Internet arguments - Does anything good ever come out of them?

It’s often repeated that winning an Internet argument (IA) is like winning the special Olympics; you’re still retarded.

Have you ever gained from participating or reading an IA?

Are IA particularly unproductive as opposed to arguments outside Internet? If so, why?
I remember having a disagreement with someone on a blog where we both had incompatible opinions and not feeling any hostility. Someone even remarked out civil we were. What can enable that?

Shut your festering gob, you tit! Your type really makes me puke, you vacuous, coffee-nosed, maloderous pervert!!!

Alright, alright, you’ve established yourselves as smartasses. Now make informative comments so that the “smart” stands out more than the latter part.

I’ve always believed that, for some, arguing is a game of sorts. For example, I enjoy playing chess, so whenever an opportunity presents itself, I’ll ask those around me if anyone fancies a game. Likewise for those who enjoy arguing, they’ll pick (or particpate in) an arguement simply for the enjoyment of it all.

I have an uncle who, no shit, will argue the most ridiculous thing just for the sake of having an arguement. If you tell him the sun is shining he’ll try to convince you that it’s actually cloudy.

Is your uncle my wife?

Sure. You generally can’t really “win” an argument - but the process of arguing is certainly valuable: it makes one muster one’s facts and logic in support of one point or another (a good thing in and of itself). Also, even if one is too invested in an argument to admit defeat, often a hotly-argued case can result in a gradual changing of mind at some later date.

Amusement. And sometimes useful or interesting information.

More useful if anything*; someone arguing in real life isn’t likely to provide you with the equivalent to a cite leading to an interesting article, say.

  • That’s barring arguments that are “more productive” just because even now more important matters tend to be conducted in person not online.

I had an ongoing argument with someone on Topix recently. The guy just was not buying the facts. I got to the point where it was useless to respond so I made a final point and said “peace out.” The person was good with that and said he was happy to have had the discussion. This is rare, but seemed very worthwhile at the time.

I’ve had a number of arguments on the internet that I found very useful for any number of reasons. As mentioned above, having to muster my points and provide adequate cites forced me to better study and understand my own subject matter, got me much more familiar with the opposing point of view, and generally made me far more familiar with the subject matter than any real world argument ever could.

And, hey, if the person on the other side of the argument is getting demonstratively upset and frustrated by my continuing to not be swayed by their point of view, that just makes it fun. :smiley:

A lot can come out of reading them. Not so much by getting too involved with them.

Which is why most people lurk rather than participate heavily.


Key differentiators of Internet Argument vs. IRL -

[li]Cites and links to more information - can’t be done effectively IRL[/li][li]Ability to refer back to exactly what was said/posted - can’t be done effectively IRL[/li][li]Ability to just lurk and read and learn - less effective IRL, see #1 & #2[/li][li]Anonymity - for all the good and bad reasons we know[/li][li]Writing a post/blog enforces an organizational aspect that spoken language does not. Your thoughts must be more coherently stated online.[/li][/ol]

I have definitely been influenced and educated by Internet Arguments. So, yes, good can come from them.