Ten ways to win an argument on a forum.

1.  Make up your own facts.  This is such a good strategy.  In advertising it's called, "Data Free Research."  Many people will believe whatever you tell them.  Works for politics, why not discussions about photography?

2.  Trot out algebra 2 and wiggle the numbers around ad infinitum.  To the people who didn't make it through algebra 1 everything with an equation attached is scientific fact.  Even the taste of a raspberry sno cone can be described and proven with a long enough stream of numbers and symbols.

3.  Be the last one standing.  Every time someone raises a question or disputes your data free research  shout them down and keep repeating your "facts" until everyone gets tired of the whole circus and moves on to "which camera should I buy?"

4.  Infer, imply or just go ahead and say it out loud: everyone who disagrees with you is a liar, a cheat or someone with a hidden agenda.  I have a friend who describes all the other drivers on the road like this:  "Everyone going faster than me is an asshole.  Everyone going slower than me is a moron."  It's the operative working methodology of forum rats as well.

5.  Try to pick apart all the small parts of other people's arguments instead of concentrating on the big picture.  This might consist of arguing about how fast a ship is really sinking instead of acknowledging that the ship is sinking.  Or, that "it wasn't the bullet that killed him, it was the vascular damage and the subsequent loss of blood."

6.  If challenged about why you are reinventing dirt, or why you insist on counting angels on the head of a pin, get very defensive and let them know that you are sharing your argument for the good of generations of future children as well as the miserable and intellectually downtrodden every where.

7.  Graphs.  Lots and lots of graphs.  (See: data free research above).

8.  If someone actually takes up the challenge and tests your idea, hypothesis, pipe dream, fantasy, terrible delusion, and finds it wanting in every way then immediately go on the defensive, protesting your brutal treatment at the hands of a reckless bully bent on derailing the train of intellectual progress.

9.  Drink lots and lots of Red Bull so no one can outlast you in a thousand post grudge match.  See point #3.

10.  The best way to win an argument on the web is to shut down your computer, go for a walk, take a nice photograph and be secure in the knowledge that arguing on the web is addictive behavior and you just got yours under control.  For now.


Rick Dickinson said...

I'm reminded of this: http://xkcd.com/386/

Also -- you're friends with George Carlin? (or were before his unfortunate passing) The relative speed on the freeway maniac/idiot classification system was one of his bits.


- Rick

scotth said...

Number ten, definitely.

Marshall said...

For many one-time valuable internet forums, growth sadly reduces the signal-to-noise ratio to the point of absurdity.

(Stated as someone who's spent way too much time identifying with the guy in the xkcd strip and needs to spend more time on point #10.)

Petah said...

Had that happen in my facebook page... Let's just say, after the first 2 sentences I just gave up reading.

Jet Tilton said...


I've been a follower of yours for a while. Always gain insights into the world of photography from your posts!
Made the mistake of going to m4/3 forum at dpreview, where they were commenting on your latest post about Sony and future of m4/3, etc. Questions for you:

1. Do these people ever get out and take photos?
2. Why are we obsessing over the details, to the point of making even the forums unreadable? Just perusing the thread titles makes me nauseous, which camera to buy? should I do this or do that?
is Olympus a sinking ship, etc...
3. Is the sensor in the Olympus pens really that bad?
Seems they are all upset because there was not a new sensor for the EP-3 or EPL-3.
4. Do all of these nitpicky things about m4/3, sony, etc. really affect image quality, and/or has digital photography turned us all into technogeeks?
Seems no one is ever happy with their latest digital purchase...
5. With the Sony a77, was excited about it until I saw the price tag of $2000!

Glad to see you went out and purchased several MF film bodies, all of these people who claim to be photographers, but spend all of their time on forums
defending their brand or latest purchases is literally making me never want to read another forum post again (your blog excluded). Feel like I need to go out and find a reliable film slr and take photos like they used to be taken!

Keep up the good work, value your word because you are not selling a workshop, etc. with every tweet and post!

Thanks for letting me vent

Doug said...

You felt compelled to devote an entire blog post to this? Kirk this is beneath you.

Mike Padua said...

@Doug. I respectfully disagree. I find this in line with Kirk's acerbic sense of humor. It's one of the reasons I read this blog and I got a nice little chuckle about this post.

Anonymous said...

Frankly, online forums are quite fun...I'm like the kid that runs back and forth in front of a lion cage with a cup raking it across the bars.

It's quite fun to stir the pot with people who "KNOW" they're right and your wrong (and possibly racist).

Anonymous said...

Doug, this is flat out funny because it's so true. Kirk's observations ring true because we live thru this shit every day. I, for one, am glad he has the balls to call it out.

Bill Beebe said...

I think it's time you created a photographic forum corollary to Godwin's Law.

Damien said...

All reasons that I no longer read unmoderated forums, for the most part.

Don said...

9. Drink lots and lots of Red Bull so no one can outlast you in a thousand post grudge match.

Dang - I thought that was Corona. I get so whoozie that I forget what I was arguing about. See... I learnt sumpin'...


Dave Jenkins said...

Al Gore proves the effectiveness of points one through eight every day.

RH said...

The Visual Science Lab’s positivity, and its independence, are two of its most compelling characteristics. That Tuck speaks from deep experience with both his craft and its tools, and does so in a manner that is professional, positive, and entertaining is something to be celebrated. I enjoy the sense of context, the historical references, and the clear intelligence of a practitioner that loves his work so much it is also how he relaxes. He clearly has personality, and he takes damn fine photographs regularly it seems.

On the other hand, DPR sucks.

Anonymous said...

ha! brilliant!! Made my day!

christopheru said...

Goodness, an instruction book on how to survive an equivalency argument on the Olympus dslr forum on dpreview.

Paul Glover said...

I must say that I'm a whole lot happier since I decided to spend more time behind the camera and less time on forums. Actually none, with the exception of a couple of Flickr groups which tend to stay clear of that nonsense and occasional posts here and on TOP.

If I used forums as a place to research camera or lens purchases, I'd have to give up entirely because they're all flawed, according to some part of the internet.

Anonymous said...

Bored people often turn to mischief. MIschief is amplified by anonymity. I like that all you posts and all your blogs are done under your real name and you have posted your real e-mail. Unless of course we come to find out that you are just a really precocious 13 year old girl with a laptop. (kidding.)

Cyrus said...

Everything you have written is totally true!! So many times I've given up on an argument when some dude decides that he's smarter than everyone and tries to out-shout everyone. Even worse are those who confuse nuance with vacillation. ArgH!!

Gordon said...

It is like War Games. The only way to win is not to play