Actually the vast majority expressed a desire to not even see the political threads.
Who? Where? I ask this not out of spite, but if there genuinely has been a feedback attempt apparently I (and who knows how many others) missed it. Or is this purely anecdotal?
Now whether making things opt-in goes too far in that direction is another matter.
I'm not unaverse to removing the opt-in usergroup but I also like the idea of making people actually decide that they want to participate rather than simply drive-by posting. I suppose read-only access for logged in forum members might be a way to achieve that though. What I don't want any more of is situations where board members leave HLP after having stumbled into a political discussion cause they're disgusted by the opinions that are allowed on here. We've had entirely too much of that in the past.
1. People decide every day if they want to participate in any open area of the forums. People who don't want to participate in a particular board don't click on it. If drive-by posting becomes a problem in those boards, then the moderators of them deal with it. This seems like an effective proven model.
2. If the problem is people getting their feelings hurt because of opinions expressed, there are three remedies: (1) people can avoid those threads, (2) people can recognize that different opinions exist and being exposed to them is called "life", AND/OR (3) the community can make it clear in an amendment to the forum guidelines exactly what opinions will and will not be tolerated.
This reeks of the illiberal idea that people should only ever be exposed to ideas they agree with no matter where they wander. Segregating political discussions into an open, accessible, and publicly-viewable subforum clearly labelled as Political Discussion should be more than sufficient accommodation. It goes without saying that there is a great deal posted in the political discussions around here that I have expressly and strongly disagreed with, and I agree that general HLP users should not be made to feel the site is hostile to them, but the changes-as-implemented are the equivalent of dealing with a living you you don't like the colour of by bulldozing the house.
What's wrong with making Political Discussions a subforum of GenDisc without all the hoops to get into it? You've already said moderation is going to stay the same
Actually I haven't said that. In fact I've pointed out that the moderation will be stricter. And that's the problem. I don't want people wandering into a more strictly moderated section of HLP and then whining about it once the hammer comes down.
So put a big blinking sticky at the top with special rules for the Political Discussion area. This is also contradictory to your earlier points in your reply; if the moderation is going to be stricter, there should be less risk of people being exposed to things that disgust them and consequently less need to make the board as hidden as seemingly possible.
Communities may be built around specific niches and continued on that basis, but long-term communities also depend on the health of their Off-Topic areas. Without fail, every online community I've participated in over the last 20+ years that has continued to be successful has done it because of the availability of the Off-Topic areas, not in spite of them. Killing and segregating "political discussions" - which also tend to be the interesting ones where debates occur and you actually see people make arguments - is not good for the health of a community, and that is exactly the road the changes-as-currently-implemented are leading down. I fully support efforts to improve the quality
of contentious discussions on HLP, but shoving them off in some dark corner of the board and setting them up to narrow the userbase is going to make the problem worse, not better. This is, in fact, why I spent a considerable amount of time helping revise the Guidelines a couple years ago and it pains me to see that instead of improved moderation to improve discussion wuality we're instead resorting to technical mechanics.
Again, some actual
comprehensive consultation with the community-at-large would have been nice here, folks.