Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Internet Arguments

Arguing over the Internet is one of life's most frustrating tasks. It's frustrating, time-consuming, and you rarely are able to convince anyone of anything. The initial post and maybe the first response have anything of interest to add. Afterward, it generally becomes a battle of assertion and counter-assertion, where both sides struggle for the last word. If you are lucky, accusations of question-begging abound, but usually it ends up with personal attacks and each side bashing the other's sources.

As someone who works in IT, it occurred to me that this would be a lot easier if I could just script my side of the debate. Since the intellectual level of an Internet argument is well below the standards for any reasonable Turing test, it can't be that hard. The key is to have the script or bot auto-respond so that it always gets the last word of any conversation. In a thread with multiple conversations, you might need to create criteria that your name has to be mentioned in order for the script to trigger.

The other key is to put enough randomness in the script so that the other side thinks that a human has read their crap and has taken the time to respond. It also helps the user of the script look like he is winning the argument, since he always seems to have a response. The real benefit is that it automates the arguing process, freeing you from the time vacuum that is Facebook, Twitter, and message boards.