Forum Guidelines

Forum Purpose

The purpose of the Critical Fallibilism (CF) forum is to discuss, learn about and apply CF. This includes discussing any topic using rationality, critical thinking or other philosophical concepts or methods. If your posts use philosophical ideas that disagree with CF, you should be open to some debate or learning.

Do Not Misquote

Never misquote anyone. Due to risk of a typo, use copy/paste or the quote button instead of manually typing in quotes (unless it’s from paper or an audio recording, in which case you must state that it’s typed out by hand). Do not present a summary or paraphrase as a quote. There is zero lenience on this. A misquote is never close enough. This rule is enforced in an extremely picky, exacting, pedantic way. Expect moderator action if you violate this rule. You have been warned.

What about other uses of quotation marks, like fictional or hypothetical dialog, grouping words into a phrase, or scare quotes? Make sure they’re labelled or introduced in clear ways. If you use quotation marks and a reasonable reader might think it’s an actual, exact or literal quote, then you’re misquoting. Any ambiguous uses of quotation marks, which could mislead a reasonable person, will be considered misquotes. If there is even one reasonable interpretation where you misquoted, then you’ve broken the rule, regardless of any other interpretations where you didn’t misquote.

Clarity and Quality

When referencing something long, direct people to the specific part you’re talking about. You can do this with e.g. a quote, timestamp or page number. Quoting just the beginning (and possibly end) of what you mean works when you don’t want to quote the whole thing.

Don’t write inaccurate paraphrases or do anything misquoting-adjacent.

Don’t speak for other people. It’s their decision how to word their ideas and what to say. You can use exact quotes but you may not put your words in their mouth.

Don’t write vague references like “what I said earlier” or “the article’s argument about this issue”. Use quotes or clear, specific, unambiguous references that make it easy for any reasonable person to figure out exactly what you mean. Don’t give references where a reasonable reader wouldn’t be able to quickly and easily find the specific thing you meant. Don’t make them search or guess. If it isn’t really obvious what you mean, quote exact words. When unsure, make it extra clear.

Don’t post references to anything outside the current forum topic without giving the source.

Don’t criticize ideas in vague ways that people can’t reasonably give a rebuttal to. Specific criticisms of quotes are preferred.

Avoid writing ambiguous statements.

The more you disagree with someone, the more you should write in a clear, direct way. When they have a significantly different perspective on the world than you, shortcuts are likely to fail.

Share Your Opinion

When sharing a link or info, also share your opinion or goal.

Do you think it’s good or bad? Why? Those are examples of opinions you could share.

Do you have a question? Are you trying to learn or accomplish something? Those are examples of goals.

Just summarizing what a link says is not sharing an opinion or goal. Saying something is “interesting” doesn’t count as an opinion. What part is interesting, and why?

This policy doesn’t apply to Elliot Temple. He may post links without saying his opinion so that other people can form their own opinion with less bias.

Good Titles

Make topic titles clear, accurate and meaningful. Readers should receive useful information about what to expect, based on the topic title, before they read any post in the topic.

Don’t write clickbait titles. Clickbait includes overly sensationalized titles or leaving out information so that people have to click through to find out what the topic is.

For example, don’t use a pronoun like “he” or “this” in a title so that a reader won’t be able to tell what the word refers to without viewing your post.

Don’t use a title like “The ONE SECRET to astrophysics” which purposefully hides information about what kind of information the topic has in it. Instead, title it more like “Tips for doing astrophysics” (less sensationalized). If there’s only one tip, you can give information about it in the title, e.g. “Using a telescope to do better astrophysics”.

Don’t use vague titles like:

  • “I have a question” (What is the question? The topic title should either say the question or the question’s topic).
  • “Thought this was interesting” (What is it? Why is it interesting?)
  • “What do you guys think of this?” (What is it? Also the part about “you guys” is not useful information.)
  • “Anyone have any thoughts?” (This doesn’t say what the topic is about.)
  • “Can anyone help?” (This doesn’t say what the topic is.)
  • “Question about philosophy” (Be more specific about the topic.)

This is a Civilized Place for Public Discussion

Please treat this discussion forum with the same respect you would a public park. We, too, are a shared community resource — a place to share skills, knowledge and interests through ongoing conversation.

These are not hard and fast rules, merely guidelines to aid the human judgment of our community and keep this a clean and well-lighted place for civilized public discourse.

Public Discussion

Your posts are public. Anyone can read them. You should not expect to be able to ever delete or hide your posts. Editing posts is restricted and Discourse saves edit history. Whatever you post will be available for people to find with Google.

Don’t make substantial edits to your posts. If you change your mind, you can edit in a small note, write a new post, and leave your old writing visible.

In an emergency, e.g. if you accidentally post your phone number or password, you can ask a moderator to delete it.

We may delete anything at our discretion, but the general policy is not to delete any content.

Improve the Discussion

Help us make this a great place for discussion by always working to improve the discussion in some way, however small. If you are not sure your post adds to the conversation, think over what you want to say and try again later.

The topics discussed here matter to us, and we want you to act as if they matter to you, too. Be respectful of the topics and the people discussing them, even if you disagree with some of what is being said.

One way to improve the discussion is by discovering ones that are already happening. Spend time browsing the topics here before replying or starting your own, and you’ll have a better chance of meeting others who share your interests.

Be Agreeable, Even When You Disagree

You may wish to respond to something by disagreeing with it. That’s fine. But remember to criticize ideas, not people. Please avoid:

  • Name-calling
  • Ad hominem attacks
  • Responding to a post’s tone instead of its actual content
  • Knee-jerk contradiction

Instead, provide reasoned counter-arguments that improve the conversation.

Your Participation Counts

The conversations we have here set the tone for every new arrival. Help us influence the future of this community by choosing to engage in discussions that make this forum an interesting place to be — and avoiding those that do not.

Discourse provides tools that enable the community to collectively identify the best (and worst) contributions: bookmarks, likes, flags, replies, edits, and so forth. Use these tools to improve your own experience, and everyone else’s, too.

Let’s leave our community better than we found it.

If You See a Problem, Flag It

Moderators have special authority; they are responsible for this forum. But so are you. With your help, moderators can be community facilitators, not just janitors or police.

When you see bad behavior, don’t reply. It encourages the bad behavior by acknowledging it, consumes your energy, and wastes everyone’s time. Just flag it. If enough flags accrue, action will be taken, either automatically or by moderator intervention.

In order to maintain our community, moderators reserve the right to remove any content and any user account for any reason at any time. Moderators do not preview new posts; the moderators and site operators take no responsibility for any content posted by the community.

Always Be Civil

Nothing sabotages a healthy conversation like rudeness:

  • Be civil. Don’t post anything that a reasonable person would consider offensive, abusive, or hate speech.
  • Keep it clean. Don’t post anything obscene or sexually explicit.
  • Respect each other. Don’t harass or grief anyone, impersonate people, or expose their private information.
  • Respect our forum. Don’t post spam or otherwise vandalize the forum.

These are not concrete terms with precise definitions — avoid even the appearance of any of these things. If you’re unsure, ask yourself how you would feel if your post was featured on the front page of the New York Times.

This is a public forum, and search engines index these discussions. Keep the language, links, and images safe for family and friends.

Keep It Tidy

Make the effort to put things in the right place, so that we can spend more time discussing and less cleaning up. So:

  • Don’t start a topic in the wrong category.
  • Don’t cross-post the same thing in multiple topics.
  • Don’t post no-content replies.
  • Don’t sign your posts — every post has your profile information attached to it.

Rather than posting “+1” or “Agreed”, use the Like button. Rather than taking an existing topic in a radically different direction, use Reply as a Linked Topic.

Post Only Your Own Stuff

You may not post anything digital that belongs to someone else without permission. You may not post descriptions of, links to, or methods for stealing someone’s intellectual property (software, video, audio, images), or for breaking any other law.

Powered by You

This site is operated by your friendly local staff and you, the community. If you have any further questions about how things should work here, open a new topic in the site feedback category and let’s discuss! If there’s a critical or urgent issue that can’t be handled by a meta topic or flag, contact us via the staff page.

Terms of Service

Yes, legalese is boring, but we must protect ourselves – and by extension, you and your data – against unfriendly folks. We have a Terms of Service describing your (and our) behavior and rights related to content, privacy, and laws. To use this service, you must agree to abide by our TOS.