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Guide to The Podium

rayzac 1,993 August 3, 2005 at 07:25 PM
Welcome to The Podium

The below posts are intended to help our new members learn the ropes and quickly become a participating member in our community, as well as to help the old timers quickly locate some of their favorite threads. Your mod team is here to help and we welcome feedback on what we can do to make The Podium a more enjoyable place. Feel free to send a private message to any of The Podium moderators if there is anything we can do to help or if you want to submit any suggestions. Thank you and enjoy your stay.

Special thanks to The Raddish for authoring The Podium charter and helping to get The Podium started.
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What is The Podium?

The purpose of The Podium is to provide a community where controversial topics can be discussed in an environment that is conducive to open conversation. Everyone has an opinion and should be able to share it without fear of attack or reprisal.

How do we maintain this environment of open conversation?

First, some rules have been put in place below as a guideline to follow. This is just a guideline and will be updated as needed. Next, well thought out posts encourage a back-and-forth discussion. Based on previous experiences, we have found that members who continually criticize the opinions of others but rarely share their own side tend to kill off discussions. With that in mind, the moderators will remove members who we believe have a negative impact on the community as a whole. This decision will be based on a consensus of the moderators.

What makes a good post?

This is a place of opinions and not everyone will share the same opinion. To help stimulate discussion, when you post an opinion, we encourage you to include facts or experiences that enforce your opinion. If your post is an article, we also encourage you to state the reason you are posting this if it is not evident and your thoughts on the subject.

What should be avoided in posts?

Besides the rules listed below, making statements of absolutes are generally not advised. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. It is very rare to get someone to change their opinion so keep that in mind when replying and strive for clarity of your opinion, not trying to show them why their opinion is wrong.

What are the rules?

The following list is presented to be used as a guideline. It is impossible to list every rule so please use common sense when posting. The moderators reserve the right to delete any post the breaks one of the below rules or goes against the intent of SlickDeals and the Podium. If you find one of your posts was removed, please send a PM to one of the moderators of the podium found at the bottom or the Podium forum list or by clicking here. Do not create a "why was my post deleted" thread.

1. No personal attacks are allowed. Personal attacks will be deleted. Controversial conversations always tend to get heated, so in order to enjoy the debates, personal attacks will NOT be tolerated. Personal attacks are considered to be, not not limited to, name calling, labeling (I.E. racist, bigot, etc), or negative comments directed at another member. This can also include the use of certain images and smileys such as crazy and sheep. Whether you call someone a sheep directly or imply it with the graphic, it is still an attack. In addition, if you see someone breaking a rule, use the mod alert button and please include comments as to what you think is the rule being broken if it is not clearly obvious. Calling someone a troll or other such term will get you a warning, so use the mod alert button instead.

2. Use common sense when posting. The same type of rules in the lounge apply to The Podium. No nudity, no heavy profanity (which is filtered anyway), no obscene photographs or pictures.

3. No complaining about politics in The Podium. That is what it is for. If you don't want to get involved in political debates, then feel free to leave The Podium and join any other forum on the site.

4. When beginning a new thread with an article, which is the preferred method, please be sure to link back to the original article. In addition, post the entire article or if it is too long to post, clearly indicate it is an excerpt. No misleading or trolling thread titles... commentary does not belong in the thread title, only within the thread itself. Blogs are highly discouraged, and video posting should be accompanied by an article when possible.

5. Please refrain from posting content from chain emails. Most chain emails have been proven to be untrue in some form or fashion, and they are simply not good sources for topics of debate. If for you some reason you just feel that you have to post this kind of stuff, please verify the contents with www.breakthechain.org or www.snopes.com. If proven untrue, just don't post it. Chain emails that are proven untrue will be deleted.

6. No spamming of the message boards. Spamming includes, but is not limited to, starting several new threads on the same topic and bumping several threads on similar subjects to the front page. If similar threads are active at the same time, one of the threads will be left open to continue discussions and all others will be closed.

7. No post-and-run. A post-and-run is someone who will continually post an article without offering their own thoughts or opinions or does not stick around to participate in the thread. The keyword is continually. We do not require opinions on every article, but it is recommended, but if this becomes an apparent trend, it will be stopped.

8. No trolling. There have been lengthy discussions on what is trolling. The official definition that we use is seen here. [wikipedia.org]. You can also see a short list here of what we consider trolling.

The purpose of The Podium is to allow anyone and everyone to voice their opinions on controversial topics, without fear of censorship. If you have something to say, say it! If you have questions or need clarification on any of the above rules, or simply wish to ask if a post is OK before you post it, please PM a moderator. So now that you are here, why not step up to The Podium?

The SlickDeals.net mod team.
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There has been a lot of complaining about the over use/misuse of QUOTES in The Podium. So, I am posting a short "How-to" guide here.

Rule #1, it is NOT necessary to use a quote in every post you make. There are a few users here that quote EVERYTHING they reply to, and this guide is more or less specifically targeted to those users.

Secondly, the number one complaint is the excessive use of long quotes. I am going to make this simple. If you are replying to a post, especially the original post in a thread which is a long article, DO NOT QUOTE THE ENTIRE ARTICLE!!

I will say this again, DO NOT QUOTE AN ENTIRE ARTICLE. If you wish to draw attention to a particular point in an article, quote that point only, NOT the entire thing.

Your best bet is to do one of two things. Either post your reply in the "Quick Reply" space at the bottom of the thread:

OR use the button on the LEFT side of the screen, NOT the button on the RIGHT side of the screen (which is inside the original post itself).

Thirdly, if you are replying to a post above yours, and the post is long, DO NOT QUOTE THE ENTIRE POST. Simply cut/paste the specific point you are replying to, and only quote that point. Example:

If you are replying to the entire post, DO NOT QUOTE THE ENTIRE POST, simply but the author's name in bold to draw attention to the fact that you are replying to the author's post.

Lastly, if you quote someone and you are replying to a post further back in the thread, please use the button in the post you are replying to. This will ensure that the quote includes the author's name. Lately, there has been a lot of quotes that are not attributed, and it is not always easy to know who the original author was.

If there is a post where an author has quoted an entire story, please ModAlert the post to bring it to the mods' attention, and just put "long quote" in the reason field. The mods will edit/remove the quote. However, if the same user is constantly being ModAlerted due to excessively long quotes, instead of editing the post, the mods will simply DELETE the post entirely (this is much easier than editing). Therefore, I highly encourage each of you to learn how and when to use the quote system in The Podium.
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(thanks dalesd)

A personal attack is committed when a person substitutes abusive remarks for evidence when attacking another person's claim or claims. This line of "reasoning" is fallacious because the attack is directed at the person making the claim and not the claim itself. The truth value of a claim is independent of the person making the claim. After all, no matter how repugnant an individual might be, he or she can still make true claims.

Not all ad Hominems are fallacious. In some cases, an individual's characteristics can have a bearing on the question of the veracity of her claims. For example, if someone is shown to be a pathological liar, then what he says can be considered to be unreliable. However, such attacks are weak, since even pathological liars might speak the truth on occasion.

In general, it is best to focus one's attention on the content of the claim and not on who made the claim. It is the content that determines the truth of the claim and not the characteristics of the person making the claim.
Examples of Personal Attack

1. In a school debate, Bill claims that the President's economic plan is unrealistic. His opponent, a professor, retorts by saying "the freshman has his facts wrong."

2. "This theory about a potential cure for cancer has been introduced by a doctor who is a known lesbian feminist. I don't see why we should extend an invitation for her to speak at the World Conference on Cancer."

3. "Bill says that we should give tax breaks to companies. But he is untrustworthy, so it must be wrong to do that."

4. "That claim cannot be true. Dave believes it, and we know how morally repulsive he is."

5. "Bill claims that Jill would be a good treasurer. However I find Bill's behavior offensive, so I'm not going to vote for Jill."

6. "Jane says that drug use is morally wrong, but she is just a goody-two shoes Christian, so we don't have to listen to her."

7. Bill: "I don't think it is a good idea to cut social programs."
Jill: "Why not?"
Bill: "Well, many people do not get a fair start in life and hence need some help. After all, some people have wealthy parents and have it fairly easy. Others are born into poverty and..."
Jill: "You just say that stuff because you have a soft heart and an equally soft head."
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townhall.com [townhall.com]

by Thomas Sowell
January 13, 2005

My assistant sorts the incoming mail into various categories, such as "critical mail," "fan mail," etc. But the so-called critical mail is seldom critical. It may be bombastic or vituperative or full of pop psychology, but it seldom presents a critical argument based on facts or logic.

Too many people today act as if no one can honestly disagree with them. If you have a difference of opinion with them, you are considered to be not merely in error but in sin. You are a racist, a homophobe or whatever the villain of the day happens to be.

Disagreements are inevitable whenever there are human beings but we seem to be in an era when the art of disagreeing is vanishing. That is a huge loss because out of disagreements have often come deeper understandings than either side had before confronting each other's arguments.

Even wacko ideas have led to progress, when dealt with critically, in terms of logic and evidence. Astrology led to astronomy. The medieval notion of turning lead into gold -- alchemy -- led to chemistry, from which have come everything from a wide range of industrial products and consumer goods to more productive agriculture and life-saving drugs.

Where an argument starts is far less important than where it finishes because the logic and evidence in between is crucial. Unfortunately, our educational system is not only failing to teach critical thinking, it is often itself a source of confused rhetoric and emotional venting in place of systematic reasoning.

It is hard to think of a stronger argument for teaching people to examine arguments critically than the tragic history of 20th century totalitarianism and its horrors in peace and war. Dictators often gained total power over a whole nation by their ability to arouse emotions and evade thought.

Watch old newsreels of Hitler and watch the adoring and enraptured look on the faces in his audience. Then read what he said and see if it makes any sense whatever. Yet he convinced others -- and himself -- that he had a great message and a great mission.

The same could be said of Lenin, of Mao, of Pol Pot, and of countless other despots, large and small, who brought devastation to the people they ruled. It is not even necessary to look solely at government leaders. Cult leader Jim Jones used the same ability to sway people's emotions and numb their brains to lead them ultimately to mass deaths in his Guiana compound.

Instead of trying to propagandize children to hug trees and recycle garbage, our schools would be put to better use teaching them how to analyze and test what is said by people who advocate tree-hugging, recycling, and innumerable other causes across the political spectrum.

The point is not to teach them correct conclusions but to teach them to be able to use their own minds to analyze the issues that will come up in the years ahead, which may have nothing to do with recycling or any of the other issues of our time.

Rational disagreement can be not only useful but stimulating. Many years ago, when my friend and colleague Walter Williams and I worked on the same research project, he and I kept up a running debate on the reasons why blacks excelled in some sports and were virtually non-existent in others.

Walter was convinced that the reasons were physical while I thought the reasons were social and economic. Walter would show me articles on physiology from scholarly journals, using them as explanations of why blacks had so many top basketball players and few, if any, swimming champions.

We never settled that issue but it provided lively debates and we may both have learned something.

I even met my wife as a result of a disagreement. She read something of mine that she disagreed with and told a mutual friend. He in turn suggested that we get together for lunch and hash out our differences.

Although we have now been married more than 20 years, we have still not completely settled our differences over that issue. But when we met our attention turned to other things. There are a lot of reasons to be able to have rational discussions about things on which people disagree.
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In order to define the definition of what trolling is for The Podium, a post will be considered trolling when it falls within one of the two categories:

• A provocative post is made without supporting reasoning. If a post is made making an outrageous claim with no supporting details to back it up, either a link to an article or posting your opinion, it will be considered trolling.

• Repeated postings attacking a person or group of people’s beliefs on an issue without adding reasoning behind it. If you disagree on an issue, post your reasons for disagreeing. Repeating several times that you disagree without adding why will be considered trolling.

• Generalizations based on stereotypes that are meant to provoke or attack a group of people.

The above categories are just two examples of when a post is considered trolling. For a complete definition of what trolling is, please click here. [wikipedia.org]
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