Debate Points Not People
A while back I suggested picking a fight as a method to stand out from the crowd, stir up a bit of controversy, and gain traffic and readers. While several posts on this blog and even more of my comments on other blogs are perfect examples of this (I even wrote a post which illustrated the benefits that can be gained from this tactic), I feel that this is an issue that needs to be revisited. No, I’m not going back on my suggestion and yes I still believe it’s a great method to gain exposure, but I think some clarification might be a good idea.
Any time you encounter a post or an issue you disagree with, there is a chance to present a counter point. However, as the title of this post suggests, you should stick to debating or arguing the points, not the people. I must say this is something I’ve slipped up on a few times in the past, but I’ve never once looked back on it and thought making the attack personal was a good idea. If you stick to the facts and the issue at hand, and resist the lure to take it to a personal level (often even in the face of personal attacks from the other side) you retain the “high road” so to speak. Just like admitting when you’re wrong can garner respect, so will turning the proverbial other cheek in online debates. For example, take a look at this highly controversial thread on Sphinn.com. I mean even if you agreed with the DesRochers on the issue, would you jump to their defense or become a reader of their blog because of those comments? In this example no matter who is right, for the DesRochers the negatives certainly outweigh the positives of any extra attention they’ve received. If you need more examples, look at countless Digg threads. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wished that someone supposedly representing my “side” of the issue would just shut up.
So, what’s the moral of the story? When you pick a fight, do so in a way that represents you well and that you’d be proud to associate yourself with. It certainly doesn’t hurt to be right too but either way, be careful to attack the issues or assertions being made, not the person making them. Otherwise you risk doing more harm than good no matter which side of right or wrong you end up on.
P.S. This week’s Reader Question Session which normally appears on Monday’s is being postponed until later in the week. However, it’s going to be a special session so I don’t think you’ll mind just this time. Here’s a hint, it has to do with Digg, StumbleUpon and Social Media Marketing. Trust me, you won’t want to miss it.