Suggestions for Improving Debate in Comments
Is it just me, or are there an awful lot of comments lately whose main point is just to "stir something up" -- to sort of bait other commenters.
Other commenters have the choice of taking the bait (giving them exactly what they wanted) or leaving something they violently disagree with (or something genuinely offensive) unanswered.
If you think there's some truth to my initial perception, does anyone have any thoughts about how to deal with this?
I had one thought: Treat the comment as a kind of first draft. Reply with something like, "Can you make your argument without defaming your opponent, making reckless generalizations about everyone who ever attended an Ivy League university or doing psychic psychoanalysis of other commenters?" or "'Poor blacks suck' is simply a slur, not a comment worthy of serious discussion. If you can make an intellectually serious claim, we'll talk."
Then the commenter has been answered, but not in a way that really takes the bait, and other commenters who feel the same way as the first commenter can safely ignore any further vitriol, and the commenter will either produce a better comment or just give up.
Ideally, I suppose the Comment Nanny could be the one to post responses of this type, but if that doesn't happen, maybe we commenters could try. I suppose the big danger is that if we do it, the argument then is in danger of descending into an equally virulent spat at the meta-level.
Maybe it wouldn't work -- other suggestions/comments welcome. It's certainly possible that the majority of commenters enjoy the combat more than I do. Maybe I'm trying to solve a non-problem.