Politics Discussion Group

Mike floated the idea of creating a specific category for discussing politics on the site. He also created a group for those who might be interested. As of this writing, there are 75 people who have signed up (including me and Mike). That seems like a pretty good level of interest, so we are going to try this out.

It’s important to understand that political discussion is not at the core of College Confidential’s mission. As I said elsewhere:

Some of the most important conversations we can have involve how we individually respond to the various sources of stress happening in our lives. But those same conversations also run the risk of breaking friendships if other people don’t treat us with respect and care.

So we’re going to create a space for those conversations to happen within the CC community. Now we know that this has already been attempted. We’re not going to repeat the mistakes of the past. No, we’re going to make new mistakes!

It’s important to understand that this will be a self-moderated discussion. The moderators of the entire site won’t be responsible for moderating the politics forum. Instead, I will select people active in the politics group to be moderators of the politics subforum. I will also be monitoring the discussion and helping moderate. The CC Rules will be enforced with the exception of #3: Discussion, Not Debate. (But keep reading. It won’t be a free-for-all debate.)

The politics subforum will only be visible to people in the Politics-Forum group. Since the group is free to join, anyone can decide to opt-in to see that content and participate in the discussion. On the other hand, people can leave the group at any time if they don’t want to participate. And, if necessary, staff can remove someone from the group without banning them from the rest of CC.

When discussions turn political, the Politics subforum gives us another option besides just shutting down the discussion. While it is technically possible to move a topic into the politics category, it’s usually better to restart the topic in the subforum. That’s because anyone who isn’t part of the Politics group won’t be able to see the topic anymore. Anyone who is interested in continuing a pollical discussion in the Politics category can split off and post a link for others to join. That way the original discussion has a chance to get back on track.

My overriding concern is that people respect each other even as they disagree. That means listening to each other, demonstrating restraint, acknowledging different values and experiences, and treating others with compassion. This plan is an experiment. We’ll get some things right at first, and certainly get some things wrong. The important thing is that we learn what works, stick with it, and change what doesn’t. I’m confident that these discussions have a place on CC and accomplish what the rest of the world seems to be unable to do: have a civilized discussion.

If you are interested being part of the conversation:

  1. Join the Politics Forum group,
  2. Read the Politics Forum introduction,
  3. Bookmark the Politics Forum category and
  4. Respect each other!

We’ve had people report having a hard time joining the group. It might be because the Join button is a little hard to see:

I’m looking into making it a little more obvious, but in the meantime, look to the top right of the group page.

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Seems like another route is to split the non-political and political posts in some thread like Student debt forgiveness by moving the political posts into a new thread in the politics section. There are probably people who want to know what it is, who is eligible, etc. without being drowned in politics (or finding the thread eventually locked so that they cannot post a question), so moving all of the political advocacy into a new thread in the politics section will serve them while letting those who want to talk about the political aspects continue.

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That is absolutely an option. For the moment, I’m suggesting people join the Politics group and start a new thread because:

  1. I want to help people get into the subforum (if they want to) and
  2. I don’t want to overwhelm the new Politics category while we’re still in the process of feeling out how it works.

I also want to be a little careful splitting threads because not everyone who participates will move to the new location. I don’t want to get in a situation where people are talking about people who can’t see the conversation. Obviously anyone who wants can join the group, but some people don’t want to and I don’t want them to feel obligated in order to defend themselves.

However, the volume of political posts in that thread seems to be on the level that would have gotten the thread closed before.

2 Likes