Political discourse on The Comment Section

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Political discourse on The Comment Section

Postby gisambards » Tue Aug 15, 2017 10:02 pm

Given the way in which a number of CAaSS threads have broken down lately, I think it might be good for TCS to have a place in which one can have a meta-discussion of the politics of the site, so as to avoid driving other threads off-topic. It's very apparent that a lot of users feel aggravated by the nature of political discourse on TCS right now, and so I think it should be discussed. A particular area of concern right now is the expressed feeling of some conservative users that the site is hostile towards people with conservative views, and so part of the purpose of this thread is to give those users the opportunity to explain what the problems they perceive are, and if they think anything can be done about it. There is also a problem - particularly noticeably recently - with CAaSS threads getting dragged too quickly into personal attacks and bickering more than proper debate. Again, I think there should be some discussion as to possible solutions for this, if there are any (not necessarily even policy, but just a collective effort to try and do better). These seem to be the two biggest issues right now, but if there's anything else anyone wants to bring up this is the place for it.

Let's really try to not just turn this into another round of bickering. Assume the same rules Tess has brought in on the "Unite the Right" thread:
http://thecommentsection.org/viewtopic.php?f=39&t=10348&start=150#p253641
Obviously I can't actually enforce this myself, but I think the mods and admins will be watching this thread closely, given that they really do want to address users' concerns.
There is also the distinct possibility that people may not be able to fully express their opinion on this without seeming to criticise specific other users. As long as this is done politely however, I think it's fine, because I think it's necessary. The fact is, everyone on this site who posts on CAaSS can probably improve how they approach political debate in some way, and it may well be that you just haven't noticed something in how you debate that's putting other people off. If you do feel someone is criticising you and you disagree, disagree politely. Sometimes people come across as overly aggressive because they actually feel they're not being shown enough respect, and if you think that's the case, then again this is the place to calmly explain why you feel that way.

I do have thoughts on this myself, but it's taking a while to write them up, so I'm creating this thread now and I'll chime back in later.
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Re: Political discourse on The Comment Section

Postby Kate » Tue Aug 15, 2017 10:41 pm

I just want to make a statement that the mod team is watching this and we really want to make sure everyone is heard and respected. Please, if you post here, do so with the honest intention to listen and to assume good faith of everyone posting here. People may not understand you, not because you have done something wrong or because they are being disingenuous but because we all have different experiences that inform how we view the world and sometimes you can say something in the clearest way possible and someone else can view it with the most open mind possible and still misinterpret you.
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Re: Political discourse on The Comment Section

Postby Kate » Wed Aug 16, 2017 5:58 am

I'm fairly certain I accidentally just came across like I was supporting nazis in another thread, so I guess now is as good a time to double post as any. Fair warning, this came out with a lot more emotion and soul-bearing than I meant it to have.

I lean conservative. I don't think I'm actually full-fledged conservative, but I hold many conservative viewpoints and it is very difficult to talk about them on TCS through no fault of anyone else. It is just that often, my opinion is so drastically different than any opinion that's being expressed in a non-inflammatory way that I feel very alone and alienated.

People often make jokes, snark, and rag on people who hold views that I do - or who hold views that I may have once held, or that are held by people I love and admire. It hurts because it gets so much support relative to anything that comes out trying to explain the other side of things. I feel alone. And maybe that's my own fault; maybe I should post more, but then I feel even more alone. I don't come here to fight. So...I guess just stay out of those threads, right? But it's pretty pervasive and I'm also a masochist who wants to see what other people think about issues because I value their opinions.

I don't think that conservatives are treated unfairly, but I do think it is difficult to be a conservative here, and I do think that conservatives are way more likely to get the brunt of snark and snide remarks. That eventually selects for only people who are either so angry and pent up that they explode, or people who don't mind upsetting people by posting their harsh thoughts in response to other people posting their own thoughts that they might not realize are coming across as harsh.

When people respond to someone whom they don't take seriously after they express a political opinion, however badly they feel that opinion was expressed, they should know they are sending that message to everyone else who holds that opinion. It's a vicious cycle.

But I mean, what can be done about that, right? We can't really make this place both comfortable for everyone and a place where virtually anything can be discussed. If Don thinks all Trump supporters are racist and Delilah voted for Trump, Don either can't express his opinion lest Delilah watch everyone thumb up the sentiment that she is a racist, or Delilah won't feel comfortable admitting she voted for Trump lest she face the wrath of a green post saying she and people like her are racists. No matter how polite Don is, no matter how respectfully he makes a case that they're all racists, it's going to hurt Delilah. And on TCS, we err on the side of letting Don speak and letting Delilah respond if she chooses to.

There is no way for TCS to ever be a comfortable place for me unless a good portion of you stop being honest about how you feel about certain things, and that's not actually comfortable either because that's horrible. Even if it's not intentional hostility (because I'm serious, it is very, very rare for someone to treat me poorly here and I don't think most people actually think ill of me as a person), it does create a chilling effect to see the snark and some of the opinions about people who are like me, and I don't want to say, "Well hey, people I respect, just so you know, I'm apparently a sexist." And some people are bottling that frustration (me included, to be honest) and it comes out as anger, and it's not like anyone is to blame for that because the majority have just as much right to their honest opinions. It always feels personal, and I don't want to lose friends.

So do I shut up and let it simmer? Do I say something and deal with the emotional turmoil of actively being engaged in arguments I don't want to be in and don't have the energy for just so I don't feel mischaracterized? I don't know. I love it here, but sometimes, it's really hard to be here.

I will say there are definitely a lot of people who do go out of their way to make sure they are responding kindly and giving the benefit of the doubt even to posters whom they really disagree with. And it sucks that I can't say I feel uncomfortable here without making them wonder if they've contributed, because that's not fair. It's not fair for people to go out of their way to do everything right and be outstanding peers and still be left wondering if they're part of the problem.
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Re: Political discourse on The Comment Section

Postby SandTea » Wed Aug 16, 2017 7:14 am

Here are some of my problems (as in problems with me) that I'll expand upon a bit.

Text- There's a lot more to effective communication. I know I have not posted innocent things just because they would be too easy to misinterpret and explaining to everyone goes off topic or takes 15 PMs. So to be succinct while getting the basic point across, it's more efficient to just say "No". A message that can easily come across as rude when everyone disagrees with someone thereby priming them into a more hostile state. Which leads to...

Internet- Related to text but different enough. The internet is, overall, hostile. It is it's natural state in almost every (no offense) 'comment section'. No one is really trying to convince someone commenting on youtube videos to change their ways they just want to hear themselves and get that sweet appreciation dopamine. The relative anonymity and separation make it much easier for people to say things they would only think about you in person. Plus it's really easy to find the most extreme examples of whatever I'm trying to point out which just invites counter extremes then they both get explained and dismissed and it goes further and further towards "you must think X if you're using Y..." and on and on.

Overload- It never starts out as just quips. What happens is everyone either says their peace once or twice or is satisfied someone else has done so for them. Then the person being disagreed with rephrases the same argument, usually with more (off topic) things to be disagreed with. I don't like having to sit down and type out a semesters worth of physics and linguistics because of a disagreement about toilet paper rolls. It's much easier to just say "Wrong".

Now is when you might ask, "Why not just say nothing?". Well, since I'm never going to be done being self deprecating but I am getting hungry, my last point for now.

Finality- You could call this having the last word but it's more than that. I don't want the other person thinking they have made any good points but I also don't want to continue trying to explain the same reasons why they are wrong over and over. Thus the sniper comes out. Especially if someone else has taken up the reins to try and hit that magic rephrase button about the geographical significance of land crabs in a thread about slavery while I can just sit back and say "I strongly disagree" in some manner.

That last point is where the meme responses come in. It conveys the message of disaproval and allows for potential humor but also misinterpretation. There probably isn't going to be a good solution to this but what comes to mind is a sort of agreement between everyone. In the form of an emoji. Emojis are cute right? That should take some sting out of it.

If we can all agree to recognize "right arrow faced person" means something like "This is me at thanksgiving ignoring the racists hoping this will all be over quickly but I still want them to seriously consider why no one wants to talk to them and think about overall human well being and how they are not contributing to it". Can emojis say that much? OK, maybe not all that but a "No x1000, I'm leaving you to be wrong all on your lonesome" might suffice.

Little side note, I got logged out after trying to post this the first time and lost it all and it was better written than this but I tried my best to keep the poorly expressed "even in this one post of mine things were escalating" theme/point. I hope that comes through in the way I meant it to because that's one of the points. I'm the dumb Goku of internet. I've just got to argue HARDER! to reach the next level. And again, this is all about myself.
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Re: Political discourse on The Comment Section

Postby Ladki96 » Wed Aug 16, 2017 2:38 pm

People can't just say no and go Sand xD I mean, they can (there is no rule that you must give reasons for your opinion) but if someone asks, 'what do you mean?' or 'and why is that?' or 'why do you think/say that?' and they don't reply, none of us are to be blamed for dismissing their post and moving on to some other discussion, y'know? Like so many people way better than me at this articulating thing have said, "use yer words." Posting memes or snarky one-liners or going "bah, just a troll" is not very impressive :P
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Re: Political discourse on The Comment Section

Postby sunglasses » Wed Aug 16, 2017 6:04 pm

I know a lot of people feel like mods aren't stepping in enough or view it as mods not punishing someone for violating the rules.

I cannot stress enough that there are things that go on behind the scenes.

I'm not comfortable publicly outing that we've warned someone or banned them. Unfortunately this creates the view that nothing was done.

Edit: Personally, I was more argumentative when I first came here then I am now. I think being here and hearing viewpoints I might not otherwise have heard in a relatively rational manner as Kate, Marc, and Notch have done in the past were reasons for this. While I may not agree with everything they feel or believe, they way they articulate the whys of their rationale help me understand and appreciate their viewpoint. I *do* respect that other people have views I don't agree with, and they should be able to say them but we also have to balance a line of not blatantly insulting others. We also "lose" the argument if we are essentially saying that all of a certain group of people are "insert derogatory comment." Because why there may be many people you've interacted with that have shown this to be the case it does not mean all of them are and this is essentially why in a nut shell stereotypes can be harmful.

I, personally and as a mod, am a bit tired of people dragging up topics from other threads. I don't find this to be helpful. Unless someone is directly challenging you and saying "When did I say this?" I know I have posted things in the past that I might not remember and may not even 100% agree with anymore. Sometimes I find a link to this helpful as I may then clarify intent. But often times there are vague references to how your opinion doesn't matter because of something you've said or the user thinks you said or implied in the past. This is not helpful or a good way to debate or discuss something.

Another thing has happened is derailing a thread completely because of one post. It then becomes a hot mess. Example here.Insults occur.

The snarky comments or dismissive posts are not helpful either and yes, I am well aware that I personally have been guilty of this as well. I am human. I am not a perfect person, and I recognize that I am flawed. But they completely detract from the thread and instead of it being a rationale discussion it becomes a heated mess.

Before I was a mod, I had a thread that wrote very specific guidelines (I can't even remember what thread it was anymore) for and felt they were not followed and it got a bit back and forth. But, I still think if you create the thread and you have specific guidelines you think should be followed while discussing a topic (and they're reasonable) it should certainly be allowed and we should honor them.

Thing is, we've had issues in the past and we've got thru them. I'd like to think we'll get thru this as well and we need to weather it.
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Re: Political discourse on The Comment Section

Postby NoodleFox » Sat Aug 19, 2017 1:47 am

Haha, guess this is all because of me...I guess I still need a lot more to learn in regards to explaining myself.
But I'm not sure how I can, or be able to without the fear of someone misconstruing my words and warping them into venom.

I've already censored myself on Facebook this week due to me saying something that I would deem common sense: violence is not an answer to dialogue and that both sides of the aisle are terrible - I almost lost a friend because of this. He sees a movement that beats up Trump supporters and shuts down free speech as defenders of minorities. He essentially called me a racist, sexist bigot when I tried to ask why we can't just sit down and talk or go another peaceful route when it came to extremists
A friend who stepped in to tell him what I meant was the only reason why he apologized for upsetting me.

That hurt me so much.
To have a friend you've known for years, to hang out and play games with and party and have fun, tell me, "Well even a friend can hide dark things" when I begged him not to cut ties...

Can you understand how I feel? Just the way I see the world has the possibility of destroying the relationships and reputation I have if I dare say something someone can disagree with. It seems today that no one can be friends or co-workers or what have you with someone who they disagree with. Even when I try to explain in the most simplest of ways that I'm able to still nets me a high chance of everything blowing up in my face...

It's so mentally exhausting, to see and hear things that are lies and if I try to explain why and give evidence, it either gets ignored or something not even pertaining to what I gave is blown up and used as ammo ("You used a slur, so I have no reason to believe you, bigot!" "You hate affirmative action even though you're a woman? Dump that internalized misogyny, bitch." "Lol so I guess you watch Alex Jones?").

It's gotten to the point where I don't even bother trying to be respectful anymore in some places; to be so hostile to someone you don't even know, to say "I hope someone puts a hit out on you" or tries to dox me, they deserve no kid gloves. I don't even know why I try, but I still do, maybe in the hopes of having someone outside my political spectrum validate what I see and experience.

Well, I guess I still do it for the laughs, too; I have so many instances where I caused these people to block me just for outmaneuvering them (so I guessss I'm a troll, but only to people who deserve it)
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Re: Political discourse on The Comment Section

Postby cmsellers » Sat Aug 19, 2017 4:33 am

NoodleFox wrote:Haha, guess this is all because of me...I guess I still need a lot more to learn in regards to explaining myself.

You were the proximate cause, but it's a problem we've talked about talking about before, at least on Discord. We drove away one user by refusing to acknowledge the validity of microaggressions and another by telling him his reasons for supporting Trump were delusional (in slightly politer terms). There are at least three conservative-leaning users whom I haven't seen since the election. None of them supported Trump, but I suspect the amount of time we've spent complaining about him after the election played a role (though two of them were only intermittent visitors before the election).
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Re: Political discourse on The Comment Section

Postby ghijkmnop » Sat Aug 19, 2017 5:02 am

Redacted
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Re: Political discourse on The Comment Section

Postby iMURDAu » Sat Aug 19, 2017 4:27 pm

Who, Adric? I'm pretty sure it wasn't political discourse that caused him to leave.

Too bad we can't give exit interviews to people who have posted more than ten times or lurked longer than a couple weeks. Mmmaybe it's good though because our feelings would probably get trampled and danced on.
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Re: Political discourse on The Comment Section

Postby ghijkmnop » Sat Aug 19, 2017 4:47 pm

Redacted
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Re: Political discourse on The Comment Section

Postby sunglasses » Sat Aug 19, 2017 5:26 pm

He's around. If you post in the metal thread you summon him. Especially if you say that your favorite band ever is Pantera. It's like magic. He'll come and tell you that Pantera is incredibly overrated and give you a bullet point presentation on it.

Disclaimer: I actually like his breakdowns of music even if I think he's a bit harsh on Pantera.
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Re: Political discourse on The Comment Section

Postby Ladki96 » Sat Aug 19, 2017 6:06 pm

Ambi is still there to chat on IRC :) Hop on if you miss him ^^
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Re: Political discourse on The Comment Section

Postby cmsellers » Sat Aug 19, 2017 7:15 pm

iMURDAu wrote:Who, Adric? I'm pretty sure it wasn't political discourse that caused him to leave.

Adric left because of a fight with Doods over Doctor Who, as I recall.

NoodleFox wrote:Can you understand how I feel? Just the way I see the world has the possibility of destroying the relationships and reputation I have if I dare say something someone can disagree with. It seems today that no one can be friends or co-workers or what have you with someone who they disagree with. Even when I try to explain in the most simplest of ways that I'm able to still nets me a high chance of everything blowing up in my face...

One thing I can promise you about TCS is that most of us aren't the sort of people to shun you for saying the unthinkable. We'll try to change your mind, though we may ignore you if we feel things aren't getting anywhere. We also seem to be one of the few places on the internet where most people are anti-Trump but "it's OK to punch Nazis just for being Nazis" is not the prevailing Orthodoxy. Even the people who openly favor a "Nazi exception" for free speech I can count on one hand.. Most of us here strongly value the freedom of speech and open discourse. The worst we'll do to you for expressing controversial views is all try to explain why you're wrong at once.

Like I said, I think the bigger issue is that the number of threads we've started about Trump post-election seem to have driven people away. But I took part in that, because it's cathartic to vent (I've started more threads complaining about the fuckwad who's ruining Turkey than I have about Trump, but those never became hot topics), and I'm not going to stop venting because it makes people uncomfortable. It would be nice if there were a way for us let users set "new posts" and "unread posts" to exclude posts from CASS/LN, but our version of php is so ancient that I'm pretty sure we can't. We keep this forum because it's backwards compatible with our rep system and pretty much everyone here is a thumb whore.
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Re: Political discourse on The Comment Section

Postby ghijkmnop » Sat Aug 19, 2017 10:37 pm

Redacted
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