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An Open Letter to the HFO Debate Team

A place to debate issues or to rant about what's on your mind. In addition to discussions about historical fiction, books, the publishing industry, and history, discussions about current political, social, and religious issues and other topics are allowed, so those who are easily offended by certain topics may want to avoid such threads. Members are expected to keep the discussions friendly and polite and to avoid personal attacks on other members. The moderators reserve the right to shut down a thread without warning if they believe it necessary.
chuck
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Post by chuck » Sun November 21st, 2010, 5:28 am

Excellent idea on The Rant/Debate forum re title.....BTW I do remember a emotional discussion on Health Care Plan Issues....Again thank you for timely and respectful response.....

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Michy
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Post by Michy » Sun November 21st, 2010, 5:40 am

[quote=""chuck""]I prefer a rant over debate[/quote] Regardless of whether one intends to start a debate, or just wants to rant, the same rules should apply if rants of non-HF issues are going to be allowed to continue in the future. Namely, civility and carefulness in expression of one's opinion, and the understanding that given the wide spectrum of members here, someone IS going to disagree with you and respond accordingly. If a person can't or doesn't want to deal with that, then they shouldn't rant/start a debate.
.....BTW I do remember a emotional discussion on Health Care Plan Issues....
I was a part of that discussion and, although a number of us didn't see eye-to-eye, I don't recall it ever getting emotional or uncivil. To my knowledge no one took offense at anyone else's remarks.


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chuck
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Post by chuck » Sun November 21st, 2010, 6:38 am

I did not say the Health Care Plan discussions were uncivil......yes I feel there was some emotion...but very articulate and civil....

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cw gortner
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Post by cw gortner » Sun November 21st, 2010, 7:24 am

Sarah Palin is a public figure and she was the only person I spoke against. Disagree with me; that's fine. I don't always agree with opinions here, either.

However, a forum member who took offense thought it perfectly appropriate to imply that I somehow risk half of my readership because of my politics. While that may be the case, I will never censure myself to sell books, not when it comes to a public figure who's assumed such a vocal stance against my, and thousands of other Americans', civil liberties. As I mentioned before, I will not participate in political threads in the future nor do I intend to say anything else on this subject. But lest it be forgotten, being an author does not preclude us from the right to express our opinions.
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Kveto from Prague
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Post by Kveto from Prague » Sun November 21st, 2010, 9:08 am

[quote=""cw gortner""]Sarah Palin is a public figure and she was the only person I spoke against. Disagree with me; that's fine. I don't always agree with opinions here, either.

However, a forum member who took offense thought it perfectly appropriate to imply that I somehow risk half of my readership because of my politics. While that may be the case, I will never censure myself to sell books, not when it comes to a public figure who's assumed such a vocal stance against my, and thousands of other Americans', civil liberties. As I mentioned before, I will not participate in political threads in the future nor do I intend to say anything else on this subject. But lest it be forgotten, being an author does not preclude us from the right to express our opinions.[/quote]

Very well said, CW. I found that attempt to blackmail you with potential readership losses the most distasteful thing said in the thread. As donroc said, someone is always going to disagree or be offended by things said. You might as well be honest.

I would hope that people are willing to buy books written by people with differing political opinions. particularly if the book is not about politics. If expessing a political opinion will result in a loss of readers, then we are much less mature than i thought we were.

Id say the debate forum should be enter at your own risk. If you get easily offended by people saying things about others, its best not to enter. Personally, I didnt really want to enter this thread as i have no desire at the moment to discuss politics. plus i often have trouble expressing myself in written form in a completely innoffensive manner (im not a writer)

It is very easy to ignore threads that you dont want to participate in on this board. I dont read anything in a catergory that im uninterested in. but i see no reason to take that away from others.

I visit this place for info on HF book only really. I think at least 96 per cent of my posts have to do with HF. Id agree that that should be the main focus of this site. however, if certain topics are banned, then shouldnt everything non HF be stopped as well (Pet photos, travel, chat, etc.)?

there are my two cents. ill shut up and go back to HF now.

In the end this is a great site thanks to the mods and I dont want to cause any additional trouble. or at least any more trouble than i usually cause.

Im surprised there was a heated exchange that wasnt somehow involving me :-)

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Misfit
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Post by Misfit » Sun November 21st, 2010, 1:17 pm

[quote=""boswellbaxter""]You did put it in the Chat forum, but I moved it to the Debate forum because that's where we generally park threads that aren't HF-related and that involve topics that are likely to lead to particularly heated discussion. (Perhaps it should be retitled the Debate/Rant forum.) I suspect it would have engendered strong responses no matter what forum it was placed in, but I was rather surprised that it elicited as heated a reaction as it did, as other members have started threads about current affairs that were equally as controversial without provoking such an outcry. In any case, maybe this dust-up was a blessing in disguise, as it gave the mods a chance to revisit the board's policy on current events.[/quote]

I was very surprised as well as to how heated it got, and I'd been very busy and hadn't been able to look at it closely until Saturday. Threads like this can fly very fast and there can't always be a mod here 24/7. We still have to work, sleep and read books.
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sweetpotatoboy
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Post by sweetpotatoboy » Sun November 21st, 2010, 1:46 pm

I didn't follow too closely what was said. But, in essence, I believe that if you're going to allow debate on issues that people have strong opinions on, it's going to get heated and many will be uncomfortable about how people react to things they've said. Of course, there's a line between healthy and unhealthy debate and between attacking someone's opinions and attacking them personally - but where that line is is subjective.

My experience of online forums on political issues is that most people contribute simply with a view to having a chance to air their opinions or present another side of the story - not because there's any real expectation of a genuine debate, ie. participants being open to having their minds changed through force of argument or the adduction of hitherto unknown facts.

In short, I feel that if you're going to take part, be prepared to have your opinions shot down, possibly in not the most respectful manner. That's just the nature of the beast. That's not to say that anything goes and that there isn't a need for moderation and occasional penalties. But overall it's a potential quagmire so fools rush in etc.

I don't see why we shouldn't have such a forum, but it should be clear that it isn't for the easily offended.

Ash
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Post by Ash » Sun November 21st, 2010, 1:51 pm

[quote=""Kveto from Prague""]Very well said, CW. I found that attempt to blackmail you with potential readership losses the most distasteful thing said in the thread. As donroc said, someone is always going to disagree or be offended by things said. You might as well be honest. I would hope that people are willing to buy books written by people with differing political opinions. particularly if the book is not about politics. If expessing a political opinion will result in a loss of readers, then we are much less mature than i thought we were.
[/quote]

This was probably what upset me the most. It surprised me that anyone would resort to such a tactic. That being said, the title of the thread in question was inflamatory, even if Chuck was just quoting from another source, and understand why people instantly went on the rampage. Words do matter, and while I don't think Chuck meant to be disrespectful, people do react to words in strong ways. It doesn't mean keeping your mouth (fingers) shut, just consider how you say something.
I visit this place for info on HF book only really. I think at least 96 per cent of my posts have to do with HF. Id agree that that should be the main focus of this site. however, if certain topics are banned, then shouldnt everything non HF be stopped as well (Pet photos, travel, chat, etc.)?
I wonder that myself. I wouldn't want to see that. I esp have a problem 'banning' political views as the poll states, because sometimes such views come up in HF discussions that can be handled within that discussion. I don't want those threads to suddenly become doilies for the mind (see Mason Williams poem, the Censor) because someone is removing certain comments from the posts (and I don't think that will happen here, just saying).
That being said, I also totally understand that if we have a 'debate' thread, it should be renamed. The word debate implies civil give and take, It is very easy to ignore threads that you dont want to participate in on this board. I dont read anything in a catergory that im uninterested in. but i see no reason to take that away from others.
Totally agree 100% with this. Rename it, put a huge 'caveat' at the top (you come in at your own risk etc), and leave it be for those who want to. That being said, people who really are into the political etc views probably should consider the huge array of places on the web for that, and leave this board for HF, with views that come up as we are discussing HF.
Last edited by Ash on Sun November 21st, 2010, 1:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Miss Moppet
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Post by Miss Moppet » Sun November 21st, 2010, 3:17 pm

[quote=""sweetpotatoboy""]Of course, there's a line between healthy and unhealthy debate and between attacking someone's opinions and attacking them personally - but where that line is is subjective.[/quote]

I think this, rather than differing political opinions, is the problem.

Chuck's original post, however intended, came off as disrespectful to Palin supporters. Even so, I was surprised at how heated the thread got, because I belong to a different culture. In the UK, within the context of debate (as opposed to social occasions) it is quite acceptable to say 'I think Politician X is a loon and so is anyone who supports him.' That level of commentary is not going to convince anyone but it would probably lead to discussion rather than people taking offence, even if they do support Politician X. I'm not saying this is a better way, and in fact I frequently get frustrated by our Punch-and-Judy politics because they generate more heat than light. My point is that there doesn't seem to be a consensus among our members about where to draw the line - even within people from the same country.

So if we are to keep the debate forum, I think we do need a third moderator, as the mods have indicated they are not keen on monitoring political debate, and can't reasonably be expected to be there 24/7 to do so. Political debate is perhaps better left to larger sites with many moderators where there is always someone around to jump in.

All this inclines me to vote against keeping the debate forum. But I'm reluctant for a couple of reasons:

1. With the thread on health insurance, which was the last time this issue came up, once it had been pointed out that not everyone supported the new legislation, we had a very interesting discussion from which I felt I learned a lot. I would be sorry not to have the chance in the future to discuss this type of issue with HFO members.

2. Even staying close to the subject of HF, these issues are going to come up now and again. Shutting the door on political, social and religious issues (particularly the last two) may cause more work for the mods, rather than less.
C.W.Gortner wrote:But lest it be forgotten, being an author does not preclude us from the right to express our opinions.
I agree. Authors should have the right to express their opinions just as freely as any other member - if they so choose.

So: I haven't made up my mind yet - I will think about it over the next few days.

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Divia
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Post by Divia » Sun November 21st, 2010, 4:12 pm

I can remember two heated book discussions i was in. One was about female characters and I believe the other was comic books.
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