How are dissenting opinions treated at BGA?

BGA

A few weeks ago I got a very serious warning at BGG for saying that I believe all lives matter and not only black. This was my second warning after writing a few months back that I am willing to play all kind of games, even those that include sensitive topics like slaves, war, etc. in a joyful fashion.

I am tired of that. Of not being able to express myself and being silenced (posts erased and no trace of them left on the original thread, so that the illusion of uniformity does not shatter) each time I post a disenting opinion about certain issues.

I wanted to know whether I would face the same issues here or if BGA team is more tolerant with us non-SJW.

Cheers!

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2 months ago

Also in no way in a formal position of power within the site, so am only speaking for myself. While I would say that such topics have only rarely come up on the site in the 6 months or so I have been on it. I would say that addressing these issues within the board game hobby (and within BGA itself) is something that has been discussed and something I hope will continue to be brought up regularly. 

I think that while there is place for discussion and disagreement within the topic I think it is really important to also recognise the privilege (or advantage/benefit as 'privilege' may be too loaded a word)  it is to get to 'academically' debate whether or not these issues exist without potentially having to live them. I am not assuming anyone's life experience here, only speak for myself as someone with a tonne of advantages in this world. Now, the issue for me is that while the outcome of that discussion may not effect some of us deeply regardless of how it pans out, someone visiting the site and seeing comments that are hurtful or deny part of their own experience may then not feel welcome at BGA and that would make me incredibly sad and I think be a huge injustice towards them. 

So while I would hope that discussion can and would happen without the need for moderators to step in, I would hope that comments based on discrimination would be flagged in some way and challenged so as to reassure invidiuals who might feel personally or broadly attacked by them that that is not what BGA is about. Obviousy the line as to where 'dissenting opinion' becomes hate speech or discrimination is a difficult one to place, and I would want nuance and understadning on both sides of any exchange or action taken.

Like I said I cannot speak for the whole or for those in charge but I absolutely want you to feel welcome and am glad to have you here. However, I would hope that actively harmful narratives would be challenged and that hopefully through positive discussion your mind might be changed. As shutting down all discussion would only drive people deeper into their camps (on both side of any disagreement).

Supporter2 months ago

I agree with you here bob, and I'd like to add that as far as I've seen around here, when social issues are touched it's mostly when and how they relate to the board game community and never in a vacuum or for the sake of having a random discussion. 

2 months ago

For sure, it has always been linked to either specific games or how the issues impact the hobby/industry and the people within it.

Supporter2 months ago

This is an excellent point.

Supporter2 months ago

As someone who has used this site for over a year now I'd have to say, it would be near impossible to comment on sharing anything related to poltics or of high controvery.  I will not share my personal opinion on the thoughts you shared and that also should not be read as disagreement or agreement.

I'd be surprised to see the things that have been difficult on BGG come up naturally on this site at the moment.  It would have to be a topic that is forced a bit.

Having said that, I basically have one place left that I can come and chat with people about just the subject at hand that doesn't have other things trickle into it and I would avoid all such conversations.  I think I can speak for a few of the regular posters when I say I'd like to keep it on gaming (but I could be wrong).

I think the only time anything that could be seen as controversal has really come up is when it is related to the theme of a game (and even then it's totally civil).

Supporter2 months ago

100% agree Scott. Well said. 

2 months ago

Confirmed. Let politics stay in political forums. 

Supporter2 months ago

I 100% agree with you.  If I had a vote I would say that the site should just not allow political discussion of any stripe except in a sub forum.

Supporter2 months ago

I am with you. 

2 months ago

I agree, Scott.

2 months ago

Personally, and I know I'll probably be in the minority, I think it's completely reasonable for posts or users to be removed for expressing wrong-headed views about whether 'people of colour' in our community deserve to claim that their lives matter. "All lives matter" has a very thin veneer of impartiality when it's really about little more than standing in opposition to the idea that black people have a legitimate grievance. I also think it's hypocrical to be seeking a space to have a polite and respectful discussion while also implying that everyone who disagreed with you was an "SJW".

2 months ago

That's fine. Private owned companies have the right to police the content that users upload. As I said, I only want to know in advance, before commiting to the site. Don't want to feel burned again. If I won't be allowed to defend my ideas once a discussion is started (and like I have said repeatedly, I have no intention to start them), then I really rather keep looking for another place to talk about board games.

Supporter2 months ago

The community and our moderation is still pretty new and fresh. I'd like to see be in a balanced position where we don't allow hate or explicit discussions while also not cancelling anyone just because there's a disagreement. So, for now it's just up to the discretion of me and the moderators and we'd certainly talk to the individual users involved to get a fully rounded opinion.

2 months ago

Well, balance is the keyword here. If that is what you are working towards, I applaude you. Because balance is exactly what BGG, Reddit or many other sites are lacking. Just to give an easily recognizable example: they allow posts on Trump that they would never allow on Obama.

2 months ago

I'm not anti-politics by any means, but honestly, it's a difficult topic to inject into a forum focusing on board games. If it really involves board games, then I'm all for discussion. Civil discussion. And, although I strive to be as polite as possible during touchy subjects such as politics, words come across differently through text, so I avoid discussing it as a general rule. 

I'll echo what said. Perhaps the BGA team would be more tolerant, but I don't think you'd get too many of us to bite regardless. I've been here for quite some time, and I don't think I've ever seen any thread go off the rails, or even come close to it. And that's what I love about BGA. We have fun, we discuss, and sometimes we even talk about our lives and what's going on. But engaging in topics that don't relate to board games isn't something we seem to do at Board Game Atlas, and that was never something explicitly stated. It's just something we all collectively did, unspoken and unbidden.

And that's not to say that we're above such things. Not at all. Rather, this community is simply different than that of BGG (thank goodness haha), and that's why we're drawn here. Let me illustrate with a horrible example. When I go to (American) football games, I'm out of my element. I feel out of place. But I can still enjoy it, if I want. Generally, though, I'll leave at half time because I got my fill. That's BGG for me.

BGA, on the other hand, is me at rugby games. I'll go to those games all by myself (and have done so many times) and still have an amazing time. I make friends with random fans sitting around me--even those supporting the other team. It's a different atmosphere, a different culture, and that's where I thrive. And that's why BGA is my forum of choice. Not because it's better, per se, but because the culture and atmosphere is more attuned to what I'm looking for.

All that said, it's great to have you here! I look forward to interacting with you more. But first I need more hours in a day so that I can get on more frequently haha

Supporter2 months ago

Great points Benjamin.  The culture on BGG, for me, is not as enjoyable as what has been built up here.

Supporter2 months ago

I think others have said it well. We have for the most part avoided charged topics and kept it on games. I can think of one topic that came up that was slightly controversial (although I can’t remember when or what the topic was to be honest) and for the most part people just didn’t react to the point and kept it on the topic of board games. 

However, you have pointed towards something that I have thought about before. We are a pretty small community that has been able to keep the site polite and about board games. If the site expands rapidly and we get a massive influx of people that is going to be really hard to maintain without some strong guidelines. (I for example would love to see no political posts here except for perhaps in a sub forum.)  and  should probably consider laying some groundwork now to be ahead of the game  

With regards to political views in general I am also not a fan of blocking them but I will say that anyone posting them in a public forum should be prepared and willing to back up their posts with personal thoughts and facts,  Most importantly they must be willling to open their minds to the ideas of others and even change their minds if enough evidence is given. That makes the post useful.

If it is just someone spouting off something they heard who is unwilling to change their point of view no matter what then it is a waste of everyone’s time.  Someone who repeatedly does that is deserving of being ignored.

Politically I am a strong centrist who abhors extremists of any persuasion. 

2 months ago

Unfortunately there it is difficult to have a nuanced opinion these days and not be attacked in one form or another.  I think there is room to be conscientious of how we use the words we use without berating others or making them feel small. 

The lines between hate and disagreement have become very fuzzy over the past few years due to a plethora of reasons.  In an effort to be balanced I'd say I agree that all lives matter.   I would not say it out loud and voice it in a forum generally speaking because I don't believe the nuance by which I believe 'all lives matter' will be picked up on or much heard in today's culture.  I also think it would generally be assumed that saying such a thing implies that I care nothing of oppression, societal dissonance among races, or gender equality issues which would all be untrue. 

Like many things in life, reading the room one is in is often necessary and finding that balance between 'speaking one's peace' and feeling suppressed is evasive in the best of times in 2020.  

I wonder if one day there will be a game called "2020".  You gain points by inciting your opponents and there are bonus tracks for COVID, Fake News, and Political Unrest.  You win the game if you can calmly deceive other players and get them to argue with one another.

2 months ago

Well, what I want to know is whether I will be able to politely say that I don't care for feminism or that I don't believe that police violence strikes harder certain races, for example, without having my post removed and my posting privileges grounded for a week.

And I know this is a gaming site and that this issues usually should not be discussed here, but sometimes they appear, and it looks like certain opinions will be allowed, regardless of whether they offend us lucky heterosexual white privileged males. But don't you dare say anything, no matter how careful you do it, that could remotely offend certain oppressed groups. Even if it is an undisputed fact.

So, yes, I know I am pressing the issue here. I simply want to know whether I and my politically incorrect opinions can find a home here before I invest too much into the site.

2 months ago

The main point is in your last statement, that you wish your political opinions will find a home here. In my opinion, no, they won't find a home here because this is not a political site. You mention that these topics "appear," but it seems more likely that you are looking for a place to advertise your opinions and will seek that opportunity.

You can turn most conversations into political ones, but that is not the goal of this site, nor do I think the general population here wants it to be.

Supporter2 months ago

I am not in any was a moderator or anything like that in this group, so these are by observations and experiences. 

 

I have shared some politically incorrect beliefs in the past. I hope I haven't offended anyone with them, but I have found the community here very gracious towards different viewpoints.

 

That being said, this is, as was mentioned, a gaming forum. And if you are to evangelistic with your views, and if you are turning a board game forum into a political discussion board, I imagine steps would be taken. 

Supporter2 months ago

Well said Chris. This is a gaming forum. We come here to escape what's out there. I don't really want to mix this safe space with extraneous topics.

2 months ago

But that will happen whether we want it or not, like Richard Ham complaining about the slaves in Five Tribes or the discussions about the color of the colonists in Puerto Rico. Or the naked ladies in Conan.

Someday, someone will write an angry post about one of those topics. I simply hope I will be able to say my piece just like them and not be punished.

Supporter2 months ago

I think it will depend on how you do it.  If a post is assertive but not aggressive and if a genuine attempt to have conversation is made it likely will be fine.  It may be ignored but not banned.  

The other thing is that you yourself could just ignore posts that are angry on those topics and let it drop out of the front page quickly. 

If it's a thoughtful conversation then by all means have at it.  If it's not then let it die because no one's mind has ever been changed in an angry internet thread.  

2 months ago

+1, the tone in which you address these things plays an enormous role.

2 months ago

Also have no power here, but just to share my thoughts. I think the world is too divisive right now and most anything that is said could be interpreted as offensive to anyone unfortunately. I tend to stay out of political discussions online for that reason.

2 months ago

I have no power here, but I'm guessing the frequency and insistence with which you share your "politically incorrect" opinions will be factors, as well as your tone and the manner in which your present them. I'm sure we have varied opinions on the site, and I think for the most part we like to keep them to ourselves. To this point, BGA has been a very positive environment, and political discussions inevitably turn negative. Even if they're polite, they'll probably leave a sour taste in the mouth of most users. I know I personally stay as far away from political discussion as possible both IRL with strangers and online with strangers.

2 months ago

Well, earlier I talked about balance. Disallowing completely any kind of political message is also balance. I would be perfectly happy in such a site.

2 months ago

I would politely disagree with that idea. I think that silence on an issue isn't truly balance as it reinforces a status quo, and if that status quo is unbalanced then the silence is unbalanced. However, I totally agree that there are more and less appropriate times to have such discussion and that that a lot (but not all) of the forum posts on BGA are probably not ideal. However, if it makes sense to bring up a issue as it has relevence to the subject at hand then I think not addressing it is potentially problematic in it's own right. 

Supporter2 months ago

If it's an actual board game topic and the conversation is thoughtful and genuine with people actually sharing their own views and being willing to compromiise and understand others it can be great.  It would actually be a loss to not discuss things in that case.

If it's people regurgitating "facts" they saw on facebook, ignoring what other people are saying, and being unwilling to consider other points of view then I really don't want to see that here, or anywhere else really.  I get enough of that in other places and it has zero value and I have no problem with it being silenced in that case.

That said, I strongly lean towards having tough conversations that may be assertive but not aggressive and are genuine back and forth conversations.  You can learn a lot that way.