Sciforums site rules

Discussion in 'Site Feedback' started by James R, Oct 24, 2014.

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  1. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

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    Sciforums - Rules, posting guidelines and advice to members (summary)

    Sciforums is an intelligent community that encourages learning and thoughtful discussion. We expect and welcome contributions that inform as well as stimulate discussion and debate. At its foundation, sciforums focused on discussion of Science. As the forum developed, our interests broadened to include Philosophy and Ethics, Religion, World Events and Politics and other topics. However, we retain in all areas of debate an ethos of respect for the scientific method, which demands critical analysis, clear thinking and evidence-based argument. Vigorous debate is expected, but we expect all participants to treat each other with courtesy and basic good manners, and to abide by reasonable standards of intellectual integrity and honesty.

    Contributions to sciforums inevitably reflect the personal views of the members. As a result, from time to time, one side of any given debate may be over-represented. Readers should not conclude that we therefore endorse one side over the other. While we welcome contributions that reflect the diverse range of perspectives and experiences of our members, we do not believe in an unlimited right to free speech. Rather, we seek to provide a welcoming environment conducive to the critical examination of topics of discussion.

    This post is a summary of the most important rules and posting guidelines that we expect members to follow. For much more complete information, refer to the long-form rules in the following posts.

    Posting and moderation
    Posting on sciforums is a privilege, not a right. All material published on sciforums is at the discretion of the moderator team. Moderation may include editing, moving or deletion of posts or threads. Moderator actions are usually documented in some way, though members may not be contacted personally. The forum rules and guidelines are enforced at the discretion of the moderators. Sciforums is moderated bearing in mind the stated aims and ethos of the forum; we will not be bound by the letter of the rules as written, but by the spirit of the rules.

    When posting:
    • Start new threads in the appropriate subforum.
    • Do not cross-post.
    • Post on-topic. Avoid going off on a tangent - if you have to, start a new thread.
    • Post personal information at your own risk.
    • Be aware that you may be held legally liable for material you post.
    • Be aware that your posts may remain on sciforums for years to come.
    • Post clearly and coherently.
    • Support your arguments with evidence.
    • Extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence.
    • Avoid logical fallacies.
    • Do not breach copyright laws.
    • Do not post private messages to the public forums.
    • Do not expect members to do your homework for you.
    Feedback and complaints
    • Post general feedback in the Site Feedback subforum.
    • Post matters of general interest regarding site policies and moderation in the Open Government subforum.
    • Complaints about individual moderators should be directed to administrators using Personal Messaging. Do not post them in the public forums.
    • To report breaches of the site rules, use the 'report' button on offending posts.
    Netiquette
    • Abide by basic standards of good manners and courtesy. Remember the human who is reading your post.
    • Do not insult or harass other members.
    • Avoid engaging with members with whom you have a personality clash.
    • Beware of the potential for discussions to become heated - particularly religious and political discussions.
    • Do not flame other members.
    • Do not engage in ad hominem attacks (i.e. attack the argument, not the person).
    • Avoid straw-man arguments.
    Behaviour that may get you banned
    • Personal attacks on another member, including name-calling.
    • Threats.
    • Stalking.
    • Flaming.
    • Hate speech.
    • Posting another member's private information without explicit consent.
    • Posting gratuitous comments or images of an obscene, sexual, violent or graphic nature.
    • Excessive profanity.
    • Repeated off-topic posting.
    • Plagiarism.
    • Knowingly posting false or misleading information.
    • Spamming or advertising.
    • Posting on behalf of a banned member.
    • Trolling.
    • Repetitive or vexatious posting.
    • Interfering with moderation.
    • Propaganda, preaching, proselytising or evangelising.
    • Being a repeat-offending drain on moderator time and effort.
     
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  3. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    Messages:
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    Sciforums - Rules, posting guidelines and advice to members

    Sciforums is an intelligent community that encourages learning and thoughtful discussion. We expect and welcome contributions that inform as well as stimulate discussion and debate. At its foundation, sciforums focused on discussion of Science. As the forum developed, our interests broadened to include Philosophy and Ethics, Religion, World Events and Politics and other topics. However, we retain in all areas of debate an ethos of respect for the scientific method, which demands critical analysis, clear thinking and evidence-based argument. Vigorous debate is expected, but we expect all participants to treat each other with courtesy and basic good manners, and to abide by reasonable standards of intellectual integrity and honesty.

    Contributions to sciforums inevitably reflect the personal views of the members. As a result, from time to time, one side of any given debate may be over-represented. Readers should not conclude that we therefore endorse one side over the other. While we welcome contributions that reflect the diverse range of perspectives and experiences of our members, we do not believe in an unlimited right to free speech. Rather, we seek to provide a welcoming environment conducive to the critical examination of topics of discussion.

    A. Registration
    Signing up

    A1. If you have problems signing up to sciforums, make sure that you have Javascript enabled on your browser. Sciforums uses a simple form of spam protection; if Javascript is not enabled you will never receive an authentication email.

    Limitations on new members
    A2. New members see advertisements until they have 20 posts. Private messaging and the ability to post links are also restricted. If you wish to post a link before you have 20 posts, please ask a moderator to do it for you. Do not go on a posting spree to get to 20 posts, as we will consider this to be spam and you will be banned.

    User names, titles and avatars
    A3. Sciforums may terminate the registration of members whose login names, user titles or avatars are considered inappropriate. Grounds for refusal may include offensive content, obscenity, abuse, defamatory content, incitement, copyright infringement, brand names or registered trademarks, using the name or image of a high-profile or public figure, and names, titles or avatars that seek primarily to make a political, religious or other social statement and which are judged likely to offend.

    Sock puppets
    A4. We have a ‘no sock puppets’ policy, which means one screen name per member. Members found to be using two or more names may be banned.

    A5. Banned members who register under a different name will have all identities permanently banned upon discovery. This may result in a temporary ban becoming permanent.

    B. Passwords and security, privacy
    B1. Members are responsible for maintaining the confidentiality of their passwords. As such, members will be held responsible for all material posted using their accounts. If you become aware of any unauthorised use of your account, you should immediately inform an administrator or moderator.

    B2. Sciforums keeps a record of the IP addresses and email addresses of members. We will not disclose these to third parties except with the express permission of the member in question, or as required by law. Similarly, we will not make public private messages sent by members. Moderators cannot read the private messages of members.

    C. Closure of account
    C1. If you wish to cease posting on sciforums, the best way to do that is simply to stop posting. This leaves you the option of returning at some future time.

    C2. We will permanently ban your account if you send a request to an administrator. However, your contributions to sciforums will normally remain available to readers after your account has been terminated. We will not, except under exceptional circumstances, delete all of your posts.

    D. Moderation and Penalties
    D1. Posting on sciforums is a privilege, not a right. All material published on sciforums is at the discretion of the moderator team.

    D2. Any post may become the subject of moderator or administrator action in accordance with these rules and guidelines. Moderation may include editing, moving or deletion of posts or threads. Members are not always contacted personally when their posts are moderated, but moderators ordinarily document their actions in some way that informs the members affected (e.g. by posting a note in the relevant thread). Moderation that leads to an official warning or ban is always accompanied by a personal message to the member concerned.

    D3. These rules and guidelines are enforced at the discretion of the moderators. Moderators may judge in any particular instance that in all the circumstances no action is required. Sciforums is moderated bearing in mind the stated aims and ethos of the forum; we will not be bound by the letter of these rules as written, but by the spirit of the rules.

    E. Posting guidelines
    Threads and posts

    E1. New threads should be posted to the appropriate forum. Thread titles should be meaningful to other users, both now and in the future. Avoid non-specific titles such as ‘Need help’ or ‘Computer problem’ or ‘Theory of relativity’ or ‘Atheism’. If you’re asking a question, provide enough information so that members can help you.

    E2. Do not cross-post (i.e. post the same topic to several different subforums). Duplicate threads will be deleted or merged.

    E3. Posts to a thread should relate to the topic of the thread. While we accept that discussions often evolve over time, it is usually preferable to discuss tangential matters in a separate thread (a link can be included in the original thread).

    E4. Refrain from posting several consecutive posts in a row as this disturbs the readable flow of a thread. If nobody has replied to your first post, edit it instead of posting another post.

    Off-topic posts
    E5. Posts that tend to disrupt on-topic discussion may be deleted or moved to a separate thread.

    Links and images
    E6. Sciforums publishes links to external sites at its sole discretion. We reserve the right to remove links without notice.

    E7. Sciforums is not responsible for and does not endorse the content on external sites.

    E8. When linking to other sites, include a description and/or meaningful link text – not just ‘Link’ or ‘Click here’.

    E9. Images that some readers might reasonably find confronting or disturbing should be posted as URL links rather than as images embedded in a post. In such cases, a clear warning should be posted along with the image, including a brief description of the content.

    Advice about content
    E10. Post personal information at your own risk. You are strongly advised not to post information such as your phone number, street address or email address on the public forums. Similar care should be taken in identifying your employer, and even your location. Sciforums takes no responsibility for the consequences of your choosing to reveal your personal information.

    E11. Be aware that you may be held legally responsible for any content you submit to sciforums. In particular, beware of posting about your own lawbreaking activities (e.g. consumption of illegal drugs, commission of crimes, illegal downloading).

    E12. Be aware that your posts may remain on sciforums for many years. Future readers may include employers, friends, family, journalists and others.

    E13. Appropriate supporting evidence or explanations should be posted together with any opinion, especially on contentious issues. Sciforums is not your personal blog, and should not be used to promote your unsupported opinions.

    E14. Post coherently. The aim of writing anything is to communicate something to somebody else. Make your posts readable – use paragraphs, punctuation, correct capitalisation and correct spelling. Make your point clearly and succinctly.

    E15. Extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence. If you’re claiming that Einstein was wrong, or that evolution does not occur, or that aliens are visiting Earth, be prepared to provide strong evidence in defence of your argument. If you only have an opinion, avoid posting on topics such as these.

    E16. Avoid using logical fallacies in arguments.

    E17. Financial, legal and medical advice is best provided by qualified professionals. We welcome discussion of financial, legal and health issues but we reserve the right to remove posts that may put readers at risk. Members should be aware that, in general, it is impossible to verify the qualifications of any member providing advice.
     
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  5. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

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    F. Copyright
    F1. Material published online is protected by the same laws that apply to books, videos and music.

    F2. The copyright in a member’s posts remains with the original author. By posting to sciforums, you give us permission to publish your posts anywhere on the site.

    F3. It is illegal to copy or republish material from sciforums (or elsewhere on the internet) without the express permission of the copyright owner.

    F4. Under the laws of many countries, limited quotation of material is permissible in the context of comment, review and/or criticism. This does not in general permit the reproduction in full of complete works (e.g. song lyrics or news articles).

    F5. Where you reproduce part of a work in a post, you must include a link to the original source, along with appropriate acknowledgement – at a minimum the author’s name and the name of the original publishing source, but consider also supplying the original date of publication and other relevant information (e.g. ‘US shares fall further’ by A.Writer, New York Times, 11 September 2015.)

    G. Feedback and Complaints
    G1. Members are encouraged to post general feedback regarding sciforums in the Site Feedback subforum. Matters of general interest regarding site policies and moderation (but not about individual moderators) should be posted to the Open Government subforum.

    G2. Specific complaints concerning the moderation of individual posts should in the first instance be directed by Personal Messaging to the moderator of the subforum in question. If that does not resolve the issue, send a personal message to a supermoderator or administrator.

    G3. Complaints about individual moderators should be directed to the administrators by Personal Messaging.

    H. Netiquette
    Civility

    H1. Members should abide by basic standards of good manners and courtesy when addressing other members. If another member insults you, do not return fire; report the offending post.

    H2. Do not use ALL CAPS in posts – this is SHOUTING. Similarly, use of oversized or coloured text to emphasise your posts will be frowned upon. You are encouraged to use italic and bold text for emphasis (but not for entire posts).

    H3. If you post a thread, expect people to reply to it. Bear in mind that the thread is on a public forum and all members are free to contribute to it; you may not place restrictions on who may respond. (The only exception to this is threads in the Formal Debates subforum, which has its own rules.)

    Referring to other members
    H4. Refer to other members by their chosen screen names. The deliberate alteration of a member’s name to insult or demean him or her is unacceptable.

    H5. Comments about other forum members that are derogatory, overtly sexual or which constitute harassment are unacceptable.

    Interpersonal arguments
    H6. Personality clashes between members occasionally occur and are unavoidable. It is the responsibility of the members involved to manage their differences in a civil manner. Often, the simplest way to do that is to avoid engaging in discussions with the person concerned.

    H7. Sciforums specifically invites discussion of religion, politics and (to some extent) sex. Members should be aware of the potential for these topics, in particular, to become inflammatory and combative. Engage in such discussions with care!

    H8. Do not engage in flame wars with other members. The argument that ‘He insulted me first’ is unlikely to help you when a moderator steps in.

    Replying to posts
    H9. Provide context in your replies. If you’re responding to a particular individual’s post, quote enough of the previous post to put your reply in context – but don’t overquote (e.g. quote an entire lengthy post only to add a one-line comment at the bottom). If you’re replying to a specific person, make sure you make that clear in your reply, in order to avoid possible misunderstandings.

    H10. Attack the argument, not the person. Avoid phrases such as ‘Only an idiot would say that’, which is equivalent to the personal insult ‘You are an idiot’. If you disagree with a position, explain why clearly and politely, and don’t forget to provide suitable evidence in support of your own position.

    H11. Do not set up straw men. A straw man is an easy-to-knock-down version of an argument that is similar to but not the same as the one actually made by the member you’re replying to. Address the arguments that have actually been made, not easy versions that you invent yourself and find much simpler to dismiss. Erecting straw men will damage your credibility and will not help your argument.

    H12. If you ask another member for evidence, be prepared to read the information that he or she provides for you. Don’t claim that evidence has not been provided just because you didn’t take the effort to read it.

    H13. It is not expected that all follows of a particular belief system will be friendly and receptive to contrary beliefs. However, there is no excuse for the general disparaging of those who subscribe to a belief system that you personally find unpalatable or offensive.

    Privacy
    H14. Private messages, whether from other members or from moderators, are private and should not be posted to the public forums without the express permission of the authors.

    H15. Private conversations should be conducted via private messaging rather than in the public threads.

    Homework
    H16. Do not expect sciforums members to do your homework for you. Do not ask for help with homework-style questions or essays without first showing that you have put some time and effort into the work yourself.
     
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  7. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

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    I. Unacceptable behaviour that may result in a temporary or permanent ban
    Reporting rule violations

    I1. If you wish to report a violation of the forum rules, please use the ‘report’ button on the offending post. This will alert sciforums moderators to the issue.

    Personal attacks, threats and stalking
    I2. A personal attack on another member usually involves the word ‘you’, express or implied by context, combined with a negative comment. Attacks on another member (known as ad hominem attacks), as opposed to criticisms of his or her arguments, are not tolerated. Childish name-calling, such as referring to a member as a ‘moron’, ‘twit’, or ‘idiot’, is one obvious example of a personal attack.

    I3. Any member who threatens another member of sciforums will under most circumstances be banned from sciforums.

    I4. Stalking behaviour, in which a member makes a point of posting contrary comments in many threads started by a particular member, will be treated as harassment and is likely to lead to a ban.

    Flame wars
    I5. A flame war occurs when an online argument becomes hostile, nasty or derisive, in such a way that insulting a party to the discussion takes precedence over discussing the ostensible topic. Flaming can develop from heated discussion of real issues, particularly in politics, religion, sport or philosophy, or it can be provoked by personal differences that may seem trivial to observers.

    A flame war usually develops between two parties, but can eventually draw in many participants. Resolution is often difficult since it can be hard to determine who was responsible for the degradation of a civil discussion into a flame war. Ongoing flaming can constitute harassment of one member by another.

    Flaming of other members is unacceptable. If you are being flamed by another member, hit the ‘report’ button on the offending post(s); do not return fire.

    Hate speech and stereotyping
    I6. Hate speech, defined as the vilification of groups of people based on their race, religion, country of origin, sex, sexual orientation, political affiliation etc. is not tolerated on sciforums.

    I7. Stereotyping a member based on his or her membership of a group (e.g. his or her race, religion, country of origin, sex, sexual orientation, political affiliation) is unlikely to be conducive to civil discussion and will usually attract moderator attention. It is acceptable to point out similarities and differences among groups, but only as long as this is supported by argument or evidence.

    I8. The use of vulgar or demeaning words to describe a group of people – particularly a group that includes a member whom you are addressing – is unacceptable.

    Defamation
    I9. Posts tending to defame a person (i.e. to affect his or her good reputation) are, in general, unacceptable. However, a person is not defamed when his or her own published opinions are used to draw reasonable, supported conclusions. Nor is he defamed if he is not in some way identifiable. True information about a person is not defamatory.

    Invasion of privacy
    I10. Posting of private information of other members without their explicit permission is unacceptable. This includes real names, email addresses, location information and private communications from the member in question.

    Gratuitous posts of an obscene, sexual, violent or graphic nature
    I11. Gratuitous comments and/or images of an obscene, sexual, violent or graphic nature will, in most case, be deleted.

    Profanity
    I12. Cursing is tolerated, but excessive use of vulgar language will attract moderator attention.

    Off-topic
    I13. Repeated off-topic posting designed to interrupt the flow of a thread or to divert attention away from the topic is unacceptable. This includes jokes and inane comments.

    Plagiarism and copying
    I14. Plagiarism – the copying of another person’s writings and passing them off as your own – is a breach of copyright, as well as being intellectually dishonest. If you post something that somebody else wrote, you must name the author and appropriately reference the source (e.g. with a link). Posts that include material from elsewhere that is not properly acknowledged will be deleted.

    Knowingly posting false or misleading information
    I15. The intentional posting of false or misleading information is unacceptable. This includes posting half-truths, i.e. leaving out relevant and known information to give a false impression.

    Spam
    I16. Advertising and spam is not permitted on sciforums. Examples include: posting solely in order to link to an external site, placing contact information for yourself or a site (links or email addresses) at the bottom of posts, off-topic posts mentioning or directing readers to an external service, opening posts that say only ‘Have you heard about/read/seen site X? (Link)’. Spammers are invariably quickly discovered and permanently banned from sciforums. Posting sprees aimed solely at increasing a member’s post count (particularly for new members to be able to post links) are considered spam.

    Posting on behalf of a banned member
    I17. If you make posts on behalf of a banned member, those posts will be deleted and you will also be banned.
     
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  8. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

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    Trolling
    I18. Trolling is the posting of inflammatory posts with the primary intent of provoking readers into an emotional (often angry) response. Trolls aim to disrupt normal on-topic discussion, often by raising tangential or irrelevant hot-button issues. Trolling posts are intended to incite controversy or conflict and/or to cause annoyance or offence.

    Trolls are damaging to online communities because they attempt to pass as legitimate participants in discussions while actually seeking to disrupt normal conversation and debate. If permitted to remain, trolls tend to reduce the level of trust among members in an online community. One consequence may be that truly naive posts are rejected by sensitised members as just more examples of trolling.

    Trolls tend to follow certain patterns of behaviour that may include:
    • Posting of similar responses and topics repeatedly.
    • Avoiding giving answers to direct questions put to them.
    • Never attempting to justify their position.
    • Demanding evidence from others while offering none in return.
    • Vanishing when their bluff is called, only to reappear in a different thread arguing the same point.
    • Deliberately derailing discussions onto tangential matters in order to try to control the flow of discussion.
    Trolls are not tolerated on sciforums.

    Warning: do not feed the trolls! Do not reply to inflammatory posts or threads and do not reply to insults. Hit the ‘report’ button on the relevant post(s) and let the moderators deal with the matter.

    I19. Repetitive or vexatious posting is considered trolling. Sciforums reserves the right to reject contributions that have been widely canvassed in the forum and to reject contributions from participants who seek to dominate the discussion.

    Interfering with moderation
    I20. Interfering with moderation will result in an immediate ban from sciforums. Examples: re-editing or deleting a post that has been edited by a moderator or which has otherwise been the subject of moderator action; reposting a post that has been deleted by a moderator.

    Propaganda, preaching, proselytising and evangelising
    I21. Propaganda is loosely defined here as posts that have no aim other than to proclaim the superiority of one belief over another, particularly where the belief in question is the subject of controversy or argument. Examples include preaching one’s own religion as the only true religion, proclaiming that one’s favoured political party is superior to the opposing party, or proclaiming that one group is morally superior to another. The signature of propaganda is that it consists largely of a member expressing strongly held personal beliefs about things that can’t be proven, supposedly in the interests of achieving some important aim (e.g. world peace, governing the nation effectively, ensuring that people act morally).

    I22. Propaganda wars are similar to flame wars, except in that they ostensibly involve argument about a topic. They are typically characterised by zealots on both sides of the argument who have no intention of listening to the opposing point of view, let alone possibly changing their minds. The result is invariably that members become frustrated and spin-off complaints to the moderators become rife.

    I23. Propaganda can include material copied verbatim from other websites, books or articles, that demonstrates a clear bias for or against a particular belief. It does not include article which examine an issue objectively and rationally, looking at both sides of an argument.

    I24. Preaching is giving a sermon, often but not always of a religious nature, stating how people should or should not act, as if the sermon itself were self-evidently true.

    I25. Proselytising is attempting to convert others to one’s own beliefs, often with threats of adverse consequences if one refuses to convert.

    I26. Evangelising is where the poster’s main aim is to spread the word about his or her beliefs, without being interested in real discussion or critical analysis.

    I27. The moderator team takes a dim view of propaganda, preaching, proselytising and evangelising. Engaging in these activities is not guaranteed to get you banned, but you do so at your own risk.

    I28. The quoting of religious texts as unquestionable authorities to support an argument will in general be regarded as preaching, particularly if the discussion is not about how a religious group interprets the text in question. Quotes of large sections of a religious text will be removed as a matter of course; such texts are available elsewhere online and can easily be linked if appropriate.

    Repeat offenders
    I29. The moderator team have limited time and resources. We reserve the right to ban members who require continual policing by the moderators, those who contribute little useful content, and those who spend their time on the forum criticising it or its leadership. We similarly reserve the right to complain to a member’s ISP and/or to take legal action against a vexatious member.
     
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2016
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