Religion & Politics Forum Closed as of 27 March 2019

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KingsGambit:

Kyle Gaddo:
Hey Escapists,

We?ve made the difficult decision to shutter our Religion & Politics subforum. We realize that this may surprise many of you, considering it?s one of the most active sections of the V1 forums, but its conclusion aligns with our collective vision for the future of Escapist Magazine Volume Two.

While it's great that the R&P cesspit has been closed, allowing those same topics into the "Off-topic" forum hasn't solved the problem, it's just moved it. The point should have been to stop the sewage and toxic bile on the Escapist forums altogether, not divert it into another sub-forum. I applaud the decision but the problem (ie. the toxic sludge) hasn't been solved, it's just running thru a different pipe now and if anything, is worse since a previously usable sub-forum, Off-Topic, is already filling up with the aforementioned sludge.

Yes, it appears that shutting down R&P has created a new problem.

Quite frankly, if there's going to be discussion of R&P, it makes sense to have a side forum for it. If there's not, it makes no sense to allow it in off-topic if the reason R&P was shuttered was to prevent this sort of thing.

Katherine Kerensky:
Not really, it was a fact that people got reported a lot in R&P due to conflicting opinions, and then the usual trash heap of spammed reports across that person's unrelated posts.

This is precisely right and the main reason I'm glad to see it gone. That however was the effect, not the symptom. The site's community has swung very far left and holding even a moderate, liberal view is enough to cause offence now.

R&P was filled with some of the most toxic, hate-filled and bigoted posts I've seen in any forum online, and it was overtly tolerated. That might not have been so bad in itself, were it possible to either have civil discussion, but nope, someone gets offended followed by bullying and mod warning. Talking about issues that impassion people would be fine if it were possible to disagree civilly. However it wasn't possible to have a contrary opinion and not get flagged.

The place was a sewer pipe that needed closing, not diverting to Off-topic. This is a gaming forum...why can't we have the Escapist as a place to talk about games, consoles, tech, geek chic, film, organise multiplayer sessions...things a gaming community should be about. It should be a place to come for positive discussion amongst fans. I'm half-in, half-out of the Escapist at this point, sat on the fence and unable to decide about going or staying. It's become so hostile and unwelcoming but with R&P gone, there's at least a chance of being a decent community again. Assuming they fix those same discussions flowing into Off-topic.

KingsGambit:
R&P was filled with some of the most toxic, hate-filled and bigoted posts I've seen in any forum online, and it was overtly tolerated.

Pretty much. And I imagine it serves as a larger turn-off than anything else on the forums.

If you turn up to a forum, and you have an entire page filled with far-left stuff, and anyone who disagrees is hit with a slew of personal insults and ad hominem, you're just not going to bother with that site as far as discourse goes.

Shifting that from R&P to Off-topic just seems to be making it even more visible than actually tackling the issue.

undeadsuitor:
It's fun to see all the homophobic racist bigots whine that they got their hands slapped for spewing bigoted vitriol

I have a name, you know.

KingsGambit:
The place was a sewer pipe that needed closing, not diverting to Off-topic. This is a gaming forum...why can't we have the Escapist as a place to talk about games, consoles, tech, geek chic, film, organise multiplayer sessions...things a gaming community should be about

As a certain event five years ago showed, gaming and politics are intertwined rather strongly.

The Lunatic:
I imagine it serves as a larger turn-off than anything else on the forums.

If you turn up to a forum, and you have an entire page filled with far-left stuff, and anyone who disagrees is hit with a slew of personal insults and ad hominem, you're just not going to bother with that site as far as discourse goes.

I dunno, a few short years ago it was completely the other way around. The forum widget on the front page was completely filled with GID threads, and most of those threads were filled with some pretty disgusting and despicable comments and opinions; such as people actually trying to justify doxxing and harassment, among other things.

I'm sure that was a pretty large turn-off for many people too. And the way this site hemorrhaged users like crazy at or soon after that time, would seem to support this assertion.

One thing's for sure though, this site/forum sure has had one hell of a split personality over the years, holy shit.

CM156:

undeadsuitor:
It's fun to see all the homophobic racist bigots whine that they got their hands slapped for spewing bigoted vitriol

I have a name, you know.

I think that post was meant for me actually.

undeadsuitor:
It's fun to see all the homophobic racist bigots whine that they got their hands slapped for spewing bigoted vitriol

I guess now that the evidence of their true actions are deleted they can claim to be simple moderate party members who were unfairly heckled by those far lefties

Mods, I would like to request that you read this quoted post two or three times, then again for good measure. This is what R&P devolved into. This post is what the Escapist forum and community has become. This toxic, hate-filled, intolerant post is the epitome of the issue facing this site. Bullying, unwelcoming, hostile, name calling. Please read it one more time. This is what happened to everyone who had a contrary opinion. As well as getting reported and penalised of course.

The post doesn't need penalising, I'm not offended. On the contrary, I want it to be left unedited and in clear view for everyone to see. It's so preposterous as to be absurd, but I want the mod team to look and see what R&P became and what Off-topic will become if the actual issue isn't addressed. Where is there room for civil discourse when this is the result? Where is there room for discussion, let alone humour, debate, questions, community? How does one respond to the most vile slurs being flung around with such abandon?

I've been a regular to the Escapist since ZP's first "The Darkness Demo" review. I've watched every ZP (some more than once), every Jimquisition and Unskippable, most early Moviebob and Lisa Foiles. I've been here thru all the editors and redesigns, the coming and going of content creators, read every Shamus Young and Robert Rath column, most Garwuulf's Corners, seen many popular Escapists banned and been here thru all the chaos and the controversies. Thru all of that in almost 11 years, this site has never been as hostile and unwelcoming as it has been for the last ~18 months, give or take. The above quoted post perfectly exemplifies the issues in the Escapist community. This is what R&P was and what Off-topic will become.

This is what the Escapist's Editor-in-Chief Russ Pitts wrote about the site's relaunch, published 26th July 2018.
https://medium.com/@russpitts/the-last-of-escapist-magazine-5dd4f852703a

One thing I can tell you without delay or equivocation: We're leaving politics at the door. Most of us have thoughts about politics. Just like most of you. And, because we're creators, those thoughts might show up in our work. Avoiding that would be unnatural. That said, I can promise you no one here will share their politics in an attempt to convince you yours are wrong. And your worth will not be calculated based on whether you're on the left or on the right. Politics are everywhere, but they don't have to be everything. We're going to focus on what's fun, and we hope you'll join us in that.

When will this pledge be kept, politics get left at the door and we can focus on what's fun? The above was published 26th July 2018 and here is this very thread yesterday:

undeadsuitor:
It's fun to see all the homophobic racist bigots whine that they got their hands slapped for spewing bigoted vitriol

And this is what Off-topic looks like right now:

KingsGambit:

When will this pledge be kept, politics get left at the door and we can focus on what's fun?

Read between the lines, silly. The undesirable half of the political spectrum is having the door slammed on it. The other half gets to rule the roost unchecked, unquestioned and normalised. And that's not political, that's Just Being A Decent Human BeingTM.

CM156:
As a certain event five years ago showed, gaming and politics are intertwined rather strongly.

Everything is political, always has been, and always will be.

--

Regarding "civil discourse," we urge each and every one of you to adhere to our code of conduct.

KingsGambit:

When will this pledge be kept, politics get left at the door and we can focus on what's fun?

What does this actually translate into, practically? Do you want certain discussion topics banned from the forum altogether?

Batou667:

Read between the lines, silly. The undesirable half of the political spectrum is having the door slammed on it. The other half gets to rule the roost unchecked, unquestioned and normalised.

What balls. How is the right being treated worse by the powers-that-be, exactly?

Silvanus:

KingsGambit:

When will this pledge be kept, politics get left at the door and we can focus on what's fun?

What does this actually translate into, practically? Do you want certain discussion topics banned from the forum altogether?

Certain discussion topics already are banned from the forum.

Drathnoxis:

Silvanus:
Do you want certain discussion topics banned from the forum altogether?

Certain discussion topics already are banned from the forum.

Yeah, was just about to say this. That precedent has already been set.

And we can't even say what the banned topics are, as merely mentioning them will get you moderated.

KingsGambit:
but I want the mod team to look and see what R&P became and what Off-topic will become if the actual issue isn't addressed. Where is there room for civil discourse when this is the result? Where is there room for discussion, let alone humour, debate, questions, community? How does one respond to the most vile slurs being flung around with such abandon?

I've been a regular to the Escapist since ZP's first "The Darkness Demo" review...

1) Long term active forums users should see R&P is gentler that it probably ever has been. There are far fewer users who are routinely abusive, aggressive, or contemptuous towards other users. The users I could think of (mostly now banned) that you could check up on and see just how worse they were than any current are... Let's also bear in mind flamewars and abuse were worse generally in the old days. Back in about 2010 (possibly before R&P even existed), you could just put in a comment saying you didn't like a film into OT and receive a replies of sheer abuse. The Event That Must Not Be Named and resultant storm, let's remember, started outside R&P. That toxic mess was from users and sections outside R&P, and then later dumped into R&P.

2) Anyone who does not want political discussion should just not enter the politics forum or politics threads. There's no point voluntarily bathing in what you think is filth and then complaining you feel dirty.

3) Let's also note your last forays into the section were two arguments the mods (as per this very thread) could potentially classify as hate speech. No-one made you pop in and share them, and you simply cannot expect to express that sort of opinion without inciting some strong opposition. Prejudicially denigrating other people with broad and unfair generalisations should not count as civil discourse either.

Drathnoxis:
Certain discussion topics already are banned from the forum.

Nothing even remotely as broad. Politics are inseparably connected to industry, law and regulation, for instance, and gaming is irrevocably caught up in those spheres.

Agema:
Long term active forums users should see R&P is gentler that it probably ever has been. There are far fewer users who are routinely abusive, aggressive, or contemptuous towards other users...

I have to disagree. The forums -- well, certain sub-forums, posters, and sub-communities -- are absolutely as toxic, intolerant, and contemptuous as they've ever been. The abuse is still there, it just happens to be the case in the past few years, it's become this highly-refined ad-mix of passive-aggression, backhanded commentary and stealth insults, condescension, forum elitism, deliberate baiting to provoke ToS violations and mass reporting, and meta-discussion in private groups to organize targeted harassment. All tailor-made to skirt the line between what is and is not a ToS violation, backed up by the understanding mods won't drop the hammer as long as in-group personalities are the ones skirting the line.

It's all very "Mean Girls", and just because it doesn't involve users coming out and calling each other assholes or whatever, doesn't mean it doesn't exist or is any less hostile, toxic, or prejudicial. That's what killed the forums, at least in my opinion, and absent a thorough house-cleaning of this sort of behavior, it never will improve. It'll just turn into another NeoGAF (or its successor).

Batou667:

KingsGambit:

When will this pledge be kept, politics get left at the door and we can focus on what's fun?

Read between the lines, silly. The undesirable half of the political spectrum is having the door slammed on it. The other half gets to rule the roost unchecked, unquestioned and normalised. And that's not political, that's Just Being A Decent Human BeingTM.

White Supremacists. Those 'undesirables' are called White Supremacists.

Normalizing the ostracization of white supremacy is a good thing. White Supremacy deserves no platform, deserves no place at the table. They do not deserve a voice. White Supremacists have the freedom to stop being a White Supremacist any time they want though.

And people say Im the one with the victim complex.

Saelune:
And people say Im the one with the victim complex.

No one says that. We all say you need to chill a wee bit and stop getting so het up over a difference of opinion. Or I say that. Or try to. It's bad for your blood pressure.

Silvanus:

Drathnoxis:
Certain discussion topics already are banned from the forum.

Nothing even remotely as broad. Politics are inseparably connected to industry, law and regulation, for instance, and gaming is irrevocably caught up in those spheres.

And so is everything else. Fact is, politics aren't part of everything, but you can contextualize everything into an existing political discussion. Very fun for people who enjoy arguments about politics I'm sure, but for the rest of us its quite transparent and is often an unpleasant interruption to an otherwise good time. See the many instances of someone trying to use something as "a jumping off point" or "a start to a larger conversation", which can be easily translated to "I'm gonna take this thing and make it political to serve my own larger purposes, even if it comes directly at the cost of those who already part of this thing".

Here Comes Tomorrow:

Saelune:
And people say Im the one with the victim complex.

No one says that. We all say you need to chill a wee bit and stop getting so het up over a difference of opinion. Or I say that. Or try to. It's bad for your blood pressure.

Defending White Supremacy is more than just a 'difference of opinion'. And people have said that to me, so you're wrong about that too.

Any defense of white supremacy will not be tolerated. It is not a "difference of opinion." It is at best dehumanization, which goes against our code of conduct.

Kyle Gaddo:
snip

I feel like that's probably the best answer I could have expected, so thank you.

I am very serious when I say there has been (from my perspective) a noticeable improvement in moderation. I'd like to see it go further, but I'm willing to stick around and find out what you have planned.

Batou667:
Read between the lines, silly. The undesirable half of the political spectrum is having the door slammed on it. The other half gets to rule the roost unchecked, unquestioned and normalised. And that's not political, that's Just Being A Decent Human BeingTM.

That's basically not true.

People like Tstorm, CM156, Gorfias are significantly right-leaning, but discussions where they are involved tend to be civil and constructive - in many respects a credit to them as I sympathise that they are heavily outnumbered, which potentially makes them feel isolated or embattled and constantly having to fight an uphill battle.

Eacaraxe:

That's what killed the forums, at least in my opinion, and absent a thorough house-cleaning of this sort of behavior, it never will improve. It'll just turn into another NeoGAF (or its successor).

I disagree. What you really notice about users is that they have been around a long time. Most of us commenting here have been around closer to 10 years than 5, for instance. What this suggests to me is that the forums aren't attracting new users.

People were being banned all the time, right from 2010 or so. Any ongoing thread was full of greyed-out comments and appended warning/suspension notes. But there was always a new host of users pouring in - some inevitably attitude deficient - to replace the losses, at least until the last few years. The forums thrive because the site thrives, because it's the articles, videos etc. that bring people in, not the forums. People read articles and watch material and then get sucked into the forums. Loads of people arrived around 2008-2010 because of ZP, for instance. I would suggest that the forum decline, subsequent to The Event, mirrors the general neglect of the site under the previous ownership in that period.

EvilRoy:

And so is everything else. Fact is, politics aren't part of everything, but you can contextualize everything into an existing political discussion.

Everything can, at a stretch, relate to politics, but it can be tenuous for some topics.

Not so with gaming. Any gaming forum in which we cannot discuss industry practices or regulation which directly impacts game production would be absolutely ridiculous.

Saelune:
Normalizing the ostracization of white supremacy is a good thing.

While I would agree with that at purely face value, the reality is that conservative opinions that fall well short of being far-right, let alone white-supremacist, were being denounced as such.

While the TOS read literally *should* enable opinions on both ends of the political divide to be expressed in a civil way, in practice I don't hold out much hope. As ever I would be delighted to be proved wrong. And I imagine that going forward The Escapist won't be my platform of choice to engage in the cut and thrust of political debate anyway.

Batou667:

Saelune:
Normalizing the ostracization of white supremacy is a good thing.

While I would agree with that at purely face value, the reality is that conservative opinions that fall well short of being far-right, let alone white-supremacist, were being denounced as such.

While the TOS read literally *should* enable opinions on both ends of the political divide to be expressed in a civil way, in practice I don't hold out much hope. As ever I would be delighted to be proved wrong. And I imagine that going forward The Escapist won't be my platform of choice to engage in the cut and thrust of political debate anyway.

Opinions on both sides ARE enabled to be expressed in a civil way on this site. But according to the TOS, that stops short of bigotry. Maybe the problem is too many right-wing opinions are at their core based on bigotry?

If you feel you cannot fairly express your opinions here anymore because bigotry is against the rules, maybe that's not the site's problem?

Silvanus:

EvilRoy:

And so is everything else. Fact is, politics aren't part of everything, but you can contextualize everything into an existing political discussion.

Everything can, at a stretch, relate to politics, but it can be tenuous for some topics.

Not so with gaming. Any gaming forum in which we cannot discuss industry practices or regulation which directly impacts game production would be absolutely ridiculous.

You were saying that gaming is caught up in law, industry and regulation, and therefore is political by nature. Everything that is consumable is fundamentally caught up in those areas. Those are the things necessary to produce consumables.

Batou667:
The undesirable half of the political spectrum is having the door slammed on it.

Yea, what with having a president, supreme court, the most watched network in the mainstream news media, the entirety of talk radio, a massive internet presence online....

Sorry, but no, you can't play the poor oppressed rebel victim.

Batou667:
Flipping great!

I'm just waiting for the inevitable announcement that Yahtzee Croshaw no longer fits the Escapist's Brave New Branding, and this site's reinvention as a big inoffensive bowl of grey, tepid tapioca will be complete.

Anything other than Razorfist or The Quartering would count as bland to you.

Saelune:
Those 'undesirables' are called White Supremacists.

Now, now, the PC term is RACE REALISTS, remember?

Batou667:

While I would agree with that at purely face value, the reality is that conservative opinions that fall well short of being far-right, let alone white-supremacist, were being denounced as such.

Such as?

Ain't saying it hasn't happened, but want to know if you have a specific incident.

EvilRoy:

You were saying that gaming is caught up in law, industry and regulation, and therefore is political by nature. Everything that is consumable is fundamentally caught up in those areas. Those are the things necessary to produce consumables.

Yes, that's precisely my point. We cannot ban discussion of politics from the forum because they're inextricably linked to game production and content. I would make the same point if people on a film forum were discussing banning politics discussions, as well.

Silvanus:

EvilRoy:

You were saying that gaming is caught up in law, industry and regulation, and therefore is political by nature. Everything that is consumable is fundamentally caught up in those areas. Those are the things necessary to produce consumables.

Yes, that's precisely my point. We cannot ban discussion of politics from the forum because they're inextricably linked to game production and content. I would make the same point if people on a film forum were discussing banning politics discussions, as well.

Yes and my point is that reasoning applies to anything from a game, to an opera, to a Mars Bar, to a Honda Accord, to a lamp from Ikea. On that basis its inadequate justification to insist political discussion must be part of a games forum, because applying the logic consistently means that an ikea discussion forum must allow political discussion because it is inextricably linked to ikea lamp production.

EvilRoy:

Yes and my point is that reasoning applies to anything from a game, to an opera, to a Mars Bar, to a Honda Accord, to a lamp from Ikea. On that basis its inadequate justification to insist political discussion must be part of a games forum, because applying the logic consistently means that an ikea discussion forum must allow political discussion because it is inextricably linked to ikea lamp production.

The argument, surely, is that politics - in some form - is inevitable on any of these forums. What someone running a forum can do, however, is limit it to politics directly relevant to their main subject, be that games or Ikea lamps.

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