Rule #3, in our ongoing discussion about rules.

The Rule:


   3. Harassing other members of the site may result in a ban.
Harassment includes (but is not necessarily limited to) the following:

   1. Ad hominem attacks and name calling.
   2. Blatantly bigoted or derogatory statements or remarks about
someone’s race, gender, or sexual orientation.
   3. Posting any contents of private conversations without the
expressed consent of all people involved.
   4. Disclosing private information about a fellow member without
their expressed consent.
   5. Posting inappropriate or private pictures of fellow members
without their expressed consent.
   6. Making negative threads targeting fellow members.



The Reason:
Nobody likes being harassed, we'd like everyone to have a fair shot at
getting along on Atheist Nexus and nobody should be subjected to an
undue amount of hassle. We'll go over this one slowly as it is a
matter of contention among members.

First, note that harassment is going to be one of those issues in
which the mod is going to have to make a decision based on what they
can see is happening using their judgment. It is another instance
where "good faith" and "Intent" will be leaned upon. The body of the
rule even mentions that items in the list of "things that are
harassment" are not the only ways to harass people.


a. Ad hominem attacks and name calling.
The long and the short of it is this: if people avoid calling others
names, they'll never get in trouble for calling others names.
Attacking people's character in order to discredit their ideas falls
under the same heading. If one takes exception to a person's ideas,
they should attempt to discredit those ideas in a civil manner. If
that person is acting foolish, their actions will speak for
themselves. Opinions about their IQ, the likely chemical composition
of their brain, the legitimacy of their parentage and other such
things are immaterial to discourse and hurtful.


b. Blatantly bigoted or derogatory statements or remarks about
someone’s race, gender, disability, age or sexual orientation.
Keep it to yourself. The freedom to talk down to other races, genders, disabilities, ages
and/or sexual orientations, can be found plenty of other places on the
internet. This isn't one of them.


c. Posting any contents of private conversations without the expressed
consent of all people involved.
Things written in private should stay private. The exception to this
is if someone is making a report of another member harassing them in
public, in which case it is acceptable to forward messages on to the
moderation staff. It is never appropriate to publicly post the
contents of a private message without the senders permission.


d. Disclosing private information about a fellow member without their
expressed consent.
This rule is meant to protect people from being harassed via other
mediums or in their-day-to-day lives. Giving away another user's e-
mail address, phone number, home address, place of work or even real
name can be potentially harmful to that person, especially considering
the nature of this website and the prevailing attitudes toward
atheists and non-believers in most places around the world.


e. Posting inappropriate or private pictures of fellow members without
their expressed consent.
What is going to be inappropriate or private is sort of going to be up
to the person who's pictures is being posted. The onus is on each of
us to obtain permission before posting pictures of other members. 



f. Making negative threads targeting fellow members.
There is a fine line between targeting a person and targeting an idea
which has been associated with a person with such vitriol or passive
aggression that it becomes indistinguishable from a personal attack.
We'd like the free flow of ideas to remain free, and clamping down on
what people can and can't say is always a dangerous game--a game we'd
rather not have to play at all. However, our lack of action on matters
of harassment because of our respect for the freedom of speech is
causing a lot of problems.

On the one hand, as atheists, we have a great appreciation for ideas.
On the other hand, we typically expect those ideas to be based on
sound evidence and thinking. It's not wrong to challenge someone's
idea and it is not against the rules to upset someone. It is against
the rules to harangue them. Sometimes, people are wrong. Often times,
their minds can't be changed through argument. If it is evident that
no one is going to change their mind, continuing to attempt to
convince them or knock down an idea that has presumably already been
knocked down is accomplishing nothing. People are not obliged to
defend their ideas if they don't want to. They are also not obliged to
be right, nor are they obliged to acknowledge when other people are
right. These are all lovely, polite things, but they are not
obligations. Nobody has the right to persistently attempt to force
another person into a conversation they don't want to have.

By the same token, if a member takes exception to another person's
views and brings evidence and rational discourse to the table--that is
not harassment. Hounding people is. The difference will be up to the
moderators to decide. Their decisions need to be respected. 


The Action:
If it is determined that a member is harassing another member,
depending on the severity, they will usually receive a warning to
stop. After that, they may be banned. There will no longer be a chain
of warnings because a particular offender has decided to simply switch
targets. People who chronically hassle other members will be banned.
The culture of mean-spirited confrontation is getting stale and--as it
has manufactured nothing of value--it's going to stop.

It is my hope the the dialogue here will become more dialectic and a
little less argumentative.




Views: 231

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Replies to This Discussion

So the reason we are able to insult others is because they don't and can't become members of the community?

Sort of, yes. To use an analogy, should coworkers be allowed to go to a bar after work and vent about their unfair, unqualified boss?

A/N is designed as a specifically theist-free zone. The fact that we live in a world where atheism at best can often jeopardize your job and cut you off from family and at worst puts your life in danger, to me, warrants a theist-free zone where we can openly complain about that. We live in a world where Creationism gets treated as just as likely an explanation as Evolution. That to me warrants a Creationist-free zone where we can openly complain about that.

Much like the need to vent about an unfair or unqualified boss.

There are plenty of other places on the 'Net where we have to walk on eggshells around Theists. I think it's quite possible to say "Theism is fair game, but let's all try and be civil to each other."

On dogma in general, like you said, "One man's dogma is another person's common sense."
Ah, so when you write that this "warrants a Creationist-free zone where we can openly complain about that," you are really saying that you want a place where you can openly whine about how unfair and unjust the world has been to you. Don't be surprised if someone comes along and says, "Put a sock in it." All you are doing is giving justification for the culture of whining, especially considering what Felch writes about said culture. No wonder there is whining. According to your hypothesis, the whole site is predicated on whining.

As for your statement "Theism is fair game, but let's all try to be civil," that is even more insidious. I will give you an example from contemporary life in America. I am a socialist. I make no qualms about it. As such, I think that Obama is very disappointing as President. And yet, you don't see me hanging around Tea Parties because they also see Obama as disappointing as President. A common distaste for something does not mean common ground with other people who express distaste for it.

Your tactic is actually worthy of Fox News. If I was polled, I'd say I am opposed to health care as it was passed. Fox News would list me as opposed to health care. It would lump me with the neo-fascists. In fact, I am opposed to health care because I believe in free universal health care, which is about as different from the kooks on the right as possible. Similarly, I do not believe in God. At the same time and for the same reasons, I do not believe in stupidity masquerading as scholarship--a common problem on this site. I am opposed to people in general who pick a belief and then go out to bend the facts to prove it, whether it is Creationism or any other pseudo-historical effort. Both are equally disturbing.

As for my thoughts on dogma, perhaps the intended irony went over your head. I will try to be more clear: "One man's dogma is this man's stupidity."
I agree with both of your assessments.
@Al: I understand your point, and I think it is clearly where we disagree.

I personally try to refrain from calling theists idiots. In fact, I have gotten a lot of crap because of it. However, we are a community of nontheists (a word you don't like us using I know). At the very least, we have to be decent with each other.

Also, I think you hit part of our problems perfectly. You said, "One man's dogma is this man's stupidity." Dogma is a belief or doctrine based on faith and religion that cannot be doubted. Your example of socialism and its detractors is not (hopefully) based on dogma but opinions based on issues and facts. I personally can respectively disagree with people who have different opinions and views than me. Debate might get heated, but I would be wrong to call someone stupid who disagrees with me.
@BR: All I can say is that I like to think that my opinion on socialism is based on issues and facts. Inevitably, it is a source of debate, especially since one of my closest friends, who I hung out with last night, is a devout libertarian. Differences of opinion, no matter how sharp, need not draw a wedge between people. I think we're on the same page.

On the other hand, there is a difference between divergent opinions and dogma, and I do not believe all opinions deserve respect. In fact, I sometimes think that claiming all opinions deserve respect is little more than a platitude. For the sake of brevity (I know I can get long-winded), I just erased a paragraph explaining why.

I will say though that it depends why that person disagrees with you as to whether it is justifiable to call them stupid. If they, for instance, repeatedly misrepresent what you say, there are only two options--either they are acting maliciously or stupidly.
@AL: I agree entirely.
--- Al-KADIM - Ah, so when you write that this "warrants a Creationist-free zone where we can openly complain about that," you are really saying that you want a place where you can openly whine about how unfair and unjust the world has been to you.

No, not me specifically. All Atheists. My personal experience on the unfair/unjust Theism scale is actually pretty low. I meant "venting/complaining" in terms of airing grievances about Theism and hopefully in addition to that, finding constructive ways to deal with the Theistic world. But in a blunt way, "whining" is covered by that set as well.

Once again however, I'm seeing the bigger problem here. I say X. You respond with "What you are really saying is Y and Z..." and hit the gas pedal into an entire speech built on that assumption.

--- According to your hypothesis, the whole site is predicated on whining.

No. I made no hypothesis on the core predication of the site. I responded to your concern that because a group is not allowed here, it is 'ok' to insult members of that group.

If I give you my take on an element of X (venting about Theism as a benefit to being a Theist-free site), do not presume I am equating that element as representing the whole of X (A/N as a Theist-free site).

--- As for your statement "Theism is fair game, but let's all try to be civil," that is even more insidious. ... A common distaste for something does not mean common ground with other people who express distaste for it.

Are you saying that people who share common ground on A, but not on B, can't or shouldn't be civil to each other? I genuinely ask because I otherwise genuinely don't get the point you're trying to make about my statement.

--- Your tactic is actually worthy of Fox News. If I was polled, I'd say I am opposed to health care as it was passed. Fox News would list me as opposed to health care.

I am even more lost on the connection between that and the rest of the paragraph.

The comparison between me and Fox News sounds to me like, "If I give you my take on an element of X (health care *as passed*), do not presume I am equating that element as representing the whole of X (health care)." Am I understanding that analogy right?

I do not believe in stupidity masquerading as scholarship

Neither do I. Unfortunately, one person's stupidity is another person's scholarship and vice-versa.

And I'm not sure whether you're arguing for doing away with the Theist-free rule or adding additional restrictions. If it's the latter, then perhaps you might suggest a list of topics to the moderators that should not allowed to be debated. Or, start a group, E.g.; "Believers in X" where people who don't believe in X are not allowed.
No, I am simply suggesting that when you have a culture predicated on insulting "the other"/"the outsider," don't be surprised when you get insulted too.

And no, I disagree with your assertion that one person's scholarship is another person's stupidity and vice versa. If that were true, we would be have no choice but to give Ray Comfort the respect afforded to a scholar. There is such a thing as bad science, whether physical or social.
And no, I disagree with your assertion that one person's scholarship is another person's stupidity and vice versa. If that were true, we would be have no choice but to give Ray Comfort the respect afforded to a scholar.

Making that statement - scholarship vs. stupidity - does not mean we *have* to give extremists like Ray Comfort scholarly respect. It does mean that in the extreme, all scholarship, with the exception of math and existence of oneself (thank you Descartes) is technically, mathematically, subjective.

Trying to find a neutral example that I don't know your opinion on; Shiatsu Massage.

Say that phrase on this site and some will instantly cry woo, dogma. Others will cite doctors and scientific articles on the benefits of massage. The first group can say "I reject your doctors and articles as crap." The other group says "I reject your crap as crap."

Point is, there are some topics, shiatsu being just one example, where some feel it's an issue of scholarship while others feel it is purely dogma. Who breaks the tie? Do we ask the mods come in and either declare Shiatsu dogma or scholarship and it shall be explored no further?

Point is, some scholarship-vs-dogmas the community will almost universally agree upon. Some we won't.
Homeopathy. Pure crank science.

Fomenko's chronology. Pure crank history.

De Vere's authorship of Shakespeare. Pure crank literary studies.

Perpetual motion machines. Pure crank engineering.

Vaccine-autism link. Pure crank medicine, which has caused me to come closest to reconsidering my opposition to the death penalty.

The proponents of all of these have produced voluminous amounts of work with citations defending their pet theories. They are all idiots, except for proponents of the link between vaccines and autism, who are murderers.

They are all deserving of our ridicule.
It's true that "one person's scholarship is another person's stupidity and vice versa", except that in such cases, one or both sides are wrong. That is, The Discovery Institute thinks evolution is crap and evolution scientists think Intelligent Design is crap, but only one group's opinion is actually correct. If homeopathy supporters argue with chiropractors about which "treatment" is superior, they are both wrong.

To assert that all scholarship is subjective smacks of postmodernism and seems on the face of it to be a rejection of the validity of the scientific method.

Having said that, asking the mods to arbitrate may not always be easy, and is probably impossible to do completely. Though Al-KADIM's list is a good start. There are some things we actually do know to be crap. We could at least not tolerate those.
I see Rule #3 as going along with the section of Rule #2 stating:

"Conversely, if a person stalks another user with a creepy sort of intensity
and the mod gets the feeling that something not-right is happening--if
that mod becomes convinced, it is his or her duty to act on that
conviction."

As of today, AN claims 18,762 members; but, how many of those members spend much time on the site? When a few members are consistently name calling and harassing other members "with a creepy sort of intensity" people stop visiting the site. AN becomes a tiny club of the worste stereotype of atheists when those few members are allowed to dominate the conversations. A club of the miserable is not a community of atheists and is counter-productive to the goals of Brother Richard in creating AN.

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