The Ethics of Great Debates

Sorry about the topic line, I couldn’t resist. :slight_smile:

But seriously, as a relative newcomer, it seems that the truly Great Debates have already been had, and if one is brought back up, a usual response is, oh, we already covered that. (Ok, I haven’t done my homework to back this up, but it seems to be the case.) So we are left with some what decent debates.

It’s not how you pick your nose, it’s where you put the boogers

A lot of the old topics will be brought up again and again as we gain new members and some of the older members wander away. There are also recurring debates as issues again become topical in the media.

For instance, I have seen 10 or so gun control/2nd Amendment debates here in the past months. Nearly all of them have been pretty hotly contested.

And there are also different flavors of the same great debates. Even if the topics are basically the same (Gun control) you can debate different facets (If you could create US guns laws regardless of the Constitution, what would they be? Or- if you had to lead an army against the Dominion, would you rather have Picard or Kirk in charge?).

I would prefer Janeway.

Why can’t the peaceful honest members of the Dominion live free of Federation coercion?

Personally, I don’t see a problem with covering the same ground again. We have new posters all the time, as you point out. Why not give them a shot at some of these topics? Maybe they can bring some new insight and perspective to the topic at hand.

Problem is, some (not all) of the long-time posters seem to have an almost proprietary view of the board. (Psychologically, it’s understandable, but I hope they recognize how annoying the haughtiness can be.) There seems to be some subtle (and some not-so-subtle) resentment of newcomers, which is sometimes displayed in a manner reminiscent of the way high school seniors sneer at freshmen. (And frankly, just about the same maturity level is involved.)

Hey long-timers: why not let some of the more recent initiates discuss topics of interest without all the condescending asides. If you have already dicussed the topic, then don’t post to the renewed debate. But please don’t dismiss the debate with an icy “We’ve already discussed that.”

While we’re on the subject, I vote to abolish post counts, as they seem to pass for insignia of rank around here. :slight_smile:


Seriously, I don’t mean to rant, and I hope my comments will be accepted as constructive criticism, and not as a flame.

I don’t know that many people do, in philosophical debates at any rate. The way I’ve seen it has been more like “This topic has been discussed in these threads, read them and you might get a few new ideas or links to use in the current discussion.” And some people, like Polycarp often reopen old, nearly-dead threads if a current discussion raises pertinent issues.

Of course, urban legends, trolls and tired knee-jerk fundie lies are often dismissed with a “I debunked this once, I’m not going to do it again, here’s the link.” Which I think is certainly appropriate.

Have you seen any serious discussion dismissed out of hand like that? Just because I haven’t seen it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist, but I’m interested in seeing who’s being a jerk.

As to the resentment of newbies, you’re right. There are a few people who feel a little superior based on their seniority. As you say, understandable and sometimes regrettable. But I have yet to encounter any group, online or IRL, in which that is not the case. Learn the rules, lurk for a while, post appropriately, and the newbie label washes right off. Witness Bricker, Felice, Dirt, just to name a couple off the top of my head. It sounds cheesy, but we were all newbies once.

I agree with the post count complaint, too. But that’s mainly because I don’t want people to know just how pitiful my life is.


I concur on spoke’s post.

However, to avoid rehashing the same misconceptions, it is often useful to refer people to previous threads on the same general topic. A number of regulars graciously did this for me when I was a newbie, and I’ve tried to pass the custom on.

It’s in how it’s said: A snide “We’ve already discussed that” is rude; a “Some of what you ask was debated in the Great God Debate, Part XLVIII, at this URL” gives background that would not otherwise be available without extensive reading of old posts (especially with the tendency threads here have of winding their way past every conceivable remotely related topic).

I appreciate the responses. My intent with the OP was not to suggest that you crusty old timers [/tongue-in-cheek] don’t take newbies seriously, rather, to discuss the staleness of GD. True, there are rehashes of topics, but how many truly Great Debates are there? Or am I too picky in defining great?

Speaking as a “newbie” (man, what a nauseating term), in my experience so far, all of the “long-time posters” have treated my ideas with respect and consideration. They may disagree (vociferously!) with my ideas, but they have never even hinted that my recent arrival denies me the opportunity to comment.

If I do bring something up, and there is another thread that covers the same topic, I don’t see how it’s disrespectful to point me to that discussion.

I’ve been on the Internet since before there was an Internet. I have seen all sorts of rude, disrespectful, and scarily insane behavior on the net. Happily, those negative qualities are almost absent from this board, and, where present, are quite mild in comparison to other venues.

To all you long-timers, moderatators, and to the ennobling influence of Mr. Adams himself: RAH!

He’s the sort to stand on a hilltop in a thunderstorm wearing wet copper armor, shouting ‘All Gods are Bastards!’

Suck up.

What a newbie thing to do.


The best lack all conviction
The worst are full of passionate intensity.


It got that big? Damn! I knew I shoulda popped in more often in those days. So, who won?

Well, y’know, what with Ken gone and all. . .

Actually, as andros already pointed out, most of the folk (that I’ve seen, anyway) try to be helpful in pointing someone toward another thread that may cover the topic at hand. But when people come in with things like fundie stories that have already been debunked, well, then they get what they deserve. IMHO, you understand.

Flick Lives!

Ok, with one exception! :rolleyes:


Mom always said I was exceptional.

BigDaddy said:

Sorry, I would reply, but we’ve already had this discussion a few months ago…