SGT Rock wrote:As I drink my morning coffee and read this I'll just pass on something I learned years ago running Whiteblaze, take it for what it is worth....
Politics will ruin a board. I say that with great sadness as I was the one that constantly tried to hold a free speech standard on WhiteBlaze as it was first opening up and growing. But after a couple of years it became painfully obvious that some people could not separate politics from their opinion about people and from that their attitude about people's every decision. I'd like to see this experiment work, however if it does start to get going what you will see is some people that gravitate only towards talking politics and eventually you will see threads that have nothing to do with politics start to have fights (and I do mean fights) spill over to the point where something as inane as a thread about "Do you have a frying pan lid on your cook pot?" start to get comments like "The only reason you carry a frying pan is because you think pots with lids are some sort of liberal conspiracy to keep everyone from enjoying meat." Believe me, I lived it. It will turn off people that want to talk about hammocks and camping and leave their politics at the door. You will get people eventually that no longer see the site as something about hammocks, but a place to push whatever their political agenda is and leave hammocking and backpacking at the door.
When it started getting this bad we ended up moving politics to a forum where you could only opt in, otherwise it was invisible to others. But even with that, we had these "flair ups" where if we were not monitoring the board, we would eventually get reported post(s) and find out that "Underquilt, yes/no" had devolved into a name calling match between the resident conspiracy nut and the resident libertarian that was eventually joined in by the resident old guard republican, the hippy communist, the amused and antagonistic Canadian, and the baffled European that had no idea this went on here.
Playing Devils Advocate, I'll say that was the case in the other place, even though Politics was supposedly verboten. There's simply no way you're going to keep one side from detecting the other. I suspect the problems you had with one of the denizens over there is because he saw you as a military man living in the South, made certain assumptions about your politics, and treated you the way he wants everybody to treat people with views he disagrees with. The other thing is that Politics does inevitably become part of the equation. A good part of the reason that this site was started is because the owner of another site couldn't keep his own politics out of the way he ran his site and, over a period of time, alienated several different groups of people. And then there are people who see everything as a place to push their political agenda. Prohibiting the discussion of politics only becomes a challenge for them.
I do like the opt in thing, but I'll leave the technical stuff to Scuba. The way the Bunker here is set up is to provide separate rooms for folks to be sent to if things get bad. There's already been one individual come here whom I know is in the habit of starting stuff and then sitting back to enjoy the show. Once he saw that there was a place where that kind of post was going to be put, he made a public statement abvout it elsewhere and we haven't seen anything of him since.
It also turns out that they guy who instigated this post is the owner of a Facebook Page for hangers in one of the Piedmont States and apparently looked over my FB page, didn't like the politics he saw there, and decided not only to not approve me, but send me the jerk PM as well. His is also one of those "We don't permit talking about politics here" pages---but as in the case above, what that really means is "If I approve of your politics you can be a member."
Sometimes, it seems, the rule is used to silence people with whom you disagree more than it is to keep the peace on the site. Going back to the experience on the other site, there once was an experiment to allow discussion of guns on the trail. Peaceful and respectful discussions were had, but those with a definete political agenda would come in and cause trouble. But rather than deal with obvious troublemakers obviously making trouble, the owner decided to use those disruptions as an excuse to shut down discussions he politically disagreed with himself.
I eventually came to the conclusion that since backpacking advice really had very little to nothing to do with someone's politics, that the best thing for everyone is to remove politics from the equation. There are sites that are devoted to politics, ideologies, and whatever else you subscribe to that it would be best to point those members that thought they should discuss those things constantly to those forums, and impose a ban on all political discussion. Unfortunately that leads to the slippery slope that is lead by the Snivelers. They start pointing all sorts of other things that offend them. I'll go with religion as the #2 thing since that is going to be it. Some atheist hippy is going to start being offended by someone's signature line that says something innocuous like "God bless you all" and complain about it. Maybe to you, but certainly on the public forum because he is butt hurt. Then the ultra-religious Christian is going to go way beyond that to prove some point he has and next thing you know the same actors are involved in a religious war. When you finally put some sensible policy in place to deal with it some jerk will want to test the limits again, and again, and again until the point comes where you best just not eve allow that anymore because it has become such a distraction to the purpose of the forum.
After that you are becoming the thought police. You start doing stuff like banning talking about fund raisers because the purpose may offend some. You start banning talk about veteran causes because some pinko lib has said they are offended by the baby killers getting special treatment, After a while you quit in disgust. What is the $^^%&#%! point?
Enough of my pontificating. I sincerely hope I am wrong. But I truly believe if you want this experiment to win, the best thing you can do is squash a political tone from creeping in at the start. Otherwise you will end up with only a few members that think the same as you and a very narrow band of opinions and ideas about Hammocks, and that will not draw in the others from the sidelines that are starting to get into the pastime because they will not see a wide group of knowledge here that they see on the other site. They will go there because of that and only through time learn about the things that are senseless (IMO) over there. If you are OK with a small sample of people that think like you and running a server with very little going on, then drive on. Look at my personal site and you will see what I mean. I am happy with my site my way and my friends and people looking for me specifically going there. But even with my preference for things the way I like them, if I need other viewpoints you do see me on those other two sites because, in the end, that is where the people still go because they are the sites where the people go.
Pontificate away, and please continue to pontificate. Input from those that have gone before is always appreciated. We're trying something here that might be a bit different way to allow these side discussions to see how it works. We hope that we've set it up so that folks who want to talk about one thing have a place to do it, and a place to talk about other things as well. I hope it works, but if it doesn't we'll roll with the punches.