New rules and guildelines for posting in debates

Discussion in 'Site and Forum Feedback' started by Doctor Q, Jan 1, 2011.

  1. Doctor Q, Jan 1, 2011
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2011

    Doctor Q Administrator

    Doctor Q

    Staff Member

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    Los Angeles
    #1
    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.
     
  2. jav6454 macrumors P6

    jav6454

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    1 Geostationary Tower Plaza
    #2
    Pretty soon we will need to have posts set up in MLA or APA format to continue to debate in a civil fashion.
     
  3. Hellhammer Moderator

    Hellhammer

    Staff Member

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    Dec 10, 2008
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    Finland
    #3
    Finally a rule for sources! I'm too tired to debate against people who cannot provide any backup for their statements while I always try to base my posts on facts that I can backup with sources.

    Good job Doc Q and others, maybe this will calm this place down a bit at least
     
  4. Maxiseller macrumors 6502a

    Maxiseller

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    Jan 11, 2005
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    Little grey, chilly island.
    #4
    Or, in my case, stop people posting for fear of having their posts removed. The whole idea of a debate is having an opinion; not necessarily having to substantiate it.
     
  5. QuarterSwede macrumors G3

    QuarterSwede

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    Oct 1, 2005
    Location:
    Colorado Springs, CO
    #5
    Agreed. Especially when dealing with religious and political debates.

    This is exactly why I block Politics, Religion, Social Issues forums. I don't come here to get into arguments, especially ones that no one can win.
     
  6. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere

    GGJstudios

    Joined:
    May 16, 2008
    #6
    I completely agree! This has been needed for a while, since there have been so many misleading statements being posted.
    I rarely, if ever, even look at PRSI threads. Like you said, it's a lose-lose scenario.
     
  7. r.j.s Moderator emeritus

    r.j.s

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2007
    Location:
    Texas
    #7
    There is still nothing wrong with posting an opinion.

    However, members who post an opinion as fact, or repeatedly post the same thing, without adding anything new to further discussion, are going to have to adjust to the new rules.
     
  8. dukebound85 macrumors P6

    dukebound85

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    Jul 17, 2005
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    5045 feet above sea level
    #8
    I am not sure I like these changes for a few reasons
    1) Those who troll or insult can be reported via PM
    2) Opinions should be able to be stated in an argument and not need to be backed up by sources. Sources are nice, but requiring them? These are discussion threads on topics on the internet, not an official venue of anything

    My suggestions would be to simply
    1) report trolling/namecalling posts
    2) request that if a point is brought up and taken hold of, that the person who brought up the point provide evidence or stop pressing the point....but not necessarily require sources right off

    I know that many post as the topic interests them and want to discuss it but do not have in many cases the time to go dig up articles.

    I don't feel that MR needs to take an active role in debate threads in terms of moderation aside from what has been done (not tolerating spam, name calling, trolling, etc). I feel debate threads should take whatever form as long as they are adhering to decency rules. I guess my point is that these forums are not akin to "debate club" and should not necessarily be treated as such. Besides, I have felt that moderation on past threads has been more than adequate in keeping the topic on topic and civil

    Just my opinion
     
  9. r.j.s Moderator emeritus

    r.j.s

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    Mar 7, 2007
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    Texas
    #9
    Sources are only required for statements of fact, or statements that are intended to be fact. Opinions are still allowed.
     
  10. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere

    GGJstudios

    Joined:
    May 16, 2008
    #10
    Did you see this?:
    What are your sources? :D
     
  11. QuarterSwede, Jan 2, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 2, 2011

    QuarterSwede macrumors G3

    QuarterSwede

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2005
    Location:
    Colorado Springs, CO
    #11
    Ahhh. Now that is an improvement.

    Copied directly from the Debate Rules page:
    Sorry for the double post. I forgot I was the last one to post.
     
  12. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere

    GGJstudios

    Joined:
    May 16, 2008
    #12
    You missed the point. It was a joke:
     
  13. Hellhammer Moderator

    Hellhammer

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2008
    Location:
    Finland
    #13
    One thing people still often forget is to clearly separate what is their opinion and what is their statement based on facts. At least I face it sometimes that people first talk about facts and then add their opinion without adding any sign of it being just their opinion (like IMO, just my two cents etc).

    On great example is from 2010 MBA speculation when some folks typed in caps lock and then few posts after told that it was just their opinion. Errr...you don't have to post your opinions in caps lock, do you? It also lacked a sign of it being just an opinion. Things like these start flame wars, stating your opinion as a fact. If you simply say it's your opinion, then all people can do is disagree. We are all entitled to have our own opinion.

    IMO, it might be worth it to add a line to state that when in debate, it is advisable to clearly separate what is your statement based on facts/sources and what is just your own opinion. Not in every thread of course but when the threads is clearly a debate thread where facts and opinions may easily be mixed without proper notation.
     
  14. annk Administrator

    annk

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2004
    Location:
    Somewhere over the rainbow
    #14
    I'm fairly certain that one will sort itself out quickly. In addition to it being made clearer in the newly-honed rules, a member who posts something that can be interpreted as a claim of fact will likely be challenged. They will then have to say whether it was simply their opinion, or back it up with something.

    It's also possible to debate the reliability of sources, but at least then people are debating something concrete, and again it will have to come down to "I don't feel that source is trustworthy" (opinion), or "here's a study that refutes that claim" (debating the source's reliability on the basis of another source).

    The whole point is to make the rules clearer, both for those debating and for those moderating. The problem up to now has been how to moderate problems we can see, but for which the framework as stated wasn't clear enough for us.
     

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