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Debate Symposium Closure


Jeric

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A little historical perspective.

When I joined the MLPF staff many a year ago, there were still a lot of the 'original' staffers around. They had a very loud opinion about the 'Debate Pit' as it was called then. This was a place for them to sweep any crap into. Mods would refuse to touch the Pit, other than using it as a dumping ground for anything nobody wanted to deal with. 

As new staffers rose in the ranks and the old guard retired, there were attempts to clean up the Pit. Sectional Mods were created, and assigned specifically to the Pit to force someone to handle the mess that had been created. Rules were put in place, renaming it to the Debate Symposium, etc. But it was still the Pit to me. 

When I became an Administrator, I redrew all the forum Icons to make them match a similar appearance and fill in the ones that had been missing. The Debate Pit got a sketch of Tartarus as it was shown in MLP. That was my personal opinion of the place. Why it was made in the first place had tainted it irrevocably in my mind. I didn't want to assign any mod to it, because I felt that would be a punishment detail. Any staffer who was in the Pit I paid more attention to as I was worried about their mental health, dealing with that toxic cesspool constantly.

It was a bad job from the beginning. No amount of dressing it up would make it work. If this forum actually needs anything that resembles a debate, that section needs to be completely torn down and rebuilt from square one with a completely different structure. And I personally don't think we need anything like that. If you can't have a polite discussion about a topic in public view, that 'debate' should be on a different forum.

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1 hour ago, BornAgainBrony said:

Shipping Wars isn't a debate about something that gets people literally killed.

Wrong tree. Your demeanor is the same as that of shippers, and that seems to matter to some people.

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I totally understand. 

I know the internet can be full of negativity but I feel people are becoming even more negative due to the real life troubles of COVID-19 affecting not just America but the entire world. During these tough times I wish there'd be more places for positivity

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31 minutes ago, Goat-kun said:

Wrong tree. Your demeanor is the same as that of shippers, and that seems to matter to some people.

If you have a real point to make, do it without a riddle that only makes sense to you.

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Since I never went into the Debate Symposium, it's closure doesn't affect me personally. And yet, I can understand that not everyone is going to be happy. After all, it's impossible to please everyone since there are so many opinions willing to collide with one another in hopes of achieving dominance. Losing this section of the forums is what it is judging from the problems that it had caused especially within recent months or perhaps longer. But... We'll need to wait and see where the dominoes are going to fall as they say in terms of moving forward without what can be considered 'the elephant in the room' now removed.

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LET'S FUCKING GOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

tbh this should've been done ages ago. a very surprising change but a welcome one to say the least

1 hour ago, Fhaolan said:

A little historical perspective.

When I joined the MLPF staff many a year ago, there were still a lot of the 'original' staffers around. They had a very loud opinion about the 'Debate Pit' as it was called then. This was a place for them to sweep any crap into. Mods would refuse to touch the Pit, other than using it as a dumping ground for anything nobody wanted to deal with. 

As new staffers rose in the ranks and the old guard retired, there were attempts to clean up the Pit. Sectional Mods were created, and assigned specifically to the Pit to force someone to handle the mess that had been created. Rules were put in place, renaming it to the Debate Symposium, etc. But it was still the Pit to me. 

When I became an Administrator, I redrew all the forum Icons to make them match a similar appearance and fill in the ones that had been missing. The Debate Pit got a sketch of Tartarus as it was shown in MLP. That was my personal opinion of the place. Why it was made in the first place had tainted it irrevocably in my mind. I didn't want to assign any mod to it, because I felt that would be a punishment detail. Any staffer who was in the Pit I paid more attention to as I was worried about their mental health, dealing with that toxic cesspool constantly.

It was a bad job from the beginning. No amount of dressing it up would make it work. If this forum actually needs anything that resembles a debate, that section needs to be completely torn down and rebuilt from square one with a completely different structure. And I personally don't think we need anything like that. If you can't have a polite discussion about a topic in public view, that 'debate' should be on a different forum.

"Debate symposium" never had the same ring to it anyway.

Honestly if any sort of debate section were to be reinstated quality control and a (as corny as it sounds) "love and tolerance" principle would have to be at the foundation. But for now I'm just really glad to see the section gone.

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1 hour ago, You said:

More of a personal taste, there should be some sources strictly disallowed to be used as a source. This might be controversial saying this

Yes, it is controversial, I do not agree with it and I'll leave it at that.

1 hour ago, You said:

Another possibly bonus point might be that the DS should not be opt-out, but rather opt-in

I agree with this. In some other forum, the "debate pit" equivalent was protected by a password - you had to ask for the password and a mod would give it to you - this meant that you only saw that section only if you really wanted to.

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3 minutes ago, Pentium100 said:

Yes, it is controversial, I do not agree with it and I'll leave it at that

It would demand a great restructure of the rules. I won't use specifics but I'll give a vague example of something I saw MANY times. 

One user makes a completely ridiculous argument. The argument is so off the wall, that there is no logical angle to attack it from. The end result is that is impossible to attack the argument without attacking who made it in the process.  Mod reprimand arrives and the retaliator is punished.

By the forum rules then, the end result is this. Ridiculous and illogical arguments are protected, but responding to them, are punishable.

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4 minutes ago, BornAgainBrony said:

It would demand a great restructure of the rules. I won't use specifics but I'll give a vague example of something I saw MANY times. 

One user makes a completely ridiculous argument. The argument is so off the wall, that there is no logical angle to attack it from. The end result is that is impossible to attack the argument without attacking who made it in the process.  Mod reprimand arrives and the retaliator is punished.

By the forum rules then, the end result is this. Ridiculous and illogical arguments are protected, but responding to them, are punishable.

What do you think of the removal itself?

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19 minutes ago, BornAgainBrony said:

One user makes a completely ridiculous argument. The argument is so off the wall, that there is no logical angle to attack it from

The problem is that an "approved source list" will never be unbiased. Even if it is almost unbiased, it will appear to be very biased.

19 minutes ago, BornAgainBrony said:

The end result is that is impossible to attack the argument without attacking who made it in the process. 

I think there should be a way to attack the argument without attacking the user. "This argument is stupid" vs "You are stupid for even suggesting it". There is also also the possibility that you mis-interpreted the argument. I know some of my statements were interpreted by some people to almost mean completely opposite of what I wrote. That probably means that I can't write properly, but I think the other user also tried too hard to interpret my words in that way.

However, it's hard for me to talk about something without details and this is most likely not the right place to do it anyway.

Edited by Pentium100
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As a joke, you should've kept the forum up but lock everything else and replace it with a pinned "Who is best pony?" thread. 

Now that is the hottest contested debate this forum should have. 

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1 minute ago, Sherbie-kun <3 said:

honestly I think there should be an opt-in, and an opt-out for it but this also hides the drama from view

I think that would result in more hassle for the staff. Just better to have it gone forever.

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I disagree with this move, being against all forms of censorship, but I was honest-to-goodness 95% done with Debate Symposium after what happened to me earlier this year. I believe people should still have the option to comment on something political or serious if they want so long as they abstain from rude behavior and hope that it can reopen when the political climate is cooler, but I can't deny that I'm very glad to not have to read the outpouring of pure vitriol in response to the US election results. :maud:

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7 minutes ago, LyraLover 💚 said:

It's about time that section was removed. It never should have existed on this forum in the first place. All it ever did was turn people against each other and destroy friendships. I never posted in it myself - I'd heard enough stories about it to know to stay well clear.

That is exactly right. I made a big mistake interacting in that place, there is never any common ground in that place, it is just a constant shit show of cancerous slandering and subtle hate between users. If you can't debate and agree on anything, or make progress in the debate, there is no point in even debating in the first place.

It should have never existed here and I hope it never exists here ever again in any capacity no matter what. All it does is enable hate and intolerance of other people's beliefs.

Edited by Scar
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This is a rather disappointing development and in many ways feels like a dark reflection of our times.  It seems more and more we are unable to simply talk to each other regarding matters of importance, and I have always believed that talking things out is the best way to resolve our differences.  I understand that it's not mlpforums.com responsibility to provide the sole outlet for which the world is able to discuss its problems, but there is now one less place where people can learn to understand each other.

A lot of posters seem to open revile this section of the forums, but I have always found a twisted beauty in the debate pit.  It was always the most interesting place to be, even if it wasn't the most pleasant.  It was the kind of place that I find disturbingly rare despite the free flow of information that the internet provides, a place where people of radically different ideologies and world views can discuss there differences without the whole subforum degenerating into an echo chamber for any single ideology. 

The debate symposium let you glimpse the world through the eyes of others, and we will be poorer for its absence.  I for one will mourn its absence.  Something of value has been lost today.

Edited by Twilight Dirac
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I forgot the rest of the forums existed.

Overall I enjoyed participating in it even if a given discussion resulted in much frustration. Perhaps I found the engagement more interesting in it because it is where people can discuss controversial matters; the results are interesting even if often hostile. And a large part also is that the threads there are rarely ones where your engagement is finished with just a single post; you could finish it with just one post, but discussions can go on for months if you so choose to be involved for that long. Though with that said, that does not apply as much for me as my backlog of unfulfilled responses has grown.

I had a few of the threads open, so I have saved the contents of those pages.

@NiceVillains

I am not sure if you care, but I have saved your threads "Democratic Communism, Revolution, Socialism. Capitalism" as well as "Behavioral and environmental determinism exist"; if you want, I could PM you the content of those threads as it appears you spent quite a bit of time typing those (assuming you do not have the content of your posts saved elsewhere).

@Yakamaru

I could PM you your "Centrism: What is it? What does it actually mean?" thread in case you care about at least having as a reference point what you posted there (also looked to have taken a fair amount of time to type and I assume the content of the post was not saved elsewhere).

Edited by Luna the Great of all the Russias
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Can't say I blame the mods, and while I was surprised to hear this at first since the debate pit/symposium has been around since the start, I suppose it was only a matter of time.

But still I've gotta agree with @Twilight Dirac here. I've only posted in there a handful of times but I've spent awhile lurking there over the years. As long as one is able to stay open-minded, calm, and remember the purpose of the area - to learn about different points of view and expand one's knowledge - then it's really not that bad of a place to be. I'll even say that most users had the right intentions when posting there and didn't want to attack anyone personally. This forum has a great community of people.

Unfortunately not everyone was able to keep the right attitude, and yeah for sure there was a lot of negativity, passive-aggressiveness and general going off-topic. There is really no right answer in regards to how to properly moderate it (too little moderation and things spiral out of control again, too much moderation and people feel like their views may get censored). It would be nice if at some point the right balance could be found.

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5 hours ago, Fhaolan said:

A little historical perspective.

When I joined the MLPF staff many a year ago, there were still a lot of the 'original' staffers around. They had a very loud opinion about the 'Debate Pit' as it was called then. This was a place for them to sweep any crap into. Mods would refuse to touch the Pit, other than using it as a dumping ground for anything nobody wanted to deal with. 

As new staffers rose in the ranks and the old guard retired, there were attempts to clean up the Pit. Sectional Mods were created, and assigned specifically to the Pit to force someone to handle the mess that had been created. Rules were put in place, renaming it to the Debate Symposium, etc. But it was still the Pit to me. 

When I became an Administrator, I redrew all the forum Icons to make them match a similar appearance and fill in the ones that had been missing. The Debate Pit got a sketch of Tartarus as it was shown in MLP. That was my personal opinion of the place. Why it was made in the first place had tainted it irrevocably in my mind. I didn't want to assign any mod to it, because I felt that would be a punishment detail. Any staffer who was in the Pit I paid more attention to as I was worried about their mental health, dealing with that toxic cesspool constantly.

It was a bad job from the beginning. No amount of dressing it up would make it work. If this forum actually needs anything that resembles a debate, that section needs to be completely torn down and rebuilt from square one with a completely different structure. And I personally don't think we need anything like that. If you can't have a polite discussion about a topic in public view, that 'debate' should be on a different forum.

This. At the time it was like an unspoken rule. Just like the fight club, rule#1 was not to talk about the Debate Pit. Even to me it always felt like a minefield. The main issue I feel that plagues, and plagued Debate Pit for eternity, was that people tended to forget that every debate should have its end. And after everything was already said, since there was nothing more else to say, they would always, no exceptions here, always deviate into off-topic and personal jabs.

 

6 hours ago, Goat-kun said:

I have an issue with this. Will be fine tho, don'tcha worry. In fact, this move shall hurt my opposition more than I ever could. However, those who think that this will solve the issues which have led you to believe that the pit needs to be closed are gravely mistaken.

 

Maybe it will not solve the issues, but if the staff cannot currently afford to treat the wound, it's better to get rid of the limb altogether than let it fester. Every coin has two sides. What issues arise with it will be dealt with in time, but one seemingly major issue will be resolved for now.

 

1 hour ago, Twilight Dirac said:

It seems more and more we are unable to simply talk to each other regarding matters of importance, and I have always believed that talking things out is the best way to resolve our differences.

This is nailing the problem. The whole idea of Debate Pit was heavily tied to the times where community was much, much larger. And the ideology of self-regulated forums was much more viable to go by with. As time passed and people started drifting away, self-regulated forums as ideology, while still viable, started to work less and less. The issue is that past around 2015-6 whenever I would enter debate section, I would find that most topics would have the conversations devolve into series of objective opinions, strawman arguments and logical fallacies. And the issue was that majority of debate participants would outright REFUSE to see the greater perspective and attempt to review their posts to see if they MIGHT be wrong or not. Majority of people believed their opinion was the one objective truth and would drag you through hell to prove it.

The above idea was always about mutual trust that people will know their limits and will, themselves, make sure that the debate quality is appropriate from their own side first and foremost. Wishful thinking of course, but if people would not be able to decide when it is time to step back, and would only continue going forward at all costs, then they probably aren't suited for long debates.

 

Do I think closing the debate pit is a good idea? Quoting Mike Shinoda: "Am I insane to say the truth is that I don't know?" - closing the section might in long run cause as many issues as it solves, but to be fair, it's not like this idea was born out of thin air, was it? It's not just somebody's whim. Yet again, even in this thread, there are people who are not willing to reflect on how the section was treating itself, even in spite of other users outright confirming that the section was problematic indeed.

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Debate pit was a much more appropriate appellation IMHO.  A symposium is a place of intelligence...not the kind of place to argue whether orange apes are the second coming of Christ or the Devil incarnate.  A pit might be that kind of place though.  In all seriousness, I don't really think it's worth keeping around regardless of what it's called.  It just breeds toxicity in a community that's otherwise all about friendship and harmony, and it solves nothing.  If level-headed and thought provoking discussion is off the table, that kind of defeats the purpose IMHO.  

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6 hours ago, Scar said:

What do you think of the removal itself?

I have no objection.

Granted, I wasn't here for it all; only been around for around 2-3 years now, so maybe I'm wrong about this, but perhaps things were more stable once upon a time (though some of the accounts of the "pit" suggest otherwise). I at least entertained the thought that it was a more useful and informative place, but if it was, that time has passed.

6 hours ago, Pentium100 said:

I think there should be a way to attack the argument without attacking the user. "This argument is stupid" vs "You are stupid for even suggesting it".

I thought the same thing about " "This argument is stupid" vs "You are stupid for even suggesting it," as well, but multiple times both varieties of that statement were dealt with in the same way.

2 hours ago, Passion said:

The issue is that past around 2015-6 whenever I would enter debate section, I would find that most topics would have the conversations devolve into series of objective opinions, strawman arguments and logical fallacies. And the issue was that majority of debate participants would outright REFUSE to see the greater perspective and attempt to review their posts to see if they MIGHT be wrong or not. Majority of people believed their opinion was the one objective truth and would drag you through hell to prove it.

I really wouldn't be surprised by such timing. It appears that more and more, the idea of debate is simply becoming useless; we can even witness that first-hand as of late by watching the "professionals" do it. Some of that is just influence from the beast that is the internet, but there's more to it than that. Reason has less and less power. Arguably it was always at a disadvantage. These days, a position with nearly infinite data and research backing it up, has no more sturdy a leg to stand on than a strawman or some story that someone spent five minutes inventing. Throughout human history, there has always been an issue with that, but quite recently the strategy has been given direct validation by very powerful people. There is no objective truth anymore, just two realities vying for dominance on every single issue. We're in the 21st century, with sixty years of space flight behind us, and the curvature of the Earth is still in question.

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