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Old September 9, 2008, 01:22 PM   #1
Al Norris
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Suggestions for Envigorating L&P

Hammer4nc, offered a suggestion with this post. In that spirit, this thread is open to suggestions.

Let me start off by saying that the Legal and Political forum, in all probability will not be resurrected, in its current form. Politics has always been somewhat of a bane to the forum. This has been made extremely clear over the last year and a half.

What Dave and I believe will work, is to start a new forum that would encompass Legal and Civil Rights (mainly BOR and 2A) issues. Politics should not enter into it, except as a peripheral issue, and then only briefly.

With the above in mind, what are some of your thoughts?
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Last edited by Al Norris; September 10, 2008 at 05:37 PM. Reason: Corrected a sentence to ensure understanding
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Old September 9, 2008, 02:07 PM   #2
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Antipitas

Let us start by determining just exactly what you and Bluesman think the biggest single problem is.
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Old September 9, 2008, 02:09 PM   #3
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That would be an excellent idea. That would allow members to discuss issues like Florida's new guns in parking lots law or Bloomberg's lawsuits, while avoiding endless right versus left and Ron Paul debates.
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Old September 9, 2008, 02:13 PM   #4
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Well, in that spirit here is the PM I sent to Bluesman:

I would say half my posts are in L&P and have long appreciated the forum. It is clear that there has been some unrestrained emotion of late, as well as a fair share of "intentionally disruptive" posters...

While I understand your immediate decision I do hope we can get back to an open L&P forum. That may not be possible though until after November. In the meantime I make the suggestion that we limit L&P to FIREARMS RELATED POSTS. There are plenty of firearms issues in L&P without going down the path of Iraq, gay rights, abortion, etc.

Loosing all discussion on the L&P aspects of firearms would be a very bad thing for this forum. It will cause worthwhile contributors to go elsewhere. I probably post 20:1 here rather than elsewhere because I do enjoy the political aspects of the discussions and look at news presented in them on 2A issues as critical. Without that discussion I will look to other sights first, then TFL when I get around to it as opposed to the other way around.

After November when the trolls slink back to under their bridges and the emotional fever has passed hopefully we can get back to an open L&P forum requiring only a sane level of moderation as opposed to the insanity we have now.

That is my hopefully helpful input. Thank you for running this forum and of course any decision you make on running it is fully within your rights.

Best regards,

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Old September 9, 2008, 03:59 PM   #5
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I rarely post but do enjoy reading the debates held in L&P. I would also note I spend much less time on the High Road since they closed political discussion. I find the level of discourse is still pretty civil and rational as compared to someplace like either DU or CU.
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Old September 9, 2008, 04:14 PM   #6
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Legal and civil rights seems like a good way to go.

Not as emotional and not as likely to arrouse personal feelings as political does/would. Still allows discussion on the second ammendment and other gun related legal issues.
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Old September 9, 2008, 04:38 PM   #7
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A lot of forums have a tough time with political posts. It is just hard to stay civil, and mods tend to pull he trigger a little more often when their own chains are being pulled, which annoys those doing the pulling even more, and makes it even less civil.

I like a good political discussion, and really I have not seen a whole lot that is real offensive here. maybe it gets deleted before I get a chance to see it.

IMO, creating posting rules that are meaningful is the key. You can't just say it is up to the mod's discretion and have the members feel they are being treated fairly. But writing those rules in a concise and understandable way is not a trivial task.
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Old September 9, 2008, 05:02 PM   #8
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After November when the trolls slink back to under their bridges and the emotional fever has passed hopefully we can get back to an open L&P forum requiring only a sane level of moderation as opposed to the insanity we have now.
I agree with Musketeer about this. L&P is an excellent forum. When the discussion is (mostly) civil, many of the threads are interesting, and I find reading them (along with posting occasionally) helps me to clarify my own thinking on quite a few topics...

As someone who's a relatively new member, though quite a long-time reader, I hesitate to ask this but will anyway: Is it technically feasible to ban the folks who can't seem to post there without getting abusive/irrational, but only from L&P? It seems a pity to cut them off entirely... Or would this be too much like some sort of 2nd-class citizenship?
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Old September 9, 2008, 05:29 PM   #9
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As one of the prior bad actors in L&P (see People vs Molineaux for a description of the prior bad act rule) and a big time offender, I would note that if you limit the forum to Legal and Civil rights, it will cut down some of the invective, but you will still get:

Post 1. The ATF is trying to shut down Jims Guns!

Reply: Those Jackbooted thugs! Everyone should be able to buy whatever they want at anytime.

Reply: Actually, that gun shop has been violating the law for quite some time.

Reply: You traitor to our natural born rights. You should be shot!

Reply: How can we allow guns to be controlled and still allow abortions...can you imagine if Hussien Osama gets elected?

Reply: Great, I see the far right loons are coming ouit of the woodwork

Reply: Who are you calling a loon?

Reply: He must be a Demonkrat

Reply: You guys give a bad image to gun owners.

Reply: Your post demonstrates you are far out of the mainstream!

Reply: Traitor. You and the Supreme Court both. You are a sheeple!

Reply: The sheeple need to know where we stand!

Reply: Who are you calling a demonkrat! Lets step outside!

Reply: Your mother wears army boots.

Reply: Better army boots than being a sheeple....baaaaaaaaaaah

Reply: I can't beleive these Neocons!

Et seq, ad infinitum, ad nauseum

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Old September 9, 2008, 06:05 PM   #10
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...mods tend to pull he trigger a little more often when their own chains are being pulled,
Maybe in other forums, but on TFL both Al and I tend to be more lenient with the people we disagree with so we don't appear to be biased. Unfortunately, this inevitably leads to our ideological comrades being angry at us for allowing incoming invective while prohibiting outgoing.

The biggest headache for me in the past eight years as a moderator is veiled insults, borderline personal attacks and closed minds. The first two are very difficult to address because it is a judgment call every time and I strive to be fair. The last headache amounts to two people in a room yelling "IS NOT!" "IS SO!" "IS NOT!" "IS SO!" over and over and over and over... Nobody is listening, nobody has an open mind, nobody even considers that the other person might have a point.

It comes down to a general lack of respect. And that, is a very difficult trait to instill into adults who are convinced that they're right.

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Old September 9, 2008, 06:37 PM   #11
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Leave it closed

I think WildAlaska is correct. No matter the incarnation, any forum that has even the faintest whiff of politics will degenerate into name-calling and mindless grandstanding. Good luck making your decision.
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Old September 9, 2008, 07:06 PM   #12
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I enjoyed legal and political quite a bit. It inspired me to do my own research.

I understand why ya'll want to close it, and I'm not asking you to re-open it, but I am curious as to where I can find a forum on which I can have mentally stimulating discussions about current events and historical happenings once again.

The best part was that if I got bored of politics I could always post about one of my other great past times, firearms. They both fascinate me, and it is sad to me that we cannot have a forum where both can be responsibly discussed.

Finally, I am not claiming to have always been the most responsible poster (I called some people members of the "Brady bunch," etc.), but I think I learned to be more considerate and less irresponsible with my posts, so that being said, I did learn quite a bit from L&P.
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Old September 9, 2008, 07:32 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave
... veiled insults, borderline personal attacks and closed minds. ... It comes down to a general lack of respect.
I would like everyone reading this to think about what I'm about to write. Please, do not respond to it, in this thread (if you absolutely must, your post will be deleted when next I see it). I just want you folks to think about it:

We have had 2 fairly new members come on board and post some of their thoughts to L&P. From a perspective of living in a small rural conservative town in Idaho, their posts are straight out of mainstream American thought. Like it or not. Yet, many who posted in L&P had no trouble with outright calling them all sorts of names, or alluding to their parentage, etc. Hardly a single person who raised their shrill voices to drown either of these two gentlemen's voices, had an open enough mind to see their POV.

If you have failed to see what I'm talking about, perhaps I should point to the Ron Paul threads. Here, we see the same exact thing. People who are so closed minded that any other viewpoint was tantamount to treason.

This is beyond being merely sad. It is a direct reflection of how reactionary some of you are. It is a direct reflection on TFL as a whole. It goes against the credo of our board and paints us all as knuckle-dragging neanderthals.

For those reasons, I'm against further political discourse.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wildalaska
I would note that if you limit the forum to Legal and Civil rights, it will cut down some of the invective, but you will still get:[list redacted]
If the thread start is not directly related to Civil Rights, then the thread gets closed and the thread starter gets yanked. If any posts within the thread gets tangentially political, that post gets deleted and that member gets yanked. Simple enough rule?

Hard and fast consequences: No Second Chances; No Argument; No Trial; No Way.

Ken, under that scenario, everyone who responded in such a manner would get yanked.

Folks would either discuss things in an adult and rational manner or our jobs as mods would get really easy, 'cause no one is posting!

In short, I want to see the bar raised so high, that those of you that are disrespectful of the opinions of others, either won't post or can't post.

OK then. The above is just my personal rant. It lets all of you know how I've felt about this subject for some time now. So there you have it. Dave's thoughts on the problem areas and mine.

So suggest away!
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Old September 9, 2008, 09:56 PM   #14
Wildalaska
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Quote:
Simple enough rule?
Heck, even I could follow that one

But Al (and Dave) realistically, how you gonna enforce that? Look at my example (excessive as it is)...what is Legal/Civil Rights what is political? Gonna ban the word sheeple? JBT? I guess Demonkrat would be a nono....thank god...Lets say a discussion is started re an interlocutory decision in Heller II.....what about the invective that necessarily will be spouted about the Wash DC city council's total disregard of the Courts decision? Legal? Political....isnt an issue of fact in such a proceeding a predecessor for political discussion?

Speaking for me, its my lack of tolerance for invective that gets me into trouble, which made me engage in puerile bickering.

The word sheeple alone makes me see red.

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Old September 9, 2008, 10:37 PM   #15
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One the verge of an national election that is likely to favor democrats in congress; led by a known anti-gun Obama/or a minority-party McCain, as the next president; how likely is it, that firearms rights will be sacrificed on the political altar of government-promised security, in the next 4 years? Arguably, pretty likely.

Given that scenario, I can't imagine a worse time to abandon 2A-oriented political discussion. Despite the frustrations that come with moderating such a forum.

Some of the frustration might arise from unrealistic expectations, that the discussion must always stay in the neatly manicured fairway. Even Tiger Woods hits some shots into the rough, and, some of his most creative shots come when recovering from these flubs. None of us here is The Tiger Woods of internet debate. While we strive for high standards (expressed as signal-to-noise, think twice/post once, etc.), we'll all shank a few. Millions of hackers manage the frustration, and try to recover on the next shot, instead of breaking their 6-iron over their knee and stomping off the course. Advancing political ideas is infinitely more complex than putting a little ball in a hole, IMO.

Other frustrations may be built into the software. Some mention is made that archived posts may be dredged up to reflect poorly on gun owners. According to the banner page, we're now at 3 million + posts. Is it necessary/desirable that all threads/posts be archived? How about just archiving those threads (or posts) that rise high above the noise level? A positive-option system (clicks by moderators and/or members), necessary to keep a great thread or post from dying after some set time period? Could this be accomplished easily? Would it ultimately conserve server resources, and moderator time? Would we be more proud of the resultant archive? A TFL hall of fame?

Seems like the system for handling non-conforming posts could be streamlined, for efficiency, and to avoid hurt feelings. To use another sports analogy (soccer), some kind of yellow-card/red-card system with clear guidelines and cumulative consequences for violations. PM's seem to be extremely labor-intensive; the system almost guarantees frustration.

If I read the management posts correctly, the ax may have already fallen, and further suggestions, at this point, are futile. Perhaps forum software makes improvements impossible. The shell is what, 9 years+ old now? That's beyond eternity. Maybe some computer whiz can incorporate these ideas into a new shell, or maybe better ones already exists, I don't know.

So, its been entertaining, perhaps we'll meet up on some other venue.
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Old September 9, 2008, 11:34 PM   #16
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I have to say that the L&P forum was one reason why I frequented TFL more than THR. I and others are probably going to be looking elsewhere now for another forum. (Looking in my bookmarks and bringing some other forums up to the bookmarks toolbar.) I didn't see L&P getting to be such a problem, though I don't read all the threads.

There was some heated debate and some name calling, if that was such a problem who not start banning people from the L&P forums like you did with me a few months ago when I went a little over the top?

I see this move hurting more than helping in the long run.
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Old September 10, 2008, 12:09 AM   #17
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I think I understand where the animosity comes from. The readiness to go for the cheap shot or the personal attack, just because someone disagrees.

The state of political discourse on this site is just a reflection of the sad state our nations political discourse is in.

The extreme right and left in this country espouses their respective ideologies in such a way as there is no room for compromise and those 'moderates' that do seek consensus and compromise are labeled as spineless, wishy washy or perhaps traitors to their party and/or country.

The contempt people have for certain political figures and political ideologies, often fueled by whichever political commentator/s they most identify with, bleeds over into their discourse and they project that contempt onto those who disagree with them and their chosen ideology.

I don't have a fix for it, I don't think people can be depended on to 'self moderate,' at least when it comes to discussing politics. They take it personally, to much of what makes up their whole world view is invested in their political ideology. An attack on their deep held political beliefs is perceived as an attack on them and they take it just as personally as if someone attacked their religious beliefs.

Do I think I'm above it all and somehow immune to this syndrome? Not hardly, I've been guilty of attacking others for their opinions or what they thought of mine, on several occasions.

In closing I would like to say that I enjoyed the L&P section and the spirited debates we had there, I wish it didn't have to change or go away, but I don't know a method to force civility on people as they discuss contentious political topics.
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Old September 10, 2008, 01:14 AM   #18
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I think de-invigorate considering the heated rhetoric.

While I agree with nate45 that the state of political discourse has fallen, I doubt that there was ever a golden age of reasoned discourse on this board.

This from 2000
http://www.thefiringline.com/forums/...ad.php?t=25571
Quote:
Here's a fun thing to do at night while practicing your pistol skills. Tune in to the Clinton News Network (CNN) or CNBC etc.. Shows like larry King and Geraldo. You can even mute them if it churns your stomach too much. Take out your favorite pistol (make sure it's unloaded!) and dry fire at Larry, Heraldo, Al-Gore, etc...
Now as someone who was suspended one month for sarcastically calling Hillary Clinton a B!+ch, I wonder why a similar solution wouldn't work for people who are now using intemperate rhetoric.

Of course it's easier to patrol for bad words because they are self evident. The rhetorical violence of snark and innuendo is harder to judge. There are no hard and fast rules as to what bait is innocent and which is trollish. But that is a moderator's job.
The election's over in three months. Just give three months down time to offenders.

I'm a moderator on a board myself. We had lots of problems with the internecine warfare between Hillary and Obama supporters. After the primary was over the warfare ended. It will probably do the same thing here after the election.
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Old September 10, 2008, 01:18 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by nate45
The state of political discourse on this site is just a reflection of the sad state our nations political discourse is in.
A few minutes ago I opened the Drudge Report, these were some of the headlines....

Dems sharpen personal attacks on McCain-Palin...

Video: Obama 'pig' jab...

McCain camp angry...

OBAMA: 'LIPSTICK ON A PIG, STILL A PIG'

OBAMA QUESTIONS MCCAIN'S HONOR...

NY Gov. accuses McCain campaign of veiled racism; 'Community organizer' another way of saying 'black'...

Thats some of the political news of the day and reflects the current state of our national political discourse.

Now I'm positive that were L&P still open, one or more of these stories, would become the subject of a new thread.

With our would be leaders themselves engaging in puerile bickering and personal attacks, how could it not spill over into a discussion of it, given the current highly partisan atmosphere?

L&P posters are being held to a higher standard than the very politicians we are discussing.

Not that thats a bad thing, too bad their isn't a way to moderate the Obama and McCain campaigns.
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Old September 10, 2008, 01:24 AM   #20
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L&P posters are being held to a higher standard than the very politicians we are discussing.
Exactly.

That has been the goal all along.
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Old September 10, 2008, 07:24 AM   #21
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Now as someone who was suspended one month for sarcastically calling Hillary Clinton a B!+ch, I wonder why a similar solution wouldn't work for people who are now using intemperate rhetoric.
I got two for calling someone an Idiot, I don't see why now the mods are just giving up on L&P like this. If they were having a hard time policing it, then encourage people to report posts some more. Perhaps have some "mini-mods" who just report posts to the mods.
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Old September 10, 2008, 07:26 AM   #22
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No matter the incarnation, any forum will degenerate into name-calling and mindless grandstanding.
I fixed it for you. Look through any forum on this board and you'll see these same issues. This is the internet, where the inability to get punched in the nose allows one to be an expert on every subject, and insulting to boot.

Assuming that eliminating L&P may have been necessary, it was a necessary evil. There was a lot of crap thrown around but there was also a lot of actual information coming through. The board has lost a major mechanism for disputing propaganda and myth.

How about a challenge test? If someone posts a "fact," they back it up. If not, it gets pulled. If they persist, they get pulled. If they make a personal attacks, they get pulled.

Frankly, this should be extended to every aspect of the board. If you claim that you are superior to someone else because you can put all 5 through someone's eyehole and thus don't need a highcap, you should be required to meet up at a range with a member and demonstrate it.
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Old September 10, 2008, 10:39 AM   #23
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I don't know a method to force civility on people as they discuss contentious political topics.
Ummm... make them go stand in the corner and consider the error of their ways? (Translation: yeah, ban them for a month or two, and do it fast.)

Ask a kindergarten teacher about this kind of behavior.

As a couple of people have now pointed out, one reason for the (childish!) incivility is that there's so much of it out there in the general culture, especially the political culture. The notion that politicians, journalists, and commentators ought to focus on facts and ideas rather than lies and invective has come to seem a bit old-fashioned. It's so much more satisfying to rant, and, unfortunately, appealing to people's fears -- and other emotions -- is politically effective.

The moderators try very hard to maintain some sort of standard of civility and of sensible discourse -- and I completely understand if they've come to feel, over the past few months, that it's like... oh, standing in the path of Hurricane Katrina and trying to turn it back. But a forum like this could -- in theory -- be a place where people who dislike this trend try, by example, to make the case that it doesn't have to be that way. It's probably a losing battle, in terms of the general culture, but if even a few people can be won over to the idea that it's at least as satisfying to make a point logically and respectfully as it is to try to make it by name-calling, fear-mongering, spreading malicious rumors, etc. -- then the effort seems to me to be worthwhile.
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Old September 10, 2008, 10:39 AM   #24
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The idea of having to back up 'facts' is a good one but unfortunately when it comes to the political campaigns the 'facts' are not always easy to determine.
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Old September 10, 2008, 10:48 AM   #25
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I have to say that the L&P forum was one reason why I frequented TFL more than THR.
Me too. Check my thread count difference.

I understand the concept of a privately owned forum...which to me still seems to be an oxymoron. But I cant help but wonder at the product of our Founding Fathers, who in the midst of political discourse so vitriol and bickering infested that it will make your head spin, still managed to glean from that whirlwind of pettiness and personality conflicts the greatest of achievements from the greatest experiment in human history. Human discourse can be repugnant at its worst but amazing in it's capacity for evolution of thought.

I for one will miss the loss of a L&P forum here at TFL.
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