People come up and talk to me, usually on public transit, wanting
to know how to access the newsgroups on the Internet so the
terrible urges will go away. I try to give these people what help
I can stand, but it saddens and distracts me to know how many out
there don't know how to properly behave on that great landfill of
the intellect known as Usenet. It is for them that this guide was
Picking a Battle
Feel free to argue about anything that interests you, but
keep this in mind: you have a moral obligation to challenge
people's assumptions, particularly the assumption that
they're not morons. So make sure that you pick the newsgroup
where the most people are going to disagree with you.
A simple template for your first post: "People who are into
[insert subject of newsgroup] are such losers!"
A Life, The Getting Thereof
There are only two valid activities in this world: personally
attending to the injured and hungry, and picking fights
in newsgroups. Everything else -- from political protest to
playing "go" -- indicates someone who has too much spare time and
needs to get a life. Point this out to them: they'll thank you for it
Whenever anyone calls you a chowderhead,
tells you they've heard
more coherent statements from randomly arranged Scrabble tiles,
or disagrees with you, they are practicing censorship.
People who believe in free speech keep their opinions to themselves.
Except you, of course.
Remember, the forces of those who disagree with you are a
monolith of credulity and/or skepticism. You can freely assume
that any one of them is a spokesperson for the whole mob.
If one person who believes in gay rights also believes that
the egg salad sandwiches at the 7-11 are controlling his mind,
they all do!
Please do! One important thing, though: don't actually refer
to your opponent's argument. This just distracts
from the refreshing change of pace found in speculating about
his or her social life, sexual practices, and possible theoretical
criminal background. Extra bonus hint: come up with a mocking variation
on your adversary's name and use that in all postings.
Once you've reached a stalemate on an unanswerable subject
(Existence of God, Death Star vs. Enterprise, &c.), that doesn't
mean the fun has to end there. Oh, heavens no! Try arguing about
who has the "burden of proof." Remember to say "Occam's Razor"
a lot. Occam was a fun guy who loved to have his name invoked
in arguments about whether daisies can think. He would have agreed
This one's pretty obvious: you win when you say you win. After all,
who's more qualified to judge the depth and wit of your reasoning
than yourself? So make sure to keep everyone informed by reminding
them in each post that you are winning, or more accurately that you've won and
are just continuing the discussion because your tea isn't done yet.
Emergency Back-Up Plan
Sometimes things don't go right, and you may find yourself
fleetingly doubting your ironclad arguments. When this happens,
do not question yourself! Who knows where that could lead?
Instead, if you must, stop arguing. However, you can't leave people
with the impression that you were wrong, so make as much noise about
not arguing as you can. Explain that your opponent is not worth
responding to, that they are biased and "PC" (it doesn't matter
what the argument is: "PC" is now a synonym for "inclined to
disagree with me"), and that you will no longer respond to them,
except possibly to explain a couple more times why you're not responding.
Then pat yourself on the back for a job well done.