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Is anyone else disappointed in OT?

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#1 Christopher

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Posted 25 June 2003 - 04:27 AM

I've come to the conclusion that I'm very disappointed in how Orbis Terrarum has turned out. When we were discussing its creation, the idea behind it was to create a place for in-depth, scholarly discussion of history and social sciences. The routine current-events discussion, political debates and rhetoric would remain on The Beach, while OT (though of course we hadn't named it that yet) would be a place for more objective and analytical discussion of the social science and historical factors behind current events.  (Just as EtU is for discussing the science behind SF works rather than general discussion or reviews of the works themselves.)

But in my opinion, it's completely failed in that objective. It's become overwhelmingly dominated by current events, political debate and polemic, with barely a trace of actual scholarly analysis. Even those few threads which manage to touch on historical subjects always seem to end up turning into political debates. So it seems to me that the forum has ended up being exactly what the critics of the idea were afraid it would be, just a way to siphon off the hot topics from The Beach, and that those of us who wanted a forum about history and social science still don't have one.

Now, I know that in a "free marketplace of ideas" like this one, the forum ends up being what the community as a whole wants it to be.  But it feels to me like the whole point of the original suggestion has been missed.  And I have to wonder whether there's anything about the discussions in OT that are fundamentally different from the political discussion in The Beach before the split -- in other words, if the split has turned out to have been really necessary at all.

I'm not proposing any course of action here, just voicing my impressions.  Certainly it'd be pointless to try splitting off yet another forum just for those apparently few of us who are more interested in the social science behind the news, or in historical discussions unrelated to current events, than in debating the news itself.  Maybe folks could at least try a little harder to include such threads in the mix.  But as long as the forum is so dominated by current events and politics, I'm not really that interested in sticking around to make the effort, because current events and politics just depress me.

Edited by Cait, 21 September 2012 - 02:53 PM.

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#2 QueenTiye

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Posted 25 June 2003 - 04:33 AM

{{{{{{{{{{{{{{Christopher}}}}}}}}}}}}}}

Well... I can only say that I agree with the end part of your post... the current round of debates have been just as you called it - polemic... and for me, depressing.  And I'm saying that, even in spite of being immensely proud of Ex Isle for mostly playing nicely with these touchy subjects.

We are a great community to have handled the topics so well...but that hasn't stopped me from feeling overwhelmed by them.

But truly - I think the solution may be for more people to take initiative and start history topics.  We have one active one... and you provided a link that I've been meaning to get back to (the one about Africa) for EVER... Maybe just keep plugging away - and we'll tip the scales gently....

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#3 Rhea

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Posted 25 June 2003 - 04:38 AM

I'd swore I wouldn't say "I told you so," but I'm shallow - I told you so!  :D

I think it was a mistake to take OT out of The Beach. It's more a hot topic forum than anything else.

But what's done is done, or let spilt milk lie under the bridge where Jesus flang it, or something.  :p  :p

Edited to add: I'm not disappointed, I guess. It's pretty much exactly what I expected with the exception of the election threads, which I feel should have been in The Beach.

Edited by Rhea, 25 June 2003 - 04:39 AM.

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#4 sierraleone

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Posted 25 June 2003 - 04:42 AM

I thought it was supposed to be for both  :unsure:  

Quote

Orbis Terrarum
History, Politics, and Current Events

I usually don't find current events depressing unless I've recently had rather long depression arguements with people about it ;) I don't follow politics, I find it depressing for sure. For historical subjects though, especially when going in depth, I myself find I have so little to add, that assuming I know quite what the person is talking about.  :blush: And if I decide to add something I think I'm just advertising how little I know ;) :) The only time I can recall right now, that I've added something to a historical thread, was when someone was putting down France on their military history and people were pointing out their "wins" or good points too. I pointed out them pushing back the Muslims back into Spain in the 7th or 8th century. Even when I know something about history I only know it in brief, can't remember names, places, dates ;) :D Was it at Tours they pushed them back from? Well fits in with my real life, I have horrible time remembering peoples names and ages and where they're from in RL too *g*.

I can quite put to words what else I'm thinking yet, but I'll be back later, when I have a little more time. I know what you mean about even non-hot-topic threads becoming hot topic though....

Edited by sierraleone, 25 June 2003 - 04:47 AM.

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#5 Jid

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Posted 25 June 2003 - 04:47 AM

I'm more or less going to go with : What Rhea said.

I sort of had hopes it might stick to what it was originally suggested (in fact, I had been hoping to learn from all the people who are brainy in things like history, which I suck at ;) ) but really, I'm not suprised that this forum has gone the way it has.

Oh well.  

I think QT nailed it, Christopher - the only way to get more of what you want is to try and post it yourself, at least at first.
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#6 Cardie

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Posted 25 June 2003 - 04:50 AM

Perhaps we could ask those who start the majority of OT threads on current events to think a minute and post them in The Beach instead. Or ask the OT mods to move them.

I would like to suggest that any thread that solicits opinions or personal information directly, or any thread containing a poll or ballot be moved to The Beach if it ends up in OT. That might clear up the clutter a bit.

Thus, "Can you name the Democratic candidates?" would be in The Beach but  "Democratic presidential hopefuls: what are their positions?" would be in OT.

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#7 QuiGon John

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Posted 25 June 2003 - 04:54 AM

I don't know, I think we had a lot of different understandings of what OT would be when we started it: For myself, I think the forum's been more or less what I expected, and I'm fairly pleased with the way it has gone.

Once again, I think splitting threads by perceived quality-- i.e. scholarly debate-- instead of by general topic (like current events, which is in the subject heading and is, in fact, what we discuss in here) would be a disasterous idea.

#8 Ogami

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Posted 25 June 2003 - 04:56 AM

Christopher wrote:

But in my opinion, it's completely failed in that objective. It's become overwhelmingly dominated by current events, political debate and polemic, with barely a trace of actual scholarly analysis.

There's a thread down the page called "Rehabilitating McCarthy". Christopher wrote to me:

Quote

That is caricature and slander. You're obviously not interested in facts, so I'm not going to waste my time talking with you any longer.

Seems to me you personally attacked me for daring to state the record of democrats during the eighties. I've provided factual quotes on what the Democrats said during the eighties and can provide more. That's not slander, that's Christopher being unwilliing to discuss issues when he's proven wrong. You want to discuss, discuss. Don't declare you want to pick up your toys and go home.

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#9 Bad Wolf

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Posted 25 June 2003 - 05:00 AM

Rhea, on Jun 24 2003, 10:39 AM, said:

I'd swore I wouldn't say "I told you so," but I'm shallow - I told you so!  :D
I made no such promise.

So........

I TOLD YOU SO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

:p

Seriously though, when I look at the well researched and civil discussions of hot button issues like sexuality, religion and reproductive rights I can't honestly say I'm anything but very proud of ExIsle.

That said, I know for a fact (because people have told me) that there is already a healthy fear of OT among some people who think it's nothing more than a hot topics forum which *is* precisely what I predicted.

Bottom line however, if it's a ht forum it's the most civil one I've ever seen and WOOT to us for that.

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#10 Bossy

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Posted 25 June 2003 - 05:11 AM

I have to say that OT isn't exactly what I expected. However, I am very pleased with how it has turned out. As Lil said, if this is a hot topics forum, it is certainly a most civilized and open one.

I would say that if there are not enough scholarly and historical topics for you, start some more! We have had a number of very interesting threads in that line, as far as I am concerned. There were several threads on recent archiological finds that ended up included links to historical background. Personally, I learned a lot from those. As I recall, there wasn't as much activity in those threads, for whatever that's worth.

I don't think that the answer is to start splitting hairs on which topics belong where. If you don't like the current focus of OT, I would suggest starting some threads with the focus you would like.
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#11 Uncle Sid

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Posted 25 June 2003 - 05:16 AM

This forum is not supposed to discuss current events?  That's news to me.  After all, it is in the subtitle of the forum....

I know what Christopher is saying, and certainly I have a desire to read historical scholarship and other things like that here.  However, let's keep in mind that while there is a lot of polemic here, people do make efforts to quote texts and give facts.  And it's sort of hard to get people to have no attachment to either a historical or current event.  Generally, people talk about what interests them, and they tend to feel more strongly about what interests them.  

I will also say that regarding an entire forum as the sum or even the average of it's topics is not necessarily fair.  I can walk into EtU and find most of the topics on any one day boring, but there might be one or two that interest me very much.  Another day, I might find most of them to my tastes.  In OT, there are topics I read only because I'm the moderator, and others that I (obviously) an interested in.  As someone said, it does help to have people post such things if they want to see them.

Now, I don't want this to become the "hot topics" forum.  Not at all.  However, as long as the charter includes current stuff, you're going to get that.  Also, scholarship is hardly devoid of contraversy.  I know some professors who refuse to talk to one another simply over their definition of things that most of us would shrug our shoulders at.  I know people who have gotten heated even in the EtU forum at times, and science is much more cut and dry than history or other social "sciences" where it's often simply a lot of opinions and misconceptions strung together.  

That said, I think I have noticed one or two items that I think might belong better in The Beach and I will probably move them.
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#12 Julie

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Posted 25 June 2003 - 05:23 AM

Quote

I TOLD YOU SO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

:p

Seriously though, when I look at the well researched and civil discussions of hot button issues like sexuality, religion and reproductive rights I can't honestly say I'm anything but very proud of ExIsle.

That said, I know for a fact (because people have told me) that there is already a healthy fear of OT among some people who think it's nothing more than a hot topics forum which *is* precisely what I predicted.

Bottom line however, if it's a ht forum it's the most civil one I've ever seen and WOOT to us for that.
But it's too civil for a hot topics forum!  I think you should wait a little longer to let loose that "I told you so".  ;)

Of course, we have recently had a bunch of hot topics (most of which have nothing to do history, politics, or current events), but those are very much the exception.  I don't know about anyone else, but in most OT threads I haven't felt the need to add phrases like "Now, in no way am I saying that everyone who believes that is, but..." or "I'm not trying to offend you, just curious..." or any of the other things I usually add to my posts on sensitive subjects.

Anyway, I think what Christopher's getting at (correct me if I'm wrong) is that it's not a social sciences forum so much as a political one.  I can understand why that's disappointing, but I think it's a question of appeal.  Social sciences has a limited appeal, and apparently there's a number of people interested in politics and current events.  

I for one wouldn't have much to say in history discussions because I'm woefully ignorant in that area.  It'd be nice to pick some stuff up, but I think the direction this forum has taken is largely just because that's what people want to talk about.  There's a market for it, and anyway, it's not like there's much to talk about in GMD and Reviews now that summertime's rolled around.

However, I have been unhappy with the recent topics that are just hot topics and don't really relate to this forum.  But I'm hoping those'll die out.

Edited by Julie, 25 June 2003 - 05:23 AM.


#13 Bad Wolf

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Posted 25 June 2003 - 05:24 AM

Quote

Also, scholarship is hardly devoid of contraversy.

Very VERY good point.

Frankly the idea that these types of issues can be discussed in a wholly clinical and sterile manner is not very realistic.

We're people for crying out loud and most of the people that post in OT regularly are, um, opinionated.

:p

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#14 sierraleone

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Posted 25 June 2003 - 05:26 AM

There has been a rash of more Hot Topics lately (though most have seemed to die down a bit) because they were all interelated and people started new Topics to help divide the discussion. I remember saying there was somewhat like 10 Topics all somehow springing from the News Thread someone started on the Gay Marriage in Toronto.
Rules for surviving an Autocracy:

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Rule#2: Do not be taken in by small signs of normality.
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Rule#5: Don't make compromises.
Rule#6: Remember the future.
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#15 Bossy

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Posted 25 June 2003 - 05:42 AM

sierraleone, on Jun 24 2003, 01:27 PM, said:

There has been a rash of more Hot Topics lately (though most have seemed to die down a bit) because they were all interelated and people started new Topics to help divide the discussion. I remember saying there was somewhat like 10 Topics all somehow springing from the News Thread someone started on the Gay Marriage in Toronto.
Each of those threads seemed to cover a different aspect of what motivates people to take a certain position regarding an issue such as same sex marriages. I think they are very valuable studies of what makes our society run. People's deepest held beliefs, their biases, the lack of information, and their cultural background all play a role in the decisions they make that ultimately shape our society.

Even though I didn't agree with all of the positions held nor even liked all of the topics, I do see them as valuable to the discusion of what makes our societies tick, and that is what I thought was the point of this forum.

#16 Bad Wolf

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Posted 25 June 2003 - 05:44 AM

^

What Bossy said.

:)
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#17 Shoshana

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Posted 25 June 2003 - 05:47 AM

Quote

Perhaps we could ask those who start the majority of OT threads on current events to think a minute and post them in The Beach instead. Or ask the OT mods to move them.

Ahh.. I'm sorry. Didn't realize current events weren't supposed to be in here. My bad.

I'm out of here

'shana

#18 Bossy

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Posted 25 June 2003 - 05:50 AM

Shoshana, on Jun 24 2003, 01:48 PM, said:

Quote

Perhaps we could ask those who start the majority of OT threads on current events to think a minute and post them in The Beach instead. Or ask the OT mods to move them.

Ahh.. I'm sorry. Didn't realize current events weren't supposed to be in here. My bad.

I'm out of here

'shana
First, LOL at your sig. I just noticed that. :)

Secondly, don't leave just yet, please. I current events is supposed to be in this forum. I think, perhaps, there is just some confusion (again) about what the focus should be.

#19 Bad Wolf

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Posted 25 June 2003 - 05:52 AM

Shoshana, on Jun 24 2003, 11:48 AM, said:

Quote

Perhaps we could ask those who start the majority of OT threads on current events to think a minute and post them in The Beach instead. Or ask the OT mods to move them.

Ahh.. I'm sorry. Didn't realize current events weren't supposed to be in here. My bad.

I'm out of here

'shana

The subtitle of the forum includes "current events".

Please don't let anyone try to tell you you aren't allowed to post about current events here because it just isn't true.

{{{{{{{{{{{{'Shana}}}}}}}}}}}}}

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#20 Bossy

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Posted 25 June 2003 - 05:53 AM

Una Salus Lillius, on Jun 24 2003, 01:45 PM, said:

^

What Bossy said.

:)
Is this another sign that the end of the world is near? ;)



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