Arguing? Let Online Strangers Be the Judge

Arguing? Let Strangers Online Be the JudgeABC News Photo Illustration
Arguing? Let Strangers Online Be the Judge

Sunday Ed O'Grady and Tara Dearborn were married in a beautiful ceremony in Chicopee, Mass., but as with many couples preparing for their nuptials the wedding planning did not always go smoothly for the happy couple.

For days, the two argued back and forth about whether their wedding reception should make beer and wine available all night or have an open bar, hard liquor included, for a of couple hours.

While O'Grady thought limiting the reception to beer and wine was enough, Dearborn called it "a little cheap."

It's a relatively small argument but one that annoyed the couple so much that they looked for outside help to settle it but not from co-workers, friends or family. Instead, they took their argument to the Internet to let complete strangers weigh in.

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The Web site SideTaker.com allows couples to post their arguments anonymously and then invites members to give their own opinions about who's right and who's wrong, and offer solutions to the problem.

Justin Marinos was inspired to create the Web site in 2007 after he got into an argument with a girlfriend about what constituted cheating.

"I needed an unbiased opinion," Marinos said. "My friends were giving me what I wanted to hear, and her friends were giving her what she wanted to hear."

After he took his argument online, Marinos said 60 percent of the people who responded to their argument agreed with him that after-concert drinks and a kiss with a friend was cheating and was not just an innocent error in judgment.

Marinos broke up with his girlfriend, but Sidetaker.com was born. In June it garnered nearly 200,000 page views and has 11,000 registered users, all airing their arguments and their opinions about others.

It's a freedom that Marinos said can benefit couples.

"You don't have to worry about other people knowing who you are when you post things. You could post something that you wouldn't tell a friend," he said.

Expert: Online Arguing Could Break Destructive Cycles

According to psychologist and author of "Love in 90 Days," Diana Kirschner, this "People's Court of the Internet" may work because it forces couples to take a break from the back-and-forth arguing.

"He snipes at her, she snipes at him, he withdraws and it keeps going on and on. But if you can take a timeout and break that pattern in any way, it can sometimes be very helpful for the couple to come together," she said.

The danger, Kirschner said, is that the online arguments can turn into contests over "who's right and who's wrong" that can be "really hurtful to couples."

But for O'Grady and Dearborn, the SideTaker.com offered a simple answer to a frustrating question. In the first two hours, the couple got 60 responses from members. The winner was O'Grady.

"[The guests] know they can at least have beer on Ed and Tara," O'Grady said.

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