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11:00 PM
@DanielSank Most people seem to have a harder time understanding "be nice" than they do understanding "no talk about politics"
@DanielSank, you're bringing up good points, by the way, and you could insert those issues now.
@DavidZ but that's a better rule.
I don't care if you say "be nice". People don't do it, but everybody agrees with it. if you say "no politics", though, I'm upset. there's no reason to do it.
(when the real problem is people aren't being nice.)
@heather Try not to say "there's no reason". ACM and DZ have given plenty reasons.
We need to understand each other's perspectives if we're going to make progress.
it's not a thing everybody is going to agree with, let me put it that way.
@heather I'm not basing my support on those messages, but on prior events and messages, some of which have already been brought up. Let me put it like this: The star board is about as good an indicator of quality as the HNQ list, and I think a lot of us agree that the latter is Not a Good Thing. Buuuut, I think that there have been a lot more unproductive chat discussions about politics than productive ones.
@HDE226868 i actually think what you've noticed is that there are more noticeable unproductive chat discussions than productive ones.
11:03 PM
@DanielSank That's a good point: We've all seen different things and have interpreted different events in different ways, and have different conclusions. So that probably accounts for some agreements and disagreements.
what I meant to put up above is that "be nice" is a sort of universal rule - most everyone agrees we should live by it. "no politics" is not a universal rule. Therefore, on a site like SE, user input should be there.
@HDE226868 Yep. For example, I understand better now that the mods are aware of very widespread problems when chatrooms get onto politics. I will try to keep this in mind when I offer any further opinions.
and not just be there but be a significant portion if not all of the process.
@heather Yeah, that's very true. There's definitely a sort of detection bias. So the question is whether or not those noticeable ones should take precedence over the others.
The problem is this. The probability that politics is going to lead to unpleasantness is *very* high, given previous incidents across the network. If we do as you say and "lay in wait" until people get to the point where they are violating the Be Nice policy, the damage has already been done: Insults have been slung, feelings hurt and the chat conversation disrupted. What *benefit* is there to allow that to happen in the middle of the main chat room if we can contain it in dedicated rooms?
And if it doesn't happen, no harm has been done either, and the conversation continues happily in that
11:05 PM
@DanielSank That's really the only reason I decided to horn in here. Likewise, you have more experience than me with certain topics of discussion.
@HDE226868 nope. i'm guessing that there have been tons of productive politics discussions. and i'm sure there are plenty of people that want to have productive politics discussions.
@heather Can you find some of these productive politics discussions?
@ACuriousMind The biggest problem here, with everything you're saying, is that "politics" is way to broad of a topic to ban given the evidence we have on PSE.
@DavidZ I can find one right now. Gimme 30 sec.
@ACuriousMind I disagree with the politics decision, but I am under the impression right now that we were talking about your decision to just ban it without user input. Also, what Daniel said about politics is way too broad to ban.
You want more?
That conversation taught me so much that I still talk about it with my coworkers and friends.
11:06 PM
Yes. I'm not looking for one, I'm looking for enough to support heather's assertion that "there have been tons of productive politics discussions."
It would be a damn shame if I couldn't have such a positive experience here any more.
As for "politics is too broad":
> Note that this ban on political discussion is of course subject to common sense, and subordinate to its goal of prohibiting inflammatory discussion. You will not be banned for mentioning the newest EU regulation on cucumber curvature, or curiously asking what political structure another country has, etc. It should be pretty evident in most cases whether a given topic has the potential to be inflammatory or not - if in doubt, make another room for it or just ask.
@DanielSank, where's that one with Bernardo and philosophy?
@DanielSank (that's barely even political, anyway)
@heather Looking...
11:07 PM
@ACuriousMind your ban is not "common sense" like this is saying. mods have deleted every comment even mentioning politics.
even ones that most would call non-inflammatory.
@DavidZ This is the other problem: you guys are using "political" to mean "political stuff that's likely to cause trouble". That's just lazy language, plain and simple.
wow, quite the passion in this room lately. confused, so is politics allowed in here?
@vzn discussion about discussion about politics is. politics isn't. =P
@heather thx for straightening that up! :P
this is supposed to be about disagreements with policy, etc. see starboard over in the hbar.
11:08 PM
You guys are playing a dangerous game. You've written policy "no politics", but then in reality you're willing to allow disobedience of the written policy so long as you're ok with the violation.
@DanielSank THIS!
@DanielSank uh... no? At least, I'm definitely not using "political" to mean "political stuff that's likely to cause trouble" in this instance. I'm just using it to mean "political", the plain old definition of the word as I know it.
@heather Each of the conversations I removed had already started to deteriorate. One had Emilio explicitly asking to stop it (which everyone else was ignoring), the other started with satire and immediate drew a "The left is politically insane" after it. That's not "non-inflammatory".
If nothing else, this is really going to piss off the users.
I have to head out. @heather, if you get the chance, I'd love to see a meta answer from you on that question, explaining what you've said so far so others not here can think about it. I still stand by that the problematic discussions take away much more than the productive ones give, but again, that's based on negative experiences I've had in a variety of chat rooms, meaning that I think it's likely the same thing will happen in The h Bar in the future.
11:09 PM
@ACuriousMind um, @KyleKanos' comment?
@DavidZ Yes you are, DZ. Stop dicking me around. I really, really hate it when you do this. You guys have said "politics" and then refined to "politics that causes trouble" over and over.
@HDE226868 i am considering writing a meta post, so. but thanks for your input, do have a good day =)
@DanielSank No I'm not.
@DanielSank think you should seriously consider starting a room. know its a big step in life, but think it over :|
Ok, let me go through the chat log...
11:10 PM
@DavidZ either you are or you aren't. please stop this see-sawing.
you've said both.
3 mins ago, by ACuriousMind
> Note that this ban on political discussion is of course subject to common sense, and subordinate to its goal of prohibiting inflammatory discussion. You will not be banned for mentioning the newest EU regulation on cucumber curvature, or curiously asking what political structure another country has, etc. It should be pretty evident in most cases whether a given topic has the potential to be inflammatory or not - if in doubt, make another room for it or just ask.
Perhaps I need to be more careful.
"you" means "the moderators"
I apologize for that.
@heather No, I didn't. In reference to the link Daniel posted, I said that's barely even political, and that is not using any special definition of "political" as far as I'm aware.
oh, i should point out as well: whenever I say you, I generally mean the moderators collectively.
@DavidZ How is a law about what you can do on Sunday not political?
@heather It triggered the rest (Emilio asking to stop, snide comments about countries with oil, etc.)
11:11 PM
@ACuriousMind no...? i think we're talking about different kyle kanos comments.
See this is the problem. Regarding "political": You keep using that word. I don't think it means what you think it means.
@heather If you're not talking about this one I don't know what you're referring to.
It looks like we don't all think "politics" means the same thing.
i was there, and bernardo was like "job?" (significantly shortened) and kyle was like "no immigration ban" and bam, it all got deleted.
This could be a very simple problem to fix.
11:12 PM
@DanielSank It's barely political, to my knowledge. I don't know what else to tell you. It's just a law.
@DavidZ That's... political by definition. wtf?
@DavidZ um...laws = politics
@DanielSank Not by the definition I know
@DavidZ Uhhhhh
@DanielSank lol sometimes think you should seriously consider philosophy in addition to physics... :o
11:13 PM
Politics (from Greek: Politiká: Politika, definition "affairs of the cities") is the process of making decisions applying to all members of each group. More narrowly, it refers to achieving and exercising positions of governance — organized control over a human community, particularly a state. Furthermore, politics is the study or practice of the distribution of power and resources within a given community (a usually hierarchically organized population) as well as the interrelationship(s) between communities. A variety of methods are deployed in politics, which include promoting or forcing one...
^ Recommended reading
@DavidZ what is your definition?
@ACuriousMind ah, yes, that one.
DS/ heather think you need to go easy(er) on the mods, untwist your underwear some o_O
@DavidZ Uh, on the definition part, I agree with DS and heather, that's why I talked about European cucumbers in the post... ;)
european cucumbers, lol.
@heather The blurb in the Wikipedia onebox Daniel just linked seems appropriately close to the definition I'm familiar with.
11:14 PM
@vzn my underwear's not in a knot! =P
@DavidZ "making decisions applying to all members" - laws.
@heather think there are a LOT OF KNOTS going on lately o_O
@vzn They're being perfectly civil while being argumentative, which is refreshing compared to the "discussion" we often get from problem users in other venues :P
An old, established law about working on Sunday (for example) is not a decision. The decision was made long ago, and is over and done with.
@DavidZ erm... sorry, but I think your definition's a tad bonkers. a law is a law is a law is a law.
which is to say: a law = politics.
i don't see where you're coming from.
If people bring up the question of whether to repeal the law, then it becomes politics.
11:16 PM
look guys (DS + heather) am all in favor of free speech/ no censorship but those concepts are sometimes a lot blurrier than you would think in cyberspace/ chat rooms
He's distinguishing between existing common laws and {the process of coming up with new laws through the process of debate/compromise in a society with groups of differing opinions}.
@vzn, if you take part in this conversation, then please fully take part (make your argument, elaborate, expect argument back, etc)
@DanielSank Yeah, that sounds about right
@DanielSank oh I didn't get what he meant.
@DavidZ politics compromises both.
Interestingly, under the latter, discussion of how the recent executive order affects e.g. my collaborator's ability to work in the US would not be politics.
11:17 PM
@heather you guys are all heated up about a single room on SE. there are zillions of rooms. admittedly its a cooler room, but anyway...
@heather I would say no, it doesn't
@DanielSank And I would agree with that
but then, what def of politics are you using for the "no politics" order?
do executive orders count?
what about laws?
discussion of any kind?
@DavidZ You guys need to be more explicit about this because I promise you most of the site does not understand this distinction at all.
@DanielSank We will certainly do that.
@DavidZ Very good.
11:18 PM
@vzn it's a room where i spend way more of my life than I should, i think i have reason to argue about it =)
@DavidZ that's needed.
are you guys using davidz's def of politics?
@DanielSank ...if you manage to discuss the how without arguing the pro and contra then I'd say that's not exactly politics either.
@heather why dont you guys experiment with building up other rooms and getting your favorite ppl to join? why is that concept so rare on SE chat anyway? think theres huge possibility/ underutilized for experimenting
@heather We need to figure out just what definition we are using. There is evidently some disagreement about this that I wasn't aware of.
@vzn, it's also the spirit of the matter. i like the hbar. lots of people come there.
@DavidZ okay, thanks for clarifying that...i think what exactly is banned needs to be spelled out to a t, because it's not currently clear.
@heather you can still direct them/ advertise elsewhere.
11:20 PM
I think @ACuriousMind is kind of the "point person" (to whatever extent we have one) on this politics ban, so I'll defer to him on the details for now
(unless I'm wrong about that)
@heather While it's evident we need to clarify what exactly the "ban on politics" entails, you should be prepared that there will always remain some sort of grey area. Working on minimizing it is good, though.
@ACuriousMind why need there be a gray area? i think you should fight to have no gray area about what is on and off-topic. if there is gray, you are either being too unclear or too broad in your ban, both of which are currently true.
@ACuriousMind I don't know what you mean.
also, I'd like to bring up my second objection about user participation in the decision of these rules.
@DavidZ This brings me to my next point.
11:24 PM
^ah, you go first.
Language matters a lot.
@heather Have you ever done that exercise where you get a group of people to try and define e.g. a chair? It's amazingly hard and I haven't seen anyone who has come up with one that not either excludes at least one thing we would call "chair" or includes things that are clearly not "chairs" in common usage. (sorry for edits :|)
@heather My experience suggests it's impossible not to have a gray area.
Because language matters and because it's hard to get right, I think the mods may want to consider being more conservative in their use of the ban-hammer in the future.
@ACuriousMind sounds like philosophy exercise... (maybe Plato can help us)
11:25 PM
Don't ban "politics". Start small, i.e. "Recent discussions about the US immigration policy have been problematic, so we're temporarily banning it in hbar (but other rooms are unaffected) until we can craft a more precise policy".
@ACuriousMind my point is not that there should be no gray area, but you admitting the idea of gray area is like already admitting defeat. you should not ban "chairs" or "politics"! you should ban "discussion of donald trump's recent involvement in politics in a way that violates the be nice policy."
@DanielSank YES!! =)
What you guys did, banning "politics" made a few users feel like you were flailing for a way to solve a temporary problem with minimal effort on your side. This makes people feel like you care more for your convenience than for the health of the site.
@DanielSank I believe other chat rooms have had problems with other topics going beyond the US immigration policy.
and with not really any evidence for your side except your word, and NO user input whatsoever in a user input based site, and then an overly strict enforcement of your ban.
@DanielSank Does it make people feel like that or you?
11:27 PM
@DavidZ it's an example.
screw politics lets talk about QM interpretations instead! in the main room because its on topic =D :P
@ACuriousMind At least three users other than myself. My own feelings are not yet completely formed here.
@ACuriousMind people: plural. myself, Daniel, Bernardo, john (duffield) and others have voiced opinions against it.
@heather Yes, but there are many examples. Let me look around and see if I can find more details. (But it will take a while)
@vzn you're welcome to head over to the hbar if you don't like the discussion.
11:28 PM
@DavidZ Again, preemptively banning something that was a problem elsewhere makes it feel like you're just looking for the quickest solution, not the most effective one.
@heather sorry JD is persona non grata (hadnt you noticed?)
@DavidZ it is an example to make a point.
@heather See, that's better, because the fact that the meta post also got upvotes rather quickly tells me that "people" are also in favour of it.
@vzn he's a person. his opinion does count.
@ACuriousMind No. No no no no no. The meta post was useful, hence upvotes.
11:28 PM
@heather lol yeah just like 0celo7 :P
@DanielSank Ahhh, that's not how votes on meta are supposed to work, but I take your point that that might also be what actually happened.
@ACuriousMind I am planning on making a detailed meta post myself, I simply wish to have this conversation first. But I agree with Daniel Sank. I think I upvoted it myself because I was glad the mods were finally starting a reasonable discussion about their decision.
@DanielSank sorry must admit, ACM is right, if people disagree they will downvote. (think it took a lot of nerve for ACM to post that.)
@vzn what does that mean?
@heather they are both black sheep around here. can empathize somewhat :|
11:30 PM
@ACuriousMind Hmmm, it sounds like a lot of assumptions are being made here that may not be entirely solidly founded.
@vzn i wouldn't say 0celo is a "black sheep" (?) in the same way JD is, if either are at all.
Also, your statement that that's not how meta is supposed to work is scary to me, because I have never seen any literature on how meta is supposed to work.
@heather admittedly they are unique in their troublemaking ways :P
Anyway, I was trying to get a thought across...
I would also like to make a point here: I would ask that the mods temporarily make a log of all at all political related discussions that have been deleted available for discussion about what's okay and not okay in political discussions.
not as an open chat room, but just a list available at the meta post. user names can be blocked out or whatever.
11:31 PM
@DanielSank Well, I'm fairly sure we did not do this because we thought it was the quickest solution. We don't rush out a quick solution with the intention of making it permanent when we think there is a better solution available.
@DavidZ did you think long about the solution? (Serious question.)
@heather surely at least this )( long :P
@DavidZ Then perhaps you guys should be more proactive about soliciting useful ideas from the community?
@vzn sorry, but please be constructive or take a small step back.
@heather I can tell you this was under debate among the mods for several days, at least.
11:33 PM
@DanielSank cmon dude think the mods around here are more "proactive" than just about anyone on SE
If you make yourselves the only ones responsible for a big decision, and in particular one that comes in the form of censorship, you will bear the brunt of everything wrong with that decision.
@DavidZ Yet no input from the community.
Not good.
@DavidZ and yet it was never mentioned to a non-mod!? this is something that should be for user input!!
^deserves way more exclamation points.
It's obvious that the policy was well-intentioned but less well communicated.
Again, communication is hard and I would invite you guys to solicit input from others. We're smart people.
11:35 PM
to reference my earlier comment "and with not really any evidence for your side except your word, and NO user input whatsoever in a user input based site, and then an overly strict enforcement of your ban." (italics added)
Barnardo and I are working on a meta post with some ideas for refinement. We want to do a good job, so it will take a while.
@DanielSank From the help center: "Unlike normal Stack Exchange sites, Meta invites the community to discuss, debate and propose changes to the way the community itself behaves, as well as how the software itself works. On posts tagged feature-request, voting indicates agreement or disagreement with the proposed change rather than just the quality or usefulness of the post itself." Strangely enough, I don't recall the restriction to the tag...
@ACuriousMind how meta voting is supposed to work though?
@DanielSank Isn't that what we're doing now?
i've never seen anything on that, just that it's different.
11:35 PM
@heather It's right there: "voting indicates agreement or disagreement"
@DavidZ Yes, but not on your initiative.
@DavidZ i'd call it users refusing to let this pass before user input is added, not you asking for user input. just saying.
It just makes people feel shitty when you censor them before coming up with ways to foster growth.
hi people. Ive been reading the conversation and I didnt want to step in because I didnt have anything useful to add
Again, it makes it feel like your goal is minimal work instead of maximal goodness.
11:36 PM
I just want to say that I mostly agree with DS and heather
@heather ACM's meta post is us asking for user input.
@DavidZ Not really.
Unless I've misunderstood it?
it's more of an announcement with "comments are welcome" put on the end. @DavidZ
11:37 PM
also not really in favor of politics ban & have said so in "trash" where was "invited" :(
@ACuriousMind was that your intent?
It's asking for user imput. It's not asking for user-sourced policy because of what we started this discussion with: Both the Be Nice policy and the confinement of politics to separate chat rooms are general SE philosophy; that's not something we physics mods just made up on the spot.
@AccidentalFourierTransform wondering what country are you in? (oh see on your profile ok)
wait. wait, wait. "the confinement of politics to separate chat rooms are general SE philosophy" - so not true it's not even funny.
and don't quote that one meta post.
by shog9.
that was asking for political discussions to be civil.
you banning politics is all you, and that is something totally different from the be nice policy.
@ACuriousMind But we already established that "politics" is a tricky word and not understood the same by everyone.
11:39 PM
that is what content is allowed, and that is a user-sourced policy thing across the SE network.
The meta post, and the policy, needs work.
@heather ...**and** it called for (civil) political discussions to be confined to separate rooms
also, what DS said.
Non-civil discussions are obviously not allowed anywhere.
@ACuriousMind um...not as I remember it.
11:40 PM
@heather I quoted the exact passage where it says that in the meta post.
> But if you want to do that [discussing politics], if you've found others who also want to have that conversation, then make a room for the topic, welcome anyone interested who is willing to be civil, and then actually take it seriously.
one moment.
You know, I have to say this: I think I'm a pretty reasonable person with a half-decent ability to understand other people's points of view. Right now, given the discussion we've had, my inclination is to completely ignore the "no politics" policy and just move on with my life because I can't tell what you guys actually want to ban and I don't think you really care about being more clear.
If you did, I'd expect more positive reaction to this whole discussion, but instead you're mostly defending what you already did.
@DanielSank do not advise that. have you ever had your comments trashed yet? its defn no fun :(
I hope you clean up the description of what's banned and what's not.
@DanielSank and i'd have to agree with you.
reading the post @ACuriousMind, here's what I see:
11:42 PM
I hope you don't resort to appeals to "common sense".
If y'all wanna talk about politics, good on ya - this is important stuff, and deserves to be discussed. We have an entire site dedicated to the topic, and even sites that aren't dedicated to politics can still have civil political discussions.
@DanielSank I think your point about us needing to make what "politics" means in this case is valid, and I have already said so. But I also think that our general course of action here was correct and so far I haven't seen anything that convinces me otherwise.
even sites that aren't dedicated to politics can still have civil political discussions.
@ACuriousMind In that case, a good day to you sir, and if you want a bottle of mead send me your address.
it also isn't saying it's required.
11:43 PM
@DanielSank Of course, we will do that. But it's not going to happen right now.
mods: sorry, but I think you're handling this terribly, and I hope you see that I say that in the most reasonable, mod-respectful way possible.
@heather Sure, and you can. Just not in the middle of the main chatroom. That's why its followed by the invitation to create separate rooms in both Shog9's and my meta post.
@ACuriousMind um...you can in the main chatroom.
no where in the post does it deny the main chatroom.
it merely suggests making a new one.
nowhere does it ban it in the main chatroom.
you took that next step.
give me a few moments, dinner and all.
@heather We're drifting into textual exegesis instead of arguments here, but the part about the separate rooms is bolded in the original post, strongly suggesting it is not an optional idea one may simply decide to ignore.
@heather honestly, I don't understand how you come to that conclusion from Shog9's meta post. Maybe this is another case of differing interpretations of language. We should clear that up. I just can't wrap my head around yours.
hey @Shog9, maybe you can help clarify things here
11:49 PM
FWIW, my reasoning in that post is entirely practical: if you're in *the main room for a site*, it's extremely unlikely that you're gonna end up with a stable group of people who,
1) want to talk about politics at all
2) can do it constructively
If you can pull it off, good on ya. But... Have a backup plan for when it doesn't work out
For example, maybe you can all discuss air quality legislation in a polite and informative fashion, but someone inevitably flips out when the topic turns to religious freedom as it pertains to minor surgery.
Ok, fine - once you see that, don't keep pushing; either drop the topic, or move it somewhere else.
Just don't make the mistake of deciding that "we're all good, kind people here, so those problems in other rooms won't ever happen"
@Shog9, but one question.
@heather @DanielSank encourage you to write up your objections (which think have merit) as answers to ACMs meta post & will likely upvote myself, thats the SE mechanism/ convention/ system etc for resolving these types of conflicts "as best possible"...
@Shog9 so wouldn't you agree the outright ban of politics is a bit...unspecific and broad?
@vzn daniel sank/bernardo are, and I am as well.
i just have a few more questions here.
@heather sure. It's at best a useful guideline, to help folks gauge their own activity and to help mods / ROs identify potentially problematic discussions before they get out of control.
It's like saying, "don't talk about religion in the cafeteria" - well, who decides what's "religion"?
You do. The folks participating.
11:54 PM
@Shog9 okay, and for the official status: a decision like that that is chat-topic focused should have user input, right? Just like on/off-topic on the main site are decided by user input.
@Shog9 can you think of any precedent on other sites? eg recorded in meta? it would be interesting to know of other cases around SE for comparison
@vzn Gaming has had various policies like that on and off. Currently mostly off, but at the cost of several unpleasant experiences.
btw which meta post by shog9 was DZ referring to?
@heather sure. I assume that's why there's a meta post
@Shog9, not really - it was more of an announcement.
11:57 PM
@vzn for context:
Links to lots of stuff on MSE, including a couple of posts of mine
@Shog9 so perhaps a policy along the lines of "we recommend staying away from politics because it's risky, and if you insist on discussing it, be extra careful to be nice" is what we should be working towards?
@DavidZ that's how I read ACM's post
though clearly there's room for interpretation here, as evidenced by @heather's concern
re shog9 post you guys are not talking about anything other than "toward a philosophy of chat" right? meta.stackexchange.com/q/270587/263383
@heather again, that's not how I understood it
@vzn read down, to the section on politics, which links to this:
Q: If you're gonna talk Politics, you must respect those who disagree

Shog9This is sort of a follow-up to two past discussions: Toward a philosophy of Chat Does the Be Nice policy require SE users to "be nice" to people who are not SE users (e.g. public figures)? Over the past year, there's been an uptick in discussions of politics in chat. JUST LOOK AT THIS CHART! ...

11:59 PM
@Shog9 my concern is because it has been heavily over enforced, in my view.
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