I can see your point of view only if you believe that the whole is equal to the sum of its parts ... that is, for example, this forum is just a bunch of individuals writing and reading. However, I see [a community] as more than a sum of its parts. There must be a reason you have posted 2000 times here instead of spreading yourself randomly around the interwebs.
I don't actively interact on the webs, much. Despite posting here quite a bit. Mainly, I lurk. For instance, as much as I have posted SSC links here, I have never posted anything at any of his sites. I have a FB account, I think I last checked it in 2016. Never even understood the appeal of Twitter.
But why post here, especially since my posts are only tangentially related to retirement? Mainly, it is the quality of the posts. That people will put the effort into posting detailed thoughts. And we are small enough that when someone posts in thread X, and Y, and Z, I can generally get a composite picture of where someone is coming from. This is far more difficult on more active sites.
But also, remember Fish's thread on posting quality? It became clear that most of the readers are not posters. This has been critical to me. Rather than trying to convince anyone that they are looking at a subject the wrong way, I have tried to depersonalize my approach, thinking of the silent majority of readers.
And the reason I do this is not to be a more polite or convincing poster, it is because I think we have an unusual concentration of "mistake" theorists here, on the "mistake/conflict" spectrum talked about here:
http://slatestarcodex.com/2018/01/24/co ... s-mistake/
I guess what I'm trying to say is that I can't change the world. All I can hope to do is help people with conceptual errors, see those errors as errors. Then, when they go elsewhere, they can share that view with others, who agree with them.
For instance, I prefer selective logging to clear-cutting. Talking about it on ERE is not the best way to effect the change I would prefer. But, we have some landowners/managers here. So by talking about it here, I may learn that some trees are best managed as crops. And then get into the particulars of harvest techniques, economic impacts of distance to mill, the effect sawmilling trends have on harvest decisions, etc. In the end, we have a thread with far more details and viewpoints than we will find anywhere else. Not because we are all foresters, but because we have enough people willing to engage more effort than is usual on the net. And the average of forestry knowledge of the world goes up incrimentally. People read the thead, see something they haven't thought of before, and when they go to their regular run of sites, they talk about it. Then the environmental sites get some input from a landowners perspective, and forestry boards may get some input from environmental sources. But both get them from "insiders", who can be heard.
In the sexual misconduct thread, I had no hope that we would discover the secret to making the world a better place. I had hope of expanding the conversation beyond the "blue team/red team", men/women, preditor/victim, narratives that fully enclose the overton window. I wanted to talk about how complicated problem is, and interrelated the influencing factors. Not because I think this will make people behave better, but so the people who read that, will have that in mind when they go to discuss this elsewhere, among the people who agree with them.
You have talked about the problems of specialization, and of our personal bubbles. This is my way around that. To move expert knowledge into general conversation, and general knowledge to specialized conversations.
But here's the thing. In any of these harsh threads of political disagreement, the conflict theorists need to have their say. It's necessary, and the conversation can't move to the next level until they do. And because they are emotionally invested in the subject, I don't have high expectations of deep thought, until they can get past the knee jerk reaction. (See my posts, and how the content changed in our recent gun threads as an example of what I am talking about.) I've talked about my 4 page rule before, this is the reason for it.
So any crushing of dissent, the usual moderator approach to conflict, stops people from developing a more nuanced view of the problem. And not having that means they stay where they are, thinking as they did before.
And I think this reliance on third party moderation is subtly fcucking up the world. IRL, if you are a dick, there will be consequences. Direct, personal consequences. Soon, people learn to be nice, or to deal with the consequences of not being nice. Part of that is learning to disagree, and still be functional. To be able to work with, and empathize with, people who disagree.
Last year, we started talking about the over the top reaction to the election, and disagreement in general. The general freakout level of the population is higher than the timeline would suggest. I think it is a function of so many people living moderated lives. Can't say what you think at work. Can't even disagree on controversial topics. No tolerance policies. Thread locked. No bullying. Where exactly are people supposed to learn to disagree without turning to hate? School? Work? Church? Facebook? Of course people are overreacting to someone disagreeing, they never had to continue to engage with someone who disagreed until they could find common ground.
Or, maybe at heart, I'm just a troll.