Ricochet is the best place on the internet to discuss the issues of the day, either through commenting on posts or writing your own for our active and dynamic community in a fully moderated environment. In addition, the Ricochet Audio Network offers over 50 original podcasts with new episodes released every day.
In response to our unceasing efforts to persuade our own members to join Ricochet, one of our members sent us a message. The key sentence was unsettling:
The ratio of thoughtful, respectful, and factual comments to insulting and emotive comments is not inspiring.
Our first response was defensive. We promptly crunched the numbers, having rigorously defined the terms “thoughtful,” “respectful,” “factual,” insulting,” “emotive,” and “inspiring,” and found the ratio is entirely inspiring.
But after we smoothed our ruffled feathers and got over our how very dare yous, we admitted it. Inspiring is not good enough. The ratio must be glorious. We must settle for nothing less than the Golden Ratio: “All comments must always be thoughtful, factual and respectful. None may be emotive or insulting.” (Emotion is fine. It’s politics, after all. But comments that call to mind the hystrionics in Britain in the wake of the death of Princess Diana are not.)
One of my “bosses” suggested the problem might defy automation. He insinuated that it might require more “work” on my part. “Get out there and be a beat cop, Claire. Go smack ’em down (politely) if you see anyone disgracing our honor with so much of a hint of an insulting or emotive comment.”
To which of course I said, “Don’t be absurd. We are American. Nothing defies our automation. We build better mousetraps. We build them bigger, better, faster and open longer. “Defies automation?” That’s what they used to say about flying.”
A lively, civil, polite, debate about Ricochet politics ensued. We have the seeds of good ideas, I suspect. But we must think more about them lest on careful inspection they prove to be stupid.
For now I wonder if you would indulge me in an experiment.
The “like” button is a blunt tool. Members have no way to show each other that they like a comment for a good reason. Merely “liking” something is for the soft-minded who do not belong here. On Ricochet we do not “like” things because we feel good about them. We like them because we have good reasons to prefer them.
“First thing we do before anything new and fancy is kill the bugs. Down to the very last roach,” said the Boss. Hard to disagree. But what if we try this as a temporary workaround. Suppose these were the new “like” buttons:
Logical Rigor (LR): “I liked your comment because your argument is sound: The argument is valid, and all of the premises are true.” (If you require a refresher on these terms, this will do.)
Ourstanding Civility (OC): “Whereas an uncivilized man might have responded to the previous comment with a disgraceful locution, you chose to respond with wit, tact, and civility. How admirable.”
Elevating the Tone of the Thread (ETT): Very occasionally a spectre of incivility haunts a thread on Ricochet. Even if no one has violated the CoC, the tone is somehow not in the right spirit. When this happens, our members tend politely to encourage each other to sort themselves out. Those who do should be lauded (or Liked) for encouraging civilized norms.
Introducing a Good Idea (IGI): “I had not thought of it that way. That stopped me in my tracks. You may be right, you may be wrong, but that’s the kind of new perspective on this problem that makes me think we might get somewhere with it.”
Consistent Intellectual Standards (CIS): Those willing reconsider their position if presented with conflicting data or a better argument are neither weak nor wobbly: They are intellectually rigorous. On Ricochet, this is a quality we treasure.
What do you say: Shall we try them for a week? Use the old like button as usual, but when you see the above qualities, reply to the post in question with the abbreviations: LR, OC, ETT, INI, CIS. No need to say more.
Then you can tell us next week if your experience of Ricochet was more agreeable as a result. It is a bit complicated, but why not try? The worst that could happen is we don’t like it.Published in