CyBerkut's Tips for Potentially Contentious Forum Discussions - Rev. 0
1. YOYOW - You Own Your Own Words. Since posts can easily be preserved for years, it pays to put some thought into them before hitting the Submit/Send button. Is it something you will be able to look back upon and not end up regretting? If you're responding to something that really ticks you off, it may be advisable to take some time to mull things over further before responding.
2. You can only control what you write. You can't control what the other participants write. However, realize that what you write can potentially influence the direction/tone of responses by others. There are no guarantees, but chances are good that if you post well reasoned positions, the responses will attempt to rise to that. Likewise, if you post emotional outbursts, you are likely to see something similar in the replies.
3. Remain mindful that some techniques tend to encourage further discussion, while others can discourage it. Including questions in your post tends to lead to responses. Short factual statements devoid of opinion tend to get fewer followups.
4. If you don't wish to continue discussing something, then stop discussing it. Of course other participants may continue on with it (see item 2.), but you don't have to spend anymore time upon it. You own your own words, but you don't have to let them own you.
5. If you find someone continuously annoys you, you can spare yourself much of the annoyance by putting them on your ignore list. You'll still see some stuff from them when somebody else quotes them, though.
6. If you've already posted a thorough answer to something and do not wish to write it all out again, use a link to the previous post that contains that answer. Quote the relevant section (with the link) if it is a small part of a long message.
7. Direct responses toward the content of a post, not the author. Recognize that if you make assertions about yourself in your post, you have effectively made yourself part of that post and have opened a door to discussion about those assertions. When you don't want it to become personal, don't get personal.
8. Just as it is permissible to ignore individuals, it is also permissible to ignore some threads or subjects. The world will continue rotating upon its axis, and your life may actually become more enjoyable when you shed the chore of wading through something uninteresting, distasteful or annoying.
9. Refrain from assigning motives or thoughts where they have not been explicitly stated. None of us can read minds. If you are drawing conclusions based upon events, actions or posts, then include an appropriate qualifier with it. Don't throw such a conclusion out there as if it is an established, irrefutable fact. Likewise for opinions.
10. Don't annoy the moderators!