I know that all SE sites are based on the "Be nice" principle. I think this is generally a good thing.

However, the comments attached to one of my recent answers seem to suggest that the OP is more interested in Pseudo-history (i.e. answers that support their pre-existing agenda/opinion).

Now, I have no doubt that the OP would be upset if I expressed that opinion. So it seems I can't just say something along the lines of:

"You seem to be upset that I've pointed out the paucity of evidence supporting that idea, yet quite willing to accept uncorroborated allegations as evidence. Are you quite sure you're interested in the history, rather than Pseudo-history, surrounding these events?

without breaking the "Be nice" rule.

I'm relatively new to the site, but this can't be the first time this kind of situation has risen. Is there any guidance for "best practice" in these situations?

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    Why is there any need to make a comment about the OP's motives or interests? Sticking to objective facts is something that I'd do. Just point out the flawed premises, false claims and weakness of evidence. – NSNoob Jul 4 '17 at 9:14
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    @NSNoob After pointing out the flawed premises, false claims, & weaknesses of the evidence there comes a point where you either have to give up responding (perhaps giving the impression that you have ceded the argument) or challenge the motives for the attack. I don't expect to change the OP's opinion, but it might help people who read the post at a later date to form their opinions on the topic. – sempaiscuba Jul 4 '17 at 13:17
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    Use the facts. Now that the OP has posted an answer, its much easier to show, nicely, the discrepancies, such as selective editing. Compare his selectively edited selection of this to page 250 where it was taken from...You might consider editing the full paragraph he used into your answer. Use his source. – justCal Jul 13 '17 at 4:39
  • For history as a subject-matter (and many other disciplines), facts are generally agreed and verifiable information (i.e. source). If you can do this - ideally with quote - then you've made your case. What has nice got to do with anything? Too many protest too much when they are wrong. In short, stick to the facts and ignore their (perceived) agenda. – J Asia Jul 18 '17 at 18:17
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    @JAsia Actually, the "Be nice" rule underpins all Stack Exchange sites. But beyond that, Qs & As from here are cited as "sources" elsewhere on the net (it's how I discovered the site ). I've been present (and occasionally involved in) enough debates with professional historians to know that many agreed "facts" are, in fact, just convenient interpretations based on incomplete records. Also, (and particularly in this instance) most pseudo-history also relies on sources - albeit frequently used selectively. – sempaiscuba Jul 18 '17 at 18:32
  • Yes, I've read that. Allow me to put it another way, I don't see how introducing facts into your argument/idea will considered as Not Nice. All discourse, especially on the matter of history (and other social sciences), involves judgement but being nice should be the least of it. Just because I disagree with you (or anyone else) should not disqualify me as a nice person. Hence, my recommendation to introduce facts (as one deems important and sufficient) to support your argument. That should be sufficient. The other person should allowed to do the same for her point of view. – J Asia Jul 18 '17 at 18:52
  • (continuation) Who decides whether her facts are pseudo-history? I gather, from your comment here, that yours facts are acceptable but theirs are "*facts"*. Why is that? How are your facts superior than theirs? – J Asia Jul 18 '17 at 18:57
  • @JAsia Actually, I was pointing out that there are very few facts that supported the OP's assertion, and that, as far as I can see, all of those are of dubious value. The point was not that my facts were in some way "better" than theirs, but that I couldn't find any good evidence to support their assertions. – sempaiscuba Jul 18 '17 at 19:03
  • @sempaiscuba: I see. In which case, I think you could ask for alternate source to verify the first one. History is replete with mistakes made due to over-reliance on a singular source. If I may, what you should never do is to raise what her beliefs may be, as per your question "seems to be interested in ...". Please allow that person to have her own beliefs, which might be contrary to yours. – J Asia Jul 18 '17 at 19:11
  • @JAsia I'm happy to discuss this at length, but the comments may not be the appropriate place. Perhaps we should move this conversation to chat? – sempaiscuba Jul 18 '17 at 20:22

The aim of this site is to provide user's questions with answers. The purpose of the comments are to request clarification of questions and answers and, perhaps, suggest improvements. It's not intended as a discussion site or to support any dialogue that is arguing points back and forth (which is why extended comment discussions are moved to transitory chat).

Therefore, the best way to treat this type of approach by the questioner is to look at their comment(s) in the context of your answer. If their comments reveal something missing or unclear about your answer then you can improve the answer. If not then it's probably better to leave them without response, especially if their comments reveal they have preconceived opinion that they're unwilling to have challenged.

Don't worry about ceding the argument because it isn't supposed to be one. The site's visitors are encouraged to treat the answers on their own merit and the best answers will generally get the most votes even if they don't become the accepted answer.

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    In principle, I agree. However, questions and answers on this site are cited as sources in their own right (actually, that is how I discovered the site in the first place). Whether they are intended to be or not, comments form part of that answer. Unchallenged assertions in the comments can be used to create a misleading impression about the answer as a whole. I would argue that is a problem we should challenge. – sempaiscuba Jul 18 '17 at 20:32
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    Site policy is that comments are not considered part of the question or answer and can be (and often are) deleted independently of the post itself, especially if the comment list grows too long. So relying on the comments to clarify or justify an answer is not a good idea. – Steve Bird Jul 19 '17 at 5:30

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