We have discovered that temporary closing of a topic is a good practice when things get heated.
There is a tendency that certain hours of the week are the windows when this happens. The hockey team most people support often plays games on Fridays and Saturdays. People don’t have work or school on the day after so there are people who are more or less drunk.
Result of the game also has a great influence on the general mood. If Tappara wins (as they more often do than not), things are usually good. But if they lose, people are disappointed and that can be seen in hockey topics of course. But it affects other threads, too. That’s something we must live with: we cannot eliminate all emotion because it is what thrives our community.
But as said, sometimes a controversial topic gets very heated. It’s midnight and a couple of users still keep posting in the topic. Their posts are on-topic, but usually brief and aggressive which nurtures similar posts by others. That’s when a moderator steps in, closes the topic temporarily. He tells that moderators need to go to sleep and tells the participants to do so, too. When the topic reopens in the morning, post quality increases significantly, I address that to people not being drunk and tired anymore and the disappointment of the game result has also faded.
This probably didn’t resonate much in a reader. But rarely this phenomenon can happen in the middle of the day, too. Especially when the topic itself is very controversial. In those cases an intervention and closure of the topic for a couple of hours helps a lot. Tell users to calm down and that it is just an Internet debate. You cannot make everyone to agree with you.