I mentioned before that it’s possible for a man with a pattern of winning (socially) to be beaten by a relative loser. It’s also possible for him to lose repeatedly, because there are times and places where he’s on worse footing than the loser. This is a way of conceptualizing that.
Vox Day is socially superior to John Scalzi in pretty much any arena. Put them in the same company, or on the same flag football team, or in the same development team, and people are going to want Vox in charge. But Vox still got kicked out of the SFWA by majority vote, and he wouldn’t stand a chance debating against Scalzi on the Whatever blog, because Scalzi has the power to delete and edit Vox’s posts after the fact to make him look bad (and has shown himself to be the sort of man who would do that). So Whatever and the SFWA could be described as Scalzi’s domain of superiority, and this explains why he only snipes from his high ground without venturing into the valley for a fair fight. Makes sense, fair fights are dumb (except under K-selection, but we aren’t talking about that).
This is also why Vox challenges Scalzi to debates, but doesn’t offer to debate over at Whatever because in that case the battleground isn’t rhetoric, but rather narrative control. And Scalzi’s moderation powers and lack of restraint give him as much narrative control as he wants to retain. If a third party hosted the debate (the equivalent of the valley outside his domain), Scalzi would get pummeled.