A Guide to Debating Online
AwN | I just got done with a longer debate than I usually allow, and in the end I had to block the fellow anyway. So this is a note for anyone who wishes to engage me in debate in the future. It also might serve someone else who finds themself wasting time debating too many people online for no good reason. I encourage you to send people this page before you debate with them, and for you to adopt the troll block that I find very successful at reducing aggravation online.
First off be aware that most people want to debate only to prove how smart they are. These people don't really have any intention to listen to anything you have to say. Sometimes they will read what you write and respond but usually they will only read what you write in order to give their super great witty response. Debate should be about give and take and the desire to learn and become informed. While I am sure everyone fails at this from time to time, it important to keep in mind that if you think you know everything you are definitely wrong.
I block people from whatever service I am on almost imediately once I recognize the trolling starts. Any goading comment whatsoever is usually the main trigger, but the following should make clear who I will and will not 'debate' with.
Let me say this, I try to be a reasonable person, but I will never be goaded online. If someone wants to debate I will debate until it becomes reptitive, boring, and silly, but if the other person will not stop when requested, I block.
I will not debate with people who speak down to me for no good reason (other than really really believing what they say is the end all). If I ever do this I try to recognize it and apologize, if I don't ask me to. If I don't then block me.
I will not debate with people who can't recognize when I agree with them.
I will not debate with people who wont respond to questions.Sometimes I feel like half my discussions online are clarifying to people that I agree with them as they try and argue with me. Not everyone is going to believe in everything you believe to the exact same degree, it just doesn't work that way. No matter how smart you or I are, we will always be wrong, or slightly off on certain things. Sometimes the truth is so relative it would be absurd to think that everyone should completely agree.
I also recommend that if you debate with me you be open to changing your opinion, just as I am when I receive reasonable information. If I do not seem to be open to reasonable information point it out. If I still disagree, move on without name calling, and maybe we can have a talk again sometime. To quote Ricky Willliams with one of my favorite sayinsg 'I have no allegience to consitency, only truth'. We all identify with things we believe, and are not usually quick to change those beliefs, but at least strive to be open.
Most people who begin debating with me fail this test and I block them. I have spent enough of my life talking to people online to be comforted that I will not have any more one sided debates with that person. It is better for them and it is better for you. Its always a mixture of satisfaction and frustration but it must be done. If you debate too much online you will find yourself turning into a jerk. I learned long ago to just block people wben I feel myself becoming a jerk.
"IsaacCruikshank-DebatingSoc" by Isaac Cruikshank - http://www.library.yale.edu/walpole/html/exhibitions/hair/image003.jpg. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.