I waited a while before saying anything. @irlandes, I hope you take some time away and maybe come back in the future. I turned off your notifications.
When I’ve mentioned the possibility of expanding the forum to include a general discussion section, the folks at Car Talk Plaza have been very consistent that we should stick to cars. Digressions are fine and can be very funny and fruitful! I am always curious to see where your discussions take you. But before you invoke the freewheelin’ Tom and Ray, please remember that they always came back to cars and the back half of the show was never 30 minutes about where Sears went wrong.
I forget who was saying it above, but I too have noticed that when the disagreements happen here (particularly political ones) the interactions are sharper and nastier than I’d come to anticipate from you over the 11 years I’ve been here. I also take a content-neutral approach to regulating the political commentary; seems everybody is just happier not discussing it when the threads devolve into flame war. But surprisingly even some of the mechanical discussion gets very dismissive toward the poster rather than the content.
We don’t know why some people leave, but I think it is my responsibility to try to make new people want to stay and think they might get help. To those of you who don’t like some of the harshness you’re seeing from others, please: speak up.