New Forum Needed: The Safe Zone

And what would that accomplish?

What does attacking a poster accomplish?

Attacking a poster makes your attack visible. Everyone knows you attacked the poster.

Reporting that post would do nothing. I don’t see how it’s a violation of board rules to say any of that. So the mods wouldn’t act on the report. And the post would still be sitting there, lonely and unanswered.

I once stumbled upon a forum for users of “alternative cancer remedies”, that had a “supportive-only” policy. The thread in question I saw was about someone who had used some horrible corrosive substance to burn away their face, in an attempt to be rid of a skin cancer. They included a picture of their now-mangled face.

All of the comments were along the lines of “Great job, congratulations on beating your cancer!”, or “Don’t let anyone tell you not to do that”, or the like.

But an actual positive, supportive comment would be more like “What the Hell were you thinking!? Don’t do things like that; you’re trashing your health and your body for no good reason.”

Which sort of “supportive” post would be required in this hypothetical forum?

I think threads looking for support only would be better off on other message boards. Fundamentally, the members here are not the type to just offer support. The members here are the type who like to debate things with lots of back and forth and enjoying arguing. No doubt the members have issues they are trying to deal with, but I don’t think this is the best place for it.

In addition, those types of issues are extremely complex and would be better addressed on boards dedicated to those issues. On boards like that, the majority of people there will have experience with those issues and will be better able to offer constructive support. They will have dealt with lots of threads on those issues and will have a collective knowledge that wouldn’t really be present here.

Yeah, I’ve heard stories/rumors about other message boards where people were banned for daring to question some wacky claim or harmful idea that someone else was propounding, in the name of not being “supportive.”

Okay, can we have a Phantom Zone instead?


I was watching Jenny McCarthy on TV and she was talking about how vaccinations cause autism. I don’t want my kids to have autism so I’m not vaccinating them. But some of my friends and family members think I’m wrong. Tell me how I can get them to support my decision.

Does anyone want to step in with some supportive and helpful posts?

My main question about a proposed Safe Zone would be, would it really get enough threads to be worth it? I can’t see it having more than, say, 1-3 new threads per day.

Even Thread Games (which in my view is the most superfluous/useless forum on this board) gets more than that.

@Little_Nemo has expressed very well what I feel about this. I would refuse to moderate such a forum.

Moderator Note

I get the point that you are trying to make, but let’s not compare the OP to Nazis, please.

On another board I frequent (a Discourse board, incidentally), we have The Pillow Fort, a hidden by-application-only forum for those with mental or emotional issues where they can talk with others who have similar experience. I’m not sure, though, that such a forum would be a good fit here since that’s not really the point of the Straight Dope.

How would anyone screen for people with real problems as opposed to those who just want to get in on a little juicy gossip? I think we have enough people gossiping about Dopers already.

Another reason this wouldn’t work is that if it weren’t for posters that had some skepticism, our safe space would have a quadriplegic woman who could somehow type 200 WPM, and a transwoman who just happened to look just like a Japanese model. People fall for sob stories and this board is no different.

What we need is for mods to enforce the no jerk rule and more posters to report jerks, rather than argue with them in the thread. When asked, I think the mods said they only get around 10 reported posts a day. I see no reason that they would be overworked by thread banning a jerk in these kinds of threads.

I don’t think you do get my point, It wasn’t to compare the OP to Nazis, but rather to show how some evil poster, such as a Nazi, could pretend to agree with the OP’s point by praising it falsely as propaganda for his twisted cause and then elaborating on his points of supposed agreement, which would be totally supportive of the OP. Or is the word “Nazi” just verboten?

I do get your point, but the way you worded it, some folks did interpret it as comparing the OP to a Nazi. I don’t think you intended it that way, but let’s just be careful throwing the Nazi word around.

It’s just a mod note, no biggie.

mordecaiB has a point: the Safe Zone would be a prime habitat for trolls, because it would be much harder to challenge a troll or sock in such a forum than elsewhere. If a “quadriplegic who can type 200 words per minute,” to use his example, were to post threads in such a Zone, mods would either have to let him/her fake away unchallenged, or else challenge and delete him, which would then make other Safe Zoners fear for their own credibility.

The question is whether it would be therapeutically beneficial, and I think not. Some of the best advice I’ve gotten on these boards were from people not pulling any punches, and that’s kind of the function I think we serve - a sounding board. Yes, we support each other but we are not mandated to do so. And those who are inappropriate will be modded for being a jerk.

I’ve been in groups where “supportive comments only” are expected and they become echo chambers both normalizing and fixating on dysfunction as well as opportunities to proliferate woo nonsense. I wouldn’t want anyone here to fall into those traps.

Seriously, we have a way to do this already. Flag the post and have the mods enforce the jerk rule. It takes little extra effort for them to thread ban someone for being a jerk in such a thread. I’ve seen them do similar in death/remembrance threads.

BTW, the quadriplegic and transwoman examples are real threads from this board.

Also, I’m not against having such a forum, I don’t care either way, I simply don’t think we need it.

As a teacher and a dad, I’m used to giving “tough love”, being supportive but also challenging*.

Like the people here, especially in MPSIMS and the Pit (yes, the scary BBQ Pit… threads like the monthly mini-rants are full of {{hugs}} for posters who are going through medical and pet-related stress).

Point is, while we would be caring about a poster’s situation, it would not be caring to ignore the negative aspects of their unchallenged ideas/plans/home cures.

I for one don’t want to change the slogan to Fighting Ignorance Except In The Safe Zone Since 1973!


*okay, maybe supportive when I should’ve been challenging, and vice-versa. But point is, you need both…

I think the idea sucks.

I just started a MPIMS thread on the fact that my remaining niece has lymphoma and finally disclosing that another niece was killed in a car accident. I know, from around two decades of experience here, that if anybody is a jerk in that thread they will be disciplined by the Mods and Pitted like crazy. If I had posted that my niece had decided not to undergo chemo but to rely on aromatherapy and the like to cure her, it would have been the moral duty of the Dope to convince me this was a bad idea.