The Fallible Ideas Discussion Group Guidelines

  • Link to the the Fallible Ideas Discussion Group at Google Groups
  • The FI 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.
  • After signing up, post by emailing to [email protected]
  • FI is a public discussion group. All messages are permanently saved and are available to anyone on the internet. You can quote, link or refer to FI posts elsewhere, just the same as if they were public blog posts.
  • FI is 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 that 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.
  • You don't need a Google account to join. You can also join by emailing [email protected] and replying to the confirmation email.
  • In order to have organized discussions, format your post with the group style. Posts aren't moderated based on their ideas, but correct formatting is expected:
    • 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 That means do not quote text and reply above what you quote.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.
    • For redundancy, there is a second backup, mirror group. You can carbon copy your emails to the Fallible Ideas Yahoo Group. (Sign up at that web link or by emailing [email protected] and replying to the confirmation email. Then set your message format to "Traditional" (plain text) on Yahoo Groups by sending a blank email to [email protected] and then replying to the confirmation email. Then you can post to [email protected] ) Using the secondary Yahoo Group is optional. The Google Group is the main group and all emails should be sent there.
    • Both the Google Groups and Yahoo Groups websites are broken for the purpose of posting correctly formatted posts. You should post using email, in plain text mode. Some software that works: Apple Mail (Mac, 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".
    • Here is an example of correct email quoting:
    • 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.
    • View Alan Forrester's video guide to signing up and formatting posts.
  • 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.
  • Don't judge the truth of an idea by the amount of authority (or credentials, expertise, popularity or personal flaws) a discussion participant has. Don't mix up the messenger and the message. Discuss issues directly instead of using proxies like how biased you think someone is due to their demographics.
  • Reading the discussions for a week before posting is recommended in order to learn what to expect – especially in terms of post formatting and criticism.
  • Initiation of force is prohibited (e.g. doxing). Misquotes are also unacceptable.
By Elliot Temple | Blog |

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