How to Participate

1. Structure for participating

1(a) If you are posting a comment below a Statement

  1. Please comment only directly on the content of the statement
  2. Do not respond to comments by other people.
  3. Respond to each paragraph, and use the number of each paragraph.
  4. Begin each paragraph response by saying either “I agree with this” or “I agree with this with reservations” or “I disagree with this”, before you elaborate on why you agree or disagree.
  5. Follow the tips for participating and moderation guidelines below.

1(b) If you are posting a comment below a Discussion Post

  1. Please stay on the topic of the agenda item.
  2. You may discuss comments with other people.
  3. Follow the tips for participating and moderation guidelines below.

1(c) Comments will be moderated before they are approved

Also, the first comments will not be approved until the moderating team can evaluate the general tone of the comments and work out practical details of how to moderate the process, so please be patient after you post early comments.


2. Tips for participating

2(a) Tips for content, tone, and perspective in expressing oneself

  1. Please state your own position without trying to guess another person’s position.
  2. Try to be explicit about the values, perspectives, interpretations, and assumptions underlying your position, and recognize that reasonable people can and do disagree about these.
  3. Define words and/or terms when you are asked to do so. Pre-empt such questions by defining, at first use, words already known to raise this question among participants on either “side” (e.g. “feminism”).
  4. Aim to make specific claims, and reference your claims wherever possible.
  5. Provide sources if asked, or modify (or retract) your claim if unable to do so.
  6. Explicitly state where you agree, in whole or in part, with someone. Use argument and explanation rather than assertion to express disagreement.
  7. For the sake of collegial discussion here and as a general principle in interpersonal interactions, do not insult another person or group. Challenge statements or actions rather than perceived characteristics or motives.
  8. Any word, including “swear words”, may be used if not directed by the user as an insult against a person or group involved in the discussion, and the use of such words in general (including in other settings) may be discussed as a topic in and of itself.

2(b) Tips for interpreting others’ posts (reading & responding)

  1. Please avoid ascribing motive, morality, beliefs, or opinion to another person or group.
  2. Interpret ambiguous statements as charitably as possible.
  3. Ask questions for clarification and to find commonality.
  4. Address the content of the other person’s post and argument, not what you think or assume about the person.
  5. Avoid generalizations about people or groups, unless readily supportable and/or trivial.


3. Moderation guidelines

Moderators are likely to find problematic posts that

  1. Contain direct insults or comments that could readily be interpreted as goading
  2. Comment on presumed characteristics, morality, or beliefs of another person or group, rather than about statements or actions by that person
  3. Generalize about groups or types of people
  4. Attempt to convey someone else’s position, opinion, and/or argument: “You said [quote]” and “I read your statement as saying [interpretation]; is that correct?” are fine, but “You said [interpretation]!” may be problematic.
  5. Make assertion without basis about a topic on which agreement hasn’t been reached, unless the statement is clearly an opinion
  6. Derail onto a side topic
  7. Contain little or no content pertinent to the discussion at hand (these may be moved to another thread)

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