How To Hold A Forum Debate

Background Reading


Ozaukee Trail

Ozaukee Trail


I noticed something this week. At least three articles crossed my desk in which a member of the Urban Cycling Community did something really stupid. And in response to the monumental stupidity members of this same community offered expressions of ‘sadness‘. These expressions were accompanied with reasons why the stupidity should be overlooked or somehow understood. An approach that is never to my knowledge offered in response to something equally stupid done by a motorist. Those poor schlubs get both barrels. Why is this?

Part of the problem is that the Urban Cycling Community has as a rule ‘very thin skin‘. It does not tolerate anyone yanking it out of the ‘victimhood spotlight‘ so it fights desperately to make everyone leave their stupidity uncriticized and in fact unmentioned. Of course they are all over the same behavior in motorists or for that matter pedestrians. But for themselves they reserve the right to be coddled. This is the approach one takes with the ‘elites‘ of the world.

They Cannot Debate

Part of the price you pay for being unable to take much criticism of your actions (especially the clearly stupid ones) is that you find yourself unable to hold a debate in your own ‘back yard‘. Everyone it would seem is suspicious of the other guy thinking that he is a troll or worse. And eventually you end up with a circular firing squad that has limited benefit and even less meaning.

In order to get to the point where you are able to join the rest of the really stupid people without having to slit your wrists, you may have to admit that ‘the sun doth not shine forth from your anus‘. But until you can perhaps contemplate being one of the great unwashed you can in the meantime develop some strategies for at least appearing to have a thick enough skin to get you through a round of beach volleyball.

Decide If You Are A Forum Or A Repository

If you are the latter then you should be able to find oodles of folks who want to write ‘how to‘ articles. Grab a few by the hand and find out what sorts of articles they have at the ready and buy a few.

But if you are instead thinking that timely discussions are your thing then you have to be prepared to deal with the messiness of a forum. And if you are of the mind that you cannot truly ‘air your dirty laundry‘ without regard to your reputation, then perhaps you should consider putting the discussions behind the login portion of the site. This would mean that nothing appears to the general public. Instead you have a captive audience that you control.

Vetting Your Audience

In the old days you could always tell folks apart by their telephone numbers. Those days are long gone. We are now stuck with some sort of gutless anonymity from everyone in a discussion forum. What however begins to be a bit of a drag is when the names people choose becomes an issue.

As a general rule members of the Urban Cycling Community like to think of themselves as Liberals/Progressives. But in fact they are more like the members of the Tea Party. They cannot tolerate being critiqued or ‘called out‘. Like the GOP Congresspersons who wanted to toss out Boehner, this lot is falling all over itself to try and ‘forge a wall of group think‘ that is a sign I guess of purity of thought.

Get Over Yourselves

The first place to start is to get over yourselves. Find a few writers in your midst who are willing to debate both sides of a given argument and then have them write ‘position papers‘. Really allow them to go after their points with unbridled energy.

If you fail to do this sort of thing you will in some measure begin to lose your audience. They will tire of the sameness of the company of people who like themselves are afraid to let their hair down long enough to appear vulnerable.

And that means ultimately finding the guts to be self-critical. Right now the quickest way to find yourself having to create a new identity on most of these narrow-minded forums is to express a viewpoint that does not reflect well on the Righteous Members of the Church of Urban Cycling.

Take Care And Learn To Express Yourselves

Following the papers you can open up the discussion to members only. These folks and their discussion will not appear to the general public. See how that works. Try and explore something that is meaningful and yet controversial.