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How to Not Make an Ass of Yourself in Online Discussions

Here are three rules to not making an ass of yourself when having online or in-person discussions.

Have Sources

If you’re going to make a claim, any claim, be prepared to back it up with sources. If you’re going to state a fact, you should not only be prepared to share your sources if asked, but you should probably just go ahead and put the sources right next to the claim you’re making.

No, “just look it up, you’ll see,” or “it’s common sense,” are not valid sources. In particular, don’t rely on someone “just getting it.” You might be surprised at how rarely someone “just gets” what you have to say if you’re not willing to back it up with sources or at least logical reasoning.

If you’re going to make a claim: Provide :clap: Your :clap: Sources :clap:

Be Respectful

Look, people are going to disagree with you. It’s normal for someone not to instantly agree with everything you have to say, but if you’re the kind of person who becomes hostile and tells someone to “go kill themselves” or something just because they don’t agree with you, you’re part of the problem.

It’s understandable to be frustrated when people can’t see what you mean or don’t want to listen to you, but you do yourself and your ideas a disservice when you become hostile. If you feel like lashing out, or someone is being disrespectful to you, walk away from the discussion. Not only is it not worth it, but people are going to eventually stop listening to you.

Be Aware of Logical Fallacies

Check out this list of Formal Fallacies and Informal Fallacies if you really want to start having better, more well-reasoned discussions.

Be aware of fallacies both you and your opposition are making. Not only to be able to call out fallacies when they use them, but also to avoid making stupid arguments by using them yourself.


So there you go, three simple rules to not making an ass of yourself when having discussions on the Internet (or in real life). If you do break one of these rules, don’t be afraid to apologize. It’s much better to own up to a mistake, learn, and grow from it than to be one of those people so stuck up you get lost in bad arguments and poor reasoning just to be right.

This is my eighty-eighth post for the #100DaysToOffload challenge. You can learn more about this challenge over at