Guidelines for Conduct in Nirmukta

The following list consists of guidelines for participation in Nirmukta. These guidelines are meant to promote a friendly and welcome atmosphere for rational discussion of ideas, towards building a vibrant freethought community. These are two essential documents for members to read:

Trolls And Other Disrupters: A Pragmatist’s Guide To Moderating Online Freethought Groups

Trolls and Other Disrupters Part II: A Pragmatist’s Guide To Moderating Secular Humanist Groups

Please read these documents before making any complaints about moderation.

Here are some additional guidelines for conduct:

  1. Avoid making racially prejudiced, sexist, casteist, ableist, homophobic or bigoted remarks of any sort. Members found violating this rule will be removed from complete nirmukta network.
  2. Before responding to a post or comment, please read and understand its gist thoroughly, asking for clarifications if necessary.
  3. Avoid personal attacks against individuals but practice criticism of ideas. The focus should be on increasing our combined knowledge, not on putting people down.
  4. Avoid posting sexually suggestive material or using language considered impolite in public settings.
  5. Do not make assumptions about other people in a discussion.
  6. Disagree without being disagreeable. Defend your opinions without being defensive.
  7. Be informed about common logical fallacies before challenging the arguments put forth by others.
  8. Learn how to argue online.

    1. Present clearly formed premises and conclusions and defend them as necessary. Demand the same from other arguers.
    2. Learn to recognize difference between perspective and opinion. Valid perspectives are useful in a discussion, opinions in opinion polls.
    3. In a long thread its all the more expected that newer comments will be proper arguments or counterarguments trying to bring in new perspectives or defenses and not just merely expressing an opinion.
    4. Stick to the original topic of discussion. FB discussions tend to derail. Hence, make an extra effort to not digress or to get the discussion back on track.
    5. Avoid chat-like discussions.
  9. Nirmukta has multiple Facebook groups for content-specific discussions. Information about the complete network can be found here.

    1. Refrain from starting same threads on multiple groups.
    2. Indian Atheists Debate Corner group should be used for basic atheism-related discussions. Debates with religious people can also be had here. No other groups allow religious debates.
    3. Regional groups are good grounds to socialize with fellow atheists and grow as a freethinker.
    4. The Nirmukta main FB group is a central place for freethought specific discussions that don’t fall under any specific category. Vanilla atheistic posts are discouraged on this group.
  10. Do not comment on closed threads. Do not discuss moderation policies on Facebook.
    To avoid disrupting our groups. any grievances may be addressed either by emailing the Nirmukta moderators at moderators@nirmukta.com, or in the MOT (Moderation Open Thread) in the Nirmukta forums. Additionally, we encourage members to view moderation as a collective effort – it is in all our best interests. Therefore, if you see a post or comment that you think needs moderator attention, send an email to moderators@nirmukta.com.

Moderation FAQ

1) I am not sure why I was banned, I was banned without a warning.

Read the rules here, and read through this FAQ, you might find your answer. If you are still unsure, email us at moderators@nirmukta.com or ask at MOT. Please try to be specific, and focus on asking the right questions, angry rants are unlikely to be replied back.

2) But why wasn’t I warned?

Depending on the type of offence, people are directly banned or warned. It also depends on your previous interactions, whether you are a new member or not, also if there has been several announcement about it recently, people are generally directly removed. Facebook groups get disrupted easily by the very design of facebook, so we have to make quick decisions. Forums are generally easier to manage.

3) Why do you close threads?

Because that’s the only way to keep a meaningful group on Facebook. Facebook offers no moderation feature, it was not meant for discussions, we were not the target audience, it’s made to gather more and more people, with maximum reach and minimum resource wastage on archival. Discussions are volatile (so many awesome threads buried, and no search can retrieve them without crashing your browser). Threads get crumbled and most people only read the last two comments, and the original post and comment their own derailing it further. An explosive thread remains at the top, bumping down others. People rarely read complete comments because facebook compresses them to “see more” and they rarely think twice before commenting because it is a single button press unlike most forums. New comments immediately go to news feed and notifications causing a thread to run in all directions. And often there are newer comments even while people are commenting.

If people maintain proper discussions read previous comments, think before commenting, pause before commenting, format comments properly, create new threads in case of diverging discussions, we won’t have this problem. We would like http://nirmukta.net/ to become the central place of discussion, there we have several great features to moderate, categorise and archive. The threads there are much more thought through and better presented. However, Facebook discussions rule the roost and we realize that. This makes things very hard for us and so measures like this become necessary.

4) This is not “free” thinking.

Replied in Trolls And Other Disrupters Part I.

5) Who decides who to ban?

Replied in Trolls And Other Disrupters Part I.

6) The people you’re banning are the ones whose minds you should be changing.

Replied in Trolls And Other Disrupters Part II.

7) I was removed merely because I disagreed with admin.

Did this disagreement also involve, disagreement with Nirmukta’s humanistic values? Then it was not only about disagreeing with an admin. Read Trolls And Other Disrupters Part II.

8) I was removed merely because I challenged unfair removal of a friend.

If persistent enough it is considered white-knight trolling and often disrupts threads away from the OP. Did you do it at MOT? If not, that’s considered an off-topic post, similar to posting threads about geography in a physics forum.
We have several groups with different objectives and content-focus (science, skeptics, humanists, politics, book club, parenting) depending on indications in the post itself, previous interactions, members are simply directed to correct group/forum, or removed, if they persist. Facebook groups get disrupted easily by off topic posts, by it’s bumping-down design, if you were unaware of our policies and wish to be rescinded, email at moderators@nirmukta.com or MOT.

9) I was unfairly banned by an admin, how can I repeal it?

Barring a few actions like spam etc. most moderation discussions are often discussed and/or done based on previous similar cases. We have a very interactive and cohesive admin team. If there has been a removal, it would have been on the lines of Nirmukta rules and it’s unlikely to be repealed by some other admin. Of course, if you believe there has been a misinterpretation of comments/misquoting or any other such confusion, email moderator@nirmukta.com or post in the MOT, so that we can take action.

10) I have read and understood why I was removed and have changed my position based on later discussions and readings.

Email moderators@nirmukta.com, or post at MOT. Just note that when people say “Ok I’m sorry, now please let me back in”, whether we let them back in depends on a few things – how genuine is the apology, is there any sign they have changed their mind, and what effect would their return have on the health of the group (w.r. to the chilly climate – see Trolls And Other Disrupters Part II). It also depends on the original reason of removal and past interactions. In case removal was simply because of spamming or off-topic posts, adding back simply requires confirmation from members that they have now read and understand the rules. In case removal was for flouting Nirmukta values, it will be much more complicated and might take a lot of time and vetting. There are several atheist, skeptic, groups not directly linked to Nirmukta, but where many of us have joined, we can communicate there to notice change of position.