I've noticed that quite often nodes turn into threads that don't debate an issue so much as they argue about definitions. Not that that is inherently bad. On the contrary, discussions that refine definitions or explicitly present the various definitions of the same word or phrase are quite valuable.

What is objectionable (IMHO) is an argument about which of these definitions is true or (worse) proper. Sill worse is the argument that arises when the two parties don't realize that they are each using different definitions.

A trite example:
Jack (thinks): Foo is blue.
Jill (thinks): Foo is red.
Jack: The sky is foo.
Jill: No, Jack, the sky is not foo.
Jack: What? How absurd! The sky is most definitely foo!
Jill: Foo? Foo? What are you, from Mars?
Jack: * Flame Deleted*
Jill: Why you...* flame*

I'm exaggerating but not by much. It's silly, but it happens a lot; not just on E2 - in the real world. The two parties are arguing about two different things. It's likely that they would even agree, if they understood one another better.

This is sounding more like a rant than I meant it to, but it pains me to see so much energy being spent comparing apples and oranges. We might all get along better if we carefully defined our terms (or better yet, linked more).

It depends on the context. You see, the definition is the meaning of the word. And if two people do not agree on what a word means, it can hamper the proper communication of ideas. Without agreement on what a word means, then that word is no longer useful.

And if people have disagreement on the meanings of enough words, then they might find communication between them very difficult.

Now a straight out flame war type argument over a definiton usually does little good, and the effort should always be made to agree on what you'll use a word to mean, or avoid using that word at all if there cannot be an agreement.

It's all about making sure that the other person understands what you're saying, and is not interpreting it as something different due to words.

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