Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Some commenting guidelines

As the blog has grown and developed these past few weeks, I think we are big enough now to have some commenting guidelines. I want this to be an open forum for people to be able to discuss freely, but I don't want it to be like an unmoderated ACLU forum (if you've ever visited one of those you'll know what I am speaking of!)

I am going to put these in the side bar, but basically these are the guidelines written by the Harris Twins and I think they do an excellent job of explaining these guidelines. I urge everyone to read them through. I am giving the Reader's Digest Condensed version below.

In a nutshell:

NUMBER ONE: Understand the ‘classical’ view of tolerance.
Hard on ideas and opinions, soft on people!

NUMBER TWO: “No ‘ad hominem’ attacks, you moron!”
Nothing more quickly degenerates a discussion than when people start attacking those making the arguments rather than refuting the arguments themselves. Remember that the character, circumstances, or political ideology of the person has nothing to do with the truth or falsity of the proposition being defended.

DO NOT stoop to name-calling (moron, idiot, etc.)
DO NOT imply negative monikers onto people simply because they disagree. (i.e. “Anyone who’s even slightly intelligent will believe that cows are people too.”)

NUMBER THREE: Eschew Obscenity & Prohibit Profanity
The use of inappropriate language and shocking statements is a sure sign that the author lacks the ability to communicate their position in a calm and reasonable manner. It shows tremendous disdain for others and will not be allowed on respectable blogs.(including this one!!)

NUMBER FOUR: He who asserts must prove.
This is one of the most critical aspects of proper argumentation and requires that you carefully guard yourself from making groundless statements. Every proposition should be supported by either logic or evidence.

NUMBER FIVE: Respond to the argument, not to the spelling.

DO feel free to point out significant errors that impact the validity of a claim.
DO NOT point out errors solely for the purpose of embarrassing your opponent. And before someone jumps all over me for this one... my bad, mea culpa. That comment is history!

NUMBER SIX: Debating When Less Is More.
A common tactic adopted by inexperienced debaters is to ask a long series of questions that place an enormous burden on their opposition, without actually making any particular point. Such an approach is not only unfair to your opponent, but it really isn’t argumentation at all. These kinds of “question avalanches” can hardly be responded to in the confines of a comment section, but will often foster animosity. This has happened to me more than once this year alone by non-Catholic commenters flooding the arena with questions on Mary, indulgences, saints etc... one at a time folks, one at a time.

NUMBER SEVEN: Do your own research.

NUMBER EIGHT: The fallacy of the majority.
When the majority of participants in a discussion hold your position, it is common to start acting as if the last seven principles no longer apply to you. You feel you can destroy the dissenter, along with their position, since you have so many like-minded chums. This too has happened to men on non-Catholic blogs. Here at VTC there are many of us who are likeminded. We have to be very aware that we do not attack differing views like a pack of wolves. We need to remain gracious and open.

OK, that's pretty much it. I'm pretty lenient and open minded and like to manage with a light touch. However because I want the comments to be open to all, I will remove posts without explanation if I feel they are violating the above. I'll probably give a warning first except for the ad hominem - depending on how severe that offense is I could just remove it immediately and without explanation.

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