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Mailing list decorum

When we are operating on an online forum that exists in order to get something done, then we should not think by being rude, obnoxious, a mindreader, perverting another's position, denigrating someone's else's argument to boost our own, is a basis for convincing anyone as to the merits of our position. We would be spectaculary wrong. We would not seem intellectually formidable. We would not seem overtly intelligent. We would not seem understandably frustrated and impatient with the evident stupidity that we see in others. We would not seem like someone good to work with.

Such forums do not work like modern election campaigns.

"Rudeness objection"- Ron Jeffries

Ron Jeffries, on the extremeprogramming list, has over the years demonstrated a successful "broken-windows" style technique for curbing obnoxious and ad-hominem posts that lack any technical or social merit. It's very simple; if someone's is being obnoxious, call them out on it. Voice an objection. Don't let it stand.

"The ideal attitude to project during any argument is one of calm disinterest."- Charles Miller

Charles Miller offers two useful rules from an excellent short essay on online argumentation:

  1. State your case
  2. Clarify any misunderstandings

It's easy to forget where we are and what we are doing when discussing things online. It's especially easy to forget that on the Internet those are real people posting, not dogs.

August 29, 2004 02:14 PM


(August 30, 2004 01:32 AM #)

Could we get a couple of links to the "rudeness objection" in action? What do you think the pre-conditions for such a strategy working are?

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