ForumTouchy Subjects ► Meta - Debate Threads vs Conversation Threads
Hi all,

It seems to me that a lot of people are put off of participating in this particular forum category due to most members treating is less as conversation and more as a debate. In the interest of increasing participation, might it not be a bad idea to differentiate threads where people just want to talk about ideas vs more formal debate threads, wherein it IS more reasonable to have posts really analyzed and gone through? Whether this be done through thread tags, a separate forum category, or whatever it is you'd like.

For someone new, the culture of eXTREME debate that we have going on here can be fairly brutal. It can also be exhausting for even older members. Sometimes it's nice just to chat about things that can be touchy without having to make it a debate in which you have to defend and back up your every statement. I'd like things to be a little more accessible to folks who'd like to casually talk about their opinions vs debate about their opinions.

Thoughts?
  
First paragraph: sounds like a good idea if not a little convoluted.

Second paragraph: don’t call it “the culture” or whatever. Call it what it actually is: “users who are used to having discussions dissected sentence by sentence being huge assholes to those who just want to jump in and give their thoughts without being attacked”. Do that to someone who you don’t know well in person. You’ll get punched. If hardly any people want to talk to you in a certain setting, it’s probably not just the setting. There’s a reason that for the most part, I stay the hell out of these threads. If you don’t believe me about people being dicks and going to this section to blow off steam, look at the latest post in the Atheism thread. Or dig up any post I’ve made in this section. Or look through any of the old threads where it devolved into “I cannot believe how anyone could blah blah blah I really actually want to call you a fuckface but I’m not gonna because then my ego would be hurt because I’m supposed to be big brain”. Sure you can call that a “culture”, but that’s not anything worth respecting. And you’ve spoke to me before, you know I’d be speaking the same way even if you posted this outside of this section.
  
That came off ruder than I intended.

I think it’s a good idea. Or at least warn people before hand. Some people enjoy that style of debate. Those threads just can’t continue to be hostility incubators. It’s just politics and stuff. We can’t come to those threads if we’re angry. People not used to those kinds of debates can’t be jumped on for their understandable confusion. People also need to learn when someone is getting frustrated and becoming upset and feeling like they’re attacked. It’s not hard to read tone.

Man, let’s just treat TS like me and my friends treat Saturday night fights. Don’t do it if you’re pissed off or upset, just do it if you feel like having fun. I understand some issues are important to people, but in the words of Obama “Come on, man”.

I like TS, at least reading through it, but we’ve got users here who never set foot, new and old alike, because of how offputting people behave in it.

Also: I am tired of these motherfucking repeats on this motherfucking message board (Samuel L. Jackson). But for real, y’all know what this is.

And dammit, let’s make new threads. Even if there are old threads that have the same topic, let’s make a new one. Nobody wants to come to the forum, have an idea about some religion or political point of view, want to start a thread about it, and find out there was already some discussion going on and reply to an old post and have someone come along and say “nyeh that post was 200 days old nyeh” or even just have to enter into someone else’s conversation. If you’ve exhausted all what you can say in about that topic and don’t feel like weighing in, don’t.
  
@Zia Well, this is called "Touchy subjects", I don't really want to touch touchy subjects
  
I used to shitsling in TS a lot. Here're my two cents:

The Novelists, while arguably a detriment TS's broad appeal compared with GD, Games, and Q&A, help keep this board a hell of a lot more civil than it could and in my opinion would likely otherwise be; the tradition of crafting articulate, impassioned, thought out arguments with well substantiated claims and WELL REASONED criticisms of other positions and perspectives on the issues discussed tends to keep shit from devolving into textbook internet flame wars as often or as quickly as it tends to on other forums I frequent, let alone the shitstorm of discussional discords and similar IRC's dedicated to touchy subjects.

TS Novelists tend to be pretty smart and well-read dudes. If you want a chiller convo with them in particular about something in TS, shoot 'em a PM instead of posting in the topic. The reason I recommend this is because TS interactions on the board usually boil down to 1 of about 4 types, and the "uber debate" style of reply is practically a TS veteran's defensive reflex to the latter three:

  • A Novelist posts a topic, possibly with an expose of their take. Another novelist or two chime in, until either all the bases are covered, or everyone slowly but surely honks each other the fuck off until the topic is abandoned. This was/probably still is the most normal type of TS convo.
  • A Novelist posts a topic, much as in case 1. Another novelist or two may post for awhile, progressing again along case 1 lines. Then a wild user, typically a GD regular but sometimes an unusually vitriolic newbie, chances across a post in the thread via the main page feed that honks them the fuck off and they keyboard warrior away for a couple of pages with ad hominems and flamey shitposts galore while the Novelist gets into line-by-line apologistics until the honked off wild user calls them a didactic fucking asshole, gives up, and goes back to their hole in Your Train of Thoughts. Second most normal type of TS convo.
  • Some dumb hapless TS virgin (be it a newbie or more rarely a games regular) posts a topic, expecting some chill perspectives from cool people about something that's been on their minds. Case 1, Case 2, or Case 4 ensues, horrifying the TS virgin and often turning them into a honked off Case 2 wild user in the process. They remain forever disillusioned with TS in any case for the rest of their TCaS user lifespan.
  • A sophist or a troll involves him/herself at any point in any case 1-3 and pisses EVERYBODY in the thread off. Shit predictably spirals into a much more recognizeable flamewarring shitstorm. The thread is abandoned by honked off users or in extreme cases locked.

The only threads I remember in the past that didn't follow this template and consequently remained supernaturally chill as threads were highly theoretical, highly APOLITICAL, often highly philosophical shit-shootings held solely or almost solely amongst TS regulars.
  
I kinda struggle to summon the energy to touch subjects these days. Being a novelist is kinda the only armour against being described as a literal nazi with no morally redeeming qualities, and even then it's a crapshoot depending on the subject.

It takes a shitload of patience, mental acuity and an unhealthy dose of sarcasm to argue online, and I just don't have those in spades these days. Yay tertiary education sapping my mental faculties.
  
Being a “novelist” is just a little vest you put on yourself because you want to espouse your opinions but overwhelm people with words. If you’ve got a well thought out idea, it shouldn’t take you more than a few sentences up to a paragraph or two to put it into words. Same goes for dissecting sentence by sentence. If you've got a decent response, why do you need to respond to each individual idea and not the overarching idea? I’m sure someone in your life has told you something like “more words doesn’t mean more correct”.

I make short posts like this and then I laugh my ass off when any of you put in the time and energy to dissect it sentence by sentence. That only works if you can get the other person to play along, and I don’t play that game.

Edit: Note by my edit that this is not a very well thought out post, but there are obvious exceptions. Every user who makes long posts with shitonsa words has made some very long, well thought out posts. It would be great though if “novelists” could learn how to argue in another way. Go ahead and try that style out on me, it’s not gonna work. And yes, sundawg, I think I am aware of where I fall in your categories.
  
If you’ve got a well thought out idea, it shouldn’t take you more than a few sentences up to a paragraph or two to put it into words.
Using fewer words to express the same argument requires more time/effort/energy, not less.

My take is that the forum as a whole is pretty much dead regardless. The only subfora/threads that average much more than a few posts per day are the extremely low-effort ones (games, status updates). Even General Discussion has had only one new post in the last 24 hours.
  
If you’ve got a well thought out idea, it shouldn’t take you more than a few sentences up to a paragraph or two to put it into words.
Using fewer words to express the same argument requires more time/effort/energy, not less.
Now I’m confused. How so?
  
You mentioned the forum being dead. We’ve got less users using it and as far as I can tell less users even registering (someone could correct me there). You mentioned TS being especially dead. None of you who used to use it frequently have as much time. You’re not undergraduates or high schoolers anymore. This is what I meant by giant posts hindering you. You’ll exhaust yourself. Sure, it may take more thought to make a smaller post, but it’s something you can mull over in your head and not need to sit in front of a computer while you type a giant post for ... how long did it take you guys? That had to be like an hour or so per big post. (I’m doing this from the bathroom on my phone). You also are all at a point where none of you want to start shit between each other. I tried making some threads and, like that previous sentence says, I predict that the sexualities thread will be the least active. You’re all at a point where you know pretty much exactly what the next person is going to say. E.g. Hydrogen, you can probably accurately predict my opinions on things like crime were it to ever come up in a thread.
  
Can't speak for others, but if anything I have more time on average than I did in college. There's just not as much activity here anymore. (And if a subforum depends on like three users to keep it going, it's on its last legs.)

The usual way I participate in TS is read through stuff, quote things I want to respond to, and then vomit out replies to each point. Doesn't take much time at all. To make my posts shorter would require the additional step of editing them down.
  
Alright, now I understand. Well, I guess I can’t really take back anything I said. The way I’ve always approached these threads isn’t helpful. I read through and think “bullshit, bullshit, bullshit, I don’t care, finally something I can weigh in on.”
  
I can't speak for all, but I would be much more likely to participate if I didn't feel that novels were a necessity here. It also feels that if you choose not to write a novel, you're likely to be accused of ignoring other parts of someone's post.
  
Yes and frankly, I usually find that the entirety of almost any long post in any section isn’t worth responding to.

Just like a lecture. Does anyone here ever find that every lecture is worth listening to every single word of? I usually only come away with what I know was important or interesting.
  
Can't speak for others, but if anything I have more time on average than I did in college. There's just not as much activity here anymore. (And if a subforum depends on like three users to keep it going, it's on its last legs.)

The usual way I participate in TS is read through stuff, quote things I want to respond to, and then vomit out replies to each point. Doesn't take much time at all. To make my posts shorter would require the additional step of editing them down.


by that logic TS has been on its last legs for like the last four years
  
No one is expected to respond to everything, but if one person says one thing, and someone else just talks over them, that's not conducive to conversation IMO.

Back in the glory days of TS (like circa 2009?), there used to be lots of regular participants. This hasn't always been the stomping grounds of just a few people, and I don't think users are generally more verbose or confrontational then they were back then.
  
Why do you think people, at least myself, have that impression? That’s the thing I’m getting at with long posts going sentence by sentence. The incredibly large posts block out people who don’t want to have to play along in a situation where it shouldn’t even be required. Why do you think people feel like it’s almost a requirement? That’s not a rhetorical question. People who don’t want to play that game become talked over. I’m not suggesting that long ass poss be stopped altogether, I’m just saying use some damn discretion and don’t pull the respond with a paragraph to individual sentences of a short post. It comes off as rude, to me at least. I’m not calling out anyone specific. Everyone who’s posted in TS has done this.
And don’t worry, I’m fully aware of my own rudeness.
  
I don't see how it's rude to type a lot, but maybe I'm just socially inept. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ I'm also not sure exactly what it looks like to talk over someone in a thread. I usually respond to everyone unless I agree / don't care about the point or someone else already said what I was going to say.

A forum thread isn't like a verbal conversation, where only one person can talk at a time. There can be multiple logical threads, and one person typing something doesn't deprive someone else of typing something at the same time.
  
Alright, I concede. I’ve gotten really bad at nonverbal conversations.
  
Grayseff said:
It takes a shitload of patience, mental acuity and an unhealthy dose of sarcasm to argue online, and I just don't have those in spades these days. Yay tertiary education sapping my mental faculties.
Totally agree with this.

I also used to be a lot more convinced that I could change people's minds by arguing with them; that if I just stated my argument eloquently enough everyone would agree on the right truth. Now I mostly just try to ban the racists from the QA section, and block them on other social media.
  
Okay I’m starting to realize that in a way, sentence by sentence dissection actually can be useful and in some situations resemble a verbal conversation more so than what I was describing.
  
I dunno, I agree with you that sentence-by-sentence replies can get super overwhelming, and lead to these giant walls of text that are basically 7 different arguments happening in parallel.

I like it to call out one or three specific sections, but anything more than that I think makes things hard to follow.
  
Oh definitely. It’s useful for that. But, I’ve found in that past that when that ‘technique’ was employed on me, it sent me into that hyper over thinking my own thoughts mode, which... can be useful sometimes. I think? Sometimes it just leads to frustration. It’s no so much the size for me, it’s the amount of ideas I have to juggle at once.

I ain’t tryna say nobody should be doing that though. The posting like that.
  
From an old newbie (used to lurk way back when), I found the novel style posts were what drove me from TS. They were exhausting and tended to grow exponentially larger as User 2 responded to each of User 1's points and added a couple of their own new thoughts.

I'd feel that having an expectation of whether a thread was a debate-y thread or a more relaxed convo would let me know what kind of contribution would be welcome - adding a short thought to a novel-thread is like spitting into the ocean, even if the short post is relevant. Whereas a long, highly analytical reply might derail a more conversational thread.
  
Personally, I'd suggest that when writing novel posts, you write it as you would an actual paper. That is, each paragraph responding to another point has its own "topic sentence", so that you can essentially extract a TL;DR version. If you need more information about points they make, or need to see their sources, you can find the paragraph easily and figure out what they are talking about. A system like this would allow people to see points of others without needing to read the entire post, with optional depth on the post if they want to glean more information.

If you can't say what you want to say in a single sentence that isn't a run-on, chances are that you're saying too much, or at least making unnecessary points that didn't need to be responded to. If you really need to say it, break it into more manageable, readable chunks.
  
Forum > Touchy Subjects > Meta - Debate Threads vs Conversation Threads