The Rules of Engagement

Here’s what I ask of commenters, and what I will do as well. All of these guidelines are subject to mods’ judgment and are not up for debate or argument. And this might seem a little draconian, but it’s what I’ve been running with for two eight years now and only a handful of people have ever run afoul of anything here. Seriously, most people will never need to worry about this stuff. It’s just here so I can refer people to it in case they need it, and because I think that setting expectations clearly leads to a better community experience for us all.

0. Be excellent to each other.

Don’t be gratuitously mean. Don’t snipe at people who aren’t causing you grief. Don’t attack people personally. Don’t tone troll or sincerity troll anybody. Don’t make assumptions about people, accuse them of lying or stupidity, or talk over them. Don’t use diminuitives or overly-intimate terms like “baby” or “honey” to try to cow anybody. While you’re here, you’re a guest in my virtual home, and I’ll treat you as such–and expect you to behave as such. (Cussing is completely fine, just don’t direct it at any other commenters.)

1. Don’t proselytize.

There are lots of spaces for Christians or other theists who want to preach. This is not one of them. R2D is not your personal witnessing ground full of unwashed heathens to convert. If you refuse to stop proselytizing, then you’ll be given an invitation to find somewhere else to showboat. That includes but is not limited to: telling dissenters you’ll “pray for them” or that you “feel sorry for them;” threatening dissenters with supernatural or earthly retribution for noncompliance; telling dissenters that your deity loves them or informing them that they just did something/everything all wrong; retelling some Christian urban legend or talking point; reciting Bible verses like they are magic spells.

2. If you make a claim, you will be expected to back up that claim with objective, peer-reviewed evidence or to retract it.

I don’t care if you’re talking about faith healing or homeopathy. R2D is a science- and reality-embracing zone. If you can’t back up a claim with credible support, then do what I do and don’t make that claim in public.

3. This is a safe space.

That means everything you think it means. Please take misogyny, racism, poor-shaming, fat-shaming, anti-LGBTQ bigotry, ability-shaming, and mental-illness stigmatizing elsewhere. (That means no R-word, racial slurs, or sexist slurs, ever, no matter how justified someone thinks they are or how deserving one’s target seems.) Please be patient with those who innocently err in how they word something, and if you’re on the receiving end of a gentle correction, please be gracious. That includes moderators. If we mess up, please tell us–either here, or on the forum on our official site, or in email or something–whatever you feel most comfortable with.

4. Don’t lie or troll.

If I start thinking you’re just here to get a rise out of people or just yank chains, you’ll be given an invitation to go do that elsewhere.

5. Do not question anybody’s sincerity or concern-troll anybody’s emotional state.

If you tell me you were an atheist before conversion, then I’ll give you benefit of the doubt–at least until I know more about how you define atheism (though I don’t promise to find your reasons for converting to be terribly compelling). Likewise, if people tell you they were a sincere Christian before deconverting, then do them the courtesy of believing that they were very sincere (though you, in turn, might not ever approve of their reasons for leaving the religion). In the same way, if someone sounds mad or upset then I’m going to assume that person is mad or upset, but I will do my level best to try to see what that person’s actually trying to say instead of dismissing them on the basis of sounding mad or upset–and I expect others to do the same for me or anybody else who sounds that way. Sometimes it takes anger to get the words out or to make others realize we’re serious. You don’t need to apologize for being angry.

6. Silencing tactics will likewise not be tolerated.

silencing tactic is an attempt to shut someone down without actually addressing what that person’s said by trying to rob that person of their right to speak at all. “Why do you talk about religion so much?” is one silencing tactic non-Christian writers often face, but there are slews of others: “We shouldn’t be divisive.” “You’re taking the focus away from the mission.” “This topic is a waste of time/not what I want you to talk about/not what I personally think is important.” Well, they’re bullshit, and I won’t let them happen here. If someone wants to shut another commenter down, then they need to do it by actually engaging in what was said.

7. If you think a sarcastic or jokey comment might be misconstrued, it’s probably a good idea to append it with a /s (meaning “sarcastic/joking”) or j/k or whatever, so people know that you weren’t serious.

As you hang out longer, we’ll get to know how you think and will probably know when you’re kidding around, but if you’re kinda new, help us get to know you 🙂 This isn’t a requirement, but it’s just something I’ve noticed over the past couple years as our community’s grown.

Commenting Etiquette.

Necroposting: Necroposting (resurrecting comments on a long-past post) is perfectly fine. Please be aware that people don’t generally notice these older posts’ activity, though. If it’s something you want people to see and respond to, it’s okay to comment on the current post that you necro’d something–or to start a conversation about the previous post on the current one. Comments move fast on this blog, so it’s fine to call attention to it however you want.

Off-Topic: Off-topic comments are just fine as well. Take the conversation wherever you feel led.

Inline images: We love inline images! Please don’t hotlink anything not safe for work (NSFW) though. Some of our users browse at work. Cuss-words as captions for the images are fine.

Violent imagery: Please help ensure that nobody looking in on us would ever think we would advocate real violence be done to anybody. I’ve long had a policy of allowing “cartoon violence” in comments, which is imagery so over-the-top cartoonish, silly, and ridiculous that nobody would ever think the person saying it would actually go do that. Don’t make it too real, please.

Introduction comments: If you’re new to the commentariat, please feel free to say so! We love our lurkers, and we love seeing new faces.