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    It’s a mechanism used for mods to flag a subthread as having dragons, and thus being collapsed by default unless the curious decide to poke at it.

    It was introduced after some…heated…discussions on some damn fool thing or another.

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      Hm. I’m not sure how I feel about this.

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        So, the history of this sort of thing (how to handle subthreads) basically has seen the following options posted:

        1. Don’t do anything.
        2. Ban the users involved.
        3. Delete the offending subthread and posts.
        4. Automatically fold all comments after some criterion is met.
        5. Put in place site killfiles to automatically hide subthreads.
        6. Put in place user-defined killfiles to automatically hide subthreads.
        7. Manually flag subthreads as tire-fires when they become tire-fires.

        So far, we’ve mostly done 1 and to a very rare extent 2. 3-6 have all been objected to because of censorship concerns. 7 is the current solution because it is the least systematically oppressive and prone to abuse given our current benevolent overlords.

        All it does is display a div saying “Here be dragons” that, once clicked on, will allow you to view and post in the marked tire-fire.

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          There’s a lot more that could be said (and has been said) about reasons for and against these approaches. The issue with 2 and 3 is that they’re very large hammers, and I think it’s interesting to play around with subtler tools.

          I’d like to register my personal opinion that some of these are bad because they constitute hiding a problem rather than addressing it, and it tends to come out as seemingly-unrelated unpleasantness. I consider 5 and 6 the worst examples of that category.

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            Quite right–I was just outlining the current state of affairs as I understand them. :)

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              I still want the option for #6, but am too lazy to code something up in Greasemonkey. >_< I found killfiles useful on mailing lists, back when that was the main way I participated in public communities, for at least occasional usage. And it feels vaguely annoying that the reinvention of discussion forums on the web has led to losing a whole bunch of once-standard client features (not only this, also things like being able to easily keep track of not-yet-read replies to my posts, etc.).

              Admittedly, lobste.rs does actually have an email gateway, unlike almost all other webforums, if I wanted to do things that way.

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                Yeah, I think we’ve talked about it before. :) I get why it appeals, but it’s fundamentally a choice to protect yourself at the expense of leaving broken stairs for others to discover on their own.

                (Not that I think anyone here today is dangerous in any more serious way than being frustrating to argue with - I’d feel a moral obligation to do something if I did. But it’s a mental model that I find useful for a large category of issues that newcomers to a community may encounter.)

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                  Now, of course, I’m self-conscious about what we already discussed on this subject, since my memory about it is poor. :-)

                  I think ultimately I think these things are more subjective than broken stairs, and more about all the possible pairwise interactions. So I don’t believe all problems are “really” fixable, and view the band-aid solutions as pragmatic and useful enough. I don’t just mean in the sense that there are incorrigible bad people who I should be able to block, but who a given forum has decided not to block; that’s probably the “easy” case. Sometimes it’s even my fault conceptually: some people might really rub me the wrong way for reasons that have more to do with me than them, as much of a cliché as that also is. But nonetheless I’m happier not to see their posts and not have to exercise self-restraint in avoiding being goaded into replying. Basically, once I have determined that a given pairwise interaction that involves me is very unlikely to be productive, I’d like to opt out of it, without having to make a stronger argument that it’s “really” so 100% the other person’s fault that they should be banned.

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                    I don’t remember any more clearly than you do, so don’t worry about it. :)

                    Yes, that sounds like a nuanced view, and is fair enough.

                    The remedy in-between making someone’s words invisible to you and banning them from the site is talking to them, and there are many cases where it applies. But I agree with you that there are cases where it doesn’t.

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          This is a good thing.

          People who want to discuss these things respectfully don’t get squelched.

          People who have no desire to can hide it forever.