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How to argue like a debater! - a guide to friendly disagreements on the site

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The admins and moderators here at Worldsmyths encourage all kinds of discourse here on the site. We want our members to feel free to express their opinions. We also understand that this may lead to argumentative discussions, which are perfectly acceptable. However, these sorts of discussions can get out of hand very quickly, so we want to share a few things to keep in mind while engaging in debates with fellow members.


In order to keep things civil, keep the following actions in mind:


1. Reread what you wish to respond to - make sure you are replying to what is being said and how it's being said. Do not take it out of context, out of order, or add any inflections as you see fit. A lot can get lost over the internet, and the way you're reading it may not be the way it was intended, nor may it have been intended towards/about you. The best way to avoid conflict is to read carefully.


2. Respond directly to the issue you have with the statement, and state why you take issue with it. "I didn't like what you said" isn't enough of an argument - you need to back it up with why you didn't like it. "I didn't like what you said because it demeans writers of X background for reasons 1 and 2." Saying that a person is wrong for their opinion is not a valid argument.


3. If it starts with "no offense" it probably is offensive. If it starts or ends with "you clearly don't understand xyz" is probably offensive.


4. If the member responds to your argument, take what they say as they say it. They may say you misunderstood what they meant, or that they weren't being literal - if this is the case, the argument doesn't need to go further. If a moderator notices you are not listening to the member’s response, and are engaging in an argument that is unnecessary because you are not reading the responses thoroughly, you will receive a warning.


5. Keep in mind that everyone has a different experience. You may believe something is wrong but that doesn't mean everyone else does. If something someone said was construed as offensive towards you, the member may apologize for offending you, and may state they didn't mean to, in which case we ask to please be amiable and accept the apology.


6. Members are allowed to express dislike of popular works – yes, that means they may say “I dislike (Writer/Book/Movie).”


The way we talk about established writers and unestablished writers greatly vary. While someone may say “I HATE Twilight,” it is inappropriate to say “I HATE member’s work.” Most, if not all, of the members here are relatively unestablished in the writing community on a grand scale, and we’re here to encourage each other’s development. (Of course, on the off chance that Stephanie Meyers were to join Worldsmyths, we would kindly remind everyone that she is a member and should be treated as such. Talk about a foot in mouth scenario, am I right?) If you cannot understand the difference between an author who is a household name in some circles of readers, and an author who has one self-published work under their belt, feel free to message a staff member so we can explain the fact that who has their books shelved at Barnes and Nobles likely has a team of support behind them.


They are allowed to feel this way - this is what happens when a work enters into the realm of popular culture - reactions and opinions of these works tend to escalate. You may ask why they feel this way, but keep in mind that some people may not wish to share personal reasons (A person may have lost someone to a suicide, and so it’s hard for them to read Sylvia Plath). A person disliking something you like does not make them wrong, or bad. You may engage in conversation to find out why, if it truly bothers you, but ultimately we are all allowed to have our own opinions, and we are not wrong for having them.


Some of us know published author's personally. For instance, Briari knows Wesley Chu, who is an up-and-coming sci-fi writer. She's friends with him on Facebook, chats with him occasionally, and went to his first-ever book-release party. Two and half years later, and his book Time Salvager is being adapted into a movie directed by Michael Bay. Someone might say "I really hate The Lives of Tao, I'll never read the Time Salvager." This does not give Briari the right to say the member is wrong and shouldn't say things like that - she can ask them why, and give reasons that she feels redeems the work, but ultimately, the member is entitled to have that opinion.


7. Respect yourself by respecting others – no matter the scale of the writer’s prominence, whether it be we are talking about a member here or a NYT Bestseller, any opinions should be aimed at the work of the individual, and not on their character or other personal traits. Bashing an author’s appearance, background, intellect, beliefs, etc will absolutely not be tolerated.


8. For the sake of debate, address all argumentative points in one post. Do not post multiple times in a row, even if you’re responding to multiple people. We suggest tagging the member you’re responded to, and listing your points, and then doing this again several lines down with a new member if you’re talking to multiple people.


9. It isn't about you.  One person's opinions and beliefs are not about you, and do not effect you. Just because one member hates Harry Potter doesn't mean they hate you, and it doesn't infringe on your ability to love Harry Potter. They may think the writing is bad, and that the plot has huge holes in it - and that's okay. Just because Harry Potter is one of the highest grossing book series doesn't mean it's right for everyone, and it doesn't mean everyone has to honor it as an amazing piece of children's literature.


10. Keep things in context. Some times we spazz. As people get friendlier with one another, the conversations tend to be more informal, especially in places like the Lounge, where you will see frequent use of ragecaps, over-exaggerations, and intense internet-stereotype reactions such as -flips table-. As such, some of the things said in these, are merely members being silly with one another, and if that is the case, try not to argue. If something is really grinding your gears, we welcome you bringing it up and asking for clarification or elaboration, but at the end of it, if a member was just being silly, don't take them so seriously.


11. Move on. We suggest that, after an argument has taken place, everyone involved takes a moment to bond. This may seem silly, but something as simple as addressing that we disagree but we're still members in the same community is important for keeping bonds around here. Changing the subject to something less serious (such as an argument on pizza toppings, or sharing your dread at the pile of laundry you now must fold) can help settle down residual emotions, and makes it easier for members to re-approach each other on other topics.


Please note, this is a general guideline for how to engage in arguments related to opinions and statements in the forums. If you need help forming a review that has criticism in it, please feel free to message the staff for advice on how to phrase reviews.


The staff reserves the right to lock or remove threads that are becoming offensive towards fellow members.


Written by briari hallow[/member]

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