In line with recent attention to staying on-topic, shitposting, thread content, and the like, I'd like to talk for a moment about how to stay on-topic! Why do I need to stay on-topic? Can't the topic evolve? It can, but it's better to move to new thread or possibly a conversation when it does. The reason you'll often see given for staying on-topic is to respect the OP; for example, if I start a thread talking about everybody's favourite types of pizza, and someone mentions there are kinds of pizza they haven't been able to try because of allergies, and then the topic shifts into food allergies and foods people wish they could eat, that's not really cool. It's not that I have anything against discussing allerty-inflicted menu limitations, but I started my thread to talk about pizza, and now it's difficult for people to post in it without feeling like they should also put in their two cents about allergies. The topic becomes first diluted, and then derailed :( But what if I have something to say that's sort of related to the topic, just not 100%? That's called tangential subject matter, and it happens! This is part of the natural evolution of threads, and it's not a bad thing, but you do need to be conscious of when what you want to say is tantential, and not topical. Let's stick with the favourite pizza/food allergy example. Say you see someone has commented their fave and added that they dont' know if they like anchovy pizza because you're allergic to seafood. You are allergic to a popular topping as well and want to express how much you KNOW THAT FEEL! What do? Send them a conversation! "I saw your post in the pizza thread; oh my god solidarity, man! I'm allergic to mushrooms, and I always hear people saying how yummy they are :(" Start a new thread! "The topic of allergies came up in the pizza thread, and I was wondering if anyone else here also has allergies that prevent them from trying certain foods! Non-allergic people, can you tell us what we're missing? This way you get to talk about your tangential topic without derailing the existing one! But something a member said is in some way objectionable to me! How can I address this without derailing/turning the discussion into a debate? First, don't attack members. Seriously; don't demean, belittle, or insult other members, no matter how stupid they are being, how misguided they are, or how rampantly they are misinforming others. If you really feel you must at least attempt to comment on something you find objectionable, do it in a POLITE, NEUTRAL voice, and make it a constructive comment that stays on-topic! In cases where you feel like a member is breaking site policy, don't tackle it yourself, just report the post and a mod will handle it. And for god's sake don't tell people you've reported them, that's just petty. In terms of general stupidity... I know, I know, people make me grind my teeth too. But we need to trust that people can check their own facts and make their own decisions about who to trust. We also need to accept that sometimes people don't realise or won't be convinced of their errors, no matter how perfectly you explain why they're wrong. If someone says the sky is green, and you chime in to say "actually, it's blue!" that's fine, but try to leave it at one remark, it's better if you don't start arguing back and forth, that's called a debate and as you may have noticed, those don't typically end well. Try to learn to recognize also when people are 'baiting'. That is, deliberately saying stupid or objectionable things to goad people into arguing with them. Don't fall for it! It's hard to address this becasue it's very case by case, but as a general set of rules Don't be a dick Don't pursue an argument (no matter how much you are baited! Be the stronger person!) But if a thread's topic doesn't change and evolve, the thread peters out and dies! Yes, that's what threads do. Let it happen, it goes to a better place. I don't have anything to contribute to a topic, but I still want to be part of it! Rate the posts, ask (on-topic!) questions to people who had something to say, educate yourself on or become involved with the topic, but don't derail the thread just because you don't have anything to contribute to it's theme, that's just not cool :( As an exercise, and because now I'm genuinely curious, here's a thread about pizza If you have thoughts on ways to stay on-topic in a thread, or how temptation to post off-topic or tangential comments can be handled, go ahead and throw your two cents in here.