|The Accidental AVSIG Bugs-Fighting-in-Jar Experiment
How religious and political fights found a place on AVSIG ... and why they're better here
Notes on JBG
Why solve the world's political and moral problems on an aviation forum?
Because no one anywhere else is doing it, of course.
And because online discussion forums have been like gigantic 24/7 mis-matched group beach house rentals since the get-go. They attract people from all over who all share a common interest (let's call it "the beach" in this metaphor), and as those people get to know one another it's only natural that they eventually begin to share views on the world they live in (let's call this part of the metaphor "the fourth day at the beach house in a pouring rain, when everyone's stuck inside arguing over who brought all the sand inside).
Rather than have topical threads hijacked by political or religious sentiments, many discussion forums, including AVSIG, provide a place for liberal snoots to duke it out with conservative lugheads and foaming-mouthed anarchists so that the rest of the forum may live in peace. Our place is The Hot Section, which we're hiding from you if you're a guest. (Become an AVSIG member and our little Dogma's Inferno is all yours. Who says membership doesn't have its privileges)?
AVSIG's Hot Section is the air for any political, religious, moral, or other human social topical fuel that participants care to pump in.
The spark comes naturally and quickly, but we've built an ingeniously simple mechanism to contain the flames: a framework of bright and articulate members who use the English language so skillfully that gasping, red-faced insults are understood to be a clear sign of surrender ... and rules that require real names and forbid flames ... just in case.
Long before we had anonymous 14-year-olds threatening people with death and dismemberment on the internet, AVSIG and its then-online contemporaries figured out that having forum participants use their real names for posting messages was a Good Thing. There's just something about expressing your thoughts under your real name that encourages politeness and attention to detail.
Ditto rules against flaming (which we didn't know about way back then. We just called them "personal attacks" -- ad hominem assaults that have been destroying communication on open channels of all kinds dating back to the first "yo mama" in 761 BC).
Between real names and rules against personal attacks, AVSIG's Hot Section produces clean and pure propulsion, as in "off we go, straight and true, toward a world of peace, toleration, and understanding."
Sometimes there's some sniping. Sometimes there is flame bait proffered and flame bait taken.
But in the end, after the usual explosive left-wing/right-wing blow-by has blown by, something beautiful happens: Everyone joins hands and agrees to disagree, humbly acknowledging that the other side is just plain full of it.
That's not to say opinions aren't changed now and then, and there's always something useful one side of the political polarization can learn from the other ... if only how better to debate the other side.
We'd never bother hosting these discussions on AVSIG if AVSIG were anything other than ... AVSIG ... a discussion group that was created not merely to celebrate the wonders of aviation, but to wring the truth from falsehoods in the high-risk, high-reward, high-liability world of aviation safety. In addition to placing religion and politics behind a firewall, our Hot Section is an international 24/7 no-rounds ring where members may pummel the lowest deceits known to man in an environment where it's not only OK to disagree, but encouraged. Because whether in aviation or in the great big world, we believe that many of the worst courses in history have been steered by groups of people who always agree with one another, or who make their decisions in an environment where they are afraid of disagreeing. Call it "group think" or "lynch mob" mentality (or call it every single person who signed-off on the Pontiac Aztek). Sometimes disagreeing -- and knowing how to disagree effectively and emphatically -- makes all the difference in how this world goes 'round.
--MO 1/1/2006 Next