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ATRL Civics 2021 Town Hall: Establishing Rules & Conduct


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  • ATRL Official

All,

 

We are thrilled that many of our members are making regular use of the newly-established ATRL Civics forum! We hope that this forum allows for a more comprehensive locale for participating in respectful and substantive discussion, debates, and more related to  politics, current events, elections, etc. 

 

As some of you may be aware, official rules and guidelines for how this forum should be used have yet to be fully established. With the looming 2022 US midterm elections coming up, we are wanting to finalize some of the rules and guidelines that should be used for how this forum is moderated. Generally, this forum has not been that problematic in terms of warnings and reports, relative to other forums on ATRL. That said, that very well could change during a major election cycle. As such, the staff of ATRL are putting together an inaugural ATRL Civics Town Hall. In this Town Hall, members will be allowed to voice their concerns, frustrations, etc. in order to help establish the rules surrounding how discussion should be conducted in the ATRL Civics section. Now is your chance to help form policy and discuss issues relevant to the ATRL Civics section.

 

We welcome participation from all ATRLers, especially those that frequent the ATRL Civics forum itself.

 

With oversight from @Lee!!and @Ryan BTE, the staff members that will be actively participating in this Town Hall are @Bloo, @khalyan, and @madonnas. Feel free to direct questions to them. They will do their best to make sure that you concerns are considered when crafting the final rules and guidelines for the ATRL Civics forum, as well as clarify any confusion through the duration of this communal discourse. 

 

This Town Hall will officially start on Dec. 17, 2021 12:00pm EST and end on Dec. 24, 2021 12:00pm EST.

 

We look forward to your contributions to making the ATRL Civics forum a welcome place for thoughtful discussion surrounding timely and challenging topics.

 

Best,

~ATRL Staff

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I think the Civics section has been handling itself pretty well lately and the blue banner/warning at the top of the US Politics thread is provides a good idea of how to conduct yourself in the forum in general. 

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1 minute ago, Eric. said:

I think the Civics section has been handling itself pretty well lately and the blue banner/warning at the top of the US Politics thread is provides a good idea of how to conduct yourself in the forum in general. 

In general, I think the Civics section has also been pretty easy to moderate and the number of reports coming out of here is pretty minimal. However, I think we also need to consider the fact that we're not in a heated election season and so traffic through this forum is generally on the lower end of the spectrum from what we can expect in 2022 and especially 2024. So, this town hall is hopefully meant to get input from users ahead of those more heated years so we have better guidelines. Think of this discussion as a way to get ahead of future possible problems.

 

So any ideas/feedback/comments/concerns thinking towards the future would be greatly appreciated!

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  • ATRL Moderator

Some things that should be eventually addressed,

 

- do conservative voices have a place on our forum?

- does bringing up a member’s post history qualify as a warnable offense when it comes to political talk?

- how harsh should the criticism against public figures be allowed to get?

- how does COVID views at this point factor into getting warned?

 

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4 minutes ago, khalyan said:

Some things that should be eventually addressed,

 

- do conservative voices have a place on our forum?

- does bringing up a member’s post history qualify as a warnable offense when it comes to political talk?

- how harsh should the criticism against public figures be allowed to get?

- how does COVID views at this point factor into getting warned?

 

Adding onto this, I think a very central question is where should the line be for engaging in heated political discussion? I personally want to allow substantive debates and those naturally can become heated and still maintain productivity. But, how does the community at large feel about such heated discussions and what should be considered beyond the pale and warnable?

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14 minutes ago, khalyan said:

Some things that should be eventually addressed,

 

- do conservative voices have a place on our forum?

- does bringing up a member’s post history qualify as a warnable offense when it comes to political talk?

- how harsh should the criticism against public figures be allowed to get?

- how does COVID views at this point factor into getting warned?

 

I don't think conservative voices deserve a place when they are actively against democracy in the United States. Above all else, democracy is the most important thing to upload in the United States, and when one party has been consistently against it, and tried to stage a coup, I don't see why they need a voice on ATRL.

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14 minutes ago, Bethenny Frankel said:

I don't think conservative voices deserve a place when they are actively against democracy in the United States. Above all else, democracy is the most important thing to upload in the United States, and when one party has been consistently against it, and tried to stage a coup, I don't see why they need a voice on ATRL.

I understand this but also think genuinely and general that, in terms of rule making, liberal and conservative are poor categories or terms to define sets of views, especially when, in most cases, liberals can be conservatives and vice-versa.

 

Many American liberals, for example, may view defense of Julian Assange's whistleblowing as a "conservative view", while many leftists may explicitly understand the defense of Assange as leftists on the basis of the need to protect people who disrupt powerful forces.

 

In terms of being able to segment out a set of views that don't have a valid place, language like race essentialist, sex essentialist, classist, etc.may find more utility because it asks to analyze the view for the intention it holds. Is someone posting things where the intent is to essentialize a minority or oppressed group? If that makes sense.

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20 minutes ago, Bethenny Frankel said:

I don't think conservative voices deserve a place when they are actively against democracy in the United States. Above all else, democracy is the most important thing to upload in the United States, and when one party has been consistently against it, and tried to stage a coup, I don't see why they need a voice on ATRL.

I strongly disagree because that’s a ASSUMPTION. Never assume. 

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42 minutes ago, khalyan said:

- do conservative voices have a place on our forum?

Yes they do. All views should be welcome here.

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23 minutes ago, khalyan said:

Some things that should be eventually addressed,

 

- do conservative voices have a place on our forum?

- does bringing up a member’s post history qualify as a warnable offense when it comes to political talk?

- how harsh should the criticism against public figures be allowed to get?

- how does COVID views at this point factor into getting warned?

 

Regarding conservative voices, I think they should be allowed. I’m not conservative, but banning them could set a bad precedent that has users walking on eggshells. People should be able to express their opinions as long as they remain civil and rational and are in line with the rules of this site. Especially in a section for civics topics. 


I’m not talking about crazy radical Trumpies/QAnon/Tomi Lahren/etc. just to make that clear.

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Conservative voices do not inherently deserve to be silenced. However many conservatives (and American liberals to some extent) end up being abrasive when they are challenged on their beliefs or will act in a pedantic, circular manner. I think if these members are banned from threads or the Civics forum they will blame it on their ideology rather than their inflammatory posts. 

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In general, when we ask questions surrounding the place of conservatives in the Civics forum, it should be noted that we are not talking about people who promote anti-trans rhetoric, anti-Black rhetoric, etc. Those views are unwelcome on ATRL, period. A conservative view could be... believing that letting the markets do their thing to make renewable energy competitive is the best approach to climate change (I don't believe this, it's just an example). Of course, this is a pretty sanitized idea. But, there is precedent for establishing a separate Social Democrat/Democratic Socialist base thread that is separate from the general US Politics thread.

 

Would this be an attractive option for the more conservative members and other groups, for instance?

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5 minutes ago, Bloo said:

But, there is precedent for establishing a separate Social Democrat/Democratic Socialist base thread that is separate from the general US Politics thread.

I thought such a thread already exists. (?)

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Just now, Archetype said:

I thought such a thread already exists. (?)

It does. That's why I said there is a precedent for establishing such a thread, but they do not yet exist for Conservatives and other groups.

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I echo the hesitation when it comes to banning conservative opinions.  

 

I'm extremely anti-reactionary.  I just worry about creating a space where mainstream liberal opinion is the only 'acceptable' opinion to have.  That's been a thing on other forums I've seen and it's not pleasant.  And as a leftist myself, I like to leave room for leftists to safely voice their political opinions that may be controversial.

 

Bigotry has no place in this forum though.  Period.  

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16 minutes ago, Bloo said:

In general, when we ask questions surrounding the place of conservatives in the Civics forum, it should be noted that we are not talking about people who promote anti-trans rhetoric, anti-Black rhetoric, etc. Those views are unwelcome on ATRL, period. A conservative view could be... believing that letting the markets do their thing to make renewable energy competitive is the best approach to climate change (I don't believe this, it's just an example). Of course, this is a pretty sanitized idea. But, there is precedent for establishing a separate Social Democrat/Democratic Socialist base thread that is separate from the general US Politics thread.

 

Would this be an attractive option for the more conservative members and other groups, for instance?

This is what I was trying to get at with my post but couldn't think of a good example ddd. Like I'm don't think we have to assume all policy/ideological views are inherently x or y (ex: best way to eliminate inequality is through A not B), but if said user's views ultimately come down to the belief of "inequality is good cause poor people are bad/lazy" then is it worth tolerating even if it's being shrouded in a more sanitized language? :michael: It's also hard cause I think people's motivations wrt politics are often easy for most to anticipate.

 

In terms of a thread, I don't think it's a question of if you should but more-so if you even will need to. I don't imagine there's many people interested in specifically discussing and cheering on the merits of free market economics, and those who do probably already congregate around other topics of interest, like the crypto thread if anything ddd. It'd be hard to recreate something like globe emoji twitter.

 

And then when you move out of straight economics and more in regards to how the world is impacted by leftist vs rightist views, say for example geopolitics, the Western world (where most on an English-speaking forum will gravitate around) is already dominated by those rightist views as is, in terms of bias, tone, discourse, etc.

 

The SOCDEM thread acts more of a safe space to have discussions for leftists on topics that'd largely actually get burdened by reactionaries (ex: LatAm, China, etc.) that I just don't think actively happens the other way, due to a myriad of factors.

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32 minutes ago, phreshprince said:

I strongly disagree because that’s a ASSUMPTION. Never assume. 

I'm fine with conservative views when they are not against democracy, but it seems as though that is not the case nowadays

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I echo @khalyan with wanting to know where you all fall in on the COVID topic.

 

We have been generally been going by the de-facto rule of warning members who explicitly post misinformation, but haven't really been warning members that express concern and hesitation over vaccines and restrictions (given that no other rules have been broken).

 

But the line between the two is not exactly clear.  

 

Where would you draw the line?

What type of warning would be sufficient for people who *do* post misinformation?

 

 

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3 minutes ago, madonnas said:

I echo @khalyan with wanting to know where you all fall in on the COVID topic.

 

We have been generally been going by the de-facto rule of warning members who explicitly post misinformation, but haven't really been warning members that express concern and hesitation over vaccines and restrictions (.

 

But the line between the two is not exactly clear.  

 

Where would you draw the line?

What type of warning would be sufficient for people who *do* post misinformation?

 

 

As a note/reminder to the members: the policy thus far for disinformation/misinformation regarding COVID-19 is to warn with an Insensitive.

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16 minutes ago, Bloo said:

It does. That's why I said there is a precedent for establishing such a thread, but they do not yet exist for Conservatives and other groups.

Ah got it, I misunderstood.  The purpose for the Social Democrat thread was due to the growing number of active members who felt they did not belong in the regular thread and/or felt like they needed their own space to talk, right?  I know there are a few conservative members on this site, but not sure if they’re numerous enough to warrant their own thread.  I suppose the second worst case scenario is that the thread is made it and flops to page oblivion.  The actual worst case scenario is bad tho.  It think you know what I’m getting at.

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1 minute ago, Archetype said:

Ah got it, I misunderstood.  The purpose for the Social Democrat thread was due to the growing number of active members who felt they did not belong in the regular thread and/or felt like they needed their own space to talk, right?  I know there are a few conservative members on this site, but not sure if they’re numerous enough to warrant their own thread.  I suppose the second worst case scenario is that the thread is made it and flops to page oblivion.  The actual worst case scenario is bad tho.  It think you know what I’m getting at.

The SocDem/DemSoc thread, as @Communion elaborated, was primarily made because there was a solid number of leftists that wanted to have... "family" conversations about issues that the left really cares about or even some of the less material topics like drama among leftist commentators (which there has been plenty of this year) without intruding on the general discussion in the main thread and avoid possible interference by those that aren't leftists. (I realize that was one hell of a run-on sentence, my apologies). If there are enough conservatives on the forum that want to discuss politics, I would be on board with allowing them that space as well. But, I think the US politics thread being heavily neoliberal to leftist in terms of its space on the political spectrum has isolated the more conservative members to completely abandon the Civics section as a whole. 

 

So, I'm not sure what the demand would be. But maybe we can get a better idea through this thread.

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10 minutes ago, madonnas said:

I echo @khalyan with wanting to know where you all fall in on the COVID topic.

 

We have been generally been going by the de-facto rule of warning members who explicitly post misinformation, but haven't really been warning members that express concern and hesitation over vaccines and restrictions (given that no other rules have been broken).

 

But the line between the two is not exactly clear.  

 

Where would you draw the line?

What type of warning would be sufficient for people who *do* post misinformation?

 

 

I don’t agree with warning someone for not wanting the vaccine and restrictions. At the end of the day, it’s not going to make a difference in those person(s) view. There’s a difference between misinformation and being anti vaccine. 

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One suggestion for getting waaaay ahead of the mess around election season is to make it warnable to plainly insult public figures. Like no “Fuck Joe Biden!” type rants/venting. 

 

That way, it forces everyone to rise above the petty squabbles and focus on the policies and politics. 
5G9IhBz.gif

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4 minutes ago, Kassi said:

One suggestion for getting waaaay ahead of the mess around election season is to make it warnable to plainly insult public figures. Like no “Fuck Joe Biden!” type rants/venting. 

 

That way, it forces everyone to rise above the petty squabbles and focus on the policies and politics. 
5G9IhBz.gif

We let people freely post ‘Fuck Trump’ in the last election cycle, why should it be different for Joe Biden? 

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14 minutes ago, madonnas said:

I echo the hesitation when it comes to banning conservative opinions.  

 

I'm extremely anti-reactionary.  I just worry about creating a space where mainstream liberal opinion is the only 'acceptable' opinion to have.  That's been a thing on other forums I've seen and it's not pleasant.  And as a leftist myself, I like to leave room for leftists to safely voice their political opinions that may be controversial.

 

Bigotry has no place in this forum though.  Period.  

I agree. Back in 2016 the election thread was filled mainly with Hillary supporters and Bernie supporters were constantly mocked which ended up making the thread hostile at times and unwelcoming to anyone that didn't support Hillary. Of course, a lot of Bernie supporters stood our ground but there was just a lot of mess that could've been avoided.

 

The thread nowadays is a lot more civil (at least right now) and hopefully it can stay that way in 2022/2024. Conservatives voices should be welcome as well if we really wanna discuss politics (of course, there are numerous Democrats that provide that voice all the time :eli:)

 

There already aren't many conservatives on ATRL so banning them would be kinda pointless anyways imo.

 

5 minutes ago, madonnas said:

I echo @khalyan with wanting to know where you all fall in on the COVID topic.

 

We have been generally been going by the de-facto rule of warning members who explicitly post misinformation, but haven't really been warning members that express concern and hesitation over vaccines and restrictions (given that no other rules have been broken).

 

But the line between the two is not exactly clear.  

 

Where would you draw the line?

What type of warning would be sufficient for people who *do* post misinformation?

Not sure about this. By now, anyone (in the US) that wants the vaccine has gotten it. Misinformation obviously shouldn't be allowed but is someone that's still hesitant at this point really gonna change their mind? I just ignore those people in real life and think that might be the best option here as well.

 

I'd say a temporary ban from posting and links to trusted sources about the vaccine would be appropriate for misinformation. 

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