Spirited Debate here on LO LO6795

Fri, 19 Apr 1996 08:35:56 -0400

Replying to LO6771 --

Fellow "LO'ers" (is that sexist?),

I'd like to synopsize, from my own perspective, whence we have come:

Rick and I had some private discussion regarding the value of what came to
be called "Spirited Debate." In fact we were spiritedly debating.

Rick's premise (please correct any inaccuracy) seemed to be: Too much
emotion in advocacy or in rebuttal, even it focused on the idea rather
than the preson, is too disruptive to the list, given its goals and its

My position was that I felt this was a guideline that should be changed
somewhat in that it blunted or even disallowed what, in my experience, is
a powerful learning environment: conflict of ideas. Specifically I felt
that "enforcement" of the guideline should continue to disallow "attacks
or insults aimed at the person" but should weigh more heavily than present
practice on the logic.

We - the List - have refined these positions and added previously unstated
concerns, approaches, etc.

Margaret McIntyre wrote:
> I have no problem with Hal stating his assessments, good, bad or
> indifferent (assessments about his assessments!) Negative assessments are
> quite powerful in learning (which I think is his point!).

> Negative assessments can be very respectful and don't need to be sugar
> coated, in my opinion. But, they should have a point to them more than
> just trying to humiliate or hurt another person . . .

scypher@perform.vt.edu (Scott R. Cypher) says:
>Its a matter of the way we view what someone is saying.

> Gordon Housworth comments:
> I support thoughtful and respectful, but by no means timid, forms of
> exchange.

Julie Beedon <julie@vistabee.win-uk.net>
We could also frame the service which Rick subscribes as well intentioned
and supporting the learning on the list about dialgoue and skillful

Bill Fulkerson posted:
> After the internal protests and explanations were extinguished,
> growth for me was rapid ... and I trust, more or less permanent!
> Now that I have taken the time to listen to YOU, I understand, agree with,
> and often practice much of what you say.

"William J. Hobler, Jr." <bhobler@cpcug.org> said (at some length, reduced
> One of the states of being that characterizes a learning community is the
> lack of the attack behavior.
> Can one advocate and inquire without emotion? I don't think so... I fall
> back to the responsibility to advocate and inquire.

There was also some Spirited Debate on whether moderator behavior is
censorship and the balance between, of all things, censorship and
leadership (an interesting juxtaposition I, at least, had not previously

So where are we now?

I remain *for* Spirited Debate and the energetic conflict of ideas and
*against* conflict of personalities. I have learned some ways to show
additional respect to the person to make up for the loss of tonals and
"body logic" implicit in a print medium.

I have refined my suggestion to Rick, believing we are better off with
more energy (tempered with respect, of course) and that moderation might
focus more on the logic of both the "poster" and the "interpreting

A sample MGC ("Moderator's Gentle Chide") might read:
Hal, she didn't say Mars was green she said "some people
perceive Mars as being green" - perhaps you might wish to
revise this post and save yourself some embarassment.

Thanks for all the conflicting ideas and discussion to date. I, for one,
am better for it.

Hal Popplewell



Learning-org -- An Internet Dialog on Learning Organizations For info: <rkarash@karash.com> -or- <http://world.std.com/~lo/>