Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Echo Chambers in Blog Comments

There is an interesting post about Echo Chambers in blog comment sections. I, of course, added my own two cents to the discussion:

I don't see anything wrong with some commenters agreeing - if you agree you agree. What I think 'echo-chamber' means as a criticism is that commentators who don't toe some invisible line, they are banned - and I'm not talking about rude or disruptive behavior, I'm talking about simple, reasoned disagreement. I posted in a few threads on a feminist blog (ThinkingGirl) and was 'banned' apparently just for not agreeing with her in a thread that all white people are by definition racists. I was not rude. I stuck to the topic at hand. I simply disagreed and stated why I disagreed and why I, in fact, thought to label an entire demographic like that was racist because it puts race ahead of the individual.

To me, if one's ideas can't stand up to reasoned debate, that is a reason modify those ideas, not censor opposing ones. Out of general principle, I will never attempt to post at that blog again, though I did post some of my thoughts about the various topics there on my own blog. Again, anyone can ban for any reason - your blog, your rules - but that doesn't mean you are immune from criticism for doing so. And hey, I have my own platform, my own blog, so my voice continues.

Still, I think censoring for ideas is rather short-sighted - you'll get inbreeding of ideas and you will get further and further disconnected from reality. I think in some of those blogs (I've only looked at a few feminist blogs) there is a bubble of an alternate reality where it is just taken as a given that all men are evil perpetrators of the patriarchy, and everyone who disagrees with their narrow band of feminism are just enablers. RenegadeEvolotuion's blog is a reaction to that all the time - she has to put up with quite a lot that is undeserved just because of her profession.

Ideas unchallenged go stale and decay. That I think is the main problem when you censor and moderate your comments on a blog into an echo chamber.

There was also an interesting comment by someone else that linked to an earlier comment that I found amusing.


ballgame said...

Hey DBB: I saw your comment at Ren's, and remembered you from one of your earlier comments over at Majikthise's that impressed me. (I think I called you DBD; sorry 'bout that.) I hope you stop by over at Feminist Critics.

I agree with what you say about echo chamgers. I used to be a regular reader over at Thinking Girl's and even guest-posted there once, but lately she seems to be tumbling rather strongly into radfeminism, if she's not there already, which I think is really unfortunate. For a while it seemed like she genuinely valued discussion and debate (even if she generally wasn't persuaded), but lately ... not so much.

DBB said...

Interestingly enough, I saw Ren link to that site, and headed over there (as well as to the other sites on her list of 5). It looks interesting. I'm sure I'll end up commenting there eventually. I seem to comment wherever I go.

I'm not quite sure what to make of some of the blogs I've read. TG seems very smart (she certainly did well on the LSAT) but seems to shut down discussions and arguments with a psuedo-logic toolkit of 'do your homework' or 'we are beyond that' or 'I'm just not going to try and explain anything' that at its core denies the possibility that someone can fully understand your position and still disagree with it for logically valid reasons.

I hope I don't come across as an asshole when I argue - I can get very strident, but I do try and read and listen to what the other side is saying. I can be convinced, in other words. I have actually changed my mind, sometimes kicking and screaming, but still, I have.

One thing I wanted to say to TG, though I can't since I won't post there, is that her method of arguing is not going to go over to well in a court of law or with a judge or a jury. You don't convince a judge that your position is right by telling them to 'do their homework' or by cutting them off if he or she disagrees with you. You need to find the weaknesses in your argument and bolster them.

Anonymous said...

wow, DBB. I didn't realize that you hadn't come back because you thought I had banned you. I did nothing of the sort, actually. I'm not sure why your comments ended up in moderation (it's even happened to MY OWN comments before, so there's a glitch there somewhere), but you certainly jumped to your own conclusions without gathering all the evidence, didnchya? I dunno, you might've asked me if you were so upset about it, as Ballgame did once. now THAT seems a little negligent, for a lawyer and all. I did approve the ones that got held up in moderation, so I'm not sure what you have to complain about here.

as for my method of argument, I don't think I need to explain every detail of everything I say all the time for people who clearly have not gotten a good grasp on basics. It's not a Fem101 blog. I've spent enough time thoroughly arguing my views for the better part of two years on that blog, and you know what? It's tiring to repeat myself over and over and over, especially when there are epistemological differences going on that make it nearly impossible to discuss across them. Also, it slows down progress. In your case, I actually think I and/or others responded to all of your claims. I made a point to respond to almost every single comment on that thread for the sake of being clear about my argument, so it's actually kind of funny that you think I wasn't being sufficiently patient and/or clear about my view. And when I felt I couldn't be any more clear, and any further attempts were going to be met with more of the same from you, making the "discussion" quite pointless and useless to carry on with, I said so. I think it's perfectly valid in an ONLINE DISCUSSION BOARD to ask people to do a bit of their own legwork instead of wasting my time with basic stuff or trying to find different ways to explain something I've already explained as best I can. I'm not here to educate, and I'm sick of being asked to. it's not my responsibility.

As for that particular thread, you actually were being pretty inflammatory and rude, and I'm not one little bit convinced of any of your arguments. You were trying to compare oppressions, which is extremely short-sighted and indicative of trying to deflect attentino from the issue at hand, and you weren't actually listening. you were just getting upset that I and others were not buying what you were selling. nobody said that your experiences of class oppression, of being shy, of being an atheist, weren't valid. all I said was that they did not relate to a discussion of racism. nobody said that your hard work to get to where you are didn't matter - just that that's not what we were talking about. And all of that, all that "look at me" stuff you were doing to try to deflect from the argument at hand in order to "disprove" it, was just more and more evidence of privilege. you weren't proving your point, you were proving mine. sorry.

I appreciate dialogue, discussion, and debate. If you want to come back DBB, you're welcome to. As I said, I didn't ban you. If I had banned you, I would have told you, like I have done with the oh, three people I've banned up till this point. And for the record, the people I have banned I have done so with good reason - either personal attacks against me or blatantly hateful comments against marginalized groups. Neither of which are remotely close to that I couldn't handle the objections to my argument.

now, enough childish gossipping about me behind my back in the blogosphere for something that I didn't even do. go ahead and attack my arguments. but maybe YOU should get all your facts straight before you go running your mouth off about me "not being able to handle the truth" or some such BS.