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(All: sorry for the offtopic digression, but this thread was bound to be about this whether I posted the below or not. There are fine comments about the Supreme Court ruling elsewhere on this page, and you can always click [-] to collapse a subthread you don't want to read.)

HN has been running a no-politics-for-a-week 'experiment' [1]. Although it hasn't been a week, I think we've learned as much from it as we're going to, so it can be over now.

Among what we learned is that it's impossible to define 'politics' with any consensus because that question is itself highly political, and that HN is at its best when it can meander through all the (intellectually) interesting things, some of which inevitably have political dimensions. The current story is a good example: it's not apolitical, but it isn't purely political either, and it's clearly on topic for HN.

In other words, the existing guidelines have it about right (https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html), so carry on as normal.

1. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13108404. I put 'experiment' in quotes because people understand that word differently. We mean 'trying something for a little while, just to see what will happen'.

A political science prof once laid out the scope of politics as anything regarding the exchange of power or money. That seemed like an overbroad statement at the time, but now it seems like I was under-perceiving the political aspect of pretty much everything at the time.

I have read that the modern usage of the word "economics" is a replacement for the older term "political economy." It seems our ancestors were more wordy but also more accurate.

Both were originally "moral philosophy". "Political economy" mostly split into "economics" and "political science" in the 1880s, though the odd department of political economy can still be found.

One of Adam Smith's shortest sentences in Wealth of Nations is "Wealth, as Mr Hobbes says, is power." It's all about power and its distribution.

The term isn't dead: at the very least, British social democrats still use it.

I'm going to have to think on that definition for a while. It does seem like an oversimplification but those two things do bring in human competition. The competition is social more often than not. Social competition is the basis of political action. Professor might have had it right.

There is a rather strong quote by the German dramatist Bertolt Brecht that for me drives home the point of how economics and politics are inseparable.

“The worst illiterate is the political illiterate, he doesn’t hear, doesn’t speak, nor participates in the political events. He doesn’t know the cost of life, the price of the bean, of the fish, of the flour, of the rent, of the shoes and of the medicine, all depends on political decisions. The political illiterate is so stupid that he is proud and swells his chest saying that he hates politics. The imbecile doesn’t know that, from his political ignorance is born the prostitute, the abandoned child, and the worst thieves of all, the bad politician, corrupted and flunky of the national and multinational companies.”

I fully agree with him. I've long maintained that a healthy democracy requires the populace to be politically informed and active, regardless of stance or belief.

It is deeply disturbing that 100M+ Americans didn't vote in the most recent election. I bet a lot of those were people who, as Brecht points out, are proud of the fact that they hate politics and don't care about it. They always spout ignorant bullshit like "both parties are the same anyway" and they say that with a smug, holier-than-thou attitude, as if they've discovered some hidden insight. It really rustles my jimmies.

How do you feel about the people who voted contrary to your political choices? Do you view them with more or less disdain than you appear to have for those who sat this one out?

I can't speak for the parent, but in general I have a great deal more respect for people who vote for things I disagree with than people who share my values but can't be fucked doing anything to effect them.

That's interesting, do you still feel that way when they're voting in favor of things that have the potential to significantly degrade your quality of life?

I'm not the person you responded to, but here's my take.

I can respect someone I personally dislike. I can also respect someone who disagrees with me. I can even respect someone who makes my life harder, though I might dislike them for it.

But I lose respect for a person for many other things.

Once you tally up all of the factors, I do have trouble respecting most of the Trump voters I've personally encountered so far (not many) because I sensed too much intellectual laziness or cognitive dissonance.

Once you tally up all of the factors, I'm not sure that Trump voters come out ahead of non-voters in aggregate.

When it comes to issues I care about most (mass incarceration, surveillance, war, poverty, torture and corruption) both parties are effectively identical.

On a purely scientific level, US is about to run an experiment where they're handing power completely over to one side of the aisle for at least 2 full years after having a split government for the last 6. You're likely to get sufficient data during this period to make your determination whether your (IMHO ill-informed) opinion is indeed true.

I'm keeping an open mind, if it ends up as more of the same again I hope you will as well.

I think the transition Cabinet already shows that there is some difference. Clinton would not have dreamed of trying to abolish Social Security.

Currently I'm mostly keeping an open mouth watching the events that are unfolding in this timeline.

The place to change that is the primaries.

This thread could rapidly veer out of control, so rather than add my counterargument here, can I (as an ordinary user not affiliated with HN) suggest that we stop here, or at least hold ourselves to a minimum length and point/counterpoint format?

Particularly for local and state elections (where all of those issues besides war and torture will primarily be decided).

Only those holding an insufficient amount of nuance on these issues can honestly believe that.

Not true. Both final candidates supported and benefited from the causes of most of that list. They also mocked various Constitutional amendments. Tyrants that are just the same for that list and what supposedly empowers them.

So the end game for dang's experiment was "the prostitute, the abandoned child, and the worst thieves of all, the bad politician, corrupted and flunky of the national and multinational companies.”

I daresay not. The problem was that unless we're talking hardcore science/engineering, there is always a political shade to things that affect the real world. But as a non-american, I wouldn't have minded if the experiment continued since a lot of the political discourse here is extremely US-centric and repetitive.

"Politics" is how you solve problems without hitting one another.

Or, sometimes, a way to convince people to solve problems by hitting one another...

In the context of Dang's experiment, I think a better definition of politics is "anything which involves coercion onto an unwilling party."

Politics is etymologically related to policy. Which is a set of norms over a group. I.e. all policy is group policy.

The role of the governmemt to set and enforce those policies. Governance is generally preferable to anarchy because governance allows us to reap economies of scale. Which is invaluable in a universe of scarce resources. But due to conflicts of interest, optimal policy is often disagreed upon. Therefore, it is common that policy is forced upon one or more parties which believe the policy suboptimal, in the name of compromise.

I personally dislike when someone forces something upon me. Likewise, I dislike when I must force something upon someone else. As a result, negotiation of policy can feel frustrating and exhausting. This sentiment is where I suspect the desire for "politics-free spaces" originates from.

Regarding Dang's flag experiment. I cautiously propose the rule that: any article whose thesis asserts "a normative statement which may affect an unwilling party" is worthy of a flag. E.g. while most think of the Supreme Court as an inherently political entity, and while litigation involves an unwilling party (whoever loses), the above article's thesis is informative rather than persuasive. Therefore, I would not flag the above article. This flag policy would aim to target the inciteful, rather than the insightful.

Wait... What?!

Politics is etymologically related to "polis", which is the greek word for "city".

The greek (and the later adaptation in latin) gave "politic" to designate 'the affairs of the city', and 'polites' for 'citizen'.

To put that simply, "politic" is supposed to be the management of a city.

I agree. "Polis" is the root of both "politics" and "policy" [0]. The modern definition of policy extends to groups both larger or smaller than cities. I don't know which claim is under dispute.

[0] http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=policy&allowed_in_f...

"Politics" and "policy" even translate today to the same word in Portuguese and Spanish (and probably others).

  * "public policy" = "políticas públicas"
  * "company policy" = "política da companhia"
  * "political campaign" = "campanha política"
  * "gender politics" = "políticas de gênero"

This is a very political (and ideological) definition of "politics". Excellent example of how definitions themselves are not, and cannot possibly be, apolitical!

But is it inaccurate? Whatever its ideological biases, I nonetheless believe my definition is more accurate than "anything regarding the exchange of power or money". Such a wide definition includes the purchase of groceries. Yet a typical grocery purchase is hardly an illocutionary political statement.

More importantly, is it unproductive? I.e. would my threshing-method fail to reliably discriminate? I honestly believe my criterion is practical. Otherwise, I would not have made the suggestion. I challenge someone to find a case where the predicate returns a controvertible result.

I learned another definition, that politics occurs when a group of people need to make a decision about something.

This kind of stretches what people think of as politics. I mean it was an 8-0 decision. Or did where you thinking of patents in general as politics or any governmental function?

Sorry, I have no problem with it, but stopping on day 2 for this kind of story seems to be a little soon. How about clarification?

Some people, but not all. This story would be off the front page right now if we hadn't just turned flagging off on it, because we asked users to flag political stories (and err on the side of flagging) for a week. So it's clear that many people think of this story as 'politics'. Even if you don't classify it that way, it's clear that the story has political dimensions, as your comment indicates. (Also, it was day 3, not day 2, but yes, earlier than planned.)

A possible lesson is that any anonymous ranking/suppression mechanism can be used for reasons unrelated to the original motivation for the mechanism.

E.g. the many shades of SEO in an attention economy, or downvoting for quality vs disagreement. Once a mechanism exists, it acquires multiple identities through use.

That's great, thanks. Have you seen contemporary academics who are applying elements of cybernetics and systems thinking to social media and IoT feedback loops?

I haven't, but it sounds like it would be great research. I think systems thinking provides a powerful epistemology for scientific and mathematical inquiry.

A useful, if unpopular, corollary to that observation, in politics, is that there is no such thing as a "loophole"...

It's more complicated than that. If a judge under common law thinks you're trying to abuse the letter of the law to violate its spirit, they could very well deem it a loophole and reject the reasoning. In civil law a judge is expected to uphold the law as close to how it's written as possible. In both cases we have the corollary which many don't acknowledge that the law is not what's written on paper, it is a system that includes human components.

Yup, in a time when "should the US federal government actually do anything at all regarding X ∀ X" is so controversial, it swallows up anything having to do with IP law, and I don't believe it was the intent of the moderators to remove IP case law from the scope of permitted discussions on this site. Fully agree with the decision to roll back the experiment.

I submitted this story yesterday and it doesn't show as flagged. At least not for me. Maybe randomly different audience didn't think it political then?

'dang, thanks for the announcement. Are you going to write up what else you learned from the experiment?

Also, when you say the guidelines have it about right, there's a lot of evidence that the current implementation favors people who want to bury stories that relate to politics (or other hot-button topics like diversity). Are there plans to look at this?

The main thing we learned is that a change like that won't solve HN's civility problem, which was the big question we had. But we learned other interesting things too, like that a week is too long for trying out an idea like this. Also, if we say we're trying out an idea briefly, some people think we mean permanently. Communication on the internet is hard.

We're definitely going to consider tweaks to the guidelines, but substantive stories on e.g. diversity are already not off topic. Some do get flagged, but we've often turned off the flags or reduced them (which is standard practice on HN for a whole range of stories) and many have appeared on the front page.

I think one of the reasons that people think that trying something out leads to permanence is that there's a pretty long established trend of that being the case on websites that HN shares membership with. You may be paying the social price for actions inflicted by Digg and Reddit, years ago.

That's quite interesting. What would you suggest by way of differentiating from this, if we decide to do something like this again? I don't mean something like a no-politics week, I just mean some short-term variation with no intention of permanence. I'd hate to give up our ability to try out ideas.

I don't think there's a short-cut to differentiating yourself there: you just have to run experiments and not use that language to roll out new features (ie, never make an experiment permanent at the end, but roll it back for a few days/week/month, discuss it, and then redeploy). I would actually trust a website that made too big a deal about how they weren't like those other guys less, because that's an old marketing trick.

Same way you build a reputation for anything.

Maybe add a notice to the site header listing currently-running experiments. Apart from making it easier for people who don't read every post to keep up with rule changes, that'd emphasize that there's something out of the ordinary going on, and not the new normal.

PS: How do you feel about adding a "rationale" text box to the flagging process + some eventual feedback on whether moderation agrees with the flag/rationale? I basically never flag comments because I'm not sure I'm the same page with y'all.

> What would you suggest by way of differentiating from this .... I just mean some short-term variation with no intention of permanence

Add a date and time, down to the second. The more exact the end time the more people will believe it really is temporary.

I wanted to see the criteria that the experiment was going to be evaluated on. I feared that since the metrics for the pro side would be more readily available (like measuring how many fewer flamewars there are or how they quickly get flagged instead of sprawling through the comments) than the "it isn't a good change side" (fewer meaningful discussions or a subtle bias towards one side in an issue), that the experiment would provide all the evidence needed to extend the ban. I know I am also really sensitive and jumpy around things they perceive as censorship, even for a week.

How about politics friday's or no politics Ndays. Where the rule is in general no X in general unless its something like "politician bans encryption" type stuff.

That way if people want to do politics, fine, but if we restrict it to a specific day or days so those of us that are sick of politics can just focus on getting things done. And then post about what we did on the day after.

Maybe politics day on, no politics day off in a series.

I think we learned enough here to know that there's no way that will work, and also that it wouldn't make the site better.

Edit: I'm afraid that sounded dismissive—sorry! I was writing in haste and genuinely appreciate your suggestion.

I think there will always be resistance to change, so perhaps there should be a visible indication that some idea is being tested out, with an option for users to disable it.

That works for software changes but not community standards, which is what we were experimenting with here.

Perhaps the lesson is simply: don't experiment with community standards.

I mistakenly thought of the change as a software change, since I've yet to use the flag button.

It might be useful to tie changes in community standards to something concrete and trackable. Taking the detox week as an example, there would be a way to flag something and specify "detox week" as a reason.

That being said, can you give an example of changes in community standards on this site which effects cannot be tracked in software?

EDIT: Clarified scope of "changes in community standards" to this site.

> Can you give an example of changes in community standards on this site which effects cannot be tracked in software?

Story quality, thread quality, community satisfaction...

I'd hope that at least some experimentation is still possible. Wouldn't a lack thereof lead to stagnation? I have a hard time believing that, as great as it is, HN has found the global maximum of community design.

Experiment, please, but wisely and with clear communications.

The 'Net needs more models tested, but also far more nuance than most sites seem to show.

Thanks for the response; those seem like good learnings.

In terms of hot-button-topic stories getting buried, it's not just flagging - the flame war detection logic also plays a role. On diversity stories, for example, once they reach the front page we often see a large number of strongly worded (but clearly legitimate) anti-diversity posts. When people reply, heavy discussion ensues; and in any case, there's often a lot of piling on in agreement. Pretty soon the post is back to page 3 or 4. Of course there's the option of not replying, but leaving the anti-diversity viewpoint unchallenged strongly reinforces the stereotype of HN as a place that's hostile to diversity. So right now there isn't any good answer.

Yes, this is a problem. I think the solution might be to have a 'vouch' style link on stories that get penalized this way, so users can say whether they really are flamewars or not. If they aren't, the penalty should come off. We do this manually today, but we don't always see the thread in time.

Of course that leaves the harder problem that some of those threads are flamewars rather than civil conversations, as the guidelines call for. But fortunately that's not always true.

That could help. And maybe adjusting the threshold for flamewar detection - with the "hide subthread" functionality the cost of a flamewar might be somewhat lower.

Thanks again for sharing your learnings. Unsurprisingly I have some thoughts of my own, but first I'm curious about what others have learned ...


Limiting comments per user per thread or subthread, or rate-limiting them, might help.

I'd be very interested in reading how you determine whether or not something is a flamewar algorithmically.

"Anti-diversity" is a rather uncharitable term to use; it takes people who, say, dislike bullying tactics or prefer meritocracy and lumps them in with racists. One reason threads on the topic often degrade into flame wars is the attitude that there is only one moral way to view the situation.

If you think there's a better term, I'm certainly up for suggestions.

But why do you think it's uncharitable? People who say they "prefer meritocracy" are in fact taking an anti-diversity position. Maybe they don't understand it's anti-diversity, in which case pointing it out may encourage them to think more about it and understand why. Or maybe they don't care, in which case they certainly wouldn't take it as a moral judgement.

I think I follow what you're saying. It's a framing issue, similar to the pro-life/pro-choice, which encourages false dichotomies. I agree that "anti-diversity" is sub-optimal. Do you have suggestions for more neutral terms to apply to the topic?

I would cautiously argue that the two sides don't define themselves internally so much by what they are for as by what they focus on opposing. So maybe anti-racism and anti-activist? Or anti-politics?

Naming is tough :/ Trying to name concepts in programs is tough enough. Thanks for giving it a shot. I don't have any better ideas. It'd be nice to be for something, though, right? Maybe I should convene a focus group! :)

>"Anti-diversity" is a rather uncharitable term to use;

I don't think it's uncharitable for people whose explicit, self-proclaimed position is that diversity makes things worse than homogeneity.

No, the mainstream explicit, self-proclaimed position is that these positions should be allocated on a meritocratic basis, not on the basis of racial quotas.

That is the mainstream, but paradoxically, the mainstream is the quietest right now. Public debate has ended up being between people who want quotas for the "minorities" and people who want to re-homogenize an already diverse workforce.

Does HN have a civility problem? It's one of the most civil online places of discussion I can think of. Probably the most civil, although I don't frequent any strictly scientific forums which I imagine are much more "professional" if not necessarily civil.

I'll be the first to admit that I can be a little snarky at times, particularly about things I'm passionate about, but I think most people could say that about themselves.

It has a problem when the topics are divisive, for example https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13095475. There are quite a few like that unfortunately.

HN does quite well, though the mods also stay pretty busy.

> like that a week is too long for trying out an idea like this.

Out of curiosity, how did you all reach this conclusion?

I was rather enjoying the peace. I do appreciate not hearing about politics for once. It's everywhere. The tv, the radio, the printed news, the internet..

The place where it really gets bitter is the associated tribalism that political issues bring. A variety of research studies have found that people who identify with a given party will be much more favorable to the exact same topic if told that their party supports it vs if they're told the "enemy" party supports it.

What might have made this experiment more sustainable would have been to scope it to "No partisan politics". Some topics, such as education reform are very political but have no strong consensus in either party. For others, such as IP laws, both major parties come down on one side and many techies on the other. Those topics were common on HN for years before the political discussions here really got nasty.

It's the wedge issues (whatever they may be in a given cycle) and culture wars where the site has really gotten acrimonious. If people are talking about an issue, it's fine. When they're fighting with their allies against the "other tribe" it's not.

That's too narrowly scoped to escape the problem, because threads like https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13095475 aren't partisan politics.

Wasn't it already obvious that it's impossible to define 'politics' with any consensus? What makes a 'no politics' idea nice anyway is that it doesn't have to be defined with consensus to work. Whatever multi-dimensional definitions people have still end up converging an awful lot on actual items. Plus as moderators you can always use your own personal judgment, which you don't have to justify, and which is necessary to help drive the site in a direction you want it to go. Otherwise it will drift towards being like every other site. (http://lesswrong.com/lw/c1/wellkept_gardens_die_by_pacifism/) Still, I hope for more experiments in the future, and maybe even re-runs. (Going to ever try the 'pending comments' experiment again?)

> Wasn't it already obvious that it's impossible to define 'politics' with any consensus?

Oh yes, but what wasn't possible to foresee was the community reaction, and whether a functioning consensus would develop in practice. It did not.

I don't think moderators have quite the power you describe. We can take that approach, but only if the community supports it overall. That proved not to be the case here in two or three important ways, and we're fine with that.

> I hope for more experiments in the future

I'm glad we're not the only ones who feel that way!

> Going to ever try the 'pending comments' experiment again?

"Pending comments" morphed into what we called "modnesty" for a while and is now known as vouching, and has been probably our biggest single success in terms of introducing new mechanisms.

Thinking it through, I think a happy middle ground would be to have a 'this is political' button that, after a certain threshold, would flag the post as 'political', and would only be visible to those who have 'show_political' enabled in their profile.

Any chance of seeing what happens if the needle is moved the other direction? That is, see what happens if you actively discourage people from flagging stories simply because they are political, and reserve flagging for comments that are incivil and abusive?

I think user 'opsiprogram' describes it well here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13111900. It's unlikely that the outcome will be ideal, but like this experiment I think there might be useful lessons that can be learned in a short time.

What's the most interesting story you've had to censor because of this experiment?

I advocated for https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13126149 yesterday.

(Note that I completely accept dang's decision at the time)

Might be a good thing to resubmit and test out the detox effects :)

This post (EFF, patents) does not have anything to do with this? Or did I miss something?

It doesn't, but the thread was guaranteed to be include this no matter what, since if I hadn't posted, people would be talking about it being off topic this week while we were trying out the no-politics idea. If you missed that one, the original post is https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13108404.

Doomed to fail from the start now that politics also covers epistemology.

It will take a long time for us to heal the chasm between those of us who want to temporarily ban politics on HN and those of us who don't. May I suggest a one week moratorium on discussing this topic?

I think we've had sufficient moratoria for a while.

So we're getting a moratorium on moratoria now?

You got me there.

So is it over? Can you make a new main post about this so everyone knows and it can be discussed? I, for one, am sick of overly broad interpretations of "politics" being used to flag interesting apolitical articles.

Well, it was more peaceful while it lasted. Next tine be more specific, perhaps. The problem was US federal politics and the tribalism there, not 'politics however it may be defined'.

The problem of incivility in threads on divisive topics is unfortunately not limited to that.

Damn, things have been so nice around here this week...

people told you this was the case in the original thread and yet you implemented it anyway

People tell us a lot of things, including a lot of contradictory ones.

If it were simply a matter of being told, I could have just told myself, since I've made that argument myself on HN for years. But the point was to try the idea for a little while and see what happened. Now we have actual experience to point to.

You can't argue that it's a weird idea to ban something you can't even define, even as a one week experiment.

Perhaps we're using the word "experiment" differently. I don't mean a controlled experiment, I mean making a change for a little while to see what happens. One doesn't need a precise definition to do that. In fact, if we had one it would have been useless, because in complex social systems like HN such information doesn't transmit. People would have flagged whatever they thought of as 'politics', no matter what we said. Which is what they did.

But you've gotta have realised that a lot of non-problematic content about politics, like this story, would get flagged unnecessarily, then?

I won't say it didn't cross my mind. But if you're arguing that everything should have been obvious, that was far from the case. People have very different, shockingly different, way-more-different-than-you'd-expect assumptions about things that seem obvious to you (i.e. any one of us); since our job is to serve the community as a whole, we can't just go by our own. It's a constant struggle.

HN is large enough that if the outcome had been wildly different, other users would be thinking that had been obvious all along, and telling us so.

Keep in mind that the important question was how the community would react, and complex social systems aren't straightforwardly predictable. I've been working with HN for years now, and a participant for years before that, and much of it remains counterintuitive to me.

We're supposed to be a community of hackers. Why can't we try weird and crazy ideas?

> Why can't we try weird and crazy ideas?

There's still the "should I really stick this knife in that electrical socket?" evaluation that should take place with weird/crazy ideas, though.

It's a good idea to think through ideas before attempting them.

This experiment was like asking people to flag "news", and getting surprised that people were flagging tech news, when they really wanted to avoid crime news.

I think you're a coward and showing terrible judgment not sticking to your original, full week duration.

You made an unpopular choice, and then backed out of it before you even had time to see how it played out.

Ironically, your political detox week just showed you politicking in the worst senses of the word.

Ed: You're welcome to downvote, but I would appreciate comments outlining how my post was inappropriate rather than merely unpopular opinion.

Your post is inappropriate because it breaks the guidelines by calling names. Please see https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html.

I meant coward in a more technical sense of a leader who won't stand by their decision and caves to pressure against it, rather than actual argument, and supported that position within my comment -- no different than saying poor judgment. It certainly was not an ad hominem argument, and not the main thrust of my comment.

I think that many readers are simply being uncharitable in interpretation because they don't like the message.

That aside, Ill omit such language in the future (though Ill leave it here for posterity sake).

If you smack someone or tweak their noise while talking, it doesn't matter if that was your 'main thrust'. Please just don't be uncivil here.

My decision was to try out an idea briefly and learn from it. We achieved that, and what we learned stabilized quickly, so the value of continuing was small. Meanwhile the cost of continuing was nonzero, and possibly high. It turns out that when you tell people you're going to try an idea out briefly just to see what happens, many hear "this is a permanent change". That was not intended, and I didn't want to do damage by allowing that misconception to linger for another several days.

I was going to link to the famous Keynes line about "when the facts change, I change my mind; what do you do?", but it turns out Keynes didn't say it: http://blogs.wsj.com/marketbeat/2011/02/11/keynes-he-didnt-s....

> Ill omit such language in the future


I don't believe that accurately labeling poor behavior is uncivil, but I should have used a phrase like "showing cowardice" (more in line with my phrasing of poor judgment) to make it about the specific behavior (and faults with it), rather than a comment about you. I also will, in the future, pick less emotionally charged synonyms or phrases, because they're clearly distracting.

I appreciate the time you've taken to engage with me and explain your thinking (though I disagree with your choices still).

I hope you'll make a post explicitly about the experiment, so we can talk more fully (and civily!) about why I disagree with you.

Have a good day!

> "I think you're a coward"

That's probably the inappropriate part. In fact, your comment would have probably been better off without the entire first sentence. I don't believe the point you're trying to express is reinforced by your introductory sentence at all.

Thank you for the reply.

I agree the comment would've been better without the use of the word coward, because it's obviously a charged term and a distraction here.

(See sibling reply if you care about why I chose to use it.)

Being an outlier here, I don't disagree with you're using the word "coward". If someone acts cowardly, they are a coward. If someone lies, they are a liar. Anyone downplaying such talk may do so for a number of reasons (pride, emotion, to name a couple), but I think the best reason is that they know it's better to build people up than tear them down. Also, some things are subjective and calling someone out on, say, "being stupid" is relative (to one's idea of stupidity) and demeaning.

The overall tone of your post could be read (by some) as insulting in a sense. I wouldn't call them cowards for backing out before a week. It seems more a matter of didn't-have-a-choice. The community ran away with it. So they aren't perfectly honest, so some people would rather be the captain who goes down with his ship, but sometimes it's better to face the inevitable and try to make the best of it.

In short, I can see why your post was downvoted, but I wouldn't downvote it myself. You stated your mind. Just that even geek culture is sensitive it seems (or at least it is here).

I didn't see any politics of such in this article. Politics to be means mentioning one party or another or representatives of such

Your seem to be confusing politics with partisan competition, which is an aspect of politics, but very far from the whole of it.

From a toxicity point of view, I believe that is the part of politics that should be avoided here. Specifically all the sludge that revolves around candidates competing with each other, instead of focusing on the issues themselves. In fact, if politics consisted of only discussing the pros and cons of various policies, laws, and positions, then it may actually be informative.

In the US (at least) we can no longer have policy discussions, because we no longer share a common reality.

We can no longer empathize, I don't think it's about people living in some alternate reality. Take the example of second amendment rights vs. gun control. What one needs in the city, versus the middle of Montana are going to be very different. If an urban professional can't imagine themselves in Montana, and a Montana rancher can't imagine themselves in Chicago then you've got problems.

I agree that there are problems with empathy, but when people disagree on basic questions of physical science and recorded history, alternate realities are indeed in conflict.

I'm no climate change denier, but should anyone who seeks to question the research be labeled as living in an alternative reality (now politicians who spread reearch that have been shown to suffer from measurement errors and what not is whole different thing)? That's not exactly how the scientific method work.

The point is that the word means so many things to different people that the most we can say is that "most stories about politics" are off-topic, as the site guidelines have said for years.

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