The topic has been rehashed to death already, but these diaries, written over the past 2 years, are still pretty much relevant:
Beyond the text below, I’d like to note one thing: there is nothing that will frustrate a bully more than unflailing civility in the face of continuous aggressivity. Civility actually is very satisfying in fights.
As per the last of the 3 diaries linke to above:
Armando consistently fights the hypocrisy of those that call for civility and restraint in comments but are unable to follow their own rules, something that I fully agree with. He also thinks that there is no need real for civility in discussions and that we’re all big boys (and girls) who should be able to take it and dish it without taking things too personally. His position is that sharp disagreements, immediate and abrupt note of inconsistencies, errors or stupidity help bring out the facts faster and weeds out the fluff. I disagree with him on the specific point that this need not be done politely, as I think that if you really are civil, people will listen to you more than if you are brusque or confrontational. I do agree that inconsitencies, errors or stupidity should be noted.
But what I’d like to point out, as CanYouBeAngyAndStillDream, is that a combination of the two approaches can be highly effective.
For a very long time, I was wary of discussing anything with Armando. I was already a well known kossack, and yet I dreaded entering any thread wehre he was present. Part of it was avoiding the hassle of being subjected to relentless pressure to justify whatever I’d have written, and part of it was the difficulty to conduct a dialogue when any error is noticed, used against you and to distract you.
I eventually did join discussions with him, but I did it in a way that would limit the possibility for him to not respond on what I hoped he would respond, i.e. by avoiding errors, ambiguities or loose ends. He forced me to think hard about what I wrote, so as not to give him easy openings. He forced me to be precise, either in what I stated, or in what I asked of him. He sharpened my arguments.
And he responded in kind – still probing, pushing, and pounding whenever he could, but also genuinely responding to questions and acknowledging points when they deserved it. And we got serious dialogue going. The signal-to-noise ratio is pretty damn good between us, I think.
So, take it like this: Armando does not like noise, and he will scream at noise (yeah – irony alert. But this is the core point). Do not give him the opportunity to scream. Do not generate noise. Do not write fluff. Don’t be inconsistent. Don’t write in bad faith. Be sharp. And drop your pride offsite.
Because, let’s face it, what makes the quality of this site is, as I’ve droned on and on about many times already, is because the information is vetted. That does not mean that all writing on the side is good, far from it, but that the community is able to identify the good writing, flag the bad or the ugly or the false, and the good stuff is thus supposed to be more visible than the bad one. And Armando is part of that vetting process. The more people know that their bullshit will be called, whether in polite tones or in vicious retorts, the less noise we’ll have.
(As an aside, that’s why “response diaries”, which annoy many – why yet another diary on a topic that has already generated a lot of comments? – are actually useful, because they allow for the information beaten to death in earlier diaries to be summarised, re-used and brought to the community in a smarter form, thereby contributing directly to the vetting process).
Where I differ with Armando is that I think that the brash replies can create more noise, because they cause those people that are not willing to take the heat to huff and puff and feel (to some extent with justification) victimized, thereby allowing them a whiny out from the debate on substance. But their ability to create more noise (which triggers more reaction from Armando, naturally) does not mean that they were right.
So the lesson is simple: be smart, and find ways to use Armando’s sharpness to your advantage. Remember: he’s shouting at the noise, not at you. Hone your aguments, improve your writing, and learn how to keep cool! It works.