Discussion Guidelines

Below are the general guidelines for participating in discussions on this website. In general:

  • This is a place for thoughtful discussion.
  • Posts can use rich text, and must contribute to the topics being discussed.
  • Please be nice, if not your posts will be deleted and you’ll be banned.
  • Discussions are a space to enrich the posts and share your thoughts.

This is a Civilized Place for Public Discussion

Please treat discussions with the same respect you would a public park. Discussions on this site are a place to share knowledge and interests through ongoing conversation.

Use these guidelines to keep this a clean, well-lighted place for civilized public discourse.

Discussion Not Comments

The discussion sections on this website are just that: a place for discussions. The intention is that whatever you post here shouldn’t be just a drive-by comment, but should be something that is worth discussion.

As such, posts you make should be longer than 140 characters. I’m interested in fostering thoughtful discussions about the given article or topic, and I think it’s hard to do that with tweet-sized replies.

Great kinds of replies might include (but not limited to):

  • Related points the original post made you think of (related topics, articles, books, etc)
  • Counter-points (do you disagree with something in the post? explain your perspective)
  • A finer discussion about the original post (asking for clarification, perhaps)
  • Replies to other people who have participated in the discussion (for any of the same reasons as apply to the original post)

Rich Text Posting

While many popular places for discussing blog posts (like Twitter or Hacker News) allow only basic hyperlinks, this discussion system gives you a rich text post editor.

You are encouraged to use inline links, images, and lists, if they help contribute to the discussion.

Be Agreeable, Even When You Disagree

You may wish to respond to something by disagreeing with it. That’s fine. But, remember to criticize ideas, not people. Please avoid:

  • Name-calling.
  • Ad hominem attacks.
  • Responding to a post’s tone instead of its actual content.
  • Knee-jerk contradiction.

Instead, provide reasoned counter-arguments that improve the conversation.

If You See a Problem, Flag It

When you see bad behaviour, don’t reply. It encourages the bad behaviour by acknowledging it, consumes your energy, and wastes everyone’s time. Just flag it. Flagging lets me know of any troubling replies I might have missed. Please try to provide as much context for your flag as possible.

I reserve the right to remove any content and any account for any reason at any time.

Always Be Civil

Nothing sabotages a healthy conversation like rudeness:

  • Be civil. Don’t post anything that a reasonable person would consider offensive, abusive, or hate speech.
  • Keep it clean. Don’t post anything obscene or sexually explicit.
  • Respect each other. Don’t harass or grief anyone, impersonate people, or expose their private information.

These are not concrete terms with precise definitions — avoid even the appearance of any of these things. If you’re unsure, ask yourself how you would feel if your post was featured on the front page of the New York Times.

This is a public forum, and search engines index these discussions. Keep the language, links, and images safe for family and friends.

About These Guidelines

These guidelines are derived from the wonderful discourse.org guidelines.