[This post is part of a series about online dialogue. Read the first post to better understand the context of this post.]


Understanding the obstacles

I’ll start out by listing a couple of common obstacles for good online dialogue i.e. causing a lot of negative outcomes, and blocking positive ones (see the first post for examples).

Clash of expectations:  Most of the time a discussion, dialogue or argument arise when someone is making a reply to someones shared thoughts. This is usually how it happens, and that is perfectly fine. But perhaps the initiator was expecting the positive experience of sharing and agreement and found someone replying to their post with the intention of solving a problem. This is not a problem in itself, and could potentially lead to more positive outcomes, but in reality this clash of expectations is often the cause of some of the negative outcomes discussed in my previous post.

I am right – you are wrong: Perhaps the easiest to spot of all obstacles in any discussion anywhere. While it should be considered a positive thing to share and stand by your opinion in general, it is often this attitude that leads to the worst cases of discussions.

Logical fallacies: There are numerous logical fallacies that are both consciously and unwittingly committed in discussions. Some of them comes from bad habits and some of them due to lack of experience in proper dialogue.

Sabotage or trolling: This is quite common in discussions where you participate anonymously or don’t personally know the other participants. It generally only exists in discussions where the saboteur has nothing to lose by provoking the other participants. Conscious discussion vandalism – just for the fun of it. In some cases this can lead to actual improvements in social deliberation skill, due to the practice of perspective taking (even if it’s not genuine), but should in most cases be considered an obstacle to good outcomes.

These are some of obstacles for good online dialogue . If we acknowledge that online dialogue can be something important and that the dialogue in itself has value and needs to be nurtured, chances are we can overcome most of these obstacles. I will get more in depth in my next post by discussing certain traits and techniques for better online dialogue. Stay tuned :)