Notes on debating for the web development community

Don’t. Just don’t debate. Especially if the issue is an important one.

It took me decades to figure this out, despite clear evidence from several fields (like psychology), and being backed by substantial research. I’ve always been an argumentative bastard, but arguing and debating people just doesn’t change their minds. It does the opposite: the exercise of having to come up with explanations and rationalisations for their point of view makes their conviction in their point of view stronger.

Debating people lowers the odds of them changing their minds and directly undermines your own position. The best thing to do—and I’m still trying to get into the habit of doing this properly—is to:

Unless you want to undermine your own position and force others to strengthen their resolve:

I managed to reach middle age without learning this lesson and it’s a lesson I’m still struggling to heed. My tendency to argue and debate has done nothing but undermine the positions that I hold and the values that matter to me.

My advice to the web developer and javascript communities: don’t make the same mistake I’ve kept making for decades. Debate doesn’t change minds. Exchanging information and explaining your context—empathy—is the only thing that works.