and needs to stop saying things that can be refuted with video evidence

So you want to leave an argumentative comment on my text post.

Here are some things you need to understand before I even consider writing a serious response.

1. The purpose of anecdata.

Often I’ll use anecdata in a text post only to have some Supersleuth swan in to say that anecdata doesn’t prove anything. But when I use anecdata I am usually illustrating a concept, not proving the existence of a trend. So when I write about an instance of workplace discrimination I am not trying to prove that workplace discrimination is a pervasive problem (although it is); I’m giving one example of how that discrimination can manifest. Alternatively, I may use anecdata as justification for my own feelings and worries, e.g. how my firsthand experiences with sexual assault increase my sensitivity to certain types of boundary violating, but in those cases anecdata is sufficient support for the point.

2. There’s almost never a reason to whine “citation neeeeeeded.”

I don’t need a citation when writing about personal experience; I myself am a citation. I also don’t need a citation when referencing common knowledge, because this discourse community is my citation. Statistics, studies—those may need citations depending on the intended audience, but please remember that this is a blogging platform which encourages short text posts and ongoing conversations among people with shared knowledge and understanding. If I’m writing, say, an argument geared toward people who fundamentally disagree with my view, I may very well need citations—but if I fail to provide one then either provide one yourself or shut up. If you know the fact is incorrect I can only assume you have the sources to back it up, so by all means share. Otherwise you’re just lazy and hypocritical.

3. Not every conversation is an intro lecture, and that’s just fine.

I’m never going to get anything done if I spend every damn second catering to the least educated audience. Introductory sources exist, so go find them and stop trying to hijack posts that were never intended for you. You don’t personally have to understand something for it to be worthwhile and productive. I should not have to explain this.

4. Informal fallacies have limited usefulness.

Part of the problem here is that the people who shout the names of informal fallacies in arguments rarely understand them. “Your argument included an insult against your opponent(s). GET OFF THE TRAIN, YOU’VE REACHED AD HOM CITY.” The other problem is that it’s usually a lazy approach to argumentation that doesn’t look at the argument holistically and tries to discredit the entire thing by identifying a problematic part. Plus it’s obnoxious. I’ve taught undergrads, I know they love learning informal fallacies, and I know it’s because they see them as shortcuts to automatic wins. But they’re wrong.


If you don’t know what my terminology means, ask. If you use those terms differently, define and justify your use. This is my territory, so you need to either accept my terms or provide a good reason for deviating.

6. Don’t make assumptions about my meaning.

Again: If you’re not sure what I mean by something, ask. Otherwise I’ll doubt your interest and sincerity, and you’ll look like a willfully ignorant jackass.

7. “Sure, that happened” is almost never a useful response.

If I was like, “In 1547, David Bowie invented Cheetos and distributed them to impoverished children throughout Paris,” maybe “Sure, that happened” would be appropriate. It’s a claim that you can refute with a basic understanding of history and biology. But if I’m all, “Yesterday I was walking down the street and this yucky dude asked me to sit on his face,” it would not be an appropriate response, and more importantly, it accomplishes nothing. You can’t prove that I’m lying, and unless I have video I can’t prove I’m not. We’re just wasting words, and that’s terrible.

8. Your interpretation of my post should have textual support.

Don’t accuse me of saying something shitty unless you have evidence. Duh.

That’s all for now, but I’ll update as I think of more.