What do you wish you saw more of online debate?


FB wars and Twitter battles are great marketing but useless for debate. No one changes their mind. People just watch it for the drama. This beautiful article by Maria Popova talks about online debate and how to criticize with kindness. In it, she lists 4 rules of debate that philosopher Daniel Dennet came up with, to steer clear of not belittling other people’s arguments.

  1. You should attempt to re-express your target’s position so clearly, vividly, and fairly that your target says, “Thanks, I wish I’d thought of putting it that way.
  2. You should list any points of agreement (especially if they are not matters of general or widespread agreement).
  3. You should mention anything you have learned from your target.
  4. Only then are you permitted to say so much as a word of rebuttal or criticism.

What are other things/good practices you wish you saw more of in debate?

More “good point. didn’t even think of that” style comments
People listing 1 thing they changed their mind on at the end of the debate


More humanity + empathy. Humans want to be heard, to be seen. It’s not enough to bring all the data and facts to the table if you don’t see the other person. Harder to do in an online setting.

More specifically, rather than jumping into a refutal with others online, what if we started all debates with a question e.g. how did you arrive at that? Where are you coming from? instead of jumping to make a point right away.


100%. Reminds me of this quote.

“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” - Stephen R. Covey