The dilemma of politics

Discussion in 'Managing an Online Community' started by Ingenious, Oct 26, 2018.

  1. Ingenious

    Ingenious Fan

    Political discussions - on a non-political forum that is - do you love them or hate them? And how do you manage them?

    They always crop up in our off topic areas, or people use a not-quite-related thread to get the soap box out.

    On the one hand, they are divisive and can get quite vitriolic. There is (at least in my experience) a far greater chance someone in a political argument will end up getting moderated when they break the community rules on flaming or swearing, than in any other threads. Then you can lose a member, as they don't like it.

    On the other hand, they do generate quite a bit of traffic! Heated members post more. And removing content or locking threads is often seen as heavy handed.

    How do you manage yours? Zero tolerance? Let it run for a bit then step in if it crosses the line? Or leave them to it? And what about those members who post a political opinion so far the opposite of yours, on your own forum? Doesn't that make your skin crawl?
  2. Karll

    Karll Adherent

    I don't mind them at all, though the core topics on my forum are somewhat political anyway. Yes, it gets heated, it's divisive, and there is drama and hurt feelings, but that's just part of life on the Internet. I don't want to ban certain topics, that just makes the forum feel like an oppressive, authoritarian state.

    That said, I'll add that I have lost a bit of faith in humanity after learning some of the political leanings of members here on TAZ!
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  3. Maddox

    Maddox Habitué

    I believe that if such topics are managed correctly they can indeed add traction to a site; people like to display their beliefs and leanings so it is a good way to get people talking. It's when the talking stoops to the low levels of name calling and berating others for their beliefs, that's when it can all turn nasty. So, as long as you can control the meanderings of the individuals involved, more power to it.

  4. Steve

    Steve Administrator

    My thoughts are, political topics create a divide in a community and among users. Once good topics that were discussed by individuals now have a different tone than before the heated topics. It's really unavoidable though, you can't silence beliefs. People do find ways to show their beliefs and views in some form or another, memes for example.
  5. Jim McClain

    Jim McClain Senior Citizen

    I have a zero tolerance for political expression in any form on my site - no discussion, no links, no memes, no snide remarks, no avatars or signatures. All are deleted and repeat offenders have been banned. This was the rule 12 years ago and stands today. I can count on one hand the number of problems related to it in the last 11 years.

    Most forums I participated in and worked on have allowed it. For many it hasn't been a big problem. For most non-political niche forums I've worked on, politics has caused a number of problems and 2 popular forums in my niche failed and have since closed. I've seen friends wreck their relationships because of their differences in political ideology and expression.

    I have lost respect for some acquaintances for their extreme satances on specific issues or politicians, but I have never stated my political opinion or leanings on a forum I have worked on. But to hear some former members tell it on other forums, I am either a demoncrat or a repugnacan, which is why I apparently banned them.
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  6. cheat_master30

    cheat_master30 Moderator

    All forums and communities I've run have allowed political discussions, and for the most part, it's not caused any real issues. Heck, I've often started or joined in political discussions, since even as a site owner I always wear my opinions on my sleeve (so to speak).

    Generally the line is drawn at personal attacks though, and threats would get a post removed. But that's basically never happened on any site I've been involved in.
  7. zappaDPJ

    zappaDPJ Administrator

    No political discussion of any nature is allowed on any of the corporate support forums I run. I do allow it on the forums that I own providing it's posted within the rules and it's generally on an opt in to a private forum basis.

    I like to know who I'm interacting with on my forums so I tend to let my members reveal themselves. Most people have political opinions at odds with mine which generally doesn't bother me so I guess I've developed a pretty thick skin over the years. That doesn't stop me from trying to nudge them in the right (or left) direction though :D
  8. Nev_Dull

    Nev_Dull Anachronism

    It's a tough one because politics (both P and p) are part of who we are as individuals and as a society. I would allow political discussions providing they are limited to a specific forum and are conducted in a thoughtful, respectful way.

    It is possible to have discussions and debates without attacking other people or resorting to expletive-filled ranting. One of the great advantages of forums over other social media is the lack of immediacy. Participants can spend some time putting their thoughts together and doing a little self-editing before hitting the reply button. The forum team can help members learn that habit by setting guidelines and posting reminders (and most especially by practicing it themselves). In lieu of that, you can always put the whole discussion under moderation to keep the ad hominem and inflammatory remarks out.
  9. bernard

    bernard Enthusiast

    Politics and religion are taboo on most of my forums. It really depends upon the nature of the subject matter or audience you are targeting. I used to own a forum centered on gardening. Membership was mostly an older crowd. So many problems with religion and politics. Currently own a peer support forum for epilepsy. I don't allow either topic and the membership has been excellent at self policing the policy. They (taboo topics) just don't belong for a group that's trying to help one another through a specific issue.
  10. mysiteguy

    mysiteguy Devotee

    I don't mind them, but I don't care for extreme ideologues who scream and shout, call names, express everything with bitterness, taunting, etc. It sours political discussion. :(
  11. Somniloquent

    Somniloquent Enthusiast

    Politics are unrelated to our niche, and since we're an international community, one country's politics may not interest people elsewhere. We don't forbid political discussion, but we discourage it. We'd be ok with a thread reminding everyone to vote, or casual mentions of a political affiliation, but any real debate would probably be locked down quickly.
  12. southernlady

    southernlady Coder/Designer

    I have a board on my forum known as Rants & Raves. Political discussion is limited to that one board. A member must be registered for a minimum of 28 days AND have 50 posts to join in. That keeps it semi-sane.
    The TOU for that one board is
    “The Rants and Raves is an limited access forum.

    Expect to read posts that are of controversial nature.

    The only review and moderation will be of posts that violate Federal laws (examples: copyright issues, child pornography, threats of violence, stalking, etc.*). The Unmoderated Forum (Rants and Raves) will not be moderated for any other issues including violations of our Terms of Service.

    *Resource on information of Federal laws here

    So if your feelings are easily hurt or you are offended please do not enter.“

    Terms of Service are here:
    The first part was written by a member who has since passed away. I only edited one word. In rule number one, it’s don't be an ....... That wasn’t the original word although it started with the same first three letters.

    I read everything in there but seldom post, esp as a thread starter.

    I have had to ask individuals to edit their posts in other places to avoid partisan politics. I give them a day to edit before doing it myself for them. Average age of my members is between 45-60. So far, everyone has complied. I’d rather they moderate themselves before I have to do it.

    I don’t mind discussion of the state of health care (as long as they don’t get political) since that subject is very much a part of our forum.
  13. MarkFL

    MarkFL La Villa Strangiato

    I have virtually zero interest in politics, but I don't mind such discussions as long as the participants can remain calm, which is rarely the case. Because most people get so excited and lose all sense of decency during such discussions, the discussions generally get shut down once the attacks and implied profanity begins.
  14. Joeychgo

    Joeychgo TAZ Administrator

    I have a politics forum on my sites. You have to join the forum to see the posts, and we basically leave it unmoderated.

    The reasons are simple. It gives people another reason to be on my site, and it keeps me from having to enforce a no politics rule.
  15. Jura

    Jura Devotee

    Not against them but have to watch them... Watching them means having to read posts that are clearly from people with racist, war crazed, bigoted, and even genocidal views or ideologies.
  16. StaticAge

    StaticAge Enthusiast

    They can cause a lot of drama and I prefer to avoid them most of the time (not all the time as they can be good), but one positive is they can be handy to weed out the crazies or people you wouldn't want around. I've seen "normal" people on forums suddenly reveal themselves to be a giant racist or homophobe (and whatever else) within a single post or two on multiple occasions.
  17. sanction9

    sanction9 Enthusiast

    It can be difficult to not berate others for their beliefs when sometimes those beliefs fly in the face of science and facts and are often just stupid, and/or are potentially harmful to others. But of course the person who accepts things on faith, rather than requiring hard facts, is likely to accuse you of being the brainwashed, unreasonable one. For these reasons I tend to steer clear of politics myself. ;)
  18. Maddox

    Maddox Habitué

    That is the point of faith and belief, no science or scientific 'facts' (which often change over time as more becomes known) are required; if someone wants to believe that the world is flat, berating or belittling that person achieves nothing if their belief and faith carries them through. This is why close moderation is a must to prevent such belittling taking place. We often 'think' that we know everything and that for some there is always a scientific explanation, but that is not always the case. Science is flexible and new discoveries can often change the shape of previous explanations which at that time were thought to be immutable; so science and so-called facts may not always be correct. The same applies to politics which can change over time depending on the 'facts' of the time that people often feel the need to stand by. So it would be wise not to berate people for their beliefs, regardless of whether you agree or not; that is their choice and no one else's and no matter how hard someone tries to change their views, it's often a waste of time trying to do so.

    The best thing to do when such an impasse is reached is to simply agree to disagree and move on. I accept that for some people it's asking too much and they feel the need to hammer away at someone else berating them for what they believe in, this is where things can turn nasty which is a waste of time and effort and leads to nowhere at the end of the day. If people can debate something without the name calling and berating, great - if they can't then they should not waste their time and turn nasty in the process.

    My 2c for what it's worth.

  19. sanction9

    sanction9 Enthusiast

    Science is flexible and theories and conclusions do change over time - but based on the best current evidence, not faith. My "faith" can lead me to believe that a fifty foot purple man in space telepathically directs me to do his bidding, and how could you prove me wrong, since there's arguably no "proof" for or against it? But I won't disagree with you, of course, that if you are going to allow such discussions it's important that they remain as civil and considerate as possible. :tup:
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2018
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  20. Maddox

    Maddox Habitué

    I believe that what we ought to remember is that we are all correct and all wrong at the same time - it's what you believe and have faith in that is important to the individual. I recall a song that had a verse in it that went:

    See I'd like to share your point of view
    As long as it's my view too
    Can't win on a comprise I'd rather lose on my own
    'Coz I feel kind of good when I'm all alone

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