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Did An Entire Thread Get Deleted?

Unless it was moved, was the thread regarding safety while traveling in Europe due to migrant issues deleted?

Posted by
8293 posts

Look for the Webmaster's post on the subject, made yesterday.

Posted by
485 posts

Mmm.. I must not have read through the rest of the comments on the deleted thread; I thought what I'd read was on-topic.

Posted by
470 posts

If this was just a "regular" travel forum I could understand the censorship more. Given that the RS focus is on "travel as a political act" it seems apropos that discussions would involve greater depth and breadth than just advice about hotels, food or transportation. In the RS book/public talk on this subject, he plants the seeds for discernment and awareness.
You wouldn't invite someone to pick the vegetables from your garden, and then tell them they couldn't eat them because they were just there to look at and to evaluate their color, size and versatility in cooking.

Posted by
4637 posts

It indeed looks like it and it is highly unfortunate. It is hard for some people to read different opinions and Webmaster respects that. We have many themes to look under to answer or discuss topics. I noticed that some people on this Travel Forum like to discuss politics (including me). Why not to add another theme let's say Travel as a Political Act. That way people who don't tolerate other opinions can stay away from that theme. People on this Forum are matured and civil, I don't think that personal attacks would be problem. I would like to read opinions of other contributors about this idea and if there are enough of us I could contact Webmaster.

Posted by
9436 posts

I agree with you Alexandra, and with Travelingmom. I thought it was on topic, very respectful, enlightening and educational. I learned a lot from it. This censorship really, really bothers me.

I often feel like posters are treated like children here.

Posted by
18835 posts

I don’t always agree with him, but I think the webmaster tries to do a good job.

There is a technique at play here that will ensure that the forum remains very PC. This is not a place for opinions; only for Train Schedules. Well............ excepting certain opinions that are treated as fact. I wish the internet were a place where intelligent people could discuss, disagree and maybe reform opinions. Unfortunately the veil of anonymity is used by to express intolerance and as a cover for what I can only define as nastiness. As a result some of these threads break down pretty fast. This one however was still pretty civil. I stand in the minority in a lot of ways and I was pretty good with the tone. A very vocal minority I think managed to silence a discussion that they took issue with by claiming that the posts were “off topic”. Technically they were off topic, but in spirit I don’t think so; but the webmaster did apparently take exception when the question was “is it safe” degraded to what trends and forces could make it dangerous; historic perspective. Odd though it was pulled after I quoted the Talmud's perspective on giving to those in need.

Remember, it’s the webmaster’s sandbox. We play at his grace so while I don’t always agree, I do always respect that.

Posted by
7078 posts

Wasn't the thread regarding safety while traveling in Europe deleted some time ago when it veered off topic and got, not only political, but a bit too argumentative? I think the one that prompted the webmaster's current post and got deleted yesterday was the one asking about current travel conditions in Bavaria, which also went off topic. Either way, they both got deleted because they didn't adhere to community guidelines #1.

I understand the webmaster's frustration when he asks people to stay on topic and not go off on political arguments that do not relate to the OP's question, and still they continue to do it. I like a political discussion as much as the next person but sometimes it's annoying to open a thread hoping to get some good information in response to the OP's travel question that may also help me, but then finding a bunch of posts that have nothing to do with answering the question.

This is just my opinion and feel free to disagree, but I think some people misunderstand the whole "travel as a political act" philosophy and take it to mean that any political discussion, regardless of it's subject, has it's place here on the travel forum. I don't think that's the case.

Posted by
18835 posts

Nancy, I think you are correct. This one was the Safe in Bavaria thread (I missspoke above), and it degraded or veered or wandered off to prospects of safety if the conditions exist, etc..... so, yes, off topic but not terribly so. I know I could be wrong so I don't make this as a statement of fact but in this one instance I think the complaints the webmaster received were ideologically driven and rule 1 was the excuse. But that's okay. Life isn't always fair and that's just life; or I could just be plain wrong in my admittedly gut feeling. Either way, as great as the RS crowd is, it isn't mature enough for political discussions. Sad......

On a more productive note. When does something become off topic. I once got some less than flattering comments when I suggested a train in answer to "how do I rent a car". When I ask questions sometimes I benefit greatly by the answers to questions I didn't know to ask.

Posted by
9436 posts

Thanks Nancy, I was referring to the first one you referenced, not the Bavaria one... which I never read.

If I don't like a thread (the OP's question, or responses), I just don't read it.

I appreciate "rules", but some discussions here are respectful and very worthwhile reading and should be allowed.

Posted by
9436 posts

Ilja, I didn't see your post until now... I think your suggestion is great!

Posted by
12040 posts

This is just about the most remarkably civil discussion forum on the internet. There was some trouble several years ago (those of you who've been around long enough know exactly WHO I'm talking about), but it has remained mostly intelligently and courteously written every since. Could this crowd maintain it's civility if we started throwing politics into the mix more often? Who knows, but I come here exactly because I want to discuss Europe without the "Cheese-eating-surrender-monkeys", "Hasselhof-loving-hairy-armpit-Hitler-loving-krauts", "lazy socialists" "we-saved-their-a$$-in-WWII" and every other out-dated stereotype that seems to come up when you try to discuss Europe elsewhere. I get that the Webmaster strives very hard to maintain this level of civility, and if he/she seems to think that tossing political discussions out the window is the way to keep it so, then that's Webmaster's prerogative.

Posted by
32269 posts

I wondered what happened to that Thread? Too bad as there were some interesting comments posted. I don't mind a bit of spirited banter as long as it's reasonably civil and who knows, the OP of the thread may have also found it interesting.

Posted by
18835 posts

The OP has the ability to remove the thread if he wishes. But i agree with Ken, except I would toss in the mind numbing stereotypes on the other side of the coin as well.

Posted by
4637 posts

So what happened to the thread? I think you can find it here:
https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/general-europe/political-discussions-staying-on-topic
It seems that there are more of us who don't mind thoughtful although not always P.C. debate. I was thinking about asking Webmaster if he could consider adding another new theme which could be called, let's say Travel as a Political Act. That way people who are easily offended by different opinions could stay away from this theme. Who is for? Anybody against?

Posted by
32269 posts

Ilja,

I have no objections to a different section for posts that may be "political" and not strictly related to travels in Europe, as long as the tone remains civil and respectful. Hopefully there would be some latitude about "staying on topic". As conversations evolve, they sometimes take an unexpected direction and that's not necessarily a bad thing.

Posted by
15686 posts

The Webmaster was very clear While I have taken the position of allowing political discussion if it pertains directly to the original poster's (OP's) travel question, this has been abused in recent weeks. I've seen far too many topics recently that skew way off topic and do not help answer the OP's question. These discussions do not further the purpose of our community. Community Guideline #1 is to stay on topic. From here forward, if we see threads that become purely about a political subject, the entire thread will be removed from the forum. Political discussions do not help the OP or other travelers

The issue addressed is not allowing or disallowing political discussion. It is veering too far off topic.

I think that's fair. If the OP gets multiple alerts from RS about updates on his/her thread only to find they are nothing at all to do with his/her question, how will that person feel about the website?

Posted by
6805 posts

The OP asked about safety for travelers in Bavaria and got an earful about safety for citizens in the USA. The thread was largely off topic - or perhaps severely mis-focused. But the thread was also deleted because political discussions are not welcome, as the Webmaster also indicated clearly: "Political discussions do not help the OP or other travelers"

"It seems that there are more of us who don't mind thoughtful although not always P.C. debate."

Probably true, but this site is Rick Steves' duchy... not a democracy, but a venue for Rick's view of the world, and a place where he invites readers to "travel (not banter) as a political act" and to discuss the details of travel - but dis-invites those who want to carry on political discussions. That's fine with me. There are hundreds of other sites where political discussion is invited. And if you wish to discuss politics with other Rick Steves board members, the PM feature is available.

Posted by
18835 posts

I see two requests. One for a discussion on traveling as a political act. That I guess anyone could start by posting something to the effect of "What does that mean to you" or "Do you think it is effective?" or......

The other would be a discussion on what? "Lets fight politics"? Or "Is Europe superior to the US?" What do you have in mind?

Neither would be productive as there are to many here who can not be civil.

I sort of agree with the Webmaster.

Posted by
2744 posts

I for one am happy to have a site where I don't have to hear everyone's political opinions, so I support the webmaster in this. While the political discussions on this site are generally civil and far better than the garbage that's found elsewhere (I'm talking about nasty comments from both sides of the spectrum), I would not miss any of it.

Posted by
9436 posts

If political dicussions (like the one about the refugees/immigrants which was very civil and very informative) had it's own category, people that don't want to read it wouldn't have to. I think some people are missing that point.

In fact, people that find it distasteful wouldn't see it at all in any thread because it would have it's own category, separate from the rest. I'm in favor of it. I doubt that the webmaster would allow even that though, because it would mean more work for him.

Posted by
7078 posts

"I doubt that the webmaster would allow even that though, because it would mean more work for him."

Keeping a category like that civil and polite would probably be more work for the webmaster than it's worth, but if it doesn't happen I doubt if that's the main reason. This is a travel forum on a travel website. I just don't see them opening it up to political discussions, however civil and polite, for any reason unless they're germane to travel issues, in which case they could happen in the subject threads (but on topic). If you want to engage in political discussions unrelated to travel - you see I am calling them discussions and not arguments, which is how they usually end up - there are lots of places on the internet to do it.

Posted by
8293 posts

My opinion, and I may be the only one thinking this, is that the ones with a particular political agenda are the ones in favour of the ability to discuss/argue/debate from a political perspective on a travel forum. This particular forum ls a friendly, inclusive place and I like it very much as it is.

Posted by
3823 posts

What is irritating is when a poster "talks down" to the rest of us, when he or she is espousing their political views, as though we are all children who can be lectured. As though they are sitting up high, on a throne. Another scenario is when someone posts a new topic, in the form of an innocent-sounding question for discussion, but it is simply a "set-up" for the OP to come on and "grandstand" his or her own political views, at length. (Hence, the lecture to the children.) This makes others angry, and they react.

I think this kind of stuff is what is putting an end to the Webmaster allowing much more of this to go on.

Those of you who do not read the Forum late at night, especially on the weekends when the Webmaster is away, have not seen these posts. Angry things are said, remain for awhile, then are removed by the poster, or posters, before the Webmaster has a chance to see them Monday morning. Some quite nasty things have been said. And removed.

This kind of stuff is not "polite political discussion", which IS what we should have here.

Posted by
16122 posts

Interesting thread.

One of the problems I see here is that most travel forums are very clear about what topics are or are not acceptable. While it's stated that political topics are off limits on RS, Rick himself is an advocate of "Travel as a Political Act".

https://www.ricksteves.com/about-rick/social-activism-philanthropy/learn-how-to-travel-thoughtfully

The intro page of his blog on this site contains this sentence:

"If you think it's inappropriate for a travel writer to stir up discussion on his blog with political observations and insights gained from traveling abroad, you may not want to read any further."

So there seems to be a little bit of, "Do as I say and not as I do" here? At the same time we all know that there are individuals out there looking for any opportunity to 'flame' online forum or comment sections. It's those sorts which are giant headaches for webmasters as they're not interested in adding value other than their inflammatory views, and too often doing so in language none of us would like to see here. RS web staff being stretched (I'm guessing), they simply don't have time to be on watch 24/7 for that sort of thing?

The "Is it safe…" question is a minefield to begin with as you often have to weigh so many unknowns; what sort of prior experience the poster has; what 'safe' means to them; who they're traveling with; when their trip is; what they've read which is making them nervous, etc. It's understandable that these threads can wander off in multiple directions, and especially so when the OP does not engage early or at all in the conversation. They do have directional control of the thread they have started, and they need to take that responsibility by providing the sort of active feedback which keeps it on the desired (their own) track?

Posted by
8293 posts

Yes, Rebecca, I have noticed that, too. Sometimes I have read an almost obscenely rude, or almost racist remark, only to notice just an hour later that the post has been edited so that the offensive remark has been removed. The damage was done as far as I was concerned, but not that many people probably saw the remark, including the webmaster. The word sneaky comes to mind.

Posted by
3823 posts

Yes, sneaky, and you are right; the damage is already done. Another person has been insulted, slapped in the face, and then the insult removed. Fortunately, the Webmaster reads now on the weekends (I'm guessing from what I've observed) and sees these comments.

Posted by
18835 posts

For those of you who want the Webmaster to have a narrow definition of "what is on topic", let me point out to you that the topic of this thread is

Did an Entire Thread Get Deleted - Unless it was moved, was the thread
regarding safety while traveling in Europe due to migrant issues
deleted?

To which the answer is "Yes"

Every post after the third one is off topic and should be deleted under the stay on topic rule. Heck, this post is off topic. I am going to turn everyone in!!!!

But as much as I would love to have a place for mature people to discuss and learn from each other; when we start getting into conspiracy theories and branding a segment of society because of their views it becomes pretty evident that it just isn't possible.

Posted by
9436 posts

Rebecca and James, you make good points. I have never read nasty posts like you describe so was unaware. I don't want to see that here. I was only thinking of intellectual and civil discussions pertaining to travel/Europe. But as James said, it just may not be possible (thanks to the nasty ones).

Posted by
565 posts

Interesting thread! I'm sure it will be gone tomorrow. I was part of an 'edited thread' too during my stay in Paris during the attacks. I think if there was at least an EDIT notification like other sites that would clear it up.

On another note, I belong to a travel forum that does both travel and politics. These people are business owners and frequent guests. The bad part of all this is if you wear your politics on your sleeve, half your audience of advice seekers are going to be turned off. Not me though. I love my mind to be changed :).

Posted by
18835 posts

Susan, it's 100% better here than most any other similar site on the web. This really is a good place. The trouble with political discussions is you will never change anyone's mind and they almost always turn into branding and accusations. Just not necessary for a Travel Forum. The one that got pulled wasn't even that political which did surprise me. It was more about what could lead to dangerous situation based on peoples reactions to events and a little historical context. But some took offense, possibly because they have a different world view. Who knows.. For Travel I don't think there is a better place on the internet. So lets enjoy that....

Leslie, I have been guilty of pulling posts. On one occasion I put things in a way that allowed for a lot of creative interpretation of my thoughts. Of course you sort of had to have a chip on your shoulder to read it the way it was being read. Before long I found my post in the center of a lot of very offensive garbage that I was ashamed to be associated with so I deleted it. Then the same sweet folks followed me to other threads with more dribble so I pulled out again. I think you can be judged by the company you keep and I just didn't want to be judged by being in the same thread as those sweethearts. Insult is a form of censorship and it can be effective. But you are correct it does make a mess of the thread when it happens and now I just go back and edit. But if we staff off the politics none of that would be necessary unless I mess up a train schedule.

Posted by
565 posts

Meh. Stuff happens. Opinions occur like most other functions. It wasn't you and I'm not one to get eaten up over it. Others are. Sorry for them.

I oddly belong to a group of folks from Trump to Sanders supporters. We all grilled out last night and solved world problems, after football games of course. And we all hugged goodbye. It isn't so all bad out there :)

Posted by
4637 posts

Thanks everybody. People spoke and made it clear. I am not going to suggest to start a new theme. Besides, debates which developed into politics did not start that way. In these times it's quite easy for a travel subject to metamorphose into political one. Originally I thought about having a political theme to spare some people from reading different opinions but we haven't had debates here which started as political from the beginning. I have realized that my original idea had not been practical and I thank all who helped me to realize that.

Posted by
11613 posts

I appreciate Webmaster's attempts to keep the forum civil. I have read tons of vile stereotypes or personal attacks, and have reported a few of them.

This is one of the best travel forums on the internet, specifically because it doesn't encourage - or tolerate - poster-bashing and other uncivil behavior. I no longer read the other forums - you know which ones they are - and would hate to give this one up

Posted by
16122 posts

I agree with you too, Zoe, and also with Rebecca that train wrecks can often be avoided with a little friendly effort to resolve the conflict, or by gently steering a wayward engine back on track.

I see it more often on travel forums with more diverse communities, internationally, but there are honest questions which are very difficult for people to address without sticking a toe in political waters. How the question is answered may depend on which side of history - sometimes recent history - one may sit, or where very passionate personal sympathies lie?

Rather than sweeping them under the rug as topics too hot to handle, I've so much admiration for responders who do their very best to provide explanations which are as matter-of-fact as possible or who present opposing sides without bashing either the poster or each other's viewpoints.

Posted by
8293 posts

Couldn't agree more with Rebecca. And thank you to Ilja for her reasoned response to those who replied to her ideas for political discussions. Very civil and gracious.

Posted by
3823 posts

Many threads veer off topic here. It's not unusual.

There was a thread several years ago that began with someone asking a question about Capri pants for men--should he buy some to wear to Europe? The first 30 or 40 answers dealt directly with that topic, and thoroughly answered his question. Then someone wrote that they really liked the singing group, Abba. Then about a dozen posts followed during which many people admitted they liked Abba. Michael Schneider posted a couple of great YouTube videos. Then a couple of people wrote limericks. Everyone had a great time. And the OP enjoyed it very much, and thanked us, saying what a fun and informative Forum this is.

Posted by
33337 posts

Is it better to have white Capri pants or a darker colour? Does the same rule about sneakers apply?

Posted by
3823 posts

Ha! Thanks, Nigel! That's a classic thread! Even though it has been heavily edited, and many posts removed, still funny! Some posts appear shuffled, also; guess that happened during an edit.

Posted by
967 posts

Thanks to everyone for their comments here.

"Every post after the third one is off topic and should be deleted under the stay on topic rule. Heck, this post is off topic. I am going to turn everyone in!!!!" - James reported everyone on this thread -- even himself. (jk)

Did this thread go off topic? Yes. The whole discussion is off topic since we're not really talking about travel. However, our actions are not above review which is why I've kept this up. The progression of this discussion quite naturally arrived at the conclusion(s) I was hoping you would have. I'm happy to comment on a few posts too in case it helps.

"I agree with you Alexandra, and with Travelingmom. I thought it was on topic, very respectful, enlightening and educational. I learned a lot from it. This censorship really, really bothers me."
"If this was just a "regular" travel forum I could understand the censorship more. Given that the RS focus is on "travel as a political act" it seems apropos that discussions would involve greater depth and breadth than just advice about hotels, food or transportation."
It's not that I disagree with these statements, though I'm not certain you saw all that I found (if it never seemed that bad, then perhaps I did my job well). We really do want to allow for some discussion of politics as it relates to travel. Many posts that ended up being deleted when the threads were pulled down were respectful, enlightening and educational. However, the latest posts were neither about travel nor were they all respectful. It is generally a notion of mine in moderation to support people's opinions as long as it doesn't cut others down for their different opinions. That wasn't happening. While many here are civil and can politely discuss political topics (and I agree with many of you that our forum is a cut above others for it's civility), others simply can't. Because we can't see each other and because many of us do not know each other personally, we don't always give each other the benefit of the doubt when the written word fails at perfectly describing our sentiment. I've seen this happen between good people here over and over again for many years in this forum. It sours the relations within our community. It doesn't put on an inviting face for new travelers here either. As such, it doesn't serve the intended purpose of our Travel Forum to allow threads that are (or become) entirely about political topics.

"The intro page of his blog on this site contains this sentence: 'If you think it's inappropriate for a travel writer to stir up discussion on his blog with political observations and insights gained from traveling abroad, you may not want to read any further.' So there seems to be a little bit of, 'Do as I say and not as I do' here?"
I would like to point out that you are quoting the first sentence of the blog and not the forum. You are welcome to comment directly about the political comments Rick brings up on his blog or on Facebook where such a discussion can be considered on topic. Again, we're OK with a forum post that pertains to something political, but it also needs to relate directly to the travel subject at hand.

Naturally, the subject matter that is causing issues is the current events and how that pertains to safety. While it can be useful to compare the safety situation in one locale with that of another to gain perspective, it keeps crossing the line when people argue about the facts being presented, make blanket statements about people of a specific nationality or religion, or turn it into a charged discussion about US gun laws. While we hope that by traveling as a political act, you can be informed about your positions that you take, we also hope that you agree that these are the types of discussions that belong on a different forum.

To be continued in a following post...

Posted by
2252 posts

Who doesn't love a small bit of levity? Thank you for the smiles here!

Posted by
967 posts

...continued...

"Odd though it was pulled after I quoted the Talmud's perspective on giving to those in need."
My timing has much more to do with my work schedule than the content of any single post.

I do note that some people would like to have some sort of notification left in place after a post is removed. There are pros and cons to this approach. The con I'm not thrilled about is that it draws attention to any post that was removed due to e.g. spam, bad behavior, etc. It does just as much if not more to make a discussion seem disjointed. It can also be a lot to wade through on a bad spam day.

Moving forward, while many of you seem to support what we're trying to do and showed understanding of our intent, I'll give a shout out to Nancy in particular as she was spot on with some of her posts. Thanks again to all of you for your comments. I know that the political atmosphere is rather charged at the moment, but I thank you all for keeping a cool head and for making this a great place to talk travel.

And to be perfectly on topic, yes. I deleted an entire thread. ;)

Regards,
RS Webmaster

Posted by
18835 posts

The Webmaster's post is OFF TOPIC!!! I am going to report him too!!!!! On the other hand, he is incredibly articulate and a credit to the RS Brand; .................... even if I am correct more often than he is. But his chiming in is a class act. OO-RAH!!!!!

Everyone off topic move to the Left; all those on topic, move to the right!!! Line up!! Single File!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! All those that want to delete, take one step forward .... It's unanimous!

Odd though it was pulled after I quoted the Talmud's perspective on
giving to those in need

You understand that was a comment on irony, not an accusation. I have a pretty good regard for the webmaster and would never suspect it was anything but coincidence.

Posted by
9892 posts

I can't help but agree with Kathy's comments that a decent part of the Rick Steves ethos is exactly to (sometimes) treat travel as a political act, and that his brand seeks to (or at least seeks to appear to) encourage travelers to think about more than just the pretty façades they are seeing. That's part of the attraction here for me -- finding and talking with other folks who care about the people and lifestyles and cultures behind the storybook façades.

That is why it is jarring to me that discussions or comments are deleted for being political.

And why I find it a little disingenuous to say, "well that quote is on Rick's blog post and not on the forum." all these spaces are supposedly part of the same family of sites, so what's good for the goose should be good for the gander. That's apparently not the case though. And as Rick Steves and his company owns this space, and his staff does as they are directed to do, I suppose it's not surprising. Doesn't mean it's not disappointing.