I ran into the SDMB by accident yesterday and was immediately struck by the amount of thoughtfulness in the posts I read. All I’ve seen so far is people sharing thoughts without immediately leaping to accusations, insults and straw man arguments.
Is it possible that this might really be true? Or have I just not seen enough?
Considerate? Look around a little more. That’s all I’ll say on that…
But honestly if you want intelligent discussion on almost any topic you can think of you’ve found a home. Hope you’ll stay
ETA - look at the forum descriptions. Typically you can’t insult another poster unless it’s in the BBQ Pit
AS mentioned political threads tend to get heated. Honestly the best piece of advice is to just hang out and read a lot for a week or so to get a feel for the place.
Read the “Poster X Has Been Banned” threads in About This Message Board to see what kind of stuff will get you in trouble.
Read the BBQ Pit to see what happens when the gloves come off.
Read General Question to see some amazing answers to some far out questions.
Read Café Society for great discussions on the arts.
Read Mundane Pointless Stuff I Must Share just because it’s fun.
One more hint, and it’s a BIG one…
If you stare something as fact you better be able to back it up with a valid citation. Seriously, you would be able to say stuff like “It’s obvious!” or “Everyone knows that!”. That doesn’t fly here.
If I were you I’d read but not post in Great Debates unless you have a good grounding in logical arguments
Mostly, yes, we are considerate and thoughtful here. There are, however, quite a few people here who don’t suffer fools gladly—by which I mean, if you don’t use proper spelling and punctuation (especially if it’s out of laziness), or if you act as if you’re smarter than the rest of us and are here to set us all straight, or if you just come across as a complete crackpot, you’re going to be less than warmly welcomed here. But I don’t get the impression that any of those apply to you.
I think Thudlow mostly nailed it - we’re also not fond of people who present their opinions as facts. On the other hand, we’ll happily discuss just about any opinion you can bring to the table.
For an example, quite a few years ago, I made the mistake of talking about the terrorist attacks from Sept. 11, 2001 on a different board, and I dared to suggest that the US had upset a lot of people in the rest of the world, and some of them felt that those attacks were retaliation. I could have suggested that every poster in that thread ate shit for breakfast, kicked puppies, and was regularly screwing their mother and got less anger in response. You actually can discuss events leading up to Sept. 11th here without people losing their minds.
So, in closing, welcome to the Dope, and I hope you have a pleasant, entertaining experience here.
I’ve found more to draw me here and keep me here than any other forum I’ve happened across. I do technical work and have had some pretty good quality help in General Questions. I’m interested in politics and have seen some very interesting conversations (though I should also observe that I lean politically left and I think the board does as well, so I’m in the mainstream of SDMB political opinion). And, there is plenty of kind and caring discussion here, though of course not all of it.
Difference of opinion is cool around here, difference of evidence gets a little trickier. There are people here who argue some positions that have minimal supporting evidence, but those things tend to stand out as rare. Some folks here have long memories, and such topics will occasionally be dredged up again and again.
A wide variety of discussions and debates are possible here on the SDMB, provided that your opinions are in line with proper and agreeable thought.
It is possible to have interesting conversations about the details of gun control, provided that you are in favor of gun control.
It is possible to have interesting conversations about Global Warming or AGW, as long as you do not cross swords with the high priest and offend his religion. You will know him by his walls of text cites.
It is possible to have interesting political discussions, provided that you never identify as a leaning right at all, or heaven forbid, say that you are a Republican. Otherwise it is OK to talk about the various issues and why they are still Bush’s fault.
This place is mostly and echo chamber of correct thought. A couple of new moderators are having a very slight, positive effect to change this, but for the most part threads are moderated to reinforce correct thought.
Avoid The Pit, stay out of Great Debates and Elections, and you may find this place to be an amusing distraction, as I do.
We have Conservatives here who put up good, reasoned arguments. John Mace comes to mind. I disagree with much (most?) of his position(s); but I think most will agree that he does a good job defending them.
I’m not going to argue too strenuously against any of that. There are some things that we simply can’t have a discussion about without the people on one side shouting down the other (any discussions about the supernatural come to mind). Your advice about Great Debates is probably good; I disagree about The Pit, though. That’s the closest thing we have to honest debate at this point.
You’ll see plenty of straw man arguments here, but people tend to point them out and not put a lot of credence into them. Of course, there are always a few people who spend their days moving the goalposts trying not to be wrong, and they will claim just about anything is a straw man, even if it is exactly what they posted earlier in the thread.
As usual, Politics and Religion can get a bit contentious. You’d better be prepared to defend your position rationally and with actual facts, and ideally, to change and grow as a person when your illusions are deflated and your ill thought out positions exposed.
There are a handful of people (who you will quickly identify) who are so wrapped up in their identity politics and ideals that no amount of truth will make a dent in their ideology. Some of them will argue all month long and be wrong 90% of the time and not care. Please don’t waste your life trying to change them, just learn to walk away or use the ignore function.
Oh, and just be forewarned about The BBQ Pit. It isn’t a nice place, and we don’t want it to be.