Quoting Bryan O'Donoghue (bryano at europlex.ie):
> I disagree with the practice of shouting people down.
Agreed. The nice thing about e-mail forums is that, if you use
technology effectively, it automatically enforces civility in that
(1) inherent to the medium, nobody _can_ shout anyone else down, and
(2) anyone can remove from his own view traffic he doesn't want to see
-- via killfiles or scoring systems. Killfiles (as opposed to _talking_
about one's killfile) are a wonderful, insufficiently appreciated aid to
civility in that regard, and one of the best things one can do for vexed
newcomers (or others) is help them understand how to implement procmail
> On this occasion I didn't get banned nor did I leave the ILUG, and
> despite the fact it might be embarrassing for all involved, I don't
> particularly subscribe to the notion that standing up for yourself if
> you think it's right, is shameful.
Sure, and you were, I should hasten to say, considerably more pleasant
than one or two other participants.
A couple of other characteristics of electronic fora worth noting:
1. Sometimes, as the NORAD computer said in "Wargames", the only way to
win is not to play the game. I.e., even solely as a point of tactics,
often the most-effective response to a misbehaving debate opponent is
none at all, leaving you look good by comparison. (I'm not being
critical: Heavens knows I've ignored that dictum more times than I can
2. Time spent dissecting obvious errors, fallacies, and disreputable
rhetoric posted by your interlocutor is usually time wasted: Even
moderately observant bystanders can figure it out for themselves.
3. But even if they can't figure it out for themselves, you'll tend to
annoy bystanders through such dissections unless they're some
combination of scarce, short, amusing, and creative. After all, one major
reason debate opponents misbehave is that they're losing and want to tar
you on the way down.
> To be honest, I don't see how not being cowed by a screaming match,
> diminishes me in any sense.
Debate is merely an arcane branch of street theatre: People will tend
to see you as morally equivalent in some sense to those you tangle with,
especially roughly and at length. It's not fair, but it's what happens.
> People saying things like "I'm going to killfile you", is a really ...
> ineffective in my case, but, generally, unevolved means of
> intimidation [snip]
My view: Talking about who's _in_ your killfile (or going into it) is
mostly just rather tacky.
> Probably I should do it more often, but, generally it's only on closed
> circles like this, where there seems to be territory at stake and not
> alot of fresh blood (for obvious reasons), that you get a particularly
> nasty breed of, not so articulate debater, who wins by intimidation.
Actually, therein lies my point: When the other side resorts to
argumentum ad hominem _but_ you keep your cool, the other guy _loses_
"by intimidation". Noisily.
Remember, it's all quasi-literate street theatre.
> ...I believe that people who do have already lost their argument and I
> believe that making it personal, is frequently used by people in order
> to facilitate a _win_ in their arguments, where logic has failed and
> that the less experienced are vulnerable to it
Again, therein lies my point: That tactic's aim is to muddy the waters
and distract bystanders from their having lost their argument: You
don't lose unless you respond at length or angrily, figuratively leaning
into the sucker punch. Again, this has nothing to do with right or
wrong: I'm saying it's how things play out pragmatically.
I advise considering tactical considerations first, moral stances
second: Much as the latter might seem important to _you_, the
surrounding crowd's concern and sympathy will diminish in inverse
proportion to your word count on the subject.
> Therefore, if, after being on the ILUG for, four years give or take, I can
> still get into this sort of argument, I do think it's fair, to say that a
> newcomer to Linux and to a fairly closed circle like ILUG, would be turned
> off of Linux or certainly turned off of their local LUG.
Teach 'em to use killfiles. That works the world over.
Maintained by the ILUG website team. The aim of Linux.ie is to
support and help commercial and private users of Linux in Ireland. You can
display ILUG news in your own webpages, read backend
information to find out how. Networking services kindly provided by HEAnet, server kindly donated by
Dell. Linux is a trademark of Linus Torvalds,
used with permission. No penguins were harmed in the production or maintenance
of this highly praised website. Looking for the
Indian Linux Users' Group? Try here. If you've read all this and aren't a lawyer: you should be!