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One of the things that I love about Lobsters is the fact that you can attach meaning to downvotes.

However, too often I will see people derail conversations with straw man arguments, even when it’s fairly obvious that they’ve missed what the other person was saying.

Straw man arguments balloon threads into pointless back & forth’s that detract from the overall discussion, and by adding a straw-man downvote option we can incentivize each other to try harder at hearing what the other person is really saying instead of interpreting their comments in a way that makes us look good, but at the expense of noise and disconnect between each other.

The off-topic flag is close, but it’s not quite the same thing and can lead people to misunderstand the feedback that was intended. You can be on topic and still make a straw man.

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    Thanks to the limited number of reasons, I rarely downvote at all. If someone argues something you think is besides the point you’re trying to make, well, you can always choose to comment on it, just like you did in response to what I said here, which I suspect caused you to make this request.

    Your comment caused me to reevaluate what I said. A downvote by itself would not have achieved the same effect at all.

    I’m happy with the choices we have now. Downvotes suck. Sometimes I consider downvoting but hold off because it’s not in the list of reasons. And over time I came to regard that as a good thing. So I’d like to keep what we have now, and not add more. Straw men, tu quoque, slippery slope, and whatever other fallacies there are, belong in the realm of the debate, not in the realm of downvotes. In my opinion, obviously.

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      I personally agree. I only even consider using downvotes when I see people engaging in behavior that makes the community less safe, or that is getting in the way of others' trying to participate. Sometimes “this is not acceptable behavior in this community” is needed feedback, and that’s the kind of feedback numeric scores are good at giving. If you’re trying to give feedback to someone who probably means well, it’s not hugely useful.

      (Except for “off-topic” and “me-too”. I like those. Everyone is tempted to babble on about irrelevant things sometimes, and there’s not much more to say except point it out, and get it sorted to the bottom.)

      I also think that pointing out fallacies has a strong tendency to escalate an argument rather than keep it civil. Surely the ideal if someone is responding to someone you didn’t say is to say “I didn’t say that”, and walk away. There’s no such thing as “winning” a conversation anyway.

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        I also think that pointing out fallacies has a strong tendency to escalate an argument rather than keep it civil.

        100% agree, as with voidzero’s comment above. The proposal seems like it would encourage bad behavior. Something like this would better be kept in check (and mostly is kept in check) by good community management (hi Irene!).

        To me, downvotes mean ‘this comment should not be seen by anyone’ and shouldn’t be conflated with ‘I disagree with your argument.’

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          Surely the ideal if someone is responding to someone you didn’t say is to say “I didn’t say that”, and walk away.

          You can still do that, this option wouldn’t change that. The ideal IMO is having fewer such arguments in the first place, and I think this option would really help with that.

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            Fair enough. I’m not sure it would, but I can see a case that getting that feedback repeatedly could be helpful.

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              Heh, I just realized that the description you gave, that of someone is responding to some[thing] you didn’t say is to say “I didn’t say that”, and walk away., is literally identical to a downvote that says “I didn’t say that” (i.e straw-man).

              Whenever I downvote I try my best to follow it up with an explanation if an explanation seems necessary. Sometimes an explanation is unnecessary (i.e. someone repeats what someone else says and gets a me-too for it).

              EDIT: Note that if we had fewer downvote options the incentive to explain our downvotes would be greater, and that would again lead to more unnecessary back & forth that readers would have to chug through. OTOH @voidzero points out the upside of that.

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                It’s not totally identical - it satisfies any urge the misrepresented party might have to make sure onlookers notice they were misrepresented. Which I think is legitimate at times, you know?

                But you have a point. :)

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          which I suspect caused you to make this request.

          Don’t worry, to be clear, yours was just the final kick that got me to post this. That comment was but one in a string of straw men (example).

          A downvote by itself would not have achieved the same effect at all. I’m happy with the choices we have now. Downvotes suck.

          I do not think the existence of an additional way to express the reason behind a downvote will at all affect people’s inclination to downvote in the first place. So you can argue against downvotes themselves, but heh, that would be either a straw man or off-topic. :P

          I do think it might get people to think more about what they’re saying though, and help to, again, incentivize the effort to really understand each other in a non-superficial way.

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          Wouldn’t we need all of the logical fallacies? (Is asking this one of them?)

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            Would love red-herring and non-sequitur downvote options as well if we are going to introduce the straw-man option.

            (Actually, I wrote this in jest, but now I think those wouldn’t necessarily be a bad idea…)

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              Darn. Beat me by a minute. And yes, slippery slope! <grin>

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                Wouldn’t we need all of the logical fallacies?

                I think straw-man really is quite unique in its frequency, and so no, I do not think it will come to that. I could equally ask about the existing choices (which I’m sure are also part of some larger set of options that were not all included for whatever reason).

                (Is asking this one of them?)

                Nice. rimshot! But no, you are not arguing against a point I wasn’t making.

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                I would use ‘incorrect’ for this case — the person making the argument has incorrectly understood or represented what they are responding to.

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                  I would oppose that, especially because of my experience moderating multiple boards and users groups of the last few years. I don’t see a flag solving this problem.

                  I like that the limited number of downvotes in lobste.rs really drives the point home that downvotes are for cases where some moderator action can be taken (I don’t agree with the “incorrect” downvote for that reason, but on a tech site, I can understand why it is there).

                  The correct solution for straw-men in my opinion is calling them and not to further interact. Reply with a short sentence, don’t give any further points to hook another argument into, don’t explain beyond the bare minimum.

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                    I’d like to be able to downvote for a comment that’s just rude/unpleasant. Currently I’m downvoting polite but contentless me-toos while leaving correct but unpleasant posts alone, whereas actually I find the latter more objectionable.

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                      troll works fine for this, methinks.

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                        I think trolling has to do with intent–trying to get a rise out of someone. Sometimes people are unpleasant because they don’t care about what the other person thinks. Maybe a better flag name would be hostile?

                        Edit: thinking about this more, being hostile can be OK, I just don’t want to interact with people who are, as @lmm mentioned, rude/unpleasant.

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                      This request itself suggests to me we are headed more in the direction of Slashdot and HN. Fortunately we have a hide button, but it still means more noise for those of us who come here to try and learn something about computation, programming and math and not so much manufactured controversy and link baiting.