You see a fight on the internet. The wrong side is winning. What do you do?

The obligatory xkcd

If it interests me, I’ll do extensive research, not necessarily so I can chime in, but because it’s interesting, and I just like researching stuff.

I hold some opinions that are not very well-represented or understood on the English-language internet, or by English speakers in general. So what I typically do, and this is what caused me to join most online communities I belong to (including, I’m fairly sure, the SDMB), is join the discussion to explain my position and point out how it’s being misrepresented by the other posters. I guess that’s sort of like #1, with the difference that I don’t really like fights, so once I’ve posted I’ll start getting scared of having offended somebody and I won’t dare go back and see what the response has been. I’ll spend the next few days trying to convince myself to go back (since if I just leave the debate, I basically lose by default) but usually not manage to build up the nerve to even look.

I’m sure you can find many examples of me doing exactly this on the SDMB, including one that’s current. After about a week, I’ll just roll my eyes and say internet debates are useless anyway so it’s not like not going back will change anything in real life (kind of like #10?), and anyway the discussion’s dead now. Of course, this is wrong: Russia wouldn’t be paying propaganda agents (aka “trolls”) to post in online communities if this really didn’t have any influence on the real world.

This is what I do if I believe the community in question is relatively sophisticated or at least well-established. If it’s just, say, some obscure blog’s comment section, I typically do #3, get angry and grit my teeth and maybe shout but not do anything about it.

I suppose I’m closest to option 1, but I feel it doesn’t characterize me, because I’m mostly arguing because it’s how I engage in discussions and not because I feel I can change anybody’s mind. I find debating fun for its own sake, and while I do enjoy pwning losers, my definition of a loser is a shitty debater, not somebody who merely holds a differing opinion from me.

The poll doesn’t seem to believe that people like me exist. :frowning:

I jump in and join the wrong side trying make things even worse. :cool:

Sometime I research because I like to understand things and I just hate making a mistake. Which of course happens anyway.

My approach isn’t quite covered in the options. What I try to do is construct a persuasive post, usually with only one or two ideas. Long posts simply don’t get read. No bad language, no personal attacks, and avoiding emotive terms.

Contrary to the popular belief that people on the internet are stupid, I don’t think so. Many are ordinary people from a huge range of backgrounds and their knowledge varies just as widely.

Talk to people politely and calmly and after a while, they start to listen. Essentially this is what teachers and lecturers do and it works.

I have no tolerance for abusive people and ignore such replies.

Then don’t you become one of the internet strangers?

As you do. :slight_smile:

lol (literally) So if you know the sweet old lady, you’ll be nice, but to a sweet old lady you don’t know, you slam them and then block them?

Sounds nice! Maybe you’ll share which message board this happens on. Sounds magical. :cool:

This, all too often.

I couldn’t decide how to answer the poll, because the hypothetical is so rare. A fight in the internet? Someone wrong on the internet? How often does that happen? :confused::confused::confused:


I picked 2 over 10, mainly because no one wins a fight on the internet.

My nephew sometimes gets into dust-ups on Facebook with some of his right wing friends and his aunt. I may jump in just for fun because I’m his godfather :cool:, but he’s usually winning on his own.


If it helps, if you notice my username with a poll, pretty much all the polls I do will probably be public, so you can skip the thread quicker.

I join the wrong side and pile against the other sides. Because I may have strong opinions, but I’m a coward at heart.

None of the above, I just post a calm and hopefully reasoned response and move on.

Twenty years ago, I’d have done 1) in a flash: using my awesome knowledge and impeccable erudition to put the idiots on the wrong side in their place.

But by the early 2000’s I had enough evidence that in hindsight, I came across in those discussions, as yet another stupid, foaming at the mouth, raving internet lunatic, bereft of any of the above mentioned attributes I’d previously believed about myself.

so now I shrug my shoulders and leave well alone.

The issue with people I know is not that I know them, but that they know me. And they may know other people who know me. There is a social cost involved that I must weigh against my duty to fight back against evil things like Trump’s propaganda.

And you seem to have failed to notice that I specifically said she’s clearly not a nice old lady anymore. She’s a raging Trumphead, constantly posting hateful memes and lashing out at people who disagree with her.

I have no reason to get into heated debates with a “sweet old lady,” let alone wind up having to tell her off (what I assume you mean by “slam”). Hell, that still applies if you take away the “old lady” part.

I do see a reason to deal with Trump’s lies and nonsense, especially when it’s particularly hateful and evil. And, if I’m anonymous, there is basically no downside for me other than the time spent writing it. If I’m not, then there are other factors at play.

Other situations may be more or less important.

I’m ashamed that it took 20 replies for this to be posted here.

If it makes you feel better, I considered putting it in the OP. But the OP was pretty busy already, so I didn’t. I did think about it though.

Okay, I checked #10. What I actually do is post a quick summary of my own views on the subject, perhaps reply to some of the responses I get (if any), then get on with my life. I’ve made it a hard rule not to let any exchange go on for more than twenty four hours or five posts, whichever comes first. The authors of overtly hostile posts go on ignore with any notification.

I’m 66. Whatever time I’ve got left is too short to let jerks on the internet aggravate me.