A Note From the Editors

Tod Kelly

Tod is a writer from the Pacific Northwest. He is also serves as Executive Producer and host of both the 7 Deadly Sins Show at Portland's historic Mission Theatre and 7DS: Pants On Fire! at the White Eagle Hotel & Saloon. He is  a regular inactive for Marie Claire International and the Daily Beast, and is currently writing a book on the sudden rise of exorcisms in the United States. Follow him on Twitter.

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330 Responses

  1. greginak says:

    It is always heartening to see continued efforts at developing a diverse respectful community. Things may not work out the way it is expected but at least there is a noble goal we can share. It is a worthwhile endeavor that we succeed in far more than other places. I’ve been with my wife for 13 years that isn’t all that much longer then i’ve been here. Long term relationships always have bumps and need some effort to keep moving forward.Report

  2. Saul Degraw says:

    I disagree with a lot of Mike’s post. I kind of like the free-range structure of OT and I like that the comments section is the main thread. I always saw us as more of a discussion place than anything else.Report

    • nevermoor in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      I agree with this point. The best part of any online community, for me, is the comments. I frankly found the suggestion that OT is bad because “the comment sections became the main event” to be pretty off-putting. And, of course, the “only respond with a post” point is nonsense for those not on the masthead.

      If that’s the change you guys are envisioning, just let me know. I’ll find a different spot somewhere else. You’re free to have whatever community you want here.Report

    • Burt Likko in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      Comments are not going away.Report

    • Stillwater in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      I kind of like the free-range structure of OT and I like that the comments section is the main thread. I always saw us as more of a discussion place than anything else.

      Well, there’s discussion and then there’s discussion, you know what I mean? People saying X, being challenged on it, and then just repeating X again – more emphatically – isn’t a discussion. Alsotoo, a back and forth attempting to reaffirm one’s own feelings about a topic isn’t really a discussion either. Unless the topic of discussion is one’s feelings, of course.

      The types of discussions I’m partial to here at the League, and the ones we haven’t had in quite a long time, are those in which people are sufficiently invested in views of others that they consider *those* reasons as part of their own decision-making calculus, and don’t reflexively reject them outa a prior ideological or political (or let’s face it, childishly emotional commitment) to their own views. As an example of what I mean, Brandon Berg is one of the most insightful, factually correct, personally honest, ideologically transparent, commenters here at the site, and it seems to me that most lefties simply reject his comments outa hand. They never even *think* about what he’s saying.

      So, if batting the argumentative ball around without being open to revising your own views is yer thing, you oughta not pretend to be engaging in real discussion.Report

      • Snarky McSnarkSnark in reply to Stillwater says:

        I have come to think of OT as more of a salon than a magazine, and am just fine with it. I have always appreciated the generally civil tone, and diversity of viewpoints (although it seems we tend to cluster around the wonkish center-left).

        There are many places on the internet that are more curated and edited. But the wide-ranging discussions of a well-read readership has always been the primary attraction of the site to me.Report

      • Alan Scott in reply to Stillwater says:

        Stillwater, everything you wrote in that post reflects my idea of what OT should be.Report

  3. Michael Drew says:

    As someone who I think came in (as a commenter) very shortly after the transition that Mike describes – from front-page writers talking to each other in sequential posts, to a prototype of what we now have with front-page writers beginning proceedings with an essay on a topic of their interest, with the expectation that a discussion in comments would follow – I’ll say that I never got the sense that that early format was envisioned as the preferred format for the site, nor that as commenting grew and grew anyone felt that the site was getting away from the founders’ vision for it. Just the opposite, to be honest.

    I wasn’t around for those days when it did have the previous format, nor was I present at the creation, nor am I one of the founders, so I obviously can’t speak for any of those Gentlemen’s state of mind at that time. But just as a commenter I never got any sense that the evolution away from the post-to-post method to the post-and-comment method was anything anyone was concerned about.Report

    • Dave in reply to Michael Drew says:


      But just as a commenter I never got any sense that the evolution away from the post-to-post method to the post-and-comment method was anything anyone was concerned about.

      I think the evolution had fully taken hold around the time I had begun my hiatus from OT, but I don’t recall there being any concern. I can say that my reasons for stepping away had nothing to do with the evolution or anything related to this site.

      I think the evolution was for the better, and reading the comments overall reminds me that this place seems to have gotten a lot more cordial since my return in early 2013 (although I don’t credit myself for that).Report

  4. Glyph says:

    Well, as long as this is about behind-the-scenes housecleaning, a couple items:

    A.) I know here at OT we all have respect for the rule of law and abhor vigilante justice, but if the office-fridge thief colloquially known as the ‘Go-GURT Phantom’ is not stopped soon, I cannot be held responsible for the consequences. Fair warning.

    B.) I think we can all agree that, whatever the cause – personally, I suspect an errant car of circus clowns with Explosive Bowel Syndrome – the state of the second-floor Men’s Room is deplorable, and quite probably hazardous. The Sherman Solution may be in order.Report

  5. Chris says:

    Dwyer has expressed pretty much this exact vision for the site in years past, because he’s interested in what the site can do for him, and in particular for his writing career, less than he is interested in the site itself. And I’m sure he’d love to see an audience less hostile to his ideas on race and such for similar reasons. I think it’s worth noting, then, that the several talented writers who’ve launched actual writing careers out of this site mostly did so under something like the current format, or in fact under the formats that came before the current one, particularly the one Dwyer explicitly laments (the sub-blogs, which nurtured several people who now having paying writing gigs). If this place has yet to launch him into bigger and better paying gigs, it’s likely not a result of the format.

    That said, I too would like to see the place more diverse, though I’m not sure a closed off, more gated place more conducive to Dwyer’s views on the cops and race is the way to get there. But then I suspect the diversity I’m thinking of and the diversity I’m thinking of are largely mutually incompatible.

    By the way, I’ll say this again: despite a million protests otherwise, this place already skews right. Its front-pagers range primarily from the conservative (e.g., MacLeod, Dodds, Truman, Dwyer, Bath, Sanders) to the moderately socially liberal but otherwise fairly conservative centrists (e.g., Kelly, Likko) ,with one regularly posting run-of-the-mill liberal (Degraw), and more right leaning libertarians to round out the range (e.g., Jaybird). The commenters skew partisan Democrat, though fairly centrist (I believe North and greginak are representative), and of the site’s old school commenters, there remain more conservatives than leftier folks, and I have had some of those old school folks tell me, quite explicitly, that they don’t come around because the place is not friendly to the left. I believe the last bit is, in fact, partly a result of the dissolution of the sub-blog format, which may have fragmented the conversation to some degree, but was more amenable to a more ideologically diverse community, with at least some of those folks more likely to comment on the main page if they had a less diverse sub-blog community to hang out in most of the time.Report

    • Glyph in reply to Chris says:

      the diversity I’m thinking of and the diversity I’m thinking of are largely mutually incompatible

      Talk about being of two minds.

      What’s interesting to me is that the leftier posters mostly seem to self-select out – that is, they mostly seem to just sort of stop posting, and go quietly elsewhere.

      The rightier ones who leave, seem a little more likely to go out swinging/complaining in some sort of public comments-kerfuffle (Ryan Noonan was an exception here).

      I’m not saying either approach is preferable; I just think it’s interesting.

      The commenters skew partisan Democrat…I have had some of those old school folks tell me, quite explicitly, that they don’t come around because the place is not friendly to the left

      This apparent contradiction (if accurate) is also interesting to me…anecdotally then, we have posters leaving because the commentariat is too left, and commenters leaving because the posters are not left enough.

      Sorting in action, though which way that ultimately shakes out is beyond me.Report

      • Chris in reply to Glyph says:

        Ugh, one should have been “he’s thinking of.”

        And of course I don’t think of most of the commenters here as being on the left. They’re perhaps a bit to the left of the center, but still firmly planted in the center. I think the reason why both some of the conservatives complained and some of the leftier folks complained is simply that the center looks like it’s in the other direction from both perspectives.

        Like I said, I think the sub-blogs were more conducive to ideological diversity. Both leftier folks and the further right conservatives (TVD, Tim) had “safe” places from which they could drop into the more hostile main page now and then.Report

        • Glyph in reply to Chris says:

          center looks like it’s in the other direction from both perspectives

          I’ve made this comment before, when accused here of sympathizing with or covering for some righty-position.

          “It just looks that way to you, because I am talking to YOU.

          Believe me, when I’m at Christmas or Thanksgiving dinner with my ultra-conservative relatives, they all think I’m some kind of pinko.”Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to Glyph says:

        I generally think it is partially human nature to see bias towards the other side.

        Slate Star Codex goes into long debates about whether the Scott Alexander is more favorable to the left or the right. The Right claims the site has a liberal bias and the left claims the site as a conservative bias. FWIW, I think Scott Alexander is fairly tolerant of some pretty far-right wing people that wouldn’t get their ideas to fly at OT.

        I’ve always thought of this place as being libertarianish or Democratic. I know Burt considers himself a Republican or former Republican but I’ve never picked up anything conservative from his posts. Will tends to the right but I see him as a rather heterdox Republican in many ways. I guess Bath is conservative to the point of being generally pro-business. Dwyer and Tim were the only guys I really saw as being reliably Republican/Conservative writers.Report

    • Saul Degraw in reply to Chris says:

      Way to start someone’s week by calling them run of the mill


      More seriously, I generally think Dwyer disliked the comment section because he disliked how much push back he got on certain areas.Report

      • Chris in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        I don’t mean that you are run of the mill personally, but that your politics are in now way out there. They’re fairly bog standard, and I don’t think you’d deny that for the most part (with some possible exceptions on particular issues). That is, I think if we polled most Democratic voters, their politics would look an awful lot like yours.Report

        • Saul Degraw in reply to Chris says:

          I know. I was just being silly. I am a pretty standard liberal Democratic voter or Social Democratic leaning person. I am skeptical of neo-liberalism and can be of Capitalism but certainly not the kind leftie that dislikes the Democratic Party.Report

      • There is a fine line between “supportive of lively disagreement” and “tolerant of abusive trolls.” That being said, this site is clearly on the side of the angels in this respect. I wouldn’t call it even close. The danger of going in the other direction is that it can result in the only permissible comment being “That is so true!”, making the comments insipid.

        I think back fondly to college bull sessions. We were completely prepared to call each other out on bullshit. We could and did literally point and laugh at times. But of course it is one thing when these are people you know personally and hang out with constantly. My ideal is to replicate that environment, but this is really hard to do and to maintain. Alas, I don’t have any great insight into how to accomplish it.Report

      • Snarky McSnarkSnark in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        The push-back is my favorite part…Report

    • Stillwater in reply to Chris says:

      I believe the last bit is, in fact, partly a result of the dissolution of the sub-blog format, which may have fragmented the conversation to some degree, but was more amenable to a more ideologically diverse community, with at least some of those folks more likely to comment on the main page if they had a less diverse sub-blog community to hang out in most of the time.

      This. The sub-blog format sorta required folks to *actively* go into another person’s house before engaging the conversation taking place there, and if that house was Constitutional Conservatism, for example, (or Radical Populist Liberal, whatever) you already knew the basic argumentative terrain under your feet, the relevant background from whence (did I really just use that word?) the discussion arose, what the parameters of a “legitimate” criticism were, how the contours of “reasonable debate” were defined, etc. Entering sorta required playing by the house rules. And perhaps more importantly, refraining from entering because you didn’t want to play was easy. When all that collapsed, basically everything became “front page” material, which in my mind – at least from a practical pov – implies that the writer is putting their piece in front of the main audience to stand or fall all on its own, and to suffer whatever slings and arrows of outrageous fortune may result from accepting and expecting full-metal-criticism.

      Bring back the sub-blog format!Report

      • Stillwater in reply to Stillwater says:

        I’d add one other benefit of the sub-blogs: that the writer who posts in his or her own sub-blog is permitted (not quite the right word) to post an interesting piece about political theory or policy which acts to continue their own internal ruminations regarding their own ever-evolving views without that post being viewed as an attempt at persuasion of others.

        Personally, I think that’s what’s broken down the most over the last few years: it seems like every post is viewed as an attempt to either defend or gain political support which manifests at the populist electoral level. I’d like to think that this place is better than that, myself. That we don’t reduce the merits – and discussion! – of any particular view to the electoral implications of accepting/rejecting that view. But it seems to me that’s become increasingly not only the tone but also the substance of what happens here. By way of contrast to what I’m talking about, I remember Tim K posting stuff at his site in the sub-blog days where I would offer suggestions on how to tighten up his own arguments, since it was obvious that the post was an attempt to tighten up his own views and was NOT intended to persuade ME (the dear reader!) to agree with him.

        Note: to the extent what I’ve written is correct or even intelligible I don’t blame it entirely on the dissolution of the sub-blogs. Just mostly. 🙂Report

        • Chris in reply to Stillwater says:

          This is definitely true. What’s more, with a sub-blog populated mostly, though not entirely, by people with similar world-views, you end up being able to dispense with a lot of the preliminary stuff. That is, part of what sharing a world view entails is having a similar knowledge base (at least on the relevant stuff), or sharing a great deal of rhetorical and epistemic common ground.

          So you can work on an argument and on your views without having to rehash the stuff that anyone who understands those views likely considers implicit in them.

          Anyway, I think the sub-blog system, which it must be repeated produced a bunch of writers who now have paid gigs, either as side or full time careers, was important in a lot of ways, and getting rid of them hurt the site in many ways.Report

      • This was before my time here, but it sounds like what they try to do with religion at patheos.com. The idea seems to be to host a wide ranging discussion from all viewpoints. In practice it is a host for a bunch of blogs that largely don’t have anything to do with each other. There is some cross-blog dialogue, but not really any more than in the blogosphere in general. If they are happy with this, that is fine. But if you want the various groups to talk, throwing them together is going to work better than giving them each their own room to go off to.Report

        • Stillwater in reply to Richard Hershberger says:

          When we had that structure here the format wasn’t viewed as a partition between communities but more as a demarcation of spaces where certain types of discussion took place and folks from all stripes were invited to participate. But only if they were gonna engage in *that type* of discussion. Back then, for example, Burt and Trumwill posted almost exclusively in Not A Potted Plant (is it still there? I don’t even know anymore) and the place was understood to be moderately conservative with an eye always on legal stuff. If you wanted to go in there an and drop “conservatives suck!” bombs (or similar!), you’d be politely asked to leave. And actually, it wasn’t so much that you’d be asked to leave, it’s that you didn’t even entertain the idea of challenging the entirety of conservative thought in a place who’s purpose was to explore (moderately) conservative views.Report

          • Burt Likko in reply to Stillwater says:

            Your understanding of the NAPP sub-blog is fascinating to me because it very, very much at variance with my vision of what it was. FTR, it’s still there, although there is no overt link to it available from the front page anymore.Report

            • Stillwater in reply to Burt Likko says:

              How did … errra, DO … you view it? Now I’m curious.

              It always struck me that the political content – at least back then, when I’m pretty sure you identified as moderately conservative (didn’t you identify as conservative back in the day?) – was, well, moderately conservative in tone, even while lots of the posts were, of course, apolitical.Report

              • Burt Likko in reply to Stillwater says:

                I view it as a proving ground for intellectually challenging ideas. I frequently test-drove ideas that were foreign to my initial impulses, and sometimes found myself adopting them. One of the things I found particularly engaging about co-bloggers Will Truman and Vikram Bath was their interest in similarly trying out different ideas and concepts for size, and being not married to any particular constellation of policy preferences.

                To the extent that it kept an eye on law, that’s because the sorts of problems and issues I think about all the time are legal. Vikram is more business- and economics-focused, for instance, so it’s hardly a surprise that he’d wrestle and dance with issues in those spheres.

                So someone coming in saying “conservatives suck!” would have been ignored, or challenged, because the level of thought that goes in to such a proclamation is minimal and that’s not what the place was for. It was never, in my mind, a “place for [moderate] conservatives” but rather a place where [moderate] conservative ideas, among other kinds of ideas, got tested critically.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Burt Likko says:

                Hmmm. This is one of those conversations that doesn’t have an exit strategy, seems to me, so all I’ll say is that I agree with what you wrote and see it as an elaboration of pretty much what I wrote earlier, even tho you view my earlier comment as expressing the opposite.

                I’m not sure where the disagreement lies.Report

              • Burt Likko in reply to Stillwater says:

                I’m taking exception to the use of the label “conservative” more than anything else. NAPP was never intended to be a “conservative” project.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Burt Likko says:

                Fair enough. My apologies for implying that it was.Report

              • Alan Scott in reply to Burt Likko says:

                Burt Likko:
                I view it as a proving ground for intellectually challenging ideas. I frequently test-drove ideas that were foreign to my initial impulses, and sometimes found myself adopting them. One of the things I found particularly engaging about co-bloggers Will Truman and Vikram Bath was their interest in similarly trying out different ideas and concepts for size, and being not married to any particular constellation of policy preferences.

                To the extent that it kept an eye on law, that’s because the sorts of problems and issues I think about all the time are legal. Vikram is more business- and economics-focused, for instance, so it’s hardly a surprise that he’d wrestle and dance with issues in those spheres.

                So someone coming in saying “conservatives suck!” would have been ignored, or challenged, because the level of thought that goes in to such a proclamation is minimal and that’s not what the place was for. It was never, in my mind, a “place for [moderate] conservatives” but rather a place where [moderate] conservative ideas, among other kinds of ideas, got tested critically.

                I guess that’s why I didn’t get the point of the political sub-blogs at the time. Because that philosophy, to me, was the primary draw of the site, and I find myself quite dissatisfied with political posts that didn’t do that. That’s why I never really appreciated Dutch Courage and the explicitly liberal subblog whose name I forget.Report

              • aarondavid in reply to Alan Scott says:

                Jubilee and then A Rightous Commotion. I think.Report

    • Burt Likko in reply to Chris says:

      Contra Chris’ global assessment, were we to ask someone who self-identifies as conservative whether this site overall skews left or right, the answer would be “skews left.” Gratefully, I note that Chris diagnoses the site as non-monolithic, with a multiplicity of perspectives on offer.

      If lefties see this place as a non-monolithic, right-skewing site, and righties see this place as a non-monolithic, left-skewing site, then from my point of view about the right balance is being struck.Report

      • Stillwater in reply to Burt Likko says:

        If lefties see this place as a non-monolithic, right-skewing site, and righties see this place as a non-monolithic, left-skewing site, then from my point of view about the right balance is being struck.

        That’s the Washington Post’s definition of a moderate!Report

      • Will Truman in reply to Burt Likko says:

        “If both sides think we’re in the other side we’re balanced” would be a much better point if we didn’t loom at actual voting habits, history, and who supports whom.

        It may well be the case that the site is economically centrist or a bit to the right, but that is utterly swamped by the uniformity and intensity on social issues, as well as where people stand when the rubber hits the road.Report

        • Chris in reply to Will Truman says:

          I think this is absolutely true on one issue: gay rights. There is very little diversity here on that issue. On other issues there is significantly more, but on that issue, the consensus is overwhelming. I have little problem with this being the case, though I imagine people who find themselves on the other side of that issue might.

          Otherwise, I’m not sure there’s such a consensus on any other issue. The place might be broadly pro-choice, but it is not so exclusively so; its views on race and gender do not, perhaps, span the entire range of such views in the general population, but are not by any means uniform; its views on evolution are largely in line with the consensus of people offsite who are as educated as the people of this site tend to be, though see, e.g., CK. What other social issues might we do a survey on?

          And perhaps that would be interesting: one of the broad political compasses.Report

          • Chris in reply to Chris says:

            E.g., maybe we could get folks to take this:


            I’ll happily collect and write-up the data. Can be anonymous or not, as long as people don’t do it more than once.Report

            • Glyph in reply to Chris says:

              Not sure if the link will display the final tally graph, so:

              Economic Left/Right: -1.75
              Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -6.0

              That is, I fall far more toward the libertarian bottom, than authoritarian top (as I expected), but fall slightly to the left economically (I would have expected to fall at least slightly to the right).

              I did think a few of the questions were (perhaps intentionally) ambiguously-phrased.Report

              • Chris in reply to Glyph says:

                The link did work! Spreadsheet started.

                By the way, the Compass, which dates to the early days of the blogosphere, is highly imperfect. If someone knows of a better scale, let me know.Report

              • Glyph in reply to Chris says:

                The results kind of remind me when Kazzy put up that questionnaire for the last Pres. election, and I came out with (unsurprisingly) the Libertarian platform as my #1 presumed choice, but (surprisingly to me, because I hadn’t followed them at all) the Greens as #2.Report

              • Chris in reply to Glyph says:

                I think Greens came out #2 for a lot of people, because they were so far from everyone else. “You’re either Constitutional Party or Greens” may not mean much more than, “You’re either Constitutional Party or screwed, we can’t quite tell.”Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Chris says:

                I think what it shows is that most (thinking!) people realize that policy which doesn’t hang together will surely hang separately. What we get from the two-party duopoly isn’t very satisfying to anyone (ie, thinking person!) except for practical considerations (like “least evil”). In fact, I’d probably prefer a coherent lefty-libertarian policy agenda over the current Democrat platform since not only since on balance I’d be getting just as many of my preferred policies, but the coherence of those policies would reinforce the likelihood of each one’s success. Same goes for the Greens, for that matter. And certainly Sanders’ Socialism.

                The problem with all of em, of course, is politics!

                We really need instant runoff voting in this country….Report

              • Anne in reply to Chris says:

                Economic Left/Right: -3.38
                Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -6.36Report

              • Tod Kelly in reply to Anne says:

                Hey, it’s Anne!

                Hi Anne!Report

              • Anne in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                Hi @tod-kelly @kazzy @north ! been lurking crazy busy … and then it’s nothing but work, work, work, all the time.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Anne says:

                It’s what happens when you go soft & start letting your captives live.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Anne says:

                Anne’s back?!?!?!Report

              • North in reply to Anne says:

                We love you Anne!Report

              • Maribou in reply to North says:

                Yes we do! Yay @anneReport

              • Troublesome Frog in reply to Glyph says:

                Looks like you’re the person closest to me.

                -1.75 economic
                -5.18 social

                I’d rather have seen a neutral option for a lot of those questions. And some questions with the word “always” in them are problematic for me. “Always – epsilon” means that I disagree with it.Report

              • Chris in reply to Dand says:

                Link me if you know of any good alternatives.Report

              • Dand in reply to Chris says:

                I like the Pew Political Typology Quiz better although it’s still flawed(in particular the questions about race and immigration don’t allow for those issue to be addressed in economic terms).Report

              • Ugh, just looked at Pew… it is transparently binary with cardboard cutout Republican/Democrat cookie cutter answers. I couldn’t even begin to find answers that capture my political objectives.Report

              • Ugh, just looked at Pew… it is transparently binary with cardboard cutout Republican/Democrat cookie cutter answers. I couldn’t even begin to find answers that capture my political objectives.

                I don’t see how anyone could respond to the Pew Political Typology that way; i mean it has typologies.Report

              • Tod Kelly in reply to Chris says:

                I have no alternatives, but count me in as well as one not liking the test. In fact, i wonder the degree to which you can make a test like this that provides you with meaningful data.

                As I was taking it, I found myself thinking, “This is the kind of test that will give a pretty accurate placement for someone like notme, but will do a pretty lousy job on everyone else.” It’s clear that the questions rely on you assuming that everything exists according to both a limit to a predetermined binary as all the options available in the world, and an over reliance on a bumber-sticker approach to politics.

                Some examples:

                1. The question about astrology clearly wants to know if I’m superstitious, but it sets up that question wanting to know if I think if astrology can teach us anything about anything. And it can, obviously: at the very least, it can teach us about why people believe things, even if it doesn’t predict the future. But I can’t answer that question in a way that is honest without telling the test that I STRONGLY believe in astrology, which I don’t at all.

                2. There’s question that asked about savages and civilized people that clearly assumes that I divide those two descriptors in terms of where people are born, not how they behave, and presumably it will therefore score me as if with my answer I’m making a comment about people in third world countries even though I’m not.

                3. There’s a question about the “right” to medical care that I assume is asking me to define medical care in a certain way, but not explicitly giving that definition. I don’t believe that people have a “right” to subsidized homeopathic treatment, for example, but I kind of have the feeling that the test maker is wanting me to pretend I’m listening to talk radio when I hear the question, not actually consider it.

                4. There’s a spanking question that I believe wants to know if I think spanking is immoral or not, but instead phrases it in a way where I’m not really allowed to consider that there are different kinds of spankings, or that just because one set of parents might choose spanking another might be equally justified to choose not spanking.

                Like I say, it felt like a test for people whose entire thought process about political issues come from bumper stickers.

                And with all that being said, I will still pitch in to the mega graph data!!!

                I’m Economic -7.63; Libertarian -7.77Report

              • nevermoor in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                Agreed with these critiques. Also, I think it’s an awkward match to what Libertarian usually means. I’m a regulation-loving liberal (Yay EPA!) but that doesn’t seem to be tested.

                Economic Left/Right: -4.25
                Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -5.23Report

              • You have just described why I suck at standardized psych tests. They ask me to state from one to five whether or not I enjoy going to parties. Well, I can think of some activities that are called ‘parties’ that I enjoy, and others that I loath. So I guess I’ll circle the “3” and move on to the next question. I end up with a bunch of threes, and the psychologist accuses me of being wishy-washy. Fortunately I haven’t had to go through that in about twenty years. With luck, I’ll make it to the grave before having another.Report

              • Roland Dodds in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                I was was close to the center, but slightly right of center according to that PEW questionnaire. Like you mentioned, I don’t think they are terribly wrong on the overall description of my beliefs, but these things fail to recognize that many of the questions asked are not firmly held beliefs. Only a handful of issues listed I really take a committed stand on, and thus those points are weighted the same as the meaningless ones.

                On a number of points, I would put myself on the radical left for sure.Report

              • Chris in reply to Dand says:

                Coincidentally, I just took that one, because I was looking for a better measure.

                I don’t particularly like it because it’s very focused on the American liberal-conservative spectrum, which is for me a tiny little corner of the overall political spectrum. I get “solidly liberal” in large part because I don’t like either alternative and choose the least bad. But if I end up posting something in off the cuff, I’ll include it, because it at least gets some sort of measure, and gives a percentage.Report

            • Will Truman in reply to Chris says:

              If I recall, I get dead center on that one, or never very far.Report

            • Snarky McSnarkSnark in reply to Chris says:

              It’s been done.

              I can’t remember who collated the results, but it was two or three years ago.Report

            • trumwill in reply to Chris says:

              Oh, man… now I remember what I don’t like about that quiz. First question:

              If economic globalisation is inevitable, it should primarily serve humanity rather than the interests of trans-national corporations.


            • Michael Cain in reply to Chris says:

              Economics, -5.0. Authoritarian, -3.49.

              I’ve been thinking about why I seem to score more to the left on the economics axis than I think I am on tests like this. I’ve decided that there are two things. One, I believe that social stability ultimately depends on outcomes, not just opportunities. Two, I have a good bit of Teddy Roosevelt’s “government is the little guys’ last line of defense against big business”. A number of the questions on this test were probing at attitudes towards big business.Report

            • Kazzy in reply to Chris says:

              Econ: -1.88
              Social: -7.13Report

            • Patrick in reply to Chris says:

              My problem with that test is that there are problems I consider to be problems where I won’t consider the solutions currently on the table as solutions.

              This leads to a lot of questions where my own personal ideology leads me to want to answer in such a way that I affirm that I believe the issue they’re talking about is an issue, but out in the real world all of the proposed solutions I see are all broken, and the arguments as to why they are broken are usually mostly affiliated with the opposing ideology although the arguments aren’t necessarily.

              Case in point:

              Jerry Brown’s recent slate of approved bills included a veto of AB-47.

              I’m broadly supportive of universal preschool, but $300 million a year out of the General Fund is $195 million less for established public education, because established public education is about 65% of the GF, and this bill doesn’t include a revenue increase.

              So a lot of the otherwise liberalish questions “do you support blah” are missing the important caveat about whether or not we can pay for it without reducing support for foo.Report

            • Marchmaine in reply to Chris says:


              Economic Left/Right: 0.38
              Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: 0.87

              Which on this site makes me a raging right-wing lunatic.

              But honestly, not nearly enough nuance on right of center thinking to capture true differences… so it pushes things left and down for anyone other than red-meat Republicans.Report

              • Chris in reply to Marchmaine says:

                Yeah, that’s my worry about it too.

                I guess I’m gonna have to go talk to some social psychologists. I really don’t like to talk to them.Report

              • Patrick in reply to Chris says:

                It’ll be good for you.

                Now go take your medicine.Report

              • Marchmaine in reply to Chris says:

                While you’re taking one for the team… they need to look at the upper left quadrant. It betrays their bias so completely.

                Who wants to be on the Mao/Stalin/Kim Jong Il team? Every other quadrant has at least someone that a person could reasonably claim as their talisman. They could start with, say, Leo XIII and Dorothy Day and build from there.Report

              • Chris in reply to Marchmaine says:

                Social psychologists use a variety of political/ideological scales these days (the compass is definitely not one of them), but they’re usually fairly narrowly focused. I’m hoping someone can point me to a combined/general scale with a few dimensions.

                I’m sure political scientists have scales too, but ranking my least favorite types of academics, starting from the least:

                Evolutionary Psychology graduate students
                Political Scientists
                MBA students
                Law professors
                Social PsychologistsReport

              • Maribou in reply to Chris says:

                @chris How do you feel about non-academic poets? 😀Report

              • Chris in reply to Maribou says:

                I very much prefer them.

                @aaron david you know, I don’t know that I’ve ever met any.Report

              • aaron david in reply to Chris says:

                @chris You forgot folklorists.Report

            • aaron david in reply to Chris says:

              Well, here are my scores:
              Economic Left/Right: 7.88
              Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -3.54Report

            • Maribou in reply to Chris says:

              I came out
              Economic Left/Right: -5.5
              Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -6.41

              surprising no one, I am sure.Report

            • Will H. in reply to Chris says:

              I remember Hanley doing that once.
              I, for one, enjoyed the experiment.
              As I remember it, TVD was the most conservative of all, with me at no. 2.

              Can we get a link to the graph here?

              A new round of chart-plotting would be interesting to see what shifts ave occurred in the intervening time.
              I believe it would be interesting anyway.Report

            • Dand in reply to Chris says:

              Here’s another quiz I liked better the questions weren’t as loaded as the political compass


              My Results

              My Political ViewsI am a center-left moderate social libertarianLeft: 2.02, Libertarian: 3.16Political Spectrum Quiz

              My Foreign Policy ViewsScore: -2.31Political Spectrum Quiz

              My Culture War StanceScore: -1.75Political Spectrum Quiz

            • Murali in reply to Chris says:

              Mine is
              Economic Left/Right: 4.88
              Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -1.59Report

          • Will Truman in reply to Chris says:

            I don’t think there is a conservative contributor on this site that hasn’t expressed concern about this to one degree or another. Excluding new people and people recently returned.

            The conservatives we have limit their participation. The ones who participate aren’t really conservative and/or minimize their views. And people who aren’t really conservative get the label because that who we have.

            I have historically assumed that this wasn’t intentional but rather the product of feedback loops, but if a site where one of the two major parties has limited and mostly tepid support is considered ideologically balanced here, maybe not (or maybe it’s just demonstrative of the extent).

            Whatever the case, the suspension of my efforts to find contributors to my right seems to have been a wise move.Report

            • Chris in reply to Will Truman says:

              And that, as I said, is I believe how people on the left see it as well (that is, the left, not socially-liberal centrists who support the welfare state, and maybe even some expansion of it). I think pretty much all of the contributors on that end of the spectrum are gone completely, as are most of the commenters. There is virtually no left left. Only a center that I see as leaning right, and folks on the right see as leaning left.Report

              • Will Truman in reply to Chris says:

                Chris, I agree that there is a lack of left-left here, too. But on the political axis as it exists in the United States, that’s not nearly as glaring as our inability to find and retain voices of the political party that commands over 45% of the vote in any given election.

                Greg, I agree that libertarianism is vastly overrepresented. I would point out that our libertarians tend to be more left-leaning “prefer Democrats to Republicans if I have to choose” variety than is typical.

                When describing the site to people, I usually say “we run a spectrum from libertarian to center-left mostly bypassing conservatives” and I think that description fits.Report

              • Glyph in reply to Will Truman says:

                our libertarians tend to be more left-leaning “prefer Democrats to Republicans if I have to choose” variety than is typical

                I will say that is generally true for me at least, but is not necessarily a permanent state of affairs (though what is?)

                The GOP has beclowned and besmirched its bonafides (all while paying lipservice-only to libertarian concerns) for so long now that “better/saner/more-competent than the GOP” isn’t that high of a bar to clear.

                Should the GOP ever get its act together, I could see this changing pretty quickly, since it’s less ” comfortable ideological compatibility” and more “I may not agree with you on everything, but those guys over there are CRAZY.”Report

              • Kim in reply to Glyph says:

                The more remarkable thing is that we’ve got a lot of libertarian leaning lefties, I’d say.

                Because you’d hear all the livelong day about lefties who want America to bring in all the refugee children from South of the Border — but how many places will you hear the lefties (more than one, even!) saying “it’s cheaper to help ’em down there, and that’s where I’m putting my money.”Report

              • Kolohe in reply to Kim says:

                That’s only until the flooding in the Carolinas is over.Report

              • aaron david in reply to Glyph says:

                It’s funny @glyph. As an ex-Democrat Libertarian, that is exactly l how I feel about my old party. It is all a matter of perspective I guess.Report

              • Glyph in reply to aaron david says:

                I’ve been registered Independent all my life, so I never had a major party to “abandon”.

                (Well, all my life since I was of voting age).Report

              • aaron david in reply to Glyph says:

                Ha! That said, most of my family (mom’s side is much bigger than dad’s) is liberal to make @chris look a Reaganite. Seriously, some found Berkeley, M-Fing BERKELEY!, too conservative and emigrated to East Germany.Report

              • Chris in reply to aaron david says:

                What do they think of this year’s Nobel Prize in literature? I know some people who were genuinely upset, which I admit I found kind of amusing.Report

              • Kim in reply to Chris says:

                ‘snot like this one’s writing pornography, is it now?Report

              • aaron david in reply to Chris says:

                I don’t know much about her, other than she is from Belarus(?) I think. That said, I get my reading matterial from what is possibly the most random method, as I am a bookscout first and formost. I also don’t place much value in lit awards as they are far to political to juge the quality of the writing.Report

              • Mike Schilling in reply to Chris says:

                Jeez, they gave Obama one of those too?Report

              • Chris in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                Heh… She’s considered to be an anti-Soviet propagandist, perhaps funded by the CIA (ala Pasternak), in some circles.Report

              • Dand in reply to Chris says:

                And that, as I said, is I believe how people on the left see it as well (that is, the left, not socially-liberal centrists who support the welfare state, and maybe even some expansion of it)

                What percentage of the population of country holds view that you consider to be on “the left”? Is what you consider the left less represented here than it would be in a random sample of the population? This is what I meant when I said you were concerned about fringe ideologies that are common on college campuses.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Dand says:

                Perhaps we need to better understand how things map in the real world. My very uninformed guess would be that America has two humps… one is center-leftish as this is where most of the “left” exists… and another is pretty far right, as it seems that is where most of the “right” is.

                To say it another way, most of the “left” is fairly moderate and most of the “right” is more solidly right. I don’t know that much of a center-right really exists.

                To the extent that this is a place that caters to the center, we’re going to avoid folks at either poles which means the small fringe left and the larger, more conservative right.Report

            • Stillwater in reply to Will Truman says:

              It’s hard to become a site that’s all things to all people.Report

            • greginak in reply to Will Truman says:

              This place also has more libertarian leaners then the general population. I imagine that might make some republican conservatives uncomfortable on some issues since they feel attacked from different sides and from people who they often feel they have common ground with. The spectrum here goes into the libertarian area more then most places which doesn’t quite map onto the R vs L spectrum.Report

              • Kim in reply to greginak says:

                by the metric of putting my money where my mouth is, I suppose I’m libertarian… Life is, in fact, a grand joke.Report

              • Glyph in reply to greginak says:

                Yeah, I’ve commented before that the conservatives here kind of get it from both sides, due to the libertarian presence.

                I’d feel bad about that, but as someone who feels libertarianish, I’m used to getting it from both sides everywhere else.Report

              • greginak in reply to Glyph says:

                Of course on the flip side, on some issues the liberal types have to argue with both other groups. But often some people are in a minority on some issues, which is just the nature of groups.Report

              • Don Zeko in reply to greginak says:

                I think part of the problem is that the emotional intensity of disagreement tends to be higher on some issues than others. People, both here and in the wider world/internet, tend to be less rhetorically forgiving when they disagree with somebody about issues related to race, abortion, LGBT issues, and religion, but more forgiving about economics, regulation, and foreign policy. So that means it tends to be easier, I think, for Liberals and Libertarians to have productive conversations than for Conservatives and Liberals (or Conservatives and some varieties of Libertarian) to do so.Report

              • SaulDegraw in reply to Don Zeko says:

                I think this is basically right with some exceptions. I can see being convinced on some deregulation or I concede that regulations should be well targeted.

                But social and cultural issues are much harder to fight on because there is often no middle ground.Report

            • Snarky McSnarkSnark in reply to Will Truman says:

              I wish I understood the complaints of the conservatives here a little better, but they seem almost mystical to me. No place else I know of on the internet gives more space for diversity of opinion than here.

              One thing I have noticed is that many–if not most–of the self-proclaimed conservatives here are contemptuous and snotty in their postings, and that when people respond to that they tend to complain that they are being suppressed. TVD, for some of the old-timers here, could be marvelously lucid and insightful, but chose to spend 90% of his postings on trolling.

              Perhaps it’s a result of the current conservative moment, which seems, from my center-left perspective, to be pretty insular and tribal. I generally enjoy having my ideas challenged (or, at least, bandied about). But if dissent is intolerable, there’s not much room for discussion on a forum such as this one.

              Being fairly erratic in my attention to this site, I cannot say whether it’s a chicken problem, or an egg problem. It could well be that the conservatives started out civil, and became frustrated over time. But it has been my experience that most of the rightest commenters here seem to take particular delight in goading liberals, and the pushback that I’ve seen I consider mostly healthy.Report

              • It seems to me that both the GOP partisans, arch-conservatives and the arch-leftists tended to post is a somewhat similar tone and get eviscerated in the comments. I think that they got shredded on the arguments though, not in terms of name calling but being a centrist I’d remember it that way.Report

    • Dand in reply to Chris says:

      By the way, I’ll say this again: despite a million protests otherwise, this place already skews right.

      That’s only true if you’re comparing it to the politics of a university faculty rather than the nation as a whole. If you were to poll either the front pagers and the commentariat I think they are the left of general population of every issue. I mean half the country believes in creationism how many people here do? Close to half of the population is pro-life how many people here are? 40% of the population opposes same-sex marriage how many people here do? Do you have an example of a policy where either the front pagers or the commentariat are to the right of the general public? I find the notion that the site is right wing because it isn’t filled with fringe left views strange a sign that the person saying it is living in a bubble.Report

      • Chris in reply to Dand says:

        The place is certainly more socially liberal than the Republican base. I don’t think this is particularly telling, though. It is largely economically conservative, and among the front pagers, there are more than a handful who are in fact fairly socially conservative.Report

        • Dand in reply to Chris says:

          I’m not comparing this site to the republican base I’m comparing it to the nation as a whole, on what economic issues do you think this site is to the right of the population on (I’m not say there aren’t any id’ just like some examples)? I think support for UBI is greater among people here than among the population as a whole. I think this place is more likely to support free trade than the population but that’s an issue that doesn’t divide on ideological lines and Democrats are more likely to support trade than republican (There’s a reason Trump is anti-trade).Report

          • Chris in reply to Dand says:

            UBI is, strangely, popular among libertarians.

            What do you think the support for single payer is here vs. the general population (as long as you don’t call it “socialized medicine” in a survey)?

            And while it’s true that much of the population is comprised of creationists and pro-lifers, I think you’ll find that these are not strictly left-right issues. It’s true that religious conservatives are more likely to be conservative generally, but creationism is in fact broader than religious conservatism, as in fact is pro-life (there are a lot of liberal, pro-life Catholics, e.g.).

            If you want to draw the lines based on the population, then you’re going to have harder time sorting out your axis clearly.Report

            • Dand in reply to Chris says:

              After goolgeing it seems public support for single payer is at about 35%-45% I think there would be a similar level of support among the commenters, I’m less certain about the front pagers. While opinion on abortion isn’t perfectly correlated to ideology there is a least some correlation unlike with trade policy. The town I come from outside of Boston has a lot of Pro-Life democrats but I’m not sure I’d call them liberal they favor worker friendly policies but their views on race, law and order, welfare and foreign policy tend to be conservative, they elect people like Ray Flynn and Richard Daley Sr. and most of them are very old.Report

          • Jesse Ewiak in reply to Dand says:

            I think there’s far higher support here than in the general pop for means testing and cutting/privatizing/block granting of various entitlements such as Social Security, Medicare, and the like. And I think there’s far less support here than in general pop for what most people would consider a normal ‘public school’.

            But, to push back, if 80% of the population suddenly wanted nationalization of the banks, that wouldn’t make Dodd-Frank a right-wing policy. It’d still be a centrist to center-left policy. It’d just happen when it came to the issue of the banks, lots of people were far-left.Report

            • North in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

              Who here does favor block granting of entitlements? I can’t think of any I’m in favor of having that done to. Usually around here the libertarians are honest enough to come out and say “I don’t think we should have that program”. Block granting is the kind of fan dancing that Republicans have and we’re relatively thin on Republicans around here.

              I’d suggest that most of them have crept away in embarrassment because of the GOP’s behavior lately and it’s very difficult to defend that outside of the right-o-sphere but then I’m a Democrat so I would suggest that wouldn’t I?Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to North says:

                I think for us libertarian types you have to look at ideological versus pragmatic approaches.

                I may not much care for SS ideologically, but if we have to have it, pragmatically it should be means tested.Report

              • nevermoor in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                “Entitlement reform” is a hard subject to talk about, because so much of it seems to come from one of a couple groups: (1) conservatives who are looking to use the term as a euphemism for massive social safety net cuts used to fund top-bracket-focused tax cuts; or (2) beltway moderates who see that there may someday be funding issues and conclude that the not-thems should suffer now to avoid potential future suffering.

                Note: I’m not saying that’s you. I also support some kind of means testing for SS payments because it simply makes sense not to send checks to people for whom the amount is insignificantly small when you could instead increase benefits to people for whom the amount is life-sustaining.Report

            • Dand in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

              Has this place ever discussed entitlement “reforms” I can’t remember that we have. I don’t have a clue what people here think about them, among the general public I think there would be support for means test but opposition to any other kind of cuts. On school policy public opinion is divided 50/50 I don’t know what people here think overall.
              If ideology a fixed axis then for the vast majority of human history people have been far right on social issues.Report

              • Alan Scott in reply to Dand says:

                I’m sure that’s true, but there’s a bit of temporal chauvanism in the assumption that past cultures become more and more enlightened as they evolve into our present culture.Report

              • Rufus F. in reply to Alan Scott says:

                I made a crack about that sort of temporal chauvinism in that Nietzsche article I linked to in Off the Cuff, but it occurs to me a better line would have been “If you don’t like the present, don’t live here!” Report

              • Patrick in reply to Dand says:

                We have. I would have to dig up links.

                FWIW I am in favor of single-payer, means testing social security and raising the cap, universal public school with some reform but largely based upon what we have, widespread pension reform, more tax revenue generally, enabling international labor unions as part of international trade agreements, decriminalizing drugs, slashing the military budget, and I probably would have nationalized the banks rather than bailed them out just to make it easier to put folks in jail.Report

          • Alan Scott in reply to Dand says:

            Off the top of my head, I’d guess we’re to the right of the country on rent control, minimum wage, affirmative action, entitlement programs for seniors, and financial aid for students.

            I’m not comparing this site to the republican base I’m comparing it to the nation as a whole, on what economic issues do you think this site is to the right of the population on (I’m not say there aren’t any id’ just like some examples)? I think support for UBI is greater among people here than among the population as a whole. I think this place is more likely to support free trade than the population but that’s an issue that doesn’t divide on ideological lines and Democrats are more likely to support trade than republican (There’s a reason Trump is anti-trade).


            • Dand in reply to Alan Scott says:

              Off the top of my head, I’d guess we’re to the right of the country on rent control.

              It’s possible but I doubt it rent control is only an issue in a small number of coastal cities, in most of the country it doesn’t matter and it lost in a statewide vote in Massachusetts.

              minimum wage

              I’d say there’s less support for the minimum wage but a number of people want to replace it with UBI; I’m not sure that replacing the MW with UBI is to the right of the country as a whole. It’s like claiming replacing Obamacare with single payer is right wing.

              affirmative action

              That probably depends on how you phrase the question, I suspect support for AA here is more than 28% but less than 58%.

              entitlement programs for seniors, and financial aid for students.

              That’s completely possible I’d be interested in comparing a poll of this site to a poll of the general population, I don’t think we’d talked about those issues much.Report

              • Alan Scott in reply to Dand says:

                Well, yeah. It’s fuzzy and complicated. Our economic views are fuzzy and complicated. They may seem superficially right-wing, but when examined closely don’t really fall into the left/right dichotomy at all. We put a lot of thought into economic issues that most people don’t bother to examine, and that only effect a small minority of our population. And as a group that’s mostly white, college educated men, our economic views align more closely to our demographic make-up that the economic views of the majority of the country that’s not white, not male, or doesn’t have a college degree.

                But all of that is true of our social politics too. We are, if you have to pick a specific descriptor, socially to the left, but that’s all subject to the same caveats and complications that apply to our description as economically center-right.Report

        • Brandon Berg in reply to Chris says:

          My sense is that in general, college-educated men in the US tend to be somewhat more libertarian along both axes than the median American, and some fiddling with GSS data backed that up, so while the tails are probably overrepresented a bit, this is pretty much what you’d expect, given the demographics. Well, aside from Dennis.Report

          • Chris in reply to Brandon Berg says:

            Yeah, I figure this place looks pretty normal for a collection of well-educated white men, with perhaps some extra-libertarian economics. It might be a bit more socially liberal than that demographic as a a whole, in part because I suspect it’s less religious (which isn’t to say non-religious), but mostly it looks pretty much like the fat part of that particular curve.Report

    • Kazzy in reply to Chris says:

      Man… I don’t even get mentioned. Sigh… I clearly need to become MORE pugnacious.Report

      • Chris in reply to Kazzy says:

        I kept thinking of where to try to put you, and couldn’t, sort of like Glyph. You’ve clearly got pretty socially progressive views on things like race, gender, and sexual orientation, but I wouldn’t know where you’d fit on an economic axis.Report

        • Kazzy in reply to Chris says:

          I don’t know where I really fit in either with regards to economics. There is how I would ideally like to see things work in an ideal world (which skew pretty libertarian), but knowing that we are NOT in an ideal world and that our economics are pretty deeply entangled with race and gender, I end up actively supporting policies that are pretty left-leaning.

          But then I read the Bernie-Yearners on FaceBook and I want to go full Galt.Report

          • aaron david in reply to Kazzy says:

            “But then I read the Bernie-Yearners on FaceBook and I want to go full Galt.”

            Do they want to live in Be-Yearn Burg?Report

          • Chris in reply to Kazzy says:

            I’m from Tennessee. The Tea Party is too liberal for some of the people on my Facebook.Report

          • Kim in reply to Kazzy says:

            the more I live, the more I find that more ends justify the means than people would ever care to think.
            Economic Alignment: Troll — because if you’re so stupid as to believe something, even when smarter people than you say otherwise, someone else can and should use your money better. ** Your money, of course, provided willingly and of your own stupidity and free will.

            There’s not a sucker born every minute, but the ones that are, will keep coming back again and again and again.Report

          • Dave in reply to Kazzy says:


            “But then I read the Bernie-Yearners on FaceBook and I want to go full Galt.”

            Please do. They make me miss the Paul-bots and the Palin-istas. Seriously. Get the little bastards off my lawn!!!Report

        • Murali in reply to Chris says:

          So, where would you put me?Report

          • Chris in reply to Murali says:

            Good question: you are broadly libertarian, economically, which reads as more conservative in American terms; your social politics appear somewhat conservative for America, and you have ideas about government that don’t really fit on the American axis. I’d put you in Singapore, or perhaps the English midlands ;).Report

    • Tod Kelly in reply to Chris says:

      FTR — and I am speaking as just me here, not as The Editors — the main issue is not how many leftist vs. righties vs. libertarians vs. C.H.U.D.s there are here. My feeling about the way things should work in the threads and posts remains, as always, that people should largely be able to expect to get back what they put in, in terms of hostility, empathy, respect, etc.

      For example, over the years we have had commenters that come in and — right off the bat — hurl insults and treat those who disagree with them like cardboard caricatures. I generally hold of on banning those people, but when they invariably complain that other commenters have “broken the commenting policy” by insulting them and treated them like cardboard caricatures, I have zero interest in stepping in on their behalf. Indeed, we used to have a writer here who got hammered all the time by commenters, a lot of times in ways that were purposefully antagonistic and mean-spirited. He used to get upset that I wouldn’t step in and “enforce the commenting policy” when they did this, but as I used to explain to him on a regular basis, he himself was constantly purposefully antagonistic and mean-spirited to most everyone else. You’re largely allowed to dish out on this site, but if you do you’ll be expected to have to take it as well. If you want to dish out insults to those on the other side of the fence but expect the editors to protect you from being responded to in kind, this is not the site for you — and may I kindly recommend Balloon Juice or Red State, which are fine sites in their own right and where I think you will be happier?

      And I will admit, there have been a lot of the conservatives who have come to this site only to leave because they did not feel welcomed or respected enough, where my feeling has been that they had reaped what had sown. If you’re going to write a posts or a comments that say, basically, “all liberals are X” (where X is something both inaccurate and insulting), then I’m not going to be overly sympathetic to your hurt feelings when the left wingers here tell that person that because they are a conservative they are Y (where Y is something both inaccurate and insulting).

      But the truth is, I don’t really see either Mike or Dennis as being that guy. I think if you go back and read their posts, you’ll see two dudes who start from a place of inquiry and try to find common ground. For me, people responding to those kinds of posts with the same kind of responses people used to give to TVD or give now to notme is less than ideal. And when those people are on the masthead, even more so.

      And before someone dashes off to their keyboard respond that there are other people on other sides of the fence that do the exact same thing: Well, yeah. No s**t.

      Now, none of this means that we’re changing the commenting policy, or that we’re bringing the hammer down on people, or that we’re going into full commenting policing mode. None of that, I believe, is going to be happening.

      I’m just saying that I very much understand why someone like Mike and Dennis might not feel welcome here, or feel like trying to engage people here is a waste of time. And, as I said, I think that is less than ideal.Report

    • Patrick in reply to Chris says:

      I have had some of those old school folks tell me, quite explicitly, that they don’t come around because the place is not friendly to the left.

      The pattern I see here is that the commentariat is largely well-disposed towards reading anything with charity, but through the site history there have been snapshots of time when a handful on commentors on either side of the aisle have really gotten a bug up their sub-collective ass about a single writer and they pound on everything that person writes pretty mercilessly, to the point where that writer has gone elsewhere.

      Sometimes just finding a new venue for their stuff and it seems like a relatively conflict-free passing, and other times with lamentation, and yet other times where they just stop writing.

      In any event, as the crazy guy around here that refuses to accept a standing ground of ideological preference from which he builds all of his public opinin’ on, I hear this feedback coming from different folks and it works out into this collection of criticisms:

      The site is too enabling of a political viewpoint I disagree with
      The site is not welcoming enough of a political viewpoint that I share
      The site enables borderline comment abuse from folks I disagree with
      The site doesn’t encourage a comment community welcoming to the political viewpoint I share

      And those four comments have come to me from folks on both sides of the political spectrum, with a frequency distribution that heavily favors the most polar points on the spectrum.

      Take a look at the writers who have left specifically because of battles with the site: Freddie (the socialist), Ryan (leftier than everybody who has ever written here except maybe Freddie), Tom (the… hm, well, standard religious conservative is probably close enough), Blaise (left of everybody except Ryan and Freddie), and Jason and James Hanley (both consistent intellectual libertarians).

      Other reduced writing volumes from Dennis, Mike (both right of center right).

      Now, I don’t know how you can regard that pattern as being particularly inimical to either left or right. If anything, it’s inimical to either consistent ideology (which matches my impression of their interactions with the commentariat); or framework arguments (which all of the above pretty much had as a standard stock in trade and why I disagreed with pretty much all of them routinely).Report

      • Chris in reply to Patrick says:

        In case it’s not clear (again), I’m mostly pushing back against the consistent attitude that this place is unfriendly to conservatives, echoed again by Mike, as well as on another thread just yesterday. It comes up every few weeks it seems, and I think it’s bullshit.

        You know, though, Freddie left about 5 years ago, Ryan a year or so after that, and Tom what, 3 years ago? The blog’s different now. It’s quite different, in fact. Only the most recent exits are perhaps more indicative of the current state of things. Blaise left because people called him out for being a jerk (again, this time extra forcefully), and Hanley left because he doesn’t like the people here anymore. Only Jason left for arguably ideological reasons, because he didn’t like the feedback he got here, which I can understand (though I think most of the people who mentioned the Koch brothers every time he posted are gone).Report

      • Patrick in reply to Patrick says:

        Having read Tod’s comment right above, I am now happy to report that I will henceforth self-identify politically as a C.H.U.D.Report

    • nevermoor in reply to Chris says:

      My reaction to this is that if the site DIDN’T skew right I would find it a lot less interesting.

      I like to hear what people who disagree with me think (and to push back).Report

      • Slade the Leveller in reply to nevermoor says:

        Exactly! I occasionally dip my toe into the Red State waters, and their comment threads generally run like this:

        Commenter: I couldn’t agree more with the post. I can’t wait until that Kenyan is out of the White House.

        Commenter 2: Former military here. What don’t those libtards understand about the right to own guns? And, yeah, this post is spot on.Semper Fi!

        Commenter 3: While I agree with most of the article, it seems to me that there might be another, reasonable viewpoint that could be held.

        Commenter 4: Obviously, Commenter 3, you are a Communist. More random Capitalization and citations of half remembered civics lessons and cherry picked quotes from the Old Testament.

        I love the back and forth here at the League. It’s one of the few sites I’ve seen, both on the left and the right, where differing viewpoints are tolerated.Report

  6. North says:

    Well I certainly hope Mike keeps posting here- if for no other reason than to make me ravenously hungry by talking about wild game.Report

  7. Roland Dodds says:

    As someone who lurked around this site for years and has only recently began contributing, a lot of this discussion seems to come from personal history between individuals that is lost on me. While I am sure someone could show me some mean-spirited comments floating around OT, I generally find the comments section here to be on of the best on the web. Every other site I frequent has some pretty mindless comments below the main piece, and that’s something I don’t see here.

    I also don’t have the time to read every comment under each piece, and if I see something I disagree with vehemently, I have the good sense to just say “internet” and move on with my professional/personal life.Report

    • Patrick in reply to Roland Dodds says:

      While I am sure someone could show me some mean-spirited comments floating around OT, I generally find the comments section here to be on of the best on the web.

      This is to some extent an observer bias problem as much as anything else.

      I had this discussion with Jason before he left. He looked at comment sections and saw the comments which disagreed with him most consistently and loudly as representative of the comments section. I looked at the comments section and saw the comments that were from everybody else as representative of the comments section.Report

      • Stillwater in reply to Patrick says:

        We’ve probably talked about Jason too much for anything useful to be gleaned at this point, but one thing I’ve said already (and am gonna repeat now!) is that a very large part of what Jason perceived as reflexive antagonism to his posts was based (it seems to me) on folks simply not understanding what he was saying. And the reason for that was NOT that Jason is an unclear writer (he isn’t) but that the views he argued for were not only subtle, but the thought process behind them was alien to most of us. (I include myself in that group since it took me a while to figure out what he was gettin on about.)

        I think this place is much the worse for his leaving, and it bums me out that he couldn’t stomach what he perceived as blatant hostility to him and his views, when really, if you think about it, the people who most needed to hear what he was talking about were the folks most confused by it.Report

        • Patrick in reply to Stillwater says:

          I cosign most of this.

          I do think that Jason’s most clear writing was his affectation posts (like this one), which are also among my favorites.

          His most unclear writing was when he was writing most without explicating his framework; not because the writing was unclear, but because most folks (self included) haven’t read as much political philosophy as Jason and sometimes he brought a whole iceberg into a post and the only part the less-well-read-political-philosophy-reader caught was the tip.Report

          • Chris in reply to Patrick says:

            The easiest way to be misunderstood is to write one’s views in the form of a dialogue. Just ask Plato, Pascal, Hume, or in for this blog, Jason.

            I actually followed Jason (and the other PLers, but mostly Jason) here when his site merged with this one, and I read Jason back when precisely because he and I disagreed to such a large extent.Report

        • I don’t really feel like the in-front-of the-camera discussions about Jason’s leaving have been nearly sufficient to give the general readership a good sense of what the “official unofficial” view of his leaving is. Which is not to say that that much discussion should happen or that the general readership should know that, necessarily. But I think it does likely mean that we haven’t necessarily talked about him too much. That is, if we’re officially “talking” about these types of things now, which I’m not sure we actually are.Report

          • Snarky McSnarkSnark in reply to Michael Drew says:

            For the record, I miss him.Report

            • I do too, and Hanley as well.

              But – if I may be permitted to criticize “my” tribe for a moment, since as I say I felt a fair amount of intellectual/ideological affinity with those guys – one thing that I wish they’d been able to do a little better here, was not be so thin-skinned when they got pushback or mild needling. I once tried to tell James H., when he was blowing his top over something, “Hey, you call yourself a libertarian, you gonna get hit with an Ayn Rand joke once in a while, ain’t no thang.”

              People have pointed out that libertarianism seems to find favor with a certain mindset, concerned as it sometimes is with seeking (perhaps-too) systematic explanations for chaotic human behavior; so it’s possible that the kind of people who gravitate towards it, are just a little more high-strung when discussions go awry.

              Or it could be that Jason, as a gay man, had to go his whole life receiving a buncha bullshit; veiled (and not-so-veiled) hostility simply for who he was, and that wears you down after a while, so you’re constantly looking for threats and nasty pokes where there are none (or at least, none worth losing your cool over).

              But whatever the reason for it, I wish they’d both been able to keep their cool a little better when things got hot. Maybe they’d still be around.Report

              • Chris in reply to Glyph says:

                The fact that people basically told Jason his ideas were worthless because of his employer was worse than most people here get. I think his skin thinned over time here. I don’t recall him being particularly thin-skinned when he was on his home turf.Report

              • Glyph in reply to Chris says:

                Fair enough. I also wonder how well my impression of his hair-trigger-ness would track with the timeline of his having become a parent.

                I can definitely remember a few convos here, when I’d been up all night due to a sick kid, where I absolutely lost my temper over some convo I might not have otherwise.Report

              • Chris in reply to Glyph says:

                That would explain that one time, when we were arguing about health care and you told me to stop crying, take the damn Dimetapp, and go to bed.Report

              • Glyph in reply to Chris says:

                Look, I think “take Dimetapp and go to sleep” is sound medical advice, no matter the circumstances.Report

              • Alan Scott in reply to Chris says:

                So, I don’t think “thick skinned” is a worthwhile concept here. Jason had to put up with a lot of bullshit from reflexive liberals who considered “libertarian” a bad word.

                And remember, Jason works at the Cato Institute, where he regularly calls out his fellow libertarians for supporting the Confederacy or hating on the poor or failing to protect gay couples. So he was also likely getting a bunch of shit elsewhere from the same strawman selfish libertarians that he was accused of being over here.

                I don’t think very many of us could handle the volume of attacks, obvious and subtle, that were being sent his way. And frankly, I’m a bit suspicious that anyone who could thrive under that level of attack is in it for the battle and not the betterment of self or community.Report

              • Mike Schilling in reply to Alan Scott says:

                So he was also likely getting a bunch of shit elsewhere from the same strawman selfish libertarians that he was accused of being over here.

                That, is, living, breathing people prominent enough that Jaso felt it worthwhile to call them out. How does that equal “strawmam”?Report

              • Alan Scott in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                In that their views weren’t held by Jason or any other libertarians participating in the discussion on this site, and that people avoided engaging with the arguments that Jason and other libertarians at this site were making by falsely equating them to the views that Jason regularly criticized.Report

              • Brandon Berg in reply to Chris says:

                The fact that people basically told Jason his ideas were worthless because of his employer was worse than most people here get.

                It’s funny how any libertarian can be discredited on the basis of his or her life circumstances, no matter what they are.

                Work for a private think tank? You’re a shill!

                Work for the government? Hypocrite!

                Make a lot of money? FYIGM!

                Poor? You’re too stupid to know you’re arguing against your own best interests!

                White? Check your privilege!

                Black? Uncle Tom!

                We’re still searching for someone who’s actually qualified to be a libertarian.Report

              • Glyph in reply to Brandon Berg says:

                All I ask is no Scotsmen.Report

              • Kim in reply to Brandon Berg says:

                A pauper who’s really a prince… and still votes liberal.Report

              • Tod Kelly in reply to Brandon Berg says:

                You say this like it is limited to libertarians.

                What you’re describing is a pretty common way to dismiss arguments from people of all walks of life. It’s the “You Are Either Conforming to My Unkind Stereotype of Your Group or You Are Not Conforming, And Either Allows Me Not to Have to Engage With Your Actual Argument” defense, and it’s pretty universal along all political stripes. And it’s really prevalent throughout the inter tubes. Hell, a whole lot of fantastically successful political blogs are based on little more than a constant and unceasing rehashing of this principle.

                I bet it would take you all two minutes to write one of these for liberals, conservatives, environmentalists, etc.Report

            • I think just about everyone misses him. In retrospect.Report

            • As do I.. very fiercely.Report

          • Stillwater in reply to Michael Drew says:


            Jason said something to the effect that this place had evolved into a site where his views were no longer welcome. Something like that. Now, I don’t think that’s true from an objective pov, but I do get it from an argumentative pov. He felt like he was spending too much time defending his posts from confusions (which I think he construed as deliberate misinterpretations, btw) and reflexively hostile attacks that the purpose of those posts – to discuss the merits of the views he was actually presenting – was consistently undermined, leading him to conclude that posting here simply wasn’t worth his time. (Granted, that’s how it struck me, and acourse I could be wrong.)

            Which brings up the 5 dollar question: what happened to this site that people like Jason (and so many others) have left? Hell, even Mark T doesn’t post here anymore….. ……..Report

            • Michael Drew in reply to Stillwater says:

              The history of this is that Jason and James came here because there was this other website that crashed and burned. They’re not here anymore.

              Meanwhile, a number of other contributors have made a similar journey from other prior digs, and have found the place to be worth making a commitment to.

              Perhaps rather than wondering what change about us, maybe it would be worth considering for just a second whether maybe this site simply never was a good fit for those who came and then left., possibly for entirely individual reasons in individual cases. Just something to consider.

              That doesn’t mean that we’re everything we want to be in terms of being sufficiently hospitable to enough different kinds of folks whom we want to recruit and retain. But it also doesn’t mean we’re in a terribly bad way, either. We ask people to write well for us for free. Lots of past and present contribute find that a big ask, not because of inhospitality, but because the demands of life don’t always allow for it. (Essentially none of the founding members write here anymore, but almost none because of a professed feeling that their interactions here were not hospitable enough to make it worth it.)

              I think it’s worth continuing to work to be a welcoming place for writers interested in working for free while still maintaining our culture of freewheeling discussion (a trick whose difficulty we shouldn’t be underestimating to begin with), but I don’t believe that is going so poorly that we need to be obsessing over the cases of particular individuals who gave it a go here and ultimately didn’t find it to be the right fit.

              But that’s all just me talking.Report

              • Alan Scott in reply to Michael Drew says:

                That’s a weird interpretation of the situation.

                There were certainly people who couldn’t handle the transition from Positive Liberty to this site–but they were mostly out within a matter of months. In particular James Hanley spent maybe a year and a half on PL, in contrast to the nearly five years he spent here.Report

              • Michael Drew in reply to Alan Scott says:

                Okay. It’s certainly a situation that lends itself to different interpretations. I don’t know that I agree that the balance of time spent in each place is dispositive of how to view it. But I wouldn’t say it’s mistaken to, either.Report

              • The big problem with PL was, as far as I know, mostly technical. The site just didn’t work and kept getting pirated. By that I don’t mean “trolled,” I mean literally pirated. You’d type in the url and something else would come up, or you’d get one of those “invalid internet address” errors. I would like to think that PL would’ve lasted a long time without those troubles.

                It was a good, cozy community, even though I regularly disagreed with the authors. One of my earliest memories for there was my venturing a comment (one of my first there), getting harshly criticized/dismissed by some rude commenter, and then DAR stepping in and telling that commenter to be nicer. I hadn’t really seen that type of maintenance on a blog before.

                The way the PL authors (James, Jon, DAR) were treated was probably a low time in the OT’s history (Jason is an exception, perhaps because he came here before the others). I never got the whole story, but when James left the blog for the first time, the two remaining were more or less fired. Unceremoniously so, from what I understand, with little explanation to the OT readers/commentariat of what happened. Of course, James gave the OT a second, and a third chance. And Jon is back (and it’s good thing, too, in my opinion). I still miss DAR’s writing and sense of humor, though. (By the way, DAR has a solo blog, but he updates it only every once in a while: http://www.daridgely.blogspot.com . If anyone knows how/whether he contributes elsewhere, I’d like to know.)Report

              • Chris in reply to Gabriel Conroy says:

                Right, PL was hacked repeatedly, and I think in the end its archives were lost entirely. Jason had been a fan of this site from pretty early on, and joining it seemed natural. It was much less natural for the other guys, particularly Ridgely, who is about as cantankerous as it’s possible for a human to be. My impression from conversations with Hanley around the time of his unceremonious departure from a front-page slot back then was that he felt the management (which was at the time mostly the original folks, including Erik) hadn’t really wanted them (the non-Jason PLers) in the first place, but took them on at Jason’s request, and pretty quickly soured on them as contributors, not necessarily because they felt they weren’t interesting, but because they didn’t feel like they fit with the site’s culture. Hanley came back as a commenter, and then much later as a contributor again, and now Rowe’s back, and it’s probably worth noting that the blog’s culture has changed more than they have (Rowe’s posts today could easily be Rowe’s posts in 2010), which makes them much better fits now, I suppose (though Hanley is gone this time as a result of an entirely self-imposed exile). This is no doubt in part because very few of the “founders” are still around, and those that are aren’t around very often (like Mark, say).

                PL definitely impacted the culture here, too. Think of the commenters who came from there: Hanley, Heidegger, TVD, Kazzy, you (Gabriel), Jason K, me, and more, people who’ve played a big role in the community.

                The thing I miss the most about PL is the small discussions. There would be 400+ comments on a post with only 3 commenters.

                Also, I miss Heidegger, and Collin (though I sometimes wonder if the C in CK is for Collin).Report

              • Alan Scott in reply to Chris says:

                It’s also worth pointing out that PL had been well and rightly gutted by the time of the transition. Ed Brayton had moved over to his more popular “Dispatches from the Culture Wars” solo blog, Sandefur had broken ties b/c his support of the Iraq war was not well received, and Jason himself had decided the tech issues weren’t worth it.

                Rowe was an old-timer, but DAR, Hanley, and Barrett Brown were all pretty new to the blog. As you said, the lasting effects of the merger have really been seen in the migration of the PL readership more than anything else.Report

              • Chris in reply to Alan Scott says:


                Not really relevant, but Brayton is one of the few people I’ve known via blogs whom I’ve actually met in person.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Chris says:

                Didn’t you both used to have a blog back on the old SEED site?Report

              • Chris in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                Yup, that’s how I met him, with a bunch of Seed folks here in Austin.Report

              • I got in there pretty late. After Sandefur had left. And I hadn’t even known about Brayton or Brown. Brown kind of surprises me, and I imagine I would not have liked the site if he had been there when I read it.

                Chris: I had forgotten about Colin.Report

          • My position on Jason’s departure is that when he left, the site diminished in intellectual and epistolary stature.Report

  8. Jesse Ewiak says:

    Eh, I’m somebodies whose engagement with the site has gone down by quite a bit. Some of it is circumstance, but some of it is honestly, not wanting to feel like I’m running into a brick wall. After you’ve had the same argument a few dozen times, those arguments get old. And since, I don’t feel like anybody here is a bad person – at worst, you’re an opinionated asshole like me, it’s better for me to disengage than say something I’ll regret a few minutes later.

    As for the ‘culture’ of the site, I largely agree with Chris. Ironically, for a site trying to be an independent voice, you’ve basically replicated the Beltway consensus on issues – soft center-leftism on social issues, and centrist to center-rightism on economics issues. Gay people and abortions are cool, and we need a social safety net with some redistribution to keep the poor people from having too terrible a life, but no criticism of the actual underpinnings of the modern global economy.

    Which is fine. Opinions and all, but as somebody who is a social democrat/’smashmouth’ Democrat, it’s fairly easy to get frustrated here, just as I imagine it’s frustrating here if you’re a true right-wing conservative. OTOH, the reason why I believe that there’s more of a snowball effect of people going after conservatives who show up here is simple – when far-left people say something off the handle (including myself some days), it’s mostly stuff you can laugh at, and you know in your heart it’s never going to come to pass anyway. On the other hand, the far-right people say scary stuff that could actually pass into law in large portions of the country.Report

    • Kim in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

      ” no criticism of the actual underpinnings of the modern global economy.”
      I think I’ve been criticizing the modern global economy and its utter fragility recently. Not that i tend to write longwinded posts, but still…

      Two weeks to break America, and it’s so damn easy. Just In Time, right?

      Our internet is more resilient than the United States of America, I kid you not.Report

  9. Chip Daniels says:

    I come around precisely because of the conservatives.
    It isn’t in any vain hope of persuasion, so much as to develop and test my own ideas thru opposition.

    And like I’ve said before, even heated arguments don’t bother me. It’s been my experience in life that people get angry when they feel threatened or fearful. So if I find myself angry I should probably ask what has punctured my defenses.Report

    • aaron david in reply to Chip Daniels says:

      This is really good @chip-daniels and something everone here should take to heart.Report

    • Oscar Gordon in reply to Chip Daniels says:

      In a similar vein, if I find myself unable to laugh at the more obvious absurdities of positions I hold (even if such are extreme caricatures) then perhaps I need to figure what has my sense of humor so deflated before I engage (e.g. Chris campus carry post from earlier today, that’s funny)Report

  10. Rufus F. says:

    I suppose it goes without saying after reading some of the things I’ve written, but I often write in order to get an idea of what I think about something, using the word essay in the traditional French essayer sense of trying on or testing out ideas. While I generally think I’m to the left of center, I also wouldn’t say I’ve made up my mind on plenty of issues. As Zhou Enlai supposedly said in 1972 when asked about the impact of the French Revolution (he really didn’t, but ya know): “It’s too soon to tell”.Report

  11. SEBoston says:

    I’ve been visiting OT/LoOG since 2012. The first six months or so, I was always thinking of great comments/points, but the threads would move on to different comments and I didn’t post. Since then I’ve just settled back and enjoyed the posts and comments. Part of this is because, although I have a wide range of professional/educational experiences in a number of the areas that come up (business owner/capitalist, former banker, social justice & nonprofit work, inner city economic development, middle-aged gay white gentrifier) I don’t have “THE OPINION” I want to get into an internet fight about. Part of its about “credentials” – in an internet conversation, how much do I have to justify the experiences etc. that form my opinion, particularly to someone who just keeps repeating I’m wrong?
    I think OT does do a great job, with the people who are comfortable posting, in having interesting and lively conversations on diverse topics. You also do a great job welcoming first time posters. But it does take a certain mindset and ego to put your thoughts (and vulnerabilities) on the internet for public comment, particularly on a site that is not an echo chamber. That might result in a self-selection process that limits both the number of individuals willing to participate in OT, and also the diversity and nuances of the opinions you will get.Report

  12. El Muneco says:

    Another one that jumped out at me was basically “is charity better than public assistance?”. Well, yeah. In the abstract, sure. But in terms of forming an actual policy on the subject?

    But honestly, not nearly enough nuance on right of center thinking to capture true differences… so it pushes things left and down for anyone other than red-meat Republicans.

    Not enough nuance on anything. I suspect my economic rating was kind of averaged out not only because my position is still evolving, but because the test isn’t sophisticated enough to tease out any nuances that might be developing. Plus I think it gets very confused when someone’s position is a synthesis of what the test thinks should be diametrically opposed (e.g. if you combine a belief in a relatively free market with the UBI).

    Economic -1.19
    Social: -5.69Report

  13. El Muneco says:

    aaron david:
    “But then I read the Bernie-Yearners on FaceBook and I want to go full Galt.”

    Do they want to live in Be-Yearn Burg?

    Ouch, no one does – 70s tennis shorts were way too tight…Report

  14. Zac says:

    Personally, having read this site on a daily basis since early 2008 or so, I love the shit out of this place. Even though I only recently started posting with any regularity, I’ve always enjoyed reading the material here (posts and comments both) precisely because it covers such a wide ideological spectrum compared to most of the rest of the internet. I will say that I do think that spectrum has narrowed somewhat in recent years with the departure of some of the posters at the further ends of the spectrum (Shawn Gude and Freddie at one end, TVD and Tim at the the other) and that I agree the site is lesser for it, but not so much so that it’s worth despairing over.

    BTW, my test results (pretty much what I expected):
    Economic Left/Right: -8.63
    Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -8.0
    So I’m basically a socialist libertarian, which is to say that I think we should have a well-regulated economy and extremely robust welfare state, and otherwise the government should keep the fish out of our lives.Report

  15. Michael Cain says:

    I’m not surprised by the test scores or the observations that the site is left-leaning, etc. Consider where the principle participants are from: overwhelmingly urban (my definition, not Saul’s). Even at that, Southern and Rust Belt cities seem underrepresented. Geographically large areas of the country that lack such cities are excluded, as well. Since Will relocated, is there anyone in the (relatively) large expanse of eastern Washington/Oregon, Idaho, Montana? There are multiple people from the narrow Front Range part of Colorado, but no one that I recall from the much larger (emptier) rest of the state. Consider the average level of education for those same people. The mean seems to me to be BA/BS-plus. Heck, between my wife and I, we have three MS/MA degrees. This is, and will be, an ongoing difficulty.Report

  16. North says:

    This seems like an appropriate thread to bring this up: I’ve seen no posts from Zic and no comments from her in a while. I am horrified to have to ask but did we lose her? Be gentle, I might cry all over the place.Report

  17. Jaybird says:

    Do we have uncloseted religious folks? (Defined as “gets dressed up, goes to church or temple or mosque or victory hall or whatever on whichever holy day their week has four out of five of those days”)

    Because, from here, it seems that we have Dennis followed by a handful of folks that might show up occasionally.

    (I would say that we have a lot of very devout people indeed… but the worship service that most appeal are, shall we say, decentralized to the point where whether they even exist would feature prominently in an argument about them.)Report

    • SaulDegraw in reply to Jaybird says:

      I go to high holiday services and celebrate other Jewish rituals.

      I don’t keep kosher thoughReport

    • Marchmaine in reply to Jaybird says:

      I’m definitely in the “occasional” category, but I’ve made no secret of my Catholic Communitarian Distributist contrariness.

      And, as long as we’re all engaging in communal catharsis, I’ll add that as an official outsider that carries some affection for the folks here and the project… y’all are leftist loons. I say that with love. I’d go so far as to say you are Establishment Enlightenmentarians, if that helps (though I doubt it does). Center minded pragmatists? No. And I’m not even sure why some of you are trying to claim that useless hill.

      Snarky McTooths said above (or below, or somewhere here) that OT is more like a Salon; I think that’s true. I really don’t think that you all can host an “open exchange of all ideas” when there are several pillars of thought that are not open for discussion. Most recently, the Abortion pillar was challenged – quite reasonably by @ckmcleod – and on a social level this is not a subject tolerated by this community. And I’m ok with that (which I’m afraid to admit is why I didn’t back-up CK in the comments, because I’d already applied my self-filter and punched out).

      So why do I come here and not comment on anything other than baseball or puns or literature? Precisely because you are all thoughtful liberals of one stripe or another, and I’m grateful that I can see first-rate liberal thought put in motion to defend liberal ideas. But, keeping in mind the salon concept, it is nice that you all let me hang around, but one of my principles of Internetery is to respect the underlying principles of the commenting community, and the unwritten rules here run deep and run strong – whether you want to admit them or not. I think you all would be better served to identify several pillars of “settled thought” and make that more explicitly part of your culture. I expect it would open up new conversations.

      Lastly, a negative injunction I’d offer in friendship is to think twice about any Post or Comment that includes the words, “conservatives think…” The price paid for admission here is well worth it to hear what Liberals think; it is not even close to worth it to hear what you think conservatives think.

      So, thanks for letting me hang around, I hope you get past your identity issues and get back to building the New World Order.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Marchmaine says:

        The term I used to use was something-something technocrats but “Establishment Enlighenmentarians” works even better. I’d probably put “post-” before that second word, though.

        The gnostics are, once again, forging and sculpting (and 3-D printing) the new while pointing out how evil and wrong the old is.

        Look around. What do you see? Those are birth pangs.Report

    • Murali in reply to Jaybird says:

      I’m religious. I am vegetarian, don’t cut nails on Tuesdays and Fridays, and avoid onions and garlic on holy days.Report

  18. Mike Schilling says:

    I don’t think the site leans left or right so much as it leans against populism of all sorts. Thus we tend to disagree with majorities on hot button issues like immigration, gay rights (less and less , though), cops, the military, etc.

    I wish this extended to superhero movies, wrestling, etc, but culturally we are overwhelmeingly majoritarianReport

  19. Brit says:

    As a longtime lurker who’s only surfaced the once so far, I hope my impressions I have formed over the past few years will help give a bit of an outside perspective.

    Overall, I find the tone of this place to actually be extremely respectful. Indeed, on occassion, I have felt others have been far better than I could ever manage to be at responding to some off-the-wall (and offensive) comments with empathy, understanding, and trying to gently nudge people along while engaging with where they are. In fact – and I have been thinking this for months so not just triggered by recent happenings – the people who most seem to cry foul and either complain in posts or flounce off – have been the ones who have been most rude and aggressive to others.

    Mike Dwyer is a bit different to those. I hadn’t seen him being generally disrepectful to others. However, some of his views are seriously morally repugnant, and I felt that those who challenged him were right to try to draw a line and say “I’m not going to pussyfoot around this”. Sometimes you do have to do that in order to show lurkers like myself that most people here do not buy into those views, and it is a community worth engaging with. While I intensely dislike devaluing labels like “racist” by applying them to perceived and debatable infractions (even if I myself might consider the alleged infraction to be something to indeed be avoided), at the same time it is important when confronted with behaviours which clearly are, for example racist, to not shirk from pointing out why that is so. I felt JR in particular was very good at challenging Mike’s opinions without making it an attack on Mike as an individual. This is vital for a healthy community. (I’m not trying to single out Mike here – but it was his post which seems to have triggered this bout. Really this comment would have been better on his post, but – comments disabled.)

    I think the biggest challenge this place has is that the regulars know each other so well that most conversations are a rehearsal of well-worked discussions. I can see everyone tries to welcome new people in – I felt very welcome when I dived in! – but it’s just difficult to insert oneself into a conversation between a group of friends.Report

    • Chris in reply to Brit says:

      Yeah, I can imagine how the fact that there are a bunch of folks here who have known each other for years, virtually at least, could make it seem difficult to jump in. However, one you make it through the ritual of animal sacrifice, along with the scarring, you quickly become one of us, I promise.

      Gooble gobble, one of us!Report

      • Zac in reply to Chris says:

        One of us! One of us!Report

      • Joe Sal in reply to Chris says:

        There is this communication signalling thing that goes on. Just a couple of words or a phrase will describe a concept to wash over the position of opposition. I see it used a lot by the left (here at OT). A few times it happens on the right but see it less often. Is that a blindspot or is there in fact a imbalance in communication signalling?

        One of the issues with existing on the far right is the constant unpacking of multiple parameters until the position holds clarity to others. Often after unpacking a quantum of parameters, the parameters get dismissed or cherry picked as invalid. This is where I think the anger and embattlements of the right ensue, whether justified or not.

        On rare occasion the position is at least recognized (thanks be to those patient souls), but too often it’s about eating elephants.Report

    • Kazzy in reply to Brit says:

      This is what I call the “Thanksgiving Conundrum”.

      You’re at Thanksgiving dinner and drunk uncle (druncle? Yes… druncle…) says something offensive. Everyone knows it is offensive but no one addresses it because addressing it means suddenly YOU have made it an issue. “Why’d you have to go ruining Thanksgiving by calling out Druncle’s joke?” No. Druncle ruined Thanksgiving. But for whatever reason, we tend not to think of it that way.Report

      • LWA in reply to Kazzy says:

        I am eagerly approaching the age of being That Uncle, who issues comments about “Bootlicking revanchist servile claques of the plutocracy”, at the Thanksgiving table.Report

  20. Mike Dwyer says:


    Having read through all the comments here I feel like some clarifications are in order. Of course, this runs directly contrary to my declaration to avoid commenting, but I have been politely asked to reconsider that position and so here goes:

    I apologize if my post was taken in any way as a challenge to the overall site policy on commenting. It wasn’t. It was an expression of my own personal challenges with comments in the last year. For me, the comments became a distraction, because rather than writing for a broad audience of readers I found myself writing for a very narrow audience of a few commenters and trying to anticipate their criticisms. While it is certainly good to have a group of opinionated people challenge my ideas, at times it also prevents me from writing from a place of pure honesty simply out of fear of what they might say. And to be fair, 99% of the criticism I get is completely respectful, so I know this is my issue to deal with. Accepting criticism in theory is a lot easier than ignoring the worst of it in practice.

    Despite claims above that I was complaining about the ideological diversity of the site (i.e. the lack of conservatives), that never actually came up in my post. To the contrary I complimented the site for its commitment to diversity. Where my criticisms are directed is the closed nature of our membership. I honestly don’t care what people’s ideological positions are. I just think we need new voices or we will continue to have the same discussions with the same people over and over. If there is one thing I can point to from the early days that made things exciting was that new people were finding us all the time and we were constantly being infused with new perspectives. It was intellectually rewarding and just plain fun. I don’t see any down side to actively seeking new participants.

    My Motivations
    I am reluctant to address this charge, but as I note above, I am not always as good at ignoring things as I should. My motivations to this site have always been, and will always be, to simply make it the best site I think it can be. That means several things to me:

    1) A place where all opinions are welcome and encouraged.
    2) A place where civil discussion is the norm
    3) An open community that actively looks for and welcomes new members
    4) A training ground for new writers and a comfortable home for old ones.

    So that’s it. If you agree with most or all of that, then we’re on the same page. All I can ask is that in the coming months, if any of you question my motivations, review that list and give me a chance to convince you.Report

  21. Chris says:

    I found the scale that Hanley used a few years ago:


    • Oscar Gordon in reply to Chris says:

      Equality 4, Order 0Report

    • Anne in reply to Chris says:

      Equality 6, Order 0Report

    • SaulDegraw in reply to Chris says:

      Equality: 7, order: 1Report

    • Dand in reply to Chris says:

      Order 0, Equality 6Report

    • Kazzy in reply to Chris says:

      Equality 10, Order 1. Interesting.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Kazzy says:

        I must say I bristle a little bit at the terminology. I assume being opposed to weed, gay marriage, and pornography would make me more in favor of “order”. But I think that is a VERY narrow definition of ‘order’.Report

        • Chris in reply to Kazzy says:

          All of these are pretty flawed, but the only more rigorous tests I know are a.) not online (that I can find) and b.) more narrowly focused. For example, there’s a “political conservatism scale” that researchers use to determine where people fall on the liberal-conservative axis, but it’s focused on issues conservatives care about, and it’s only that dimension that it measures.Report

      • Maribou in reply to Kazzy says:

        Me too. Though I still find the framing of the quiz intensely American in its assumptions.Report

    • Will Truman in reply to Chris says:

      Order 1, Equality 3.Report

    • aarondavid in reply to Chris says:


      One and One and done.Report

    • Tod Kelly in reply to Chris says:

      Order: 1

      Equity: 8

      Belief that These Test Don’t Reveal What People Think They Do: Strengthened

      (My score taking the test previously when Hanley posted it was 3/5, FWIW.)Report

      • Chris in reply to Tod Kelly says:

        That’s a pretty big change. my score changed by 1 on the Order dimension and 0 on the Equality dimension. Perhaps my thinking is just more calcified.Report

        • Tod Kelly in reply to Chris says:


          “That’s a pretty big change. my score changed by 1 on the Order dimension and 0 on the Equality dimension. Perhaps my thinking is just more calcified.”

          Perhaps. But I suspect it has more to do with the degrees of attachments to -isms than with changes in beliefs. And not, I want to quickly add, in a way that makes different degrees of attachments to -isms better or worse, just different.

          If you strongly identify with a particular political identity, my guess is that for all of the questions asked there was a stronger reliance on unspoken subtext than for those whose self-identity is less attached to a political stripe. [For ease, I’ll just use SPI (stronger political self-identity) and WPI (weaker political self-identity) for the rest of this comment.]

          My suspicion is that the beliefs of those whose scores moved are actually no more or less calcified than those whose scores didn’t. Rather, I think what happens is that for those with SPI, each question was more likely to bring up pre-existing scenarios to which they knew in advance what their response should be. Alternatively, for those with WPI, the lack of specifics in the questions left the responses more open to various interpretations of what those questions might mean. Because of this, I suspect, WPIs are more likely to give answers that are skewed by influences that the test assumes aren’t there.

          I’ll use an example from the last test: I’m pretty sure the question that asked about “savages” vs. “civilized people” in that test is one that would be more consistently answered over time by someone with SPI, regardless of stripe. In 2012 and in 2015, a SPI conservative would be more likely to think,

          “This is a question wanting to know if I think Western Civilization is better than Radical Islam. I am a conservative, so I answer YES.”

          Similarly, a in 2012 and in 2015, a SPI liberal would be more likely to think,

          “This is a question wanting to know if I think White People are better than People of Color. I am a liberal, soI answer NO.”

          For those of us with WPI, however, I expect the answer to that question changes based on a huge number of outside variables.

          When I read that question yesterday, for example, the event I attached most readily to it was the shootings in Roseburg and the militias getting ready for a firefight with the BLM just down the highway from there. I feel like I’m on pretty firm ground when I say that this is not the kind of thing the test expected me to consider when it asked that question. Nonetheless, with that event heavy on my mind, it was thinking more in terms of “savage” vs. “civilized” than I normally do. In the test, I answered in a way that underscored that I believe that “civilized” is better than “savage,” but I didn’t mean it in the way the test creator assumed I would because the test creator obviously designed the question with a SPI personality in mind.

          And it’s therefore likely that, asked that same question at another point in time, those words “civilized” and “savage” might bring other recent events/readings/discussions to mind that might make me answer the question the test asked in a very different way.

          My values and core beliefs haven’t changed since I took the test two years ago. But because I am a WPI and I don’t line up those questions the way a SPI would, the test incorrectly thinks that I have changed.

          This is part of what I meant yesterday when I said that I think this kind of test is better designed to place someone like notme on the graph than it is someone like me.Report

      • Burt Likko in reply to Tod Kelly says:

        I’m very similar to @tod-kelly : Order 1, Equality 6. IIRC, I also had somewhat different numbers a little while back.

        Similar to @tod-kelly I’m skeptical that this tool is sufficiently subtle to elicit more than a broad-strokes diagnosis. I mean, it’s not the Meyers-Briggs, but there were no foreign policy questions, nothing about infrastructure or public education, and the insurance question was phrased in a way that did not match the actual debate over that now-settled issue.Report

      • Will Truman in reply to Tod Kelly says:

        My score is also very different. My score on Equality was much higher. I was placed right next to Ryan Noonan!

        My views likely have shifted, but I think it’s mostly that there were borderline answers that I answered one way then that I do now, so small shift in my emphasis lead to dramatically different results.Report

      • El Muneco in reply to Tod Kelly says:

        Identical results on all three (1, 8, Strengthened).Report

        • Chris in reply to El Muneco says:

          The Order dimension is clearly worthless, at least here, as we’ve got 14 scores ranging from 0 to 2 on a 10-point scale, with only one 2. The Equality dimension has a bit more variability, but there are 4 10’s out of 14, which is pretty extreme.

          I suppose I should leave my scores here, out of fairness:

          Economic Left/Right: -9.38
          Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -8.67

          Order: 1
          Equality: 10Report

          • Zac in reply to Chris says:

            Economic Left/Right: -9.38
            Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -8.67

            Holy crap, you’re even further to the left than me. I would not have guessed that.Report

      • Patrick in reply to Tod Kelly says:

        On the political compass one, I’m:

        Economic Left/Right: -3.5
        Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -7.49

        On this one, I’m:


        I’m a bigger hippie than Tod. Interestingly, I was (0, 4) last time.

        Pew called me a “Solid Liberal” (Generally affluent and highly educated, most Solid Liberals strongly support the social safety net and take very liberal positions on virtually all issues. Most say they always vote Democratic and are unflagging supporters of Barack Obama. Overall, Solid Liberals are very optimistic about the nation’s future and are the most likely to say that America’s success is linked to its ability to change, rather than its reliance on long-standing principles. On foreign policy, Solid Liberals overwhelmingly believe that good diplomacy – rather than military strength – is the best way to ensure peace.)Report

  22. Saul Degraw says:


    Economic Left/Right: -5.5
    Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -7.18

    I found a bunch of the questions might be more suited for the 1960s or 70s for some reason. Some of the phrasings sounded very old-fashioned.Report

  23. Catherine310 says:

    A lefty lurker here. Took the test:
    Economic: -7.75
    Social: -6.21

    And to add. I visit this blog a few times a week. (I genuinely don’t remember how I got here. I suspect it was during the presidential campaign – pick one.) I’ve never felt a strong partisan pull on this site. But I probably skip those posts that don’t attract me based on my own propensities. And I do appreciate respectful (and often humorous, sometimes snarky) debate.Report

  24. Murali says:

    I seem to be the most authoritarian here. Something doesn’t strike me as entirely right about that. To whit, a lot of the authoritarian questions ask whether you find X wrong. Not whether it should be forbidden by the state. Maybe for most people the distinction doesn’t matter, but it turns out that for someone whose fundamental political views are as weird as mine, these tests don’t particularly test very well.Report

    • Chris in reply to Murali says:

      They are undoubtedly Westernized, and in particular, aimed at British and American politics. I wonder if there is one specifically designed for Singaporean politics, which I gather are somewhat idiosyncratic even for the region.Report