(0) Background This is coming off a discussion in today's thread on forming new groups around whether or not to add a group for politics. I expressed there that, given my moderator experience on...
This is coming off a discussion in today's thread on forming new groups around whether or not to add a group for politics. I expressed there that, given my moderator experience on /r/ChangeMyView and /r/NeutralPolitics, I opposed making such a group given how Tildes currently stands.
(1) Political discussion is nearly always garbage.
I don't think anyone needs reminding of this, but political discussion almost uniformly fails to achieve anything positive in almost any social media platform. Your uncle's facebook rants? Garbage. Political sniping on Twitter? Garbage. The endless repetitive point scoring and outrage fest on most political subreddits? Garbage.
So, we have to ask, why is this content garbage?
(2) People want to be heard, but nobody wants to hear.
I do not think political discussion is garbage because of bad faith trolling. That certainly exists and does not help, but usually it's not hard to ID the trolls, and excepting egregious stuff like doxxing or threats, to ignore obvious bad faith absurdity.
The much bigger issue is that what people want to do is to be heard and validated in their political views. This is not merely that they want to proselytize or to win converts, but that they're seeking validation and a sense of rightness or righteousness in their statements.
This desire is toxic to a neutral forum, because invariably on any divisive issue, you will not merely be heard and validated, but will be challenged and denigrated. Indeed, often the challenges and denigrations themselves are the same performance in reverse. Members of each team trying to dunk on the other and earn validation for how hard they owned the other side.
(3) To overcome this, a successful political forum must have a purpose other than mere commentary.
On /r/ChangeMyView and /r/NeutralPolitics, we have been able to build forums which have large amounts of productive and non-hostile political discussion. The key to this is that neither forum allows for being heard, or general discussion, as its reason for being.
On /r/ChangeMyView we limit posts to views people genuinely hold, and are open to changing (CMV rule B). This requires that OPs cannot come to troll or soapbox. It is by far the most frequently used rule of ours in terms of removing submissions, almost always on the soapboxing side.
On /r/NeutralPolitics, we limit posts to neutrally framed questions about political subjects, which can be answered with facts. By doing this, we narrow the scope of discussion away from soliciting feelings (which is an invitation to people posting just to be heard) and towards bringing forth factual information, where people might learn something.
I don't know what purpose a political forum on Tildes might have, but to succeed it must have a clear purpose, and that purpose must be one which excludes people posting merely to be heard.
(4) In addition to a purpose beyond being heard, a political forum must have extreme civility rules.
Both CMV and NP have extremely similar rules in this regard, and they are absolutely crucial to the success of the fora.
In general, any comment or post which in any way denigrates another user should be removed. This is an extremely broad civility rule that is well past what most subreddits do. Calling another user a liar, or accusing them of bad faith posting is banned on both CMV and NP for example, even when such accusations are true.
The prohibition on what even may be seen as justified rudeness is I think the key to a civility rule. It immediately removes from the moderation process any discretion around the substance of the politics, and makes it a neutral rule which can be applied evenly to all parties.
It is also necessary because nothing productive ever happens after bad faith is accused. Almost uniformly, once someone is rude, if there is a response back to them, the response will be rude in kind, usually more severely. People love to try to get the last word in, and a clear, objective rule banning "they started it" spats is also an important component. CMV's wiki has a really good overview of how we enforce this rule there.
I don't know exactly what political content should exist on Tildes. I do know that a general politics group will not work, and that rather a politics channel should be focused on a discrete purpose other than just discussion.
I would almost certainly ban link posts from any politics group, since inherently they're going to act as just headlines for people to pontificate on, without guiding discussion towards a particular goal. I would also obviously enforce civility, and have much stricter moderation of it than I might on a non-politics forum.
Edited for formatting