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Old 01-11-2012, 02:35 PM   #1
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Max Brawn

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This is something I wrote years ago for another board. It still applies here and I would appreciate if people read it:


A while ago I was trying to cajole another board member into revealing some of the better discussions he's had with more prominent characters of the Internet. He replied by asking me what I thought a good discussion was... I deliberated on this somewhat.

There are certain discussions that can leave a person with either a sense of triumph or a sense of loss. In contrast, other discussions leave a person feeling quite satisfied that they may have achieved something.

The former are discussions we see all too often. Person A has an opinion X. Person B has an opinion Y. Person A states his opinion X, person B exchanges one or two pleasantries and then states his opinion Y. After some debate over who is right, one of the persons will submit. Person A leaves feeling triumphant that somebody has re-inforced his viewpoint. Person B feels aggrieved that their viewpoint has been rejected.

Via this exchange, neither has gained any insight, neither has evolved their opinions. Heck, they haven't even thought about their viewpoint further than the ability to repeat them in a more convincing tone next time.

I see this often, an entire thread with people banging away at the keyboard, independant of anybody elses views, back and forth, over and over. Is this a conducive interaction? I don't think so.

Another type of discussion is seen much less. Person C has a viewpoint based on his experiences, yet he doesn't cling onto any belief. Person D is the same.

Person C states his case. Person D questions some points, they converse. Both are willing to learn so neither person clings onto his previous beliefs. Note that i'm not saying they forget everything they know! Important to note is that if they're both being honest, they shouldn't need to. They just don't restrict their thinking. Without this self-imposed restriction both are free to evolve their ideas based on a previous knowledge of what works. After some deliberating, they may have evolved further insight based on their collective knowledge or at very least gained a thorough understanding of both viewpoints. This is a discussion, a true interaction between two people on a given topic.

What drives people to be the former or the latter is complicated. It goes much deeper than just training knowledge. Your posts gives away a lot about who you are. Personality, psychology, ego, these are all ugly words that are at work here.

There are members of this board who strive to learn and interact, they range from the most advanced to rank beginners. Then there are others who want nothing more than to be listened to and the re-inforcement of their opinions, it shows.

I'm not saying anything new here. Many of you have expressed the same thoughts with me in private or elsewhere. I just figured it would be useful to verbalise the ideas, so others can identify with them as well.

So what can we do about it?

Well the first step is recognising these two types of conversations when you see them!

Take a look at some threads over in the lifting forum right now. See if you can find at least 1-2 that are completely analogous to the first type of conversation I layed out. Then try and find 1-2 from the latter type of conversation.

Further conversation

The end result of these type of win/lose conversations aren't worth the effort for either party or the board in general. The board loses out as people get irritable, discouraged and we barely dig in to good topics. The individual then feels derision from the others. Not knowing the mistakes they’re making they end up blaming the other person or the board.

Fortunately there is an alternative. Most people on this board genuinely want to talk and discuss freely if you give them the chance to do so. Asking questions and giving the other guys a chance isn't always easy, but its the best way to understand another viewpoint.

If after that you truly feel the other person has no interest in discussing with you, then ignore them. It isn’t worth the hassle. Eventually you’ll get a good feel for the conversations you will want to take part in and the ones you’d rather not.


Typically we see different responses to posts based on respect as you say, or "rep".

When people are enthuasistic about an approach they tend to talk about them in strong tones. Giving the bottom line. If these folks are newbies then readers tend to roll their eyes. If the guy with the "rep" makes the same point then readers shut off their brain.

The reader will turn off their brain if it is an area which interests them or if the writer shares the same view. Then of course there is the way people write, writing styles, they influence us more than they should.

With all of this, a lot of garbage can be passed.

So to what extend should an author compensate for reader deficiencies?

PS. Something to consider in your answer: There are always one or two guys who want to be "the man".
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