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Improve your posts

Posted 05-07-2019 at 12:37 PM by harry chickpea
Updated 05-07-2019 at 01:00 PM by harry chickpea

A quick note on some ways to improve your posts and debate skills follows. Everyone has their own posting style, but better formed posts get more respect. Consider these tips:

WAIT to respond to any post that hits an emotional trigger. When responding fast out of emotion, most of your critical thinking and skills are bypassed. Sometimes a few minutes are enough, sometimes a day or more will be needed.

AVOID anything that is either a direct personal attack or an attack on the group or religion of the poster you are responding to. It is polite, it shows that you can make your point without having to strike out, it will make lurkers more likely to understand your point, and for me, it saves me time deleting your post.

ASK yourself if you are being baited or trolled into a personal attack or making a statement you can't defend.

Flip your arguments backward. This is one of the techniques taught by the ancient Greek sophists. When you argue in written argument AGAINST what you believe to be true (usually privately to yourself) you gain better understanding, see the flaws in your own way of expressing, know more about your opponent's likely tactics, and avoid minor quibbles to get to the core issues.

Read your post out loud to yourself before posting. That can give you a better feel for the emotional tone. The speaking brain and the writing brain have differences.

Thank the person who shows your argument or belief to be wrong. Don't think in terms of "they won the argument." Instead, realize that you came away more educated and less likely to faux pas on that subject in the future. Life is learning, it comes in various guises.

Edit. Fewer words are generally better. Paragraphs and word flow are important to being read and understood. As you improve, you will craft by moving paragraphs around, changing out words, and form posts that are a pleasure to read.

Research. Search engines are just a click away. If you are unsure of a statement or fact you want to use, check it out before posting.

Avoid "argument by authority." This is a common failing that leads to circular reasoning. It is also rude and condescending to others, making them more likely to turn away from you. Religions are some of the worst offenders, as each claim direct word from on high that cannot be disputed. Religious wars over such beliefs have cost millions of lives. Argument by authority is disallowed in formal debate, as it is antithetical to the concept and purpose of debate. If you want to make a claim, be prepared to back it up with cites or physical proof. If you have a belief, state that it is a belief and leave it at that.

Try to avoid "cult of personality." Clever marketing, media presence, and general talk can lead to an individual gaining cult status, where it is expected that they can do no wrong. Life doesn't work that way, and if you become a parrot, you show that you have little or no original thought and are a lazy thinker. Such cult behavior is not limited to people. Multi-level marketers use similar techniques to pump a product. CBD oil is just one recent example out of many.

Remember that the last post in a thread does not "win." In a thread that debates, the most cogent and supported post may end up in the middle of the pack. A good thread and debate exposes points of view, facts, possibilities, and food for thought. Participants in a really good thread are all winners.

Be very aware of the word "you." When you use the word, very often it can be as a lead-in to a personal attack or can be an attempt at mind reading. Avoid using it frivolously.

Recognize that different points of view and personalities are REQUIRED for humanity to function. I don't care how smart, strong, and well versed you are, if humanity was all exact clones of you, civilization would fail. Accept that other points of view may be required for your existence.

Realize that your words are important - most of all to YOU. Nothing ever really disappears on the internet. Employers, law enforcement, insurance companies, disgruntled enemies can all see what you wrote - even years later. Even anonymous forums are no match for some search techniques and ones that will come in the future.
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