General Question

allengreen's avatar

Do tough questions, when posed to the "collective", bring out high quality responses?Or do tough questions bring out the lowest common denominators of the collective group?

Asked by allengreen (1618points) July 31st, 2008
Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

34 Answers

andrew's avatar

If by “tough” you mean well-thought out questions that raise interesting point, then yes, they do get great responses.

If by “tough” you mean misleadingly provocative, then no, that just brings out the lowest common denominator of askers.

allengreen's avatar

What does “misleadingly provocative” mean?
1.tending or serving to provoke; inciting, stimulating, irritating, or vexing.

Misleadingly: adjective deceptive; tending to mislead.

Is the above, “misleadingly provocative”?
Who decides? The Collective? The lowest common denominator?

What if “tough” means practical, realistic, and lacking in sentimentality; tough-minded?

ebenezer's avatar

if there is a good answer, it seems to appear. Here.

I have supplied some lame answers. But some people here do a damn good job of hitting the nail on the head (if there is a nail)

allengreen's avatar

@ebenezer——no lame answers, only lame people :)

allengreen's avatar

@god who decides what questions “raise interesting point”?

dland's avatar

Andrew’s phrase “misleadingly provocative” probably means a question written in the form of a sincere, but provocative question (“Can a person both support the death penalty and oppose abortion?”), but which is instead intended merely to be shocking or stir up trouble, but in which the poster has no real interest in the answers. Sometimes called a troll.

Your question seems to be sincere, it raises an interesting point, and it is getting some sincere, quality answers.

(Like this one :-))

allengreen's avatar

@dland—how does one differentiate between “disruption and argument” and “and lacking in sentimentality; tough-minded” question and debate?
Does the “collective” decide that?
Should all questions be of the nature of “what do I do when my cat wants to play with…” or “ever notice that so and so pinches cheeks more often that so and so?”

Is anyone aware of a forum where meaningful relevant sociological discussion are appropriate?

Still waiting on snarky-god…

delirium's avatar

Meaningful relevant sociological discussion is appropriate. It all depends on the tact with which you state it.
Some people ask a question simply to preach their opinion. That is not a good question.

dland's avatar

@allengreen: On Fluther, there are several classes of “questions:

Some, like “How do you generate random strings of characters in PHP?” are genuine questions, seeking real answers. The asker would probably have done better to hit Google and find the answer for his or herself.

Then there are those, like yours, that seek to promote an interesting (in the eyes of those who choose to participate) debate or discussion.

Others are no more then the electronic equivalent of “tagging” your name on someone else’s wall.

Still others are just… out of kilter with the purpose of Fluther: “I had a baby girl, want to see pictures?” strikes me as this sort. There are plenty of places to brag about your baby, I don’t think that is what Fluther is for.

A “good” Fluther question, to me, is one where the asker sincerely wants to learn something or to engender a discussion that will be interesting to the collective, and where the collective’s answers will be of interest in the future.

allengreen's avatar


shilolo's avatar

@Allen. For someone who seems so interested in having a “healthy” debate, you sure have mastered the art of provocation. Your so-called question, and many before them, are veiled attempts at inciting angry responses. Please remove whatever chip you have on your shoulder, and, if after achieving that feat, you feel ready to have a wholesome discussion on a wide range of topics, any number of people would be happy to engage with you.

allengreen's avatar

@shi—sorry you are having a bad day—I can’t sleep either

shilolo's avatar

@Allen. What a well constructed answer. I’m impressed. Really, I am.

kevbo's avatar

I sure do miss Zack.

allengreen's avatar

@shi——chip in my pocket, tattoo on my shoulder, frog in my throat…..

aaronou's avatar

I think the question seems to have been somewhat lost at this point.

I would say this particular question posed in the original form does raise an interesting point. I mean, it basically seems to ask who’s controlling the forum. Because the truth is that if, say, the majority of flutherers were Muslim, and someone asked a “tough” question concerning religion, the responses would be quite in agreement and perhaps not allow for much open thought due to the fact that all were in agreement on the matter. Perhaps this would then allow the collective to be dominated by one view and thus represent something that is not of the highest quality, I suppose.

Take my question earlier posed on homosexuality and transexuality. You have to ask, who is controlling the forum? Now, if a wide range of beliefs are represented, and dialogue is open, you would hope that somewhere in the midst of that, you would end up with a “high quality” response. Yet, if say, the only sample of answers given are by a group of individuals who all share the same view, then it does not allow for quite as much discussion. It is true that this group could indeed be right in what they believe. However, diversity does seem to allow for a more open dialogue, and competing views and opinions, civilly discussed, can sometimes offer a more full response.

So again, you just have to ask, is any one alliance controlling the responses. I am sure many would hate it if Christians flooded this site and dominated conversation so much so that no other view could get through. But, on the other end, I am sure fluther would be happy to welcome some honest open dialogue from a Christian point of view, along with numerous other points of view when attempting to answer a question.

aaronou's avatar

“The object of opening the mind is like opening the mouth, it is to once again shut it on something solid” G.K. Chesterton

I think this is what many of us should hope to achieve in these discussions on fluther. We open our minds to consider all the possibilites in hopes of eventually landing upon what we decide best and forming it as a belief.

Lightlyseared's avatar

Both. Ocasionally at the same time

wildflower's avatar

Tough questions like “Can you explain quantum physics in a way that a novice will understand?” (see, I think that’s tough because maths and physics are so not my subjects!) will probably get plenty of BS answers, but if lucky, there will also be one or two that will actually try – perhaps even successfully – to give a good explanatory answer.

Questions that really are more like angry statements with a ”?” at the end, will get all sorts of answers, but it doesn’t really matter because in those cases, the asker isn’t really interested in them and will sooner seek a confrontation with those who answer than to explore the different and new views offered.

SuperMouse's avatar

Here is a tough question that was answered beautifully. It generated a high level of discourse, it brought about a bit of debate, and ultimately the asker was able to get some great resources and take a giant step toward solving the problem.

@AG, I understand the reasoning behind this and some of your other questions. You want to stir things up\. Though you might see it as trying to get people to think, you like to get people going. This is evidenced by your jumping back into your threads with more provocative statements designed to get the responders to take you on.

The attraction of boards such as this are the differences of opinions and the banter back and forth. Ideally, the toughest questions will bring about the best conversation, but when people pose questions, or jump into a thread simply to bait others, this will not be the case and the conversation will sink to the lowest common denominator.

syz's avatar

There have been plenty of difficult and divisive questions posted on Fluther. And if the person posting is truly interested in alternate opinions or seeking information, then that person assess the answers and decides whether or not to adjust their own opinions. Spirited discourse is invigorating.

There are other individuals who post inflammatory questions/ comments and then deride and abuse anyone who expresses an opinion that differs from their own. That is not intelligent debate – that is a closed mind, an inflexible intellect, and a waste of time.

(Personal attack to follow?)

marinelife's avatar

I have been responding in these last three and a half months to plenty of tough questions. In those threads, there have been a variety of viewpoints. Many people disagree with me, and I disagree with them. This question had a 127 responses and a lot of differing viewpoints and intense debate. As did this question currently at 63 responses and counting. Or this question posed shortly after I joined Fluther.

These tough questions differ from the ones you asked because the questioner was genuinely interested in the range of responses. When things got heated, the parties remained civilized and remained in dialogue.

I am not sure what your motive has been. You use deliberately provocative phrasing. When you get a response that tags you for that, you act as if you had no ulterior motive and did not mean to engender upset responses. Then you attack or characterize the responder (as in your snarky comment to Andrew above). If someone attacks you back or points out this inconsistency, you roll over and play innocent again.

Whatever your motive, in order to have genuine debate, you have to be genuine. You have not been in many of the questions that you have posted.

gailcalled's avatar

@AG; an annoying and ultimately unsuccessful technique is to answer in an inflammatory and bellicose manner; apologize, albeit insincerely and return and repeat. I am naming no names, please note.

susanc's avatar

Let us consider the ad hominem argument.
Marina, could you explain this for us all?
I am so lame at finding links.
Generally, I understand these “arguments” to be name-calling in response to reasoned and sincere efforts to communicate, which might have shifted a point of view if they’d been
given half a chance.
Name-calling is tempting, but most of us are too grown-up to resort to it. I can’t say why.
It’s curious.

ninjaxmarc's avatar

great stuff I just want to put my little .02 cents on this question.

allengreen's avatar

I take heat here, but ever notice that my so called misleading questions get more action than 90% of the questions posed here?

I still want to know what Milo does when his belly is scratched a certain way….that is the kind of Supreme Fluther Question.

And where did the Coward go, who said “If by “tough” you mean well-thought out questions that raise interesting point, then yes, they do get great responses.

If by “tough” you mean misleadingly provocative, then no, that just brings out the lowest common denominator of askers.”

and then disappeared. HI COWARD! Where are you?

wildflower's avatar

Honestly, what you’re looking for is clearly not to tap in to the opinions, expertise, knowledge and experience of your fellow Fluther members, but rather to instigate flame wars. There’s a million and one forums out there for just that purpose, why use a Q&A forum for it?
I don’t get it…

shilolo's avatar

@allen. Your questions get a lot of responses because you deliberately push peoples’ buttons, and they respond in kind. If I may ask, what do you personally get out of this forum? Is it the enjoyment of ruffling some feathers? You clearly don’t want to have meaningful discussions, so perhaps you might consider focusing your energies on a troll-based website.

SuperMouse's avatar

Allen, Allen, Allen, what is your purpose here? Really? Did you really resurrect an inactive thread just to call one of Fluther’s founders a coward? Visit Shilolo’s site, maybe you can get some people over there worked into a tizzy.

jrpowell's avatar

“Who gives better head, McCain or Obama?”

It is a shitty question but you will get lots of responses. But it is still stupid.

You are a troll allen, and a bad one at that.

allengreen's avatar

Is the level of anger commensurate with the topic, or the vitriolic spew?
in my world, it is cowardly to inject demeaning comments and then dive for the cover of a desk or duck into the bosses. So I think it fair to point that out, weather it is you, or a founder, or a self proclaimed genius.
My purpose, (that is a weird questions, like having a purpose for scratching and itch or reading news or what purpose do I have for striking conversation in a bar or at a lunch room, but here goes) is to have polemic discussions, discourse, debate. To hear other folks ideas, and to have those folks criticize mine. I wonder at the level of animosity that a handful of you “fluther’s” display. I kind of feel for you, to be so sensitive and underdeveloped psychologically, that you cannot maintain civility and disagree with someone. But it does reflect our culture, and is not unique to this board.
I do like to push buttons on some topics. I think folks need certain issues rubbed in their faces sometimes, and I’m not in the least sorry for it. Yet, it does not behoove me to call you names or attack you personally.

As far as instigating flame wars, yeah, OK, sure. But is sure must take a fragile person to get all tizzied by my musings. It is massively entertaining to see how some of you act, but who knows what stays behind these profiles. And what kind cat spends enough time “fluthering themselves” to get 8000+ points, I mean, what kind of cat would invest them selves into that——I’m gotta stop be cause I’m ROFLMMFAO. And Good Night

I’ve done it—and yeah I called the founder a coward—publically. A founder should have the character to answer and even apoligize for being rude, and mischaracterizing my question.

gailcalled's avatar

Allengreen; Milo is really offended at your ad felinenum attacks. And he is particularly confused by your double-speak. (Pubically is really quite different than publicly, BTW.)

If he had opposable thumbs, he’d be online now. He’s that kind of cat.

dland's avatar

@allengreen—It’s been a long time since I visited this thread, and it is exhibiting some of the qualities that make Fluther so… interesting and frustrating.

Frankly, I don’t understand your level of vitriol at Andrew, who made what seemed to me a decent comment that didn’t necessitate his return to this thread, and yet you call him a COWARD. I don’t get it.

This thread, which began with what one might think of as a “tough” question—one that doesn’t have an easy answer, that seeks to trigger a thoughtful debate—has been answered not so much by the substance of its answers, but by their tone: a mix of the serious and the silly, the vitriolic and the pointless.

In short, the answer to your question is, “yes”. Tough questions bring out high-quality answers and the lowest common denominator, because that is what you get with community-generated content: a crazy mix of quirks and jibes, philosophy and trash.

For the sake of disclosure, I work at LiveWorld, where we create venues for community-generated content.

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