Here is a clarification about the rules (particularly #2, #5 and #13) that I sent to a member who had concerns about why I don't censor people arguing for offensive and things we assume are incorrect but why I strictly disallow name-calling and ad hominem arguments made at those people in response. I am posting this here to help others understand the forum rules:
For example, one who is religious may get angry and offended when an atheist makes an argument in support of atheism. However, it is not against the forum rules. Indeed, on the index page of the forums, I have written, "We want these forums to be the best place on the internet for in-depth, open-minded, civil debate and discussion about even the most complex or controversial topics
These are forums for people who want to debate things and question fundamental assumptions. In large part because questioning certain things can be upsetting and conducive to negative emotions, the forum rules
clearly require that this must be done in the most polite and respectful manner without ridicule, sarcasm and snide asides. In itself, it would not be a violation of the forum rules if someone argued that Hitler was a good guy
, that genocide is morally right
and that Santa Claus is real
. In that sense, the topics are uncensored. However, there are still those strict rules and the strict moderation about the method of discussion--about staying on-topic and being polite, respectful and civil.
For example, it is not against the forum rules to say after making an argument, "So I conclude that Santa Claus is real," or to say, "So I conclude that genocide is a morally good thing and is in the best interests of humanity." Even though those may be beliefs with which almost nobody agrees and that disgust almost everyone including you and I, it is not necessarily against the forum rules. In contrast, it would be against the forum rules for someone to say after making an argument, "So I conclude that the sky is blue, you idiot. You are such a moron for not believing this. And by the way, you are ugly-looking from that picture I saw of you," or to say, "Cold-blooded murder of innocent 3-year-old children is immoral, you disgusting pig. If you believe that, you must be a retard, LOL!!!" Those are blatantly against the forum rules even though I agree that the sky is blue and most people may think the murder is indeed immoral.
You see, the forum rules restrict the way arguments are presented and the intention of the author not censor the topics. Though, they must be on-topic both for the respective forum category and respective thread.
Have you read the forum rules
? If not, please do. I also recommend you read my post, How to Have Productive Philosophical Conversations
. I think that will really give you a good understanding of what I do and do not allow on these forums and what my goal is for this forums.
Also, I often have problems were a thread gets derailed into a flame war or otherwise where two or more members have each repeatedly broken the rules by being rude to each other and making off-topic insulting remarks.
I realize it is tempting to respond in kind when someone else breaks the rules. If someone calls me a doodyhead I may be tempted to reply back that they are a poopface. But it is still not allowed. And it would be just as much a violation of the rules for me to reply back with the poopface insult as it was for him to call me a doodyhead. So it is important to report posts that you think break the rules particularly by insulting or ridiculing you rather than responding in kind.
On more than one occasion the dinner my fiancée has cooked for me has gotten cold because I have had to spend so much time moderating a thread that has been derailed by a long back-and-forth of insulting, rude rule-breaking posts because the debaters decided to keep responding to rule-breaking insults with their own rule-breaking insults and upset off-topic rants rather than reporting the original post. What would have been one simple 'delete' and warning turns into an hour long project of editing posts, deleting posts, messaging multiple users and generally trying to salvage a horribly messed up thread for the sake of the other members who followed the rules and remained polite and on-topic. So again, please, report posts that break the rules; don't respond in kind.