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Question for the mods: what is the debate forum for?

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Miss Moppet
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Question for the mods: what is the debate forum for?

Post by Miss Moppet » Sat November 20th, 2010, 12:19 pm

Quoting MLE from the Sara(h) Palin thread - simply because her views are well expressed and I feel that others may share them:

[quote=""MLE""]I always assumed that a debate thread on a historical fiction forum was to debate topics related to history, fiction, or books. Example, the thread on who killed the princes in the tower. Or how much description in a book is too much. Especially since we are international in membership, it seems that one country's political commentary doesn't fit the reasons for the forums existence, and puts a burden on mods who signed on to moderate HF-related stuff.[/quote]

The debate forum is described as a place "to debate issues" and I thought this meant any issue at all, as opposed to HF-related issues. Is this not the case? If not, what are the limits?

If members are liable to become offended by political topics, should we make a rule that politics is a taboo subject on the forum?

Personally, I don't mind either way. I would just like to make sure of what can and can't be discussed, so that I don't break the rules.

Thanks!

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boswellbaxter
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Post by boswellbaxter » Sat November 20th, 2010, 3:00 pm

There's been no limit in the past, and there have been previous threads in that forum dealing with current political and social issues.

I'm inclined, however, to impose a board-wide ban of such discussions in the future (as well as those on religious issues as well), but I'll put up a poll later today and let the members decide.
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Miss Moppet
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Post by Miss Moppet » Sat November 20th, 2010, 3:26 pm

[quote=""boswellbaxter""]There's been no limit in the past, and there have been previous threads in that forum dealing with current political and social issues.

I'm inclined, however, to impose a board-wide ban of such discussions in the future (as well as those on religious issues as well), but I'll put up a poll later today and let the members decide.[/quote]

Thanks, BB.

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Divia
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Post by Divia » Sat November 20th, 2010, 4:28 pm

I would hope as adults we would be able to discuss such issue.
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Post by Ash » Sat November 20th, 2010, 8:59 pm

I think its too hard to do, really, esp online. Across the table from someone, piece of cake. The bits of non verbal language that comes between two people who like each other, the little bits of inside jokes and anecdotes, the way we subtle word choices to explain our position, helps make such individual discussions less prone to problem (it is this reason that one of my best frie; hnds is diatricly opposed to my points of view politically; have been for decades). Across the unseen web, between all sorts of participants, some of whom just want to discuss and others just want to spread agenda or flames, nope. Its rare to find a forum that is able to do this without leading to trouble. So I vote for no.

That being said, what do we do when there is a particular subject that comes up in the midst of talking about a HF book or issue? If the subject is pertaniant to the discussion, is it still verboten? And who will draw the line between what some might find offensive and others simply food for thought?
Last edited by Ash on Sat November 20th, 2010, 9:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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MLE (Emily Cotton)
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Post by MLE (Emily Cotton) » Sat November 20th, 2010, 11:30 pm

Ash has a good point about drawing the line. I would suggest that 20 years is a good buffer. As in, commentary onf Nixon or the former Soviet Union is fine, and might well fall into discussion of HF themes and comparisons. But if a political situation is current, and feelings are running high, it would be wise to just plain ban it.

This weekend we are having our family thanksgiving, a week ahead of most. We have people of various political leanings as houseguests. And even though we know each other and may discuss things one-on-one, for the group discussions, politics are off the menu. That way we all get to enjoy the time spent and each other's company for the things we have in common.

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Post by Michy » Sun November 21st, 2010, 12:06 am

[quote=""Ash""]

That being said, what do we do when there is a particular subject that comes up in the midst of talking about a HF book or issue? If the subject is pertaniant to the discussion, is it still verboten? And who will draw the line between what some might find offensive and others simply food for thought?[/quote]

I am relatively new here, but.... it seems to me that these kinds of things have and do occasionally come up in the course of discussions, and there hasn't been a problem with it. So I think we could leave those types of discussions as-is. It seems that the problems arise when discussions/debates of hot-button topics are started on their own, completely out of HF context, and not as part of any existing discussion.

You are exactly right about face-to-face communication vs. online. We are generally at our most careful and cautious when we are speaking with someone in person, because the results of our remarks are immediate and "in our face." The farther removed we are from the person/people we are speaking to, the farther these barriers of caution come down. For instance, most of us find it easier to say difficult/challenging/combative things over the telephone than in person. And with email, online forums, etc., the detachment is carried even further than the telephone, and we find it easier to say things we would never say on the phone or in person (or perhaps we would say them, but we would phrase them much more carefully. :) ) It's just human nature.

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Post by Margaret » Sun November 21st, 2010, 5:54 am

I don't like the idea of a flat ban on particular topics. I do like the idea of being aware that our members' views on current events differ and of being respectful of this range of views when mentioning current events. Many historical novels suggest current events, because they deal with political subjects, wars or scandals of the past that are relevant to the present. Human nature being what it is, what goes around comes around, and events of the past often suggest to present-day readers parallels with current events (frequently because the authors of the novels intend readers to see parallels). I think we should be able to mention these parallels when discussing novels that suggest them. We've done this before, respectfully, and I don't think anyone has objected.

It does seem a little different when someone posts a rant/debate/opinion about current issues without reference to a historical novel, or even literature in general. I do think people are a bit more tempted to express opinions that can slip over into denigrating people whose opinions are different, when it's not in reference to literature. Somehow, the process of considering the complexity of plot and character and setting in even a relatively simple novel, encourages people to be aware of the complexity of viewpoints. Perhaps that's part of the reason why this website is such a respectful place on the whole.

I vote for not having any new rules. It seems to me that the people who felt offended by Chuck's post expressed themselves clearly and respectfully, and we have all been reminded about the importance of keeping even our "rants" respectful.

Personally, if I want to read opinions on current events, divorced from literature, I'll go to a political website like the Huffington Post. I think that type of thing is a bit out of place here. But the occasional out-of-place post doesn't really bother me--certainly not as much as it would bother me to feel that I needed to censor myself when discussing a historical novel that, for me, seemed to invoke current events.
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