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Re: What is "aggressive" argument?

by pemungkah (Priest)
on Oct 30, 2010 at 02:57 UTC ( #868423=note: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

in reply to What is "aggressive" argument?

I think the style of argument used in Re^16: Musing on Monastery Content leans a bit too much on telling the other poster he's wrong, and not enough on showing the why of it.

A style that concentrates less on the "someone is *wrong* on the Internet" aspect and more on "I'd like to demonstrate where the flaw in your reasoning is and why it's a flaw" will be more persuasive, come across as more polite, and will be useful to people who aren't sure who's right, even if what you're trying to do is illustrate that a different opinion may be more useful or productive.

"You're wrong", "your thinking is wrong", and "your logic is wrong" are all confrontational; the willingness to take the time to demonstrate alternatives implicitly acknowledges that there are two people in the conversation (possibly) trying to reach a consensus, and that you're not simply dismissing the other person, but listening and taking what they say, think, and feel into your statements.

I'd like to try to demonstrate an alternative approach to what you had to say. In this case, you're trying to impart that both the assumptions and conclusions are incorrect, so let's see how we can approach that and gently apply a cluebat.

A note: it looks as if this thread wandered off into the weeds because this was an argument that proceeded from assumptions without those ever having been clearly stated: some assumed that each monk retains copyright to his or her postings, and therefore all rights to control its use. Others assumed that the site automatically was assigned copyright of the posting when a posting was made. The original question was "Should a monk's posting's be deletable or not?" There were no actual answers - and couldn't be - because the actual facts were never established. (And those are "what are the terms of the Perlmonks site user agreement?".)

There are two possibilities. If a site does not require the users to sign a license allowing the site rights to the content they provide (cf. Facebook's user agreement, or Twitter's), then the user retains all copyright and has the ultimate say about whether or not the site may publish the content. If a license is agreed to, then the terms of that license apply. Since the license terms were never established, no one was arguing from facts, and instead it was merely a clash of opinion (though the supporters of "user has control" were "more right" on the basis of default conditions if no others are established).

Moving on anyway: apotheon argued that the site had a right to continue to publish as long as credit was properly given. He assumes there is always a blanket license that grants rights to the publisher, and in that he is incorrect - but since he was arguing from "how it ought to be" not "how it is", there was no way to refute his point of view without establishing facts, and that hadn't happened by the time you made your post.

This means no one's argument was really "valid" - as in, argued from facts to conclusions, because differing "facts" were assumed by each side! Let's see how we might have approached this to establish a basis for argument and then drawing a solid conclusion from it - without making anyone feel as if they're being personally attacked.

I think you are arguing from a basis that may not apply here. The point that we're disagreeing on is "what are the default rights of the author versus those of the site?" (I lay out the basis of the disagreement first, politely stating that this is what I think is going on, as opposed to what "is" right. "You are" statements are inherently confrontational, as they challenge the listener to defend. "I think", "I feel", "it looks to me as if" statements present a viewpoint without putting the listener in a defensive position.)

International copyright law applies to all forms of expression (and posts here fall under that, as they are written communications) as soon as they are created (in opposition to the old style, where you had to apply to the Copyright Office for a specific copyright).(Establishing the factual basis which was lacking, specifically that posts are copyrightable, and that the copyright automatically exists.)

By default the author retains all rights of publication of any kind unless they are otherwise assigned to someone else (the author gives up his rights to someone else) or the publisher gets a license to use the content (a site EULA, for instance, that provides for the site to use and continue to use the content, and spells out the conditions in which that is permitted).(Establishing base conditions and implications of the basis, and ramifications, including items that could make the other's points valid under certain conditions.)

The assumption that an automatic right-to-republish license applies whenever someone publishes content on a site is incorrect. In the absence of rights assignment to the publisher, or a agreed-to license permitting it, an author can assert his or her right to refuse publication, and the publisher must accede and take down the content. This is why the RIAA can demand that MP3s be taken down: they have either been assigned the rights, or are acting for the original author to insist that unlicensed publication cease. (Illustration of the specific flaw in the reasoning; familiar example of how the actual situation applies. Note that it's the assumption that isn't correct, not the person!)

Most sites do license content, but even then they generally do not require the author to allow them an irrevocable license in perpetuity (this grants the licensee the right to republish on the site while the author retains the right to republish elsewhere - note that the author has signed away the right to withdraw the content explicitly). Most licenses at websites are much more limited, allowing the site to continue to use the material only until the user withdraws it or requests that it be removed. (Detailing conditions where he could have been right, but showing they don't apply.)

I agree that it would be a lot better if a Perlmonks user couldn't withdraw material from a thread, but it appears from the way things were done that there is either no licensing agreement, or the license is limited to "permission of the user to publish, revocable anytime". The assumption that this exists by default doesn't agree with current copyright law: the ability to publish does not establish the right to do so, whether or not one possesses the material in question. (Acknowledging that there are valid positive reasons to hold the opinion he does, but stating politely that those reasons don't override other established facts, followed by a solid summary of the position taken.)

That's an illustration - establishing the specific basis of the disagreement, neutrally marshaling facts to support one's position, and illustrating the logical steps from the facts to your conclusions, and pointing out why it's not possible to get from the facts to the other person's assumptions.

If you get a reply that essentially says "I reject your reality and replace it with my own!" then you have to politely say, "I don't think your assumption is correct; I also don't think I'm going to change your mind on this. Shall we agree that we don't agree on this?" (Note the use of I-language and we-language - consensus-building effort to agree on something, even if it's "we both think the other is wrong about this".)

This is also an attempt to apply these same concepts to this post - trying to establish the bases for my opinions on arguing effectively without telling you you're wrong for arguing differently. :)

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