Introducing Disagree with Me
A place to seek out and provide opposing views
It’s no secret that today’s social media networks leave a lot to be desired. Everyone feels cheated. The promise of social networks was that they were these great places that had no barriers or borders and allowed us to connect, share and learn with anyone in the world. Instead, we’ve ended up with echo chambers that feel more like going to our favorite team’s stadium where all the home team fans gang up to berate the lone away team fan and where half of the fans are bots.
That’s why I decided to create a place where people could break out of their echo chambers and seeking opposing viewpoints. A place where disagreement and dissent were encouraged but not abusive. That place is called Disagree with Me.
Disagree with Me is a place to seek out and provide opposing viewpoints. It’s something I personally find appealing, as I try to use disagreement and dissent to improve my own and other’s thinking, and it’s something I think we need of in today’s world. We need more honest and productive dissent.
As I was thinking about ways to create the site, I read the books Thinking in Bets and In Defense of Troublemakers. They helped me better understand the values of dissent and how to build a place where disagreement can be encouraged but also doesn’t fall into the trap of unproductive bickering.
The value of dissent is not a new concept. There are a lot of great examples of its use in military and business contexts (Red team) and the US State Department (Dissent Channel). It’s also true that dissent and disagreement is everywhere online. You don’t have to look very far to find opposing viewpoints on platforms like Twitter and Reddit.
The difference with Disagree with Me and other online sites is that Disagree with Me separates the opinion or idea from the person. This means that nowhere on the site will you find a name, username, or email. Instead, you’ll just see ideas and opinions. The purpose of this is that in order to create a place where dissent can thrive, you need to remove the person from the opinion. As is evident on other platforms, many times it is not the idea or opinion that is attacked, it is the person who holds the opinion or idea. That’s not a productive way to disagree and just makes everyone dig in their heels or get upset. In addition, sometimes an idea or opinion voiced by one person makes some people outraged, while the very same opinion voiced by someone else makes a completely different group of people outraged.
So in order to try and avoid this from happening on Disagree with Me, you will find no users associated with any of the posts or responses found on the site. We’re going to focus on creating a place where the ideas are the center of the network, not the people.
That said, one of the biggest challenges with anonymity online is abuse. It is a lot easier to attack and be an otherwise terrible person when you can hide online. This is something that the site is aware of from day one and has tools in place to combat the few bad apples that may exist. For example, despite there being no users associated with any post on the site, all posters and responders will be required to sign up for an account. In addition, we’ll take a zero tolerance approach to any content on the site that violates our terms.
We believe you can voice valuable dissent without having to succumb to abusive speech and therefore will take action if we find anything that falls into this category. The site also has a reporting mechanism that allows other site users to report any content that they think falls into this category.
Another way the site plans on showing the best content and avoiding abusive behavior is putting the moderation in the hands of the people who ask for feedback.
It is a big ask and can make you feel vulnerable to put your ideas and opinions out in public, especially when asking for people to disagree with you. That’s why on Disagree with Me, if you create a post, you get the ability to filter what responses get prominence. Every response to one of your posts will require you to thank the other person for their response. So if you think that person provided helpful dissent and thank them for it, their responses will be front and center for all other users to see. We still allow users to see all responses, since it is possible a person either neglects their responsibility or doesn’t actually thank responses they disagree with, but they will be featured less prominently in the app.
We may not be perfect and acknowledge the challenge of building a productive anonymous site online, we do think it is important enough to try and will do everything we can to help it succeed.
Charlie Munger, Warren Buffett’s business partner at Berkshire Hathaway, has a great quote that outlines the goal of Disagree with Me pretty well:
“I never allow myself to have an opinion on anything that I don’t know the other side’s argument better than they do.”
With that, I hope Disagree with Me can be a place where you go to improve your thinking and help others improve theirs.
Thanks for listening,