Forums for discussing social and political issues


Many interesting comments here, but nobody has directly answered the question.

I used to be pretty active over at MetaFilter. They have a front page with articles and threads much like Boing, and they also have an area called Ask.Metafilter that allows members to ask questions and answer them for others.

They also have other subsites that I didn’t use much. You might find those useful as well.

There’s a Faving system, and a “Best Answer” system, and those numbers are worn around like the badges here.

I’m not saying that MetaFilter is your dream space, and for all I know you may get a hostile reception there as well. I certainly have at times. That’s part of why I’m not there much anymore, but not the largest part. I do still check in sometimes and read a little.

I liked it there because the people tended to be smart and well-spoken, like here, and the community is actively moderated, also like here.

That said, Metafilter seems a cruder interface and system overall to me than Discourse. I think socialization in general is easier here. I’ve made far more friends, and closer ones, here at bbBBS than I ever had there.

And you know that you can say pretty much anything over at Reddit and YouTube, right? I mean, if you want to write dissertations and not get called out as much on the unusual concepts you engender, maybe a more lightly regulated forum would appeal?

I don’t typically fight or argue much here or anywhere. I value your voice, but I frequently have to skim your stuff because it’s just too much in the sticks for me. That’s fine, it’s how you write and who you are (however you feel about being a “who”).

I hope you don’t leave for good. If I have one pointer, I’d suggest you work on a more standard meaning of “succinct” and practice, practice, practice.


I did but the answer was that I don’t think it will be better elsewhere necessarily.


Ah, I had a discussion about this yesterday. I am not a fan of succinctness. Some are. I am not. That could be a barrier (or bearier? :D)

If you decide to leave I’ll be pissed at me, you, and the other mutants.


Consider this a like.


I could point you towards other forums but I think you will have the same problems there as you have here.

As other people have said, often the problem is how you communicate your ideas. A fair amount of the time I agree with what you say, sometimes I don’t. These are things that I don’t mind.

Then there are the times where what you are suggesting is several steps ahead of where most people are right now, and you don’t seem to understand that people often cannot just change without causing massive disruption and stress to the lives of themselves and their loved ones. The intermediate steps which can lead to that change are important and not always obvious.

Finally are the times where I cannot actually understand what you are saying, and I give up trying to read because there is no hope of getting past my dyslexia.

I cannot find the article right now, but I remember reading a guide on how do make leaflets for left wing and anarchist movements, I remember it saying that you should try to keep your message to around 300 words if possible and always try to use the most common meanings of words rather than revolutionary jargon. I believe George Orwell said something similar. Obviously I cannot force you to change how you write, but if you can remember that you are trying to express a message to other people rather than to yourself it would be helpful.

Also, if you think that what you are writing is going too far away from the original topic then create a new one linked to what you are replying to.


A concise explanation of the dynamic which bothers me so much is that the complaints (as opposed to criticisms) I get seem to be extremely reactionary in nature, and they get decidedly personal. It’s fine with me if my shortcomings prevent me from being easily understood, but my problem with it is that some people are quick to assume that they finally do understand, and instead of using this to discuss the ideas, they instead assume that this would be a great way to pigeonhole ME, to use what understanding they feel they have to try characterizing me and arguing that others see me through this same filter. And in order to do this, I then need to be removed from the discussion. Why it bothers me is not that this process is critical (hardly), it’s that I think it is fundamentally dishonest, and extremely petty.

What attracted me to bOING bOING originally - both in print and online - is it’s progressiveness. Some may disagree, but for me, the reactionary and the progressive exist at opposite ends of a spectrum of ways of addressing social issues and behaviors. Progressiveness I describe as having qualities such as clarity, honesty, and a willingness to go past ossified traditions. Reaction I describe as using obfuscation, muckraking, and stereotypes to maintain a status quo. So, when a loud portion of the commentariat seem more invested in stereotyping me than discussing the relative merits (or lack thereof) of my ideas and opinions, then I look for someplace more progressive.

At the very least, what I think people need in order to be properly understood in a group discussion is equanimity. And that is what I think is lacking here. I am interested more in discussions of “This is why I think that will/won’t work.”, and not at all interested in “Gotcha! Don’t you know what this says about YOU?!?” I think it’s a pretty safe guess that if I am really as weird as I am told, I probably have a better idea of what it really says about me than most others do. I am not interested in helping people to fill in the partisan paranoia crossword puzzles.

For example, look at a controversial topic I bailed from: Oregon militiaman arrested after stealing wildlife reserve vehicle to go shopping

The topic is ostensibly about property, theft, occupation, commons, and diverse topics areas which touch upon these. So I discuss these, because it seems like an interesting intersection of ideas. I get shouted down as being “off topic”. So what is the nature of the comments of these now-happy campers after I stop posting there? It’s mostly just snarky partisan complaints: “Fuck these guys” and GIFs. Is that ACTUALLY more topical than discussing the underlying issues? And if I (and to be fair, those others who were discussing in good faith) kept going with discussing what we found relevant, would it honestly have prevented any of those people from offering the same input?

When anybody who is sincerely interested in what people do and why is always strung up as equivocal to those being discussed, it functions as a reactionary spiral, and I think undermines real discourse in favor of (often imagined) personality conflicts and ineffective tribalism. Hell - there are times when I have participated in topics here only to have other people who were not even in the discussion originally arrive specifically to tell me to leave. Precisely because what they imagined my position to ultimately be made me the type of person who they didn’t want there. Functionally, reactionary liberals are much more similar to reactionary conservatives than perhaps they would want to admit. But they are more conflicted and less consistent due to the disparity between reactionary tactics and the progress they supposedly strive for. Meanwhile, radical left movements which could be seen as more progressive get thrown under the bus because they aren’t “safe”. Hope you like “the new boss”.


Just FYI, that’s >3900 words. I read the first para., skimmed paragraph 2, but just don’t have the stamina for the whole thing, and I don’t think it’s really a great idea to put that scale of a burden of reading and parsing effort on anyone in a forum format.

Maybe start a blog for long-form things and stick to forum-comment scale thoughts on forums? Maybe the limits of internet forums (short quick responses, joking around, gif responses, wandering topics, light focus, short attention spans) will always rankle you because you’ve got an unrealistic expectation of the medium?

I honestly mostly come here for light things - joking around, reading entertaining comments, the silly games, etc. without any expectation of anything really deep and meaningful (also many mutants are really cool, interesting people whose thoughts I like to hear). There’s some things that dig in more, but I don’t expect it, it’s just a happy thing that can emerge. Some people do respond harshly to you, and it’s painful to watch, and I don’t think it’s right, BTW.


I am not done digesting this post. But I want to make something public.

I agree with you, and the personal attacks you receive make me sick.

So whether you like it or not, I am making it a part time job of mine to make sure you don’t get harrassed. (We will still disagree, but I can’t stand the harassment you put up with)

While we have an incredibly diverse range of peeps here, I agree. This is something we as a community need to work on. And I respect your bravery for calling it out.

(And now I’ll be back to puns and generally riling people up :D)


I seem to be replying a bunch today. I promise it is because I have a bun in the oven (no, literally, sourdough that has 25 minutes left :D)

This is @popobawa4u’s thread. So lets talk in popos thread about what popo is talking about, in a manner that popo prefers. I am not criticizing you in the least. Not even a scooch.

I am a tad weary of people criticizing popo, cause he/she/it makes good points, if a tad verbose :slightly_smiling:

Ffs, if the worst criticism leveled against me is verbosity or questioning, I’d be dancing in the streets.


Ok this is weird, I’m agreeing with you


I’m gonna go outside, play some music, and dance in a park (possibly with an octopus). You, @nemomeno, anyone that has been to Scotland, @chgoliz, Michael, Mindy, are all invited. Shit dawg, @Mister44 come on by and lets see who can clean a shotgun faster!! :slightly_smiling:

Everyone, have a lovely evening.


arstechnica soap box i used to visit, dunno how it is now.

Key to any forum is limiting the number of fucks you can give and/or receive to an amount below your daily intake/output limit.


You raise valid points here about the problems with internet discussion & “progressive communities”, especially where the two intersect. Basically it is the paradox of tolerance, where some only tolerate opinions they already agree with.

Common tactics include getting personal with the dissenting person rather than addressing the idea, continued calls to justify the different opinions rather than trying to understand or address the opinions, and of course barraging the dissenter with flags to try and shut them down.


Ehhh I guess, could be. I think of five paragraphs as not being a huge time sink. I don’t read every long-ish post I read, but I read most of them It only takes me a minute.

I wonder if that level of verbosity might conflict more with people’s expectations of the medium, than the actual medium itself. It is really the interactivity of us bouncing such ideas off of each other that makes it worthwhile for me. Even if I had the bread to shell out for my own blog or website, I think I would be less inclined to write for it since it isn’t essentially a discussion there. What I am looking for is real open dialectic. Maybe I need to start my own BBS for that

A difficulty of keeping things light can be that it gets pretentious in a sneaky way. When I lived in the Boston/Cambridge area, it was not difficult to make heady discussion with so many academics around. But when I moved to NYC, there was more a deliberate striving for superficiality on the street level. Wanting more depth came across to many as being too egotistical, somehow. So I had to make some difficult demonstrations that a pretense of a lack of meaning and significance was in its way really just as pretentious as a pretense of unduly lofty meaning and significance.



(God I’m such a rat bastard :smiley: Some day you might honestly slap me)


You’re only defending him because you’re a white male.

Is what someone said to me.


I don’t think you know that for a fact. I’m a bot. And you’re my father!!


No, that’s the thing, I like criticism. I value it so much! Honest criticism is surprisingly rare and exceedingly valuable.

Honest dismissal is not great, but I can respect it.

What I hate is dismissal which masquerades as criticism. I encounter two main varieties: 1. ad populum (It’s not MY opinion that you are wrong, I just know for a fact that no reasonable person anywhere would agree with you), and 2. ad hominem (Now that I have decided what kind of person you are, I am going to stop comprehending and simply mock you.) Either function to quickly switch off any meaningful debate or discussion.

I have read that the worst response is no response, so I guess I have at least that working for me. My remarks don’t get ignored! Sometimes I need to ask those who accuse me of derailing why they bothered to tease me out to ten or so posts between us instead of simply ignoring me, if my post was so far off topic!


And I will stand shoulder to shoulder with you. I will often mention that 78% of humans may disagree with you (populism), or you may be flat out wrong and going about it the wrong way (hominem), but I’ll always have your back.

(Use less words. Just think of it as a bandwidth thing. Regardless, I’ve got your back)


I just popped back by ars soap box after you prompted me to think about it. I dunno, still looks okay.

One thing I remember from then and that thing seems to remain the same, no likes or equivalent there. You want discussing social and political, no likes is preferred IMO. Think about it for 2 seconds you’ll dig it too.

If I didn’t get my fair share of weighty social/political discussion IRL I’d probably want to talk there, but I do get enough in real life, all about the irreverence online. I suppose I’m not A troll, but I do troll. I probably shouldn’t.