Tobold's Blog
Wednesday, September 09, 2009
 
The art of discussion

Nils commented in yesterday's threat that "As soon as you mention UO in the title people will respond that UO was either much better than WoW or that you should go play UO. If I were you I'd ban such people from the blog. They obviously don't even read the topic before commenting." Unfortunately that isn't a problem limited to UO. Pretty much mentioning any game results in several comments that are just about how the commenter loves game A and hates game B, without having any relevance to the actual topic of my post. Sometimes I deliberately try to keep names of games totally out of my posts to avoid that, but without examples theory is always a bit dry.

I was thinking about this earlier this week, when I was reading the news about the uproar over Obama's school speech. Because actually the phenomenon is pretty much the same. Some people just hate Obama and everything he stands for, so they are rather pulling their children from school as to let them hear something Obama says. That what he says is "study hard to succeed in life", which is hardly a controversial matter, doesn't matter at all. That presidents Reagan and Bush did similar broadcasts doesn't matter at all. Even the ridicule that sort of discussion causes in the rest of the world doesn't matter. People aren't even remotely interested in discussing actual topics. All that counts is gut feelings of unconditional love or hate for some cause.

So whenever I mention games like WoW, EVE, or Darkfall on this blog, I get predictable comments from always the same predictable people along the lines of: "WoW bad, EVE and Darkfall good, and the fact that WoW has millions more players than EVE and Darkfall together just proves that 95% of MMORPG players are idiots anyway".

Personally I would be interested in an intelligent discussion of how it would be possible to combine the good parts of many different MMORPG into one perfect MMORPG, if that is possible at all. But you can't have that discussion if you can't admit that World of Warcraft might actually have done some things right, or that EVE or Darkfall might actually have some flaws, or vice versa. Instead we have lots of defeatists bleating about how games can only be popular if they are "dumbed down", and claiming that good games are only accessible to a small elite, which then of course causes the game to be either shut down or have to make do with low production quality due to lack of financial success. I don't think that is true. I believe one could take a game like EVE, fix its flaws, and create a great game with many of EVE's strong points and millions of subscribers, without creating a "dumbed down WoW-in-space clone". And I believe there is a wide open space for many intelligent, good MMORPGs with millions of players, if only we dared to explore that space.

If that doesn't happen, we only have ourselves to blame. If we can even get an intelligent discussion going on what parts of a game are good or bad, but always insist on religiously claiming that the game we play is already perfect, and the game we don't play is absolute garbage with not a single good point, then how can we let the developers know what works and what doesn't? No wonder they end up making endless clones of the most successful games!

And the MMO blogosphere risks descending into being the equivalent of different versions of FOX News. Boring sites praising a single game and condemning everything else. When somebody dares to mention that game X has both good and bad points, he'll get hate mail/comments from both the game X haters and the game X fanbois. I've been frequently accused of BOTH being a WoW hater and a WoW fanboi, just because I strive to see both good and bad in that game. With nobody noticing that I can't possibly be both.

The religions of the world are already there. Politics are approaching the point fast. And now even game design is moving towards the point where there is no more discussion possible, but only people shouting at each other, endlessly repeating their fixed and unmovable believes. Is the art of discussion dead?
Comments:
It's not dead. It's just that some people

1) do not care, often because they feel anonymous and untouchable by reputation.

2) are really that dumb.

Point (2) is the real problem. (1) can be solved if you exert some pressure, but (2) is just beyond hope.

The ability of "Einerseits, andererseits" or "on the one hand, on the other hand" is a gift.

Discussing to gain insight in addition to spreading your opinion is rare nowadays - and has always been.
 
the art of discussion is not dead, well at least I hope so.

The thing is that people forget that discussions are about opinions and not persons. Most of the time it goes wrong in a discussion because of people feeling attacked personally.
It's pretty hard to see the difference for some, and especially in these times where egocentric behaviour is skyrocketing.

Funnay actually, the more globalization the more egocentric people get.
 
I don't think that the art of discussion is dead, but you often notice mainly the people posting negative comments. Why? I'm not sure. Maybe one of the reasons is that it's easier to write a few negative lines than a thought out longer comment. In these days of TLDR (Too Long Didn't Read) I think we are also suffering from DWTWTL (Didn't Want To Write Too Long) or something like that.

I often fall into the trap of bashing game A and praising game B myself, although I do think that I now and then try to post some thoughts on how to make it better.
 
In real life most people argue in similar terms: "Music band X rocks, band Y sucks!" or "Football club Z pwning!". The art of discussion stays where it was - minority. Those, who tend to analyze, rather than just "feel" love or hate. Unfortunately, on internet you can't separate these from those. Therefore to receive 10 wise/interesting opinions, you have to dig through 100 emotional comments.
Also, to write interesting comment, one has to think for a while to express his opinion in right words. Some people are just lazy to do so (i'm one of those usually), some don't have time (reading you on work) and their potentially interesting thoughts remain unsaid.
 
I tend not to voice opinions on games that I haven't played, and as I only play a very small number how can I possibly have an opinion on those I haven't played?

You tend to find that the 'haters' or 'fanbois' are (in my experience) in the teens to early 20s age bracket, or are being deliberately controversial to try and wind people up, and there is always someone out there who will take the bait.
 
I think we're moving as a society towards a "To long didn't read mentality"

Consider the vast success of something like Twitter, a platform where expressing your thoughts is limited to 140 Words.

I have a thought on your idea of combining the best of the different MMO's. Aside from the fact I'd argue that's exactly what WoW did when it was developed. I came upon an interesting realization. How many developers (Not publishers) of recent MMO's are companies that have produced games other then MMO's?

When Origin made UO they had already developed the entire Ultima Series, as well as games like Privateer.

Blizzard obviously went into WoW with the experience of working on things like the Warcraft and Starcraft series, and Diablo.

But some companies are either brand new with no experience, or all they do is make MMO's, they focus on MMO's, play mmo's try to improve on MMO's but how often do they look outside the box?

Maybe the success of WoW can be attributed not to any of its features directly, but the fact that as a company Blizzard has more experience making extremely popular games then any other company.

If that has anything to do with WoW's success, It makes me look forward to the possibility present in The Old Republic.
 
The 'My X is good, your Y is bad' style of argument has been around for a long time.

A lot of philosophers would break down another's theory then build up their own, which is just the same as saying 'Your game bad, my game good'

I believe the art of discussion has taken a body blow not because of the style of the argument but because those posting such comments don't apply critical thinking and develop & detail their arguments.

The previous posters have all given good reasons as to why this is. To add to them I think the medium doesn't help good discussion (As Nils touched on).

It’s too simple to post a comment, make something effortless and some people will not put any effort in. It's non-instantaneous, so a simple question like ‘Can you tell me more about why you like/don’t like X’ can take a long time for answer. This mitigates against in depth or detailed discussion. Also its distant, a poster of can easily ignore other comments or give stupid/offensive answers which they would be less likely to do face to face.

I’m not sure if there is way to improve some people’s art of discussion. Perhaps by making sure our own comments are balanced and well thought through and asking posters questions like ‘tell me more’ it might make people think more. (But then again perhaps not)
 
Emotions sometimes win from rationality. But most people aren't aware that they're acting on the former.

I'm not sure if an improved EVE could get the numbers a game like WoW has. WoW is all about reducing risks. You can't loose anything. In the worst case you loose five minutes to walk back to your corpse.

In EVE the stakes are much higher with PVP meaning you can actually loose weeks of your time. I think a big part of WoWs attraction is the easyness of forgiving. Just like playing Diablo where dieing means you loose your character will only attract hardcore gamers.
 
Agreed that knocking the most successful game on the planet and calling the millions who play it idiots is not particularly clever.

However - this works both ways. I was staggered at the vitriolic comments against Darkfall and those who play it from many many people who are not the intended audience for the game and who never intended to play it.

Why are WoW players so aggressively defensive about their game? The game is clearly a major success and a very good game. You don't have to feel guilty about playing WoW but you should allow that there are people out there there who enjoy different games and that some of these other games offer experiences that are quite special.

Personally I am delighted that there are niche games that try to do something different than the market leader.
 
I think you expect too much from the Internet (and the media). Maybe I'm just being defeatist but there is no way to avoid "trolls" or the like on the net.

Ironically I find that discussions are better on small blogers because the subject matter tends to be more contained and, of course, you get a lot less silly, single-minded comments. I think your popularity is working against you, Tobold!

Have you considered just quitting this blog and starting up a new one under a completely different name? You've often commented how popularity, hits and stats etc don't matter to you. Might be an idea if you want to get back to basics and achieve more genuine discussions.

On another note, you mentioned the "flaws" in EVE. That's a very subjective word :) Many would argue that EVE is actually designed to be the way it is and targetting a particular type of gamer. Being the most popular or accessible might not be on their agenda. There is no "right" way to make a game, after all.
 
I'm not sure if an improved EVE could get the numbers a game like WoW has. WoW is all about reducing risks. You can't loose anything. In the worst case you loose five minutes to walk back to your corpse. In EVE the stakes are much higher with PVP meaning you can actually loose weeks of your time.

Is that the *only* attraction of EVE? Personally, the aspect I liked most about EVE wasn't PvP and losing everything when ganked, but the economy, and the auction houses with buy orders etc.

And that is a good example actually. Why can't we look a *parts* of games, and say "WoW is a good game, but the auction house of EVE is far superior"?

And while I have been using a Trammel version of EVE as April Fool's joke, I think it would actually make for a quite interesting discussion of where exactly the optimal point between "no PvP" and "free for all ganking PvP" is in respect to attracting millions of subscribers. Is the possibility to lose weeks of your time from another player's malice a necessary ingredient to a successful PvP game?
 
The issue is what a person's motivation is for posting. For most game players, their only motivation is to satisfy their own needs. They're trying to build up their preferred game to benefit themselves. It takes a special person to look beyond their own needs and get a glimpse of the bigger picture. Those of us that can, the developers and the really thoughtful fanatics, aren't really all that common. It's just easier for most people to do drive-by commenting or simply parrot what they saw someone else comment before.
 
One way to achieve a good discuission is rigorous cencorship.

Elitist Jerks have proved this.
As long as you have an active core community that posts intelligent comments you can just delete the rest and the discuusion will improve.

Some players will feel offended, but in the end they will either stop reading your blog/forum or start to add to the discussion.

If you want to make another experiment, Tobold:
Make a really aggravating entry and announce that this entry will be heavily censored by you. Might be interesting ;)

[You'll probably end up deleting half of my comments *grin*]
 
I think the problem is that you are looking for "intelligent" discussion here and lets face it......there are a lot of stupid people
http://www.dailykostv.com/w/002101/
 
Tobold wrote:
Why can't we look a *parts* of games, and say "WoW is a good game, but the auction house of EVE is far superior"?

Because the parts of some of those games are only meaningful in the whole. Buy orders in the AH, for example, would require a much more complex UI than WoW generally presents to players. Yes, some addons allow users to create complex UIs, but that's not the same as the core game allowing it.

Or, take EVE's economy. One reason why it works so well is because it is a brutal PvP game. Ships get destroyed, unlike weapons and armor in WoW that just needs repaired. Destroyed ships (and the outfitting they had at the time) have to be replaced, so there's a market for people to buy lots of goods. Therefore, you can't just rip out EVE's economy and plug it into a game with WoW's forgiving game mechanics and expect it to work the same. You need a game that has meaningful loss in order to have a vibrant economy.

In short, context matters. And, this leads us into the old routine of, "EVE is superior because it has the risk of real loss and a vibrant economy/No, WoW is better because it doesn't punish players and doesn't feel like doing spreadsheets at work."
 
To what degree is a hardcore gamer an extremist?

More hardcore the games attract less discussion based on the "l2play nub" -factor.
 
"I believe one could take a game like EVE, fix its flaws, and create a great game with many of EVE's strong points and millions of subscribers"

One problem with such discussions is that the language used sometimes presupposes that the features being discussed are intrinsically "wrong" somehow, instead of being merely "design decisions inhibiting adoption by a different target market."

There are plenty of things wrong with EVE (oh, such a long list - why oh why can't I stack items in a POS corphangar?) but discussions are often about altering CCP's core vision of risk/reward, essentially proposing an AntiEVE in eyes of embedded supporters. Opening a discussion with something that might be interpreted by supporters of the game as "Okay, let's take game X, but disposed of its beating heart..." is to begin with a call to antagonism. And, I think, would not result in a very good game design.

Deciding on a core design philosophy, then assembling useful components around it, each carefully adapted to serve that design, as you seem to suggest in a later comment, seems to me more likely to result in productive discussion.
 
For centuries technology improved without really impacting how a society works. Better tools, power, medicine, weapons, etc... don't really have an impact on society, i.e. the interaction between a very high number of people and how it shapes individuals. You could argue that the gutenberg printing press was the only technology that really impacted society from Jesus' time to 2000AD.

Now the internet comes along, and with it the possibility to communicate & get information from a gazillion number of people & sources effortlessly, actually easier than chatting with your neighbour (Cable TV also had a big influence, with its increased number of channels).

How does that impact society and the "art of discussion" overall, incl. politics? Well it's a natural tendency to go towards people & information sources you agree with. With internet & cable TV, you actually *never* have to put up with folks you fundamentally disagree with, to a large extent. Which means you're not confronted with very different point of views & backgrounds, and you become entrenched with your own beliefs. So the only natural reaction is "you suck" when you run into different ideas/concepts. This also reinforces the "community feeling" of the group you belong to (be it Republicans or WOW/EVE afficionados). The ability to see/understand other people's different mindsets and argue with them constructively is thus lost. The only patterns of communication that most are becoming accustomed to is information sharing ("club Z lost yesterday", "rock band X's concert was great"), idle chat, or in the best case developping a forward discussion/thought but with people that have the same basic mindset & starting points as you...

And that's overall a trend that is VERY dangerous I think. Entrenching groups of folks that can't really talk to each other isn't a way a society can work, really. refer the (lack of) discussion in politics, or in mmorpg discussions...
 
Discussion is not dead. Forum posters represent a minority of MMO players, forum poster haters/fanbois represent an even smaller number... but they shout the loudest.

Unfortunately it can often be difficult to have a discussion without one or more of this loud mouthed minority train wrecking your discussion.

But it definitely is not dead.
 
To have the "Pefect" MMO sounds prety difficult.
You need to have something for everyone to enjoy and yet still allow everyone to feel equally accomplished.

You would need pvp for some, but not allow pvp for others, in fact some people dont even like combat alltogether and would be happy without.

Ive played a lot of MMO's and every game had something I liked/loved about it, maybe we should just have a list of a million things people enjoy and somehow fit them all into one game.

Assuming this perfect MMO would have no niche audience then it would be pretty huge.

Id like to see something like EVE with space travel and infinite plantes, but each world to be diverse and unique, very interactive, housing and pets of course too. Easy movement like wow, good graphics and tons of paths for you to excel at.

So, Eve + Vanguard + WOW + Neopets? :)
 
I think it depends largely on culture.

Generally speaking, the internet requires unbalanced posts - they stir up emotion and thus attract much-needed attention amongst myriads of other posts.

But if posters know that their posts won't make it into your blog if they're simply bashing game xyz - they'll adapt :-) Some will take it, others will leave it, some will try to influence you.

It takes a degree of ruthlessness to enforce such rules - quenching others' voiced opinions inherently isn't fair. But it's for a good cause (hmmm...don't dictators always say that, too?;-) .)
 
Is that the *only* attraction of EVE? Personally, the aspect I liked most about EVE wasn't PvP and losing everything when ganked, but the economy, and the auction houses with buy orders etc.
The problem is that in Eve, the demand that drives the economy is caused by the possibility of losing ships and equipment. Noticing, analyzing and decoupling these kinds of dependencies requires quite a bit of intellectual effort, which even the original designer might not have done, let alone some random commenter on a blog.

Hence, people tend to evaluate games as package deals because it's much, much easier. This also explains the frequent use of strawmen as abstractions in flamew^H^H^H^H^H^H discussions. Because understanding and debating your the dissenter's actual position would require more time and effort than you're willing to invest, you simplify things to keep the discussion going, even if it derails in the process.

Partially, this is caused by the many-to-many communication that is inherent to the Internet. Because it's possible to have many competing interests, many do. However, our time is always limited, and it's impossible to dedicate enough attention to one subject to elevate the discussion to the level that you want, at least without compromising the attention dedicated to all other subjects.

Fortunately, many people have a subject that they care about the most, and thanks to the Internet, it's possible to to reach the people that care about something as much as you do. Unfortunately, this community-forming process also tends to trigger the pack behavior subroutines. People start talking about Us vs Them, and a pecking order is quickly established, leading to the inevitable schisms when someone challenges the leader. And then we're right back where we started :-(
 
Addons seem, to me, to be a very valid way of showing Blizzard what changes the users want in their interface.

Maybe someone should write a "buy order" addon where you broadcast what you'd be willing to pay for something in a common channel and the addon displays that to others in their addon. Maybe tie it to the mailbox so orders can be filled and marked via COD or something. I haven't played EVE so I don't know if the good parts of their AH is doable in an addon, but it would be an interesting experiment.

As always, there are very few things that are new under the sun and maybe something like this already exists.
 
Discussion on the internet is near impossible. There are a few forums, and sites that I really like. Over a long enough period of time these sites get popular, and then idiots and trolls start setting up camp.

Allow me to point you all to Omega. Omega is a chat tool that lets you chat with a random person. Unlike chat rooms there are no other people, just you, and some random person. No handles, no names, and it is is discouraged to use A/S/L. When I first tried Omega I talked to some really smart people about religion, philosopy, polotics, etc. My good conversation rate was probably around 50/50. After a few weeks the site became a popular place for bots, advertisments, trolls, 4chan and other sites taking screens of funny conversations. Bottom line is that if anyone wanted to have a good conversation on Omegle now, it is probably like a 5% chance.

I don't think this is a problem with people in general, but really just the internet. Even I do it myself sometimes. I don't always give well written, or well though of posts. Infact I kind of got off topic, what I met to write was toballs sucks, l0l!@#!#$ eheheheh. Sorry.
 
I think your comments threads generally have excellent discussions.

It's not necessary in a debate for everyone to see both sides, there's a synthesis that emerges from debate.
 
Tobold, because the economy in EVE works BECAUSE of the neg-sum PvP. You CAN'T just removed the PvP and expect the economy to work, which is (at least for me) why it's at times so frustrating to read such comments. I don't get how you can make that comment, and not understand why it's just the same as saying "I wish WoW added DF's full looting, that would make battlegrounds feel as epic as a DF encounter". We both know why full loot would go horribly wrong in WoW, why don't we see how horribly wrong EVE's economy would go in WoW's setting?

(And as a side note, I'm fairly sure the LAST thing any fan of EVE or DF wants is for their game to get so big that they 'upgrade' to the Blizzard MMO patching schedule. I rather like new content (for free) every month or two rather than every 6 and paying $40 every two years for a server reset)
 
Is that the *only* attraction of EVE?

Eve has a number of very clever and subtle game mechanics. Kill Ten Rats recently considered Eve's ante system - you can choose to pvp in a cheap ship that will take you less than a single pve mission to pay for.

Like WoW, Eve does many different games well. There's a space conquest game that gets all the headlines even though >10% actually play it. There's pvp. There's market pvp. There's crafting. There's social pve, enhanced enormously by the wormhole system which is kind of like a private instance.

And underlying everything is an atmosphere of risk and distrust.

People over-simplify Eve just as they over-simplify WoW. For all that Carra is basically right. Eve will never hit the numbers WoW had in its peak because every activity is risky. Flying around the safe zone you could be suicide-ganked. Miners can be can-flipped or otherwise tricked into setting themselves to hostile.

On top of that is Eve's famous learning cliff which will never completely go away because a lot of the attraction of Eve is it's sheer complexity.
 
The art of discussion is not dead in rational human beings..

I just wish people would get a handle on what 'personal opinion' actually means instead of ranting like lunatics when people have a different take on something.
 
The art of discussion is my favorite game!
 
You mentioned Fox News -- a couple of days ago I was listening to someone talk negatively about them. It quickly became obvious that they didn't actually ever watch it (they admitted that they didn't even have cable!) It was humorous (in a sad way) to see what you're talking about in action -- someone who allowed other media outlets form their opinion about Fox News without checking it out themselves (and all too typical I’m afraid).

Though an interesting phenomenon has emerged -- apparently many people who actually tune into Fox News become viewers. Fox News has about 40%-50% more viewers than CNN and MSNBC combined. Before long people will be calling Fox News a carebear news network that caters to casuals...
 
I hate to sound like a fanboy, but I'd start out with about 90% WoW. Then I'd throw in some EVE for more of a sandbox feel. And then the enhancement system from CoV since it looks neat.

You'd start out the game driven by quests and learning the lore; they'd also try to teach a bit about the class and game mechanics in general. As you would get higher there would be more and more quests using crafted materials and pushing you into PvP areas. Eventually NPC quests would mostly involve objectives in direct competition with another factions of which there would be more than two, maybe four or six.

And I'd mix in an alignment system like KOTOR and that would be how you'd 'choose' a side of factions. You'd be neutral at the start, but evil or good choices would make it more like to get more generally evil (or good) quests. Then within each side there would be a faction to fit your style: lawful, neutral, chaotic. They wouldn't be as clear of a separation as alignment, but they'd not be essentially the same either, the way Tauren or Orcs are.
 
Yes.
 
Well, here in the US...where all the news isn't from the BBC or AP... The first Bush was lambasted in the press and had an investigation from the GAO about the funds (29K worth) he used for his school speech (wonder how much Obama spent). The NEA also came out against Bush that they did not support his speech. The backlash Obama endured paled in comparison, plus he got NEA backing for essentially the same thing Bush did. The memory of the left is short... I personally just don't think a president needs to have a relationship with my 9 year old. She has enough people haranguing her to do well. She has a relationship with her parents, teachers, family, friends and church. She does not need a relationship with a politician, any one of them. And, Obama did give a political speech (for healthcare) to the kids at the school. It was before the televised speech. I will leave the clarifications at that. I will say I don't think the Obama speech phenomenon and you’re mentioning MMOs and the responses are the same. Totally different mindsets. It is just people excited that you (you are somewhat of a celebrity you know) mentioned "their" game and they wanted their voice heard is all. I just skip right over their comments anyway. Let them have some fun! Why let it get to you (and by you I mean anyone reading the comments). Short of people being rude and disrespectful just let them be I say. I just dismiss them like I do political and religious kooks and move on quickly. And I like Fox news btw, lol.
 
I don't think its dead but it's on life support.

The reason is information overload, Globalism and the always on never off networked world we live in. People are so overloaded by information that many have never learned, or just forget to stop and focus on the task at hand so that it gets done right. Most discussions today are as hurried and rushed as our modern lives. No time to stop and think the issue all the way through. Just pull a gut check and go. Add that to the Anonymity of the internet and the result is predictable. And even if you are humiliated by your snap answer terabytes of information will bury your failure in a few days at most.

Now I'm not foolish enough to believe people didn't do that stuff before the internet. But the internet and information overload intensify that behavior.

I do think that you'll find places like your blog where a certain standard is expected and generally upheld tend to be far better than areas like the blizzard forum where there is no real attempt at moderation.

And then there are the two types of trolls. The ones who like children act out for attention and the ones who just stir the pot because they get a feeling of power when they get a reaction out of you. They usually go away if you ignore them. These are basic behaviors that all children experiment with by the way. The internet just lets us adults do it with a mask to hide behind
 
Sabal its a sad day for the US that anyone is upset that the president wants to spread the message that children should try to succeed. But then we live in a country where all moderates are villified by both sides who can't understand why anyone could actually see and understand the concept of "GRAY". That I equate to the ability to use common sense.

But the US has had these kinds of decades in the past. And we always managed to come through it inspite of the fringe nut cases that took over. And I bash both fringes equally BTW.
 
I've noticed this with some replys that you and Keen have got recently... and even some of my posts on both blogs.

If you try to be impartial you just piss everyone off... while if you join the shouting match you will have atleast some of the people on your side.
 
Some of it comes from a "home team" mentality. In the states, picking a side, and rooting for it and tearing down the other side is strongly ingrained in our culture. It's a dangerous habit, and it has seeped into everything we do and talk about here. Your "home team" could be a sports team, a politician, a political party, an idea, a game, a religion, a sexual practice, a scientific theory, etc. etc. etc. It never ends. All these teams. The problem with this mentality is every discussion about these things becomes a rah-rah shouting match. It's about winning.

This is where I wish some of the old notions of Chivalry would resurface. Chivalry was more concerned with someone doing the right thing, making a fair play, etc. and it didn't matter which side it happened on. For all of its faults, chivalric thinking did require people to put fair play and skillful play above teams and sides.

Now, in a real discussion, it is impossible to "win." There is your side, my side, and the truth. The truth is what you are supposed to be getting at. Real discussion cannot happen until all parties drop their "teams" and make their aim a common search for truth. The truth may simply be, “I like this flavor” and that is about as far as you can take it, simply because saying “this flavor is better than that flavor” is an impossible thing to prove.

That takes us to the next bane of discussion: the proxy. This flavor is better than that flavor, and everyone agrees with me. I see that regularly in games. “What did you think of the recent live event in Warhammer?” “It’s dumb! Stop wasting time on Live Events. No one wants them. No one likes them. FIX THE DAMN GAME!!!!” That’s not an argument, it’s an assault. What’s worse, it is an assault that claims the support of all the people around who quite likely do not all agree. Thankfully, it is easy to refute, but it often ends up derailing any real discussion.

Having said all that, it is still important to develop opinions and have beliefs, but those opinions and beliefs need to be founded on something more concrete than flying the team colors. As with games like WoW and UO, political persons, or religions, it is entirely probable that the other side has some good points that are in common with whichever side you are coming from, and rarely has it entirely wrong.
 
I think the lack of the kind of discussions you want is due to three factors:

1.) Very few people have anything interesting and insightful to say about MMOs. 9 out of 10 comments are repeating the same ideas that may not even be valid or useful. This is because people don't have much reason to think about games that are as mindnumbing as MMORPGs are now.

2.) Who is going to spend time writing out several paragraphs of good analysis to be read by a community full of the people I mentioned above (which includes the communities of ALMOST every punditry blog out there, including this one)? Anyone in their right mind wouldn't, because there are no actual rewards from it--it wouldn't help the thoughtful writer accomplish anything. I've spent time writing detailed rebuttals to and elaborations on posts on pundit blogs like this one and Keen's. I've realized NO ONE CARES. And even if someone does care, they often have only a half-baked conception of my ideas because they are unwilling to actually read and contemplate what I have to say in full.

3.) Deciding what mechanics are "good and bad" in gaming is impossible unless you establish a set of criteria that can be used as metrics. I doubt you can have a community like this one and establish criteria that even a vocal minority of readers will understand, embrace, and use effectively in discussion.

I'm not trying to accuse people of anything here, I'm only saying that the incentives are not aligned to allow the kinds of discussion that you want in this style of blog. You'd need to appeal to a different, much smaller audience if you wanted to have solid discussion that gets anything accomplished.

(I'm trying to do that.)
 
Why are WoW players so aggressively defensive about their game? The game is clearly a major success and a very good game. You don't have to feel guilty about playing WoW but you should allow that there are people out there there who enjoy different games and that some of these other games offer experiences that are quite special.

I'd like to comment on this.

In my experience, WoW players are not aggressive about other games, because, as you imply, being fans of the biggest, most successful MMO on the market BY FAR allows them to ignore other MMOs. They can afford to not care about Darkfall or whatever.

The problem is that Darkfall players are usually the ones that are aggressively defensive about their choice of games, because, being fans of a "niche" game, they feel they have to justify their support of their game instead of WoW. You can look at a large number of people who enjoy games like DF and you can see how bashing WoW is part of their justification, even when the WoW comparison is not relevant (syncaine's comment in this thread is a good example).

Therefore, when you go to a post or something about DF (I am pointing out DF a lot, but I think it's a pretty good example, and something like WAR could work too) and the comments are full of things like "DF is so awesome, WoW is full of stupid 11-year-old carebears" and "WoW is going to fail when all the good players leave for DF" and "all the good players have already left lol," well, a WoW player is not going to feel happy about the other MMO at all.

Speaking of myself, though I am a rather peaceful person, and generally in support of the development of new, creative "niche" MMOs, I will admit to feeling guilty pleasure at WAR's (perceived) failure.

In short, players of other MMOs are aggressively defensive, and WoW players are defensive right back.
 
@Sabal

Except interestingly, you're perfectly illustrating part of what I took to be Tobold's point - that the kneejerk reaction to respond (and justify) because of an emotional reason is more important for a lot of people than discussing the actual topic at hand. Because you spent almost 200 words expressing your political view and less than 30 on commenting on the actual post.
 
Ive come to the view that mmog players are herd beasts. They follow the pack and sticking with the pack is enforced.

The reason for this is that mmogs are basicly non productive wastes of time. All games and entertainment are as well. Mmogs though take up thousands of hours of players time. That creates a disire to somehow place a value on the time being spent.

The primary avenue for creating this value is social standing the ability to measure yourself against others. You cant do that if person your trying to measure yourself against is playing another mmog.If there playing the same mmmog as you though you can.

This is why a faction any mmog comunity will by default attack the mention of any other mmog. Protecting the value time invested is simply more important than good manners.
 
Fun, what did we have fun in these games doing? In Eve for me it was kiting. I've not gotten to properly kite since Cobalt Scar. In WoW for me it's playing through whatever the current story line is. In DAoC it was controlling a mob as an invulnerable ghost. I’d not enjoy Darkfall, because going in I know upfront that I don’t enjoy PvP.

I've no doubt the choice of various technical mechanics have the possibility of getting in the way of realizing the fun in a game. But, serious game conversation tends to lead to wrong conclusions anyway. Vanguard was going to have no universal bank and people got all exited because that could never work (but it works for Eve). For a long time we just “knew” that any third gen game just had to have player housing or it wouldn’t work (but it works for WoW). Death has to count for something or we won’t feel challenged (but games rarely have a death penalty now). Even Eve has no death penalty if you’re just a tiny bit careful.

I’m strongly convinced it’s all about whether or not the developers watch what people spend time doing and always ask themselves are their players having fun.

Oh, and nothing ever changes. Things aren’t getting worse and people aren’t getting more up tight. We’re just getting older and with getting older we just see more of the world and how it’s always been. Nothing changes.
 
This is just my opinion, but it doesn't seem to me that there was some time in history when fair and thougtful discussion was the golden standard and idiocy was supressed. What's changed have been the mediums of discussion and how much "discussion" is available to people.

I don't think that Roman Senators were much apt to have a real discussion on the best way to run the empire, I kinda think they just killed each other to gain power. I don't think the chivalrous English had many discussions with the Scots when they burned homes and killed women and children.

Through it all, however, there have been people who have elevated our world through thoughtful and fair discussion, just as today those people exist. I think it just seems like there aren't as many because technology has allowed the stupid and ignorant just as much air time as the thoughtful and considerate. Well, actually the stupid seem to get more airtime because that's what people like to watch.

I don't think fair discussion is any more dead or alive now than it was 10,000 years ago, I think we just hear and see more unfair minded people get a voice...and guess what, we're buying it every time we watch TV, go to the movies, or purchase it via some other medium. Fair minded people actually just need to make more noise!!!
 
It's amazing... even in this specific post I see people defending WoW or other games and how the players act.

First and foremost every gaming community has assholes who will bash any other MMO. It doesn't matter who threw the first stone because in the end it always ends up like the Hatfields and McCoy's.

I would love to engage in a discussion about what are the key factors for MMO's to succeed; but I don't think we can come to an agreement. Everyone likes something different or values something differently. That's why I'm always for adding content in ANY MMO.

For the most part, given a healthy playerbase, adding more features is always a good thing.
 
The art of discussion is being killed by entertainment news programs (talk radio, TV news, commentators, etc) as they encourage people to adopt an "Us vs Them" mentality for everything in life. These professional polarizers are manufacturing controversies and leading people to pick a side and shout down the opposition. All in the name of ratings and profit. It's not unlike the idea from a few weeks ago that confrontational blogging will get you more responses. I'm not surprised this kind of thinking is alive and well in the gaming industry, it seems it's how the world (particularly the US) is headed. :(
 
The art of discussion is alive and well. You just have to take proactive measures to filter the wheat from the chaff in order to maintain a useable signal to noise ratio. Someone else mentioned that's exactly how Elitist Jerks does it, and it's exactly how I did it when I was community manager of a popular Quake Modification forum.

A well moderated forum, whether it be in the form of a blog or bulletin board format, will be many times more successful than ones without active moderation.

Comment moderation is a great tool, as is the crafty use of a ban hammer should the need arise.

One thing that I've noticed in my 30+ years of gaming, is that the advent of the internet gave voices to anyone with a computer and net connection. Regardless of how (un)educated, ignorant, or (un)informed they might be about the subject at hand, you have to realize that opinion isnt always formed around fact, and is often tainted with emotion. There's an elegance that exists with the art of debate. You just have to set your bar of expectation at a certain height and maintain it.

So this puts us right back at square one; how do you seperate the wheat from the chaff?

It's simple: You employ active Moderation and all that it entails.
 
Dude, you held up a specific game as a model for the argument made in the last post. Of course people who dislike the game are going to object to it, because they are not going to agree it should be held to such a pedestal.

Don't shift blame to your readers when you do make statements that will derive a response like that. Some examples are a lot more loaded than others. There's a difference between "Do you think an Ultima Online model of PvP would work better for modern Pvp MMo's or a more limited form like in Aion?" and "Remember Ultima Online!" Some of us hear the latter so much that it becomes cliche, and get annoyed.

I think you also have to remember Tobold, this discussion is just academic. Its fun to discuss topics with you and read what you say, but what you, or I, or anyone says here will have zero impact on what MMO makers will do. Even in the macro sense, a developer is going to make an MMO to his vision first, and then find the audience, not read message forums or bloggers and try to satisfy their discussion. The feedback comes after, when the game is made.

This is like a late-night college bull session, or a chat on IRC. We aren't developers talking shop, just fans talking about what they like to see in a game.
 
Read this - the topic is politics, not games, but it's relevant - and interesting.

http://lesswrong.com/lw/gz/policy_debates_should_not_appear_onesided/
 
@ Heike

One can't express a component of one's insite, arguement or hypothesis drawing from another facet of life (incorrectly in my opinion) and expect people not to comment, correct the record or reject their supporting evidence. I can't get away with that at work or anywhere else. Tobold had the chance to not post my comment but chose to.

I don't hate Obama and/or everything he stands for. That is not the reason I didn't want my child possibly enduring a propaganda speech from a politician. Obama's initial speech wasn't just "succeed in life" it was "what can you do to help the president" until it leaked to the press. Not a good sign. Reagan and Bush did similar speeches however, the "hate" they endured was much greater.

I don't agree that the Obama school speech phenomenon supports Tobold's arguement at all. I enjoy reading the blog and find it interesting but I had to correct or reject one of his arguements on this matter.

If your going to reference something to support a cause or opinion people will comment on your reference. So I do not think I am illustrating Tobold's point or having a kneejerk reaction. You certainly did to my post though. I spent 200 words arguing and correcting a piece incorrectly supporting the topic (in my opinion). And, I have seen less than 30 word comments on this blog about a topic.
 
People who discuss things in order to learn more about them are fairly rare.

Most people I know discuss (or I should say 'argue') competitively. The point of everything is to 'win'. The subject is not important, thus a gut reaction or a leap to a conclusion will suffice, as long as you have a standpoint to defend and your opponent has one that can be destroyed.

Learning anything is pretty much the last thing most people want out of a discussion today. I guess this is why I find myself having fewer and fewer actual conversations with people. Most of the time I'd rather just go and read a book or play a game or something.
 
"Remember Ultima Online!" Some of us hear the latter so much that it becomes cliche, and get annoyed.

That is just another proof of how unable you have become to discuss. You automatically think that "Remember UO!" means "Play UO, it is much better than WoW!". Which is not all what I said, nor meant.

You couldn't even think of the possibility that I might have meant "Remember UO!" in a literal way. In spite of me having written hundreds of words in the same post about my argument that UO is a proof that the possible features of a MMORPG are much, much wider spread than the narrow field of WoW and its clones, you could not make the connection between that argument and that "Remember UO!".

And then you replied with the totally irrelevant "Why aren't you playing UO now?" fallacy. Which is a very typical response, but completely irrelevant. Of course WoW is much better, far more polished, and much, much more popular than UO. I never said otherwise, or suggested people should quit WoW for UO.

It is you inability to even consider that I was *not* promoting one game over another that makes you annoyed and react in that way. All I do is saying that most MMORPGs have at least some good features. But if I mention a good feature of UO in one post and a good feature of WoW in another post, I regularly get confused comments of "Hey, you were argueing in UO's camp yesterday, why do you flip-flop and fight for WoW's camp today?". The possibility that I'm not fighting in any camp is too exotic for most people to even to consider.
 
What a great post.

Tobold, you hit the nail on the head when you compaired religion and politics to game development/opinion. It is sometimes hard to have a conversation (which is two people actually exchanging views peacefully) in an effort to share information.

I feel as a gamer, my heart does go out to certain studios while my head has to acknowledge the success and fail of others.

I feel that it is all a matter of taste. Your not going to love every food and every movie. Then why every game? Just because someone doesn't like SAW 1,2,3,4,5...84 doesn't make them dumb or less of a person. It is just their tastes. I can respect someone for their taste and actually find an interest in WHY they like this particular (insert anything here) It is a matter of being an open minded and well rounded person.

Some people just get it and some don't. Some people vote democrat and some vote republican. Is it my job to "school" someone on why they should vote for my party either way. I'd rather not, instead talk to them if they have the ability to share information peacefully, and hey, I might even walk away from the conversation with a new point of view.

I am going to carry on this topic, I like what it stands for.
 
Your commenters and are not necessarily your audience, nor the audience you hope for.

Just as no MMO is ideal, nor will your comments or commenters be either. Bemoaning it probably isn't very constructive.
 
Bemoaning it probably isn't very constructive.

54 comments, many of them very thoughtful and intelligent, and counting. I'd call that constructive enough.
 
I think I got so impatient with finding people to hold an intelligent discussion about MMOs with, that I just gave up and decided to look for a different group, hopefully a larger group: people interesting in intelligent discussion about politics.

So far, I've met with mixed success, which is actually encouraging. There are more people out there interested in talking about politics than MMOs. Especially among the people I know personally, and it really helps to know someone personally, because it reduces the rudeness by a lot.

Tell you what, Tobold. Once I get my head completely around these rather pressing current issues of the economy and health care reform in the US, and get burnt out on talking politics, I'd be up for participating in some sort of "intelligent discussion on combining the best aspects of MMOs". ;)

Seriously, it's so difficult to find people discussing and thinking about things intelligently, that I still read your blog more than any other, even though I'm not even playing computer games right now, let alone MMOs.
 

Some of it comes from a "home team" mentality. In the states, picking a side, and rooting for it and tearing down the other side is strongly ingrained in our culture. It's a dangerous habit, and it has seeped into everything we do and talk about here. Your "home team" could be a sports team, a politician, a political party, an idea, a game, a religion, a sexual practice, a scientific theory, etc. etc. etc. It never ends. All these teams. The problem with this mentality is every discussion about these things becomes a rah-rah shouting match. It's about winning.


This is a very good description. Especially of what goes wrong in the States right now. As an European (or Asian, or anybody else, I guess) you can only shake your head when somebody openly says that he wants to 'stop the President' and 'make this his Waterloo', just to ... win.

This is unpatriotic, but it is much more (Patritism or nationalsm aren't nice words for Germans). It is unethical.

I fear it is a direct consequence of a two-party (political) system. A well rounded democracy should have at least 3 major parties. And no more than 5 - look at Italy.

A discussion should be a conversation where both participants seek the truth. Convincing the other is a tool to achieve this goal. It is not the goal.
 
[i]“This is a very good description. Especially of what goes wrong in the States right now. As an European (or Asian, or anybody else, I guess) you can only shake your head when somebody openly says that he wants to 'stop the President' and 'make this his Waterloo', just to ... win.”[/i]

So the US is lectured about their problems by a German from afar. Kind of like if a person who plays only WoW lectured people who play EVE about how their game should play -- because, after all, WoW is the best game! I should know, I play it!!

A perfect example of Tobold’s point. (though I have to say that his “people who hate Obama” comment makes me wonder if Tobold has fallen into the same trap politically).

I have to say that doesn’t take long for people to forget the years of “hate Bush” -- now, suddenly, opposing a US President is unethical! The most ironic thing to a person in the US is that when one looks past the rhetoric, Obama’s actions are those of a Bush III, writ-large.
 
I don't know if you can pin this mainly on the US fans. People are just naturally feel threatened when something attempts to encroach upon their territory. It dates back to our hunter gatherer days.

It is typically called Nationalism when applied to regions. It's really counterproductive though for a gaming community to do it, but as most people know. "A person is smart, people are stupid"

Any group in a mass turns to "Random MMO GOOD, yours sucks!"
 

I have to say that doesn’t take long for people to forget the years of “hate Bush” -- now, suddenly, opposing a US President is unethical!


WOW - just WOW. And I don't talk about World of Warcraft.

Just try to read it again. This time try to understand what I wrote. And try to not put me into the "pro-Obama-against-me" corner after the 2nd word.

This were almost funny if it wasn't so sad.
 
Tobold, it's not so simple.

Part of your point was that WoW shouldn't be considered the end all and be all of MMO design, and that part is true.

Well, if these features define the MMORPG genre, then how come Ultima Online doesn't have them? How come A Tale in the Desert doesn't have them? How come Puzzle Pirates doesn't have them? How come that there are dozens of other games which are all recognizable MMORPGs, but which don't have that same list of WoW features?

To quote you, its not what bothered me. This is true, and UO is one of many in that list. But you go to this:

Some features of MMORPGs, especially combat, have become rather stagnant by repeated copying and cloning, with the majority of games still playing like Everquest, only faster... Instead the "new features" we get are gimmicks like flight or voice-overs, which are supposed to make us forget that we are *still* taking that kill 10 foozles quest, targeting the foozle, and pressing hotkeys to launch various spells and abilities to combat it.

As long as game developers fail to either innovate, or to at least combine features from other games than just World of Warcraft, they will be open to charges of producing WoW clones. We can't just pretend that the features of World of Warcraft define the limits of the MMORPG genre. Remember Ultima Online!


You change discussion points, from "Not everything WoW does is an industry standard" to "A lot of what WoW does is stagnant and shouldn't define the MMO genre." And you cap that off with remember ultima online.

I cant tell you how many times I have seen the same argument on forums, by people who invoke UO (and its telling you did over, oh EVE online) and that is why I replied the way I did. If you think WoW is gilding a tired system, you go from being neutral to espousing a point of view.

I've seen that point of view a ton of times on forums, it comes up in almost every new game post. It's not that I take it as a slam on a game specifically, but its emblematic of a mindset which starts to venerate UO as some ideal of MMO types, and thats why you invoked it over a Tale in the Desert, Darkfall, or EVE to close your point.

That is why I said "Why aren't you playing UO?" And thats why I also thought your lack of playing it is relevant.

No offense dude, but its also a little annoying to see a post on why discussion is dead when you got all of two people with comments you find irrelevant. Unless your spam filter is full of UO hate mail attacking you personally or something, I'm not seeing how you can spin that considering both of us discuss with you on other issues with no problems.
 
"A lot of what WoW does is stagnant and shouldn't define the MMO genre."

But I clearly stated it isn't *WoW* that is stagnant, but the genre dominated by games that are copies of WoW. You quoted yourself the passage where I was complaining about Aion and SWTOR.

Of course I say "Remember UO", because "Remember Puzzle Pirates" or "Remember A Tale in the Desert" wouldn't have made sense, with so many less people having played these. UO was definitely one of the most important games which was very, very different from the EQ to WoW to SWTOR series of games. Why shouldn't people remember it? Not to remake it (we saw how that turned out with Darkfall), but to consider that they have other options than levels and classes and all that when they make a new game.

And this post was not at all about you, but about the quote from Nils. As I put that quote right at the top of the post, you should have noticed that.
 
though I have to say that his “people who hate Obama” comment makes me wonder if Tobold has fallen into the same trap politically

I'll put that comment in the drawer where I keep the dozens of comments accusing me of being anti-Obama after me having mentioned that "hope" isn't a political program.

now, suddenly, opposing a US President is unethical

Let me ask you this: Why do you have to "oppose" a "US President"? Wouldn't it be a lot more intelligent if you opposed single politics of his? It is the outright opposition to everything Obama does which discredits the conservatives so much, just like the outright opposition to everything Bush did discredited the left.

If you oppose *everything* your own government does and stands for, that isn't just unethical, that is actually illegal. It's called treason if you act on it. You aren't supposed to oppose the *office* of the President of the United States, and the rest of the government, and decide not to follow the laws they make because you happen not to like them.
 
Well I see that once I pointed out the gross generalizations and double-standards, the "art of discussion" didn't last long.
:)

When ANYONE makes assertions such as "people hate Obama" and "oppose the President" and call opposition to a politician unethical, then IMO they need to be called out. I mean, as someone who actually lives in the States I'm well aware that various US and international media outlets are pushing that tripe, but it is as easy as an internet search to debunk such mythical generalities. You'll find the occasional whackos, sure, but if you're convinced that US conservatives in general fit the media template you're being fed, then maybe you should reference a familiar P.T. Barnum quote.
 
Well, maybe it is you who should have done the internet search? Because I certainly did mine, and I discovered such gems as a mother justifying pulling her children from school during the presidential address with "it smacks of dictatorship". Not to mention Jim Greer saying that it was to "indoctrinate children to Obama's socialist agenda".

Europeans, having had first-hand experience or at least close contact with socialism, are toppling over laughing when Republicans call Obama a "socialist". Because from where the average European stands, Obama is a conservative. He just spent billions of dollars to save bankers on Wall Street! And I'm sure Kim Il Jong will be delighted to hear that Obama is a fellow dictator. So you're telling me the people who spout such nonsense do not hate Obama and oppose everything he does and stands for?
 

When ANYONE makes assertions such as "people hate Obama" and "oppose the President" and call opposition to a politician unethical, then IMO they need to be called out.


Nobody ever said this.


And by the way: In contrast to what you say conservatives in USA do not use slaves anymore and most of them do not suppoert the third reich!
 
Because from where the average European stands, Obama is a conservative. He just spent billions of dollars to save bankers on Wall Street!

Tobold, not knowing if you're just being obtuse or not to make a point with such a comment, let me just say that using other peoples money(citizen tax dollars) for a greater good(saving wall street) is Socialism at it's core, period.

There's such a thing as fiscal conservatism in this country, but it is -far- removed from conservative politics by proxy of special interest groups who do not want a majority(democracy) determining their ability to have a specific lifestyle, faith, bussiness ethic or what have you.

The problem here in the US right now is that no matter how noble a cause someone puts forth as an idea politically, he/she will still have to battle the spin doctors of the news media outlets on how they label this idea - as either a liberal or conservative concept.

Pull the average american away from the TV, read them Obamas health care proposal, and ask them if they think it is a liberal or conservative proposal, and I'll bet anything that the answer you get is based on nothing more than a parroting of what they heard on CNN/FOX/(insert your favorite, truthful, news outlet here).

(sarcasm)
Personally, I can hardly wait for the debut of the Politically Correct, Socially Inept MMO Gamer News Network. It will be a bastion of truthful reporting and free from -any- political leanings..../sigh.
(/sarcasm)

I'll close this comment by quoting a fellow named Saul Bellow:

"A great deal of intelligence can be invested in ignorance when the need for illusion is deep.".
 
There's such a thing as fiscal conservatism in this country

Fiscal conservatism was killed by president Bush. You now have the choice between big government Republicans and big government Democrats. Or you could vote for Ron Paul. The last fiscal conservative in office, ironically, was Bill Clinton.
 

Tobold, not knowing if you're just being obtuse or not to make a point with such a comment, let me just say that using other peoples money(citizen tax dollars) for a greater good(saving wall street) is Socialism at it's core, period.


If that is the definition of socialism we all life in socialism and always have. Taxes are as old as human tribes and the money (or ressources) were always intended to be used for the greater good.

The second you introduce taxes to pay your military you apply socialism according to your definition. Never occured to me that the US Arms is a product of socilism and I have the feeling the men and women doing their service might object.
 
Tobold, not knowing if you're just being obtuse or not to make a point with such a comment
I think you just got trolled. Don't worry, it happens to everyone until your sarcasm-o-meter is properly configured.

let me just say that using other peoples money(citizen tax dollars) for a greater good(saving wall street) is Socialism at it's core, period.
I agree, but frequently conservatism is represented by the strawman of being pro-business all the time, amounting to privatizing the profits and socializing the losses. The really conservative/capitalist choice would have been to let the bad banks fail and scare the rest into being more careful with their lending. Unfortunately, due to the interconnected nature of the modern financial system, a failing financial entity can drag down a lot of the market, either directly or by proxy (bank A loaned money from bank B, who loaned money from bank C, all go down when bank A defaults). All while trading grinds to a standstill because nobody dares to do business until all assets were properly re-evaluated. And no politician wants to be seen as the one who fiddled while Rome burned. So they had to do something, anything to justify their existence.

So, we ended up with a unholy abomination of a system, which is ideologically repugnant to both capitalists and socialists.

/derail
 
Sorry for the wall of text...

Nils, your post I responded lamented over someone wanting to “stop the President” (Obama) and went on to call that unethical. So do you retract your first post? As a point of comparison, I was thinking last night about those Iranians who opposed their President (whom their leaders insisted was legally and democratically elected) - and as I recall, in the past there was a democratically-elected German leader whom Germans later regretted and opposed and sought to purge from their history...

Tobold, you’re asserting that this mother and Jim Greer are representative of conservatism in the USA (which may or may not be true, but I’m just pointing out your unsupported extrapolation / generalization). How did those two come to their positions? Was the problem the President in a school, the content of the speech... or maybe the content of the lesson plan that was put out by the US Dept. of Education was a factor in this (hint, hint)? Did they feel the same way after the speech? (Does a conservative sometimes - gasp - actually change their mind?) And finally, as a point of comparison, how did liberals / Democrats react to previous Republican Presidents giving a speech in a similar situation?

IMO (as a US conservative) if the President - the government leader - wants to deliver a speech in the government schools (let’s not kid ourselves), then I don’t have any problem with that. I would back up a step and wonder whether the US government should be in the business of running schools since their overall track record (student performance and cost effectiveness) is so abysmal in comparison to private and home schools.

BTW, spending billions of dollars is NOT conservative by US standards, as another poster already pointed out. To a US conservative that is populist or socialist ideology. US conservative would say NO to the government running banks, insurance companies, and car companies. And yes, it was started by Bush (and as I recall he even went on the record that he abandoned fiscally-conservative principles) and expanded by Obama, and as a conservative I opposed that policy in both cases.
 
One step closer to Goodwin's Law, and you'll both be banned. You have been warned!

Tobold, you’re asserting that this mother and Jim Greer are representative of conservatism in the USA (which may or may not be true, but I’m just pointing out your unsupported extrapolation / generalization).

What kind of conservatism are you talking about? I would have gone with the mainstream definition of the Republican party being the conservatives, and somebody like the Florida chairman of the Republicans being *one* representative of said party. And so is Sarah Palin. But it appears to me that you are a Libertarian, which is a completely different group.

And sorry, proposing a kid writes a letter to the president is NOT socialist, and not a sign of a dictatorship. What people object to in the current representatives of conservatism is that they are so over the top. Any health plan proposal is directly twisted into a "Death Panel". A congressmen shouts "You lie!" at the president of the United States in a joined session. The idea not to let somebody die of illness, just because he isn't rich, is "socialist". A president giving a talk is said to be anything from a "dictator" to promoting a "personality cult".

Are you saying that is not the FACE of conservatism in the USA today? I'm not saying all conservatives are that way, but those who are not are not exactly tripping over their feet trying to stop the others.
 
Among the US conservative circles I run in, the role of government is as defined by the US Constitution. VERY briefly, the original functions of the Federal government included such things as foreign affairs / national defense, and the monetary supply. The states and local governments would handle such things as police and penal system and fire protection, and roads and such infrastructure. Taxes were levied to provide for these areas of common good.

Businesses were regulated only so far as to prevent criminal activity such as fraud or posing dangers to the population.

As these sorts of things are general principles, over time the US government leeched farther and farther into the ‘private sector’. This was most pronounced during times of crisis. Once power was expanded, it was almost never given back. I turned out that both the public and the politicians like the welfare state; much of the public thinks they’re getting something for free, and the politicians get more power. So here we are.
 
Tobold,

YES. That IS the FACE of US Conservatism. You are ABSOLUTELY correct! (Because the face of US conservatism is simply a perception.)

The US and international media sources you follow have painted it for you, as you faithfully documented.

But now, as for actual US Conservatism, well, that is another matter. You’ll have to dig deeper than the propaganda with an open mind to find that.
 
As an European (or Asian, or anybody else, I guess) you can only shake your head when somebody openly says that he wants to 'stop the President' and 'make this his Waterloo', just to ... win.

This is unpatriotic, but it is much more (Patritism or nationalsm aren't nice words for Germans). It is unethical.


I said that somebody acts in an unethic way if he wants to stop his president just to .. win.

I definately didn't say that opposing your president is unethical.

What really worries me is that you don't even seem to have made this error willingly. You really read the first few words of my comment and then somehow your mind stopped, you thought that you knew exactly what I was saying and then started flaming.

That's why I first asked you to reread my comment. It seems like you didn't do that.
 
But now, as for actual US Conservatism, well, that is another matter. You’ll have to dig deeper than the propaganda with an open mind to find that.

You are evading my question: Is the Republican party "actual US Conservatism" or isn't it?

And several of the things I quoted were from Fox News, is that what you call propaganda?
 
Just for the record. It isn't fair to jump on Nils for quoting me. He might not be from the US, but I am an American, and I am the one that made that observation about the US. I did that, not to pick on the US, but because I live in the US and that is where my experience is mostly from. I didn't include the rest of the world, because I don't know the rest of the world nearly as well as I should, and German and Italian culture is something I am exposed to all that much here, while American culture is certainly in high exposure over seas (I have traveled at least enough to see that.). I wouldn't be surprised if this home team mentality was true in other nations, but I was talking about the nation I live in and observe.

I personally think the home team mentality is encouraged by capitalism, if not an actual product of it, but that is just a theory of mine.

Doeg, when you say what you said about Nils, that illustrates the point. Your home team is the US. How dare that foreigner say something about the US? Drop the home team. That helps.

As it happens, I am not a big fan of Obama either, but I have to fight against the home team mindset constantly and look back at his opposition and see their flaws too. It's not easy to do, because ultimately it puts you out there on your own, alone, often against two hostile parties that both turn on you. It's not even neutrality, because it is definitely about a side, but that side happens to be the truth, and none of the parties and very very few people are on the side of truth. (I am not saying I am on the side of truth in that I know the truth, only that I want to be with the truth.)

Furthermore, the dig against chivalry that occurred earlier is fair. I don't think many people actually lived by that code, nor do I think many of them followed it with everyone they met. I do, however, think there is very great merit in an idea that people look up to, even if they don't actually live it. If your heroes are taunting barbarians and bloodthirsty dictators, then that is going to shape your culture, and says something about your culture. We are all flawed but in order to strive for a better life, we have to first imagine and adore a better life. Even if you are an English knight who only cheers for the enemy if they are French, or Italian knights of your own class, but burns the Scots without remorse, then you at least have an inkling of respect for the enemy. That is stronger and more respectful than the "home team" mentality fostered today, which is at odds with our view of an otherwise bloody and vicious period in mankind’s history, which is generally considered to be inferior to our own time.
 
Nils,

Be assured, I read your post several times.

First of all, who, exactly, is opposing the President just to "win"?
I assume you have strong proof, as it would be presumptuous to assume a motive.

And you raise an interesting question about ethics -
How did you come to the conclusion that the reason - or lack thereof - a person chooses to "oppose a President" would become an ethical (moral) question, as opposed to a simple political question?
Because unless I missed something, you just declared it to be so.
 
The Republican party was founded in 1854 by anti slavery activists. The first Republican president was Lincoln the most recent republican president was George Bush. It is currently the second largest political party in the US.

Most current members of the party consider themself conservatives. Most members of the party would also disagree with the notion that national leadership of the party is following conservative policys on may issues.

Bush as a example while being a conservative on social issues followed non conserative ecconomic and foreign policys. That mix of different aspects of conseravtism creates the uncertainty in what is and isnt a conservative. Part of the reason the current leadership of republican party is so weak is because of there inability to construct unified policy that combines all the elements.

One last note. Ive seen this come up many time recently when americans and europeans discuss politics. That being the definition of the center in US and Europe are not the same. By american definitions all europeans political partys are all socialist and by european definitions american political partys are all conservative. This creates a problem when ether side starts talking about the center because definition of what center is for american and european politics is just not the same. One of the common reaction from both sides when seeing centerism being envoked for policys that are in no way centrist by there own boundrys of politics is to laugh and dismiss it.

You can dismiss it if you like. But if you do you will never understand what the locals are argueing about. That the different but very real definitions of the center held on ether side of the atlantic are very real. They both set the limits of political action for both sides and are deemed worth defending from encroachment from the extremes from both left and right.
 
Tobold,

No, the Republican party isn’t “actual US Conservatism” -- as is common knowledge among those in the US. Republicans are traditionally held to be ‘more conservative’ than the Democrat party (but a Southern Democrat is typically more conservative than a Republican from New England, for example). For the most part, those who shout “Republican = conservative” are demagogues trying to mobilize their respective base.

If Fox News is your only news source, and you believe it without ever cross-referencing their stories or doing any research on your own, then yes, I would say that you’re submitting to propaganda. However, in the US it has degenerated to the point that you can pretty much boil it down to two news sources: Fox News and ‘everything else’. And not surprisingly, measures like cable TV ratings for news are trending that way as well - Fox News ratings alone are better than all other cable news combined and is approaching and surpassing the big three networks as well of late.

The congressman who shouted “You lie!” during Obama’s address is a classic case. News sources focused on the congressman, on people’s reaction to the outburst, and whether it would impact the US health care debate. Few news sources bothered to even ask if he was *correct* - which, if you are searching for the truth, was THE question, right?
 
Wow, it didn't take long for posters like Doeg to provide support for the theory that the art of discussion is truly dead. Reason is thrown out the window and everyone must pick a side (or be labeled the Enemy).

This reminds me of an article that was posted last week entitled "50 things that are being killed by the Internet"

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/6133903/50-things-that-are-being-killed-by-the-internet.html

#1 thing was "The art of polite disagreement." Reading the comments there only proves that it deserves to be number one on the list. Tobold, you might not be an American, and I've criticized your political analysis in the past, but you've hit the nail on the head with this one, especially your follow up comments. As a US citizen, I find the entire situation extremely depressing.
 
The last fiscal conservative in office, ironically, was Bill Clinton.

Why is it ironic?

Clinton has always been a centrist democrat, both in practice and policy. His policies that led to welfare reform were heralded on both sides of the fence, and his middle class tax cuts spurred the economy out of recession. His spending policies and budget planning netted the US a budget surplus for the first time in decades.

Fiscal conservatism is not a democrat or republican owned practice.

If that is the definition of socialism we all life in socialism and always have. Taxes are as old as human tribes and the money (or ressources) were always intended to be used for the greater good.

You might want to go have a look at how the wallstreet bailouts are being handled, where the money is coming from, how it is being applied, who is gaining ownership of the failed companies, and who is benefitting from its application. Everytime america takes a deep breath when something like this happens, the government tightens the belt another notch and never lets the slack back out.

The problem with this is that eventually the excess belt becomes long enough to wrap around our waists a second, third, fourth time..ect, and becomes tighter and stronger and eventually cuts the nation into two classes: The haves, and the have nots.
 
If Fox News is your only news source

Don't be silly. The only way to make Fox News "fair and balanced" is to read it in parallel with the Washington Post and the New York Times, which is what I do.

No, the Republican party isn’t “actual US Conservatism”

Then I really don't know what your beef with me and the other commenters on this blog is. We were clearly complaining about the Republican party, or rather the part of the Republican party with the Sarah Palin 2012 buttons. If they stole the conservative label you claim for your own, that is between you and them.

Few news sources bothered to even ask if he was *correct* - which, if you are searching for the truth, was THE question, right?

Obama was NOT pushing a huge written document with his personal detailed version of health care. The only form in which Obamacare currently exists is in the form of notes and speeches. In those speeches he clearly said, and then responded to Wilson, that no, illegal immigrants would not be covered. Please explain to me how that possibly could be a lie. How can you lie about a detail of a future health plan if you don't know what the future details will be, and you *proposal* is the one you said it is?

That isn't to say that it isn't totally possible that some Democrats will propose covering illegal immigrants in the health care reform. That is outside Obama's control, and will be shot down by Republican opposition anyway. So there is no "lie".
 
First of all, who, exactly, is opposing the President just to "win"?
I assume you have strong proof, as it would be presumptuous to assume a motive.


My sentence was if-then. So I do not need any proof that somebody does it. All I say is that if somebody does it it is unethical.
I fear, however, that several people try to stop the presidents health reform just to make a point, to harm his position.


And you raise an interesting question about ethics -
How did you come to the conclusion that the reason - or lack thereof - a person chooses to "oppose a President" would become an ethical (moral) question, as opposed to a simple political question?
Because unless I missed something, you just declared it to be so.


Yes, finally we talk about what I actually wrote. I said so, because politicians are elected to care for the people. To protect and increase their well-being.

If you prevent a reform, not because you don't want a reform, but because it gives you a political advantage, you hurt the well-being of the people.

Now, if you suspect that the President is about to permanently transform the country into a dictatorship you are, of course allowed to stop him. But just because you want to protect the country, not because this way you increase your chances in the next elections.
 
The only way to make Fox News "fair and balanced" is to read it in parallel with the Washington Post and the New York Times, which is what I do.
Of course, this exposes you to both the Golden Mean and and either-or fallacies. Sometimes Fox News does get it right. But when they don't, it doesn't mean that Washington Post or NYT get it right either. Or that the truth would be somewhere in the middle. To triangulate the truth, we would need people dedicated to fact-finding. If I were naive, I could call these people journalists. Or bloggers. Unfortunately, to make sense of that cacophony of voices one has to abstract away the facts and focus on the volume and distribution of the voices. Unfortunately, that can be manipulated by "noise machines", "echo chambers", conference calls and good old-fashioned groupthink. Just proverbially shouting louder than the other guy is enough to skew public perception your way.

So, one might not ever get to know the truth, but don't let that stop you. Even trying is better than nothing.
 
Whoa whoa, a politics discussion? Let me in! Hm, it's going to take me a while to read all the comments, so forgive me if this has already been addressed:

Fiscal conservatism was killed by president Bush. You now have the choice between big government Republicans and big government Democrats. Or you could vote for Ron Paul. The last fiscal conservative in office, ironically, was Bill Clinton.

Depressingly true. There's a guy named Peter Schiff (some good youtube videos of him, though I don't prefer the ones of him on Fox) looking to run for Senatorship, so that would make two if he wins, though that's still a ways off. The problem with Ron Paul for me is that he's also culturally conservative, which I am not. I do think, though, that it's unfortunate that publicly speaking, most people identify fiscal conservativism as an exclusively republican ideal, regardless of reality.

So, one might not ever get to know the truth, but don't let that stop you. Even trying is better than nothing.

Agreed. But watching both Fox and the NYT is much more balanced than the obvious alternatives.
 
@Tobold

“Don't be silly. The only way to make Fox News "fair and balanced" is to read it in parallel with the Washington Post and the New York Times, which is what I do.”
This shows that you have a predetermined bias that pigeonholes these news sources. Not to worry, this is a typical human tendency (either-or fallacy). The thing I would be most interested in is how you extract the truth from this exercise in comparison? Which do you trust if they disagree? Is the reverse true - “The only way to make the Washington Post and the New York Times "fair and balanced" is to read it in parallel with Fox News”?

“Then I really don't know what your beef with me and the other commenters on this blog is. We were clearly complaining about the Republican party, or rather the part of the Republican party with the Sarah Palin 2012 buttons. If they stole the conservative label you claim for your own, that is between you and them.”
There is such a thing as the Republican Party in 2009, and there is such a thing as Conservatism. And you don’t have to take my word for it; you can actually look up “Conservatism” yourself! However, it appears that you accept the “conservative” label with which Republicans have wrapped themselves without checking to verify whether the actions match the claim (multiple posters have already exposed the fallacy of this as relates to recent Republican actions). Claiming to be something (in this case, Republicans claiming to be conservatives) does not necessarily make it so. The word of politicians should not be trusted without verification!
Doeg’s law: “As a Usenet discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Sarah Palin approaches 1.”

“Obama was NOT pushing a huge written document with his personal detailed version of health care. The only form in which Obamacare currently exists is in the form of notes and speeches. In those speeches he clearly said, and then responded to Wilson, that no, illegal immigrants would not be covered. Please explain to me how that possibly could be a lie. How can you lie about a detail of a future health plan if you don't know what the future details will be, and you *proposal* is the one you said it is? ”
Theoretically you are correct. And Obama and Congressional Democrats are saying the same thing. (WARNING: They are politicians: See above.)
The reality is that there are bills in various Congressional committees that are being voted on, and amendments specifically excluding coverage for illegal aliens have been voted down by Democrats (NOTE: Obama is a Democrat). The bottom line is simple: It is VERY UNLIKELY that Obama will get his ‘hands dirty’ by actually turning those notes and speeches into a bill (Has his Administration even crafted ONE bill?) The plan - the way things work in Washington - is that the actual bills in committee will end up forming the legislation that will end up on the President’s desk. Yeah, without the exclusion of illegals. And Obama would sign it. (For comparison, that is how the stimulus and omnibus spending bills tracked.) HOWEVER, Obama as a Democrat President could easily put open pressure on the Democrat-controlled House and Democrat-controlled Senate to explicitly exclude illegals - That he has not exposes the lie.
 
@Nils

Given the polling data that I have seen, the people’s trust in the President is sliding, particularly on health care. The Congress is held in historic contempt. The media has slid to historic lows as well. That’s a general polling of the opinion of the people at this time. In one fairly recent poll I remember, the people wanted the government to do nothing about health care and the frequent reason given was distrust. And it’s not like this is new; there was a bit of a respite for the Executive branch after the Inauguration, but it didn’t take long to return to the pre-election trend of declining trust of government and media.

As for politicians, many / most / all (?) play the game. Democrats brought the attacks that they thought would bring down President Bush. I fully expect that to be returned from the Republicans this time around. Typically they make at least a show of wrapping themselves in some issue (it’s pretty easy to do since the parties tend to be diametrically opposed on just about every policy issue). But the bottom line for the political class is that to enact your agenda you have to have power - votes in Congress and the Presidency. To “win” - by any means - equals success for their agenda (they might argue that their end justifies their means). And probably a *lot* of what goes on in politics is unethical - but I’m not sure how you clean it up. In the US, huge money and power is at stake -- and money and power tend to corrupt.
 
This shows that you have a predetermined bias that pigeonholes these news sources. Not to worry, this is a typical human tendency (either-or fallacy). The thing I would be most interested in is how you extract the truth from this exercise in comparison? Which do you trust if they disagree? Is the reverse true - “The only way to make the Washington Post and the New York Times "fair and balanced" is to read it in parallel with Fox News”?

I would say that what Tobold was stating was not a fallacy, but rather the pointing out of a fallacy: suppression of evidence is one title for it. Basically, it's the assumption that a particular argument has addressed all possible evidence, and that must mean that the arguer is correct, when in reality there is some other evidence they have ignored or suppressed in order to appear correct.

It's not that Fox and, say, MSNBC, are the only two perspectives out there, but that they tend to oppose each other, so what one company will ignore, the other has a higher chance of not ignoring. Now, there are sure to be things that happen in the world that neither opposing station will report on, but looking at both is certainly better than looking at one, particularly when it comes to partisan topics.
 
This shows that you have a predetermined bias that pigeonholes these news sources.

No, why would that have to be predetermined? Don't you think I can recognize a right-wing bias in Fox News and a left-wing bias in the Washington Post by simply reading those two news sources? Their bias isn't all that well hidden. What are my chances to find a pro gun control, or pro choice article in Fox News? The only pigeonhole here is the one they put themselves into on purpose.

In fact that was exactly what my original comment was about: News sources which decide that if they have a recognizable bias they will attract a larger readership than if they are balanced. Game blogs as well as newspapers.
 
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