Those that actually engage on our page and in our group soon realise it’s not a war zone, we are not there to fight, we are there to discuss.
We understand that some of our topics are controversial or can hit nerves, but our goal is to encourage a respectful discussion about a variety of topics in a safe space where we can all learn and grow.
I want to be totally transparent with the way we operate, what our goals are, and our expectations of both mods and members. As such, I figured an article explaining the way we operate and what we expect of people who interact with us.
It might surprise you to find that there are additional rules mods have over normal users, this is to help mitigate bias and abuse of power. This applies to Admins as well.
- If a mod engages in a topic they are acting as a user and shall not enact mod actions except in extreme circumstances. (There may be instances where they have to temporarily suspend a member who will not settle down until a decision can be made).
- If a mod is in a discussion and they are feeling a bit triggered, they are to tag in another mod to watch the conversation play out to ensure both parties are acting in accordance with the rules.
- If an action needs to be taken in a discussion a mod is part of but no other mod is available, there will be a temporary suspension whilst we discuss what to do.
- Except in extreme circumstances, permanent bans require a general consensus from mods.
By extreme, I mean harassing behaviour, bigotry, and other forms of hateful or detestable behaviour that do not represent the ethos of the group.
- Mods will operate a 3-strike policy in the sense that we ask someone 3 times to correct a behaviour and if they persist after that point the user will be suspended/banned.
To be clear, this isn’t 3 separate occasions, this is within a short time repetitiously being asked to stop a behaviour or cease conversation to cool of and refusing to. We all slip up or do something we might not have realised the impact of, mistakes happen, but refusal to correct mistakes will not be tolerated.
- Bigotry is an exception to the 3-strike rule. To the mod’s discretion, they can operate on a 0-1 strike, cultural and linguistic differences could be the reason for apparent bigotry but most of the time it’s obviously not the case.
- Mods will try an encourage and engage in respectful discourse – we will try to calm situations down and resolve conflict instead of stirring any up.
- Mods will remember that people have bad days, and sometimes lash out. This doesn’t excuse bad behaviour from anyone but we can understand it and not hold it against anyone.
Members, I equally ask you to remember mods have bad days too.
Rules Of Engagement
It sounds like a battle plan, but I want you to remember an engagement is just an agreement to do something, sometime, somewhere.
What you are expected to engage in is respectful discourse. We encourage folks to assume each other intelligent, be understanding of differing backgrounds and accept we all have bad days which might make us act out.
We’ve listed 10 rules on the FB Group that are designed to assist with this.
1. Articles and Video
Headline culture is problematic, it is essentially the notions where people only read the title and respond to the article with often problematic/erroneous/uninformed statements. Some folks genuinely think (and have actually stated) if they can’t learn the entire content of the article from the title then that’s the author’s fault.
Time can an issue for anyone, especially when folks have busy work/school schedules and family. What is said in a 2 hour video can often be read in 5 minutes in an article. This is why we are a little bit more lenient with our video rules and request that specific time codes are submitted for points of discussion rather than an expectaion of members to watch a whole video.
Conversly, if you have time to type responses and get involved in conversations then you have time to read. You’re already reading responses in the conversation, so you can read the article. If you don’t take the time to learn and understand the content then you’re going to be talking past the author and/or the OP.
We encourage a small blurb to be posted with the article so we can understand the discussion content.
If it’s just an overview of act utilitarianism and you have a question, someone who knows about that topic probably doesn’t need to read an entire article to answer a question about utilitarianism.
If it’s an examination of various forms of normative and metaethical theories looking for commality between them, a short overview of an abstract of the piece might be nice.
Cold links are allowed but discouraged. They are largely seen as “hey, look at this” rather than a topic for discussion. Please make sure the cold links are in line with group content.
Videos, especially for those who work or go to school, can be troublesome in the sense that not everyone has 2 hours to watch, so in the event of a video being longer than 10 mins we request time codes for specific points of discussion.
Our goal is to have a safe space for folks to discuss a variety of topics.
We understand there will be disagreements but we hope they can be kept cordial.
We are not a fight club, you can talk about us but you can’t whale on each other.
We won’t tolerate persistent winding up and/or trolling.
We understand the need and benefit of playing devil’s advocate at times, but that’s no excuse to be a dick about it.
3. Debate and discussion
Our focus is discussion, but debates are allowed.
The best place one can debate is on DB8ly.com but if you would prefer to debate in our Facebook group then:
- We request debates are set up by starting a new post, identifying those who will discuss and tagging in a moderator, or all mods and waiting for one of them to say they accept moderation.
- The reason for this is that many see debates as simply arguing and fighting. This is not what a debate is supposed to be.
- Also, many others will try and engage in the debate, and we can end up with a sense of “ganging up” on one member.
- Others can ask questions to the debaters but are to largely stay out of the conversation, especially in their main subthread of discussion.
- A moderator has the right to stop a debate at any time.
You must remember that a fallacy doesn’t necessarily mean a conclusion is wrong, just that there is some error in reasoning.
You must also remember that not everything is a fallacy, for example, citing multiple qualified experts on the matter is not an argument from authority fallacy, especially when it’s part of a cumulative case for justification.
Many who point out fallacies don’t even get the fallacy right. Instead of naming the fallacy, we would suggest addressing the underlying content you find problematic.
Saying I don’t know is more than acceptable. It can be hard, especially publicly, to admit ignorance and/or error, but it shows good character to do so.
It shows even better character if you take steps to rectify this.
Refusing to learn is genuinely the antithesis of what we are about.
6. Burden of Proof
The burden of proof aka burden of justification or epistemic justification, is commonly misunderstood by those who talk about it. Many use a “headline culture” version of the legal BoP and don’t actually know what they are talking about.
I would suggest reading this article on how the BoP relates to a discussion: Discussions and The Burden of Proof
And this article on how often the BoP is misunderstood: Why do so many misunderstand the burden of proof?
Also, for a more academic take:
But, in short, we expect every assertion to be supported with some sort of justification.
This includes disagreeing with another’s assertion – “nuh uh” doesn’t cut it.
Hitchens razor is often misapplied too, I will address this after the main discussion on rules.
7. Posting Behaviours
We don’t accept spam and post and runs. We discourage people dropping cold links but if it’s in line with the general interests of the group then we accept the post as “this might be interesting for you” rather than a discussion topic.
The main point to consider is the language you use. This isn’t just addressing polysemous words and being clear over the specific definition you are using but also understanding the impact your words can have on others.
An example or two of this in recent months:
One of our mods, Queenie, asked a question, aimed at the women in our group to say hello and ask why in general groups like ours had more male participation than female.
There were some great responses as to why, I gave a few myself but one of the responses was worded in such a way that it could have been seen like “women don’t like philosophy and science they only care about babies and clothes” – to be clear, this is not what they said, and knowing them from a few years of discussions, this is not what they meant either.
What was wrong with that?
In a world mostly dominated by men, where women have to deal with opinions dismissed and being told what they ought to do and how they ought to act, telling them what they do and don’t like is not helpful. Asking them is.
The issue with the post was it could be quite disheartening to any women looking for a safe space to engage, and if you don’t know the person that posted it you’re likely going to read it in a much worse light than it was intended, understandably, because that is how it came across.
How could that have gone better?
As a man in this situation, they would have served better to ask “are the topics of the group, mainly philosophy and science but also music movies and memes, of less interest to women than they are men?”
The impact of the words are changed. It reads differently.
It says “I am a man and therefore ignorant of the womanly experience, I have an idea based on some observations but I am not sure if it is the case, could you enlighten me please?”
In response to a simplistic question a long rant was posted and within it contained possessive language and all sorts of gross errors. Clouded by bias they were arguing against something that hadn’t even been discussed.
This person ended up doing enough to identify them as a bigot and broke many rules so is no longer part of the group.
A post was made by a member talking about reality, and when a response was given, that was part of reality, the author objected as they were not talking about all of reality, they were talking about a specific part but they were not clear on this.
The Point? Communication Requires Clarity!
The point I’m trying to make here is, we’re not language police, we’re not enforcing a singular use of atheism or anything like that. What we are saying is, be clear in what you say, consider the impact of your words, consider how it reads to someone that doesn’t know you.
It IS your responsibility how you come across.
Yes, some people will read negatives into anything, they are not your problem, we will deal with them accordingly… But you are responsible for what you say and how you come across.
If you leave any ambiguity in what you say, then you are open to misenterpretation. Even if 90% of people get your intent, the 10% that don’t are not wholly to blame.
If they have misunderstood you, then clarify with them, maybe even edit your post to make it clear to anyone else what your actual intents with it are.
There’s a section later on about taking responsibility, intent, and consequence to give some more insight into this.
Rule 8 – Do not Block Admins & Mods
Blocking mods is not acceptable within the group as it causes issues monitoring engagement.
If you have an issue with a mod, please discuss it with the other mods/admins
If they are found to be breaking the rules they will be repremded and, if needed, will lose their modship.
In 8 years, we’ve never had to deal with this, there was one instance of someone being a little ban happy but the behaviour was corrected.
If you simply don’t agree with the mod, that is no excuse to block them.
Rules 9 and 10 – Enforcement of the above.
Our hope is that most people engage thoughtfully and respectfully, and therefore naturally do not break any of the rules by simply being decent people, and at worse we might occasionally have to “tap the sign” to remind folks of said rules.
We see the rules as more of a guideline, we accept that boundaries will be pushed, people will have bad days, and slight transgressions where no harm is caused will be overlooked and there are situations where some form of private language might be at play.
For example, friends are more likely to engage in banter and could seem disrespectful to onlookers, as long as they are not acting in a way that makes other members feel threatened then this friendly banter is allowed to continue.
I understand how this seems contradictory to the rule and examples on language, and I agree that it is a fine line to walk between allowing natural conversation and clear discussion – though I would hope it is understood the focus is different.
When you’re engaging with a topic and making assertions about a gender or using accusatory language it is very different to interpersonal communication, so I would hope that the nuance is understood.
That said, if you feel harmed by anything said, please tag a mod for discussion.
Taking responsibility: Intent and Consequence
From an ethical stand point, unless you’re a 100% consequentialist your intent is far more important than the consequence, but there is also a chain of actions and consequences that happen after that.
If you accidentally bump into someone and they drop their shopping, you have caused them harm but not intended to do so. From a ethical point of you, outside of a purely consequentialist view, you were not immoral for this action. BUT… it doesn’t stop there.
If you absolve yourself of any responsibility of the situation because “I didn’t intend to make you drop your shopping and therefore it’s not my problem” and walk off, you’ve been part of a situation that has caused harm and done nothing to correct that. Your initial behaviour was not immoral but your subsequent ones are.
However, if you apologise and offer to help them, regardless of how they might act, you have taken responsibility and acted ethically.
Making sure they are ok and ASKING if you can help them is important before just shoving stuff in their bags in case they want things in a specific order and you make the situation worse.
You must also consider they have been hurt and they might be angry and shout at you – whilst you were not intending to hurt them, you were still the cause so one should “take it on the chin.”
If you also attempt to implement a corrective behaviour e.g. “this area of town is typically busier than the rest, I should be more alert and perhaps not be staring at my phone” then you’re also making effort to protect yourself from a future situation of harm.
If we apply this to the way we discussed – yes, we might not intend to harm or we might make a mistake in our phrasing that means our words are taken differently to how we intended.
If this is pointed out to you, you are responsible for what happens next.
“What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence” – a paradoxical statement because it is asserted without evidence in and of itself.
That said, it can be useful.
In some respects one could see it like the paradox of intolerance – if you see it more as an axiom then it doesn’t negate itself.
An axiom is essentially a form of brute fact that you accept as is for then working things out. Mathematics is filled with these.
Also if you are pragmatic with its use it is a time saver.
“This is a topic that either I don’t care about or have spent a lot of time thinking about and searching for evidence for… If you’re going to assert a conclusion without any justification then I’ll dismiss it without justification”
But I don’t really like the whole hitchens razor being used in general discourse – I don’t think it helpful.
If someone is going to dismiss something instead of engaging with the topic then I would suggest they just don’t engage at all.
I would personally prefer they ask a few questions of their interlocutor first and then decide if they are going to continue engaging or move on.
It’s completely pointless to join a conversation just to say you’re dismissing everything they are saying. What are you trying to achieve?
Contacting Members and Mods
Whilst I have mentioned you are not to contact members directly without prior consent, there is an implicit consent provided by being a mod/admin of a group & page that in instances of group related will be messaged to us to deal with.
Just a note on this.. I don’t have FB messenger installed, I hate it. I rarely look at FB on the pc. If you don’t want to tag me directly in a post because you want a private discussion, please contact one of the other mods or message the AiR page to either let me know and I’ll jump on a pc at my earliest convenience or have the discussion with them.
Our goal is to have a page and especially a group seen as a safe space for all sorts of people to discuss a variety of topics and gain understanding of each other.
We have grown and changed many opinions over the years. You might have noticed our articles and shows being focused on a broader spectrum of philosophical topics, and this is part of why we had the rebrand.
We also don’t have the time for those who troll, are bigots, or just want to assert their positions repetitiously without support.
Hopefully, with a transparent view on our rules and the reasons why we have said rules you will understand what we are trying to achieve and why. With expectations understood so will any actions be when they are not met.
I’m Joe. I write under the name Davidian, not only because it is a Machine Head song I enjoy but because it was a game character I used to role-play that was always looking to better himself.
This is one of many things I hope to do with Answers In Reason.
I run our Twitter and IG accounts, as well as share responsibility for our FB group and page, and maintain the site, whilst writing articles, DJing, Podcasting (and producing), keeping fit and more.
Feel free to read a more detailed bio here: https://www.answers-in-reason.com/about/authors/4/
You can find my main social links here:
TikTok (AiR): https://www.tiktok.com/@answersinreason
TikTok (ADHD): https://www.tiktok.com/@adultadhdjourney
Ask me a question on Wisdom: https://app.wisdom.audio/ask/0be23c32-0fac-4d8f-bf68-671d9c8a3b95