Quality of discussions

Dear All,

Been on the forum for a while and noticed some quality discussions going down, as some of you flagged in the past.

When reading some treads it seems that what is detrimental to topics quality is;

  • continue back and forth about minor points
  • quick replies without articulating fairly point of views

I must say compare to other blogs, quality is high and people are mostly civil. Still, looking.l back at some older posts (pre covid), quality was higher.

One of my suggestions would be:

  • moderators or frequent users to intervene in posts when discussions goes too much off topic
    (Not closing a topic but rather asking people to stay on topic)
  • moderators or frequent users to remind people that points of views must be articulated and it’s not OK to do quick replies (which could seem dismissive and not value added) - I feel at times people do quick replies like in FB without thinking through enough - quality of forum is quality we put in

Does what I say resonate with you? Or am I off theming the above?

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Hi @SteveDB, this in not much related to pre-post covid but more to the fact that the forum is getting “older”, new users arrive and certain questions start to be repetitive. Old members have two options, either not reply at all or provide short answers (and maybe point out to the search function).

Moderators we have 2 and they are doing that on a voluntary basis. They also don’t want to interfere too much with the discussions - which i find in general positive.

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Another option could be to ban (temporarily or not) the users that go too often off topic.

See what I wrote in another thread:

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I’d suggest a temporary ban of coffee discussions to see if things calm down. If there’s a problem, I’d say it is mainly around political discussions, though I am not fond of hard moderating policies ala Bogleheads (everything even remotely touching to politics or religion is closed, making even threads about expectations of future SNB rates already close to or past the line).

A finer line may be found but I’d hate for it to give more work to the mods than they would be able to enjoy (seeing as they are volunteering for the “job”). As an aside, I tend to let myself go on some topics and sometimes end up talking in circles, if there’s something I can adapt in my own behavior to make the forum more friendly, please, let me know.

That would be unfortunate, canceling opinions simply because you disagree and / or misunderstand. The latter happens very often I feel. A wrong word, a missing qualifier, the use or abuse of humor, and people start assuming the worst and get all riled up, potentially about nothing. I don’t read everything obviously, but many people make thoughtful points here and the discussions I am aware of are nearly always civil. It should be ensured that they really are, of course, and the side topics really should be separate from the main financial matters, which they already are. Whoever does not want to participate in the coffee discussions can simply ignore them, or not?

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It’s still part of the forum, the forum is a community you can’t ignore that.

Currently the 6th thread showing up for someone discovering the forum (not logged in) is debating things that I wouldn’t want to be associated with (and that I’m sure would fairly reliably put off 50% or more of the population of contributing to the forum, as it’s the inverse of welcoming).

I’m pretty sure most of the folks with a different background don’t bother anymore, at least anecdotally, from what I remember we used to have people with a much more diverse experience contributing to threads. It’s a shame because they tend to have different questions/replies/etc.

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The main issue is having 3 people expressing themselves on subject not related to investment and pushing away main contributors.

That is why a ban could be a solution.

You can still ignore them indefinitely in your setting but it is up to everyone to do the change. Newcomers will still see hundreds of thread creating polemic for no reason.

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Mostly I value ideologically and morally diverse input. If it doesn’t drown out the thread with back and forth arguing (aka. off-topic).

Mustachianism has ideological aspects which can benefit from ideological discussions (e.g. better defense against ideological attacks)

Some people like such discussions, others dislike them (especially if it doesn’t feel like their personal echo chamber). I personally like the knowledge exchange aspect more. But I don’t have a problem with ignoring content I am not interested in (e.g. information in French).

If there is too much noise we could try rate limiting for all. It would dampen the more heavily invested ideologues in favor of the less loud majority.

I don’t know if this makes the fringes happy yet. Maybe there is a point where the everybody must be forced to accept that diversity is an all-way street. And it must include people we disagree with to be of use.

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Agreed.

Personnally, I banned people I consider “trolls”. I don’t see their posts anymore and it makes my readings interesting again. I’m not losing in quality. I avoid the coffee discussions at all costs. I limit my readings to posts/topics I’m interested in (taxes and passive investments).

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In my opinion, FIRE is not really a broad topic, in a few months reading all the blogs and books, you know most of the concepts and principles and there’s not really much left to discuss. From time to time there’s a new interesting life hack how to save some money, but that’s it.

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Wasn’t the deal that we can discuss more or less anything in Coffee? More or less everyone more or less everytime follows it. I am trying to catch discussions in meaningful threads that got out of hand, and I think it more or less work.

I probably have a thicker skin than an average Internet/forum user, but, as long as somewhat offtopic is contained, I don’t see much problem.

Banning certain forum members would be giving them too much attention, I think. And even proving their point (don’t want to elaborate).

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I believe mods and owner should decide where they really want to position the forum soon: do you want to stay as a finance focused one or do you want to become kind of a Switzerland based exchange forum… because I feel like it’s going in this direction.

My view on this is if I want to read “coffee” threads, I would go to englishforum.ch or reddit and co. I come to “mustachianpost” to read about personal finance, investing, taxes resp. all the topics around being “mustachian” localised for Switzerland. Of course these topics will include ideologies, politics etc. but as far as it is related to the topic and not become a rat race, it is actually great to read different perspectives. This can be strictly moderated if the wish is staying around mustachianism. If not, then ease the moderation policy, add corresponding categories and let it become an open exchange forum. I believe it is no help to anyone.

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One possibility would be to make Coffee section not visible without logging in or without reaching a certain level. I would be for this, actually. If it is possible technically.

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Treating inflammatory topics slightly different would solve many of the stated problems with smaller side effects. Namely:

  • Outside entities have a harder time misconstruing loud fringe voices as representative.
  • Newcomers see more base information first. Once they are invested they hopefully can put those discussions into perspective.
  • We don’t loose access to diverse viewpoints and beneficial ideological discussion. We don’t promote echo chambers.
  • We don’t need to cencor, we don’t need to ban. That should lower moderation demand.

But:

  • Certain people could still not bear the existence of contrary opinions and would still leave.
  • It doesn’t improve the quality (title of this topic).
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The point is that:

  • those coffee threads are among the most active on the forum
  • as such, they are always appearing on the top of all discussions
  • the coffee threads are not simply “any” topics, they are topics that are controversial enough that they evolve into huge queues from an initial off-topic post.
  • The topics and tones in these discussions are often off-putting. I try to use a simple litmus-test: “Based on these discussions alone, would I like to get a beer with these guys?” Most of the time the answer is flatly no. Next useful question is “If I was a newcomer and based on these discussions, would i like to spend a big chunk of my time participating on this forum?” => I don’t think the answer is very flattering.
  • Some people will say: “if you don’t like the discussion, don’t participate to the thread”. But that’s forgetting that after some point, people won’t filter mentally “oh this is a useful thread, and this one is a sh*tty thread”. They just stop participating to the forum.
  • As a result, valuable inputs become rarer and rarer, as @SteveDB initial post rightly mentioned. This was my opinion until now, that i kept for myself. But it looks like many people have the same opinion.
  • I have met several persons off-line who told me “Yeah I know this forum, but i have never participated because the atmosphere is not really nice there…” → So not only are valueable members not participating anymore, but new members are not willing to join either. We are self-selecting for the kind of people that like to participate in these coffee threads…

I don’t consider those coffee threads a success. I am reviewing the options but it is likely that I will close those threads and update the moderation policy. If people still absolutely want non-financial discussions, we can still create a discord channel as @Bojack suggested.

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It’s really that bad? I didn’t see anything inappropriate being flagged. I probably don’t read over half of the content being posted anymore, so it might have escaped my attention. Could you give an example? Or am I also complicit to what you’re referring to :fearful: ? I have this feeling that I have been getting into controversial discussions that would probably be uncomfortable to discuss in person with someone you don’t know well.

Wow, that’s not a nice thing to hear :disappointed: . I think the issue is really not that we are discussing non-finance related topics. It’s that some people are writing things that others find unacceptable and do not want to be associated with that kind of thinking. It’s not anything as straightforward as namecalling, vulgarity, it’s more nuanced.

I feel like we’ve come across a similar problem that Twitter or Facebook are facing. They censor content, because some people find it offensive and it makes them feel unsafe or unwelcome.

I wonder if banning the coffee threads solves the issue. The controversial topics will appear in other threads and it will be up to the discretion of the moderator to decide at which point this has gone off-topic.

Recent developments don’t change my opinion, by the way.

Even we can’t delete your posts, older than 60 days. Best we can do is to anonymize your account. But do you really want to make such a statement? Your posts have received many likes, you’re actually one of the most liked users (which I guess makes you also the definition of controversial).

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Total likes or average likes per post?

I’m not advocating that this metric should be interpreted in any way, not everyone votes (non-users for starters) and votes don’t have consistent meaning. Just simple curiosity.