Revised Discussion Rules

+11 votes
As I have stated, I believe the Discussion Rules are unnecessary and tend to be used to quash dissent. My preference would be to eliminate them entirely, but I suspect that this option is not going to be considered.

Thus:  if the DRs were Discussion Guidelines, they would be largely innocuous. But they are Rules, and Rules with an enforcement mechanism, and enforcement depends on human agents, who are necessarily fallible. The DRs are intended be "objective", but this is clearly not the case. Enforcement of the rules depends on the subjective judgment of human agents.

Rules # 1-3 approach objectivity. There is probably little or no objecton to #1 (On Topic) #2 (Personal Attacks) and #3 (Privacy), although #2 has an element of subjectivity in the interpretation of what constitutes a personal attack. This rule should be clarified to reduce it.

Rules # 4-5 are more problematic and likely to result in more harm than benefit. Their intention is to eliminate or minimize disagreement, but disagreement is necessary in the course of an exchange. Disagreement is a problem only when it violates rule #2 (Personal Attacks.

The stricture requiring long comments should also be eliminated.  "Yes" and "No" are perfectly good comments.

Rule # 5 is where the real problems lurk. Again, it is explicitly intended to quash disagreement, as if a reasonable disagreement over the issues is necessarily a Bad Thing. Without involving personal attacks, disagreement is likely to result in consensus.

The prohibition on "venting" is also a problem. As a guideline to posters, the advice not to post in the grip of emotion might be valuable, but these are Rules, not Guidelines, and meant to be enforced. Yet the enforcers are in no position to judge a poster's emotional state. It is a purely subjective judgment and thus directly contrary to the stated intent of the Rule - objectivity.

This is the Rule most susceptible to abuse, and, I believe, the one that has been most abused, the one that has caused a chill to fall over discussion on G2G and driven away many active participants. It is also the Rule that is most often abused against the Honor Code.

It should be eliminated.

Finally, if there are to be Rules, participants must be aware of them. How many posters even know that there are Discussion Rules, let alone what they are?

If there are to be Rules, they must be prominently posted on the opening page of G2G, along with the potential consequences and penalties. Perhaps, like the Honor Code, signing acknowledgement of them should be a prerequisite for membership.
in The Tree House by Lois Tilton G2G6 Pilot (127k points)
Unless someone states that they feel angry, or they have posted entirely in uppercase, or have included numerous exclamation marks, how is posting in anger determined? Studies have shown humans are not good at accurately assessing emotions in emails. I've been accused of being angry when I'm calm as calm can be. Any calmer and I'd be asleep. I've simply stated a fact. If they heard me speak the words they would hear there is no anger.
I do some of my best writing when I'm angry!
Ok, I can see how some people interpret the instruction to be similar to dealing with clothing on fire. That isn't how I interpret it, but I accept the alternative viewpoint.

Allcaps is shouting, not a sign of anger.

Multiple !!!!!!!!! can denote excitement, or over-emphasis.  Not anger. (I am guilty of overusing !!!!!!!!)

A bunch of angry faces (let's add smilies to posts to let people know we're friendly)  angryangryangryangryangryangryangryangryangryangry might, maybe, say "I'm currently angry".


You cannot tell emotion from text, unless the person actually says "right now I am SO angry I could spit chips".

BTW - right now I am so angry I could break vases.
Ok poorly worded. It depends also on the words that accompany the uppercase and exclamation marks, not the uppercase or exclamation marks alone.
Leandra - you and I are making the same point, just in different ways.

It is not possible to tell someone's emotions from text alone.  There need to be other indicators.
To propose something, which I think this is supposed to be, there are supposed to be 2 answers, a Yes, I agree, and a No, I don't agree, so people could upvote each of those and comment under each.
I consider this a preliminary phase of that process, a discussion of the principles behind a revision proposal. Unless we are agreed on what we want any rules to accomplish, there is no use in proposing them
Good point, Lois.  And before that, we should agree on what we want G2G to accomplish!

1 Answer

+10 votes
Great points, Lois!  Thank you for your thoughtful analysis.   Evidence that many people don't even know of these rules can be seen by the very first answer to Chris's post.
by Julie Kelts G2G6 Pilot (431k points)

On the Application page it is stated: "Most members will not be aware of Help:Discussion Rules until it has been pointed out to them."

This is wrong. If people are expected to follow a set of rules, they must be informed what they are.

You are so right!  That is like driving down a road with no speed limit posted and getting a ticket for speeding!
Surprisingly, many folks already know how to behave in a public forum and never need to be "told" how to be polite, courteous, and cordial. They even know how to disagree with others while remaining kind and compassionate. Sadly, this is becoming a lost art.
Then, Natalie, why isn't the Honor Code sufficient?

The problem with the new rules is that anyone can take offense at any little thing, intended or not.
If I may make one suggestion  - though possible, it's unlikely the rules will go entirely away. So if you are wanting to see change it might be best to focus on making proposals that have specific changes to the existing proposed rules rather than continuing to say we don't need them.
OK, Eowyn, I will.  It seems like an exercise in futility, and will probably get me a lot more down votes, but I don't care about that so here goes.

Stand by.

Update:  Here it is
(Also, you might do one post per rule as Chris suggested so people can consider each one individually rather than vote on all of them lumped together.)
Thank you, Eowyn, but I think my rules are sufficiently simple that they should be combined in one post.  Otherwise, proposals will really be scattered all over the place with no means of keeping track of them all.
Eowyn: that process isn't likely to work well.  The rules are a set, they can't be considered individually, or one rule might end up contradicting another, having gone through a separate decision process.

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