The Five Minute Argument

We’ve been musing for some time about introducing a regular “open forum” post where readers can discuss whatever they like (subject to usual legal and basic civility constraints).

It’s hardly an original idea, but we’ve decided to try a slight innovation that we hope might become an attractive aspect of Club Troppo’s open forum feature. After the thread has evolved for a day or two, Nicholas and I will review the trend of comments and endeavour to pick one or two that explore interesting topics in original or challenging ways. We will then elevate them to the primary post area of the open forum thread, in the hope that they may provide a clearer focus for ensuing discussion.

Why are we doing that? I don’t know about others, but I seldom bother to read open forum threads on other blogs, because I don’t have the time to wade through disparate meanderings whose subject matter I have no way of knowing in advance (and therefore no way of knowing whether I’m likely to be at all interested). Promoting a couple of selected comments to the primary post won’t preclude readers from continuing to post comments on whatever other topics they wish, but it will give readers at least some rough advance idea of the topic/s under discussion.

Why the title The Five Minute Argument ? Baby Boomer readers shouldn’t need to be reminded about the classic Monty Python Argument Sketch. However, the title isn’t an open invitation to engage in unpleasant abuse or endless doctrinaire ideological tub-thumping. Trolls are still likely to have their comments summarily deleted in the interest of productive discussion, and serious obscenity or defamation obviously won’t be tolerated. Let the Argument begin.

PS We’ll attempt to post The Five Minute Argument each Tuesday morning, unless we forget in which case it might be a bit later!

About Ken Parish

Ken Parish is a legal academic, with research areas in public law (constitutional and administrative law), civil procedure and teaching & learning theory and practice. He has been a legal academic for almost 20 years. Before that he ran a legal practice in Darwin for 15 years and was a Member of the NT Legislative Assembly for almost 4 years in the early 1990s.
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Kim
Kim
15 years ago

Trolls are still likely to have their comments summarily deleted in the interest of productive discussion, and serious obscenity or defamation obviously won’t be tolerated.

Ken, is that a change to the past Troppo comments policy? I wouldn’t ask but it seems relevant in light of recent controversies on this blog about other blogs’ comments policies.

Kim
Kim
15 years ago

On the whole, Ken, I think the discussion was positive, but not wholly, and the timing could have been a little better, but let’s not go there.

Gummo Trotsky
15 years ago

For some reason, this post has come up on Sitemeter as a referrer to TBP. Vanity dragged me here to find out why – I hope the visit wasn’t inspired by the discussion about trolls.

As a slightly somewhat compulsive troll-baiter (or anti-trolling troll), I can’t say that Ken’s naughty child analogy works for me. Leaving aside the affront to my self-esteem, the problem is that with a naughty child, you might conceivably have the advantage of parental authority or, in less functionally middle-class homes, the advantages of superior size and strength. Trolls, unfortunately, regard or pass themselves off as adults and come into the blog commenting game with a raft of assumptions about their rights. Such as that of exercising their free speech on your server.

Right now, I can’t think of a single sanction against trolls, short of banning the buggers, that actual works. Open slather ridicule (preferably of their ideas) just reinforces their smug belief in the superiority of their own intelligence and rationality. So does patient rebuttal; particularly if there’s more than one rebutter. They just see that as their ideological opponents ganging up on them. Yeah, so you’ve all convinced yourselves that I’m wrong, they think, but it took ten of you to do it. Put them on moderation and they’ll just complain about censorship. Plus, as site operator you have to deal with the drag of reading their witterings and abusive comments to decide which ones have enough semblance of rational argument to be worth posting.

What’s needed, it seems to me, is a system that uses the technology to send trolls a clear social signal from a blog’s readers that no-one considers their opinions worth reading – a cyberspace equivalent of the cold shoulder. A couple of weeks ago I was indulging in some wishful thinking with Nabs and said that what I’d really like to see in blogging software is a comments filter that allows you to identify commenters you want to ignore. That, combined with a periodic league table of “Most ignored commenters on this blog” might just do the trick. It’s eminently feasible from a technical point of view too.

Nicholas Gruen
Admin
Nicholas Gruen(@nicholas-gruen)
15 years ago

Lets talk about something other than trolls.

Kim
Kim
15 years ago

I enjoyed Brokeback Mountain!

Gummo Trotsky
15 years ago

How about garden gnomes, then?

(The things that happen in your local garden centre when the gates are closed!)

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
15 years ago

It isn’t showing in Darwin. We must be one of those country/outer suburban centres judged by the distributors as too yobbo-ish to be interested in a pooftah cowboy movie. Strange judgment really. It’s showing in Cairns, and Darwin is a capital city with a thriving gay community, gay nightclubs, a significant arts community etc. It rather suggests the distributors don’t know much at all about the place. Pity really. There’s nothing else showing at the moment that I’m remotely interested in seeing and haven’t yet seen, and yet I’m feeling like a trip to the cinema to relieve the pre-semester tedium.

Nicholas Gruen
Admin
Nicholas Gruen(@nicholas-gruen)
15 years ago

I wanna go after reading the author of the shortstory’s rave about the movie.

Kim
Kim
15 years ago

Ken, consensus now seems to be that it’s more about a slow rollout of the release as a marketing ploy, rather than prejudice. So you might get the chance!

Otherwise, I’m sure some Darwinians might download the thing off the net and spread it around as a sort of samizdat.

Yobbo
Yobbo
15 years ago

You can always watch Brokeback To The Future while you’re waiting.

Zoe
Zoe
15 years ago

Inspired by Gummo’s gnome link, I have a question: Is the interwebs the true home of bad craft?

Bill
Bill
15 years ago

I read somewhere (can’t find it now) that there is a surge of interest by gay tourists in visiting Wyoming.

So I think the whole thing was a plot by Wyoming to improve its image.

Kim
Kim
15 years ago

Did Wyoming previously have an image? Just askin…

Nicholas Gruen
Admin
Nicholas Gruen(@nicholas-gruen)
15 years ago

Why not oming?

Evil Pundit
15 years ago

I think that Ken, who I believe lives in Darwin, should interview His Majesty King Roman II of Lithuania.

It would be a blogging first, and he might even pick up a dukedom or something.

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
15 years ago

EP

I’ve already made the acquaintance of His Majesty King Roman, though before his most recent elevation. You can read about it here.

Evil Pundit
15 years ago

I’m impressed. You knew him when he was just a Prince!

Gummo Trotsky
15 years ago

Zoe,

Short answer, no. The interwebs is a great way to sell bad crafts but the true home of bad crafts will always be in the homes of the completely tasteless. You should see my collection of Franklin Mint “Great Moments in Adult Cinema” commemorative plates.

Nicholas Gruen
Admin
Nicholas Gruen(@nicholas-gruen)
15 years ago

And anyone wanting to guest post – just email us – Ken or me at nicholas AT gruen DOT com DOT au.