This is a response to Jono's Blog about "Making our world more respectful".
There's always going to be debates in life, whether it be your job, your hobby, your mother, your spouse etc.. there's no avoiding it wherever you go. The debates that Jono mentions are those between different FOSS communities, we're all in it for the same goal, but we all want to go in different directions. Depending on the individual and how strongly they believe in their side will determine how your interactions with them will be.
In my opinion, I see the following four groups individuals can be put in for debates:
These type of people are the newbies to the topic. They typically start by picking a side and getting a feel to start with. The ability to change these peoples minds are fairly easy, and they are a common target for the spirited individuals which I will mention later. The most common mistake of the unknowledged is jumping straight into unchangeable without getting any feel for both sides.
These type of individuals are those who have hung out as the unknowledged for long enough that they have enough information to reasonably pick a side, and really have a good grasp on the topic. They can now expand their knowledge by talking to the spirited individuals on their side. The ability to change their minds will take a fair amount of discussion, but is definitely in the realm of possibilities.
These individuals have spent a good amount of time talking to others about their topic that they start to really believe in their side. These individuals are still open to viewpoints on the other side, and will give a great analysis about their side, and make for a very intriguing discussion. It would take a great realization for these individuals to change sides, but these individuals tend to agree to disagree and move on.
These individuals have gone overboard. They have taken their side as the only way to go. To these individuals there are no alternative options but their own. Getting into debates with these individuals is futile. They will continuously harass you, with the sole intention of forcing you to see their side only and berate you until you do. There is no agreeing to disagree. You've already told them you don't agree with their viewpoint and therefore you are deemed an enemy for life.
The place where I hope to see everyone in every community is in the spirited department. I love having discussions with those who believe strongly in an opposing viewpoint that will give me a very intriguing and philosophical discussion. If it comes to agreeing to disagree, then so be it. It's funny, but it's those that I agree to disagree with that I become good friends with. I believe this to be the case for a lot of others out there.
The effect of the unchangeables is that they are the most visible in the communities. They strive to make a scene, spread their viewpoint, won't take no for an answer. From the outside, it can commonly appear scary to those who are in the unknowleged category, and are yet to really take a side. They see the hostility, and they just walk the other way.
For those who are reading this, I don't want you to worry about the unchangeables. It's pointless. You should worry about yourself, and make your way to the good grasp and spirited categories. Ignore the commotion, and make those in the spirited community more visible by being a part of their group. It's not up to others to form your opinion about the FOSS community, it's solely up to your ability to look past the unchangeable and communicate with those who are truly open to discussion without hostility and make your own opinion. The more we can learn to communicate with each other in a non hostile way, the better everyone and everything turns out in the end.