Discourse

Only paid members may comment on stories or read comments left by others. Anonymity breeds contempt, and contempt leads to trolling. So instead, we encourage constructive argument through the following guidelines.

First, don't call people names. Calling people names does nothing to advance the argument and only serves to antagonize everyone. If the only response you can make is to call someone else a derogatory word, then you have agreed with their argument even if you don't like it.

Next, a conflict of interest does not invalidate an argument. If you see a potential conflict of interest, use that as a guide to explore unintended or hidden consequences of the argument's outcome. Then, make a counterargument based on those consequences. Make sure they align with our values.

Pointing out an author's lack of authority does not mean that their argument is wrong. Instead, add some context or nuance to the discussion based on your research on the subject.

If the tone of an argument is disagreeable, consider exploring why you find the style wrong for you. This insight can be helpful if you can articulate what you saw as the goal of the argument and how the tone undermined that goal. Disagreement about style doesn't mean that the idea is wrong.

If any of the above approaches describes how you want to respond, you agree with the argument. Instead, you don't like the presentation of the discussion. Focus on helping the writer make a more powerful presentation.

You can do better, though. First, focus on the argument rather than who is saying it or how they are saying it.

If you find the opposite position reasonable, then present that contradiction with supporting facts. Then, a different perspective can help everyone reach a middle way that avoids extremes.

Even better is to refute the argument. Refuting the argument means finding a weakness in the chain of logic. That is, find ways to remove the weakness while preserving the outcome of the debate. If you can't, you have a strong counterargument for why the original argument might be wrong.