Online discussions and echo chambers

I suppose I could say something about being concerned that this will serve to further amplify the echo chamber and keep people from being exposed to ideas they don’t agree with.

There’s value in having your ideas challenged. Even if it doesn’t change your mind, you at least know what people with an opposing or different view are saying. That lets you be better prepared to argue against it in the future and you can make your case to the undecided all the better.

It’s hard enough making an argument that goes against the grain here as it is with the amount of getting jumped on you’ll be subjected to, and I say this as someone who agrees with 90% of what’s said here. It’s just going to feel all the more pointless to disagree when no one will even read to what you have to say. As a result, I feel this will be less of a place of discussion and more of an outrage machine where you can only take one position on any subject.

I could say all this but I get the feeling you’re all ignoring me by now, anyway :stuck_out_tongue:

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Unless you are going to force users to click a button on each post that says ”yes, I have read and understood this post”, you can’t be sure anyone read what you have to say anyway. People read what they choose to read, and If the alternative is for a user to leave the bbs because they cannot or do not wish to read another’s posts, then this feature is a net positive.

Additionally, we are lucky enough to have what I believe to be a higher than average percentage of users on the BBS that identify as female. You don’t have to look far to find stories of the harassment that segment of the online community is unduly subjected to. If this feature helps to reduce that concern in any way, then it is also a huge net positive.

We cannot, and do not, have any intention of forcing individuals to read anything, despite the strange cognitive dissonance some ”freedom of speech” advocates seem to have that such freedoms mean forced discourse or attention (and to be clear, I do not believe you specifically are advocating for such.)

People are going to read what they choose to. The BBS is not enough of a cultural phenomenon to cause folks who wish to close off their minds to alternative viewpoints to change that behaviour, but at least the choice is their own, and not some megacorp or algorithm doing so for them.


I’m sorry you feel this way, but I also think your description doesn’t describe the same forum I read.

Anyways, ignoring some users could help you engage with others. Just ignore the ones who “jump on” you or others, and have a civilised discussion.

It’s your own echo chamber, if you will.


My new favorite phrase is “Freedom of speech ≠ freedom of reach”.

Yeah, I’ve disagreed with people here and usually it goes fine, especially if I back up what I say with citations. Sometimes what I feel was a valid and good point languishes while someone I disgree with gets more <3s, but it’s extremely rare I feel attacked for disagreeing.

Then again, there are some ideas that aren’t worthy of debate, and if you bring them up here you’ll probably have a bad time…


when somebody disagrees with you, they can post something about it

when several people disagree with you, they ALL can post something about it

it’s easy to say somebody else should be exposed to ideas they don’t agree with, but then if it’s me being exposed to those ideas oh noes i’m being jumped on


Yeah, but not everybody comes here for this, so at least not to engage in bad faith debate which is near constant.


Considerate disagreement like this is what I think we’re losing out on in democratic society in general.

And I don’t want to seem insensitive to those who endure the incredibly cruel barbs and threats that trolls perpetuate. Obviously, there are lines that can be crossed in discussions, especially when they devolve into personal attacks, and it’s good to have tools to deal with it.

But I’m just worried about a lack of civil discourse when it comes to discussing policy. We have people from many backgrounds and beliefs and somehow we all have to get along with each other with rules we can live with. Talking is the best way, far better than the alternatives like the ones the current president fantasizes about.

So it’s not so much as being forced to read what you don’t want to (because freedom of speech also means respecting the listener) as it is being introduced to someone else’s perspective in a safe environment for the good of democracy.

It’s just a lamentation, I suppose.


I appreciate your position, however you are describing a cultural ideal we should ascribe to, not sound moderation policy on a small independent forum.

If the likes of Facebook and Twitter cannot find a way to do this at scale, there is zero chance of us accomplishing it here. People who do not want to participate in the sorts of discussions you describe would simply go elsewhere.

We can’t and won’t ask people to change how they choose to participate here, but we hope that tools that assist in keeping those with opposing and conflicting personalities and opinions from derailing conversations (or worse, from them not participating at all), then that is probably all we can ask for.


It’s been said here before and I’ll repeat: again nobody is entitled to your opinion. It’s great that you want civil discourse, but saying that others shouldn’t be able to show you the door is exactly why this feature is so welcome.

There’s plenty of people here that I may not even disagree with or dislike but I find that they are so exhausting to look at their posts or interact with them that I’d rather not. Life’s too short for that shit.


Just to clarify one point… due to the above concern, plus the “what if a bunch of new users sign up and ignore the same person” concern, you must achieve trust level 2 to earn the ability to Ignore other users.

We’re also moving user Mute to a TL1 ability, but TL1 is quite easy to achieve.

These changes aren’t quite in yet, but will be very soon.


This is way different from your initial concern:

The latter apparent characterization of bbbs as an echo chamber raises the hackles of many here, for reasons I hope don’t need explaining. As for your in concerns to “civil discourse about public policy,” well, I also assume you know what “goal post shifting” is? And why that isn’t welcome here either?

My ideas are often challenged here, usually for the better. But I’m very glad that some “ideas” aren’t allowed expression here, because they’ve been thoroughly discredited and/or proven harmful. I don’t see any point in answering yet again such “challenges.” I get enough of that grief IRL.


I’d argue that greatly depends upon what the idea in question is.

For instance, if the idea being “challenged” is that all human beings have a right to exist in peace regardless to their gender, skin color, sexual preference, choice of deity or any other superficial distinction, then no there’s no value to be had in the aforementioned challenge.

It matters not how ‘politely’ such an untenable argument may be presented, nor how couched in a facade of respectability; the inherent poison contained therein is still just as potent.



I, and many others, have been challenged on our ideas, thoughtfully and with facts, and speaking for myself, have had my viewpoint broadened. BB is not an echo chamber as I think of it. I consider our band of mutants firmly ensconced in the reality based world and better for it, and home to a broad range of ethnicities, genders, viewpoints and origins. And is generally quite intolerant of bullshit. Again, all to the good.


Yeah, that does get chased out of here right quick. A shit-clear atmosphere contributes greatly to the generally high level of happy mutancy.


Sometimes when replying or posting ask yourself: Will this be misconstrued? Will it garner attention I do not want? If it does garner said attention, will I be able to ignore it or let it go?

It was mentioned by a couple other folks…you can just not respond/ignore comments. Try never to get into the “I must prove I am right to someone on the internet” situation.

I think everyone that is a regular on the BBS would concur…state your mind, say your peace, and move on. Allow others to do the same.

I would ask when it comes to you posting about online discussions and ECs…you posted that here on BBS; a fairly liberal and left leaning forum for a liberal/left leaning blog/sharing site. Did you or would you post such a thing on the Fox News forums? Or Breitbart? sk yourself…when it comes to echo chambers…whose is more open minded and willing to listen and be open to discussion or debate?

My point here is this…by definition, liberal people ARE open minded, conservatives ARE close minded. Both certainly have their own echo chambers; but which one is the one that needs to be told to be open minded?


[TBF (or honest, or accurate, or whatever), I think that initial comment was pulled (probably by Ken) from another thread for being off topic, but worthy of its own discussion, and thus made into this new topic.]


I did not realize that. I’ll edit to take out.


You’re quite right, of course. However, if there’s one thing I’ve learned from the United States is that it’s a constant struggle to pursue virtuous ideals that are continuously fallen short of, but in spite of that, no one stops believing in the ideals.

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