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