Discussions about board policy need a home

Since things seem to be in a state of flux at the moment, I’d like recommend that the staff revisit the forum descriptions and decide where discussions of board policy should go. Several recent threads (cite, cite, cite) show some confusion amongst both posters and staff about where such discussions belong. For the longest time, all discussion of board policy went in the Pit and ATMB was pretty much just for locked announcements, test threads, and technical questions for the admins. Then last year we changed the forum descriptions to indicate that ATMB was for all (flame-free) discussions about the rules or mod decisions. However, that hasn’t really been working – ATMB threads are often quickly locked and interactive discussion and debate seems to be discouraged.

I’d suggest that ATMB either needs to be modded something like a cross between GD and the Pit, or the forum descriptions need to be changed so posters know where they can discuss rules, complain about moderator decisions and ask questions. I personally would lean toward the former, but I think it will require pretty significantly different moderation than we’ve had so far.

Just a suggestion.

Your third link is actually a thread that was never meant to be a discussion about board policy; it was just being used as a convenient–but inappropriate–thread for a few people to post their criticisms. Otherwise, I agree there does seem to be some confusion about where threads about board policy (or seemingly related to board policy) should live, and that we could do a bit better in clarifying that. I’ll shoot an e-mail around to get the discussion started.

I have also seen a recent comment by a mod, as best I remember, that said that IMHO was not really a discussion forum, but rather a place for stating opinions.

As one of those cited, I’d love to have clarification about this. I don’t honestly care where my thread is put - apart from the fact that if Dopers want to read threads about this message board, I’m guessing they’re going to look in ATMB first.

When the change to ATMB happened, I posted this:[

](http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=468860)I don’t think it’s too early to say that things haven’t worked out.

I liked the old way, when all discussions of Board policy went in the Pit. Just because you can be rude there (I think this is correct as of now) doesn’t mean you have to be - something that also helps the Pit not just be for flames. I’ve certainly started perfectly polite threads there.

Polite discussion about this message board should go in the forum called About This Message Board. Automatically consigning a topic to the BBQ Pit is asking for flames and leads to idiotic developments like “this is a pit thread where pit rules don’t apply.”

No, starting a thread in the Pit allows for people to express an opinion vehemently, without other more timid posters getting their knickers all twisted up.

Why would anyone even go in the Pit if they were likely to be upset by less than polite viewpoints?

And what if someone prefers to start a calm, rational discussion?

Because the administration has decided that certain topics can’t be expressed anywhere else?

It’s been said before, but just because something is in the Pit does not preclude it from being calm or rational.

But it opens it up to become heated and irrational. Otherwise there would be little if any reason for it having different rules than the other forums. The way things stand there’s no place for critical discussion of moderation without the risk (and, frankly, the likelihood) of it being derailed by personal insults.

There’s no reason that a discussion can’t “become heated and irrational” in other forums, and they often do. Check out Great Debates some time. The only difference between the Pit and the rest of the boards is that we are allowed to insult each other (on a personal level) in the Pit. I don’t see how a discussion of board policy is improved by allowing personal insults into the discussion. Does “You’re a jackass” really help discussion of board policy? Note that “The position you take is irrational” is and has always been acceptable outside the Pit.

I think that putting discussions about the Board in ATMB makes perfect sense. The only times threads are locked is asked/answered situations… or when the discussion is derailed or hijacked beyond tolerance. That happens in every forum. Yes, sometimes discussion in ATMB gets shut down when it’s purely speculative about non-existent hypotheticals, I suppose that’s different from the Pit.

The problem with such discussions in the Pit was that they usually did, quickly, devolve into useless name-calling. From one point of view, I suppose, that was a simpler approach – the mods didn’t need to read such threads, and usually didn’t. So, perhaps we could define that discussions about board policy that have no content but are just vocational outrage could go in the Pit? :wink:

OK, all that said, the mods can certainly discuss this suggestion.

Then why was minemoved out of it without explanation?

(I’m not upset about this. I’d just like to know - given your comment above).

Yessir, the complaint department is just on the other side of the tiger enclosure. You’ll have to cross it and then talk to Ted (he’s the one with the mising hand). Don’t worry though, it’s possible the tigers won’t attack you–we’ve explained to them that nothing preculdes them from skipping lunch. And we just fed them last week. By the way, do you have insurance? :smiley:

Seriously, if you are able to discuss the matter calmly and rationally, as you say, why do you need to do it in the Pit?

OTOH:

If we’re making a decision about board policy, why should we value the opinions of the vehemently opinionated over the timid? Is it somehow impossible for you to discuss the matter calmly and rationally? :wink:

I don’t completely agree with that assessment – I think ATMB currently has the lowest tolerance for vigorous debate of any forum. Take this thread, for example, where Liberal and SenorBeef are told to break things up once they start getting into an in-depth discussion on spoilers and take their argument “elsewhere.” (Where would that be, exactly?) Hardly the end of the world, but it does seem to give the impression that open-ended discussions are not encouraged in ATMB. There was also the period after the server upgrade where Ed threatened to ban people for criticizing the staff in ATMB. I think the net result is a lot of uncertainty about where things belong, and what’s allowed where.

Not a huge deal, but I think clarification and consistency on this would be a big help to everyone.

We should have something more to say on the topic soon.

Excellent, thanks.

I don’t mean to cut off discussion here. I’m just underscoring what **SkipMagic ** said in his post. You raise some good points and we are discussing them.

No worries, I didn’t take it that way. I know how mod discussions go, and just knowing that my comments made it into the pipeline and are under discussion is good to hear. I’m happy to wait and see what you guys decide.

Sorry, but that just isn’t so.

That would be in the Pit, because it wasn’t just an “in-depth discussion,” it involved snarkiness and name-calling (“deliberately thick-headed”, for instance.)

It should be possible to discuss board policies without sinking to personal insults. ATMB does not have a low tolerance for vigorous debate, but it does have a low tolerance for personal insults.