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This is the archive for January 2008

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

n. The practice, on an internet discussion thread, of making substantive comments in a confrontational and insulting manner as a means of sorting the other participants into those who can understand the substance and those who only see the tone and the form. The latter usually reveal themselves through remarks such as: "I'm sure you think you are some kind of badass behind your computer screen...", "Your philosophy makes you very unhappy/angry/defensive, so how can it be right...", or "Do you really think you're going to convince anybody by acting like a child/an extremist/the Unabomber?"

Note that this practice often has a similar effect to Godwin's Law, in that it may cause further discussion to revolve entirely around the assumed personal, intellectual, social, financial, and residential deficiencies of the person using it, (though this can also further the sorting purposes of the technique, particularly with regards to late-comers to the discussion). In extreme cases it can elicit insults or even threats directed at the person's family, friends, third grade English teacher, or barber.

NOTE: Just to be clear, in case anybody feels compelled to misinterpret this, I don't speak for Billy, his motivations, nor his intentions. I've observed the actual result of things that have happened out there, and integrated them into a concept and a term that describes what I've seen. I don't know the whole of why Billy argues what he argues, nor the reasons behind manner he does it in. I have some ideas, and I believe his purposes go far beyond "Beck's Razor", if that is even part of his intent, but I can't and won't speak for him. Don't think for a minute that that is what I was doing.