I'm going to keep this short because I don't want to wall-of-text everyone.
So a debate arose in the gay rights thread over whether a certain individual was "concern trolling" or not.
I think the forum-goers in general (not just on Penny-Arcade) have gotten a little too obsessed with two things:
a) Rhetoric, at the expense of real discourse.
b) Dismissal, at the expense of any
When I say rhetoric, I'm talking about all those fallacies, verbal gambits, misdirection, and whatnot that people employ for their amusement.
Sometimes, people really just aren't reasonable, but it seems like lately a lot of people just pick a role in a conversation and try to fill that role as much as possible using any rhetorical gambits they can effectively employ. Strawmanning seems to be a big one here lately, and it's equally divided I think between people actually strawmanning and people just accusing people. Sometimes people just misunderstand each other
. Why jump to accusations right away? Even if you're right, accusing someone of strawmanning you doesn't really elevate the discourse. It usually
just turns the conversation into a lesson on what strawmanning is. It turns half the thread into pedants while the rest attack or defend each other over whether or not what was said was a strawman argument. I've seen "strawman, I wasn't saying that" "oh yes you were" "oh no I wasn't" and so on for pages. Same goes for a number of other criticisms hurled at people for their rhetoric.
When I say dismissal, I am talking about ad hominem, character assassination, feigned indignation, godwinning (moer like godlosing amirite?), meme spamming, and the like.
Sometimes, one's dismissal of another poster as a troll or whatever may be valid. Some people very obviously troll. Some people just share a widely different mindset, though. Even if someone is a troll, even if someone is lying, when it started to become a fad to automatically leap to dismissal, general conversation really started to take a nosedive.
It's also become common nature to bring up something someone said years ago to criticize what they are saying now
. I have no problem doing that with politicians who are being voted into office, but your average forum poster can and probably will evolve over the course of his life. There's no reason to take someone to task for a bit of excessive ignorance they had three years ago. People learn. I think expecting that someone is forever the same is a pretty giant fallacy in itself.
Anyway, don't get me wrong. "You're just a troll, gofuk" has been a thing on the 'net for a very long time. I just think it's about 10x more prevalent now. Maybe 100x, I don't know.
I guess my general point here is that I think we've all gotten into this habit of dismissing each other for the slightest perceived verbal injustice, including the remotest possibility of introducing a tiny logical fallacy. Sometimes people are just illogical. Not everyone is so intelligent and malicious that they are constantly trying to manipulate the conversation with rhetoric.
I think it does more to harm to discourse than not. If we just keep dismissing everyone who says anything slightly stupid, it makes conversation a grueling, combative activity. Maybe it's fun on some vindictive level, but it doesn't actually promote conversation, even if your criticisms and dismissals are wholly valid.
Can't we all just get along? (rhetorical question: of course we can't)
Anyway, I am not pointing a finger at anyone in particular here, and god knows I'm probably one of the biggest offenders of all the above. I hope people take this topic rather lightheartedly. I just wanted to see what people thought of present general discussion culture, and not necessarily just on D&D or PA, but on other forums as well.