Is there a red state MeFi-alike?
September 24, 2015 7:47 PM   Subscribe

So I have an elderly relative who is struggling with profound hearing and speech difficulties, and I'm looking for an online community for him. MetaFilter would strike him as too liberal, too young, and somewhat too outré. He's not ignorant or unsophisticated, but his views are conservative and his interest in modern culture is, well, limited. Can anyone point me toward a U.S.-based site with an active group of thoughtful, high-quality commenters and a generally conservative slant on history, politics, and current events?

My uncle by marriage is a brilliant, driven man who's always had an amazing sense of humor and gift for words, but now that he's in his mid-eighties, he can't hear, he's rarely willing to attempt speaking, and he seems deeply unhappy with the gulf that's appeared between him and the rest of the world. He reads (mostly WWI and WWII history, with a generous leavening of detective novels and political thrillers), but he's never been fond of television, sports, games, dining out, or other social activities. His vision is fine and he's comfortable with computers, so I'd like to find an online forum that might offer him a way to connect with a community of his peers.

Please assume that everything possible is already being done for my uncle in terms of treatment and social services. He has plenty of money, top-notch medical care, an affectionate and attentive family, and a very safe and comfortable living situation. I am only looking for advice on ways to engage him within his limitations.
posted by timeo danaos to Society & Culture (13 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Is he on Facebook? If not, how about helping him sign up for an account and then joining some communities there. I'm sure he'd find a lot of like-minded folks who would love to discuss mutual interests at a pace most comfortable to him.
posted by smorgasbord at 8:11 PM on September 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

Why not find him a history forum instead of a political one? That sounds more positive. I bet there's lots of them with people willing to discuss his favorite topics in specific forums.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 8:21 PM on September 24, 2015 [13 favorites]

Yeah, what OnTheLastCastle said - there are tons of WWI and WWII buffs on the Internet, and demographically and culturally they'll likely be pretty close to your uncle. Reddit might be a good place to start for that; going by the general rule of thumb that the more niche a subreddit is the less horrible it tends to be, there may be some sufficiently niche historical subreddits he would enjoy.
posted by Itaxpica at 8:30 PM on September 24, 2015 [7 favorites]

History forums and subreddits are a great idea—I've found a lot of really great communities on small-to-medium-sized subreddits, and as someone who also feels kind of adrift on the modern-culture-thinkpiece internet it's a great refuge to be able to go someplace where I can talk to a bunch of people who I'm sure I share some priors and a weird hobby with.
posted by Polycarp at 8:38 PM on September 24, 2015

re: reddit, do help him get set up to auto-login with a set of sub reddits selected for that account. There's some great stuff in there but when it goes wrong/wacky it's well, you know :-0
posted by sammyo at 11:31 PM on September 24, 2015 [3 favorites]

imho it would be great to have people like your uncle here. maybe he's smart enough to see the place as something to learn from (or at least watch in amusement) and work around rather than be scared of?
posted by andrewcooke at 2:26 AM on September 25, 2015 [1 favorite]

The general tone of Ordinary Times is not super-conservative, but I think it's civilized enough for your uncle to enjoy. It's a group blog with active commenting, not a pure discussion site.
posted by lakeroon at 3:13 AM on September 25, 2015

He will get way more out of an online community if he contributes so make sure he is comfortable with typing on whatever device he is using.

That said, I am on a WWII mailing list that takes occasional charfilter-y turns and which has a companion list with a broader remit; search for the WWII list at and also the Warplan list, and browse the archives for a sample.

Also, I have been surprised by the quality and quantity of interactions at LibraryThing and Goodreads as people start off discussing a book and rapidly veer into another topic. Maybe try there, too.

Good luck, this is a nice thing you're doing!
posted by wenestvedt at 3:18 AM on September 25, 2015 [1 favorite]

He might enjoy the forums at They are heavily focused on retirement planning, so most of the chatter focuses on that, but there are also off-topic posts that I suspect would interest him. He'd also get to provide advice to younger folks who want it.

I'd say it's like Metafilter if Metafilter was a retirement forum where most of the posters were older, retired or near-retired, and men. It's also a forum that values intelligent conversation.
posted by pie ninja at 5:45 AM on September 25, 2015 [5 favorites]

My son the history major spends his time at HistoryNet.
posted by COD at 5:47 AM on September 25, 2015 [2 favorites]

Yeah, I used to subscribe to the H-NET lists for WWII but I had to drop out. It was full of people who are either Real Specialists in a given field, with a few curious visitors, and a sprinkling of Fierce Iconoclasts (for which read "Deniers") who would fight these battles over and over. It was more than my emotional budget could handle.

So sample the recent archives before you send any of those to him -- he may find a gem or he may get a stinker! :7)
posted by wenestvedt at 8:29 AM on September 25, 2015

He should check out the Volokh Conspiracy, if he doesn't already know it. It's a law blog hosted by the Washington Post. There may be a pay wall if he wants to comment. Though I'm much more liberal that there average contributor, I have enjoyed it because the level of discourse is so high.
posted by SemiSalt at 10:56 AM on September 25, 2015 [1 favorite]

I wonder if the Straight Dope boards might be a good in-between?
posted by Iteki at 6:37 PM on September 25, 2015 [1 favorite]

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