A quick comment on “echo chambers”. Several times when I’ve seen a person espousing point A claimed the BBS was an echo chamber for point ~A I’ve opened up a spreadsheet and counted comments that support their position, that go against their position and that are just jokes or sidelines.
In one case posts for A outnumbered posts for ~A by a margin of two to one.
In one case where it was claimed that people espousing A were being shouted down, posters espousing A outnumbered posters espousing ~A 7 to 3.
So I’m extremely skeptical of these claims. I don’t think they are consistently backed up by reality and that makes me question them broadly (even when the numbers in a particular thread “support” the claim). To me it looks like accusations of “echo chamber” are mostly about hurt feelings, not about what is going on in threads.
I also feel like talk of echo chambers smuggles in the idea that the only kind of productive discussion is a discussion where people with different opinions clash over their differences. Those discussions, to me, are actually mostly useless. In all of my arguments about (for example) free speech for Nazis I have only ever thought one poster said something that wasn’t just a standard, oft-repeated argument in favour of free speech (that was looking at countries that had and didn’t have laws against holocaust denial and how that worked out for them in terms of actual hate-motived violence and suggesting that laws against Nazi speech weren’t effective).
I think discussions in which people who fundamentally agree on the overarching issue learn from one another are great discussions. I’m someone who usually feigns understanding by having good form, despite being light on facts. I’ve benefited a lot about history (something I’m super weak on) and about technology from these boards.