How much input does/should the OP have in controlling a thread?

Continuing the discussion from "Off Topic" posts:

@DrDeth, @What_Exit, @Czarcasm, I’m inviting you as well as the board in general to discuss the topic title. Taking excellent advice from others in certain ongoing ATMB threads, figure we should figure out what we want as original posters, people replying and mods.

Certain threads, such as the one I’ve split off from (and credit to @Heffalump_and_Roo for their excellent advice on how to do this) have become somewhat heated over decisions where the OP directs and/or dismisses arguments, or posters have flagged responses as off-topic or hijacks. Which has lead to multiple posters asking exactly how much control should the OP retain.

By splitting off, I figure we can try to get all of our opinions in, and maybe get some mod input as well. And by splitting from the previous thread, we can focus on what we want, rather than what has happened in the past.

Okay - enough set up. So in my opinion, the OP should be able to set up their question as narrowly as they want in their OP, because they are looking for a specific set of answers or debate on a specific point. This is self correcting, because if they make it too narrow the responses are going to short and too the point and likely taper off over just a few replies. Once the thread is created though, I don’t think they should have any controlling voice, other than that of any other poster - IE argue the point via cites, evidence, and charming diction.

Thanks for starting the thread.

I agree with this.

Allowing the OP of a thread to have input into what’s off topic once the thread has started is a “new rule” in my eyes. Taken to an extreme, it would allow any OP to win every debate by making the topic narrow enough when the thread was in progress.

I think the OP should have considerable control over where a thread goes. Not total dictatorial powers, but enough to be able to say “this is taking it off track.”

For instance, there was a recent thread about whether northern Ireland would unify with the rest of Ireland or not. But that thread then turned into a Brexit thread.

I have not participated in that thread, but I can see where it would be frustrating. I’m not saying that ‘off topic’ posts and ‘hijacks’ aren’t a thing, and they should be modded, but that’s what we have flags and mods for. I could Definitely see the point of if it gets to that point a poster should split off it’s own thread as has been suggested and proved to be insanely easy though. And it lets us self-police as it were before tempers get high and the mods have to step in.

Zero control. Posters are not moderators.

Determining the line between “hijack” and “freewheeling discussion” is a pretty tough call to make. If a moderator, in their capacity as a duly appointed deputy of Dopeville, chooses to take the OP’s feelings into consideration when determining if a thread has gone off the rails I really don’t mind. But that’s up to the individual mod.

It’s also a mod’s burden to determine whether a thread is important enough or has enough value to have its singular identity preserved. I would be very sad, for example, if the oft-bumped Stewart’s Sandwiches thread were to get hijacked, even in good faith. I would hope that the mods would split the discussion off and leave it intact and slumbering, waiting for the next bump months or years later.

On the other hand, if I start a thread asking about Bond’s best lines after killing bad guys and it ends up morphing into a discussion about the Aston Martin and then about Top Gear and then about Netflix and then about Umbrella Academy… that’s business as usual. That’s what makes the internet a cool place.

tl;dr - all the mods are suckers and we’re lucky to have them

I think that the Op should have input in GD into the way the Debate goes. This is fairly common in Debates in fact. The off-repeated debates especially are where allowing a narrow focus can bring something new to the table. I’m not saying every debate and I’m not even saying most debates. But there are debates when it seems appropriate.

Using an obvious example, lets face it, otherwise no gun debate on this board would bring anything new to the table and might as well be closed immediately. I actually tend to think both extremes on the gun issues are wrong.

Now I am only one mod and this is actually my opinion as a poster more than as a mod. I hope someday soon we’ll have a few more poor suckers awesome volunteers willing to mod GD and P&E.

That is a great example and should have been stopped early in my opinion. I wish the Op would have flagged it early in the derailment and I at least would have stepped in and pissed off a few posters and spun the Brexit debate off to a new thread where it belonged. By the time I saw it, it was far too late to fix.

I think the Café is very different than GD. For the first few days in a controversial thread, the focus should probably stay true if that is what the Op wants but after the first few days, generally nothing new is added and it should go conversational. The Fluffy forums are conversational, especially MPSIMS.

A good Café example are the RIP threads, Generally jerking to slam someone else’s bereavement even if you think (fill in the blank) was an a$$hole or deranged idiot.

Only in GQ. And even then only until the question has been fully answered.

The rest is up to the mods.

Edit: and in Thread Games. I always forget about that one.

Not allowing the OP to have any input as to what is off-topic once the thread has started(what a curious turn of phrase-How does one have input as to what is off-topic before the thread has started?) would be a “new rule” in my eyes.
c’est la vie

You put the input into the OP.

So I get to start the thread, and if I think that someone is off topic I don’t get to report it as such, and I should not “have any controlling voice, other than that of any other poster - IE argue the point via cites, evidence, and charming diction.” according to you?

Yup, that’s my opinion that I stated upthread.

Then that would definitely be a new rule.

But the OP shouldn’t have the right to flag her/his own thread?

I don’t believe I ever said that. I think the current situation is fine in which someone (OP or otherwise) flags a probable hijack or off-topic post, but that the OPs opinion should have no additional influence beyond that of any other poster. Which is why I suggested making the OP as specific to the argument or debate you want to have - go ahead and eliminate taboo topics you DON’T want brought up. But to say after the fact that a subject is taboo, even as the OP, feels like a step too far. Let the mods decide if it’s off-topic based on the thread and other poster flags, since the OP is likely to be overly partial, not because they can’t argue, but because they obviously care deeply enough to create the post in the first place.

As a mod, I will say, that if the Op first responds to the off-topic post and then flags it, I would probably disagree with the flag.

This has come up a few time since I’ve been modding. If you can’t avoid rising to the bait, no sense worrying about it being off-topic at that point. Fuzzy as hell I know, but it seems fairish to me.

Since any poster has the right to flag any post in any thread, I don’t see how that follows?

Sounds fair to me.

I’ve seen this attempted and failed. I’ve seen a GD thread where the OP basically disallows disagreements and therefore the thread was locked.

Ah… Here we go. Searching GD shows this recent thread:

This led to a modnote that stated that the OP essentially wasn’t interested in a debate:

And it was eventually closed, because as stated before, the OP basically didn’t allow there to be any real debate.

So while your concern is valid, that tactic isn’t allowed on the board and ultimately won’t work.

Agreed. It is a new rule and the new rule is a pile of shit.

But how would such a thread not turn into a Brexit thread? You can’t discuss that topic without the conversation drifting into Brexit. This is a message board and not a soap box. The “new rule” will just allow individual posters to create their own narrative by defining the topic for debate extremely narrowly.

There’s a difference between “touching on a tangential topic” and “turning into that tangential topic.”

If someone in the “will Ireland unify?” thread wanted to briefly mention Brexit and how it might induce northern Ireland to leave the UK, that’s fine. But if the majority of the thread’s focus then becomes all about Brexit, that’s a hijack.

It’s about proportion. Spending 7 percent of a thread’s “energy” on Brexit in a discussion about Irish unification is okay; same for discussing car accidents or drowning in a gun-control thread or the Vietnam War in a discussion about U.S. involvement in Afghanistan. That’s still within the boundaries. Spending 70 percent of it is not - that’s firmly derailing it off the tracks.