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A suggestion regarding On-Topic Conversations:

 1 Bobby G, Fri, 20th May '11 2:23:14 PM from the Silvery Tay
vigilantly taxonomish
As it currently stands, OTC is, as far as the guidelines are concerned, exactly the same as YF but with a rule prohibiting derailing. In practice, however, it is the closest we have to a debate board.

This is unfortunate, to my mind, since it suffers from a number of problems. One is that there is a kind of echo chamber effect in place - voices that deviate too far from the norm tend to get shouted down or piled upon. Another is that there are a relatively small group of "heavyweight" regulars who tend to dominate debates. Another is that a number of threads end up looking a lot like one another, and these debates tend to be circular.

Now, most of these problems are obviously related to the size of the userbase, and there's not a great deal we can do about that. But I was thinking, maybe we could introduce some guidelines to improve the board, in addition to the no derailing rule.

I came up with:

  • Debate, don't denigrate.
    • Don't just say "you're wrong"; explain why.
  • Do not assume you know somebody's opinion on an issue before they have expressed it.
    • An elaboration: this applies even when the person in question is behaving like a typical conservative/antitheist/materialist/electrophysiologist/whatever.
  • If somebody questions your argument, explain it, don't repeat it.
  • Avoid ad hominem attacks. An argument is not necessarily wrong just because the person making it is a filthy, puppy-kicking hypocrite.
  • Do not attack a troper elsewhere in the forums over something they said in OTC.
  • Do not assume that general statements refer to you personally.
  • A semantic derail is still a derail. If a semantic disagreement arises, simply clarify what you mean, and move on.

Thoughts? Yea? Nay? Suggestions for improvement?

Edit: On second thoughts, this should probably go in OTC.

edited 20th May '11 5:48:34 PM by BobbyG

 2 Bobby G, Fri, 20th May '11 3:51:40 PM from the Silvery Tay
 3 Spa´n Sun, Fri, 20th May '11 3:53:03 PM from Somewhere Beyond Here
Laugh it off, everybody
Segregate this board for serious discussion and Yack Fest for nonserious discussion. It will do a lot to break up the unpleasant culture springing up on both boards lately.
I spread my wings and I learn how to fly....
Azor Ahai
Sounds like a good thing to have. Good suggestion.

Edit- I don't visit Yack Fest so can't comment on the situation there, but I can definitely see those being useful for OTC.

edited 20th May '11 3:54:27 PM by Jordan

Hodor
 5 pvtnum 11, Fri, 20th May '11 3:55:38 PM from Kerbin low orbit Relationship Status: We finish each other's sandwiches
linkup
I'm in favor of splitting OTC into a Serious and a Not Necessarily Serious sub-parts.

Other guidelines as stated seem fine.
Happiness is zero-gee with a sinus cold.
 6 Bobby G, Fri, 20th May '11 3:58:54 PM from the Silvery Tay
vigilantly taxonomish
I added an additional bullet to the first proposed guideline.

I'm strongly against prohibiting serious discussion in YF or nonserious discussion in OTC. One can debate without being wholly serious, and one can have serious things to discuss that aren't suitable for debate.
 7 del diablo, Fri, 20th May '11 3:59:59 PM from Somewher in mid Norway
Den harde nordmann
Sounds quite good to me.
A guy called dvorak is tired. Tired of humanity not wanting to change to improve itself. Quite the sad tale.
 8 annebeeche, Fri, 20th May '11 4:01:49 PM from by the long tidal river
watching down on us
I agree on subdividing OTC into light and serious discussion.
Banned entirely for telling FE that he was being rude and not contributing to the discussion. I shall watch down from the goon heavens.
 9 Tuefel Hunden IV, Fri, 20th May '11 4:05:04 PM from Wandering. Relationship Status: [TOP SECRET]
Watchmen of the Apocalypse
Someone else mentioned somewhere the idea of a dedicated proper debating subforum. Complete with the structure and form debate would have.
"Who watches the watchmen?"
 10 Bobby G, Fri, 20th May '11 4:08:24 PM from the Silvery Tay
vigilantly taxonomish
That's an interesting idea, I think, but I don't think it's a suitable substitute for improving OTC.
 11 Spa´n Sun, Fri, 20th May '11 4:09:54 PM from Somewhere Beyond Here
Laugh it off, everybody
Yuck. We have enough problems on Tvtropes as it is, do you really want the mods to be straddled with monitoring a debate forum for rules infractions?

Oh, and can we add "just because you don't overtly say a group of people is worthless, doesn't make implying such okay"?
I spread my wings and I learn how to fly....
 12 Bobby G, Fri, 20th May '11 4:17:22 PM from the Silvery Tay
vigilantly taxonomish
Hm... the danger with that one is the risk of stifling opinions and obstructing debate, I think. I mean, how many people would be left here if we banned everyone who had ever broken that rule? Not me. Not even Eddie.
 13 Caissas Death Angel, Fri, 20th May '11 4:21:08 PM from Dumfries, SW Scotland Relationship Status: Pining for the fjords
House Lewis: Sanity is Relative
If we split OTC into serious and non-serious, then we'll have dozens of bitching threats that are pointlessly whinging over what constitutes serious or not, and endless "no, this thread should be in this one, that should be in the other" arguments.

Do we seriously want to open the door to that? Think about it. Visit TRS or Wiki Talk and look at the complaints threads there - OTC is free of it and should remain so.
My name is Addy. Please call me that instead of my username.
 14 Tuefel Hunden IV, Fri, 20th May '11 4:21:11 PM from Wandering. Relationship Status: [TOP SECRET]
Watchmen of the Apocalypse
How is that idea any different for the mods then dividing the OTC into serious and not as serious? One would have a different set of standards and need monitoring just the same. If your going to do that why not go all the way and set done some well defined and clear rules.
"Who watches the watchmen?"
 15 Spa´n Sun, Fri, 20th May '11 4:22:43 PM from Somewhere Beyond Here
Laugh it off, everybody
Bobby: I could honestly care less about stifling opinions at this point. But that's probably just me.
I spread my wings and I learn how to fly....
 16 Bobby G, Fri, 20th May '11 4:23:29 PM from the Silvery Tay
vigilantly taxonomish
Addy makes a good point.

Part of my intent with coming up with this list was that I think, in theory, it should be OK for somebody in a debate to express an opinion like "I think the Democrats/Republicans are horribly misguided", so long as they are prepared to back it up. Otherwise, an honest political debate isn't actually possible.

What we have at the moment is a situation where one person can say "the Democrats are misguided" and another can say "the Republicans are misguided", and cue a tremendous flame war without either side ever explaining their reasoning, which is, to my mind, a bad thing.

@ Tuefel: But then that debate board would be a significant departure from what OTC presently is. Can you elaborate on what kind of rules those would be? I, for one, am less than happy about the prospect of a system being set up where voicing your honest opinion of a political or philosophical matter is not permitted.

@ Spain: You stifle opinions, you're left with a boring circle-jerk. I can't say I'd find that very interesting or entertaining.

edited 20th May '11 4:24:51 PM by BobbyG

 17 Caissas Death Angel, Fri, 20th May '11 4:27:01 PM from Dumfries, SW Scotland Relationship Status: Pining for the fjords
House Lewis: Sanity is Relative
Bobby, I agree with your suggestions by the way. Just thought I'd say that. Still, they're perfectly workable with the current general set up for OTC.
My name is Addy. Please call me that instead of my username.
 18 Spa´n Sun, Fri, 20th May '11 4:28:40 PM from Somewhere Beyond Here
Laugh it off, everybody
Bobby: Well, what we have now is far from informative or entertaining. So....
I spread my wings and I learn how to fly....
Lover of masks.
What about relevant ad hominems?
Please.
All of these rules apply in general conduct as far as I can tell.

 
 21 Bobby G, Fri, 20th May '11 4:35:36 PM from the Silvery Tay
vigilantly taxonomish
Another suggested guideline:

  • If somebody is using a word in a way that differs from how you understand it, do not get sidetracked into a semantic argument. That's still a derail.

@ blueharp: I'm not sure what you mean. Can you elaborate, please?

@ Spain: Hence my suggestion of guidelines.

Though I'd disagree; it can be informative and it can be entertaining, but the quality is very mixed. It suffers from many of the same problems as IJBM; it's not there yet, but I don't want it to get there.

@ Dead Man's Life: Can you give an example? I can't imagine such a thing off the top of my head.

edited 20th May '11 4:36:13 PM by BobbyG

Your suggestions reflect good conduct in general, not just regarding this particular section.

 
 23 pvtnum 11, Fri, 20th May '11 4:38:26 PM from Kerbin low orbit Relationship Status: We finish each other's sandwiches
linkup
I consider myself a regular (what others see me as is debatable). But I dont' peruse all the OTC threads; there's a whole lot of them. It seems to me that we'll have hot topic of the month or whatever, it'll flare up, discussion peters out, and it'll eventually drop off the page. Maybe it'll be necro'd, maybe a new one will start similiar to the old one.

What bothers me, is that we'll have a huge discussion on a hot-button topic, and rather than let that be The Thread In Which We Discuss [X], we'll end up with a bunch of similiar threads.

Maybe we could get a Hot Button OTC folder? Shove religion, politics, sexuality, and whatever else into that. Then we can have regular OTC be for whatever is left - focused discussion about whatever happens to pop up.

Another thing I'd like, but this is just me, is a What Is [X] folder, for all those hundreds of "What is Good?" "What is Evil?" "What is This?" or whatever else topics.
Happiness is zero-gee with a sinus cold.
 24 Caissas Death Angel, Fri, 20th May '11 4:39:51 PM from Dumfries, SW Scotland Relationship Status: Pining for the fjords
House Lewis: Sanity is Relative
An Ad Hominem is by definition an attack on the arguer, not the argument. A horrible, deluded, insane, stupid, misguided person may very well in one specific instance make an incisive and informed argument. Seen it happen plenty of times - indeed there are tropes for it.

At no point does the character of the arguer become relevant unless there is a degree of fallacy to the argument itself, or unless the reasons for the argument being presented can be determined as being the result of negative characteristics of the arguer. Even in these cases, criticism that ignores the argument itself has no relevance, meaning or value, since the "mitigation" is relevant to the argument.
My name is Addy. Please call me that instead of my username.
Perhaps we can have a stickied thread defining and explaining common fallacies, both to spare people the trouble of constructing fallacious arguments and of crying 'fallacy' ad nauseam even when there are none?

"Well, what we have now is far from informative or entertaining. So...."

That's in the eye of the beholder.

edited 20th May '11 4:55:09 PM by kashchei

And better than thy stroke; why swellest thou then?
Total posts: 125
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