As this site is still a fledgling, I’m feeling my way with regard to rules.

So I’m going to start a bit vague, then get more specific as need arises.The principle is in the strapline: Park your priors by the door.  Everyone has priors, they are crucial to way we make sense of the world.  But the impetus behind this site is to be a place where they can be loosened and adjusted while you wait.  So leave them by the door, and pick them up again as you leave!

There are plenty of blogs and forums where people with like priors can hang out and scoff at those who do not share them.  There’s nothing wrong with those sites, and I’ve learned a lot from them. But the idea here is to provide a venue where people with very different priors can come to discover what common ground we share; what misunderstandings of other views we hold; and, having cleared away the straw men, find out where our real differences lie.  In my experience, when you reach that point, who is right becomes obvious to both parties 🙂

Edited 1/12/15 to change from third to first person plural.


So draft rules:

  • Assume all other posters are posting in good faith.
    • For example, do not accuse other posters of being deliberately misleading
  • Do not use turn this site into as a peanut gallery for observing the antics on other boards. (there are plenty of places on the web where you can do that!)
  • Address the content of the post, not the perceived failings of the poster. [purple text added 28th November 2015]
    • This means that accusing others of ignorance or stupidity is off topic
    • As is implying that other posters are mentally ill or demented.
  • Don’t advocate illegal activities.
  • Don’t post porn, or links to porn, or any material liable to risk the integrity of another poster’s computer*.

ETA 8th September 2013

  • If you have author permissions, and post an OP, you may find you have the technical ability to edit comments to your post, and move them.  Please do not do so.  Rule violating posts will be moved by moderators, and it is a principle of this site that comments are not edited, deleted, or hidden.

ETA 27th January 2014

  • Don’t use this site to try to “out” other internet denizens or indulge in ad hominem speculations.  Such speculations may, notwithstanding general principles regarding deletion, be deleted. ETA 13th June 2015: please read the guidlines in ETA6 below and note that the rule applies even if the person in question has made the information possible to find out)

That’ll do for starters!

Posts won’t be moderated unless I find there’s a problem – if your post is held in moderation it’ll just be because the spam filter caught it.

If you want to post OPs, let me know and I’ll register you as a Subscriber.  That means your OPs will be held in moderation until I click the publish button.  If all goes well, I’ll push people up to Author.

One last thing – I’ve set the nesting for threaded comments to be quite deep, because I like nested sites – derails are much less of a problem and I’m an inveterate derailer.  So use the nesting if it suits your post i.e. if you are replying to a specific post rather than making a general point re the OP.

And thanks for coming!


ETA: I’ve added the coloured text above for clarity (22.2.2012)

ETA2: Blue text added above for clarity (7.05.2012)

ETA3: New rule added in purple (12.05.2012)

ETA4: *Violation of rule in purple will result in immediate and permanent ban (14.05.2012)

ETA5: Peanut rule gallery relaxed a little (5th November 2012)

 ETA6, June 13th, 2015): Below is a copy&paste from a a post of mine in a discussion regarding the outing rule:

It is part of the founding philosophy of TSZ that no-one “deserves” to be banned. People are banned for one reason only: to ensure that we don’t get posts containing the very narrow range of material that is not allowed here, namely porn/malware (or links to); and material that gives the RL identity of people known to us by their internet names, without their permission (also known, I understand, as “doxxing”).

There are a couple of grey areas regarding that last one but I think I have made the boundaries clear, and will try to make them clearer still:

Firstly: If someone has made it clear who they are in RL, e.g. by linking to their publications, that is fine, and it is still fine for others to acknowledge the identity if their publications are being discussed. However, it is not OK to use that person’s RL name in personal attacks, which are against the game-rules anyway (“assume the other person is posting in good faith”; “address the argument, not the person”) but are not in themselves things I would ever ban anyone for. Such posts just get moved to guano, just as pieces get moved off a chess board. But if in breaking those rules, you invoke someone’s personal ID, that is not on, the reason being that I don’t want such personal attacks here to come up in a google search of that person’s RL name, as such things happen, as I know to my cost.

Secondly, if the person in here is not a regular poster here, but is nonetheless effectively party to the conversations we often have by loud-hailer as it were, at another site, then membership protections apply. In any case, in the case of kairosfocus, I think he is, or was, a registered member here, and you easily can’t tell in any case. So if in doubt, assume membership, either actual or virtual, and don’t link identity with internet handle. In other words, do not post the RL identities of people with whom our personal relations, as it were, are in their internet identities.

ETA 29th November, 2015:

This post by Reciprocating Bill sums up the ethos of the site brilliantly so I’m quoting it here:

Participation at this site entails obligations similar to those that attend playing a game. While there is no objective moral obligation to answer questions, the site has aims, rules and informal stakeholders, just as football has same. When violations of those aims and rules are perceived and/or the enforcement of same is seen as arbitrary or inconsistent, differences and conflicts arise. No resort to objective morality, yet perfectly comprehensible and appropriate opprobrium.

13th December 2015:

This post by DNA_Jock sums up how the implementation of the rules essentially works, and how I think it should work.  If you think it doesn’t, let us know:


walto: it’s arbitrary and capricious which posts get guanoed

I think not. It is stochastic.
Things that increase vs. decrease the probability of guanoing:
1 Clearly breaks rules vs. may be interpreted as rule-breaking.
2 Guanoing requested vs. Target requests post not be guanoed
3 Author perceived to be “home” side vs. Author perceived to be “visitor”
4 Target perceived to be “visitor” vs. Target is an admin
5 Substantive content is low vs. Substantive content is high
6 Derailing active discussion vs. ancient bloody history.
As to the relative importance of the different factors, YMMV.
<snip irrelevant bit>
Discrete-choice modeling, it’s fun.

ETA (by AF) 23.01.20 — TSZ Policy on Racism (as stated by EL here)

I do not want racist material on this site. Like porn, it should be deleted immediately (not moved to Guano).

The poster should be warned, and if there is ONE further violation, then the poster should be banned…

…That is my policy. There is a very short list of things that I simply do not want, and will not have on this site, and racist material is one of them.

410 thoughts on “Rules

  1. Moderators,

    Could one of you replace the link in my OP with a Youtube embed?


  2. petrushka,

    I acknowledged that your logic was correct. You are merely asserting that my further comments are made in bad faith.

    You’ve been making that claim for over a week. For example, you said on the 24th that:

    We have always been in agreement on the logic.

    That’s obviously false. We’ve been disagreeing on the logic ever since you made this statement about the toothpaste thief:

    Th story is untrue. Nothing can logically be said about the existence of the alleged person.

    That statement is logically incorrect. I disagree with it on logical grounds. How much clearer do I have to make myself?

    We do not agree on the logic, unless you agree that your statement is false. Do you, or don’t you? You’ve never told us. When I ask, you ignore me and go back to insisting that we agree on the logic!

    These discussions would go much more smoothly if you would take responsibility for what you write.

    I am at a disadvantage, because I do not have the vocabulary to express what I find wrong with your argument.

    I understand your point, and I responded to it long ago. I keep pointing you to my response. Why won’t you read it instead of pretending that I haven’t responded?

  3. keiths: Why won’t you read it instead of pretending that I haven’t responded?


    This goes against Lizzie’s rule to assume others are posting in good faith.

  4. keiths, to petrushka:

    Why won’t you read it instead of pretending that I haven’t responded?


    This goes against Lizzie’s rule to assume others are posting in good faith.

    He said it himself, Alan:

    I would be willing to consider the possibility that my point is wrong, but it was never addressed.

    Meanwhile, I notice that this gets nary a comment from you:

    What would satisfy you, keiths? a blowjob, maybe? Kiss your ass?

    And by the way, I am not asking for that to be guano’ed. Just pointing out that your moderation is a bit uneven, to say the least.

  5. keiths,

    Strong language is not against the rules. Assuming what others know or pretend is a form of not treating other commenters in good faith.

  6. Come on, Alan.

    If this…

    You are in Captain Queeg mode. You are obsessed with a logical construction that no one is opposing.

    …and this…

    What would satisfy you, keiths? a blowjob, maybe? Kiss your ass?

    …are “forms of treating other commenters in good faith”, then so is this:

    Why won’t you read it instead of pretending that I haven’t responded?

    Try to be objective (and consistent), Alan.

  7. keiths: Try to be objective (and consistent), Alan.

    What I can’t be is omnipresent and I haven’t felt the need to remind people about Lizzie’s rules until recently. Consider the possibility that your commenting style can be a little abrasive.

    I’m moving these comments to the moderation thread.

  8. Alan,

    What I can’t be is omnipresent and I haven’t felt the need to remind people about Lizzie’s rules until recently.

    I’m not asking you to be omnipresent. I’m asking you to be objective and consistent in your role as moderator.

    Consider the possibility that your commenting style can be a little abrasive.

    As opposed to

    What would satisfy you, keiths? a blowjob, maybe? Kiss your ass?

    …which is the epitome of gentleness.

    Consistency, Alan.

    I don’t coddle petrushka or anyone else, and I don’t expect to be coddled, either. We’re grownups here, and we are responsible for what we write. I don’t see why petrushka or anyone else should be handled with kid gloves.

    I’m moving these comments to the moderation thread.

    Then at least be consistent and move this one, too.

Comments are closed.