open a comment thread it takes more people to bring uninformative comments to your attention.

    This mechanism could make people a bit more responsible about what they upvote. Now they risk loosing your attention if they abuse that upvote button.

    And since this personal downvote does not affect what others see - it can't be weaponized like the traditional downvote (which is why we don't have the traditional downvote button here).

    5 votes
  11. Parameter
    Link
    Impactful and meaningful conversation comes when people feel safe around the people they're with. This kind of suffers on Tildes because a lot of people here seem to debate and argue for sport...

    Impactful and meaningful conversation comes when people feel safe around the people they're with. This kind of suffers on Tildes because a lot of people here seem to debate and argue for sport while the active community is relatively small so disagreements can feel more personal.

    A solution is simple but requires the most work: Encouraging and practicing thoughtful conversation and understanding.

    It's hard to be passionate about certain issues while prioritizing the greater good of creating a place that makes our lives betters by informing us and providing an outlet for working together.

    4 votes
  12. est
    Link
    It's easier to pick sides in politics than discussion the actual matter.

    It's easier to pick sides in politics than discussion the actual matter.

    3 votes
  13. mrbig
    (edited )
    Link
    Many people that engage in political discussions are deeply entrenched in a particular world view. They unconsciously favor information that confirm this world view, and consider anything that...

    Many people that engage in political discussions are deeply entrenched in a particular world view. They unconsciously favor information that confirm this world view, and consider anything that goes against it as a manifestation of bias. The only opinions that are not biased are the ones that agree with them.

    In other words, politics is an emotionally charged subject that is frequently discussed by people that fail to acknowledge their own emotions.

    I don’t think any forum mechanics can solve this problem.

    3 votes
  14. Five
    Link
    People on here seem very argumentative so I can’t see any feature that could stop that, most political posts on the internet get heated but they definitely seem to be more so on here that is...

    People on here seem very argumentative so I can’t see any feature that could stop that, most political posts on the internet get heated but they definitely seem to be more so on here that is probably because people here seem to have bigger egos than let’s say people on Instagram, best thing to do is avoid political posts and let them argue amongst themselves.