While every member of the forum administration and moderation staff understands - more viscerally than many of you may suspect - the sense of overpowering urgency, of (completely justified) outrage, and of anxiety for the well-being of yourselves and your loved ones that has been powering one politics thread after another for three months now, we have arrived at a point where the situation is no longer tenable. Changes have to be made.
This probably isn't a surprise to most of you. I haven't undertaken an exhaustive count, but eyeballing it, it appears that the recent parade of Trump Administration threads has generated more reports (and more infractions and bans) than every other part of the forum put together
, and has done consistently for weeks now. It's not just a question of it being a contentious topic; we've had those before. It's the combination of that and the fact that it's both too fast-moving to effectively moderate (any official notice sinks beneath the waves in a matter of moments as the thread gallops ahead another heedless three pages) and, frankly, to effectively participate in, as we see people skipping ahead to the last page, mashing "reply," and inadvertently restarting a fight from twenty pages earlier.
This isn't useful to anyone. It's not how the staff wants to (or even can) spend their day and it's not really delivering the kind of information or utility that you people deserve. The only people who are getting anything out of it are trolls and those who want to get a bit of catharsis by screaming at someone else, neither of which are things we want to encourage.
The Debate and/or Discourse moderators and Tube had a huddle about this recently and we've decided to implement a series of specific, concrete new guidelines that we hope will help pull the signal out of the wall of noise. To wit:
1. No livetweeting
. This is a forum, not a feed. A wave of posts in the vein of "lol can you believe Spicer just said that" take up space and add, essentially, nothing worth having - particularly when ten people are doing it at once. The guiding principle here needs to be "if someone comes back and reads my post later, will they have the slightest scintilla of a clue
what the fuck I was talking about?" If the answer is no, then fire up Tweetdeck and take it there.
2. This is not an open mic.
That sick burn about Trump's hands may be the long-prophesied final joke
that will unite humankind and complete the art of comedy forever...but it's still off-topic. Take it to SE. That is literally why SE exists.
3. No contentless Twitter embeds.
This forum has "discourse" in its name, after all. Twitter embeds should have their sources cited and relevant commentary supplied. Hijacking someone else's thoughts to take up an entire post to say, in essence, "me too! but less pithily!" is a waste of everyone's time. React to the content of the embed! Give relevant commentary. Expand on the point being made (it was a ~140 character point - I bet
there's room for that!). A good guideline for this is to provide the classic journalistic W's: who, what, where, when, why. The more of those you're giving us, the more likely it is that you're contributing something helpful and worthwhile.
4. The Trump Administration megathread is no more.
Rest in pieces. Literally, in fact: the subjects it covered will now be served by threads for American Foreign Policy
, Cabinet Picks
, the Supreme Court
, the budget
, press freedom
, and the Historical Context of Fascism
. Where these threads don't exist yet, forumers are encouraged to make them. Topicality will be strongly enforced; to be honest, if you really feel like your point is worth making, you can do it in the appropriate thread. We'll do our part to help by adding links to the OPs of the various threads to help you find the one that you're looking for.
5. Certain questions are now settled forum law.
There are topics on which the staff strongly feel that future debate serves no useful end. One in particular is that transgender people will
have their pronouns of choice respected here with no ifs, ands or buts. If you fancy yourself some kind of erudite devil's advocate or heroic gadfly - well, you probably aren't, frankly, but you're free to fuck off elsewhere to do that. It's had its day here. Others are coming; watch this space.
These are first steps. They may be refined as we go. But it's our hope that you will work with us to try and help make this forum a source for the kind of productive and informative discussion that we all need now more than ever.