Comment on New Rules?

Hello, there are some new rules at a neighboring forum that seem to be good. Should we adopt these rules too, or a variant of them? I would very much want comment on this:

After extensive discussion among the moderators, we have added some language to the FAQ/Guidelines. This language takes effect today. Please review the guidelines linked above (and always available at the top of the page). I’d like to highlight two important additions:

Participate with an aim to gain deeper understanding about orthodox Christian faith and/or mainstream science, and constructively explore the relationship between them. Users whose participation in discussions seems primarily focused on promoting unorthodox religious beliefs, idiosyncratic ideas about faith and/or science, or anti-religious sentiments will be asked to take their proselytizing efforts elsewhere.

Users who appear to be participating in discussions primarily to promote their books, blogs, or other published material will be asked to take their advertising elsewhere.

What the moderators have found is that people who come here primarily to “correct” other people’s ideas end up dragging down the conversation rather than adding to it. This is not meant as a swipe at any particular perspective on faith and science—we have gracious, positive contributors representing many perspectives—but more a statement on the kind of attitude we prefer among contributors. We are indeed raising the bar for contributors here—and perhaps we should have raised it sooner. But this standard is not meant to create an exclusive club or to silence perspectives we don’t like. It’s about fostering a community where our mission and values are consistently reflected. If we turn into a billboard for personal vendettas, then we won’t be this sort of community.

This seems like a good move for them, and as we are forming here, I want to adopt best practices. If this makes sense for them, it might also for us. I very much want comment from the regulars on this: @jongarvey, @Patrick, @deuteroKJ, @Jordan, @Philosurfer, @gbrooks9, @Guy_Coe, @T.j_Runyon, @anon46279830, @AllenWitmerMiller, @Agauger, and so on.

[Do not be offended if I didn’t link your name here; there is a limit.]

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There is nothing close to an objective way to apply any of these rules. It stifles academic freedom by letting someone decide what ideas are too quirky to deserve a fair hearing and which are not (a bar that they tried to use, albeit informally perhaps before they spelled it out in writing like this, to keep Genealogical Adam off of their site).

I see this place as an alternative to Biologos. The more it becomes a copy of them the more it is going to have their issues.


@swamidass: I am confused. The link to the new rules takes me to the Biologos guideles.


They did successfully allow a prolonged discussion about what Science had and had not demonstrated about the possibility of a bottleneck of two.
I don’t know anything about the geneological Adam dispute— what happened or why.

Our host is the man to describe that one to you. I see them as having done stuff like this informally before they got formal with these rules. And that’s why a lot of people who are here are here and not there. I started there and I came here. So did others. Why take away one of the main reasons for that?

One cannot simultaneously advocate for “An Empty Chair” as it has been described to me here and at the same time enforce rules like these.


The key new text is:

Okay, but I’m asking about this specific rule. We are not going to wholesale become like them any time soon. As you know, we’ve had challenges in moderation. I want to adopt best practices from whereever we can.

Yes, but there was also far to much abuse of Buggs. It also continued on far too long. That is not something I will allow here next time around.

How would you change the text @anon46279830?

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If we were to adopt similar rules, there would almost certainly be arguments over the definition of “Orthodox Christian Faith.” For example, I would suppose that advocating theistic evolution is regarded as decidedly unorthodox in some circles…


Would using the term Trinitarian help?

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I think it is too full of land mines to salvage. Rather the focus should be on how we treat each other, not what ideas we push.


I would concur.


So how would you rewrite it?

(welcome back @J.E.S)

Okay. That is not a bad idea.

Here is the thing though…when bad behavior breaks out it cannot be just me dealing with it. It cannot be just the @moderators either. How can we convey that everyone needs to help out on this? Do you guys see how you can help?


Unfortunately this is not so different than teaching a middle school science classroom, which I did before I got old enough to lose patience with it for both students and administrators. Ninety percent of the trouble is caused by ten percent of the students. And its not more rules that will fix it because they will get off on gaming the system. Running off the few that get off on being boorish and offending others will solve almost all your problems. Adding ten new pages of policy won’t solve any of your problems.


I would submit that attempting to foster a forum culture of politeness and cordiality would be a very good move (although it is hard [if not impossible] to “mandate” and has to happen rather naturally). In my opinion, starting some less-intense threads for the sake of hospitality (such as an introductions thread) would be helpful to encourage users to see each other as friends rather than adversaries. Ideally, the friendliness exhibited on these social threads would carry over into even the most intense discussions.

Truth springs from argument amongst friends.
-David Hume


I feel like it is very difficult to have such disparite conversations going on - something like conference tracks could be nice.

I also think praising good behavior (@swamidass seems to do this quite well) combined with the ability to ignore attention seekers or trouble makers are good tools to sort of curate a culture. If I could just hit an “Ignore” button for certain individuals/conversations it would really tone things down.

I’m happy for a forum to be open to a diversity of opinions and motivations, it’s just nice to be able to tune in more carefully to the stuff relevent to me.


That is easy to do. At the bottom of every thread, there is a button that will let you choose “Watching, Tracking, Normal, Muted”. Just choose muted.

The more all of us do this the better. I will not be available at all times.


It is also possible to adjust settings in your preferences so everything (by category) defaults to Tracked instead of Watched. Then you can select individual topics you want promoted to Watched.

I did not realize these settings WORKED!!! We need a graphic for this in our orientation. Joshua, I’ll make a draft and send it to you!

Guidelines for dealing in paradoxes…


Is this true for the Android view too ? I tried to find it and could find no mute button!

Yes. Click button with current setting, then options appear.