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Subject: Thread locking in a community forum rss

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Charles Boyung
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DragonsDream wrote:
Unfortunately what happened here was a bog standard example of why minority spaces need to have different rules. There is simply no way to ever have these conversation not be derailed by defenders of the status quo who win even when they lose. Back when we started here I wrote a post Do We Have Different Rules Here which was meant to be a rhetorical question that the post answered (the answer was supposed to be "yes" BTW). My hope was that derailing simply wouldn't be allowed in RainbowBGG and that conversations wouldn't get locked because outsiders had successfully done so.


I'm sorry, but people should still be able to defend themselves (and others) when they are accused of something by someone, even if it IS in a "community" forum. That may not be how the thread in question ended up, but that's definitely how it started. It's a public forum - if you want to bash someone without any repercussions or counter-arguments (which IS all that was being done in that thread, even if there was an attempt to keep it somewhat civil), take it somewhere else.
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motoyugota wrote:
I'm sorry, but people should still be able to defend themselves (and others) when they are accused of something by someone, even if it IS in a "community" forum. That may not be how the thread in question ended up, but that's definitely how it started. It's a public forum - if you want to bash someone without any repercussions or counter-arguments (which IS all that was being done in that thread, even if there was an attempt to keep it somewhat civil), take it somewhere else.


I think that's worth pointing out. The original thread criticized someone for a post he made, so of course there would be people defending him and some amount of debate.

A community forum is not a space for members of that community to post one-sided criticisms of others with no response from that person or others. I can't imagine why anyone would think that's OK.
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motoyugota wrote:
DragonsDream wrote:
Unfortunately what happened here was a bog standard example of why minority spaces need to have different rules. There is simply no way to ever have these conversation not be derailed by defenders of the status quo who win even when they lose. Back when we started here I wrote a post Do We Have Different Rules Here which was meant to be a rhetorical question that the post answered (the answer was supposed to be "yes" BTW). My hope was that derailing simply wouldn't be allowed in RainbowBGG and that conversations wouldn't get locked because outsiders had successfully done so.


I'm sorry, but people should still be able to defend themselves (and others) when they are accused of something by someone, even if it IS in a "community" forum. That may not be how the thread in question ended up, but that's definitely how it started. It's a public forum - if you want to bash someone without any repercussions or counter-arguments (which IS all that was being done in that thread, even if there was an attempt to keep it somewhat civil), take it somewhere else.

were those defenders to explain why the post in question wasn't sexist, we could have debated that. What happened though was a whole lot of "it's not a big deal" "there are bigger problems in the world" "I choose not to be offended by these things" et al. Lots of "this isn't an issue" derailment. That's not defending against the claim and not having a discussion. It's an attempt to shut down the conversation from the beginning by claiming there isn't a conversation to have. And those people won. And that's a problem.
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Dylan Thurston
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It looked to me like people in the Rainbow BGGers subforum were in fact happy to have the conversation about just what was going on. I think that's part of why people were upset about the thread being locked.
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DragonsDream wrote:
motoyugota wrote:
DragonsDream wrote:
Unfortunately what happened here was a bog standard example of why minority spaces need to have different rules. There is simply no way to ever have these conversation not be derailed by defenders of the status quo who win even when they lose. Back when we started here I wrote a post Do We Have Different Rules Here which was meant to be a rhetorical question that the post answered (the answer was supposed to be "yes" BTW). My hope was that derailing simply wouldn't be allowed in RainbowBGG and that conversations wouldn't get locked because outsiders had successfully done so.


I'm sorry, but people should still be able to defend themselves (and others) when they are accused of something by someone, even if it IS in a "community" forum. That may not be how the thread in question ended up, but that's definitely how it started. It's a public forum - if you want to bash someone without any repercussions or counter-arguments (which IS all that was being done in that thread, even if there was an attempt to keep it somewhat civil), take it somewhere else.

were those defenders to explain why the post in question wasn't sexist, we could have debated that. What happened though was a whole lot of "it's not a big deal" "there are bigger problems in the world" "I choose not to be offended by these things" et al. Lots of "this isn't an issue" derailment. That's not defending against the claim and not having a discussion. It's an attempt to shut down the conversation from the beginning by claiming there isn't a conversation to have. And those people won. And that's a problem.


I was trying to have a debate on sexism vs systemic sexism and find out what the real cause of concern was in the comments (to make sure I fully understood before defending either side) and was told to shoo. Though this isn't the place for re-opening the debate, I just think that some comments were all being painted with the same stroke of 'trolls'
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DragonsDream wrote:
were those defenders to explain why the post in question wasn't sexist, we could have debated that. What happened though was a whole lot of "it's not a big deal" "there are bigger problems in the world" "I choose not to be offended by these things" et al. Lots of "this isn't an issue" derailment. That's not defending against the claim and not having a discussion. It's an attempt to shut down the conversation from the beginning by claiming there isn't a conversation to have. And those people won. And that's a problem.


Those were their opinions, as valid as yours. It's a different debate. "Why is this a big deal" vs "Is it sexist."
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cheng wrote:
Those were their opinions, as valid as yours. It's a different debate. "Why is this a big deal" vs "Is it sexist."


Trying to shift the topic of a thread to "a different debate" is exactly what people mean by derailing. If you want to have a different debate, that's what new threads are for.
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dthurston wrote:
It looked to me like people in the Rainbow BGGers subforum were in fact happy to have the conversation about just what was going on. I think that's part of why people were upset about the thread being locked.
I suspect if the conversation had stayed there that thread would still be open. The trouble is that people chose to cross over to the original Q&A thread and harass the source poster, and then people from the Q&A thread started visiting the Rainbow BGG thread to harass the harassers. This kind of community cross-raiding never yields good results.

Pete (remembers the epic flame wars between the Geek Madness folks and the Android:Netrunner enthusiasts a few years ago)
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dthurston wrote:
I'm reminded of a discussion on the Ludology podcast about balance, and how in a game design it's not enough to be balanced, it also has to appear balanced to new players. Thinking more broadly in society, it's not enough that the administration of laws be just, they also have to appear just.

I do see differences between being just/balanced and appearing just/balanced, and in both cases there are aspects that are opaque to outsiders/new players.


Thank you for so eloquently saying something that's been trying to gnaw it's way out of my brain for days.

As someone who is not a member of the affected group but sees its impact several times a week on two of his closest friends, oftentimes I feel that the moderation policies appear just, but aren't just.

Having dabbled in RSP (and just as quickly left for the sake of my blood pressure), I was glad to see moderation begin enforcement in that cesspit. The right wingers screamed long and loud about the "stupid liberal asshats" that run the site. Their disappearance for a day or two was always a welcome thing. Sometimes I wanted them burned at the stake with public shaming, but in my heart I knew that the two times I've been moderated, I was glad that it was done privately. I went back and apologized publicly for one of those and deleted the post the other time.

In a medievalist group of which I am a member, we have someone that is no longer welcome because he refuses to refer to my best friend with male pronouns. He also constantly rails about the inherent evil of the various "brown" people and that if we rode along with him for just a week, we'd come around to his point of view. (He's a D.C. police officer.) He constantly smokes nasty cigars around our asthmatic members, moving closer to them and spewing smoke in their face. This "person" has been told privately a number of times that his opinions and behavior are unacceptable. The problem is that he won't acknowledge and learn from these incidents. Frankly, I think public expulsion is the right answer, but I'm not sure. I think that it wouldn't make any difference to him.

These might seem like two completely separate incidents. The groups have nothing in common other than I care for and value both of them very much. They are, however, what I think about every time people dog pile on Octavian, Aldie, and the mods in general saying that they do a shitty job and that site moderation is terrible.

They have a rough job. How do you balance, in this large of a community, what each disparate group feels is right and just?

Lastly, I'd like to say "thank you" to the following users for elevating this discussion out of the first page vitriol-fest into something more focused on issues and solutions.
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cheng wrote:
DragonsDream wrote:
were those defenders to explain why the post in question wasn't sexist, we could have debated that. What happened though was a whole lot of "it's not a big deal" "there are bigger problems in the world" "I choose not to be offended by these things" et al. Lots of "this isn't an issue" derailment. That's not defending against the claim and not having a discussion. It's an attempt to shut down the conversation from the beginning by claiming there isn't a conversation to have. And those people won. And that's a problem.


Those were their opinions, as valid as yours. It's a different debate. "Why is this a big deal" vs "Is it sexist."

as I mentioned in the "do we have different rules" thread: stating "it's not a problem" when people have explicitly said "it's a problem" might be valid, but isn't helpful or necessary. When women say "this is sexist" for men to come in and say "why is this a problem" is the exact definition of "derailment" and what forums like W&G and RainbowBGG are trying to avoid.

We aren't having the "is this really a problem" debate anymore. We're passed that. We're having the "what can we do about it" conversation. Telling people "do nothing because it's not a problem" is unwelcome.
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DragonsDream wrote:
motoyugota wrote:
DragonsDream wrote:
Unfortunately what happened here was a bog standard example of why minority spaces need to have different rules. There is simply no way to ever have these conversation not be derailed by defenders of the status quo who win even when they lose. Back when we started here I wrote a post Do We Have Different Rules Here which was meant to be a rhetorical question that the post answered (the answer was supposed to be "yes" BTW). My hope was that derailing simply wouldn't be allowed in RainbowBGG and that conversations wouldn't get locked because outsiders had successfully done so.


I'm sorry, but people should still be able to defend themselves (and others) when they are accused of something by someone, even if it IS in a "community" forum. That may not be how the thread in question ended up, but that's definitely how it started. It's a public forum - if you want to bash someone without any repercussions or counter-arguments (which IS all that was being done in that thread, even if there was an attempt to keep it somewhat civil), take it somewhere else.

were those defenders to explain why the post in question wasn't sexist, we could have debated that. What happened though was a whole lot of "it's not a big deal" "there are bigger problems in the world" "I choose not to be offended by these things" et al. Lots of "this isn't an issue" derailment. That's not defending against the claim and not having a discussion. It's an attempt to shut down the conversation from the beginning by claiming there isn't a conversation to have. And those people won. And that's a problem.


Not to derail the derailment of the derailment of the derailment, but why is a discussion on sexism vitally important in the Rainbow BGGer's forum anyways? Wouldn't it make more sense for that conversation to have been brought to the W&G forum? Not bashing, arguing, or anything like that - just actually curious as to the reasons.
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motoyugota wrote:
DragonsDream wrote:
motoyugota wrote:
DragonsDream wrote:
Unfortunately what happened here was a bog standard example of why minority spaces need to have different rules. There is simply no way to ever have these conversation not be derailed by defenders of the status quo who win even when they lose. Back when we started here I wrote a post Do We Have Different Rules Here which was meant to be a rhetorical question that the post answered (the answer was supposed to be "yes" BTW). My hope was that derailing simply wouldn't be allowed in RainbowBGG and that conversations wouldn't get locked because outsiders had successfully done so.


I'm sorry, but people should still be able to defend themselves (and others) when they are accused of something by someone, even if it IS in a "community" forum. That may not be how the thread in question ended up, but that's definitely how it started. It's a public forum - if you want to bash someone without any repercussions or counter-arguments (which IS all that was being done in that thread, even if there was an attempt to keep it somewhat civil), take it somewhere else.

were those defenders to explain why the post in question wasn't sexist, we could have debated that. What happened though was a whole lot of "it's not a big deal" "there are bigger problems in the world" "I choose not to be offended by these things" et al. Lots of "this isn't an issue" derailment. That's not defending against the claim and not having a discussion. It's an attempt to shut down the conversation from the beginning by claiming there isn't a conversation to have. And those people won. And that's a problem.


Not to derail the derailment of the derailment of the derailment, but why is a discussion on sexism vitally important in the Rainbow BGGer's forum anyways? Wouldn't it make more sense for that conversation to have been brought to the W&G forum? Not bashing, arguing, or anything like that - just actually curious as to the reasons.

would it have made more sense? perhaps. does it matter? not at all. why wasn't this being debated on the general forums? why did it take a minority member to point it out?

Point being, I don't think there is a "proper" or "better" place to discuss issues related to sexism, racism, homophobia or other forms of bigotry. They get discussed where they get discussed. In this case, RainbowBGG has plenty of female members who saw it and contributed to the discussion.
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Brutilus wrote:
In a medievalist group of which I am a member, we have someone that is no longer welcome because he refuses to refer to my best friend with male pronouns. He also constantly rails about the inherent evil of the various "brown" people ... Frankly, I think public expulsion is the right answer, but I'm not sure. I think that it wouldn't make any difference to him.
If you haven't expelled this guy already, it sounds like it's time. For one thing, by including such a person you would also be excluding many other people, eg anybody "brown". (Or anybody asthmatic--that's really obnoxious.)
Brutilus wrote:
These might seem like two completely separate incidents. The groups have nothing in common other than I care for and value both of them very much. They are, however, what I think about every time people dog pile on Octavian, Aldie, and the mods in general saying that they do a shitty job and that site moderation is terrible.
I agree that moderation is really tough.
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dthurston wrote:
Brutilus wrote:
In a medievalist group of which I am a member, we have someone that is no longer welcome because he refuses to refer to my best friend with male pronouns. He also constantly rails about the inherent evil of the various "brown" people ... Frankly, I think public expulsion is the right answer, but I'm not sure. I think that it wouldn't make any difference to him.
If you haven't expelled this guy already, it sounds like it's time. For one thing, by including such a person you would also be excluding many other people, eg anybody "brown". (Or anybody asthmatic--that's really obnoxious.)


If only... He doesn't come out very often. For some reason, he doesn't feel all that welcome. Perhaps it might be that enough people have told him that we can't stand his attitude. I'd still like to see something official, but it's not my call.

That being said since he stopped coming out regularly, we have added 3 more people that he would find offensive: a Dominican-born male nurse with a wicked sense of humor; a bisexual guy with amazing costuming skills; and a 4'11" African-American spitfire with her eyes on an EE degree. They're amazing and I can't wait to spend the next 5 or 10 years building a better group with them!
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I don't think thread locking is new. In the last week, I've noticed about 50% of the threads I visit, are locked, by the time I look in.

"Feel free to talk here -- as long as you're saying what we want you to say."
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Tarnop wrote:
cheng wrote:
Those were their opinions, as valid as yours. It's a different debate. "Why is this a big deal" vs "Is it sexist."


Trying to shift the topic of a thread to "a different debate" is exactly what people mean by derailing. If you want to have a different debate, that's what new threads are for.


Then take your debate about different debates to a different thread.

I said this elsewhere yesterday and I'm going to say it again:

Threads are conversations. Conversations drift into tangents. Deal with it.
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motoyugota wrote:
I said this elsewhere yesterday and I'm going to say it again:

Threads are conversations. Conversations drift into tangents. Deal with it.


Exactly. It happens all the time. I'm chairman of our city Park Board. I swear last night's meeting would have been 30 minutes shorter if not for the tangents. That's life. People do things you don't expect or want.
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motoyugota wrote:

Threads are conversations. Conversations drift into tangents. Deal with it.


1. Communities exist partly so we don't have to "deal with it". (Like we do everywhere else on the site.)

2. It becomes awfully hard to deal with it when said "tangents" cause the thread to get locked.
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motoyugota wrote:
Tarnop wrote:
cheng wrote:
Those were their opinions, as valid as yours. It's a different debate. "Why is this a big deal" vs "Is it sexist."


Trying to shift the topic of a thread to "a different debate" is exactly what people mean by derailing. If you want to have a different debate, that's what new threads are for.


Then take your debate about different debates to a different thread.

I said this elsewhere yesterday and I'm going to say it again:

Threads are conversations. Conversations drift into tangents. Deal with it.

you act as if thread derailment is a right and we should just go with it. The thing is, we do "deal with it" by (hopefully) hitting the red x and not letting the conversation get derailed by people who don't want to have the conversation we are having. And the idea that derailing "what can we do about this problem" with "this isn't a problem" is some sort of organic, natural "tangent" is simply not the case. "this isn't really a problem" is a specific tack designed to force the conversation down a specific path and away from the original intention. It forces everybody to stop having the conversation they wanted and instead explain why they want the conversation. This gets very tiring. And this exact discussion has already been had here as well.

I'm gonna steal a post from Bryan in the Different Rules thread because it explains this the best way I have seen

Thunkd wrote:
slatersteven wrote:
It is also hard to see how you will win the debate over LGBTQ rights in gaming if the one thing you will do is shutdown those who do not see a problem, as they are not going to even come here to see it.
I think maybe you misunderstand the goals at play here. I saw a thread asking about options for creating more inclusive rule books. The OP was asking for pronoun options that wouldn't exclude people. The goal was to explore and find other options than the historically dominant one.

Coming in and saying there isn't a problem at all fundamentally changes the nature of that conversation and subverts the goal. Now it becomes a debate where you've challenged the community to justify that there's even a problem. Instead of coming up with options the OP could use, everyone has to prove to you that's there's a problem at all.

You're under the impression that the thread was an argument and the goal was "win the debate". It wasn't. It was a conversation with a goal of finding a better way of doing things.

It's like if we had a conversation planned about what to get John for his birthday and you came in and started arguing that we didn't need to get him anything at all. Everyone has to spend energy arguing with you to convince you that there's even a need to buy a gift... at the end of the conversation everyone is worn out and we didn't even talk about what we're getting John at all. And everyone sits around afterward wondering why you showed up uninvited and ruined the discussion, preventing anyone from talking about what the purpose of the meeting was called for.

And someone says "Steven, you can come to the next meeting if you want, but that discussion is going to be about what to get Debra for her birthday only... We aren't going to discuss whether she needs a gift or not. If you want to discuss what to get her, please join us. But if you're going to argue that she doesn't need a gift, just don't show up. That's not what the meeting is for." And you reply, "Well I don't see how you're ever going to win the debate about whether people need gifts if the one thing you will do is shut down the people who do not see a need to buy gifts."
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darker wrote:

That being said: I'd suggest that when weighing the harm done by any policy, context is important. And in particular, that a policy which effectively results in per-thread DOS attacks is an exceptionally poor match for any community which has historically been silenced and oppressed.


I agree. Normally I would not lock down a thread merely because some outside voices were jumping in with the aim of shit stirring. That would let the shit stirrers weaponize their disruptiveness.

What set this incident apart is that members of both threads were crossing over into the other, creating a feedback loop of antagonism.

If some person or contingent of people decides to try to use this as a strategy for shutting down a thread in the future they will be disappointed with the results.

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Octavian wrote:
darker wrote:

That being said: I'd suggest that when weighing the harm done by any policy, context is important. And in particular, that a policy which effectively results in per-thread DOS attacks is an exceptionally poor match for any community which has historically been silenced and oppressed.


I agree. Normally I would not lock down a thread merely because some outside voices were jumping in with the aim of shit stirring. That would let the shit stirrers weaponize their disruptiveness.

What set this incident apart is that members of both threads were crossing over into the other, creating a feedback loop of antagonism.

If some person or contingent of people decides to try to use this as a strategy for shutting down a thread in the future they will be disappointed with the results.


but what prevents this from happening? if something problematic occurs in some forum, say a specific game, and this gets mentioned in a thread in RanbowBGG, it seems inevitable and perhaps even necessary that cross-pollination will occur
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cheng wrote:
motoyugota wrote:
I said this elsewhere yesterday and I'm going to say it again:

Threads are conversations. Conversations drift into tangents. Deal with it.


Exactly. It happens all the time. I'm chairman of our city Park Board. I swear last night's meeting would have been 30 minutes shorter if not for the tangents. That's life. People do things you don't expect or want.


Tangents != derailment. Deal with it.
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Tarnop wrote:
cheng wrote:
Those were their opinions, as valid as yours. It's a different debate. "Why is this a big deal" vs "Is it sexist."


Trying to shift the topic of a thread to "a different debate" is exactly what people mean by derailing. If you want to have a different debate, that's what new threads are for.
Asking "Why is this a big deal?" is essentially a way to shut down the conversation.

Someone will point out something that seems really sexist and rather than argue that it's not, opponents will shift to attacking why anyone cares about the issue at all. So the people who are bothered by the sexist posts will have to backtrack and explain (to the satisfaction of the people who aren't bothered by sexists posts) why sexism is even a bad thing in the first place. And then, and only then, will the discussion continue as to what to do about it, how to resolve the issue, address the source of sexism, etc.

It's a way of people who are okay with the status quo to throw another hurdle in the path of people who want to improve things. When you insist "First convince me why I should even care" and "We aren't going to even discuss the real issue until you prove it's even important" it just means that you're delaying and stalling the discussion about how to fix the problem, perhaps long enough that it never ends up happening at all.

So instead of jumping into a debate about how to fix a bad thing and acting like bad things aren't bad, just go start a different thread where you question if it's really bad or not. We're really tired of having to teach people that water is wet before we discuss how to carry games to the car on a rainy day without getting them wet.



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DragonsDream wrote:

but what prevents this from happening? if something problematic occurs in some forum, say a specific game, and this gets mentioned in a thread in RanbowBGG, it seems inevitable and perhaps if necessary that cross-pollination will occur


Individual restraint and group accountability against engaging in people looking to start fights.

I am also serious about support for seeing a discussion in a thread that is locked for reasons unrelated to the original topic continuing in a new thread. I make this suggestion because I have seen it work in the past. However I have had a private discussion related to this situation where it was suggested that there are barriers to continuing a discussion in a new thread. I am interested in minimizing those barriers in whatever ways I can and invite suggestions on how to best do that.
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Dylan Thurston
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Octavian wrote:
I am also serious about support for seeing a discussion in a thread that is locked for reasons unrelated to the original topic continuing in a new thread. I make this suggestion because I have seen it work in the past. However I have had a private discussion related to this situation where it was suggested that there are barriers to continuing a discussion in a new thread. I am interested in minimizing those barriers in whatever ways I can and invite suggestions on how to best do that.
I think Alison Mandible explained well the barriers to continuation for me:
grasa_total wrote:
One of the problems, I think, is that asking people to restart a conversation from scratch is not too unlike the implicit demands on people's time that were one of the motivations for the creating the forum in the first place: "Hey, what do you mean prejudice exists? Prove it to me! Stop the discussion you're having and convince me homophobia is a real thing or else you're wrong." Except instead of saying "stop your advanced discussion and have a basic discussion for the benefit of someone who doesn't care about your advanced discussion anyway", it's "stop your advanced discussion and do it over". Not the same thing, but similar.
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