Courtesy Asa Style In Discourse

Consider the extraction from another page on the subject of online community, style and communication. It points out that rudeness and inappropriate comment are out of place in a considerate and polite community. There are appropriate ways to disagree with someone without resorting to an attack strategy.

The observation is both thoughtful and in good taste:

Some online communities have communication rules equivalent to and feel like a small private party, some communities are similar to discussions on a street market, some can be likened to public gatherings where people get on a soap-box and shout out their opinions.

When I visualize the discussions on Wiki, I think of groups of people standing around in small clusters during the pauses of a professional, very high-level conference, with people wandering from group to group. Some discussions are more learned and serious, others playful chit-chat.

Despite the occasional playfulness, people tend to be somewhat careful not to say anything too stupid or not to embarrass themselves. Why? Because they know that most groups are likely to contain at least one of the speakers of the conference, or some well-known book author, or professor, or highly respected practitioner, or...

Imagine such a group, where one person voices his opinion on a certain topic. Some agree with him, some don't - but it's an interesting point, and the way it was presented gets a chuckle out of a few listeners.

Now somebody else gets up, raises his voice, denounces the opinion of the first person, and accuses him of intolerance and intellectual dishonesty. Discussions around die down, people look at each other in embarrassed silence. One or two volunteers step forward and try to mediate between the opposite opinions, others try to carefully hint at the second person that he could phrase his opinions more diplomatically. But nothing helps, the mood is broken, and most people shortly excuse themselves and leave for other discussions.

In a nutshell, that's how the incident felt to me, and possibly to others. I hope this little analogy can help you to understand some of the reactions that you may have encountered on Wiki, and to understand that these reactions were not directed against you as a person, but rather at preserving a certain style of discourse. -- FalkBruegmann

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