After reading through the Poll thread and the PM's regarding circular arguments/discussions, we discussed the results. It seems like the majority do see circular arguments as a problem and 65% of the 96 responses wanted the mods to do something. They were split on how much should be done, but it is clear that when the discussion seems to be deadlocked, the members look to us to intervene and move things along.
As a general rule, we try to allow people to discuss what they want. But those who have been in the Sam and Dean spoiler sections lately or the episode threads last season have seen what a circular argument can do.
So, what is a circular argument/discussion? It is a thread where we have pages and pages of people basically discussing the same issue (For example: Bobby is mean to Dean, No Bobby isn't mean to Dean, yes he is, no he isn't...) and the discussion goes on and on because obviously neither side is going to convince the other that they are right or wrong. We see a few members come in and ask that the conversation move on, we see statements like, why don't we just agree to disagree or even a member bringing up another topic to discuss--but the ones who are locked in the argument don't take the hint and simply continue the conversation as if no one else is in the thread.
This causes other members to become frustrated and eventually they just leave the thread with the hope that maybe some day they can come back to discuss something different. To allow a few members to control a thread in this manner is not good for anyone. Consequently a decision has been reached to have a mod intercede when the circular argument/discussions have reached an impasse.
When to intercede is going to have to be on a case by case basis. A mod/admin will not intercede unless other members appear to want to move the discussion along (by making or doing some of what was discussed above). Once the mod/admin has made a determination that the discussion has reached an impasse and others want to move along, the following warning will be placed in the thread (or something similar):
It appears this discussion has reached an impasse. Other members are trying to move the conversation along to a new topic. If you wish to continue to discuss [insert circular argument], then you can do so via PM, but please allow others to move the discussion along.
If someone starts up the same discussion 24 hours or more later and others begin to join in again, then we will watch the thread. If members once again try to move it along, then we will place another warning. If someone continues the argument/discussion the same day that the warning is placed, then a second warning would be placed in the thread. It would be something like:
There has been a request by a mod to move the discussion along, see the posted warning here [insert link to previous warning].
If posters continue to ignore the warnings, then warning PM’s will be sent to the offending members. It the member still ignores the warning PM and posted warnings, a formal PM will be sent and the post may be edited. Please note that mods/admins will give members the benefit of the doubt if the post happens shortly after the posted warning as we are aware that a member can be posting at the same time a warning is being posted.
However, while we will ask the conversation to move on, I want to make it clear that this does not mean you cannot continue the conversation some place else. If you wish to continue the discussion, you can simply begin another thread as long as that thread follows all board rules or you can move the discussion to PM’s if it is only between a couple of members.
So for example: If you are discussing how Cas treats Dean and it has been determined by a mod/admin to have reached an impasse and other members are trying to move the conversation along to a new discussion, you can start a topic thread to discuss Cas and Dean’s relationship in either the Dean or Cas Forums (spoiler forums if you are talking about possible spoilers). Keep in mind that threads set up to primarily bash a character and/or actor are not allowed. All board rules apply.
You may post in the current thread that you are moving the discussion to another location and place a link to it in your post. That way anyone who is interested can follow you to the new discussion and those who wish to continue on the current topic can do so. If you need help creating a thread or have questions where it should go or want to know how to link it, please PM me or any other mod/admin and we’d be happy to help.
We are trying to allow those who want to discuss a certain issue in more depth the freedom to do so without frustrating those members who simply want to talk about something else regarding the thread topic. I think we can all agree that it can be uncomfortable for both types of posters when those who want to discuss an issue in greater depth are met with those who want to move the topic onto new areas.
If you feel that a mod should intercede, then you can simply send a PM to a mod/admin and they will review the thread. Keep in mind, unless other members appear to want to move the discussion along, the mod/admin will not intercede.
If you have any questions, please feel free to PM me.