PersuasiveContent

If you want to make a WikiDebateBase, you need persuasive content.

Two things can make content persuasive :

Who are you writing for ?

Lay people largely rely on trusted relations to determine truth. “I trust those people, and they said foo,” or “I trust so-and-so, and he said bar. Superior evidence or argument may persuade a lay person, but you should not expect lay people to be persuaded by it. People know that their trusted parties may have a way to counter your evidence, they are just not on hand to counter it. This is called the (Wikipedia:Two-step flow of communication,) and the person that is trusted is called an opinion leader.

That doesn’t mean you should try to subvert people’s trust in their opinion leaders. (Unless their opinion leader is not reasonable!) Rather, it means that you should write for the opinion leader.

Quality Content

This is probably the most important element.

A WikiDebateBase mostly relies on quality content.

A reasonable opinion leader is looking for facts, verifiable sources, good argument, clear language. In short, anything that can help communicate quicker, clearer, and in a more trustworthy way.

So, it is imperative, if you are constructing PersuasiveContent, to…

If you can construct a good enough explanation, something that allows even lay people’s knowledge to peer with what was previously called an expert, then you have done something very powerful. You have turned the lay people into opinion leaders. They no longer need to rely on an expert, and can reason over the situation at hand on their own.

Technology and gobs of money are the only forces that can make that happen. There are very real costs that make the manufacture of good enough explanations prohibitively expensive. What are these costs? A ton of “little things” that get in the way.

All of these things contribute to IntelligenceFailure. Fortunately, we in technology are combating them, and are already seeing signs of success, such as the creation of WikiPedia.

People frequently make a moral argument about choice in strategy. “You shouldn’t be in Information Technology. You should be out here, working on food, or on poverty, or somethign like that.” Our response should be: “Without the ability to decide one way or another, without the ability to make, or even to communicate, an informed decision, we cannot form a persuasive strategy. We are reduced to trying to figure out how to get people to trust us, rather than some other person, by trickery and deceit. The books are literred with stories of multi-million dollar aid efforts that had near-zero effect after the money was spent. Our belief is that, by making it possible to collect facts, understand ideas, communicate ideas, and by making it possible to verify that what is said is true- then we can make informed decisions, then we can make persuasive explanations, then we can know what direction is right, and which is wrong.”

The technologist is able to make persuasive content that then frames a new understood reality. When opinion leaders see the new persuasive content, they will be surprised, and their opinions will change.

About which wikis to use :

For quality, a ManagedWiki is probably better. A ScratchWiki may not be persuasive at all. ContentOverCommunity will make more “serious” content, less tangential conversation, less unfocused brainstorming.

Defeasible Reasoning

“When at least some of the arguments are defeasible, they must be teased out and tested by a process of give and take. The opposition has to be given its day, and if possible, shown to be wrong. Simply to assert one’s position, without considering the opposition, is to take the weaker position. In order to advance knowledge, it is necessary to engage in an ongoing conversation, a conversation with rules and procedures related to its shared purposes: reasonable dialog.” (some web page on Defeasible Reasoning) (emphasis added)

This translates very well into the online world.

Knowing that words are being put up for testing, and furthermore where to find the testing itself, can make a wiki’s content more persuasive.

On C2, I find arguments on programmer’s productivity more persuasive than whole books dedicated to productivity found in the bookstore, even though those books in the bookstore may cite various scientific studies.

The reason scrawled handwriting (by comparison) on C2 is more persuasive, is because it is defeasible, and there are plenty of people around doing just that.

That’s why a CommunalWiki may present more persuasive content than a ManagedWiki, and a Wiki more persuasive content than a static website.

Static websites are maybe the least “defeasable” - there’s no way to know if they didn’t leave something big out. Having a FeedbackLoop? that allows for “enemy content”, and survives, can be a good sign.

If you show that you are ready to listen to all arguments, and to changed your mind when presented with new ideas, people may be more likely to listen to what you say.

Allowing for public comments is also a good sign that you aren’t afraid of contradicting arguments.

WikiForDebate (DoubleWiki, WikiDramaForDebate …) mostly relies on “Defeatable Reasoning”.

“opennes” may not be that good for the stability of the wiki - deep disagreements may ruin a community - see IntegrationAndIdentity for more on that. that’s why, for now at least, RadicalInclusiveness at the wiki level may not be such a good idea.

Note that these two aspects don’t necessarily contradict each other ! - especially if you seperate criticism / discussion from the main content pages (SplitThePage ?)

See Also

CategoryCommunication

Discussion

I created this page to regroup what I saw as a common point between KnowledgeFromDebate and WikiDebateBase. “open mindedness” may not be the best name - ability to listen ?

Some quick thoughts:

  • Persuasive… …to who? TheAudience plays a critical role.
  • It occurs to me: providing hyperlinks is a way of standardizing the audience. “If you needed to know X, well, … it’s over there. Educate thyself.”

What I would want to have this page say:

  • Wiki can help collect knowledge from many people, and many times, thus making higher quality pages. (We’ve rehashed this one to death, though I’m not sure what the page is. AccessFailure.)
  • ScratchWiki hold content that can only persuade / educate newbies. Reasoning: ScratchWiki are volatile. The only things that will persist are things that “everybody” agrees on. The only people who could disagree are newbies to the entire field, and they will likely be convinced when they see that everybody agrees. Example: “there are if blocks in C.” For anything remotely controversial though, the ScratchWiki cannot persuade. Content will change constantly, arguments will not cohere, the page database will have no integrity. How persuasive is an argument on C2? We see might-making-right there, which is not persuasive.
  • ManagedWiki can be very informative and clean. They can present information that is highly refined, full of links, answers to questions, etc., etc.,. That said, we may feel that it’s too clean. We might like to hear what the opposition has to say, after all, right?
  • CommunalWiki aren’t just pamphlets on the Internet; They’re pamphlets with people behind them. People can ask questions of the CommunalWiki, even challenge it’s opinion on something. If it’s an area where the wiki is SelectivelyOpenMinded, the wiki may even change it’s mind, or at least it’s course. When people know that people can be persuaded of something, they feel that much more comfortable considering what they have to say. Who cares what a Fundamentalist has to say, if nothing could ever change what they have to think?

I suppose there is a process behind the scenes here:

  • I come to the table with my ideas.
  • You come to the table with yours.
  • I will agree to consider your ideas, if you agree to consider mine.
  • We go back and forth a few times, comparing ideas with each other.
  • I may join your side, you may join my side, we may go down some new path, we may keep to our sides, etc., etc.,.

“But if you won’t consider my side, I won’t consider your side.”

Is that entirely true? No. We entertain the perspectives of others all the time.

Hell, our mind has even automated the process: When we see written words, we automatically parse them. Our mind has a porch.

Sometimes we see an idea on the porch, think, “well, yep, you look about right. Yep, yep, that checks out. Yep, yep, that looks good- that’s a hard signal to fake there, that there that’s what that is. Okay, alright, you come on in now.” Then you have a conversation with it, bring it on in, and, away you go with it. Next thing you know, it’s doing your dishes for you, or whatever.

I apologize, but, all of a sudden, this has all become hopelessly abstract. I need some concrete.

The feeling I have is:

  • If I visit a wiki, and know that they are open to having a conversation with me, or might listen to something I have to say, even as a total stranger, as long as it is relevant, then- I am that much more open to considering what they have to say. They have promised to serve me, in a respect. They have said: “If you want to talk about Foo, if you have some disagreement with us, then we’re willing to consider it, at least initially.” And that means, for my part, I think: “Okay, now, I can take this thing more seriously. I can have an interaction here. If I disagree with this thing, they are willing to have an engagement, and improve it, or whatever.”

Gah. I’m going home. I’m ditching this page. ;)

…okay, not quite ditching the page.

I have just now discovered something: An articulation of the concept of “Defeasible Reasoning.”

“When at least some of the arguments are defeasible, they must be teased out and tested by a process of give and take. The opposition has to be given its day, and if possible, shown to be wrong. Simply to assert one’s position, without considering the opposition, is to take the weaker position. In order to advance knowledge, it is necessary to engage in an ongoing conversation, a conversation with rules and procedures related to its shared purposes: reasonable dialog.” (some web page on Defeasible Reasoning) (emphasis mine)

Knowing that words are being put up for testing, and furthermore where to find the testing itself, can make a wiki’s content more persuasive.

On C2, I find arguments on programmer’s productivity more persuasive than whole books dedicated to productivity found in the bookstore, even though those books in the bookstore may cite various scientific studies.

The reason scrawled handwriting (by comparison) on C2 is more persuasive, is because it is defeasible, and there are plenty of people around doing just that.

That’s why I believe a CommunalWiki, more than a ManagedWiki, may present more persuasive content.

I partly integrated the bit on “defeasable reasoning” into the article. I’m realizing that this page is talking about quite a few things, it could take some more refactoring (PersuasiveWiki? to move the discussion about different kinds of wikis out ? Hmm, then it just boils down to WikiForDebate.)

Define external redirect: OpenClipArtLibrary FeedbackLoop PersuasiveWiki

EditNearLinks: WikiForDebate TheAudience DoubleWiki

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