I offer no solutions but my guesses as to what's going on:
1. Justification of Choice and Identity
The "rim vs disc", "Spesh vs Pinarello" discussions are literally "iPhone vs Android", "BMW vs Audi" skiers vs snowboard. It's human nature to form cliques, and I think cycling especially is conducive to this with how strong branding has become.
I don't know why. Maybe something to do with having to create tribes in the old days to survive. In-groups vs out-groups. And if my choice doesn't match your's, things degenerate into high-school bullying.
I think the root of a lot of bickering that takes place in "X vs Y" debates is simply just both sides defending their identifies to their graves. Decoupling one's identify from their egos... everyone goes through different journeys to get there.
2. Stepping into discussions centered around speculation or opinion
An example of a speculative statement is, “What X-Brand charges to build a carbon bike is nowhere near as much as it costs to make it!” Okay. Even if it were true, nobody can give an accurate number. Without numbers, all it does is set off a bomb that degenerates into people defending their guesses. It’s like people arguing about how life started or if there is even an afterlife. The truth is, none of us have unanimously accepted evidence, but each of us “know” where we stand on our beliefs or lack thereof. Yet, people defend and antagonize others over speculation. Crazy.
But now imagine for a second that we had dead-nuts accurate numbers on cost for X-Brand to produce a frame. Even with this information, it invites conflicting opinions on “how things should be.” They should charge less they are robbing me. I think what they charge is fair for what they offer. Wow what a bargain I think they should charge more!
At the core of each unique opinion will be some mixture of how the individual puts values on material goods combined with where they stand financially. People are stepping into essentially a class-conflict debate, which can quickly get real nasty. It also turn into infinite circular arguments which won’t break until both sides see it not just each other's ways but through the lens of everyone.
This is the problem with topics that are complex, speculative, based on opinions. It’s political. It’s exactly the type of topics your friends and family eventually ban at the dinner table because it sends everyone to bed really pissed off. The tricky thing is, without getting burned a few times the "why" doesn't truly sink in.
Don't get me wrong. I like discussion, healthy debate, and I believe the purpose of a forum is to have open organic discussion. A true debate with actual opposing views is quite hard to have IRL but mostly manageable with the right people. Somehow, the Internet amplifies certain people to turn into zealots. And left unmanaged, it drives the best people out.
3. Pandemic induced "outspoken" mindset
Honestly I think people are just finding themselves more and more in front of a computer and getting their social interaction online (look at me, long time lurker crawling out to find an outlet). And something about the political climate of the outside world is making everyone outspoken and opinionated on all topics. The attitude is leaking into topics pertaining to our hobbies. People feel they need to be heard so they throw their weight around yelling at clouds and typing up massive rants like what I'm totally doing right now if you're still with me a hoy hoy hoy.
I think the attitude will eventually pass. But without something done in the interim, there will be a huge toll taken on the community. FYI, nearly every online cycling community is dealing with some version of this, so it's not just WW alone. What's been interesting to observe is how each community is handling it differently.
4. New users due to pandemic need to “get their fill” of 1 & 2
I don’t see it nearly as much here, but on more newcomer-oriented communities there exists people who are just getting experienced enough into the sport to partake in all the best political cycling topics. The ‘disc vs rim’ that makes the experienced roll their eyes is a topic ripe for organic debate if you are a newbie graduating to mild enthusiast. Remember what I said earlier about "you need to get burned once or twice"? Again, not as much here, but in other places it's newbies throwing their weight around. Some adult supervision wouldn't hurt.
I’ve always been on a proponent of education to solve social issues, as well as aligning on cultural values. Problem is there’s a long lead time, so often by the time the solution is desperately needed it’s already too late. Many political discussions diffuse themselves if the people partaking can:
1. Educate themselves on the topics at hand
2. Put themselves in the shoes of everyone else as they walk through and build on their own thoughts
3. Identify when they have walked full circle, and disengage
But there’s really no magic wand to get everyone thinking like that.
So instead, normally what I see when a culture is defrayed is one or a few benevolent leaders step up to lay down what is and isn’t acceptable behavior, and crack down on the problem areas until that pressure is no longer needed because the community manages itself. This requires decisiveness and taking sides -- with which side you take being the opinion and discretion of the person in charge. You really won't know if you did it right until things play out. And a good leader can get things back on track while mitigating loss of the best contributors in the society. A bad one will do even more harm by amplifying exactly what made the culture spiral down in the first place, knowingly or not.
I think asking the community to flag things that need moderation is a good start, as was done in the original post.
But hey, I'm a "new" user as far as anyone here is concerned so my opinions don't mean much.