Hot debates


The political climate has caused some ruffled feathers in one of my sites. The threads are getting more and more heated by the day and driving the staff nuts. It's now to a point where they don't want to touch it at all, because of course when people start flinging crap, people get upset, & then people get more upset when you tell them to stop flinging crap. It's the damned if you do damned if you don't complex.

The heated topics have been in their own forum all along (and any topics that become heated are moved), but casual observers happen to stumble upon some of it. The general vibe, sometimes even the crap itself, spills out to the other forums. The mods and admins are constantly pestered by complaints about he said she said. So, if left alone, it's a danger not only to the user base, but to the people in charge. Suffice it to say, if they get run off, the whole thing goes down the toilet.

Unfortunately, the same poison took hold of another one of my sites years ago, and I was MIA. Everything went downhill from there, and I don't know if or how I can recover it. So, I'm definitely going to do something about it, because I know what happens if I do nothing...

What do you do with the "highly charged" stuff on your hot debates forum, and all of the stuff that results from it (if you even have one)?

If you had a hot debates forum go bad like this, what did you do to solve it?

My current thoughts's a part of the community, almost like a child of its own mind, and it needs to be tended to (at least in some way that does not drive us bonkers), rather than just abandoned or closed down full-stop. Maybe a private forum, but with the invite being on the other side - i.e. ask to be let in, that way you're the only one to blame if your ruffles get feathered.

Brad L

Well-known member
On some of my forums I don't allow political or religious debates. They have the potential of being very disruptive and can leave a community divided. Such a decision for me would depend on the main subject of the forum. I know some people have very different opinions on this and such a rule is a lot easier to implement from the beginning.


Formerly CyclingTribe
Be firm, but be respectful and treat people like adults; put simply, ask politely first, warn respectfully second, then take firm action (at this point there's no requirement for you to post any justification for your actions as they've had two opportunities to listen and redress their approach to the thread/subject/each other).

Don't go "postal" on individuals or talk down to people or ban members for small offences or treat them like kids/idiots - even if they're acting like that - maintain your reserve, give them the opportunity to change, and act in a way you'd like the them to act so you send a clear signal about how you'd like them to interact with each other.

They might not like you pulling them up on their behaviour, but treat them like adults and they'll at least respect you for it. :)

As a method of crowd-control you could also install the thread ban add-on and anyone who doesn't debate respectfully after being asked, politely, just ban them from that specific thread for a few days and they'll soon get the idea that you mean business and that behaving disrepectfully with earn them a time-out from the debate!! (y)

Shaun :D

mike os

Active member
Make it 100% clear that they are welcome to debate any subject under the following conditions...

you expect them to remain civil at all times
you will not tolerate any abuse of staff at all and you will ban immediately on a first offence, this is your warning.
When asked to stop a particular course of discussion by a member of staff you expect it to be followed, or they can take the debate somewhere else
If they wish to behave like children you are quite happy to treat them like children....


Well-known member
What do I do? I make it worse!! You guys got politically charged people you don't want?? Send them my way. ;) <--- let'em vent.

Other than that those sort of debates are my bread and butter. My forum thrives on stuff like that, and that's what people come for. The more of it I get, the better I seem to be.

Sage Knight

Well-known member
What Brad L. said don't allow the discussion of controversial topics, if the topics are not related on your subject or are causing a lot of friction.


Well-known member
I have whole sections on one of my forums about either politics or religion or both.

I make it the sole rule of the forum that NO ONE is to be rude to OR about another member.
Can say what they want about anyone outside but members are sacred.

Second I don't just talk about being polite or behaving well, I spell it out. This is because most people behaving badly don't know they are, or don't know what it means precisely. So they assume "But I'm justified! and I'm being polite enough."
For those who do know they are being rude, making it clear what I mean leaves no excuse.
In either case I can then crack down.

That means MODERATE. Plus don't rush to do the moderating! If their posts either don't appear at all or get delayed, they will learn better.
Always explain why they are being moderated privately - quote the point made in the general explanation on politeness. Then don't argue it. You're the boss.

The kind of explanation I make available is:

Members can argue as much as we like. Argument shows interest on the topic.
However the argument must be with the IDEA not the PERSON.
NO Never say or imply in any way that another member is stupid, idiotic, moronic, a failure, inferior, illogical, primitive, weird.
NO Never call a member uncomplimentary names, directly or indirectly.
NO Don't use sarcasm. That is, do not say the opposite of what you mean in a clever clever way.
YES Speak in the first person saying "I think .. " "I feel that ..." "It seems to me ... "
YES Be direct, honest and straight.
NO Don't call in troops by saying "Everyone thinks / Everyone agrees with me" "Of course people do/ don't .." "It has been proved that ..."
YES You can say "I think most people feel ..."
YES You can refer to research studies IF you give a link or a name for others to learn from. If you can't apologise that you can't, but give as much info as you can to help ID it.
NO Don't say something is ALWAYS X. Very few things are and your opponent only has to give one item of contradiction and you're shot! So say stuff like "Mostly ... " "Generally ... " "As a general rule I find that ... " "A great many ... " This is far less irritating as you are not playing god.
YES Finally when writing on sensitive topics such as religion, politics, sex and personal feelings, DO NOT click Reply immediately.
Either write then check it over slowly later before posting. Or wait at least an hour before writing and STILL read it over before posting to check that passion has not broken politeness.
YES You can say "That seems really weird to me because .." (note this is the IDEA seems weird)
YES Try to say something polite and respectful alongside your criticism. If they are simply talking rubbish then you would be far better finding someone intelligent and sensible to talk to. Rubbish rubs off.
Members who are clearly not trying to follow these guidelines will be moderated and their posts may be held up for 24 hours or more. Persistent offenders have been banned.