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 How to reach a fruitful discussion - by Dargrol of Argent Dawn

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PostSubject: How to reach a fruitful discussion - by Dargrol of Argent Dawn   Thu Nov 18, 2010 5:59 pm

((I've copied this from the current, pre-cata, rp-forum as i thought a) it was a great post and b) it may help us maintain the freedom from conflict of the type that we've seen on this forum in the past, should this forum ever attract more attention again Wink and i'm not sure that anybody will bother to copy it over to the new forums Razz - Vyp))

Guide on: ‘How to reach a fruitful discussion’


Forewords:

I have noticed that on this forum we have a lot of pointless discussion or in other words bigots who by nature ignore what each other write and continue to write the same thing over and over. Thus I have deliberated some of my time to produce a guide on how to have a healthy and constructive discussion. Hopefully this attempt of mine will give you a place to direct people who are not acting constructive at all, but perhaps even destructive to the subject at hand.


Index:

1. Manners – A divine presence to the written word
2. Study – Knowledge is power
3. Listening – The bread and butter of a diplomat
4. The constructive post
5. List of topics that are overdone
6. Final words


Manners – A divine presence to the written word:

Déjà vu – Do you ever have that feeling when passing from one internet forum to another? Yes everyone seems hell bent to cast aside all those last shackles of manners they have left from civilization and run amok in a sea of seemingly endless stupidity. The false feeling of being anonymous through all the different avatars or nicknames people choose is the curse of the Internet. This prime conjecture of chaos is important to combat – remember everyone on this forum is living people and should be treated with at least some shred of dignity and respect.

So how do we combat this already overwhelming chaos? Manners. Being polite is often one of the things required to get through to people in a discussion. Vulgar, offensive and even arrogant behavior can trigger that your adversary simply goes into a defensive stance and refuse to acknowledge anything you write - even though it may be the obvious truth. In other words if you act like a moron, people will treat you like a moron and thus ignore you.

We can easily sum up the easiest path to being courteous in a few bullet points:

• No vulgar or offensive language. In extension no avoiding or even landing in the profanity filter created by Blizzard.
• Form your sentences in a friendly and respectful tone.
• Be humble with knowledge. You are no better simply because you remember that specific sentence.

Why should you avoid landing in the profanity filter? First of all it filters what you are trying to write, secondly the word is commonly an insult or vulgar – Thus offensive. Use of such instead of more analytical sense makes you seem like a troll, less intelligent and/or someone who should not be on this forum. Instead of landing in the filter or using offensive language try and formulate your sentences in a manner which is respectful and even friendly. Being friendly will almost always make your counterpart more prone to listen.

Almost as important as avoiding vulgar language is being humble with knowledge. What exactly am I getting at here? Allow me to explain. Quite often you get more arrogant the more you know – the more abilities you have developed throughout your life. This despicable form of arrogance can often come to play in a discussion. It often comes in the shape of one person being arrogant and better knowing, along with another person being to all contexts a normal person. The arrogant person lashes out with snide remarks at the normal person because the normal person is wrong. In result the normal person gets insulted although no actual offensive word was present, yet the arrogant attitude was enough to create the essence of mock.

It is much better to remember that while you may house a lot of knowledge then the truly wise understand that there is yet a lot they do not know. In fact the more you know, the more you should realize that you do not even know a tiny fraction of what there is to know. That is why you should act humble with your knowledge and correct others politely. You may know more than the other person, but you will with no choice still be a part of the universal stupidity of humanity.

Let us go on to a few examples of first a bad sentence in a discussion, then later a good one. Here is the bad one:

“Wanker, you don’t know @%%! about refrigerator you dumb @*@*. They keep food cool mother@*@*er.”

Right, needless to say – You noticed the filtered words. You also noticed how insult just stood printed on it. And lastly arrogance towards a person who did not know what a refrigerator did. Let us rephrase that to a much more kind tone and without the unnecessary barbarism:

“Excuse me, but it seems you are mistaken about the function of a refrigerator. Such a technical wonder is used to keep food cool.”

The difference between the two examples is obvious. At the first example you are much more likely to get a slap in the face and at the latter you are a lot more likely to get an ‘Oh, thank you’. Making a polite sentence is that effective and requires little to no effort. So what do you prefer – Making a polite and profitable comment, or an unnecessary insult that will in the final moments only deject you? The choice is yours.

In closing to this subject, the most important and golden rule about manners is:

• Treat others equally to how you wish to be treated yourself.


Study – Knowledge is power:

Words are meaningless if they are without a purpose. If you do not know what you are talking about then your words are absolutely without purpose and thus meaningless. Wasted. If you are to even have a tiny hope of a fruitful discussion then knowing whatever you are to talk about might be a very good idea – Not only for your own sake, but other people who do know what they are talking about can get frustrated. Why? Because you will mostly get even the smallest detail wrong. I do not say it is a sin to be wrong – but by all honesty it is a sin to go into a discussion you have no idea what is about.

Knowledge about the subject at hand is essential to discussion!

It is perhaps the most important part of discussion. Without knowledge of the subject you cannot do things such as:

• Dwell into the deeper parts of the subject.
• Make a constructive comment.
• Make a fun comment (Or you really do need to be lucky).
• Participate in the discussion at all.

It should be obvious that without having studied what you are to discuss you will look like an idiot. So stop posting unless you know what you are writing about.

To study something is more or less an actual difficult thing to make a guide about how to do it (People learn differently), so I will make it short and give examples how I study before going into a subject. I usually have a working order that consists of something like this:

1. Know the subject.
2. Study a Wikipedia site relevant to the subject.
3. If interested; dwell further into the subject and create an unbiased view of the potential factions, situations, other things.
4. If even more interested; acquire books on the subject and study it further in depth.
5. Repeat step 3.
6. Participate in discussion.

This would be a very long process if it was how refrigerators work, but if we simply take Warcraft lore then it gets easier the more discussion you participate in. You tend to remember it more in the back of your head, but simply because you do that it’s still not a bad idea to look up certain things that are relevant to the discussion again. Our feelings cloud our memories, thus they are not as reliable as a book.

Now if I am to explain the six steps a bit further:

The first step is naturally to get to know the subject, without that you will not even be thinking of joining in. This step naturally also includes actually reading the thread through. Before doing that though, go to step two.

Proceeding then step two is about visiting the Wikipedia on the web or any other relevant pedia site. While they might be unreliable then they do give a fair picture of different subjects. Always do look for sources though; else it could as well be garbage. They are quick and easy to use though, providing a fast delivery of data right to your computer screen.

Next step, the reason I write ‘if interested’ is because if you are not interested in the subject, do not join in on the discussion. Here, after you have studied on the pedia site, I find it important to create an unbiased view upon the matter at hand. It matters not if you like the person/war/etc. or not until you actually understand the full extent of the situation – Only then will you be able to create personal opinion that is worth something to a discussion.

Step four is optional, it has several pros but also a couple of cons. It requires more time and you need to actually acquire books relevant to the subject. And read them. Luckily you may already have the books and have read them so it is just a matter of reading up on the actual subject swiftly. Books with facts are basically the gift of fat facts to you in a discussion. So while this step is a big one then it is certainly worth it.

Step five consists of doing step three again with the new information you got from step four. If you did not do step four, skip this.

The last step is basically to get into the discussion. The only advice I will give on that matter is already in this guide, so read on.

This is just how I do things – There are a lot of other options to consider and my model might not work well with your mind, which is fine. It is meant for my own. The most important thing about this part is that you actually do consider studying the subject at hand before joining a discussion – and do it thoroughly! Anything you do not know is a weapon that can be used against you!

Later in the guide I will explain how to make use of this knowledge, but for now the few important bullet points is:

• Never participate in a discussion where you have nothing to add because of lack of knowledge.
• Study the subject thoroughly
• Create an unbiased view on the subject

[ Post edited by Dargrol ]

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Last edited by Vypra on Thu Nov 18, 2010 6:01 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: How to reach a fruitful discussion - by Dargrol of Argent Dawn   Thu Nov 18, 2010 6:00 pm

Listening – The bread and butter of a diplomat:

What is the use of manners and even studying if no one listens to each other? Hell, I could even ask what is the meaning of civilization itself if no one listens to each other? If no one listens to each other we fall into the foundations of anarchy. All it takes is the incompetence of a government.

Despite listening to each other is fairly simple to explain it is also perhaps one of the most difficult. Personal pride is your greatest enemy here – It is the thing that keeps you from accepting that you might be wrong. It is the thing that keeps you from thinking that the other person might be right. It is the thing that keeps you going in an endless whirl of stupidity, ignorance and delusion.

So what can you do to get out of this downward spiral? You can start with doing five things:

1. Accept that you are not always right.
2. Accept that others can be right – Even if that means that you are wrong.
3. Accept that you, like the rest of humanity, suffers from the delusion that they are knowledgeable. You are not. Humanity is dim-witted and hardly knows anything.
4. Accept that your pride is nothing more than a self imaginary thing.
5. Accept the need to prove yourself constructive. To bring evidence of your argument, speak in a courtly tone and listen to others.

Accept that you are not always right… Have you ever been a discussion with someone who was so infuriatingly stubborn that he just kept going although you had proven you were right – even smacked down the facts on the table? Ever felt how incredibly annoying that is? Well, this is why it is important to stop being stubborn when you are not right. If the facts are on the table and they prove you wrong. Accept it. You were wrong, that happens. We are all human. If you cannot accept that you are not always right, you will never be constructive in a discussion.

Accept that others can be right – even if it means that you are wrong. Again, the stubborn self would step in. Do not let it. If others prove you wrong, bow and say ‘My mistake, you are right’. It is absolutely not shameful to do so. Even if, we are on the Internet anyway – So who will blame you apart from the all seeing eyes of Blizzard?

Accept that you, like the rest of humanity, suffers from the delusion that they are knowledgeable. You are not. Humanity is dim-witted and hardly knows anything. Yes, humanity is bloody stupid. Compared to what there is to know we are still cavemen, and the Solar System is our region, while the galaxy is our country. We have yet to find out how to get across rivers to other systems – But hey, at least we can troll on the forum right? But please, behave. A little knowledge is a lot of power. That, however, does not put you above the rest of humanity. You are still stupid as hell. So am I.

Accept that your pride is nothing more than a self imaginary thing. It is nothing more than a play that your mind is making on you. There is no such thing as pride. It is nothing but thin air. Then why be so fond of it? If it is just in your mind then it is nothing more than an illusion. Pride has an easy way to sprout onto arrogance and inability to listen – Why keep it? Why on Earth would you keep something that hinders you from acting respectable? Draw it like poison from a wound and learn humility.

Accept the need to prove yourself constructive. To bring evidence of your argument, speak in a courtly tone and listen to others. Without this desire you will not be an addition to the forum – If you however teach yourself to embrace such a noble desire and follow it, then not only will people be more prone to listen to you, but you might also learn a thing or two from listening. I will gladly admit that I have come across a lot in this forum that I did not know of before. Now I do, and that I have gained from listening and accepting these desires.

Without listening to each other a discussion will get nowhere. A discussion is simply pointless without it. So I beg you. Follow those five rules – or do not try and be constructive at all. Without the ability to listen to others you will not be constructive no matter how hard you try. It is simply impossible in a discussion.

To short this down in bullet points:

• Listen to other or the discussion will not get anywhere.
• Without listening a discussion is utterly pointless.
• You are not always right. Accept that – Even if it means the other person is.


The constructive post:

Finally we get to the actual manual stuff. When you have handled out your manners, the fact you need to study and the need to listen in order to make a constructive post, we can proceed to the actual structure of such a post. The most essential components of a constructive post are the following:

• Facts
• Argument
• To be on topic

So facts – If you know everything there is to know already then why bring facts into your post? It is essential to a constructive post because it supports your argument marginally. It also lets others know what you are on about. Often in for example a lore discussion you should take direct quotes from a lore material. It could be a quest in game as well as a quote from a source book. It is good to place any facts separate from the actual argument. Facts are simply a great tool and it would be a major folly not to use them. It generally makes the difference between a brainy and a dumb discussion.

Argument. Why you should always bring an argument in your post is somewhat obvious. Without an argument all you will be posting would either be facts and/or a conclusion, which is not very constructive. The argument is the path to the conclusion – It is where the verbal calculations are done. Thus the argument is the very thing that has to be proven wrong or right in order for a conclusion to be wrong or right. Always bring the argument or you will not be making a constructive post.

To stay on the topic is also quite essential for the constructive post. Why? Well, the best way to explain might be to give an example: A discussion rages about death knights and their livers – out of the blue you post a long post filled with facts and arguments, plus you are prone to listen, you have studied and you do have manners, BUT your whole post is suddenly about orc noses. Your post is useless if it is not on topic and it ceases to be constructive, even if it might have been a blessing in a discussion about orc noses.

<Continues in the next post!>

[ Post edited by Dargrol ]

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PostSubject: Re: How to reach a fruitful discussion - by Dargrol of Argent Dawn   Thu Nov 18, 2010 6:00 pm

A priority model (What should be first in your post) I would use myself to make a constructive post would look somewhat like this:

1. Argument
2. Facts
3. Conclusion (Optional)

The reason I take arguments first is because it lets people know what on Earth you are on about. I then put in facts to support that even further and make them go ‘Oh, yeah, that might be right’. Then finally I stamp in the conclusion should it be needed. You often only need to bring a conclusion in your first post in a discussion or in an attempt to close the discussion off if agreement has been met. The conclusion might as well be ‘We agree to disagree’, and that is a fine solution so long it is only your opinion that differs you.

To give an example what a good constructive post would look like then take a look at this link:

http://img6.imageshack.us/img6/4588/guideonhowtobeconstruct.png

(I have intentionally left out name of the poster, name of the post and date of the post. Although I guess we all know who this is. I have taken the liberty of using it as an example of a good post – and should the poster demand so I will remove the link or alternatively make it official who this is. It is not an attempt to affront said person, nor put grace to him/her. It is entirely for the purpose of giving a good example of a constructive post.)

Some of the arguments might be bordering to conclusions, but nonetheless this is a good example. It got support from facts, it proves said person actually studied the subject and is able to push through in a discussion without use of vulgar language. Take it as inspiration.

It is also a good idea to structure your post to make it easier to the eye. In other words it is a good idea to separate the facts, the argument and the optional conclusion. You need to make it obvious ‘what is what’, you can see in the example that the poster chose to smack italics on the sourcebook quotes (Facts) to make it obvious what it is. However, direct quotes are not the only way to bring them into play. You can as well just write:

‘Facts say that a refrigerator cools food.’

So long the facts are common knowledge then it is not as much a sin, although the direct quotes are more welcome. Still separate them from the other parts of the text though. There is no actual model for how you structure your post; there is different ways of doing that. The most important thing is that you do. Remember when structuring your post then leave out unnecessary things. Do not suddenly bold every second word when having italics for a short section will do. At completely other times you might just need to make paragraphs. Perfection is reached when you have everything needed, not everything you can have.

Although I said there was no model for making a structured post – then I sort of lied. There is many. Too many. Do as you feel like and if you need inspiration then here is how I do it:

• Argument (Normal text)
• Quoted facts (Quoted text in italics, source in normal text)
• Common knowledge facts (Normal text) , written as ‘Facts say that …’
• Conclusion (Normal text), written as ‘In conclusion…’

Finalizing, if we are to short a constructive post down into something comprehensible then it would be:

• A constructive post got an argument and it got facts. It also stays on topic.
• The three virtues of a constructive post would compose of; manners, study and listening.
• Structure your post. Take everything needed, not everything you can.

<Continues in the next post!>

[ Post edited by Dargrol ]

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PostSubject: Re: How to reach a fruitful discussion - by Dargrol of Argent Dawn   Thu Nov 18, 2010 6:01 pm

List of topics that are overdone:

Some topics just do not have an end. People keep bickering about them. People keep posting them. People keep posting in them. Déjà vu, right? I have dedicated this part of my guide to topics that are overdone here in the Roleplaying Forum. Thus avoid them and make new and interesting topics instead:

1. Alliance is evil and Horde is good
2. Horde is evil and Alliance is good
3. Varian Wrynn vs. Garrosh Hellscream
4. What realm is the best? (Go to: http://forums.wow-europe.com/thread.html?topicId=1597959799&sid=1)

If there is a topic you wish added please post it in a reply then I will gladly add it.


Final words:

While this guide was made with the intent to further support the cause of sensible discussion then it is not a crusade against everything that is fun and humor. So please, if you do have something that could give a good chuckle to you and others – do not hold back. Naturally so long it is within the boundaries of the code of conduct on this forum.

All I want from people is that they have manners, they study their subject, listen to each other and provide good constructive posts in a discussion. Here is the guide to do so. It is short, I know, but I could write an entire book so I think I will spare you of that. Enjoy :-)

[ Post edited by Dargrol ]

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PostSubject: Re: How to reach a fruitful discussion - by Dargrol of Argent Dawn   Thu Nov 18, 2010 8:29 pm

Violence is the most efficient way of ending an argument.
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PostSubject: Re: How to reach a fruitful discussion - by Dargrol of Argent Dawn   Thu Nov 18, 2010 8:46 pm

that's why BG's exist Wink

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