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Arguing on the internet

11/07/06 | by Adam | Categories: Technology

There's a joke that's been going around for a while -- typically Fark Photoshop related -- that arguing on the internet is a bit like competing in the Special Olympics; even if you win, you're still retarded. Having watched enough flamefests online, I'm inclined to agree. Generally when two (or more) people go at it online, they're both convinced they're right and neither is going to be disuaded. Invocation of Godwin's Law can only be a few replies away.

However, there is an interesting caveat to this that I should have considered before but didn't. From the comments thread over at The Gristmill, Coby Beck said:

.. in online forums the main point in responding, and responding with substance, not vitriol, is not to convince your opponent (you're right they are usually beyond redemption) but it is for the lurkers.

Whenever someone pops in a comment like the list of objections we are all so familiar with, there will always be a lot of people who have not heard it before and will pause and think, "hey, yea. What about that?". If the only answer they see is "what a load of crap!" or similar, it will only encourage them to trust the wrong person.

So do it for the lurkers, not the lost causes!

I think he's right.


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"Ready, Aye, Ready" was a slogan used by Canadian politicians to indicate Canada's willingness to assist the British Empire in any conflict. It remains in use as a motto for some of the Canadian military. It has almost nothing to do with the content of this blog.


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