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Political Threads
Posted: 02 April 2012 06:17 AM   [ Ignore ]
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What’s your opinion on the current state of political discussions that have been popping up on the site? What are the reasons these threads should be on the site? What are the reasons they shouldn’t?

Posted: 02 April 2012 07:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]

I think characterizing these as “political” is not really the problem… the issue for me is that they are non-baseball.  I am happy to have non-baseball threads on the site, as I think they engender some good discussion up to a certain point.  However, there reaches a point where things start to spiral into a regurgitation of the same arguments by the same people (kind of a Godwin’s law fo Primer political discussion).  It’s at this point I would just like to remove these threads from my own hot topics, as they can start to dominate the list. 

The only reasons I can see for removing these from the site are:

a) Bandwidth issues: it would be sad if the non-baseball threads caused site performance issues that negatively affected baseball threads

b) Site ownership/reputation issues:  This is your show, Jim. I think you are completely justified in removing anything from your site that you think affects the viability of the site and the view of the site from people who think they’re getting baseball discussion but instead are finding threads on corporate economics, pederasty, and gun control.  If you think that this affects the number of new baseball fans that you can attract to the site, that would be too bad and could justify cutting these threads off.

c) Hot topics dominance:  This is my major problem… I hate trying to find new baseball stories in and amongst all the devolving political discussions.  I know people will say that the political threads are, at most, 3 out of 8 (or 10 or whatever) hot topics at once.  But to me, that’s like a 30-40% reduction in the *available* hot topics threads that people can comment on.  In general, if threads don’t get a few comments early on after being posted, they disappear and then I have to sort through the newsblog for things that I’m interested in.  I don’t have time to do that, so I generally will just go off to another site.

c) is really the only thing that I worry about.  It would be great if I could click a box that would take a thread out of my hot topics (which would give me more threads in hot topics that people were actually posting to about baseball). My guess is that we would get a lot more traffic on baseball specific threads if there were more people who really just wanted posting about baseball seeing each other posting in baseball threads in hot topics.  And that way, if there WAS a political thread I was getting a lot out of, I could keep in my hot topics until I grew tired of it. 

I would guess I’m a pretty average poster with regards to my feelings on this: I don’t hate political threads, but I feel like maybe they make it more difficult to find the interesting baseball discussion (and actually act to suppress that kind of discussion by taking up spots in hot topics).

 

Posted: 02 April 2012 07:49 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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As a ham radio operator, the topics generally avoided by the wiser hams include politics and religion. Because most people are so passionate about their political or religious views the discussion inevitably devolves into a “tastes great/less filling!” shouting match, generating much heat, but little light.

Meta-discussions and off-topic discussions have always been frowned upon, even back in the Usenet days, and with good reason. As #1 points out, this is a baseball discussion site so if it aint baseball it needs a really good reason to be discussed here.

There are over 10,273,558 discussion sites available for other topics, why overload this excellent one with non-baseball discussions?

Now, if Congress wants to rattle its saber about removing MLB’s anti-trust exemption…

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Posted: 02 April 2012 08:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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The current state of political discussions on the site in news articles is destructive and distracting, and that’s putting it kindly. The continued fighting, haranguing and endless meta-discussion surrounding it makes the Newsstand almost unusable to discuss baseball.

Nearly all specialist/hobbyist communities run into the same problems and the near-universal solution they’ve implemented is to give people who want to discuss things other than the topic their own corner to do so that doesn’t detract from the hobby/specialty. This option has been discussed, and the main actors in these threads opposed it. But this site isn’t a battleground for the Culture Wars, and judicious pruning of off-topic tangents isn’t censorship. If you want to climb a soapbox and agitate for a return to the Gold Standard get your own blog.

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Posted: 02 April 2012 08:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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I don’t have much to add to what JGLB said, other than that whatever decision is made has to come from the top and be consistently enforced. This means that, if Jim decides that political threads are no longer wanted (a decision I would encourage and support), then BTF admins as a whole need to buy in and be consistent about the policy. No more having Repoz post articles that are tenuously related to baseball but are guaranteed to start a political flamewar, no more Szym diving in to the political threads before deciding it was a bad idea, etc. You can’t really blame the current political thread participants for not following site policy when the site policy is inconsistent at best.

Posted: 02 April 2012 08:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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The continued fighting, haranguing and endless meta-discussion surrounding it makes the Newsstand almost unusable to discuss baseball.

I think that’s an extreme interpretation. I find plenty of baseball discussion in the Newsstand. It’s always obvious which thread has gone in a direction I might not want to follow simply by tracking the number of posts and the names of the posters. The situation is not as bad as it was about two years ago.

What are the reasons these threads should be on the site?

The only justifiable reason for these threads, or any off-topic threads, to be on the site is because the conversation flows towards them. In the olden days, they used to occur more naturally. Today, ‘off-topic’ threads are frequently contrived through the choice of article. The NBA and soccer threads are institutionalized.

The only practical solution might be to institute a similar monthly off-topic political thread, and reject links to obvious ‘throwings down of the gauntlet’, like the ‘Sweeney-for-Santorum’ article. But the problem is enforcement. If anyone steps too far off the ‘politics island’, they should suffer an account suspension. Had the forum policy been enforced in the first place, we might not be in this situation. This is a second chance to create some kind of balance that defines the site as about baseball with occasional tangential discussions because we are all interesting people, with valuable insights beyond our baseball thoughts.

Posnanski threads are a different problem, unfortunately.

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Posted: 02 April 2012 09:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]

It’s really too bad that joe posnanski, who is a great BASEBALL writer, has been kevin-ized.

I could see protests over having articles he writes being posted here if he supported SANDUSKY,(or was a bill conlin) but honestly, this pos = devil stuff is out of control. I have NO idea how you can stop discussions about anything poz writes not going straight to - he supports rapists - type comments. i don’t know why some people can’t/won’t drop the paterno debacle, but they refuse to and not enough of the other posters will say - we KNOW what you think - we want to talk BASEBALL, so shut up about it already.

As you know, i am not exactly a Computer Genius, but i would like to see a system like this - stuff like the poz column gets labeled “off topic” just like the santorum/sweeny as soon as the discussion has nothing to do with baseball.

Computer magically, it gets asterisked by you or repoz and at that point, only logged in people can cllick on it under a category called - The Asterisked Threads. Divide it into 2 categories - politics/not politics. These are separate from the basketball/hockey/soccer/football/gymnastics/whatever topics threads that are only visible to logged in members.

For non-logged in people, I would expand the hot topics sidebar to include all non-asterisked topics talked about in the past 24 hours, For logged in people, i would expand the hot topics bar to include all the asterisks plus all the topics that have been discussed in the past 24 hours. i know it’s a long list, but it might could be better for talking about baseball.

As for how to get threads to not go into these stupid - 13 year old girls WANT to be molested by Old Guys - or, - hey guys, let’s talk about how we wipe our butts after pooping and tell where you like to poop bestest - offensive topics, i have NO idea.

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Posted: 02 April 2012 10:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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I agree with JGLB - the bitter vitriol that dominates 95% of the political threads leaks over into every part of the mainland.  It’s the steroid issue all over again, except even with that there was some tenuous connection to baseball (at least for the first couple of years - after that, I don’t know that it really mattered, as people were just reduced to shouting at each other and repeating their well-entrenched positions ad nauseam).

These personal battles come into baseball discussions, and it usually takes only one snide remark from one side or the other to re-light the kindling that’s always there.  And it’s only going to get worse as we get closer to the election.  It’s not sufficient to say “just stay out of it” or “if this is what people want to talk about, then just let them do it”.  There are a million websites out there where political discussions are the desired topic of discussion - I don’t know why a baseball website needs to be another one.

With Opening Day just around the corner, I’d love nothing more than to see:

(1) An end to posting of political threads masquerading as baseball threads (eg, “Reserve outfielder Joe Blow tweets that Obama eats babies for Ramadan” is not a baseball thread.  It’s an invitation for every crackpot to rev their engines and start screaming at each other.)

(2) When baseball threads turn into political screaming matches, a quick and painless closing of the thread and opening of a continuation in the forums (where these things were supposed to have gone 5-6 years ago when these forums were first opened to handle “off-topic” discussions in the first place).  And this needs to happen *every time*, not just once in a while.  When the topic turns away from baseball, that should be it - the thread is closed, and continued in the forums.  Eventually, people will get the message.

(3) (ideally) For people who repeatedly insist on turning baseball threads into political grudge matches, warnings from site admins to cut it out, and suspensions if needed for people who won’t cut it out.

(And add my voice to the chorus that it’s unfortunate what’s happening to Posnanski threads.  If people can’t stop turning every thread into another rehashing of how awful it is that he didn’t immediately jump out and demonize the entire Penn State community, then we just need to stop linking to his articles.  It’s a loss for the site, but I get the feeling that some zealots are never going to let his part in the scandal - small though it was - go.)

Posted: 02 April 2012 10:31 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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I completely agree with Eamus.

Posted: 02 April 2012 10:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]

I find the repetitive topics, baseball and non-baseball related tiresome.  I am not sure how you stop it because sometimes these things come about organically but I’ll echo fra paolo’s frustration with the posts that are clearly going to take us in this direction.  I also would like to see something done about those commenters who take us down roads that are not related.  It seems to me that there is a small percentage of people who take us down these roads and make up a sizable portion of the comments in those instances.  I won’t name names but there are a couple of posters who don’t seem to post in baseball threads at all but then dominate the political stuff.

I also get frustrated with some of the repetitive stuff.  I think the Poz or Chass bashing is unnecessary.  I don’t think it’s contributory to turn every Poz article into a debate about his Paterno situation and the same is true of Chass and others of his ilk.  If you are bothered by these guys, don’t read/don’t post.  I don’t know how we police that though, at that point we’re asking the admins to become de facto editors which would be a practical impossiblity.

What are the reasons these threads should be on the site?

I think having non-baseball threads does a couple of things.  One is that it keeps the site a bit more peppy during the off-season.  As much as we’re all baseball fans there really is not a lot of baseball to discuss on January 23rd.  Second is somewhat related and that’s the creation of a true community here.  I think we have gotten to “know” each other in these threads and that is one of the reasons I enjoy coming here regularly.

Thirdly, it is often difficult to differentiate between a baseball/non-baseball thread.  Some of the threads that delve into these areas start out innocuous enough.  I’d hate to lose out on interesting and informative discussions because there is a chance that someone might take it to a discussion about 12th century land ownership rules or something.

Generally I am eager to see how the more customizable set up is going to work.  I think simply expanding the Hot Topics would be a real improvement.  I generally ignore the politics/religion/TV threads.  If I want to talk baseball there seem to be plenty of threads going on for that at any one time.  I’m a big believer in self-policing, if you don’t like the non-baseball stuff, ignore it.  I think we have a smart group of folks here so when I do jump into those threads I often find I learn something which I enjoy. 

What are the reasons these thread should not be on the site?

Well, it’s a baseball site so they do not contribute to that topic.  My biggest concern would be that it creates a problem for Jim and the admin folks or creates a technical issue with the site.  I think if either of those two things are being meaningfully harmed by this stuff then that alone should be cause to get rid of these things.  Perhaps some sort of acknowledgement when a thread goes political could generate a disclaimer that would appear to give the admins some cover; “the views on this thread are not the view of BTF etc…”

My two cents.

Posted: 02 April 2012 11:05 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Jim Furtado - 02 April 2012 06:17 AM

What’s your opinion on the current state of political discussions that have been popping up on the site? What are the reasons these threads should be on the site? What are the reasons they shouldn’t?

They have absolutely ruined the Mainland. They offer nothing new; just the same people rehashing their same tired talking points. If those asshats want to continue thier inbred disccussions, they should do it via email.

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Posted: 02 April 2012 11:10 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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I have a great idea. If those folks want to discuss politics all day just do it in the politics forum that already exists. Duh.

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Posted: 02 April 2012 11:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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My one concern is that off-topic threads, say about Game of Thrones or your favourite Beatles album, can be fun. I really think that the easiest solution would be an ‘ignore thread’ type function.  (Well, easy for me, I ahve no idea how easy that is to create).

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Posted: 02 April 2012 11:18 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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Paul D - 02 April 2012 11:14 AM

My one concern is that off-topic threads, say about Game of Thrones or your favourite Beatles album, can be fun. I really think that the easiest solution would be an ‘ignore thread’ type function.  (Well, easy for me, I ahve no idea how easy that is to create).

That is an option, but I feel that the political tangents prevent interesting conversation about an article or subject from occurring. It just dominates and strangles anything else out like kudzu.

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Posted: 02 April 2012 11:18 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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Paul D - 02 April 2012 11:14 AM

My one concern is that off-topic threads, say about Game of Thrones or your favourite Beatles album, can be fun. I really think that the easiest solution would be an ‘ignore thread’ type function.  (Well, easy for me, I ahve no idea how easy that is to create).

I have no problem with off-topic threads on music, TV, movies, other sports or whatever, as they don’t seem to hurt the general harmony of the Mainland.  It’s only the political ones that seem to cause people to drag their grudges around endlessly from thread to thread.

Posted: 02 April 2012 11:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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RJ in TO - 02 April 2012 11:18 AM
Paul D - 02 April 2012 11:14 AM

My one concern is that off-topic threads, say about Game of Thrones or your favourite Beatles album, can be fun. I really think that the easiest solution would be an ‘ignore thread’ type function.  (Well, easy for me, I ahve no idea how easy that is to create).

I have no problem with off-topic threads on music, TV, movies, other sports or whatever, as they don’t seem to hurt the general harmony of the Mainland.  It’s only the political ones that seem to cause people to drag their grudges around endlessly from thread to thread.

Don’t forget religion, and drunk driving.  And reclining your chair in an airplane.

It’s not hard for people who hate each other about politics to find reasons to hate each other about anything.

   
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