Andrew S’s recent post about what makes a good discussion resulted in some feedback that for some of our Wheat & Tares audience, using the “dislike” button seems like a way for people to bully unpopular opinions into silence and that at times the dislike button is used based on the person vs. the merit of the comment.
As a site, we want diversity and inclusion; we strive to be welcoming and engage with the people who come to our site and read our posts. Our panel of permas is quite diverse in terms of our backgrounds, our faith, our careers, and the types of topics we like to write about and/or consider our areas of expertise.
In naming the site “Wheat & Tares” we wanted to acknowledge that, like the parable of the wheat & tares, we don’t want to judge who is in and who is out – we’d like to welcome all. We have long managed with a very light (gossamer even) moderation policy. Using “like” and “dislike” buttons was one way to give our audience a voice in moderation rather than taking a more heavy-handed stance as moderators. We like our moderators to set a civil tone and to help guide conversations through persuasion and engagement rather than correction or policing of boundaries.
Given the feedback that some are uncomfortable commenting because of the dislike buttons (and the valid point that Facebook dropped the “dislike” button), we wanted to bring this question to you, the audience, to see what you think.
Instead of “You’re the Bishop,” think of this as “You’re the Moderator!”
Discuss. Or just go through and “like” or “dislike” other people’s comments. On the upside, this discussion did give us the new verb “being pinked”: example, “Oh, man, that comment I made about how General Conference is like a beauty pageant in a really small rural town’s rest home got pinked! That sucks!”
Since it appears that I was the one who apparently introduced the new verb — I’ll say that I like the up/down system.
I haven’t felt any pressure to say things differently out of some fear of “pink-backlash”. I don’t feel pressure to pander for the yellows either. Do I like to see my comments yellowed instead of pinked? Sure. But does it change my behavior? Not so much.
I also voted for thinking it’s good to use for “skimming” for the things that are getting the votes.
There are people who like to participate — but don’t always have the time, energy, or desire to respond to every little thing with a comment.
Sometimes I’ve “voted” in discussions between two people — up-voting who I agreed with in the discussion and down-voting who I didn’t — just to show who’s side I was on. I wouldn’t want to break-in on a 1-on-1 discussion with a comment when I can make my opinion known by up/down vote.
I would have voted for this one:
if it wasn’t for the “just to get them to go away,” part.
If a particular commenter irritates me in general — I’ll generally “dislike” a comment from that person — as a way of saying that generally-speaking, I disliked what they wrote.
Getting someone to “go away” has never been my intention when down-voting.
I “like” the “dislike” option. I use it extremely rarely. I never use it if I disagree with the substance of someone’s comment, as I think opposite sides of a point make for a good discussion, and sometimes get me to see things differently.
I primarily use it if I think that someone is “out-of-line” – generally because they are disrespectful of others or putting someone down. I don’t really want to ban or delete their comment. I don’t really want to address it in a separate comment and potentially perpetuate a flame war or threadjack. So, I vote “dislike” to (hopefully) let someone know they are being out-of-line IN THAT COMMENT – still welcome in general – but not really what we are looking for here.
Keep the dislike button, but limit its use to one per day per IP address.
I will admit that I use the like/dislike feature quite a bit, though I have tried to base my voting on the comment and not the commenter. Still, I have sensed that the feature does get used in such a way that I think it harms the discussion. Someone mentioned on the last post that the problem with the feature is that it really gives no explanation. It also becomes a convenient way to comment without ever commenting, and that sort of hurts the discussion. While I think there are some good things that come from the feature, in sum, removing the likes and dislikes would probably be my preference. The purpose should be to discuss and cause reflection, not to politic for votes.
On a second note, the only blog I participate on at all is Wheat&Tares, and it is precisely because of the light moderation. My hat is off to those of you who were willing to create a forum that facilitates the free exchange of ideas. The need to moderate I think is derived from insecurities.
A lot of my comments turn pink, I guess because people don’t like my tone. I can’t help but be brutally honest.
In my wholly unscientific view, any viewpoint that is in line with current liberal ex-mormon thought will be generally liked, while any comment that questions that such a liberal, ex-mormon viewpoint will be disliked.
I agree with Justin’s comments above. Getting someone to “go away” has never been my intention when down-voting.
I also think that dpc’s comments about “liberal ex-mormon thought is liked” and “conservative” gets disliked is too sweeping of a generalization. I often will dislike a comment that is too sweeping or exaggerates to prove a point.
While this blog is probably more moderate than some blogs, I think “ex-mormon liberal” is a bit of an over-reach and not accurate. I know I will “thumbs-down” an over-the-top liberal ex-mormon comment. Often, people are unfairly labeled “progressive” or “liberal.” I’ve been called a liberal or progressive countless times, and I don’t consider myself a liberal at all. (I’ve also been called too conservative at other blogs), so I think the “liberal” and “conservative” labels can be thrown around a bit too loosely by some people. For some reaosn, nobody ever calls someone else moderate, which is where I feel I belong. That usually means that the person doing the labeling is the extremist, IMO (especially if I can get called both a liberal and a conservative.)
I’ve never commented for the purpose of getting liked or disliked, and I comment other places without the feature. I can see how some view it as bullying, but I don’t think everybody likes/dislikes to bully, though some probably do try to bully.
If you look at from the standpoint of the political spectrum, then the person throwing the labels is simultaneously exposing their own position on the spectrum. I am quite to the left of those to my far right, and vice versa (input smiley face her).
Thanks for this feedback. We are concerned about your concern.
I have a few questions if you’ll indulge me:
1. How long have you followed W&T?
2. Are you aware of our history, as permas together?
3. Is your viewpoint in part based on what’s being said elsewhere in the b’nacle, or do you feel it’s solely based on your experiences here?
4. Do you feel this is a function of our community, or a function of the natural conflict between liberal ex-Mormons and traditional believing Mormons?
1 year ago I would have agreed with you. But I think there is more to it, and I can appreciate some of the moderation that other “not-to-be-named” blogs do. It has to do with discussion goals. Complete freedom from moderation also has a tendency to cause increases in entropy in the discussion. While the lack of moderation does not discourage anyone from commenting, the resulting potentially craptacular discussion does.
I don’t enjoy getting dislikes on comments… it’s only a slight sting but I don’t think it affects how I comment. I don’t think people usually comment to rack up a ton of “likes” either. Honestly, I usually skip the comments that have 20 likes and 0 dislikes. You know what would be COOL, no wait, SOMETHING INCREDIBLE, would be to have the option of sorting through or searching comments on long threads on an individual basis. For example, I usually love comments that have about a 3:1 ratio of likes to dislikes… say 15 likes and 5 dislikes, or whatever. I know in that case it’s “controversial” but also probably respectful and well thought-out. Just my hunch.
Wait, actually the like/dislike buttons have ALMOST influenced my commenting style on my own posts. I’ve noticed that people rarely like or dislike long comments that are addressed to multiple/answering multiple comments at once… almost like those comments don’t matter much other than to those who are getting the responses.
I mostly use the dislike button to say that I strongly disagree with the point that person made, although I think it’s usually because of the way they say it. It can be hard for me to disentangle the two. If I commented, it would basically be to say “I disagree” because others usually do the speaking well enough for me.
Thanks not a concern. It’s a statement of my perception. And it’s meant as a broad generalization and not as a complaint.
I’ve been reading W&T since it started. I go in an out of activity as far as commenting is concerned. And I think that Wheat & Tares represents a liberal/moderate fringe of the faithful mormon population. That’s not meant to be an insult or a call to change. It’s just the niche that the website inhabits. Any one too far to the left or right of the niche will generally have their comments disliked.
Still I think’s it’s an interesting feature that adds flavor and let’s me scroll through the comments a little quicker so I can get a gist of the major contentions.
Generally speaking, I think getting to “like” and “dislike” is useful and even satisfying.
I don’t see the use of “dislike” as bullying. Would the opposite or using the “like” button be questionable in some way if it were frequent and predictable? I see the “dislike” button as an opportunity for the community and individuals to separate from unpopular, poorly thought out or objectionable statements. Nothing wrong with that. And the “like”, correspondingly, gives us the chance to register enthusiasm and encouragement when someone steps out and makes themselves vulnerable by taking a potentially unpopular position. it’s good to know that there can be support when so much opinion is sort of predetermined and tends to attempt to hammer down the nail that stands up.
If some poster/s can predict that their comments will fall on hard ground in this particular climate, they surely know other blogs where they’ll be better received. What’s more there’s nothing wrong with at least getting some perspective — good and bad — on where one sits in the spectrum of opinion. It is a spectrum, after all, no matter how many people attempt to make things appear to be black or white.
I’m not sure that moderation is the the variable that controls the quality of a discussion. Rather, I think it is the participants and the topic. If topics are interesting and similarly help participants generate interesting thoughts, then a good discussion follows. So, if you really wanted to control that, it would make much more sense to treat the blog as a panel discussion rather than an open blog. Those “other” blogs have just as much at risk by fostering homegeny. It creates limits on to how comments can be tested.
The thing I’ve liked about the buttons is knowing if people have read the comments even if they don’t respond to it.
It can help prevent posts like: “well said.” – because I can just click to like or dislike without having to comment if I’m in agreement or not. It helps me so I only respond when I have something to add or a new thought, not just an acknowledgement. Although sometimes I like some comments, even if I’m not in agreement, but just like the comment.
Ideally, it shouldn’t curb discussion because I don’t think we’re posting to gain popularity or affirmation, we’re just sharing ideas and opinions, and sometimes I’m just gonna make dumb comments, so getting thumbs down is to be expected sometimes (ok, for me, more than sometimes). If that was what I always got, I’d back off posting, but I can’t expect to never have a post that someone doesn’t like.
Realistically, I notice some people get more thumbs down than others…and have wondered if it is based on name, not content. This OP was a good reminder to the group we don’t need that.
(I clicked “Like” on alice#15 above!)
Maybe we have different views of moderation. Moderation, as I’m using it, could be used to control the participants.
Our experience is that this isn’t always the case. Even a well thought out political post has, on this site, in recent memory, devolved into a discussion no one but perhaps two or three people want to participate in. We *know*, empirically, that some people are turned off from commenting (when they otherwise would have) when they look through the comments to see the participants.
You’re absolutely right. And we don’t want the homogeneity for sure. But we’ve learned that no moderation can also result in problems too. The “like/dislike” feature was one way of attempting to add a little more free-market-like moderation of sorts. And that is being called into question.
I see moderation generally applying to comments, rather than commenters, though I am sure commenters get totally blocked sometimes. What I am saying is that the quality of a discussion is largely determined by who is engaged in the discussion. When good personalities frequent the site, there tends to be better discussion. Of course, that all depends on how we determine what a “good” personality is. Still, I don’t see how moderating certain commenters gets around that problem.
I don’t object to there being some reasonable ground rules, such as language, no spam/advertising, name-calling and insults, etc. Where I don’t like the moderation is when it becomes a filter for restricting certain points of view. In the Mormon bloggernaccle, that’s generally what happens. That is largely the position I am coming from when expressing my concern over moderation. Moderation also works well if people are willing to umpire their posts. Rather than deleting off topic comments, a polite response urging commenters to try and address the topic seems to work fine from what I have observed. A recall a Mormon Matters post from the Mormon Therapist that got out of hand, and she was able to get things back into control, it seemed, by simply addressing the matter in a comment.
I’m sure there are times that moderation is necessary, but if I felt that my comments had a high likelihood of not seeing the light of day, I wouldn’t bother posting.
I think the like button is self explanatitory, it would help to identify if the dislike was given for content or tone.
What alice said in #15 is exactly it. It “separates” people who are “unpopular.” If what is desired is a comfy community for a relatively narrow band of people, than the dislike button certainly aids that. If what is desired is open discussion, than the dislike button assuredly freezes out anyone who isn’t perceived as popular, often very subtly. And it serves nothing to help people correct their poorly thought out and abrasive engagement styles, since there is nothing to tell them which reason earned them the dislike.
Whether or not people think it affects them and their commenting behavior, I don’t see how it can be in question that it affects anyone who isn’t part of a site’s mainstream commenting type, and certainly creates “market pressure” for a particular type of comment/commenter which gains momentum the longer it exists. That may be what people here desire. It is certainly what exists pretty much unilaterally among other blogs (and all without buttons to help it along.) I, for one, don’t find any blog like that one where I will participate for long, since my main purpose in blogging really is to delve more deeply into a variety of opinions and perspectives.
But that is likely why I find myself participating in blogs more and more infrequently as time goes on.
it serves nothing to help people correct their poorly thought out and abrasive engagement styles, since there is nothing to tell them which reason earned them the dislike.
SilverRain, I will say that I have personally tried to help some people with their abrasive styles–usually within the comments, but sometimes in an email. I know that certain commenters wear “dislikes” as a badge of honor, as if they are the prophet Jonah sent to Nineveh to straighten out all the liberal/conservative mormons over here. But I have found the nearly all of the people that I have addressed about abrasiveness don’t seem to want to change, and prefer the martyr complex. This doesn’t apply to all, but it applies to a few people that will remain nameless.
So, I do think that there is an attempt here to weed out the abrasive behavior, though we’re often not successful in weeding out bad behavior. I believe the dislikes can tend to reinforce that. I know some people take the dislikes quite personally and take offense, but I think that how one responds to these dislikes depends greatly on the individual. Loud obnoxious types don’t care. More introverted people probably do care a great deal.
I will add that I have always enjoyed your comments SilverRain. If I don’t like a comment, I will let that person know why I don’t like it, and I have offered ways to soften the abrasiveness in the past. For those people who are abrasive, they generally know that they are abrasive and my pointing it out generally isn’t a surprise to them. So I don’t think it’s as bad as you make it sound about “drive by dislikes”, though I suspect that you take the dislikes more personally than some other commenters.
I think most of the people that get dislikes know why they get them. If a person wonders, then feel free to email one of the permas if you would like feedback. (I think Andrew and JMB do a good job of addressing bad behavior in comments.) If you want to email me, you can reach me at mormon heretic at gmail dot com. (But once again, I generally like your comments SilverRain, but I can let you know why I think others don’t like them if you’re interested. Of course that offer applies to all.)
I’ve been thinking about the goal of diversity and inclusion which I strongly support. Orthodox means adherence to accepted norms so does a diverse blog tend to exclude orthodox participants? Conservatism promotes the maintenance of traditional institutions and supports minimal or gradual change in society. Does a diverse blog tend to exclude conservatives? If so how can they be included?
I hope you realize that the separation, to the extent that it is even possible, is from ideas and not people. No one who isn’t a moderator has any power other than to express an opinion while everyone’s is equally valid and valuable no matter whether someone has chosen to “like” or “dislike” it.
I hope we are all adult enough to appreciate that having the power to speak out is not the same thing as having the right to demand that people agree.
Does a a diverse blog tend to exclude closed minded participants? If a diverse blog tends to exclude orthodox, conservative and closed minded participants is there a correlation between them? Does diversity have a higher correlation with open mindedness or closed mindedness or neither?
To be honest, W&T is my favorite site due to the ‘like high’ I sometimes get.
I don’t take dislikes particularly personally, or I wouldn’t come here. I have only been attacked once in my memory, and I knew I would be when I made the comment for utterly transparent reasons. As I have said, my personal reaction is just a disinclination to directly participate. More than personal experience, my opinions come from hearing others mention W&T and other blogs, and from when I have seen people ganged up on here. While I don’t necessarily agree with the victims’ points of view or tone, I am extremely uncomfortable in that kind of environment. So, unless a post seems particularly compelling, I don’t bother to read, and I don’t comment unless particularly bored or if what I have to say is relatively neutral.
Again, that may be exactly the sort of filtering intended. I assumed as much until the question was asked. But since it was asked, I chimed in.
“Bored” was supposed to be “moved.” Autocorrect on phones is tricksy.
You meant “orthodox, conservative OR closed minded participants”, right? 😀
I like the idea of having like/dislike for comments. It seems more… meritocratic?
I do like the dislike button. But I don’t like the idea of it being used for bullying.
The ganging up on one person, is likely to happen regardless of if we have the dislike button or not. Blogs that do not have these feature still end up with attacking someone who they don’t all agree with. Maybe the solution is that we have a comment policy somewhere on the site that states that the dislike button is to be used for tone, or attitude, rather then content or person. If you disagree with what someone says then you should say why you disagree with their content.
I don’t think that this is a narrow minded group, but then that is most likely me projecting myself into other people on the site. I am with Howard, in that I think diversity fosters a more open mind, and I think we do have a fair set of diversity here, albeit that the more orthodox doesn’t seem to be fully represented here.
Maybe three buttons” Like[ ], Dislike content[ ]Dislike tone[ ].
So far the vote is leaning toward keeping the dislike button – it started the other way. Interesting!
It would be cool if you had a “wheat” and a “tare” button, as mentioned in another post. I guess, for me, it comes down to what do you want to accomplish by having a “like” and “dislike” button?
I come here because of the diversity of views. I would hate to see people not commenting because of a “dislike.” Maybe you could have just one button such as “like,” “buzzworthy,” or “interesting” that way if you disagree, it might prompt you to comment.
I like the idea of relabeling the buttons to go with the site theme, dba. Not sure we can do it though.
I am almost tempted to cast a write-in vote for removing both buttons, because my natural reaction to the buttons, if I notice them at all, is to perceive them more as a distraction than as an opportunity to express an opinion. On the other hand, I ever wanted to click a Dislike button, I probably would be glad that it was still there.
I’ll hop in the discussion to address a few comments…
This is an interesting idea, but suppose I read more than one post a day…should I only have one dislike per day? Suppose there are A LOT of bad comments? Should I still only have one dislike a day?
While I definitely like a mostly hands-off moderation policy (because I too have been burned by other sites), I have to agree with jmb in comment 10 that sometimes, instead of a “free exchange of ideas” we are getting bullies, dismissive comments, insulting comments, etc., That doesn’t really help the discussion.
While I think that we do have a “skew” in the audience that tends toward liberal/unorthodox/disaffected or postMormons, I think the reason we’re are having posts like this one or the previous one on what makes a good discussion is that we don’t want to *just* be a site for liberal/unorthodox/disaffected/post Mormons. So, we need to figure out a way where people who are either to the left or to the right of that aren’t automatically disliked JUST because of the content of their posts.
That being said, being “brutally honest” (emphasis on brutally) probably isn’t going to go over well either. You say you can’t help it, and I think that many commenters would say the same…but I think in the future, we’re going to have to work on commenters on ALL sides “help” themselves on this issue, so to speak.
I mean, this isn’t to neutralize the discussion or sugarcoat things just to be politically correct or whatever. It’s just the fact that “brutal” tone kills a discussion ANYWAY, because everyone’s too busy getting defensive and building walls…and that’s no fun.
You say that our blog is more moderate than some other blogs. But considering that most of the popular Bloggernacle blogs already swing on the left, on the theologically liberal, etc., So, if we are “more moderate” in comparison to BCC, then how is that NOT closer to the liberal/uncorrelated/unorthodox/disaffected Mormon?
I can get on board with Cowboy’s comment at 8 that sometimes, labels say more about the person using them than the person they are directed to, but even if that’s the case, I don’t think in this case we can say, “Well, we just aren’t that way; you’re overgeneralizing!”
I would have no idea how to implement such a thing like that, if it’s even possible.
THIS IS SO TRUE. As you can tell, 80% of the comments I make are addressed to multiple people, so I very often come back to find that they have no likes or dislikes to them (even though I KNOW people are reading them, because people proceed to respond to what I wrote in them).
andrew, I understand your point and can see where you are coming from. yes a moderate blog is closer to ex-mormon than an orthodox blog. but that doesn’t mean that that ex-mormon thought is what that site is about. that’s what I was taking issue with. I don’t believe that this site caters to ex-mormon thought or persuasion. but it is unorthodox. as such, we get both orthodox and ex mormon here. some uber-orthodox probably don’t like that.
I think one of the problems with rating a long comment with multiple responces is the inability to rate each of the comments. Another is if they are from the OP or a perma I tend to see them as partially setting policy.
You said something that is really making me not like the dislike feature. It’s something that SilverRain pointed out in comment 21. The line that bothered me:
I feel like this statement IS how most people use the dislike button, BUT the prevalence of that sentiment is also what bothers me. Notice how “unpopular” is grouped together with “poorly thought out” or “objectionable.” But these shouldn’t be grouped together. I agree that I find no issue with separating from poorly thought out or objectionable statements.
BUT I don’t think we should try to separate from unpopular statements. If a statement is unpopular, *well-thought out* and *not objectionable*, then it should be well-regarded.
I completely agree that the quality of the discussion is largely determined by who is engaged in the discussion…we have heard many people say, “I like your posts and many of your authors, but I don’t like your commenters.” The thing is, we can’t really solve that by not doing anything. So, the name of the game is, in some sense: “moderation.” But there are VERY different ways for people to go about moderation…we’ve experienced what some other sites call moderation and we don’t think it’s right for us.
I think the issue here is that if anything, we generally have a “faith” in the potential of people here. We do not like “totally blocking” commenters (whereas other sites will do that without much provocation). Rather, what we’ve begun doing more and more recently is that, when we see a particular comment that has a tone that isn’t what we want, then we reach out to that commenter (either publicly or privately) to let him/her know that we expect something different. We give them the opportunity to improve. If that’s not something they want to do (or if it’s something they end up not doing), then that’s time (and it’s a very rare option) for us to go separate ways.
Moderation, in my opinion, is how we set the standards for what good etiquette is…anyone who follows good etiquette is, by definition, a “good personality.” I believe you can be a good personality — and thus be a good commenter — no matter what you beliefs are. So with respect to what you have written down later…
I completely agree: there are a lot of sites who seem to moderate based on PoV. We don’t want to go there. We haven’t gone there either.
HOWEVER, the discussion isn’t just about the policies at the top. So, at the top, our policy is to be hands-off. But what we’re seeing is that, in the trenches, we have an audience that skews a certain way. Commenters outside of that demographic sometimes feel uncomfortable commenting, because they will get disliked or dismissed. So, the moderation we want to consider is not to close off the discussion, but rather to get rid of certain behaviors that discourage others from feeling comfortable with commenting.
So, our plan is not to delete comments, censor, etc., It’s to publicly and privately redefine the rules of engagement here, and to help as many people comply with those rules so that we can have a diverse, yet inviting discussion.
Does that make sense? Should we even be using the word “moderation” to discuss this?
I am totally on the same track here. Especially with what you say here:
This is especially a place where the permabloggers should be the ones reaching out to people with abrasive engagement styles, because then we can explain EXACTLY what we want to see changed (whereas a bunch of dislike doesn’t provide any detail, as you mentioned.)
At the point when we have contacted people (multiple times) about abrasive styles, if they show they do not want to fix that, then that’s the time when we need to bid them adieu. They can have a martyr complex, for sure, but they can do it somewhere else…if we get to that point, *we have done all that we can do*.
I can see SR’s point that the dislikes don’t really do much. If someone wears them as a badge of honor, then they don’t really help in discouraging abrasive commenting styles.
I don’t think it should be the onus of a *person getting disliked* to email the *permas* for feedback. (For one, we have all commenters’ email addresses…but commenters don’t get the luxury of having our email addresses unless we provide them.)
I think the reason we should reach out to people is because of something you said before: “loud obnoxious types” (the ones who are probably causing the problems) don’t care. However, as permas, we should have a vested interest in making sure that discussions move smoothly.
Orthodoxy and conservatism are ALWAYS defined with respect to something. When we use “orthodox” or “conservative” here, it’s generally used with respect to the LDS church or to US politics.
But I think there could be a case that when “orthodox Mormons” are shunned, then what we have to watch out for is whether or not that’s because there is a kind of “Wheat and Tares orthodoxy” to which these people are heretical to.
I think that’s part of the issue. When people talk about W&T, they can say, “W&T is a place for x kind of people.” We need to change that, so that people think, “W&T is a place for *thoughtful people of all beliefs*”
The problem isn’t that a “diverse blog” excludes conservatives. Rather, it’s that a homogeneous blog that masquerades as a diverse blog but which really has a definite “niche” of liberal commenters excludes conservatives.
The problem is we aren’t as diverse as we think are. So, really, the question is, “Does a close-minded blog tend to exclude diverse participants?” And the answer to this is an easy “yes”.
If people are attacking others through *comments*, however, then that’s something we as permabloggers can address (because we KNOW who’s doing it). Putting a *comment* policy up for the dislike button won’t work, because there’s no way to enforce it — we can’t tell who’s disliking and why.
Right. I would definitely say that instead of just being a site that caters to “liberal ex-Mormons,” we tend to swing to any of the following: liberal, uncorrelated, unorthodox, disaffected, ex- or post Mormon.
But even here…to be able to say this means that we aren’t as diverse as we would like to think we are.
But people could just pick the part that they liked and press the like button for the entire comment. 😉 Right? Right?
What do you mean by your second line:
What would that have to do with likes or dislikes?
A simple suggestion would be to post those expectations somewhere obvious.
I get the sense that there is somewhat of a desire to for Wheatandtares to gain better acceptance among the broader Mormon blogging community. If that is the case then I would suggest that there may be something of a “one foot in Babylon” problem in that thinking. You are really asking sort of a critical question here, and to introduce a bit of economics, may be missing a key point. You keep suggesting that you would like more diversity, but that is very difficult to do in a free market kind of way. The fact is, this blog (like all other mormon blogs) serves a few particular demographics. People tend to gather based on similarities. The risk you run in trying to open up your product to a wider customer base, is to potentially disenfranchise your loyal supporters, only to replace them with a more casual class of less interesting (because they are less interested) group. Obviously because this isn’t about profits, you have the luxury of deciding whether you want “these customers” or not. If what you really want is a piece of the more “respected” block of the Mormon blog community, then you probably need to cater more to that crowd. Then again, who needs another BCC of FPR, etc?
As far as making a post of expectations somewhere, I agree…but the permas would also have to come to an agreement on what exactly such an expectations statement would say. This has historically not been the easiest thing to negotiate…
I don’t think the end goal is to “gain better acceptance among the broader Mormon blogging community,” necessarily. However, if we are disliked in said broader community (or if people from that community don’t want to comment here), then the reason should NOT be because “we are too liberal/uncorrleated/ex/post/disaffected.” It should NOT be because “if you post an orthodox comment, then you’ll get disliked and your comment will be denigrated.” It should NOT be because they feel like a minority viewpoint and that minority viewpoints aren’t appreciated.
If we run the risk of disenfranchising our “loyal supporters” because they want to have an echo chamber rather than to have discussions where any assumptions might be critically challenged by thoughtful people who have very different beliefs…then, what’s the point of having loyal supporters like that in the first place?
I don’t think that the ability to have these kinds of discussions with a diverse group of thinkers equates to “a more casual class.”
The goal is not to be like BCC or FPR. BCC and FPR are exclusive niches as well, so why would we exchange one niche for another? The goal is to challenge the need to fit in a narrow niche to begin with…i
So, my question is:
Why? Why is that the case? Must that be the case? Especially for a blog that considers itself pretty open, why should we ultimately only be serving “a few particular demographics”?
I agree with Andrew S’s comment. We never set out to be like BCC, etc. That is still not a goal. We like those sites; we often visit those sites, but that’s not what we tried to do with Wheat & Tares because we had a different vision. It’s similar to what the vision was at Mormon Matters, but without the activism angle (those are my words, nobody else’s), and we also didn’t want to be confined to topics related to Mormonism. We were interested in broadening to non-religious topics and also connecting with people of other faiths.
We are still interested in those aims, but also want to play to our strengths (not alienate our existing audience). Truth be told, we do see the world through a certain lens, so it informs our writing and our topic selection.
The concept of Wheat + Tares is essentially procrastination. We don’t have to take a stand yet. We can let God sort it out later.
Because it is serving the demographic of people who value “pretty open” communities.
Cowboy mentioned economic language — but to speak biologically, every intervention you make in a natural environment selects towards the kind of life that thrives in that.
If you make it a goal to be open to all commenters and opinions — then you select for the demographic of people who want their opinion challenged by hearing a variety of commenters and opinions.
I’m reminded of the post on inclusiveness FireTag wrote…
HG posted while I was typing — comment #45 is answering the question at the end of Andrew’s #43.
The concept of Wheat + Tares is essentially procrastination. We don’t have to take a stand yet. We can let God sort it out later.
You know that is going to be another one of our by-lines 😉
“Why? Why is that the case? Must that be the case? Especially for a blog that considers itself pretty open, why should we ultimately only be serving “a few particular demographics”?”
I understand the dillemma, but you have to bear in mind that people only participate on these blogs because ultimately it serves some kind of need. Those needs are generally specific to certain groups of people. While targeting too specifically on a particular set of needs would obviously lead to your “sound chambers”, broadening the appeal too much can lead to all groups being uninterested. Often the needs of various groups pull against each other. The needs of the BCC group are very different from the needs of the RFM crowd, and finding a middle ground between these groups would probably be sterile. Jesus said something about serving two masters, and I think it applies well here.
I appreciate your challenge, but I think you run a risk in trying to become too diverse. Then again, perhaps we have different perceptions of what is really discussed here. If we’re still just talking about subtleties like the “like/dislike” function, maybe my comments are a bit overkill.
I agree with your comments on orthodox Mormons and being cautious of a W&T orthodoxy but bridging these two groups is not as simple as inviting them and being careful not to offend because both groups self identify and self select. A solution might be to partner with a blog that that caters to the other group and cross post. I think this problem is a microcosm of what the church faces.
To answer your question; I tend to view long multipart comments from OPs or perms as partly moderation in the form of guiding the conversation. Others use this format occationally but not frequently. So my response is to respect that guidance or to engage it in discussion but generally I donot rate preceived authority.
In general I think the discussion of exclusion vs. inclusion is about permissiveness and it is too often argued at an imature level by closed minded people who want controls and limits but haven’t weighed them and so called open minded people who argue almost anything goes but haven’t weighed the affect of that. Anything goes obviously results in anarchy so the question revolves around what are reasonable limits? When this is overlaid on religion we have a system of old rules being applied to a society that has since changed some would say for the worse others for the better. Some will argue the rules are eternal and unchanging others feel that changing rules is one of the reasons for continuing revelation. In any case neither the literalist or the anarchist can be right in their position so the extremes are untenable. Open minded understanding of the other’s view point is necessary to bridge these camps and that requires patient mature discussion and clear thinking such as been demonstratied in this and other related threads.
re Andrew S to shenpa warrior
THIS IS SO TRUE. As you can tell, 80% of the comments I make are addressed to multiple people, so I very often come back to find that they have no likes or dislikes to them (even though I KNOW people are reading them, because people proceed to respond to what I wrote in them).
I am one of those to whom you have responded in a multiple reply. I liked what you said to me, not so much what you said to others. At that point, how do I do a like/dislike that would be reflective of what I’m thinking. The only way I can see is to comment back to you directly and ignore the buttons.
Perhaps I am not seeing the picture correctly.
re MH #22
Thank you for the explanation you gave. I found it to be very helpful. It was good (and brave) of you to offer your email address for those who want more information.
As I have read the comments, I am becoming aware of the situations that arise when running a site like this. I am sure some things were/are anticipated. The nature of life seems to be issues coming out of left field. I am quite certain none of you can see into the future with any degree of certainty. That puts you in the place of addressing issues as they arise and become problematic.
Ahhhh – to live in a perfect world. But perfect for one, could be another’s worst nightmare. You’ve got people who care and continue to work on improvement. The thought occurs to me, if one becomes disenchanted with the site, they merely need to quit visiting. I’m sure this is too simplistic.
But that’s what I’m saying: we ultimately don’t have people getting their opinions “challenged by hearing a variety of commenters and opinions” because for the most part, the demographic isn’t that varied.
FireTag’s post is a good analogy: the point was that you weren’t actually expanding at all, just changing niches.
I guess I’m just coddled too much by other forums and sites that *are* too diverse. Where it’s ok if you don’t engage on every post (because not every post is going to be for any one group or whatever), but for any given post that you engage with, there will be people of different opinions, certainly.
I don’t see that as producing sterility.
When I heard comments from people who say that they would comment more here, but they are discouraged from doing so because a) they feel vastly outnumbered and b) they know their comments will be disliked and dismissed, that’s a problem. That’s where this partially ties in to the “dislike” discussion, but it’s not JUST dislikes. After all, people can be dismissive in their comments too…and that’s not what we should be tolerating when we say we are going to have a hands-off moderation system.
I don’t want to hear people saying, “Well, I like reading some of your posts, but I don’t like to get involved in the discussion because of the other commenters.”
What this suggests to me is that we don’t really have ‘sterile’ writing. We don’t have problems appealing to others. It’s just the commenting environment isn’t really conducive to all ideologies, etc.,
Let me put it in a different way…so you say people engage in blogs to fulfill certain needs, and that different people can have different needs. But if the BCC community OR the RFM community OR whatever community *needs* a place where they can just bounce their own ideas off of each other and not really listen to appreciate anyone else, that’s not what we want.
And yet, somehow, we have people telling us that’s what happens here sometimes.
re 49 and 50,
What the heck does “self identifying” and “self-selecting” have to do with being able to bring the groups together. We’re not saying they have to become something different than what they are. We’re not saying they have to identify differently. It’s just that, even if you self-identify as orthodox or whatever, you should be able to have a discussion with people who self-identify as unorthodox. And you should be able to have such a discussion without the unorthodox people trying to freeze you out just because they disagree with you.
While this is a good idea, and we should definitely do this, the issue for the most part is not posts. It’s not our cast of permabloggers. It’s our commenters, and our expectations of our commenters.
You lost me. What does moderation even mean to you? Why is a multipart comment from an OP or perma “guiding the conversation” but a single-response comment not?
Let’s take this comment here, for example. This is a multipart comment from a perma. But what “guidance” am I really providing? What “moderation” am I providing?
And why can’t people like or dislike the guidance or moderation that permas provide? Wouldn’t it help us too to know what people like and dislike?
Let me try to put it in a different way. What we keep hearing from certain commenters is that they don’t feel included. What we also hear is that they like the permas, they like our hands-off approach to moderation, etc., So, in other words, we permas seem to be good at establishing a permissive environment, but somewhere between the permas and the commenters, the environment stops being so permissive.
I think the dislike button and also the way some commenters treat unpopular viewpoints has a lot to do with that.
So, in a way, “anything goes” doesn’t result in anarchy. Rather, a mob arises to create its own government and that’s what happens.
I can see the problem you are faced with. If one is inclined to do only like/dislike, it leaves you not knowing what was liked/disliked. But at least you would know that something in your reply filled one of the categories. I am thinking that perms/ops desire feedback just as commenters do. After all, that is what keeps us commenting.
I have no problem with posting multiple replies. It is probably the best way to address the situation. I am stating that if I were to respond back to your reply, it would probably be in a comment with your tag. But I am open to like/dislike in order to give some sort of response.
Andrew S wrote:What the heck does “self identifying” and “self-selecting” have to do with being able to bring the groups together. Orthodox and conservative are by definition exclusive so why would they want to participate in a diverse inclusive blog or discussion? It’s our commenters, and our expectations of our commenters. Yes it is, but it is also precisely because you label W&T diverse and inclusive which is why I suggested partnering and cross posting if you really want to reach orthodox and/or conservitive commenters.
Andrew what affect would my falging your last comment with a dislike have? What would it communicate to you? Nothing useful I suspect. My comment was an attempt at an introspective look at why I don’t flag them. I could but I hesitate for the reasons I stated, maybe I’m the only one that feels that way, maybe not. It’s more emotional and subconscious than logical.
Howard, when permas are commenting, they evaluate tone and content of their remarks like anyone else when they receive thumbs up or down. I’m not sure why you would think it would be otherwise.
How can we be diverse or inclusive if we have excluded orthodox or conservative commenters? I’m saying we can’t call ourselves a “diverse inclusive blog” to begin with.
But to answer your question: orthodox and conservative people would want to participate in a “diverse inclusive” blog for the same reason anyone would want to: good discussion that welcomes all thoughtful views. If they don’t want to participate, then we really have to look at whether that’s because we’re not providing that.
but that’s the thing…we have had conservative bloggers at W&T. The issue isn’t in not having the people the cross post. It’s that we don’t have an inclusive enough environment to keep them here (and ditto over there).
Well, one thing we’re trying to figure out is how people use likes/dislikes. The thing is: if someone dislikes or likes a comment, the person receiving the like doesn’t get the same message that the person giving it might have intended. However, as hawkgrrrl said, permas want to have the same feedback than anyone else has.
Excellent Andrew I see we share the same vision and understanding of these ideas. Thanks for talking through it.
Pink and yellow? They are red and green on my computer.
The buttons are green and red, yes. But if you get enough likes or dislikes, then your entire comment turns yellow or pink.
Oh, okay. I was wondering why posts had different background colors. Thanks.