The Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science’s aim in providing this site is to create a space for thoughtful, analytical and constructive discussion and debate. A space, in other words, for the exercise of reason (whatever the views you may hold), where comments can be rigorously analyzed and robustly disagreed with, but users will never be bullied or abused. The moderators may, at their absolute discretion, remove comments (either in whole or in part) and/or disable the commenting rights of any user who behaves in ways that, in our view, work against this goal, whether or not specifically included in this list. In addition to the Do’s and Don’ts listed below, please also see the RDFRS Rules set out in Section 7 of this document.
- Please engage constructively with those who disagree with you.
Seek to convince and inform, rather than to browbeat, humiliate or insult. Remember that the site is read by large numbers of people who do not take part in the discussions but may use them as an educational resource.
- Do be generous towards other users.
Do your best to understand and engage with their arguments honestly. Focus on their strongest arguments rather than deflecting to trivial weaknesses. Don’t twist their words. Remember that the aim is to come closer to truth, not just to win an argument at any cost.
- Normal rules of acceptable public behavior apply.
Do not abuse, insult, bully or threaten other users. Do not be rude. Do not make overtures of a sexual nature or post sleazy comments. Do not make derogatory personal remarks. Remember the public nature of the internet: challenge ideas by all means, but do not humiliate or denigrate other users. People are not automatically idiots or evil just because they do not share your views.
- Do not draw attention to users’ spelling or grammar mistakes unless you genuinely need to in order to clarify meaning.
Not all users are writing in their mother tongue; some may have a condition that affects their spelling ability. And in any case, even if they simply cannot spell, this does not necessarily mean their argument is invalid.
- Don’t be that person …
You know who we mean: the person who has one particular drum that they just keep banging over and over again; the person who consistently derails threads onto their pet topic; the person who spits and snarls as soon as anyone disagrees with them; the person who treats the site as though it were their own personal blog or playground; the person who seems to think a modicum of courtesy is a sign of weakness. This list is not exhaustive.
- Keep all comments on-topic.
Facebook is elsewhere …
- No spam.
This includes commercial advertising, anything posted multiple times on one or more threads, and the habitual and/or extensive posting of material that has simply been lifted from other sites. It also includes links to users’ own blogs, websites, YouTube channels or any other online presence.
- No trolling.
Trolling includes any activity intended to disrupt the site, derail or impede discussion, or inflame personal conflict. It does not automatically include comments that challenge the prevailing philosophy of the majority of visitors to the site.
- No preaching, no threats.
Users who hold religious beliefs are welcome to join in the discussions, to challenge the views expressed here and to present their views from their own perspective.
However, please do not preach. The distinction between arguing and preaching can be somewhat blurred, but we are likely to treat as preaching any comment that relies mainly on quotes from your holy book; or that merely states your religious beliefs without any attempt to engage in rational discussion about why they should carry weight with non-believers; or that threatens hell or other retribution; or whose primary aim is, in our view, to proselytize. Please understand that for many users this website is one of the few places they can get away from all that. None of this is intended to prevent you from joining in fully with the discussions from a religious perspective or expressing dissent. We simply ask you to engage and reason rather than preach.
- Please take care not to bring the site into disrepute.
Do not incite to violence or any other criminal activity; do not post or link to homophobic, sexist, racist or other hateful content. Please see also the rules set out in Section 7.
- One user account per person.
No sockpuppets. And please note that creating a new account after being banned is strictly forbidden, and such accounts will always be removed.
- Please comply with moderator requests and do not re-post any comment or link or other material that we have removed.
We understand that no one likes having comments removed, but please do not argue with the moderators. We will always try to be as fair and objective as we can.
For any queries relating to the moderation of comments on the site, you can contact the moderators via firstname.lastname@example.org.