I always think of it as being playful and lighthearted and I think that is how it's intended to be used.
The problem is that when (the generic) you say it in the forum, you're already saying it to someone who's upset and not really in a frame of mind to have you treat them "playful and lighthearted." As such, (the generic) you come across as acting as if you're patting the person on the head and "playfully" telling them that the opinion that they're expressing is, in some way, silly or not of consequence.
I've seen this line said in the forum several times. And, I don't think I've seen it used yet in such a way that didn't make the person saying it come across as being frankly condescending and (for lack of better word) a jerk.
Even in person, I think it's something to use extremely carefully. YOU think you're being "playful and lighthearted" but it's very hard to pull off in such a way that you don't really look like you're patronizing - even with a tone and an expression to go with it.
I am much more in favor of the alternative method expressed above. Accomplishes the same goal without belittling the person at the same time.
The other problem that I found was that if you don't understand the meaning of what they are saying, it can be confusing. And when I asked for clarification, I was still somewhat confused as to why someone would say this. Frankly, I have never been at a party where someone has used this as a method to end debate.
So, I asked for further clarification and was told by a mod "I also think that you know perfectly well what the spirit of the "bean dip" suggestion was" and that I was just trying to be argumentative.
It was KeenReader who posted:
Things like the Coke Rule and the "bean dip" technique are means for bringing discussions that have turned into very heated debates that are nudging posters toward breaking the rules of etiquette themselves by being snarky and aggressive toward each other to a stop and letting people take a breath and calm down.
The bean dip technique is another way of saying, "Let's agree to disagree because this discussion is not going to lead to either of us changing our minds."
That made sense to me. The key is to make sense within the context of the rules. Because there are many times when people get lectured on "rules" that don't exactly exist. I have seen newbies get lectured by people who bring up threads that were on the old board.
Little things like "Um, no" and "I am sorry that you feel that way." Apparently these were considered to be rude to use on some thread on the old boards. So, someone uses them here and someone else will ding them for it on that basis. I don't think that is fair.
But, I don't know that there is anything one can do about it. People are people and electronic communication takes away some very basic cues that humans for thousands of years have used--and even with those, people can come to blows, just not over silly things I guess.
Another reason the snarkiness spills over into exchanges is because for some posts snarkiness is an element of telling the story. Some unknown person commits a violation and are pilloried with a celebration of snarkiness and it makes for juicy reading.
But, then since that spirit is there, it does spill over into other conversations.
I think it is good to have these folder that deal with some of the phrases that have evolved so that everyone understands the reasons and intent behind them. Then, there is no confusion.
As far as bean dip, I would like to offer a challenge: Maybe instead of simply an offer of bean dip someone could come up with a visual of some sort or graphic to go along with it--something that would elicit a smile or laugh, ie. something ridiculous. It would be immediately obvious that others are uncomfortable with the tenor of the conversation and do so in a lighthearted way.