Before you speak, let your words pass through three gates; At the first gate, ask yourself, is is true? At the second gate ask, is it necessary? At the third gate ask, is it kind?
Slate Star Codex has lower standards than either ancient Sufis or preachy Victorians, and so we only require you to pass at least two of those three gates.
If you make a comment here, it had better be either true and necessary, true and kind, or kind and necessary.
Recognizing that nobody can be totally sure what is or isn’t true, if you want to say something that might not be true – anything controversial, speculative, or highly opinionated – then you had better make sure it is both kind and necessary. Kind, in that you don’t rush to insult people who disagree with you. Necessary in that it’s on topic, and not only contributes something to the discussion but contributes more to the discussion than it’s likely to take away through starting a fight.
Nobody can be kind all the time, but if you are going to be angry or sarcastic, what you say had better be both true and necessary. You had better be delivering a very well-deserved smackdown against someone who is uncontroversially and obviously wrong, in a way you can back up with universally agreed-upon statistics. I feel like I tried this here and though a lot of people disagreed with my tone, not one person accused me of getting the math wrong. That’s the standard I’m holding commenters to as well. And it had better be necessary, in that you are quashing a false opinion which is doing real damage and which is so persistent that you don’t think any more measured refutation would be effective.
Annnnnnd sometimes you might want to share something that’s not especially relevant, not the most important thing in the world – but if you do that it had better be both true and kind. No random interjection of toxic opinions that are going to cause World War III. No unprovoked attacks.
Threats, doxxing, most things people would call “slurs”, et cetera fail this test as neither kind nor necessary. You people are smart and don’t need me to explain this further.
I feel like these standards are pretty lax. In fact, they probably permit most spam – this spambot saying “this is a wonderful piece of writing” is both true and kind – so I will inelegantly add a kludge that spam is also unacceptable (I have it on good authority that this was in the original Sufi saying used by the Buddha as well). Remember that before you worry this is too unduly restrictive.
I don’t always read comment threads, and when I do my brain automatically screens out comments it expects to be low-quality, and even on the rare cases where I see them I usually figure that even if I don’t like them other people might. What I’m saying is I’m a terrible moderator and will never catch bad comments if left to my own devices. So I have added a REPORT button to comments. Right now it’s large and ugly and if somebody wants to play around with the theme so that it’s less obtrusive I’ll give them the access to do so. Please use the REPORT button if you think a comment violates the above policy, and please err on the side of using it too much rather than too little.
I will review reported comments. If a comment gets only one report, I will have a strong bias towards not reacting, unless it is so obviously bad that something must be done immediately. If a comment gets three or more reports, I will have a strong bias towards reacting, unless it’s obvious to me that the reports are malicious or the comment can’t possibly be construed as violating the policy.
If I need to react to a comment, I will delete it only if it is dangerous to leave it up (ie comment contains people’s personal information, comment contains strong basilisk, comment is so offensive that Internet mob would use my leaving it up as an excuse to attack me). Otherwise, I will leave it up but post in large red letters below it “COMMENT VIOLATED POLICY FOR [REASON]. POSTER BANNED FOR [TIME]”, for approximately the same reason all those people in Game of Thrones leave bloody heads on spikes in front of their castles. For first offenses, bans will be for about a day. For second offenses, bans will be for about a month. For third offenses, bans will be for about forever.
Many people have told me I have too many low-quality commenters, especially on the Reactionary side of the aisle (this is not persecution; even some Reactionaries have told me this). So I will be trying to cultivate a very itchy trigger finger for a while. If you want to help, please cultivate a very itchy REPORT-button-pressing finger. You can also volunteer to be a moderator, but only if I know you pretty well in real life and have some reason to trust you and I get some kind of moderator system up and running.
Thank you for your cooperation.