From current trends it’s worth reminding everyone that STB has a comment policy. If the post is about a Queen Anne bus lane or the SDOT budget, and you’re deep into homeless policy or Thomas Piketty, you are off topic.

We don’t really encourage non-transit discussions here, but if you must have one, we provide two open threads a week where you’re likely to be left alone.

Commenters compulsively incapable of staying on topic (or routinely violating other aspects of the policy) will have their comments delayed in a moderation queue, and in extreme cases of ill intent will be banned.


15 Replies to “Comment policy reminder”

  1. It seems to me that if you have an article about how “SDOT budget takes a hit in the mayor’s budget“ discussing why is on topic. Why is less revenue: today, tomorrow, in five years and in ten years.

    Rather than articles moaning about declining frequency or cuts to specific routes, transit advocates might want to understand why there is less revenue. Otherwise you are missing the forest from the trees. I can’t imagine there are more than a dozen citizens in King Co. who care about the 50, or any other milk run. I am not sure there are more than 12 readers on this blog anyway. At least those who take the time to post. But like I said, for me it has been a chance to hear intelligent voices from the other side. I like obtuse references.

    Although new to this interesting blog, with some intelligent voices I often don’t get to hear, I find articles on arcane, low rider routes of little interest. Major rail lines more interesting. And what transit can afford in the future the most important. Without public funding there is no transit, so better understand funding, and that begins with the underlying roads and bridges. Unless of course transit wants to rely solely on fares. After all, the article was about the mayor’s budget. If you think transit got screwed better understand why.

    Obviously a Seattle blog on transit is going to support transit, but I think it is a mistake for editors to summarily remove posts that question the scope or funding for transit. As some of the more perceptive voices on this blog recognize, although I support the reasons for public subsidies of transit I come from a ST eastside subarea that has all the money but where 50% of its residents would vote tomorrow to abolish transit entirely, and many of those citizens have a lot of juice.

    Not everyone loves transit, especially after ST, Painful funding priorities are here, so be sure to listen to and understand all voices. The 50% of citizens who would vote to abolish all transit tomorrow don’t read this blog, or post on it, so don’t silence those who might live among and understand the other half.

    1. You are welcome to have a transit- skeptical viewpoint, and you are welcome to not care about individual bus routes. You are not welcome to hijack discussion of said bus routes for your grand ideological themes. There are many places on the internet you can do that, including other places here at STB.

      FYI a few thousand people read STB every day.

      1. Look at the remaining posts on the SDOT budget article. None are “on topic”. How is a wealth tax “on topic” to an article about transit funding in the mayor’s budget?

        I am not a transit skeptic, but I live among them. A few thousand members in a county of 2.3 million is not great penetration.

        I will be more careful to avoid articles about specific routes and if I post wait for a Sunday open post I didn’t know about. But I have to say the voices on this blog are a lot more interesting when they are allowed to breath, and ask more fundamental questions than whether a specific line should turn left or right.

      2. I’m not sure what you’re referring to; I spent far too much time moderating wealth tax posts today.

        You are making a lot of definitive statements about what happens here for someone who’s new. You seem to think this is some sort of ideological filter and it’s simply not.

        This organization is specifically targeting a niche, not trying to appeal to 2.3m people. If you are looking for a larger than niche audience, I suggest the Seattle Times comment threads.

        If you would like to marinate in discussions about ST3, or transit spending vs not, feel free to consult our archives or start a thread. You are not the first person here to have encountered an anti-transit opinion

      3. I think he’s referring to my last comment in the subthread. I agree, if the others go, then that one can go too, even though I like the point. It just jumps into a wealth tax without explanation since the ones that explained it were deleted.

      4. One other detail of the moderation is that the moderators reserve the right to be arbitrary, and calls for this or that comment to be moderated are usually unwelcome. Comments complaining about the moderation tend to get quickly deleted. This is probably the first and last meta discussion you’ll see on moderation for a good long time.

    2. I think what they are saying is fair. Try to stay on topic when there’s a topic. Twice a week, there will be an open thread. DPT, on the Seattle Times, you would have been banned before your third comment. This blog isn’t strict compared to many places. But, once in a while they have to lay down the law, because things get out of hand.

  2. Daniel, I think Martin’s first problem is that you and I put an unfair demand on Martin. Working from home, he has to sit in his kitchen wearing a shirt with those 1920’s sleeve protectors, chain smoking, with a sharp red pencil keyed to reflexes quicker than a rattle-snake.

    When COVID goes where all good menaces finally do, my ST Board Meeting participation will also require a gavel containing an explosive device and a sheriff’s deputy who’ll have to wait ’til they get home for the drink they’re going to need.

    So in the meantime, Martin, for everybody’s own good and especially mine, every time we make a sweeping statement regarding other people’s opinions that it’d take a professional pollster a month to verify, make us even sort of prove it.

    Mark Dublin

  3. Sometimes, issues related to transit are inherently tied to general politics. For example, any transit-related project has a much better chance of getting at least some federal funding with a Democrat in the White House vs. a Republican. When somebody proposes a wealth tax as a magic cure-all to fund transit, it’s on-topic to rebut it with the argument that it’s unenforceable and probably unconstitutional.

    On the state level, bills authorizing cities to increase transit funding, or even use camera enforcement for bus lanes, cannot pass without Democratic legislature and a Democratic governor. Which means the fate of at least some aspects of transit is tied to legislative elections in swing districts, which are, in turn, tied to antipathy for President Trump getting people to open up their ballots, who otherwise, might not have bothered.

    Of course, there are limits to all this. While one or two replies on the merits of a wealth tax or income tax to fund transit can be reasonable, allowing a thread about a particular transit route being reduced to be hijacked into 100 comments about the pros and cons of a wealth tax is clearly unreasoanble. It’s not always obvious exactly where to draw the line; for the most part, I think the STB moderators are doing a good job and should continue to do what they’re doing.

  4. I just want to say that I’m fine with tangential posts getting removed. I see that the free-form nature of blog comments and social media have increasingly become a place for expressing tangential thoughts that can overwhelm discussion of relevant topics. I recently posted a response to a Jane Jacobs référence a few days ago and the entire discussion was declared off topic — and I’m fine with that.

    I greatly appreciate the effort to maintain the STB too. STB is not a government-operated blog nor is it a widely-publicized platform running as a for-profit business. It looks like it is run by passionate volunteers (who I don’t think I’ve ever met) who donate their time. I’ve seen kind volunteers lately with other online groups be unfairly harassed and falsely accused of awful things with no evidence or logic to the word assaults on them. Some people are just angry or frustrated with some parts of their lives and look for outlets to vent broader feelings. Removing posts is unfortunately necessary this day in age.

    There are plenty of opportunity to post on many sites. Establishing ground rules for STB are necessary in my opinion. If someone doesn’t like that, just don’t read or post to it!

  5. It’s good to prune the off-topic stuff, but I’d prefer comments to be moved to an off-topic bucket rather than deleted. Sometimes I spend quite a long time composing a post, and if I think it might be deleted forever I’ll invest less energy in it. Many off-topic posts are tangential to the thread, but relevant (or at least adjacent) to STB’s theme. Dropping all that stuff into a Petri dish instead of flushing it away might be good for the long-term. (It might also be chaotic mush but I think it will still have some value…)

    1. I occasionally will save a lengthy comment in Word doc, mostly for ease of editing and so I don’t actually reload the web page in the middle of composition, but it’s also handy if the comment itself is later deleted.

  6. I really think it’d do ME good to take this approach: Give examples of what I personally think needs to be done, or avoided. Along with the experience that could possibly make my contribution useful.

    That can be highly pertinent to good discussion. Also the reason it’s so unsettling to hear that Depth itself is an enemy of good administrative practice. I do notice, though, that nobody’s yet got the courage to come out and demand a State that’s SHALLOW.

    But the uncertainties surrounding a certain theoretically-upcoming election provide an excellent example of the problem with assessments that depend on how anybody is LIKELY to vote. In the event the chance even occurs.

    Notice that, exactly like with both Government and transit, I treat a labor union as a tool rather than an abstract principle. Pretty much like the credit union of which I’m also a voting member.

    Like the old saying identifying Time as Money, sheer unbelievably Conservative self-interest.

    Mark Dublin

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