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View Full Version : Community Poll: Current Affairs Section's Future



DMXX
04-19-2014, 09:20 PM
Dear members,

Following some feedback (http://www.anthrogenica.com/showthread.php?2424-Politics-at-Anthrogenica) we received yesterday concerning the Current Affairs section here at Anthrogenica, the administration has explored some options regarding the future of this section.

As explained previously (http://www.anthrogenica.com/showthread.php?2424-Politics-at-Anthrogenica&p=37638&viewfull=1#post37638), the reason for this section's inclusion in contrast to DNA-Forums was as follows:



1) Topics pertaining to current affairs (and religion) did sneak their way into random parts of DNA-Forums (although the latter proved more troublesome). As this forum places an additional emphasis on all aspects of anthropology, we perceived the likelihood of politics being discussed to be greater. Therefore, a dedicated section would have given our future admin a better scope of moderating that form of traffic.
2) There was no indication what reception such a section would receive once our community grew. Evidently, this is no longer the case.


As we have flourished as a community and have received some opinions on this section since launching, we are now asking the community to assist us in determining its' future.

There are benefits and drawbacks to having a dedicated section to current affairs/politics in a forum, particularly one focused on genetics and anthropology. Some have been previously addressed. Others likely exist. Regardless of the numerous considerations, we want to know how the community perceives its' inclusion at this point in time.

One solution we are proposing is repackaging the Current Affairs section as a hidden one requiring those wishing to participate in it to "opt-in" by contacting a member of staff. This will leave members who don't "opt-in", as well as guests, from viewing the section at all. Please note moderation will still take place in this section. The precise details of this will be elaborated upon at a later date, should it be nominated by the community. We are putting an emphasis on this option as it allows everyone irrespective of their position on discussing politics online to continue their activity here as they'd prefer. Thanks to LUKE33 for giving us this suggestion.

With the above in mind, I encourage all members to cast their votes regarding whether the Current Affairs section should exist in the form described above or be removed from the forum completely. This poll will remain open indefinitely until enough votes have been secured to indicate a majority opinion.

Finally, please note the Current Affairs section will be temporarily closed whilst votes are being received. Viewing the section at the index page will, for the time being, redirect to this thread.

From the outset and in contrast with DNA-Forums, we intended this forum to be community-driven. Most of our decisions since launch have been dictated by what you, our members, want to see featured here. I hope our members acknowledge this request and make their voices heard regarding this section's future.

Thank you all for your kind attention.

Ryan
04-19-2014, 09:27 PM
No problem with that.
If people can't discuss, they should avoid it.

alan
04-19-2014, 09:29 PM
I think by and large its been useful but there has been some party politics creep in and plain old naughty stirring of the pot for fun by some lovable rogues

Agamemnon
04-19-2014, 09:34 PM
We have great quality posters here, I think the current affairs section shouldn't be a problem as long as we argue like gentlemen... Or at least educated folks (keep it civil, no insults and smearing).
No shaming, no beating around the bush and everything should be fine.

I personally do not care about one's political views, as long as you can make a package out of it and let it in the current affairs section I'm totally fine with it.
Holding abhorrent views (as I guess some of mine are to some) doesn't necessarily mean you cannot write good posts when addressing other topics.

GailT
04-19-2014, 09:41 PM
I suggest keeping it as is, with no changes. Participation is purely optional, and the negative comments seemed to be from people who prefer not to see political opinions and factual data that they disagree with. The solution seems pretty obvious - if you are stressed out by participating in political discussions, don't participate in that forum.

Alpine Hominin
04-19-2014, 10:15 PM
I would personally like to see it gone, I feel it is the topic most likely to draw lowbrow posters. Anthrogenica is unique in the sense the discussion is DNA based rather than race based, and the quality of individuals posting is superior to most sites.

I would like politics left to less DNA based forums like ABF. If we're going to keep the political discussion, keeping it hidden from non-members may cut down on people coming to the site to discuss politics then cluttering DNA discussion with phenotype discussion. I would hate to see this forum slip into the ranks of a race forum.

DMXX
04-19-2014, 10:17 PM
...keeping it hidden from non-members may cut down on people coming to the site to discuss politics then cluttering DNA discussion with phenotype discussion...

I should have been more specific in the opening post - If the Current Affairs section is to stay, it will only be visible to members who opt-in. Guests, as well as members who've intentionally not opted-in, won't be able to view it.

I'll amend the opening post to clarify this.

Joe B
04-19-2014, 10:21 PM
Anthrogenica is unique place to discuss and communicate about human DNA with people from around the world. I trip over people wanting to discuss politics. There is nothing unique about current event discussions at all.
It would be hard to keep politics out of Anthrogenica completely. The French and DNA or the FDA crackdown on 23andme are two examples. Let's just try not to let politics get in the way of the science. That includes making this a comfortable place for everybody of all stripes.
Bottom line for me is keep the Current Affairs open unless it gets in the way of the science.

leonardo
04-19-2014, 10:22 PM
I must say, I was rather torn by the question posed, but, in the name of freedom of speech, voted to keep the section. I have participated in a number of forums where things can get rather down and dirty when it comes to discussions such as these. This forum has been free of such things for the most part, concentrating of my first loves: genetics and anthropology. I do feel obliged to comment that I have seen an increase in politically charged posts recently, so I can see why some have raised this concern. With me being a strongly opinionated person, I have had to exercise every ounce of self control not to respond with passion to these recent posts.

Alpine Hominin
04-19-2014, 10:25 PM
I should have been more specific in the opening post - If the Current Affairs section is to stay, it will only be visible to members who opt-in. Guests, as well as members who've intentionally not opted-in, won't be able to view it.

I'll amend the opening post to clarify this.

I think this would be a good middle ground solution. I would change my vote in the poll if I could. The members of this site generally seem capable of civil political discussion.

MikeWhalen
04-19-2014, 10:48 PM
would the new 'opt in' current affairs still have the level of moderation this forum has successfully applied to all the sub forums?

as in, even if it is opt in, it should not be a 'free for all' zone

i will hold off voting till thats been made clear

...jm2c


btw, kudos for giving the community a role to play in this

Mike

alan
04-19-2014, 10:49 PM
I actually originally liked the idea of talking politics here simply because I have known a lot of the posters for many years in this hobby and respect them and preferred the idea to discussing another subject with them than random people on actual political sites who usually have too much of an axe to grind. I kind of looked it as being like just having a wide ranging discussion with people I know in a bar. However, I suppose niche websites are composed of people with a shared interest in one thing and you dont really know how people feel about other things so it will never quite be like real life where things are less compartmentalised.

DMXX
04-19-2014, 10:59 PM
as in, even if it is opt in, it should not be a 'free for all' zone


Moderation will be to the same degree in this hypothetical section as elsewhere on the forum. This section will not resemble the free-for-alls seen elsewhere. Some members of staff have already volunteered to oversee this section (myself included). I'll edit this point in as well. I should note, however, members will be warned they may read views/opinions they may not necessarily agree with, but this is a given.

On a side-note, I've never understood the rationale of having these "free-for-all" sections to begin with. Not only are they a complete waste of bandwidth, but they ferment hostility worse than old manure in a tramp's back-pocket. One can presume their existence is a means of generating more traffic through drama; it's a quick and easy way of ratcheting up post counts despite it being at the expense of forum climate.

Volat
04-19-2014, 11:16 PM
there're so many places on the internet, practically every second discussion board that has current affair section. one can always join such discussion elsewhere. so, i voted to remove the section altogether.

rms2
04-20-2014, 12:18 PM
I voted to get rid of it. Everyone thinks his or her point of view relies on "factual data" (oh, please). The world is full of true believers who can't let it go for a minute, even in a forum dedicated to genetic genealogy.

Most folks will "opt-in" to the "hidden subforum" out of curiosity and will soon know who the rabid leftists are (they are the ones most likely to make hemorrhoids out of themselves in such a venue). Some will respond, only to be met with the usual copy-and-paste barrage of "factual data". Thus the interminable and useless assault on good sense begins . . . and never ends.

How one can for a moment imagine that discussing politics here is a good idea, that it can remain civil, is beyond me.

But perhaps I am wrong. It's not as if the history of the world has been drenched in blood as a consequence of political differences . . .

But, oh, we're different.

rms2
04-20-2014, 12:49 PM
If you all vote to keep "Current Affairs", while you're at it, why not start a "hidden subforum", with an "opt-in" feature, where we can refight the various religious wars that have been such a blessing to humanity?

I mean, why not?

DMXX
04-20-2014, 01:02 PM
I voted to get rid of it. Everyone thinks his or her point of view relies on "factual data" (oh, please). The world is full of true believers who can't let it go for a minute, even in a forum dedicated to genetic genealogy.


People develop beliefs over a great many things beyond politics or religion. As we're all aware by this point, the topic of genetic genealogy is no exception. This particular part of your message is a global assessment of some people's tendency towards emotional rather than intellectual reasoning (which is obviously true).



Most folks will "opt-in" to the "hidden subforum" out of curiosity and will soon know who the rabid leftists are (they are the ones most likely to make hemorrhoids out of themselves in such a venue).


If the Current Affairs section is rebranded as an opt-in hidden forum, only time will dictate what sort of posting pattern will emerge. There is no guarantee it will progress in the manner you have described.



Some will respond, only to be met with the usual copy-and-paste barrage of "factual data". Thus the interminable and useless assault on good sense begins . . . and never ends.


I don't understand why hyperbolic language is being used here.

With all due respect - if other users wish to participate in an "interminable and useless assault" of their own volition in a controlled environment managed by a willing staff - That is our "burden".

The proposed alternative neatly excludes those who have no interest discussing politics here, such as yourself, from participating in it. Those discussions will not be a part of your forum experience, or anyone else who isn't interested in participating in them.



How one can for a moment imagine that discussing politics here is a good idea, that it can remain civil, is beyond me.


Different people have different thresholds. Stepping aside from administrator impartiality for one moment, I've read a great number of comments on this forum that I strongly disagree with, but it never occurred to me to silence those other views by doing away with the Current Affairs section. In fact, I've learned a few things from reading those opposing views (even if they haven't changed my own views).



But perhaps I am wrong. It's not as if the history of the world has been drenched in blood as a consequence of political differences . . .

But, oh, we're different.

I wouldn't say you're wrong - Rather, your perspective on this matter differs from others on this forum.

In the 21 months this forum has been active, the Current Affairs section has received less complaints than the other sections despite the potential for volatile content. Removing the subsection will no doubt satisfy you, but as is apparent from the vote, a considerable number of people here are interested in this forum hosting this section.

Rather than favouring one side, the alternative offered satisfies both. No reasonable administration would give special attention to a minority, or conversely, ignore their views for the majority's.

LUKE33
04-20-2014, 01:55 PM
Quote by : DMXX I've read a great number of comments on this forum that I strongly disagree with, but it never occurred to me to silence those other views by doing away with the Current Affairs section. In fact, I've learned a few things from reading those opposing views (even if they haven't changed my own views).

I agree with your comments above totally.

I presented many articles from both the west and the east - the fact, that I did this doesn't mean,that I agree with the views expressed in them.This was done so, that my fellow members and I could have a better understanding of the unfolding events.

Nothing more...nothing less.

Democracy and freedom of speech.

alan
04-20-2014, 02:10 PM
I think it was fine until people strayed into wider political philosophy and then others reacted. It is a danger. I learned a lot on it from people with different views to my own which I generally feel is a general truism. You learn nothing from people who agree closely with your own opinion anyway. I think discussions with opposing views are useful for people, especially younger people, whose views are not yet written in stone and still forming.

However, I agree it degenerated badly in the last week. How about leaving it visible to all for a trial 4 week period to see if the section can prove itself to stay on topic and to not become an ideology venting forum or a left right thing. Then another vote by all forum members. If it doesnt turn out to be a good and rational subforum and declines in quality like it did over the last week I would happily vote it out of existence. If it relapses even before the end of the 4 weeks I think it would be OK for it to be closed down immediately without a vote.


People develop beliefs over a great many things beyond politics or religion. As we're all aware by this point, the genetic genealogy world is no exception. This particular part of your message is a global assessment of some people's tendency towards emotional rather than intellectual reasoning (which is obviously true).



If the Current Affairs section is rebranded as an opt-in hidden forum, only time will dictate what sort of posting pattern will emerge. There is no guarantee it will progress in the manner you have described.



I don't understand why hyperbolic language is being used here.

With all due respect - if other users wish to participate in an "interminable and useless assault" of their own volition in a controlled environment managed by a willing staff - That is our "burden".

The proposed alternative neatly excludes those who have no interest discussing politics here, such as yourself, from participating in it. Those discussions will not be a part of your forum experience, or anyone else who isn't interested in participating in them.



Different people have different thresholds. Stepping aside from administrator impartiality for one moment, I've read a great number of comments on this forum that I strongly disagree with, but it never occurred to me to silence those other views by doing away with the Current Affairs section. In fact, I've learned a few things from reading those opposing views (even if they haven't changed my own views).



I wouldn't say you're wrong - Rather, your perspective on this matter differs from others on this forum.

In the 21 months this forum has been active, the Current Affairs section has received less complaints than the other sections despite the potential for volatile content. Removing the subsection will no doubt satisfy you, but as is apparent from the vote, a considerable number of people here are interested in this forum hosting this section.

Rather than favouring one side, the alternative offered satisfies both. No reasonable administration would give special attention to a minority, or conversely, ignore their views for the majority's.

mnd
04-20-2014, 06:12 PM
I agree with GailT – I would prefer for it to remain as it is. I’m a member of several larger (non-anthropological) forums with current affairs sections, and they tend to work fine. All the forums I’ve been a member of and most of those I’ve come across seem to have them.

Given that Anthrogenica is a fairly small forum populated by relatively educated, civil people, I don’t see any overriding reason why it should be removed. I didn’t find any of the threads I read in the section to have become particularly untoward.

It’s on forums where people are allowed free reign to post whatever they like that the overall quality of discussion tends to be low… I don’t see why the current affairs section should be exceptional where attracting “lowbrow” users and discussion is concerned. Topics concerning ancient DNA, history, and biological and cultural anthropology could all potentially attract individuals given to making inappropriate posts. Given reasonable moderation and a framework for dealing with inappropriate posting behaviour, I don’t see much of an issue.

This particular paragraph by the individual who suggested removing the current affairs section caught my attention:


Most folks will "opt-in" to the "hidden subforum" out of curiosity and will soon know who the rabid leftists are (they are the ones most likely to make hemorrhoids out of themselves in such a venue). Some will respond, only to be met with the usual copy-and-paste barrage of "factual data". Thus the interminable and useless assault on good sense begins . . . and never ends
Why should “rabid leftists” be the “most likely to make hemorrhoids out of themselves”? Why not rabid rightists or rabid-anything-else-ists?

This makes it seem as though your desire to see the section removed has less to do with its suitability to Anthrogenica and more to do with your personal grievances.

MikeWhalen
04-20-2014, 06:47 PM
thanks for clarifying DMXX

I voted opt in

Mike



Moderation will be to the same degree in this hypothetical section as elsewhere on the forum. This section will not resemble the free-for-alls seen elsewhere. Some members of staff have already volunteered to oversee this section (myself included). I'll edit this point in as well. I should note, however, members will be warned they may read views/opinions they may not necessarily agree with, but this is a given.

On a side-note, I've never understood the rationale of having these "free-for-all" sections to begin with. Not only are they a complete waste of bandwidth, but they ferment hostility worse than old manure in a tramp's back-pocket. One can presume their existence is a means of generating more traffic through drama; it's a quick and easy way of ratcheting up post counts despite it being at the expense of forum climate.

rms2
04-21-2014, 12:44 AM
. . .

Why should “rabid leftists” be the “most likely to make hemorrhoids out of themselves”? Why not rabid rightists or rabid-anything-else-ists?

Because that has been my experience, and because modern leftism is a kind of religion.



This makes it seem as though your desire to see the section removed has less to do with its suitability to Anthrogenica and more to do with your personal grievances.

I have already said why I want to see Current Affairs removed. Did I mention "personal grievances"? No.

I think the presence of modern politics there will create hard feelings. I know that I already regard several people here in a negative way that is due entirely to what they posted in Current Affairs. I won't be alone in this, regardless of what you think.

Do what you like. Apparently most people like the idea of discussing politics here. I think it's a bad idea.

rms2
04-21-2014, 01:02 AM
One of the things that bugs me about political discussions here is the thought that I will eventually be drawn into them.

I will try hard to avoid "opting in", but a lot of the political stuff I have seen posted here is really irritating, relying as it does on ill-informed caricatures and misrepresentations of principles I hold dear. It is hard not to speak up when one is provoked.

I really don't like being forced to regard as a moron someone I might otherwise have liked, and that is what political discussions do.

MitchellSince1893
04-21-2014, 05:35 AM
I would prefer not to know the political beliefs of others on here because when I have read what others have posted and they attack what I believe it makes it more difficult to remain objective when they discuss the reason I am here...genetic genealogy.

There are plenty of others sites for this type of discussion. I think this section detracts from the true purpose of this site.

rivergirl
04-21-2014, 12:49 PM
I like to see different perspective from people from different backgrounds and nationalities.
I do not always agree with others, but it's great to see a different point of view.
I would opt in, even if I do not participate.

alan
04-21-2014, 06:59 PM
I do agree that people shouldnt post on controversial subjects if they havent put some effort into educating themselves in it first. I tend to think that a lot of people have strong opinions on things that are not based on a lot of research and are just based on their wider general ideology. There is no room for uninformed ideologically driven opinions on subjects that require some sort of objectivity. If people just post on a subject that there general ideology gives them an unresearched option its not a lot of use. So, I think it will only work if people are either well read on the subject and/or have an open mind and opinion is not written in stone. Ideologues tend to applaud what fits their preconcieved world view and blank what doesnt even if its valid. The Ukraine thread was a mixture of both good stuff and ideology so it was part success and part fail.

mnd
04-23-2014, 10:34 AM
I have already said why I want to see Current Affairs removed. Did I mention "personal grievances"? No.
I didn’t say you mentioned it – I said it made it seem that way.


I think the presence of modern politics there will create hard feelings. I know that I already regard several people here in a negative way that is due entirely to what they posted in Current Affairs. I won't be alone in this, regardless of what you think.

Do what you like. Apparently most people like the idea of discussing politics here. I think it's a bad idea.
What I don’t understand is this apparent exceptionality of current affairs such that it should be treated differently to the rest of the forum (whether through having it removed altogether or having an opt-in feature).

There are plenty of scenarios in which I could envisage anthropological topics being equally as controversial as any political one. Ancient DNA, history, and social and cultural anthropology all have the potential to spark heated discussions pertaining to sensitive topics in which people may get offended, feel insulted, begin viewing others differently, and so on and so forth. The history of (social and cultural) anthropology and its relation to colonialism comes to mind. I’m not even sure whether it’s entirely possible to separate politics from anthropology.

Off the top of my head, some of the kinds of topics which come to mind include the process by which a land came to be inhabited by b people; how c people came to speak d language; how e people came to descend, to whatever extent, from f ancient people; how and why g people differ from h people. It’s not at all hard to see how these kinds of topics could go awry.

rms2
04-23-2014, 10:51 AM
Come on. You really can't see the difference between politics and the discussion of anthropological topics? Really?

Anyway, you can leave me out of this crap now. So quit quoting me and addressing me.

I will opt out.

alan
04-23-2014, 12:13 PM
I am happy to abide by whatever the vote is

DMXX
04-23-2014, 02:26 PM
Please remain on the topic without personalising the matter, gentlemen.

We're leaving the poll open for two more days at the most for any additional comments or votes to be made.

DMXX
04-25-2014, 02:27 PM
Thanks to everyone who has participated in the discussion and contributed to the vote we've set up.

As the majority view (keep the section, albeit opt-in and hidden) has been sustained since we created this thread one week ago this thread (together with the poll) will be closed.

In addition, we will shortly be proceeding with opening the Current Affairs section later today with an outline of how users can opt in. I'll be posting an update here in this thread regarding this.

[Edit]: Please see this thread for the opting-in outline (http://www.anthrogenica.com/showthread.php?2496-Current-Affairs-Section-How-to-Opt-In&p=38462#post38462). This has been announced in a new separate thread.