Controversial threads always attract the most attention: How do we stop it?

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Martins1
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#1
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#1
So it's pretty easy to notice that generally, controversial threads or comments attract the most attention. But why is this, and is it good or bad?

Honestly I'm just interested because, if I take this forum in itself, pretty much all the top/most viewed threads are threads saying something controversial like "men are superior to women", "feminist women are ugly", "X isn't a real disability" and stuff like that.

The question is, why do we let (often extreme minority) controversial viewpoints dominate society? In wider society I look to climate change (new reporters normally have on climate change scientist and one denier - although this ratio MASSIVELY under-represents reality) or Donald Trump (who got all the media attention since he said/did controversial things, and nothing serious got debated).

I think it's clear that this is bad. But why on earth do we give in to this? I do it as much as others; but every time I click on one of these links and reply to a clearly controversial comment, I'm just making it worse.
I reckon the majority of these people just want attention (e.g. Trump) and we're giving in to this! Why don't we popularise sensitive, interesting or important comments/threads instead? Most importantly, how can we do that, since it seems difficult in society not to make everything about hyperbolising life - almost everything nowadays is becoming fixated on the absolute highs and lows of life (take one look at YouTube) - and I think it needs to change.

The popularity of bait comments like this on social media is just a symptom to the polarisation of life (where everything is just about the extreme highs and lows). So how do we celebrate the mundane more and give less attention to minority controversy - instead focusing on the majority of the fantastic, interesting and kind comments/forums?
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Tiger Rag
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#2
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#2
You can't. Unless people are posting about doing something illegal, the threads generally won't be removed without good reason.
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Martins1
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#3
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#3
(Original post by Tiger Rag)
You can't. Unless people are posting about doing something illegal, the threads generally won't be removed without good reason.
I'm not talking about removing posts/opinions like that - I don't support that by any means. I mean how can we as a society fight the desensitization and polarisation of life which currently plagues society - here represented by the amount of attention thoughtless/purposefully controversial comments get, particularly as opposed to thoughtful and kind comments/threads.
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Martins1
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#4
Report Thread starter 4 years ago
#4
I agree with your explanation of why it happens - but that's so mundane, isn't it.
However, I disagree with your latter statements. You make it seem very black and white - controversial or boring. I don't think that's the case at all - it does occur quite often that very exciting and kind things blow up - on this site there is loads of fantastic content that gets lots of views, and ultimately, people who engage with this content seem far more interested in it and far more genuine.
Also, disagreement doesn't necessarily mean controversial - I'm disagreeing with you here, but this isn't exactly infested with people having tantrums or just trolling as happens on social media a lot.
To add to that, a lot of content isn't a binary "agree" or "disagree" thing. Sure, so much of the stuff about atheism/theism is binary, but there is so much more content than just facts. If someone's running a blog and they're just telling stories, there is no real "disagree" and "agree" and yet most the time the quality of the content has no correlation with popularity.
Essentially, therefore, my question is how do we engage people with quality content rather than content which has a lower quality.

To answer your other point that we need not do this, I don't agree.
1) Once again you draw a contrast between people doing real good and people who aren't - such a polarisation is (ironically) pretty typical of these viewpoints, but I think there's a lot more grey than that - and it's the grey which is interesting. Oh, and to add to that, I'm sure plenty of people doing real good do visit TSR... (especially since doing real good has no quantative specifications).
2) Even if there were a contrast between real-good-doers and people who don't do real good, should we really just allow such a contrast to exist. Essentially that's like saying "who cares, let them enjoy stuff which is addictive but harmful" - a bit like refusing to help smokers or alcohol addicts. Ultimately, drama/controversy/polarisation is popular because it's addictive... Should we not help the addicts?
3) Because of (2) I think that loads of people with the potential to do more than just sit in useless online arguments which essentially just post trolls/purposefully controversial comments end up hooked on this sort of idea... much like how people become addicted to the number of likes they get on instagram - should we not change this? So I think these people can find a better use of time, especially since a lot of "real-good-doers" do spend time on TSR and some probably are hooked by these types of comments/threads. Take one very simple example: instant gratification (in the form of 30 upvotes/replies on your thread because it was very controversial) targets vulnerable people, in particular insecure people a lot of the time. Just because people are vulnerable/insecure, doesn't mean they can't do good in the world. Should we not help them?

By the way, thank you for showing the real way (obviously - but unfortunately it's rare, so perhaps another method could be good) of combatting this problem - by posting an engaging answer to a question which is not at all catchy enough for instant gratification! Would love to hear what you think about the above.
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pjm600
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#5
Report 4 years ago
#5
(Original post by Martins1)
So it's pretty easy to notice that generally, controversial threads or comments attract the most attention. But why is this, and is it good or bad?

Honestly I'm just interested because, if I take this forum in itself, pretty much all the top/most viewed threads are threads saying something controversial like "men are superior to women", "feminist women are ugly", "X isn't a real disability" and stuff like that.

The question is, why do we let (often extreme minority) controversial viewpoints dominate society? In wider society I look to climate change (new reporters normally have on climate change scientist and one denier - although this ratio MASSIVELY under-represents reality) or Donald Trump (who got all the media attention since he said/did controversial things, and nothing serious got debated).

I think it's clear that this is bad. But why on earth do we give in to this? I do it as much as others; but every time I click on one of these links and reply to a clearly controversial comment, I'm just making it worse.
I reckon the majority of these people just want attention (e.g. Trump) and we're giving in to this! Why don't we popularise sensitive, interesting or important comments/threads instead? Most importantly, how can we do that, since it seems difficult in society not to make everything about hyperbolising life - almost everything nowadays is becoming fixated on the absolute highs and lows of life (take one look at YouTube) - and I think it needs to change.

The popularity of bait comments like this on social media is just a symptom to the polarisation of life (where everything is just about the extreme highs and lows). So how do we celebrate the mundane more and give less attention to minority controversy - instead focusing on the majority of the fantastic, interesting and kind comments/forums?
Because emotions. People engage with things that provoke reactions. That's why buzzfeed, indy100, any online tabloid, and clickbait in general does so well. This is not something that you can make rational arguments and expect them to have any effect.
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snowman77
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#6
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