13 Feb 2010

kaigou: this is what I do, darling (4 pretentious with style)
First, for the sake of easier typing, OP can mean either "original poster" or "originating position".

A discussion is when two or more people are talking about a specific topic. Let's call this discussion, "A", and the voices involved in it are therefore "Group A". A different discussion is going on at the same time. That would be discussion B, and its members are Group B, and so on. Some people are in A and B, some only in A, some only in B.

If you reply, directly to Group A, and as a participant in Group A, and state your own position as agree or disagree, (cf my earlier post about this), that's a Yes or No.

If you say: "yes, but..." or "no, and also..." (explicit or implicit), you're digressing. You're presenting, in some way, a position that creates Discussion Drift: you're moving away from the substance of the OP and expanding it, narrowing it, carrying it to its logical conclusion, or making it all about you. Any of these (and more) can be Drift. Depending on Group A's general attitude (and whether your digression is also a derailment), your comment might be welcomed, tabled, ignored, or outright ridiculed.

If you go off elsewhere and open this tangential-to-A topic within a different post, journal, or community (and so on), you are now the OP of Group C, discussing the "but/and-also" section of your original reply as a distinct OP. You set out your position, and Group C merrily debates (which may or may not include cross-repliers from Groups A or B).

The explanation I saw of derailment -- which at the time seemed eminently practical and easily applicable as a rule-of-thumb -- was that it doesn't necessarily mean the reply is wrong per se, only that it's inappropriate in context. If we replace 'derailment' (a loaded term for many) with the more neutral 'digression', then the statement works for a variety of OPs. It basically amounts to: "it's okay to say Maybe, but it's not okay to say it in this context."

Which is great, but that does rather beg the question: what, exactly, is meant by 'context'?

All along, I've been under the impression, and this seems widespread, that 'context' is defined as (roughly) the scope of a community, the scope of a single post, or some other easily identifiable perimeter. )


kaigou: this is what I do, darling (Default)
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"When you make the finding yourself— even if you're the last person on Earth to see the light— you'll never forget it." —Carl Sagan

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