Code of Conduct

Set of rules, norms, responsibilities and best practices.

These are the official site-wide policies. Users are required to read and understand these policies. Using this site constitutes acceptance of these policies.

Code of Conduct (COC) Policy

Moderation

A moderator (mod) is a person granted authority by the site owner(s) to enforce the rules of the site, primarily, the voting policy and the code of conduct policy. Moderation actions are any actions taken by the mods to enforce the rules of the site. Mods have complete discretion in the enforcement and interpretation of the site rules, with all exceptions stated in these terms. Mod decisions are final and not subject to appeal.

Moderation Structure

There shall be one chief mod and one deputy mod. The chief mod has the power to overrule the deputy mod. The chief mod has the power, with the consent of the site owner(s), to appoint (as needed) various assistant mods beneath the deputy mod to assist with various tasks. Assistant mods must receive prior approval from the chief mod or deputy mod to take moderation actions.

Recusal

Mods may recuse themselves if deem it necessary. Mods must recuse themselves from moderating votes on their own debates and from moderating their own votes on others' debates. A mod who has recused themselves must designate another mod or trusted-third party to make decisions on their behalf for the situation in which the first mod has recused themselves.

Moderation Engagement and Enactment Process

Moderation may submit questions and proposals regarding moderation policy, voting policy, and the code of conduct to Moderation Engagement and Enactment Processes (MEEPs). MEEPs are binding referenda and comment periods on the questions and proposals submitted. Moderation has full discretion on which questions and proposals are submitted to MEEPs, though no substantive change to the COC may be made without either the consent of the site owner(s) or ratification via a MEEP. In order for a submitted question or proposal to be ratified, at least 10 users must have voted in the MEEP, and more than a majority of all those voting must have voted for the question or proposal. That means, in practice, that in a MEEP with 10 total voters, the minimum threshold for a binding result is 7 votes in favor of the proposal or question. MEEPs must be open for voting for at least 48 hours, and may be extended (at the mod's discretion) by no more than 12 hours. To be eligible to vote in a MEEP, the voter must be a user on DART, must have an account that is more than 24 hours old, and must not be banned during the voting window. If a MEEP fails to produce a binding result, moderation will maintain the pre-MEEP status quo, unless doing so is entirely untenable.

Personal Attacks

Personal attacks will not be tolerated. The policy prohibiting personal attacks applies site-wide--in debates, forums, private messages, and everywhere else on the site. If you are having a dispute with another site member, the appropriate response is to inform moderation. It is not appropriate to respond with invective or misconduct.

A. Definition of a Personal Attack

A personal attack is not "anything directed at a person that they find to be unfavorable. Such a definition would stifle exchange and debate. Rather, a personal attack is any abusive or derogatory remark aimed at a site user or site users rather than the content of what those users say or espouse. A personal attack may take any of several common forms, including but not limited to the following examples.

1. Generalized Attack

A generalized attack a comment in which a user makes a remark aimed at other users in general, rather than any specific user (e.g. posting "you're all idiots" on a thread).

2. Direct Attack

A direct attack is when a user posts something negative about a specific member. Direct attacks may take place within a thread or may constitute the thread itself. Call-out threads (threads in which a purpose of the thread is to attack another users) are severe examples of direct attacks. Generalized complaints about generalized behaviors are not direct attacks.

3. Hate Speech

Slurs or invective against an entire class of people (such as racist, sexist, homophobic, Islamophobic, transphobic, ageist, and ableist slurs, or slurs against religious, political, ethnic, or national groups) are prohibited when aimed against other users. Whether aimed against other users or not, hate speech is treated as aggravating factor in weighing moderation responses to other violations of the COC. Disagreement over what constitutes a religion, race, sexual orientation, ethnicity, etc., is not a legitimate excuse for hate speech.

4. Cross-Thread Contamination

Cross-thread contamination is when a user brings up disputes elsewhere on the site up in an unrelated thread for the purpose of harassing, mocking, or insulting another member. Treat every new exchange with a member with as much of a "clean slate" as possible.

5. Threats

Threats are, for the purposes of this policy, personal attacks. They are not tolerated. Threats include (but are not limited to):

  • Threats of legal action.

  • Threats of violence (even oblique ones).

  • Threats of "Doxxing" someone, particularly if the threat implies exposing the user to political, religious or other persecution.

  • Threats of reporting conduct to a mod or of moderation action.

6. Fighting Words

Fighting words are posts intended solely to provoke or incite another user into taking prohibited actions. Fighting words are considered personal attacks, even if they themselves might not meet the above mentioned criteria.

B. The Just Kidding Excuse

The abusive, insulting, or derogatory nature of a comment will be judged based on how a reasonable individual would interpret it. It is not based upon the intentions of speaker, unless those intentions were stated clearly and explicitly prior to the offending remark. Reasonableness is interpreted solely by the mods. The "just kidding" argument is not a valid excuse for actions which can reasonably be interpreted as personal attacks.

Other Prohibited Conduct

Doxxing

Doxxing is posting in public or in private any real-life or personally identifying information about another site user against that site user's will and without that site user's explicit consent. Doxxing is strictly prohibited. It's not doxxing if the information already has been posted on the site by the user or is posted with the user's explicit consent.

Contravening or Disregarding Moderation

Failing to obey or adhere to licit orders issued by a mod acting within their authority is prohibited.

Multi-Accounting

The use of multiple accounts, particularly in order to cast votes on one's own debates, is strictly prohibited. Password and credential sharing is a form of multi-accounting. Only one user should have access to any one account, and no user should have access to more than one account.

Adult Content

Posting adult content or links to adult content, including pornography, is strictly prohibited.

Staff Impersonation

Impersonating a mod or the site owner(s) is strictly prohibited.

PM Doxxing

Posting the contents, in part or in whole, of a user's or user's private messages (PMs) in a public venue without the consent of all parties to the PM is strictly prohibited, and constitutes PM doxxing.

Commercial Advertising

Posting or engaging in commercial advertising anywhere on the site is strictly prohibited.

Spamming

Posting or bumping spam threads, comments, or replies is prohibited. Spam is any content which is nonsensical or excessively repetitive.

Excessive Trolling

Trolling is the use of inflammatory language or extreme and unsupported claims aimed at provoking a negative emotional response. Excessive trolling is strongly discouraged and is prohibited when it significantly interferes with site user experience.

Consequences for Violations

A. Warnings

A warning is a written message sent in private to an offending user regarding their prohibited conduct. A mod may issue warnings to members upon observing patterns of misbehavior by those members. The content exhibiting or constituting the offense shall be cited in the warning. The member may choose to respond with a defense of their behavior. The warning shall advise the member that repeating the offense may result in loss of membership privileges. If an offense is repeated after the member has received a relevant warning, the member may be subjected to, at the discretion of the mod, revocation of membership privileges.

B. Bans

Bans may be issued for sustained misconduct, particularly when a user fails to demonstrate remorse and/or a willingness and ability to reform. Bans may also be issued without being preceded by warnings for one or more egregious violations of the site's code of conduct. Egregious violations include, but are not limited to, doxxing, posting adult content, commercial advertising, and staff impersonations.

1. Temporary Bans (Temp Bans)

A temp-ban is when a user's access to the site is temporarily revoked. The temp-banned user will be notified of their ban no less than one hour prior to their ban taking effect (unless moderation has cause to believe that a delay in implementing the ban would result in harm to the site, a site user, or further violations of this code of conduct). The temp-banned user will be presented with evidence of their offense (in a manner consistent with the rights of other members) and the date of their ban's expiration. The user has the right to offer a defense against the charges. Temp-bans lasting less than three months may be issued by the chief mod alone. Temp-bans lasting more than three months must be unanimously agreed upon by both the chief and deputy mods.

2. Permanent Ban (Perma-Ban/Perm-Ban)

A perma-ban is when a user's access to the site is permanently revoked. Perma-bans must be unanimously agreed upon by both the chief and deputy moderators. The perma-banned user will be notified of their ban no less than three hours prior to their ban taking effect (unless moderation has cause to believe that a delay in implementing the ban would result in harm to the site, a site user, or further violations of this code of conduct). The user will be presented with evidence of their offense (in a manner consistent with the rights of other members). The user has the right to offer a defense against the charges.

3. Trials

Trials of users are prohibited, whether or not those trials are officially sanctioned by a mod or mods. Trials foster a culture of mob rule, and are thus counterproductive to the interests of fairness, order, and effective site administration.

C. Other

1. Restraining Order (RO)

An RO prohibits two or members from communicating with and/or about one another and may apply to one or more means of communication. Moderation shall use ROs to prevent patterns of hostile relations among users from flaring up or worsening. An RO may have a set end date or may be indefinite. An RO may be issued by either the deputy mod or chief mod.

2. Forum Restriction (FR)

An FR limits what kinds of posts a user can make or in which forums (e.g. religion, politics, nature) a user can post. Moderation shall use FRs to prevent users from posting in forms or on topics which have historically led to that user violating the code of conduct. An FR may have a set end date or may be indefinite. An FR may be issued by either the deputy mod or chief mod.

3. Invented Actions

Mods may create or invent means of punishing, reforming, or restraining a user so long as those invented actions are respectful of a user's privacy, safety, and legal rights. Invented actions may not include public shaming or any acts intended or likely to demean, personally attack, or harm another user physically or psychologically.

Voting Policy

Voter Eligibility

In order for users to be eligible to vote on debates, user's current accounts must reflect that they have read the site's COC AND either completed at least 2 non-troll debates without any forfeits or posted 100 forum posts. Any user who attempts to vote without having these criteria met will have their vote removed. If a user repeatedly attempts to vote without having these criteria met, their voting privileges may be suspended until they meet this criteria.

Sufficient Votes

A sufficient vote is one that states why one debater was better than the other in a particular respect and explains why the voter thought that. The last part of that definition is crucial. It is not sufficient to merely state that "Pro had better arguments", because nothing in that statement explains why Pro had better arguments. The requirements for a sufficient vote are explained in more detail below. Votes that are reported and which are deemed insufficient will be deleted.

A. The Point-based System

1. Argument Points

In order to award argument points, a voter must explicitly, and in the text of their RFD, perform the following tasks:

  • Survey the main arguments and counterarguments presented in the debate

  • Weigh those arguments against each other (or explain why certain arguments need not be weighed based on what transpired within the debate itself)

  • Explain how, through the process of weighing, they arrived at their voting decision with regard to assigning argument points

Weighing entails analyzing how the relative strength of one argument or set of arguments outweighed (that is, out-impacted) and/or precluded another argument or set of arguments. Weighing requires analyzing and situating arguments and counterarguments within the context of the debate as a whole.

2. Sources Points

In order to award sources points, a voter must explicitly, and in the text of their RFD, perform the following tasks:

  • Explain, on balance, how each debater's sources impact the debate

  • Directly evaluate at least one source in particular cited in the debate and explain how it either bolstered or weakened the argument it was used to support

  • Must explain how and why one debater's use of sources overall was superior to the other's

Mere appeals to quantity are not sufficient to justify awarding sources points.

3. Spelling and Grammar Points

In order to award spelling and grammar (S&G) points, a voter must explicitly, and in the text of their RFD, perform the following tasks:

  • Give specific examples of S&G errors

  • Explain how these errors were excessive

  • Compare each debater's S&G from the debate

S&G errors are considered excessive when they render arguments incoherent or incomprehensible.

4. Conduct Points

In order to award conduct points, a voter must explicitly, and in the text of their RFD, perform the following tasks:

  • Provide specific references to instances of poor conduct which occurred in the debate

  • Demonstrate how this poor conduct was either excessive, unfair, or in violation of mutually agreed upon rules of conduct pertaining to the text of the debate

  • Compare each debater's conduct from the debate

Misconduct is excessive when it is extremely frequent and/or when it causes the debate to become incoherent or extremely toxic. In the case of awarding conduct points solely on the basis of forfeits, there is an exception to these steps: a debater may award conduct points solely for forfeited rounds, but only if one debater forfeited half or more of their rounds or if the voter also awards argument points (or explains their decision not to award argument points in a manner which meets the argument points voting standards).

5. Explaining all Points

A sufficient vote must explain all points awarded. If you award argument and conduct points, but explain only the former, your vote will be removed for being insufficient.

B. The Select Winner System

In cases where the debate instigator opts to use the "winner selection" (or "select winner") system, a voter must explicitly, and in the text of their RFD, perform the following tasks: (a) survey the main arguments and counter arguments presented in the debate, (b) weigh those arguments against each other (or explain why certain arguments need not be weighed based on what transpired within the debate itself), and (c) explain how, through the process of weighing, they arrived at their voting decision with regard to assigning argument points. Weighing entails analyzing how the relative strength of one argument or set of arguments outweighed (that is, out-impacted) and/or precluded another argument or set of arguments. Weighing requires analyzing and situating arguments and counterarguments within the context of the debate as a whole.

Vote Bombs

Vote Bomb (VB)

A vote bomb is a vote cast without a sufficient argument, a vote cast without regard for the content of the debate, a vote which literally doesn't make sense (e.g. "it's contradictory"), or a vote cast based on a prejudgment of or prior opinion on the topic. Vote bombs that are reported will be removed.

Counter Vote Bomb (CVB)

A counter vote bomb is a vote cast to reverse the effect of a vote-bomb or a vote which the CVBer found illegitimate. CVBs which are reported will be removed, along with the original vote-bomb (if indeed the original vote-bomb counts as such).

Vote Rigging

Vote rigging is when someone solicits deliberately biased votes in order to rig the outcome of a vote. Votes stemming from vote rigging will be removed. It is not vote rigging to ask for someone to cast a fair vote. Vote trading may or may not be vote rigging, depending on whether the outcome of the traded votes is fixed or agreed upon before the debates are evaluated by the voters.

Votes Considering Outside Content

The voter must assess the content of the debate and only the debate, any reasoning based on arguments made or information given outside of the debate rounds is unacceptable. This includes reasoning that stems from already-placed votes, comment sections, and separate forums. Votes that impermissibly factor in outside content and which are reported will be removed.

Special Circumstances

There are some special circumstances which may exempt an otherwise removable vote from removal. These special circumstances are listed here.

Full-forfeit (FF)/Conceded Debates

A full-forfeit debate is defined as a debate that has no argument presented by one side following the opening round, resulting in all subsequent rounds being forfeited. When this is the case, these debates are considered full-forfeit debates and are not moderated unless a voter votes for the forfeiting side. Similarly, a conceded debate is any debate in which on side clearly concedes the debate to their opponent. These debates are considered conceded debates and are not moderated unless a voter votes for the side that concedes.

Troll Debates

If a debate is publicly designated as a troll debate, or if both sides present arguments that are done for the sake of trolling, then the debate is not moderated.

Statute of Limitations

When voting on a debate has already been completed for a period exceeding one month, we deem it as being past the statute of limitations and therefore do not moderate votes on those debates.

Unreported Votes

A vote which has not been reported will not be moderated. Votes must be reported in order to be considered for moderation.

Reported Votes and Voters

Moderator Notifications

If a vote is reported for moderation, moderation will post a notice in the comments of debate explaining what if any moderation action was taken on that vote and why that action/inaction was deemed appropriate.

Voting Privilege Revocations

If a voter consistently has their votes removed by moderation, or a user engages in vote rigging, that voter/user may have their voting privileges revoked. Such revocation is temporary, and will be reinstated once a voter has satisfied moderation that they are willing and capable to cast sufficient votes moving forward or once moderation is satisfied that a user will no longer engage in vote rigging, respectively. A member who consistently has their votes removed by moderation shall receive a warning before having their voting privileges revoked.

Recommended Readings

Here are some excellent resources that the moderation team strongly recommends you acquaint yourself with.

Special thanks to @bsh1 and @Virtuoso for creating the presented policies.