An assignment: write the rules

I’m going to have to rewrite our standard rules page thanks to changes in circumstance (there is no dungeon anymore) and to accommodate new suggestions. It would also be nice to fold in Chris Clarke’s ideas. So I’m asking you regular readers to do the job for me!

Here’s the goal: a short document with a list of rules/guidelines, each one no more than a sentence or two. Keep it simple and clear so there’s no excuse for anybody to not read it before posting. Heck, maybe I should just adopt Chris’s Civility Pledge wholesale.

Each of you don’t have to write the whole thing. If there’s just one point you think is really important, just make a comment spelling it out. I’ll assemble the suggestions myself later.

Once I’ve got the new condensed, simplified, easy rules in order, I’ll create a page with them and put it in a tab right up top.

(Man, this is what I do every day: tell a group of people that they have an assignment, get writing, do the work.)

Comments

  1. okstop says

    1) No insults, invective, orders, threats, or value-assessments about anyone in-thread, except in Thunderdome. Period. It’s about the issues, not the people.

  2. okstop says

    “about anyone” should read “about/to anyone,” as in no insults to, orders to, value-assessments about, etc.

  3. Trebuchet says

    Forgot to add: Is this for FTB in general, or only Pharyngula in particular? I’d kind of like to see it in general but certainly understand the need for bloggers to control their own space.

  4. says

    Telling me someone else wrote something doesn’t count! Do your own homework.

    okstop has the right idea, but I don’t know if I agree that those are rules I want to implement.

  5. okstop says

    Oh, good question. I had assumed this was for Pharyngula, if only because of the decentralized, DIY ethos of FTB.

  6. okstop says

    Well, as I said, a rule like that does assume very specific purpose for the comment threads (to wit, serious discussion of some idea or issue, rather than a more social discourse), and that may not be a purpose you want to assume. Perhaps some modification of the rule, like:

    (1′) No comments directed specifically at the character of anyone in-thread with specific support (for instance, “I say you’re a MRA because…,” which shouldn’t be too hard, as they tend to provide ample evidence, more’s the pity for the rest of us), nor should commenters hurl insults or issue orders (such as “fuck off,” “get lost,” etc.). If a commenter legitimately thinks someone shouldn’t be in thread, a mod can be notified.

  7. Maureen Brian says

    Won’t work, okstop!

    If someone comes along and, using much the same language, asks the exact same question which has been asked and answered three times already then that person needs to be called out for bad behaviour.

    Do you think such people follow even polite requests like, “Please proceed immediately to the Thunderdome thread to receive a full evaluation of your bona fides and competence.” Of course they don’t.

    It’s like the time I found my daughter (aged about 4) climbing up the glazing bars of a huge window in a block of flats. The first and urgent priority was to stop her. Detailed analysis of why came a little later.

  8. okstop says

    I didn’t say “no impolite orders,” I suggested no orders directed from commenter-to-commenter, period. If someone needs to be removed to Thunderdome, notify a mod. The thing is, when official methods of removing people (even very odious ones) from a group are lacking, all the group can do is try to make them feel intensely unwelcome. This is unworkable for two reasons: one, it tends to create a generally unpleasant atmosphere, as seen, and, two, the most odious are immune to the approbation of others, which is how they became so odious. My suggested rule keeps commenters out of the thread-regulating game altogether, which, I think, will ease some tensions. Mods get rid of people who need to be gotten rid of, and they actually have POWER to do so.

  9. harrync says

    The system I would like to see may be beyond the technical capability of any existing comment system: charge to make a comment. Maybe five free comments a month, then two dollars per posting. Then maybe people will think before posting. And maybe if PZ thinks your commets are really good, he could exempt you from the charge. [I know, a few rich asses would not care about the $2, but at least they would be supporting FTBs.]

  10. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Okstop, have you read Chris Clarke’s ideas? (link in first paragraph of the OP near the bottom). You want civility just for the sake of civility.

  11. John Phillips, FCD says

    While I agree that where possible we should initially assume good faith on newbies, i.e. an implemented three post rule except for obvious JAQuers, okstop’s rule would basically eviscerate the character of this blog’s handling of MRAs and trolls. There’s nothing wrong with a properly applied insult, quite the opposite, irrespective of the language used.

  12. Blueaussi says

    If you are replying to a specific comment, use the comment number and poster’s name.

    I have pretty much given up commenting here because it is just too time consuming to sort out who said what when. I feel that if you’re piggy backing your comments on third or fourth hand comments on the original, I’m adding to the noise, not the signal.

  13. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    harrync,

    The system you suggest is horrible. It is classist, giving precedence to commenters who can afford to comment and putting those without resources at a disadvantage.

  14. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    One for the Vulcan approach:

    Pretending an emotionally charged issue can be discussed only with pure logic and reason is a non-sequitur. If you get upset about the emotional responses you receive, instead of complaining about the responses, you take your ideas elsewhere.

  15. okstop says

    @#11:

    You want civility just for the sake of civility.

    Heh. Anyone who’s known me for very long knows that isn’t true. No, I want… well, not even civility, per se. I want a particular sub-brand of civility that is useful in keeping conversation productive. And I know it is from long experience and, indeed, professional training.

    Your comment is a perfect example of the phenomenon. I get your meaning, but it could have been very easily misconstrued. Rather than making a statement about me, personally, you could have easily said, “this promotes civility for the sake of civility,” to which I could have simply responded, “oh, no, see, I think it has a genuine instrumental use for reasons x, y, and z.”

    But the comment is about me. It (seemingly) implies an agenda, possibly a sinister one. Well, an objectionable one, at least. But the point is, it unnecessarily adds a complicating dimension to the discussion. In fact, I don’t think you meant to imply any such thing at all. You seem like a reasonable fellow from all the comments of yours I’ve seen, and I have no no doubt we can amicably discuss the merits of a rule like the one I’m proposing. But some people, not unjustifiably, might take offense at the comment, or reply on a personal level, rather than sticking to the issue.

    THAT is the kind of thing a rule like this prevents. Locution can matter in some cases, and this is one of them. It does not, in fact, guarantee civility, not strictly speaking. I’ve seen philosophical debates get extremely catty, I assure you. But it does guarantee we stay focused on the issue.

  16. John Phillips, FCD says

    docfreeride #13

    +infinity.

    Would save a lot of time, though I don’t expect trolls to abide by it.

  17. says

    No special language rules. I’ve already got that: there are some words entered into the filter list that automatically put your post into moderation.

    No way am I going to charge for comments.

  18. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    If you are replying to a specific comment, use the comment number and poster’s name.

    Seconded. Also, I would like to see strongly suggested in the rules that commenters use blockquotes, especially when replying to multiple people.

    Of course, having automatic reply to option which puts the name of the person you are responding to and the number of relevant comment before the text of your own comment would be even more appreciated.

  19. okstop says

    @John Phillips (#14)

    okstop’s rule would basically eviscerate the character of this blog’s handling of MRAs and trolls. There’s nothing wrong with a properly applied insult, quite the opposite, irrespective of the language used.

    Well, the first part there is actually the point. I want to eviscerate it, because I don’t think it’s actually “handling” them at all and it is helping create a toxic atmosphere.

    Don’t mistake me. I agree wholeheartedly with the sentiment behind every insult hurled at the detestable MRAs and trolls. I agree and more. But the question on the table is not whether it is justifiable to ridicule and despise them publicly, the question is whether it is productive. I contend that it is not.

    Let the mods mod. Keep the trolls from disrupting the conversation not by ignoring them, but by handing them off to a silent and efficient “death squad,” if you will.

  20. ledasmom says

    harrync:

    The system I would like to see may be beyond the technical capability of any existing comment system: charge to make a comment. Maybe five free comments a month, then two dollars per posting. Then maybe people will think before posting. And maybe if PZ thinks your commets are really good, he could exempt you from the charge.

    No, that would be disastrous. Doesn’t matter how much I think over a comment, how many times I read the previous comments, how thoughtfully I compose my reply – I am never (unless my financial circumstances change considerably) going to be able to justify spending two dollars to comment. I don’t claim to be one of the great shining lights of the commentariat, or even a minor glimmer, but I don’t want anyone to have to consider redoing their menu for the week due to the two-dollar comment they’re thinking of making (and, yes. Two dollars can make a big difference in the menu for the week).
    Okstop, there are people who need to be told to fuck off.
    From reading the comments on the new commenting policy post, I think this might be generally agreed upon:

    Do not bring arguments from elsewhere into the comment threads. Address what is said here. Thunderdome excepted.

  21. A. R says

    I like the “reset” rule from the current rules. Perhaps it needs to be more strongly worded, and more strongly enforced.

  22. okstop says

    @ledasmom (#24)

    Okstop, there are people who need to be told to fuck off.

    I absolutely agree. But that does not answer the question of whether letting commenters tell them to fuck off in-thread is ultimately productive for the site and the community, however cathartic or justifiable it is.

    They don’t respond salubriously to your contempt. They just don’t. They may leave eventually, but it is not, I maintain, the weight of invective that drives them away. I just don’t buy it. And I don’t see why it isn’t preferable to let the mods swiftly “execute” them while we continue to talk about whatever it is we actually care about. It may lack a certain visceral thrill, I agree, but if it can improve the overall atmosphere, isn’t it a price we ought to be willing to pay, especially as it assuredly does NOT imply that we must tolerate their continued presence?

  23. consciousness razor says

    PZ shall not ban, disemvowel, delete, bunnify or otherwise alter comments, until it is clear to him what is happening and what his reasons are for taking that action, lest he be forever branded a poopyhead. Because sometimes he has other stuff to do anyway, and the first rule should be to do no harm.

  24. John Phillips, FCD says

    okstop the only real way to do that is just to delete trolls from the off. One that would lead to accusations of ‘censorship’, though that doesn’t bother me much, but it also misses a teaching moment. not for the troll but for lurkers. Many a now existing member has said they became such after seeing how we handled trolls, i.e. seeing no quarter being given while also showing why they were wrong and just trolling.

  25. Trebuchet says

    Telling me someone else wrote something doesn’t count! Do your own homework.

    Ok, you’ve shamed me. Without cribbing from my link to much, here are a few. The first ones are simple and obvious.
    1. No spam, including promoting you own or other folks’ blogs unless relevant to the topic at hand.
    2. No sock-puppetry. Changing user names may be allowable if done publicly and only the new one is used.
    3. Stay on topic, unless it’s an obvious “fun” thread or one of the two endless ones.
    4. If you make an argument, be prepared to defend it. “Because God” isn’t a defense. Neither is “yo mamma is fat”.
    5. Do not violate other users’ privacy.
    6. Do not “call out” other users who haven’t even participated in the thread. SLC1 or whatever he calls himself now is an egregious violator of this and of number 5.
    7. Try to be opinionated, but nice. Ad hominems contribute nothing.

  26. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I have no no doubt we can amicably discuss the merits of a rule like the one I’m proposing.

    Actually, won’t have an amicable discussion about your need to impose civility for the sake of civility. My opinion of your opinion is not polite.

  27. Trebuchet says

    8. DFTT. Should be obvious but isn’t. Wrestling with a pig just gets you muddy and the pig likes it.

  28. Walton says

    1. No spam, including promoting you own or other folks’ blogs unless relevant to the topic at hand.

    Would that apply in the Lounge and Thunderdome? If so, it seems a bit draconian. I often post links to immigrants’ rights news, campaigns and updates, because I care about these issues and want to draw attention to them, and these sometimes include links to my own blog and to others’ blogs. I don’t think that’s “spam”. As far as I’m concerned, it’s part of what open threads are for. Obviously I wouldn’t do it in another thread because it would be a derail.

  29. okstop says

    I have to go to bed, but since this seems to have been misunderstood by some people, let me clarify my position – I absolutely agree that MRAs and trolls deserve to be told off. I enjoy seeing it happen. I enjoy doing it. I think it is a great thing, and I think they seriously have it coming.

    None of this speaks to the question of whether doing so is productive for the ends of the discussion threads (whatever those may be).

    Telling off MRAs et al is primarily for the psychological benefit of the people doing the telling off, because it is useless in producing changes in behavior, or nearly so, at any rate. My contentions are these:

    a) That the best way to accomplish getting rid of these people is for them to be excised swiftly and surely from the thread by mods.

    b) That the practice of hurling invective at them, while fun and certainly justified, is part of what is creating an unpleasant atmosphere, even for people who are not targets of this invective (it “primes the pump,” if you will, for a rough tone).

    c) Said invective does not accomplish its ostensible goal of changing their behavior or getting them to leave.

    In light of these premises, which I acknowledge could easily be mistaken, I think the most reasonable thing is to institute something like rule (1′), above. Is it the most psychologically satisfying? Absolutely not, nor was it intended to be. But I think it is the best way I’ve come up with so far to solve the present problem, as it has the virtues of being both objective and simple.

    That’s all I got. Thanks.

  30. says

    “The only head you have privileged access to is your own. Recognize that your words may not perfectly convey your content — and that the words of other commenters may not perfectly convey theirs. When necessary, clarify what you mean, or ask other commenters to clarify what they meant.”

  31. says

    If “don’t feed the trolls” (which I vehemently DO NOT agree with. Way to silence the people who should not be silenced) becomes a thing, we need to define “troll”.

    I mean, if by troll you mean M*b*s or someone who just throws down bible quotes, fine, there’s nothing to be gained by debating them. But your run of the mill MRA? Come on, you’re asking a group of people who are regularly silenced to shut up again. Not fucking cool.

  32. congaboy says

    How about, conversations start and are maintained with the same decorum as one would use while standing in an elevator. The biggest problem with Internet discussions is that there is no interpersonal contact; people feel they can speak in any manner they please, because there are really no repercussions for the bad behavior. If the conversation begins to break down, then the decorum becomes similar to that of standing on a street corner. If the situation becomes intolerable, the decorum becomes that of driving in your car. And if the situation is really just dealing with trolls, then the decorum is that of anonymous Internet interactions. As for blocking and banning, I really have no idea as to how to regulate that.

  33. Nick Gotts says

    Well, the first part there is actually the point. I want to eviscerate it, because I don’t think it’s actually “handling” them at all and it is helping create a toxic atmosphere. – okstop

    Most of the regulars strongly disagree: we don’t want Pharyngula to be the sort of blog you want.

    Suggested rules:
    1) No material from any restricted forum (such as a closed Facebook group, mailing list, or private email) is to be posted anywhere on the blog, without the permission of all concerned. Doing so is a bannable offense.
    2) Any information about a commenter’s allegedly bad behaviour in a public forum outside Pharyngula can be posted only in Thunderdome. A comment saying simply that some such information has been so posted in Thunderdome can be made in another thread.

  34. ledasmom says

    Yes. Yes, it is productive.
    Civility however defined only works when everyone is willing to abide by it – maybe not perfectly, maybe with slip-ups, but with a certain acceptance that there are standards to abide by and everyone will try to do that. I see civility here – the whole idea of writing an explicit set of rules for conduct is based in the idea that people must agree to abide by a certain standard when they come here. The civility of Pharyngula is a robust civility, a blunt civility, but it’s there.
    Somebody who comes here without the intention of adhering to that standard and demonstrates that intention by using language that is either intended to hurt or used with indifference to what hurt it may cause deserves all the invective they get. It’s the commenting equivalent of disdaining the toilet and shitting on the floor.
    Do you know what a vast relief it is, when somebody is insulting and nasty and cruel, to see them roundly excoriated for it by person after person? It’s confirmation of the vileness, confirmation that one wasn’t being oversensitive, whatever that means – somebody really was being cruel. Just having people acknowledge that is such a relief.

  35. okstop says

    Two responses before sleep, since the commenters were kind enough to address me specifically.

    @PZ (#32):

    I honestly don’t think they respond salubriously to anything, which I how they became MRAs and trolls and so on, and why I think they need to be send to a quick and silent end, as it were. I may be wrong, but there it is.

    @Nerd of Redhead (#31):

    Well, that is disappointing, as I tried to explain that I don’t think I think what you think I think… ack. My point being, I don’t desire civility for the sake of civility. I like incivility as much as anyone, and engage in it often. But a specific problem has been noted, and I think this could solve it. I would like to engage in a reasoned dialogue about whether you actually think it will or won’t, and why, and so on, but if you don’t wish to, I can’t make you.

  36. coelsblog says

    Well if you want my opinion, as very much an outsider to FtB who occasionally comments (and I’m quite happy to be told, “no we don’t”), then one suggestion would be to ban people from automatically concluding that anyone posting and defending a different opinion is necessarily doing so dishonestly. If you want Pharyngula to be a place where issues can be discussed you need to accept that someone can honestly hold a different opinion. Having the discussion continually derailed into whether or not you are being honest is tiresome.

    (For example, a failure to answer every single question does not necessarily show dishonesty, especially as answering every question could be interpreted as “motor mouth” or “making the thread all about you”.)

    Of course if there were actual evidence of dishonesty it would be fine to say so.

  37. Nick Gotts says

    The biggest problem with Internet discussions is that there is no interpersonal contact; people feel they can speak in any manner they please, because there are really no repercussions for the bad behavior. – congaboy

    This is simply false. Most of the regulars here consider themselves part of a community, and value each others’ good opinion, which they can lose: I’ve seen it happen to more than one previously well-respected commenter. But then, you’re not proposing rules for Pharyngula; you’re trying to change the nature of the Internet. You’ll fail.

  38. Blueaussi says

    All you grammar rule-mongers and pedants? Unless the mistake makes a lovely pun or funny, or a poster makes the same mistake more than once, or the entire post is a grammaracal* massacre; give it a rest.

    Everyone typos, posts pre-caffiene, indulges in a little comma abuse, or falls victim to auto-correct. We get that your grammar urine stream flows higher, further, and more powerfully than ours; but your splatter is obscuring the signal.

    *See what I did there?

  39. consciousness razor says

    okstop, #22:

    But the question on the table is not whether it is justifiable to ridicule and despise them publicly, the question is whether it is productive. I contend that it is not.

    Let the mods mod. Keep the trolls from disrupting the conversation not by ignoring them, but by handing them off to a silent and efficient “death squad,” if you will.

    Productive of what? Productive of catharsis perhaps (cf. #27)? Perhaps it’s not always productive of rigorous philosophical debate, but who says that’s the produce we always need to be selling here?

    I don’t think it would work at all, and I wouldn’t want them doing our “dirty work” (if that’s how you see it) by handling every last asshole who passes through here for us, presumably by reporting them to PZ since that would be their only effective response. Maybe you don’t appreciate the scope of the problem (i.e. how many assholes there are), but there also some things that warrant evisceration yet don’t need some kind of official response from mods or PZ or anyone in particular.

  40. eigenperson says

    1. PZ is the ultimate dictator.

    Rules of Conduct

    2. Threats of any kind of physical violence are forbidden. Threats of harrassment are forbidden. Implicit threats made by revealing commenters identity, address, email address, or place of work are absolutely forbidden. [Copied from existing rules.]

    3. Maintain a recognizable and consistent pseudonym. One pseudonym. [Copied from existing rules.]

    4. There are classes of insults that rely on broad spectrum stereotypes to be insulting: racist, sexist, ableist, ageist slurs don’t just hit your target, they hit everyone in that group. Don’t use them. [Modified from existing rules.]

    Rules of Argument

    5. Comment threads on Pharyngula are not merely a drop box where you are invited to deposit your thoughts. You must engage meaningfully with others’ positions, not merely state your disagreement.

    6. Before commenting, read the entire thread. Your argument may not be new; if it isn’t, you should acknowledge and respond to the things that others have already said on the topic.

    7. Before commenting a second time in the same thread, read the discussion that has occurred in between, including all the posts that addressed your first comment. Respond to the argument in those posts; don’t merely reiterate. Don’t skip responding to the comments that make the stronger arguments against your position.

    8. If you have an argument to make, make it all at once; don’t spread it over several posts. This is not a cross-examination, so don’t try to make your argument through a series of leading questions.

    9. “The only head you have privileged access to is your own. Recognize that your words may not perfectly convey your content — and that the words of other commenters may not perfectly convey theirs. When necessary, clarify what you mean, or ask other commenters to clarify what they meant.” [Taken from #37 docfreeride]

    10. If you said something that others considered foolish or hurtful, note that, and take their opinions into account. If you didn’t mean to say that, apologize — even if you didn’t mean to say it, you did say it.

    11. When responding to an argument made in another comment, quote the text that you are responding to. Tailor your argument to that text. If you are responding to the subtext instead of the text, make that clear as well.

    Rules of Charity

    12. If someone could reasonably be acting in good faith, respond as though they are. Assume that they can be convinced by argument. Even if that turns out not to be the case, someone who can be convinced may be reading the exchange. [This replaces the 3-post rule, which I believe was not enforced because it was too rigid. This rule is much more fluid, and expects people to use their judgment. If someone is judging bad faith too quickly, they should be informed of this in a gentle but firm manner.]

    13. Refer clueless people to resources that can give them a clue before you start attacking them.

    14. Do not bring arguments or grudges from elsewhere into the comments here.

  41. Trebuchet says

    @35, Walton: I don’t see any problem with what you say you’re doing, especially in the open threads. If you’re just doing to increase traffic to your own blog about cheesemaking however, that’s a violation.

    @40, Nick:

    1) No material from any restricted forum (such as a closed Facebook group, mailing list, or private email) is to be posted anywhere on the blog, without the permission of all concerned. Doing so is a bannable offense.
    2) Any information about a commenter’s allegedly bad behaviour in a public forum outside Pharyngula can be posted only in Thunderdome. A comment saying simply that some such information has been so posted in Thunderdome can be made in another thread.

    Excellent!

  42. ledasmom says

    okstop:

    Said invective does not accomplish its ostensible goal of changing their behavior or getting them to leave.

    Not the point of the invective, really. That’s what banning or suspension or whatever we settle on is for – making people leave. To use the analogy I used before, if someone’s shitting on the rug just because they can, I don’t think they’ll leave because I ask nicely. The point of the invective is to demonstrate disgust with the asshattery on display, for the comfort of those who may have been hurt.
    Now I promise to try and think up some rules of my own rather than only criticizing other people’s.

  43. okstop says

    Sorry, one more:

    @ledasmom (#41):

    If your point is that the psychological value of seeing the vastly deserving eviscerated publicly outweighs the negative effect of creating a space where invective is accepted discourse (which is fine as long as it stays focused on MRAs, trolls, etc, but that sort of thing tends to inevitably spill over), I’m open to that point. My rule proposal is based on the assumption that it is not, but at no point have I ever claimed that the assumption is necessarily correct. It was just my best guess based on the information I had. It may well be otherwise. But that raises the possibility that there is no easy fix, or possibly no fix at all, to the knifey-bitey-stabby issue that PZ mentioned. Which could be the case.

    Also note, and this is directed more generally, at no point did I ever call for a particular group to be silenced. Please read carefully. I called for everyone to stick to issues, rather than talking about people. That’s not silencing a group, that’s saying, “in here, we’re talking about this.” That’s not silencing, that’s specifying the range of discourse. And besides, it was never intended to apply to, say, Thunderdome. Mind you, as I note above, even that might be psychologically unacceptable to many regulars, but, as I noted in the previous thread about the rules, this gets us back to the issue of discussing the purpose of these threads. If it’s for like-minded people to have social conversation and gain the psychological benefits of seeing others express similar feelings, then, no, this rule might not be workable. But if it’s to have productive discussion of some pretty challenging topics, well, yes, it might be a necessary rule. But it’s not for me to say what the purpose of the comment threads may be, or even to give a definitive answer about the rules – I’m just saying, “well, if x, then I think y, but if not, then I don’t know.”

  44. Nick Gotts says

    If you want Pharyngula to be a place where issues can be discussed you need to accept that someone can honestly hold a different opinion. – coelsblog

    It depends on the issues: it if someone honestly holds the opinion – for example – that Pharyngula is a nest of feminazi bullies, or that gay or trans* people do not deserve equal respect, I’m not interested in discussing that with them – at least, not here. If I want to argue with bigots about their bigotry, there are plenty of places I can go.

  45. Walton says

    I don’t think “don’t feed the trolls” could ever be a practical or enforceable rule, because there isn’t a sufficiently clear and objective definition of “troll”. The term has long since lost its original narrow meaning of “someone who posts things purely to provoke an angry reaction”. (And even if it were thus defined, there’s no way to distinguish reliably between someone who really has terrible opinions and someone who is pretending to have terrible opinions for the lulz.)

    Besides, I don’t think there’s anything to be gained from telling people they shouldn’t respond to trolls. In particular, false information should be debunked – even if the person who posted the false information isn’t listening and doesn’t care, it matters for the benefit of other people reading.

  46. John Phillips, FCD says

    okstop, but while we do get a certain satisfaction, though often it is a result of pure exasperation, at insulting obvious trolls, this almost invariably goes hand in hand with many eviscerating their points, i.e. the aforementioned teaching moment for lurkers. It also often gives people practise in polishing their arguments, even when they include the odd insult or swear word in their argument

  47. says

    Hey, okstop, look at the old rules: Motormouth. This is one of the rubrics I use most often: if someone is posting lots and lots of comments to a thread, they’re either digging a hole or refusing to listen to others or are on a spamming/insulting spree.

    Make a point, then move on. You don’t need to defend it tirelessly evermore.

  48. okstop says

    @John Phillips (#53):

    As a point of order, I assure you that you can learn to demolish arguments quite handily without including any personal invective. It is, if anything, better to learn to do it thusly. But this isn’t a classroom, and if people like mixing a little George Carlin- or Lewis Black-style with their reasoned analysis, I can’t say I blame them. It’s fun.

  49. okstop says

    @PZ (#54):

    My apologies. I am in the habit of trying to reply specifically to anyone who personally addresses me, as a courtesy. I understand that the most courteous thing to do in this environment may be different, and I’ll be mindful of that in the future. That said, I felt that my original point was being repeatedly mischaracterized, which was an issue that needed addressing. However, I suppose I could have made a single post to address any (apparent) misunderstanding, rather than clogging the thread.

    Won’t happen again.

  50. Sophia, Michelin-starred General of the First Mediterranean Iron Chef Batallion says

    I’m all for visceral verbal dismemberment of bad arguments with the full force of the horde’s gnashing sharp pointy teeth. Of people, not so much, until they’ve shown they’re entirely unable to engage in rational discourse. After the three posts (if that’s going to hang around), no quarter.

    On the civility issue, if we disappear the trolls without engaging, we’re effectively “walking past” what they say. The replies need to be powerful and emotional, not silent. Some of us do that without insults. Some don’t. Both methods help to create the safe space we enjoy here. Silence does not.
    Being prevented from speaking out against bigoted opinions is what we’re forced to deal with every day in meatspace. some of us hang on because we’ve finally got somewhere to see the arguments getting what they justly deserve. Nobody is forced to come here, nobody is forced to comment. We need to see the arguments shredded, because it shows people like me that there’s still decency left, somewhere.

    *clench, relax*
    Anyway. Rule ideas.

    For regulars:
    No insults based on anything the poster hasn’t actually displayed.
    No dragging in conflicts from other platforms*

    *If the poster is a sockpuppet, slymer, known stormfront/AVFM/MRA type or the like, exceptions could possibly be made, though whether or not it’s best to let them out themselves within the newbie safety net is an arguable point.

    For newbies/everyone:
    Read the thread and comments before weighing in.
    No tone trolling.
    No slurs or -ist insults of any kind.
    No assumptions about race, gender, orientation, social standing or any other privilege axis.
    No othering (calling people monsters, subhuman, positing they may be mentally ill)
    This is not a 101 level space. Do not expect people to spoon feed you basic concepts. You will be asked to read material that outlines these concepts if you are seen to have an inadequate understanding of a particular issue.

    DO feed the trolls. Mercilessly.

    What else?

  51. congaboy says

    Nick Gotts @ 44.

    What I said may not be entirely accurate-there may be bigger problems with internet interactions other than what I said in my original comment, but my statement isn’t patently false. Internet anonymity does allow people to speak to each other in a manner in which they would almost never use while having a face-to-face conversation. I didn’t say that all people resort to acting poorly during internet conversations. I meant the Internet provides a forum in which some people can act poorly, because they know there will be no real repercussions. Also, I don’t think my suggestions are an attempt to change the internet, but rather a suggestion asking people to act as they would if they were having a face-to-face conversation. Many are calling for civility, why not just use standards by which we already conduct our lives?

  52. kimbeaux says

    Do your homework. Unless a post is designated as a 101/Introduction to a topic, assume that you are expected to be informed before you comment. JAQing off

    Threats or calls for violence are prohibited, even as a joke.

    Intent is neither an excuse nor a substitute for an apology when one is called for. When you err, be clear about your responsibility for your words/actions and your regret for the harm done in your apology.

  53. eigenperson says

    #57 Sophia: Part of the problem with the “101″ concept is that everyone thinks they have an advanced (or at least beyond 101-level) understanding. This is as true of creationists as it is of the privilege-blind.

  54. Nick Gotts says

    okstop,

    If it’s for like-minded people to have social conversation and gain the psychological benefits of seeing others express similar feelings, then, no, this rule might not be workable.

    A glance at the “Stunned silence” thread could tell you that yes, this is a considerable part of what it’s for. different threads have different functions, which is why a lot of us liked PZ’s suggestion of some having special commenting rules.

    But if it’s to have productive discussion of some pretty challenging topics, well, yes, it might be a necessary rule.

    What “pretty challenging topics” have you in mind? We do actually manage productive discussion of a wide range of scientific, political, religious and even philosophical topics – more so, IMNSHO, than academic analytic philosophy generally manages, although I admit there are numerous exceptions.

  55. gmcard says

    Long time lurker, only recently a commenter (and infrequent at that).

    I think I would participate more if rules along the lines of what okstop is proposing were implemented. I think those rules would need to be supplemented with a more robust flagging/reporting mechanism. Is it appropriate to discuss here what that mechanism might need to be, or is that better saved for another thread/another time?

  56. Sophia, Michelin-starred General of the First Mediterranean Iron Chef Batallion says

    @60 yep. Definitely.
    I posit that false positives on directing people to 101 level material are not a bad thing. We can all use some revision once in a while.

  57. Esteleth, statistically significant to p ≤ 0.001 says

    “If you read a post and don’t understand something and the comments are similarly baffling to you, ask your question in the 101 thread.”

  58. Nick Gotts says

    Many are calling for civility – congaboy

    And many of us recognize those calls as calls to defend the status quo of privilege, where using polite phrasing can excuse the vilest of bigotry. Fuck that noise.

  59. Tony! The Immorally Inferior Queer Shoop! says

    Okstop:

    I would absolutely not be happy with a rule that says no insults. Rape apologist and MRAs say the most vile things, and civility is supposed to work against them?. Many of them do not listen to people like Gregory Greenwood or Pteryxx, both of whom I deeply appreciate for-among other things-their ability to present arguments and evidence. Reeeealy strong arguments and copious amounts of evidence AND I do not recall ever seeing either of them using invectives .
    A prime example of the kind of horrible people that come here–ANNEJONES in the Thunderdome. Sexist, incredibly homophobic, and empowered by the Armor of God, which provides imperviousness to logic and sound arguments. People (such as Owlmirror and anteprepro) tried to engage her rationally..no luck.
    Now, I realize you were not referring to the Dome with your suggestion, but people like ANNEJONES do come here. We have had people like Reap Paden and various Pitters (before insta-ban). Your way would have them able to say the nastiest things, while dressed up in “polite” terminology, while our people would be hamstrung by not being able to express themselves as they see fit, and people like that have proven immune to evidence. Hell, they cant click 5 pages of links handily provided by Caine. So we are left with:
    Shitstirrers, MRAs, Sockpuppets, and bigots of various stripes able to say virtually anything they like, which they so often do in “civil” terms…

    While we will quickly find ourselves (not always, but frequently…Grenade thread anyone?) presenting sound arguments that are dismissed or ignored while being unable to strongly-in the language we prefer-condemn such assholes.

    Strongly condemn is different for different people. Some will use invectives, some will not.

    Perhaps one of the most important purposes invectives can serve is to show that we viciously, but rhetorically condemn the sexist or ableist or homophobic statements. How many times have we heard lurkers speak up and thank people for unequivocally condemning rape culture apologists? Sexual harassment and assault are swept under the table or hardly addressed in meatspace. Victims of such abuse often see person after person, corrupted system after corrupted system fail to acknowledge a problem, let alone offer condemnation. HERE, as we have learned many times, so many people have spoken their thanks that we eviscerate MRAs or rape apologists–bc they see it happen in far too few spaces.

    Please do not ask anyone to adopt “play nice and civil” policies. Though civil responses will always be welcome, they are not the only effective tool (how many people have mentioned being shouted down, strongly, for rape apologetics or blindness to privilege, only to return at a later date offering thanks bc THAT specific approach worked on them?)
    When it comes to issues of social justice, we are fighting an uphill battle. Asking of us to do so with one less tool is a horrible idea.

    ****

    All that said, there is good reason not to attack someone right out of the gate. An inability to convey intentions is a problem many have faced. Following the *wise* 3 comment rule affords the opportunity for a commenter to make their point as effectively as they can without being told to fuck off after their first–poorly composed and/or received-comment.
    Personally, I have been hasty in using invectives too soon, and that is something I need to work on. I do not have a policy of when to use them or not (aside from clear bigoted behavior as exemplified by ANNEJONES, for instance). It depends on many factors. I will work to deliberately compose an insult or invective free comment to act as a balance (not that I imagine PZ is sitting up there twiddling his thumbs and docking my allowance for each harsh word I use*; this is a way for me to be more conscious of how I interact with others.

    ****
    Okstop:
    One other thing…
    What are your reasons for wanting no “insults, invectives, orders, or value assessments? I left out threats bc that is almost always condemned here, and I see why disallowing threats is good policy. The others need much stronger arguments, IMHO, before they should be added to a comment policy.

  60. Nick Gotts says

    I think I would participate more if rules along the lines of what okstop is proposing were implemented. – gmcard

    Then this may not be the blog for you – or at least, one where you’ll remain an occasional commenter. Nothing wrong with that, and I also comment on blogs which have okstop-type rules; but I don’t want them or anything like them here, and I don’t think most of the regular commenters do either.

  61. coelsblog says

    54 PZ:

    Motormouth: [...] Make a point, then move on. You don’t need to defend it tirelessly evermore.

    That’s fine, so long as failure to answer direct replies to you is not then interpreted as evasive dishonesty.

  62. dave001 says

    @13 ““You have a responsibility to read the original post and the comments already posted on it before adding your own.””
    Why? It is not practical, there are often hundreds of comments (and not all of them worth reading).

  63. piegasm says

    “Get to the damn point.”

    There are people who routinely spend several paragraphs saying things that could be expressed in a single sentence (I’m looking at you okstop). There was a troll on one thread yesterday who spent 4 paragraphs saying exactly nothing.

    On a related note:

    “Other people’s lived experience is not your thought experiment.”

    I think a lot of rancor could be avoided by the Vulcan, Ivory Tower types learning to stay the fuck away from people relating lived experiences.

    Oh and:

    “Paragraph breaks. Use them.”

  64. Pteryxx says

    Also, I don’t think my suggestions are an attempt to change the internet, but rather a suggestion asking people to act as they would if they were having a face-to-face conversation. Many are calling for civility, why not just use standards by which we already conduct our lives?

    And that, right there, is the problem.

    Harassment happens face-to-face. Bigotry happens face-to-face. Abuse happens face-to-face. Rape apologetics happen face-to-face. Bullying happens face-to-face. And in all those cases, invariably, the target is the one isolated and forced to shut up and bear it, because the systems we’re fighting here ensure that privileged abusers almost never suffer so much as a tongue-lashing in consequence.

    The internet has plenty of civil, heavily-moderated safe spaces for social justice. Some of them are other blogs right here on FTB. There are plenty of places moderated for civility while still allowing bigotry free reign. There are plenty of spaces that don’t control for either one, and we’ve all seen what happens there – the bigots rule, same as they do in a civility-enforced space.

  65. Esteleth, statistically significant to p ≤ 0.001 says

    “No insults” privileges the racist/sexist/homophobic/etc status quo by hindering one of the few tools (calling-out) the oppressed have. No, no, no!

    It also privileges those who can manage to be “rational” about something hurtful over those who can’t. Which is to say that it privileges those who are either doing the hurting or otherwise don’t know what it is to be hurt.

  66. okstop says

    @Tony! (#67):

    What are your reasons for wanting no “insults, invectives, orders, or value assessments? I left out threats bc that is almost always condemned here, and I see why disallowing threats is good policy. The others need much stronger arguments, IMHO, before they should be added to a comment policy.

    Tony!, thank you for asking this. My reason for proposing that was predicated on the hypothetical assumption (which many have argued persuasively is not the case) that the goal of the thread is to make some headway in discussing some particular issue. One would not tolerate the presence of a disruptive dolt in such a discussion in real life, and, as stated, in my classrooms, such rules keep people focused on the arguments, not the individuals making the arguments.

    Now, I recognize this is not a classroom, but the rule was proposed based on a very specific idea about what the threads were for. Not my idea, in particular, but an idea, anyway. Even if I’m not sure it’s the right one, I feel it’s more productive to operate from some founding hypothesis. It can always be revised in light of further discussion.

    Point of order: your response to my proposal, while containing many very excellent points, badly mischaracterizes an element of my plan. No thread would be required to tolerate MRAs, trolls, and their ilk – they would be quickly removed and their comments deleted, as they plainly add nothing. That said, consciousness razor has specifically pointed out that this might be logistically infeasible, aside from the question of whether it’s appropriate.

  67. piegasm says

    @70 dave001

    Why? Because it’s rude to parachute into a conversation that is ongoing and just spew your opinion with no regard for what progress might already have been made in the discussion. If you can’t be arsed to read however many comments there are, why should the rest of us go the trouble of giving a shit what you think?

  68. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    My point being, I don’t desire civility for the sake of civility. I like incivility as much as anyone, and engage in it often. But a specific problem has been noted, and I think this could solve it.

    But you show no evidence to back up your claim. Which is why I have my opinion, like that of Chris Clark, that civility for the sake of civility not only is problem, worse problem than than being uncivil at times.

  69. says

    You can all stop arguing over okstop’s suggestion. It’s dead. Not gonna implement it.

    That I ask you to suggest new rules/guidelines does not impose any obligation on me to accept them all.

  70. Esteleth, statistically significant to p ≤ 0.001 says

    “You may not tell someone that their lived experience is invalid, did not happen, or doesn’t “count” in some way. You may criticize their interpretation, or their extending of their experience/interpretation to cover other peoples’ experiences, but no more.”

    Language could use some cleaning up, but I think that would be a good rule to have.

  71. Vicki says

    congaboy @39:

    It’s one thing to say we need calmer and/or less hostile conversations here, but “the same decorum as one would use while standing in an elevator” would mean never discussing anything political, religious, or very personal, or addressing a remark more controversial than ‘can someone please press 4?’ to the group at large or to a stranger. Those are rules for safe small talk, appropriate for a context where you may not want to talk but can’t walk away immediately. I don’t think anyone is looking for that here.

    The only time conversation-in-elevators gets remotely intimate or interesting is when the conversation didn’t start in the elevator, and is within a small group of people (often just two) who walked into an empty elevator together and continued their existing conversation.

  72. Pteryxx says

    Tony @67: just for the record, once in a while I actually do cuss. Sometimes I even insult people directly, but they pretty much have to have reeealllly earned it.

  73. A. R says

    Pharyngula without insults and troll stomping would be like Pharyngula without cephalopods. Not gonna happen.

  74. John Phillips, FCD says

    dave001, fine if you are not going to repeat a comment or question already covered numerous times up thread. Or do you expect us to respond again just for your benefit because you can’t be bothered to read what has gone before to see if the point you bring up has already been more than covered. Now that, IMO, is truly insulting behaviour.

  75. poxyhowzes says

    (1) No comment — at all, ever — can be made without a “preview” by the commenter first.

    (2) WordPress shall be forced to show previews exactly as they will appear. (Line feeds and carriage returns are a particular problem in current previews.)

    (3) After preview, there’s a 30 to 60 second |delay-with-cancellation| option after the preview. For the commenter only.

    (4) Commenter or moderator is always able to insert an interthreaded *update* or two immediately below commenter’s initial comment. Otherwise, no interthreading by anyone else. [Example: "Whoops, that should have been "misandry," not "misogyny." "]

    – pH

  76. Nick Gotts says

    @13 You have a responsibility to read the original post and the comments already posted on it before adding your own.

    Why? It is not practical, there are often hundreds of comments (and not all of them worth reading). – dave001

    It is always practical not to comment at all. As for “Why?”, I would have thought the answer obvious: your point may already have been raised, answered, argued over, agreed, dismissed. Of course, if someone’s point is just: “Me, me, me! Listen to me!” that won’t be relevant to them, but then, most of us aren’t interested in hearing from them.

  77. eigenperson says

    Now, I recognize this is not a classroom, but the rule was proposed based on a very specific idea about what the threads were for. Not my idea, in particular, but an idea, anyway. Even if I’m not sure it’s the right one, I feel it’s more productive to operate from some founding hypothesis. It can always be revised in light of further discussion.

    I think, fundamentally, you have a different idea about what the threads are for than the rest of us do.

    Pharyngula is regularly attacked by misogynists, racists, creationists, tone trolls, and others who are clueless and make no attempt to engage with ideas. The environment here is dedicated to repelling those attacks forcefully and in public. That is largely what the comment section of this blog is about; it’s what it has always been about, even back in the days when the clueless folks were mostly creationists instead of mostly slimepitters.

    It’s not a classroom except in the broadest sense.

  78. Algernon says

    Here’s my suggestion. Give people a legitimately empowered way to say “Stop.” Let people walk away from a conversation that has become too much for them without engaging in a round of discourse over how weak that makes them.

    Some times people like getting into it, but some times they are feeling like they are trapped in a corner. If some one needs to get out, provide a way of socializing respect for the emotional honesty it takes to say that… and let people get out without making it a “walk of shame.”

  79. consciousness razor says

    @13 ““You have a responsibility to read the original post and the comments already posted on it before adding your own.””
    Why? It is not practical, there are often hundreds of comments (and not all of them worth reading).

    How do you know that if you’re not reading them? But I’ll let you in on a secret, since I have been: it’s totally true! They’re mostly shit! So the most important and practical thing you can do to solve this is obviously to add yet another comment which isn’t worth reading and which no one (except me, of course) will bother to read anyway.

  80. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    If you want Pharyngula to be a place where issues can be discussed you need to accept that someone can honestly hold a different opinion. – coelsblog

    Opinions per se are dime a dozen and are often worthless. Opinions backed up by facts and evidence are worth something. If you voice opinions, be prepared to back them up with evidence when challenged. If you can’t back them up with evidence, stop voicing those opinions that were challenged.

  81. eigenperson says

    #87 was a response to okstop #75. And now that you mention it, I wouldn’t mind the ability to add an addendum to my comment, although it’s probably technically unfeasible.

  82. ledasmom says

    dave001:

    Why? It is not practical, there are often hundreds of comments (and not all of them worth reading).

    How can you tell without reading them?
    If you don’t have time to read the comments, or at the very least the last page of comments (example: grenade thread), you don’t have time to comment. Period.
    Also, at 74: there is an unnecessary gender-related insult there. I realize that you’re quoting and not the originator of the comment.
    Pteryxx: Agreeing with your #72, and adding that the standards we use for our face-to-face conversations vary greatly depending on who we are and what our life experiences are. To go back to congaboy’s original example of a conversation in an elevator, my over-six-feet-tall husband is going to use somewhat less caution when talking to someone in an elevator than, say, someone who is female and has had to deal with a lot of sexual harassment. There is no universally understood standard of politeness in an elevator, as I rather thought had become abundantly clear.

  83. coelsblog says

    91 Nerd:

    Opinions backed up by facts and evidence are worth something. If you voice opinions, be prepared to back them up with evidence when challenged.

    I’ve no objection to any of that Nerd.

  84. tomh says

    In my opinion, civility is overrated. People act like an insult is some sort of physical assault. Ridiculous. If you’re too thin-skinned to put up with words, stay off the playground. I’ve been called an idiot, (by Caine), which bothered me not a bit. I think the rules are fine just the way they are.

  85. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I’ve no objection to any of that Nerd.

    Just to stop voicing evidenceless opinions if challenged. I noticed your omission of the truly important part.

  86. says

    @47

    Issue with this one –

    14. Do not bring arguments or grudges from elsewhere into the comments here.

    It has long been my philosophy that when someone shows you who they are, believe them.

    As an example – if Pitchguest posted something in a thread in which he ‘asked a question’, I feel like it’s perfectly acceptable for everyone in the thread by either responding with ‘shut up you MRA asshole’ or simply ignoring him due to his long history of being a trolling MRA JAQ-off.

    I’d like to add – on the ‘civility’ theme – give someone a chance to apologize. I’ve seen a couple cases in which someone was called out, reread/rethought what they wrote, apologized for what they said (a couple cases in which it was even a typo), and then nobody would let it go no matter how many times the original poster tried to apologize or correct their statements. We’ve all said stupid shit that needs to be called out so we can correct our behavior, but once the correction is in place, put away the cattle prods and let them try to find the path. This isn’t to say you can’t call them out again if they fuck up again, it’s just to say we don’t need to keep dogpiling.

  87. AndrewD says

    As an occasional commentator can I just suggest several modifications to things others have said:-
    Trebuchet @30. I would amend your 2 to include “A ‘nym may be changed, at PZ@s discretion when the existing nym has been compramised in a fashion likely to affect thir well being(physical, mental or employment) without revealing the fact

    Nick @40 I would add “all references to public arguments external to phyrangula must include a vaid link the first time they are refered to

  88. Holms says

    Don’t tell people to fuck off, or otherwise close dialogue simply because you find it obnoxious.

    Don’t post while ‘hot’.

    Don’t be a goddamn fuckhead.

  89. eigenperson says

    14. Do not bring arguments or grudges from elsewhere into the comments here.

    It has long been my philosophy that when someone shows you who they are, believe them.

    As an example – if Pitchguest posted something in a thread in which he ‘asked a question’, I feel like it’s perfectly acceptable for everyone in the thread by either responding with ‘shut up you MRA asshole’ or simply ignoring him due to his long history of being a trolling MRA JAQ-off.

    That’s fair — that’s how I would like to respond to Pitchguest too.

    But there needs to be some kind of rule, because the Thunderdome incident was largely about a very serious argument that took place elsewhere being dragged in here, with predictable consequences. I’m not sure how to write it so that it covers the Thunderdome incident but not Pitchguest.

  90. Esteleth, statistically significant to p ≤ 0.001 says

    Re: fights from elsewhere,
    It may be useful to keep the distinction between “so-and-so has been established as a baddie by their comments at [another public blog that everyone can go see]” and “so-and-so has been established as a baddie by their comments [on FB/in a private fora].”

  91. Dauphni says

    okstop does bring up one important point, and I’d hate to see it get lost in the rest of the blather. What are these comment threads for?

    It’s a question that really needs to be answered before putting suggestions out there. And from what I can tell from this thread and others, not everyone is on the same page yet.

  92. ChasCPeterson says

    briefly de-breaking:
    I fear that this whole exercise carries a faint whiff of foxes guarding henhouses*. The problems in the comments here are and always have been mostly with the behavior of Teh Regulars, as recently pointed out explicitly by Chris Clarke. I have been talking (or complaining, if you insist) about the in-group tribalism around here for years now. Essentially, the self-identified clique of exceedingly self-righteous Regulars give each other a tacit pas to be complete assholes when the whim strikes, while applying a variety of double standards to people they don’t “know” or don’t like. Creating a sekrit backchannel for Monitors Only is only going to exacerbate that situation, imo. (Several of the current monitors, for example, quite clearly bear personal animosity toward me.)

    As for what can be done about it, I will here open myself up to justifiable charges of tone-trolling, hypocrisy and the usual tu quoques** (at least deserved this time):
    I would like to endorse the simple piece of advice offered here by one Jerome Garcia. Personally, I would try a lot harder to follow that advice if there were any indication that everybody else was too.

    And an actual concrete suggestion for new rules: “No talking about another commenter in the third person.” Because that shit gets toxic real quick.

    *oops…now I can’t include the intended footnote because of that last bit just above. I would instead like to give credit where credit is due and compliment Caine on this comment here. Because without naming nyms I think a lot of us could benefit from similar self-reflection.

    **Hi, Sally!

  93. coelsblog says

    97 Nerd:

    Just to stop voicing evidenceless opinions if challenged. I noticed your omission of the truly important part.

    I’ve no objection to that either, though it’s a maxim that can be applied just as much to one side of an argument as the other.

  94. piegasm says

    Re: people who’ve shown themselves to be vile human beings elsewhere and how it relates to not importing hostility I would just have an overarching rule stating that all of the following rules are subject to judgement calls by PZ.

    One could also argue that someone like Pitchguest, just by showing up here to comment is importing hostility by default and thus breaking the don’t import hostility rule.

  95. erlingbeck says

    No guidelines. Less is better. A principle. But first, a truth and reconciliation effort. Some will be welcome back.

    If you make a list of rules or guidelines, the longer and more detailed the list, the more prone to “rules lawyering”.

    The Principle: Contribute in good faith.

    I’ve been a reader since (circa 2006), even then, I was reluctant to make any comments. For many it’s not worth the hassle and potential abuse. I made an exception today because, if you and the horde are serious, your blog will have its better years ahead of it. At least for a year or two, it seems to me that, your writing reflects a shore or quota, not something that makes you happy.

    Good Luck!

  96. Anthony K says

    How about whining about ‘echo chambers’, ‘hive minds’, or ‘tribalism’ gets you instantly banned.

  97. Portia says

    Some times people like getting into it, but some times they are feeling like they are trapped in a corner. If some one needs to get out, provide a way of socializing respect for the emotional honesty it takes to say that… and let people get out without making it a “walk of shame.”

    I like this, as long as it’s not framed as “agree to disagree” which I freaking loathe. If it’s more “I need to walk away” that’s fine…but then, that’s always allowed. No one is chained to their keyboard. One can announce that they are going to cease commenting so they can think. I’ve seen that respected in the past. And by respected, I mean that people both think it’s an admirable course to take and that people lay off for a bit while that takes place. This has become not so much a rule recommendation so I’m going to stop.

  98. Algernon says

    Generally “X or GTFO” is moderation. It’s the same thing people here are getting irritated with on other spaces. So you guys need to make up your mind.

    If that is how it is here, then just know that you will only be talking to people who want to roll like that.

    The rest of us will gladly GTFO.

    As for “get to the point” or “don’t spell poorly” etc. Some people have trouble writing. Some people have a style you don’t like. Frankly, that’s exactly the kind of useless whining and bickering that makes it noxious to participate.

    Don’t want to read three paragraphs? Think the person is asking naive questions or talking about something you don’t personally care to read? Oh poor thing.

    But really, back to what I said at first. Just make up your minds and be ok with it. You really can’t have your cake and eat it too.

  99. B-Lar says

    I think that “do not fetishize anger” should be coded alongside the very helpful “do not fetishize civility”.

  100. Blueaussi says

    Algernon @ #88

    I like this idea. Sometimes the dogpile comes so hard and fast that even the strongest of us can feel too overwhelmed by the sheer weight of all that verbiage to respond. And sometimes, as is most often the case with me, there simply isn’t enough time available to properly respond to all those comments.

    I know that it is unintentional, but the result is that some posters get silenced. And, yes, I agree that there are some toxic commenters who need to be silenced; but perhaps a “pause” or “stop” could cut down on the collateral damage.

  101. Algernon says

    Oh yeah, and I guess maybe “keep your personal beefs personal.”

    Have a war on FB? BFFs no more?

    Fine. But leave it there. I’ve noticed the allusions to people’s private subgroups have really grown. I keep in touch with some people I met through here, and frankly I kind of see another side to people when they aren’t here. That can be positive and that can be negative.

    If it is negative for you though, there are really very few circumstances where it is appropriate to drag it out here.

  102. Cyranothe2nd, ladyporn afficianado says

    docfreeride @ 37

    “The only head you have privileged access to is your own. Recognize that your words may not perfectly convey your content — and that the words of other commenters may not perfectly convey theirs. When necessary, clarify what you mean, or ask other commenters to clarify what they meant.”

    This is so beautiful I want to frame it.

  103. carlie says

    And an actual concrete suggestion for new rules: “No talking about another commenter in the third person.” Because that shit gets toxic real quick.

    I agree with this about a million times over.

    okstop does bring up one important point, and I’d hate to see it get lost in the rest of the blather. What are these comment threads for?

    I agree that’s important to establish, because I look at something like dave001 up there questioning why bother to read before commenting and think “How the hell could someone even ask something like that?” I think it’s pretty clear that this isn’t a “throw in your view and go home” kind of place, but I guess not everyone else thinks that. (in fact, I can’t imagine any value to any place that is like that, but maybe that’s just me)

  104. skepticallydenpa says

    As a person who usually lurks, I’d like to propose something in terms of civility which I have found useful:

    -When you’ve been insulted, recognize that that insult is how your comments make you appear. Insults such as asshat, racist, or troll means that your comments exhibit, asshat, racist, or toll-like behavior. Reflect on your comment with that in mind. If you are still confused as to what was wrong with your comment, and the comments following don’t either, apologize for your ignorance and ask for clarification.-

    That is probably a bit too verbose for what we’re looking for. But I’d rather privileged people like myself to recognize that the often lies with our interpretation rather than the person who hurled a direct insult at us. I think something similar to this rule should accompany the suggested rule on tone-trolling.

    As for the Newbie thread, I think a detailed 101 board should be available as well, something that is categorically organized and easy to navigate, with concise definitions and links to more detailed explanations and related resources. PZ has a full plate already. And I’ve no experiences with setting up a web page, nor am I familiar enough with the various social justice issue to write extensively on any, much less all, of the issues, (my writing skills aren’t so great either). But I think we could crowd the horde and create a reliable social justice resource. It’s something that I’d like to reference and be referenced too.

  105. Jacob Schmidt says

    As a companion to “intent is not magic”: intent is not meaningless. Someone may say something shitty without realizing it. Recognize that their intent may have been good, and give them a chance to take it back. Be firm with them, vicious with their implication, and accept a sincere apology. We have no problem with that last one; confusing the first two happens a lot, I think.

  106. piegasm says

    @118 skepticallydenpa

    -When you’ve been insulted, recognize that that insult is how your comments make you appear. Insults such as asshat, racist, or troll means that your comments exhibit, asshat, racist, or toll-like behavior. Reflect on your comment with that in mind. If you are still confused as to what was wrong with your comment, and the comments following don’t either, apologize for your ignorance and ask for clarification.-

    Perhaps a simpler way to phrase this would be:

    If someone responds to you in anger, consider what reasons they might have for being angered by your comment. If you are unable to think of any, ask. Do not assume anger is unwarranted.

  107. The Mellow Monkey: Non-Hypothetical says

    B-Lar @113

    I think that “do not fetishize anger” should be coded alongside the very helpful “do not fetishize civility”.

    This could be something for Straw Vulcan types to use as a bludgeon if turned on people inappropriately, but…I agree.

    Anger can be a great tool, but it does get embraced very quickly here. If someone is genuinely trying to be a shithead, it’s good to call them out. And intent isn’t magic and doesn’t make things automatically right, but here’s the thing: your desire to rage at someone doesn’t mean you aren’t potentially causing damage as well. In an intersectional world, we need to face the fact that just because something upsets you doesn’t mean you should turn around and try to upset the other person as much as possible. Your experience, your oppression, your motherfucking pain is awful, and yet it doesn’t mean no one else matters. The shit that got thrown Chris Clarke’s way was way over the line.

    No, intent isn’t magic. Someone not meaning to cause harm doesn’t mean that the harm they caused should be ignored. But there is a difference between someone meaning to cause harm (or not caring if they do) and someone possibly–just possibly!–wording something poorly or not thinking through the consequences and being happy to revise things.

    I’m not saying people should stay quiet in the face of dehumanizing bullshit. I’m not even saying that if someone accidentally hurts you that you shouldn’t call them out on it. I do think that there’s merit in recognizing that anger can be fetishized just like civility, though.

    My two cents. I include myself as one who has fetishized anger and it’s something I personally want to work on so I don’t gratuitously hurt people.

  108. piegasm says

    Re: Intent and magic…

    “Before you respond to a hurtful comment ask your self if you’re expressing pain or if you’re retaliating. If you’re retaliating, rephrase.”

    Perhaps.

  109. skepticallydenpa says

    Thanks, piegasm. I think Algernon @112 might have a point in recognizing that some of us are shitty writers and the expectation of clear an concise writing might be a bit too high for some of us.

  110. Tony! The Immorally Inferior Queer Shoop! says

    Re: Reading the whole thread before commenting-
    I am torn on this one.
    I frequently will continue reading comments until I feel the need to respond to someone. This thread, for instance. Okstop’s idea was back at #1. I continued reading more of the thread, but not all of it bc I wanted to respond to that comment. I started composing my response when the comments hit @46. When I continued reading where I’d left off, I saw okstop had clarified some questions as well as confused me more in their comments at #42 and #46. In addition, had I kept reading, I would have seen other commenters address many of the things I did in my #67. In a discussion like this, my comment was more or less more noise. Ledasmom and consciousness razor had already addressed much of what I later did. In the end, I could have not typed a response at all.

    However, say this were a thread on rape apologetics. If, as I read through the comments, I come across an apologetic, I am far more inclined to comment without continuing to read the thread first (and it will take the form of condemnation or invective) to add my voice to others who shout down rape apologetics (I am reasonably certain I do not need to explain why a cacophony of voices speaking up against rape apologetics is a good thing).

    There are times reading an entire thread before commenting can be a great idea (many new commenters should have done that in the Grenade Threat)
    There are times speaking up immediately can be good.

    Cf. Comment #23-”don’t be a dick” is a gendered slur. I did not respond to it (contrary to my reasoning on harm above). I know it was a stupid one off. But it remains a gendered slur, and given how little care many people have for splash damage, even one off comments like that should merit a response. AFAICT, that phrase lacks the impact and prevalence of female gendered slurs but that does not change it to ‘nongendered slur’ status.

  111. piegasm says

    Re: being concise

    I have a tendency to be verbose myself. I have a tendency to doubt I’ve expressed myself clearly and can get into a feedback loop with myself over it. I make a deliberate effort to not do this. I remain unconvinced that being verbose is an immutable fact of anyone’s character or that it’s unreasonable to ask people to strive for brevity where possible.

    Also, striving for brevity doesn’t mean there will never be long posts. Just proofread yourself and try to see whether you can get your point across in fewer words. Apart from being easier for others to read, it reduces the likelihood that you’ll be misinterpreted.

  112. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I think somewhere there needs to be the concept that if the commitariate says you sound like an X, pause to reflect before continuing, and ask yourself does your argument sound like what an X would say? Particularly useful for the “superrationalists”.

  113. skepticallydenpa says

    Brevity and clarity as a rule of thumb rather than a hard and fast rule is an idea I can endorse.

  114. says

    Hey this is a trans-thread double post since it seems relevant here and the other thread had got sidetracked ; and I genuinely want some feedback on if my assessment makes sense or not and why.

    long time lurker , posted only a few times over the years . One of my issues is that regulars are often given a free pass on behaviour that outsiders would be butchered for . There is a double standard. eg, How many of Nerd of Redhead’s posts are substantive and how many are just malicious content free bile? There is a difference between punctuating arguments with insults / profanity and dehumanizing , intimidating abuse . When you say “fuck off and die ” you have concluded that the person has no redeeming feature and can never learn or improve . You are not lending teeth to your argument , you are trying to deliver comeuppance. You are actively seeking out the slightest pretext to administer punishment and glorying in your ability to do so. Of course not everyone does this , but the ones that do are rarely called out. Everyone’s moral landscape is shaped by their individual environments , the opportunities they have to learn , the ideas they are exposed to. For instance I am from a third world country where patriarchy is very deeply ingrained into the social fabric. It is much harder for someone from this background to be socially progressive. Not recognizing this is a form of privilege. There is an element of circumstance to how rich you are , how smart you are , how morally evolved you are. Why is it then ,self aggrandizement is acceptable in context of moral outlook? If you are a “better” person , you have been afforded the opportunity to become one . People can be in an earlier stage in their journey of ideological self discovery ; when you abuse them for it , you are trying to maximize your sense of self worth . You are not focusing on making the world a better place , it is more about what’s personal than what’s important. Must all interpretations be calibrated for maximum outrage ? I miss older days when there were more people
    like Sastra commenting. The dialogue was more thoughtful , more intellectually honest in purpose and execution.

  115. sharkjack says

    I’m all in favor of reclassifying exploding/safe place threads as heavily moderated, as well as explicit(red large and bold maybe) notice in the OP that warns people to read the posts before commenting. That way new commenters that ignore answers to the basic questions they’re asking can be dealt with swithly by tellingthem to look at the OP and if they don’t comply they’ll have crossed the banhammer line.

    If people start to JAQ off in other threads I like the idea of having an endless thread dedicated to that where people like me who have the privilege to not be hurt by JaQing off can use that privilege to either educate someone who unintentionally used harmful subtext, or to reveal a troll for what they are without derailing whatever thread they originally JAQed off in. Refusal to take a question to the JAQ thread could be met with a warning first and banning if it persists just like how the thunderdome used to function.

    Furthermore I like the rules:
    when replying to someone, add their name and post number to your post,
    refresh before posting, especially when replying to someone,
    if 3 seperate arguments have been made against a comment by others, don’t dogpile a fourth on there.
    if people have replied to someone before you did and all your points have been made, don’t post at all.
    Alternatively you could replace the last part with: refer to those posts that made the same point you wouldve made and make clear that you wish these points to be adressed.

    That way the meaningful points get more exposure, making it harder to ignore those points while making whoever is supposed to address them feel less dogpiled.

  116. says

    A first pass distillation of rules I find acceptable:

    Your post will be edited if:

    You use racist or sexist slurs.
    It’s a “First!” post.
    You violate others’ confidentiality.
    You are a banned user sneaking back under a pseudonym.
    You are being pointlessly abusive or argumentative.
    You ignore requests by other readers to stop a behavior.

    You may be banned from a comment thread if:

    You cannot control your posting habits, and are dominating the discussion.
    Your comments are repetitive, especially if you repeat arguments that have already been addressed.
    You demonstrate that you are unwilling to have read previous comments or the opening post.

    You may be confined to only posting on Thunderdome threads if:

    You are consistently unable to get along well with others.
    Your ideas qualify you to be a good chewtoy for our more argumentative commenters.

    You will be banned from the blog if:

    You do not heed orders from PZ Myers.
    You make threats of physical violence or harassment.
    You use racist or sexist slurs.
    You violate others’ confidentiality.
    You post material from any restricted forum (such as a closed Facebook group or mailing list).
    You try to post under multiple pseudonyms: sockpuppetry is not allowed.
    You are found to be using an invalid email address.
    Your posts need to be edited too often.
    You are egregiously abusive, and ignore requests from others.
    You are relentlessly negative — why are you here if you have nothing positive to say?
    You are spamming a url. Relevant links to your own website are OK.
    You have a known reputation as an internet troll (the Dennis Markuze rule).

    Recommended attitudes:

    Justice is more important than civility. But aspire to be charitable at first.
    Recognize that your words may not perfectly convey your content — and that the words of other commenters may not perfectly convey theirs. When necessary, clarify what you mean, or ask other commenters to clarify what they meant.
    When someone says something apparently stupid or vile, verify before opening fire. Express your objection and ask them to rephrase their statement. Then open fire.
    Do not bring arguments from elsewhere into the comment threads. Do not talk about another commenter in the third person; do not call out commenters from other threads.

    Courtesies:

    If you are replying to a specific comment, use the comment number and poster’s name.
    Use the HTML tags listed below the comment box. In particular, use <blockquote>”quoted words”</blockquote> when quoting someone.
    Stay on topic, unless it’s an obvious “fun” thread. If you have something off topic that you must share, the Thunderdome thread is always appropriate.

    Additions welcome, condensation appreciated, modifications encouraged.

  117. Tony! The Immorally Inferior Queer Shoop! says

    Holms @100:
    Did you read the comments in this thread explaining why insults such as ‘fuck off’ should not be taken off the board?

    The Grenade thread is a perfect example of why many people use that insult. Personally, I was fed up with all of this:

    1- refusal to comprehend that unnamed =\= anonymous
    2- accusations of witch hunts and lynch mobs
    3- innocent until proven guilty defense
    4- the ‘right to meet your accuser’ defense
    5- the refusal to read the frequently provided links for necessary educational purposes
    6- the hearsay crowd
    7- the irrational hero worshippers
    8- the dismissal of victims of sexual assault
    9- the invasiveness of the ‘gimme more info’ people
    10- the PZ manufactured this crowd
    (and probably more I am forgetting off the top of my head)

    …by the first, if not the second of the NINE pages.

    There is only so many times I can hear a commenter use the ‘anonymous claims’ “argument” before I resort to ‘fuck off.’
    That is a person who was not reading the thread and not engaging honestly. Hell, many of the same talking points used by those assclams and refuted by the commenters here could have been found on every page (do not know for certain, but those points were brought up and rebutted so often that it is likely).

    Now, one could likely make a good argument for reducing ‘fuck offs’, but banning them? Fuck that.

  118. Esteleth, statistically significant to p ≤ 0.001 says

    I’m going to have to chime in on the “the rules apply to the regulars too” thing. While there is something to be said for earned slack, we need to keep a lid on it.

  119. piegasm says

    re: slurs I would change the wording to ‘marginalizing slurs’ or ‘bigoted slurs’ from ‘racist or sexist’

  120. Tony! The Immorally Inferior Queer Shoop! says

    PZ @130:
    That seems quite reasonable to me.
    (I am surprised-a little-to not see ‘Slymepitters are instabanned’, though they should all know it now.)

  121. Bicarbonate says

    O.K., folks, P.Z. gave us an assignment: To write rules that he can use (copy and paste?) to make a new “standard rules page”, a specific document in a specific place. People are getting off topic here and confusing this with blog functionalities such as how the Preview button should or shouldn’t work.

    I agree in principal with erlingbeck #107

    No guidelines. Less is better. A principle. /…/

    If you make a list of rules or guidelines, the longer and more detailed the list, the more prone to “rules lawyering”.

    The Principle: Contribute in good faith.

    But, I also believe this should be followed by a minimal list of specific rules by which it can be ascertained that someone is/isn’t arguing in good faith (even if that will constitute occasional “rules lawyering”). Otherwise it will descend into: “I’m in good faith” “No, you’re not.” “Yes, I am” “No you’re not” ad infinitum. The rules could be followed by suggestions, guidelines and how to’s, and then at the end Chris Clarke’s Pledge.

    So, I propose: Principal – Rules – Guidelines – Pledge

    The Principle: Contribute in good faith.

    Rules
    All of the following rules are subject to judgment calls by P.Z. Meyers, owner(?) of Pharyngula.

    - Read the post and ALL of the comments before contributing (yes even if there are more than a thousand comments). IF your question or the substance of your contribution has already come up in the thread, refer by name(s) and number(s) (@Pteryxx #XXX) to those previous comments and develop your argument/question from there. Failure to do so will constitute evidence of bad faith.

    - Ensemble of existing rules with “Dungeon” redacted out and replaced by “bannishment” (sp?).

  122. medivh says

    I’d like to suggest that declaring and then failing to stick a flounce be classed as boring and repetitive. Something like “If you declare an intent to flounce, we’ll help you stick to that. Declaring a flounce is a ban-from-thread offence.”

  123. skepticallydenpa says

    I second piegasm’s observation. Of course, this does mean that there ought to be a gradient as some slurs, especially ableist slurs, are not always intended to be as harmful as they can potentially be. If they persist in using a slur after being informed of it’s harm, the ban is well deserved.

  124. Pteryxx says

    also, “THIS IS A RUDE BLOG” should come first and foremost in any location a good-faith newbie may happen to look. If the rare naiive newcomer posts something ignorant in good faith without realizing this, assuming this is a moderated space like Scalzi’s or even other FTB blogs, of course they’re going to be shocked by the smackdown they get. I don’t think that kind of newcomer turns up here very often, but when they do, they deserve as much blatantly obvious warning as possible before they make that first post.

  125. says

    I’m also going to add something like this to the rules:

    Recourse:

    If you spot a violation of these rules or attitudes, here’s what you can do:

    1. Point it out in a comment of your own. Call out bad behavior.
    2. Send an email to the monitors. Spell out who is breaking the rules, what thread, and what comment.
    3. As a last resort, email PZ Myers.

    Pharyngula has a strong core of regular commenters, but they are expected to obey the rules, too. Don’t hesitate to keep them in line.

  126. Bicarbonate says

    @Rahulkedia #128

    I second the bulk of what is said here, namely about comeuppance and self agrandizement. This is not the same as asking people to be civil for civility’s sake and is not in contradiction, as I see it, with the Pledge proposed by Chris Clarke.

    One of my issues is that regulars are often given a free pass on behaviour that outsiders would be butchered for. There is a double standard. eg, How many of /…/’s posts are substantive and how many are just malicious content free bile? There is a difference between punctuating arguments with insults / profanity and dehumanizing, intimidating abuse. When you say “fuck off and die ” you have concluded that the person has no redeeming feature and can never learn or improve. You are not lending teeth to your argument, you are trying to deliver comeuppance. You are actively seeking out the slightest pretext to administer punishment and glorying in your ability to do so. Of course not everyone does this, but the ones that do are rarely called out. Everyone’s moral landscape is shaped by their individual environments , the opportunities they have to learn, the ideas they are exposed to. For instance I am from a third world country where patriarchy is very deeply ingrained into the social fabric. It is much harder for someone from this background to be socially progressive. Not recognizing this is a form of privilege. There is an element of circumstance to how rich you are, how smart you are, how morally evolved you are. Why is it then, self aggrandizement is acceptable in context of moral outlook? If you are a “better” person, you have been afforded the opportunity to become one. People can be in an earlier stage in their journey of ideological self discovery; when you abuse them for it, you are trying to maximize your sense of self worth.

    I also second Pteryxx’s idea @139

  127. eigenperson says

    #130 PZ:

    Those rules seem totally reasonable.

    One comment: If you’re going to request that we do this:

    If you are replying to a specific comment, use the comment number and poster’s name

    then could you consider blanking comments made by banned users instead of deleting them entirely, so as not to screw up the numbering? Or, if deletion of the entire comment is necessary, perhaps there’s a way to do so without changing the numbering?

  128. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    Yeah, something a bit wider is needed instead of just “racist and sexist slurs”. I presume transphobic slurs would mean instabanning too, just for one example.
    Too general definition might be easy to misuse, so maybe just listing some more things.

  129. Nick Gotts says

    PZ’s draft@130 looks pretty good to me, given that the “recommended attitudes” allow for some slack.

    I’m going to have to chime in on the “the rules apply to the regulars too” thing. While there is something to be said for earned slack, we need to keep a lid on it. – Esteleth

    Agreed. It’s going to be tough to do – calling out someone you like andor respect particularly – but I hereby pledge to make an effort to do so, and to accept others doing so even especially if I’m the target.

  130. says

    An additional rule for forums –

    If you are going to whine about your ‘rights’, you must actually demonstrate that you know what your rights are or get banned.

    You will be duct-taped to any strawman you craft before it is set on fire.

  131. Bicarbonate says

    P.Z. Please don’t forget what Pteryxx says @#139, it could avoid hurt feelings that aren’t MRA hurt fee-fees. Though this doesn’t apply to the rules page but to warnings placed elsewhere where newbies can see them before having taken a tour of FtB which, after all, takes several months if done right.

  132. says

    RE: the difficulty of disappearing numbered deleted comments with regard to replying to non-disappeared comments by ‘nym and number without appearing innumerate:

    What if the deleted comment were replaced by an image indicating that a comment once stood at that comment number (e.g., a headstone with “deleted comment” on it)? Possibly that would even provide subtle encouragement from non-trolls to cleave to the commenting guidelines to avoid a similar fate.

  133. Jason Dick says

    I would suggest:

    1. No harassment.
    2. No bigotry.
    3. Contribute to the discussion.

    A slightly more detailed breakdown of each:
    1. Harassment can be defined as singling a person out and attacking them verbally on a personal level. It does not cover responding specifically to what a person has said in their comments. It does cover repeated personal attacks for the purpose of silencing somebody.
    2. Bigotry covers using language to claim or imply that a group of people as a whole are somehow worse as people than others. It includes stereotyping and using racist/sexist/etc. slurs.
    3. Contributing to the discussion means ensuring that your posts are substantive: that you’re actually saying something. This primarily means being comprehensible and staying (reasonably) on-topic.

    I think all of these rules are somewhat vague and open to judgment, and in my view I think they should be.

  134. says

    #142: You’re going to make demands of me? INTOLERABLE.

    Yeah, I can try. It’s just that wordpress makes it so easy, a single click and it is vaporized. I’d have to edit, copy & paste to do that.

  135. says

    Another revision to critique:

    Your post will be edited if:

    You use bigoted slurs.
    It’s a “First!” post.
    You violate others’ confidentiality.
    You are a banned user sneaking back under a pseudonym.
    You are being pointlessly abusive or argumentative.
    You ignore requests by other readers to stop a behavior.

    You may be banned from a comment thread if:

    You cannot control your posting habits, and are dominating the discussion.
    Your comments are repetitive, especially if you repeat arguments that have already been addressed.
    You demonstrate that you are unwilling to have read previous comments or the opening post.

    You may be confined to only posting on Thunderdome threads if:

    You are consistently unable to get along well with others.
    Your ideas qualify you to be a good chewtoy for our more argumentative commenters.

    You will be banned from the blog if:

    You do not heed orders from PZ Myers.
    You make threats of physical violence or harassment.
    You use bigoted slurs.
    You violate others’ confidentiality.
    You post material from any restricted forum (such as a closed Facebook group or mailing list).
    You try to post under multiple pseudonyms: sockpuppetry is not allowed.
    You are found to be using an invalid email address.
    Your posts need to be edited too often.
    You are egregiously abusive, and ignore requests from others.
    You are relentlessly negative — why are you here if you have nothing positive to say?
    You are spamming a url. Relevant links to your own website are OK.
    You have a known reputation as an internet troll (the Dennis Markuze rule).

    Recommended attitudes:

    This is a rude blog. Expect rough handling.
    Justice is more important than civility. But aspire to be charitable at first.
    Recognize that your words may not perfectly convey your content — and that the words of other commenters may not perfectly convey theirs. When necessary, clarify what you mean, or ask other commenters to clarify what they meant.
    When someone says something apparently stupid or vile, verify before opening fire. Express your objection and ask them to rephrase their statement. Then open fire.
    Do not bring arguments from elsewhere into the comment threads. Do not talk about another commenter in the third person; do not call out commenters from other threads.

    Courtesies:

    If you are replying to a specific comment, use the comment number and poster’s name.
    Use the HTML tags listed below the comment box. In particular, use <blockquote>”quoted words”</blockquote> when quoting someone.
    Stay on topic, unless it’s an obvious “fun” thread. If you have something off topic that you must share, the Thunderdome thread is always appropriate.

    Recourse:

    If you spot a violation of these rules or attitudes, here’s what you can do:

    1. Point it out in a comment of your own. Call out bad behavior.
    2. Send an email to the monitors. Spell out who is breaking the rules, what thread, and what comment.
    3. As a last resort, email PZ Myers.

    Pharyngula has a strong core of regular commenters, but they are expected to obey the rules, too. Don’t hesitate to keep them in line.

    Moderators have no special powers or privileges, other than that they can send me reports of infractions directly. Hold them to higher standards, too.

    Special threads

    We have a couple of open threads which are linked to on the sidebar, and these have slightly different moderation rules. The Lounge is more strongly moderated; do not start fights, do not be rude when posting there, but nothing is otherwise off-topic. Thunderdome is lightly moderated; please do go there if you feel the need to brawl and let off steam. At my discretion I may also demand greater civility in particular threads.

  136. eigenperson says

    Ehh, if it’s too hard, I’d rather have the trolls deleted than have proper comment numbering.

    Does WordPress provide a way to write a script to automate routine tasks?

  137. tomh says

    @ #143

    Too general definition might be easy to misuse, so maybe just listing some more things.

    Yes, please. A list is needed, not for obvious words like n_____, but for common borderline words. Is moron allowed? Idiot? Who can keep up without a list?

  138. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    tomh,

    I wasn’t actually thinking about a list of specific words, but types of insults (sexist, racist, homophobic, transphobic, fat-shaming, etc.)

  139. says

    I think it is important to state that it’s about the spirit of the law rules.

    Also, attack ideas first (people later, optionally).

  140. says

    eigenperson

    Ehh, if it’s too hard, I’d rather have the trolls deleted than have proper comment numbering.

    Agreed. Misnumbering sometimes leads to a post or two of “sorry, I meant that one”, but is that really a problem?

    The functional reply button, as suggested by Esteleth et al, would be really nice. (As opposed to the Comic Sans that the Poopyhead is fiddling with now, grumble grumble.)

  141. says

    The reply button requires code modification. I don’t have access to that, and our tech guy is supposed to be making a beautiful main page for us, finally. I’m not going to intrude on that right now.

    The “q” tweak was easy — I just added it to my custom css file. I can do style changes, can’t do code changes.

  142. carlie says

    PZ – I’d suggest changing “moderator” back to “monitor” – it’s more indicative of the level of ability. In a lot of places, moderators have as much power as the blog owner.

  143. m lafontaine says

    Another revision to critique:

    Looks pretty much like a formal codification of how things have always operated around here.

  144. PatrickG says

    @ PZ:

    Moderators have no special powers or privileges

    Pretty sure you mean Monitors here, since they don’t actually have moderating powers. Just to avoid confusion.

  145. carlie says

    Sorry, PatrickG. :) But that illustrates part of the problem – often comments fly so fast that someone can rack up 5-10 responses or so just in the time it takes to compose a response, so what is actually just several people individually commenting can look like a pile-up.

  146. says

    Yes, person who has never commented here before but now wants to offer an opinion on how commenting should be done, AKA m lafontaine? Do you have anything positive to contribute? I’m compiling suggestions right now, you know.

  147. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    I like the latest revision.

    “This is a rude blog” is PZ’s way of saying it. I would have said that we value truth and doing hard work over time, place, or manner of the work or speech. I would have said there is no such thing as safe space since what makes a place safe for some makes it unsafe for others. But I believe that PZ and I are on the same page here & that the rules can be clarified that way fairly. So I’m good.

  148. says

    PZ #151

    You may be banned from a comment thread if:

    . . .
    Your comments are repetitive, especially if you repeat arguments that have already been addressed.
    You demonstrate that you are unwilling to have read previous comments or the opening post.

    I like this. It seems to me that what inspires most of the anger I’ve seen here is the constant stream of commenters with oh-so-civilly-expressed questions that have already been answered multiple times, in multiple threads, and that show no sign of the writer’s having read more than the post title. Even after s/he has already been instructed to read the post and comments, and even given the links to the answers to the question.

  149. ck says

    Tony! The Immorally Inferior Queer Shoop! (#124)wrote:

    Re: Reading the whole thread before commenting-
    I am torn on this one.

    I’m glad someone brought this up. There’s quite a bit of difference between ignoring the thread so that you can bring up your revolutionary new idea that has been mentioned 300 times already in the thread and chiming in to provide support or morale to those who are participating in the thread. I don’t need to read 2,000 comments to do the latter, while failing to read them is often the cause of the former.

    Demanding that someone read all the comments is also a good way to exclude a lot of people from high traffic threads.

    PZ Myers (#151) wrote:

    When someone says something apparently stupid or vile, verify before opening fire. Express your objection and ask them to rephrase their statement. Then open fire.
    Do not bring arguments from elsewhere into the comment threads. Do not talk about another commenter in the third person; do not call out commenters from other threads.

    Glad to hear that. A lot of people come to express their abhorrent ideas, but it’d be nice if they were expected to express their ideas (or misbehaviours) before being attacked for them. If someone is a frequent JAQer, then waiting for the person to start their routine is not unreasonable, even if it is rather tempting to try and preemptively shut them down to avoid the abuse in the first place.

    Hopefully this works better than the “memory wipe” and three strikes rules from last time.

  150. m lafontaine says

    Does the fact that I may not have commented here before invalidate the observation? Aren’t you looking for new voices and perspectives? Isn’t that what these rules are supposed to incent? Oh, wait, never mind. In your proposed rules there is actually nothing to make new commenters feel even a smidge more welcome. Nor is there anything that seems to actually cause the “knifey-bitey-smashy atmosphere to lighten up a little.”

    Carry on.

  151. Roxxi Seanne says

    Well, first of all, I thought it was decided that words like stupid, idiot, moron, or anything that means these things was ableist, but alright.

    Looking at the rules, people can still behave as they always were and say they were following rules. One obvious rule would be not to push -dishonest- insults on others or twist what they say in order to avoid addressing what they actually said and give them the unofficial boot. If the “go get fucked with object_here” (this amounts to “go get raped” because it is implied that the person does not want to go get fucked with the object) was already stopped, never mind, but if not, those things too, and as well as the other premature “ways to kill yourself” type insults I have seen before. I don’t expect my first suggestion to be taken seriously or for anyone to admit that is what happens here… if you don’t acknowledge that, the only other thing I could think of is to get people down in general regardless of the situation…someone could say they were being awful and say whatever about what they said but not call people ‘pieces of shit’, etc. Just general stuff…one could be intense with the criticism while not being so abusive with the names.

    Although I still say my first suggestion would be easier than telling people not to ever be abusive period because its habit for some people.

  152. ck says

    Oh, an re: excluding a lot of people from high traffic threads:

    The people who are willing to obey the rules are usually the ones you want on such threads anyhow. The Freeze Peach brigade won’t are about your “silly rules” and will blindly post anyway.

  153. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    ren’t you looking for new voices and perspectives? Isn’t that what these rules are supposed to incent?

    What new voices and perspectives do you have in mind. Inquiring minds want to know. As certain perspectives aren’t welcome here.

  154. says

    m lafontaine:

    Does the fact that I may not have commented here before invalidate the observation?

    Your observation was utterly empty.

    In your proposed rules there is actually nothing to make new commenters feel even a smidge more welcome. Nor is there anything that seems to actually cause the “knifey-bitey-smashy atmosphere to lighten up a little.”

    Really? What I’ve read has quite a bit in it, regarding how to hold back a bit with newbies, including the new codicil to verify before opening fire:

    When someone says something apparently stupid or vile, verify before opening fire. Express your objection and ask them to rephrase their statement. Then open fire.

    You seem to have a bit of a reading problem. This is the constructive additions office, not the complaints department.

  155. Roxxi Seanne says

    TL;DR? Whatever rules are decided on, really think to oneself and decide if anything would change.If not, accept that the way things go must actually change for it to, well, change.

  156. says

    Technical measures?

    (As has been suggested) no commenting without previewing first.

    Automatic waiting period between two comments on the same thread.

    Spoiler buttons to unhide/hide segments. Those would work as TW’s as well, which would be their main purpose, but the former function is better known.

    Server side kill file, with automatic flagging if too many people hide a comment or user (so in a way, we’d all be monitors). Perhaps even auto-hiding. I have to admit, that would be a bit like rating, but it does depend on how you frame it. Not displaying the ‘rates’ would help them being less like rates. Just show the comment as collapsed if it gets too many flags from users.
    This could even work with banned users. No need to delete their comments, just collapse them. Often I’m curious what a banned user said, but the comments are gone. This way, their comments remain, but do not disrupt the flow of the thread.

  157. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    Re: You must read the whole thread before commenting.

    Look, no one is going to look over your shoulder or into your brain and check whether you’ve read each and every word of each and every comment. I read everything… except that sometimes I skip parts of comments – maybe I’m skimming because I’m otherwise busy or the comment is repetitive or I judge the whole thing sucks after the first five paragraphs of suckage. I’m pretty sure (some) other people who would say they read everything also skip some sentences here and there, if for no other reason than because they’re distracted by a sandwich or rats or the actual job they’re supposed to do in between reading Pharyngula.

    I think people are maybe taking this too literally. The spirit of this rule is that you’re supposed to take note of what other people have said before you comment so that you don’t repeat questions that have been answered or reinvent the wheel for the third time in one thread.

  158. m lafontaine says

    Caine, Officious Hall Monitor of Pharyngula:

    You seem to have a bit of a reading problem.

    Yes, I can no see how things will be *totally* different here just from your improved behavior on this post.

  159. says

    Also, I’d like to suggest that if something needs to be taken to the Thunderdome, actually moving the entire comment there, with a redirection link [moved to Thunderdome]. That way, people won’t keep replying in the original thread. But making that an easy thing to do would need another technical solution as well, I think (I don’t know what you can do already).

  160. says

    Beatrice:

    The spirit of this rule is that you’re supposed to take note of what other people have said before you comment so that you don’t repeat questions that have been answered or reinvent the wheel for the third time in one thread.

    Yes. On this note, PZ, could you find space to stick something like this in the new rules: Ctrl + f is your friend if you are rushed and don’t have time to read many comments. This allows you to search keywords, nyms, and phrases, so you can easily find out if a certain question has been asked, or a certain point discussed. ?

  161. Bicarbonate says

    @Beatrice #182

    Yeah, changed my mind. I agree with you. I think it’s well covered in the latest version of the rules:

    You may be banned from a comment thread if: you demonstrate that you are unwilling to have read previous comments or the opening post

  162. says

    I’d like seeing a like/dislike feature, if it applied only to logged in members with more than X number of ‘approved’ posts (so it can’t be used by trolls to vote things down). Then posts with a certain number of ‘dislikes’ are auto-hidden, or their poster auto-moderated.

    I’m just not sure how that would work in real life or how we could ensure it wasn’t abused.

  163. NightShadeQueen, resident nutcase says

    I…would also like to encourage people to draft comments in a text editor.

  164. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I’m just not sure how that would work in real life or how we could ensure it wasn’t abused.

    [rhetorical]Why is this popularity concept so important to some folks?[/rhetorical]

  165. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    m lafontaine

    Yes, I can no see how things will be *totally* different here just from your improved behavior on this post.

    Then, as requested by PZ who runs this place, make some suggestions for rules and/or consequences that will make the place more welcoming to you.

  166. dave001 says

    Oh boy. First of all, to dispense with the trivial, @93, you know full well that those sorts of expressions are now taken as gender neutral. How many times have I heard it said that, “SHE showed a lot of balls. So, basically, don’t be ridiculous. (Oooh, that hope didn’t break a rule.)

    Second, to those who suggested I’m some kind of arrogant idiot (79 and others) for maybe not having time to read ALL the comments, why should my comment ON THE POST be dependent on, or even tempered by, your previous comment ON THE POST? You are free to read my comment or not, who cares. If I repeat what someone else says, then move on. If I want to get into your conversation, I will and, if so, I will read the background. And I won’t if I don’t. Do the national news networks get into a conversation on a story, censoring themselves based on what others have said? Hope not!

  167. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    why should my comment ON THE POST be dependent on, or even tempered by, your previous comment ON THE POST?

    Because your post is the umpteenth repetition of the same stuff from say post 20, refuted soundly in posts 21-40. That is why you need to read all the posts.

  168. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    dave001

    If a white dude calls another white dude the n-word, does that suddenly turn the word not racist?
    Apply the same to sexist stuff.

  169. eigenperson says

    #196 dave001

    If I want to get into your conversation, I will and, if so, I will read the background. And I won’t if I don’t.

    The point is, if you don’t want to get into the conversation, then don’t post.

    You don’t get to be part of the conversation if all you want to do is speak. You have to listen, too. If you can’t do that, don’t be surprised that you get ejected from the conversation.

  170. NightShadeQueen, resident nutcase says

    poxyhowzes

    (1) No comment — at all, ever — can be made without a “preview” by the commenter first.

    (2) WordPress shall be forced to show previews exactly as they will appear. (Line feeds and carriage returns are a particular problem in current previews.)

    Both of these can be accomplished with a proper text editor [vim/emacs etc]

    (4) Commenter or moderator is always able to insert an interthreaded *update* or two immediately below commenter’s initial comment. Otherwise, no interthreading by anyone else. [Example: "Whoops, that should have been "misandry," not "misogyny." "]

    Not a fan of threading in general; it makes following comment threads incredibly difficult. YMMV, but I have a hard enough time comprehending two-column content. Threading is my nightmare

    PZ Myers

    The reply button requires code modification. I don’t have access to that, and our tech guy is supposed to be making a beautiful main page for us, finally. I’m not going to intrude on that right now.

    I was poking around the rendered html and realized that the reply button could really be written as a Greasemonkey script. I’m not really competent in Javascript, and frankly have other more pressing issues in my life I need to deal with, but yeah, if someone wanted to, a Greasemonkey reply button would be great.

  171. says

    dave001 @196,

    you know full well that those sorts of expressions are now taken as gender neutral

    Even if they’re treated as gender neutral, taken elsewhere as harmless, if certain expressions reinforce harmful -isms (e.g., in your example, her bravery is notable because it makes her more like a man, which is better than being like a woman), then it’s not really harmless.

    We can do better in finding ways to express what’s on our mind. (And if you find yourself ready to go to the mat to defend your right to use these expressions, regardless of their impact on others hear, you might want to reflect for a moment on why that is.)

  172. says

    Eigenperson:

    The point is, if you don’t want to get into the conversation, then don’t post.

    You don’t get to be part of the conversation if all you want to do is speak. You have to listen, too. If you can’t do that, don’t be surprised that you get ejected from the conversation.

    Ooooh, this is shiny, shiny, shiny! PZ! Could you add this in, please?

  173. carlie says

    Second, to those who suggested I’m some kind of arrogant idiot (79 and others) for maybe not having time to read ALL the comments, why should my comment ON THE POST be dependent on, or even tempered by, your previous comment ON THE POST? You are free to read my comment or not, who cares. If I repeat what someone else says, then move on. If I want to get into your conversation, I will and, if so, I will read the background. And I won’t if I don’t.

    I’d like to turn this around – who do you think is YOUR audience for YOUR comment? PZ has a really busy life – he doesn’t have time to read all of the comments, and certainly doesn’t respond tot hem all. So he’s not your audience. If you don’t care what the conversation about the post is in the comments, then your audience isn’t the people in the comments having a conversation. So,… who are you writing it for, besides to get a little rush of seeing your words on the page?

  174. Walton says

    First of all, to dispense with the trivial, @93, you know full well that those sorts of expressions are now taken as gender neutral. How many times have I heard it said that, “SHE showed a lot of balls. So, basically, don’t be ridiculous. (Oooh, that hope didn’t break a rule.)

    “Grow some balls” or “[person] showed a lot of balls” is a profoundly sexist expression on multiple levels. On one level it rhetorically associates strength and courage (usually in narrowly and stereotypically defined senses) with (cis) masculinity, implicitly degrading everyone who doesn’t have “balls”. Even if it’s used of a woman, it’s still a sexist expression because it is literally complimenting her by saying she possesses a stereotypically masculine trait, implying that masculinity is superior to femininity. On another level expressions like “grow some balls” are also often part of toxic masculinity – telling men that if they display weakness or vulnerability, they’re not manly enough.

  175. says

    “SHE showed a lot of balls.

    You know, dave001, I don’t want anyone saying something like that about me. Why? Because it reinforces the idea that being a man is the ideal, in much the same way saying something like “HE’S being a pussy” reinforces the idea that the worst thing someone could be is a woman. Honestly, for as long as you’ve been around and reading, I would have thought you would have gotten all that by now.

  176. dave001 says

    OK, here’s a suggestion that could help – probably beyond the blogger’s power to control. Go look at a WordPress blog. They allow replies to particular comments. This makes it easy to skip “conversations” you’re not interested in. The sequential listing of (possibly hundreds of) comments here makes it onerous to slog through them all.

    Other than that, don’t tell me not to post if I am not interested in the direction YOUR conversation goes.

  177. carlie says

    dave001, this is not the place to try to divert into a “but I like this sexist word so you’re all meanies”. The thread is about what the rules should be, not the minutiae of which words you want to specifically argue for or against being a violation of said rules. Please stop. I’m sure you’ve used wikipedia and google before; you can go look for arguments against sexist language elsewhere if that’s what you want to indulge in.

  178. alkaloid says

    @PZMyers, #151:

    You are relentlessly negative — why are you here if you have nothing positive to say?

    What counts as relentless negativity, though-and couldn’t this be used against people who might otherwise be able to argue quite well that an institution or person really does deserve derision?

  179. NightShadeQueen, resident nutcase says

    dave001, as someone with massive sensory issues, following a blog without threading is hard enough.

    Please. No threading.

  180. carlie says

    Other than that, don’t tell me not to post if I am not interested in the direction YOUR conversation goes.

    Ah, that’s your problem. No, no one is telling you not to post something related to the OP that isn’t the current conversation. What you’re being told is you ought to make damned sure that your thoughts haven’t already been raised and discussed prior to your own personal revelation about it.

  181. NightShadeQueen, resident nutcase says

    dave001

    Additionally, the search function of modern browsers exists for a reason.

  182. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    don’t tell me not to post if I am not interested in the direction YOUR conversation goes.

    Don’t post if you are an arrogant person who can’t be bothered to follow the discussion before posting….

  183. dave001 says

    @205 Yes, I should have mentioned that it’s women I’ve heard use the expression, never a man. Is it degrading? Probably. Do I use it my self? No. It just get’s said. This all stared because someone – way up above made a fairly innocent comment that I thought sort of captured the essence of a good rule, no matter whether you like the way it was stated or not or whether you think it’s sexist, or whatever.

  184. Bicarbonate says

    P.Z. re posted Commenting Rules.

    Looks good.

    For clarity’s sake, under Courtesies, about blockquotes, would be easier for me to understand if you took out the quotation marks and between the two blockquote sequences wrote in bold and in caps “place text you want to appear in quotes here”.

    I don’t know if what I’m saying is clear, don’t know how to type it so that it appears here. Chigau is good at typing stuff so that newbies get it.

  185. NightShadeQueen, resident nutcase says

    Following on what Bicarbonate says, maybe linking to a HTML instruction site?

    But something like:

    <blockquote>Your Text Here </blockquote>

    yields

    Your Text Here

    would be clearer?

  186. chigau (違う) says

    I think the words “Commenting Rules” should be more eye-catching.
    Maybe another colour.

  187. Roxxi Seanne says

    Looking up… I do hope the rules assignments changes things for people here.

    On the balls thing…I’m annoyed by the phrase too, just like I am by anything that means “be manly” “be a man” etc, assigning character to men… do it because it’s productive, not because it’s ‘manly.’ What meaningless statements. So many men can be told to be ‘manly.’ Clearly it’s not -manly- but a characteristic alone that some individuals have (whatever characteristic is being demanded in the situation).

    I like Betty White’s quote about vaginas, taking the phrase literally. She pointed out that balls actually can’t take blows.

  188. eigenperson says

    #206 dave001:

    OK, here’s a suggestion that could help – probably beyond the blogger’s power to control. Go look at a WordPress blog. They allow replies to particular comments. This makes it easy to skip “conversations” you’re not interested in. The sequential listing of (possibly hundreds of) comments here makes it onerous to slog through them all.

    Other than that, don’t tell me not to post if I am not interested in the direction YOUR conversation goes.

    The non-threading of comments here is deliberate. And as a result, this is a place where there is essentially one conversation, not dozens of separate ones. It’s more like a town hall meeting, and less like a cocktail party.

    The meeting has a topic, to be sure, and PZ is the chairperson. It’s fine to sometimes go back to the topic to say something new about it. But it would be very rude for you to come in two hours into the meeting, take off your jacket, straighten your tie, grab the microphone, and say, with absolutely no concern for what has been said already: “Hey, everyone! Sorry I’m late — traffic, you know — but here’s my comment! Thanks for listening!”

  189. Anthony K says

    Eye agree with chigau about making the link look more visible and one to basic html as per Bicarbonate’s suggestion. Other than that, the rules look pretty good.

  190. Bicarbonate says

    P.Z.

    I also noticed modification of Profile on sidebar. It says contact a MONITOR. So, in Commenting rules change “moderator” to “monitor” so that they coincide and we know what’s being talked about.

  191. John Phillips, FCD says

    Another who thinks the link is a tad invisible with small black letters on that grey-blue water background.

  192. dave001 says

    @221. “The non-threading of comments here is deliberate.” Is that so. And would you like to back that up with a reference? BTW, you should all be pleased to see I’ve been reading the comments! :-)

    Also, I notice, at the bottom, that this blog IS “powered by WordPress” so my suggestion earlier can be ignored (as if it hadn’t been already).

  193. NightShadeQueen, resident nutcase says

    dave001

    From here:

    Never gonna implement comment threading or comment rating, so don’t mention ‘em.

  194. says

    Never gonna implement comment threading or comment rating, so don’t mention ‘em.

    I’ll add an obnoxious Fuck, Yeah! to that. Threading, ugh. Completely destroys any conversation.

  195. Maureen Brian says

    dave001,

    What sort of reference do you want? Evidence that would stand up in a court of law? A PEW survey? Comments written in blood?

    The question of having threaded comments has been repeatedly raised and repeatedly rejected – by PZ, by commenters and groups of commenters. Believe me, I’ve been here since the early fourteenth century ad it keeps on happening.

    Apart from this thread and the related one which preceded it, the most recent example is in this thread – http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2013/08/28/those-dang-comments/ – all of 6 days ago! As they say, Ctrl+f is your friend.

  196. tashaturner says

    @206 dave001

    Other than that, don’t tell me not to post if I am not interested in the direction YOUR conversation goes.

    I’m fascinated that without reading comments you can know what Points have been made. That’s why one has to read before commenting or one might end up looking like a jerk or an idiot or a troll and be treated as such by others. Just remember not to complain when treated that way as you chose to “know better” than everyone else and didn’t need to read our comments.

  197. tashaturner says

    PZ I might suggest putting a link to the commenting rules at the bottom of posts or at least sensitive topic posts for newbies & as a reminder.

  198. dave001 says

    @226. Fair enough – blogger’s prerogative. (BTW, you should be very worried that you could pull that one out from memory!) Now, that was a joke – everyone relax.

  199. NightShadeQueen, resident nutcase says

    dave001

    TW, you should be very worried that you could pull that one out from memory!

    Hun, I used to have a photographic memory before this entire mental breakdown thing. If I’m getting it back, it’s a good thing, not a bad one.

    But in this case, no, I just know how to use search effectively.

  200. Bicarbonate says

    P.Z.

    I’m thirding or fourthing idea of color change for tab(s?) at page top.

    Also might be more logical and productive to put tabs in a different order.

    Current: FtB Advertise Privacy Policy Tech Issues About Commenting Rules Shop Twitter

    New?: FtB About Commenting Rules Privacy Tech Issues Shop Twitter Advertise

    The first and last two items in a list are the most cognitively salient, meaning they’ll be spotted and remembered. In new list most salient would thus be FtB About Twitter Advertise.

    Cognitive salience in a list is due to properties of working memory.

    In any case, any change of order and color should be looked at within color theme of page and balanced w/ other elements, e.g. the colors in the symbols for Facebook, WordPress, etc. above the tabs.

  201. dave001 says

    @228 You know, Maureen, some us just don’t get here all that regularly. If you want to add a rule that says, “Regular readers only are allowed to comment,” then why don’t you suggest it?

    @229. I have read your comment – detractors take note -and will not bother to do so in future.

    I should point out to all that I asked a relatively simple, straight-forward, and not unreasonable question, originally, which has since been jumped on by the “commentariat” as if they owned the place. Do you remember my original point was that many of these posts have many hundreds of comments? The odds, BTW, that the content of my comment will be identical to someone else’s are actually quite small. However, if first come are to determine the content and context of a thread, then I guess I’ll just have to start getting up earlier. EOM.

  202. says

    Maureen:

    Believe me, I’ve been here since the early fourteenth century ad it keeps on happening.

    :falls over laughing: Ahem, I mean, yes, I also have been here since the early fourteenth century and am able to provide testimony as to Ms. Brian’s statement.

  203. Nick Gotts says

    dave001,

    I’ll be polite about this. What you’re wanting is an entirely different sort of blog from Pharyngula: one where each thread has a “star” type topology, with the OP at the centre, first-level comments surrounding it, replies to those comments in the next layer, and so on. Pharyngula isn’t like that, and the vast majority of regular commenters don’t want it to be like that: they want each thread to have a linear, or perhaps braid-like topology, where the OP is the start of a conversation, and everyone commenting joins in that conversation, perhaps going off at tangents, but keeping in mind what has gone before. It’s not a question of one being better than the other, but of the two being different designs. If you come into a Pharyngula-type thread and treat it as if it was a star type, you’re missing the point, and you will annoy people. PZ doesn’t want the type of blog you’re apparently accustomed to, nor do the great majority of the regulars, so it’s not going to happen. If you don’t like the linear/braid structure, you’d be better off elsewhere.

  204. NightShadeQueen, resident nutcase says

    The odds, BTW, that the content of my comment will be identical to someone else’s are actually quite small.

    I sense a special snowflake here.

  205. Tony! The Immorally Inferior Queer Shoop! says

    Crip Dyke @195:
    Not likely to happen, but I would love it if m lafontaine walked back their first comment in this thread which not only contributed nothing substantive to this thread, but was also a gendered slur.

    I know referring to someone as a ‘dick’ as an insult is not done often here, and certainly calling someone a c**t or t**t has the weight of a fuckton of misogyny behind it, but we are talking about toxic masculinity here.
    (I am also mildly curious if they do not consider that a gendered slur, are there other words that *don’t count*?)

    Then, perhaps m lafontaine will offer something of substance.
    ****
    dave001‘s utter lack of understanding why ‘don’t be a d**k” is very sexist (nicely explained by Walton) makes me wonder if xe understands why gendered slurs are bad.
    [Women saying " grow some balls"...is that the distant cousin of "in my country that word is not a slur"]
    You again, @213:
    Not sure how long you have read Pharyngula, but a lot of people concerned with social justice issues comment here. PZ himself is strong Social Justice advocate. Feminism is one of the causes many people here support. Now, one of the things the community here has worked hard at is maintaining an atmosphere where bigoted comments are not welcome. A 101-level of awareness of society, conditioning and patriarchy–when properly understood–is more than enough to realize that we are soaking in sexism. Gendered activities abound. Rigid gender riles are still dominant. All of that occurs to varying degrees. I am not saying male gendered slurs are teh worst thing in the worst, but they are part of that Big Bag of Bad.

    **
    (Thats it from me on this in this thread)

  206. Nick Gotts says

    The odds, BTW, that the content of my comment will be identical to someone else’s are actually quite small. – dave001

    No, they’re really not. Chances are, dave001, you’re not nearly as original as you think you are. True of most of us (human beings) I’m afraid.

  207. says

    The odds, BTW, that the content of my comment will be identical to someone else’s are actually quite small.

    Mmm. The very same thought as thousands of other people who see fit to comment as you do. Yep, that’s originality, alright.

    *near-fatal eyeroll*

  208. dave001 says

    @237 “you will annoy people” That seems to be an incredibly easy thing to do around here. Overall, thanks for the “polite” advice.

    @235 I really have no idea why you keep harping on that but, if it makes your fuck-witted (learned that word here so I guess it’s OK) nutcase self happy, please feel free to continue.

  209. NightShadeQueen, resident nutcase says

    dave001 the passive aggressive

    Caine, at 186

    Ctrl + f is your friend if you are rushed and don’t have time to read many comments. This allows you to search keywords, nyms, and phrases, so you can easily find out if a certain question has been asked, or a certain point discussed.

  210. Nick Gotts says

    That seems to be an incredibly easy thing to do around here. – dave001

    Actually, it is in most places, if you barge in to an existing social group and act like an entitled arsehole. But then, I increasingly get the feeling that annoying people was your intention right from the start.

  211. says

    Ctrl + f is your friend if you are rushed and don’t have time to read many comments. This allows you to search keywords, nyms, and phrases, so you can easily find out if a certain question has been asked, or a certain point discussed.

    This needs a quick amendment:

    Ctrl + f or Cmd + f is your friend if you are rushed and don’t have time to read many comments. This allows you to search keywords, nyms, and phrases, so you can easily find out if a certain question has been asked, or a certain point discussed.

  212. says

    Hey, that’s what I was about to say!

    Dave001: Read the rules that say how you can be banned from a thread, #2 and #3, and the rules for banning, #9 and #10. You’re at risk right now.

  213. dave001 says

    @244. Did I call anyone “arsehole” (as you have just called me) or anything like that, except for those who attacked me in kind (see the nutcase)? No, I don’t think so.

    And, @239 and all other calling me out for the “sexist” dick or balls comments, have you called the blogger out for, I believe not infrequently (but stand ready to be proved wrong), referring to people as “douchebags” or do I not know what a douchebag is and is it not really sexist and degrading to women? Time to get over yourselves, people. (And, to save the nutcase, “for the last fucking time”, from having to CrtlF – thank you, genius – here is a reference: http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2013/08/31/finally-an-evolutionary-explanation-for-evolutionary-psychology)

  214. Holms says

    Tony! @ 131
    Did you read the comments in this thread explaining why insults such as ‘fuck off’ should not be taken off the board?

    The point was not so much about the insult, as the closing of dialogue. I should think that “don’t be a fuckhead” indicated that I am fine with The Swears; it is the dismissal of someone’s point of view from the very first comment that shits me.

    If an attempt has been made to point out someone’s error or whatever, or they’ve been prompted to Splain This Shit and have only continued with intellectual dishonesty? By all means, get dismissive. Very frequently however a regular will skip that intermediate step and proceed straight to getting their claws out.

    I understand that rebutting the same old talking points gets bloody tiresome, but then may I direct you to the next point I made: don’t post while ‘hot’.

    Ultimately though I think a list of Higly Specific Rules is not the best approach, hence the third point: don’t be a fuckhead. Someone pointed it out earlier: this simply invites rules lawyering. Rather than getting a forum rulebook out to decide how to post, just ask yourself “would I say this the same or differently if I was speaking face to face with the other person?” before hitting submit.

    Of course, this is based on a sincere hope that you don’t actually tell people to fuck off at the opening sentence when meeting a new person.

    Roxxi @175
    Well, first of all, I thought it was decided that words like stupid, idiot, moron, or anything that means these things was ableist, but alright.

    Only for a few words such as retard, spastic etc. as those still closely carry their association with such developmental disabilities. Many others have become neutralised thanks to the passage of time.

    I never quite agreed with Chris’ disapproval of ‘moron’. The fact that most people don’t even know that it was ever a part of medical nomenclature suggest to me that it has become dissociated with ableism.

    dave001 @ 225
    “The non-threading of comments here is deliberate.” Is that so. And would you like to back that up with a reference? BTW, you should all be pleased to see I’ve been reading the comments! :-)

    PRETTY SURE YOU MISSED A FEW…

  215. NightShadeQueen, resident nutcase says

    dave001

    The nutcase has a name. Fucker. Refer to me by my full username or not at all.

  216. Wowbagger, Designated Snarker says

    dave001, you’re out of your element. Seriously, stop commenting – at least until you’ve gone back and read the other threads people have generously linked for you.

  217. says

    I believe not infrequently (but stand ready to be proved wrong), referring to people as “douchebags” or do I not know what a douchebag is and is it not really sexist and degrading to women?

    Y’know dave001, this has been addressed MANY, MANY TIMES. See, this is where you refusing to read anything except your own pixels is problematic.

    Douching is a dangerous activity, health-wise, and was invented by a man on the premise that a woman’s naughty bits were all swampy and nasty and needed to be all stripped and artificial smelling for the benefit of men. Douching and douchebags are bad for one’s health. Using them as an insult isn’t problematic.

  218. says

    Holms @ 249,

    With respect to neutralization of terms by the passage of time, I try to remember that the commentariat includes quite an age range — so connotations that are less obvious to younger posters may still be present, and painful, for older ones.

    Also, I think it’s harder to make the call about a once hurtful term now being harmless when one is not in the group of people that term was once “properly” applied to.

    My rule of thumb is that if I know it might be hurtful/come across to someone, it’s worth a moment to find a better way to say what I’m trying to say.

  219. NightShadeQueen, resident nutcase says

    docfreeride

    Yeah, I think the “better safe than sorry” route wrt slurs isn’t a bad one, but….not sure it should be enforced at the blog-rules level, but generalized agreement with you.

    [I'm probably not making much sense, need caffeine.]

  220. says

    Holms:

    I never quite agreed with Chris’ disapproval of ‘moron’. The fact that most people don’t even know that it was ever a part of medical nomenclature suggest to me that it has become dissociated with ableism.

    Oh, I wouldn’t say that’s the case at all. The commentariat here is not made up of people 20 or younger, you know. We range from people in their teens to people in their 7th or 8th decade. Me, I’m in the 5th decade. Also, people who are studying or working in certain fields would certainly know about the medical usage of moron. It was still a working medical term when I was young.

  221. says

    NightShadeQueen @258,

    Yeah, I wasn’t proposing an explicit rule about what should be taken as a slur, just arguing that some reflection (and listening to people and stuff) can help us do better with the spirit of the law.

    [And I also need caffeine! Perhaps that's why I think I understand what you're saying ...]

  222. NightShadeQueen, resident nutcase says

    Yeah, something like that. You’re making a lot more sense than I am. [Drinks coffee]

    I…wasn’t much of a fan of dave001 referring me by my tag and not my ‘nym. Like. Hey. I get to call me a nutcase, other people don’t!

  223. says

    Do you think that the tone that you have deployed as you have communicated your love, for science and humanity may have contributed in some small way to the hyper insensitive nature of internet communication? Sure I agree with Greta that anger is important to social change movements, but it seems to me that a lot of what we have been doing in communicating our rage against religion has been disrespectful of other human beings in a way that serves no particular purpose. Before he really revealed himself to be a bad human being Thunderfoot incinerated a large number of Korans and we all loved him. But it seems in highlight that what we loved was that he was a Asshole. Then when it turned out he really was an asshole we were all surprise? Like a lot of people I started reading this blog after hearing about how PZ put a nail through a communion wafer. I came here because I thought you were an asshole. It turns out that actually you are really a nice human being who wants to change things to make them better. Maybe we should start valuing things like being nice and respectful. Something to think about as we design your comment rules.

  224. NightShadeQueen, resident nutcase says

    craigmcgillivary

    Maybe we should start valuing things like being nice and respectful.

    May I point you to a comment written byledasmom?

    Civility is overrated.

  225. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Maybe we should start valuing things like being nice and respectful. Something to think about as we design your comment rules.

    Provide evidence that such a method works. Nobody has to date, except with those almost in the fold. Doesn’t work with those diametrically opposed to feminism and social consciousness. Read MLK’s letter from a Birmingham jail, where the moderate whites demand the noisy blacks should be nice was actually playing into the hands of the bigots. Every successful social change had a vocal and noisy group to get attention. That is Pharyngula.

  226. says

    craigmcgillivary:

    Before he really revealed himself to be a bad human being Thunderfoot incinerated a large number of Korans and we all loved him.

    Excuse me, please speak for yourself and yourself only. I have really come to loathe any use of the royal we. I never liked Thunderfoot, and I sure as hell never approached loving him or anything he did.

  227. Bicarbonate says

    @Al Dente,

    The Pledge is now part of the new Commenting Rules via a link. See tab supra ^.

  228. Subtract Hominem says

    Proposed for Recommended Attitudes:

    Take care of yourself. If you’re feeling triggered by a comment or thread, you may want to take a break from that thread for a while. Your health is more important than rebutting that troll’s posts. There are other knowledgeable and capable people here who can cover for you in the meantime.

    …or something like that.

  229. NightShadeQueen, resident nutcase says

    Subtract Hominem

    Hum. Personally, as someone with strange and probably unjustifiable “triggers”*, I already know to take care of myself, and that clause is unnecessary.

    It’s…also feels silencing, honestly. I’m not sure how to phrase it better, but, yeah.

    *Not sure what the fuck they are anymore. Triggers? Things I just Can’t. Deal. With? Fuck if I know.

  230. says

    This probably require editing the page template, which may need the involvement of your tech guy, but should be pretty simple and will make sure everyone has ready access to the information where they need it.

    Immediately above the reply box:

    Read the Commenting Rules before posting.

    That’s the important one, in my opinion.

    To avoid some of the most common (and annoying) questions, you could also improve the formatting text.
    Immediately below the comment box, replacing the existing HTML guide:

    Formatting tags [show]

    When clicked, expand to show a nicely formatted table (simple example only):

    Formatting tags [hide]
    <blockquote>quoted text</blockquote> – “quoted text”
    <a href="http://url">link text</a>link text
    <b>bold</b>bold
    <i>italic</i>italic
    etc…

    It could always be visible, but it would take up space unnecessarily for those familiar with it.

    If it’s of benefit, I can supply you a prewritten table and associated CSS, plus the tiny javascript needed to show/hide the block.

  231. chigau (違う) says

    Caine
    Speaking as one of much the same age as you, I regret to tell you that we ended our fifth decade on our respective 50th birthdays.
    This is your sixth decade.
    Have some tea?

  232. says

    I also just realised a (trivially simple) preview-first feature could be added with minimal effort.

    * Style [Submit Comment] button to display: none by default
    * Add a line to the [Preview] button javascript that sets [Submit Comment] to display: inline
    * Ideally, swap the position of the two buttons, so they don’t move around.

    (Setting submit to display: none should be done via javascript on page load, not in the stylesheet, so that it’s not hidden by default if javascript is disabled.)

    It’s trivial because it’s easily circumvented (just disable javascript), but it’s not like this is a security measure or anything, it just encourages more responsible posting.

    I know this is somewhat off-topic as it’s not actually about posting rules, but it seems more relevant to post here than elsewhere.

  233. Markita Lynda—threadrupt says

    No blaming, and no doubling the blame by saying “you deliberately did such-and-such.”

    Reflect what you think a person said, e.g. “When you say blah, it makes me feel that ____ is all my fault.” Instead of “Fuck off for saying that ____ is all my fault.”

  234. Sophia, Michelin-starred General of the First Mediterranean Iron Chef Batallion says

    Blaming can be a useful tool for recovery from abuse. -Not- blaming the real cause of a problem can be incredibly damaging.
    Telling people to avoid stupid blaming like chucking a Godwin (people like you are responsible for nazi genocide!) – fine.
    Saying that someone’s comments have caused you pain, fine. People need to be able to voice their emotional state and tell people if they’ve been hurtful. The rules already suggested for assuming good faith to begin with ans asking for clarification can deal with the blame problem perfectly adequately.

  235. Sophia, Michelin-starred General of the First Mediterranean Iron Chef Batallion says

    Sorry, that (@278) was a reply to Markita Lynda @276.

  236. says

    Instead of “Fuck off for saying that ____ is all my fault.”

    A lot of times, it is absolutely appropriate to say just that. It’s also appropriate to tell asses who proffer notpologies to fuck off, too. I reserve the right to tell people who are being deliberately destructive to fuck off.

  237. says

    Kagato about the formatting tags: absolutely, and thanks for showing how it’s done right. The current “You may use these HTML tags and attributes:” is at best misleading, and never helpful.

  238. praxis.makes.perfect (Just call me Prax. It's easier to type) says

    I really like the new rules.

    I like them a lot.

    I like them so much I think I’m going to ask them to prom.

    The only thing I don’t like? The folks in this thread who think strong language somehow negates or undermines your point here at Pharyngula or that civility somehow serves to reinforce it. Neither is true. If these people had ever actually read a thread in earnest from beginning to end they’d see that.

  239. says

    Again, the stuff below the text box is hardcoded into the wordpress theme. I can’t change it. Even if I could, I’d have to change it to the core, and thus change it for every other blog in the network, or patch in a local change that would get wiped out at the first software update.

    There are a lot of things I can’t touch because they’re part of our shared codebase and because I don’t have the privileges to do it.

  240. says

    I wonder if it would make it easier for newbies or casuals to find the commenting rules if there was a disclaimer or link at the bottom of every OP rather than in the already cluttered sidebar.

    “Please make sure you are familiar with the rules for commenting here before posting” or somesuch.

  241. praxis.makes.perfect (Just call me Prax. It's easier to type) says

    rorschach @ 284:

    That would be a very good idea. Putting it in bold, bright red, blinking letters at the end of posts with “troll-attractant” topics would also help.

    (Well, okay, it might not stem the flood of trolls entirely, but it might prevent some of the less intentional trolls from doing silly things.)

  242. chigau (違う) says

    There seems to be lots of space on the sidebar.
    Is that available to put a bunch of friendly advice?

  243. says

    New rules look good. They should help reduce the false positives in TrollID and the resultant casualties from friendly fire, which is where I see the main problems lying.

    On technicalities: I LOVE the idea of the one-post erratum option by commenter. Hate threading in general, but if the commenter is the only one allowed and only one reply-to-self is allowed, it could be very helpful. Functional preview would also help, but how many of us have spotted crucial typos only after hitting post?

  244. Stacy says

    Whatever The Rules end up being, post them–and Chris Clarke’s brilliant riff on Fincke’s ridiculous pledge–up top, highlighted in some way, so that n00bs can’t miss them.

  245. says

    Ah yes, I see now that the reply box is common to all the FTBlogs. I’d somehow got it into my head that the “allowed tags” block was specific to Pharyngula — despite occasionally posting on some of the other blogs myself.

    In that case, forget the HTML instructions for the moment.
    (Though maybe the other bloggers would also like an improvement there… I took a screencap of my Firebug experimentation, so that’s an example of how it might look; but supporting multiple blogs’ stylesheets may make it a little bit trickier. Not a priority, regardless.)

    You obviously can’t add a link to your rules in the global reply box. Do you maybe have any room in your local Pharyngula template between the end of comments and the reply box? If “Read the rules before posting” came before the standard “Leave a Reply”, that would still look okay I think.

    Either way, I’ll drop the subject now as it’s no longer constructive.

  246. says

    Not strictly a comments-rules suggestion PZ, but what should be a CSS fix for the background of the nav-bar with the menu-buttons (this should give you back the metallic-grey gradient from the default style-sheet, but just for the nav-bar):

    #nav {background: url("images/bg-gradient.png") repeat-x fixed left bottom transparent; height: 100%; padding-bottom: 1px; position: relative; width: 100%;}

  247. =8)-DX says

    I’ve one rule:

    “Don’t read between the lines of a person’s comment and bash them for what you think their hidden agenda is without ascertaining that this was actually their meaning.”

    I think:
    A: I think PZ is a poopyhead.
    B: You aren’t implying PZ is incontinent or a scat-fetishist are you?
    A: No, that’s just a lovable nickname old-timers use here!
    B: Ah, ok. =)

    Is much more constructive than:
    A: I think PZ is a poopyhead.
    B: Fuck off, A. Your odd scatological humour is noted, but inane.
    A: What? No fuck off yourself B, PZ has always been our poopyhead.
    B: YOU TOTAL ASSHOLE! Do you know PZ’s credentials!You are not fit to lick his sandals!
    A: Asshole yourself, if you were a regular you’d know that’s PZs nickname.
    B: Oh yeah, on FTB if you’re not a regular, not part of the Horde, everyone just shouts at you! Echo chamber! FT Bullies!

  248. Lyn M: ADM MinTruthiness says

    Late to the party again!

    I did enjoy the Dave001 bye bye. That was satisfying, except I didn’t get to tromp him over his crap use of NightShadeQueen naming. What’s the reference I’m looking for? Oh yeah, “Christ, what an asshole.”
    Don’t think I have commented to you before, NightShadeQueen, but I thought you stuck to the three comments rule very well.

    All the rules look good. They formed up well.

  249. carlie says

    I asked dave very politely to stop his derail, and he didn’t, and instead kept going until he got banned.

    So what was that about civility being so important again, all you people who keep arguing for it?

  250. dogofman says

    Hi all. I’ve been lurking for several years and only ever made one or a couple of short comments.

    In the first list PZ presented he said something about sexism and racism not ok. My immidiate thought was; what about ableism? I just got my diagnosis of asperger’s since a few months, so it’s kind of my peeve right now. Then there’s this thing about usage of words like moron and idiot and such. Should they always be off shart?

    In my language there’s a kind of a rule of thumb when it comes to discussions. Translated roughly as:
    Distinguish between cause (argument) and person.
    Example of how that would work is if someone said for example: ‘What you said was totally fucking moronic.’ Then that’s quite okey. But if you say: ‘You’re a little stupid for making that argument’. That’s way off.
    Attack the argument. Don’t smear the person behind it.

    Maybe something to consider concerning newbee’s before they established themselves too be willfully ignorant trolls at least.

    2 cents from Sweden

  251. John Phillips, FCD says

    dogofman, good point but if you click on the link you will find that in the latest version the specific words you mention have been replaced with ‘bigoted slurs’ and that includes any kind of ism. Plus, you will generally find that the horde is pretty down on any kind of ablesim and will first point it out and ask for clarification of intent from the poster and soon stomp on it if it continues. Though if you notice something that the horde has missed, e.g. because it is a very busy thread, feel free to point it out to the poster yourself and if they insist on doubling down instead of apologising you can email a monitor to check it out. Link to monitors on left side.

  252. John Morales says

    dogofman:

    Example of how that would work is if someone said for example: ‘What you said was totally fucking moronic.’ Then that’s quite okey. But if you say: ‘You’re a little stupid for making that argument’. That’s way off.
    Attack the argument. Don’t smear the person behind it.

    That is a vacuity; they amount to the same thing; non-simpletons don’t make stupid arguments like that.

    (You ever come across Forrest Gump’s mom’s dictum?)

  253. John Morales says

    [meta]

    So, I take it that these rules are now operational?

    The Emperor: [In the throne room, Luke is watching the Imperial fleet attack the Rebels from the huge throne room window] As you can see, my young apprentice, your friends have failed. Now witness the firepower of this fully ARMED and OPERATIONAL battle station!

    [the Emperor hits the comlink switch on his throne]

  254. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    John,

    Smart people can say fucking moronic things. I find it hard to believe you would honestly argue differently, unless you are more conceited than I thought.

  255. John Morales says

    [OT + meta]

    Beatrice, please read what I wrote, not what you imagine I wrote: smart people don’t make stupid arguments.

    (It was not I who conflated ‘saying things’ with ‘arguments’)

  256. Antiochus Epiphanes says

    John: Either smart people make stupid arguments, or only people who don’t make arguments are smart.
     
    FFS. If smart people didn’t at times make stupid arguments, what would I spend my time reading on the Internet?

  257. John Morales says

    Antiochus, this is getting out of topic.

    For the purposes of the current topic, let me take another tack: I believe that most people who are told they have done something stupid intuitively consider they have been effectively called stupid. Whether that is a misapprehension or not is irrelevant; either way, I believe that were dogofman’s proposed rule to be effected nothing much would change in terms of offence perceived, and therefore it would achieve little more than nothing at the cost of yet another restriction.

    If anyone wishes to dispute me on the minutiae of whether stupid behaviour indicates stupidity, take it to Thunderdome and I shall respond there.

  258. says

    PZ, that’s annoying. It should be somewhere in the ballpark of a fix, but obviously not quite. Maybe apply it to #header-menu-wrap instead of #nav?

  259. says

    Good Rules, PZ. 3 remarks:

    I’d ask people to consider the appropriateness of their comment before posting:
    - has the question, idea been posted before in the same thread (except message of support)?
    - if the topic of the post is someone’s lived experience, quibbles on definitions etc. are better off in Thunderdome.
    (Yes, it seems obvious, but I think a lot of clueless people wander in and simply don’t realise this. )

    I’d like to see something indicating we do not tell people to DIAF etc.

    I suggest putting the recommended attitudes and courtesies first, and then spelling out what will get people banned etc. Starting with the banning subtly suggests a negative expectation. Perhaps true for some, but slightly off-putting nonetheless.

  260. John Morales says

    From the rules: “Thunderdome is lightly moderated; please do go there if you feel the need to brawl and let off steam.”

    My best interpretation is that this entails that Thunderdome is subject to the rules no less than other threads, but that their enforcement is strongly diminished.

    Perhaps I am wrong.

    (The reason I make this determination is that, were it otherwise, there would be a list of which specific rules do not apply therein)

  261. NightShadeQueen, resident nutcase says

    Lyn M: ADM MinTruthiness

    Thanks :D

    all

    I’m being a lazy fuck this morning; does Pharyngula/FTB use jquery?

  262. speed0spank says

    Nobody knows me from a hole in the ground so this isn’t a benefit to me but maybe folks who have been around for a while and have good standing with other folks here should get more leeway when it comes to banning. Sometimes people are just having a bad day.
    If someone was banned but wants another chance maybe PZ could bring it up in the lounge or TD and have some kind of vote or discussion about it. Maybe if someone is derailing a thread or being an ass they could be put into moderation before banning. I often see people miss PZ’s warning to them and continue posting only to get banned.

    Just my .02

  263. says

    @Roxxi Seanne:

    Just a quick note (not sure if you’re still in thread, but it’s important nonetheless:)

    The Horde has toned down a lot of the “fuck yourself with a -blank-” and “go die in a fire” type responses to people who (frankly) deserve some of the invectives they get. I will certainly call out anyone who uses that type of language because of the violent and kind of severely negative intonations of what those comments mean.

  264. Air says

    Late to the thread (but I read it!) and would like to suggest a better wording for:

    You demonstrate that you are unwilling to have read previous comments or the opening post.

    You have not read and are unwilling to read previous comments and the opening post.

    or – kinda more verbose but makes more explicit the need to demonstrate the behavior:

    You have not read and demonstrate unwillingness to read previous comments and the opening post.

  265. anchor says

    At the considerable risk of proposing an idea that might seriously add to PZ’s nightmare, I would like to suggest a regular and dedicated forum (besides the Lounge and Thunderdome) in which people can specifically point out and discuss items that flood out from the interminable spigot of ongoing science news releases.

    Just to give a recent example:

    http://www.essex.ac.uk/news/event.aspx?e_id=5424

    Stuff like this shows up by the dozens every day. Why can’t we talk about it? A place that is moderated along these lines seems to me a much better venue for discussion than the horrendous escapade and effort expended at worrying overmuch on personalities, however much we disagree or how certain individuals seem to come down definitively on how trolls seek to twist a thread to their convenience.

    Besides, such a forum is specific and it would probably not require much more maintenance than either the Lounge or the Thunderdome – the latter of which is currently largely nothing but a sinkhole waste of precious time and effort.

    We all seem to know what we are all about, but the recent hijinks doesn’t exactly put us in a favorable light, does it? I will not respond, so all those who will object can do so focusing upon my suggestion, and not upon me.

  266. BeyondUnderstanding says

    @PZ & tigtog

    Yeah, I would apply tigtog’s css to #header-menu-wrap, if you want to fix it. That should do the trick.

    #header-menu-wrap { background: url(“images/bg-gradient.png”) repeat-x fixed left bottom transparent; height: 100%; padding-bottom: 1px; position: relative; width: 100%; }

  267. anchor says

    And, by the way, (from a depressing number of the above posts) any rule that restricts occasional comments from people who are interested in a topic (who may or may not be long-term lurkers) from posting is a gigantic mistake.

  268. Orange Utan says

    The correct URL to the image is either an absolute url of

    /pharyngula/wp-content/themes/graphene/images/bg-gradient.png

    or a full url of

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/wp-content/themes/graphene/images/bg-gradient.png

  269. says

    Orange Utan, that makes sense now: because PZ will be adding it to a pharyngula-specific custom.css file instead of tweaking style.css directly. Nice catch!

  270. rodriguez says

    @Rahulkedia #128 I meant to say this much earlier and it may be you are no longer reading this, however these sentences of yours:

    … country where patriarchy is very deeply ingrained into the social fabric. It is much harder for someone from this background to be socially progressive. Not recognizing this is a form of privilege.

    This helped me to form some ideas that were hazy to me. Hopefully I can use this idea in my life. Thanks.

  271. chigau (違う) says

    No.
    For starters, put a message above the comment box
    “Read the previous comments before you comment”