RE: preemptively closing threads

From that last thread, that got closed before I could respond…

…Um… Yes?! Oh my god yes. This is absolutely something moderators should do, and not just to threads in ATMB that seem to have outlived their usefulness.

Take this thread, for example. Best-case scenario, Silver Lining didn’t read the graphs he cited. Best-case. This thread was a shitshow from post one; by the time someone pointed out that the data in question was a decade old, the thread had already degraded to the point where any reasonable discussion is impossible. When the OP is polling data from a decade ago masquerading as modern polling data, where, exactly, can the thread go from there?

(Oh, by the by, I feel it’d be remiss of me to point out that silver lining does this a lot - low-effort OPs that are quickly and easily revealed to be, at best, completely misleading. Here’s another example - the OP is literally a link to a fake news site and one line of text, which is debunked by Snopes by post #4. Here he is poisoning the well in one of the two lines of text in his OP. Here’s another one that would be right at home on I could probably keep going. Just pointing out a pattern I noticed. And I’m not the only one.)

And this isn’t some meaningless nonsense, either. Source amnesia is a thing. You’re likely to retain an emotionally-charged claim like “Democrats want to allow non-citizens to vote” long after you forget where you heard it, let alone the link to Snopes carefully debunking it on page 4. If this forum is serious about “fighting ignorance”, the moderators should take steps to fight active misinformation. Things like correcting obviously bogus thread titles at the very least, or shutting down threads that are based on lies, fake news, or conspiracy theories.

I’m reminded of PhysicsForums, which, admittedly, is more specialized, but has a nice take on such things. If you show up there with a crackpot theory, your thread immediately gets put in a special “alternative theories” forum, where you are given the chance to rigorously defend your theory, and failure to do so will usually end with you either admitting you were wrong or you getting banned. Extreme? Sure, but it beats having a forum mostly for serious discussions of physics being polluted by every crackpot nutjob who wants to defend young earth creationism.

(Yes, I realize the odd 9/11 truther conspiracy thread can be fun, but can we at least restrict it to those who try to make it interesting, rather than threads like the one that was recently cornfielded?)

Some threads are shit from the get-go. Some threads simply aren’t going to go well. The ones where this is clearly the case generally aren’t that hard to spot in advance. And the moderators really should, IMHO, keep an eye on that.

As I asked when I reported that thread, where is this going to end?

I’ve been keeping an eye on that thread as it did receive a few reports. The information linked in the OP was out of date and that was quickly identified. Dseid, Wesley Clark, and several others engaged in substantive discussion about the underlying topic of demographic trends in voting patterns. Others offered snark. There is content within the responses, but your approach would have us stop discussion and prevent those substantive comments. On balance I think we are better off with even poor quality offerings being rebutted rather than shut down.

I do think pure shitshows should be shut down and I have no problem doing so. We may differ where that line is drawn. In this example, if you look, it’s mostly other posters driving the conversation, not the OP. If it were the OP bumping or propping up on their own then I would shut it down. If people did not wish to engage, the thread would die quickly.

In that case, threads like this would also be closed:

Preposterous yet True: Kavanaugh should enforce supermajority vote

Politics isn’t like physics, though. It would have been a “crackpot theory” a few years ago that Trump would get elected president. But even looking at your original complaint, it seems like posters quickly pointed out the error of the OP, so it would seem that ignorance was well fought in that case. Better to leave some controversial threads open than have the mods make decisions about politics IMO.

But I think the real problem with your complaint is that these “shitshows” tend to happen primarily when the OP is a conservative. When I liberal poster makes a mistake like that, you’ll get a few conservatives complaining* and probably a few liberals doing some correcting, but the poster isn’t usually mocked in the same way, and there isn’t a huge pile-on. If the mods acted as you suggest, it would make this place even more of a bubble than it already is.
*There aren’t that many conservative poster here to begin with.

There was something else in that thread that troubled me a bit. You mentioned a previous thread (someone challenging the moon landings) and said that several warnings had been issued. Before I could get back to that thread, it had been deleted. When a thread is wished away to the cornfield, do the warnings go with it? I’m not sure if it’s fair for someone to carry a warning for something that, from currently-available evidence, never happened.

A possible rule could be that, if in the moderators’ judgment, an OP in GD or Elections is primarily based of an indefensible reading of a cite, it gets shut down, with the OP invited to try again with a more defensible reading of a cite.

“Indefensible” isn’t the same thing as “controversial.” But consider this claim:

Set aside the fact that the cite is 6 years old, stretching what the meaning of “is” is in “is true.” The claim that the Washington Post found party identifications for 108% of the middle class is not a defensible claim.

As long as mods limit the shutdowns to truly indefensible claims like these, I think it’d be fine. If you want to avoid additional moderation, balance it by backing off on moving threads out of GD/Elections without excellent reason.

Are you joking? It’s possible that was a deliberate attempt to falsify the data, but it might have just been a math error or a typo. This forum would be flooded with threads complaining about moderator action if the mods took your advice.

Whatever sort of error it was, it was central to the thesis–that the middle class was primarily Republican-leaning. Such an error so central to the thesis is a fatal flaw in an OP, in my opinion, and the thread should be gently put out of our misery.

It’s awkward wording, not a math error or typo. It should have been (from the OP’s cite):

63% of Republicans self-identify as Middle Class
45% of Democrats self-identify as Middle Class.

It doesn’t have to add up to 100%.

Anyway, the details hardly matter. Having the mods make judgements about which claims are “indefensible” is going to cause many more problems than it will solve.

That’s not the kind of board that I want to participate in, for what that’s worth. This board is not an encyclopedia, and it shouldn’t try to behave like one. The way we fight ignorance is to discuss things and expose when things are wrong, not to lay down the law about what is or isn’t true. We have to leave it to the readers to determine for themselves what is good and what is not good out of every discussion.

You are worried about people picking up wrong information and not seeing the debunking when it happens. That phenomenon is everywhere, more so now than ever; and people need to learn how to winnow out the truth from the trash for themselves. They will never do that here if someone is doing it for them.

Those awful threads are, as you say, obviously awful. I don’t open them, I know they are going to be full of dishonesty and crap. I see no problem in letting them sit there disregarded. Someone is wrong on the internet. So what?

My final argument against this is that it puts way too much responsibility (and power) in the hands of people who did not sign up for it. When they find it disagreeable and back away, the ones left will be those who do like to exercise power, and free discussion on this board will be over.

This is not a simple case of “someone is wrong on the internet” but rather a case of someone deliberately misrepresenting cites in the face of being repeatedly corrected and being glad that these deliberate misrepresentations are attracting eyes.

We have a word for that.

If someone is trolling, report it to the mods and if they agree then the troll gets warned, suspended or banned. If you can’t convince a mod (or the mods) that the poster is trolling, then trying to shut down the thread because you think the OP is trolling is a lost cause.

But this instance is not limited to just one thread; the OP here linked to four threads exhibiting the same behavior. Sometimes TPTB need to be shown a definite pattern before taking action.

Yeah, and one good way to convince the mods is to show there is a pattern, so I think we’re basically in agreement on what needs to be done. I don’t happen to agree that the target of this thread is trolling. though. If I look at the 2nd example, the OP quickly responded with an apology and an updated cite. Not very trollish, IMO. But you don’t have to convince me; you have to convince the mods.

I will note that the OP of this thread is trying to make a more general point about how the mods should act, though. He’s not just targeting this one poster. And if we’re trying to make this board more welcoming to folks, shutting down threads as is being proposed here would have the opposite effect.

This thread was obviously going to result in a lot of acrimony and should have been pre-emptively closed.

You mean other than “garbage?”

To repeat myself, people can only learn to distinguish value from garbage when they have to do it for themselves, not when other people (attempt to) do it for them.

I also have to wonder if some merry prankster from the liberal/progressive side of the aisle did the same thing (but in a good cause, of course) whether they would be shouted (and possibly shut) down as quickly. I hope so, but I’m not sanguine.

This seems like a really bad example. The premise was silly, but the OP made it clear that that’s what it was, and the thread quickly evolved into a decent discussion based on whether or not the (admittedly impossible hypothetical) would go somewhere. Don’t get me wrong, I thought that thread was kinda dopey, but there’s a difference between “I think X, which I admit is impossible, should happen” and “Here’s fake news!”

If you get arrested for fighting in a bar, and the bar subsequently burns down, they don’t vacate your conviction.

It was a crackpot idea, which is exactly what you you said in your OP you wanted to eliminate from GD. And the OP of that thread never said it was silly. He said, several times, that it was the right thing to do. A moderator following your suggestion would likely have closed that thread.

Why do we ban spambots, then?