Comment Guidelines

Tips for good posting

To be a helpful and appreciated participant in discussions at SI, here’s a few things to keep in mind:

  • Aim to be consistently respectful. If you get involved in discussions on controversial topics, someone will think you’re being disrespectful sooner or later. You want to make sure they’re wrong about that.
  • Try to stay on topic. This is a famously subjective call. Do your best. If you think your comment might be seen as unrelated, include something to help us see the connection.
  • Broaden your horizons. If you always harp on one or two topics and rarely show any interest in others, people will tend to dismiss you as a crank.
  • Focus on ideas. The old adage “consider the source” has its merits, but the source of an idea never really proves it to be true or false. When a discussion is on a controversial topic, extra effort is required to leave irrelevant factors out of it. So going after somebody’s intelligence or educational background or gender or age or favorite cricket team is usually not helpful to making your point or refuting theirs.
  • Wear your, as they say, big-boy pants. Human interaction is messy—especially where strong opinions are involved. Discussions go far better when participants are slow to take offense. If someone’s a bit prickly, why not just ignore it and stay on topic? Sure, it’s bad to be rude. It’s not much better to be a cry baby.


A. Do not do anything illegal or potentially illegal at SI, including—but not limited to—the following:

  1. promoting, or expressing intent to commit, unlawful acts
  2. posting in violation of copyright, trademark or other intellectual property laws
  3. knowingly representing the words or thoughts of others as your own
  4. advocating harassment or violence against groups or individuals
  5. posting or linking to anything that harms or exploits minors or depicts such harm or exploitation

B. Do not engage in unethical conduct, including—but not limited to—the following:

  1. posting or linking to anything obscene, vulgar or graphically violent
  2. posting what you know to be untrue
  3. posting under a false identity
  4. without permission, posting correspondence that was intended to be private
  5. posting or linking to any kind of malware (viruses, trojans, worms, spyware or harmful scripts)

C. Do not engage in rude or other un-Christlike conduct, including—but not limited to the following:

  1. derogatory name-calling or attacks on the motives of other participants
  2. malicious ridiculing of other participants
  3. focusing negatively on the people involved in the discussion rather than the topic
  4. intentionally disrupting a discussion or posting off topic
  5. posting criticism, speculation, etc. in threads about persons recently deceased

D. Do not harm the doctrinal integrity of the site, which includes—but is not limited to—the following:

  1. posting contrary to the site Doctrinal Statement.
  2. aggressively, or excessively, promoting a peculiar or pet doctrine

E. Do not engage in activities unhelpful to the purposes of the site such as (but not limited to) the following:

  1. posting substantially the same text in multiple locations in the forums
  2. posting chain letters, pyramid schemes, etc.
  3. posting advertising for products and services or excessively promoting on behalf of organizations or causes
  4. publicly protesting or arguing against specific moderator actions

How violations are handled

Action by the moderating team includes—but is not limited to—the following:

  • suggestions or corrective instructions in discussion threads
  • special restrictions on threads or on particular participants in a thread
  • editing, unpublishing or relocating posts
  • temporarily or permanently closing threads
  • private messages or emails (contents and responses reviewed by the team)

Violations of the more serious legal and ethical rules may result in immediate temporary or permanent banning by the moderating team. (See also “How do I get banned?”)

Participants who show a pattern of minor violations or repeatedly inject rancor into discussions may be temporarily or permanently banned by the moderating team.

Violators who quit the site may be banned afterwards. (Formerly-banned participants who wish to be re-admitted should contact the moderating team using the site contact form.)

SI reserves the right to deny participation to anyone we believe is not a good fit with the site’s purposes or community.

How do I get banned?

Though SI reserves the right to ban anyone from the forums for any reason at any time, we’re not eager to do that. Banning usually occurs only when a member has made it clear that he or she is not going to behave in a way that is compatible with the purpose and spirit of the site. That usually means they’ve violated the Comment Guidelines in a serious way or have shown a pattern of skirting the edges of the rules. Occasionally a member finds a way to avoid flagrant rule violations yet still be a constant headache for the Moderating team. That can also result in banning. The decision to ban or not ban is usually made collaboratively by the moderating team.