Threeoh Law

If you've been in comment threads long enough, you're probably familiar with Godwin's Law, which basically states the longer a discussion on the internet goes on, the likelihood of someone comparing their opponent to a nazi approaches 100%. A corollary is that when that point is reached, the thread is over. No useful discussion can continue. The person making the comparison has ruined any chance of a reasonable conversation.

Unfortunately, we have a Sounder at Heart specific spinoff of this, and it has become more and more prevalent. Instead of calling someone "Hitler", we conflate their argument to "Fredy is lazy". At that point, the thread is over. No useful discussion comes after that. Nobody learns anything. Reading the comment thread turns into time wasted.

How'd we get here?

"Fredy is lazy" was an easy complaint for a burgeoning soccer fan to come up with themselves, and if someone with an untrained eye heard it yelled at a game, it might make sense to them. The SaH community (especially in 2009) contains many fans who are newer to the game, or more casual, than some veteran contributors. A new fan might not understand that the reason Fredy didn't chase a cross was that he knew he was offside. Or know that Fredy was leading offensive players in minutes played and had gone 90' two days before when he was taken off in the 70'.

There was a novice fan base. Many of the fans made that easy, uninformed analysis. Many of the fans discovered SaH as the premier site for Sounders news and discussion. As a result, SaH comment threads started to have a near-constant influx of new fans commenting that Fredy was lazy. As that persisted, season over season, other commenters tired of repeating themselves. Instead of the knowledgeable, veteran fans responding to this with valid responses and counterpoints, they started to write off the novice fans. They declined to show their work or share their thought process.

What could have been a good (if completely repetitive) conversation turned into a new fan sharing their position, and then being told that they're wrong, with no explanation provided. That's unfortunate. It's understandable, especially with how long that issue dragged on, but it's still unfortunate that discussion had been turned into flat refutal. Veteran fans were burnt out from needing to hear the same argument from yet another new person, and instead of linking them to a faq, or to a comment thread where the common arguments were fully addressed and explained, they just blew off those who were late to the party.

We started to use "Fredy is lazy" as a generic response when we found someone's argument worthless. Where the original "Fredy is lazy" burnout was the result of a long, persistent siege, veteran commenters seem to have less and less patience with each new debate. As we became comfortable with completely writing off unpopular positions instead of engaging them, the cycle kept getting shorter. EJ's effect on the locker room morphed from a discussion to a blowoff in days, with people quickly reducing any concerns to "EJ is a cancer" and then conflating that with "Fredy is lazy". Reading comment threads today it seems like any position that doesn't fall within a fairly narrow range can immediately be tagged with "Fredy is lazy", completely bypassing the discussion or counterpoints and jumping directly into the burnout phase.

What does "Fredy is lazy" mean?

Some people think they're using it as a joke. I promise you, if it was ever a funny joke, it's not now.

What it actually is is just an ad hominem attack on the person we don't agree with. We're not adding anything to the discussion, we're just implying that the person who expressed a different position is so far off-base that we can't even respond to their position... but we'll still take the time to point out that they, personally, are probably one of those dummies who were on the wrong side of SaH history.

Think what that looks like to any new reader. These are people who are coming to the site for the first time, maybe new to the sport, definitely new to the community. They see someone bring up a (possibly very flawed) concern, and then they're mocked with an in-joke (and then someone dismissing the in-joke, and then someone defending the validity of the in-joke, etc.). That's not welcoming, and it's definitely not enlightening. Not to mention it just turns us into a bunch of online bullies.

So what's your point?

Please, let's stop saying "Fredy is lazy". Don't say it seriously. Don't say it in jest. Don't compare another argument to it. Don't use it as a shortcut to call someone dumb, without even addressing their argument.

If someone brings up an argument you think is flawed, point out how it's flawed. You do that by addressing their points, not by trying to associate them with a group of people that we've all already agreed were wrong. If the same issue comes up again and again, provide a link to where their argument was addressed. Or if it's a really big issue, write a fanpost about it, addressing all the common points, and explaining what the counterpoints are. Failing all that, if providing a helpful response is too much... just don't respond.

But please, don't ruin the whole thread with "Fredy is lazy".

FanPosts only represent the opinions of the poster, not of Sounder at Heart.

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