Can threads exist where people don't get hostile?

I admit I get hostile in SDMB but it’s usually when I am provoked.

Could we do without people reading posts and belittling the author of them, even when the post is objective?

Or is it inevitable?

I’d go out on a limb and say that the majority of threads on this board, even in GD and the Pit, don’t so degenerate you little so-and-so.


Sometimes it is easy to sound hostile in writing, whereas in person one would not come across that way. Plus, certain folks have a tendancy to be hostile more than others, so you just have to consider the source. Has someone been hostile toward you? I personally find it diffucult to deal with comments that sound just a little condescending…like gee, that’s a dumb question. You never really know whether you’re being paranoid or someone really meant it that way.
Some people are just big meanies–very disappointing huh?

Hostility seems fairly inevitable on the internet. It isn’t that people are for the most part asses it is that there are very few consequences for being a dickwad online. If I was arguing with you in real life and started spewing profanity I’d get a swift kick in the nuts and/or loose respect in the eyes of those who have some influence on my quality of life. On line the worse that happens to you is getting banned from a site, which is not always a permanent solution.

So when people talk about things they have strong opinions on and there are no real consequences to getting snippish there is a tendancy towards hostile expression. The BBQ Pit kinda heads it off a bit, allowing people to yell and rave irrationally without risking banning, but still there is no real incentive to keep your cool in any online debate.

WHAT!!!???!!! Somebody’s calling me HOSTILE!!!???!!!

I agree w/Sua the big ninny, that given the subject matter, most of the posters/threads in GD are relatively polite.

There are a few folks who are pretty brusk, I’ll admit, but mostly not.

First, I agree with Sua that the vast majority of threads outside the pit never get hostile. However, many of the ones that do degenerate do so because one of the parties thought he was provoked. Since we are limited to text in our “conversations” here, we can not read another person’s facial expressions and body language. Many times the “offense” that causes the thread to degenerate is merely a misunderstanding of tone. It is not what’s said, but how. If more than one poster misinterprets the others tone, it may snowball into something personal and then real insults start to be posted.

When I was a newbie, I took offense to a few things there was no need to. My advice would be to always take the high road unless you are directly insulted. This means to let comments such as “I think that’s a bit short sighted” roll of you like water off a duck. However, this does not mean you have to tolerate direct insults such as “You short sighted wet duck f*cker”. For that, you call 'em out in the Pit.

There’s another element: we’ve learned from the great god Cecil that accuracy is first, but being a wise-ass is a close second. I try to answer some GQ or GD threads seriously, but there are times when a sarcastic quip is just begging to be made. Whether or not sarcasm = hostility is a matter of personal opinion.

You want responses but no hostility? Go see if Marilyn vos Savant has a board. Meanwhile, yutzes beware.

Here on the boards, I think I come across often in a hostile manner, and I think I tend to kick a man when he’s down. For example, if someone calls a red herring a straw man, I usually pounce. I think I would do better to try to glean the meaning and intent of posters and deal with the points they’re making, rather than the irrelevancies that I concoct. I think I tend to push buttons, debating in the same sytle that Petrosian played chess.

I think people tend to get hostile at trolls. Otherwise, the answer is yes, we have lots of debates here in which no one gets hostile.

lobley whether your other threads are Great Debates would be quite questionable but one thing’s for sure: This ain’t no Great Debate.

(How’s that for hostile?)

I hate to say “What I meant was” But, what I meant was - Is it inevitable that people will get hostile in threads. Not - Is it ineviable that people will get hostile in all the threads.

I know most threads don’t have hostility in them. (IMO the interesting ones have more than average)

In the hope of clarifying I will rephrase - Is it inevitable that somewhere someone will get hostile in a thread.

I think those people who get hostile are probably decent people. They just need to learn that Hostility is dumber than the things they use it against.

It my be dumb to say something dumb but it is dumber to be hostile in response i.e. by saying “that’s a dumb question”

I have more respect for the people who say dumb things or get things wrong than I do for people who are invariably hostile to them for it.

P.S. I have not named names (nor do I have anyone in mind) so technicaly there is no reason for anyone to get offended by this post. But if you do get offended then you must be one of the people I am refering to. In that case you deserve to be offended.


Hmm, the threads with the lowest possible risk of hosility are the probably the ones where all the posters are fans or enthusiasts of something. One could start a Star Trek thread and the only hostility would be from the occasional non-fan who wanders in and says “Get a life, you losers!”

Aside from that form of hostility, this sort of thread presupposes that everyone acknowledges that Star Trek (or whatever) is overall a quality product and any real argument will be about relatively minor aspects; nothing to get overly excited about.

But opening a political thread and expecting it to stay non-hostile is dreaming. Opening a political thread with an implied contempt for people who disagree with you is just begging for oodles of abuse. Opening a political thread with implied contempt and then adding “I don’t want to offend anyone; I just want to start a discussion” and still expect no hostility is just plain dumb.

Ok so I should learn to expect hostility. But not downright belittlement.

I will except “this is wrong and that it wrong and the other is wrong” not stuck-up things like “A series of half-assed notions trying to form an idea might be, but this is just sad.”

There’s just no need for it! It is a crap thing to say to another human-being.

Your post here was mostly above the belt and agreeable until you said “just plain dumb”. You had to throw that in and completely ruin the post and re-set my opinion of you back to none.

Sorry if this ends up going through twice.

Gosh, I came so close to having lobley hold a non-none opinion of me, but I blew it. Curses.

Unfortunately, there’s no way to start a thread and plausibly add “by the way, though some of you might get hostile, try not to get too hostile.” There’s no strict demarcation point. Blatant ad hominem attacks are easy to spot (and the moderators keep an eye out for such things), but there are ways to disagree with someone while subtly implying he must be some kind of idiot. If you want to avoid all of that, you’d have to ban irony and sarcasm in your thread. Good luck.

I think it really depends on how much people care about the subject matter, and the amount of passion involved. Debating topics that tend to be relatively dry will usually stay pretty calm on both sides, until something that a person will hotly disagree with comes in. An example is debating monetary reform, and then denegrating into a discussion of politicians and whether they are doing anything positive in this way.

Note: Stating an unpopular view as fact is one of the best ways to gain hostility.

Well now, there’s a stooooopid question.

Netbrian, that is a good note: “Stating an unpopular view as fact is one of the best ways to gain hostility.”

Lotsa times when the argument is fairly one-sided and somebody refuses to concede, well, let me put it this way, who judges the outcome of the debate? Nobody comes in and says, “You brought up some irrefutable points, so despite being outnumbered, you win.” Once consensus (sp?) is found, and it’s not an issue that divides the crowd 50-50, somebody’s gonna get hurt. That is almost inevitable. When it’s a fairly even debate, it only gets hostile when somebody says something flagrantly rude. I think sarcasm and wit are respected among most debaters here. When people start to feel hopelessly outnumbered (often from not realizing that their arguments are poorly organized), or when they feel vainglorious, I’d say 75% of the time it is inevitable that hostilities will arise.

I always root for the underdog, even if I disagree with him. But I hate when the underdog can do nothing more than whine like a whipped dog and all his / arguments are forgotten because he / she said something nasty.

It happens all too often…fodder for the Pit. I think maybe we should start a thread on “How to Debate.” Not etiquette or anything, just how to make a decent set of arguments, so that when people lose arguments they might be able to see a few reasons for WHY they lost. Mobocracy sucks, and cowering is pitiful.

I’m rather disappointed in the increased level of Ad Hominem that we seem to have witnessed in GD of late.

Go back to your Kingdom of Butter, Mr. Wet-Blanket Mangetout!

(gratuitous ad hominem, couldn’t help but toss one in. It’s the weekend and I’m in a jovial mood)