Hot Button Topics: Is this the place for them?


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

The current policy on these message boards is that it's okay to post threads (typically in Off Topic Discussions) to talk about politics and religion.

My question to everyone is whether it's a good idea or not?

Generally speaking, politics and religion are touchy subjects, mostly because they revolve around an individual's ideals and beliefs about how the world does and should work, and people are stubborn creatures who react poorly to their beliefs being questioned or ridiculed.

With these message boards, Paizo have created a very tolerant, welcoming community, and one of the key features of that is the "anything goes" nature of the forums as long as we all respect each other's rights to our beliefs, opinions, and feelings. Because of this, I understand why Paizo don't necessarily want to get heavy-handed with certain discussion types.

On the other hand, it is almost ridiculously easy for a troll to set off a full-blown flame war (and a smart troll can do so almost imperceptibly) that can damage relationships and damage the reputation of Paizo.

So, in the interests of keeping these message boards a safe, fun place to hang out or visit, do you think that Paizo should implement a rule against threads dealing with politics and/or religion?

Chemlak answering his own question wrote:
I come to these boards to have fun. To chat with like-minded people about something we all have in common: a love of Paizo's products, and excitement about roleplaying in general. I don't want to have my joy at visiting this site marred by partisan threads about subjects which are deeply emotional and divisive. I think that such a ban would not actually detract from these boards at all. If I want to discuss how I feel about Christ, or why I'm ecstatically happy at the UK's gun control legislation, I'll take it to a place more suitable, not to a forum for a game I play for fun.

All thoughts and opinions are, of course, welcome, but please don't:

1) Actually discuss politics or religion.
2) Name names.
3) Try to argue with someone else's opinion on this subject.

This thread is to help Paizo with decisions about their web policy, nothing more.

Thanks.

Silver Crusade

Yes Yes a hundred times yes


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Part of the fun of forums is hearing peoples' opinions on things. All sorts of things.

This isn't meant to be like an awkward dinner between co-workers who don't know each other, it's meant to be a community.

If something someone says in off-topic damages your relationship with them, then something they said elsewhere was probably going to bother you anyway. Just because they keep quiet about it doesn't mean they don't hold those beliefs.

If you, personally, don't want to read political threads? Don't. Hide them whenever they pop up. Taking away everyone else' ability to discuss things just because you don't want to read them is a bit short-sighted.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

I can do without the political bickering to be honest.


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I like discussing these topics with people who share my hobby and with whom I have a rapport from other forums on the site. I feel like if a particular person doesn't want to get dragged into a discussion about politically charged issue "Q" that they can easily avoid clicking threads with titles like, "Q is dumb, here is why."

The real concern I have and the only one that would make me ok with a ban on these type of discussions is related to moderators forced to deal with topics and personalities that are pretty rough from time to time. It isn't fair to them to have to play the role of sanitation worker in the port-o-johns at Woodstock.

Liberty's Edge

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Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

YES. My experience in other forums is that thoughtful and responsible moderation such as that we currently enjoy here keeps people involved with the community while censorship through this kind of ban only makes people feel unwelcomed. Instead of feeling like individuals belonging to a thriving community, they end up feeling and acting like mere customers with no emotion ties nor strong involvement with the community, the company or the products. I believe quite strongly that it is in Paizo's best interest to keep things as they currently are.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
BigDTBone wrote:
I It isn't fair to them to have to play the role of sanitation worker in the port-o-johns at Woodstock.

Fact of life.... if you run a messageboard that's open access, sanitation becomes part of the gig.


LazarX wrote:
BigDTBone wrote:
I It isn't fair to them to have to play the role of sanitation worker in the port-o-johns at Woodstock.
Fact of life.... if you run a messageboard that's open access, sanitation becomes part of the gig.

Or hell, even for private forums. We've had to infract, temp-ban, or ban some people on a forum with less than a few dozen regular users (and like 200 total members).

Scarab Sages

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Most people know my feelings on the subject, but....

.....politics and religion are two very broad subjects, with an enormous range of sub-issues and controversies, and an infinite number of opinions. They are discussed ad nauseum on a multitude of other websites, many of which are intended for just such discussions.

This is a website for a gaming company. As such, it should be primarily concerned with gaming. Anyone who feels the need to drag politics and other such controversial subjects into this arena is, in my completely non-humble opinion, being an a##+#!~.

Edit: That being said, I'm striving to give less of a s*+% about these little political circle-jerks, but it can be difficult when some posters insist on bringing that crap into non-political and sometimes non-Off Topic Section threads (like some of the word games).


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I'm fine with leaving things as they are. Though I personally have no interest in talking politics or religion on a website that I peruse as part of a fun hobby, I respect that other people enjoy talking about these things. Therefore, I generally stay out of the Off Topic Discussion section of any fan forum that I visit; I get enough of that stuff via the news and Facebook.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

I don't mind, as long as they strictly remain in the OTD (which I don't visit anyway... because of those)

Scarab Sages

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Vrischika111 wrote:
I don't mind, as long as they strictly remain in the OTD (which I don't visit anyway... because of those)

That's one reason I dislike them. OTD was the primary place I posted.


Aberzombie wrote:
Vrischika111 wrote:
I don't mind, as long as they strictly remain in the OTD (which I don't visit anyway... because of those)
That's one reason I dislike them. OTD was the primary place I posted.

You can still hide them. That's what I do with all the "ask questions here" threads.


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Pathfinder Companion, Maps Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

I am with the brain eater on this one. If it doesn't relate to gaming politics and religion can go somewhere else.

Shadow Lodge

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They should have their own forum/section.

That way people who are not interested in them can just hide the whole forum and not have to deal with the bickering and toxicity, which tends to leak out of the threads and infect other threads in the same forum even when the individual threads are hidden.

Liberty's Edge

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Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Would whatever logic/decision here also apply to threads on television shows? Movies? Non RPG books? Game threads? Silly threads?

Consider minor adjustments to various comments above;
'I come to these boards to have fun. To chat with like-minded people about something we all have in common: a love of Paizo's products, and excitement about roleplaying in general. Not to wade through word game threads.'

'This is a website for a gaming company. As such, it should be primarily concerned with gaming. Anyone who feels the need to drag television into this arena is, in my completely non-humble opinion, being an a&#%~~&.'

'Last one to post wins and other silly threads should have their own forum so people who are not interested can hide the whole forum and not have to deal with it'

Basically, it seems like some people are citing 'reasons' for getting rid of topics they don't participate in... but those same supposed reasons could apply to a much wider range of discussions. Should we ditch everything not Paizo related? Or is this really, 'We should exclude things >I< am not interested in.'?

Community & Digital Content Director

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Removed a post. Folks, we're mulling on the issue, please don't turn this discussion into a "Them vs. Us" scenario.


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CBDunkerson wrote:

Would whatever logic/decision here also apply to threads on television shows? Movies? Non RPG books? Game threads? Silly threads?

Consider minor adjustments to various comments above;
'I come to these boards to have fun. To chat with like-minded people about something we all have in common: a love of Paizo's products, and excitement about roleplaying in general. Not to wade through word game threads.'

'This is a website for a gaming company. As such, it should be primarily concerned with gaming. Anyone who feels the need to drag television into this arena is, in my completely non-humble opinion, being an a&#%~~&.'

'Last one to post wins and other silly threads should have their own forum so people who are not interested can hide the whole forum and not have to deal with it'

Basically, it seems like some people are citing 'reasons' for getting rid of topics they don't participate in... but those same supposed reasons could apply to a much wider range of discussions. Should we ditch everything not Paizo related? Or is this really, 'We should exclude things >I< am not interested in.'?

Except, CBD, the word game, TV, and silly treads don't turn into crapstorms on an almost routine basis. The political threads almost always turn to crap. That's time and energy the Paizo peeps waste moderating/pruning/shoveling when they could be working on more nifty Paizo products. I'm sure they also get frustrated and irritated cleaning up after posters who literally can't post civilly. It would seem that political topics are too much work and energy expended for the slim/negligible positive benefits.

And when select individuals and their crappy threads/comments start actively driving others away out of frustration or because they feel Paizo is no longer a safe place, something needs to be done.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

i sure do want to prune and shovel stuff now, just not what they have to.

Shadow Lodge

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Also Television, Movies, Books, Comics, and other forms of alternate entertainment do have their own forums. And if misposted in another forum (usually OTD), they're regularly relocated to the proper place.

Politics threads, on the other hand, are moved to OTD since there's no proper place for them... which has made things extremely unpleasant for those of us who currently spend and/or previously spent a lot of time in that forum, and has driven many, many people out of that area of the forum, and off the forums entirely, over the years.

Creating a forum specifically for politics, for the people who really want to engage in those kinds of discussions, is really the best of all possible solutions. People who want to discuss that sort of thing will have a place to do so. People who want to avoid those kinds of discussions can simply hide the forum, and unlike the "just hide the threads" solution, the toxic mentality that politics threads create will be less likely to seep into the neighboring threads in the same forum, like it does currently in OTD. And threads posted in the wrong section can be flagged for relocation just like threads on any other subject posted in the wrong forum.

Liberty's Edge

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Ambrosia Slaad wrote:
Except, CBD, the word game, TV, and silly treads don't turn into crapstorms on an almost routine basis. The political threads almost always turn to crap. That's time and energy the Paizo peeps waste moderating/pruning/shoveling when they could be working on more nifty Paizo products. I'm sure they also get frustrated and irritated cleaning up after posters who literally can't post civilly.

Let's suppose that's true... and pretend that there are never ever similar arguments over rules interpretations, semantics, personality conflicts, nothing whatsoever, et cetera... and ignore that many of these people "who literally can't post civilly" contribute to the word game, TV, silly, and other threads too.

In this fictional set of argument free messageboards how would you go about defining 'political' threads? Would a thread about the show 'Murphy Brown' have been ok... right up until the point the US Vice President made it a political issue? Are all discussions of science banned because some religious beliefs reject it? What about the 'Is abortion evil on Golarion?' type threads? Would those 'on topic' threads be banned too?

Basically... you aren't going to eliminate arguments unless you remove all the humans. Maybe you argue that you'll reduce the amount of argument, but if these people "literally can't post civilly", wouldn't you just be moving it out of political/religious threads and in to the other topics?

Sovereign Court

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber

I've found that Rules Questions threads can be every bit as ugly and passive-aggressive, at times, as most of the political threads.

Shadow Lodge

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Agreed. The main difference is they have their own forum[s], which keeps the majority of the more hostile threads and conversations contained, while political threads don't.


Personally, I don't mind if people want to discuss... um... sensitive topics. ^^ I just hope they do so in a friendly way, conducive to conversation and getting along, rather than getting upset and pushing others away.

Silver Crusade

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Kalindlara wrote:
I've found that Rules Questions threads can be every bit as ugly and passive-aggressive, at times, as most of the political threads.

Totally agree, but those have their own place on the boards, Which makes it easy for me to collapse the whole darn thing.

EDIT: Ninja'd by Orthos


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Actual policy is for Paizo to decide - these are, after all, their boards. I could get behind a political and/or religious discussion subforum, if that's the direction they choose to go.

My two copper is that the rule would go something like "discussion threads regarding politics, religion or other divisive topics should not be created, and threads which devolve into discussion of those topics will be locked".

I'm largely of the opinion that something needs to be done, but what that something actually is I shall leave to Paizo.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

People don't even listen to me when I post in the rules forum anymore:-D

I wonder why that is?

Silver Crusade

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captain yesterday wrote:

People don't even listen to me when I post in the rules forum anymore:-D

I wonder why that is?

Tammy listens

Community & Digital Content Director

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Just a quick note that we're reading all the posts here, still mulling though. We do have some ideas for the Rules subforum, since it's also a commonly volatile area of the forums. For now, we don't have anything to announce, but appreciate the feedback we're seeing here.


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CBDunkerson wrote:

Let's suppose that's true... and pretend that there are never ever similar arguments over rules interpretations, semantics, personality conflicts, nothing whatsoever, et cetera... and ignore that many of these people "who literally can't post civilly" contribute to the word game, TV, silly, and other threads too.

In this fictional set of argument free messageboards how would you go about defining 'political' threads? Would a thread about the show 'Murphy Brown' have been ok... right up until the point the US Vice President made it a political issue? Are all discussions of science banned because some religious beliefs reject it? What about the 'Is abortion evil on Golarion?' type threads? Would those 'on topic' threads be banned too?

Basically... you aren't going to eliminate arguments unless you remove all the humans. Maybe you argue that you'll reduce the amount of argument, but if these people "literally can't post civilly", wouldn't you just be moving it out of political/religious threads and in to the other topics?

I'd like to think that my two siblings and myself were usually pretty well-behaved kids growing up; we were raised by two imperfect parents who tried hard to instill very moral and ethical values in us.

Nevertheless, there were certain activities that would invariably bring out the very worst in us kids. Games like Sorry and Monopoly were eventually banned by my parents because we repeatedly demonstrated that we could not play them in a civilized manner. It doesn't mean others couldn't do so, or that the results might be better in other venues. It didn't mean we were intractably conflict-seeking or irrational kids. It just meant it didn't work for us in our home.

We have ample data and examples of what kinds of discussions don't work well on Paizo. That doesn't mean the individual participants are bad, or their desire for such discussions are bad. I would posit, however, it demonstrates that they don't currently work here on Paizo, especially when their are so many other freely available options and locations elsewhere on the Internet where such discussions could work well.


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Thank you for keeping us updated, Chris.

Glad to hear that Rules Questions is also on the internal discussion agenda (I agree that it can get very toxic). Does it warrant its own thread here in Website Feedback, since it's a very different kettle of fish to the off-topic issues which are the focus of this thread?

Scarab Sages

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Tin Foil Yamakah wrote:
Kalindlara wrote:
I've found that Rules Questions threads can be every bit as ugly and passive-aggressive, at times, as most of the political threads.

Totally agree, but those have their own place on the boards, Which makes it easy for me to collapse the whole darn thing.

EDIT: Ninja'd by Orthos

Something else to consider, along these lines - I, for one, would like to make it easier on the moderators. I prefer they have to spend as little time as possible sorting through contentious political/religious/NON-gaming threads. That would leave them more time to focus on the potentially equally contentious game rule discussions (because....game website), without (hopefully) having to dedicate too much (or any) of their free time (or work time spent doing better things).


I dunno. It seems to me the political threads are these days populated by a group of people with a very specific agenda, who do not tolerate anyone even questioning that agenda. It is not much fun to be subjected to ridicule or aggression by six or seven people at a time. That is certainly not something I would miss.

That said, politics and religion are parts of being human. It would likely get me to feel rather distant from these boards if it were to be banned, not to mention the chilling effects of drawing lines and uncertainty of said lines.

I think, on balance, that I want them to remain.

Community & Digital Content Director

Chemlak wrote:

Thank you for keeping us updated, Chris.

Glad to hear that Rules Questions is also on the internal discussion agenda (I agree that it can get very toxic). Does it warrant its own thread here in Website Feedback, since it's a very different kettle of fish to the off-topic issues which are the focus of this thread?

Sure, I think that a separate thread would be totally fine :)

Liberty's Edge

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In my experience the sole determinant of civility on any discussion board is moderation. If you have clear standards and enforce them consistently it is entirely possible to keep discussions completely friendly. The Paizo boards are even particularly well set up for this... anyone says something the least bit unkind it could be flagged, reviewed, and deleted in short order. At which point most people quickly learn to police themselves.

The standards (in practice) here actually allow quite a bit of animosity before the ban-hammer comes down. That allows for more 'open' discussions, but also generates more heat and hurt feelings. Then the moderators have to take time sorting through a long thread and figuring out which posts to keep and which to remove... which actually takes more time than just nuking every harsh post.

Thus, my suggestion would be stricter standards across all discussion areas.


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My two cents is to either leave those topics as they are currently in off topic, or create there own forum. Mostly because I think its useful to have someplace to direct political/religious arguments that do sometimes come up, instead of letting them fester in threads that have nothing to do with that content.

Also I can't help but feel that a lot of the hostility that arises from the politics/religion threads tends to derive from usually a very small number of posters.

I have had actually read some pretty good and interesting threads dealing with "hot-button topics", and certainly has been educational. I would hate to deprive that of other future posters.

and going with the original topic, I actually find the rules forum to actually be the most hostile place here, to the point that I avoid it like the plague.

Grand Lodge

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We have a roleplaying game whose elements include politics. They include religion. Religion was a hot enough topic in the game way back when, that TSR came up with the "bright" idea of appeasing the fundamentalists by coming up with godless clerics, in an idiot move to appease the parents who were going ape s@#! on their precious child playing a Cleric of Apollo/Bahamut/Pelor. As well as taking out the two "D" classfications of devils and demons.

Paizo is making a further political statement by opening up characters outside of the so-called white "cis" norms. So politics is not avoidable. The discussion, which on the whole I think was rather productive on the long term about trans and lgbt characters in Golarion is an example of this. And I don't think that Paizo as a company is going to walk away from that topic.

On the whole I think the heated religion and political discussions here are a good thing. But there isn't a sword in anyone's back forcing them to click on the thread titles if they don't want to swim in the pool. But wanting to close the pool for others is rather selfish, I think.

And from what I've seen, the involvement of Paizo's staff in moderation hasn't slowed down the monthly deluge of new product.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2015 Top 32, RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

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At first glance, I like the idea that banning political/religious discussion might lighten the staff's workload.

But would it actually do that? Or would the work of scrubbing and locking political/religious threads that get too heated just get replaced by the requirement to scrub or lock other discussions that veer into politics/religion even if they don't get heated?

Do we really even gain anything in that regard?

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2015 Top 32, RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

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Chris Lambertz wrote:
Chemlak wrote:

Thank you for keeping us updated, Chris.

Glad to hear that Rules Questions is also on the internal discussion agenda (I agree that it can get very toxic). Does it warrant its own thread here in Website Feedback, since it's a very different kettle of fish to the off-topic issues which are the focus of this thread?

Sure, I think that a separate thread would be totally fine :)

With respect, I think I'd have to dispute the idea that the toxicity in the Rules forum is materially different in nature from the religious/political heat.

During the years in which the Rules forum was my most-frequented subforum, I very often marveled at the similarity between the "discussions" there and the worst kinds of religious fundamentalism.

In both cases (the Rules forum and religion/politics threads), you have Person A, who has deep-rooted ideas about something they care about (welfare, gun control, the nature of the cosmos, what it means to play a game of D&D/Pathfinder), then you have Person B who presents a piece of data which threatens Person A's deep-rooted ideas (a recent news story, a scientific article, the Core Rulebook). Person A feels threatened, and slaps a label on Person B (Bizarro-world conservative, extremist, fundamentalist, rollplayer/munchkin/member of 'the MMO generation') and uses that label as a reason to reject Person B's data ("no better than Fox News", "propaganda", "obvious abuse of the rules/clearly not intended").

Don't be fooled by the topics. This kind of toxicity doesn't come from politics and religion, it comes from people tying their identities to how they see things, and therefore needing to defend their ideas (the anchors of their identity) by any means necessary—such as by sweeping the speakers of threatening ideas into the "safe to ignore" box. The only difference is that banning the topics of religion/politics would be easier than banning the topics of game rules and playstyles (at least, on a gaming site). But ultimately, it's a single issue.


Very much this.


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I don't dispute what you're saying, Jiggy (your analysis is spot-on), but the difference is a big one: absolutely nobody can argue that rules questions don't have a place on these forums.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2015 Top 32, RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

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Chemlak wrote:
I don't dispute what you're saying, Jiggy (your analysis is spot-on), but the difference is a big one: absolutely nobody can argue that rules questions don't have a place on these forums.

Indeed, there's a big difference in the set of actionable solutions available for each topic. :)

I'll probably be popping into your other thread later with ideas aimed at addressing the root issue.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Jiggy wrote:
Chemlak wrote:
I don't dispute what you're saying, Jiggy (your analysis is spot-on), but the difference is a big one: absolutely nobody can argue that rules questions don't have a place on these forums.

Indeed, there's a big difference in the set of actionable solutions available for each topic. :)

I'll probably be popping into your other thread later with ideas aimed at addressing the root issue.

I look forward to it!


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Rynjin wrote:
If you, personally, don't want to read political threads? Don't. Hide them whenever they pop up. Taking away everyone else' ability to discuss things just because you don't want to read them is a bit short-sighted.

I agree with this. While I realize that a number of threads get pretty heated, I believe we should be able to have these tough conversations maturely. In my experience the Paizo boards are, for the most part, an environment of mature adults who can handle it.

This may be a bit off topic, but I've recently became active on the rules forums and it can indeed be a hostile place. While my main goal in those threads is to help provide clarity to people who are confused on the rules, I am guilty of being sucked into more than one heated debate. I think it would be good to have some clear and stricter guidelines specifically for the rules forums.


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I'll just chime in with a quick, "I agree with Orthos' idea 100%."

I'd love to see political and religious discussions in their own area, and then I can just hide that area and never think about it again.

There are enough quirky, bizarre, and fun threads in OTD that I don't want to hide that entire section, so I have to see every new political/religious thread that pops up.

I've learned not to look, but I'm human. It's hard.


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I just want to chime in with one caution. If you do have a list of things that can get a thread autolocked, be wary of people weaponizing that. I was on another forum that completely had completely forbidden politics. They had trouble with people bringing up stuff just to get a thread locked.

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