With a national election less than two months away, presidential debates just around the corner, and the punditocracy focusing on sideshow distractions more than ever, things are bound to continue heating up here over the next couple of months. I thought it would be a good time to post links to a couple of old reminders and to raise one or two additional points.
First, this might be a good time for everyone to review the Rules
and Survival Guide
. I just finished going through them myself - and it's never a bad thing to remind oneself of what makes America's Debate
unique (apart from Jaime
, a dedicated staff, and a great assortment of participants from all walks of life and of all political stripes, of course).
During election seasons there have traditionally been more heated debates than at other times, but that is no reason to allow the discussions here to become uncivil or unconstructive. Mike
put it better than I could about four years ago, so I'll just quote an announcement
he made prior to the last presidential election (with a few names updated):
The uncertain nature of current events and the approaching Election have given rise to many tense situations on the forum over the last few weeks. In the last few days alone, many great discussions of pressing issues have been closed due to repeated belittling comments and excessive partisan rhetoric.
It's important to remember why you joined America's Debate. Most likely, it was because you wanted to participate in intelligent, informed debate in a civil fashion. These qualities make AD unique. We need you to help maintain these qualities. All the moderation in the world can't stop flame wars - everyone needs to renew their commitment to civil, intelligent, and informed debate.
So what does this mean for you? It means no more taking topics off-track to bash or defend Bush and his administration or [McCain and Obama or their campaigns]. It means not asking if others have 'actually read' your posts, or telling them that their ideas are laughable. It means no more seeking out certain "opponents" just to flame them. It means adding original and constructive ideas instead of just parroting the talking heads. It means citing your sources and supporting what you write. It means remembering that everyone here is a human and everyone invests the same time, sweat, and effort in their posts as you put in yours.
We have a fantastic community, but we had a tough week. Let's work together to get back on track and to keep America's Debate the internet's most civil, informed and intelligent debate forum.
Let me highlight one of the points he made by reiterating it: Your commitment to civil, intelligent, and informed debate means adding original and constructive ideas instead of just parroting the talking heads.
All of the points he made in the third paragraph above remain salient and pertinent, but with the blogosphere and cable chat becoming increasingly strident, trivial, and unconstructive, I thought that one was worth re-reiterating.
About a year later, Mike
had to post another warning, which is worth reviewing along with the Rules
and Survival Guide
. It can be found here
. As it raises the issue of reported posts (among several other things), it is worth mentioning something that seems to have gone by the wayside for a lot of participants. If you are going to report a post - and if you see a clear violation of the rules, you should
- please cite the specific rule that you feel is being breached.
Reports consisting of "ugh!" or "this is outrageous" or "wtf" or "here we go again" are not helpful
and tend to be ignored, especially if (as is usually the case with such reports *sigh*) the reported post is about 10,000 words with numerous quotes from other participants. A report can be as simple as "off-topic" or "belittling" or "one-liner" or "personal attack", but they do need to address a specific rule violation
or, at the very least, posts straying well beyond the guidelines.
PLEASE DO NOT REPORT POSTS just because a participant is ticking you off or because you vehemently disagree with their views. Reporting posts due to partisan bias or personal enmity is not appropriate and makes the moderation of the site no easier and no more efficient.
There is one other point I wanted to bring up here, but I couldn't find the thread in which this was originally discussed. One of the things that really helps keep the debate civil and constructive is having an opening post that is as objective and level-headed as is humanly possible. Having clear questions to debate is mandatory, but keeping the opening of a thread as unbiased as possible is expected. In other words, if your opening to new thread contains a sentence like "Since Obama poses a clear and present danger to national security..." or "As we all know John McCain is a liar and a fraud..." then you should not be starting a new thread here.
Such opinions, with substantial, sourced foundation, are maybe okay during the course of a debate, but they have no place in setting the tone for a new discussion. If you feel such sentiments are
appropriate for the opening of a thread, you should probably not be participating here at all:
civil, constructive debate is clearly not what brought you here and, if it isn't, you are in the wrong place.
Please don't let the door hit you on your way out. Ah, what the hell - go ahead and let
it hit you.
For everyone else, have fun, try not to let your emotions run away with you, and don't let the bastards on the other side goad you into posting something you'll regret. Oh - and feel free to take a few days off is you're getting too exasperated. I know it's sometimes worked for me. Good luck! ON EDIT:
If you have something constructive to add here, please feel free. But don't let this
thread become an excuse for making snarky comments about the behavior of other participants. Thanks.