Generally, the longer the talk page, the worse teh article - at least I think so. If the article is good, or the topic of the article has merit, those kinds of discussions are actually within the article, making it better.
I would love to tackle the articles on feminism and the logical fallacy of "the word if you use the latin roots, actually means X not Y therefore your argument is invalid" (do we have that fallacy???) But it's much more fun to just discuss them on the back pages of the wiki world.
"Arguing by definition". Yudkowsky probably did his most useful posts on that sort of thing back in his pre-"I'm going to solve the mysteries of quantum mechanics by sitting on my arse" days.
Sometimes you need to say "Fuck definitions!"
Indeedy. But we can get around it by merely pointing and grunting. E.g., instead of arguing the definition of "misogynist" in defence of whether TJ is one (much in the same way you can argue whether an atheist is "religious" FUCK that is the single most pointless debate ever) we can just point to the time he hoped someone drowned in rape semen. You can piss about with words all day, actual experience is pretty much inarguable.
The issue there isn't pissing about words. It's the fallacy that BECAUSE you've pissed about words, the rest is merritless.
I think there is an important time and place for pissing about words. "politically correct" is a useful theory to study in ethics. Does saying "he is black" mean something different than "he is colored" or "African american". But it's an argument in and of itself, and about how things like media, which use words necessarily, have to position themselves.
Having meta arguments about what the bible really meant by "Arsenokoitai", has a place in greek language studies. It has virtually no place in theology, since theology doesn't give a shit what the bible says or said anyhow, just how individuals want to interpret it. (Theologians will spill their own blood telling you the exact opposite, but I've been in their world long enough to know they don't care what the "original" says or said. That's for biblical scholars who are more interested in things like "history" and "evoultion of religious ideas".)
But to actually argue the value of some larger idea, based only on the fact that you don't use terms the way I use terms (again, separate from trying to define terms for the sake of the argument, or come up with other terms) to me tends to say "i don't care about hte original premise" or worse "i cannot argue against teh orignal premise logically, but i don't like it so i'll divert teh whole thing". just saying....
I'm reminded of the anti-Semites who say things like "I can't be anti-Semitic, I'm Arabic!" And now we're have a meta-meta-conversation.
We get the same on any discussion of atheism. "Ah, but atheism comes from 'a' and 'theism' which means..." - "then I'm not an atheist, then." - "But you are, you said you are." - "Then you gave a definition that didn't match me, so I'm not." - "But..."
If you do end up in that situation, it's best to probe what the ulterior motive to arguing a definition is. It certainly is a diversion more than anything.