If things get nasty up in here, I promise to behave myself and help others do the same.
Occasionally, we’re going to cover some controversial topics in here. Discussions may rise about the nature of my fiction, which isn’t always lovey-dovey kisses and swashbuckling adventure. We might talk about how fiction relates to current events and modern tragedy.
At some point, I’m bound to bluster into a sensitive area. At that point, I cannot predict how my readers will behave, but I can make a few promises about myself. If I ever break these promises, I will be happy to shut down the thread and recuse myself from the discussion.
My Rules of Engagement
I will not punch down.
As my career progresses, I hope to accumulate more and more readers, but with that also comes a responsibility not to shame a quieter voice into submission. Too often, I have seen my favorite groups co-opted by people who use their station to squelch dissent. I’d name names, but hey, not cool.
However, if I perceive that a person or group is bullying others on my blog, I’ll step in to say something. Other than that, feel free to say what you need to say.
I will debate in good faith.
So many times, discussions become fixated upon the idea that being right and being the winner are the same thing. I strongly disagree. Sometimes, you win when you’re proven wrong, and your prize is an expanded worldview. Just as much as you come here to learn what I think, I want to know more about your perspective.
Unless, of course, your perspective is murdering children or something. Maybe just send your points directly to the FBI instead of my blog.
I will not swear at you or attack you personally.
My characters are not always nice people, and several of my novels contain a lot of nasty language. Personal attacks, particularly on things you cannot control (age, gender, orientation, race, etc.) have no place in my arsenal, and would represent a major failure on my part. If I see this behavior in others, I’ll say something.
Inanimate objects and abstract concepts are on my fucking list, though. They’d better watch their asses.
I will not attempt to explain your own life to you.
Unfortunately, I’ve seen this play out all too often. Whether it’s comic books or being a member of an embattled class, participants often discount the domain knowledge of those directly immersed in those domains. I cannot promise I won’t have opinions on stuff (It’s impossible not to form an opinion.), but I can promise that I will be happy to listen to firsthand accounts and recognize that I am an outsider.
I’ve seen people explain astronomy to astronomers or civil law to lawyers, seen them explain gender identity to those living it every day. When you do that, you’re saying you don’t value the speaker or trust their expertise.
I will take your statements as I believe you meant them.
I’m not here to impeach the greater argument on the tiny issues. If you make some small mistake in pursuit of a bigger point, I’m not going to hold you to it so I can start a red herring discussion. On the flip side, if you lose sight of the greater issue in favor of the minutia, the discussion won’t go anywhere with me. This one might be a corollary to the “good faith” clause, but I think it’s worth calling out on its own.
I will never apologize for how you feel.
If I apologize to you, I will offer it freely and without caveat. I will not request forgiveness in return, and I will not play off my guilt as your feelings (i.e.- “I’m sorry you got offended.”). People who respond to hurt feelings in this manner don’t deserve forgiveness, anyway.
I hope things can stay civil up in here, but I have a lot of things I care about, and I suspect you’re the same as me. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, I think we can all agree that Reese’s Pieces are better than M&Ms.
Do you have a code of conduct for your discussions? Care to share it in the comments? (I might steal some of it if it’s good.)
Image: Viking Battle, by Flickr user mararie, used under a CC BY-SA 2.0 license.