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…