The CFI Forum is operated by the Center for Inquiry, a nonprofit educational and advocacy organization. The Forum supports the interests of CFI by creating an online community of supporters and interested inquirers into CFI’s areas of concern, which can be generally described as advancing the enlightenment project, fostering an evidence-based, scientific outlook and humanist values.
Preamble: There are rules to participating on this Forum, and there are volunteer and/or CFI-employed Moderators and Administrators whose task it is to enforce these rules, aid in conversation, and otherwise support Forum functioning, as they see fit. Moderators have the sole authority to make such decisions. Their decisions regarding Forum policy are not open for a vote among Forum members, nor open to protracted debate. Those looking for unmoderated discussions should look to unmoderated forums elsewhere on the Web. In the opinion of CFI and its Forum Moderators, however, the most congenial and fruitful places for internet discussion and inquiry, especially concerning the topics CFI focuses on, are those which are capably moderated.
Jump to a specific section:
- Moderators’/Adminstrators’ Roles
- Members’ Roles
- Problem threads and posts
- Problem Members
1. Moderators’/Administrators’ Roles: Moderators (which includes Administrators in the following) of the CFI Forum have the responsibility to enforce the Forum rules listed here. They are also empowered to act so as to improve the general well being of the Forum and its community. Therefore, be aware that Moderators are allowed to take all necessary and appropriate actions, up to and including the editing or deleting of problem posts and the banning of problem members. Moderators answer for their official actions to their fellow Moderators and to staff at CFI. Generally speaking, Moderators will try to provide fair warning about behavior that might require their action, either on the Forum or through email or private message. At all times, failure to respond to and heed warnings from Moderators is grounds for banning from the Forum.
Moderators will use blue lettering to distinguish official posts (warnings, etc.) they make on the Forum from posts which are made in their unofficial capacity as fellow members.
Note that Moderators may not be aware of all activity occurring on the Forum. If there is something you feel needs Moderator attention, please send a concise Private Message or email including a description of the issue and the URL of the associated post or thread. Moderator decisions on any topic may be delayed, perhaps by several days.
2. Members’ Roles: The CFI Forum is open to anyone willing to abide by the Forum Rules. We welcome reasoned discussion, debate, and disagreement, so long as it is in an objective spirit of inquiry and does not become disruptive as described below in the sections on problem threads, posts, and members.
With your help, moderators can be community facilitators, not just janitors or police.
When you see bad behavior, don’t reply. Replying encourages bad behavior by acknowledging it, consumes your energy, and wastes everyone’s time. Just flag it. If enough flags accrue, action will be taken, either automatically or by moderator intervention.
3. Problem threads and posts are subject to editing, deletion, closure, or being locked for further discussion. The decision to leave any thread open and available is at the discretion of Moderators, in their capacity as responsible stewards of Forum functioning. Members re-starting conversations in closed or locked threads are subject to warning and/or termination, for being “problem members”. Some examples of problem threads and posts follow in (a)-(h):
a. Spam is not allowed on the CFI Forum and will be deleted immediately. New members should avoid posting promotional links, as they will likely be viewed as spam.
b. Duplicate or multiple posts on the same topic are subject to deletion. Please attempt to keep threads on topic, and attempt to keep topics in active threads rather than beginning new ones. Moderators will merge threads with similar topics and split threads that stray.
c. Publishing material under copyright is only allowed as per “Fair Use” rules. Members should not copy entire articles under copyright to the forum, but instead quote a few sentences and provide a link.
d. Publishing private messages, emails or other correspondence without permission from the authors is not allowed.
e. “Trolling” is not allowed. This includes posting derogatory or inflammatory messages with the intent to bait an overheated response, as well as behavior that in the Moderators’ judgement is gratuitously argumentative, combative, or inflammatory with the apparent intent to prolong debate for its own sake rather than promote, defend, or critique a particular idea or point of view.
f. Threads and posts are not allowed that in the opinion of Moderators are impolite, vulgar, nasty, uncivil, or otherwise disruptive to the good functioning of the either the Forum or to CFI’s mission. Free inquiry is only possible if we maintain civility. Abuse of forum members will not be permitted. In particular, abuse of Moderators for performing their responsibilities will not be permitted. What constitutes abuse will be determined by Moderators on a case-by-case basis, however in general it amounts to any racist, sexist, homo-sexist, threatening, harassing, or other personally offensive, vulgar or derogatory comments. Abuse would include so-called hate speech and fighting words.
Generally speaking, inflammatory, hyperbolic or overly emotive rhetoric is the sign of a troll and should be avoided on the CFI Forum. This community exists, first and foremost, to foster inquiry. Inquiry does not flourish in an atmosphere of heated rhetoric, mutual vilification or recrimination. Disagreements should be kept, as much as possible, to the issues at hand and not become overly personalized. To take but one example, pointing out a person’s lack of scientific qualifications when discussing scientific issues is on-point, but referring to someone’s political beliefs is not. Since they risk degenerating into flame wars, abusive forum threads or posts are subject to immediate editing or deletion.
g. Threads and posts that are disruptive to the flow of conversation by being off-topic, or which in the opinions of Moderators were written to drive up a post-count or otherwise not relevant to the mission of CFI and its Forum are not allowed. They are subject to locking, editing or deletion.
h. Threads that consist of repetitive posting of the same comments, information, or links without meaningful development or responsive discussion will be considered a form of spamming or trolling and may be locked or deleted at the Moderators’ discretion.
4. Problem members are subject to silencing, banning, or deletion. The decision to allow any member to post is entirely at the discretion of Forum Moderators, in their capacity as responsible stewards of Forum functioning. What constitutes a problem member is up to Moderator discretion. Some examples of problem members follow in (a)-(e):
a. Members who regularly engage in problem posting.
b. Members who regularly engage in abusive, nasty or disruptive behavior; or who display a pattern of hostile, antagonistic and uncooperative behavior with Moderators and/or membership.
c. Members who engage in large-scale or frequent deletion of prior posts without due cause. Deleting prior posts disrupts the flow of threads, and makes it difficult or impossible to follow past discussions. Members wishing to remove more than a very small number of posts, or posts more than a few days old, should discuss this with Moderators by email or Private Message before doing so. Reasonable cases will be accommodated. While members are allowed infrequent deletion of problem posts, large-scale deletions without good cause may lead to warning or banning, at the discretion of Forum Moderators.
d. Members who use more than one username on the Forum. Members are allowed a single username. “Sock puppets” (multiple usernames hiding a single person) are not allowed and will be banned or deleted. Members engaging in such behavior will be considered problem members and are themselves subject to warning or banning.
e. Members who have been banned or deleted from the Forum are not allowed to re-register under different usernames. Such re-registry may result in immediate deletion of the new account, and deletion of all associated new posts.
5. In the opinion of CFI and for the purposes of this Forum, “humanism” is to be interpreted broadly. Anyone self-identifying as a humanist should be so considered. Discussions as to which Forum members are humanists is discouraged, and continued denigration and harassment of self-described humanist Forum members in that light is considered disruptive to CFI’s mission and to that of CFI’s Forum.
6. Users may express their disagreements with the decisions or actions of Moderators, but disagreements, criticisms and the like may be discussed in the Issues & Complaints category ONLY. (You must read the instructions at the top of that Forum before making complaints there). Any such discussions not taking place within the I & C Forum are considered off-topic, and as such are subject to moving, locking or deletion, at the discretion of Moderators.
These Forum Rules are subject to revision and updating at any time, as appropriate.