Still, I would put the burden of enforcing proper tone in discourse upon those who know more. How else can people learn?

I think that the conversation regarding the concept of utilizing “compressed” vs “curvature” went well overall.

I’ve been online since 1989 and encountered practically every personality type and discussion topic imaginable. One of the first things I did on the smaller Internet was creating a mailing list for discussion. [it was about youth rights but with no particular focus outside of what I felt was necessary: It was not for debate and when there was disagreement among members, I enforced civility as a strong core rule].

This predates Godwin’s law, Internet debate formats and such. Most members were from University settings or military, although even in 1990/1991, there were others on the Internet, even in its pre-commercial days.

I passed the group on to others after 5 years (I was 23 yrs old by 1995 and having gone through every discussion topic many times and started to see patterns, and a waning interest in the topic, I passed it on to a pair: a 14 yr old girl from Alaska who was homeschooled, and a professor in Australia and they continued it for some time after I left).

During and after that point, I ran many other groups as well about other topics. It was my way of learning: Start a mailing list, gather members, get them talking, keep things civil and learn while allowing everybody to teach each other.

At some point around 2002-3, I started to notice a shift in some of the people I was finding coming in. Something new. It was “Internet debate” as a format.

I don’t know when it started or how it got formalized but I’ve noticed it gaining in force through the past 15 years.

It has a life of its own. It’s very common. Debate forums are expected to use it. It has its own unique style. I’ve even seen charts explaining that “This is the proper way to have a debate”. It allows things not allowable in civil discourse, such as name-calling and such.

I’m used to it and can navigate it but it’s unpleasant.

My two cents is this:

a) civility comes first and in everything.
b) education, learning and “neighborliness” should be the goals
c) issues with style of wording should not result in fighting.

This may be acceptable behavior in debate forums, but this is not a debate forum.

It will become a debate forum however, if this is asserted as a right or necessity and debate forums get ugly.

Yes, people who know more find it annoying when somebody comes in on their turf and declares something novel that sounds absurd to their ears.

However, if you know more about a topic but cannot control civility, it is, to me, a sign of emotional immaturity, even if it is codified as proper in what is now standard internet debate.

Perhaps I am old school. I’m of the Sagan rather than the Dawkins era, the Douglas Adams era rather than the Hitchens era.

Still, I would put the burden of enforcing proper tone in discourse upon those who know more. How else can people learn?

But, this is my bias. I find Internet debate format to be ugly and schoolyard, no matter how sophisticated the subject matter.

I participate in it of course: one must, especially in dealing with groups of controversial topics among people who enjoy navigating the world of fallacy and the sharp tones that such debates contain.

I Just don’t want this group to become one of them and yet, I would not wish to see it become an insulated group that does not educate by restricting its membership only to those above a certain knowledge threshhold.

But, again, this is my bias and overall, it seems to me that the “Test Case” for this went rather well overall, including this OP: a helpful reminder to the group as a whole, bringing the two different styles together and showing their necessity, each in their own way.

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