Boat Paddling 101: The Two Response Rule

14 Jan

If there was something that I heard a lot when I was growing up, it was my elders telling me that I never knew when to stop. I always took things too far- jokes, ribbing, pushing boundaries- inevitably, I’d piss off whoever I was talking to, or get myself in a load of trouble. My grandfather used to warn me when I was pushing my luck with the phrase “The burro is coming out in you” (which I always read as a burrito, not a donkey, oops) as a means to try and get me to stop while I was still ahead, and in my adulthood, this has been replaced with the Two Response Rule, or TRR for short.

What is the Two Response Rule?

The Two Response Rule was made up by this guy right here. He came up with the idea as a means to help me learn when to stop while interacting with people on the Internet. We’ve all been a part of or bore witness to a “discussion” on the Internet that drags on and on and on and on- where its obvious that each party is set in their ways and isn’t going to budge in their opinion. The Two Response Rule effectively shuts those interactions down before they drag on forever or degrade into flame wars.

Like much of everything within the Boat Paddling arsenal, anyone can use the Two Response Rule, and it can be activated at any point within a discussion. As soon as you feel like the discussion is no longer being productive, or is slipping into a flame war, that’s when it’s time to engage the TRR.

How do I use the Two Response Rule?

The short version of the Two Response Rule is this:

  1. When you respond to someone on a forum, you have two interactions/responses with the other person to gauge whether this conversation will be productive or not.
  2. The first post is a means to convey your point. The second post is an attempt to clarify if necessary.
  3. If after two attempts to convey what you meant prove fruitless, you engage the Two Response Rule and no longer respond to that person, or to that thread in general.

This is particularly useful in very triggering topics and threads where the conversation can get out of hand easily. It also shuts down bullies and trolls before they can get their nails into you. And as the creator of the Two Response Rule says: If you can’t convince them, or get your message across in two responses, you likely aren’t going to get your message across in a hundred responses.

Additionally, you can use the Two Response Rule towards an entire thread, or just one particular person within the thread. The key is knowing your limits and putting a stop to engaging the person who isn’t promoting beneficial discussion.

But I have such a hard time walking away!

I have this problem too, honestly. There are times when I will have a hard time walking away. However, I always try to remember that my spoons are more important than flame wars, and that many times there is no lasting benefit to responding to people who are being inflammatory. If anything, it brings me down with them, and that is of no benefit to myself.

If you have a hard time walking away, I recommend getting up from the computer and doing something else for a while. Give the thread or response a few hours (or overnight) and see if you really feel the same about responding once some time has passed. Many times, you’ll find that setting fire to everything isn’t worth it anymore. And if you’re not busy setting fire to things, you’ll likely have more time to put your efforts into things that are more worthwhile and fulfilling.

Like watching cats on Youtube.

Other Posts in the Boat Paddlers Arsenal:


Posted by on January 14, 2014 in Boat Paddlers Arsenal, Kemeticism


Tags: , , , , , , , ,

9 responses to “Boat Paddling 101: The Two Response Rule

  1. Elisa

    January 14, 2014 at 10:52 am

    I wonder(meaning pondering all to myself and requiring no partner in communication) about the return comments as being needed ever to clarify or to argue. Sometimes a direct and literal clarification IS requested. Others times a person simply shares thought sparked by reading. Sometimes the person might be attempting to share experience, strength and wisdom about said topic and the writer or reblogger prefers to be pleased within dabbling and not caring so much about outcomes of said sharing. This then makes me think: is the writer the expert or the teacher? is the writer able or wishing to remain teachable? what makes an expert? why do people think agreement is needed, ever?

    I think I will investigate the underlying links in your post as a possible general means for my son, who has Asperger’s and other executive function issues to perhaps learn to better modulate himself, his decoding of conversation messages, and the questions that I posed above–for when he really is seeking back and forth discourse, simply to tear apart a subject until that purpose is deemed complete by an agreed upon exhaustion of subject by conversational parties.

  2. helmsinepu

    January 15, 2014 at 9:24 pm

    The other advantage in avoiding those unproductive drag-out arguments is that people who ARE interested in learning may be afraid to ask you anything if they only see you fighting. And you’ve got more time to write things that will do some good.


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