Handling political discussion in online group

I am a member of an online group of friends and we are having a little debate on the right way to handle political debate, conflict, discussions, etc.

We decided long ago to prohibit political talk in our regular forums and created a specific area for politics. That seems to work pretty well IMO.

Lately it has become apparent that this isn’t working for everyone. Conservatives feel outnumbered in the community as a whole and they choose not to participate in the political discussion for fear of getting ganged up on. Some of them participate on an irregular basis, join the group temporarily, throw a few barbs, and then leave. Occasionally comments are made that the political group is an echo chamber or a “circle jerk.” This makes everyone feel worse and uncomfortable.

We would like to encourage healthy discussion, and more participation of all beliefs in the forum but frankly, the conservatives want no part of that.

How would you handle it if you were in charge here? Leadership is leaning towards getting rid of the politics forum altogether and banning all political talk and opinion from all discussion. (Currently we redirect the discussion to the separate forum) I feel like this is letting the bullies win, who don’t even want to participate, they just don’t like that it exists.

If the forum is scrapped, the only outlet for political talk would be private groups that were invitation only. This might actually work but would be tricky to use for redirection.

The group is about 100 people, mostly male, mostly ages 25-45.

If people can’t be respectful without moderation, and they can’t, then it’s a pointless forum.

So people who believe that their fellow humans who are queer, immigrant, black, female, poor and/or non-christian don’t deserve the same rights as everyone else find it hard to voice that opinion?

I’d say the system works.

If everyone is following the rules of the forum, then there isn’t anything you can do except scrap the whole thing.

Sometimes you just have to accept that not all sides of a discussion are going to be represented. For instance, take the topic of pedophilia. Unless a forum caters specifically to the NAMBLA demographic, it will never be a hospitable place for the poster who wants to espouse pro-NAMBLA views. Is that a shame? Or is it that pro-NAMBLA views don’t stand a chance in the free marketplace of ideas.

It used to be that conservatives could hold their own in the free marketplace of ideas. Now most have given up on that in favor of the “throw a few barbs and then flounce” approach. You see this on reddit all the time. The thread could be full of thoughtful, persuasive, cite-laden posts, but the only comments from the conservative side will be “You libtards never give up, do you?!” If conservatives refrain from posting out of fear of getting “ganged-up” on, then that tells me they probably know they don’t have arguments that are thoughtful, persuasive, or well-referenced. That’s not anyone’s fault except for their own.

Um. I can speak from a certain amount of experience that there’s no way to make everyone happy. There will be too many disparate points of view to make it functional without some sort of well agreed upon rules.

If there’s a lot of sniping you could always just prohibit that sort of post. But then you’ll get cries of censorship and ludicrous cries of first amendment abuse and such. Attempts to control offensive or trolling posts will be met with cries of ‘political correctness’.

In short, there’s probably not a solution unless all people are willing to be civil and non-snarky. Not without strong moderation and controls.

So… Where is the problem? If someone doesn’t want to participate in healthy discussion, or is incapable of supporting their ideas in debate, then fuck ‘em.

Over the last ten years it has been proven consistently that conservatives are (mostly) incapable of supporting their ideas with facts and rational discussion. What we have instead is a toxic stew of racism, misogyny, tribalism, and conspiracy theories. The conservative half of the spectrum is overwhelmingly dominated by bad faith pundits and provocateurs, largely because their primary information sources are proven liars.

If conservatives feel outnumbered and persecuted, well, that’s a natural consequence of having stupid ideas. And that’s the problem with conservatives nowadays. They come up with an idea that is stupid, and when people tell them the idea is stupid they complain about “bias” and “intolerance.” They hurl insults, accuse people of lying, and claim they are being abused and maligned. Not once are they actually willing to discuss the fact that their idea was, in fact, stupid.

If all they are doing is throwing a few barbs and leaving the discussion, or complaining about “echo chambers” without making substantive arguments, well… You are describing the vast majority of conservatives I have met in life, so I’m not surprised at all. Good riddance to them.

I agree with this completely and it seems like a non-problem to me. Others feel that since we are not a group based on online discussion and debate, we should make changes to make everyone more comfortable. So the “good riddance” part is not really acceptable.

We also have a sports discussion forum and that is actually where the most moderation is needed and where people tend tot start fights and get upset with each other. But there is none of that resentment of one side that feels they can’t even participate so the sports forum is kept. The politics forum rarely needs moderation and has really good discussion often IMO, although I agree conservative viewpoints are underrepresented. But because there is resentment, it’s going to be killed off.

When the free marketplace of ideas includes doxxing, losing jobs, organizing boycotts etc. that really isn’t a free market any more than the country known as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is democratic or a republic.

Is it possible that the discussion is not as healthy as you think? You’re picking up on what you don’t like about how the conservatives participate – is it possible that they also have legitimate complaints about the other side is doing so?

Consider Krauthammer’s observation, that conservatives think liberals are stupid, while liberals think conservatives are evil. It sounds like you’re perceiving one half of that dynamic, but perhaps the other is going on as well. Are people engaging with the conservatives or accusing them of bad faith? Are the rest of you willing to approach their views on the basis that, however misguided you think they might be, they genuinely believe as much as you do that they are striving for a better society? How often are they being called upon to explain, “no, my principles are nothing like pedophilia,” just to take one example?

Gee, what a great idea! I wish someone here would suggest it. :smiley:

Look, since it is all restricted to one forum, all they have to do is avoid that ONE place and enjoy everything else in the site. That sounds like a very reasonable option when compared to destroying the forum just because some right wing extremists are somehow shocked that they are outnumbered by their more highly evolved counterparts.

I don’t think you should change anything.

Do you think employers shouldn’t be free to fire someone if their public statements are damaging their business? Do you think people shouldn’t be free to publicly criticize retailers and companies, or to say things like “I don’t shop there and I don’t think you should either”? If not, then what are you advocating?

I don’t think what you want is possible nowadays. It seems to me that there are three kinds of message boards:

  1. Political discussions are completely prohibited. Strong moderation ensures no hostility.

  2. Political discussions allowed. Hostility abounds.

  3. Political discussions in a background of strong moderation means controversial issues are discussed in a calm, reasonable way. This is very, very rare. The SDMB is the closest I’ve seen, and it’s not perfect.

Since the concept of proportionality seems to have died I lack the words to explain.

You specifically referred to losing jobs and boycotts. What are those if not someone being fired, or someone criticizing a company and encouraging others to refrain from patronizing them? Still don’t understand what you’re actually saying beyond broad platitudes that don’t seem applicable to actual individual behavior.

I don’t think moderation really has any effect since I post on both heavily moderated boards and boards with little moderation and the political discussions are largely the same. The only thing that really seems to be the difference is that on non-moderated boards one sentence political quips are the norm while on places like SMDB they have to insert a few throwaway sentences along with just to get to that one snarky quip.

Of course, Chuck probably never has anyone telling him that he must hate America and want to see its citizens diseased, raped and murdered since he thought letting some people apply for asylum was reasonable.