TED Conversations

Mike Colera


This conversation is closed.

Why is there so much vitriol expressed by TED contributors in conversations on contentious subjects?

I have been a contributor to many conversations. I am opinionated,and I freely express those opinions. I even try to add some facts to support my opinions. Or, at least some logical rational.
Why are so many comments laced with words and phrases like "Stupid, Idiot, unschooled, bible thumping redneck, and many I won't repeat here. Some rise to the level of threat to do bodily harm and death wishes. I know there are subjects that raise passion. I know that in a rage, words are typed. OK! However, there is a delete key and an opportunity to read your words before you hit submit. Been there, done that.
Still, these words and phrases continue to show up. I don't know why.
It's rude, uncivilized and worse, name calling has never strengthen an argument.
Can anyone explain why this happens and why it should be accepted?

PS. I know there is a process where we can ask the TED system to review and delete improper comments, I haven't done that because no one else seems disturbed. Am I wrong to question such comments?


Closing Statement from Mike Colera

I came to a conclusion yesterday as I thought about all that had transpired in this conversation. I expressed my appreciation to all the participants. As I give it more thought, many comments were similar to my conclusions that vile name calling was an uncalled for comment. A few suggested that when ... you play with fiery topics, you get burned. I understand great passion and excitement but I was not comfortable with those comments.
Thanks to all participants again.

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    Jun 9 2013: Name calling? Vitriol? Among TEDsters? Where?

    I have actually seen very little of the above, or not enough to be disturbed. I'm either new or completely inexperienced here. Maybe I'm deluding myself. Or maybe I'm not a TEDster but a TEDdy... Or a combination.
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      Jun 9 2013: Whatever you would like to call yourself Anna, I'm glad you are here. I agree with you in that most people comment with kindness and respect:>)
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      Jun 10 2013: I had a boss once who told me that making the highest score on the companies test was an indication that you could create a better lie about why you were not giving your all to the job.

      Simple words like "stupid" will not often be found around the TED site but, you find their substitutes disguised in phrases like: "...if you would only read the research or view the video or listen to the audio, you would understand how wrong you are..."

      Because we are emotional creatures, this emotion wells up from time to time to a level not really intended. That's why we have an edit and delete button on the comments section.

      Some of us claim to use this facility and take time to think, but not always. Often, yes. Always, no.

      Sometimes if you don't like someone, you might find yourself opposing their view, even if the view is valid. That's just our nature. It creeps into almost every communications technology we create. Sometimes, people are more self-centered than they can notice themselves or really don't have a valid opinion on the subject and just want to be noticed. I try to notice everyone but not always the way they want it.

      I have found, if you stay with it, eventually you learn the rules of the game and become a better commentor. Practice makes perfect. With that in mind, those with the most experience should make some allowence for those with the least.

      Many commenters don't have a valid Email address in their profile. I use mine often and usually have more indepth conversations about a subject, than can be civilly accomplished in the public venue. Even when someone is adamantly in disagreement with me, they appear more calm and open to discussion in the Email.

      Sometimes (don't you love the word "sometimes"), I get Email responses from people I never get a comment from or see them comment in any discussion. People are shy... sometimes. :)
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        Jun 10 2013: I agree with you, all of that is true. We're not machines, we are emotional creatures that suffer from cognitive imperfections and dissonance. Some don't have opinions, just seek attention, some shy away from attention but have strong views - people are different and their awareness of themselves vary.

        However, especially here, I try to liberate myself from WHO is giving me the content and concentrate on the content itself. I'm saying this because of what you said about reacting to valid views negatively because of our opinion or feeling about the provider of the view.

        Example - do you remember the talk by Kid President - We all need a pep-talk? I typed my comment to this talk, then scrolled down and saw quite a different one saying, in brief, "what is THIS doing on TED?!" This quite firm, critical, even harsh comment was rated quite high by others which made be frown. I do not believe that the speaker cared much, that's not what I'm saying :) It's possible that the harsh commenters (whom I have nothing against) expected an expert an a subject and the comment in question was a consequence of their discontent or dissatisfaction, mine was just content-base (so wait the minute, what the kid is saying is this BUT this and that and so on...)

        When it comes to your boss - I've never heard anything similar, that's interesting. But what was the test?

        You can have a look at this talk, it's not completely unrelated since it's about communication and the word lie is mentioned - "Remi has never told a lie..."


        Yes, I like to word 'sometimes' too, I also prefer frequently and rarely to always or never. Always and never are promises... at least frequently, but not always - sometimes you can use 'always' :)
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          Jun 10 2013: I understand completely what you are saying Anna. There is some resonance in what you say with what I said.

          The boss thing relates to an actual event that happened in one of my Job interviews. It was an electronics firm in the early 80's and I got all the answers correct on the test.

          I was a bit full of myself and this annoyed the Tester who replied that bit of philosophy to me.

          It goes towards being too smart and how this can work against you. Intelligence can be applied in behaviors that are good, bad or in between. Sometimes in the business world they don't want someone who is too smart because they could be hard to handle or control.

          Sometimes when we think we are helping someone by giving them advice about the way they write a comment, it could appear condescending to them, even when we mean well. I have been guilty of this, many times.

          You can always use sometimes if that is what you mean or can't think of an appropriate word. :)
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          Jun 11 2013: You need to select your Account in the upper right-hand corner of the page.
          On the right hand side of the page that comes up will be two selections.
          Select the second choice.
          In the first section of the page, you will see the words 'subscribe' Set your choices there. I have all the 'subscribe' choices selected.
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          Jun 12 2013: That pretty well takes care of TED. I'd look into something to do with junk mail in your email client. I use Thunderbird and Firefox. What are you using?

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