August 2, 2010 6:54 PM   Subscribe

What are the best places on the web to discuss politics that are well moderated to maintain courtesy, encourage debate to be logical and well supported, and have good rates of participation from both sides of the political spectrum?
posted by furiousxgeorge to Law & Government (13 answers total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
Participators lean liberal, but there are very intelligent and (moderator-enforced) pretty polite discussions at Ta-Nehisi Coates' blog.
posted by ibmcginty at 6:58 PM on August 2, 2010

China Dialogue: where China and the world discuss the environment.

They have a large number of volunteers who translate text from English to Chinese and back, to encourage cross-cultural understanding.

Though the relevance of them to your query depends on the breath you had in mind when you said "both sides of the spectrum" :) .
posted by gmarceau at 7:13 PM on August 2, 2010

This may not be exactly what you're looking for, but Andrew Sullivan's blog fits this bill pretty well, albeit with a single person playing the roles of left, right, and moderator.
posted by alms at 7:15 PM on August 2, 2010

I am sincerely answering your question when I say I think MetaFilter is as good as it gets. I can't think of any political discussion site that can't be said to skew left or right, and the few that I can't easily place (like Volokh Conspiracy) have a median comment quality way lower than that of MetaFilter -- so much so that I'm not sure whether the comments are moderated or not.
posted by escabeche at 7:17 PM on August 2, 2010

I like Pandagon a lot. The spectrum tends to be center-left to anarchist, but it sounds exactly like what you want.
posted by Sara C. at 7:38 PM on August 2, 2010

I recommend Bitter Lemons, which looks at the Israeli/Palestinian conflict from both sides. It's not a blog with comments, but there are regular postings on issues from the Palestinian perspective and the Israeli perspective. Definitely worth a read.

Baseline Scenario is a pretty good economics blog maintained by Simon Johnson and James Kwak. They have a definite point of view, but the debate and comments are always civilized.
posted by brookeb at 7:51 PM on August 2, 2010

Metafilter is so not the answer!

Will Wilkinson's comments section is pretty good. The whole tone of the blog is pretty refined and intellectual, and he's a libertarian so people from the left and right have an interest in the blog. I've seen really good points being made by commenters, and I don't remember ever seeing ruthless flaming or insults. Of course, they're limited by the topics he posts about; he tends to be interested in the more philosophical side of politics.
posted by Jaltcoh at 8:00 PM on August 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

I know what you mean by logical and well-supported, but if you want to practice debate with people who have a complete different framework of logic and support for their beliefs, you might try the opposing viewpoints forum on Stormfront. You don't need a user account to post there. I don't really read the opposing viewpoints forum, but they enforce a policy that members must be courteous when debating outsiders. They also enforce a policy that no one may use racial epithets anywhere on the site.

Just to make it clear, I'm not a closet racist. I don't endorse anything about Stormfront in any way. But I do like knowing what Stormfront people are thinking.

Who knows, engaging people in good faith on some whacked-out site like that may be a good experience.
posted by vincele at 8:06 PM on August 2, 2010

Metafilter is definately a left leaning website-from both what gets discussed to the majority of the comments, however I find it pretty good and tasteful and the majority of the commentors civil and thoughtful.

I like to read Slashdot at +5 moderation for a variety of views. Sometimes the follow on discussion after a comment isn't rated as high so for the interesting ones I will drill down to lower moderated comments. A very intelligent and sometimes funny conversation goes on there, but the moderators don't always pick up the stories I would like to see discussed. Overall I think slashdot leans about as much to the right (really more right-libertarian) as metafilter does left so they are an interesting pair to read back to back. However if you read at 1 for the moderation it is a cesspool just like most sites.
posted by bartonlong at 10:07 PM on August 2, 2010

A website that I was first introduced to via Metafilter - The League of Ordinary Gentlemen - is certainly a candidate.

Their commenting policy says in part:
This site exists for the purpose of advancing debate and understanding of any number of issues. Perhaps no principle is more essential to this purpose than the basic concept of civility.
In general, a comment will be deemed uncivil or inappropriate if it accuses a contributor or commenter of an intent that the contributor or commenter has not expressly disclosed.
Posts are authored by a regular group of 15 with the occasional guest-post but anyone may comment. The number of participants is pretty small and the topic range is limited which is, I think, necessary to be able to maintain a uniformity of tone and quality.
posted by vapidave at 10:27 PM on August 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

Can you find any comment in any of them that expresses opposition to same-sex marriage? I can't remember seeing any. If anyone ever made such a comment on the site, do you think they would be (A) reasoned with using a tone of respectful disagreement or (B) shouted down and ostracized? If you're reasonably familiar with this website, you know what the answer is.

OTOH, polls pretty conclusively show that, with same-sex marriage specifically, it's a generational thing. The older your are, the more likely you are to be against same-sex marriage. My sense of MetaFilter is that it skews fairly young, at least in terms of the overlap with voters. Most old* people vote. Most old people are against same-sex marriage. Thus, even though most people who are not elderly are in favor, same-sex marriage remains illegal. Give it another 10-15 years, and the right for gays to marry will be as obvious as the right for black people to use any water fountain they want.

I see very few spaces on the internet where there is much dissent on gay marriage, for precisely this reason. And the few voices of dissent are from seriously nutty right-wing whackjobs, not your garden variety moderate Republican types.

*I'm talking 60+, here.
posted by Sara C. at 5:45 AM on August 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

DaveP - you would really like Pandagon (linked above). While the issues discussed tend to be more social (gender, gay rights, race, class, etc) and less government/policy related, that's generally how the analysis breaks down among the commentariat.
posted by Sara C. at 5:48 AM on August 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

Mod note: few comments removed - folks this is NOT the thread for a referendum on MeFi, knock it off please, thank you.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:52 AM on August 3, 2010

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