Online Etiquette in Forum Discussions

I don't know why people do this, but I wish it would stop.

There's a difference between technical jargon and obfuscation. If 80% of the people reading your post (audience considered) need to google 20% of the words, when equivalent words exist that are more common, it is bad writing.
This individual was aggressively criticizing the comments of two neurosurgeons who graciously shared of their wealth of knowledge and didn't dumb it down enough for his tastes.

It is an internet forum. The two neurosurgeons who were so gracious as to share their knowledge with us were not being paid to explain it. It is an extra burden for someone familiar with those words and comfortable with them to try to translate it to laymen's terms, in part because there may be no laymen's terms that actually mean exactly the same thing. Sometimes a jargon word requires a paragraph to adequately explain. Additional paragraphs can hinder communication instead of helping it.

Plus, lots of people on HN are quite well educated and/or well read and are happy to have high level discussions. That is a big piece of the culture there. It is a primary reason some people come to Hacker News. Those high quality discussions cannot happen when someone comes in and is ugly for no real reason.

Elsewhere, someone was incredibly dismissive of me and made unnecessarily personal remarks about me. I quoted part of what they said and replied in part wit this:
It's just that unlikely statistical events are... unlikely even though they often do happen to someone (in aggregate).

You may think you mean well, but your original comment came across as ugly and dismissive and personally attacking. I didn't provide any evidence that I am some extreme outlier because a) that wasn't the point and b) people who know me already know I am twice exceptional and don't need that elaborated on.

You also fail to understand some basics about statistics and life, the universe and everything and that is this: That which is a longshot is unlikely to happen to any specific individual, but guaranteed to happen to someone. So if it is "one in a million odds," with a human population of 7 billion people, there should be 7000 such people somewhere on earth.

Given that this is the internet, you can easily run into any one of those 7000. Like you, they just need an internet connection, which is as common as dirt these days. You could even stumble into a forum that, for some reason, tends to aggregate such individuals. In which case, dozens, hundreds or even thousands of the people actively participating in the forum could well be that "1 in a million" outlier.

If you are participating in an online discussion, first try to work on your behavior. If you aren't doing that, you are probably part of the problem, not part of the solution. It is incredibly hard to engage someone in good faith when they are doing this kind of crap.

Posted to my blog instead of posting more crap to HN in a vain hope that it is a little less "me being part of the problem" and a little more "me being part of the solution." Though my faith that this is true is thin, very thin.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Direct Primary Care

Direct Primary Care: A real alternative under Obamacare

The Gray Zone

Oh my god, it's a girl!

Independently Poor: A Twist on FU Money. Or: "FU, Money"