Thursday, October 13, 2016

Comments

This blog exists to raise the level of discourse available on the Internet regarding naval matters.  Of late, the commentary associated with posts has often failed to do that.  Comments have become factually challenged and argumentative.  That is my fault for allowing it.

A typical example is if the statement is made that southern US cities have warmer climates than northern cities, someone will, inevitably, respond with a comment citing some southern city that, on some given day, was colder than some city in the north – as if that disproves the general statement.  This kind of comment is simply argumentative and does nothing to further the main premise.

Trying to find one example, somewhere in history, that appears to contradict a main premise is simply argumentative.  Now, if you want to take that example and build a logical case for an alternative view, that’s fine – unlikely but fine.  Just as the main premise is never built on a single example (single examples of anything mean nothing) so too, an alternative view can not be built on a single example.

There’s a famous saying that there are no dumb questions.  As far as this blog is concerned, there certainly are dumb questions and, more to the point, dumb comments.  In order to contribute to raising the level of discourse, you, the commenter, have to do your homework.  I expect a basic level of knowledge about naval matters which includes a familiarity with naval history and an understanding of the basics of naval operations and tactics.  You don’t have to be an expert but, I’ll be honest here, this is not the blog for amateurs who have no grasp of naval fundamentals.  There are plenty of books and websites where you can go to learn the basics. 

That said, I have no problem with someone asking a sincere question and trying to learn.  I’m happy to respond to that.  What I don’t want to do is embark on a long term educational foray spanning many posts/weeks.

I never delete a comment because it disagrees with me.  I do, however, delete comments, whether they agree or disagree, when they’re based on stupidity. 

What kind of comments am I looking for?  I’m looking for comments that further the discussion.  I’m looking for comments that address the main premise rather than try to pick apart some minor side detail.  I’m looking for comments that build on the main premise.  I’d love comments that have an opposing view and are supported with data and logic.  “You’re wrong”, is not a productive comment.

Data and logic – those are mandatory in any comment.  Given the short length of a blog post, I still try to cite data for my main points and I expect comments to make use of data and logic.  “The LCS sucks”, is not a worthwhile comment.  Offer some data to support the statement.

All of this should not discourage readers from commenting.  Instead, it should encourage readers to put a bit of effort into their comments and try to become part of a conversation rather than part of an argument.  I recognize that there is a fine line between discussing a point of disagreement and arguing.  The difference is that the former is done with an open mind and a willingness to learn and further the discussion while the latter is a simple attempt to “win” and serves no purpose.

Of course, there is always the requirement for politeness and respect.  Argue the points, not the person.

I’m sometimes asked why I don’t respond to a given comment.  The answer is that I respond to comments that meet the above criteria – comments that further the discussion, raise new and valid points, and offer insights.

I expect my readership to be a cut above the typical blog readership.  I’d rather have one good comment than ten pointless ones.  With that goal in mind, I’ve started, and will continue, to delete comments that fail to meet the criteria.


I encourage you to be part of something challenging and worthwhile.  Recognize, though, that means you may have to put a bit of effort into it.

9 comments:

  1. I tried to post many times yesterday only to find that they were being rapidly deleted without explanation. I asked honest questions and they were met with belittlement rather than discussion. I asked for clarification and was met with condescension. I tried very much to be polite but this quickly becomes difficult when it feels like the moderator is trying to railroad the discussion down a very narrow path that serves his own bias. I would like to post here because you do raise interesting topics, but as it stands, it is impossible to know if a comment will be allowed to stand or simply get deleted without explanation. Now if a comment is blatantly profane or rude, then I would understand, but most of my comments were written in a neutral tone with no aggressive language. If you actually want discussion rather an a simple echo-chamber, then you need to allow dissenting comments to stand more often, and for longer periods of time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Under normal circumstances, I would delete this comment as it serves no purpose. However, I will leave this as an example of why your comments were deleted. You should be asking yourself, given the criteria I covered in this post, why your comments failed to meet standards. If they were polite, as you suggest, that pretty much only leaves stupid as the disqualifying reason. This comment is only solidifying that lack of self-awareness. You asked, so I've answered. Up your game or move to another blog better suited to you.

      This is the kind of unproductive comment I'm going to eliminate.

      Don't bother replying, I'll just delete it.

      Delete
  2. Quite honestly - I gave up on this blog a while ago. I point it out to my students as an example of the low end of naval analysis.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And yet here you are!

      Again, under normal circumstances, I'd delete this but it illustrates my point in the blog. Thanks for helping illustrate an example of a worthless comment!

      Delete
    2. "I point it out to my students as an example of the low end of naval analysis."

      Hey, thanks for the referrals! I'm betting your students, whatever they're studying, are better judges of value than you. The site statistics indicate non-stop, linear growth so I must be doing something right and many new people are coming to the site. Thanks for doing your part!

      Delete
    3. Furthering communication for improvement means that the overall goal is a better navy

      CNO i applause your goal of encouraging opposing views that help not hinder the discussion.

      Delete
  3. Your always going to get a few.

    But i consider this site one of the very very best of informed intelligent debate.

    And you work very hard to keep it that way.

    And its worth it because you have attracted so top notch commentors.

    I usually find others posts on here as interesting relevant and insightful as the main article !

    Usually :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. On regards to posting links to back-up opinions and data, there's a little confusion, at least for me. I remember you stating you rather not have us post links to other blogs (i.e. war is boring, etc.) Could you define your rules clearer for me?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sorry if I wasn't clearer. I said, or should have said, that I don't want long passages copied from another blog into this one just like I wouldn't want someone copying large chunks of my work into another blog. Links are fine. No problem with those.

      I'd also prefer that commenters not post a comment that's nothing more than, warisboring said,"...". I don't care (in a sense) what warisboring says. I want to know what the commenter thinks.

      Also, some people have occasionally posted links with little or no explanation leaving me and other readers to try to figure out what the point/purpose is. I'd prefer that links be accompanied with the commenter's point/opinion to make clear what the purpose of the link is but the links, themselves, are fine.

      All that said, this is just my preferences. I don't have any hard rules about this. If someone wants to quote a sentence or two from another source, that's fine, within reason. I just don't want to get into the position of seeming to be "stealing" someone else's work.

      I hope that cleared things up for you. If not, ask me something more specific and I'll try again.

      Delete