Forums. Tumblr. Twitter.
They’re devolving into shouting matches where some people just go to agitate and throw stones. Listening/ reading is optional. They’re not discussions or debates, they’re debacles. Approaching this from a Steampunk perspective there was a method of solving disagreements / preserving honour. The duel. Can we bring that approach to online mudslinging?
I think there’s a web application possibility here. Comments/ arguments go on long enough and one party challenges another to a Duel. Duels have Weapons, Rules, a Judge, an Arena and occasionally an Audience.
Two that spring to mind are Words and Combat. Words could be debates or sources. Combat is more visceral and twitchy. It works as long as the Arena is public.
Where the duel takes place depends on weapons. Words can’t just be a continuation of the comment thread slanging match, something more rigid. This I think would benefit from a custom build debate-style application. Combat, well, there’s a tonne of online shooters/ battlefields/ fighters that would work splendidly for this. There would have to be a registration system that links the accounts of the participants from the original comments to the participants in the Arena. The Arena should also allow for an Audience and Judge.
Online games come with their own rules, but they may need to be extended for the Duel (e.g. Specific levels, specific weapons, etc.). Rules of Debate would be useful auto-enforced by the debate-application.
Some Arenas come with their own judges, such as shooters with health bars. Others require more nuance, or if the online arena has a specific Rule then a judge might be required to interpret. The judge needs to be impartial and trusted.
A public disagreement might benefit from a public duel. Or people might just want satisfaction amongst themselves.
I think this could be useful and interesting as a project/ tool for handling unruly comment forums. Thoughts?