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How to Argue on the Internet


How To Argue On The Internet

So, you want to have an argument on the internet. Congratulations! You’ve taken a big step in making the leap from lurker to valued member of the community. In order to set you on the right path, you must remember the four Cs, the S, and the M of internet debate: Be Concise, Courteous and Calm, even when talking to trolls. In this manor, you refrain from feeding the trolls which helps keep them at bay. Try to Concentrate Completely on the topic at hand, in order to avoid corrupting the topic you are discussing with discourteous commentary and/or utter crap. Care for your fellow members by taking a counterpoint in the argument in order to evaluate the coherency and competency of the statement that is being made. Assume, even for a moment, that whatever has been said is reasonable. What’s the first question that pops into your mind to further evaluate the reasonableness? That should be how you start to respond if how to respond is unclear.

The S is for Socratic and the M is for Method. Remember S&M; everyone loves S&M right? Perhaps that’s a follow-up post for another day.

Let us look at some examples:

Carl Says
The GNU Herd Kernel rules all other operating systems, and y’all bitches ain’t shif if you aint part of the herd wit da hurd.

Can you spot the errors and crimes against humanity Carl has committed!? Our community calls for his immediate incarceration!

Instead, let’s help Carl Craft Comments our Community craves:

Hello, I’m Carl. After having tried all the OSs, I have come to the conclusion that the GNU HURD is the superior operating system kernel because of its advanced engineering techniques including process space separation, transparent memory defragmentation and the Stallman levels of Libre Code I enjoy while running it.

Sometimes, due to cognitive disorders, or attempted crapflooding, the initial post is actually utter crap. However, our mental filter should automatically correct for these mental miscarriages and we should respond thusly:

Carl, some may find your wording offensive. Please consult our handy overview on the rules page [RECURSION DETECTED, ABORT ABORT] of “how to have an argument on the internet” before composing further comments in order to continue the conversation and not cajole the community.

Continue the conversation by asking for clarification from Carl:

That aside, I’m not caught up on the goings-on of the HURD, can you elaborate on what you mean or why you think that?

This type of one sentence interrogatory is key to having an argument on the internet; your composure averts contempt and subsequent crapflooding. This simple one-sentence response can clear up misunderstandings before they even happen. Use it early, use it often. Be courteous, and try to understand the point that is being made, completely, before contributing to the conversation yourself. Carl is well on his way to complete cognitive overhaul (for the better).

To refute factual information, consider this cordial conversational vector:
Carl, I’m not sure the HURD has built-in automatic in-memory defragmentation. Are you referring to the enhanced MALLCO handler that can combine adjacent free memory pages automatically? This source seems to indicate that feature has been in BSD and Linux kernels for a number of years. Please clarify and/or do you have a source? I’m genuinely courious.

Absent a credible source, we may have to curtail the conversation until there is more information.

By carefully crafting our comments, we can have concise, complete, cordial and courteous conversations in order to cultivate our caring community.

TL;DR: Be cromulent to your fellow community members and try not to encourage crapfloods.

Remember, We care for our community, all our members (even the ones that are damaged goods) and want to do what we can to encourage thoughtful and rational discourse while we corral discourteous crapfloods completely.


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I had planned to use my first post to facilitate a doctorate level contradiction to the guide book explanation for encountering inadequate propositions like Carl's, however in lieu of Wendell's recommendation of cromulentation I find it is unpossible to rebigulate a sufficient adultivistic rebuttal that isnt so Bartesque..........think I'll go watch a Tek video now instead......

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Thank you very much Wendell, I have just made an account after watching the Tek Syndicate community for a couple of months now.

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Hi Wendell, I'm a long term TS viewer & erstwhile fora poster who has, & continues, to work closely with a wide variety of enterprise technologies but hitherto unaware of enhanced MALLCO handlers, having only ever relied upon old skool MALLOC handlers. We should do what we can to encourage thoughtful and rational discourse on this new method of memory management, can you provide us with a link to some reference material?


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