What is Pit-worthy?

First a couple of preliminaries:

Q. What is this thread about?

A. I want to start a dialogue about what sorts of threads belong in the Pit. I’ve got my own ideas, but I just work here. I’d like to get a feel for the opinions of those who read and post in the Pit. So I thought I’d ask them.

Q. Why did you start it?

A. Because I want to know what the folks that use the Pit think. This is an area in which I can make changes, and I’m looking for input on what people want.

Q. Why is this in the Pit if its a poll about one of the board’s forums?

A. Being me has its privileges. Also, I’m most interested in the opinions of those who actually visit and post in the Pit, as opposed to the opinions of all board visitors. This is the best way to reach that audience.

Q. Can I post in this thread about how you did x to poster y and I hate you for it?

A. Please don’t. I want to keep this thread focused on the concept of pit-worthiness.

Q. Can I post in this thread about what I think about the Pit rules that are unrelated to what sorts of threads go in the Pit?

A. Please don’t. I want to keep this thread focused on the concept of pit-worthiness.

Q. Can I post in this thread about how I reported a thread and you didn’t move it? Can I post in this thread about how you moved a thread that I thought should have stayed?

A. Feel free. While I’m unlikely to revisit such a decision here, past practices are certainly relevant to the discussion. I’m more interested in what folks think I ought to do in the future, but examples will be helpful.

Q. You’re making new rules! :eek:

A. That’s not even a question. Besides, you’re wrong. I’m asking for input about a decision I already have to make. I’m not proposing any new rules.

Q. How long do you plan to leave this thread open?

A. Indefinitely. I’ll keep it stickied and leave it open as long is it remains useful.


Let me flesh this out. I’d like input on the following issues:

  1. What is the Pit for?

  2. What sorts of threads do not belong here?

  3. What sorts of thread belong here exclusively?

  4. Typology of threads. Some of the distinctions that come up include joke and parody threads vs. serious rants; recreational outrage vs. debatable vitriol; blogging vs. ranting; topical exclusion (politics and computer-related threads are often mentioned in this context). Which of these are consistent with the purpose of the Pit. Which of these distinctions are important? Should such determination be based on the content (no parody threads) or expected outcome (only parody threads that are likely to piss someone off)?

  5. Do you care? I’d also like to get a sense of how many people have a strong preference about these things. If you don’t care, feel free to post that. For once, it’s not threadshitting.

You don’t have to respond directly to any of the listed questions. But that’s the sort of information I’m looking for.

The current thread description says: “For rants about the world or beefs with another poster.”

And the Rules say:

http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=507985
Here are three recent threads that talk about some of this stuff:

RO: ?

I Pit all the MPSIMS tards who are currently drowning the Pit in boring crap

Pissed off? Tired of all the passionless losers on this MB? This one’s for you!

Eh. It’s always going to be a judgment call. What sends me in a fit of rage may not even be a blip on your radar, and vice-versa. Cutesy and mundane can get shifted to MPSIMS with little problem. If the outrage is sufficient, move it back. But some RO is going to always exist in the Pit, no matter how much Giraffe, Fenris and others hate it, if only because we all have different thresholds of rage, concern and caring. Remember the difference between tragedy and comedy, guys. Tragedy is when I stub my toe. Comedy is when Rand Rover falls into an open sewer and drowns. :smiley:

Post I’m somewhat indirectly responding to.

It seems to make more sense to respond in here.

My problem with RO is that it isn’t as well defined as I thought. I thought it was anything you get mad about that doesn’t directly effect you in any way.

I don’t believe that anything that is newsworthy for its shock value can be considered mundane, but, apparently, at least two people disagree with me.

I really don’t care what forum any post is in. I do care that posts don’t get deleted if there are enough people that want to read it. I would love it if things could be put into a subforum that could be hidden from the people who don’t like it, but I don’t think that is ever going to happen.

that

/har har

Thanks for this, Gfactor. And no, I’m not sucking up.

My saying you’re the greatest mod we’ve ever had is in no way currying favor

1. What is the Pit for?

I think it’s for rants. That covers a wide range of topical material, but I think its tree is binary in nature. In other words, we can say that (A) there are rants about some member or member’s post or thread (attack threads within the SDMB), and then (B) there are rants about things unrelated to the board’s membership. Under (B) there are (1) rants about the board itself, and (2) rants about stuff outside the board. Under (A) there are (1) rants about what someone said or how they said it and (2) rants about a person’s general behavior — like so-and-so is a jerk, or a troll, or whatever. Under (B1) there are (a) rants about the board’s performance, speed, or responsiveness, and (b) rants about the board as a community, the direction it’s headed, or the look and feel of the site. Under (B2) there are (a) rants about politics, religion, and current event type things, the last one being what we call “RO”, and (b) there are rants about everything from pi being irrational to American Idol sucks. Under (A1) there are (a) redirections from Great Debates or Cafe Society or something that got moved here because they became heated, and there are (b) original OPs, sometimes quoting someone, and sometimes just going straight for the jugular, with hopefully a link.

I think it’s also for parodies. I suspect this will be controversial, and I naturally cannot provide a cite, but I believe that I am the member who began the custom of writing parody OPs and putting them in the Pit. I guess this could be either verified or debunked by some kind of search, but damned if I’m going to subject myself to that. I think parodies have a place here, because they are a rant, but just a different kind of rant. They are more dry. More cold. More biting. Based on the binary tree I proposed above, they fall under (A1b). They are quotes of a sort — that is, they poke fun at something someone has said. They are basically insulting, and so they don’t belong anywhere else. Which leads me to…

I think it’s also for insults. It’s the only forum in which we can insult anyone from Captain Crunch to Guinastasia. We can call each other a bitch, an attention whore, a tendrillar penis, or a self-absorded dick head. We can curse, so long as it is not overmuch, and is within the guidelines stickied here. It just wouldn’t be the Pit at all if insults weren’t allowed in it. The same goes for rants. I guess you could say that parodies aren’t necessary and therefore should be prohibited. But a really good parody can be the most insulting kind of post possible. It mimics the person’s style and prose. It makes the person who is parodied look like an idiot. Maybe just disallow shitty parodies, and use your own judgment about that.

Finally, I’d like to say that, even though it is not necessarily derived from any of the above, I’d like to see the Pit as a place for vigorous debates, where insults are allowed, but the thread participants can insult back. A debator, for example, can post, “You’re a liar. You’ve completely misrepresented me…” and so on. The thing is, with all due respect to Great Debates and the mods there, the Pit has seen some of the best debates on the board. It happens with some frequency, actually. The thread starts out as a rant about racism, say, and it ends up being a five-page debate about causes for the War of Northern Aggression. That kind of thing. I’d like to see that sort of debate become a stated and sanctioned part of Pit culture de jure, as it already is so de facto.

2. What sorts of threads do not belong here?

Stupid stuff, number one. (That’s your judgment call.) Posts that, by there very nature, will elicit sympathetic responses — whether positive or negative. So, RO goes the way of “My cat died, and I feel lonely”. Off to MPSIMS. I think RO threads do not belong here.

3. What sorts of thread belong here exclusively?

Rants. Parodies. Insults. No holds (well, few anyway) barred debates. I would also add to this the mini-rants threads that restart every so often. They keep down the number of threads, and contain some pretty good rants.

4. Typology of threads. Some of the distinctions that come up include joke and parody threads vs. serious rants; recreational outrage vs. debatable vitriol; blogging vs. ranting; topical exclusion (politics and computer-related threads are often mentioned in this context). Which of these are consistent with the purpose of the Pit. Which of these distinctions are important? Should such determination be based on the content (no parody threads) or expected outcome (only parody threads that are likely to piss someone off)?

I think it is a mistake to group together joke and parody threads in opposition to “serious rants”. A well written parody is no joke. And although it might be amusing, it can have far more teeth in it than a “serious rant”. I don’t think there should be any topical exclusions. Let people rant about their computer if they want to, or about a band they hate, or about anything in their own lives. But not some newspaper article about a tragic crime or some Hitlerian person whom everyone hates. They only exception I would make to that is that the thread make fun of the tragedy. It should be cruel. Not sympathetic with the “victim” or the “dick head”.

For example, a thread about a political event that mocks the participants or a thread that makes fun of a criminal should be acceptable. But a thread about a political event that will be filled with nothing but you-betchas or a crime thread with everybody trying to outdo each other’s outrage, should be sent off to MPSIMS.

5. Do you care? I’d also like to get a sense of how many people have a strong preference about these things. If you don’t care, feel free to post that. For once, it’s not threadshitting.

I do care. I’ve been here a long time. I’ve posted probably mostly in Great Debates if you take a full count over the entirety of my tenure. But the Pit is probably a close second: one, because I get pitted on a fairly regular basis (although that has subsided considerably lately), and two, because I like the liveliness of exchanges. I like the snark. I like the really good Pit posts, which are often brief, but to the point. And I like long, meandering Pit posts of the type that a person angered or tormented about a recent event in his own life might write.

Oh shit. You know, you could have started with that. Jesus, my wrists are sore…

Well, I’d like the whole “PIT a Poster” thing to go away. Few other boards allow this. Already you have restricted (to an extent) PITing of Staff. This gives an impression of special treatment. But if no poster could be personally PITed, then it’d be unambiguously fair.

I love a good rant, btw.
This:
http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=381370&highlight=Diet+Pepsi+Jazz
by Euthanasiast about Diet Pepsi, Jazz was one of the funniest rants I have ever read.

Outrage–personal outrage.

Not RO, where you’re engaged in competitive outrage about something that doesn’t affect you at all (maybe start a new “RO Game” type thread where those who like such things can have outrage one-upsmanship in a sports-like environment) but real personal pissedoffedness.

Preferably of the funny variety.

So pit threads of old like “I just spilled Kool-Aide over my new white sweater” done to (say) Dr. Seuss or “That sonofabitch cut me off in traffic! I hope he dies. In a fire!” would be fine here.

It’s personal outrage that matters. It doesn’t matter if the subject matter is insignificant (I cut my finger on the lid of this can of pineapples!) it’s that you’re honestly pissed and (if possible) express it in a funny or legitimately angry way.

Flaming is personal outrage at another poster, so it goes here too.

Get politics the fuck out of here. I’m gonna lose this fight–I’m in a tiny minority, but dammit, if you can’t express your political opinions in a GD-acceptible fashion (and remember, curse words are just fine in GD), then shut up.

As I write this (wrote, actually-I started a few hours back and forgot to hit “submit”) 8 of the first 10 threads in the Pit are 100% political. We need a politics only forum where all this shit can go, but failing that, it belongs in GD. The Reeder style “< link > THIS SUCKS” is dead, replaced by “< Link > I hate these people! They’re so dumb! (and granted, often they are)”. Frame it as a debate and put it in GD or it’s just RO, political RO, but RO.

Hell, if it MUST go here, sticky a “Politics” thread in the Pit where everyone can go to vent their 15 minutes of daily/weekly political outrage about the cause-du-jour and then create a new one ever month–like the “mini-rants” thread, only for politics. 8 outta 10 threads is slightly above average, but not much and we don’t need that shit here AND in GD crowding out everything else.

Let’s define our terms:

Joke threads came (under Lynn’s rules) to mean “Funny threads including those of the “personal outrage” variety”. Let’s call those “funny threads” as distinct from “Who knows a dirty joke?” threads.

Funny personal outrage threads are 100% fine IMO

Joke threads (even dirty jokes) go in MPSIMS.

Parody threads that are attacks on other posters/board trends go here–because otherwise how can the people being parodied respond?

Like “I have a general hatred for child molestors”?

Fuck that–that’s just RO writ broadly. The only two possible responses are “I hate them more!”/“Me too! Aren’t we good people?” or trolling responses like “I lurvs little gurls!”

Unless you’re personally pissed off (in which case, it’s a rant) never.

Yes-this isn’t a “I remember the good old days through rose-colored glasses” thing I’m about to say but the pit used to be substantially different. Go to your user CP and set your “Default Thread Age Cut Off” to the “all threads” option and then go look at the early days of the Pit.

You can argue (I wouldn’t but someone could) that the current “All politics and RO” pit of today is better or worse. You can’t argue that the tone/culture of the Pit back then was substantially different.

You can’t recapture the past and I don’t think we should try–but I do think ditching RO back to MPSIMS and Politics to GD (or it’s own goddamn forum–after 9 years of posters bitching, why is it so hard for the Dope to try a politics GD subforum and ditch it if it doesn’t work out?) and encouraging more personal outrage would really liven up the forum.

And thanks for starting the thread.

Fenris, you make some really good points, almost all of which I agree with. And I know your heels are dug in about politics threads. And I can see where some of the posts should be handled in GD. Maybe even most of them. But lots of rants are about public people. And politicians are public people. I do like your “affects me personally” take on the whole thing. But I wouldn’t exclude politics from that. Someone might want to rant about Congress and the new marriage penalty (twice as bad as the old one). It seems to me that that sort of rant goes here, even though it is political in nature.

Fair enough Lib–I don’t agree (debate the new marriage penalty, don’t rant about it), but it’s a reasonable point.

That said when 18 of the first 25 Pit threads are political, it bespeaks the need for a “political mini-rants” thread so that whatever the outrage-of-the-minute is can be dealt with in one big thread and not drown everything else out.

Or the much longed for"All Politics, All The Time" forum where ALL political stuff goes–just label your thread title with “Debate” or “Rant” and have at it.

I can stir myself from apathy to make the following two comments:

  1. Political threads are boring and stupid. Doubly so in the Pit. Everyone who participates already has their established positions, nobody changes their minds, and it’s never anything more than “you’re dumb!” “No you are!” ad infinitum.

  2. Threads need to be better. This applies board-wide, but moreso in the Pit. Most threads are boring and stupid. All of you people, be better at being interesting. I can’t - I’ve tried. It’s up to you.

I come here for the debates. They are generally better than in GD. Please don’t remove the best debates from here. I think people’s assumptions are really challenged here. Often people post rants and really don’t expect it when post #2 disagrees with their entire premise (They don’t agree that my Sow-Worker is a jerky-jerk? Really? Maybe I’m the jerky-jerk? Well, I never!). I like this aspect of the Pit.

As someone who probably spends more time in The Pit than anywhere else, i think i agree with the majority of Lib’s post.

I can see where Fenris is coming from with the politics thing, but i’ve had plenty of political debates in The Pit that were, as Lib suggested, replete with both well-formulated arguments and fierce invective. And there are times when the latter is essential, when retards simply refuse to recognize the validity and accuracy of my arguments and need to be told to fuck right off. :slight_smile:

Seriously, though, there are people here who are constantly dishonest in their debating, and who mask the rudeness of their mendacity with a politeness of language and phrasing. If we are going to remove politics from The Pit, so that we can no longer call these people assholes and liars, then the only reasonable alternative is to have some sort of greater oversight in GD, whereby people who blatantly misrepresent the facts or other people’s arguments are taken to task for it and told to knock it off. And that’s not really going to be feasible, or even desirable, so i think there’s still a place for politics in The Pit.

Of course, there’s also the question of what constitutes a “political” thread. Clearly, some screed about Palin, or about someone criticizing Palin, or about Obama, or about someone criticizing Obama, is a political topic. But what about something like abortion, gun control, police abuse of power, the death penalty, etc., etc., etc. These topics, while not narrowly about politicians and political parties, are political in both the general sense of affecting all our lives, and in the more specific sense of being key issues when elections come around.

Of course, one issue with The Pit (whether it’s a problem will depend on your personal perspective), is that, while it does engender some excellent debates, those can sometimes have the effect of narrowing down the thread to two or three committed debaters, and leaving everyone else feeling bored or marginalized. The result, then, is that people no longer feel that the thread is fun, and it either dies or just goes on as a relatively small conversation between a few people.

In pointing this out, i’m not pointing fingers at other people. I know for a fact that i’ve been the culprit on more than a few occasions in such threads, debating on and on with one or two others while everyone else abandons the thread. The question, i guess, is whether people feel that this is a bad thing, or whether it’s simply unavoidable in some situations. After all, some GD threads end up the same way.

Anyway, i’m also fully on board with the idea of keeping silly RO threads, and obvious, uncontroversial crap (“Child rapists are bad!!!”) out of The Pit.

One final thing: When deciding to put a thread in The Pit, my criteria has often been not simply whether i’m actually pitting someone, or angry at someone or something. I have also tended to look at the subject matter itself, and to make a determination based on whether or not i think it will elicit strong emotions and hostile debate. If it;s something that gets me angry, but that i think everyone will agree about, i generally put it in MPSIMS. But if think that some people will agree with me, while others will have a completely contrary position, i’ll probably put it in The Pit.

Perhaps no threads should start in the Pit at all, but should only be moved here from the other forums when it’s clear to the mods that the thread should be here.

A question concerning the monthly Mini-Rant thread in the Pit.

Shouldn’t a mini-rant by definition be in MPSIMS?

I disagree with the comment about politics needing to be in GD. Firstly, I think the actions of politicians should be fair game (British MPs, anyone?). Secondly, policies are not abstract things; they do impact people. And if you’re impacted by it, why shouldn’t you be allowed to vent about it?

I think a “mini-rant” just means a rant about something you don’t want to do a whole frigging thread about, but definitely isn’t MPSIMS stuff. Like maybe the idiot slacker at the checkout who couldn’t get your change right because he was out of dimes. And you want to condemn him to hell.

I emphatically disagree. The ability to pit posters who have said something stupid or are disruptive is part of the Pit’s raison d’etre. I’d much rather see a pit of somebody else for being a whackjob than another “Woman kills 20 babies” or "This Congressman is an idiot (because he said something I don’t like).

Personal outrage is part of it, but I would also require that it be directed against other SDMB members. As I’ve said elsewhere:

“. . . Pit threads must be directed to other board members directly (as in “I pit Kimmy_Gibbler”) or indirectly, by pitting groups known to be represented on the board (as in “I pit urban-dwelling gun control advocates”). Pittings directed to strangers to the board (as in “I pit this woman I ran into today at the medical clinic who does not belong to this board”) go into MPSIMS.”

I don’t care if you spilled Kool-Aid on your sweater or if your landlord is a d-bag or whatever. The Pit should be a cage match, and that requires at least the possibility of an opponent. So unless the Kool-Aid is going to post back, that belongs squarely in More Pointless Shit.

Wait – what? You want The Pit to be a forum dedicated specifically to board cat fights? I’m fine enough with leaving at “Please no whining about every story you see on the local news that you find to be bothersome.”

Yes. Blood in the water. Enough of this “I pit diamond lanes” bullshit.