((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 and i'm not sure that anybody will bother to copy it over to the new forums - Vyp))
Guide on: ‘How to reach a fruitful discussion’
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.
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 ]