1. E. C. Scrubb
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    E. C. Scrubb Active Member

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    A Question on Debating Substance vs. Discussing the Writing

    Discussion in 'Support & Feedback' started by E. C. Scrubb, Jul 24, 2012.

    I've only been here a couple days and have really enjoyed what I've seen so far. This site is very helpful.

    I have come across a couple threads that that I've responded in, and now have a question about where the mods draw the line when it comes to discussing the issue rather than discussing the writing (clarification: I'm not questioning their decisions but rather, asking for some clarification so that I don't cross the line).

    There's been one or two places where I've thought the presentation of the substance was factually off-center a little, so I responded that the substance may have been mishandled, and explained a little why I thought that, and then provided an example as to how a slight re-wording of the line or the phrase may help.

    I've not received any kind of warning or anything, but also know that I'm probably getting close to the line. I guess my take in that writers should present all sides fairly before engaging in opinion.

    So, is this kind of discussion of substance okay, as long as the substance itself is not actually debated? I know it's really murky, since defining the issue is 95% winning the debate. Could I hear some thoughts on this?

    Thanks!
    (I hope this doesn't come across as challenging forum rules or moderators - my intention is very much the opposite of that. I want to make sure I'm staying within the rules, yet still helping out fellow writers as much as possible).
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    We draw a hard line in the Writing Workshop. If it's not critique of the WRITING, it's off topic, and subject to removal without notice.

    When this rule is not enforced, subject matter debate derails the critique, and the Writing Workshop is for improving the critiquing and revision process.
     
  3. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    When I think that the _facts_ are wrong, I close my eyes to that, and if I can't bear that, I just don't critique the piece.

    When I think that there's a problem with both facts and structure, I'll address the structure. So, for example, if a piece has a structure that adds up to "A says X; A is clearly idiotic" I may suggest that some specific grounds for argument seem to be called for. But if it's "A says X; the fact that the moon is made of green cheese clearly proves that A is wrong", I'm back to closing my eyes.
     
  4. E. C. Scrubb
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    E. C. Scrubb Active Member

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    Cogito - I fully understand the reasons behind it and think that it is a great rule.


    Chicken - that seems like a good rule of thumb. Since I'm coming from the academic side, when critiquing papers, we tend to mesh argument and writing together - so that both get critiqued at the same time. Not so much "you're wrong" but rather, "Your opening argument of this section was not strongly supported by your facts, as you presented opinion here and here and here, without much evidence. THe result is a conclusion weakened by the argumentation. I guess that's the kind of thing I was asking.

    Is that considered arguing about the substance, or is that considered a discussion about the "writing" here.
     
  5. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I can't answer that in general. If in doubt, I try to remember that I don't have to find _every_ flaw, and I just bypass the issue that may or may not be OK to discuss.
     
  6. E. C. Scrubb
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    E. C. Scrubb Active Member

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    I think I got my answer. . . I went back and looked at some of the threads I posted in, to find my posts removed. While they weren't argumentative at all, (In one of them, the OP was really appreciative), they did touch on substance - one questioned the utilization of words that equaled fact vs. opinion.

    So I think I'll take your advice, CF... and thanks!
     

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