Voltaire never had to deal with online comment sections.
February 22, 2019 12:46 PM Subscribe
"The Culture War Thread aimed to be a place where people with all sorts of different views could come together to talk to and learn from one another. I think this mostly succeeded. [...] you may have already guessed things went south. What happened? The short version is: a bunch of people harassed and threatened me for my role in hosting it, I had a nervous breakdown, and I asked the moderators to get rid of it." Slate Star Codex's Scott Alexander on the birth and death of a megathread, and how even an actively-managed discussion can go terribly, destructively awry.
"Whatever its biases and whatever its flaws, the Culture War thread was a place where very strange people from all parts of the political spectrum were able to engage with each other, treat each other respectfully, and sometimes even change their minds about some things. [...]
It’s very easy to remove spam, bots, racial slurs, low-effort trolls, and abuse. I do it single-handedly on this blog’s 2000+ weekly comments. [The thread's] volunteer team of six moderators did it every day on the CW Thread, and you can scroll through week after week of multiple-thousand-post culture war thread and see how thorough a job they did.
But once you remove all those things, you’re left with people honestly and civilly arguing for their opinions. And that’s the scariest thing of all. [...]
I am a pro-gay Jew who has dated trans people and votes pretty much straight Democrat. I lost distant family in the Holocaust. You can imagine how much fun this was for me."