Revisiting the BBQ Pit- Boon or Bane?

In this thread:
Why is the SDMB membership declining, and what’s the best way to add younger members? - About This Message Board - Straight Dope Message Board
Some of the discussion is about The BBQ Pit and whether it might be advisable to change or maybe even eliminate it. My question is it brings more good or ill to this message board, both to when it comes to attracting and keeping new members, and when it comes to discussions on the board by those already here.

I feel that taking a good long look over the old thread -

Is a great place to start. Because from the OP, I think we’re right back to talking about this -

Part of the problem seems to be with perception, valid or not, that we tend to have dog-piles going on, so rather than it be a specific poster calling out another specific poster, we have what feels like a mob of like minded people all repeating insults to a single, or single group of posters. Which brought me to an old quote of **TubaDiva’**s

There are going to be a ton of different points of view. I strongly believe the Pit provides a place where people can vent, and at some level prevents posters from flaming out because the find another specific poster to be consistently bloody minded or immoveable in the face of all evidence. But I also believe that some posters, who may have been able to redeem themselves, double down in face of the abuse (justified or not) from the pit, and flame out.

So, I think it should be kept, but maybe with some ‘house rules’ that rather than add new ‘bright lines’: specifically I’d like say a 30 day cap on a thread about another poster. If you hate me for this post, you’d be able to Pit me for it, but at the end of 30 days, the thread closes. Yes, if I’m continuously post like a yutz without tripping over the ban-line, I’m going to have a lot of threads. But by keeping it to a shorter duration, the complaints would focus on the specific act of yutz-ery, rather than be an ongoing pile on.

I picked 30 days as a nice round number, we could argue (or suggest to the mods rather, since it won’t be our final decision) 3 days, a week, whatever. But this way we turn it to more of a event (which I know some would take a perverse pride in!) rather than an endless ‘what has x done this week’ which feels like a chore. And it lives up to the metaphor from TubaDiva before - make it a fight, it starts for reasons, it has consequences, and most importantly it ENDS. If someone starts/picks a fight later, you may have similar or the same reasons, but it’s another fight.

I’m not a fan of the Pit. It serves as a weapon against posters. And there are some mods who have been known to move threads to the Pit specifically for the purpose of subjecting an OP to abuse.

I would suggest, though, that we allow threads about “is so and so a troll?” or “omnibus trolls-r-us” threads in ATMB. ATMB should be considered a place where such topics are allowed, although not in a nasty way.

I’m in favor of keeping it as is.

That said, it wouldn’t be a bad thing to make sure new posters know exactly what kind of forum it is, and maybe block access until they have a certain number of posts before they can access it.

When I was still quite new here, I critizized a poster who (in my opinion) started getting jerkish with me. I could have reported them to the mods but if they hadn’t agreed with me, or couldn’t get to it for a few days, the poster could have kept right on with it and I’d have no way to defend myself. But I was able to start a pit thread and have a fair fight.

It’s also good for when someone just wants to bitch, like the 8 zillion threads about COVID and the election and everything that made last year so rotten.

I agree with everything in this post. As I stated in the other thread, the Omnibus pittings of specific posters have devolved into constant petty sniping and just a barrage of endless attacks. I’ve posted in some of those threads and I take ownership for that, but there’s a reason I backed out. It used to be people really had to earn their pittings.

I think the Pit is necessary in general, or at least useful, but there are plenty of tweaks that could be made, and I think a time limit on threads pitting specific posters is an excellent idea.

I’m less sure what to do about the Trolls R Us thread.

The person being pitted has the option of responding or not. From what I’ve seen, pittings that don’t have a lot to back them up tend to fizzle out quickly.

And if a mod moves a thread there specifically so someone can be beat up on, the problem isn’t the pit, it’s the bad mod and the lack of an administrator to ride herd on the mods.

The trouble is that The BBQ Pit is not any more “outside” than any other forum.

I think you may be getting lost in the metaphor. Specifically, we’re taking the fight out of the thread which might be arguing for or against google allowing unlimited storage of cat pictures, and letting that conversation flow normally, while taking the personal argument to the pit. Yeah, it’s still on the board, but the fight is ‘over there’ and the people that were stuck being bystanders get to continue their conversation.

Going all-in on “It Should Be Removed”.

I think that it may have filled a need back in the 2000s, when, every week, millions of newbs were literally logging onto the internet for the first time. This was before internet norms and customs became… standardized, for want of a better word.

I’ve said before and I’ll say again: The internet is the single greatest vector for mental disorders the world has ever seen, and it does this by delivering dopamine-fueled anger shots, but only if the user engages in specific Pavlovian ways.

This is why everyone is becoming more angry: We give anger so we can get anger because anger is addictive.

Let’s not do this here any more. Let’s not transmit anger and hate. Let’s get rid of the Pit.

I would go in the other direction – keep the Pit and add a Box forum, like GiraffeBoards, where banned posters can still post to.

Yeah, and that’s another thing. I hate permabanning. Make the max sentence 1 year, 3 years at the most. We’ve lost a LOT of good posters here because of incidents so picayune they can be measured in Planck units (IMHO, of course), or, perhaps, they were having a bad stretch in their lives, or, to my point above, they themselves were still learning the rules of online decorum.

I disagree. The reality is that two forums on this board – ATMB and the Pit – are part of what distinguishes us from the mass of riffraff in the wilderness of the internet. ATMB allows us to question and challenge administration and moderator decisions, in contrast to some other boards where challenging a moderator is strictly forbidden. The Pit is a place that lets us release our frustrations with trolls and morons without having that spill over into the regular forums, and without having good posters just walk away because they have no outlet to say what they really think. As hostile as the Pit can be, its very existence is actually premised on a certain amount of maturity on the part of the posters here, so that we can express actual factual points in a blunt and direct way, not so that we can indulge in meaningless juvenile name-calling to no real purpose. Personally, I find the atmosphere in the Pit can lead to some delightful humour, too. Clever insults can be hilarious.

What would be your rationale for this? How would it better serve the board?

I am sorry, but there really much left of “mass of riffraff” when it comes to message boards and if The BBQ Pit is what keeps us alive that just isn’t a good thing.

And how well has it served them when it comes to board growth?

My order of preference would be to get rid of the pit, or if keeping it make it off-limits to attack other posters. IMO, some of the good posters we had here on the right wound up flaming out because they were being constantly pitted in some very brutal ways.

The fact that we allow this probably acts as a chilling effect on other conversations, and contributes to the lack of political balance on the board since it’s people on the right whomare most often pitted for their views.

If we are trying to attract younger peoole, the existence of the pit and the potential for being dragged through it makes this place the opposite of a ‘safe space’ to share your opinions.

Personally, there is a large and growing list of topics I simply won’t engage in here because I know they will result in a pitting that always becomes a pile-on. If I didn’t have thick skin I’d have left this place long ago.

The original idea of the pit was to act as a vent to prevent vitriol in other forums. Good idea, but I think it eventually became the opposite - the pit is the source of grievances that carry on all pver the board, and partially sets the behavioural tone of many posters who are active there. It’s hard to tear someone a new hole in the pit and then be friendly in another forum, and it’s even harder for the recipient of the new hole to ignore what happened in the pit when trying to interact with the same people in other forums.

There are parts of the BBQ Pit I feel have value, such as documenting various political or social outrages. If I had wanted to go on a profanity-laced tirade against GO Media for destroying Deadspin as I knew it, it would have been a perfect place and a perfect thread.

The parts where it’s some number of users… “engaging”… other users, perhaps not so much. It makes this place look hostile, and there’s often no art to it either.

I’m not opposed to keeping the Pit as a place to slag off other users, but I feel people should be forced to put art into it. Perhaps mandatory iambic pentameter posts, with optional judging.

I’m not kidding, by the way. Writing angry posts about people is artless and makes the whole board feel more hostile. This isn’t the biggest factor contributing to board declines, but it is a factor. Turning it into mandatory art will slow up the general hostility and make people put genuine effort into it. Judging can be optional.

I’d be expecting dirty limericks as the acceptable base minimum for a good pitting.

I think there are lots of posters that had interesting things to add. Once they’re banned, they’re impossible to engage with. If we had the Box, we could engage with them if we wanted, or ignore that forum completely

I don’t like The Pit. If you can’t express yourself or your opinions in a way that won’t get you banned then go away.

I can’t think of another way to deal with posters who constantly lie, argue in bad faith, or sealion their way along.

Great debate:
Poster 1: Some position
Poster 2: Lie, distort, sealion
Poster 1: That seems wrong for these reasons, and here are my cites
Poster 2: <Ignores cites and continues to lie, distort, and sealion>

Option 1:
Poster 1: Poster 2 is a lying troll who won’t engage in good faith. (all is well)

Option 2:
Poster 1: Poster 2 – you’re lying and you won’t engage in good faith.
Moderator: That’s a warning for you, Poster 1