Author Topic: Political Discussion On HLP  (Read 2168 times)

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Offline CT27

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Re: Political Discussion On HLP
Was the political discussion around here considered toxic just in the last year or so, or did it have a bad rep even before Trump came on the scene?

 

Offline Scotty

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Re: Political Discussion On HLP
What I don't understand is how "put it in its own sub-board" isn't somehow making it so most people can't see it, entirely without making it actually invisible.  Don't like politics, don't go to that board!  Problem solved, in less controversial fashion.  MP-Ryan is absolutely right that this will de-facto kill the entire concept of political discussion on HLP, except I think we all know it'd go away for like three months until everyone forgot that such an invisible sub-board existed and started posting politics in GD again and getting annoyed when their posts disappear somewhere they can't see.

 
Re: Political Discussion On HLP
Was the political discussion around here considered toxic just in the last year or so, or did it have a bad rep even before Trump came on the scene?

It always had a bad rep.

 

Offline Bobboau

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Re: Political Discussion On HLP
Was the political discussion around here considered toxic just in the last year or so, or did it have a bad rep even before Trump came on the scene?
if anything that last year or so has been a marginal improvement.
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Offline karajorma

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Re: Political Discussion On HLP
What I don't understand is how "put it in its own sub-board" isn't somehow making it so most people can't see it, entirely without making it actually invisible.  Don't like politics, don't go to that board!  Problem solved, in less controversial fashion.

The problem isn't people who don't like politics. The problem is people who don't mind politics but have a problem with the ****ed up version that ends up appearing on General Discussion. They end up wondering into what they think is going to be an interesting discussion on some subject and get pulled down into a ****ing tar pit. There are quite a few topics on this board that start out fairly civilised only to turn nasty 20-30 pages in. And then you get people who turn sour on HLP and leave. Don't tell me you can't think of people who have gotten sick of doing something productive on HLP because of politics.

The whole point of the "Let's Talk, HLP" thread was to figure out what we could do to get more people to come to HLP and play our games. I can't see any good reason why that shouldn't be the focus of everyone on HLP. And it's not going to happen if General Discussion is making people walk right back out the door again. The conclusion of that thread was that politics should be placed somewhere that it wouldn't do that. Quite a few people were quite happy to get rid of it entirely. Almost everyone agreed that it was currently far too toxic to remain in the stare it is in. Putting it in it's own hidden forum is a compromise. And like all compromises that means you don't get exactly what you want. If people want the politics section to end up on an open child board, they should be working on making sure that is becomes a forum that can be an open child board without endangering the main focus of HLP rather than demanding that they get what they want.

The idea behind closing off the political board is so that those who want it most have to prove that they can turn it into something that attracts people to HLP rather than turns them away. Now bear in mind that I count myself in that group. I don't want political discussion on HLP to go away. But it's had way too many chances to sort itself out and it never has. So now if it suffocates itself under a pile of ****posts instead of cleaning up its act, then it's no great loss.
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Offline Mongoose

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Re: Political Discussion On HLP
To elaborate a bit, there was originally a thread in the global mod/admin folder discussing various ideas for improving HLP, which was then opened up to a wider audience on the mod/project head folder, and then finally to the entire forum in the Announcements folder.  What struck me the most is that the public thread contained the most vehement distaste of all over what GD had become and the strongest desire to put a kibosh on toxic political discussion.  It was very much the opposite of a top-down decision.

 

Offline karajorma

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Re: Political Discussion On HLP
Yeah, I find this sentiment that it's the admins who want to kill General Discussion quite hilarious.
« Last Edit: April 11, 2017, 03:15:40 am by karajorma »
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Offline Scotty

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Re: Political Discussion On HLP
I don't rightly care where a bad idea (or a bad compromise, if you want to be pedantic) came from, I still think it's going to fail at doing everything it's supposed to be doing.  The forum doesn't need to be opt-in, it doesn't need to be hidden.  If someone doesn't want to see it they can just avoid going in.  If they can't avoid going in that doesn't seem like the forum's problem to solve.

 

Offline Bobboau

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Re: Political Discussion On HLP
Where is this public thread discussing this that apparently everyone missed? I'm hearing a fairly consistent message from everyone who will be affected by this decision.
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Offline karajorma

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Re: Political Discussion On HLP
Try the announcements forum.
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Offline MP-Ryan

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Re: Political Discussion On HLP
Rather than replying line-by-line to kara, since the discussion has moved:  apparently the consultation thread was the generically-titled "Let's Talk HLP" thread stuffed up in the Announcements board.  Clearly I'm also not the only person who rarely if ever reads the announcements board, since I'm not the only one apparently surprised by this revelation.  So, rather than putting a thread in GD, the main board to which the most dramatic changes are proposed, or even linking from a thread in GD to the other thread saying "hey, we're thinking of changing GenDisc, what do you people who frequent it think?" the idea of a generic announcement thread that spends its first several pages (I just looked) discussing all manner of other things is what passes for consultation?  Part of my regular day job of enforcing law is also providing feedback on consultation requests for legislative amendments, and if this is what passes for consultation, frankly and with personal respect to the individuals, you're doing it wrong.

With regard to the guidelines being no different, I don't think they are.  The original guideline rewrite (of which I drafted a great deal of the wording, as you may recall) was comprehensive and covered these things.  Spelling them out further doesn't change the rules.  My biggest problem with the moderation around here is you all spend too long waiting to deal with what everyone sees as a problem, and then down comes a punishment out of nowhere that's disproportionate to the actual offence because its based on a lengthy history of inaction and multiple problems, which is exactly the criticism I brought up during the Guideline re-write that everyone said they were going to take into account.  Moving Political Discussions into a de-facto "hidden" board is not going to fix that problem.  If you want civility, then you enforce quality restrictions on the posts.

I do not have a problem with moving Political (and religious) discussions into either a separate Off-Topic board or, my preferred option, into a child board of GenDisc.  That is overdue.  But the idea that hiding it and restricting the membership by making it obscure is going to solve HLP's problem with contentious discussion is off-base.  If you want to move discussion to a subforum, do it.  If you want to moderate for quality and content (and civility) in that subforum, please dear God do it.  But as I keep harping on, narrowing the userbase to only the dedicated few and making it difficult and obscure to access is not going to breed those changes.  Those changes come from expanding the userbase to include a greater range of people, not condensing it further.

I strongly agree with Scotty's last post above.

To sum up, in my view:
1.  Make Political Discussions an open child board of General Discussion.
2.  Remove the hidden properties and subscription features you've implemented.
3.  Sticky a post at the top with a subject that simply says "Guidelines and quality will be strictly enforced in this subforum and violations will result in removal."  Link inside to the Guidelines themselves.  You could also spell out what exactly is meant by quality in the context of the child board.
4.  Enforce the guidelines and quality restrictions.
5.  Tell the people who have a problem with the content of Political Discussions (after the above are implemented) that they are all old enough to use a computer and can figure out how NOT to click on a link.

If I sound overly grouchy lately, it's because I have a nasty head cold and sinus infection that's kicking my ass and possibly making me more blunt than usual.

And on the idea of making me a global mod, consider the unforeseen consequences of your decisions :p
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Offline MP-Ryan

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Re: Political Discussion On HLP
Double post because.

I just read through quite a bit of the Let's Talk HLP thread.  I really wish I'd seen it earlier and seen the discussion on the board organization.  That's mostly on me.  But it doesn't negate at all what I've been saying.

From that thread, I see a handful of users (dozen at most? I didn't count) saying GenDisc is/was a cesspool.  They're entitled to their opinions.  However, those same people are also heavily involved in other parts of the forum, and all respect to batts in particular but he is not the person who should be commenting on the contributions of GenDisc to HLP.

Why?

He's a creator.  He's an active member of the FSO community who is actively playing FreeSpace mods, and I totally understand his argument about "go play the game" but it's missing a bigger picture.

I can't.  And I say "I," but the better term is probably we, because I really doubt I'm the only one.

I have a steady job, a wife, two kids, a house in need of maintenance, and a love of games generally.  This means that I game for a few hours a week (more lately because cold from hell, but this is unusual).  I'm currently playing a bunch of large RPGs and MEA multiplayer.  I've got a backlog of games a mile long and I quite frankly cannot be bothered to update my FSO install and go play a bunch of mods.  That said, there are a few projects around here that I genuinely do follow and am waiting for more content from.  So why am I here?

Off-Topic areas.

But, you take away what makes the main Off-Topic board interesting and kill it, and the regularity with which I check HLP will drop.  It might eventually drop to nothing, which is why I've left other communities.  And then, when the next BP installment comes out, will I see it?  Probably not.  Will I be around to help promote changes to the site?  Nope.

It's all well and good that people are active and passionately involved in the community, but their activity and passion will not sustain a community over the long term between project releases, and it is not going to bring back users who have left.  They miss the mark.  I agree that political discussions etc should not be allowed to devolve into ****fests, that GenDisc definitely should not be the first area new users see, and that a re-org of some kind is probably a good idea.  But if Political Discussions dies, and GenDisc becomes the shallow "look at this latest YouTube video / what are you reading / oooof, GIFs!" I am ****ing gone.  Am I alone?  Probably not.

The Let's Talk HLP thread's perspective on GenDisc was driven by exactly the wrong audience, which is exactly why you're getting the reaction in this thread. They don't like GenDisc's political discussions?  Fine.  To each their own.  But they are NOT the people who should be driving the decisions on how to retain and improve that part of the forum.
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Re: Political Discussion On HLP
@MP-Ryan: So if you missed this discussion thread, which was active over quite some time and regularly appeared in the recent posts lists - how many other interesting things outside of your favorite political discussions and the one/two projects you follow would you notice?



So in general: Is catering to people with radical opinions and inability to properly discuss something/accept other opinions helping to keep the board more active or does it reject more people from returning?

I mean, seriously, I've been reading GenDisc every now and then and if I were a mod for it I would have banned certain people ages ago.
So many discussions were derailed in awful ways. Even without stuff that, if mentioned in public at the wrong place, would have gotten the police involved, many people just can't discuss in a civilized way. However banning anyone does not help. They will see bias and censorship on the side of the moderation cause of their opinion.

Which leads to a certain question. Would the political discussion board even be so attractive without all the controversy?
If you can't post all this disgusting stuff, annoy, ignore and troll other people to no end and pretend to know everything better - I guess some people would leave sooner or later and the board would be rather tame and slow. Like actual political discussions between politicians tend to be slow and boring unless one side is strongly left, right or filled with heavy populism.

In the end I don't care much how political discussions are actually handled. I would prefer it as a child board of current GenDisc (so no appearance in recent posts) that is visible only to registered members but none of the threads should appear in the "unread posts" section of GenDisc. Whatever moderation approach will be used, people will complain about it and accuse the moderation of favoritism.
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Offline MP-Ryan

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Re: Political Discussion On HLP
Not many, and that's a result of my own time constraints.  But eliminating GenDisc or killing off the more contentious discussions isn't going to make me wander into them either.  Like I said, the reason I'm not playing FSO mods is a lack of time to play them, and I'm definitely not going to go reading their forums if I won't be playing them anytime soon either.

Quote
If you can't post all this disgusting stuff, annoy, ignore and troll other people to no end and pretend to know everything better - I guess some people would leave sooner or later and the board would be rather tame and slow. Like actual political discussions between politicians tend to be slow and boring unless one side is strongly left, right or filled with heavy populism.

This is pretty cynical.

I'm not advocating for some of the absolute crap that appears in political discussions on HLP.  In point of fact, for years, I've been advocating the opposite - that moderation be used early and readily to ensure discussion is shaped in a civil and contributing manner.  That doesn't make discussions less interesting; it makes them quite a bit more so because you remove the personal bile and focus on core topics and concepts.  HLP's political discussions over the years have been full of these kinds of discussions; people just forget them because of the crap in between.

Nowhere here am I saying GenDisc is not in need of some reform.  My consistent point is that the proposed reforms don't actually address the problem, which stems a lot from the negative opinions the people suggesting those reforms hold about GenDisc in the first place.  I despise content-free posts, which is why I don't even click on probably 2/3 of the threads in GenDisc in the first place.  Instead of shoving the topics that actually have a chance of showing some diversity of opinions into a black hole, it'd be better to give them their own niche and encourage them to develop in constructive ways.
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Offline karajorma

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Re: Political Discussion On HLP
But here's the question. If you think the people who currently make up about 80% of the posts on Gen Discuss can't remain civil for a week or two even with better moderation (and the Sword of Damocles in the form of making the forum permanently hidden), what makes you think that they'd do so under any circumstances?

And if you think they can why not wait the week or two, prove it and then let the board be made into a child board like you want?
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Offline MP-Ryan

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Re: Political Discussion On HLP
But here's the question. If you think the people who currently make up about 80% of the posts on Gen Discuss can't remain civil for a week or two even with better moderation (and the Sword of Damocles in the form of making the forum permanently hidden), what makes you think that they'd do so under any circumstances?

And if you think they can why not wait the week or two, prove it and then let the board be made into a child board like you want?

Because a week or two is not a good judge of anything.  The problem here isn't drastic actions, it's the drastic actions arrived at miss the mark completely.  So we get a dozen people who play nice for two weeks.  Then you open it up, and then other gradually move in, then the ****posting starts, and then suddenly we're back at "this is all garbage burn it to the ground."

Why don't we try an actual different approach, rather than a rebrand of the same old tired measures that haven't worked multiple times?  Instead of constantly revisiting this in new flourishes of writing, I'm going to take half an hour of my grouchy misery and draft a damn plan as to how I, at least, can see this working.  I'll post it up in a bit.
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Offline Scotty

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Re: Political Discussion On HLP
Please define "better moderation" Kara because I have never seen it done successfully on HLP.  Presumably, from your hypothetical, it doesn't include enforced vacations, or a werk or two would be peanuts.

HLP's moderation in GD suffers just as much from certain mods/admins/users interpreting moderation against a user as moderation against that user's political opinion, which contributes to deadlocks where no moderation ends up happening, as it does from letting issues fester until one user eats a punishment for it that was previously left unchallenged.

Evidence: that time Goober told me to my face that he was against X moderation action because he had to look out for the conservative side of an argument.  That happened in an internal board I can no longer see to go quote it, but it seems like something pertinent to the case here.

 

Offline MP-Ryan

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Re: Political Discussion On HLP
Proposal to Implement Political Discussions Subforum

Core Principles:
  • Political Discussion is not a "free speech board." Posts, including opinions, are expected to be backed up by evidence (though sourcing is not definitively required).  It is also not a soapbox.  That is what social media is for.  You have the privilege of participating in this group; you do not have a right to have your opinion heard.  Our house, our rules.
  • Board membership will remain open to all users unless abused.  Multiple warnings will result in suspension from the sub-board.
  • Posts in the sub-board will be subject to the core HLP Guidelines, but shall have stricter moderation standards than enforced elsewhere on the site.
  • Posts should contribute quality, not quantity, to the discussion.[/i]
Expectations:
  • The Political Discussion sub-board is for possibly-contentious but respectful and content-driven discussion. Posts that personally attack other users, rather than criticize positions, will be immediately deleted and the user warned.
  • Posts that lack relevant content will be either deleted or moved at the moderators' discretion.  Tangents will be split at the earliest opportunity.
  • Drive-by posting is not permitted.  Users who repeatedly post without engaging in follow-up will be warned and their posts removed.
  • Topics that discuss discrimination through evidence-based content are permitted.  Posts that engage in or advocate for discrimination will be subject to deletion and warning.  There is a thin line between these two things and users are advised to use their best judgement.
  • Thread titles shall be descriptive and moderators may rename them to reflect their content as required (though humorous titles are not discouraged).

Mechanics:
  • The Political Discussion board will remain a sub-group of General Discussion with full open membership to all registered users, but hidden to users not logged in.
  • Irrelevant/tangential but content-driven posts in PD threads will be moved to either Political Discussion or a more appropriate Off-Topic area, with a link provided.
  • Warnings given out in Political Discussion shall be done publicly in the thread; they are NOT up for public debate in the thread by the warned party or others (any dispute will be handled by PM)
  • Suspension from the Political Discussion board will be for a minimum of one week to allow for a cooling off period.  Multiple temporary suspensions may result in permanent suspension.
  • Political Discussion should have consistent moderation from only a small number of moderators specifically tasked to handle it (not that they can't be Global Moderators / Admins, but not all Global Mods or admins should be moderating PD if they aren't regularly part of it.

I think that should make it abundantly clear that PD will be for actual discussion (which is not to say that it shouldn't also be fun).  However, if people want to drive-by post with a random GIF or video, go play in GenDisc.

And if you really want, I'll even put my money where my mouth is and volunteer to moderate the damn thing.

EDIT:  One additional temporary idea would be a "Doesn't meet the cut" thread stickied in PD, where the moderation team moves, rather than deletes, posts not meeting the content restrictions above as an example.  Purpose would be not so much to shame the user in question as to provide examples to the entire userbase of what not to do.  I'd say a month should probably be sufficient for its existence.
« Last Edit: April 11, 2017, 12:33:48 pm by MP-Ryan »
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Offline The E

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Re: Political Discussion On HLP
I'm on a business trip right now where I wanted to use the return journey to type up my thoughts on the matter, but seeing how Ryan already did so, I'll just say that I agree with him.
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Re: Political Discussion On HLP
I am not entirely sure how what MP-Ryan proposed is all that different from what is currently being proposed by members of staff, but I like it anyway.

(I also do trust MP-Ryan in a moderator position).