The Fallible Ideas Discussion Group Guidelines
- The group is for people to discuss philosophy, taken very broadly. Good topics include science, political philosophy, economics, the history of ideas, epistemology, morality, religion, math, evolution, memes, social rules, psychology and art.
- It's a free speech group, not a "safe space". There's no moderator protecting you and deciding what content you should or shouldn't see. If you judge a post is bad, you can reply with a question or criticism, or focus your time and attention on something else you think is good.
- If you have a problem on the group, state it. You can ask for help. For example, if you think some criticism is mean, communicate that you don't like it and make a request about how people treat you, rather than silently giving up over what could easily be a misunderstanding or mistake. (This comes up often because the group has more criticism than people are used to, and has unconventional members.)
- The goal of the group is learning. So most of your posts should explain an idea that someone could learn something from.
- In order to have organized discussions, format your with the group style:
- Do not top post. That means do not quote text and reply above what you quote. If you are replying to something, write your reply below it. If you are not replying to something, delete it. More information.
- Use quotations. When you refer to some text, quote it. All posts should make sense if read individually — they should be standalone and self-contained. But don't quote text you don't need; delete it.
- How much should you quote in your email? The same amount of quoting you'd include if you were writing a blog post.
- Give a source for quotes, such as the name of the person being quoted.
- All emails should be plain text. No rich text, HTML or attachments. You can use *italic*, _underline_, **bold** and SECTION HEADING.
- You must set your message format to "Traditional" on Yahoogroups. Send a blank email to [email protected] and then reply to the confirmation email. Replying to any email from before you do this will be broken.
- Some posters send their emails to the Fallible Ideas Google Group in addition to the Fallible Ideas Yahoo Group. This is optional. The Yahoo Group is the main group and all emails should be sent there. The purpose of also carbon copying emails to the Google Group is for redundancy in case Yahoo fails to deliver a message.
- Both the Yahoo Groups and Google Groups websites are broken for the purpose of posting correctly. You should post using email, in plain text mode. Some software that works: Apple Mail (Mac and iOS), MailMate (Mac), gmail (browser), Claws Mail (Windows, Linux), Postbox (Mac, Windows).
- Tip for Mail users: Apple adds an extra quote marker in front of the "Elliot wrote..." line at the top and in front of the blank line underneath it. Fix those quote levels before sending an email.
- Tip for MailMate users: use my configuration files.
- Tip for gmail users: If you are using gmail webmail, in your browser, after hitting reply to an email you must click the little "...", which expands it to show the quoted text. Then click the little arrow at the bottom right and select "Plain text mode".
- Tip for Postbox users: Set plain text as the default format. (Instructions.)
Here is an example of correct email quoting:
On Jul 3, 2011, at 11:40 AM, Parent wrote:
> On Jul 2, 2011, at 8:11 AM, Grandparent wrote:
>> On Jul 1, 2011, at 5:30 PM, Great Grandparent wrote:
>>> This is the triple quoted great grandparent post.
>> This is the double quoted grandparent post. It was a reply to the great grandparent.
> This is the single quoted parent post. It's the one you're replying to. It was a reply to the grandparent.
This is your text. It's not quoted. By the way, some email software can color text based on quoting. But you could still read it even without colors!
>> This is a second part of the grandparent post.
> And a second parent of the parent post. (By the way, "Great Grandparent wrote" is double quoted because it was first written by Grandparent, and everything Grandparent writes is in double quotes.)
And this is you replying to a second topic. There's no need to put your own name here because all quoted text is differentiated from regular text. Regular text means you.
> This is the parent post's third topic of interest.
> Notice how you don't name who is talking. The quoting level indicates it every time.
This is your reply to the third topic. By the way, if you quote something with line breaks in it then you need to quote each individual paragraph.
- You can see how examples of how to write emails correctly in this video.
- Long paragraphs are discouraged. Use whitespace. Include a full blank line between paragraphs.
- Use a relevant subject line. If you change the topic or discuss a tangent, change the subject line to match. So people can track these changes, indicate them like this example: "Morality (was: Philosophy of Science)"
- An email's main text should stand on its own and make sense even if a reader did not see the subject line. Because subject lines don't get quoted to reply to and sometimes change.
- Don't hesitate to reply to old topics, reply in someone else's thread, start a tangential discussion about any topic, make a new topic, or reply to questions that were directed to someone else.
- The group is friendly to the Fallible Ideas philosophy. Criticism and outsiders are welcome too, especially if they make the effort to understand what they're criticizing.
- It's an unmoderated group. That means you need to regulate your own posting. If you're angry, take a break. The group is for intelligent discussion, not fighting. Keep hostility out of your posts.
- The best way to maintain a good group atmosphere is to focus your attention on the best posts. Try to reply more to the most interesting ideas, instead of the ones you think are stupid.
- Limit meta discussion (discussion about the discussion), especially in adversarial contexts. That means limiting statements about other posters, yourself, the group itself, how specific individuals should discuss, and so on. The group's purpose is to discuss ideas, not people or discussions.
- Reading the discussions for a month before posting is recommended in order to learn what to expect.
- Initiation of force is prohibited. Misquotes are also unacceptable.