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Political Threads
Posted: 02 April 2012 12:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]

I’m a big fan of off-topic threads, and in my mind, the forum is death for a thread (making it an inadequate solution).  Enough people who do post regularly in non-baseball threads dislike the interface enough not to continue discussion there.

There is plenty of baseball content here that is unpolluted by political discussion, and I agree with several posters who have said that political threads are easily recognizable.  I do not understand this movement to ship off stuff you don’t like to an island, or to eliminate it entirely.  Nobody forces anyone to click on a particular thread, and if there’s an ignore thread feature, you won’t even have to see the threads you don’t like in Hot Topics.  The idea that it’s some sort of terrible imposition to click into a thread, realize that it’s shifted topics to something you’re not interested in (yet not a tremendous imposition to bar topics or limit those topics to a designated area of the site rather than allow them to happen organically) is confusing to me.  You can tell, most of the time, where a thread will inevitably go based on nothing more than the title of the linked article.

Furthermore, individual posters can be ignored.  I don’t use the ignore feature but it’s available to get away from people who only post political stuff if you never want to see it.

I maintain that part of the problem with moving political threads comes from thread closures, particularly thread closures that destroy what is 90+% civil discussion based on the actions of a few people with poor impulse control.  That discussion hasn’t run its course, and so it will inevitably return.  Individual posters should be dealt with individually.  Closing a thread is a nuclear solution, and should be an act of last resort.  It is very frustrating to all of those people who were enjoying a discussion.  We’re members of the community too, and it’s not reasonable to tar all of us with the same brush.  I’m very active in political threads but I don’t carry grudges and I almost never deliberately insult other posters.  I don’t come into multiple threads that aren’t already highly politicized by their very topic and hijack them to attack people I disagree with. 

If some people can’t resist attacking others, that’s not my fault and I should not be punished.  The very few people that can’t control themselves should be punished.  I’d go with private warning, followed by public warning, followed by suspension if the behavior persists.

This Posnanski issue is sort of different animal.  There are some people that have been completely up front about their intention to pollute every thread that mentions his name.  That’s a serious problem that demands intervention.  It shouldn’t mean that Posnanski is a forbidden topic.

Posted: 02 April 2012 12:36 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]

TL, DR version:

Why should political threads exist?  Because more than a few people enjoy them and they’re relatively easy to avoid.  The problem posters who make the discussions unpleasant can be easily disciplined as individuals.

Why shouldn’t political threads exist?  Because people can’t be bothered to ignore stuff that they don’t like.  That doesn’t seem like it outweighs the enjoyment that others get from those threads.

Posted: 02 April 2012 12:44 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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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.

I agree completely. Pop culture diversions are welcome, in my book.

There’s an argument to be made that if we say sociopolitical commentary should be sequestered in the forums then the same standard should apply to pop culture commentary. However, I see an obvious qualitative difference between a discussion that veers off-topic towards abortion rights and a discussion that veers off-topic towards Wilco.

Posted: 02 April 2012 01:27 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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CrosbyBird - 02 April 2012 12:33 PM

This Posnanski issue is sort of different animal.  There are some people that have been completely up front about their intention to pollute every thread that mentions his name.  That’s a serious problem that demands intervention.  It shouldn’t mean that Posnanski is a forbidden topic.

The ban hammer should be used liberally for posters who make it their explicit intent to hijack threads with bulls**t like that. One warning, and if you persist you’re gone. Period.

Posted: 02 April 2012 01:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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?

What CrosbyBird said.  I would add that with the exception of the NBA/soccer threads, the OT threads are all baseball-related initially.  Someone may say, “Mike Sweeney endorses Santorum” is not, but of course it is, even if it’s very foreseeable that it will veer OT.  Contrary to what several people said in response to your question, it’s not politics threads that cause people to “drag their grudges around endlessly from thread to thread.”  It’s the personality of a few posters who do that.  Moreover, some of the most contentious threads we’ve seen here were steroids threads, which were 100% on topic.  Just let people hide the threads that veer OT, and then warn/sanction the handful of posters who cross the line.  (Which I doubt CrosbyBird has ever done, though I’m sure I have on occasion.)

 

Finally, I would note that taking a survey here—even recognizing that it is unscientific—is going to give a misleading picture, because the so-called “Mainland” and Forum cliques are pretty segregated; by asking the question here, you’re only going to get the opinions of the people who use the Forums.  People who don’t, won’t be represented.  (You’ll note that any thread moved over here quickly dies, because the “Mainland” posters for the most part don’t read over here.)

Posted: 02 April 2012 01:42 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]

So apparently this forum thread is being used to bash the “unnamed” people who participate in political threads.

Yay.

——-

As to the Posnanski issue, the idea that “some people” have stated their intention to pollute every Posnanski thread is pure fiction, to my knowledge.  One person - Gaelan - initially stated his intention to do this, and then Jim/Dan emphasized that that behavior would not be tolerated, and Gaelan has not carried through on his threat, as far as I can tell.  Nobody else stated their intention to do this, and nobody else has done this, to my knowledge.

The reality of Posnanski threads now is that various different people will pop in to say something about Paterno, and inevitably someone rushes to tar the people who criticized him, and then a full-on discussion about Penn State breaks out.  I don’t know how you avoid that; there is no “instigator” or instigators.

Check the most recent Posnanski thread.  A few people right off the bat weighed in to either wonder whether Penn State had anything to do with his leaving SI—a completely appropriate speculation, not a hijack at all, as the very topic of the thread was him leaving SI—and then some other people popped in to say they’ve lost respect for him, and then someone said Posnanski had been unfairly criticized, and then me and Gaelan and some others commented.  There was no “hijack,” no conspiracy to pollute the thread, nothing of the kind.  The idea that there was or is in these threads is fiction.

The gravitation towards Penn State in Posnanski threads is completely natural, not a “polluting” at all, and it ought not be falsely portrayed that way. 

Posted: 02 April 2012 01:43 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
Mattbert - 02 April 2012 01:27 PM
CrosbyBird - 02 April 2012 12:33 PM

This Posnanski issue is sort of different animal.  There are some people that have been completely up front about their intention to pollute every thread that mentions his name.  That’s a serious problem that demands intervention.  It shouldn’t mean that Posnanski is a forbidden topic.

The ban hammer should be used liberally for posters who make it their explicit intent to hijack threads with bulls**t like that. One warning, and if you persist you’re gone. Period.

I agree with this, too.  There’s a big difference between an organic evolution of a thread and a deliberate attempt to hijack it.  Hell, “hijack” isn’t even the right word—“derail” is the right word.  That is, there’s a difference between bringing up the Paterno thing, even if OT, to discuss it, and bringing it up explicitly to drown out people talking about something else, which is what some posters threatened to do.  (Although I don’t know that they’ve really followed through.)

Posted: 02 April 2012 01:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]

Anyway, the gravitation of some threads towards politics is completely natural, and I don’t know how you’d avoid that, or why you’d keep clicking on a thread that has gone political.

I don’t whine about soccer and basketball and Star Trek threads.  I don’t try to stop Morty and Andy from boring everyone with talk of old movies.

And the interface in the lounge is a horrible medium for discussion.

Posted: 02 April 2012 01:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]

Finally, I would note that taking a survey here—even recognizing that it is unscientific—is going to give a misleading picture, because the so-called “Mainland” and Forum cliques are pretty segregated; by asking the question here, you’re only going to get the opinions of the people who use the Forums.

Exactly.

Posted: 02 April 2012 02:42 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]

First, I want to thank Jim for running this place.

Regarding political threads, I agree with the people earlier who said there seems to be a disconnect between the apparent dislike for political threads and the choice of threads that get posted here for discussion. The Sweeney thread was a perfect example. If political discussion is welcome, fine. But if political discussion is unwelcome, then threads like that probably shouldn’t even make it to the site in the first place.

As for solutions, I believe a lot of this problem, to the extent it’s a problem at all, could be solved by simply having a single “OT: Politics” thread to which people can be directed when particular threads get too heated or too political. Instead of closing a thread without warning, which probably leads to bad blood being stored up for the next conflagration, a simple “take it to the ‘OT: Politics’ thread, guys” (from Jim or Dan S. or whomever) seems like a viable middle ground. Then, instead of closing entire threads because a couple people can’t follow basic rules or display a modicum of civility, individual offenders who disregard such warnings should get suspended or banned.

Posted: 02 April 2012 02:50 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]

I would like to see an end to this nonsense where people blame people merely for posting in political threads.

Take the Al Campanis thread that just went up.  There is little hope that that thread won’t turn into politics.  Posting such an article on your site for discussion purposes and then blaming people for discussing it is pure BS.  Invited guests ought not be treated that way.

Posted: 02 April 2012 03:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]

Yes, it’s a deep and abiding self-serving hypocritical disconnect to get in a tiff because a post with blatant political topic becomes a hot political discussion.  How does Claude Rains in Ray’s favorite move put it?

Posted: 02 April 2012 03:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]
Avatar
RayDiPerna - 02 April 2012 01:42 PM

So apparently this forum thread is being used to bash the “unnamed” people who participate in political threads.

Yay.

——-

As to the Posnanski issue, the idea that “some people” have stated their intention to pollute every Posnanski thread is pure fiction, to my knowledge.  One person - Gaelan - initially stated his intention to do this, and then Jim/Dan emphasized that that behavior would not be tolerated, and Gaelan has not carried through on his threat, as far as I can tell.  Nobody else stated their intention to do this, and nobody else has done this, to my knowledge.

The reality of Posnanski threads now is that various different people will pop in to say something about Paterno, and inevitably someone rushes to tar the people who criticized him, and then a full-on discussion about Penn State breaks out.  I don’t know how you avoid that; there is no “instigator” or instigators.

Check the most recent Posnanski thread.  A few people right off the bat weighed in to either wonder whether Penn State had anything to do with his leaving SI—a completely appropriate speculation, not a hijack at all, as the very topic of the thread was him leaving SI—and then some other people popped in to say they’ve lost respect for him, and then someone said Posnanski had been unfairly criticized, and then me and Gaelan and some others commented.  There was no “hijack,” no conspiracy to pollute the thread, nothing of the kind.  The idea that there was or is in these threads is fiction.

The gravitation towards Penn State in Posnanski threads is completely natural, not a “polluting” at all, and it ought not be falsely portrayed that way. 

You don’t need to be named.

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Posted: 02 April 2012 03:30 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]

As anyone would know from reading the social/political threads, I obviously think such issues are important and need to be discussed and debated.

Even with that, regarding the Campanis post, I’d have to say some kind of leadership/policy from the administrators simply has to be shown in these cases with having people posting trollbait like that.  At least Sweeney was a freaking baseball player.  If it’s going go to like that, I have no understanding why I can’t just continue the conversation in the Campanis thread directly from the thread that was closed last night.

Is there every going to be any policy, at all, ever?

Posted: 02 April 2012 03:38 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 30 ]

I see why the admins close political threads, or send them to an island, or start up new forum threads to discuss what should be done about the people discussing politics.  At the same time, all of these actions lend credence to the notion—echoed here by some of the posters—that we are behaving wrongly by daring to discuss politics. 

But the Campanis thread shows the problem perfectly.  Your site links to an article for discussion purposes that is sure to head straight to a political discussion, and then ultimately the people discussing it get smeared for talking politics, as if they’re delivering some sort of plague to the community.

That is wrong.

And the political discussions _do_ drive massive numbers of page hits, for better or worse.  Not that that really matters.  If you want a politics-free site, then run a politics-free site:  put in the TOS that people are not to discuss politics, and then as soon as a discussion turns political then discipline people and/or close the thread.  You can’t be half pregnant here.  Discussions that move towards politics are simply natural and even baseball-related at times, and so cutting them off at the knees would be problematic, but at least if that’s the site you want to run, then run it and enforce it.

But don’t link to an article such as the Campanis one, invite people to discuss it, and then send the message that maybe people shouldn’t be discussing it.

   
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