22 votes

Would it be beneficial to ban certain topics of political discourse?

I've noticed that there are certain topics (specifically political ones) that reoccur frequently on this site, which almost never contribute anything of value. These can derail threads, incite hostility between users, push away new users, etc. IMO it is rare that anything new is said, and even rarer that any opinions are changed. Examples include: socialism vs capitalism; should real leftists vote for Biden?; is Biden a rapist?; are Bernie supporters toxic?; etc. I'm not saying these aren't important things to discuss (I've done so myself), but is it really necessary for us to have the exact same arguments basically every day? I personally feel the site would be nicer to use and less toxic overall if these discussions didn't happen. Would there be any downside to simply banning them, at least temporarily? Perhaps until after the US presidential election?

98 comments

  1. [39]
    patience_limited
    Link
    Every forum I've ever participated in has tarpit topics that entrap nearly everyone who plunges into them, whether in politics, programming, tastes in music, or otherwise. People get their...
    • Exemplary

    Every forum I've ever participated in has tarpit topics that entrap nearly everyone who plunges into them, whether in politics, programming, tastes in music, or otherwise. People get their fundamentals of identity tangled up in being right or winning, and everything goes to hell from there.

    I find myself struggling to remember the human if I even skim them. The escalating tribalism, lack of empathy, wasted energy/intellect, wilful ignorance, dogmatism, pointless bickering, and wanton aggression feel like poisonously sweet, tainted invitations to hate people. Frankly, my reserves of emotional energy have been low enough of late that I've been staying away from Tildes because I just don't want to deal.

    The thing is, it can happen with any topic, not just U.S. politics. There's a lot of tinder spread around by disinformation in that area right now, but I'd rather contemplate punishing behavior than banning whole areas of discussion. We're here to build a culture of sane discourse that's robust enough to withstand reasoned disagreement.

    The malice tag exists for a reason. There are specific Tildes users who show patterns of bad faith argument, who are deliberately baiting intemperate responses, who are bringing knives to intellectual pillow fights. These nascent trolls need to get spanked in a public way, repeatedly, until we can talk about sensitive topics without yelling past each other.

    Generally, the offenders who've established a presence on Tildes are good at avoiding individual posts that obviously trigger moderation. Nonetheless a thread's worth of activity shows who's consistently turning up the temperature. We shouldn't be leaving it to @Deimos to do all the heavy lifting of watching exploding threads and deciding, ex cathedra, to shut down the destructive ones.

    I'd really like to see more users with the knowledge, courage, and wisdom to label comments when things are going off the rails.

    27 votes
    1. [22]
      Deimos
      Link Parent
      This is generally how I try to think about it. However, it's very difficult to try to find a balance of when exactly I need to take some kind of action though, and I do think it would be best to...

      This is generally how I try to think about it. However, it's very difficult to try to find a balance of when exactly I need to take some kind of action though, and I do think it would be best to try to add some lighter actions than something as "final" as a full lock or removal.

      Overall, I try to think of my role as closer to "host" than "babysitter". I shouldn't need to—and don't want to—have to mediate every disagreement on the site. Like you said, there are going to be a lot of those, on a lot of different subjects. I'll intervene if something starts getting really out of hand and people have gotten to the point where they're throwing around attacks and insults and such, but I shouldn't need to get involved whenever people are just having a relatively mild argument.

      I think there needs to be a level of personal responsibility from the users' ends too. If you don't like being involved in political arguments, then don't constantly get involved in political arguments. Arguments only continue when two (or more) people keep replying. If there's an argument you don't want to be involved in, you're in control of that. You can disengage from any argument you're involved in whenever you want to, just walk away from it. If someone tries to start an argument in an obvious bad-faith way, you can just ignore it. I think a lot of people feel like whoever replies last "wins", but that's not right, it's perfectly fine to just ignore someone when it's obvious that they're not actually trying to discuss anything.

      23 votes
      1. [21]
        Grawlix
        Link Parent
        Just yesterday, I mentioned that there are some resident users here who are almost always toxic in political threads. It got a bunch of votes and three "Exemplary" commendations, but it's sitting...

        Just yesterday, I mentioned that there are some resident users here who are almost always toxic in political threads. It got a bunch of votes and three "Exemplary" commendations, but it's sitting at the bottom of the thread. I don't care about taking credit, but it sure does seem like some users of this site were abusing the negative labels, maybe because I was talking about them. Whatever, it's done, and it's not like it was outright buried out of sight.

        But, I also got a private message and an explanation for one of my commendations that mentioned two specific problem users. Those two were exactly the users I had in mind making the post. I imagine that right now, even without having said who those two users are, you know exactly who I'm talking about. These aren't isolated incidents where someone just isn't their best self, they're patterns of behavior with, at best, very rare exceptions. I don't expect you to babysit them, but as a host, you keep inviting them over despite the fact that they always make your other guests uncomfortable.

        And that's us taking personal responsibility. We don't want to get into fights, so we don't talk, because we know if we did, one of those users would start a fight with zero repercussions. Yeah, we can walk away, but you should know that it means the only people left will be people who start fights and people willing to continue putting up with fights.

        8 votes
        1. [10]
          cfabbro
          (edited )
          Link Parent
          Given how far down the page your comment is, AFAIK it would have required far more than just a handful of people to apply a label to accomplish that. And rather than all those users having intent...

          but it sure does seem like some users of this site were abusing the negative labels

          Given how far down the page your comment is, AFAIK it would have required far more than just a handful of people to apply a label to accomplish that. And rather than all those users having intent to abuse labels, IMO the far more likely explanation is that, even people who might have agreed with your general sentiment, still labeled your comment "Offtopic" because they thought it was, and so perhaps felt it didn't deserve to be the main focus of the comment section.

          6 votes
          1. [9]
            Grawlix
            (edited )
            Link Parent
            ...I was literally talking about the kind of issue the article was talking about happening on Tildes, so if it was being labeled as "offtopic," that's also abusing the system. EDIT: It looks like...

            ...I was literally talking about the kind of issue the article was talking about happening on Tildes, so if it was being labeled as "offtopic," that's also abusing the system.

            EDIT: It looks like the "offtopic" label, if active, treats the comment as though it had -1 total votes. I guess the question is, how much does it take to activate that? Is it a single user, or does it require more, maybe in relation to other labels? Because it seems like it would be the best label to exploit someone wants to bury comments even if they're not off topic. You know, hypothetically.

            1 vote
            1. [8]
              cfabbro
              (edited )
              Link Parent
              It's debatable whether your comment was offtopic or not, since it's a bit of a grey area, but IMO (and clearly many others) your comment was offtopic... However, what is absolutely, undeniably,...

              It's debatable whether your comment was offtopic or not, since it's a bit of a grey area, but IMO (and clearly many others) your comment was offtopic... However, what is absolutely, undeniably, and not just "hypothetically" "abusing the system" is you labeling my above comment as noise. WTF? Talk about hypocrisy!

              4 votes
              1. [7]
                Grawlix
                (edited )
                Link Parent
                I was wrong to do so, and I apologize. I was frustrated with the labeling system, admittedly because a past comment was drowned out, and I was tempted to futz with the system. That doesn't at all...

                I was wrong to do so, and I apologize. I was frustrated with the labeling system, admittedly because a past comment was drowned out, and I was tempted to futz with the system. That doesn't at all justify it in any way, and I don't intend to do it again. I'm sorry.

                Only Deimos can actually check, and unfortunately seems to be misrepresenting my past behavior, but it's not something I "habitually" do. As far as I can remember, I only used the "malice" label when bullying happened in the past. (EDIT: With the eception of the last couple of days, when things really got under my skin.) Obviously you can only take my word for it, but for whatever it's worth, there it is.

                2 votes
                1. [6]
                  cfabbro
                  Link Parent
                  Look, I understand the desire to retaliate when you feel wronged, but that doesn't make it alright to actually do so, especially when the person you lash out at has nothing to do with your...

                  Look, I understand the desire to retaliate when you feel wronged, but that doesn't make it alright to actually do so, especially when the person you lash out at has nothing to do with your original complaint (at least I assume I have nothing to do with it, since I generally avoid politics topics on Tildes and elsewhere like the f'n plague and rarely ever comment on political things anymore). And you doing that while you're also publicly decrying that exact sort of behavior also seriously undermines your credibility IMO. But fine, forgiven...

                  p.s. For the record I didn't even see your original comment until you mentioned it above, which is what caused me to looked for it in your comment history because I was curious if what you said was true about label abuse. And even then I never actually labeled it myself; I was just trying to give you some insight into how Tildes labels work, and why it being labeled as offtopic probably wasn't actually due to some conspiracy to silence you by those you were talking about.

                  1 vote
                  1. [5]
                    Grawlix
                    Link Parent
                    I know, and I'm not saying I was right. If I could take it back, I would, but as far as I know, once a label is clicked, it's just out there. I can't even find how I rated previous comments. Maybe...

                    I know, and I'm not saying I was right. If I could take it back, I would, but as far as I know, once a label is clicked, it's just out there. I can't even find how I rated previous comments. Maybe I was curious about what happens, maybe I was in a bad mood, maybe I got defensive and thought you were justifying what happens here, but none of that is a sufficient reason for what I did. It's just the way in which I was being petty and irresponsible. I was wrong, it's not how I usually behave, and it's not how I'll behave in the future, if I even continue using the site.

                    As for credibility, I stand by what I said. I'm included in that, and I'll take my lumps.

                    3 votes
                    1. [4]
                      cfabbro
                      Link Parent
                      You can undo labels. Just click "Label" then click the name of the label you previously applied that you want to remove. Only Exemplary cannot be undone, AFAIK.

                      You can undo labels. Just click "Label" then click the name of the label you previously applied that you want to remove. Only Exemplary cannot be undone, AFAIK.

                      2 votes
                      1. [3]
                        Grawlix
                        Link Parent
                        I already clicked on your comment, but I didn't see any particularly markings around any of the labels. I'm afraid to click anything again now, because, well, you know. :( I don't really want to...

                        I already clicked on your comment, but I didn't see any particularly markings around any of the labels. I'm afraid to click anything again now, because, well, you know. :( I don't really want to mess with things again. If the label usually sticks, maybe it has already been removed.

                        I want to say if I did see it, I might have undone it. That may be me being generous to myself, though. A part of what I was doing was really just seeing how the system works, albeit in a childish and angry way.

                        1. [2]
                          cfabbro
                          Link Parent
                          For future reference, if you want to experiment with things on Tildes, ~test exists for that purpose. And you're even allowed to register multiple accounts on Tildes so long as you don't:...

                          For future reference, if you want to experiment with things on Tildes, ~test exists for that purpose. And you're even allowed to register multiple accounts on Tildes so long as you don't:

                          • Use additional accounts for the purpose of deceiving others, such as by replying to your own posts from different accounts to create the illusion of support.
                          • Use additional accounts to manipulate site mechanics beyond what you could do with a single account. For example, do not vote multiple times on the same post, or vote on your own posts.

                          https://docs.tildes.net/policies/code-of-conduct#multiple-accounts

                          3 votes
                          1. Grawlix
                            Link Parent
                            See, that would have been the healthier way of doing what I did. :P

                            See, that would have been the healthier way of doing what I did. :P

                            1 vote
        2. [10]
          Flashynuff
          Link Parent
          Oof, my feelings exactly. I'd love to have more productive political conversations where I'm able to contribute a leftist perspective, but I don't want to start a whole chain of bad faith...

          Oof, my feelings exactly. I'd love to have more productive political conversations where I'm able to contribute a leftist perspective, but I don't want to start a whole chain of bad faith arguments so I don't bother.

          5 votes
          1. [9]
            Grawlix
            Link Parent
            That's exactly the problem. I got a private message from a user saying they stopped commenting and nearly quit using the site entirely because of those two specific users. One person who commended...

            That's exactly the problem. I got a private message from a user saying they stopped commenting and nearly quit using the site entirely because of those two specific users. One person who commended me said those two users are the reason they don't participate in political threads. Another person who commended me said "it's always the same two users," despite the fact that I never mentioned the number two in my original comment, so they're likely thinking of the same users. Heck, my original comment was about how posting in those threads made me feel anxious and exhausted. And now, you're echoing the same point: it makes you not want to post to begin with.

            Those users are actually subtracting from the dialog on Tildes by driving users away. Ironically, they're also the first to bemoan the toxic behavior of others while CONSTANTLY being toxic themselves. They're "punching back" against people who never took a swing at them.

            So, our options are to take the high road and act the way we wanted people to act on this site, or give up, stoop to their level, and play into their narrative by taking the bait.

            6 votes
            1. [8]
              Autoxidation
              Link Parent
              If these people are constant thorns, why not bring the issue up to @Deimos privately? At the very least I imagine they could be talked to, maybe they don't realize what they are doing and the...

              If these people are constant thorns, why not bring the issue up to @Deimos privately? At the very least I imagine they could be talked to, maybe they don't realize what they are doing and the effect they are having.

              4 votes
              1. [7]
                Grawlix
                Link Parent
                First, I have labeled their posts as "malice" when they directly attack or are needlessly rude to other users. That seemed to go nowhere, because they're as active and toxic as ever. Next, I...

                First, I have labeled their posts as "malice" when they directly attack or are needlessly rude to other users. That seemed to go nowhere, because they're as active and toxic as ever.

                Next, I addressed the issue here, in the hopes of getting a response from Deimos. If that doesn't work, I'll send a PM, and if that doesn't work, I don't know. I'll either make a post, or just quit reading political threads or using this site entirely. I wouldn't be the first, as several users have mentioned to me in PMs. :/

                1 vote
                1. [6]
                  Deimos
                  Link Parent
                  I didn't really want to get into this publicly, but you're being awfully disingenuous about it. You've repeatedly used Malice labels as a way to privately berate and swear at me, for example one...

                  I didn't really want to get into this publicly, but you're being awfully disingenuous about it.

                  You've repeatedly used Malice labels as a way to privately berate and swear at me, for example one of the ones you used yesterday said something like "Why the fuck aren't you doing anything about this, Deimos?". You've habitually misused other labels as well. Yesterday alone you labeled multiple comments as Joke to try to negatively impact them somehow. You even mis-labeled @cfabbro's (correct) answer to your question in here as Noise because... I don't even know, you disagree with it or didn't like the answer?

                  I'm not denying that Tildes can use work to try to improve discussions or reduce arguments, and I just said as much. But the way you've been behaving absolutely isn't the way to convince me that you're a reasonable person who deserves listening to. You're being toxic too, just where nobody except me can see it. Feeling righteous about it doesn't justify it.

                  10 votes
                  1. Grawlix
                    (edited )
                    Link Parent
                    We're getting into it publicly because doing it privately via the report system has done nothing. My labels of the past few days were trying to see if the system did anything. I would say it's...

                    We're getting into it publicly because doing it privately via the report system has done nothing. My labels of the past few days were trying to see if the system did anything. I would say it's "habitual," especially since (to my memory) I've almost exclusively used the "malice" label up until now, and then, please take a look at the context. I regularly report rude behavior, and nothing is done about it. I did label things in the wrong way, I was wrong to do it, and it won't happen again.

                    And I stand by the fact that it doesn't do anything. Even when you mention me swearing at you, that wasn't an insult at you personally, but my frustration at the situation, which I think is absolutely justified. You let people be bullies. I apologize for the language, but I stand by my point.

                    And I've received around a half-dozen private messages from users who agree. They stopped visiting political threads because of this behavior, and I can only guess what number stopped using Tildes entirely.

                    Frankly, I'm disappointed you're taking a harder line with me being exasperated using the reporting system and using rude language in it than you are with users who are toxic time and time again, and have a net negative impact on the communication here.

                    I mean, come on. The "gotcha" quote from me is saying "what the fuck." What the fuck indeed.

                    Ugh. This is tremendously disappointing.

                    2 votes
                  2. [2]
                    Kuromantis
                    Link Parent
                    Is it OK to ask for a screenshot/proof of this?

                    You've repeatedly used Malice labels as a way to privately berate and swear at me, for example one of the ones you used yesterday said something like "Why the fuck aren't you doing anything about this, Deimos?". You've habitually misused other labels as well. Yesterday alone you labeled multiple comments as Joke to try to negatively impact them somehow. You even mis-labeled @cfabbro's (correct) answer to your question in here as Noise because... I don't even know, you disagree with it or didn't like the answer?

                    You're being toxic too, just where nobody except me can see it.

                    Is it OK to ask for a screenshot/proof of this?

                    1 vote
                    1. Grawlix
                      Link Parent
                      Here's my corroboration, for what it's worth: I will straight-up admit to mislabeling that specific comment. It was after I was upset by this whole thing, and I don't know what headspace I was in,...

                      Here's my corroboration, for what it's worth:

                      I will straight-up admit to mislabeling that specific comment. It was after I was upset by this whole thing, and I don't know what headspace I was in, but I did something petty and irresponsible. I take full responsibility, I apologize, and I fully support efforts to prevent this kind of thing from being abused in the future. I shouldn't game the system just because I'm salty, and others shouldn't be able to do it as the most effective way of burying comments they disagree with.

                      As for the "Why the fuck aren't you doing anything about this, Deimos?" I'll also cop to that. There's also definitely some context missing. I'm fairly positive there was something before that in the same comment, where I was pointing out some user bullying others. If not, then almost certainly another report in the same thread. I don't interpret that as "berat[ing] and swear[ing] at," especially not habitually. It was a "what the fuck," not a "fuck you," and I was asking him to do something about others' behavior, not flaunting what I was doing. I was definitely aggressive, but I think it's disingenuous to say I was "habitually" insulting Deimos, especially if this is the prime example. Still, maybe I got too angry when I felt like I was shouting into the wind, and forgot there's another person at the other end.

                      If universally enforcing a certain standard of behavior would also affect me, I'm fine with it. I can hem and haw about context and frequency, but if the rules are fair, so be it. It would absolutely be worth it to deal with habitual problem users I had in mind.

                      By the way, I think it's worth mentioning that I never mentioned those two users by name in a public comment. I don't want to draw their attention, but I also didn't want to out them because they'd get a bunch of negative attention. Kind of ironic, all things considered. :/

                      3 votes
                  3. [2]
                    Micycle_the_Bichael
                    Link Parent
                    People might behave better and not abuse the system and go to private messages and discord to complain about the same two users if it felt like you did anything other than condescendingly tell us...

                    People might behave better and not abuse the system and go to private messages and discord to complain about the same two users if it felt like you did anything other than condescendingly tell us that we’re looking for a fight because the same two people constantly say shitty things that aren’t true about progressive and if it felt like you moderated them even remotely the same way you do us.

                    2 votes
                    1. [2]
                      Comment deleted by author
                      Link Parent
                      1. precise
                        Link Parent
                        I think the general idea is not unfair moderation, it's lack thereof. An undercurrent of a lot of disgruntled users on Tildes (myself somewhat included) is that there is an imbalance. The elephant...

                        I think the general idea is not unfair moderation, it's lack thereof. An undercurrent of a lot of disgruntled users on Tildes (myself somewhat included) is that there is an imbalance. The elephant in the room is political divisions. Progressives feel like they are making significant effort to create productive conversations, in good faith, to improve Tildes. Meanwhile progressives also feel that they are being attacked, slighted, or debated with in bad faith by non-progressives. The bait is very real, I've had to bow out of conversations myself and I've seen it elsewhere. I've even had to remind folks that their words have the ability to offend people, but the problem is that said folks either don't realize, don't accept or don't care and the problem continues. It is tiring to try and debate with someone in good faith when they do not return the favor. This leads to our current situation of progressives not wanting to participate, occasionally one of us falls for some bait and they are declared the entirety of the problem, and people get upset.

                        It's not that you're treating the progressives unfairly, but the community standards have been split between two political groups. In my view you've got a group who are trying very hard to keep the community in good standing who are now frustrated, and you've got a group who won't admit to any problems. Then, there are the onlookers; it's up to them to decide what they want the community to be.

                        5 votes
    2. mrbig
      Link Parent
      I frequently forget that labels even exist. About the malice label specifically, I don't use it for two reasons: (1) there are not many malicious comments on Tildes (my notion of what constitutes...

      I frequently forget that labels even exist. About the malice label specifically, I don't use it for two reasons: (1) there are not many malicious comments on Tildes (my notion of what constitutes malice is probably narrower than most), (2) I think I'm good at recognizing when a thread starts going downhill, so I end up not reading malicious comments altogether.

      12 votes
    3. [12]
      AnthonyB
      Link Parent
      In that sense, maybe we could experiment with an automated feature that locks down a thread after it has reached a certain number of 'malice' tags - relying less on Demios and other moderators (if...

      In that sense, maybe we could experiment with an automated feature that locks down a thread after it has reached a certain number of 'malice' tags - relying less on Demios and other moderators (if there are any with that level of authority) to constantly monitor every thread. In addition, it would give users more incentive to self-police threads and consider the implications of every comment. I'll admit, this idea just came to me after reading your comment. It isn't something I've put a lot of thought into, so feel free to tell me (politely) why it might suck.

      4 votes
      1. [5]
        Autoxidation
        Link Parent
        Hah, this sounds like something automoderator can do with a certain amount of reports on reddit. This sounds good in theory, but, at least in my experience, if the users are aware of rules like...

        Hah, this sounds like something automoderator can do with a certain amount of reports on reddit.

        This sounds good in theory, but, at least in my experience, if the users are aware of rules like this, they can and will be abused.

        8 votes
        1. NaraVara
          Link Parent
          You could, in theory, leverage a well designed "reputation" system to limit the potential for abuse by using reputation score to weight the impact of the labels. But that could also just kick the...

          You could, in theory, leverage a well designed "reputation" system to limit the potential for abuse by using reputation score to weight the impact of the labels.

          But that could also just kick the abuse can down the road to having people game the reputation system instead of the labeling system.

          4 votes
        2. [3]
          dubteedub
          Link Parent
          Given Tildes' mantra is to trust its users to act responsibly, I don't see that as much of an issue. If certain users do abuse the system, then I am sure they would be warned.

          Given Tildes' mantra is to trust its users to act responsibly, I don't see that as much of an issue. If certain users do abuse the system, then I am sure they would be warned.

          1 vote
          1. [2]
            Autoxidation
            Link Parent
            If there's one thing I've learned from moderating forums and reddit over the past dozen years or so, it's that there will always be a number of users who abuse the system or push it to the edge of...

            If there's one thing I've learned from moderating forums and reddit over the past dozen years or so, it's that there will always be a number of users who abuse the system or push it to the edge of just-no-quite-abuse. I see no reason why this community would be any different. It's already abused here, as Deimos has pointed out.

            4 votes
            1. Grawlix
              (edited )
              Link Parent
              Yep, I was wrong to do it. I'm sorry. It was hypocritical for me to complain about it, then turn around to do it just because I was frustrated about that very thing. That said, I would still...

              Yep, I was wrong to do it. I'm sorry. It was hypocritical for me to complain about it, then turn around to do it just because I was frustrated about that very thing.

              That said, I would still absolutely support some kind of measure to limit that kind of thing. I shouldn't be able to game the system because I'm mad, and it shouldn't be incentivized as the best way of "dealing with" comments in lieu of downvotes.

              2 votes
      2. patience_limited
        Link Parent
        I don't think that idea sucks at all. The issue I see is that people still aren't using labels as intended and appropriate. The passionate debaters are engaged with being right, and not noticing...

        I don't think that idea sucks at all. The issue I see is that people still aren't using labels as intended and appropriate.

        The passionate debaters are engaged with being right, and not noticing when they're being egged on, perhaps. I'm not on Tildes regularly enough these days, so when I peek into the heart of darkness in these threads, I run away screaming rather than taking time to call out the malefactors. Based on the discussion here, there's a lot of avoiding/ignoring rather than policing. This may be an intractable problem, but I thought I'd call attention to it so that we have a basis on which to implement something like your suggestion.

        6 votes
      3. [5]
        skybrian
        Link Parent
        Maybe instead have a cooling-off period for responses, like Hacker News does? I don't know exactly how they trigger it, but it seems useful.

        Maybe instead have a cooling-off period for responses, like Hacker News does? I don't know exactly how they trigger it, but it seems useful.

        4 votes
        1. [4]
          NaraVara
          Link Parent
          As far as I know, I think it's an opaque tagging system where moderators secretly tag "problem" users and it just sets a hard limit on how many replies they're allowed to make in a single thread...

          As far as I know, I think it's an opaque tagging system where moderators secretly tag "problem" users and it just sets a hard limit on how many replies they're allowed to make in a single thread over a period of time. When the "problem user" exceeds their limit, it gives them an error that implies they ran afoul of something like a spam filter rather than the "Shut up, now" block it actually is. The minimum karma score before you can vote on stuff also makes enough of a barrier to entry that it discourages those people from making new accounts.

          Not sure that's in the spirit of transparency though.

          3 votes
          1. [3]
            skybrian
            Link Parent
            There seem to be multiple systems. Apparently there is rate-limiting where some users have seen "slow down, you're posting too fast". There is also "hellbanning" where certain problem user's posts...

            There seem to be multiple systems. Apparently there is rate-limiting where some users have seen "slow down, you're posting too fast". There is also "hellbanning" where certain problem user's posts only show up in grey. But the one I'm thinking of is that sometimes for a heated thread, the last reply temporarily has no reply button, and this is for threads I didn't participate in at all, so I think it applies to everyone.

            1 vote
            1. [2]
              NaraVara
              Link Parent
              I feel like I rarely see heated threads where the replies come in that fast. They usually persist over several days from what I've seen. The site just isn't active enough to have that many...

              I feel like I rarely see heated threads where the replies come in that fast. They usually persist over several days from what I've seen. The site just isn't active enough to have that many concurrent users.

              1 vote
              1. skybrian
                Link Parent
                Yes, that's usually the case on Tildes. Although I did see one topic get very heated before it mysteriously disappeared, so it seems like some kind of circuit-breaker would occasionally be useful?...

                Yes, that's usually the case on Tildes. Although I did see one topic get very heated before it mysteriously disappeared, so it seems like some kind of circuit-breaker would occasionally be useful? Particularly for meta-discussions where a lot of people will feel like they have an opinion.

                2 votes
    4. [3]
      strangelander
      Link Parent
      Sorry for dumb question, but how do you add these tags? I followed the thread of pages from the link in your post, and couldn't find on any of the various pages that describe the tags how a user...

      Sorry for dumb question, but how do you add these tags? I followed the thread of pages from the link in your post, and couldn't find on any of the various pages that describe the tags how a user actually adds them to a comment. (i.e. how would I add the exemplary tag to your post? I just see vote, bookmark, reply and view as markdown under more... no tagging option.)

      2 votes
      1. [2]
        cfabbro
        Link Parent
        They are only available to users who have been here at least 7 days. Once that happens, the 'Label' option shows up in between 'Vote' and 'Bookmark' on comments. And for more info on them, you can...

        They are only available to users who have been here at least 7 days. Once that happens, the 'Label' option shows up in between 'Vote' and 'Bookmark' on comments. And for more info on them, you can check out the Commenting docs page: https://docs.tildes.net/instructions/commenting-on-tildes#labelling-comments

        6 votes
  2. [12]
    hungariantoast
    (edited )
    Link
    I'm honestly exhausted when it comes to these discussions. I sort of expressed that this morning, when I posted this message to the unofficial Discord channel: I don't think we should ban...
    • Exemplary

    I'm honestly exhausted when it comes to these discussions. I sort of expressed that this morning, when I posted this message to the unofficial Discord channel:

    Another day, another garbage discussion about Joe Biden

    I don't think we should ban discussions about these subjects though.

    I do think these discussions should be improved.

    Unfortunately, how we should go about improving these discussions is a difficult question.

    Heavily moderating them is probably the most direct way, but that takes a lot of time and effort. You have to visit the site frequently, and be willing to spend quite a bit of time actually reading the comments in order to make moderation decisions.

    Deimos is the only person who can lock topics or delete comments and topics. That's a lot of effort for one person who probably has things they want to do over the weekend.

    Sure, Deimos could just give a few users the ability to lock and delete stuff as well, and that would probably help a lot, but it's not that simple.

    Who should be promoted? Obviously, who is granted these powers affects how and when they are used... and we're dealing with political opinions. Dangerous.

    Also, I kind of think that throwing more bodies at the potential moderation workload is the wrong approach. Instead, I think it would be better to decrease the workload so that it is more manageable.

    Okay... but how do we do that?

    Well, fundamentally I think the issue with political discussion on Tildes is that the culture surrounding those discussions has drifted away from the overall site culture, with the "site culture" being the rules and customs established by the site documentation, maintained by Deimos, and (usually) exemplified by the community.

    So we need to realign the culture surrounding political discussions on Tildes to once again fit with the overall site culture. (That's a fairly obvious statement, when you think about it.)

    Okay... but how do we do that?

    Well, we have a variety of options. There is the most direct option mentioned above: manual moderation, but that increases the workload, and we want to decrease it.

    So let's instead run some experiments.

    In no particular order, I think any of these could be worth trying (and maybe even multiple of them):

    • Ban political topics for a period of time. This could be for a week, or it could be for a longer period of time, until we get closer to the US elections (as suggested by @skybrian). Let's just do it though and see what happens, how it affects the site, and what the culture of political discussions looks like when it returns.
    • Disable vote counts on political topics, perhaps via a certain combination of tags, such as usa and politics. Previously, the ability to see vote counts was disabled site-wide for a period of time. It was an interesting experiment that I think is worth running again.
    • Create a label for comments that are not malicious, but are argumentative. I would imagine that this label ought to somehow discourage responses and penalize the position of the comment it was applied to.
      • Allow custom labels for topics with specific tag combinations. So this "argumentative label" mentioned above would not have to be universally available throughout the site. It would only be available for comments in topics with a specific set of tags. I've read discussions about how different groups on Tildes might have unique, exclusive features in the future. This takes that idea one step further and aligns with the relationship between tags and groups.

    I think all of these experiments could help with adjusting the culture surrounding political discussions on Tildes.

    I also think they are all unnecessary.

    We currently have comment labels that could be used to deal with the problematic discussions in political topics. The issue, as I see it, is that there is a lot of ambiguity and, frankly, a lack of guidance in explaining just how applicable those labels are within those discussions.

    If a user is being argumentative, but not outright mean, am I supposed to label that as malicious nonetheless? I don't know. I'm not sure anyone knows. That sort of thing has never really been discussed before.

    And I think that's the crux of why these political discussions have become so problematic, and remained that way: no one knows how to deal with them.

    We already have a powerful community moderation system in place that just about everyone can use to great effect, we just don't know exactly how, when, or even if we should be using it within the context of these discussions, because they occupy a very tricky and nuanced spot in the discourse on this website.

    (It took me way too long to (re-)write this. Sorry to everyone who replied to or voted on this comment only to have me re-write it, but I was pretty unhappy with the original and did not want to just delete it.)

    Old comment

    I'm honestly exhausted when it comes to these discussions. I sort of expressed that this morning, when I posted this message to the unofficial Discord channel:

    Another day, another garbage discussion about Joe Biden

    I don't think we should ban discussions about these subjects though.

    I do think these discussions should be improved.

    Unfortunately, how we should go about improving these discussions is a difficult question.

    Heavily moderating them is probably the most direct way, but that takes a lot of time and effort. You have to visit the site frequently, and be willing to spend quite a bit of time actually reading the comments in order to make moderation decisions.

    Deimos is the only person who can lock topics or delete comments and topics. That's a lot of effort for one person who probably has things they want to do over the weekend.

    Sure, Deimos could just give a few users the ability to lock and delete stuff as well, and that would probably help a lot, but it's not that simple.

    Who should be promoted? Obviously who gets granted these powers affects how they are used... and we're dealing with political opinions. Dangerous.

    So I don't know. I'm not willing to throw my hands up and concede that online political discussion will always be terrible. I'm not willing to believe that Tildes cannot improve on that common problem like it has so many others. However, I also don't really have a concrete solution in mind.

    There is one thing I know for sure though:

    "For an alpha, the site's been way too stable."

    Let's run some experiments.

    Above, I talked about increasing the number of moderators to handle the workload, but how can we decrease the workload to keep it manageable by one moderator?

    Fundamentally, I think a goal should be set for how political discussions would ideally happen here on Tildes. What they would look like,

    I think what the community should try to do is set an ideal goal for how political discussions should be conducted, and then configure aspects of the site that hopefully acculturate users into participating under that ideal state.

    ("Acculturate" is the correct term for this, right? Or would it be "enculturate"?)

    So what experiments should we run and what aspects of the site should we change?

    • Ban political topics for a week. Fuck it, let's just do it and see what happens. See how it changes the site, and how the users who are most frequently invested in these political discussions react and change. No matter how big the news story, disallow political topics for one week. (Or even longer, as a sort of moratorium like @skybrian suggested.)
    • Disable vote counts on topics tagged with usa and politics. The effects of visible vote counts, both to everyone else and the commenter themselves, are interesting. A similar experiment was conducted a long time ago, and I think it might be worth trying it again in a focused setting.
    • Create a label for argumentative comments that is only applicable to comments in a topic with the politics tag. One of the neat ideas for future features on Tildes is that each group could have its own unique mechanics. ~comp might have features that ~music does not, for instance. But what if, instead of only groups having unique mechanics, tags could apply unique mechanics to topics as well? I think that would allow a great degree of flexibility in how discussions are conducted across different groups. However, we would need to also determine when an "argumentative label" should be applied and what effects it should have on comments.
    • Alternatively, just increase the weight of labels on topics tagged with politics.

    Ultimately the end goal is the same though: adjust the culture.

    16 votes
    1. [2]
      gpl
      Link Parent
      I think this is an excellent idea. Tags remain a seemingly underused feature of the site, and I think you and others have identified some key reasons why. I for one very rarely label comments as...

      Create a label for comments that are not malicious, but are argumentative. I would imagine that this label ought to somehow discourage responses and penalize the position of the comment it was applied to.

      Allows custom labels for topics with specific tag combinations. So this "argumentative label" mentioned above would not have to be universally available throughout the site. It would only be available for comments in topics with a specific set of tags. I've read discussions about how different groups on Tildes might have unique, exclusive features in the future. This takes that idea one step further and aligns with the relationship between tags and groups.

      I think this is an excellent idea. Tags remain a seemingly underused feature of the site, and I think you and others have identified some key reasons why. I for one very rarely label comments as malicious even if I feel they were not made in good faith or overly aggressive, mostly because in my mind 'malicious' corresponds to abusive, ad hominem, offensive, etc. If there were some more labels to use, particularly in political threads, I think it would enable the community to be much more proactive with its moderation. A label for 'escalating' behavior could be very good, and could have effects beyond sorting.

      Maybe if a series of comments in reply to one another in a thread get labeled as 'escalating' by a threshold of users, replies to that thread can automatically be turned turned off either indefinitely or for a set amount of time. This could help to mitigate the number of threads we see where it's just two users shouting at each other basically, and it would give users an incentive to keep things cool if they want to keep discussing. This tag would only be available in topics that have been labeled politics, as you suggest.

      I think an 'Escalation' label would encompass a variety of negative behaviors without necessarily conferring a judgement on their hostility or intention, and more users would be comfortable using it for that reason.

      7 votes
      1. MimicSquid
        Link Parent
        Definitely agreed. I'd use it quite a bit, as I'm often not comfortable saying that the person is being malicious, but can definitely say they're making the situation worse.

        Definitely agreed. I'd use it quite a bit, as I'm often not comfortable saying that the person is being malicious, but can definitely say they're making the situation worse.

        5 votes
    2. [6]
      kfwyre
      Link Parent
      I've thought about this a bit and have an idea for a label addition. I welcome people pulling it apart or finding the potential issues with it, as I know we have a lot of people here who are...

      I've thought about this a bit and have an idea for a label addition. I welcome people pulling it apart or finding the potential issues with it, as I know we have a lot of people here who are systems-minded and have a lot of experience with internet behavior management.

      I think we could incorporate a label for "contentious" or "argumentative" or "hostile" comments (the name is less important than its impact) for when a user is not being outright malicious but is commenting in a way that's escalating tensions or foregoing the principle of charity. Their comment might have some value to it, so removing it entirely isn't great, but it also has a higher likelihood of a more negative impact on individual users or the community at large, which we want to avoid.

      As for the label's effects, a single label should do nothing at all (so people can't weaponize it), but a small number on the same comment (say, 3-5) would auto-collapse the comment and drop its weight. To distinguish from noise, I also think we should add a color-stripe to the side as a sort of visible "caution" (or some other way of publicly marking it -- maybe a warning on the collapse or before the comment). People can still expand and view the comment and the ones below it should they choose to, but it makes it visible to everyone, including the commenter, that the comment is a borderline one as well as taking it out of the immediately visible pool of discussion.

      The hard part about this is that, upon seeing this happen, a user might go back and edit their comment to be more constructive or less hostile (which is a great thing!). Ideally, this would eliminate the contentious tags from the post and it would be re-expanded and weighted accordingly, but I can't think of a good way for something to get adequately un-tagged like that isn't either convoluted or open to exploitation (plus there's no guarantee that the original parties will even see the edited post in the first place).

      We could also experiment with an accumulation of those tags on a user across multiple comments instituting a sort of rate-limiting system whereby they're locked out of certain threads/topics/posting in general as a sort of site-enforced cooldown.

      6 votes
      1. [4]
        patience_limited
        Link Parent
        Unfortunately, we've already got labels that aren't being used enough; I'm not sure that adding more, or creating less punitive ones, will change the likelihood of use. "Hostile" should definitely...

        Unfortunately, we've already got labels that aren't being used enough; I'm not sure that adding more, or creating less punitive ones, will change the likelihood of use. "Hostile" should definitely be labeled as malice - there's general agreement that ad hominem or hateful responses don't belong on Tildes.

        In U.S. law, there's a recognized legal objection offered at trial - "asked and answered". It's a means to prevent badgering and hectoring witnesses, or otherwise wasting the court's time. We could have a "bickering" label that collapses a string of comments which circle the topic endlessly and don't advance the discussion.

        5 votes
        1. [2]
          vektor
          Link Parent
          Frankly, there is no worse label than malice and it is red. The UI tells me "this is where I cry to Deimos if I think a comment warrants nothing but removal". I don't wanna use that just because...

          Frankly, there is no worse label than malice and it is red. The UI tells me "this is where I cry to Deimos if I think a comment warrants nothing but removal". I don't wanna use that just because someone is being uncharitable.

          6 votes
          1. patience_limited
            Link Parent
            It's been discussed before, but a one-click label might not be the best way to respond to a less-severe infraction. Sometimes you can just comment, "I don't know if you intended it that way, but...

            It's been discussed before, but a one-click label might not be the best way to respond to a less-severe infraction. Sometimes you can just comment, "I don't know if you intended it that way, but your response sounds uncharitable. Would you like to revise it?"

            2 votes
        2. [2]
          Comment deleted by author
          Link Parent
          1. patience_limited
            Link Parent
            The best way to find out whether or what to label is to engage with the poster and ask about their intent, with genuine courtesy, curiosity, and empathy. We're stuck with text and have no other...

            The best way to find out whether or what to label is to engage with the poster and ask about their intent, with genuine courtesy, curiosity, and empathy. We're stuck with text and have no other cues to judge the poster's emotional state or condition. Yes, it takes work and patience (which I'm notoriously short of) to do this instead of clicking a label.

            It's possible to be passionate about a topic without badgering, insulting, or otherwise creating a hostile environment in discussions. malice is a moderation flag that confirms a poster has obviously violated the site's policies or hasn't stopped acting out when asked or warned in the thread.

            None of us are perfectly wise and we'll make mistakes in labeling. Right now, there probably isn't enough data on whether people have been using labels appropriately and with good judgment on how they affect the conversation.

            4 votes
      2. wirelyre
        Link Parent
        That is very creative. I think would be valuable to experiment with this and see how it works in practice.

        That is very creative. I think would be valuable to experiment with this and see how it works in practice.

        2 votes
    3. [2]
      reifyresonance
      Link Parent
      Agreed. Potential solution: generate a list of known-good users who consistently contribute meaningfully and respectfully to political discussions. This is the seed group - connect them in some...

      Well, fundamentally I think the issue with political discussion on Tildes is that the culture surrounding those discussions has drifted away from the overall site culture, with the "site culture" being the rules and customs established by the site documentation, maintained by Deimos, and (usually) exemplified by the community.

      Agreed. Potential solution: generate a list of known-good users who consistently contribute meaningfully and respectfully to political discussions. This is the seed group - connect them in some way, have them discuss what they want norms and culture with regard to politics to be, and how tilde's values relate.

      Restrict commenting on political topics to the seed group for a week, and have them intentionally contribute extra, putting on a show of discussions consistent with the culture they want politics to be. (Maybe come up with a question or two for each day?) Then open up posting to 5% of the site, wait a bit, repeat. During this period, if someone is being uncharitable, destructfully argumentative, etc, talk to them about it in PMs.

      1 vote
      1. NaraVara
        Link Parent
        I'm not sure the naturally good people are necessarily going to have great insights about how to draw out better behaviors from less good people. This seems a bit like the Catholic Church's...

        This is the seed group - connect them in some way, have them discuss what they want norms and culture with regard to politics to be, and how tilde's values relate.

        I'm not sure the naturally good people are necessarily going to have great insights about how to draw out better behaviors from less good people. This seems a bit like the Catholic Church's problem with having a bunch of (nominally) celibate monks and nuns presuming to tell everyone else about appropriate sexual conduct.

        2 votes
    4. NaraVara
      Link Parent
      I think inculcate might be closest to what you're trying to say since it's as much about cultivating a certain set of virtues as it is about developing a cultural norm. To inculcate is to instill...

      ("Acculturate" is the correct term for this, right? Or would it be "enculturate"?)

      I think inculcate might be closest to what you're trying to say since it's as much about cultivating a certain set of virtues as it is about developing a cultural norm.

      To inculcate is to instill or impress an idea on someone, so inculcation is the process of instilling or impressing ideas. A lot of teaching is a form of inculcation: teachers repeat information to students, hoping it will sink in. Parents employ inculcation to instill values like "Don't lie" and "Have courage" in their children. Military groups also use inculcation to impress their ideas upon recruits. Any process of teaching or training is likely a form of inculcation.

      6 votes
  3. [4]
    Autoxidation
    Link
    I'm not really in favor of banning topics like this on the website. People discuss them because they care about these issues, and TBH I enjoy reading about those here compared to Reddit because...

    I'm not really in favor of banning topics like this on the website. People discuss them because they care about these issues, and TBH I enjoy reading about those here compared to Reddit because people here engage in good faith discussions much more frequently.

    I do think these discussions can creep into topics across the website as a whole because we don't have a dedicated space to discuss politics, so users that would prefer to avoid that can't opt to do so.

    18 votes
    1. Amarok
      Link Parent
      Honestly I think political discourse is inevitable. Even if you give it a place of its own, it's still going to leak everywhere. One can't really ban something like that without being a gigantic...

      Honestly I think political discourse is inevitable. Even if you give it a place of its own, it's still going to leak everywhere. One can't really ban something like that without being a gigantic dick to one's users.

      If something were going to be done about it, it'd have to come from the mindset of making those discussions more civil and useful somehow. This problem is older than the internet, politics and religion always end up being highly contentious topics in real world conversations.

      11 votes
    2. [2]
      Turtle
      Link Parent
      What if I care about funny cat videos? Does it really matter if people care? If there is no substance to a discussion, or it's just a repeat of a previous one, I don't think it counts as "high...

      I'm not really in favor of banning topics like this on the website. People discuss them because they care about these issues

      What if I care about funny cat videos? Does it really matter if people care? If there is no substance to a discussion, or it's just a repeat of a previous one, I don't think it counts as "high quality" just because lots of people care about it. I myself care about all of the issues outlined in the OP.

      3 votes
      1. Autoxidation
        Link Parent
        I don't think there is a meaningful comparison between "funny cat videos" and "politics" as topics. One is far more specific, with a type of medium attached to it, the other is rather broad,...

        I don't think there is a meaningful comparison between "funny cat videos" and "politics" as topics. One is far more specific, with a type of medium attached to it, the other is rather broad, somewhat subjective, and everyone from every walk of life is both exposed to it and shaped by it. Banning political content would be more akin to banning all animal content from the site, or religious content/discussion.

        And yes, it does matter if people care. This is a forum meant for sharing news, discussion, insight, or just talking about topics. I would expect to be able to discuss any topic I cared about in a general forum such as this.

        10 votes
  4. [13]
    Icarus
    Link
    We did have a recent topic about this about a month ago: Political discussion here seems to be really bad. Is it even possible for it to be good? And I would echo my sentiments here: I am in favor...

    We did have a recent topic about this about a month ago:

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

    And I would echo my sentiments here:

    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.


    A month later, I'm still in favor of getting rid of US Presidential election threads. As we draw closer and closer to November, my opinion is gradually becoming more and more, "I don't really give a rat's ass what your opinion is and you shouldn't care what mine is unless you know me personally. We are all 1 person 1 vote, among 300 million+ other people. Our individual opinions don't really matter in an anonymous online sphere."

    And I say that as a highly opinionated person. Nobody here is going to fundamentally change the way that I view the world through a verbose comment. And I have come to understand that there is nothing that I could really say in one verbose comment that is going to rock your world, so to speak. America's problems aren't going to be solved in a Tildes comment thread. But I would wager that it will cause more problems for the site itself to let these topics continue as they are unchecked.

    What I see in political comment threads:

    • Un-sourced claims
    • Sarcasm as a means to make a point
    • Long running threads of "select-a-quote"
    • More strawmen than one would find in a Nebraska cornfield
    • The eventual admin lock

    Now if someone could do a political science thread on how a political situation has analogues to that of ancient Rome, or something novel and thought-provoking, please post it! If you can see themes of a philosophical school of thought erupt through a politician's actions, please post it! If you have an article that is about a recent Trump twitter post, probably don't post it! My point, is that if it is thought provoking and eye-opening then it should be posted. If the responses a post brings is reminiscent of a Reddit thread, it might not be that valuable/worthwhile in this forum.

    9 votes
    1. [4]
      Autoxidation
      Link Parent
      I would really be disappointed if there wasn't any discussion on what amounts to be one of the biggest news topics every 4 years on Tildes. If you feel that way, you do not have to engage in the...

      A month later, I'm still in favor of getting rid of US Presidential election threads. As we draw closer and closer to November, my opinion is gradually becoming more and more, "I don't really give a rat's ass what your opinion is and you shouldn't care what mine is unless you know me personally. We are all 1 person 1 vote, among 300 million+ other people. Our individual opinions don't really matter in an anonymous online sphere."

      And I say that as a highly opinionated person. Nobody here is going to fundamentally change the way that I view the world through a verbose comment. And I have come to understand that there is nothing that I could really say in one verbose comment that is going to rock your world, so to speak. America's problems aren't going to be solved in a Tildes comment thread. But I would wager that it will cause more problems for the site itself to let these topics continue as they are unchecked.

      I would really be disappointed if there wasn't any discussion on what amounts to be one of the biggest news topics every 4 years on Tildes. If you feel that way, you do not have to engage in the discussion. I am getting a strong "no one is going to change my opinion so the discussion isn't worth having" vibe from your second paragraph, which may very well be true for you, but I think that's unfair to paint that on to everyone else. What isn't insightful to you might be to others, or they might be exposed to that perspective for the first time.

      7 votes
      1. [3]
        Icarus
        Link Parent
        It is the biggest news topic in 4 years, but it is treated as an us vs. them sporting event where the "them" is anyone who disagrees with a commenter, and the us is everyone who votes a low-effort...

        It is the biggest news topic in 4 years, but it is treated as an us vs. them sporting event where the "them" is anyone who disagrees with a commenter, and the us is everyone who votes a low-effort comment to the top of the thread (which has happened repeatedly). Since 2015 I have seen comment threads all over the internet completely devolve into "gotcha" behavior, where users will write back and forth to each other but not once ask the other person a simple question to better understand their point of view or what their actual concerns are. The idea of "winning" is more important than the actual topic at hand, and quite frankly I'm sick of it. This site aims to strive to overcome the common pitfalls of other communities, so I expect far more from its users when it comes to serious topics. However, what I end up seeing is that political threads are by far the worst comment threads on the entire site. I don't have hard stats on this but I would wager they are by far the most locked threads on this site.

        Now, I will add that my opinion can be changed. I can give one specific example that clearly resonated with me recently where Jeff Weaver started a Super PAC in favor of Joe Biden. He said:

        Otherwise, how can we look in the face the single mother that Bernie and I met in Iowa, who was making $8.00 an hour, if we sit home because we don't want to pull the lever for Joe Biden -- who supports a $15 minimum wage? Why should our ideological sensitivities mean anything to her and her kids if they can't afford housing, or medicine, or food? Where is our moral standing to ask her or anyone like her to stand with us in the next campaign?

        That changed my mind from being against the idea of the Super PAC to being for it because I could connect to it. It also re-inforced why I should vote for Joe Biden. That kind of personal connection just does not exist in the current political threads here by and large, due to the observations that I outlined in my original comment. I believe political discussion can work, views can be changed, ideas can be discussed, but not in the current state, with the current tools, in the current system. And don't get me wrong, I don't even think this issue lies within all users, but rather those that seem to dominate these same topics over and over again.

        9 votes
        1. patience_limited
          (edited )
          Link Parent
          Somewhat off-topic, but your story is really interesting to me because I just attended a campaign organizer training yesterday where we received specific instruction in using personal stories to...

          Somewhat off-topic, but your story is really interesting to me because I just attended a campaign organizer training yesterday where we received specific instruction in using personal stories to connect with a social media audience. Seasoned online debaters often fall prey to abstraction - we become distant from the people we're trying to connect with when we attempt persuasion via ideology.

          One of the worst turnoffs I felt when I've looked at the Biden or leftism vs liberalism threads, was realizing just how little the victims of the Trump agenda seemed to matter to the debaters.

          I had a close friend, born in Korea and emigrated here, crying (electronically) on my shoulder because she'd been verbally abused, told to "go back to China", and spat on after Trump's "Wuhan virus" crap. I spoke with another friend this week, naturalized U.S. citizen from Morocco, who got stuck there while visiting with his family. He's not planning to return, because it's safer there. I've mentioned here that a friend died of COVID-19 a couple of weeks ago. That's just the beginning of my litany of personal stories. They're supposed to connect people to action, rather than passively watching the devastation, or clinging to old dogmas about party or ideology. So for those interested, visit https://organizing2020.com/

          I don't want to see politics threads banned. Politics matters to the point of life and death right now. What I want to see is more discussion of praxis, policy, and organization-building that can sustain a green/progressive agenda for the 21st Century and beyond.

          11 votes
        2. Autoxidation
          Link Parent
          I think this comment is a great example of what I would prefer to see in political discussion, and what IMO political discussion should be steered towards. I wasn't aware of that Jeff Weaver quote...

          I think this comment is a great example of what I would prefer to see in political discussion, and what IMO political discussion should be steered towards. I wasn't aware of that Jeff Weaver quote you brought up, and though I am already planning on voting for Biden, it provided some additional insight into why others have come to their conclusions. I really appreciate that!

          The discussion shouldn't be "we should ban/heavily restrict politics topics," but it should instead be "how can we make a system that provides users the right incentives to promote positive discussion?" The rest of the internet should be a lesson to try something new, not allow Tildes to fall into the same traps other websites and userbases have.

          4 votes
    2. [8]
      streblo
      Link Parent
      I understand your point of view, but I have to add that I'm almost the opposite of you. I very rarely discuss politics with people personally outside of my family and closest friends -- I deleted...

      I understand your point of view, but I have to add that I'm almost the opposite of you.

      I very rarely discuss politics with people personally outside of my family and closest friends -- I deleted Facebook because I got very tired of all the political soapboxing and half-baked opinions. I know that it's the same online -- but at least in an anonymous setting I can feel like we can discuss ideas with less emotions and personal baggage involved.

      As to whether tildes should participate in that -- it certainly doesn't have to -- there are plenty of places to discuss politics if one is so inclined. However an outright ban is unenforceable -- any topic on society can be distilled into politics and tiptoeing around that seems asinine. What might be good is an opt-in/out filter similar to the COVID one at the top of the page.

      3 votes
      1. [6]
        Icarus
        Link Parent
        To be frank, I can acknowledge my point of view is extreme and over-reaching. I would hope that we could figure out a way to design a system of commenting that promotes positive behaviors and...

        To be frank, I can acknowledge my point of view is extreme and over-reaching. I would hope that we could figure out a way to design a system of commenting that promotes positive behaviors and dissuades negative behaviors but its an extremely tough nut to crack. I too deleted Facebook for similar reasons, and I maintain a Twitter account as a sort of ritual of self-hate when I need a check of how truly awful political discussion can be online.

        My issue with anonymity in political discussion is that our beliefs and values are defined by our personal experiences, and when there is a general lack of personal understanding with the person you are discussing topics that are meaningful to that person, points are lost or talked over. I think that personal baggage is important to understand so you can connect to a person's point of view, even if you disagree with it. I think more than politics, we should be discussing values and why they are important to us. I believe we can relate values to a vision of how politicians should behave, how policy should be informed, and what is morally acceptable in a society. But I digress, that may be a bit off-topic for this discussion.

        To bring it back to the topic at hand, some changes I would like to see that I think could nudge political discussion in the right direction:

        • Anonymized usernames
        • Stricter moderation
        • More labels that are visible to the person making comments
        • Limiting the amount one can comment in a thread in a given period of time
        4 votes
        1. streblo
          Link Parent
          I think that's a really good point. People's politics stem from their meta-politics and a political opinion is usually almost an inevitably of their meta-politics. I agree these are deeper...

          My issue with anonymity in political discussion is that our beliefs and values are defined by our personal experiences, and when there is a general lack of personal understanding with the person you are discussing topics that are meaningful to that person, points are lost or talked over. I think that personal baggage is important to understand so you can connect to a person's point of view, even if you disagree with it. I think more than politics, we should be discussing values and why they are important to us. I believe we can relate values to a vision of how politicians should behave, how policy should be informed, and what is morally acceptable in a society. But I digress, that may be a bit off-topic for this discussion.

          I think that's a really good point. People's politics stem from their meta-politics and a political opinion is usually almost an inevitably of their meta-politics. I agree these are deeper philosophical questions and can be a lot more interesting to discuss. Discussing meta-politics also removes a lot of the cheerleader/fanatic aspects of these discussions as they are more removed from contemporary politics.

          As per the topic, I agree with your last point -- I like what HN does in that when someone replies to you you have to wait 15 minutes before you can answer.

          In a sibling comment thread, a user mentions the problem not being too much political discussion but the lack of other content and I'm inclined to agree. I'm not sure if people just can't not take the bait but the comments on political topics dwarf the other topics. Combining that with above -- what if you earned the right to post in political threads by posting in non-politics threads for that day? Would stop people just drive-by'ing the politics threads and encourage people to disperese more.

          2 votes
        2. [4]
          Autoxidation
          Link Parent
          I think you have some good ideas, but I strongly disagree with anonymized usernames. Part of the problem with discourse on the internet is the anonymity and separation from other types of...

          I think you have some good ideas, but I strongly disagree with anonymized usernames. Part of the problem with discourse on the internet is the anonymity and separation from other types of communication we use to establish humanity. Further removing that only makes that worse.

          2 votes
          1. [3]
            hungariantoast
            Link Parent
            You're probably thinking of an anonymized usernames feature as being 100% anonymous, as in, even Deimos (the site's administrator) could not see who actually made the comment. However, based on...

            You're probably thinking of an anonymized usernames feature as being 100% anonymous, as in, even Deimos (the site's administrator) could not see who actually made the comment.

            However, based on previous discussions, I don't think that is how an anonymized usernames feature would work here on Tildes.

            So if we ever do gain the ability to post anonymous comments, you will absolutely still be able to be held accountable for what you post under an anonymous identity, because Deimos would still be able to see who made that comment.

            4 votes
            1. [2]
              Autoxidation
              Link Parent
              No, I'm thinking of anonymized usernames as other users have no way to identify who wrote that post. This community is small enough that we have reputations and everyone knows a bit about other...

              No, I'm thinking of anonymized usernames as other users have no way to identify who wrote that post. This community is small enough that we have reputations and everyone knows a bit about other regular posters, in a similar feel to older forums. There's an increased incentive to behave and treat others well if you regularly come in contact with them. By anonymizing posts (in general, not for specific things like suers make throwaways for on reddit) that is removed. There is no way to tell who wrote what post, or which opinions belong to who. That may sound good in theory, but it's just another step into detachment from the human element. If no one can tell I posted something, why should I protect my reputation? That type of system is ripe for abuse with bad actors.

              I don't see any benefit to the anonymizing of posts for general discussion (especially political discussion), only specific instances where they have a private problem and want advice, but not tie that to their regular account (which is done to either protect community reputation or avoid identifying someone IRL).

              4 votes
              1. hungariantoast
                Link Parent
                I don't disagree that allowing for anonymous comments could decrease the incentive to behave, but I also don't think that should be a major concern because Tildes is continuing to grow and...

                This community is small enough that we have reputations and everyone knows a bit about other regular posters, in a similar feel to older forums. There's an increased incentive to behave and treat others well if you regularly come in contact with them.

                I don't disagree that allowing for anonymous comments could decrease the incentive to behave, but I also don't think that should be a major concern because Tildes is continuing to grow and eventually you will stop so frequently recognizing usernames. That human familiarity factor driving civility is eventually going to evaporate regardless. (And that's why we have other systems in place, and more planned, so that the community can moderate itself.)

                That type of system is ripe for abuse with bad actors.

                Once I again I don't disagree. Off the top of my head I cannot think of a single other online community where anonymity has benefited the overall quality of discussion.

                However, to quote Deimos:

                Most people's concerns about anonymous posting come from experiences on platforms where people aren't punished for harassment/abuse/etc., but that's not how it's going to be here. All possible downsides and abuses of the feature exist exactly the same if someone uses an alt account, that's just a less convenient and worse way of effectively doing the same thing.

                So while I understand your concerns about abuse, it's important to remember that shit won't fly.

                only specific instances where they have a private problem and want advice, but not tie that to their regular account

                Ah, there might be a misunderstanding about that then.

                An anonymized usernames feature would be opt-in.

                As in, you write a comment, and can then choose whether to post that comment anonymously or not.

                Anonymized comments are not going to be the default. (You may have already understood that though.)

                So like you said, an anonymous comment could be used if a user wants to post about something private, and does not want to tie that to their username.

                Also, it's still up for discussion how often users should be able to post anonymously. Should they only be able to post X anonymous comments a day? Should that limit apply to comment threads where they have already posted anonymously?

                There is generally a lot of flexibility here, and overall I think the feature is worth looking at, especially the juicy details of its implementation.

                3 votes
      2. NaraVara
        Link Parent
        Yeah it gets a bit weird. I'm in a gaming discord that has a hard ban on political conversation, but at some point they were talking about the inanity of states where they have gas station...

        However an outright ban is unenforceable -- any topic on society can be distilled into politics and tiptoeing around that seems asinine.

        Yeah it gets a bit weird. I'm in a gaming discord that has a hard ban on political conversation, but at some point they were talking about the inanity of states where they have gas station attendants. One side of that conversation is nominally "apolitical" where you just laugh at how inane it is. But you can't explain why such a law exists and whether it's worth having or not without touching on the politics of labor and welfare policy.

        That's just one example, but there's lots of stuff where it's hard to have real discussions without getting political. That same discord has some personal/IRL discussions, including places where people get into some "real talk." If that "real talk" involves issues at work, you might be talking labor policy and union organizing. If it involves someone with an unplanned pregnancy, you're tip-toeing around discussion of abortion. For the most part, everyone vocal there seems to be more-or-less on the same page with these hot button issues so it rarely ends up being an issue. But that just suggests there are low-key filter effects that are covertly enforcing a political consensus in spite of the rule.

        3 votes
  5. goodbetterbestbested
    (edited )
    Link
    The main issue with this line of reasoning can be seen in subreddits which have rules against "political content." What inevitably ends up happening is that political content that the moderators...

    The main issue with this line of reasoning can be seen in subreddits which have rules against "political content." What inevitably ends up happening is that political content that the moderators agree with stays up, sometimes with half-plausible reasoning about why it's "not political," while political content that the moderators disagree with is branded "political" and removed.

    The truth is that politics touches on every topic dealing with humans relating to other humans, which is...damn near everything. It's hard to think of examples of subjects in which there is no political element whatsoever.

    I think that discussion of these topics, even regular discussion of these topics, is fine, and any rule that would exclude them merely because they're "political" is too ripe for abuse. Plus, electoral politics is a pillar of discussion with other people, on par with the weather: of course people will want to discuss whatever the current top political headlines are.

    What I think Tildes should watch out for is the type of organized agenda-pushing by bad faith actors that characterizes so much of reddit. People spend tons of money on reddit to push agendas. It's not even bad necessarily, imho, to have an agenda in exposing other people to content, above and beyond "This is interesting." What is bad is when that type of content overwhelms a community due to organized brigading, and when their motives and origin is obfuscated.

    That's my two cents on this topic! It's not like I enjoy seeing the same topics tread and re-tread on a daily basis, either--though, come to think of it, I almost always read them--but I just don't think there's a cure that is better than the disease.

    8 votes
  6. somewaffles
    Link
    This is a tough one but censoring topics, especially politics on tildes, isn't solving the problem, just kinda puts a blanket over it. If people aren't arguing in political threads, they'll find...

    This is a tough one but censoring topics, especially politics on tildes, isn't solving the problem, just kinda puts a blanket over it. If people aren't arguing in political threads, they'll find somewhere else to bring up Trump or Biden or whatever. I really like the discussions here for the most part but some people get WAY too riled up. From what I've seen on reddit and elsewhere, this site gets a pretty bad name because of how militantly liberal some of our users can be especially with more "inner-leftist controversial" topics you mentioned like Bernie. It is just arguing about shit we all agree 90% on but there is still tons of hostility. Which is ironic because if it weren't for those bombastic political arguments that pop up with 100+ comments every week this site would seem pretty dead unfortunately. I want to say "just ignore them" but it seems to me most of us aren't capable of that. We are all here because we are not casual information consumers, we want more depth, hence most of us being a bit "more intense" than the usual internet browser, whether thats good or bad.

    That being said, I don't know if there is tons of overlap in interests here other than tech and politics. And we can't just zap half of the topics people interact on. For example, i am very interested in anything music related but every since I've joined I've seen only less and less interest in the subject on my own posts and others. Really everything recently gears towards politics or tech or some adjacent of them. This place DOES feel like a community most of the time, but it has no culture imo. I think instead of restricting topics, there just needs to be more interactions in other topics unrelated to those big two I've mentioned. It gets fucking tiresome.

    So THEN i think the issue is, more users will mean more varied discussions but THEN the issue is how do you get more users? And I know that is the age old question, and it's beyond me. I'm ranting now but moral of the story to me is, we don't need less political discussion, we need more discussion in other topics.

    7 votes
  7. Flashynuff
    Link
    I do not see any solution to this problem that does not involve more human moderation. You cannot automate the moderation of politics, as politics is an inherently human issue that machines do not...

    I do not see any solution to this problem that does not involve more human moderation. You cannot automate the moderation of politics, as politics is an inherently human issue that machines do not understand.

    I think the only way to make it better is to make it more effort to post on political topics. We could enforce a one week cooling off period, in that you can only post political topics that are a week or older -- this might allow initial emotions on bad news to simmer. We could enforce a minimum character limit on political topics. We could make it so you have to wait a certain amount of time between comments on political posts.

    Unfortunately, all of these solutions and just about every one I've seen in this thread so far still have the fundamental issue of defining what counts as politics. Ideally, we'd want a way for people in the topic to indicate if they think the topic is political, sort of between a tag and a label. If enough people think it is political it could be toggled into a high effort mode.

    7 votes
  8. ohyran
    Link
    Can I fling in a comment about this? I'm an outsider with no real connection to the US or the upcoming US election. BUT to me its actually pretty fascinating, I know you and many others must be...

    Can I fling in a comment about this? I'm an outsider with no real connection to the US or the upcoming US election.

    BUT to me its actually pretty fascinating, I know you and many others must be bored to tears about it - but take the Biden thing: I had absolutely no idea about the allegations until I read it here.

    The issue is that all divisive topics cause drama and people to lose their cool and parliamentary politics is designed for division for good reason.
    Internet also makes us lose the humanity of the person next to us, we forget that the text on the screen is a real person, so when we lose our cool we become way more toxic than we would have IRL.
    Another problem is that we then forget the difference of backgrounds - there was one thread I commented in which taught me "do not comment in US political threads" - as what I said was misunderstood to be something it wasn't. I was talking from my political niche using the wording and expressions that I thought made me sound calm and respectful only to be informed that in fact I was playing in to a loooong national discussion in the US where my arguments where politicized AF and part of a larger narrative of accusations.
    So now I avoid commenting, not saying this as a "please fix I dare not comment" - I just avoid it because it makes debates more complex when I do (I think) and it makes my reading of them less valuable.

    This is also a problem everywhere and there is no elegant solution to it. One option would be to have like the covid-filter thing but for politics?

    I mean the ultimate solution would be to constantly promote good faith and a sense of shared humanity, but that is tricky too (we're all humans) - the second best to promote a tag "I disagree with your statements but I don't think we are getting anywhere - I would like to respectfully end my part in this discussion" a stock thing saying what many of us can have a hard time saying.

    Like if a thread is in a subject like "politics" is over four messages in a thread pop up a box saying "have you considered that [name] is a human too? Think about good faith and if you click this link the stock reply "I disagree with your statements but I don't think we are getting anywhere - I would like to respectfully end my part in this discussion" will be posted"?

    7 votes
  9. kfwyre
    Link
    I use the ignore feature for a lot of these threads. I don't know that I like the idea of banning them. I think they're important topics for conversation, and I think some people are invigorated...

    I use the ignore feature for a lot of these threads.

    I don't know that I like the idea of banning them. I think they're important topics for conversation, and I think some people are invigorated by exploring them, even in tense ways, but I also know that type of discourse does nothing for me but raise my hackles, so I simply bow out and move on. I highly encourage anyone else feeling similarly to do the same.

    6 votes
  10. [3]
    Halfloaf
    Link
    I often wonder in cases like this whether rate-limiting responses in a potentially hot thread would help. A person may be more inclined to be thorough if they know they can only make one statement...

    I often wonder in cases like this whether rate-limiting responses in a potentially hot thread would help. A person may be more inclined to be thorough if they know they can only make one statement a day. Or, it may allow time for additional research, or the cooling of emotions.

    This is all entirely based on my opinion, though. I don't know of any research or examples to back up this idea.

    6 votes
    1. [2]
      spit-evil-olive-tips
      Link Parent
      I think this is the best solution that doesn't involve creating a walled garden within Tildes for politics, or special moderation rules for political threads. One way of implementing it, for...
      • Exemplary

      I think this is the best solution that doesn't involve creating a walled garden within Tildes for politics, or special moderation rules for political threads.

      One way of implementing it, for example:

      • In addition to being able to label comments as offtopic/noise/exemplary/etc, users should be able to label entire topics (this would be wholly separate from the tagging system currently in place)

      • One of those labels would be "argumentative" or something along those lines.

      • If a critical mass of people label a topic as argumentative (the exact threshold would probably depend on number of comments / number of votes the topic has gotten) it's put into "everybody chill out" mode

      • If I post a comment in one of those argumentative threads, I have to wait N minutes before posting again in the same thread. This delay could ramp up, so after my 2nd comment I wait 1.5N minutes, then 2N minutes, and so on.

      Political threads on Tildes often seem to devolve into two users (or more rarely, a small group), sniping back and forth at each other in "can't go to bed, someone is wrong on the internet" mode. Having a cool down period provides an incentive to go to bed, or at least to go get pissed at something else. If the argument continues the following morning (which most of the time, I don't think it will) it will tend to be more civil and substantive. It also gives an opportunity for other users to jump in to the discussion instead of it being a 2-person back-and-forth.

      Importantly, I don't think the posting timeout should be universal - it should only apply to those threads that get labeled as argumentative. The default behavior should be no artificially enforced time limits.

      9 votes
  11. [3]
    mrbig
    Link
    I believe that’s excessive. Politics is contradictory by nature and some of your examples pose questions that should be repeatedly discussed.

    I believe that’s excessive. Politics is contradictory by nature and some of your examples pose questions that should be repeatedly discussed.

    4 votes
    1. [2]
      Turtle
      Link Parent
      Do you believe discussion is valuable in itself? If, in an argument, no new points are made, no one's mind is changed, everyone just gets angrier at each other, and it is in fact, a carbon copy of...

      Do you believe discussion is valuable in itself? If, in an argument, no new points are made, no one's mind is changed, everyone just gets angrier at each other, and it is in fact, a carbon copy of a previous argument, potentially between the same people, was that argument worth having? Or was it just noise?

      4 votes
      1. mrbig
        Link Parent
        No, I generally don’t enjoy discussion for the sake of discussion. I just happen to believe that such topics do bring being new points, examples and perspectives, despite of all the ugliness. I’m...

        No, I generally don’t enjoy discussion for the sake of discussion. I just happen to believe that such topics do bring being new points, examples and perspectives, despite of all the ugliness.

        I’m not even opposed to banning certain topics, but I think the scope of your proposal is broadly enough to harm the community.

        1 vote
  12. skybrian
    Link
    I don't favor a ban on all politics, and I still have some hope that with practice, we could learn to have interesting discussions about economics. But I think it might be interesting to have a...

    I don't favor a ban on all politics, and I still have some hope that with practice, we could learn to have interesting discussions about economics.

    But I think it might be interesting to have a moratorium on topics primarily about the US presidential election until late October or so? Nothing very important is likely to happen until then, and I think the presidential race has a tendency to overshadow what's going on elsewhere, whether it's in Congress, at state or local levels, or in other countries.

    3 votes
  13. [2]
    Turtle
    Link
    Side note: does anyone know Hacker News' current policy on politics? I'm not a regular browser but I don't recall ever seeing anything (overtly) political. I found an article from 2016 saying it...

    Side note: does anyone know Hacker News' current policy on politics? I'm not a regular browser but I don't recall ever seeing anything (overtly) political. I found an article from 2016 saying it was banned temporarily. Can any long time user speak to the efficacy of that experiment in improving the site's culture around political discourse or the state of it's culture today?

    3 votes
    1. skybrian
      Link Parent
      The ban failed because politics and technology are so closely intertwined these days. However, articles solely about politics still tend to be downvoted and flagged since there are still a lot...

      The ban failed because politics and technology are so closely intertwined these days. However, articles solely about politics still tend to be downvoted and flagged since there are still a lot people who consider them inappropriate for Hacker News. Also, I'm guessing the moderators figured out other ways to cope?

      4 votes
  14. [12]
    Comment deleted by author
    Link
    1. [11]
      Turtle
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      Based on that logic, why ban any topic of discussion. If you don't want to read arguments about the merits of phrenology or Pizzagate or the Jewish problem, just ignore them! What I take issue...

      Based on that logic, why ban any topic of discussion. If you don't want to read arguments about the merits of phrenology or Pizzagate or the Jewish problem, just ignore them! What I take issue with is how these types of discussions may affect the site's culture as a whole, not just that I'm tired of seeing them.

      2 votes
      1. [5]
        Comment deleted by author
        Link Parent
        1. [4]
          Turtle
          Link Parent
          OK, how about "if you don't want to see memes, just ignore them!"? Memes can be thoughtful, insightful, and factual, but discussions on the topics mentioned in the OP are rarely either of these....

          OK, how about "if you don't want to see memes, just ignore them!"? Memes can be thoughtful, insightful, and factual, but discussions on the topics mentioned in the OP are rarely either of these. Instead, they are typically unoriginal, opinionated, and condescending. Yet memes are banned and these discussions remain, and are even repeated. And if we did allow "high quality" memes, would it be valuable to repost the exact same meme every other day? Why is political discourse held to a lower standard than literal memes?

          4 votes
          1. [3]
            streblo
            Link Parent
            I'm confused, is your analogy that memes and political discourse are equally important and should be treated the same?

            I'm confused, is your analogy that memes and political discourse are equally important and should be treated the same?

            2 votes
            1. [2]
              Turtle
              Link Parent
              My point was that we don't allow memes because no matter how insightful, thoughtful, factual, etc., they are not "high quality content", and I think political discourse that is neither of these...

              My point was that we don't allow memes because no matter how insightful, thoughtful, factual, etc., they are not "high quality content", and I think political discourse that is neither of these should be held to the same standard. And if they could qualify as such, than it would not be valuable to repost the exact same meme every day, just like it's not valuable to post the same arguments every day, even if the arguments themselves are high quality.

              4 votes
              1. streblo
                Link Parent
                Why stop at political discourse? When someone asks what games we are playing or how everyone's week went is that insightful or high-quality discussion? Memes have a very clear, well-define...

                Why stop at political discourse?

                When someone asks what games we are playing or how everyone's week went is that insightful or high-quality discussion? Memes have a very clear, well-define boundary that may filter out some thought-provoking memes but increases signal-to-noise on the whole.

                Trying to apply a "high-quality" discussion filter to discussions is just going to step on a lot of toes and will ultimately be a political decision. And yes, the banning of wild conspiracy theories and other misinformation is also a political decision but one where I think a large majority can agree on where the line should be roughly drawn.

                4 votes
      2. [6]
        AugustusFerdinand
        Link Parent
        No evidence that any affect on the overall culture occurs is the most easily apparent reason they shouldn't be banned. The entire premise of censorship is to stop the mere possibility, without...

        these types of discussions may affect the site's culture

        No evidence that any affect on the overall culture occurs is the most easily apparent reason they shouldn't be banned. The entire premise of censorship is to stop the mere possibility, without evidence, that something the censors don't like may occur. Censors wanted to stop violent video games, explicit music, books with "difficult topics", and on and on to save the children.

        1. [5]
          Turtle
          (edited )
          Link Parent
          No evidence? Multiple people have commented on the prevalence of toxicity in political discussions on this site, particularly in those relating to the upcoming presidential election. I am...

          No evidence? Multiple people have commented on the prevalence of toxicity in political discussions on this site, particularly in those relating to the upcoming presidential election. I am definitely not the first. It's not hard to imagine this getting out of hand and spreading to all political and even some non political content.

          2 votes
          1. [4]
            AugustusFerdinand
            Link Parent
            The political threads are not the site's culture. Just as the gaming threads are not the site's culture, and so on ad nauseam. Unless the alleged political toxicity bleeds over into other areas of...

            in political discussions

            The political threads are not the site's culture. Just as the gaming threads are not the site's culture, and so on ad nauseam. Unless the alleged political toxicity bleeds over into other areas of the site any discussion of it impacting the culture are unfounded and goes back to the main point at hand:

            If you don't want to see those discussions, then ignore the political threads.

            1. [3]
              SteelCrown
              Link Parent
              The focus on political toxicity affecting the rest of the site aside, is it wrong to ask for the political discussion itself to have better 'culture'? I dont want to read and partake in low...

              The focus on political toxicity affecting the rest of the site aside, is it wrong to ask for the political discussion itself to have better 'culture'? I dont want to read and partake in low quality political discussion, but I do want to see high quality political discussion. Ignoring every thread tagged politics does mean I am avoiding toxicity, but it also means I am unable to read about politics, which I want to do. Ignoring them doesnt really sound like a solution.

              4 votes
              1. [2]
                AugustusFerdinand
                Link Parent
                Not at all. Then don't. No one is forcing you to read or partake. No, it means you are unable to read the comments of political posts without encountering the possibility of toxicity. Which is a...

                is it wrong to ask for the political discussion itself to have better 'culture'?

                Not at all.

                I dont want to read and partake in low quality political discussion

                Then don't. No one is forcing you to read or partake.

                but it also means I am unable to read about politics,

                No, it means you are unable to read the comments of political posts without encountering the possibility of toxicity. Which is a risk in any thread, not just political ones.

                Ignoring them doesnt really sound like a solution.

                And yet a ban is the discussion being had...

                1 vote
                1. SteelCrown
                  Link Parent
                  Perhaps I should clarify: I certainly dont support the notion of banning politics from Tildes in general. You are right, it wouldnt make much sense for me to want things I want to read banned....

                  Perhaps I should clarify: I certainly dont support the notion of banning politics from Tildes in general. You are right, it wouldnt make much sense for me to want things I want to read banned.

                  Rather, I was trying to suggest that instead of taking a 'dont read through the comments' approach, having a discussion about how to improve the way people can interact through these discussions is valuable. After all, a major part of the philosophy behind tildes is, if I am understanding it right, that it should try to facilitate healthy and in depth discussion. If I wanted a space where I can discuss something without depth, and with fluff and toxicity then I could just go read through some political sub on reddit. Im not worried about the presence of toxicity as much as I am about the lack of a presence of good discussion that this could result in, as noted in the original post.

                  3 votes
  15. [3]
    Kuromantis
    (edited )
    Link
    While a full ban of political content (which is already pretty vague) is probably excessive, this quote seems decent enough: This should probably also be applied for anything related to followers...

    While a full ban of political content (which is already pretty vague) is probably excessive, this quote seems decent enough:

    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.

    This should probably also be applied for anything related to followers of politicians (" 'Bernie Bros?' what does that mean and who are you actually talking about?") Since it's often not too far from talking about 'undertale fangirls' and clearly not substantive.

    1 vote
    1. [2]
      Turtle
      Link Parent
      I didn't say anything about "Bernie Bros"? For the record I don't approve of labeling Bernie supporters as such.

      ('Bernie Bros?' what does that mean and who are you actually talking about?)

      I didn't say anything about "Bernie Bros"? For the record I don't approve of labeling Bernie supporters as such.

      1 vote
      1. Kuromantis
        Link Parent
        Oh, I should have clarified it was an example of a dumb label, it has nothing to do with you.

        Oh, I should have clarified it was an example of a dumb label, it has nothing to do with you.

        2 votes
  16. [2]
    AugustusFerdinand
    Link
    It seems to me that the easiest way to accomplish this is to simply make a subbroup of ~news.politics and those that don't wish to see them or the conversations had can simply not subscribe.

    It seems to me that the easiest way to accomplish this is to simply make a subbroup of ~news.politics and those that don't wish to see them or the conversations had can simply not subscribe.

    1. spit-evil-olive-tips
      Link Parent
      This can already be done today, using the politics tag and the ability to filter out topics (from any group) with that tag. I don't think that's a sufficient solution, for a few reasons. One is...

      This can already be done today, using the politics tag and the ability to filter out topics (from any group) with that tag.

      I don't think that's a sufficient solution, for a few reasons.

      One is that logged-out users, or newish users (who haven't discovered the tag filter yet) will still see politics threads by default. Having the discussion in those threads be high-quality and substantive is important for the overall goals of Tildes.

      Another is that it shouldn't be a binary choice between "I'm hiding all politics threads because I think they often become low-quality and argumentative" and "I want to see politics threads and don't mind / don't care / think the discussion threads are fine".

      6 votes