Politeness Policy

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Mick West

Staff member
The goal of Metabunk.org is honest debunking. Exposing and removing falsehoods. It has been my experience that being polite is very helpful when debunking. If someone feels that you are not being polite, or that you have in any way denigrated or belittled them, then they will start complaining about that instead of addressing your points, and will be far less likely to listen to you with an open mind. It also greatly affects the perception of more neutral readers, who respond similarly to the person being insulted.

On a more fundamental level, everyone deserves your respect until you really understand where they are coming from. It's easy to jump to conclusions about people just because they say something a little strange. But immediately labeling people, in whatever way, is a sure way of shutting down an honest and open conversation. Polite respect and openness must be the starting point.

So, please:
  • Do not insult people either directly or indirectly
  • Do not call them names, such as "stupid", "ignorant", "uneducated", or "liar"
  • Do not describe their theory as "stupid", "moronic", "idiotic", "delusional", etc
  • Do not suggest they get an education, or take some classes
  • Do not criticize their spelling or grammar
  • Do not respond to the tone of their post instead of the content
  • Do not mock people, or make jokes at their expense
  • Do not suggest they are mentally ill, or that they need help
  • Do not suggest anyone who believes in [any particular theory] is mentally ill.

The above applies regardless of if it is true or not. If someone perceives something as rude, then it is impolite.

Instead, please:
  • Show them where they are wrong
  • Try to help them understand their misconceptions. Politely.
  • Stick to the facts
  • Ignore any insults that they might use
  • Focus on individual key points, not the general tone

The above policy will be enforced. I will delete or edit posts that do not conform to it, and I will ban people who repeatedly violate it (initially for 24 hours, then for longer periods).

It will not be applied evenhandedly. Since censoring the bunk believers is often viewed as impolite and is hence counterproductive, then they will be given more leeway. Debunkers generally have far thicker skins. The bunk believers' insults do not help their case, and so it's not so important to remove them. I will still remove more extreme insults that would derail the conversation.

It will be relaxed to allow criticism of credentials and skill level only in the case of appeals to authority. For example, suggesting something is correct because someone is a "doctor" (when they actually have a mail order doctorate). Or for people with seeming relevant qualifications on paper who demonstrate ineptitude in the actual work or statements.

Threats of any kind will not be tolerated, and will likely lead to a ban.

Remember, this is not about politeness per se. It's about debunking. We are being polite so that the debunking is more effective, not to conform to some code of manners, and not to avoid hurting their feelings. The only goal here is honest debunking. Politeness just helps a lot.

I greatly appreciate your help with this. I know this is not for everyone, but there are many places on the internet where you can interact with bunk believers with no such restrictions. The politeness policy is the basis for the nature of Metabunk.org, and for this to remain the unique little debunking site it has become, the politeness policy needs to be observed.

Thank you,

Mick West
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