Hi. I'm new and I want to know how to debate and engage in conversations on the internet

I’m not sure if this is the right place to post this. I read the sticky, so it seems appropriate.

I’m not really good at socializing on the internet. I’ve been on the internet for a very long time, but I spend most of my time just lurking. It’s really hard for me to discuss on the on the internet. I have so many questions, yet I don’t know how ask them properly so I just give up asking the questions. I’ve never been involved in a debate or a long conversation. Every time I do post something it is usually just a sentence or two and it’s usually something stupid or lacked substance. I can’t even troll good.

I just want to express myself on the internet. I really want to contribute to a discussion, I really want to be part of something. I wanna be a well informed guy who can engage in debate and discussions. I just feel like I’m ignorant and don’t have a voice. In real life I’m able to socialize normally. I don’t know why I’m like this on the internet.

I’m even struggling to make this thread. It’s like I don’t even know what I want. :smack:

Well, you just gotta put yourself out there. You can’t make an omelette unless you break some eggs. Really, all you need to know to be a good poster are these things:
[li]The more you interact, the easier it will become.[/li][li]Don’t worry about looking or saying something stupid.[/li][li]Keep an open mind.[/li][li]Don’t be a jerk.[/li][/ul]

Don’t worry about not being able to “troll good”. The Mods take a dim view of it here.

Just watch for a little while and see how others interact. Don’t try and be anything special- you won’t be. And avoid the Pit until you are used to the way the board works.

And remember there are some very strange people on the Internet.

Very strange.

Don’t make assertions based on “This guy told me that…” or “Everybody knows that…” If you state something as fact and it may be off-the-wall, someone here will demand a cite, and you’d better have a link to back you up. Nobody wants to debate with someone who just pulls “facts” out of thin air or bodily orifices.

And don’t ask very basic questions that are easily Googled. Some folks can get really snarky about that, and others just get irritated.

I’m not much for debate, but facts will take you a long way in any exchange. Well, except for exchanges with idiots - idiots don’t care about facts. :wink:


Thar be dragons here.

Just kidding. I’m fairly new to The Dope (although old hat on the Internet) and found it to be refreshingly full of straightforward and smart people, no bullies and few trolls. I have the opposite problem from you: Im good on the web and suck at face to face discussions. Anyway here are some tips that will help you out with Internet forums of all kinds:

  1. Don’t be so thin skinned that if someone disagrees with you politely that you get all defensive. That will make people pile on ya because nobody likes overly delicate little snowflakes and it becomes a sport to make you ragequit. I’ve seen this happen in many places and its hard to have any sympathy with whiners who go “you’re allllllll soooo meaaannnnn to meeeee!” There’s a difference between standing up for yourself and being a whiner.

  2. Be aware that it’s hard to properly read mood and tone in written language so you have to make a little extra effort to use the right words. Terseness tends to read as cranky or rude so err on the side of using a few more words to accurately say what you mean.

  3. Be aware of 2 when reading other people’s posts so that you don’t do 1. Ask for clarification before writing a pissy response.


Welcome, MassDebater!

I thought you did an OK job of asking a question. And I do think it’s like you don’t even know what you want, which is fine. Perhaps you know you’re missing something and don’t know exactly what it is to ask for it. You’ll recognize it when you’re getting it, though.

How much do you really want to debate? Instead, how about sharing the journey of figuring things out, like most of us are doing most of the time? How about asking people whether you understand them right, or asking them to tell you more about something they said?

When you read each of these responses, what is it making you think?



When you start a thread seeking advice, make sure you return to the thread periodically, to thank posters for their suggestions.

I don’t want to be a politician or something. I just wanna hold my ground when someone debates me on something controversial or anything for that matter. Sometimes it’s really hard for me to think for myself. I just wanna do something else other than just lurking all day. It gets really boring at times just looking around on the internet.

I want to learn about a lot of things, but it’s just I’m overwhelmed by a lot of the information that is on the internet. Some of the articles I read could be untrue or be biased.

Also, thank you guys for helping me. I really appreciate it.

Great user name.

Simple then -

Bring facts and if not citations be prepared to get them when asked.

Bring logic.

Listen to what the other side is saying and respond to the points made without being a jerk.

Acknowledge when you are shown to be wrong … very hard for many of us but pretty universally respected. Silence after being shown to be wrong is pathetic. Defensiveness is worse.

Don’t take the bait that will be dangled; in general respond to jerks with polite demolition of their arguments. If you cannot contain how pissed off a jerk makes you feel then bring it to the Pit but please no weak ass pittings. Those backfire on you more often than not.

And have fun!

Don’t post everything you type. About 30% of the time, I read my message, and think “meh.” And cancel.

That is a problem for me. I usually take a very long time post something because I’m thinking so much. I’m always so worried about what I type.

Also, anymore advice would be great. I’m reading everything here and hopefully I can use this advice when I’m posting around other boards around the internet. Thank you, everyone.

Thinking for a long time before you post something can only be a good thing. :wink:

Good questions; probably the best way to learn is to just keep posting. Remember that opinions aren’t facts; you can certainly post opinions, but make sure you phrase them that way. An example would be, “I don’t think that drivers are trained well enough.” Posting it as a fact would be, “Drivers aren’t trained well enough.” Another poster is likely to ask you why you don’t think drivers are trained well enough in the first example; then you give your reasons. In the second example, someone would probably ask you for statistics to back up your claim. A debate is a give-and-take; be aware of what you’re putting out there, and what people will ask you for in return.

And just keep on posting;sometimes post even when you aren’t sure it’s a good idea. That might give you an idea of what not to do, and why. :slight_smile:


If you really want to debate, our Great Debates forum is a great place to do that…but you might want to take it slow if you go there; it can be a scary place. If you stick around MPSIMS and IMHO, you can break yourself in in slightly more forgiving surroundings.

The above is good advice.

IME an idea cannot be clearly expressed until it is clearly thought thru. If you can put an idea clearly, it will be pretty clear what needs to be supported with cites.

Some people are going to nitpick you. Don’t bother with them. Some people are going to misinterpret you. Don’t bother with them either.

Never underestimate the power of humor. A witty saying may prove nothing, but it sure makes it more interesting to read your posts.

And of course, you need a good sign off.


Assume everyone who has a different viewpoint than you has some kind of moral or cognitive failure that can be corrected with verbal abuse

Use threads as a way to validate your pre-existing views rather than a way to expand your mind. Ignore critics, focus solely on those who cement pre-existing beliefs

Assume every female you meet is interested in you sexually, but will not respond unless you are very persistent.

There is a power law about internet culture. 90% lurk, 9% respond to others contributions but only 1% create material on their own.


Why are you looking at me when you typed that? :smiley:

And a hearty Welcome to MassDebater!