Having been on ATS for only a short time, I have none the less been involved in some very heated debates and would like to make an observation.
The psychology of competition and the need to win.
Here on ATS this translates into "Getting the Last Word."
Example: Your posting along just fine and someone starts a personal "attack" on you, not just your information, but your character as well.
Several things may occur at this point to exacerbate the situation.
a) The posters continues to simply post relevant material, at which point the antagonizer will usually increase the intensity of the personal
b) The poster will respond back attempting to bring the antagonizer back on topic. Where as the antagonist simply increases the intensity of the
c) The poster will also engage in personal attacks and the thread is derailed.
Regardless of which scenario occurs, the specific phenomenon of "Getting the Last Word" is the vehicle that draws these things out and generally
causes the most disruption.
An Antagonist will ordinarily not just let it die until they derive some form of satisfaction in "putting the poster in his place." This results is
a thread with post after post of unrelated, irrelevant information and, at times, hurt feelings.
There is also an additional phenomenon of feeling that if one does not respond, the other poster will think you have conceded or that somehow they
have won. That your position is weak because you refuse to participate in the "Shelling."
Now the MODs do a wonderful job, but no matter how much we pay them
they can not be in every post at all times. As a rule, by the time the MODs
become involved, the thread has lost any interest for many posters.
Can we all just take a moment and evaluate our incessant need to always have the "Last Word." Our perception that having the "Last Word" equates
to winning, is most often ill conceived and incorrect as it more often makes us simply look either idiotic, unintelligent or obsessive.