Monday, January 12, 2009

Ground Rules and Moderation Policy

PURPOSE: THE EVOLUTION LIST is a forum for the dissemination and discussion of ideas and information about the theory of evolution in all its dimensions, including its implications for philosophy, religion, and world views.

DISCLAIMER: Unless otherwise noted, all materials may be quoted or re-published in full, with attribution to the author and THE EVOLUTION LIST. The views expressed herein do not necessarily reflect those of Cornell University, its administration, faculty, students, or staff.

FORMAT: Although reading THE EVOLUTION LIST is open to everyone, commenting on posts to this blog is entirely moderated. That is, every comment will first be forwarded to the moderator, who will (after due consideration, and working within the constraints of time and work load) decide whether to allow it to be posted to the "Comments" section of the blog.

GROUND RULES: The founder/moderator of this blog is a great admirer of the traditional values of the academy: collegiality, intellectual freedom, personal responsibility, and respect for others. Therefore, commenting on the posts to this blog has several rules, which will be strictly enforced by the moderator:

Ad hominem attacks, blasphemy, profanity, rudeness, and vulgarity will not be tolerated (although heresy will always be encouraged). However, vigorous attacks against a member's position are expected and those who cannot handle such should think twice before they post a comment.

• Long-running debates that are of interest only to a small number of individuals should be taken elsewhere, preferably via private email (i.e. if the moderator gets tired of reading posts concerning the population density [N] of terpsichorean demigods inhabiting ferrous microalpine environments, the posters will be strongly encouraged to settle it outside).

• Pseudonyms are tolerated but real names are preferred. However, if the moderator suspects that someone is posting under multiple aliases or pretending to be someone else (i.e. "sock puppeting"), they will be permanently banned from the blog.

• Mutual respect and sensitivity towards those with opposing views is essential. In particular, comments containing what the moderator feels is "creation-bashing" by evolutionists or "evolution-bashing" by creationists, will not be approved for posting.

FURTHERMORE: Both statements of fact and statements of opinion are welcomed, with the following provisos:

• Statements of opinion should be clearly indicated as such (perhaps with “IMO” in parenthesis).

• Both statements of fact and statements of opinion may be challenged by anyone, so long as the challenge takes place within a reasonable length of time (and please remember, time online passes much more swiftly than time in the real world; three days is a virtual eternity).

• If a statement of fact is challenged, the person challenged should make a good faith effort to either provide supporting evidence or make a logical argument as to why such supporting evidence is unnecessary.

• No statement may be challenged or attacked by ad hominem arguments or by changing the topic of the thread (i.e. "hijacking"). In particular, anyone directly or indirectly referring to another commentator as either a "liar" or "having lied" (including semantic equivalents, such as "dissembling" or "mendacity") may result in the perpetrator of such an accusation being banned from further participation.

• Rather than accusing a commentator of lying when they have made a particular assertion, you should post a rebuttal that documents (with references and pertinent links) that there is evidence that the assertion is false and/or misleading.

• Speculation about motives, either directly or indirectly, by anyone commenting on any topic is never allowed and will not be allowed to appear in the "Comments", as this clearly constitutes hijacking the discussion by changing the topic (unless the post itself began as a discussion of motives). If you want to talk about motives, ask the moderator to start a thread to that effect (and if people can't remain civil in the comments on that post, the moderator reserves the right to delete it).

• Decisions about moderation are entirely and exclusively the prerogative of the moderator. If you don't want to abide by these rules, please don't waste my time (and yours) by attempting to post or comment here.

• Please be aware that any infraction of these rules will result in limitation or rescinding of your commenting privileges. A brief untoward statement in a long and otherwise reasonable comment fully justifies its rejection and may result in the rejection of all your future comments, reasonable or not (so keep backup copies in case you have to try again with a more civil version).

• If a post or comment has been rejected by the moderator, please don't repeatedly try to repost them. They won't ever be allowed, it wastes bandwidth and the moderator's time, and simply reinforces the decision on the part of the moderator to reject the post (and maybe ban you permanently).

• Appeals of moderation or complaints about the behavior of your fellow commentators are not appropriate on any thread and, even in cases where they are not ad hominem attacks, they still qualify as hijacking the discussion. Any such appeal or complaint should instead be emailed to the moderator, who will eventually rule one way or the other.

As always, comments, criticisms, and suggestions are warmly welcomed!


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