Sensationalism in CAaSS

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Sensationalism in CAaSS

Postby gisambards » Mon Jan 01, 2018 1:11 pm

I don't understand why it's now apparently acceptable behaviour in CAaSS to set up threads that seem to have no purpose beyond aggressively furthering a certain political agenda - where lies and sensationalism that support that agenda are encouraged, and any disagreement is either shut down or insulted. Damiana has made it more than clear on these threads that she's not interested in any actual discussion of the issues raised by what she's sharing, which should surely be the only reason something is given its own thread on CAaSS. I think it's wrong that these threads are not in any way discouraged, and it sets a bad precedent. Threads that are intended to be for the expression of a particular opinion on a subject and not for discussion are exactly the sort of echo-chambers I thought we were supposed to be avoiding.
And to be clear, this is definitely against forum etiquette guidelines:
When creating a new thread, use a title that is specific and gives information about what the topic is going to be about. Avoid titles that are inflammatory or don't give any information about the topic.

Titles that specifically provide misinformation are clearly in violation of that, and in the cases in question surely also qualify as inflammatory.
When creating a new thread, the OP should set the tone for the discussion and provide introductory information about the topic.

Again, sensationalism and lies in the OP's posts does the opposite of this.
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Re: Sensationalism in CAaSS

Postby DoglovingJim » Mon Jan 01, 2018 3:29 pm

Not to mention that the titles are some of the most click-baity things I've ever read and seem to be designed to aggravate others (or push more extreme beliefs which happen to commonly aggravate me). However we should not direct this towards one person (Damiana) as that's getting a bit personal and may be in breach of some rule in itself, so lets just direct this as an outcry against sensationalist threads themselves. Threads which are specially designed to breed aggravation and push generally extremist views instead of rational discussion and debate, and why are these threads not being actively discouraged.
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Re: Sensationalism in CAaSS

Postby Lindvaettr » Mon Jan 01, 2018 5:45 pm

As an infrequent contributor, I won't say much regarding how often threads like this happen, but in defense purely of the thread that sparked this discussion (Police Instantly Kill Innocent Man Over Prank Call), I will say that, at the time Damiana posted it, we didn't yet know about how the man acted when confronted by police. All we had was...

The Wichita Eagle wrote:“A male came to the front door,” Livingston said. “As he came to the front door, one of our officers discharged his weapon.”


Which does imply "instantly" to me. So as far as that goes, Damiana's title wasn't incorrect. It did come across as somewhat click-baity, but that's another matter, not as much for moderating as for guidelines as to how CAaSS (why don't we call it CASS? Who includes "and" in an initialism?).

My bigger concern is the way the discussion was handled within that thread, and it's something that's bothered me for a long time. Parties on both sides of various discussions appear to make either no, or at least very trivial, attempts at civil discourse. Threads seem to me to fairly frequently degenerate either into mudslinging or both sides constantly posting with seemingly little regard for the meaning of the other sides' posts. Dissenting opinions are often taken with bad faith, the responders seemingly more eager to rebut different viewpoints from their own than they are eager to understand that different viewpoint. Quotes of posts being responded to are often cherry-picked without context, and the responses frequently amount to hardly more than strawmen.

This isn't to say all the posts I read are like this. There is an incredible number of excellent, educational, and enlightening posts on CASS, and many threads are so full of good information that it's impossible to even keep up with them all. Despite this, it seems like as soon as the wrong chord is struck with someone or other, a great thread can degenerate quickly into petty bickering.

Is this a task for the mods? I don't know. My opinion on moderation has always been that less is more. Mods moderating the behavior of users is something that should generally only be done when the users show themselves to be incapable of handling the situation on their own, which I believe is the case here. Rather than demanding more moderation to make CASS better, it might be more productive for us to all make attempts to make our own posts and arguments better, not try to deceive by presenting issues as obviously one-sided, and to stop using "they did it first" to defend our own inappropriate behavior. It's not always easy, and it doesn't always work, even though I try my best to be civil, I sometimes end up being a jerk anyway, but to my mind it's a much better alternative than calling in the mods every time someone says something that doesn't fit our idea of what a good argument or post should be.
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Re: Sensationalism in CAaSS

Postby Tesseracts » Mon Jan 01, 2018 6:53 pm

The following is my personal political opinion. I'm not going to comment on staff policy right now, except to say that we typically allow opinions of all kinds, including extremist opinions. However I personally find it very strange that anti-police sentiment is considered sooooooo extreme.

I understand if you believe the police deserve the benefit of the doubt, and it's completely reasonable to want people to assume the police are good people like the rest of us. I sympathize with this sentiment, but I also sympathize with anger against the police. This particular incident may not be one where the cops shot someone for no reason, but many of those incidents do exist. Police violence has been an issue in America for a very long time, and it's going to continue to be an issue. Our current president explicitly encourages police brutality. How can you not understand how infuriating this is? I hate living in a society where I live in fear of my own police force, where I have to live with the knowledge that they can murder me and get away with it. I know I'm not the only one who feels this way. People are dying, and it's not some kind of crazy extreme agenda to be outraged by injustice.

Again, this isn't about policy, I'm just confused by the whole premise of your anger Gis. I don't get it.
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Re: Sensationalism in CAaSS

Postby gisambards » Mon Jan 01, 2018 7:03 pm

I genuinely don't understand how you can think my issue is with the opinions being expressed. I have said absolutely nothing to suggest as much. My issue is, as I have said quite clearly, with the behaviour being displayed.
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Re: Sensationalism in CAaSS

Postby IamNotCreepy » Mon Jan 01, 2018 7:19 pm

My issue is when someone expresses an opinion, and then someone else creates a straw man and judges the first person morally on a position they are not even taking.

"I don't think we should rush to judgment until we have all the relevant facts."

"Oh, so you think cops should have license to murder anyone they want? You are a terrible person."
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Re: Sensationalism in CAaSS

Postby cmsellers » Mon Jan 01, 2018 8:03 pm

IamNotCreepy wrote:My issue is when someone expresses an opinion, and then someone else creates a straw man and judges the first person morally on a position they are not even taking.

So what you're saying is we should just let Nazis openly plot to murder black Jewish cripples? You monster!

As for the topic at hand
I don't like rules that are designed to target the behavior of one person, so I think either ignoring or calling out the OP is the proper solution.

I will say that as a matter of etiquette, a lot of these threads seem to have similar themes and it might make sense to make police abuse and terrible parents megathreads. OTOH, I started several megathreads which I ended up almost never using; the President Bannon one I'm probably never going to use again.
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Re: Sensationalism in CAaSS

Postby Marcuse » Mon Jan 01, 2018 8:40 pm

Okay, let's clarify from the start that I'm speaking as a member of staff, on behalf of staff, in response to the concerns that have been raised regarding the moderation of the "Police Instantly Kill Innocent Man Over Prank Call" thread.

I must say that I'm extremely concerned by the tone and candour of the complaints that have been made here. Accusing another user of "lies" and accusing them of inventing inflammatory headlines is probably bad arguing, but insisting that moderation should be used to intervene to stop it is way beyond any definition of moderation I've ever seen advanced here. So let's for the sake of argument, break down this inflammatory title and see what about it is wrong.

"Police" Well yeah it was the police involved and who committed the shooting.

"instantly kill" This is the disputed part, they didn't quite do it instantly, but based on the information at the time it sure was presented as such.

"innocent man" which again, he totally was.

"over prank call" which is also accurate. He was swatted by some COD jerk at random.

So really, the issue with the title comes from the assumption of the police acting instantly to kill someone, as though they simply fired without reference to policy or procedure. This was eventually proven by the police to be not as simple as it first seemed, but with the information available, I don't see how this was inaccurate or misleading. Taking information that wasn't available at the time as basis to claim this is a lie mistakes the chronology of it. Taken as a whole and compared to the guidelines, I don't think this quite falls in breach of it.

Let's be clear, guidelines are just that; guides. We're never going to be moderating someone over failing to follow a guideline in itself. So the worst that might happen there is someone speaks to the person who created the thread and says that it might be better to choose a more neutral sounding thread title.

In regards to the behaviour in the thread itself, I can't see how arguing the point about how culpable the police were in this situation breaks any rules. There is one outstanding case we have to resolve in relation to that thread, and we will do, but in regards the argumentation there's nothing there that breaks any of the stated official rules (aside from one case).

So then let's consider the premise that such threads should be "discouraged". I'd like to hear a concrete suggestion on exactly how this should be discouraged and what we're supposed to do to grant effectiveness to this. I'd also like to know how this wouldn't stifle the freedom of people with unpopular opinions to speak openly about their views. I'd like to ask why it would be the job of moderators to decide which topics were "sensational" and which were not, and by what standard that decision should be judged. Right now I see none of that, and the fact none has yet been forthcoming suggests to me that this is driven less by a broad concern about the state of moderation and more to do with anima against a particular user. We're not here to prosecute the personal grudge of one user against another.

In terms of the sheer level of personal sniping and poor arguments being made in the thread, it was reasonable to modpost to call for civility because there clearly was none left in that discussion. Further to this, as people decided it would suit them to fail to heed this modpost, the thread was locked for the same purpose. When an argument has gone bad, we reserve the right to intervene to remind people that they're not there to call each other bad people for the crime of thinking differently, but to openly discuss their views in the manner of friends or acquaintances. It's not Thunderdome.

So, in brief.

1. The thread title is, based on the information available at the time, broadly accurate. Considered in light of further information released subsequent to the thread being created, it appears to be inaccurate, and challenging this and discussing this in the thread should be sufficient.

2. Nothing about the arguments (save one issue) breaks any of the current extant forum rules.

3. The claim that we should "discourage" such thread, notwithstanding the point that thread title was found to be within the guidelines based on the information at the time of its creation, appears to be caused by a complaint against a user and their actions, not a general problem with thread creation. The proposal would be unenforcable, subject to high levels of moderator discretion and runs a significant risk of impacting freedom of speech and opinion in a way inappropriate for the remit of moderators on this forum.

4. The thread was intervened into because it had descended into personal attacks which were both fruitless and contributing nothing of value to the thread. Further to this the thread was locked when users indicated they didn't wish to adhere to this.
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Re: Sensationalism in CAaSS

Postby iMURDAu » Mon Jan 01, 2018 8:58 pm

I should've sent my last post as a PM, I acknowledge that.

I wasn't inferring that anyone's argument made them bad, just how being pulled into a heated shouting match wasn't accomplishing anything. I don't think it's fair when a point or attack is made against someone (especially when it's me!) and no reply is allowed because. But then again, I should've had that discussion in private because it was off topic.
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Re: Sensationalism in CAaSS

Postby Lindvaettr » Mon Jan 01, 2018 9:12 pm

Marcuse wrote:It's not Thunderdome.


But why not?
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Re: Sensationalism in CAaSS

Postby Marcuse » Mon Jan 01, 2018 9:21 pm

Lindvaettr wrote:
Marcuse wrote:It's not Thunderdome.


But why not?


Alright.

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CJ, you can fight first.
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Re: Sensationalism in CAaSS

Postby Lindvaettr » Mon Jan 01, 2018 9:37 pm

Okay, for my first opponent I'll fight Blaster Master. He's like Master Blaster, but instead of the a huge guy with a child's mind, and a child-sized guy with a genius intellect, he's just a child-sized guy with a child's mind. I think I have at least moderately fair odds fighting a child.
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Re: Sensationalism in CAaSS

Postby JamishT » Mon Jan 01, 2018 11:01 pm

I have at least one thought about this, though there may be more. And I guess I should say that I am speaking as a person, not a mod (because we all know that mods aren't people). I am also currently running a fever and having sinus issues so I'm not on my A game or or any other game.

Marc did bring up a good question about how to practically discourage sensationalism in CASS. The strategy I use is to simply ignore those threads I deign sensationalized, uninteresting, and otherwise not on my list of things to care about. I've noticed that in most cases, if everyone did that, there would be many such threads dying quick deaths with no responses and attention given to events that are actually interesting/relevant/so forth. I understand that the urge to educate, rebut, or otherwise poke holes in flimsy stances can be incredibly strong, but I keep in mind that we're all adults here (although looking at some of the Social Cellar threads may seem to be evidence to the contrary) and it's not my job to correct those I think are wrong. Discussion is different...somehow. I think y'all know what I mean, or at least I hope so, because my train of thought just took a nose dive into canyon full of molasses.
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Re: Sensationalism in CAaSS

Postby Crimson847 » Tue Jan 02, 2018 6:01 am

So far the analysis here seems to have been restricted to the "instakill" thread, or at least that's all I've seen addressed. However, gis doesn't appear to be objecting to that one thread in isolation, but rather to a consistent trend that encompasses that thread but is not limited to it.

e.g.


gisambards wrote:This is exactly what the sort of behaviour I'm criticising. Because I tried to give any sort of benefit of the doubt to the officers involved, this idiot continues to insist that I want random people to get murdered by the police. In a previous thread, because I tried to correct one of Damiana's exaggerated accounts of the events in question, I get accused of being petty and nasty.
I think it's perfectly reasonable to criticise the actions of the police in this and other instances, if it's being done reasonably. My definition of "reasonably" does not cover making shit up, holding police to a standard of infallibility, and certainly not having tantrums or insulting anyone who disagrees. This is CAaSS thread, so it needs to be open to debate. Right now, it clearly isn't. If Damiana were just genuinely posting examples of police brutality and encouraging actual debate about them, that would be fine. But instead all that's happening is that she's posting ridiculously sensationalist accounts of events (to the point of basically lying) and then she and other users are being extremely vicious to anyone who disagrees with that account. It's completely against the standards this forum is supposed to have.


So apparently the complaint encompasses other recent threads created by Damiana on police misconduct as well. Of which there are several options--three in December alone. One of them precipitated a similar argument between gis and Damiana, and appears to be the previous thread she was referring to in the post quoted above.

viewtopic.php?f=39&t=10740

Here's the rest:

viewtopic.php?f=39&t=10711
viewtopic.php?f=39&t=10421
viewtopic.php?f=39&t=10606
viewtopic.php?f=39&t=10704

If you broaden the scope to stories about the justice system fucking up, the following count as well:

viewtopic.php?f=39&t=10751
viewtopic.php?f=39&t=10575
viewtopic.php?f=39&t=10628
viewtopic.php?f=39&t=10635

Looking at all these threads together makes it easier to see what gisambards' objection is, I think. There's an awful lot of inflammatory rhetoric in the titles and opening posts, and some clickbaity "you won't believe what's in this video" language that obscures more than it informs. In short, I do see a legitimate problem there. Whether mod intervention is a good means of solving the problem is a separate question, of course.
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Re: Sensationalism in CAaSS

Postby Marcuse » Tue Jan 02, 2018 2:26 pm

While I understand that there seems to be a broad base of dissatisfaction against threads being created by a particular user, I direct everyone in the first instance to the content of my original post on the subject, which did albeit briefly, address this situation.

Marcuse wrote:this is driven less by a broad concern about the state of moderation and more to do with anima against a particular user. We're not here to prosecute the personal grudge of one user against another.


I don't mean this flippantly. I'm well aware that there seems to be a move to turn this thread into the Trial of Damiana Raven and I personally find it disturbing. There's nothing wrong with mentioning to someone that a thread title seems inflammatory, and if it continues to be a nuisance then to speak to a moderator about it. As far as I know, nobody affected by this attempted to contact staff to discuss the distress this was causing and what could be done about it. It would have been way more appropriate to do so than start long withering fights across threads about it.

With regard to how this user has been viewed, I cannot see a way to address this through moderation without engaging in censorship of a particular person's views because they don't suit the views of others. Sometimes when people call it as they see it, it starkly clashes with other people's views and I don't want to see TCS become a place where a loud complaint against a less well-liked user means they have to shut up or go away. I don't think there's reasonable basis to think anyone is posting threads in bad faith or to cause people to be angry. I think it's an honest reflection of the person posting, as all other thread titles are, and I don't see a way to criticise that without simultaneously passing judgement on the person involved. As such, I don't see moderation as a way to solve this problem.
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