What in the heck is an InfoMullet?
A wondrously coiffed post. Business like and trimmed up top with just the information you need to understand what’s going on and then, down the back, a long mane of context with additional nuance and perspective.
What are the rules for commenting?
I’m asking everyone to adhere, or try, to the principles of the community of letters: openness, transparency, and full citation of evidence. Everyone will be logged in via one of their social media logins so anonymous posting will be limited. (If your preferred social login is not available contact me.) In addition to these principles, I’ve found in the 20 years of doing this that some habits help keep things in order:
- Avoid inflammatory drive-bys – single line attacks or meme postings. If you have a thought – write it out. Put it in a paragraph. Phrase it in a way that invites discussion. But just dropping a single line of “yeah this sucks” or linking in a meme picture adds no value. There are many places on social media for you to do that; this is not one of them.
- Keep it civil, argue the idea not the person. If you disagree with someone – state how you disagree with their idea or concept. Virtue or vice arguments: “people who think that way only do because they’re evil” is proof of shoddy reasoning.
- Use this space to improve your arguments. Employ reason and persuasion. Write our your thoughts, don’t rely on memes. Avoid logical fallacies. Avoid just pointing out logical fallacies. Expose the fallacies through your own reasoning and examples of how they fail. If you can debate well here, you will crush out there.
- Vulgarity should be kept around PG-13. Occasional swear words are bound to happen. But keep it to a minimum, and never in reference to another person. Linking of anything rated R or higher will absolutely not be tolerated.
- Debate in earnest. If the only purpose of your comment is to slyly call another poster an idiot without them noticing – trust us – the rest of us notice. And it speaks more about you than it does the person you are replying to. Debating in earnest doesn’t mean you’re open to having your mind changed; it means you’re earnest about the exchange of ideas.
- Leverage sources but don’t forget to employ reason. Citing a CDC report that may make your point is one thing. Citing it and explaining briefly *how* it supports your point and putting it in context is another thing altogether.
- Be prepared. This is not an echo chamber. A friend of mine who is an expert on protocol and etiquette, Jay the Barbarian, expounds on this:
I’m enough of a historian to know my ancestors invented manners because being constantly ready to hit your dinner guests in the face with an ax is an exhausting pain in the ass.
Attacked ideas become stronger.
Attacked people just get angry.
Throwing out an idea is cool, just expect it to get picked apart like a deboned chicken by the crowd. And that includes my ideas. Flaws spotted in a corner of facebook are flaws that aren’t exploited later. Yeah, it’s a little disconcerting when someone throws a lit cigarette on your house of straw, but it beats having the big bad wolf blow it down later.
But while ideas are fair game, people are to be left alone.
- It doesn’t always have to be an argument! Comments of reaction, general conversation, sharing information etc. are all encouraged as well.
- Know when to walk away. If all else fails and you’re just ready to reach through your monitor and strangle someone. Take a break. Simply write:
Thank you for the discussion, I think we’ll have to agree to disagree and please have a good day.
Or some variation of your personal preference. That’s the signal the conversation is over from your perspective. And just walk away. You’ll have left in grace. If you see someone else do this – let them leave in grace. Again from Jay:
Don’t kick someone when they’re down
If someone withdraws from the field…let them. Mockery doesn’t help, and usually pushes the boundaries of the hard and fast rule in the first place.
What’s with all the copy errors?
So you noticed grammar isn’t my forte. I’m a one-man band currently. There’s a trade-off between getting information out in a time that’s useful to current events and getting it perfect. No reader would be under the delusion I choose perfect. Forgive me my sins of grammar and I’ll try not to get upset when others make basic mistakes of history, economics, politics or math. (We all have our areas of expertise!)
Why are you doing this?
There is a three fold problem this blog seeks to address. Issues are becoming increasingly complicated. To gain information requires navigating ever more convoluted pathways filled with garbage. And our communities of interaction are becoming more tribalized and factional driven by algorithms and self-selection so we need not ever be exposed to an idea we disagree with, or, if we are, it’s only in the crassest way possible.
Through the InfoMullets I hope to address the first through the blog, the second through the community of letters, and the third through the Principles and the Rules of Posting.
Finally there is a quote in Game of Thrones that encapsulates much of what I try to do as a Radical Moderate: