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The Rules & Guidelines
Please do not engage in any behavior or activities that involve illegal activity, sexual harassment, cyber bullying, threats, name calling, account hacking, and impersonating.

Any exceptions or clarifications can be found here.

Posts and Messages
Please do not post any messages or information that contain spamming, advertising*, plagiarism, obscene content and language, profanity (not even abbreviated like "MF" or "f***" unless you are quoting from an article), insults or negative comments directed at a person or group (you can speak on their actions or views),* private messages (rule applies only in public conversations), personal information, rule violations, comments about moderator actions (rule applies only in public conversations), and blogging.

*Any exceptions or clarifications can be found here.

Debates should not involve any proselytizing or promoting views, unsupported claims, red herrings, misdirections, misrepresenting someone's position, challenging or dismissing someone's opinion (does not apply to opinions that are shown to be false), ad hominems, too much rhetoric and commentary.

Please also post a clear debate question when starting a topic in the debate section. Also, stay on topic.

Any exceptions or clarifications can be found here.

This section only applies to the debate sections of the forum. Any type of evidence is allowed to be used. In disputes about evidence, the best type of evidence for a given topic should be accepted as the most valid evidence. If your evidence comes from someone else or a reference then please also include the source.

Opinions or beliefs are allowed just as long as the member makes it known that it's an opinion. Clarifications here.

Do not simply use links to serve as evidence but also post the relevant section/information from the site.

Reporting rule violations
Feel free to report any posts that violates the forum rules on Conduct and Posts/Messages.

Of course, debate rule violations can also be reported but some of those rules count as violations only after becoming a repeated occurrence (after the member has been notified about it at least once). Report unsupported claims, misrepresentations, and misdirections only if a member continues to engage in those actions after already being notified by you at least once in a discussion. All other debate rule violations can be reported after the first instance.

Clarifications can be read here.

Read the next post for information on rule enforcement, moderator interventions, rewards, etc.

* Rules are subject to change.
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Moderator Rewards/Punishment
Moderator intervention will take place when there is a violation of the rules. This intervention will be in the form of moderator comments and warnings. A point system will be used to keep track of the frequency/severity of rule violations. Moderator comments with yellow/orange font letters will involve suggestions, reminders, or warnings and will not count as rule violation points. These types of comments will generally be used when someone reports a post but the staff feels that it is not a violation or that the member is fairly new and could benefit from a reminder or suggestion instead.

Moderator comments with red font will be for rule violations and will count as violation points. If a member reaches 20 points in violations then they will be restricted, suspended, or banned. Points are removed after a month’s time so this way it’s possible to decrease or eliminate all your points if you go a month or more without rule violations.

Rule Violation Point system values

Violation of the Debate rules:

- Not staying on topic after being notified at least once (2 points)
- Ad hominem (2 points)
- Repeated unsupported claims for the same topic. This violation is set high to deter those who might come here to willfully peddle or promote any unproven/debunked view (political or otherwise). (5 points)

Violation of the General rules:

- Posting of private messages and personal information in the forums. (2 points)
- responding to moderator intervention in the threads instead of thru PMs (4 points)
- Uncivil behavior towards other members, such as name calling, insults, etc. (3 points)
- Commenting on someone breaking the rules instead of using the the "report" feature. (3 points)
- Profanity (3 points)
- Blogging or similar behavior (an author of a discussion posting more than 5 times on their topic before someone else responds). (3 points)
- Proselytizing. This not only applies to religion but also proselytizing/promoting for a philosophy, a political party, etc. (5 points)
- The trolls or those who are proselytizing for a religion or a political party will have expedited restrictions, suspensions, or even bans.
- Repeated misrepresentation of someone's views or repeated misdirection (5 points)
- Spamming (5 points up to ban)
- Posting of obscene content and language, such as images of graphic violence, sexual content, sexually explicit language, etc. (5 points up to ban)
- Illegal activity, like threats, sexual harassment, etc. (10 points up to ban)

Moderator Rewards

1. If you create a good discussion topic perhaps by creating a good opening post, or your discussion starts trending, or you get several positive reactions for it, then it will be featured on our home page. The "feature" option is still in the works but basically it's a way to advertise your discussion on the forum home page.

2. Members can write articles and have them featured in a dedicated article section. Visit here for more details.
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Clarification on the rules for Conduct

Members should not name call or insult anyone, and that includes people who are not members of the site.

Members can use a celebrity name as a uersname but they should not impersonate that celebrity as that can get into legal territory.

Also, if that celebrity decides to join here and wants to use their name as their username, then please be prepared to surrender your username. I will change your username to something else of your choosing.

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Clarifications on Posts/Messages
Re: Profanity..
No profanity. The only exception is if you are quoting someone and even then you should censor some of the word. Like for the F word use F*** or something along those lines.

Re: Negative comments or criticisms
Members can criticize a person's views and actions, but not the person or group themselves. Members are allowed to say that a view, action, or religion (example, Christianity) is terrible, but are not allowed to say that a person or group (example, Christians) is terrible. The criticisms should also be civil, as in not including insults and name-calling.

Re: Blogging...
Do not blog or continue posting on your own topic if no one else responds. You can post up to 5 posts, but no more after that until someone else responds to one of your posts or topic OR unless there's moderator approval. This is in place to help deter bots and spamming of the site.

Re: Advertising (esp. books and websites)... Many forums have rules in place to prevent advertisement and we're one of them. I simply don't want people joining just to sell a product or advertise. However, I am okay with people bringing up their website or book just as long as it's within the context of discussing a topic or issue.

Here are some general guidelines to help meet this standard:
1. As for your profile and signature section, you can bring up your books and websites without any accompanying marketing language (don't mention anything about buying it, where to buy it, etc). You can even post a brief description about them.
2. In the discussion/debate areas, members can post the name of their book or online site only if they are quoting from it. Also, the information that they are quoting should be relevant to the discussion.
3. Do not tell members to go read your book or visit your site. Simply quote from your book and cite it as a source.
4. Edit: Adding new guideline...Members that create a usergroup forum can advertise in their forum.

Anything beyond these guidelines can be seen as advertising or showcasing for your book or site.

Re: Proselytizing
Please do not do the following as it will be considered proselytizing:
- Bringing up punishments for mankind (e.g. Hell threats) or redemption plans when it has nothing to do with the topic.
- Unsolicited details. Posting details about your faith (e.g. scriptural references or passages) that have nothing to do with the topic or what you were asked about.

Eventhough beliefs are allowed in the Debate sections but you should not expect them to be the main focus.

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Rules on Debating

Re: Supporting claims
All claims should be supported with logic and/or evidence. The only exception are opinions/beliefs.
- If a claim has been refuted, do not continue to assert it unless you present more or other evidence to support it.
- Opinions are allowed just as long as a member specifies that it's an opinion. If the opinion or belief is shown to be false, then that belief can no longer be used in a debate since I don't want to turn into a platform for false information.
- The Bible can only be used as authoritative source if it is to support a theological claim or topic.
- Do not simply try to promote or sell your view. You have to show that it is true using logic and evidence.

More regarding beliefs/opinions:
- In the debate section, skeptics can deal with beliefs by ignoring it, discuss/debate it (take it as hypothetical truth) or ask questions about it, and lastly, you can present evidence against it to show that it's false (if disproven, poster is obligated to discontinue posting it). You can also start a topic on the belief and address it to everyone to prove or disprove it. I'll at least allow that because you're not challenging members in the same area that they posted their belief, and it's no different than creating a new topic to discuss any other belief.
- What a skeptic can't do is challenge someone to support their beliefs and dismiss a belief (the only exception is if it's disproven).

Re: Rhetoric and commentary in debate sections
Please keep rhetoric and side commentary at a minimum in Debate sections (Discussion sections allows for personal commentary, opinions, etc). The main focus in the debate section should be on the logic and evidence for or against a position that deals with the topic. This standard is in place because too much rhetoric/personal commentary may come from mostly one side and can create a partisan/polarizing environment, like CNN or Fox News.

I consider commentary to be opinionated discussion about a particular subject. While opinion is allowed, but it should not be the bulk of a conversation in the debate sections (the only exception is debate on a hypothetical topic). If it does become the bulk of a debate and I get a lot of members (3 or more; this number subject to increase as more members join) reporting someone (or multiple people) for too much rhetoric/commentary, then I'll issue a moderator comment to restrict commentary/rhetoric. The conversation should only be on logic and evidence for a given topic or I may close the thread. Again, this is to prevent discussions from becoming too polarizing and/or partisan.

Re: Misdirection and misrepresentation
Misrepresentation of views is straightforward and simple to catch. There is now a rule in place that says to not misrepresent someone's position. I can give someone the benefit of the doubt once, but if it is a repeated incidence, esp. after the person has been notified about it, then it will count as a rule violation and points will be assessed.

Misdirection or red herring is a type of diversionary tactic used in debates. According to Wikipedia, is "introducing a second argument in response to the first argument that is irrelevant and draws attention away from the original topic (e.g.: saying “If you want to complain about the dishes I leave in the sink, what about the dirty clothes you leave in the bathroom?”). It is harder to determine because it can sometimes involve intent. However, I will still consider it a rule violation if it happens repeatedly after the member has already been told about it, and that's especially the case if the member is already under suspicion for proselytizing or promoting a view in the Debate sections. A good rule of thumb to avoid red herrings is to stay on topic when it comes to the original debate topic AND also stay on topic when it comes to the particular person's point or argument that you are addressing. Otherwise don't address a person's argument unless you have logic and evidence to dispute it, agree with it, or you have a question about it.

Refer to the next post for guidelines on reporting repeated unsupported claims and red herrings.

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Reporting Rule violations

On reporting rule #4 violations:
- If a member makes an unsupported claim (that's not a stated belief or opinion), then you can request that the person support his or her claim. If the member continues to make the claim without support then report the post.
- When reporting the post, please cite the claim.
- If a member reasserts a claim and evidence that has been debunked, then also report it. In the report, include the exact claim, and the evidence that debunks it. If the matter is not clear-cut case, then moderators may lean towards not intervening.

On reporting misrepresentations and misdirections (or red herrings)

1. Before reporting first notify the member that they are misrepresenting your view or not addressing your argument.
2. If they continue to engage in misrepresentation or misdirection after notifying them, then report it. When reporting it, you must let us know about your specific argument or point and the response that violates the rules.
3. These rules will only be enforced in the Debate sections, and mostly apply towards those who are already under suspicion for trolling, spamming, and/or proselytizing.

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