Should we create a TNC alterna-open thread?

Update: I have officially opened the Open Thread! You can keep chatting here if you’d like, or you can move these discussions there. New discussions should probably start there, as they may get lost, otherwise.

Dear readers of all kinds (but in particular those who know me from Ta-Nehisi Coates‘s excellent joint):

Earlier today, Ta-Nehisi announced that he was closing down his daily Open Thread for the week, and probably for the duration of his six weeks of research.

If I were he, under the circumstances, I think I would’ve done the same thing. For a blog of my size (that is: Lilliputian), I have spent an inordinate amount of time talking about the kind of behavior I will and will not allow in my house, because it’s deeply important to me to avoid as much typical Internet unpleasantness as possible. It boils down to this: If it’s not something you would say to someone you know, if it’s not something you would say to my face, if the tone you’re using is one for which your mother would say “you watch your tone with me!” — well, don’t type it.

But I know — from a very, very different experience (Jezebel slamming the doors without so much as a by-your-leave in a startling expression of the culture of disrespect that is rampant among Gawker sites) — that it can be very odd, even unsettling, to have a regular online community, a place that you go to shoot the shit, disappear overnight.

So I decided that I would try to create an alternative Open Thread, for as long as TNC keeps his down.

I am under no illusions: My readership may be, on an exceptionally good day, 1% of his. If this takes off, it won’t be big. I don’t intend to throw up a new thread every day, but will regularly direct people to the existing thread, else the conversations will never get going.

But what the hey! The folks who come by here regularly (Coatesians or no) are cool peeps. Perhaps it’ll be fun. Perhaps I’ll even join in the conversation, in that one space. Perhaps!

For the time being, please feel free to let me know what you think of this notion in the comments to this post. I’m now going to run about the Internets to let folks know that I’m doing this, and if it looks like a go, I’ll establish an official Open Thread tomorrow.

And finally, TNC, if you’re reading this? Thanks for what you do at your place, and for nurturing the community we’ve built. I know that we’re all very grateful.

Update for new commenters: Please be aware that I have to moderate every first comment. I will try to be exceptionally on top of that if this begins to take off, but if you’ve made your first comment and it hasn’t shown up yet — do not despair! I’ll get to you as quick as I can.

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32 Comments

  1. Count me in, ee.

  2. carlos the dwarf

     /  July 20, 2010

    Hooray!

    Has anyone else seen this?
    http://nymag.com/news/features/67145/

    • Holy crow! I had not seen that and don’t have time to read it right now (fully four people now await me and the pizza that just arrived, and one of the people doesn’t even belong to me), but I will read it for sure and for certain!

      And I’ll come back, or re-post in an Open Thread if I open one tomorrow, to talk about it.

      Again I say: Holy crow!

    • carlos my friend, I haven’t forgotten you. I just haven’t had a chance to read it yet! I will though. Promise.

  3. Boogers! BOOGERS BOOGERS B —-

    (author executed for Trollish behavior)

  4. anibundel

     /  July 20, 2010

    So the topic I wanted to raise today was on “Spoilers.”
    Starting with my current First World Problem: Mad Men comes back to TV this coming Sunday. And there are ZERO SPOILERS to be had. Let me repeat: there are so little in the way of spoilers, that the AMC trailer for the coming season is made entirely of clips from last season. No one seems to know even what year we’ll be picking up the story in.
    This is driving me batty! I am used to my TV coming with plenty of spoilers–ProjRun and AI contestants listed a month ahead of time, not to mention AI’s song spoilers usually available an hour before show time. Meanwhile, io9’s morning spoiler round up tells me every bit of gossip for upcoming scifi movies and TV shows, along with screen shots, clips and script treatments.
    Not having any idea what’s coming is causing me to obsess to an unhealthy degree. I have spent the entire day today with the Mad Men theme playing in the back of my head.
    So my questions to the universe are:
    How do you feel about spoilers?
    Are you as excited as I am for this Sunday’s Mad Men? Do you think they’ll pick up in 1964? Or do you think they’ll jump? Where to? 1965 and the British invasion? (Sally will be right around the perfect age for Beatlemania!) Or do you think we’ll jump farther ahead to 1966-67 and Vietnam/flower power?

    and thank you ee for giving me a place to ask these incredibly pressing questions!
    What are your feelings on spoilers

    • I do not enjoy spoilers. Indeed, I read movie reviews through kind of squinted eyes, reading the first and last grafs only, usually, just to get a sense of whether the movie is worth my time or not. I actually read full reviews only AFTER seeing the movie.

    • silentbeep

       /  July 20, 2010

      I only like spoilers if I have absolutely no intention of seeing the film or tv show in question – then I’m just curious. Other than that? Nah, I don’t think so.

  5. silentbeep

     /  July 20, 2010

    yay open thread for the coatesians! and other assorted people we like 😉

    yes, I wanna do this.

    • anibundel

       /  July 20, 2010

      This is how I felt about those who forced OTAN to shut down:

      • Yeah, I felt really sad. Like I was in a class that disappointed the best professor ever. And then I was bummed… didn’t realize quite how much I relied on that OTAN to get through the day!

  6. I’m down. thanks for thinking of me!

  7. This goy is in. Are you sure you want to do this, ee? I have no idea how well you swing the ban-hammer, and it’s a needed skill.

    • Well, we’ll just see how it works out…! I will say that my ban hammer has already seen one skirmish, and I have spammed a good ten wannabes who were just too rude to get in the door to begin with.

      I will not hesitate to call motherfuckers on their shit. Should motherfuckers appear. If that’s what you’re asking.

  8. Susan

     /  July 20, 2010

    Hope someone alerts gnikivar. Hate to miss his daily posts on India!

  9. I didn’t see he was closing down the Open Thread (I’ve been snowed under by work), but I think this is a great idea.

  10. Good idea. Since I have a new blog post in the works, and I planned to mention it in OTAN as soon as it goes up, it was disappointing to be delivered this news. I was almost tempted to shamelessly pimp it in a comment to an ordinary post.

    I usually come too late to see the flamewars I’ve heard so much about at TNC’s blog. Most of what I see appears pretty civil, apart from the occasional troll who stops by.

  11. Fabulous idea, ee. I’m all in and will post a little notice chez moi directing interested folks here (though my wee cohort of readers all frequent your place and/or TNC’s, I believe).

    I haven’t been able to keep up with my blog or reading and commenting over at Mr. Coates’ nearly as much as I’d like lately, but when I have popped over there, I’ve been a little alarmed by the comments. They seem to get a little less civil each day, and if it’s a hot topic, say taxation, race, anything we’d drool over for a lively discussion, forget about it. Some of these changes in tone and attitude come from trolls; some of it is newcomers who have yet to settle into the special etiquette of the community. We’re all used to seeing these little eruptions come and go. Of late, however, some of the most heated (and petty?) exchanges are from regulars. I’ve certainly crossed the line over there before and have been chastened by TNC or others. Hang around long enough and it’s bound to happen. But it seems there are a few re-offenders and that worries me for the long haul. It takes an inordinate amount of work to build and maintain a place like TNC’s and I can’t blame him if he reconsiders this time-suck in light of other projects he’s got cooking. Fingers crossed it doesn’t come to that.

    In the meantime, I love the OTAN’s new temporary digs. Cheers!

    • dmf

       /  July 21, 2010

      i think that the changes a while back to TNC’s place was the herald of the coming end and while i was saddened by this a bit i truly think that he has said what he had to say in such a forum and has come to repeat himself, and so was heartened that he was shifting gears/means some and trying his hand at a different medium.
      predictably TNC’s place has, by and large, become a place for like minded folks to swap reassuring soundbytes and while i can appreciate the need for this, it’s why i used to watch john stewart in the dark days of the bush2 era, it seems inevitable that such an exchange take the kind of feedbackloop turn for the worse that it has. luckily there are such wonderful and vital spinoffs like this one and yours for more in depth exchanges to take place, and i for one see this as an evolution to be celebrated.

      • As rule #6 doesn’t apply in the Open Thread, I will respond to this!

        Of course, we’ve already agreed to disagree on this front — I find TNC always engaging, and rarely repetitive, other than in the sense that he has certain beats and he covers them regularly. I also think that there is plenty of disagreement among the commenters, most of whom usually manage to keep it civil.

        Now it’s true that I don’t read anything like every comment over there, but I do see a lot of people figuring out what it means to be progressive together, arguing out the shape of that, as well as learning from each other. Are the vast majority of us Center to Left? Absolutely. But I see many different shades of that within the larger whole.

      • dmf

         /  July 21, 2010

        this “but I do see a lot of people figuring out what it means to be progressive together, arguing out the shape of that, as well as learning from each other.” sounds lovely but sadly isn’t my experience of the place (not trying to speak for all), the hard part of this style/genre of blogging is the balance between personality and content, gossip and information, the openthread brings this tension to a head by including more voices sometimes for better and sometimes for worse, will be watching/lurking to see how it all unfolds but will spare you all my commments as the line between a grumpy old man and a troll is a blurry one…

      • But, on the upside, your last line cracked me the hell up. So there’s that!

      • @dmf

        I hear your frustrations and that whole site makeover did change things at TNC’s. After some technical adjustments, I found it regained equilibrium, but did also lay the foundation for an even bigger jump in traffic, which I fear does threaten the future quality and (is it appropriate to say?) sanctity of the comments section.

        That said, I agree with ee that TNC has a beat, a baseline structure. I’d also point out though that he’s curious about a much wider world and so veers off into new territory all the time–and that’s why I continue to read him. It’s flattering that you think ee and I are spin offs of this world, and in truth, I aspire to be like him in many ways. Our beats, at least for now, however, are even narrower than TNC’s and I worry all the time about how tired that must be for my few faithful readers like you.

        One other thing, we just don’t have the readership to cultivate the level of conversation happening at TNC’s. That will always make his place more dynamic, no matter that my 3 regular commenters rate in like the top 5 percentile of quality, as far as commenters go. So we can definitely have in-depth convos, and I want those, but they will always be just entre nous, which sometimes feels right. With some topics though, I’d love to host a larger conversation.

      • Yeah, it takes something like the Atlantic or a link from one of the big names to drive up readership to a decent size and then… even then. Quality is a bitch.

        I’ve been a little troubled by the format switch (mostly just the %$^#noxious “load more comments” button) and accompanying boost in traffic and, while I don’t see the familiar names as much as I used to, I do see useful comments from a lot of new names, so I think that is a net positive.

        I agree with Pontchartrain Girl about the echo chamber stuff, but I don’t necessarily think this is a bad thing, as long as it’s not total congratulatory masturbation at least. I’m not sure I can think of a place where different-minded folks got together and successfully talked about politics, race & religion on the internet without it devolving into a fugly mess. In general, what seems to hold groups like that together is another shared interest – a particular video game or sport, etc. Topics beyond that one that are forays into the above generally tend to have to be brutally moderated.

        For me, I don’t have much of a group of (relatively) like-minded folks to associate with out in the real world, so I’ll just enjoy it where I can find it :).

  12. Are you moderating comments or is my web browser just not playing nice with your site?

    • Holy crap, I just found all of these in my spam folder! I have no idea whatsoever why that happened. My goodness. Technology – it’s like you can’t trust it or something!

      Terribly sorry, and very happy to have you! (And I’m so glad to learn that that’s what happened to my disappeared comments at your place, too. It was a very disturbing mystery).

  13. I’ll drop by as I have time for it. Thanks for offering your space up for this.

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