General Etiquette > Techno-quette

Politics on a non-political list

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I've gotten extremely frustrated with a hobby email list I've been involved with for about 15 years and many iterations. I might be spoiled by E-Hell's tight policing of these issues, but this seems beyond reasonable.

BG: I'll say this hobby is about knitting sweaters for kittens. It's a huge hobby spanning multiple countries and thousands of people. This email list has been around since the very first email lists and was incredibly popular until just recently due to issues with the list software and creation of a website forum with a much better format (similar to this site). I had noticed the postings had gotten sparse and finally joined the much better moderated forum where OT posts are segregated into their own area.

This week two enormous threads have popped up. The first was minorly political, but the political party wasn't at first the main focus. The original poster started a completely off topic (but slightly related) posting about how she couldn't believe the Queen of England had approved the piercing of kitten ears. As this is an extremely hot topic with strong feelings on both sides it exploded. I deleted every email, the mods told them to knock it off and it settled down in a day or two.

Next someone posted a completely on topic, though maybe slightly contentious post about how someone had just spent a million dollars on an extremely rare kitten sweater and asked if anyone else would ever spend that much on a piece of material. This type of question is par for the course with this group and usually creates a lively on topic discussion, but the result turned very nasty and political within hours and lost all relevance to kitten sweaters. There was name calling, complete thrashing of certain socioeconomic groups and even conspiracy theories presented. On a kitten sweater list.

I know the recent election has created a lot of very strong feelings, but this was insane. Has anyone else come across this kind of vitriol on similar lists or forums that are usually fairly peaceful? I emailed the list owner and asked for a rule to be created about this and her response was basically, "Yeah, OT posts happen, they usually die out, I don't read every one." The same person however takes a very strong approach to people posting sales lists (there's another place to sell sweaters) and will ban for abuse of that rule.

I went no-mail on this list, but haven't unsubscribed yet since I can't seem to bring myself to push that button after so long. I was sad that the list had gotten so light in postings, but if the mods won't even read a couple postings when it suddenly explodes suspiciously then I'm not sure I want to be involved anymore. What would you do?

This is why polite society always frowned on discussions of politics and religion in groups not specifically intended (or at least, clearly agreeable) for such things. Unfortunately, the people who are most likely to violate that rule are the ones most likely to do so in an unpleasant manner, because they don't get why polite discussion is more important than their particular hobby horse.

Unfortunately, I think that the only thing that can save your list is time - time for the vitriol from the current election to die away, and also for the list owner to realize that s/he is likely to lose a lot of participants if the list changes from Kitten Sweaters to Bile and Abuse.

I agree with Twik. You might try avoiding the board for a bit and just pop in on occasion to see if things have calmed down. If it clears up, then resubscribe to emails. If not, then move on and look for another kitten sweater forum.


--- Quote from: Twik on November 15, 2012, 09:11:20 AM --- Unfortunately, the people who are most likely to violate that rule are the ones most likely to do so in an unpleasant manner...

--- End quote ---

Boy, is that true!

I have seen this occur not just on threads or forums.  Somebody can post  a picture of a kitten wearing a cute hat on facebook and a few comments down somebody will post something like "If the Pink Party has their way all kittens will be minced and made into pies". And of course similar comments are made about the Purle Party.  It doesn't matter that they don't relate to the photo/subject/whatever.


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