In pure theory (I’m one of the inexplicably non-Pitted):
To survive a Pitting in the strictest sense, avoid doing anything banworthy however you handle your defense. For some personalities, this makes not responding at all the best option. (There’s scattered examples of moments of clarity where someone realized they shouldn’t be in the Pit at all anymore, and far more examples of meltdowns ending in ye olde Banned tag.)
Beyond that, this is what I personally use in choosing which scorecard to hold up:
1: degree of reasonableness (note: a passionate defense is not the opposite of reasonableness, necessarily–it just increases the chances of people losing control of the fire hose).
2: honesty. Everything a poster has said, good and bad, not counting Winter of Missed Content (and come to that, that content may very well be findable on Boardreader or such), is out there on record. If you insist you didn’t say something, make pretty damn sure it’s something you didn’t say.
3: Never, under any circumstances, say “I’m done with this thread!” (or variant) and then (inevitably) return to posting in it. It’s like preparing for a fight by punching yourself in the groin.
4: Avoid drama. “Drama” here in the sense of something you’d be embarassed to read a year down the road.
5: If you feel the need to start mucking about with font size settings, stop right there and just stay offline for at least a day. Take walks instead. Read a book. Watch TV. Call up a friend you haven’t spoken with for awhile. Because the long arm of the Law of 72 will break your wrist if you try to arm-wrestle it.
6: Oliver Cromwell has a justifiably famous quote: “I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible that you may be mistaken.” When things are heated and in the Pit, perceptions color, and lack of clarity of sight is a self-stoking cycle.
7: Let truth prevail over victory. If you’re in the wrong, apologize. Don’t try to be clever or funny about apologizing, just do so simply and clearly. Some won’t accept it, and some will fall all over themselves congratulating you on your class–don’t put much investment into either group, and work on the latter apology-stage that usually gets overlooked–that being improvement.
Some of those points overlap. And they’re just factors in how I personally will judge a “winner” of a Pitting–others will vary. For instance, some will judge you entirely on how cleverly you can swear at someone, and following the points above won’t serve you well at all with them.