The ever-enlightening Paul Graham introduced to us all his proposal of a "disagreement hierarchy" in How to Disagree, which — in a nutshell — lists six levels of disagreeing; ranging from the absolutely worthless name-calling to actually refuting an author's central point.
Simply reading through it, one will likely feel compelled to rationalize one's own arguments made on sites like Newsvine; at the very least, I personally hope that people (here on Newsvine but elsewhere, too) will put a little bit more thought into their comments after reading Graham's article. An example of that would be to simply ask yourself, prior to hitting the Submit button, "am I refuting the author's central point with evidence supporting my point of view?" Or, as I'm proposing, simply ask yourself: "what level on the DH is my comment that I'm about to post at?"
In order to promote better debating on the 'Vine, I hereby propose the Disagreement Hierarchy Flag.
What the DH Flag entails
When quoting someone who, in your eyes, is in the wrong or is making an incorrect claim or statement somewhere along the line of their argument, or when someone is making comments that fall in the DH0–DH3 range and thus isn't providing an actual counter-argument (see Graham's piece for details), follow up their quoted section with a DH Flag as follows, prior to writing your counter-argument:
Where the # is a 0 to 6, depending on what their argument equates to. Also, link it to Graham's essay so that people not familiar with it can learn what it is, using this easy to copy-paste snippet:
<a href="http://www.paulgraham.com/disagree.html">=DH #</a>
UPDATE: since this is a brand new thing it may be worthwhile to link people also to this post so that they understand the connection between "=DH 2" and such all over the place, and Paul Graham's essay. As such, for now I'll be using this expanded version:
<a href="http://www.paulgraham.com/disagree.html">=DH #</a> (<a href="http://faruk.newsvine.com/_news/2008/03/30/1400514-introducing-disagreement-hierarchy-flags">what's this?</a>)
which looks like this:
"Why should I do this?"
Pointing out to people — both the author you're responding to as well as everyone else who reads it — when a comment is a non-argument (e.g. it doesn't bring up evidence to prove the author's claim(s) wrong) is a simple way to urge them to either produce an actual counter-argument, or to stay quiet. The DH Flag is a quick and simple way to do exactly that.
For DH0 to DH3 comments, one needn't even use anything more than the DH Flag. A comment like "you're wrong, faggot" warrants no real response, but quoting that bit and appending it with =DH 0 will indicate both to that author and to everyone else that the author is not contributing to the discussion at all; instead, they are producing noise to a debate. It will also highlight those authors to other people and make it easier for everyone to pick out those who don't engage in writing actual arguments but instead resort to DH levels lower than 4.
Newsvine is a place where people get smarter: a bit of simple confrontation against those who don't put in an effort to write actual, evidence-supported arguments is a worthwhile activity. Remind them that debating requires content, evidence, facts — not heated and/or baseless claims and shouts. The DH Flag is a very quick and simple addition to do just that (and, if you wish, highlight those arguments that are DH6 and deserve more attention than can-be-either-side votes).
I for one will be adding DH Flags to every comment wherein I quote someone from now on, and I hope others will do the same. In the end, we may bring more awareness to the Newsvine community and increase the level of facts-driven debate.