Problems with "take it to the Pit" (i.e., pitting someone instead of dealing with it in-thread)

I am not questioning here a specific mod decision. I am also not questioning the the rule itself per se: it would not be conducive to the purpose and atmosphere of the board to flame people out or get into an extended off-topic argument with them outside the Pit.

The problem, however, arises IMO when relatively gentle and polite push-back against bad or annoying behavior in a thread results in a mod saying, “Take this to the Pit.” The reasons are as follows:

1. I’m not motivated to call the mods on someone or Pit someone for something relatively minor.

I can’t remember the last time I tattled on someone to the mods (maybe once or twice in the last 10 years). I would do so if someone were being, say, openly racist or otherwise egregiously offensive or purposely trying to destroy my thread, but for the most part I don’t care that much. I also don’t get a kick out of getting people in trouble. If I don’t care enough to tell the mods, I don’t care enough to start a Pit thread. It’s a waste of time and effort.

I did an “advanced search” just now of my Pit threads. I haven’t started one since 2008. I Pitted a mod for a decision in 2007 (when that was how we were supposed to criticize mods, IIRC). And I haven’t Pitted an individual poster for their behavior since 2006. That’s a long time.

I’d much rather just use a bit of dry wit in the actual thread or simply state my complaint about what they are doing. Having to worry about the mods pouncing on this type of thing (and it’s fairly uncertain if they will or won’t) or having another poster report such an infraction is annoying. There is also a trollish strategy that some posters use in which they start some shit, then dare you to Pit them (“Come at me bro–in the Pit!”), or they wait for you to do anything in response aside from Pitting them and then report that to the mods. It’s childish behavior that is not worth the time to Pit them about.

2. Any Pit thread then becomes a popularity contest with the gloves off.

Since the Pit is a free-for-all, anytime you criticize someone there, they are then freed up to attack you about anything they want and invite their friends to join in. That’s what the trolls here want and why they taunt you to Pit them in the first place. The SDMB is where I learned in the early 2000s the valuable lesson that I don’t enjoy going 10-to-1 against me in Great Debates or the Pit or wherever.

If you try to say anything of substance or of the slightest controversy here, usually you will get an idiot or two in your thread engaging in some form of bad or stupid behavior. (That’s not the fault of the SDMB; that’s what happens when human nature meets the internet.) The choices for dealing with it are ignore it, try to push back without incurring mod intervention, or Pit it. None of the choices is really all that great, and to me it really does affect how I post here: less overall, and avoiding controversy.

What could a solution be? This boards and its customs have been around so long that I don’t think such a thing would ever be implemented, but I think it would have been nice, say in the early 2000s, to have created the forum “Criticism of Moderator and Poster Behavior” in which vitriol and mob rule were not permitted. Further, posting in such a forum would not necessarily imply that I am angry with a particular person, which posting in the Pit definitely does. Such a forum, however, would not avoid the following problem:

3. The Pit is outside the context of the original thread.

It’s annoying to have to restate one’s case against a poster when the evidence against them exists surrounded by the needed context in the original thread. Gently ribbing someone or making a simple complaint in the original thread is easy and often worth doing in terms of the time and effort required. Opening a Pit thread more or less precludes the possibility of pushing back in a quick and efficient manner.

Those are my thoughts. Thanks in advance for yours!

I’ve always thought you should just send them PMs. Avoid actual name calling or insults, and just talk it out in private, not public. The Pit would only be if you need to call them out in public, so don’t use it for that.

Also, it’s not like the Pit is non-stop people being assholes. For lighter issues, it usually doesn’t get super heated. It can, but if often doesn’t as long as you don’t rant or flame the person. And, if it does get heated, you can just leave–even mute the thread.

I’m not sure I see a contradiction, I’ve seen a lot of mostly polite back and forth between two opinionated posters without even going to the Pit. The times I see the ‘take it to the pit’ is generally when one or more posters start going past semi-polite and start with the insults, even if it’s framed as insulting the argument. Or a pattern of dishonesty which runs up against the rule of calling a poster a liar which they dodge in various means with increasing obviousness.

The last, and most common one I see getting told to take it to the Pit, is when the back and forth between two (occasionally a few others) posters takes over the whole thread, and then it’s more of the Mods getting rid of an issue that’s hijacking the thread.

All of the above make sense, and the last doesn’t require anyone to go to the Pit, just stop with the sidebar. But I can see it feeling that way if a poster feels the issue was never properly addressed in thread - it’s tough to let a valid argument go.

Still, was there a few specific examples you felt it was detrimental to a conversation, or just a general preference @Aeschines?

“Take it to the pit” often sounds, to me, like a cop-out.

An easy way of (not) dealing with whatever the real issue is.


That’s a good idea. I suppose I’ve never thought of it because no one’s ever done it to me. I would welcome such an approach if someone had a problem with my behavior here.

I’m sure you’re right. I haven’t posted in the Pit (at least not started a thread) in about 15 years because it did use to be quite bad. (I’m not sure how long you’ve been here, but this board wasn’t a really happy place back then. Constant bannings, attempts to troll other posters and get them banned, etc. There were endless Pit threads against other posters. The SDMB is where I learned how nasty the Internet and its denizens can be. That said, I think most of us, myself included, were learning how to behave and interact online, since humanity was doing it for the first time…)

I think it would be an improvement if pit threads had an expiration date. If pit threads only lasted a few weeks or a month, then someone would have to take some effort to start a new pit thread if they didn’t like what someone was doing. As it is now, people take endless pot shots at a member whenever they feel like it. I don’t think that’s helpful to the board. If someone really is such a problem that they have a pit thread that goes on for years, then the mods should ban them. Either their behavior is unacceptable and they get kicked off or the other members should just learn to live with it. If someone can’t take the effort to start a new pit thread because the older one expired, then it’s not worth pitting. That wouldn’t necessarily prevent the initial pot shot pile on, but at least it wouldn’t go on forever.

All that you say is true. It’s a fine line, and I’ve seen mods get triggered by something one time and let it slide another. If there is one thing I think the mods seemed to get triggered by that they shouldn’t, it would be cheeky rebuffs, mild zingers, etc.; i.e., by wise-assery, even if it is not itself strong enough to be considered Pit-like speech.

Yeah, thread derailments aren’t good, but often the specific back-and-forth doesn’t belong in the Pit.

There have been a few recent things, but I don’t want to criticize the mods about them because I think they were following the rules, and I don’t want to bring up what the other posters were doing because it was too dumb to give any additional attention, and attention seemed to be what they were desiring, anyway.

Yes, and it’s tempting for mods to use it as a general fix-all.

You raise some good points. I will also add that, if someone actually does clean up their behavior, then there is not much point either to having a “criminal record” in the Pit that lasts forever.

I don’t believe you’re required to start a Pit thread. It’s more said when people start some personal issue or argument that derails a thread that mods say that. If you don’t want to start a Pit thread, then don’t. Nobody’s forcing you to.

The problem isn’t that one is required to start a Pit thread; the problem is that one is often given no other option by the mods.

The other option is generally, “Stop acting like an asshole.” The Pit is there when a poster feels that’s too high a hurdle to clear, but “Okay, you can act like an asshole in this thread a little bit,” is never going to be on the menu.

Wait a sec. If I have a problem with another poster, then I don’t have the option of “stop acting like an asshole.” I am dealing with an asshole (at least according to my own perspective).

Or do you mean that I have the right in a thread to say to someone, “Stop acting like an asshole”?

Yep, I concur. The Pit is a blight upon this board, and will get the SDMB in trouble some year.

That is true, I used to like the Mini-rants . But it can.

First idea is great. But some people get Pitted just due to their positions on issues.

If another poster is acting like an asshole, report them. It’s not your job to “deal with” assholes. Regardless of whether or not a mod decides to act on your report, you don’t get to violate board rules because you think someone else is being an asshole. If you got moderated for something, it’s because it was inappropriate for the forum in which it was posted. You have two options for that: post that stuff in the Pit, or don’t post it at all.

The existence of the Pit is really secondary to this. If we got rid of the forum entirely, all it does is change your options from “post it in the Pit or don’t post it at all,” to “don’t post it at all.”

I do not see any possible way you could get that meaning out of my post.

No, you do not have the “right” to call people assholes, except when you’re in the Pit.

If that was a possibility, it would have happened years ago.

It’s all question-begging. I’m saying the policy isn’t good, and you’re just reiterating what the policy is.

Your post didn’t make a lot of sense. “Your other option” was not from the perspective of someone frustrated with bad behavior but from the perpetrator of (alleged) bad behavior. I.e., it didn’t really address the OP.

If I say “take it to the Pit” (which I do often say), what I mean is that your behavior is not acceptable in the forum that you are in, and if you want to engage in that type of behavior, do so in the Pit. If I do not issue a warning along with it, then I feel that a mod note is sufficient.

It’s not a cop-out. In almost every case, the mod note ends up being sufficient and the Pit-like behavior stops.

It’s usually not “gentle and polite push-back”. It’s usually two (sometimes more) people getting heated in a conversation and they start going over the line and attacking each other. In the most recent case when I told you to take it to the Pit, you were latched onto JohnT and were intentionally needling and provoking him. That is not anything even close to polite push-back.

Then don’t. The problem here is that you did.

Take a look at your posts:

In both cases you were just needling JohnT and continuing the thread hijack. You weren’t having anything close to a polite discourse with JohnT. You were goading him into a response and escalating the disagreement. If you want to engage in those sorts of behaviors, you are free to do so in the Pit. But not in MPSIMS. That’s the point of the mod note. You can’t do that in MPSIMS, so stop it.

I’m making sure you understand what the policy is, because it’s not going to change. You are not going to be allowed to pick fights with people outside of the Pit.

Well, you brought up the specifics. I didn’t want to do so because I agree that you were, as a mod, enforcing the actual rules of the board. I’m saying the rule as it exists is impractical and annoying.

I was very, very lightly needling him, IMO. I don’t think that should be against the rules. For the record, I didn’t report him to the mods.

I actually was being rather polite and gentle with him, even though he was basically going apeshit in the thread. Again, I recognize that you were modding according to the rules. I’m saying that such gentle chastisement of someone off the rails should not be against the rules.