7 Rules for Engaging Discussions - Our Commenting Practice

Dialogues produced knowledge by solving problems, business or otherwise, ususally work like this, according to Roger Schank and his work on dialogue and knowledge.

1. Each person takes a turn and identifies the person who is being responded to. Comments don't just start with assuming everyone knows you are responding to and what you thought their tone was.

2. A response is either simple or complex.

3. For a simple response, you can either:

a) answer the speaker's question

b) ask the speaker another question

c) if no answer or question, then you can say something like: "well, that reminds me of ..."

4. Complex answers are stories, and take more than a minute to read. You need permission from the speaker, and usually introduce a complex response with a phrase like: "This might take a bit of your time, [give a reasonable estimate]"

5. Stories have to make or get to the point efficiently and quickly. Parables, sayings, and fables do this.

6. Stories are the result of an expert explaining the solution to a problem by modifying and distilling the point.

7. Have fun. Separate the problem from the speaker. Be useful.

We encourage people to try this rules out, ask for clarifications, and suggest modifications.

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1 Comment

These rules of dialogue, which may seem easy, are based on Roger Schank's 30 year career in artificial intelligence and story telling as a method for communicating knowledge.

I read Schank as continuing a very old philosophic tradition - the Socratic dialogue.

We will moderate our group discussions, here and elsewhere, with an eye to these rules.

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