Enough is enough! 

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. Others are stalking and chasing members around the site simply to harass them. Thin-skinned or not, this has caused visits to Nexus to be a chore for many, and a few have left the site. 

The only qualification to be a member of Nexus is to be a nontheist. Other than that we are a community. Civil debate is welcome in the forum, but should not be tolerated in individual groups (unless this is the purpose of the group), and on member pages.

If you are unsure what is acceptable behavior, check out the Site Rules. If you are having a problem or you notice anyone violating the rules, please use the "Report an Issue" link at the bottom of every page. 

Finally, I am seriously considering adding the title of the below Phil Plait speech to our rules.

Click to open video in a separate window: Don't Be A Dick

What do you think? Good idea or not? I am interested in any feedback and open to solutions. I'm not looking for complaints.

Be forewarned that NO member names will be allowed in comments.

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Replies to This Discussion

@ Brother Richard,

I'm not the kind of person that gets easily offended, but thinking of A|N as a community, I do think that some civility and basic decency is not too much to ask.

Honesty however is also very important, if in a heated debate somebody were to call another person ignorant because of a perceived lack of willingness to investigate and or research I would say that does not constitute "name-calling" ; it's all about content in my opinion.

The community that is A|N consists of many people with different reasons to be here, not everybody likes a heated debate, I agree that not every place is the right place for such a debate/discussion.

Separating the civil debates from other types of discussions would be a way of achieving this.
On another site I used to frequent called "straight dope" they had a forum called the "BBQ pit" where, well, anything goes. People go there to get all their name calling, ranting etc. done, and the moderators could move discussions that were getting out of hand into that forum. This way, they werent censoring per se, and people could simply avoid the "pit" if they were not into being offended or personally attacked.

I also think its difficult to tell in some cases whether something is a personal attack or a valid critique.

When I make statements like "the bible is garbage", "god is imaginary" or "jesus was an imbecile", my christian friends take it as a personal attack.
On groups, yes, I've joined a group before simply to criticize a statement made by the group, or the existence of the group. If a group formed called "atheist nazis" or something, it would be hard not to want to openly criticize them in the context of the group, as a form of protest.

I think this could be avoided if groups would simply enable anyone to comment. If they want to try to shelter themselves from criticism, NONE of their discussions or statements should be visible to any members outside the group. To me, its got to be all or nothing in the interest of free speech.
Hi Brother Richard,

I'd like to clarify something . . . you say that "If you are having a problem or you notice anyone violating the rules, please use the "Report an Issue" link at the bottom of every page." Is this merely a recommendation or are we also allowed to act as moderators and correct our fellow members directly? If we're allowed to correct our fellow members directly, is personal commentary -- above and beyond citing the rule(s) violated -- also allowed? I think that, to avoid hard feelings and/or abuse, moderating should be left to the moderators who are appointed to be fair and impartial.
I dunno. I've been involved in fairly high levels of some major social networking sites and have found that when you add rules to respond to particular situations, those rules, no matter how well-intentioned, tend to overwhelm the site and make it less user friendly. In a personal discussion with Andrew Lih (a close friend and author of the official history of Wikipedia), he told me about how he and others have actually charted this phenomenon. It would be a pity to have it happen here.
I would say a few things.

1. Always assume good faith. That's always a good way to start out.
2. Recognize that some people are jerks. That is, some people are more sensitive, some people are less sensitive, some people are completely insensitive, and some people are just nasty and use the open forums to vent. Treat each group differently. Even if you assume good faith, if someone comes here and says something outrageous (and personally, I have said a lot of outrageous things in my life), they should be called out on it. If someone makes an honest mistake of etiquette or information, they should be corrected, politely but increasingly firmly.
3. I often find that the people who are most eager to criticize others are often guilty of what they criticize, and are certainly not among the most thick-skinned.
4. When you post to a forum, be prepared to be challenged for what you post. If there is no challenging and no give-and-take, then all you are doing is preaching. Of all the many sites I have visited, I would have hoped this is the least conducive to preaching. Therefore, I believe that all forums and groups should be open. If you want to go public with a position, be prepared to have it challenged. As I just said, otherwise all you are doing is preaching.
5. In the heat of a debate, oftentimes people get very intense. Deal with it. I've seen Orthodox Jewish yeshivas, where people usually study in pairs. The room is always very noisy, because as they struggle through some ancient Aramaic text, they will argue vociferously about what it means or how it is too be interpreted. They may even insult each other as they fight over what it means. It doesn't mean they hate each other. They are simply passionate about what they are studying. That kind of exchange is actually considered valuable. Now, the immediate response here will probably be, "Well, that's religious people. We are beyond that." Bullshit. Actually, that form of dialogue is modeled directly on the Greek Academy, and is the closest thing we have to it today anywhere in the world. Just read Plato for a sense of how he slammed the Sophists. Failing to be prepared to defend one's position is either an example of incredible hubris or incredible stupidity. It is not something that should be valued (BTW, you should see some of the earliest discussions in Wikipedia for examples of vicious debates, yet that is what built the encyclopedia.)
6. Atheism is an intellectual approach to the world. It is a philosophy that results from centuries of vitriolic dissent against a majority opinion. Can you imagine anyone here saying that, "Whoa, that's the Evangelical Pentecostal Baptist Church of the Prodigal Pedophile. We do not want to offend them with our talk of evolution. Let's call that a 'No Evolution Zone.'" I don't think anyone here would support that. Why then are people ready to accept a 'No Abortion Zone' or a 'No Flying Saucer Zone' or a 'No Ayn Rand Zone'? It seems almost hypocritical, don't you think.
7. On the seventh point this mother-fucking dipshit rested.
Al Kadim.

Well said!
One of the big problems on Nexus is cultural differences. I'm glad you pointed it out, Al-Kadim.
wild man
Agreed AK, I imagine this is just another reason people will find to segment. Then you get people who want to be cops trying to enforce rules as they see fit.

I am still of a mind of a software solution, inappropriate flag option, thumbs down, ignore, dnd mode... something.
I'm wary of a software solution. The question is, what you program it to look for. I sometimes comment on the Huffington Post, for example, which I believe does have a software solution for comments. I don't think anyone there really understands what the criteria are for vetting comments, but it is a nightmare. Sure, you don't want anyone calling someone else a dick, but what do you do when you feel a strong urge to comment about former VP Richard Cheney? A software solution need a human element too, but that would create a "moderator class," which could potentially be even more divisive.
Hear, hear!



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