It’s attempting to fight tribalism with tribalism, and yields regressive kinds of discourse. I think that the “community guidelines” are already nearly perfect - apart from the fact that they are not enforced consistently. By which I mean that nearly all problems of incivility and personal drama are easily remedied by simply not making personal remarks about people. At all. Apart from outright spam or abuse of protected categories of person, this should be the main flaggable offense. Not liking a person or their positions on issues (assuming that one can be said to truly know either) is never an effective excuse to start talking about them themselves, despite how cathartic many seem to find it.
Where this goes wrong -
• Be cool. Don’t post insulting, bullying, victim-blaming, racist, sexist, or homophobic remarks.
Some people seem quick to claim personal insult based upon a person’s views on a topic, or supposed ideological bias. But disliking it is not the same as an insult directed towards your person. That would be egotism, and it is not all about you. If somebody’s views are inaccurate, then explaining why or how does not involve personal insults or remarks. Also, it might take time and patience. And you might need to agree to disagree.
Be Agreeable, Even When You Disagree You may wish to respond to something by disagreeing with it. That’s fine. But, remember to criticize ideas, not people. Please avoid:
• Ad hominem attacks.
• Responding to a post’s tone instead of its actual content.
• Knee-jerk contradiction.
Instead, provide reasoned counter-arguments that improve the conversation.
It sounds fairly straightforward, does it not? And every person who participates here is assumed to abide by those axioms. But I think it puts moderators in a difficult position, where if they had to delete 80% of the discussion in a controversial topic upon this basis, there might not be much of a discussion left, and they would be getting annoyed PMs from more members. I wonder if there is some way a forum can self-select with those criteria at the door, rather than need to constantly police for that behavior.
Members seem to often be indecisive about whether we are all “just hanging out” or actually engaging in pointed argumentation. Some of my most frustrating experiences here have been when a few outraged people call me out to “justify” my views upon something that was never explained at much length in the first place - which then leaves others annoyed that some massive digression has occurred. This has often been used as a passive-aggressive tactic where personal accusations are made, but then those who make them withdraw and flag the responses. No one is obliged to engage with anyone else - except arguably when they take it upon themselves to make a public accusation. But if people could resist that temptation and handle it through mods, this would not be a problem. Don’t make personal comments!
Where this gets sticky is that “bad faith” implies a conflict of views, which can be worked on to attain some sort of resolution. So this model of debate/argumentation presents diversity of opinion as something of a problem to be solved, rather than something to be celebrated. Yet most here have neither the stamina nor interest in going through a rigorous argument to arrive some philosophical Truth, they simply have different ideological positions on contemporary social issues. And that in itself can be something worth discussing! A lot of the supposed conflict takes the form of trying to silence others in order to force discussion along certain lines, supposing that somebody else’s different views or framing of a situation somehow preclude you from discussing yours, when they do not, in any way. It’s a purely exclusionary tactic. Because open discourse requires a lot of discipline, and many would rather champion their pet norms and push others for consensus because it is easier, and they feel justified.