Civility and mutual respect, a bit more concretely

Let's say you want to want to comment on a post you see here, or you want to raise a different issue that you think could benefit from the attention of reasonable minds. What exactly do I have in mind when I say that I hope this blog will promote civility and mutual respect? Basically, five things.

First, I hope that all or nearly all posts will be published over the author's real name. Yes, anonymity has a long history and it can be very useful in a small number of exceptional situations. But it can also be a powerful factor in leading people to make false charges against others, or to use intemperate language that they would never use face to face. If you insist on posting anonymously here, I won't (indeed, can't) stop you, but please at least try to pretend that you can easily be held personally accountable for what you say and the way you say it.

Second, I hope no one will waste any electrons on personal attacks. We really have more important things to discuss. It's one thing to say that Mr. Smith's ideas about the income tax are nonsense; quite another to say that Mr. Smith is exactly the sort of trousered ape who would subscribe to such nonsense. And ultimately,the income tax is more important than whether Mr. Smith is a trousered ape, unless you happen to be Mrs. Smith.

Third, because constructive suggestions tend to be harder than criticism, I hope the people who post here will push themselves to frame their arguments in positive terms. This is especially important when the topic is some proposal for reform, because in those situations a criticism of the reform proposal is tantamount to an argument in favor of the status quo.

Fourth, when one's post or comment relates directly to the views someone else has expressed, it is only reasonable to identify points of agreement, in the interest of narrowing the area of controversy and building consensus.

Fifth, corrections should be offered and accepted with magnanimity. That should go double, I think for corrections pertaining to any lack of civility or mutual respect.

Any other exhortations?

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