A formal set of rules for the forums
#13
(13-Jun-2011, 08:03 PM)Lije Wrote:
(13-Jun-2011, 07:52 PM)lalitmohanchawla Wrote: 1 year no reply, was this thread continued elsewhere?

Nope. We wanted to have more specific rules, but we haven't gotten around to it, one reason being the forums haven't been that active. But we are seeing more participation and also, it is high time that we have these rules in place.
yep , once the registration process completes , and due to single click registration process and recent interest shown by the media , i am pretty sure the activity will increase manifold besides these will also serve as a base and a guideline for admins of respective regional groups on facebook so that there is a clear consensus about what constitutes as disruptive behavior.

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#14
Based on the discussion so far, here is the revised set of rules:

  1. Trolling is unacceptable - posting disruptive/inflammatory content, including (but not limited to) broad generalisations and personal accusations about specific people or groups that incite hatred or provoke emotional responses, misrepresenting other people's opinions after being corrected, posting off-topic after being asked to stay on-topic by forum staff.

  2. Caste prejudice, racism, homophobia and sexism are all unacceptable. Posting abusive/disparaging content about people's caste, race, sexual orientation or gender creates a hostile atmosphere in which a reasonable exchange of views is not possible. Serious offences in this regard should lead to a permanent ban.

  3. Respect the forum organisation. Read the descriptions of each forum and its subforums before posting and choose the most appropriate place. Staff may move/split/merge posts/threads which are deemed to be better placed elsewhere.

  4. Keep the discussion healthy. Avoid personal attacks against individuals but practice criticism of ideas. Disagree without being disagreeable. Defend your opinions without being defensive. And avoid making assumptions about other people when defending your viewpoints.

  5. Do not divert the topic or make off-topic posts. Deliberately trying to hijack a thread with off-topic posts is prohibited.

  6. Preaching and proselytising are prohibited. Nirmukta takes a stance that is against religious dogma of any kind, and presents atheism and scepticism as a legitimate and highly respectable standpoint. While members are free to discuss religious faith in these forums (with some caveats. See the next point), it should be possible for members to get into the debate without religious harassment or pressure to convert. These kinds of behaviour are expressly prohibited.

  7. Debates about atheism are not encouraged. As far as Nirmukta is concerned, questions about whether atheism is a valid position or not are settled (Atheism is valid). Same goes for spirituality and other non-naturalistic viewpoints (There is only the natural). While specific philosophical questions maybe allowed (depending on context), questioning atheism/rationalism/skepticism/naturalism in general is not allowed.

  8. Commercial advertising is not allowed. These forums are not a place for members to advertise or promote a business without explicit permission from Nirmukta. Members posting such content frequently may be removed with/without warning as will their posts.

  9. Sex and Nudity - Discussions of these are limited to scientific studies and topics only. No discussions of personal sexual issues, or posts containing images/descriptions/discussions of sexual acts are allowed. Images containing such nudity is limited to established works of art or in a scientific/medical context. They must however be suitable for all ages and safe for viewing at work.

  10. Identity and Access. Members may register and use only one account on these forums. Members are assumed to agree to not let anyone else use their account on these forums for any kind of activity.

  11. Monitoring and Disclosure. nirmukta.net does not and cannot monitor all the postings in the forums and other public areas. However, forum staff reserves the right (but assumes no obligation) to delete, move or edit any postings that come to our attention that we consider unacceptable or inappropriate, whether for legal or any other reasons. We will not, in the ordinary course of business, review Private Messages (PMs) that are not addressed to nirmukta.net, or members of its staff. However, nirmukta.net and its forum staff will comply with any applicable legal requirements regarding disclosure of such messages to others, including law enforcement agencies.
I have left out the point on who owns the material posted here. I think we need to have a seperate set of points for legalese.

How to enforce the rules (this definitely needs some discussion):

  1. Violation of rules 1, 2 and 8 (Trolling/posting hateful, bigoted content/advertising) may invite an outright ban.
  2. For other violations, the user will be given a warning and the warning maybe given publicly. This is the first warning.
  3. If the user repeats the violation despite the warning, the user will be suspended for one/two days. This is the second warning.
  4. After the suspension expires/is lifted, if the user violates a rule again, the user will be suspended for a week. This is the third warning.
  5. Even after the third warning, if the user violates the rules again, he/she will be banned.
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#15
Looks great Thumbup I really just glanced at them, but I think point 7 could be changed.

Debates that we determine to be unsuitable for a particular forum because of various reasons, may be directed to a different forum or website where the conversation can be had in the proper setting. We are not opposed to debating and discussing the foundational ideas behind freethought with believers in various forms of supernatural beliefs, even if we have had those same debates many times in the past. However, we realize that there are some who are not interested in following the rules of reason and logic during debate. Such redundant and pointless debates cannot be allowed to prevent the important discussions from happening. There are other venues, such as our Indian Atheists facebook group (http://www.facebook.com/home.php?sk=grou...7719156733) , where we encourage debates between believers and atheists/skeptics/rationalists/naturalists

I will read properly later.
"Fossil rabbits in the Precambrian"
~ J.B.S.Haldane, on being asked to falsify evolution.
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#16
One suggestion regarding point no. 7. In addition to what it already says, how about also saying that promoting or defending religious/spiritual belief is not allowed? That would help control threads where theists play the "different ways of knowing" game. Also, w.r. to the "specific philosophical questions", we could mention that decisions made by the moderators on what topics violate the guidelines must be respected. This is to control those meta-discussions about discussions. smile
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#17
(17-Jun-2011, 04:13 PM)Ajita Kamal Wrote: Looks great Thumbup I really just glanced at them, but I think point 7 could be changed.

Yes, I think yours is better.

7. On idealogical debates - Debates that we determine to be unsuitable for a particular forum because of various reasons, may be directed to a different forum or website where the conversation can be had in the proper setting. We are not opposed to debating and discussing the foundational ideas behind freethought with believers in various forms of supernatural beliefs, even if we have had those same debates many times in the past. However, we realize that there are some who are not interested in following the rules of reason and logic during debate. Such redundant and pointless debates cannot be allowed to prevent the important discussions from happening. There are other venues, such as our Indian Atheists facebook group (http://www.facebook.com/home.php?sk=grou...7719156733) , where we encourage debates between believers and atheists/skeptics/rationalists/naturalists.


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#18
Created a new thread with the forum rules - http://nirmukta.net/Thread-Forum-Rules

Added a link to it below the page banner so that it is visible on all pages.

We can continue using this thread to discuss any modifications to the rules.
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#19
(19-Jun-2011, 04:42 AM)Lije Wrote:
(17-Jun-2011, 04:13 PM)Ajita Kamal Wrote: Looks great Thumbup I really just glanced at them, but I think point 7 could be changed.

Yes, I think yours is better.

7. On idealogical debates - Debates that we determine to be unsuitable for a particular forum because of various reasons, may be directed to a different forum or website where the conversation can be had in the proper setting. We are not opposed to debating and discussing the foundational ideas behind freethought with believers in various forms of supernatural beliefs, even if we have had those same debates many times in the past. However, we realize that there are some who are not interested in following the rules of reason and logic during debate. Such redundant and pointless debates cannot be allowed to prevent the important discussions from happening. There are other venues, such as our Indian Atheists facebook group (http://www.facebook.com/home.php?sk=grou...7719156733) , where we encourage debates between believers and atheists/skeptics/rationalists/naturalists.


ya the rules seem all set now, so will these also be effected on facebook groups ?
i think some modifications will be required for facebook

some features of facebook give rise to a variety of bad debating practices, like new comment can be posted with just a simple enter key , very few know use of shift +enter , as a result posts are generally badly paragraphed most hasty,lacking punctuation, the see more property causes 100 comments to compress in just a little space requiring effort on part of poster to click repeatedly on "see more" thus causing a lot of misunderstandings when user do not read previous posts before posting, also notifications likes and all causes a strong urge to have the last word and discussion becomes clash of egos

i think for facebook rule no.4 " Avoid personal attacks against individuals" can be clubbed with 2 to express that direct offenses such as personal attack, Caste prejudice, racism, homophobia and sexism will be strongly dealt with

while rule no. 4 itself "Keep the discussion healthy." can be elaborated to discourage certain practices, either a link can be pointed to or it can be elaborated in the description itself, this will also help when there be accusations regarding admins being biased, this rule will help in pointing out exactly why the posts are being deleted/members banned ,i stress this point because on facebook this is far more frequent cause of disruptions of thread than any other

also can we make use of "I" in describing rules to imply that rules or not imposed upon members but rather members agree to abide by the rules by joining the group
such as "I understand that all my posts may be redirected or deleted as admins find fit to maintain a healthy environment for discussion in the forums"

also it can be explicitly mentioned in the group description that members must not crib about admin actions publicly but rather contact concerned admins personally or mail about their displeasure here





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#20
although the list of good debating practices can go on much longer , we cannot expect members to read and follow all of them here is a concise list to make it easy to understand :



List of Improper Debating Tactics, AVOID THESE.

- Ad hominem. Latin for "at the man". This is a debating tactic that attacks the arguer and not the argument. PLEASE, debate the words that people post, not your idea ABOUT the person that posts. e.g., "member x is a liberal so his objections to the Iraqi war will obviously be unfounded," or ,"member x is a conservative, so he is obviously a warmonger". More directly, "Mr. Rajesh is an imbecile, therefore all of his arguments are false."

- Argument from Authority. This is the fallacy that states: If an authority says something, it is obviously true, and it does not need to be evaluated on it's merits. e.g. (Re-elect nixon because he has a secret plan to end the war in SE Asia.) Since there is no way to evaluate this plan, there is no way to debate this. Additionally, "because Einstein said it, and he's an expert, it must be true."

- Argument from adverse consequences. "X must exist, because if it didn't then how could Y be possible!". Even though there is no hard evidence, a certain conclusion is thought to be true because the alternative seems unlikely. e.g. (God must exist, because the very fact that the world is here, means that someone must have created it). In this argument, there is no DRIECT evidence, so it is not provable, or debatable. The converse also falls under this fallacy, "God must not exist, because we've never seen evidence for him!"

- Appeal to ignorance. The claim that whatever has not been proved false must be true, and vice versa. "There is no evidence against the existance of UFOs, so they probably exist."

- Special pleading. Often rescues a proposition in rhetorical or circumstantial trouble. In other words, stating a fact is true, because no one understands exactly what is going on.

- Begging the question. "We must institute the death penalty to lower the rate of violent crime!" But is there any evidence that instigating the death penalty will lower violent crime? Or, "The stock market fell yesterday because of a technical adjustment and profit-taking by investors", but is there is any independent evidence to support such a claim?

- Observational selection. Ignoring the bad in a situation, and only focusing on the good. This happens all to often at facebook

- Misunderstanding statistics, and "small statistics". Really try and see how polls and statistics can be skewed. Have they listed the population the statistics have come from? How were the statistics calculated. Are they meaningful based on the criteria used? Have they been bent in any way?

- Inconsistency. When one viewpoint is accepted, but another viewpoint is dismissed simply because it counteracts the speaker's central perspective: Believing that the failing life expectancy of Russia is because of the failures of communism, but NOT believing that the increased infant mortality rate could be because of the failures of capitalism.

- Non sequitur. Latin for "It doesn't follow". This happens when people have simply ignored alternative possibilities. Or, they have attributed something to an unconfirmed cause. Most commonly, a conclusion is stated that does not follow from the argument given to support it. "Because pollution is becoming more of a problem in cities, and the air quality is decreasing, people are becoming poorer."

- Post hoc, ergo propter hoc. Latin for, "It happened after, so it was caused by". This fallacy assumes that because something occured at the same time, or before, it was the cause of. e.g. "because she took contraceptive pills a few years ago, she now looks like she is 20 years older than her age. There is no proof of that, or even data to support the claim. Or, "before women could vote, there were no nuclear weapons." This second example, is also an example of a "non-sequitur".

- Excluded middle, or false dichotomy. considering only the extremes of a situation, "Since you don't support the war on Iraq, you obviously hate America" or "Since you support the war on Iraq, you're obviously a racist."

- Slippery slope. The idea that one action will lead to a secondary effect that is not a direct cause of the original action. "If we allow abortion in the first weeks of pregnancy, it will be impossible to stop abortions of full-term infants", or, "The state should allow abortion in even the ninth month because otherwise, they will be telling us what we can't do around the time of conception." Both suggested changes are effects of an effect. There is no reason to believe either conclusion.

- Confusing correlation and casusation. The assumption that because variable A is present in the same situation as variable B, A MUST be the cause of A. Really, there is no mechanism for how A causes B, so it's not causative. "A survey shows that more college graduates are homosexual than those that do not have degrees, therefore education makes you homosexual."

- Straw man tactics. Making a caricature out of a position in order to make it easier to attack. This is when people Assume they know someone's point of view, and begin arguing a made-up construction about their opponent, rather than just debate the words of their opponent. In short, you assume that your opponent believes something that he or she did not explicitly state.

- Suppressed evidence, and half-truths. This is pretty self-explanatory. Don't post half-truths and propaganda and expect us to believe them.

- Weasal words. The re-labeling of a certain tactic or fact, in order to make it seem tacit, or uninteresting. "The president may not declare war without the consent of congress, but as long as it's called a "police action" and not a war then it's fine."

I hope that people will use this list when they debate here. Let's try and actually learn something through discussion rather than just arguing pointlessly. Hopefully these tools will help us to cut through the garbage.

A Recipe For Reasoned Thought. DO THIS!

- Before responding to a post or comment please read and understand its gist thoroughly, asking for clarification if necessary.

- Wherever possible, there should be independent confirmation of "Facts". Look for conflicting data, and accept such data at face value. All the data should be used to formulate your viewpoint, not just the data that suits your viewpoint.

- Encourage debate on the information from all points of view, neither pre-judging, or belittling any view you don't agree with.

- Arguments from "Authorities" carry little weight. Listen to only the facts presented by them and evaluate their logic yourself. Authorities are useful, though, as a starting point to begin to explore a certain field of study.

- Always forge more than one hypothesis. If there is something to be explained, think of all the different ways it could be explained. Then, find ways to disprove those hypotheses. Generally, you will always end up with multiple working hypothesis, even if you don't agree with all of them.

- Try not to get attached to a hypothesis because it's yours, or because you feel strongly about it. Compare it fairly, and objectively with the alternative hypotheses. Always try and finds reasons why your hypothesis could be wrong. Build as much evidence against it before you trust it.

- Quantify. If you can find quantitative measurements for what you are trying to prove, then use that information to weigh competing points of view and to support/modify your own viewpoint. Qualitative data is up for interpretation, but be steadfast and weigh each interpretation carefully.

- If there is a chain of logic that forms an argument, every chain in the argument must be rigorous, with no weak links.

- See if your hypothesis can be falsified. Viewpoints which are unverifiable are less meaningful than those that are. If your hypothesis can be falsified, grant that it may not be true pending more information.
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#21
(19-Jun-2011, 01:26 PM)lalitmohanchawla Wrote: some features of facebook give rise to a variety of bad debating practices, like new comment can be posted with just a simple enter key , very few know use of shift +enter , as a result posts are generally badly paragraphed most hasty,lacking punctuation, the see more property causes 100 comments to compress in just a little space requiring effort on part of poster to click repeatedly on "see more" thus causing a lot of misunderstandings when user do not read previous posts before posting, also notifications likes and all causes a strong urge to have the last word and discussion becomes clash of egos

Those can be put up as a doc on each of our facebook groups and when we see such mistakes, we can give the link to that doc. The list of improper debating tactics can also be put up as doc and linked to when necessary.

(19-Jun-2011, 01:26 PM)lalitmohanchawla Wrote: i think for facebook rule no.4 " Avoid personal attacks against individuals" can be clubbed with 2 to express that direct offenses such as personal attack, Caste prejudice, racism, homophobia and sexism will be strongly dealt with

while rule no. 4 itself "Keep the discussion healthy." can be elaborated to discourage certain practices, either a link can be pointed to or it can be elaborated in the description itself, this will also help when there be accusations regarding admins being biased, this rule will help in pointing out exactly why the posts are being deleted/members banned ,i stress this point because on facebook this is far more frequent cause of disruptions of thread than any other

Are you referring to the debate corner? I think its best left with little moderation. Given that we are allowing theists in there, it would be too much of an effort to enforce any sort of rules. Also, any rule enforcement is quite likely to generate heated meta-discussions. I think the other fb groups are doing ok with the rules we have now.

(19-Jun-2011, 01:26 PM)lalitmohanchawla Wrote: also can we make use of "I" in describing rules to imply that rules or not imposed upon members but rather members agree to abide by the rules by joining the group
such as "I understand that all my posts may be redirected or deleted as admins find fit to maintain a healthy environment for discussion in the forums"

We do show something like that when someone tries to register:

Quote:By registering on this discussion system you agree that you will not post any material which is knowingly false, inaccurate, abusive, hateful, harassing, sexually orientated, threatening or invasive of a person's privacy, or any other material which may violate any applicable laws.

Failure to comply with these rules may result in the termination of your account, account suspension, or permanent ban of access to these forums.


(19-Jun-2011, 01:26 PM)lalitmohanchawla Wrote: also it can be explicitly mentioned in the group description that members must not crib about admin actions publicly but rather contact concerned admins personally or mail about their displeasure here

Yes. I think this can be mentioned on the rules page. I think its better to tell them to PM rather than use the Contact form on nirmukta.com.
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