What it is: A persuasive argument* that uses any combination of ethos, pathos, or logos.
What it is not: Spending hours asserting that a word means two opposing things simultaneously, mocking a community at which you sock puppet for believing that your comment account was a sock puppet, whinging on and on about how feminists made you RAGE QUIT your dreams, and topping it all off with a faux-quip about honing rhetoric skills against easy targets.
*A persuasive argument as a rhetorical act is not the same thing as the type of argument you have when you’re fighting with someone.
This post is sponsored by the Manboobz troll, Steele.
What it is: Making a rhetorical argument against an argument you have made or otherwise believe in, in order to further discuss the weaknesses of your argument so that you may strengthen it.
What it is not: Going into a space where your personal viewpoint is specifically the opposite of the viewpoint of regular members and proceeding to argue, without regard to etiquette or basic rules of rhetoric, that they are wrong.
If you are going to do the latter, then do not say you are playing devil’s advocate. You are, at best, going to annoy the shit out of someone. (Of course, in my experience, those playing “devil’s advocate” in such a way are overwhelmingly trying to use the phrase as a smokescreen for the fact that they are trolling with intent to cause maximum harm to any given community.)