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Benfea's Avatar

03.13.2012 , 08:56 PM | #8
I am part of another message board, which I will not name for fear of instigating a debate that has nothing to do with what I want to discuss in this thread.

This particular message board is very heavily and rigorously moderated. I thought I would hate such an environment, but the discussions there are surprisingly deep and informative despite touching on topics that frequently make people, well, touchy.

One of the main ways this is achieved is that the moderators there vigorously enforce one rule above all others, something that comes from scientific debates and which is generally not seen in debates among the general public: always attack the IDEA, but never the PERSON.

At this message board, any and all attacks on ideas are permissible, even fairly vicious attacks. However, the moment anyone steps over the line even a tiny bit into personal attacks, that person gets slapped hard by the moderators. I have been slapped quite a few times for crossing that line (I am part of the majority view there, so my perception is not just the result of an insular community expressing content-bias), and instead of getting mad for getting slapped, I really do appreciate it for the results the moderators there are able to achieve.

We cannot force the moderators here to moderate a certain way (it may even be unethical to try), but we can offer constant reinforcement within threads by encouraging people to attack ideas and not the people presenting the ideas. If we can enforce this rigorously enough, I truly believe it will have a large effect on the quality of discussions here.
"It's great to be known, but it's even better to be known as strange."
-Takeshi Kaga