I can understand how not every discussion is a debate and how not every debate is a discussion. I can also imagine how it might be frustrating when one person's trying to have a discussion and someone else is trying to have a debate - or vice-versa. Generally speaking, I consider a discussion to be an act of sharing - ideas, thoughts, and even opinions. I more or less consider a debate to be an act of unveiling - of the strengths and weaknesses of different opinions... and, hopefully, of the truth.
I believe there are times when the two intersect. When a discussion results in a difference-of-opinion or a disagreement about the facts, the participants are likely to attempt to resolve that disagreement. This offshoot of the discussion, which may merge back into the main topic, is a debate. Sometimes it's best to leave certain disagreements unresolved or to make a modest effort to find common ground, but there are times when the topic is so weighty or the participants are so invested that the debate continues.
This is perfectly reasonable, in my opinion. And it seems Webster's Dictionary agrees:
dis·cus·sionIt's clear that some people (and I'm not just talking about the source of that recent criticism) see focused disagreement as verbal conflict. Maybe that's true, but I don't believe there's anything wrong with conflict, in and of itself. What matters is how we go about it, how we conduct ourselves. Basically, it's about how we treat each other, but not about whether we agree with each other.
an act or instance of discussing; consideration or examination by argument, comment, etc., esp. to explore solutions; informal debate.
It's not that we disagree, but how we disagree. Well, that's how I see it, anyway.
In the blogosphere, there are places where it's perceived as inappropriate to comment on other people's comments. I guess the idea is that the post is the topic of discussion, so all commentary should be relative to only that post.
I tend to think that those of us within this sphere make up a broad community of-sorts and that those of us who comment on a particular blog topic are an even tighter community. As such, I find it natural for us to interact with each other the way communities do - through agreement and disagreement.
Maybe my perspective is too different from the prevailing opinion, though - whatever that may be. I've already seen how things like removing people from a blogroll is interpreted as the online equivalent of a slap in the face. *shrugs*
Personally, I frequent blogs because I enjoy the content and it suits my lifestyle. If a blog's content ceases to stimulate me or the posts are too infrequent or too long or I find that I'm not mature enough to keep my emotions (and, maybe language, in-check), then I scoot.
My blog roll isn't like those MySpace "friends" lists. I actually read the blogs I list. In fact, I use the blog roll like internet browser "bookmarks." That's how I check those blogs and websites out. When I stop checking them out, they usually come off the list.
If I see that my blog has come off of someone else's list, that doesn't stop me from frequenting their site. Obviously, there are a number of folks who feel differently (and, once again, this is not about the recent falling-out I mentioned). Hell, I recently realized that I don't know who's still got me on their blog roll.
That's largely irrelevant, to me. What is relevant, though, is whether they bother to respond when I and others comment. If not, I tend to lose interest because it feels like we're talking at each other instead of to each other. That's not very fun. (And I need to be careful of doing this, myself.)
There are some blogs I still enjoy, but don't bother to comment on for the above reasons, but those are the exceptions.
Anyway, I guess I'll stop here before I end up talking about every tangential subject under the sun. I'll keep welcoming and questioning and challenging opinions, though, until or unless I'm no longer welcome elsewhere and until no one feels welcome here.
Feel free to comment, whether you agree or disagree. Criticize my opinions or behavior, if you like, or just speak generally on the subjects.