AETV Live Chat Room Moderation Policy (v1.0)

Most of you who watch The Atheist Experience live are aware that there is a live chat room that runs on Ustream.  It has, as of recently, been regularly moderated by some combination of Jen, Lynnea, John and me.  The purpose of this post is to try to establish some guidelines that will clarify the moderation policy.  This list was written primarily by Lynnea, but has been presented to and accepted by the rest of the TV crew.

(Update: These rules now have a permanent web home at  Read this version below the fold.)

Chat room rules

This area is intended to be a safe place to discuss the current show topic, and as such there are rules that allow for civil discourse.

1. No proselytizing or preaching. Pretending to preach is also against the rules.

2. No disparaging comments against groups of people, i.e. no discrimination against genders, races, sexual/gender orientations, etc.

3. No lewd content or suggestions, especially in reference to the hosts or crew.

4. No spamming: posting unrelated links, posting one link repeatedly or posting a line of text repeatedly. Keep in mind that the chat client automatically kicks people who make several quick posts in a row.

5. No obnoxious writing: all-caps, bold colors, odd fonts, ascii art, etc.

6. No calling for the hosts to hang up, to move on, or take any specific action. The hosts do not have access to the chat during the show, but you are welcome to email in with suggestions.

7. No complaining about moderation kicks in group chat. Disagreements, suggestions or suspected mistakes may be communicated via a private IRC, or via the show email.

Transgressions MAY, at the moderator’s discretion, receive a verbal warning before being kicked once. Serious and/or repeat offenses will receive a kick and a ban. Attempts to dance up to the edge of the rules or provoke the moderators will be considered identical to a regular transgression.

This post is a declaration of the rules, not an invitation to complain about them.  You can send feedback to if you wish, but excessive argumentation in the comments of this post will be deleted.  Appeals to rescind bans can also be sent to this address.


  1. says

    Good! Hopefully this will bring out some fruitful discussion in the AETV chat. Until now, I’ve been avoiding it due to the… crazyness of it. I’ll have to start joining again.

  2. DobermanGuy says

    3. No lewd content or suggestions, especially in reference to the hosts or crew.

    I will have no part in this non-shenaniganry.

  3. mond says

    As someone who regularly takes part in the Non-Prophets chat when the show is live, I avoid the ustream chat at all costs. Hopefully the moderation will rehabilitate the chat to a position where I ma
    y consider taking part.

  4. Nathan says

    Love you guys, but I’ve watched the chat a couple times, mostly for laughs. It would be a great idea if live chats actually had good discussions, but too many people post way to fast to try and have a real discussion. It’s like being in a riot where everyone is shouting and hoping a real discussion or debate will occur.

  5. shawnsonium says

    I’m all for it. Now it’s just about making the rules obvious and accessible to those in the chat. The maximum IRC topic length for the UStream IRC Network is 307 characters. You guys usually mention the hosts and show topic in the IRC topic, so hopefully it’s possible to prepend it with a short URL to the rules or something.

  6. Deanna Joy Lyons says

    Thank you all so very much for this. Hopefully the Ustream chat will end up being a lot more productive a place. I appreciate that you guys have a bazillion chatters to moderate, that must be a ridiculous amount of work. Thank you for all you do!

  7. jaimenume says

    i dont usually watch the show live but when i do a use the austin channel stream to avoid the chat and that allowed me to watch the ridiculous shows they play before and after TAE

  8. rrpostal says

    Why s it even called “chat”. it’s more like “rapidly firing off a random comment that will be gone in less time than it took to write”.

  9. jacobfromlost says

    Moderators (Russell, Jen, Steve, whoever else) did a great job yesterday (12/11/11). Kicking the goofballs slowed the chat to a reasonable speed with enough substance to be interesting and engaging. I’ll be spreading the word to anyone who left previously, you might want to check it out now.

    (Note: I was very skeptical of it working, but it worked well, so I was wrong. Keep doing whatever it was you did.)

  10. Kazim says

    FYI, we’ve already been moderating it aggressively for a little while now. This is just the first time we’ve codified some rules instead of going by gut feeling and informal agreement.

  11. Lynnea says

    Well, because it was in the rules not to go “NEXT CALLER!” we were able to remind and then kick those people out much faster than before. I think it was cleaned up much faster.

  12. Hortan says

    Martin should keep with the beard until he gets completely sick of it*, it suits him, adds a layer of character.

    *I am not consistent in my facial hair however and can get negative comments on its eventual removal, beards, however, are awesome!

  13. John says

    While I like the idea of tighter moderation of the chats, I question how tight the list of rules actually is. Yes, intelligent discussion and civility are a great goal but I’m not down with the complete ban on P,P, and P (preaching, proselytizing, and “provoking”).
    Let’s face it. PP&P is what generates some of the most interesting atheist discussions in the blogosphere.
    Sure, I understand the moderators not wanting to allow the board to become overrun with kiddies or fundies who are doing nothing but flooding the blog in some weird sort of denial-of-service strategy (spamming for Jeebus) but I am hoping that they will allow some small amount of PP&P as “thread-seeds” if nothing more.
    Also, my thoughts are on the death of Chris Hitchens this morning. We are significantly poorer without him among us and I can only hope that we see another with his intelligence and rapacious wit in the atheist “community” soon.

  14. jacobfromlost says

    It may only be my interpretation based on my experience in the chatroom, but I don’t think the PP&P rules apply to a normal, generally courteous discussion of someone’s religious beliefs. I think the preaching they are talking about is mindlessly spewing bible quotes, ignoring any attempt at discussion and continuing to cite the bible, etc. I think the proselytising is similar, and the provoking is pretty obvious–telling people they are going to hell, or generally behaving like “lordandsavior332” who seemed to admit to being the caller “Mark” from the show. In the chat, he (if it was indeed him) simply repeated nonsense over and over again, then when everyone would be responding at once, would simply say “Listen” and continue to spew stupidity in multiple posts without responding to anyone in particular.

    I think these rules are generally meant to foster a give and take, and an actual discussion. It’s the chatroom equivalent of hang up on a caller who refuses to stop talking and refuses to respond to anything the hosts say.

  15. chat no sign up says

    Remind them that just as they can change their age when they chat on the internet so can other people … so the 13 year old boy or girl could actually be a 45 year old. Chat rooms/forums can be dangerous.

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