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-1 Too US-centric

By TheophileEscargot in Meta
Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 11:54:53 AM EST
Tags: Freedom (all tags)
Freedom

Fantasy can be endearing, amusing, and even healthy. Who hasn't smiled at the sight of a small boy, energetically waving a toy sword or lightsaber, carving his way through a horde of imaginary enemies as he Saves The World again? In grown-ups, however, this kind of fantasy becomes more irritating than endearing. I am referring to that particular delusion that political articles on K5 make a real difference.


Delusion 1: hurling insults is a debate
The flooding of K5 with superfluous articles on a narrow topic is frequently justified on the grounds that it is an important issue to "debate". However, what happens on K5 is in no real sense a debate. In a debate, debaters analyse each others statements. On K5, the arguers simply exchange unrelated statements. For example if in a debate about Israel Chuck Conservative mentions a Palestinian atrocity, Larry Liberal will not attempt to discuss that, but will ignore that issue and mention an Israeli action. These arguments are not debates, but simply the swapping of pre-arranged or third-hand mini-rants, leavened with the occasional ad hominem attack or personal insult.

This style of debating seems to come from the dumbed-down debates seen on TV. With limited times and even more limited, attention spans; opponents on TV find the best tactics to be to shout sound-bites at each other. On the web, this isn't necessary: there's enough time and space to research and rebut as well as make your own statement in a comment. However, the dumbed-down political K5er, brain rotted by the broadcast media, is unaware of even the theoretical possibility of a meaningful debate. Shouting insults is what passes for debate on TV and talk radio, and that's what he's going to do on K5.

Delusion 2: You can change the mind of a political opponent
When a political canvasser knocks on your door, the first real question asked is who you intend to vote for in the upcoming election. Contrary to popular opinion, the best way to get rid of him quickly is to tell him you intend to vote for the other party. The worst thing to do is to tell him you're undecided.

The reason for this is simple. It is almost impossible to change someone's mind on a political issue. Occasionally, once or twice a lifetime, people will change their views by themselves, but no amount of doorstop haranguing will turn a conservative into a liberal or vice-versa.

What the canvassers are looking for are people who are undecided or unsure, the much sought-after "floating voters". It's only if you appear to be one of these rare beasts that they will try to persuade you of their cause. Claim to be firmly in the opposite camp and you will be left alone.

(As an aside, if you claim to support the canvasser's party, you will probably be asked if you'll put up a poster, possibly if you want to volunteer. To get rid of them quickly, it's therefore better to claim the opposite allegiance.)

Now apply this principle to K5. Everyone taking part in these debates already has their allegiance firmly decided. There are no floating voters in the political debates on K5. While many K5ers like to fantasize that their lobbying is making a difference, this is pure delusion: nobody is changing their mind.

Joining your local party or pressure group is a different matter altogether. Most have prized databases of floating voters: by canvassing for them you will either be targeting people who's minds are ready for changing, or else gathering data for others to do so. However be warned: doing stuff that actually does make a difference can be hard work. Which is of course why they choose to lobby on K5 in the first place. It's much easier to settle their fat behinds in front of a computer and indulge in masturbatory daydreams that their K5 crapflooding is Saving The World for Conservativism or Liberalism; than to actually pound the pavements of grim reality, confronting cold air and colder stares. Unfortunately, making a difference actually involves hard work: life is tough that way.

Delusion 3: K5 is influential
The third fantasy that the political crapflooders like to indulge is that K5 is an influential news outlet. Even if the debaters are always the same handful of obsessives, they like to believe that a vast, unseen audience is being swayed by their comments. Thus they can indulge the fond fantasy that their collection of regurgitated talk-radio clichés is actually mighty rhetoric swaying the course of nations.

In fact, rusty has pointed out that for every comment in a story, the number of logged-in readers is about ten times greater, and the number of anonymous readers ten times greater than that. Let's not forget that some of the anonymous readers will be 'bots from search engines or spammers, and that many of the readers will not read the article through, in spite of their browser downloading the whole thing, though. So, a typical K5 article has a mere 10 to 30 thousand readers at most: probably far fewer. Compared with a letter to your local newspaper, the number of people reached by K5 is tiny.

What's more, the K5 readers are too widely spread to be of political use. What political parties want are groups that are geographically concentrated, preferably in areas where the voting is marginal. A large number of K5 reader are not US citizens. Of those that are, many are too young to vote. But more importantly, even those eligible voters are spread too thinly across the US to make a difference. The idea that Congressmen and Senators are interested in K5 as a voting bloc is the final, and most ridiculous fantasy.

Conclusion
If you want to make a political difference, join one of the parties: Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Reform, Green or whatever. Your fundraising and campaigning will be much appreciated. If you want to pleasure yourself mindlessly, get some porn. But try not to confuse the two: don't pleasure yourself by posting political stories to K5.

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Display: Sort:
-1 Too US-centric | 148 comments (122 topical, 26 editorial, 0 hidden)
True (2.50 / 4) (#1)
by kvillinge on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 04:28:50 AM EST

I particularly agree with delusion 2. A debate is not about changing your opponent's views on something. At best, the debate will spread some light for the undecided.

I see them as filler (3.12 / 8) (#2)
by Demiurge on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 04:29:05 AM EST

Most are nothing but regurgitated rants that rehash the same old flames. Occasionally, there's an interesting or insightful one.

Still, it's better than having some buffoon post a recipe and have it voted to the front page.

Shut the fuck up already (1.35 / 14) (#5)
by Bob Dog on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 04:42:59 AM EST

I'm tired of hearing whining windbags gripe about political articles on k5. If you hate 'em so much why don't you just fuck off to somewhere else?

Because that wouldn't get rid of them. (3.00 / 2) (#88)
by mrgoat on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 02:08:41 PM EST

Some of us used to come here for things other than political articles. In fact, this site used to be "Kuro5hin: Technology and Culture, from the trenches". "Kuro5hin: Iraq, from a comfortable distance" gets tiresome. If you hate seeing articles griping about political articles so much, why don't you just fuck off to somewhere else?

"I'm having sex right now?" - Joh3n
--Top Hat--
[ Parent ]

Hm. I've seen this debate before (none / 0) (#126)
by Skwirl on Fri Sep 20, 2002 at 12:40:49 AM EST

I think the general response to your point of view is: "If you want K5 to be a tech/culture site, go write a tech or culture story yourself." Another stock answer is, "make the technology or the culture page your start page."

Communities evolve. There ain't nothing nobody can do about it, not even Rusty. Goodness knows I've lost some of my favorite online haunts to painful, lingering change, but that's why I've vowed to never open up my cold, black heart to love ever again.

--
"Nothing in the world is more distasteful to a man than to take the path that leads to himself." -- Herman Hesse
[ Parent ]

But the point here... (none / 0) (#128)
by mrgoat on Fri Sep 20, 2002 at 12:53:29 AM EST

Is that we all, collectively affect the evolution of this place. I want it to evolve back to a more tech-oriented site, hence I will do what I can to ensure that. That involves not only voting up tech articles I like, but also griping, and would include writing tech articles, were I significantly more knowledgeable about tech than the rest of k5.

"I'm having sex right now?" - Joh3n
--Top Hat--
[ Parent ]

The point is to learn more for yourself (4.55 / 9) (#6)
by StephenThompson on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 04:45:24 AM EST

I don't think most people are trying to reach vast masses with thier opinion. More they are trying to get a sounding board for their opinion. And for their expression of that opinion. If you did want to reach the masses by writing a letter to the editor, what better way to improve your reception than trying out your ideas on K5? What better way to get a broader perspective than ask a bunch of people from whereever? What better way to practice your English grammar?

Going a bit far (3.00 / 1) (#7)
by Herring on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 04:58:21 AM EST

I think there are far too many political articles on here but I'm not against anything which is actually informative. Saying that, I am trying to remember when was the last time I was enlightened by anything in a K5 political article. It's rare, but it does happen.

I'm going to vote +1 anyway because it should generate some useful flamewars.


Say lol what again motherfucker, say lol what again, I dare you, no I double dare you
Some Comments (3.33 / 3) (#8)
by wanders on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 05:00:36 AM EST

Everyone taking part in these debates [on K5] already has their allegiance firmly decided.
This strikes me as untrue.

Compared with a letter to your local newspaper, the number of people reached by K5 is tiny [and] too widely spread to be of political use.
This, on the other hand, is true indeed. Those who wish to make a difference should take this to heart -- that way their retarded shit^W^W agitated argumentation will end up in papers which I do not read and not on kuro5hin, which is a place for useful information and informed discussion.
~
~
:x
"Delusions" (4.28 / 7) (#13)
by DarkZero on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 05:21:35 AM EST

Delusion #2 is nothing but a laughable attempt at looking witty or insightful by acting entirely cynical and fatalistic. For one thing, it makes no distinction between a door-to-door pitchman for a vapid, self-serving political candidate and the advice of someone that you converse with on a daily basis that is not trying to sell you something for their own gain, but instead just offering their opinion for its own sake. In other words, you picked the absolute most disgusting and futile example of someone sharing their opinion to prove that people that are sharing their opinion are wasting their time, which is a lot like using the Roman gladiatorial games as an example that all sports are fatally violent and encourage slavery.

And second, while I could have somehow missed it, I certainly haven't seen anything like what you're talking about. I've seen far more people be brought to one person or another's side in a debate than idiotic zealots that take every utterance by a certain party or subsection of politics as the only possible truth in the world. Then again, I haven't really looked at it for any other purpose than to give it a zero after the first two insane, rabid paragraphs of political bullshit.

The third one's debatable. I agree that K5 isn't influential, but then again I never had that delusion and didn't think anyone else did. I just see K5 as a tool for learning and enlightenment, like any book or informational site. I never had any thought that it was getting anything done politically.

Delusion #1 is right on the money. I just wish that more posts like that actually got some zeroes instead of twelve ones in a row. They serve no other purpose than to taint otherwise intelligent debates.

-1 Not enough about pancakes (1.72 / 11) (#14)
by seeS on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 05:22:55 AM EST

Is see nothing at all about pancakes, saphires or fugly women on coffins. I think you need to mention at least one of them. However I have no pancakes, only some sad marshmallows, so I'm looking for a nice flame to toast them.
--
Where's a policeman when you need one to blame the World Wide Web?
Don't post politics if you want to change others (4.41 / 12) (#17)
by ShadowNode on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 06:10:29 AM EST

Post politics if you want others to change you. Political opponents have changed my views more then any other factor. No one is better able to tear my preconceptions to shreds than someone who vehemently disagrees with them.

+1FP when it comes out of editing.



Minds change slowly (4.65 / 23) (#19)
by Eloquence on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 06:39:53 AM EST

The flooding of K5 with superfluous articles on a narrow topic is frequently justified on the grounds that it is an important issue to "debate". However, what happens on K5 is in no real sense a debate. In a debate, debaters analyse each others statements. On K5, the arguers simply exchange unrelated statements. For example if in a debate about Israel Chuck Conservative mentions a Palestinian atrocity, Larry Liberal will not attempt to discuss that, but will ignore that issue and mention an Israeli action. These arguments are not debates, but simply the swapping of pre-arranged or third-hand mini-rants, leavened with the occasional ad hominem attack or personal insult.

This is of course a sweeping generalization. Larry Liberal might as well argue that the Palestianian actions are certainly not justifiable, but understandable in light of the situation, and that a government's actions can be easier changed for the better than that of an oppressed populace -- or something like that. I have seen many intelligent debates on K5 and (hopefully) participated in many. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is of course highly emotionalized, but comments on that level quickly get rated down. (Ignore individual ratings -- only look at aggregated ratings. K5 should really only show ratings when a minimum number of ratings have been applied.)

Furthermore, even if incoherent mini-rants are exchanged, they may still settle in the reader's mind, to take an effect later on.

Hurling insults is not a debate, but K5 typically does not consist of only hurled insults -- these are quickly hidden. There are certain Tourette personalities here who can still mingle their insults with good rhetoric and therefore avoid the dreaded downmoderation, but even they are the exceptions. They may leave a strong emotional impression, though, leading to gross generalizations like yours.

Most importantly, debates on K5 are the best I've seen anywhere on the Net. They often last days and can encompass many different angles of a subject. Some participants go to huge efforts to support their posts with facts or at least decent logic. This is, in my opinion, the result of a good -- not perfect -- moderation system that keeps out the noise even as the system scales. It even has a conditioning effect: I have witnessed the conversion of several trolls. (The diary system is working against that, though.)

This style of debating seems to come from the dumbed-down debates seen on TV.

Hmm, if that's the case, people should spend more time on K5 and less in front of their TVs :-). The reality is that many K5 users, including myself, don't even own a television. I do agree to some extent -- people should better research their stories and comments, especially when dealing with complex subjects like sapphires. But that doesn't mean that the amount of stories on political subjects should be reduced (there is overexposure of course, but that's a different issue). Just set higher standards, by example if you can.

Delusion 2: You can change the mind of a political opponent

It's hard, but it isn't impossible, and the exposure to different viewpoints is the only thing that makes it possible. Already there is a strong trend for the Internet populace to be more liberal than the rest (just as there's a trend for the educated populace to be more liberal than the uneducated). Education changes minds and opens views, but this is a process that happens over several years. K5 is not even three years old, what do you expect? And even if people change, they won't often admit to doing so.

The political canvasser is a bad comparison for the same reason that the TV talk show host is a bad role model: You don't have time to exchange complex viewpoints in a door conversation. The Internet offers this time.

I am reminded of a memorable quote from an article about Annoy.com, a site specifically designated for the discussion of highly controversial subjects:

``It might sound hokey, but it's unbelievable. You get white racists and homophobic people and black racists who started communicating with each other in a way that allows them to express whatever anger or hatred or fear they have, because it's not punished,'' he said. ``Over time, I've seen people transformed.''

Delusion 3: K5 is influential

That depends on what you mean with "influential". In the slow-mind-changing sense defined above, K5 is one of the best influences there currently is. It's not the NYT, but your statistical analysis is flawed: You can't compare the article reader count with the total newspaper circulation, because the individual readership of a single newspaper article is much lower than its total circulation. As an occasional freelance writer for newspapers and magazines, I can tell you that you far overstimate the impact of backpage articles.

Furthermore, K5 articles are archived and hyperlinked. I'm quite sure that a piece like "The Casino Odyssey" still gets considerable traffic.

Lastly, K5 is great because it allows controversial viewpoints of almost all kinds to be published long as they are reasonably eloquent. Newspapers are part of the whole Chomsky-esque consent machine with all its filtering processes.

As for the political impact, I agree that the international dispersion is a major downside for most types of political action. If you want that, go to Indymedia. Nevertheless, this case is a good example for an email campaign that made a difference. Especially in local scandals, K5 can shed an international light on issues and possibly even get them into headlines elsewhere. When people working for a city council or small company suddenly start getting email from Finland and Japan simultaneously, they might rethink their actions.

But K5's readership still has to grow for it to become a detectable factor. In the current climate, that's probably a good thing.

Of those that are, many are too young to vote.

Heh, counting people who are unable to vote as politically irrelevant is cute :-). Yes, there's little point in the nth "Write to your Congressman" appeal. That's not a problem of K5 though -- it's a problem of the political system as a whole. Joining the Greens will not make much of a difference -- education on a large scale will. And K5 has the potential to provide just that.
--
Copyright law is bad: infoAnarchy · Pleasure is good: Origins of Violence
spread the word!

completely agree (4.50 / 2) (#80)
by startled on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 01:33:50 PM EST

Especially with regard to #2. People love to say that political debates never change anyone's mind, but perhaps they're only working from their own close-minded experience. They've certainly changed my mind, and the minds of several others people with whom I've had intelligent political discussions.

Political debate may seem pointless, because as you mentioned, no one really changes their mind immediately. But continued discussion not only gets some people to reconsider their viewpoint, but also makes them much better informed.

This is all predicated on it being an intelligent discussion. For me, what has helped the most is really just not being lazy. If I'm unsure about something, I don't gloss over it-- I check the web, a few history books, call up a history major friend, etc. in an effort to look it up. The most annoying posts are those that say, "I'm too lazy to look this up and see if it's true, but I heard that gays are 45% more likely to steal your cat". If you're too lazy to do even the most basic check on your "facts", do us the favor and be too lazy to post.

[ Parent ]
And you believe that? (1.00 / 2) (#106)
by mami on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 06:01:14 PM EST

``It might sound hokey, but it's unbelievable. You get white racists and homophobic people and black racists who started communicating with each other in a way that allows them to express whatever anger or hatred or fear they have, because it's not punished,'' he said. ``Over time, I've seen people transformed.''

With all due respect, that is a "beautiful", intellectual lie and an attempt to deny very simple facts of human behaviour. I don't want to let you get away with that one. (BTW, may be you SHOULD get a TV, you know. You may live in your own sort of "La-la-land"). :-)

I would suggest to you to try to see this the other way around for a change.

Exactly because you can express your anger and hatred any way you want and not fear any repercussions, you are free to incite as much hate as your trollish imagination and faint, evil, little soul allows you to do. Aaah, it's so nice to troll someone's emotions and get a little kick out of the hate you just incited in one of your readers, right? We just need that, don't we?

Well, this little masterfully crafted hate inciting free, unhibited speech transforms people, oh yes, very right. But to what?

You still believe that the "release of your tensions, ie hate, will have some positive calming soothing effect and previous haters turn into dovish smooching "love you all" kind of guys? I think you should wake up.

What I see happening is something different, and I do believe I have my eyes wide open and no rosy-pinky glasses on.

Do you remember the K5 article about "Revenge"? Some very irresponsible and IMO dangerous person had put it up, most probably to produce some source material for his psychology class paper about aggressiveness etc. The article encouraged people to talk about their "worst thoughts and deeds of revenge they ever acted upon" (or something like that).

Do you remember one of your comments, your concern that someone had "confessed" to either have witnessed or being part of a murder (or something like that)? Apparently that caused discussions somewhere in the diary space or so, I haven't followed that, because I believed that the whole thing was one hellish evil and irresponsible experiment, I didn't want to participate in.

But it seemed that people all of sudden asked themselves if something has "gone too far" here, if you had the responsibility "to call the police" etc.

This article and its comments showed quite nicely that unhibited expression of hate and anger, professionally used by trollish intellectuals, who can't handle the freedom of their speech responsibly, can easily incite all kinds of emotions, which certainly DO TRANSFORM people, but NOT to satisfied and relaxed little good-doers, by no means.

I can't believe that people seriously can still deny the negative effect of unhibited free hate speech used by professional mind manipulators.

You don't stop being naive, do you? Or what kind of gain to you have to lie to yourself? Or are you just one of those irresponsible online "researchers" yourself, who can't resist to trigger "truthful" reactions in their readers?

[ Parent ]

Sigh (5.00 / 1) (#115)
by Eloquence on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 07:31:42 PM EST

But it seemed that people all of sudden asked themselves if something has "gone too far" here,

So everything would be peachy if we hadn't seen that comment and wouldn't know what the guy claimed to have done? If nobody talks about it, it isn't happening, right? Seems like you're the one with the rosy-pinky glasses here ..
--
Copyright law is bad: infoAnarchy · Pleasure is good: Origins of Violence
spread the word!
[ Parent ]

What ? (2.00 / 1) (#116)
by mami on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 08:29:11 PM EST

I think your interpretation of my comment to mean that I think everything would be fine if we hadn't seen that comment is quite an insult. How can you read something like that out of it?

It's not the fact, that we have seen the comments we could see, that I consider "dangerous",  it's the fact that for each of such comments we might see posted, there are hundreds which are just lingering in the minds of people.

These thoughts wouldn't go through people's mind if they hadn't been exposed to the hate of others who broadcasted their hate beforehand and triggered their reactions.

There is a cause-effect relationship. The hate is not just simply in all of those people's mind by default. The hate gets generated, kuddled, triggered, incited etc. and one tool with which to generate it IS uninhibited expressions of hate thoughts on interactive online media.

And that people's minds are triggered to think a lot about how much they hate this and that and what have you, IS not very helpful at all and quite unhealthy matter of factly.

So much for my peachy outlooks through my pinky-rosy glasses.

[ Parent ]

Nonsense (5.00 / 3) (#118)
by Eloquence on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 09:10:44 PM EST

I see a situation where this kind of mutual reinforcement may happen: closed discussion forums, closed clubs etc. The Ku Klux Klans and White Supremacy groups. But K5 with its open rating system, queue and dicussion form is exactly the opposite. The point is that "hateful" people are exposed to different views they would otherwise not be exposed to. This was especially clear in the reaction to the revenge story you mention. This has the potential to transform them for the better, whereas the alternative (understandably, you never really go into how your not-so-free speech world would look like) oppresses them into the closed lunatic fringe where they only reinforce each other's beliefs.

Your great mistake is that you never think things to the end. You want obvious solutions without considering their long term consequences. Your kind of logic is the war-on-drugs logic of criminalizing the sick and the weak minded, the war-on-poverty logic of hiding poverty in the slums and ghettos, the war-on-prostitution logic of forcing women into organized crime, the war-on-speech logic of pushing kids into the Klan. You cannot force people to stop thinking "bad thoughts". You can only help them by talking to them in an open forum. Is that so hard to understand?
--
Copyright law is bad: infoAnarchy · Pleasure is good: Origins of Violence
spread the word!
[ Parent ]

Bullshit - you assume things that are in your mind (1.00 / 1) (#123)
by mami on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 11:48:04 PM EST

only - and not in my comment.

You cannot force people to stop thinking "bad thoughts". You can only help them by talking to them in an open forum. Is that so hard to understand?

Yes, it is hard to understand. We are talking not therapeutic sessions with a responsible psychiatrist here, who intends to help some person manage his hate/anger problems. We are talking about crooks, who pose as free speech rights warriors, assholes, who abuse people's minds, dignity and emotions with the intend to manipulate them into hating other people. If you haven't gotten this by now, we can just stop the conversation.

Just tell me in what way talking with people who have hateful thoughts is helpful here? Apparently you believe discussions like that help? Help to do what exactly? Prove how brave K5-ers are to defend their free speech rights to be the world's finest assholes there are?

The point is that "hateful" people are exposed to different views they would otherwise not be exposed to. This was especially clear in the reaction to the revenge story you mention. This has the potential to transform them for the better.

Aah, it has the potential to transform them for the better, but obviously NO potential to transform them for the worse in your little La-La-Rose-Garden-Land, right? Lovely spin doctor.

Whatever. Rest assured, your comments incite a lot of hate in me. So, I think I have just proven my point to be true. I can tell you, you haven't helped me to transform for the better, you just brought out the worst in me. Schach.

Can I be any clearer?

And BTW, it is not my great mistake to never think the things to the end, it's one of the best survival techniques I know of. If I would think things to the end, I might just act to the end as well.

Be happy that I still am able to stop thinking, before something worse happens.

[ Parent ]

Yes (5.00 / 1) (#124)
by Eloquence on Fri Sep 20, 2002 at 12:02:18 AM EST

Rest assured, your comments incite a lot of hate in me. So, I think I have just proven my point to be true.

You're right. People like you shouldn't be on Internet discussion boards.
--
Copyright law is bad: infoAnarchy · Pleasure is good: Origins of Violence
spread the word!
[ Parent ]

Bravo, now you show true colors (nt) (none / 0) (#129)
by mami on Fri Sep 20, 2002 at 01:08:46 AM EST



[ Parent ]
Funny. (4.80 / 5) (#20)
by Ranieri on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 06:50:10 AM EST

Over here (NL) "liberal" is on the right hand side of the political spectrum.
--
Taste cold steel, feeble cannon restraint rope!
What's on the left? Socialist? (nt) (5.00 / 1) (#27)
by DarkZero on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 07:59:08 AM EST



[ Parent ]
Yep, and greens. (5.00 / 2) (#34)
by Ranieri on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 08:29:45 AM EST

That's correct. And of course the usual European Christian-democrats in the middle.

Truth be told, i think the usual one-dimensional left-right dichotomy is starting to fall apart, especially with the "new labour"-style privatising that's been going on lately.
--
Taste cold steel, feeble cannon restraint rope!
[ Parent ]

BEWARE THE LABELS! (none / 0) (#131)
by Wulfius on Fri Sep 20, 2002 at 01:57:43 AM EST

Labels like RIGHT or LEFT are evil devices.
They make you AUTOMATICALLY without any judgement
slot the persons opinion into a predeterminded box.

He's LEFT therefore hes not CORRECT because I am RIGHT and I am *RIGHT*.

USE YOUR OWN GODDAMNED BRAIN INSTEAD OR RELYING
ON OTHERS TO MAKE YOUR MIND FOR YOU.

When you hear the labels BLANK THEM OUT.
Listen to the arguments, you will find that
on their merits they may meet your approval
regardles of the political spectrum.


---
"We must believe in free will, we have no choice."
http://wulfspawprints.blogspot.com/ - Not a journal dammit!
[ Parent ]

Whatever, Capitalization Boy. (none / 0) (#136)
by DarkZero on Fri Sep 20, 2002 at 09:06:30 AM EST

Every country has one side considered to be on the right and one side considered to be on the left. In 90% of cases, this is just a measure of the politics of the country. If the left is socialist and the right is authoirtarian, then it has a very broad, open political spectrum. If, like in the United States, both the right and left are fairly moderate in relation to other countries, then the political spectrum in that country is somewhat narrow. I tcan also determine whether a country is mostly socialist, mostly authoritarian, mostly libertarian, etc.

[ Parent ]
US left = Rest of the World Right (5.00 / 2) (#46)
by RoOoBo on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 10:30:24 AM EST

And of course US right is very extremist right for most of the world. It just where you put the center point.

[ Parent ]
Point one (3.80 / 5) (#24)
by komet on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 07:20:02 AM EST

Excellent! The lack of debate is IMAO the main problem with K5, and I have a feeling it has something to do with "Threaded" being the default view. The Threaded view gives one the impression that top-level comments are somehow worth more than subordinate comments, since they can be seen immediately - but of course, true debate lives from the back and forth of answers.

YOU HAVE NO CHANCE TO SURVIVE MAKE YOUR TIME.

debate (4.00 / 2) (#29)
by chia on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 08:01:08 AM EST

there's enough time and space to research and rebut as well as make your own statement in a comment.

on the face of it maybe, but most threads dont last longer than a day or two at most. not even considering all the other related websites, K5 offers so many other things to comment on, new stories, new diaries, etc. it all becomes overwhelming.
In the end the net is more frenetic than a rl debate and this results in people posting unthoughtthrough comments most of the time.

the other reason is because, as you say, your opinion posted here is not really going to change a persons viewpoint. the comments are more just entertainment than anything else, like reading a quote or watching some1 make a fool of themselves, its funny, but its not going to change anothers opinion of the world.

the reason for this, i think, is because k5 encourages comments on a broad section of events. nobody has good knowledge to share on all these topics, most people will have a sufficently succint comment to make on only a small portion of the stories. but having not comment of note to make does not stop people from posting, hence the flood of noise. this is maybe why the technology sections exhibit less noise than other threads, cause its easier to spot people talking crap there.


Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else's opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation. O Wilde
Good (3.85 / 7) (#33)
by myshka on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 08:14:46 AM EST

A good article, one that's essentially correct in its assumptions. Political discussions between people uninvolved in policy-making are futile from k5 all the way to the seminar rooms of Yale and Oxford.

An added problem on a forum of k5's caliber is that most participants simply don't have a solid enough grounding in the questions they discuss to provide any real insight. Imagine a debate on the validity of the theory of relativity conducted by 16 year olds proud of their AP physics record. This is k5 and politics.

However, as painful and devoid of practical implications as dilettantish discussions on any subject are, they do fulfill a need for thought and expression on the part of the participants. They also give people a chance to read a few links, perhaps glean a couple of facts, acquire a debating technique or finally formulate a brief but unstoppable rebuttal of a commonly accepted fallacy.

Shooting the shit on K5 isn't going to stop the war on Iraq, reconcile the semitic tribes or further democracy in the world. But then, is there anyone who really believe that it will?

Not good (none / 0) (#35)
by LQ on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 08:40:14 AM EST

Political discussions between people uninvolved in policy-making are futile
So we should all keep our traps shut because, once every five years, we get to put a cross on a ballot paper.

[ Parent ]
Read (none / 0) (#36)
by myshka on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 08:53:26 AM EST

Read the rest of the comment you're replying to. Policymaking futility doesn't imply a lack of benefits at the individual level.

Incidentally, I'd argue that putting a cross on a ballot paper has about as much influence over the direction of your country as a hearty rant on k5. That is especially true in a two party system, such as the one we're saddled with in the US.

[ Parent ]

HEY! (2.00 / 2) (#38)
by Mickey Kantor on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 09:41:32 AM EST

Imagine a debate on the validity of the theory of relativity conducted by 16 year olds proud of their AP physics record.

I am 16 (well, 17) and proud of my Physics AP record, so STEP OFF. ;)

[ Parent ]
Imagine (none / 0) (#72)
by roystgnr on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 12:58:28 PM EST

Imagine a debate on the validity of the theory of relativity conducted by 16 year olds proud of their AP physics record. This is k5 and politics.

Imagine an analogy based on the ability of scientists to use empirical methods and long years of study to produce experts who come to objectively correct conclusions about their subjects, but applying this respect of credentials to fields like philosophy and politics which haven't progressed beyond the phlogiston stage and where "experts" can be found holding diametrically opposed opinions about nearly every aspect of the subjects.

[ Parent ]

Nicely done (4.00 / 1) (#86)
by myshka on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 02:03:07 PM EST

The analogy did have a certain hyperbolic quality to it. However, I would disagree with your assertion that the study of politics is similar to philosophy in being fundamentally speculative.

What often differentiates sensible political analysis from dogmatic drivel is the foundation the former has in historical, economic and sociological fact. Unfortunately, among those who are interested in current events, only few are aware of the influence the above disciplines, and even fewer can muster sufficient time, patience and intellect to weave them into a coherent whole.

[ Parent ]

The ideological factor (none / 0) (#101)
by cr8dle2grave on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 03:35:19 PM EST

Being conversant in sociology, economics, and history surely makes for a more informed and sophisticated political opinion, but political discourse by its nature remains dependent upon irreducibly ideological elements. For instance, let's presume that you and I agree in roughly accepting the current form of the state as it exists. This would allow us to discuss health care policy in a primarily instrumentalist fashion since we are in agreement as to the desired outcome and proper role of the state apparatus in achieving those ends. But if we were to admit into our discussion a radical minarchist or anarcho-syndicalist the boundaries of the discussion would have to expand to include ideological "first principles". What is the proper role of the state? To what extent, if any, is coercion justifiable in pursuit of political ends? What is justice and how do we determine its proper role in establishing political goals and means?

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
Missing Poll Option (4.00 / 3) (#37)
by chigaze on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 09:13:56 AM EST

After all that talk about the elusive undecided voters there is not a poll option for us to identify ourselves.

On the same topic I consciously avoid thinking of myself as liberal, conservative or any other restrictive political definition. It's not that I could not be easily classified into one of the camps but if I do that classification myself then I am limiting my own thought. I prefer to at least try and approach issues with an open mind.

-- Stop Global Whining

Actually, where's Liberterian? (none / 0) (#67)
by Genady on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 12:46:14 PM EST

I really wanted to write in liberterian. It's only through sites like K5 and Plastic that I've come to the conclusion that I am a liberterian. Independent is just too wishy-washy. Centrist too non-specific. No, I am a Liberterian. Too bad that wasn't an option, because I firmly believe that we're the class with all the monkey wrenches to throw in these overly simplistic demographic studies.

--
Turtles all the way down.
[ Parent ]
Exactly. (5.00 / 1) (#74)
by Mr. Piccolo on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 01:01:28 PM EST

The problem is that there's also an economic scale to factor in.

I'm no Libertarian because I believe in strict government controls over dangerous institutions like record companies and Microsoft.  Yet I feel that government should not try to legislate morality (drug laws, seatbelt laws, etc.)

So, am I "liberal" or "conservative"?

Hmmm???

The BBC would like to apologise for the following comment.


[ Parent ]
good but misdirected (4.75 / 4) (#39)
by tichy on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 09:46:19 AM EST

I grow bored at stupid political discussion as much as the next guy. But the idea that to stop it you must stop all discussion sounds very silly. Specially when the alternative you offer is to go work for a party, i.e. a political corporation where you'll have premade views available for you to not have to think much, and where you'll basically just help a professional politician get on with their carreer. That's hardly an improvement of the situation.

Only 10-30,000? (4.72 / 18) (#40)
by dachshund on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 09:52:18 AM EST

So, a typical K5 article has a mere 10 to 30 thousand readers at most: probably far fewer. Compared with a letter to your local newspaper, the number of people reached by K5 is tiny.

Gosh, only 10 to 30 thousand? In that case, I'm going back to scratching my opinions on bathroom stalls and making impassioned arguments at cocktail parties.

How about hypocrisy? (4.33 / 9) (#41)
by J'raxis on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 10:08:43 AM EST

You wrote:

These arguments are not debates, …, leavened with the occasional ad hominem attack or personal insult.

And then you proceed with:

… the dumbed-down political K5er, brain rotted …

It’s much easier to settle their fat behinds in front of a computer and indulge in masturbatory daydreams …

… the political crapflooders …

— The Raxis

[ J’raxis·Com | Liberty in your lifetime ]

0 - Too Delusional (4.28 / 7) (#42)
by mami on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 10:12:31 AM EST

Vote independent. Do post and write what you want. Don't believe in anything but your own guts and your own brains. Do your homework.

Don't be an idiot. Call you mom. Be nice to your wife. Don't beat up your kids.

Make a difference whereever you can make one, that includes K5. Be honest. Make an honest living and go to work and read the sources.

Abstain from voting on this article.

I completely disagree, but +1 anyway (4.66 / 6) (#44)
by arthurpsmith on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 10:21:56 AM EST

since I feel discussing this is important. This article seems to be a poorly argued counter to my short comment on another article, and others who have argued here similarly. Other comments here have argued the point very well also.

I would love it if there were better forums for political debate, that brought even more people together, that allowed for long-running, thoughtful, exchange of ideas. As far as I know, no such thing exists. I have joined a major political party; I have changed affiliation twice over the past ten years. None of the political parties represents my opinion, however, and none of them provides me with a forum to find out the facts and real opinions of others.

To paraphrase Winston Churchill on democracy, k5 gives us the worst form of political debate, except for all those others that have been tried.

Energy - our most critical problem; the solution may be in space.


Hah! (3.75 / 8) (#47)
by krek on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 10:42:53 AM EST

But mom-meee, they don't want to talk about what I want to talk about *poutsulkpout*.

Has anyone noticed that, lately, K5 has become somewhat, uh, self-obsessed?

I never thought we were trying to convince (4.28 / 7) (#49)
by Pac on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 10:55:45 AM EST

I always thought Kuro5hin was more about an ongoing intelligent conversation with somewhat like minds than about deciding the fate of the world, the US warring follies or the Israel-Palestine imbroglio.

This means I consider the site more medium for cultural entertainment and idea exchange than a medium for political debate. Exchange is a key word. The debate issue rise from a slightly deviant behaviour in which the exchange degenerates into game where the people try to "win" the exchange (whatever that means: get more fives, get a story posted, flame better than someone else).

The recent excesses of political stories is somewhat annoying, but I believe it is now being pretty much contained in the queue (mostly thanks to blockie preaching in desert for weeks now). But the issue is the same whether discussing Saddam elusive arsenal or the best place to buy sapphires. People will disagree about almost anything.

In the end, I am still having fun. And remember, support your local "No more political stories" chapter.

Evolution doesn't take prisoners


Yeah... (2.00 / 1) (#53)
by leviramsey on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 11:09:06 AM EST

...but how much intelligent conversation is there?



[ Parent ]
Seek and ye shall find (4.75 / 4) (#55)
by Pac on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 11:22:07 AM EST

I never see a day when I am not amused, informed or educated in Kuro5hin. While I admit my range of interests is pretty large, I don't really know of other site that sails so seamlessly from the very serious or even pedantic subjects to the very light and silly one-liner.

Evolution doesn't take prisoners


[ Parent ]
3 (4.00 / 2) (#61)
by nevertheless on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 12:26:41 PM EST

One. Two hoo. Three. *crunch* Three.

--
This whole "being at work" thing just isn't doing it for me. -- Phil the Canuck


[ Parent ]
The reason I come here... (4.16 / 6) (#50)
by JahToasted on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 11:01:20 AM EST

Is to keep up with the issues (and non-issues) that people are talking about. I don't think anyone is going to change my opinions but they can give me more facts so I can have a more educated opinion.

Every issue has a tiny core, the crux of the problem. That tiny core is surrounded by tons of bullshit. What discussion does is expose what is bullshit and what is at the root. Then all you gotta do is decide what side of that little tiny core you are on.

Of course there are those that base their opinions on the bullshit (I admit that I am guilty of this from time to time). Unfortunately those that do this are often the ones that talk the loudest and get the most recognition.

Those that are trying to uncover the crux of an issue, are usually more rational and have more respect for others that do the same, even if they have the opposite opinion. For lack of a better term, these are the philosophers.

In an ideal world the philosophers are respected by the bullshitters, and the bullshitters listen to reason. The problem is, everyone thinks that she or he is a philosopher and everyone else is a bullshitter.
______
"I wanna have my kicks before the whole shithouse goes up in flames" -- Jim Morrison

WTF? (3.06 / 15) (#57)
by thelizman on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 11:59:57 AM EST

What is it about the 16 hours I cannot be around the edit queue that allows crap like this slip through? Allright people, we need to establish 8 hour watch shifts and coordinate better.

HEY! GENIUS! THERE IS A SECTION HERE CALLED "FREEDOM & POLITICS"
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
this comment is half true, half b.s. (2.50 / 2) (#58)
by wiremind on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 12:20:07 PM EST

HA HA! YEAH!
Maybe we could set up a web site, and we could get people to sign up for different shifts, to help keep articles like this off the front page.

Seriously though,(my real feelings)

  1. the title has NOTHING TO DO with the article.
  2. the author does make a good point, most people write hoping to change the world. and he was right, the best chance average joe has, is to help out with their local government. Join one of the parties.
Kyle Lanser - Proud Canadian
Kyle
[ Parent ]
The Authors Point Was Valid, But... (3.33 / 3) (#66)
by thelizman on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 12:44:06 PM EST

  1. It could have been expressed in a few succint paragraphs sans rambling rants.
  2. If people here would/could volunteer for a political party, they would'nt be here to begin with.
I have already committed all of my spare time to personal training and training people trying to get into military service (mostly Army - the Marines already had their own program, the Navy queers aren't interested in getting sweaty, and the Air Force weenies could'nt handle it). When I had less of a life, I did stupid shit like rent elephant costumes and hang outside of polls waving drivers in to the voting booth (which, in muggy North Carolina Novembers usually works about 10 lbs off of you).

So, for those of us with a maximum of 20 minutes of personal time every week day (which gives you enough time to shower and make a couple of quick meals), K5 (using the boss's time) is one of the few ways we can contribute.

The problem, more or less, is that people are so intolerant that they look for issues to be intolerant about. If you don't like politics, FINE! Rusy has included a +1 section (wherein you think the article was well written, but you may not want to see it on the front page) and a 0 Abstain (wherein you could give a shit about the article). Failing that, vote -1. But don't attempt to redefine K5 so that it doesn't offend your sensitivities. Personally, I'm getting sick of sapphire stories every other day.
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
[ Parent ]
But it wasn't constructive (4.00 / 1) (#111)
by kholmes on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 06:36:37 PM EST

I don't want to see meta-articles as the place for people whine about how people post. Thats the problems, that is *all* the article does. I replied while it was in edit mode last night. I was also shocked to find it on the front page when I logged in today. Too much more of this kind of stuff, and I'm leaving.

If you treat people as most people treat things and treat things as most people treat people, you might be a Randian.
[ Parent ]
Hey moron (2.50 / 2) (#59)
by TheophileEscargot on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 12:24:57 PM EST

Don't worry. I checked the front page history, and out of the last thirty stories there are no less than twelve political stories, each seemingly more pointless than the last.

So don't panic yet: you morons are still winning...
----
Support the nascent Mad Open Science movement... when we talk about "hundreds of eyeballs," we really mean it. Lagged2Death
[ Parent ]

So the Majority of K5'ers are Morons? (3.00 / 2) (#62)
by thelizman on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 12:36:00 PM EST

Read up on the idea of plurality voting sometime. You've just insulted at least 50.5% of voters here (depending on how Rusty has scoop setup).
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
[ Parent ]
K5 is not a democracy... (3.00 / 2) (#65)
by TheophileEscargot on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 12:43:39 PM EST

...it's an obsessocracy. The queue is controlled by the people obsessive enough to check it most often.
----
Support the nascent Mad Open Science movement... when we talk about "hundreds of eyeballs," we really mean it. Lagged2Death
[ Parent ]
Learn to read (3.00 / 2) (#68)
by thelizman on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 12:49:44 PM EST

I never said it was a democracy. One aspect of being a troll is to reply to a statement in a way that addresses points not made in the statement you are replying to (FYI). Moreover, the people who participate are the ones who determine what goes on around here, ergo they are the voters. If you don't like it, learn to check for the little red numbers.
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
[ Parent ]
Democracy (none / 0) (#69)
by gauntlet on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 12:52:33 PM EST

Any group decision-making system is controlled by those in the group that are given and take the opportunity to participate.

Are you suggesting that the political systems of countries where voting is not mandatory are undemocratic? Or are you merely whining that when you don't vote, other people neglect their responsibility to vote as you would have?

Into Canadian Politics?
[ Parent ]

Imagine this... (3.00 / 1) (#73)
by TheophileEscargot on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 12:59:05 PM EST

...the goverment decides to change the election rules. When a red light is projected onto a convenient landmark, citizens have two hours to get to a polling booth. WOuld that be truly a democracy? Or an oligarchy of the most committed citizens?

But to spell out the point, thelizman accused me of saying that the "Majority of K5'ers are Morons", when actually it only means that the most obsessive voters have a high proportion of morons.
----
Support the nascent Mad Open Science movement... when we talk about "hundreds of eyeballs," we really mean it. Lagged2Death
[ Parent ]

That's stupid. (5.00 / 2) (#81)
by gauntlet on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 01:34:36 PM EST

It would be a democracy. Just a stupid one. Method and timing of notice of upcoming votes is a problem in all democratic systems. It doesn't make them not democratic. Even if you could argue that providing insufficient notice makes a vote undemocratic, it seems reasonable that the diligence with which you should attempt to notify the voters would have some relation to the degree of importance the voters would place on the outcome of the vote.

I'm assuming that you are of the opinion that the notice given is unsatisfactory. That could indicate that you place more importance on the outcome of the votes than most people (because I do not hear many people complaining). I refuse to believe, although your analogy suggests it, that you believe whether or not a K5 story gets posted is of the same importance as a general election, but you seem to place a higher importance on it that most nonetheless. I find that ironic, because your article seems to be saying that people that believe K5 stories are important are delusional.

As for the majority of K5ers, it's a valid inductive point to say that the people voting on the stories are a large enough sample of the population of K5 users as for their voting patterns to be representative of those of the whole, with a limit on certainty.

The only other plausible explanation for the fact that these stories keep getting posted would be what would amount to a conspiracy of sufficient individuals to post stories that you don't like, who never neglect their conspiratorial duties.

Yeah, maybe you are delusional. Or maybe you believe that the majority of users actually are morons, but you're trying to spin that to insult as few readers as possible by claiming that it's numerically possible that you're only insulting a few dozen people.

I don't really care. The point is a democracy whose procedures with which a citizen is not satisfied is still a democracy.

Into Canadian Politics?
[ Parent ]

you classified yourself... (none / 0) (#64)
by loteck on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 12:39:23 PM EST

However, the dumbed-down political K5er, brain rotted by the broadcast media, is unaware of even the theoretical possibility of a meaningful debate. Shouting insults is what passes for debate on TV and talk radio, and that's what he's going to do on K5.

So if you've indentified yourself as the above, yet post an article against them, why do you bother posting replies?
--
"You're in tune to the musical sound of loteck hi-fi, the musical sound that moves right round. Keep on moving ya'll." -Mylakovich
"WHAT AN ETERNAL MOBIUS STRIP OF FELLATIATIC BANALITY THIS IS." -Harry B Otch

[ Parent ]

Heh (none / 0) (#127)
by Skwirl on Fri Sep 20, 2002 at 12:50:28 AM EST

20 person shifts was my idea for the Digital ID stories. Where's the cabal when we need it?

--
"Nothing in the world is more distasteful to a man than to take the path that leads to himself." -- Herman Hesse
[ Parent ]
Ah the sweet sound of whining. (3.46 / 13) (#60)
by Calledor on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 12:25:33 PM EST

I'm rather new to K5 so I suppose I've yet to reach your level of disdain for some of the rather outlandish and vehement articles posted here.

That being said I have my own reasons for posting here which don't involve typing with one hand (a subject which you seem to be aware of to an unhealthy extent).

Yes indeed I did just use ad hominen, but I have no delusions that what I'm engaging in here is a debate nor do I believe I am making a difference. I would describe it as an arguement at best and in actuality probably more along the lines of a "one up" competition. That's not to say that ad hominen isn't a viable psychological audience directed tactic to win a debate. I'm just saying outright that I am insulting you for your apparent generalization that people on K5 masturbate as often as you do.

I post on K5 because it is illegal for me to kill/torture/maim people in the real world who amaze me in ways I can not hope to fathom with their apparent lack of common sense. Everyone needs a punching bag or some other device or means to release frustration and anger, especially in a modern world where being offended is as easy as turning on the radio/tv or surfing the net. The political section here seems to be the best category for finding people to fight with. Occasionally very good points are made that are very insightful, but that's a small fraction. I do enjoy when someone with seemingly the direct opposite opinion of what I think makes a good point and completely thwarts my desire to argue with them by showing too much class.

In any event we do have the choice to not turn on the tv and to not read the articles. Unless we happen to be masochistic (like you for example) in which case we can't and we write stuff like this article that backfires completely because we are whining. To people who do not have the compulsary need to beat themselves with a hammer or some other blunt object I say this to you. Either do not read things that anger you greatly, or read them and deal with the frustation in a manner that isn't delusional or illegal. I'd rather someone insult me directly than whine to everyone.

-Calledor
"I've never been able to argue with anyone who believes the Nazis didn't invade Russia, or anyone who associates the Holocaust with the meat industry. It's like talking to someone from another planet. A planet of fuckwits."- Jos

You're part of the problem (3.00 / 2) (#63)
by TheophileEscargot on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 12:38:04 PM EST

I post on K5 because it is illegal for me to kill/torture/maim people in the real world
...
The political section here seems to be the best category for finding people to fight with.
Not everyone comes to K5 to pick fights with strangers. In non-political discussions it is still possible to have a reasonable debate. However, now nearly half of the stories to get to the front page are political rants, written just as you say, for the sake of fighting only.

Every month or so, someone posts an article to K5 suggesting either that rejected stories are made accessible, or that killfiles are introduced to exclude certain authors or topics. Rusty always rejects these for the following reason: K5 is supposed to be a community. K5 is supposed to choose or reject stories collectively, as a community, and he refuses outright to undermine or fragment that.

K5 can thus be a site for actual debate, or just pointless fight-picking, but not both. K5 is becoming what you want it to be: a flame-fest where people argue interminably over the same old issues for the sake of it. However, not everyone wants K5 to be like that.
----
Support the nascent Mad Open Science movement... when we talk about "hundreds of eyeballs," we really mean it. Lagged2Death
[ Parent ]

K5 is becoming what <b>we</b> want it (3.00 / 2) (#75)
by Genady on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 01:07:11 PM EST

K5 can thus be a site for actual debate, or just pointless fight-picking, but not both.

I'm sorry, I really don't see it that way. The difference between the two is all perception. It seems that what you call intelligent debate is more focused that what other people equate it to.

K5 is becoming what you want it to be.

K5 is becoming what the community wants it to be. One person does not approve or deny posts? This is not a Roman gladitorial ring where Rusty mimics Ceasar with a thumb up or down.

In a very real way, your very post is a political in nature. If you strive for a more republican (i.e. a form of elected representative) community, might I suggest you go over to Plastic for a while, where there are editors that can either up or down tumb stories? Or, if the democratic processes there is still too much, there's always Slashdot.

--
Turtles all the way down.
[ Parent ]
Real difference (4.00 / 1) (#76)
by TheophileEscargot on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 01:18:08 PM EST

The difference between the two is all perception
No. Some arguments are logically valid, some logically fallacious. Some replies address the issues of the parent, some don't. The difference is real, not one of perception.
In a very real way, your very post is a political in nature.
But only in the broadest sense. It's not a futile attempt to influence the US political process, but the K5 political process. Front page K5 articles are a poor way to influence George W. Bush, but quite a good way of getting a point across to the readers of K5.
----
Support the nascent Mad Open Science movement... when we talk about "hundreds of eyeballs," we really mean it. Lagged2Death
[ Parent ]
Who are you to tell me what points are valid? (2.66 / 3) (#82)
by Genady on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 01:40:13 PM EST

No. Some arguments are logically valid, some logically fallacious. Some replies address the issues of the parent, some don't. The difference is real, not one of perception.

No to you. Just because an argument is illogical does not make that argument any less valid. Just because someone goes off topic, their topic should not be silenced. The comments can be rated, and the illogical and off-topic comments may have less of a chance of being heard, but should you wish to listen, all comments can be heard.

If someone wants to say that we should go to war with Iraq because the voices in their head say we should that is a valid argument, it is part of intelligent debate, to that person. While an extreme case, what of abortion, or school prayer. Just because a point seems illogical to you should not diminish the point. Who are you to tell me that the instructions from my teddy bear are any less valid debate points than yours?

Front page K5 articles are a poor way to influence George W. Bush, but quite a good way of getting a point across to the readers of K5.

Here I disagree with you. How do you influance GWB? You influance public opinion, and from there elected officials, on up to the administration. True, it's usually easier to just contribute $1 million to the Republican party, but grass roots organizations have swayed the political landscape in the country for years. Ross Perot was the result of grass roots movements, so was Ralph Nader, BOTH made significant impressions on the political landscape of this country.

--
Turtles all the way down.
[ Parent ]
You're not exactly helping things. (3.00 / 2) (#97)
by Calledor on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 03:26:41 PM EST

I'm sorry if I misuse K5 in your eyes, if only because I could care less and you seem to sincerely care. That being the case you write horribly in defense of it and are undermining it yourself. Let's face it, you didn't exactly avoid annoying people with your article. I don't mean unjustified annoyment I mean you basically insulted and offended the people you would like to shut up. I gotta ask, have you seen that method working much? It's obvious you have a worthy and idealistic cause (idealistic only because K5 is irreversably divided from what I've seen), but seeing as how sattire and sarcasm have been killed on K5 your article as it is does not forward your goal (so using offensive terms while preaching from a soap box negates your cry against such things).

If you accept advice then let me give you the rather common, almost trite advise, of emploring people to not comment to the articles, or to ignore ones that are flame starters anyway. That is what authors want, to inspire a flame war. They will continue to inspire flame war after flame war for either their own entertainment or until their side wins the "vote". I have to respect the fact that you seemed to take my abuse in stride so in acknowledgement of that I will try to abstain from my own brand of harsh criticism.



-Calledor
"I've never been able to argue with anyone who believes the Nazis didn't invade Russia, or anyone who associates the Holocaust with the meat industry. It's like talking to someone from another planet. A planet of fuckwits."- Jos
[ Parent ]

I'm Confused (3.50 / 6) (#70)
by gauntlet on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 12:54:11 PM EST

K5 isn't important enough to bother posting political stories on, yet it's important enough not to clutter with political stories.

Please explain.

Into Canadian Politics?

OT: Your .sig (none / 0) (#100)
by Genady on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 03:33:09 PM EST

Oh but to take Confucius to Schrodinger's house.... :)

--
Turtles all the way down.
[ Parent ]
Great Analysis (3.20 / 5) (#71)
by CarryTheZero on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 12:55:23 PM EST

I think you're dead on: political stories on K5 with not change the world in any meaningful way. However, there's got to be a reason they're so popular (they keep getting voted to the front page, after all). I think it's because many people have a need for their political opinions to be heard. Either they argue around the water cooler, or they argue on K5 (and, incidentally, the more listeners the better...so K5 is preferable to the water cooler). So I think you misunderstand the motivating force behind these stories: it's not "I want to affect the real world", it's "Listen to Me!".
Not that I mean that as a value judgement; if it floats your boat, fine. It just means that I spend a lot more time in the diary section these days.

--
You said I'd wake up dead drunk / alone in the park / I called you a liar / but how right you were
iTunes users: want to download album artwork automatically? Now you can.
Politics Is Important, Shocker! (none / 0) (#103)
by rf on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 03:52:03 PM EST

>there's got to be a reason they're so popular

Yes there is. Keep it quiet but people like politics, and they just don't know it. What people see is politicians and what they see them do they think is politics. But politics is about policies which determine the way we live and have a huge influence on our lives. People don't like the sound bite politician anymore, in an effort to be heard more, today's politicians have made themselves less listened to.

Its a damn shame, there are people who want to have serious debate, here in Britain ex-MP Tony Benn and current MP David Davis are going to go on a tour having political debate. (here.) Tony Benn has already done this once this year and sold out everywhere he went.

Politics will always be rated highly while people care about their futures.
_.oO|rf-sheffield-uk|Oo._
[ Parent ]

My Mind Changes (4.66 / 15) (#77)
by weston on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 01:19:40 PM EST

Everyone taking part in these debates already has their allegiance firmly decided. There are no floating voters in the political debates on K5. While many K5ers like to fantasize that their lobbying is making a difference, this is pure delusion: nobody is changing their mind.

You're absolutely correct in assuming TV-style soundbite debate, based on some kind of idealogical truism doesn't change my mind. But my mind is changed by solid, clear exposition, citation of studies from credible sources, and sometimes, good personal storytelling.

I'll give an example. I was pretty solid pro-Israeli for a long time, perhaps most of my life. I took a university class in organizational behavior and my prof happened to be involved some conflict resolution efforts in the middle east. He had us read, among other things, a book called Blood Brothers, an autobiography of a Palestinian who was 6 in 1947, when the UN made the vote to partition Palestine into a Jewish and Arab state.  The book challenged a lot of my assumptions about the conflict and made me reshape my views.

Another example: I was studying to be a teacher about two years ago. Whenever educational funding was brought up, the conventional wisdom was that smaller classrooms and greater per-pupil spending were the solutions, and my views were largely in line with that. But my brother, a political science student  interning with the American Legislative Exchange Council, showed me some data wwhich suggested that there's no correlation between student performance on test scores (or any other metric, for that matter) and greater per-pupil funding, and not only that, until you get below a certain number of students (10-15), smaller classroom sizes don't make a difference. What DOES seem to make a difference is smaller schools. I did my student teaching shortly after that, and this jibed with those studies.

Of course, about 6 months ago I found out that ALEC has a distinctly libertarian bent, which has caused me to question their results... very convenient that they found data that would firmly support school choice vouchers (for the record, I think school choice vouchers are a great idea, I just get skeptical when people and organizations see exactly what they wany to see).

The point here is that it's not that people's minds can't be changed. Mine can, and I know other people's who can. It's that the level of rhetoric that we've somehow become used to is completely insipid and polarized. Most people base their arguments off of a convenient ideaology and stats they sortof remember from their favorite talk radio program.

I agree with you (4.33 / 6) (#89)
by FourDegreez on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 02:11:06 PM EST

People's minds can be changed. It is pure cynical folly to believe otherwise. Take me, for example. I identify myself as firmly liberal, and right now I oppose going to war with Iraq. But I am not blindly bound to that stance. I can be convinced to change my mind. It seems that when liberals/Democrats ask to see more evidence against Iraq, many cynics assume it to be "playing politics." This is not so. If I am shown better evidence for going to war, I will change my position and support the war effort. And I mean that honestly.

This article here just stinks of vacuous, sophomoric, condescending "I know better than you" cynicism. And if I had a few more adjectives, I'd use 'em, too!

[ Parent ]
Sounds like you'll never change the world. (4.13 / 15) (#78)
by freality on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 01:22:15 PM EST

You're beaten, tired, overwhelmed, cynical.  That doesn't mean everyone else is.

The worst form of complaint is despair.. it serves no purpose but to bring people around you down.  It's selfish and rude.

Your article starts with a good point: hurling insults is not debate.  Well guess what?  When you insult this site with your pretentious complaining, it's like taking a shit on your dinner plate and then complaining to others that the food stinks and you've lost your appetite.

You also seem lazy.  Look at your poll; What corner of the backwaters are you living in?  There's a lot of ways to see the world, and a even more people practicing them.  In my experience it's better to ask people what their opinion is than to ask them to pick one.  Of course it's obvious you're not interested.

Take a break from what's been getting you down and get back into life with some positive conviction that you are worth something.

Right now you're just dragging us down.

Rubbish (3.00 / 1) (#87)
by TheophileEscargot on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 02:04:04 PM EST

I'm pretty optimistic about the site. Hence the fact I post keep posting articles to it, some of which seek to improve it. However, changing the world requires that you actually look at it as it is, not live in a fantasy world.

Also, the poll is a joke.
----
Support the nascent Mad Open Science movement... when we talk about "hundreds of eyeballs," we really mean it. Lagged2Death
[ Parent ]

you got me :) (none / 0) (#90)
by freality on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 02:25:03 PM EST

Also, the poll is a joke.

Sorry!

[ Parent ]

poll answer: (5.00 / 1) (#102)
by infinitera on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 03:46:59 PM EST

Other. I like conserving things and not changing for the sake of change, so by dictionary/classical meaning, I am a conservative. Likewise, much of classical liberalism (Enlightenment thinking) appeals to me. I got nowhere to go as an anarcho-syndicalist. :P But yes, I assume you knew that with your poll. Good job. ;)

[ Parent ]
VOTE DEMOCRAT! (1.40 / 5) (#79)
by gr00vey on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 01:24:12 PM EST

http://www.democrats.org/

What's wrong with weblogs... (3.50 / 6) (#83)
by jasno on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 01:50:22 PM EST

...is exactly what I'm doing now.  I didn't bother to read a single comment, heck, I didn't even read the entire post.  Once I got through the first paragraph, I got all fidgety and had to write something.  I don't really have the time to sit down and consider everything everyone else has said, I just like vomiting my emotions on everyone in the hope that I'll be found smart and get the all important moderation points.

I think the amount of ppl certainly is a factor.  Small weblogs with a slower pace would definitely encourage more debate, but I think it also has to do with self-promotion and 'winning' more than it does a love for the truth.

It would be nice to see some sort of hierarchical weblog scheme were folks participated in discussions in smaller groups and then they (as a group) could interact with others on a master weblog.  The smaller groups could also help weed out the people like me who just like to vomit comments and keep the people more interested in fostering an intelligent debate.

BBSes, with the single phone line limiting traffic dramatically, tended to have richer debates at a much slower pace.  I have yet to see the same kind of thing on the web, although I can't say I've looked very long.

Hah! (4.50 / 2) (#93)
by JanneM on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 02:33:16 PM EST

You didn't read the entire post? Amateur. I didn't read the post - and I didn't even read your comment before posting. In fact, I don't have a clue what website I'm commenting in at the moment. It's just random coincidence that this post even appears to tie in with yours (whoever you are and whatever you write about). I'll even refrain from reading this very post I'm writing, while I'm writing it, instead just closing my eyes and bashing randomly at the keys; that's probably why the word Basingstokian has a gratuitous and pointless appearance at the end.

---
Trust the Computer. The Computer is your friend.
[ Parent ]
Go back to NWN boards (none / 0) (#122)
by ylikone on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 11:28:57 PM EST

You are on K5 now... me thinks you are lost.

[ Parent ]
You've missed the point. (3.00 / 6) (#84)
by confrontationman on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 01:50:30 PM EST

Do you try to offer advice when someone is explaining their problem(s) to you?

If your answer was yes, you're an idiot. You will notice that the person with the problem(s) is resistant to your advice, and will make excuses as to why your suggestion(s) will not work.

This is because they know how to solve the problem(s), they just don't want to. What they really want is to whine and mewl about how hard their life is.

When someone actually wants help or adivice they ask for it before explaining their problem(s). They will even attempt to get the advice without explaining the problem(s) at all. In fact, it often requires extensive inquiry to get the story out of them.

Anyway, the point is people on K5 aren't here to convince the opposition or to change the world, they're here because they like to argue. The last thing they want is to convince the masses, then they wouldn't have anyone to argue with.

And another thing, how the hell did this post get through moderation?



I'm not a fan of the politics here either (4.76 / 13) (#85)
by priestess on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 01:55:31 PM EST

But I've spent the afternoon trying to figure out why I disagree with you and instead believe that posting here, or indeed to usenet or any other web-board or, yeah, arguing at coctail parties is in fact more politically useful and effective than writing to a politician or a newspaper.

Firstly, it depends on how well your view fits into the mainstream ideas on a subject. Five years ago there was no newspaper that would print a story about ending the prohibition of drugs. Writing to your newspaper would achieve nothing except getting a bit of paper from your desk to a newspaper editor's bin. Posting to the internet, however, has no bin, has no editor. Marijuana news has argued pretty convincingly that not only the fact the newspapers will now print those letters to the editor but also that former drug-ministers publish triads against prohibiton is directly attributable to an opening up of the debate thanks, at least in part, to the freedom of communication the network has provided.

The people who a well written and researched article or story here might convince aren't the ones that are arguing anyway, they're the ones that are reading. And if the prohibitionists are constantly trying to supress and censor the opposition, screaming hysterically and refusing to counter arguments and the reformers are constantly referencing the prohibitionists own statements to refute and calmly show them up then people notice these things, and the range of allowable opinion in the more mainstream media grows accordingly.

New Scientist had an article a week or two ago that I can't link to because they don't publish properly on the web, which showed that a good model for opinion forming in public groups is basically the same one that models magnetic particles aligning as a magnet cools down. People don't have to influence the entire world, they don't need an audience of even hundreds in order to help convince the public at large.

To change the world you don't need to convince the opposition, as you said, you need to convince your neighbours and have them convince theirs. They may not live next door, but the people on K5 are our neighbours of a kind.

I don't like the political articles, they're mostly rants as undirected and uninformed as you're likely to find anywhere, but I disagree with you that talking to your friends about an issue is less important than joining a political cult or writing to a newspaper. Talking to your friends about an issue is exactly how political opinions are formed. Nobody takes the newspaper seriously, least of all the letters column. Nobody really listens to politicans, they're untrustworthy and so pragmatic their beliefs are diluted so much you can hardly taste them. People listen to their friends. It might be an exageration to call K5ers - especially random one's whos name you don't even recognise - friends, but they're closer to that than a newspaper or a politican are.

        Pre.............
----
My Mobile Phone Comic-books business
Robots!
Elites and leaders (4.00 / 1) (#141)
by Scrymarch on Fri Sep 20, 2002 at 02:54:45 PM EST

I've been wondering about this effect for some time.  To state my bias, I can happily read a fair bit of well informed and well written politics articles.  It's just that most of k5 one's are not - they are lazily constructed, and often redundant if you read the newspaper.

Anyway, historical intellectual movements and flowerings have been tiny.  A few quick examples.

[http://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.uk/usfeatures/timeline/to1800.html Population of Scotland 1755 estimate] : 1,265,380

Scottish Enlightenment (Adam Smith, Hume etc): 1740 - 1790

Population of Classical Athens: 200,000

These are tiny populations.  My home town, Brisbane, has as many people as all of Scotland during its most famous intellectual flowering.  So where's the Brisbanite Wealth Of Nations?  And why the heck am I in London instead of bathing in this cultural renaissance?

Of course population isn't the key, look at China during and after the Hundred Schools.  What is needed is a new social mobility whereby people are able to communicate across previously impractible barriers.  Which sounds rather like the Internet; or at least like a thousand dot-com business plans blooming.  What China had during the Hundred Schools / Warring States Period - but less during the Empire that followed - was a new small group of socially knights and tradesmen come gentlemen.  This is, secondhand, how the standard theories go.

So where's Confucius, Voltaire, Hume, Plato and the rest of the philosophic pantheon?  Not on k5, obviously, but it feels ... not close.  But like the echo of something great, and beautiful.  

Even so, it's an echo getting drowned out by lots of lazy tabloid crap at the moment.  The reason k5 needs tech articles is not because it's a better topic but because the mistakes are easily spotted by the community.  It keeps people grounded.  It reminds them (us) that the same standard of quality, originality and grasp of the subject should be applied to all stories.  That way k5 is at least a decent read.


[ Parent ]

Get over it. (4.14 / 7) (#91)
by dewzenol on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 02:29:25 PM EST

It's free. Take the good with the bad. If you don't like it, don't read it. If an article seems uninteresting, don't click on it. IMHO, K5 is not here to present only topics that appeal to 100% of the population, or even 100% of the people that visit the site. I don't give a rat's *ss how to make pecan pancakes. I don't even know if that's really what the article was about. I didn't read the article. Simple, no? I come to K5 to view other peoples' opinions. Traditional news only gives one side of a story. I would feel morally irresponsible if I allowed myself to be spoonfed a single point of view on everything. It is important to me to see how other people think. The political debates ARE interesting to me. I haven't posted until now simply for the sake of hearing other peoples' opinions. Usually at least one person has already covered my point of view anyway, so there's no point reiterating it. Some of us are actually open minded enough to evaluate others' opinions and take a moment to reevaluate our own. Also, I like getting details or background on a subject that I would not otherwise have gotten. I like a good conspiracy theory. I like learning about something I have never even heard of, like Rithomachia. Keep reading and maybe you will learn something. OTOH, maybe you already know everything, in which case I bow before you.

So why bother? (4.00 / 1) (#92)
by enterfornone on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 02:29:52 PM EST

The same could be said about any other topic discussed on K5. K5 is a discussion site and politics is one of the things that many people like to discuss. Live with it.

--
efn 26/m/syd
Will sponsor new accounts for porn.
Arguments and Debates (4.00 / 3) (#94)
by quasipalm on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 02:36:03 PM EST

These arguments are not debates, but simply the swapping of pre-arranged or third-hand mini-rants, leavened with the occasional ad hominem attack or personal insult.

I couldn't agree more. Oh, wait, are you talking about C-SPAN or K5?

(hi)
Hah! Good point. (3.33 / 3) (#99)
by gromm on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 03:32:32 PM EST

I think you hit the nail right on the head. Clearly, the author has never actually seen a real life debate. The reality about politics outside his ivory tower is that real debates often devolve into vicious personal attacks after the opening speeches are made.
This is why they have referees in the House of Commons and Congress and Parliament or whatever your particular system of government has.
Deus ex frigerifero
[ Parent ]
oh yes. (none / 0) (#110)
by Bill Godfrey on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 06:34:34 PM EST

Those perl developers can be an argumentative bunch.

[ Parent ]
Why I argue politics (4.00 / 6) (#95)
by PullNoPunches on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 02:38:31 PM EST

Because if I become famous, or infamous, my manifesto will have already be written. It will only need to be assembled from the parts found in K5's archives.

If this happens, and there is a heaven (or hell), I'll spend my days there snickering over the fighting between the two factions of my followers that arose over a trivial misinterpretation of some K5 comment.

------------------------

Although generally safe, turmeric in large doses may cause gastrointestinal problems or even ulcers. -- Reader's Digest (UK)

everything in moderation (4.00 / 2) (#96)
by Kellnerin on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 02:41:55 PM EST

Oh dear, I think I may have made a pun. The point is, politics in and of itself isn't the problem. Yes, there can be value in discussing issues, and allowing people to express their opinions on both sides, even if they don't come to an agreement or convince anyone to change their mind. The problem is when you see the same damn article come up again and again, treading over the same ground until you're about to break through the Earth's crust and hit magma. When a significant number of people on a discussion site find a pancake recipe is preferable to any article on Iraq, it's a good sign that you may have overdone the Iraq angle just a little bit.

--sometimes you pick your gods, sometimes the gods pick you -odin--
a slightly different view (4.69 / 13) (#98)
by zvpunry on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 03:30:33 PM EST

If you want to influence real people, you need to communicate effectively with, well, real people.

Real people turn you off their tv screen because you're not sexy enough. Real people tear up the flier you handed them a block earlier. Real people call you a nutcase because you don't belong to their political party. Real people care more about watching soft porn on tv than attending your presentation. Real people will sleep through your courses because they're hung over from partying the night before.

K5 is showing signs that there are real people here.

And if you want to communicate in that kind of environment, it actually helps to be ripped to shreds, ignored, or moderated down by real people who don't give a hoot about philosophy or political theory. You come out of it with a tougher skin and a better idea what to say (and how to say it) to grab people's attention, and keep it.

K5 is a playground, but it's a better playground than Campaign HQ where nobody disagrees with you, or even cares much about your career in particular.

I see two kinds of moderator (there may be more). There are the real people, often called trolls, who vote you down because they disagree with you, because they're drunk, because you're too intelligent for them, or whatever. And there are the fellow wankers, who do care about reasoned discourse, and will pedantically help you improve your spelling and grammar before they mod you to the front page.

To please the first group, you have to be direct, brief, lucky, and charismatic. To please the latter you have to have a well-written, sound argument.

What better training ground can one hope to find?

Personally, I've found that, since university, I have become lazy and sloppy in my thinking, which I'm really not proud of. In my effort to finally get off my sorry ass and submit a story, I've had to work on that, and won't submit until I'm at least able to say that I can focus on an essay the way I used to in college. (And if it gets voted down, then I'll whine about it.)

I don't care much for the political (or even technical) discussions on K5. Most of it is trash. But it does have a positive net affect, I think, and there are some incredible articles here, which would just have been masturbatory if there hadn't been any selective community pressures exerted on length and ramblingness.

Yes, lets do something useful and productive... (4.00 / 7) (#104)
by Tezcatlipoca on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 03:58:29 PM EST

Like watching more TV, playing more PS2 games or watching more USENET pr0n.

For goodness sake, here we have an example of people that at least are willing to interest themselves with important issues, and there you are, pointificating from your high pedestal, belittleing discussions like these which are rarer and rarer in todays world.

Most people in the world do not care about politics of any kind. Here there are people that at least at some very basic, perhaps vulgar, level, are willing to spend some minutes of their time chatting, ranting, discussing, trolling, about relevant political issues.

Please, contribute with your great insight about how things should be done, lead by example.

Otherwise, humbly, I request that you get lost.
---
"Every duck should aspire to be crispy and aromatic." sleepyhel

I Think That ... (3.50 / 2) (#107)
by icastel on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 06:13:49 PM EST

... this is either a troll (well written) or Mr. TheophileEscargot is making huge assumptions about the purpose of K5 and why people visit the site. I doubt anybody here is trying to "Save the World."

Based on just your name, you're hardly the kind of person who would post anything of importance. I'd say you're just a troll (note subtle use of ad hominem attack and personal insult combined).


/me ducks hurriedly




-- I like my land flat --
Number 2 misses the point (4.80 / 5) (#109)
by Simon Kinahan on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 06:31:27 PM EST

Noone who participates in political debate for very long seriously imagines it is possible to make their opponent acknowledge the error of his ways. It isn't wrestling after all: there's no verbal equivalent of pinning your opponent to the floor for thirty seconds. If they don't want to acknowledge your obvious genius, they're not going to.

The actual point of debate here is the same, approximately, as anywhere else. Firstly, to refine your own ideas. Secondly, the hope that your opponent will alse refine his ideas, and that actual space for agreement might be found. Opposites are rarely actually as diametric as a simplistic presentation might imply. Thirdly, the point is to educate and entertain the audience, relatively small though it certainly is.

It is unlikely that any of that will make a difference on the larger scale, and, of course, a great deal of political debate fails on all three counts, on K5 just as must as in any other forum. It can, however, make a difference on the personnal level, for the participants and the spectators, and I have personal experiences of it doing just that here.

Simon

If you disagree, post, don't moderate

Delusions (3.75 / 4) (#112)
by shinshin on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 07:02:04 PM EST

I am referring to that particular delusion that political articles on K5 make a real difference.

Who, precisely, thinks that? K5 is a discussion forum: people like to discuss things on it. That is all.

I am suspicious of the agenda of anyone why says "don't bother discussing political issues, it doesn't make a difference anyway". If this is merely an annoyance to you, why not just avoid reading those articles? Do you think that your post is some stunning enlightenment, and people will stop discussing political issues? Why, exactly, would you want that to happen?

____
We believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons --Dick Cheney, Meet the Press, March 16, 2003

Noooo. (4.00 / 1) (#113)
by seanic on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 07:27:31 PM EST

The major parties need to be deflated so there can be a real choice of candidates. It is getting tiring of having to vote against one fool or the other based on about eight cents worth of difference between them. Election reform? Fund raising money must be spent within a thirty mile radius of where the doner resides. The bovine defecated politimercials running rampant like the great molasses flood could then be appreciated by the people who cared enough to introduce the laxative.

--
"The majority of the stupid is invincible and guaranteed for all time. The terror of their tyranny is, however, alleviated by their lack of consistency" -- Albert Einstein
Gotta watch the edit queue more (1.00 / 1) (#114)
by Perianwyr on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 07:30:16 PM EST

Somehow, I sense that a myth I am laboring under here is that my -1 makes a difference, too.

A point, a point, my kingdom for a point!

I've Learnt (4.33 / 3) (#117)
by Fuzzwah on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 08:32:52 PM EST

I've learnt a lot about global politics from what I've read on K5, and more so what articles here have spurred me into reading about else where. I'm interested, without an agenda to try and convert anyone to a way of thinking, because truth be told I'm still making my mind up about just about every topic on the world stage. Well written articles from the full spectrum of political stand points have affected my thoughts on the current global climate. This is why I love K5.

--
The best a human can do is to pick a delusion that helps him get through the day. - God's Debris

build a better poll (3.00 / 2) (#119)
by niloroth on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 10:09:32 PM EST

This poll unfortunately is a rather poor sample. Aside from any other critiques of it, I have to wonder about the decision to only include Liberal and Conservative. Both of these things mean many different things to people.

Rush Limbaugh considers himself conservative. I don't, he is in all actuality against free trade, and cares very little for the rights on individuals.

Clinton considered himself liberal (although perhaps not as steadfastly as rush would). I don't, DOMA was a great example of this, why is it governments job to decide who can have and who can not have the benefits that come with being married?

I am personally a libertarian, so I find myself very open as far as social issues go, and very conservative as far as fiscal issues are concerned. I believe that the drug was is a mistake, which is something that is not even on the radar or either of the political parties, so how anyone could even begin to say that is a liberal or conservative issue I can't imagine. Is it allowing the individual to make choices for themselves, and to then deal with the consequences of that decision as an adult? Or is it merely a case of getting government out to the job of playing nanny to us, and cutting back on an already bloated federal budget? Well, it is both of these things really, so is it a centrist position? I only wish it was, then maybe the damn war on drugs would end.

This is one of the problems with a 2 party system, we end up with very limited choices, and almost no real prospects for change. I am sure that someone there could come up with a more diverse political poll, and that would actually be rather interesting to see.


A better poll (4.50 / 2) (#120)
by Tachys on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 10:54:13 PM EST

Let's settle this once and for all

Liberal

Conservative

I'm going to waste my vote

Any game that gets banned by the Austrailian govt can't be all bad... - Armaphine


Actually, I think I know what this is about... (4.00 / 1) (#121)
by daq42 on Thu Sep 19, 2002 at 11:10:42 PM EST

From reading this article, I found one very interesting point that is not overtly stated.  A majority of the posts in the political venue that I have read here on K5 are posted by very opinionated people.  While many of them are very articulate and have found ways to make very valid points about many subjects in the political arena, they all have one thing in common.  They come across as arrogant, pompous, self-righteous and belligerent.  There is also the fact that most of the ones that end up on the front page are from a very focused group of outspoken individuals.  They are passionate about the point of view they hold.  So passionate in fact, that anyone who holds a differing veiw, or doesn't agree with them is a lesser person.  You can see it in the threads of "debate" on many articles.  Now, I'm am not saying that arguing is not fun, and having a good banter with someone can be enjoyable, however, most of what I have been reading of late has lacked any sense of wit and repose of a good debate.  As this article points out, the insults fly fast and heavy in many of the discussions.  Okay, now that I've been long winded and serious, it's time for some wit and commentary akin to some of my favorite passionate posters.  SHUT UP YOU EGOMANIACAL DIP BRAINS!!!  IF YOU CAN'T MAKE YOUR POINT IN A CIVIL MANNER, NO ONE WILL WANT TO LISTEN TO YOU!!!  IF YOU THINK YOU ARE RIGHT, HAVE THE PROOF READY TO DELIVER OR ADMIT THAT YOUR STATING AN OPINION!!! And we all know about opinions.  They are like assholes, and all of them stink except mine.

(Note: that last line was a note of self-depricating, hypocritical humor.  If you don't understand the use of it, I suggest you read more philosophy and discourses on the irony and its forceful use)

Cheers, (wait, I'm not from the U.K.).
Um, l8r, dude, (no, not from California either).
Alright, whose been using my pudding pops as butt plugs again?

Delusion #4 (2.00 / 1) (#125)
by Skwirl on Fri Sep 20, 2002 at 12:22:13 AM EST

Online discussion boards aren't about changing people's minds, they're about finding likeminds with whom you will conspire to take over the world with. (I wrote an essay about this once, but there's not much there that a regular K5/slashdotter wouldn't already know.)

--
"Nothing in the world is more distasteful to a man than to take the path that leads to himself." -- Herman Hesse
glad you mentioned it but... (3.00 / 2) (#130)
by radish on Fri Sep 20, 2002 at 01:47:53 AM EST

I don't think many people are actually experiencing this delusion. in fact I would go so far as to ask whether you're more frustrated by delusionary behavior on other peoples' part, or by the fact that you have to wade through a lot of trash to get to anything thoughtful. people who want to make a real difference go out and pound the pavement, whereas I think all most people ask of K5 is a decent place to hoot and holler and jump up and down without risk of coming to blows. any changes that actually result are just gravy, and, when you get down to it, impossible to determine.

for the record, I find the proportion of thoughtful to pointless on K5 pretty high by web standards, but then I'm a patient person. heck, I even read thelizman's posts - naivete is a perfectly valid viewpoint IMO ;-) if you want totally predictable propaganda, read the papers. if you want thoughtful insight seek out folks wiser than yourself. K5 is in between.

...and if you want to make a political difference I suggest you avoid established parties like the plague, and go out on a voter registration drive in an impoverished neighborhood instead.

True, false... (5.00 / 3) (#132)
by joto on Fri Sep 20, 2002 at 04:16:01 AM EST

Personally, I've changed political viewpoint once. And that was in a debate.

In high-school I was pretty red (international socialists, etc, mostly because of the intellectual and pseudo-intellectual discussions/(babble going on in those circuits). Having a political discussion with another man (actually a father of one of my friends), I changed viewpoints radically. (It should be noted that I am not american, I live in a scandinavian country, where communists and capitalists have been happy to coexist for as long as there have been political parties).

I am not really sure of his viewpoints anymore, but I think I would place him closer to anarchism than liberalism. But I was arguing about something that should be forbidden, because I found the idea outrageous (what it was doesn't really matter). And he told me: "I don't understand why you want to forbid something simply because you don't like it".

That was a mind-opener for me, and over time, I gradually applied this principle to most of my political thoughts. Ending up as more of a liberalist. Of course, this also explains a lot of why liberalists don't get a lot of political power (we simply don't have such strong viewpoints on most things, if people want to do that, who am I, going to say that they don't).

And there have been many times since that, where my stance has been changed on minor issues. Personally, I think you are underestimating a lot of kuro5hins audience here. People come here to read viewpoints they don't see elsewhere. But of course, people mostly come to see viewpoints just like their own (that is the nature of human thought, there are rarely interesting discussions with christians on alt.atheism, there are raraly interesting discussions going on between communists and capitalists anywhere, etc...).

But people read what you write, and sometimes, someone will get an eye-opener. And it's in the nature of things, that when people change their viewpoints radically, they don't immediately reply back: "Ok, you've convinced me, I think the Israelis are the bad guy now...". Things like that can take weeks to digest, and even years before they become so much a part of you that you tell it to others. Of course, on minor issues, it's easy to say "I didn't know that, you are right, I was wrong, thanks for having the discussion", but few people will do that.

As for whether the debates here on kuro5hin have any purpose, they surely don't. Few here have, or will ever have any political power (if they had, they would most likely debate elsewhere instead of here). The audience here is (please don't flame me for this) not entirely unlike slashdot. We have lot's of techies, more interested in C variable naming conventions than in joining a political party or organization. So even if we succeded in changing each others viewpoints for the better, it wouldn't matter to the world at all. This is more like a student-organization declaring that "we condemn the hostility between Pakistan and India". It doesn't really matter what they mean in the end. But it sure can be fun anyway...

Stop whining (2.50 / 2) (#133)
by andymurd on Fri Sep 20, 2002 at 06:11:07 AM EST

I certainly agree that too many political discussions here are rehashes of previous items and going over old ground is not going to alter my opinion. But I would also argue that as a news story breaks (and gets discussed on K5) I may not have had an opinion previously. Example: I hadn't heard of Al'Quaeda 2 years ago.

Similarly, I may have an opinion that does not stand up to close scrutiny, so I can use the debates to refine/question my opinions. The posts here are not about to turn me from a wishy-washy liberal into a hang 'em & flog 'em conservative but they can make me consider new arguments.

K5 (and the web in general) gives me access to a far broader range of individual experiences and expertise than any newspaper or TV source:

I can learn about the Israel-Palestine issue from the impassioned posts of ex-Israeli servicemen and Arab academics.
I can gain greater insight into the political system of $COUNTRY.
I can learn how to make pecan pancakes.
I can learn new swear words too.

Agree with #1 (4.00 / 1) (#134)
by Silent Chris on Fri Sep 20, 2002 at 08:42:16 AM EST

Too often, I find that political arguments among my (young) peers tend to degenerate into an "I'm right, you're wrong... and you smell funny" type of argument.  Maybe it's the 90s atmosphere which we grew up in, which brought nihilism to whole new levels.

The other half, which I first met in college, is not only convinced they're right, but feel a need to not even hear the other side of the story, no matter what it may be.  They do this through verbal, written, and even physical intimidation.  I've been accused of being "conservative" simply because I don't take part in this exchange of shoutouts.  Truth be told, there are some of us out there who just don't want to be involved, or keep our views silent (ahem).  Shouting in my face about genetically modified corn certainly does little to change my opinion, and may even turn me against you.

The faux intelligence (4.00 / 1) (#135)
by Silent Chris on Fri Sep 20, 2002 at 08:54:47 AM EST

Political debates always give off a sense of "faux intelligence", the same way an articulate person can appear to have worthwhile ideas.  I think K5's "evolution" (some might say "devolution") to all political stories is part of that effort to appear intelligent.  

Politics is mostly psychology.  Anyone can be a social worker, just out of high school, and perform psychology (many of us do it for our friends for free).  Intelligence is not required for psychology or politics.  (That's not to diss psychologists, however -- some are considerably intelligent -- but emotional understanding is more of a requirement).

Meanwhile, though my stories about mice acting like keyboards may not be Mensa material, they at least delve a bit into the science and mathematics many people (rightly or wrongly) associate with "real" intelligence.  Computer knowledge is quantifiable, and those who work with computers are much more likely to have the intelligence necessary to use them.  They read more.  They have better logic.

Personally, I'd much rather read a "debate" about video game violence than hearing only one side of a story on Bush's plans to attack Iraq.  Presenting views while ignoring others, in my mind, shatters that little shell of faux intelligence that surrounds the speaker completely.

Poll is being slanted (5.00 / 4) (#137)
by davidmb on Fri Sep 20, 2002 at 10:22:21 AM EST

All the conservatives are voting liberal so that they can continue the myth of a liberal bias on K5!
־‮־
Missing the Point (5.00 / 7) (#138)
by Malaclypse the Younger on Fri Sep 20, 2002 at 11:41:48 AM EST

Apparently, the author believes we should sit down, shut up, jam our thumbs firmly up our asses and wait for the experts to feed us our values and judgements. If you don't have a poli-sci/journalism degree and are writing for the New York Times, you might as well just shut the fuck up. And why even vote? Following the logic of the article, if being heard by a few thousand people is insignificant, one single vote is even more trivial.

Philosophically, politics has three major components: values formation, application of values to specific situations, and actually implementing actions based on the application of values to situations.

Political parties function only at the level of implementation of action. Yes, if you want to actually start or avoid a war with Iraq, working with your political party is the most effective use of your time. But the implementation of actions is only the tip of the iceberg.

The article is correct: most adults' values are strongly constant. However, the application of those values to specific situations is not always obvious. Even to a person with solid liberal values, the war in Serbia, for example, was more justifiable than the war in Panama. But only by reading discussion, both of experts and laymen, could one arrive at that conclusion. It is in the application of shared values to situations where an article, or even a post, can be directly persuasive, precisely because it is not trying to change peoples values, but rather logically apply those values to an ambiguous situation.

How many readers is "enough"? Very few of us are going to national syndication. Should I not discuss politics individually because my audience is only a single person? For a schlub such as myself, being heard by a hundred people is incredible, and a post in K5 might reach tens of thousands. Incredible! Until I get a call from Gannett, I'll settle for K5.

More importantly, values formation does not happen in a vacuum. The author would seem to have us believe that values magically appear in peoples' minds; this view is obviously absurd. Of course, no article, however truthful and well-written, will turn every liberal into a conservative overnight. But most mature adults feel a connection and obligation to human society beyond the next couple of days. It is a slow process, often taking generations, but values do change. It happens, not by changing individuals' already settled values, but by transmitting values to children, and by changing how our opponents transmit their own values. Social change is the result, not of experts changing their minds and dictating a new set of opinions and values to the people, but by people individually changing the way they help form the values of children. And, sometimes, people do change their core values.

Values are (or so I believe) subjective: they are, at a very basic level, non-rational. All we can do sometimes is simply express our contempt and ridicule. Thus, insults, when carefully crafted, are effective at changing how values are transmitted. Insulting a person won't change his own values, but if the insults stick, he will be more reticent about transmitting that value. In the best case, some set of values (such as Neonazism) will become so thoroughly disparaged that those adhering to them will become self-parodying and marginalized.

One important value that persists, despite the best efforts of Continental Philosophy and deconstructionism, is the value of objective truth. The author of The dynamics behind holocaust denial notwithstanding, perhaps we should "end the debate" by proving our opponents liars. It's a dirty job, but someone has to be the "intellectual janitors".

The author of the article counsels the value of passivity: If you can't change the world overnight, don't bother. Such a value is, in my subjective belief, contemptible and ridiculous. I am not an expert, I'm not a nationally known pundit, but I am a citizen of a democracy, and I have both a right and an obligation to do whatever I can, however "trivial", to pass on my values to posterity. "I may disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." And then call you an idiot.

well done (none / 0) (#140)
by heng on Fri Sep 20, 2002 at 02:32:51 PM EST

This is a wonderfully phrased comment. I agree wholeheartedly with it.

I think somebody who can change their views based on reason is a much more effective person than somebody who cannot. I cite Sadat as a perfect example. Most (all?) of the problems in the world are caused because people refuse to listen (I mean listen, not hear) to the views of others.

[ Parent ]
You know what... (4.20 / 5) (#139)
by jforan on Fri Sep 20, 2002 at 12:51:47 PM EST

I used to think that the stories, comments, and opinions here never changed any body's mind, but your argument was so convincing, I now agree with you.

Oh wait... nevermind.

Jeff

I hops to be barley workin'.

New and undecided (none / 0) (#142)
by Goldblubber on Fri Sep 20, 2002 at 04:34:05 PM EST

I am relatively new to K5 and have made it a habit to look in and see what's happening. I can't help myself sometimes and I have to dip into the hell that is internet discussion. In doing so, I didn't realise that their are people out there with a will to lobby. Me? I just love to test my verbal gymnastics(and yes I often raise tempers), but with the continued shouting matches I've seen lately, i feel less inclined to get involved. I certainly don't mind if someone strongly disagrees with me, but I'm bored senseless with a response that has naught to do with the argument and more to do with the delusions referred to in your article. If anyone thinks that my k5 behaviour has been less than adequate, I hope you report me to the relative K5 authority.

Motivation (none / 0) (#143)
by RoOoBo on Fri Sep 20, 2002 at 05:54:56 PM EST

I think K5 people thinks it can change the world because they read this book.

In any case I wonder what will happen someday when politicians go down their gold thrones from the old historic ages (mostly XVIII, XIX and early XX centuries) and start using real tech and interact with real people (not stupid followers).

We need our Locke to bust the ass of this world Demostenes (even if Locke is really Demostenes ;).



OT: who uses the Roman system these days? (none / 0) (#147)
by Joe Sixpack on Mon Sep 23, 2002 at 05:16:27 AM EST

mostly XVIII, XIX and early XX centuries
why won't you use the modern numerical system that we all know and love:
mostly 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries
the Roman system is neither elegant nor popular

---
[ MONKEY STEALS THE PEACH ]
[ Parent ]

Mind are changed (5.00 / 1) (#144)
by Moebius on Fri Sep 20, 2002 at 06:45:34 PM EST

<q>Now apply this principle to K5. Everyone taking part in these debates already has their allegiance firmly decided. There are no floating voters in the political debates on K5. While many K5ers like to fantasize that their lobbying is making a difference, this is pure delusion: nobody is changing their mind.</q> You're overlooking something; just because the debaters have stauch positions doesn't mean no one is being influenced. <q>In fact, rusty has pointed out that for every comment in a story, the number of logged-in readers is about ten times greater, and the number of anonymous readers ten times greater than that.<q> They are the majority. Their minds aren't all made up and they're reading every day. The people who benefit _from_ the debate are not necessary the people _in_ the debate.

Repost (cleaned up) (none / 0) (#145)
by Moebius on Fri Sep 20, 2002 at 06:47:51 PM EST

Now apply this principle to K5. Everyone taking part in these debates already has their allegiance firmly decided. There are no floating voters in the political debates on K5. While many K5ers like to fantasize that their lobbying is making a difference, this is pure delusion: nobody is changing their mind.

You're overlooking something; just because the debaters have stauch positions doesn't mean no one is being influenced.

In fact, rusty has pointed out that for every comment in a story, the number of logged-in readers is about ten times greater, and the number of anonymous readers ten times greater than that.

They are the majority. Their minds aren't all made up and they're reading every day. The people who benefit _from_ the debate are not necessary the people _in_ the debate.

[ Parent ]
very amusing, especially Delusion 3 (5.00 / 2) (#146)
by Phantros on Sat Sep 21, 2002 at 12:47:52 AM EST

Delusion 3 amuses me. "So, a typical K5 article has a mere 10 to 30 thousand readers at most"

Oh, is that all? Only 10 to 30 thousand? Let us say for a moment that we met for lunch and I told you, "Oh by the way, I just gave a speech on politics to 20 thousand people that are highly interested in politics." Would you be impressed? I sure hope so! Do you realize that most books that are published are published in smaller numbers than that? It's only a fraction of a percent of books that make it to the millions.

You started off reasonably with the first Delusion - many people do not debate well. From there you slid down a laughable slope reaching a low with your conclusion. Not only does your conclusion imply that political debate is useless, it is now as mindless as porn as well? That's a stretch to the point of breaking your argument.

4Literature - 2,000 books online and Scoop to discuss them with

Dealing with canvassers, techniques (none / 0) (#148)
by Shryke on Tue Sep 24, 2002 at 12:40:45 PM EST

when I'm accosted at home by political canvassers I look at them suggestively, begin unbuttoning my shirt, rub myself, and ask if they couldn't stay for awhile. so far it seems effective. As with Religious missionaries I ask them why they don't do something more honorable with their time, like sell drugs. My arguement is that there are programs and techniques that are effective in curing a chemical addiction but a religious addiction is incureable. This sort of behavior is not only amusing but serves a public good. By providing a negative feedback to abhorrent behavior I discourage it. and thereby improve the lives of my fellow citizens.

We all know the other guys ideas are a crock (none / 0) (#149)
by OldCoder on Sat Nov 30, 2002 at 10:53:39 PM EST

But my ideas have the deep insight and strong logic that make them memes to be spread far and wide beyond K5. Right?



--
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Copyright © 2004 OldCoder

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