About Discussionist

If you're an opinionated person with something important to say about whatever is going on in the world today, Discussionist is for you. Designed from the ground up for people who love challenging, anonymous Internet debate, Discussionist might make you laugh, cry, or shake your fists -- but you'll never be bored. Our innovative approach to forum organization puts the topics of the day front and center, and our unique jury system changes the game for people who have had enough of traditional discussion forum moderation.

How To Participate

Discussionist does not have an exhaustive list of specific rules, just a few broad principles to interpret using your own best judgment; either when posting, or when adjudicating someone else's post as part of a randomly-selected, anonymous, seven-person jury.

Keep it civil.
Discussionist will be a better place if people participate in a manner that promotes a positive atmosphere and enables good discussions suitable for a diverse community.
Show me some examples of behaviors that could be considered uncivil.

Some examples of uncivil behavior

  • Personal attacks, insults, threats, namecalling, and the like.
  • Racism, sexism, homophobia, anti-Semitism, or other forms of bigotry and intolerance.
  • Broad-brush smears about groups of people.
  • Crude, harsh, or coarse language. Excessively hot rhetoric. Screaming, over-the-top, and in-your-face language.
  • Excessive snark.
  • Picking on newbies.
  • Trolling, baiting, stalking, or generally acting like an ass.
  • Any behavior which makes people feel unwelcome.

If you believe a post is uncivil for any reason, click the "Alert abuse" link on the post and select the "uncivil, off-topic, offensive, or otherwise inappropriate" option. People who cannot hold themselves to a high standard of civility risk having their posts hidden by a jury of their peers, and being blocked out of discussion threads they disrupt.

Stay on topic.
Discussionist will be a better place if people keep discussions on-topic, post in the appropriate category, and make sure responses are relevant to the topic being discussed.
Show me some examples of behaviors that could be considered off-topic.

Some examples of off-topic behavior

  • Posting discussion threads in the wrong category.
  • Incorrectly tagging discussion threads.
  • Posting responses which are unrelated (or barely related) to the topic of the discussion.
  • Spamming.
  • Flooding the board or posting the same message repeatedly.

If you believe a post is off-topic for any reason, click the "Alert abuse" link on the post and select the "uncivil, off-topic, offensive, or otherwise inappropriate" option. People who cannot stay on topic risk having their posts hidden by a jury of their peers, and being blocked out of discussion threads they disrupt.

Don't be offensive.
Discussionist aspires to be an online community where a wide variety of topics are discussed, and a wide variety of viewpoints are welcome. However, this is not a platform for content that the vast majority of people consider offensive.
Show me some examples of behaviors that could be considered offensive.

Some examples of offensive behavior

  • Extreme images of violence, gore, bodily functions, pain, or human suffering.
  • Pornography or sexually explicit imagery.
  • Racism, sexism, homophobia, anti-Semitism, or other forms of bigotry and intolerance.
  • Posts promoting intolerant extreme-fringe viewpoints which are far outside the mainstream of American culture.
  • Holocaust denial or other bigoted conspiracy theories.
  • Any content which is Not Safe For Work (NSFW).

If you believe a post is offensive for any reason, click the "Alert abuse" link on the post and select the "uncivil, off-topic, offensive, or otherwise inappropriate" option. People who post offensive content risk having their posts hidden by a jury of their peers, and being blocked out of discussion threads they disrupt.

Don't post anything which is otherwise inappropriate.
There may be posts which are not uncivil, off-topic, or offensive, but which are nonetheless inappropriate.
Show me some examples of behaviors that could be considered inappropriate.

Some examples of inappropriate behavior

  • Posts which contain private or personal information about any person.
  • Posts which violate any U.S. laws (eg. linking to illegally-shared files, attempting to organize hacking or DOS attacks, libel/slander, etc.)
  • Sales of weapons, alcohol, illegal drugs, or other illegal products.
  • Posting or linking to malicious code.
  • Intentionally interfering with or exploiting the operation of Discussionist.
  • Attempting to circumvent any restrictions placed on your account by the forum software.
  • Anything which is obviously disruptive, malicious, or repugnant to the people of this community.

If you believe a post is inappropriate for any reason, click the "Alert abuse" link on the post and select the "uncivil, off-topic, offensive, or otherwise inappropriate" option. People who post inappropriate content risk having their posts hidden by a jury of their peers, and being blocked out of discussion threads they disrupt.

If your interpretation of these principles is similar to that of most other people on Discussionist -- or if you simply treat others with respect when posting -- you will rarely (if ever) have a problem.

However, if your interpretation of these principles falls outside the Discussionist mainstream you risk having your posts hidden by juries of your peers, and if your posts are hidden too often your ability to participate will be restricted. (For more information, see The Jury System In Depth page.)

The Jury System

When it comes to deciding how a discussion forum community should be run, we believe that regular members of the community have just as much insight and wisdom as any moderator. Therefore at Discussionist, everyone has the opportunity to participate in the site's moderation by serving from time to time on "juries."

A jury is a panel of seven Discussionist members who vote to determine the fate of a post which has been alerted. Jurors are randomly selected, anonymous, and vote independently of one another (they cannot discuss the alerted post with one another).

Jurors do not enforce rules -- they are asked to simply use their own best judgment to determine whether a post is appropriate or inappropriate. (If you are not sure whether a post is appropriate or inappropriate, see the "How To Participate" section above for some examples.)

Nobody is forced to serve on a jury -- if you receive a request to serve you are free to turn down the opportunity, and you can choose to opt out of the system entirely by changing the "Willingness to serve on Juries" setting on in the Preferences section of your Account page. If you accept a request to serve on a jury and then change your mind in the middle of service, you are free to drop out and another juror will be called to take your place.

Juries are selected automatically by our software whenever a post is alerted. When a post is alerted, the software picks seven logged-in members who are browsing the site at that moment. If you are selected, the software will then "roll dice" against your chance of serving to see if you will actually be seated on the jury. Everyone who registers at Discussionist starts out with a 40% chance of being seated, and your chance will go up or down depending on your behavior. For example, if you post a lot on Discussionist without incident, your chance will go up. However, if juries vote to hide your posts, your chance will go down. Your current chance of being seated can be found in the Statistics and Information section of your Profile page.

In the interests of transparency a detailed description of how the jury system works can be found on The Jury System In Depth page, but you are not required to read this page in order to participate in the jury system.

Forum Organization

Discussionist uses a tag system to organize forums. Whenever you start a new discussion thread in one of the main categories you will be asked to include up to ten useful tags, which are single, lower-case words. These tags then become forums -- or, if a tag has already been used, your discussion thread will be posted into that existing forum.

For example: You want to create a discussion about the New York Giants, so you start your discussion thread in the Sports category and add the tags newyorkgiants football nfl. Your discussion thread is then posted into the Sports category, but also into the forums newyorkgiants, football, and nfl. If any of those forums don't already exist, they will be created when you post your discussion thread.

Useful Links