Podium Renewal *Update 8/25* Please Read
This place has become too coarse and unruly. Many decent longtime posters have left b/c the invective has become too harsh. The podium is supposed to be a place for conversations and debates... but it has become a place to attack people and troll.
We are going to have some new rules. And they will be enforced. We will begin deleting posts that are uncivil and issuing warnings. But we will not limit ourselves to the elimination of uncivil posts, we will also get rid of provocative thread crapping and trolling. The trolling definition that was agreed upon in October served us well for a time, but it appears to have become outdated. New forms of trolling are now a problem and we will react in kind.
The new rules will not be written down. The old rules are a good starting point... and for new members they are a good guide. The basic thing to remember when you post is - civility. You must remember that the people you are talking to are also humans, with human needs, human fears, human wants, human impulses, human tempers, and human failings... just like you.
Retaliation has become the way of the podium. When users get warned for attacking someone they tend to point fingers and say "they started it". Guess what? We don't care. That grown - generally rational - people need to say who-started-what is borderline absurd. But the internet offers people anonymity and an audience, and that can be a volatile combination. If you are attacked personally please mod alert the post instead of retaliating.
To those thoughtful users who have left b/c of the poor tone of the debates and conversations here, I offer my apology. I don't think we've kept the vision of what this forum should be in mind. But I invite you to return, and am hopeful that you will.
I personally feel I have become too reliant on the rules as a standard by which to judge offenses. The rules are a positive statement on what we think good discourse looks like. But behind the rules lies an ideal that some of us have in mind about what good conversations ought to be, and what a good forum should look like. Suffice it to say that the rules point beyond themselves towards an ideal. And in that sense they are limited, they are only shadows of the ideal. As we've said in the past, the rules do not represent the entire scope of what is and is not permissible.
That said much of the enforcment of the rules will be subjective in nature. There will be people who get a less fair shake than others. I don't see any way around this, except for users to engage in honest and civil discourse.
Some of you who are animated by a love of equality will suggest that this is unfair, or unacceptable, and that reform is good as long as it's a uniform application of the new rules. And that would be nice. However, the users here are creative humans who have found ways around the letter of the uniform set of rules that we have now. Equity between human mods and human users is very difficult to achieve. Looking for equity here is perhaps a misguided pursuit. That we happen to be a place where some semblance of equity exists is a result of prudential consideration, and the conversation that the mods have with each other about what is going on, and about the health of the community at large.
Those of you who cannot hold conversations w/o resorting to personal affronts and blanket statements* probably need to visit another forum.
The podium has had some good discussions over these last 2 years. There have been some great exchanges of ideas. It has also seen bad times before. And we've learned from our mistakes as mods. It may be that the true needs of the podium have been neglected in recent days. But we're going to put that right.
*Labels are a part of politics, and are a part of our world-view no matter how much we may try to resist them. But threads & posts that deal in absolutes such as "All liberals are ______" or "All conservatives think ______" are not productive, and will be viewed as trolling from this point forward.
Feel free to post your reactions/hopes/aspirations/suggestions/fears in this thread.