Etiquette of Debating 101

"OldFist" is the new and official Forum Arbitrator. "I plan to do a straight forward job of moderating, just upholding the mission statement of the forums, trying to make sure that everyone is courteous, and that no one is rudely intimidated by anyone else."

Moderators: gmattson, Oldfist

Should debating rules be used and enforced on the forums?

There should be some structure and rules, but I'm not sure what.
No votes
There shouldn't be any rules. Let people say what they want, however they want.
There should be some rules. Let people say what they want as long as they don't use personal attacks.
There should be strict rules and guidelines enforced by a moderator.
Total votes : 15

Etiquette of Debating 101

Postby Panther » Thu Dec 05, 2002 3:28 pm

HA! ;) You thought there was going to be a long post here... Instead...

Since this is the VSD forum and we all know how passionate and heated debates on various subjects can get...

What do you think the proper rules (etiquette if you will) for debating are?

(no mention of any other threads, individuals, subject matter, etc. I'm interested in people's opinions on the best... and worst... tactics for debating any subject.)

In order to help start things off...

I know that some people have suggested "listening to the other side's points" and I agree with that. However, isn't a well thought-out rebuttal to those points self-evidence of having listened to those points in order to respond completely and accurately? :?

Take care...

(Thanks Sensei... Let's try this poll thing... :D )
Last edited by Panther on Thu Dec 05, 2002 5:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby gmattson » Thu Dec 05, 2002 4:58 pm

Edit your post Panther. At the bottom of the page is the poll option.
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Postby Panther » Thu Dec 05, 2002 6:03 pm

Thank you Sensei! That is a fantastic option in the new forums. Mega-Kudos to all those that made it happen! I know the new forums took a lot of work... It shows in how nice they are... 8) :cool:

(BTW, I really like your new avatar GEM-Sensei... :mrgreen: )
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Postby Valkenar » Thu Dec 05, 2002 7:05 pm

So I'm in favor of #3. On some forums I'd go with #2, but for these, yeah 3 seems good. I think 4 would be extremely stiflling to serious debate of topics. People sometimes get very passionate about these issues and while we all try to play nice, there are misunderstandings and miscommunications that lead to sharp words.

And in my mind, sharp words are all right, but when it gets personal people get side-tracked and the issue gets lost in a hail of posturing.

Part of it is a fundamental disagreement about what the nature of online things is. Some peole take online insults personally, and others don't take online insults seriously at all. All depends on where you're coming from and probably what your first experiences with the internet/online communication were.

Okay, end of spiel.
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Consider the Medium?

Postby Akil Todd Harvey » Fri Dec 06, 2002 12:40 am


I have had the benefit and the curse of seeing how running a forum can be from the inside (my wife runs a web portal w/forum for Malays living overseas). There are the folks who will email the person in charge of the site (in this case Sensei Mattson) giving feedback about the site, quite often conflicting feedback. You could get 2 messages in the same day, one decrying how boring the site is (discussion is too serious, lets say) and the other lambasting how prevalent is frivolous discussion (not serious enough).

Rules are needed, but will be useless if not enforced. How the rules are enforced is as important as what the rules are, though. Banning people from the site is a highly effective method of enforcing behavior, but should be done only after serious consderation of many factors. Banning is not just for the miscreant but also for eveyone else as it indicates what is nhot tolerable in this community.

Factors to consider b4 banning: how long has the person been posting? Are they going through a tough time personally and need a little leeway or guidance? What is the attitude and content of their posting on other web sites (this can take a little research)? Banning need not be permanent, although it may be neccessary.

My wife's forum has been operating since feb, 2002, has 241 registered members, gets about 3000 page views a day, and we have only had to ban one person in that whole time. By setting the tone to one that we like, people will, for the most part, self-select based on where they want to be.

I am very impressed with Sensei Mattson. I doubt they taught how to do what he does at the schools he went to as a youngster. Despite his apparent hands-off approach, his actions behind the scenes have a direct affect of setting a tone which while not always perfect, is probably one of the better ones (if not the best) in the genre (martial arts forums).

It is, IMHO, a balancing act that Sensei Mattson is doing between giving us freedom to say whatwever we want and keep this forum as a place where people want to come and participate and feel safe doing so.

Comparison of this site and other martial arts forums that are "out there" in cyberspace may yield the the realization that most are of a lower calibre (so to speak). I recommend that other folks check out some other forums on martial arts as a point of comparison.

Some of what goes on here you will find is going on everywhere. Particularly illustrative threads will have titles like, "Aikido or Jujitsu?", or "which is better, Karate or Brazilian Jujitsu?". Such threads usually start off amicably, but quickly degenerate into a, "Your wrong, my style is the best" back and forth unintelligible banter that if done in person might actually resolve the question (not really, styles are only as good as the practictioner).

Before any new set of rules is drawn up, IMHO, it would be benficial for us all to take a good hard look at the medium we are using to create this forum. The keyboard as a means of input is highly ineffectrive when compared to speech. Imagine a person sitting in front of a keyboard, with images of self-defense scenarios going through their head at approx 25 frames per second (a potentially efficient means of analysis), and attempting to cram all that info into words by way of the keyboard is a very time consuming and occasionally frustrating process. "A picture is worth a thousand words." and yet how do you take your mind's eye picture an dput it into those thousand words, while still making all your other life's commtiments??????

Part of the problem of communication on forums (all of them) is how hard it can be to convey non-verbal information. Smileys help, but are not the perfect solution. knowing the above, it surprises me not that difficulties and hard feelings arise, but that they do not happen more often or to a greater extent. The fact that the blow-ups, hurt feelings, misunderstandings and personal attacks occur is not an indication that we are bad people, but rather that we are people. It should be recalled only a small minority of us grew up with these forums; we were never taught formally how to act on these forums and the eitiquette of the net [netiquette] is still evolving.

Peace, ATH
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Postby gmattson » Fri Dec 06, 2002 1:06 am

Is necessary to run these forums.

Wouldn't it be nice if everyone had these qualities?

In spite of our failings, people have learned a great deal here in our virtual dojo. No question that these forums have affected the way students and teachers approach their training, attitude, mindset and techniques.

I travel all over the world and I see the results of people studying these forums and taking this knowledge back to the dojo. Uechi-ryu is better for it. We are all better for it.

Plus, we've made lots of wonderful friends in the process.
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Do it HERE

Postby LenTesta » Sat Dec 07, 2002 12:57 am


Great Idea to have this poll.

I chose #4 because I belive if there is a need for these types of discussions where we can "verbally spar" with each other, it should be up to the moderator of that forum to allow or disallow certain phrases and words that may be considered too threatening.

Since this is a VSD forum where VERBAL is stressed, on a martial arts website, I see no reason why threads of verbal sparring should not take place here.

Of course it must be approved by the administration

PS Sensei, I like the new avitar also
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Avataring the rules

Postby Deep Sea » Tue Dec 10, 2002 7:08 am


I'll go with the selection behind door #4 if you strike strict or if strict is striken or if, never mind.

Don'tcha hate it when someone wants to change the rules? :roll: In the strict sense of not changing the rules set forth, I'll cast my vote then for the prize behind door #3. :twisted:

Oh, GEM's Avatar. I was thinking in 3-D and visualized it'd make a good Christmas ornament. Have a few dozen ornament$ custom made and offer them up on your things for sale George. I'll bet that's an idea not thought through fruition in the past.
Always with an even keel.
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I'll buy one Al!

Postby gmattson » Tue Dec 10, 2002 12:44 pm

But I don't have a Christmas tree. Guess I could hang it from my computer! :twisted:
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Postby Ted Dinwiddie » Tue Dec 10, 2002 2:33 pm

I voted for 3, but it seems we already have 3 with a bit of 4.

"There's only one basic human right, the right to do as you damn well please. And with it comes the only basic human duty, the duty to take the consequences." - P.J. O'Rourke
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Postby LeeDarrow » Tue Dec 10, 2002 5:35 pm

I went with the option to say what we want, but no personal attacks for a reason - in the VSD forum, we don't seem to have much of that going on. As my Daddy used to say - "If it ain't broke, don't fix it and for heaven's sake don't re-wire it!" 8)


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Postby Steve » Wed Dec 11, 2002 8:06 pm

My apologies for not checking here before I posted a rather long-winded post on Bill's forum about debate. Should have known that Panther, Len, Lee et al. would have it covered! Sorry Len, I'll check in more often!!!!

(BTW, Panther - you rock! And ATH, for the past five years I've spent two months per year in Malaysia teaching MBA students. Where is your wife from?)
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