On Opinions and Personal Attacks

This morning, I read Paul Boag’s post which includes a comment on personal attacks I very much liked. It’s something that’s been on my mind for years, and Paul sums it up better than I could:

Unfortunately this caused a massive and aggressive reaction in the SEO community. Smashing Magazine was attacked for publishing the post, I was told I was out-of-date and ill informed (which is of course entirely possible), but worst of all there were a shocking number of attacks on me personally.

To be honest this doesn’t entirely surprise me. I have been working with the web long enough to be all too aware of the over reaction it creates in people. However, it is always hurtful when somebody attacks you as a human being, rather than your opinion.

Of course, controversial topics will produce controversial debate, but this does not give you permission to attack anyone. Debates are welcome and you’re always free to disagree. Disagreements will make us rethink things and make progress. But disagree on someone’s opinion, don’t attack the person. Tell them why you think they are wrong, but don’t be hurtful. The unimmediate nature of debating through article comments and the fact you aren’t speaking to someone face to face makes these sort of personal attacks easy, but you know better, so please don’t use that as an excuse to attack anyone.

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