Various podcasts in the past have gotten a lot of negative commentary- usually on facebook (and usually in closed groups), rarely does anyone post something really negative on the site/the FB page. And that is totally fine, in fact I think its a good thing- I certainly don’t think I have some sort of omnipotent grasp of debate/the only one true view, and it would by hypocritical of me to criticize everyone and everything whenever it suits me and then winge and complain that somewhere, someone on the internet doesn’t like me. As an extremely unlikable person, I am more than used to this.
However, one of the questions we have gotten a lot in the past has been: why don’t you have more guests on the podcast or writing articles for the site?
Now generally, debate coaches as a group are overworked and underpaid. So a lot of them are understandably reluctant to do more work (like writing an article or giving up a few hours after a day spent teaching/at practice to be on a podcast). This reduces the number of people willing to be on the podcast pretty considerably. Initially I was pretty aggressive in trying to “recruit” people to come on but in the end decided it was pretty annoying/unfair to other people to do so. So basically now people come on when they feel like doing it because they like talking about debate.
These two things- getting guests and internet commentary- are related. While I don’t really care if someone wants to write a 20 page manifesto on why I’m the worst person in the world for saying the politics disad is garbage (which happened…twice) it turns out other people in debate, when faced with the choice to give up some of their small amount of free time for no pay to in exchange be mocked on the internet by (what I assume are) HS students, decide that they would rather not participate.
In that vein, I never noticed that each podcast episode page (the thing we link in the posts) has a comment thing at the bottom. I have to listen to each podcast like 2-3 times to edit out all the background noise (Jaime barking, Clark chewing on things, Whit typing, Fink rubbing his hands together like Mr Burns) and try and balance the levels (yes I know the sound quality is still awful, you should hear it before) so after doing the podcast, and then listening to it repeatedly I don’t actually listen to it again. In fact I never even click on the episode page, I just right click and copy the link. This is a long winded excuse, but the point being I had never known about or looked at these comments before today.
There were a few comments about me/Clark, but by far the most comments, and the most negative comments, were on podcasts where we had guests who aren’t normally on there. I have no idea why this is, maybe people feel Clark and I are irredeemable at this point and have given up criticizing us, but it immediately made me think of how every time I ask someone to come on the podcast the conversation goes something like this
me: pod y/n?
them: eehhhhh….. no
I suspect that in their heads they are wondering “is it really worth it?” and reaching the conclusion that it is not.Maybe this is the goal of the commentators- maybe they want the podcast to go away. But I couldn’t help but notice that a particular critic did not make a disqus account but instead logged in with Facebook, and I remembered their name. I remembered their name because they had commented on facebook, and messaged me specifically, criticizing various aspects of the site, but specifically the lack of diversity on the podcasts. As I went through the pages for each episode, this person popped up repeatedly with some pretty heated criticism of podcast guests. I say “criticism” but really i mean insults.
Now, I’m not an internet genius by any stretch. I could be wrong- maybe this is a disqus account created by someone else with a this persons name in some kind of inception/snow level troll. Ignoring that possibility for a second, I just want to emphasize that if you want to see more guests on the podcasts, attacking guests when they are on is probably a bad way to go about it.
Now I don’t say this to try and wag my finger and imply “don’t criticize the podcast”, hopefully I have been clear on that point. If you don’t like us/what we do- go to town. However, if you think the problem is we have a little exclusive thought bubble then I would think you would want to contribute to an environment in which people want to participate. The feeling I get from talking to people about coming on the podcast is that the general environment of online criticism is definitely a factor in their decision not to join(look at the amount of participation/argument on a random moth of edebate and compare it to now).
I would add one last thing- this is something students have told me for a while. Generally we approve any comment on an article regardless of the content. The only time I have not approved something is when it attacked another student comment in a way that wasn’t critical of their comment/argument but was just insulting. That hasn’t happened very often. What does happen very often is I will make a post asking for questions for the podcast, or (more rarely) asking people to submit cards/blocks so I can critique them and include in a later post. These articles get very few comments, but do prompt a lot of private messages like this
“Hiii- i know u said comment on the post, but hopefully you dont mind if i message you directly ( i don’t want to get roasted)…”
I’m sure the people who would “roast” someone for asking a question probably don’t care about me chastising them for doing it, and maybe they are really deep down black pillers who just want to watch the world burn. To them: enjoy! You have definitely found the most productive venue for your radicalism.
But if you want debate, the site, the podcast, to be better- you might want to rethink your approach. There won’t be a TOC prep post today because I just had to spend 2 hours going through all the podcasts and deleting nonsense. * This isn’t to say “oh be sympathetic to me!” or “ha ha- you have lost access to my wisdom- cry children!”, but instead just to point out what is probably obvious to many of you: people in debate are overworked, they have finite time, and there are opportunity costs involved in decisions about how to spend that time.
*one thing I will note, its quite possible some of these comments weren’t from debaters but were from either random internet trolls or bots- I find it hard to believe anyone in debate would communicate as poorly as some of these comments did, but then again there is malgor…