Is diversity of opinion of benefit to community health?

Is diversity of opinion of benefit to community health ?

What do you think?
Pros and cons?

Enablers if so?
Prerequisites if so?
Else what?

Difficult question, I’ll reply first with another question:

What is community?

Often people use this word talking about things that are way outside of what I would define as being in the category of “a community.”

In general I would say, diversity of opinion can be a benefit to community health, yes.

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This question is eminently contextual.

If your online community matches a neighborhood, a city or villages in a valley for example, diversity is probably better as it already exists in the community.

If your community is about stuff, for example about crafts or music, diversity is certainly great, since nobody will use high heels the same way—yes, high heels, you gotta see Kim Gordon play the bass with her high heels.

If you’re a developer community, a little diversity is good, but too much diversity would make the Not Invented Here (NIH) syndrome a pain to deal with. :thinking:

It really depends on the type of your community and your goals.

If I had to say in general I appreciate more diversity.


I’d like to see online communities where people with a diverse range of opinions are able to interact in a productive way. This is for the reason that @hellekin mentioned. We live in a world where people have a diverse range of opinions. Somehow or other the online world should facilitate discussions among people who disagree about emotionally charged issues.

For communities that are focused around interests, probably most members need to share some basic assumptions. For example, too many atheists would probably be disruptive to a community focused on bible study, but having a few atheists in the community might be seen as an interesting challenge.

Even for the case of communities where most members share some basic assumptions, having a diverse range of (for lack of a better term) personality types is probably beneficial.


Indeed so. But life is short. So, I think we have to have some norms around respect, and respectful disagreement, and the difference between discussion and argument, and recognition of well-known endless arguments which need not be reignited.

The paradox of tolerance is relevant here too (“in order to maintain a tolerant society, the society must retain the right to be intolerant of intolerance”.) That’s related to the fact that some people may not be acting in good faith: they may be troublemakers, who wish to damage the community.


I should have given a concrete example. The use case I’m considering is using Discourse to power my local news site’s comment system. It’s something I’d like to see happen, but at this point I have no idea how to deal with the diversity of opinion that would be generated - how to avoid ending up with people just yelling at each other.


Sounds very tricky. Seems like a moderation problem, but maybe there’s some other way to look at it.

I should add: I do believe that some social media subcultures have brought some people to a state of mind where violent disagreement is their usual form of contribution. Our environment influences our behaviour, in this case for the worse. To have civilised discourse, it’s necessary somehow to re-train people’s habits.


Not an easy task. From experience:

  • Recruit human moderators you trust.
  • Post clear rules with no room for interpretation. Be specific.
  • Post what the sanctions are if people break the rules.
  • Enforce those rules.
  • Apply the rules fairly and transparently.
  • Encourage the use of Discourse’s post flagging system.

Good luck!


If people are yelling at eachother most people won’t want to do that all day. I don’t see yelling as a problem unless it goes on for several days with no signs of cooling down, then would be reasonable for a moderator to comment.

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So thus far in the thread I think the leaning of opinion is that diversity is a good thing.

@simon would it be reasonable analysis to say that your concern for “yelling” is actually recognising that meaningful debate is one where people bring passion to topics of ‘weight’ ( that is relevance and importance)? Passion is the expression of emotion. Is the assertion that “everybody is entitled to their emotions without interference by others, everyone else has a duty to recognise that others have a unique set of valid emotions” valid?

@Gunnar - Can I ask what it is about this topic that prompted you to post after a long absence?
Also you appear to add the advocate a very centralised & emphasise a penal stance in attempts to provide a control solution. How would you address the enquiry or suggestion that this reduces diversity to the personal opinions of your moderator (s)?

@hellekin - could you expand on what you anticipate as not invented here problems? Currently its standing as proxy for intolerance of ideas (:. ‘diversity’) in my reading of what you have written

@Ed_S could you share more of your observations / thinking behind the comment that:

Does that confer any duties to any role holders? Does it suggest a need to ‘engineer culture’?

Ed when you note “troublemakers” Are you drawing a distinction between diversity of opinions within a shared spirit of giving mutual value and diversity of motivation in terms of seeking one’s own value at the expense of others? - I think that’s a future thread :slight_smile:

Thanx for contribution so far :slight_smile:
Apologies of a missed any points or folk out of summary to date


Sorry, I don’t feel an explosion of sub-topics is going to work for me.


In the case of a software developer community, being able to converge on a technical approach is key. Having too many opinions on how to approach things may cripple development, so there is balance to find between a good deal of diversity to spark creativity and too much divergence of opinions that may hinder development.

Look at the ActivityPub support in Discourse. The discussion started years ago. At first it was refused. But insistence and perseverance in trying to shape a proposal made it so that the Discourse team accepted to give it a shot and delegated the task to the Pavilion team, here we are with a working ActivityPub Plugin that slowly integrates features that were first considered impossible or detrimental to Discourse. As the plugin matures and ActivityPub support gains traction, the community also changes shape.

But maybe I’m digressing too much. When I wrote about NIH syndrome, I was specifically thinking about such situations where a ticket exists for a feature, and someone picks it up and provide a totally unexpected way of approaching the problem, that does not match the usual way of doing things in the software project. Maybe this approach would encourage someone else to try another completely unusual way, and instead of bringing focus to the development it would end up scattering effort without much direction. In such cases, usually direction is more important than diversity, but then, this could as well be the opposite (such as the ActivityPub support in Discourse…).

I hope this clarifies my point, although it may not. I’m unsure what AI would do of it. :joy:


I’ve had a similar forum in mind for a while and I’ve been put off starting for the same reasons.

I came up with a possible solution of having a “flagger” group but it would mean keeping a score of correct flagging and incorrect flags. You could then have “trusted” flaggers where topics or posts can be removed as if they were trust level 3 but have no admin moderation access. A weighting system would need to be worked out.
Plus possible training before allowing into group in first place.

I was worried about “MAGA” versus “Woke” type intolerance, I thought empowering some users might work.

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This is cryptic. Would you care to expand on what that means?

I agree.

I think not enough effort has gone into creating the OP to allow people to focus on specific strands of any one particular discussion, creating a rather directionless topic with many conversations occurring in the same space.

It would be better to create separate topics that covered the different elements directly to allow people to engage with the ideas properly. :+1: