Rules for internet communication

The majority of communication on the society’s website and Facebook page is polite and civilised, so there is rarely any need to invoke rules of discussion. However, because of occasional people who are likely to behave differently it is unfortunately necessary to have some rules for discussion on the site.  The following rules have been discussed on the site and were agreed by the society’s committee on 4th January 2014. We appreciate that their interpretation is not a precise matter, and we are open to initial discussion of controversial judgements about them: but if they are repeatedly ignored despite warnings, and if there is no real attempt to engage with our concerns about the way you are communicating, you will unfortunately have to be banned from the site and Facebook page.

1. Try to be aware of both yourself and the recipient of your communication as embodied people, by imagining others experiencing and interpreting what you have written.

2. Try to recognise that every embodied person has experiences to communicate that are worth crediting, even if you think their interpretation of them is mistaken.

3. Please avoid assumptions about the motives of a person you don’t otherwise know based only on text you have read on the internet. Most of these assumptions are likely to be deluded projections.

4. Please do not use unnecessarily emotive language of any kind to express disagreement. There are always more neutral-sounding alternatives that make the same point. For example, write “I disagree with that” rather than “That’s nonsense”.

5. Please take responsibility for your own judgements, even if they are influenced by others. Please offer justifications for your claims, and be ready to recognise your assumptions if they are pointed out.

6. Please make your judgements incremental rather than absolute, unless you are pointing out an absolute claim: e.g. not “that’s completely wrong” but “I can’t see much support for that” or “that view seems to be a metaphysical claim beyond experience”.

7. Please try to avoid using appeals to an authoritative source – e.g. tradition, scripture, science, popularity, convention etc. to try to conclusively prove or disprove any claim. At best these kinds of sources may increase or decrease credibility, sometimes strongly but not absolutely.

8. Try to apply the principle of charity in interpreting ambiguous statements positively. E.g. If a group of people is criticised that might be interpreted as including you, try not to identify with that group and assume that the criticism is directed at you.

9. Try to bring about a consensus in which those who disagree find some common ground, or at least clarify what they disagree about. Do not try to win.

These rules are intended to be consistent with the values of the society. If you have any questions about them or their interpretation, please email robert@middlewaysociety.org or comment on this page.

In addition to this (needless to say), spamming of any kind is strictly prohibited. Most spam comments are automatically blocked by the Akismet programme, but if you get past it and are introducing irrelevant commercial content, expect to be banned without any further discussion.

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