Change My View: Why Our Best Hope for Civil Discourse Is on Reddit

Virginia Heffernan profiles a fascinating subreddit where people have polite discussions about hot-button issues and emerge with their minds changed. More like this, please:

Once you submit a view, you’ve committed to a mental marathon. The rule that makes Change My View different from a freewheeling chat room is that a submitter is required to respond within three hours to brook respectful challenges to their view. You can’t just post and skedaddle for the day. If a submitter doesn’t respond to commenters in good time, they’re considered AWOL, insincere, or obdurate, and the board moves on.
So you train your attention on the topic, and stay and debate. In come the comments, raising questions and courteously testing your conviction. If you’re unmoved by the comments and refuse to modify your original submission, the debate comes to a close when commenters get tired of it. But if you are persuaded to change your view, and only when you decide it’s changed, you award a delta, the mathematical symbol for change, which is rendered by Option-J on a Mac. The delta goes to the commenter who you believe made you modify, or overturn, your view. To have your view changed or to change someone else’s view are both counted as victories.


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