My Facebook Etiquite


If you are my friend on Facebook, or even a friend of a friend, you have probably seen me making an argument either with you or someone else. The same goes almost anywhere I am found. I’ve already written about why I argue. I thought I’d take a moment to discuss the etiquette I try to follow when doing so.

Times I say nothing

Discretion and restraint are definitely virtues. But I’m committed to challenging peoples ideas and to sharing mine as part of who I am as a social person. So the task falls to me, when to argue, and when to shut up. Here are the reasons I try to use to remain silent.

  1. Don’t argue about something I don’t know anything about (read/research first, argue later)
  2. Don’t argue with people who are expressing grief and pain in their personal lives or because of someone close to them
  3. Don’t argue if other people have already got my point of view well covered in the discussion (unless they are outnumbered)
  4. Don’t argue when I just want to hear the sound of my own “voice”
  5. Don’t argue if I can’t identify a good reason to be arguing
  6. Allow the topic to change if someone changes it away from a point of contention
  7. Stop arguing when someone tells me they don’t want to argue anymore with me
  8. Stop arguing when I can tell someone is really upset and angry (which I’m rather bad at detecting)
  9. Stop arguing when the discussion starts going in circles or I have nothing of substance to add
  10. Stop arguing when I am no longer enjoying the discussion or am getting truly angry
  11. Stop arguing when someone has conceded or bowed out

Rules I try to Argue By

I’m sure I’ve broken all of these rules at one point or another. Anyone who strives to do something well has to accept that they have made, are making, and will make lots of mistakes. And you have to try to stop making them even though you know you will never fully succeed.

  1. Don’t call people names because I am angry.
  2. I fully read what someone else has to say, and do any needed research so that you understand it before I start to reply.
  3. Read what I wrote before I post it. (About a third of what I write never gets posted because I think better of it.)
  4. Try to imagine how what I said will be received before I post it and if that is not my intent.
  5. If I am arguing a point of objective fact, I try to provide a link for it so people can read about it themselves.
  6. I try to match the tone of the people I am arguing with to some degree, especially in a longer exchange.
  7. Try to find some common ground where I can explicitly mention points of agreement, and concede points where I am proven wrong.
  8. If I change my view in the course of a debate, that’s a good thing! Don’t fight it, revel in learning something new.
  9. Apologize if I offered offense and didn’t want to cause offense.
  10. If I am not sure what someone thinks, ask a question before trying to rebuttal them.
  11. Focus on what I think, what I feel, and how I see things, not what others think, feel, or observe.
  12. Never try to put words or ideas into my opponent’s mouth. Don’t tell them what they think, they know that better than I do.
  13. I try to close with something positive or to let people have the last say if it has been a good discussion.
  14. I try to be honest and straight forward.
  15. Foolish is a better word than stupid most of the time, and often much more accurate.
  16. Never be dismissive of others views, take them seriously.
  17. When someone posts falsehoods, focus on the idea that others are lying to them, rather than that they are lying to me.
  18. If I want someone to be persuaded, I need to do the work to persuade them. I never tell anyone to “go look it up.” unless it is a topic too complicated for me to explain. And if I do, I provide a link to get started with the reading.
  19. I try to realize when someone is making a joke (and often fail).

Best thing to remember

If my arguing bothers you, please just tell me and I promise I will stop.



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