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From "Noel J. Bergman" <>
Subject RE: Personal attacks and respect
Date Thu, 08 Jul 2004 18:48:50 GMT
> 1. If Person A brings up Issue1, and Person B doesn't agree on
>    Issue1, there are three outcomes

>    a. Keep silent out of respect of Person A, and let PersonA
>       have it his/her way.

Depending upon the importance of the issue, this may be the right thing to
do.  See the discussions of bike shed painting.  Not every issue is worth
plan (b).

>    b. Raise a voice and argue why Issue1 (as it stands) is
>       perhaps not such a good idea, which in turn leads to

I will read your use of "argue" in the academic sense, not in the common
emotional response to the term.  Likewise, I will take your use of "raise a
voice" to mean speak up, rather than drown out using volume.

And, yes, if the issue is of sufficient consequence, responding TO THE ISSUE
(not the person) would be appropriate.  As Brian just said, avoid ad hominem

>       i.  PersonA continue the argument over Issue1, perhaps
>           with some modifications.

Nothing wrong with that.  If the discourse over the issue is ON THE ISSUE,
and if both parties are willing to work together constructively to address
the technical concerns, the give-and-take of such a discussion will often
result in a consensus because all parties end up satisfied.

But the parties must be willing to find common ground and a solution they
can all live with.

>      ii.  PersonA calls PersonB for being intolerant and for
>           personal attacks.

Communities should to be on-guard for this sort of thing, and admonish
members who turn to such tactics.

> What I am trying to get at is; It is very difficult to formulate
> a 'counter-argument' to Issue1 without the potential risk of the
> 'Initiator' taking it as an 'Personal Attack'

I agree that there is potential risk, and the way in which arguments are
presented is important.  Which is why I do feel that a reasonable discussion
of communication techniques is not inappropriate, particularly for the
Incubator.  We want our communities to develop the communication skills
necessary for building a healthy community.

> 1. When reading, don't take it personally.

Good advice.

> 2. If you feel it is a personal attack, assume that it was not the
>    intention of the author, and if necessary ask for an apology.

And perhaps do the latter off-list.

> 3. If your post was taken personally, and someone raised that or
>    you realized it afterwards, apologize and clarify.

As opposed to defending it, which is often someone's first reaction.

> Why should I be afraid of voicing my concern about the issues
> surrounding a project or a proposal?

You should not be, and we want to make sure that people who have sincere
concerns about technical issues are encouraged, not discourged.

But that does not mean that every issue is worth arguing over.  We still
paint too many bike sheds.  :-)

	--- Noel

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