Internet Discussion Practices

Internet discussion has many pitfalls. The perceived ability to make somewhat anonymous, or at least physically sheltered remarks may cause us to neglect normal interpersonal behavior.

There have been many lists of guidelines for internet discussion. Here is my set, phrased as a set of positive values.

1. The open exchange of information, ideas, and experiences is maintained.

All discussion is considered to be in the public domain so discretion is practiced.

Information presented is reliable and accurate. We research important facts.

Personal experiences are valuable contributions.

New information and perspectives are valued and encouraged.

2. Language is used in a way that advances discussion.

Sarcasm is avoided since it is difficult to signal in text and often denigrating.

Hyperbole, hasty generalizations, and absurd arguments are avoided since they generally do not advance discussion and suffer logical weakness.

Attacks of any type on the speaker of an idea (ad hominem) do not advance the discussion, damage interpersonal relations, and are not used.

Arguments and facts are not repeated unnecessarily.

3. The rights and dignity of individuals are defended.

Minority opinions are respected.

Good intentions are presumed.

The valuable parts of others arguments are admitted.

Prejudice or attacks on classes of people are challenged.

Leaders are to be as respected as anyone else, neither more nor less.