Author Topic: The future of online discussion. How do you see it?  (Read 916 times)

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Offline Ed.Kloonk

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The future of online discussion. How do you see it?
« on: January 29, 2020, 12:54:34 am »
As someone who drifts in and out of online social gatherings every few years, it surprises me upon return how the user conduct rule set still remains although, I think, the viewpoints appear to be more and more often outside acceptable terms.

Rules are rules, I get it. But today I found myself wishing I could have had the right to read the opinions of two particular gentlemen, as 'out there' as their opinions may be.

I'm not knocking the decisions on how/why it got clipped.

I'm just wondering if restrictions on arguments is for the forum's benefit or my detriment.

Where does someone salty like me go to hear what a couple of maniacs had to say?

If I had spent more time here, I wonder if I would have thought differently. It just seems to be a common problem for me in very few places I hang out.

Again, not attacking, I've seen Simple machine forums around for nearly 20 years. They are all still ran the same way. Yet the world is smaller. Just seems to me to be an up hill battle as more people seem to staunchly opinionated rather than be passive readers.

What does the future hold?

edit: btw, it's ok to hit me up via PM. I don't bite. Unless you're plain wrong, of course.
« Last Edit: January 29, 2020, 12:57:18 am by Ed.Kloonk »
 

Offline SilverSolder

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Re: The future of online discussion. How do you see it?
« Reply #1 on: January 29, 2020, 03:56:51 am »

Seems to me that young people grow up in much more protected "bubbles" than older folks... who were allowed to be wild and free when they were kids.

People living in protected bubbles tend to have narrow limits on what they permit themselves to think, say, and do.

By censoring everything, there is a danger that bubbles get reinforced, rather than broken down organically...
 
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Offline T3sl4co1l

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Re: The future of online discussion. How do you see it?
« Reply #2 on: January 29, 2020, 05:08:03 am »
The more general dynamic is that, for a community to remain healthy, it must be tolerant of everyone, with one very specific exception: those intolerant of others.

The consequence is that all communities are intolerant of something.  The most welcoming ones are those which do not tolerate the one thing that will ruin them; others, by choice or by chance, are not so lucky, and tolerate much less than that.

Moderation is a manual implementation of intolerance; the admins, moderators, and the community reporting to them, in that order, makes the choice of what content is not tolerated.  Ranked forums are much more democratic on average, but moderators retain veto power to promote and remove content at will.

This forum happens to be, more or less the, if not benevolent, then mostly indifferent, dictator model.  For the most part, the community is left to its own devices, and is surprisingly well behaved.

Contrast to an example like 4chan: there, trolls are not only tolerated but encouraged.  With tolerance for every possible opinion, "anon" shows preference for anything up to and including lynching and pedophilia.  (Even their mods have to deal with -- as a legal requirement -- that last one...  Also, give or take what age of 4chan you argue was the "freest", but that's beside the point.)

There aren't many trolls here; heh well, seemingly so among threads I'm interested in reading, anyway; but most of the time when one shows up, they get adequately shouted down.  Spam is reported; blatant advertisers and shills are called out or reported; bad-faith arguments are called out (and if repeated enough, eventually banned in some capacity).

This does leave open the meta-trolling exploit, the "any publicity is good publicity" troll that stirs up shit just to make people try to correct them or call them out or whatever, and that has indeed been exploited from time to time.  No one can resist Someone Being Wrong On The Internet, after all.

I would love to see more personal recognition and responsibility in this regard -- that is, that the best way to kill a troll is to starve it to death.  Alas, I probably lived through the peak of that practice -- I'd guess it gathered perhaps a 20% following, at the height of Usenet (say, early 2000s, or probably late 90s but I wouldn't know).  Without unmoderated forums like Usenet (or, far fewer of them today anyway), the rate of people understanding and practicing this method is disastrously low, perhaps a few percent.  The popularity of "call out" and "cancel culture" on Twitter today is the proof of that,,,hey wait, what was that about unmoderated forums and trolls gathering negative attention? :palm:  See, good thing I don't Twitter.


tl;dr: this discussion may seem tangential to your questions/statements, but where it brings things together is here: by wishing to read everything, even content that is unfit to share, you're encouraging the tolerance of intolerance.  (On the assumption that intolerance is what was moderated away, but I also gave my assessment of that, rough though it may be, I admit.)  By leaving that content up, others will read it, and with the aforementioned low restraint of the average person, hi-jinx ensues.  Sure, threads can be locked and replies can be moved to quarantine, rather than deleted; but this leaves the option of starting a new thread discussing the old thread, and the negative content persists.

Personally, I balance the issue of censorship with the cynical comfort that no one ever has much of anything important to say, least of all the typical troll that gets moderated.

This is absolutely an important problem in forums that aren't so... libertarian (I guess?), in forums where important, relevant content (and meta-content, e.g. discussing the moderation itself) is prohibited.  Again, the type of intolerance is a strong indicator of the health of the community.  I'm guessing that's what you're really after -- the easiest way to see the intolerance is to see what's been removed, but as I've noted, that carries a risk, too.  (Or you're just looking for all the cringe those deleted posts contain, I would argue that is also an unhealthy behavior, see earlier point etc. :P )

Ed: also, one last final point, just because someone's going to say or think it (assuming anyone gives a shit, this deep into a... clearly masturbatory philosophication? :-DD ...): no, it is strictly NOT BETTER to, y'know, simply encourage everyone to use their best judgement!  That's laying a footgun, and you know full well every damn person is going to plant their foot firmly under that footgun and pull that damn trigger.

You've dereferenced unsafe pointers in C before, and you'll do it again.  Classic example.  It generalizes.

Fuck. That.

Responsible, safe system design is the only approach.  Poka-yoke.  We don't need to condemn users to a footgun, just out of, what--habit? revenge?--that we were introduced through footgunning ourselves?  Not only must we prevent users from footguns, we must guide them away from them as well.  They must learn from our mistakes without having to be injured.  We don't want, or need, to shield them from ugly things -- that only encourages the ugly thing, raises it upon a forbidden pedestal.  The thing shouldn't be ugly or dangerous in the first place.  It should be natural to exist alongside the thing, and understand its workings and risks.  And, once users understand why the system was set up that way, they can be allowed to take more risky actions, in the hope that they will be responsible with them.  The expert knows not to dereference a freed pointer, and checks diligently for all apparent code paths that could do so.  Often, the expert has footgunned their way to that wisdom, but it doesn't need to be the case.

Perhaps we don't use a footgun, perhaps we use a targetgun, it's mounted to a fixture that only points near a target.  Perhaps we use a dartgun that won't kill things it hits.  Perhaps we use a targetdart with both.  Once the user is comfortable with the lesser responsibility, they can perhaps be trusted with the wrench to unbolt the gun from its fixture, and then they will understand that they should point it away from their foot when using it.  Perhaps they will point it away from others' feet as well..

This is a direct argument, in terms of product design and usability, and UI and stuff; in terms of content, and user psychology, it's a more clouded connection, but I have no doubt that analogous practice exists in this sphere.

So um, tldr tldr: you seem to be asking for a footgun of sorts, and that may not be the healthiest thing for the community, to ask for.

Tim
« Last Edit: January 29, 2020, 05:56:06 am by T3sl4co1l »
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Online Tomorokoshi

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Re: The future of online discussion. How do you see it?
« Reply #3 on: January 29, 2020, 05:50:11 am »
If we borrow Moore's Law, we can make some cursory guesses that the number of online or networked people doubled every few years, and is now trailing off because of market saturation.

Compared to the online world of 35, 25, or even 15 years ago, the wider variety of people have easier access with less technical skill required to participate than was the case as we go back. Salient unfortunate examples are readily observable.

This necessarily allows for a broader range of behaviors and reactions. Those who bottle up some innate propensity to be an obnoxious jerk in public spaces finds the safety and anonymity of the online world to be their path to vindicate perceived slights. There are even examples on this site.

Parochialism and factionalism go way back in the dynamics of online communities. Moderators who try to do their job while also being a participant face difficult, thankless, no-win situations. Of the various methods of online moderation I've encountered over the years this site is actually run somewhat fairly.
 
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Offline I wanted a rude username

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Re: The future of online discussion. How do you see it?
« Reply #4 on: January 29, 2020, 07:41:33 am »
Some excellent answers here. We mostly agree the key is consistent moderation with a limited mandate ... intolerance of that which would destroy you.

On the question of online discussion's future, I see increased use of AI in the role of moderator. And yes, this is a terrifying prospect.
 
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Offline Ed.Kloonk

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Re: The future of online discussion. How do you see it?
« Reply #5 on: January 29, 2020, 07:46:25 am »
Some excellent answers here. We mostly agree the key is consistent moderation with a limited mandate ... intolerance of that which would destroy you.

On the question of online discussion's future, I see increased use of AI in the role of moderator. And yes, this is a terrifying prospect.

Oh man.  :o
 

Offline SerieZ

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Re: The future of online discussion. How do you see it?
« Reply #6 on: January 29, 2020, 03:55:36 pm »
One should remember that it is impossible to make everyone happy and that this is not necessarily a bad thing. The sooner people learn that not everyone shares the same core values the better.
The problem for me really starts when people from outside comunities want to force their ruleset (outside of law obviously) on comunities they do not even belong to.

I used to call those pedantic a-holes... now it is called cancel culture I believe.
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Offline SilverSolder

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Re: The future of online discussion. How do you see it?
« Reply #7 on: January 29, 2020, 04:22:21 pm »
[...]
On the question of online discussion's future, I see increased use of AI in the role of moderator. And yes, this is a terrifying prospect.

Isn't that what Facebook is attempting to do, en masse?

This will definitely exacerbate the "bubble world" problem, as the AI learns what each person likes and doesn't like, and therefore never exposes the person to different viewpoints...
 
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Offline Ed.Kloonk

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Re: The future of online discussion. How do you see it?
« Reply #8 on: January 29, 2020, 05:26:24 pm »
[...]
On the question of online discussion's future, I see increased use of AI in the role of moderator. And yes, this is a terrifying prospect.

Isn't that what Facebook is attempting to do, en masse?

This will definitely exacerbate the "bubble world" problem, as the AI learns what each person likes and doesn't like, and therefore never exposes the person to different viewpoints...

I think what he is suggesting is the AI would steer those user away from certain content and towards other certain content.  ;)



 
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Offline SiliconWizard

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Re: The future of online discussion. How do you see it?
« Reply #9 on: January 29, 2020, 06:36:18 pm »
[...]
On the question of online discussion's future, I see increased use of AI in the role of moderator. And yes, this is a terrifying prospect.

Isn't that what Facebook is attempting to do, en masse?

This will definitely exacerbate the "bubble world" problem, as the AI learns what each person likes and doesn't like, and therefore never exposes the person to different viewpoints...

The problem is already there and some platforms, such as Youtube, are trying to put even more AI to kind of reverse that, so that people get exposed to things they actually are not interested in. And of course they whine about it.

Question is, no amount of AI or lack thereof will solve anything - the fundamental issue is right there: "being exposed" to information rather than actively looking for it. The moment you're not completely master of what you're reading/listening/learning, you are at the mercy of whoever pushes that to you.

 
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Offline magic

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Re: The future of online discussion. How do you see it?
« Reply #10 on: January 29, 2020, 07:26:38 pm »
Where does someone salty like me go to hear what a couple of maniacs had to say?
Someplace with less moderation and where maniacs tend to gather ;)

Depending on what got deleted this time, there may be some obscure forums specializing in that, or failing that, quite likely 4chan, maybe usenet :-//

Threads which derail into drama and arguments tend to be deleted on most "specialized" forums like this one because they contribute little to the forum's primary goal and can spill to the whole site if the users start to hate each other and just behave like all around assholes all over the place. In addition, this forum apparently tends to also close down free energy and conspiracy threads when they get too boring. If that's what you want, r/conspiracy perhaps? ;)
 
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Offline thm_w

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Re: The future of online discussion. How do you see it?
« Reply #11 on: January 29, 2020, 10:45:42 pm »
Where does someone salty like me go to hear what a couple of maniacs had to say?
Someplace with less moderation and where maniacs tend to gather ;)

Threads which derail into drama and arguments tend to be deleted on most "specialized" forums like this one because they contribute little to the forum's primary goal and can spill to the whole site if the users start to hate each other and just behave like all around assholes all over the place. In addition, this forum apparently tends to also close down free energy and conspiracy threads when they get too boring. If that's what you want, r/conspiracy perhaps? ;)

Exactly, if you want to discuss politics, take it to a political forum or another location that supports all off-topic discussions.
All the back and forth yelling does here does is increase noise to signal ratio. Meaning people have to scroll past arguments that likely are irrelevant to the main topic.

If the forum supported a "downvote" or "off-topic" type button to flag posts, and hid the post after a certain number of votes, I could see this issue might be avoided. But this could easily be abused and doesn't really scale well.
 

Offline Ed.Kloonk

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Re: The future of online discussion. How do you see it?
« Reply #12 on: January 30, 2020, 06:06:12 am »
Where does someone salty like me go to hear what a couple of maniacs had to say?
Someplace with less moderation and where maniacs tend to gather ;)

Threads which derail into drama and arguments tend to be deleted on most "specialized" forums like this one because they contribute little to the forum's primary goal and can spill to the whole site if the users start to hate each other and just behave like all around assholes all over the place. In addition, this forum apparently tends to also close down free energy and conspiracy threads when they get too boring. If that's what you want, r/conspiracy perhaps? ;)

Exactly, if you want to discuss politics, take it to a political forum or another location that supports all off-topic discussions.
All the back and forth yelling does here does is increase noise to signal ratio. Meaning people have to scroll past arguments that likely are irrelevant to the main topic.

If the forum supported a "downvote" or "off-topic" type button to flag posts, and hid the post after a certain number of votes, I could see this issue might be avoided. But this could easily be abused and doesn't really scale well.

The problem is in areas where political discussion is allowed, it is usually a one sided echo chamber of nutjobs singing to a choir. Everybody knows this.  I'm trying to find out if this decade would likely be any different than the two just gone. Reading though the replies, I'd say apparently not. We look set for more pie throwing and less rational political debate. Oh well.

Just wondering if a new secret paradigm shift might be on the horizon. Best anyone suggested is HAL-9000 on steroids. Meh.

 :)
 

Offline I wanted a rude username

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Re: The future of online discussion. How do you see it?
« Reply #13 on: January 30, 2020, 06:15:41 am »
The problem is in areas where political discussion is allowed, it is usually a one sided echo chamber of nutjobs singing to a choir. Everybody knows this.  I'm trying to find out if this decade would likely be any different than the two just gone. Reading though the replies, I'd say apparently not.

Not from companies that intend to make money from discussion ... and those are the ones that will invest most to get new users. They will want to keep their users happy. It seemed like Facebook's filter bubbles were a response to people getting upset when having real discussions on the platform. Now the animals are kept in separate cages, and they still have things to get angry about, but they all sling poop at their various common enemies instead of each other.

People have to want to engage in reasoned discussion, and there doesn't seem to be a mechanism for that.

Bet we'll see a lot more psychological nudging though.
 
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Offline magic

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Re: The future of online discussion. How do you see it?
« Reply #14 on: January 30, 2020, 08:34:50 am »
The problem is in areas where political discussion is allowed, it is usually a one sided echo chamber of nutjobs singing to a choir. Everybody knows this.  I'm trying to find out if this decade would likely be any different than the two just gone. Reading though the replies, I'd say apparently not. We look set for more pie throwing and less rational political debate. Oh well.
Rational political debate is a social construct invented by privileged white males to control which political ideas are acceptable or not and thus exert their control over the world.
It worked when "privileged white males" were a bunch of French bourgeois or American farming magnates united by a common goal of ridding themselves of the inconvenient nobility and kings.
It hasn't seemed to work equally well ever since when it involved genuinely different people genuinely disagreeing about the most fundamental fundamentals.

And yes, I'm half-kidding and pie-throwing, as usual. But there is truth to it. I think there are people who too long took "rational political debate" for granted while not really listening to what others have to say and doing things guaranteed to get millions pretty upset, while insisting that they are their equals. So much for rational debate and expecting it to continue, IMO :)
« Last Edit: January 30, 2020, 08:37:39 am by magic »
 

Offline SilverSolder

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Re: The future of online discussion. How do you see it?
« Reply #15 on: January 30, 2020, 01:36:31 pm »
The problem is in areas where political discussion is allowed, it is usually a one sided echo chamber of nutjobs singing to a choir. Everybody knows this.  I'm trying to find out if this decade would likely be any different than the two just gone. Reading though the replies, I'd say apparently not. We look set for more pie throwing and less rational political debate. Oh well.
Rational political debate is a social construct invented by privileged white males to control which political ideas are acceptable or not and thus exert their control over the world.
It worked when "privileged white males" were a bunch of French bourgeois or American farming magnates united by a common goal of ridding themselves of the inconvenient nobility and kings.
It hasn't seemed to work equally well ever since when it involved genuinely different people genuinely disagreeing about the most fundamental fundamentals.

And yes, I'm half-kidding and pie-throwing, as usual. But there is truth to it. I think there are people who too long took "rational political debate" for granted while not really listening to what others have to say and doing things guaranteed to get millions pretty upset, while insisting that they are their equals. So much for rational debate and expecting it to continue, IMO :)

Some opinions are genuinely irreconcilable...   e.g. are you for or against abortion...   there really is no compromise possible.

So now we get to the real issue...   how tolerant are we of opinions/conclusions different than our own?
 

Offline SerieZ

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Re: The future of online discussion. How do you see it?
« Reply #16 on: January 30, 2020, 02:08:59 pm »
Even a polarizing Topic such as Abortion has its grey area.
I find myself inbetween the women who demand the state leverage its force to make other people pay for their lavish lifestyle and the religious fundamentalists.

You are right tho in that it is one of those topics with the loudest extremes.
« Last Edit: January 30, 2020, 03:15:16 pm by SerieZ »
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Offline DrG

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Re: The future of online discussion. How do you see it?
« Reply #17 on: February 02, 2020, 07:05:55 pm »
The more general dynamic is that, for a community to remain healthy, it must be tolerant of everyone, with one very specific exception: those intolerant of others.

/--/
Tim

I read your entire post and I think that you make some good points – as did many of the other posts in the thread. You are more right than wrong, in my view.

I would emphasize, however, that the sentiment “the more general dynamic is that, for a community to remain healthy, it must be tolerant of everyone, with one very specific exception: those intolerant of others”  is not just an ideal, it is a utopian idea. As far as I can determine, it does not exist now or at any time in human history.

What does exist, however, is the practice of community standards. While there is, necessarily, a lowest-common-denominator requirement, such standards are and have been successfully employed, at least temporarily. Of course, standards, like pretty much everything else, are burdened by definition and evolution – they are dynamic – nothing seems to stay both open and homogeneous.

As for the future, everything decays with enough time. In the interim, it is possible that such online forums become more private, with better defined community standards and more pay-per-view. Maintained only by the value to the members and the $$ that they pay to subscribe. But, what do I know? I will probably get the Super Bowl winner wrong.
« Last Edit: February 02, 2020, 07:07:28 pm by DrG »
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Offline T3sl4co1l

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Re: The future of online discussion. How do you see it?
« Reply #18 on: February 02, 2020, 07:20:24 pm »
I read your entire post and I think that you make some good points – as did many of the other posts in the thread. You are more right than wrong, in my view.

I would emphasize, however, that the sentiment “the more general dynamic is that, for a community to remain healthy, it must be tolerant of everyone, with one very specific exception: those intolerant of others”  is not just an ideal, it is a utopian idea. As far as I can determine, it does not exist now or at any time in human history.

Thanks.  I will note I'm terrible at citing sources to things I've casually read, or ran across; that particular point I believe is due to Karl Popper.  I wouldn't say it's nonexistent; I would guess it's likely not very widely known, at least in explicit form or practice, by members of communities at large.


Quote
What does exist, however, is the practice of community standards. While there is, necessarily, a lowest-common-denominator requirement, such standards are and have been successfully employed, at least temporarily. Of course, standards, like pretty much everything else, are burdened by definition and evolution – they are dynamic – nothing seems to stay both open and homogeneous.

Yep, definitely.  Rules need to remain flexible, partly to adapt to change over the years, and partly to discourage the edgelords and rule-griefers.

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Offline Ed.Kloonk

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Re: The future of online discussion. How do you see it?
« Reply #19 on: February 02, 2020, 10:52:16 pm »
What do you think about this..

 

Offline tggzzz

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Re: The future of online discussion. How do you see it?
« Reply #20 on: February 02, 2020, 11:01:22 pm »
I'm just wondering if restrictions on arguments is for the forum's benefit or my detriment.

The forum is definitely out to get you. Sheesh!

Quote
Where does someone salty like me go to hear what a couple of maniacs had to say?

Easy; it has been the same place for the past 35 years: the unmoderated sections of usenet.

One example is sci.electronics.design where one of the authors of The Art of Electronics is active, originating topics like "Having fun at 350 amps" and contributing to many others.
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