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No Flaming at the Dinner Table! (Intellectual Table Guidelines)

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Old 03-02-2009, 07:07 PM
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Icon2 No Flaming at the Dinner Table! (Intellectual Table Guidelines)

Have you ever wondered why we're often told not to discuss religion or politics at the dinner table? Simply put, such discussions can easily become heated, putting people off their food and causing family feuds that are revived every holiday get-together for the next thirty years. However, the same topics that ruin digestion can also be interesting and relevent. It's a matter of context and respect.

Here at Writer's Beat, we have the Intellectual Table as a forum for intelligent discussion and debate. This is the appropriate context for threads about religion, ethical concerns, politics, etc. And within this context, we observe the following rules and guidelines to keep the atmosphere respectful. Please read on before posting in this forum.

What is Debate?
Debate is a structured way of arguing your opinion. Many times, we believe something without knowing our own reasons. In a debate, we may discover the source of our opinions by having to explain them. It's a mental excercise.

Debate is not an argument (the main difference is in blood pressure!), and debate is certainly not bickering. If there is name-calling, shouting, or endless rehashing of the same points, it's no longer a debate.

General Debate Tips
Have plan before you post; know where you stand, and be prepared to say why. Be sure that you're actually saying something. Empty ramblings and blowing off steam are not appropriate.

Personal experience, background information, and outside sources (as long as they are credible) make your points more credible. If you have sources, name them. If you don't, be honest and say "I've heard" or "it's my opinion".

Remember that debate is a mental excercise. Even when you don't agree with someone, use his opinions to challenge yourself. Think of him as an excercise partner, not an enemy.

Don't expect to change any minds! Sometimes you may, but most times people will leave with the same opinions they started with. Instead, use the opportunity to learn about other sides of an issue.

If you make mistakes, admit that you've made them. Don't try to hold losing ground, as it only gives your opponents something to jump on. Conversely, if someone else makes mistakes, don't crow over them. Point them out reasonably and intelligently.

Pick your battles. Remember that your posts stand as a record of your arguments, so you won't gain anything by repeating yourself. If you can see an argument building, retreat with your dignity intact.

Internet Debate Tips
Quote people's posts when replying to them. You can quote one person or "multi-quote" several. Please don't quote a long post just to say "I agree". But do quote specific parts of a post so other people know what ideas you are addressing.

Use your "Preview Post" button to check your post before submitting it! Take a few minutes to make yourself tea or stretch, then read it again. You might find some points that need more explanation, or some that need deleting. Fix it before you send it, and you won't look silly or insult someone. Plus, when you "Preview Post", you can scroll down and see any new posts that appeared while you were typing.

ALL CAPS IS SHOUTING! Bold or extra large fonts can seem agressive. And multiple punctuation looks immature!!!!!!!! Don't you think??! Just use regular formatting, with italics for emphasis.

Report anything you deem inappropriate. To report a post, click on the "Report Post" button, a little green box in the upper right corner of each post. That will tell the moderators about the situation. Retaliating to the offending post will only start a flame war, which is just the sort of thing to ruin dinner for everyone.

Personal attacks of any kind mean you've exhausted your other options. They shut down all possibility for worthwhile conversation.

A debate or intellectual discussion is about ideas, not people. When you reply to someone, be careful to focus on the ideas and how they work. Use more "I" statements than "you" statements, since "you" statements can easily sound like accusations.

Appropriate comments are focused on ideas. This doesn't mean you have to agree with people, but you should express disagreement with respect. "I disagree because" is a good way to start. The phrase starts with "I', so it's not an accusation, and the "because" means that you're going to give reasons, which may enrich the conversation.

Inappropriate comments include:
  • Insults -- "You're an idiot! I expected that sort of drivel from a buffoon like you." (Or "Poltroon! The vile doggerel that spews from thy mouth is nought more than I expected of such a knave as thou art!" Thanks, Winterbite!)
  • Implied insults -- "Only a complete fool would believe that."
  • Insinuating questions -- "You flunked out of kindergarten, didn't you?" or "Do you always have trouble with basic logic?"
  • Cursing -- This includes vulgarity, profanity, obscenity, and any coyly starred out words which are obviously directed at another member.
Members who flame will recieve a PM warning first, then a general admonition in the thread, then a ban from the Intellectual Forum. If the flaming continues in other parts of the forum, a complete site ban is in order.

Use these tips and your own good sense to keep our debates friendly. The internet is less personal than a dinner table, but your fellow members are still people with feelings. Be respectful and clear, and we can all enjoy our dinner!

Last edited by HoiLei; 05-16-2009 at 08:40 AM.. Reason: Made the "insinuating question" more general in scope.
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Old 08-05-2017, 06:14 AM
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Under a notion offered by a few users, some who have had "time outs", outright bans and alt accounts, all that was needed to spur interest in debates would be to allow insults, flaming, name calling, etc.

A bit of an experiment into this has not proven this to be true. The Beat has not grown….


It really hasn’t shrunk, either.


But so far I’m ok with a relaxed state in our rules of engagement. Really.

There are a few lines that can’t be crossed. I hope you can figure those out for yourselves.
If you surrender a civilization to avoid social disapproval, you should know that all of history will curse you for your cowardliness - Alice Teller

If John of Patmos would browse the internet today for half an hour, I don't know if the Book of Revelations would be entirely different or entirely the same.
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