On Civility, Politics and Memes
by glen on Saturday, September 01, 2012
There's that old maxim that when you go to the gym, you can talk about anything except two things: politics or religion. Why? Just in case you actually want to come back.
We feel like Gentlemint should be a place where you're able to discuss your opinions and ideas, but, (and this is a really big but), the discussions should be civil. Can you disagree and voice your opinion? Absolutely. Attack or verbally abuse another user? No way. The problem is that oftentimes the line between the two is thinner and blurrier than you might think.
I've said this in blog comments and elsewhere, but we want to provide better tools for better discussions on Gentlemint. Why? Because unlike other communities out there, we feel like you can actually have great conversations about interesting topics on Gentlemint. It's what we love about this community. Thank you for that and we're working on making this better in the future.
Like the gym maxim, one should always tread carefully on the hot-button topics of politics or religion. We all have different backgrounds, and as a result, different opinions. Also, let's not forget that it is the Internet, and sometimes people spout off a bit more than they would in persion. (Like 1,000 times more.)
You can imagine why the Fall season during an election year makes the Gentlemint team a bit jumpy.
On Gentlemint, we use flagging to give the community the ability to inform us when items that are unbecoming of a gentleman get posted to the site. It's very helpful to us because we are a small team and can't possibly keep an eye on everything on Gentlemint at all times (believe me we try). However, It's important to remember that flagging a tack is not an 'I don't like this' button. Our staff reviews every item that gets flagged, which means one or all of us stop what we're doing and look through each flagged post, the comments...etc. to make sure everything is above board.
We appreciate everyone that takes the time to flag a post that is inappropriate, we just hope that people use a flag to notify us for the right reasons (which admittedly may be different to each person). A few examples of things that should be flagged: any type of nudity, content that objectifies women, items that are causing hateful or abusive conversations, spam/overly self-promotional items, and items that are posted simply to inspire a retaliatory reaction.
Last month we had a member post a tack about a political candidate, which was then flagged by a few users. As I said, we review every flag, and when we reviewed the post, we didn't bat an eye because a) it was political, b) it had a crazy picture of the candidate and c) it was a meme. Let's just say that on the surface, it had the makings of a solid flag.
It turns out in hindsight, that there was actually nothing wrong with the tack, and that there was actually a long, civil and interesting political discussion going on in the comments. This is actually fantastic, and what we want to see more of on the site. (Well, minus the memes.)
This is a very tricky balance, especially when dealing with things like politics. We have a large contingent of users that really like to see and debate on political tacks as well as a large contingent of users that dislike seeing any kind of political posts on the site. Striking a balance between these vastly different groups of Gentlemint users is very challenging, but we're working on it.
Above all, we want Gentlemint to feel much like a place where people can have invigorating discussions without feeling disrespected. You all have done exceptionally well remaining civil, calm, and cool doing this. ( There have been a couple of isolated cases that we've had to deal with, but 99% of everyone on the site has been fantastic.) We created Gentlemint with this hope, that we could share ideas and talk freely, without fearing some troll is going to hijack the conversation.
So this political season (and onward!) let's be extra respectful of everyone's opinion and treat all the members of our community with the same respect you would a neighbor or a friend. Like a true gentleman would.
Thanks again, everyone. We honestly appreciate and hope to support everyone that wants to be a part of our community.