I am the moderator, and it's my job to keep the insanity here within productive levels. I have been given a target range of between 4 and 15 decinietzsches, but I don't know what that means, so we wrote these rules instead.
All the standard MTGSalvation rules apply in Debate, Religion, and Philosophy. You are expected to be familiar with and to follow them. For the most part, the following are actually notes on how the standard rules are enforced here and explanations as to why, rather than new rules per se.
The debate topic rules. In order to debate, you first need an issue with two (or more) sides. So when you start a new thread in Debate, Religion, or Philosophy, you should write it carefully with this goal in mind.
Zero-sided topics. In the first post of any Debate thread, it should be immediately obvious to readers what topic they're being asked to take a position on. This doesn't have to be a formal, Debate-Club-style proposition; we're an informal forum, and it's okay to pose a topic informally. But if there is no clear topic for debate in your original post, you may be warned or infracted. This rule applies regardless of whether a debate starts further into the thread.
One-sided topics. If everybody agrees on something, there is no debate. If a thread has proceeded for a reasonable amount of time but posters have not taken two or more positions on the topic, the thread may be closed. In general, this is a no-foul rule: you won't earn an infraction for starting a topic that turns out to be one-sided. But if the topic is deemed obnoxious or malicious, you might run afoul of the rules against spamming or trolling.
On- and off-topic posts. Again, this is an informal debate forum. Therefore, it is acceptable for the conversation in a thread to evolve, as discussion of the original topic brings up new topics. However, this is not an excuse to go off on a tangential topic, especially not if that topic is large and worthy of a thread of its own. For example, if someone mentions God in a thread on abortion, that is not an invitation to start a debate about God's existence in that thread. Such posts will be considered off-topic.
Spam. Due to the purpose of the Debate, Religion, and Philosophy boards, we have particularly high standards about what constitutes a productive post. If your post doesn’t move the discussion forward in some way, then it is spam.
Positions without reasons. This isn’t the place to share your opinions. It’s the place to discuss them. If all you post is something like “I think Mike Huckabee is the best presidential candidate”, we don’t have much to discuss. Every one of your posts that states a position should also state the reasons you have for taking that position. If it doesn’t, it’s spam.
“+1” posts. A particularly common offense is to post that you agree with someone else’s position, without adding any new arguments or thoughts to that position. This is spam. Don’t do it.
Repetitive posts and “stonewalling”. Sometimes you want to +1 yourself, restating your position because the other guys obviously just didn’t get it the first time. Because we recognize that repeating an idea in new words often can assist understanding, we don’t necessarily consider this spam. However, we will infract repetition that we deem obnoxious; generally, this means reasserting your position multiple times in much the same way without taking into account the responses of others.
Bare contradiction. “That’s not true.” Obviously, the other guy thinks it is. And he probably already knows that you disagree with him, as well. Your job isn’t to assert that you’re right and he’s wrong; it’s to explain why.
Nonsense posts. We expect you to make the effort to communicate your position clearly to the rest of us. If you write a rambling, incoherent post that nobody can understand, that’s a failure of your clarity, not a failure of everybody else’s intelligence. As a result, it’s spam.
Posts that are not spam. Not all spam posts are short, and not all short posts are spam. Even a simple “Yes” or “No” can be a perfectly productive post, provided it’s an adequate answer to a question that has been posed to you. Similarly, a concession or acknowledgement such as “Okay, I understand you now” is appropriate when you had previously been debating against the other guy’s position – in fact, it’s rather polite.
Trolling. Trolling, in Debate, Religion, and Philosophy, is any post that intentionally or foreseeably invites flaming or other forms of misbehavior. Note that you do not have to intend to troll in order to be trolling. The mods aren’t mind readers, and cannot evaluate your intentions one way or another. For the same reason, you do not have to adopt a false position in order to be trolling; you can be infracted for espousing a position you genuinely hold, if your presentation is inflammatory. We are aware that this definition of trolling is stricter than that found on many other boards. We feel that ours is better.
De facto forbidden positions. We would very much like to say that any position is open for debate in Debate. However, a few positions are so emotionally charged and taboo in our culture that we cannot realistically expect them not to start flame wars. So if you are a neo-Nazi, Islamist militant, NAMBLA member, defender of slavery, or other advocate of the unconscionable, we must regrettably ask, in the name of forum discipline, that you keep those opinions to yourself.
Feeding the troll. Responding to a troll is rewarding a troll. If you respond to a post that has been officially warned or infracted for trolling (you can tell by the modtext), you will be infracted. We also ask that you exercise your good judgment, and not respond to any post you consider trollish even if it hasn’t been warned or infracted yet, though barring extreme circumstances we’re not going to infract you for not judging a post the same way we do.
Calling someone a troll. We’ve had a rash of this, so it’s time to lay down the law. Calling someone a troll is not only backseat moderation and mild flaming, but also implicitly feeding the troll. If you think someone is a troll, why are you responding to them? The proper course of action is to report the post and move on.
Non-trolls. People who disagree with you are not trolls. People who disagree with you snarkily are not trolls. Even people who provoke you to flaming are not necessarily trolls; sometimes it’s just your fault. (Don’t expect getting trolled to excuse a flaming infraction, either.)
The illegal activities policy. In the general rules, the promotion of illegal activity is listed as an auto-suspension offense. In Debate, it is only natural to discuss whether or not certain things that are against the law should be. In order to allow such discussions to have two sides, we do not consider “promotion” taking the position that an illegal activity ought to be legal; you are free to argue it. However, we ask that you keep the conversation abstract. Writing positively about personal experience breaking the law, or advising people about breaking the law, is strictly forbidden and will result in a suspension. For example, “The income tax should be abolished, and here’s why” is a perfectly acceptable statement to make. “I regularly cheat on my income tax” or “Here’s how you can cheat on your income tax” is not.
The stalled debate rule. Sometimes a debate turns into a grind, where both sides just retread the same ground over and over again. If a discussion has gone on for many posts without any appreciable progress, a moderator may step in to declare the debate stalled, bringing it to a peaceful end.
Final posts. Once a debate is declared stalled, each current participant in that debate may write one post, and no more, to set out their final thoughts. All final posts must be made within two days of the stall declaration. Edits to the post should be kept to actual editing, not major new additions, and are on the same two-day limit. A final post is not an excuse to flame, and in fact will be held to a stricter standard than normal as far as confrontational behavior (snark, sarcasm, etc.) is concerned: you're supposed to be stepping out of a confrontation.
End of conversation. After the final posts, the conversation is over. Please don't respond to posts from the stalled debate or otherwise attempt to continue it, no matter what thread you're posting in, and no matter whether you were a participant in the debate or not. But do note that this is the end of a conversation, not the end of a topic. Non-participants in the stall are welcome to start a fresh conversation on the topic at any time. And the participants in the stall can weigh in on the topic again, after a cooling-down period of one week from the stall declaration. (They should, however, take extra care to avoid another stall.)
No foul. Simply being involved in a stalled debate is not grounds for infraction. In fact, we strongly encourage you use the report button when you're in a debate that may be stalling. A stalled debate most commonly occurs when neither debater can let the other get in the last word without losing face, and the primary purpose of this rule is to allow both sides a graceful exit from this situation. Be aware, however, that posters can still be infracted for other forms of misbehavior. In particular, stonewalling (as described in the spam rules) is often involved in a stall.
Nuisance behavior. The following will probably not earn you an infraction, unless it becomes a serious problem. However, it is the sort of stuff that annoys the other debaters, and so for your own good you should really avoid it.
Assuming people are foolish. The fact that your debate opponent does not agree with you does not mean that he/she has not thought the issue through or that he/she does not understand logic. You will get much farther in a Debate by focusing on why people have come to their conclusions rather than on the conclusions themselves. Odds are good that they weren't knee-jerk positions taken up merely to annoy you.
Nitpicking. In some sense, nitpicking is the heart and soul of debate. However, if you consistently focus on a few minutiae of the other guy’s position while ignoring the rest of it, and the minutiae have little or no bearing on the soundness of the position as a whole, then you’re doing it wrong.
“Fixed” posts. This is where you substitute some words in a post you’re quoting, usually to point out the hypocrisy in the other guy’s position. There are lots of other ways to point out hypocrisy. Respect the sanctity of quotations.
Not reading the thread. People really don’t like it when you come into a thread and post a position that’s already been posted and discussed at length. So please try to read a thread before posting in it. Now, we get some pretty long threads here, and in those cases we don’t expect you to read all two hundred pages. But going over the latest three or four pages should at least let you know if what you want to post has been brought up recently.
Necroing. Responding to threads that have fallen off the first page is contrary to general forum etiquette. It’s no longer against the rules here at MTGS, but please try to confine yourself to active threads, and start a new thread if you want to discuss a topic not currently in an active thread.
Other. There’s no way I can write a complete list of the ways to make a nuisance of yourself in Debate. Usually, you’ll know when you’re doing it; if not, others will certainly make it clear to you. Please avoid such behavior.
Here is displayed the collected wisdom of the venerable Mods who have come before me. For those of you who want something silly like "the rules to be in a succinct list format." EDIT 7/10/2011: These are for reference. They are no longer binding.
- the primary purpose of this forum is threads on controversial issues.
- threads can have debates without being in here.
- entertainment threads (music, games, et cetera) go in Entertainment even if they have a debate in them.
Please respect that the hope of this forum is intelligent discussion.
Remain relatively polite; we all know you're intelligent and better than everyone else, you don't need to show it off. If you believe a thread is pointless, or someone is being stupid, report them. Being excessively rude to them will only result in a warning.
Please have the courtesy to read at least some of the thread before you post on it. If the thread has gone on for twelve pages, reading the first post won't help much, and will generally just seem rude.
Marijuana legalization threads. In principle, marijuana legalization is subject to the same rules as any other illegal activity debate. However, in practice we have found that many people in the debate can’t help crossing the line into promotion, and a lot of suspensions get issued. Thus, current Debate policy is that marijuana legalization is a de facto forbidden topic. We are fully aware that it’s a hot issue, and apologize that we can’t realistically accommodate it.
Also did a little non-substantive editing.
Private Mod Note
Rollback Post to RevisionRollBack
Vive, vale. Siquid novisti rectius istis,
candidus inperti; si nil, his utere mecum.