News stories and rumors sometimes produce contentious debates in forum threads. The same is frequently true of threads in the Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. When users have strongly differing opinions, they have the privilege as forum members to express their opinions but not the right to insult or belittle each other. This has long been the site policy and the basis for forum moderation. Starting today we provide a set of Rules for Appropriate Debate to further clarify what's appropriate and what's inappropriate when posting in a debate. These rules reiterate the prohibitions in the general forum rules against personal insults, name-calling, and trolling, but also add specific requirements, e.g., that users be willing to provide a basis for claims of fact, that they avoid stereotypes and generalizations that constitute trolling and inhibit constructive debate, and that they not belabor a point by repeating it without adding new information. This will improve the quality of forum discussions in news threads, political threads, and other discussion threads. Why? Discussions of disputed topics too often devolve into personal flamewars that are of no benefit to other forum users and add little to our forums. These rules are designed to set minimum levels of civility and encourage fact-based debates, not to promote or inhibit any point of view. We don't expect to change human nature, nor prevent users from having strong disagreements. As always, you can express almost any opinion in the forums but you must do so in an appropriate manner. Only members who have made at least 100 posts in counted forums can post in the Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum, but these rules apply to all forums. We hope the responsibilities of forum users are clear from the guidelines we provide, but it's difficult to apply a fixed set of rules to human language. That's why the moderators use common sense in applying the forum rules and keep the reasons for the rules in mind. So should you. Your part The moderators have worked hard to develop these refinements to the forum rules, but your support is the real key. We invite users to set a good example in the forums, even in contentious debates, and to look for opportunities to inform and learn from others. If you see problems in the forums, please report them to the moderators. If you have questions about any forum rule, you are welcome to use the Contact form to ask us about it privately or to post in a Site and Forum Feedback thread to ask general questions about rules and policies. You can post in this thread if you have questions or comments about the Rules for Appropriate Debate. Use the Contact form if you want to talk to us about a specific instance of moderation or member discipline.