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I'm afraid I can't answer the poll with a simple "Yes" or "No" so I'll make a post.

I enjoy reading political discussions on PDD when they are informative and respectful.

Unfortunately that hasn't been the case lately.

So I tend towards "Yes" because when PDD is at its best, the discussion, political or not, is really interesting. But I think that's a standard we need to move back to.

My two cents. And I'm not disabling comments so feel free to add yours, though I know I'm asking for it.


maybe sometimes?

all I can say is that there's an important election in 3 weeks, of course there's discussion about it..and I agree -- too much hothead blathering on my part..I promise to shut up and only post about Jet Packs, Cheese Toast, and my band forever more

You've been a little scarce around here ironic? Have you too felt the shift of postings and comments?
In fact, have you been de-crowned from Geekdom? The geek king posts have diminished.
FYI - our dac fall fest is this friday - unfortunately we did not get a fitness membership for the silent auction this year - sorry - but many other great items to bid on!

Yes, I've been scarce for a variety of reasons. Some personal.

I've not posted geek related stuff, actually, because I was doing more harm than good to the cause of geekdom and so I decided to quietly stop posting my updates.

Awww... too bad no fitness membership. I was actually trying to plan my week around that. I'll still come to the DAC festival though. It's a great cause and there are always fun items to bid on.

I rather enjoy the political discussions on the site. One issue I do take is the personal nature that some of them take.

Even though one would never criticize another person for like vegetables on their pizza and I only like meat, it is no reason to stop a conversation by throwing insults. That is the problem with politics in this country. We shout instead of talk and put down.

I don't mind it, and like it as long as people refrain from being nasty and dismissive of one another. Some post a few weeks ago resulted in a commentator suggesting I should be raped, that was particularly off putting to say the least. I wish there was an official guideline which would result in a little more moderation of comments.

I am of the same mind as Ironic. I wish Barrett had given a choice of "sometimes" on his poll.

Sometimes I enjoy reading the political discussion when it's rational, free from personal attacks, free from large amounts of profanity, free from kneejerk responses, and when people behave respectfully and decently towards one another.

When it devolves into something else, then I just quit reading.

For the record, Ironic, I think your geek king posts were awesome and I wish you'd bring them back.

As your loyal gerf, Geekdom is missing your leadership.

Obama's merely a temporary setback.
Palin/Cheney '12! Unstoppable!

NO, errrrr YES, errrrr NO, ummmmmm YES YES, NO NO no it's its' its what was the question again?

I agree with ironic1 on the politics question. I voted yes in the poll, but I usually don't read the political posts.
And I miss ironic1's geek updates.

I disabled comments for a reason. This wasn't supposed to be a discussion, but rather a yes/no question.

Now you've influenced the poll. Bah!

I love the political posts generally. When they devolve into name calling, purposeful stupidity and vitriolic personal attacks, I start to lose my appetite. But in all honesty, I think that blogs allow people to witness the extent to which some of our fellow human beings are truly intolerant pricks when they're allowed to speak with a cloak of anonymity. They also allow us to witness the genuine humanity of our neighbors, either in defending the poor gal/guy who is mercilessly attacked for the most banal of reasons or in expressing their hopes for this community and our world.

I guess my point is that we should be concerned with politics. We should also be concerned with our demeanor and that of our neighbors. The discussion about civility in political discourse is not going away anytime soon and I think anyone that worries about theirs or their children's future ought to offer their thoughts on the matter (that is, if they think they'll make one bit of difference.)

I haven't watched a lot of TV or listened to the radio much this campaign season aside from MPR, but even in my limited media consumption I have been utterly embarrassed by the tone with which seemingly respectable people have attacked their political opponents. Worse, the attacks have transcended ideology. No longer are the candidates mere shills for their party faithful, they have developed a lust for power for themselves only. For example, Lieberman running as an independent after being ousted from his own party, Coleman switching parties, Ventura abandoning the Independence Party when Tim Penny had a serious shot at becoming governor had Ventura only taken a few weekends to campaign for him and Arnold becoming an entity unto himself. I don't have any romantic notions concerning machine politics but there was a time when party endorsements where a bit more competitive, when campaign funding was more party driven rather than candidate driven. And though such a system certainly excludes some who don't toe the party line but are nonetheless deserving candidates, at least it serves the purpose of holding the candidate to account to a committed group of people who care about something other than pandering to the basest instincts of humanity in pursuit of winning an election.

Yeah, I figured that's why you disabled comments. But I decided I wanted to discuss it. Blogging is kinda crazy that way, ain't it?

Seriously, I've never been one for answering "yes" or "no" when there is plenty of gray space to explore.

I guess my point with the poll is that while, yes, good debate is healthy and fine, the newly ubiquitous "argu-tainment" style of political discussion is nothing short of (as @andy said) embarrassing, not to mention kind of frightening. While America used to tend toward the middle, it now seems (*seems*) to be becoming more and more polarized,
primarily because people only want to outdo each other in their snarky hatred. No one listens, everyone yells, and there is no room for any opinion other than your own. (How could there be? If you concede, you might not "win.")

Somehow, this is supposed to be fun. Somehow, the people engaged in it believe that they're "helping." Yeah, helping your own ego, maybe.

I absolutely loathe it, so much that I could never even conceive of answering "Yes" to that poll. There's no gray area for me. PDD's political discussions are, in my opinion, neither entertaining nor informative. They're embarrassing.

A wise man once said "It's such a fine line between stupid, and clever."

Let's stick to the line. And keep it as local as we possibly can. Otherwise I'm sticking with my "no" vote.

I think @ndy's comments are totally right on. Well said, @ndy. As someone who's participated in political discussions and arguments on this blog, I've always been impressed with the self-policing of the community of PDDers. If someone does, as @ndy wrote, attack someone else unjustly, or make unwarranted personal attacks just to provoke a response, others often will call him or her on it, as happened just a few days ago with the pic Carla posted of the Loureys, for example. Like jp says, stick to the issue, keep it local, and don't be an asshole.

If someone does, as @ndy wrote, attack someone else unjustly, or make unwarranted personal attacks just to provoke a response, others often will call him or her on it.

That's called "feeding the trolls."

Isn't saying that people are "assholes" sort of a personal attack?

Just saying.

Maybe - just for political "discussions" - we need a bit more drastic Moderator action to keep out the trolling, personal attacks, and plain old baiting.

Call me old-fashioned, but I like the ACLU and free speech even if it pisses off 75% of the people and embarrasses the other 25%. I prefer either extreme to the bland middle.

Which isn't to say that posts which amount to "Am too", "Am not", aren't an idiotic waste of time.

Free speech isn't free if it is limited to only what we want to hear or agree with. I've been able to change my views many times in my life thanks to someone I did not agree with.

what do you do when democracy fails you? what do you do when minority means you?
freedom of speech ain't free.

Politics are so tame today it has become boring. More like watching a soap opera or paint drying. May the best bullshitter win.

well, Barrett. the fact of the matter is that both you and Paul L. have, as long as i have known both of you, a near allergy to any kind of political discussion. any kind. you were always criticizing it at the 'Saw as well. it would be helpful to admit that this is a personality quirk--a personal preference that a majority of the world does not share.

while i don't participate much in chatter of any kind lately--because i find it to take time out of the things i find important--i don't think it's necessarily helpful to try to bully other people into conforming to my personal preferences. in fact, i'd rather listen to people expose their personal prejudices and insanity than blather on about their "man room." that's why one has personal blogs, right?

you don't like the direction PDD has taken. that's obvious. welcome to the world of birthing something or someone. i don't necessarily think that whining about it periodically, even perennially, is going to help the situation.

politics matter. it's part of being a grownup. sorry.

So ... you don't want people to express their "personal preferences," but you do like to read about "personal prejudices." Check.

I wasn't trying to bully anyone and I'm sorry if I came across like that. I didn't mean to. I only wanted to see if the large number of lurkers out there shared my "personal preference." I guess only 41% of them do.

I like reading PDD to learn things I didn't know about Duluth, to find out what's going on in the city. I like reading about parkour and weird roundabout gardens and new restaurants. I like to fill my life with positive things.

I don't like to read two people with fake names insulting each other. Sorry, but I don't think that's "part of being a grownup."

I guess I need to practice what I've always preached, which is: "If you don't like what people are posting on PDD, make a post of the type you wish other people were making. This is a community. More is better than less."

I will stop complaining on the internet now, (always a sign that you're doing something wrong) and go do something enjoyable in our fine city.

On the positive side, I thought Barrett's poll was useful in determining how many people actually read PDD. At least we know now that it's not just half a dozen people, each using a bunch of made-up names, arguing with and insulting each other.

Barrett, I agree with you 100% and sincerely hope that PDD continues to teach me the quirky, interesting, really cool things about Duluth. As a non-native who moved here knowing virtually nothing about the town and with few friends, I instantly relied on PDD to get me up-to-speed.

I also followed other local blogs to get a feel for the place and was utterly discouraged by some of them (you know the one...).

I like the occasional political discussion on PDD because I feel like I know most of the regulars and would like them if I met them. It's easy to pick out the trolls and those not honestly looking out for Duluth's best interest.

Now if EVERY post was political....forget it!

Calk, here's a screen grab of PDD's latest stats provided by our web host, for more info. I believe "visits" is the relevant field. You can also click on the little multicolored box at the bottom of any page to view our Sitemeter.

There's a disparity between the two, and I'd guess that the truth is somewhere in the middle.

a technical observation - since we're supposed to categorize our posts, couldn't we set some kind of filtering mechanism to display the categories we want? Sure this would require people to actually categorize their post but it would also allow us to then filter out the categories we dont want to read...I'm not sure if MT has this ability or not but it would allow for customization. JMTCW

Speaking of categorization, has PDD outgrown the linear blog format? Would a phpbb forum better serve? How about both- blog and forum coexisting- the primary blog side continues as the main front page, with a&e and local interest posts. The forum side to function an outlet/heat sink for issue based discussion.

Baci- What is it with you liberals and cheese toast and jet packs? Is it free market cheese toast or Stalinist cheese toast? You can't hide your secular humanist conspiracy behind code words, Commie scum.

If you're going to label me, at least do it correctly..I'm socialist-democracy-with-a-titular-monarch scum!

I also wonder what it is with cheese toast. What a conspiracy.

I was just thinking about what Barrett was saying: he likes PDD b/c he likes learning about this city's quirks, things going on in the city, new restaurants, and so on. I'm not one to shy away from a political argument, but I have to say, I too really love PDD for the reasons Barrett gave. For instance, I wouldn't have bothered seeing "The Night Robin Died" if Ironic1 hasdn't given us the 411 and it's *absolutely brilliant.* We're fortunate to have a resource like PDD, esp. since we no longer have a full-time reporter promoting the arts at the DNT. And I want to, once again, urge people to go see "The Night Robin Died" tonight if they can!

i didn't say i wanted people to stop talking about their personal preferences; in fact, that's kind of included in exposing one's personal prejudices. it's just that you and a few others seem to criticize political posts for their mere existence, rather than the level of discourse therein. personally, i find politics interesting. i think that it's obvious that pretty much no one wants to read people with fake names insult each other personally. (when people air their prejudices, however, i am always interested--i confess to being fascinated with idiocy sometimes.)

PDD is fun because it's a grab bag of quirky and serious and informative. it seems obvious to me that serious stuff, especially in the political realm, is pretty low on your interest list. that's fine. but when you post a poll, refuse comments, and then get irritated when someone else opens a comments list to the same discussion, that borders on bullying.

personally, i get bored with PDD when it's all quirkyfun observations about Duluth and no sarcastic posts about queer-life á la c-freak or aghast-at-the-insanity-of-it-all posts á la adam.

i sympathize with your efforts at filling your life only with positive things. sorry PDD doesn't fill the bill there. but i guess i'd welcome you again to shrug your shoulders and realize that this is exactly what it means to allow freedom to your creations. people who make art and start organizations and birth children have to know that it's part of the deal.

oh, and make more posts of your own, as you say. of course.

i agree, btw, that PDD is at its best when it focuses on Duluth. (hence the title, right?) but i think there can be a sarcasm to that title too: duluth is, after all, not perfect at all. an expression of love can be about its bad parts as much as its good parts. for better or worse and all that.

The reason I used a poll and closed comments was because I wanted to know how the lurkers felt. I already know that the more vocal members enjoy political arguments more than I do. But the vocal members are a tiny minority of the people who look at PDD every day. I didn't mean to bully. I just wanted to hear the opinions of the people who for whatever reason, do not like to post comments. An anonymous poll with closed comments seemed like the best way to do it.

Anyway. Yes, people enjoy PDD for many reasons, and that is fantastic. I will be quiet now.

Well, isn't politics, almost by its very nature, ugly?

Not the politics that we may aspire to, mind you, but the politics that we actually experience.

Politicians lie, cheat on their spouses, accept kickbacks from campaign donors, abuse their power, pass some laws, kiss some kids, bang some pages, get all wide stanced in airport bathrooms and a whole bunch of other strange stuff, mostly, but not always, just like you and me.

So, if that's the case, why should we expect anything more from political discourse? Why would we expect political discourse to actually be civil, when politics so rarely is?

Politics is dirty, hence the discussion of it tends to bring out the nasty in all of us.

So, when stuff gets all nasty and gross, 'cause it does (and pretty quickly too!) it's cool to take a break to look and listen to pretty things like paintings or music or whatever.

Or just get it on with someone.

That's pretty sweet too.

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