The Soapbox was created as a solution to a problem.
Before it was created, threads on current events or Digital vs. Analog or even analog photographic related topics would pop up that would quickly spin into furballs as others would jump in to state or defend their own opinions. These would spring up in the Lounge or worse, an otherwise interesting and informative photographic thread would be hijacked off topic and ruined by a few hot heads in a personal pissing contest. Sean, and later the several moderators that he eventually had to recruit just in order to keep on top of the problem, were caught in the position of finding the problem, deciding when it was more than a small dust-up that could be overlooked and trying to deal with it by asking, then warning, and sometimes by deleting. Deletions would inevitably be followed by an even longer angry argument about free speech and censorship on the internet. It turned into a truly confusing mess when certain posts would be deleted and then there would be references back to something within the deleted post further on in the thread. If you were just reading it through, nothing would make sense. I found it annoying, imagine what prospective new members or people googling into the site thought of it.

Once the Soapbox was created, any members who just couldn't resist starting an OT controversial thread had a place to do it and everyone else could either respond or completely ignore it as they wished. If someone started such a thread or hijacked a legitimate one elsewhere in the forums, a moderator could quickly move it to the SB. No censorship issue. It was merely moved to the appropriate place on the site.
Not a perfect solution but I think that it has worked out pretty well.

I'm surprised that so many people who claim to be happily ignoring the Soapbox now are so vehiment about simply pulling the plug and eliminating it. I sure hope that they have a better plan to replace it.

Quote Originally Posted by rfshootist
In principle the idea to channel all crap into a separated pot is positive, but somehow it is like a s**thouse in the middle of the living room.
The more apt analogy would be "Why have a separate, isolated bathroom in your home?"
The obvious answer is "So people don't crap in all the other rooms"

Perhaps a lesson can be learned from what happened when Arigram pulled a toilet out of his darkroom as related in his "My darkroom smells like poop" thread :o