(Administrative note: supplementary policies referred to in this agreement will be posted and dated separately)
The HonestArgument.com User Agreement
Your use of HonestArgument.com, participation in discussions thereon, and any other activity involving our server or content are at all times governed by this User Agreement. The HonestArgument.com site is an interactive one where you may be adding content to a larger whole. As a result it is especially important for you to read, understand, and consent to this entire user agreement before you participate, so as to eliminate as much ambiguity as possible in terms of your expectations. Whether you read this document or not, you will be legally bound to it by your use of the site. It therefore behooves you to read it, understand it, and agree with it before you continue. If you don't agree with our goals, principles, and rules, please don't use our site.
What is HonestArgument.com?
HonestArgument.com is a place where people gather to discuss topics big and small, to hash out a complete argument. What makes this site particularly interesting is that the argument is mapped out visually, in a tree structure of supporting and refuting assertions, until the argument reaches a natural conclusion.
The arguing, of course, is not the point of the site, but simply the means of getting there - exposing the half-truths, untruths and fallacies that the hacks use to convince you that their side is right. Just as importantly, the hacks don't get to hide from inconvenient facts, or assertions that fail to fit neatly into their belief systems.
HonestArgument.com is a membership organization. We seek to involve all members in the development of the enterprise to the extent that they support its goals and policies and are prepared to contribute to the task of building HonestArgument.com. This document sets out the policies under which members are welcomed to the site and invited to participate in its development.
Statement of Principle
The HonestArgument.com team is dedicated to the principles of free expression. There are no right or wrong opinions on HonestArgument, and there is no culture of political correctness. Your messages will not be edited or deleted for content-based reasons, so long as they are germane to the particular subject being discussed, free of unlawful material, and otherwise comply with this agreement.
Subject Matter and Decorum
Nations where free expression is codified in law delimit free expression by providing penalties for defamation; outlawing hate speech, obscenity, fighting words, and incitement; protecting intellectual property via the copyright, trademark, and patent laws; upholding contractual obligations; and regulating the time, place, and manner of public expression. We respect all those restrictions, and also limit expression on HonestArgument by one additional criteria: decorum (just as a legislature or other body needs to have rules of conduct so as to allow for a meaningful exchange of ideas).
We do not allow mean-spirited insults or other disruptive posts. We will remove harassing or disruptive messages that bear no substantive connection to topics germane to these message boards, and users who engage in persistent patterns of harassment or disruption will be removed from the site, have their posts deleted, or have their conduct otherwise curtailed, at the administration's discretion.
While we do not consider it our job to protect all our users' sensibilities, we forbid gratuitous nastiness and other uncivil conduct. The goals of free expression are to foster, not suppress, the free exchange of ideas. Constructive criticism is always the best way to handle a disagreement and we suggest the best way to deal with rude or frivolous messages is to ignore them. If you feel you've been attacked, please don't respond by escalating. This makes it nearly impossible for us to do anything about the original attack, and we consider all parties to any blowup to be equally culpable regardless of who started it. The only appropriate response to a perceived insult or attack is to report the post to a moderator and to wait for official action. Regardless of what the official decision is, you absolutely may not engage in personal attacks. Instead, respond by refutation. Keep your personal issues off the boards. If you are a bystander, you should remain a bystander and report the post.
We may provide special forums in which we allow posts about personal, technical support, and site policy issues. Our User Info pages are where our members can introduce themselves and talk about their personal lives to the extent they feel comfortable. All other rules of the site, however, remain in effect in this forum. Likewise, in our general site forums, users can discuss technical and policy issues. By policy issues we mean general issues of site policy, as opposed to specific discussions of why a post was deleted or why a user was suspended. We do not discuss those matters publicly. Moreover, these special boards are the only boards on which it is permissible for users to discuss policy issues. You may not use our message boards as an end-run around administrative decisions. If we delete a post or take any other action with which you disagree, your recourse is limited to making an e-mail inquiry to the User Administrator. We are open to good-faith dialog, but in the end our decisions are final. Public discussions of administrative decisions are not permitted and will be deleted. We believe in a very light administrative hand, but when we delete something or otherwise act we expect that it will not be spoken of on other threads and in other posts. Those who habitually violate this basic principle of administrative necessity will find that we will take action against their accounts.
The HonestArgument.com administration operates via an internal process of consensus, voting, and executive decisionmaking. Likewise, often action is only taken on posts that have been reported and it is impossible to guarantee precise equal reaction to every situation that may arise. Nonetheless, when an administrator makes a decision, that decision must be respected. If it is not -- even if it subsequently turns out to be repealed -- your account may be suspended or terminated.
Ultimately, though we provide tremendous latitude to our users, we are the owners of the HonestArgument site and in all instances reserve the right to run the site as we see fit.
You also agree not to post messages that you know or suspect to be defamatory, inflammatory, baiting, abusive, vulgar, hateful, harassing, obscene, threatening, invasive of a person's privacy, or violative of any law such as the law of copyright. We reserve the right to be the sole arbiters of the definitions of the terms in the previous sentence, and throughout this agreement.
We will, if notified or if we become aware of them, remove messages that violate this user agreement. Considering the real-time nature of this bulletin board, however, it is impossible for us to review all messages or confirm the validity of all information posted. Please remember that we do not at all times actively monitor the contents of and are not responsible for any messages posted. We expect our users to abide by our rules when posting, and we do not pre-screen messages except in special forums. We do not vouch for or warrant the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any message, and are not responsible for the contents of any message. The messages (including those posted by our coordinators, unless they are framed as official announcements) express the views of the author of the message, not necessarily the views of HonestArgument.com or any other entity associated with this site.
Ownership of Content
You as the creator of your messages retain the rights to your messages, with the exception that HonestArgument.com and its present and future affiliates or assigns will always retain the right to publish, reproduce, and otherwise use your messages once they are posted.
You agree that what you post is true to the best of your knowledge. If you make factual statements, you represent that you have confirmed their truth. Statements of opinion are, of course, unrestricted, provided they comply with the rest of this policy. Please see the HonestArgument.com Defamation Policy
for a discussion of defamation.
Copyright and Fair Use, Plagiarism, and Bandwidth Theft
You agree not to post any copyrighted material unless the copyright is owned by you or by HonestArgument.com, or you have written permission. In addition you agree to credit your sources, and you agree not to use other sites' bandwidth without authorization. Please see the HonestArgument.com Copyright, Fair Use, Plagiarism, and Bandwidth Theft Policy
for a discussion of these issues.
Special Sessions, Forums, and Features
The site will from time to time offer special features. These additional services provided by the site will be governed by their own rules (where specifically stated) and by these rules (where not stated otherwise).
Responsibility for Posts
You agree to take responsibility for what you post, including any legal consequences, costs and liabilities.
Registration and Technology Integrity
Any attempt to undermine the HonestArgument registration process, provide false information to the user database, register multiple identities, or otherwise tamper with the technology or performance of this site will subject a user to permanent removal from the community. In addition, we will use every means at our disposal to combat attacks against our site, including but not limited to reports to ISPs and law enforcement agencies, IP bans, and public disclosure of the identities of those who commit such attacks.
, but you cannot participate unless you provide it. In addition, you must provide us with a real, working e-mail address that you will monitor on an ongoing basis in the event we need to communicate with you.
We urge you to be circumspect about posting details of your personal life and comings-and-goings on the message boards, whether you use your real name or not. Please bear in mind that anybody with Internet access can read most of our boards, and that no matter how carefully we monitor the registration process we cannot prevent every instance of misuse.
Litigation, Governing Law, and Choice of Forum
This site is private property. We reserve the absolute right to administer it in any way we please -- including post deletion, suspension or banning of members, and other disciplinary action -- without the need for explanation and without any possibility of appeal. As a result, you agree that you will never challenge a site administrative decision in court or via any adjudicative process other than a private appeal to the site's administrators. In any event, you agree that any controversy or claim arising out of or relating to this user agreement, or the breach thereof, shall be settled by arbitration administered by the American Arbitration Association in accordance with its Commercial Arbitration Rules including the Supplementary Procedures for Online Arbitration, and judgment on the award rendered by the arbitrator may be entered in any court having jurisdiction thereof. The arbitrator shall be a United States national and conversant with the norms of online media and discussion communities. This user agreement shall be governed by the laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and any in-person proceedings must occur in Philadelphia. If more than one arbitration is begun in connection with this agreement and any party contends that two or more arbitrations are substantially related and that the issues should be heard in one proceeding, the arbitrator selected in the first-filed of such proceedings shall determine whether, in the interests of justice and efficiency, the proceedings should be consolidated before that that arbitrator. The arbitrators will have no authority to award punitive or other damages not measured by the prevailing party's actual damages, except as may be required by statute. Each party shall bear its own costs and expenses and an equal share of the arbitrators' and administrative fees of arbitration, unless the initiation of an arbitration is deemed to be frivolous or in bad faith, in which case fees and costs may be awarded. Except as may be required by law, neither a party nor an arbitrator may disclose the existence, content, or results of any arbitration hereunder without the prior written consent of both parties.
HonestArgument.com will not give out your information to any third parties. Period.
We will make you aware of any additional policies that we may develop to cover specific topics, such as signature lines and avatars, and it then will be your responsibility to familiarize yourself with these policies.
Changes to the Agreement
We reserve the right to modify these rules at any time for any reason and, if we make substantive changes, we will make an announcement on the HonestArgument.com site.
This User Agreement took effect Wednesday, December 1, 2005 and supercedes all previous versions. Notice of changes provided via site announcement.