Rule #3, in our ongoing discussion about rules.

The Rule:

   3. Harassing other members of the site may result in a ban.
Harassment includes (but is not necessarily limited to) the following:

   1. Ad hominem attacks and name calling.
   2. Blatantly bigoted or derogatory statements or remarks about
someone’s race, gender, or sexual orientation.
   3. Posting any contents of private conversations without the
expressed consent of all people involved.
   4. Disclosing private information about a fellow member without
their expressed consent.
   5. Posting inappropriate or private pictures of fellow members
without their expressed consent.
   6. Making negative threads targeting fellow members.

The Reason:
Nobody likes being harassed, we'd like everyone to have a fair shot at
getting along on Atheist Nexus and nobody should be subjected to an
undue amount of hassle. We'll go over this one slowly as it is a
matter of contention among members.

First, note that harassment is going to be one of those issues in
which the mod is going to have to make a decision based on what they
can see is happening using their judgment. It is another instance
where "good faith" and "Intent" will be leaned upon. The body of the
rule even mentions that items in the list of "things that are
harassment" are not the only ways to harass people.

a. Ad hominem attacks and name calling.
The long and the short of it is this: if people avoid calling others
names, they'll never get in trouble for calling others names.
Attacking people's character in order to discredit their ideas falls
under the same heading. If one takes exception to a person's ideas,
they should attempt to discredit those ideas in a civil manner. If
that person is acting foolish, their actions will speak for
themselves. Opinions about their IQ, the likely chemical composition
of their brain, the legitimacy of their parentage and other such
things are immaterial to discourse and hurtful.

b. Blatantly bigoted or derogatory statements or remarks about
someone’s race, gender, disability, age or sexual orientation.
Keep it to yourself. The freedom to talk down to other races, genders, disabilities, ages
and/or sexual orientations, can be found plenty of other places on the
internet. This isn't one of them.

c. Posting any contents of private conversations without the expressed
consent of all people involved.
Things written in private should stay private. The exception to this
is if someone is making a report of another member harassing them in
public, in which case it is acceptable to forward messages on to the
moderation staff. It is never appropriate to publicly post the
contents of a private message without the senders permission.

d. Disclosing private information about a fellow member without their
expressed consent.
This rule is meant to protect people from being harassed via other
mediums or in their-day-to-day lives. Giving away another user's e-
mail address, phone number, home address, place of work or even real
name can be potentially harmful to that person, especially considering
the nature of this website and the prevailing attitudes toward
atheists and non-believers in most places around the world.

e. Posting inappropriate or private pictures of fellow members without
their expressed consent.
What is going to be inappropriate or private is sort of going to be up
to the person who's pictures is being posted. The onus is on each of
us to obtain permission before posting pictures of other members. 

f. Making negative threads targeting fellow members.
There is a fine line between targeting a person and targeting an idea
which has been associated with a person with such vitriol or passive
aggression that it becomes indistinguishable from a personal attack.
We'd like the free flow of ideas to remain free, and clamping down on
what people can and can't say is always a dangerous game--a game we'd
rather not have to play at all. However, our lack of action on matters
of harassment because of our respect for the freedom of speech is
causing a lot of problems.

On the one hand, as atheists, we have a great appreciation for ideas.
On the other hand, we typically expect those ideas to be based on
sound evidence and thinking. It's not wrong to challenge someone's
idea and it is not against the rules to upset someone. It is against
the rules to harangue them. Sometimes, people are wrong. Often times,
their minds can't be changed through argument. If it is evident that
no one is going to change their mind, continuing to attempt to
convince them or knock down an idea that has presumably already been
knocked down is accomplishing nothing. People are not obliged to
defend their ideas if they don't want to. They are also not obliged to
be right, nor are they obliged to acknowledge when other people are
right. These are all lovely, polite things, but they are not
obligations. Nobody has the right to persistently attempt to force
another person into a conversation they don't want to have.

By the same token, if a member takes exception to another person's
views and brings evidence and rational discourse to the table--that is
not harassment. Hounding people is. The difference will be up to the
moderators to decide. Their decisions need to be respected. 

The Action:
If it is determined that a member is harassing another member,
depending on the severity, they will usually receive a warning to
stop. After that, they may be banned. There will no longer be a chain
of warnings because a particular offender has decided to simply switch
targets. People who chronically hassle other members will be banned.
The culture of mean-spirited confrontation is getting stale and--as it
has manufactured nothing of value--it's going to stop.

It is my hope the the dialogue here will become more dialectic and a
little less argumentative.

Views: 1143

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Replies to This Discussion

Well, too bad Dave is gone now. He made some good suggestions about a year ago. I can understand his frustration.
Unfortunately, posting obnoxious statements just to see if they can rile people up is not helpful in a discussion such as this. It's always easy to tear people down, ridicule their ideas and mode of expression, etc.

It's never easy to build consensus, or build community.

I do understand how we can get a chip on our shoulder. I've been there too, including in the workplace. However, I have never seen that mode accomplish much.

This thread is here to inform people of what is essentially a code of conduct, and make sure everyone understands that this is not anarchy, it's a discussion forum and community. In addition, productive comments have been made in this series, with additional important issues to be addressed. That's useful. Derailing the thread just to see what happens is not productive.
@Dave - Jo, I invite and even encourage you (or anyone) to go through my Latest Activity and point out all my "undue vitriol", un-civility, and projected anger. ... I think you'll see my cereal is basically piss-free and that the remark was immature and uncalled for at the very least.

I made no judgement about the specific piss content of your cereal.

I was addressing what I felt was your incorrect assessment of the colloquialism.

But thank you for illustrating what I meant earlier about misrepresentation of people in post replies. This is an excellent example.


That said, since you asked, in discussion of rule #1:

You seem to be implying that rule #1 was chosen for discussion #1 because it is "easy," rather than the more logical conclusion that moJoe is taking each rule in numerical order. You then sound angrily cynical in your statement that the rule is unenforceable, before going on to say "there's lot's of 12 year olds who would be more mature and interesting than some of the intolerant, self-righteous atheist purists that permeate this site." That statement sounds as if you are angry with the intolerant, self-righteous atheist purists and taking that anger out on moJoe. "Sounds like." Subjective view.

Your next comment could have been intended as a frank, "I lack confidence that revisiting site rules and reorganizing management will improve matters" and "I patiently await your reply to Felch," but it came off a whole lot bitchier than that. But that's again just my subjective view.

Finally, you could have said something like "I'm just concerned about laws regarding minorities and hope that A/N staff and its counsel has thoroughly covered them." But instead it is frames more like "A/N doesn't give a shit and is blowing off suggestions."

I can not speak for Brother Richard, but I do agree based on those three posts that made up your body of replies until the time he replied, that it sounds like someone pissed in your cornflakes.

***And just in case this starts to devolve into an I-suck-less defense, I readily admit that I too have regrettably posted many, many times with the aftertaste of cornflake pee in my mouth. As I see the effort being put forth by moJoe and BR, though I haven't been spanked or otherwise by the mods, I am endeavoring to do my part to make my posts more pee-free in the interest of ensuring I too am following site rules.
There has been way too much silliness and name-calling on Nexus lately. People are joining groups they disagree with simply to argue with group members.

My meaning is this: If you are Republican don't join a Democrat group to debate. If you are a vegan don't join a meat-eating group to make converts.

The above statements are from Brother Richard's original post.

Rule #3 is silent on this. This is a gray area IMO that needs to be clarified or included in rule #3.
@Roy this is true. It does need to be addressed either in this rule or another one.
Just an observation, which will probably be unpopular. Nonetheless, it is worth pointing out.

There is a certain irony that a site in which it is fair game to make comments that Christians are stupid, the Pope is evil, Muslim women are bitches, and what not, i.e., condemn people in harsh terms for their beliefs, to make a rule that you may not make similar condemnations here of people whose ideas you consider ridiculous.

Once again, this is not a value judgment. It is just an observation that i believe is worth thinking about.

Name calling gets attention, and the loudest most creative & colorful name caller gets a reputation for being the loudest most creative & colorful name caller, but does it result in winning the hearts and minds of the listener? Or do we regard the name caller as worthy of ridicule? And are we just afraid to say so?
I did call someone an idiot for fabricating a tale. He was obviously trolling. You may find the original post in The Arrogance Of Being Right.

If there's one category that deserves the tag, it's the trolls. This is just one dimension of this name-calling issue. Others may have others on their list.

While the new debate forum and format is still being drafted, some observations and suggestions:

1. Civil debate is encouraged in the general discussion forum BUT if the discussion begins to escalate (which happens to be the norm not the exception), the Moderators have the option to move the discussion into a sub-category or group where anything goes. This was suggested earlier by another member on BR's original post. I think this will keep everyone happy - the dicks and the whiners. Perhaps we can call this The Kitchen. Additionally, If a discussion has been moved to The Kitchen, it continues there and ends there. No participant to that particular topic should be allowed to clutter the forum by posting a new thread or blog just because he/she can't take the heat inside The Kitchen.

2. Raiding groups should not be tolerated. One can use the general discussion forum or his blog page to rail against or attack an issue or idea. Case in point – Why Not Debunk Every Group On A|N…? The link is broken since the member has decided to leave A|N. Hounding people (who follow or is exploring an idea you do not share) in their individual groups serves no valid purpose except to provoke. Groups reserve the right and discretion to invite debates subject to their own group rules. There has to be accepted rules of engagement. The site is growing. It’s a no-brainer that some order has to be maintained.

3. For the professional fundie trolls and nutjobs that randomly drop from nowhere into this site to proselytize, they do deserve the tag (until the Mods delete their crap.)

Just my 2 cents.
Good points Roy.

Joe and I were talking today about setting up the free-for-all debate forum once we finish going over the rules.

Apparently, no matter how much we repeat ourselves, some people just refuse to understand. We have never said it was wrong to confront someone's idiotic ideas. We have only said it was wrong to attack the person by calling them an idiot. This is what civilized adults do. Very few of us would last very long at our jobs if we went around calling our co-workers idiots. We say things like, "I disagree," or "That's not how I see things, can I tell you my opinion." I don't understand why this isn't common sense.

Unfortunately, the reality might be that not all of us want to be in this type of community. Our best option might be to agree to disagree and part company as friends.
This is nonsense. Again using D Day as a time reference (the shit storm that happened a year ago), general content and tone of discussion not related to the contents of D Day has not changed in any way from before or after. What did change was that after D Day the culture of complaint was implemented and entrenched. We were told that we suddenly had issues and abuse; that this abuse was everywhere; overnight, there was suddenly a plague of bigotry that overran the place; that you have a right (actually, more a duty and more or less if you did not find problems to complain about, you were probably a problem yourself. All very Soviet) to complain about any grievance, no matter how trivial; to complain early and to complain often. Self-fulfilling prophecy. And "dicks" are the scapegoats. This community was not always stupid. It was made stupid by the very best of intentions.
Respectfully, I can see a separate debate forum as a whole other subjective can of worms. Most all our posts are either editorials on particular issues/topics, news stories about issues/topics, or specifically asking "What do you guys think about this issue/topic?"

All of those, by nature, invite differing opinions, interpretations, here's-another-news-article-that-seems-to-refute-yours, etc. The definitions of "discussion" and "debate" have a very, very wide overlap.

Again, this is perhaps the toughest and most subjective rule here, but it needs to be here. Maybe I'm just horribly idealistic, but I'm hoping that by simply having these discussions, many of us will take a step back on our own without having to be shunted to separate corners of the classroom.
I've been gone all day and I am not sure I can reply to everything I think it worth replying to in one sitting, but I shall give it the ol' community college try.

Felch: To the best of my knowledge, you've never been banned from this site. The roof has never collapsed on your head. Nor has the sky ever fallen. For all your protestations against the establishment, you are still here and still presumably calling people idiots. If you're not, it's not because of anything I have done to stop you in my first few days in office.

That brings me to another point of clarification: pre-judging what one person will do based on what other people have done in the past is fallacious. I am here, now, having a discussion. Soon, I will be acting on these rules. Let's make the most of the time we have.

As to your list, the first two functions could be applied to serial murder or finger painting, depending on who you ask.

The third is idealistically admirable, but civility makes little liars of us all. The illusion of temperance should in no way diminish your ability to call out bad ideas. To cut the rule and to allow everyone carte blanche to insult others how they see fit would be totally irresponsible unless moderators are given carte blanche to ban people "when the situation warrants." I don't see how that paradigm is preferable.

I am having a hard time unpacking your final paragraph...

I am not the site, I am a person. There is no conspiracy to create an idiot haven. You appear to be equivocating the act of insulting people with the dispelling of bad ideas. I hate to be insensitive, but if you cannot confront other people's ideas without insulting them, I don't see why we should need to make special rules of discourse to accommodate you.

I'm not trying to pick a fight with you, and I know you have some built up frustration, but you're laying it on a little thick with the theatrical monologues, don't you think?

Roy the Infidel:
We're going to talk about groups and blogs and forums and all of that good stuff during our discussion of rule #9.

We actually discussed that at length when we drafted the rule. There is no clear way to morally disambiguate the act of insulting your own versus the act of insulting others. In practical terms, we were able to live with it because they don't and can't (according to the rules) become a member of this community. The rules are in place to protect members and the site itself, to attempt more than that, even if we wanted to, would be overstepping our boundaries and our capabilities.

It is, admittedly, not a very satisfying answer. Pondering it caused me to question the frequency in which I allowed my rhetoric to devolve into the self-indulgent slandering the religious. I still do it on occasion, but I am acutely aware of it when I do. I've found it's forced me think about WHY I am angry before I speak so that I can articulate my outrage in a constructive manner rather than just focusing on the fact that I am angry and frothing at the mouth (which is fun too.) When I "restrain" myself, I am, in a way, freeing myself from those emotions by venting them in a way that heightens my linear understanding of my own philosophical intuitions.

Roy the Infidel
I was rooting for "Thunderdome," but "The Kitchen" is pretty sweet, too. Now I am torn.




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