If your reply is risky, make it a standalone reply

That is fine, but only if you are replying to something that you believe will be a problem eventually requiring moderation.

It’s pretty clear when that is.

So yeah, if you mix a reply up with 3 quotes to regular plain old BBS folks saying regular plain old BBS folks things, and casually insert one reply to that guy who really doesn’t think black people are as smart as white people… There Will Be Blood. :hocho: :boom:

TL;DR if you are replying to something that’s risky, as in “this might eventually be deleted by moderators because it’s negative / bad / ugly”, use an independent reply. Or simpler still, don’t respond to trolls in the first place, that’s always good advice.

The whole of this argument seems to be “the suffering of the many must outweigh the suffering of the few” which doesn’t sit right with me, @orenwolf.

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Sometimes it really isn’t.


When the enforcement of the rules may be as “lax or draconian as the mods see fit,” it certainly isn’t.

And such ambiguous guidelines sure aren’t any help when it comes to dealing with bad faith barnacles; long time members who operate just closely enough within the parameters of the terms and conditions so as to avoid getting banned.


Maybe if you’re @Israel_B that’s the case, and perhaps he should take that advice – but I do not believe that advice is one size fits all :wink:

In general, only risky replies should be standalone in case they need moderation. Compare with

↑ that. This is now a reply to four, count 'em, four, different posts. Deleting any of those parent posts, as staff, will offer to delete this child reply, too.

Maybe this isn’t the right time or place to bring this up, but what about a new flag for arguing in bad faith? The idea has been tossed around a few times since I’ve been a member.

I mean behavior that’s obvious, like sea-lioning; just to be clear.

Before you ask, I currently have no examples to link; any recent comments which fit the description have already been purged, at least to my knowledge.


I agree that this is a good idea. The Discourse flagging system combined with the diligent human modding has made this BBS one of the better ones out there, but there’s always room for improvement. The flagging system does not really catch members who consistently argue in bad faith (and who’ve been emboldened by a wider political climate that allows if not rewards such behaviour).

Since such a flag wouldn’t be as clear-cut as off-topic or inappropriate or spam posts, I’d also recommend a mandatory freeform text field similar to that of the more broad “Something Else” flag for the user to briefly explain the reason (e.g. use of specific logical fallacies, citation of false facts from disreputable sources, disregarding inconvenient facts from reputable sources, comments that are more about attention-seeking than contributing to the discussion, etc.).

The mandatory field would discourage hit-and-runs, reduce the risk of brigading and, reviewed together behind the scenes, might serve to alert the mods and admins to patterns of behaviour for the member in question. The flag would also push some of the drama and frustration we see over bad faith arguments to a more appropriate and productive place. I’d go so far as to suggest that, if the system would allow it, the threshold for hiding posts be higher or not enabled at all so that the admins can take action (from gentle private warnings to suspensions) as they see fit.


Since the topic has been split off and allows for the possibility of less trivial modifications to Discourse than the one suggested above*, let me suggest a functionality which might work as an alternative to the Bad Faith flag down the road.

I’ve often thought that an “Ignore” button for specific users might prove helpful to the mods/admins in addition to making the BBS experience even better for the user. The idea would be that a user could ignore/block/hide the comments of any other user he chose. There would be no public tally of how many “Ignores” a particular user got, but the mods/admins might be alerted behind the scenes via back-end analytics if a given user passed a certain threshold so they could pay closer attention and perhaps submit some private queries to TL3 users about the reasons for pushing “Ignore” on that user.

This might be accompanied by a “Favourite/Follow” functionality that does the opposite: highlighting a given user’s comments for a given member or alerting the user to a new comment from that person. Perhaps exceeding a certain threshold of “followers” might contribute to that person’s elevation to a higher trust level.

I realise this kind of feedback functionality is a longer-term project, but thought I’d throw it out there as a way of helping the mods/admins do their already good work even more efficiently and effectively.

[^ thanks to Jason and the rest of the team for soliciting user feedback like this]


I think only the last one of those is against code of conduct around here.

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I believe that’s why @Melz2 is suggesting the change. Arguing in bad faith may not be against the code of conduct, but it is behaviour that, if exhibited consistently, should be discouraged here by the mods who want to keep things civil.


No, the topic is about the first post, which wasn’t a call for kitchen sink suggestions. However to the extent that the problem of risky replies could be ameliorated by not seeing the post so therefore you don’t make a risky reply in the first place then it is on topic ish.

Oh, ok. When @jlw split this off he originally titled this something like “Things You want to See in Discourse,” which I took to be soliciting suggestions. I’ll be glad to delete my second comment if you feel it has the potential to derail.


Within reason. Devils advocacy has its place, and positing arguments you don’t wholly believe does too - however sticking to them as anything but postures is pretty awful and does seem to happen here a lot.

Earlier today I was accused of this because I told someone that X would be great because my kids. I don’t have kids, and said so with my tongue in cheek, but I was chased around the board by someone who wanted to make sure everyone knew I’d said something less than perfectly serious. Thank the Mods for cleaning that up.

So, there is a line there, but lets err on the side of fun and productive behavior!

I tend towards standalone replies in general, especially when they’re riskyclicks.


Being “chased around from topic to topic” sounds a lot like griefing and is not cool.


I don’t consider Devil’s Advocacy to be arguing in bad faith – in its intended form it exists for the opposite reason, to push forward the discussion, and thus tends to avoid the kind of behaviour I mentioned.

If someone is harassing you, that’s definitely not OK.

I also tend toward the policy suggested by @codinghorror and @orenwolf: I’ll combine replies so as not to flood the thread — unless I’m taking issue with something in particular, where I go standalone in reply.


thank YOU for the mute feature. I find it moots the need for a block.


Great! We have plans to beef this up in the future, as I have discussed in other topics.

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What about reclining alone while risque? Is that ok?


Absolutely. And if in doubt, reply separately. Seems good advice.

As per @fiddlingfrog sometimes yes, sometimes no.

As for sometimes yes, well, the thing which triggered the “do a bunch of separate replies” over in the general moderation thread, I included a response to someone who is AFAIK TL3 who used words towards me that I I really should have known would result in admin action. Result was some longer replies got lost in the scorched earth. There, I should have known better.

Sometimes no, while its hard for me to cite specifics because I don’t archive my comments every day, scorched earth is scorched earth and even when its not I’ve seen my own comments and those of others disappear without flags or system notice and I’m left scratching my head wondering what went wrong.

I could understand this two or three different ways. Since I’m not the most socially intuitive person out there and since I know darn well I’m not beloved by all here to avoid problems if you want to say something more please do so by PM.

Sometimes it just looks like turning up the volume in the echo chamber

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