Notes on the "No Politics" Rule (with a side of the "Be Kind" Rule)

Good day, friends. I am here to offer some clarity on one of the rules of these forums – namely the “no politics” rule.

The no-politics rule does not exist to suppress anyone’s speech; it exists to keep the forums running smoothly. Since their inception, these forums have tried to stay clear of politics. This is not because politics are bad, or because politics do not pertain to MST3K – this is because moderating politics is incredibly delicate and time-consuming work, and we lack the resources to oversee a political free-for-all, which would probably only result in some bad feelings circulating amongst the community anyhow.

I will remind y’all that your moderators are here on a volunteer basis – to my everlasting shame, as their work has enormous value – and they put a huge amount of time and energy into trying to keep the forums tidy, friendly, useable, and rule-adhering. The mods did not write the rules; they are simply doing their best to apply them.

The no-politics rule is a bad rule. It’s a bad rule because politics (like another form of speech beginning with a P) are extremely subjective. You know them when you see them. Which means we can’t give you hard and fast rules for what counts as not-allowed politics, and what will likely slide under the radar. The mods are not infallible all-powerful deities; the mods are human MSTies, just like the rest of you. They will have different opinions on how to interpret this rule in day-to-day use – this is actually a good thing, as having a variety of perspectives is more reflective of actual human experience – and they are doing their best to keep the forums a nice place to hang out.

In the interest of both making the mods’ lives easier, and helping all of our community members understand the parameters better, I do want to explain some distinctions that haven’t been laid out before now.

“Politics,” as we are using it here, mainly refers to electoral and policy politics. That’s not what this forum is for. This is not the place to talk about hating a particular party or an elected official or, um, the Supreme Court. There are lots of other places online to discuss these subjects. Most of our members prefer these forums to be a refuge from politics anyway – which speaks to the fact that most of y’all ARE indeed politically engaged, you just also want a place to hang out that doesn’t always get bogged down in those conversations. Please don’t push on these boundaries.

MST3K is not apolitical. If you’re a longtime community member, you’re aware that MST3K, while far from ideologically perfect, has included highly charged political comments for the length of its run, some of which were pretty far ahead of their time. We’re not suggesting the show doesn’t have a point of view – or more accurately, several points of view – on these subjects. Nevertheless, the forums are not a suitable place for these discussions.

Disagreements are inevitable. I also want to direct you to another of the forum rules: Be kind, which means we give people the benefit of the doubt, and we avoid actions that are abusive, antagonistic, bullying, or passive-aggressive – even with people with whom we powerfully disagree. We do not revert to personal attacks, or to name-calling. Instead we are thoughtful, and open-minded, and civil, and capable of respectfully disagreeing. We are also capable of mindfully stepping away from the conversation if respectful disagreement is not possible.

You are allowed to point out when a fellow member has said something that made you uncomfortable or upset. If you must speak up, do so thoughtfully, and give the other person room to respond and to be accountable, if necessary. If you would rather just not hear from that person ever again, which is also super okay, you can mute or ignore them. You don’t need to tell them first.

As members, each of you has a responsibility to co-create the forum space you would like to see. The moderators exist to support the community and facilitate discussion with the established rules and expectations. But ultimately a community is defined by its membership, not by its moderator team.

If you feel a rule has been inappropriately applied, I recommend you inquire about it – in a cordial way – via direct message, either to the mods directly, or to me. Before assuming anything about intention, first assume that communication is necessary to improve mutual understanding.

Finally, and I need to make this exceptionally clear: DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES HARASS OR ABUSE THE MODERATORS. They are ordinary working humans donating their time to help out around here. If you feel compelled to offer criticism of a moderator action, either contact another mod about it, or DM me with the specific details. Publicly deriding the moderators (or any forum member, for that matter) and/or mocking the rules is absolutely unacceptable, and if it persists will result in admin action.

Thank you for reading.

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Thanks Lesley, this is good.

There’s some of that actually happening. Talking about it, anyway.

Waitwaitwait now hold on. Are we actually going to be forced to stand up for mockery on an MST3K board? Because that would be a weird place.

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Remember that thread complaining about GIF responses where everyone started either responding with GIFs or getting as close to it as possible just because it was funnier that way? It’s instinct for MSTies, I think. We love to do the, “Does this bug you? I’m not touching you!” thing.

My suggestion is we don’t do that with The Rules. Back away, let them be rules. We know what they mean. No need to be cute about them.

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“Politics is show business for ugly people.” - Paul Begala

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My only quibble (well, bigger than a quibble, actually) is that we’ve had threads shut down over things that shouldn’t be ‘political’ that someone made political.

One thread, at least, that was all about treating people respectfully that got shut down because a couple of people said that was divisive.

I’m still a bit steamed about that. We shouldn’t all be silenced because a couple of folks want us silenced. They won, that time.

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Honest question: is there a way to place users who push against the rules in a time out? As opposed to locking the thread that has now gone over the edge based on user(s’) posts?

I don’t love the “if you don’t like 'em, mute/ignore 'em” idea when it comes to discussions within an active topic.

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That’s not what I voted for.

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I’m of the “don’t feed the trolls” school, because what they really want most of all is attention. It doesn’t matter the kind of attention. So I liberally use the perma-ignore function here. But I do concur that locking threads because of them is not a solution. Suspension sounds like a good alternative.

It’s sad that there are about a half-dozen of these malefactors here, determined to make this yet another place where civil discourse is impossible. But the fact that there is ONLY about a half-dozen is a lot better than other forums. That’s a treatable number.

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Wanting to make a crack about voting not being allowed here per the “no politics” rule goes right up against the “don’t mock the rules” rule, thus showing me what a tricky tightrope this is to tread.

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There’s so much fodder for our mirth making around here so I feel I can leave the rules alone in that regard.

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At least this is clarification that the problem isn’t neat and tidy.

-The no-politics rule is nebulous, and that sucks, but it’s the rule. OK.
-The rule may be enforced by human (and charming) mods who interpret it differently, because humanz, and because the rule sucks. OK.
-No, the show doesn’t abide by this rule, and it shouldn’t, but we do. So your stuff might get flagged/locked/baleeted, it’s not the end of the world. Just relax and bring it up politely with whomever. OK.
-Be nice to each other, and to the mods. Of course, OK.
-Mocking the rules is verboten. I dunno. A lot of us are irredeemably GenX, and also AARP members, mocking the rules is like oxygen. This might be a problem.

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There have been a few topics that I’ve jumped into only to realize that I was getting sucked into a counterproductive situation.

I like to think that I’m getting better at muting topics and specific users before they bring something out of me.

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I’m also of that school, but the trouble is it only takes one feeder to give the troll energy, so everyone needs to attend the same school in order for it to work. My clever solution for a chat I moderated was to enforce that school of thought: I had written code that allowed me to make the bad users invisible to everyone but themselves. The troll would be able to see and respond to messages and never know anything was wrong, and to them it would just seem like nobody is paying attention. But in reality nobody else could see them. This was more effective than a regular ban because banned people just create new accounts, so you’re playing a game of whack-a-troll.

Looks like someone wrote a “shadowban” plugin for Discourse, but it was last updated a week after it was created, over four years ago, so I’d not trust it. (Also, the someone who wrote it is not MEEEEEEEE, and why would I trust anyone else? I’m a loner Dottie. A rebel.)

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I’m not quite sure “mocking” is the word to pivot on here. I would use “questioning”, “arguing”, or “debating”. Basically the kind of bad-faith behaviour that disguises itself as humour but is really an attempt to subvert the equilibrium.

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As stated by @Lesley, mods are here to facilitate conversation, not end it. However, there will, unfortunately, still be times when a mod has to temporarily lock a thread pending admin review in cases of users abusing the rules (or each other). We are also working on a plan, with clear steps, for how to deal with repeated breaking of any of the group’s rules including the politics and the be kind rules.

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Can we maybe just allow some gentle ribbing of the rules, like, if we smile when we type it? You know, clownish tomfoolery?

Yes I’m smiling right now, so what?

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At least I know I’m good on the “Be Kind” rule. I always rewind. :vhs:

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Oh that was you? Thanks!

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sci-fi nod GIF by RiffTrax

Peace Godzilla GIF

This would be a good opportunity to express said quibble directly in a DM though! Sometimes threads get closed simply because they’re veering off into contentious zones and need admin review. They can usually be reopened if folks agree to get back on topic.

Yes. I have resisted using the Silence function because, honestly, I didn’t want folks to feel silenced. I’m reconsidering this now, as clearly there are circumstances in which some people need an enforced break, even for just a day or two. As @LadyShelley says above, the team is working on a clear set of parameters for when temporary suspension is a fair solution.

king

Just stay off the Raucous Horseplay end of the spectrum and you’re probably fine.

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Let’s remember why we’re here, too. We’re here primarily for MST3K and secondarily to have fun. Politics isn’t fun. It’s never fun. It’s important, sure. It might be fun-NY in the hands of a capable and licensed satirist, it might even be fun AT FIRST! It never stays that way though.

Maybe politics is fun for you. Or maybe you have a certain pet cause that you think is so important it transcends politics. Maybe you’re even absolutely right about the second thing! It’s still not fun, and not what we’re here to do. There are places to go to do that. Don’t take your work home with you, and don’t take your core belief system into your pop culture funtime forums.

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