Board culture and censorship

This board (if it’s any kind of reflection of the past) is likely to reflect strong left-leaning or anarchist principles. Even if that’s not the case, then a culture will likely spontaneously emerge over time that reflects the consensus opinion of the posters here. This is generally a good thing, but can also be quite a negative thing if we are not careful.

In previous incarnations, when a poster (new or veteran) takes a position that is at odds with the board culture, the board responds with a pack mentality and a ton of people will start jumping in to attack the poster. Usually without referring at all to the content of the post, but rather resorting to attacks on motive, sources and other more underhand ways of generally having a good schoolyard rumble. I would really like to avoid this as much as possible. This was especially true of new joiners who came in without fully drinking the board kool-aid on all possibly subjects. They were frequently denounced as trolls and harrassed until they invariably got angry, made some bad choice posts and then were summarily dismissed by the powers that be.

We need a policy to handle unpopular views. I’m open to all suggestions.

One of the problems was recently highlighted in an email to me was how do we want to deal with banning topics, sources or other forms of censorship. On the one hand I don’t want this place to be taken over by a bunch of Breitbart supporting alt-right fascists, who use the notion of free speech to bombard us with loads of stories and links to obviously fascist talking points (and I don’t use the word fascist lightly these days!). I also don’t want the board to be taken over by folks pushing the supposed hidden agenda that the Elders of Zion are slowly and inexorably pushing their agenda of total global domination.

What is the balance between hosting an open space for discussion where we take an honest look at how the various filters at play shape our world, and keeping out obviously rascist, sexist, white (or other) supremacist and generally fascist views.

I don’t know, but I’m opening up the issue for discussion.

Answering your question: I’d say it’s inevitable that any online collection of people is bound to have some degree of consensus. So it’s also inevitable that they’ll want to retain that, as the inevitable - but preferred - bias of the site.

What needs to happen is moderators jumping in to warn people not to mob anyone who’s spoken taboo thoughts, to play the message not the messenger at all times, and under no circumstances to start getting hectoring or insulting.

Given that, as an insistence of the site, I think it would be possible to accommodate sympathetic fellow travellers who don’t necessarily subscribe to all the site’s loyalties, but do subscribe to enough of them to be worth retaining and hearing.

Inevitably, there will be times when the clique in power - us, the originals - will want to eject some obvious incorrigible trouble-maker or bad-faith artist. The power to do that, with due process agreed, has to be retained I think, or the site would simply wander off on a random evolutionary process that would soon see it become something quite different from what we’d intended… which could still be OK, if you want to go with that tack.

Lots more to cover, re. the constitution of the site. But I’ll just leave it at this for now - though PS: I find the Boardhost layout for typing a message at TLN much more comfortable on the eyes than this one. Dunno if there’s some way I can manipulate what I see at my end… -Rh

Great thoughts there, Rhis.

For myself, the key point is to avoid the site becoming a simple echo chamber where only one set of opinions is allowed, and anyone who doesn’t agree is a troll. Of course trolls do exist - people who post deliberately inflammatory posts simply to get a reaction from the crowd - and we should have efficient methods for dealing with them. But disagreement is not necessarily trolling.

The question I ask myself is how important is it to try and preserve the culture of a site? I think it’s important that people who stick around and contribute a lot over a long time, end up feeling a sense of belonging and even ownership of the site. So I don’t want to disenfranchise them by letting it just drift randomly where it will, until the place is truly something very different from the original vision that started it.

I think this will take us a long way towards protecting the site from unnecessary group-think. Lots to think about here!

thanks for the thoughts - really appreciate them!


PS I’m putting together a little post over here that addresses how to change the look of the reply box. Maybe something in that will be helpful for you and make it more comfortable to post.

There’s clearly an ongoing argy-bargy of internal strife going on at TLN, with several posters showing signs, overt or covert, that they don’t like the current situation, re. censorship, mobbing, and hectoring/insulting language. I’ve been trying to find ways to contact some of those objecting to this, to alert them to this new embryo 5F which they might like to watch, and to contribute to eventually. This seems to be a ripe time to do that now. Is it stealing talent? Yes and no. Posters remain free to read wherever they will and to post wherever too. But getting some of those sound people to contribute - and to read regularly - here must be a good idea. What notions of how best to go about this?

Hi Rhis

I don’t think you can contact folk on TLN without being a member there. Of course you still are. After your timeout in the naughty corner, presumably you will be able to post there again. And I hope you learned your lesson :wink:

I’ve watched two boards get completely trashed by a handful of bigots and their supporters now, and I’m fairly leery about inviting the bigots or their supporters to come and trash this place too…

I still remember how many posters were driven away by gratuitous insults, loudly supported by the mob. As we have discussed in this very thread, I don’t want to encourage any part of that behaviour here… I’d be more interested in inviting people over from ecosophia, or moonofalabama etc…

It’s a tricky one

Don’t think I’ll be posting any more at TLN, after the ban is lifted. Ban, btw, is how the Boardhost notification page described it, so that’s the word I used. No-one said anything else to me directly. Wouldn’t mind PM-ing a few folk there, though. I’ve already had incoming PMs from Scrabb, Gerard and Si, asking about the situation.

Naturally, I’d be very selective about who to approach. The mob can find out on their own initiative as and when.

Re. thuggish behaviour trashing boards: It’s widespread, which is why I admire the few bloggers who keep it strictly at bay, greatly benefitting their sites thereby; I mean greatly! Not only absence of gratuitous aggro, but on the positive side far greater productivity of high-quality material too, from an encouraged and select set of commenters, who are induced to stay because they like the grown-up-civilised tone of the site. An ideal to aim for! Dmitry Orlov’s commenters are of that quality too. But then, all his commenters are patrons anyway, so self-selecting.

This is why I’m at pains to get muscular moderation in place here right from the start; and them as don’t like it can bugger off! :slight_smile: In fact I can foresee odd times when some might have to be told to. And no loss for that. There’s never any shortage of bright and knowledgeable commentators. Keeping them civil is what counts, to enable the site to be as high-quality useful as possible.

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Just posted the following at Off-G in the comments on the article: ‘If you’re reading this you might be a conspiracy theorist’, in reply to a commenter called hope who laments the ease with which ostensibly steady, hard-headed sceptics have been stampeded by the covid terror porn:

Call it Terror Derangement Syndrome, hope. A radical alt. website to which I’ve been contributing for years has just banned me from posting for a month, precisely because this syndrome has got a strong hold there, with people whom I’d long considered to be highly savvy, can’t-fool-these-guys dissidents nevertheless swallowing the Terror propaganda h,l&s, like naive trout, and proceeding to mob and slag anyone who dared to question it at all. I presume they were even wearing masks at their keyboards, in case something reached through the screen and grabbed them. :slight_smile:

That outfit has now fractured quite badly, between terror-believers and rational sceptics such as we find here at Off-G, to the point where I and one or two other ex-contributors - also driven out by hounding - are setting up a new site - called 5Filters - which, amongst other things, is looking to ensure that mobbing and trash-talking other posters is moderated completely out of existence in its discussions; and where absolute freedom of speech means exactly what it says, and anything can be discussed without censorship, preferring to substitute counter-speech against clearly offensive or demonstrably false posts.

But all absolutely imperatively to be done in civil, courteous language in any case, no exceptions, no excuses accepted, with deletions and three-strikes-and-out rules operated by the moderators, enforcing the idea of unfailing civility of language - at least towards colleague posters. A certain amount of slagging of villainous third parties out there in the world might still be acceptable, I dare say. :slight_smile:

But one thing you won’t see is Terror Derangement Syndrome getting any foothold there. We’re still tinkering it into existence just now, but I hope that it will become a good comrade to sites such as Off-G, which has also resisted the TDS panic vimfully, to its great credit:

Haha! Well, that might put the cat amongst some pigeons ;-). I’ll keep an eye open for any newcomers who come knocking.

Stay healthy and terror-free you natural born agitator :wink:

So I just went to read your comment out in the wild and notice that the person you were talking to (who really does sound very interesting!) Is reluctant to hand over an email address to sign up. I can quite understand that and I’ll look into an alternative. If you do chat more, perhaps you could ask them what they do for other sites? Or if they are willing to chat, feel free to pass along my 5F email (but please don’t post the email to off-g!)