The first of the three presidential #debates took place last night. Who won depends on which camp you've decided to pitch your tent in. But one thing's for sure, it definitely led to some interesting discussions all over social media. If you're like me, you were raised with the adage that it's dangerous, even impolite, to discuss politics and religion. These might be true, but also if you're like me, you love discussing both. I really enjoy a good political debate where two or more sides present reasoned, logical arguments to support their side and refute the other, and listen while the others do the same. After a good debate I walk away from the conversation with new viewpoints and sometimes even new respect for those I debated as well as the people the debaters represented.

I have these kinds of discussions on my Facebook page quite often. And you can too, if you'd like. You just have to lay some ground rules and enforce themIf you aren't willing to enforce the rules, then you might not want to delve into these waters. But, if you're willing to give it a whirl, here are my tips for productive debates on social media.

First..debate etiquette

No name calling: their names are ##Hillary Clinton (or Sec. Clinton or just Clinton) and ##Donald Trump or Trump. That's how you insist people refer to them. This also applies to those you are discussing with. If you have to win an argument by name calling, you might want to re-examine your position and come up with better arguments.

Next...debate technique

Back up your statements. If your "proof" is a gut feeling, or your personal opinion, say that, but what's even better is a credible reference. Now it might seem strange to accept "gut feeling" as proof, but here's the thing about discussions, one seldom is alone in these kinds of feelings, and someone else just might have uncovered the proof you don't have. So, although this view should not be taken as gospel, it should be allowed as part of the discussion in case someone else might be able to back it up. 

Keep an open mind. There is no point in anyone participating in a discussion if no one is willing to hear and acknowledge the other side's position. If the only reason people participate in a thread is to call others names, they need to be removed from the conversation.

Finally...debate management

You'll need to pay careful attention to the conversation and let people know to feel free to tag you if the thread is starting to devolve. I am often involved in several conversations and threads at once, across several platforms. And try as I might to be a good hostess, sometimes a thread gets out of hand and I don't realize it in time. My friends know to tag me when the #debate starts to get crazy so I can come in and lay down the law. 

Your wall, your rules. If something is said that you think is inappropriate, call the person out. Or if you're in a hurry, delete the comment and keep it pushing. It's you wall, you can do that. 

There are a few guidelines. Feel free to tweak and adjust as necessary. Do you have any rules, guidelines, or tips for having productive discussions on your social media pages? Feel free to share in the comments. #Democrats vs Republicans