Now, however, I'm left without a specific set of people to "hang" with. I drop in to the other forums here and there, but I have no interest in investing in them as I've been accustomed to doing. The fellas at Te Deum have been cool, but ultimately we are going to strongly disagree on an issue (probably sedevacantism), and there'll be lots of potential for rudeness and drama. Everything is polite so far, though, and I prefer that.
This current state of being adrift has me considering what the ideal forum would look like. And so, I have an idea for the perfect forum for Laramie Hirsch--and everyone else out there who wants a successful community and successful conversation.
So let's establish a golden rule, here.
All conversation, including and especially hostile conversation and taboo (but not profane) subjects should be allowed. There should be few limitations, overall.
More Than Just Pleasantries
Nothing bores me more than cutesy little exchanges where people compliment one another, talk in smiley faces, or make quips or whatever. Such talk might be the bees knees for some people, and that's fine. I have no problem with that. But I like to explore ideas. I enjoy speaking about many of the taboo subjects that society shuns. I think it is fun, lively, and much can be gained from such threads.
Allow Discussions of Forums
I also think it is acceptable to talk about other forums. A real timeline of forum evolution among Traditional Catholics exists. The history of Catholic forums in the last decade speaks volumes about the Traditional movement. What happens with one forum is important information to members of other forums. I would say that it is like one workforce union learning what is happening with another workforce union.
Fights Are Allowed
Fights among forum members ought to be allowed. Watching arguments get broken up by moderators is like watching a teacher interrupt a fight between a bully and a weakling: both get pulled into the office and are punished for aggression, equally blamed and equally in trouble. In reality, fights make and break people. An argument can help to shape and sharpen an individual. How can a Catholic deal with confrontation in the real world of social networking if his home base cowers at the thought of fights?
Reputation Systems Have Their Place
Fishies or likes, pluses (+) or minuses (-) should be allowed. Reputations should be allowed to build. Doing this allows a forum member to invest his time into a forum. A sense of accomplishment can be achieved through gaining reputation. There is nothing wrong with this. If anything, a forum owner ought to be fostering feelings of accomplishment among the forum members.
What will introducing a reputation system do?
Well, eventually, it will come to pass that in order to have a high reputation, a person will have to say something that is completely agreeable most of the time. Such a person will not be able to rock the boat too often. They cannot veer off course with what they say. By being a complete sell out, that person will have gained the popularity of the majority and have a high reputation.
Why would anyone want such a situation? Why have a reputation system in a forum that fosters sell outs? Because, once the sell-outs achieve their high reputations, it will be easy to discern who the sell outs are.
It is a far less reckless manner of making the butt-kissers feel accomplished. Take away reputation systems, and you have reckless double-dealing people like Jayne scamming forums and individuals, stirring up strife, making people hate her more and more. Wouldn't it just be easier to let Jayne have her stupid high Fishie score?
Keeping score is fun. Fighting and hammering out ideas is fun. Learning from mistakes is fun. Why is all of this prevented?
Total War? No. Segregate the Forum Into Sections.
Forum anarchy is not quite what I am talking about. A person will not feel at home with a forum if it is like "Book of Eli" all the time, and it's a constant self-defense arena. My ideal forum resembles a ziggurat.
Bottom Tier: The Faithless
At the bottom base of the ziggurat, atheists and guests are allowed to come in. There, in that subforum, the curious and the enemies are allowed to draw their lines in the sand or simply inquire the Catholics about something. I suppose if the lower level of the ziggurat is mobilized against the Catholic forum owner and moderators (which may be possible), punitive measures could be taken.
Second Tier: Schismatics and Those in Error
The second tier up is where schismatics could dwell. Forum members of the first level would not be allowed to come into the second tier without passing some sort of test of some kind. If it is discovered that someone in the schismatic tier is not Catholic at all, but a mischievous atheist, then simply kick him down to the lower tier. I would likely put sedevacantists and SSPX in this tier.
The second tier could also be split in half, as it were. And in the other half, liberal Catholics would be placed there. Catholics who believe in abortion, homosexuality, married priests, or whatever. These people would only be allowed to go this far and back down to the first tier.
Third Tier: Faithful Catholics
The third tier would house the faithful Catholics who believe in all of the Church's teachings and recognizes the pope. These people, hopefully, would be the core Catholics of the forum, and they would have access to the entire ziggurat.
The way to get locked into a particular level of the forum's ziggurat structure would be to show your flavor of loyalty, one way or the other. Argue for the sede cause, and you are bumped out of the Faithful Catholic tier and relegated to the schismatic tier. You will be in no danger of being bumped into the lower tier of the Faithless. Same goes if you are arguing for the legitimization of homosexuality. You get bumped down into the second tier with those who have liberal errors, but not with those who are schismatics. The liberal Catholic would not be able to go up to the third tier with the Faithful Catholics, but they could descend down to the lowest tier among the Atheists.
It could even be possible to create a third section for the second tier, in which--with some sort of earned permission--the schismatics and liberal Catholics could converse together.
The people in the lowest tier would not be allowed into the upper tiers. They would only cause disruption among the schismatic Catholics, the liberal Catholics, and the Faithful Catholics. But as much as possible, I would try to keep these lowly people around, as it is worth trying to convert them, and it is worthwhile to keep them around as an example of how not to be.
Each tier would deserve not to have the lower tier invade and interrupt its harmony. Faithful Catholics should not have to worry about being pestered by liberals, schismatics, or atheists, but they should feel free to visit with all of them if they wish. Schismatic Catholics should not have to worry about being pestered by the liberals or the atheists, but they ought to be able to visit the atheists if they want, and if they earn the right, they should be allowed to visit the liberals in a special subforum.
The faithless would have no right to pester any of the upper tiers, but they would deserve the right to be visited by and have conversation with the upper tiers.
Obviously, the most horrible fights should be broken up. I would not allow most cuss words.
Punishment in the form of bans is overused. SD's multi-strike banning policy is going in the right track, but perma-banning people is stupid and insulting. Removing bans after six months or a year would be reasonable.
Also, one punitive measure that I have yet to see is where a forum limits the amount of posts for a member.
If an offending forum member only had one post a day to say the most important and noteworthy message, I'd bet that member's posts would get rather interesting and content-filled. This punishment, too, could be reset after a period of time.
So, let's suppose one fellow on a forum keeps posting big long posts over and over, taking up space, bumping down other important conversations, and seemingly trolling a message. Wouldn't it be something if that person would be limited to one post a day of 1,000 words?
Another punishment could be simply resetting that person's reputation score. Or perhaps another punishment could be blocking offended members from seeing the bad member's posts, and labeling this fact at the bottom of the bad member's signature. "Joe Blow's posts are now automatically blocked by Adam, Bella, Catherine, and Dennis."
* * *
I would enjoy a forum of this kind. However, I am not able to create such a thing, as I lack the time and know-how. But it would be a grand Catholic forum, I'm sure.
I've always admired Matthew at Cathinfo for allowing confrontations and discussions of hard topics. That is one of the reasons I have over a thousand posts there since 2011. He is not quick to boot out people for roughhousing, and he has a reputation system. Giving forum members such freedom demonstrates respect for an individual.
But there were times at Cathinfo that I was almost certain I'd be banned or have to leave . With a multi-tier forum, the community could remain together, and offending parties could be separated for the sake of each other's sanity.