The Roolz reiterated

April 13, 2014 • 8:01 am

On the sidebar you will see a document called “Da Roolz!,” which gives guidelines for posting at this site (you can also access it here). I guess I have to call attention to it from time to time, as people may not see it.

I want to mention the two Roolz that continue to be violated most frequently:

7.  Try not to dominate threads, particularly in a one-on-one argument. I’ve found that those are rarely informative, and the participants never reach agreement. A good guideline is that if your comments constitute over 10% of the comments on a thread, you’re posting too much.

12. I am glad to receive items from readers, though at times their number is a bit overwhelming! But many of my posts come from those contributions, and I try to remember to h/t readers if I use their contributions. (Sometimes I forget this acknowledgment—in which case my apologies.) If you send me a link and I don’t write about it, please do not feel bad. I get many more tips, photos, and other stuff than I can possibly use, and have to choose. But please do not send me items asking me to post them, or saying, “I think this would make a great post for your site.” That feels a bit presumptuous and coercive, and, as readership grows, I’m starting to get these requests more frequently. Also, please do not ask me to publicize your or your friend’s book, business, or any other endeavor.  If you want to call something interesting to my attention—and of course it must be of potential  interest not just to me, but to readers—that is great, but don’t ask me to post things.

I continue to receive requests from people to publicize their books or posts on their websites. Likewise, I get items which readers say (or imply) that I should post about because they’re of general interest.  Please let me make that determination; I don’t like to be pressured, even slightly.

I will work on Da Roolz as things develop, but I’d like to add one more thing—not a binding rule, but a request. If you want to criticize my views on my site, or link to a post on your own site in which  you do the same, please have the guts to use your own name. So often these comments or websites are pseudonymous, and I consider that cowardice. Stand behind words. It simply cannot be true that every one of these critics have really good reasons to hide their real names. Some of them may, but I suspect that people, freed from the responsibility of having their words associated with their names, simply hide behind a pseudonym.  If I can espouse strong and unpopular views under my real name, so can many of you.

15 thoughts on “The Roolz reiterated

    1. Click on the Research Interests link on the right. Googling will yield the same link as well. 🙂

  1. I have tried to observe #7

    (Having, I think, been guilty of breaking that Commandment in the past, especially in some older free will threads).


    1. #7 is tricky — esp. when there are few comments. I think I now have 25% of the comments here with this one comment. But the general intent is clear. Maybe more than 10% if also >10 posts?

  2. Clearly every website operator is entitled to their own rules regarding anonymous posters, however increasingly employers for full time, part time and freelance jobs Google people before hiring them. I don’t want the first thing they see to be my name and a bunch of posts about atheism. If I had a lifetime job, or worked in a field where atheism is common and accepted, as it is in science, it wouldn’t be such an issue. But I don’t.

    Luck for me I find little to disagree with you on.

  3. Even though it’s not a Da Rool, I’m going to respectfully disagree with the bit about pseudonyms. While I fully understand Professor Ceiling Cat’s reasoning, I think it’s missing a few things:

    1. Anyone can use your appearance on the internet for whatever excuse they like, including all aspects of employment. A friend of mine, a tenured professor at a religious university, won’t guest-post on my own site because of the religious-bashing content, even though their (the gender unspecific their) posts will contain nothing of the sort – they consider the risk too high. Paranoia, perhaps, but then again, others have lost their jobs over such, and people can be notoriously bad about making distinctions over content;

    2. I actually had an internet stalker for a short while, who even called me at home, because I used my real name, and because I reviewed his mediocre photos honestly. This says nothing, of course, of identity theft and all the various ways someone can assemble information about you if they’re so inclined. While I would hope most commenters here would be adult about it, posting criticism on any popular site often invites a dogpile from sycophants, and it only takes one unstable individual to go overboard;

    3. It’s a popular site, with a lot of readers – anything posted here has legs;

    4. What does it really matter what someone’s posting name is? The content is what’s important, and whether or not they can make a good case. A pseudonym actually hurts this, since a lot of readers will interpret this as cowardice right off the bat.

    This comes from someone who knows he’s lost students because of the atheist content on the same site as his business – some of us aren’t guaranteed carte blanche from an employer. I have not deleted content, split off a separate site, or started using pseudonyms because I think it’s important to be up front, but it’s also costing me a certain amount. That’s my decision, but not everyone’s.

    1. I suppose, then, that your view is that if you stand to suffer in any way for standing up for what you believe, you should hide your identity.

      And you say it doesn’t matter what the person’s name is. Should I think give lectures under a pseudonym, wearing a mask to hide my identity? According to your stipulations, that would be perfectly fine. I guess you also think that opinion pieces–indeed, all journalistic articles or books–needn’t have names attached to them.

      I’m sorry, but my feeling is that if you take a stand, you take responsibility for that stand. I get a lot of hate mail and, lately, truly abusive and anonymous phone calls, and I just swallow it. It goes with the territory; it’s what I should expect if I take on controversial topics.

      Look, there are a lot of reasons to be pseudonymous, and some are valid, but I suspect the great majority of them are just excuses to be able to say what you want without bearing the personal consequences. Should we all use pseudonyms when we write or publish anything, for “really, what does it matter what someone’s posting name is”? By all means let every book author simply be named John or Jane Smith. After all, what does it matter who wrote the book?

      And if someone is going to go after me either here or on their website, they should have the guts to use their name. Otherwise they’re just being cowardly. But I won’t insist on that; this is just the way I feel.

      1. I say you’re both right.


        Seriously, it’s most situational–like a lot of things in life.

        Cool website, Al!

      2. As I female, I tend to use a Nom de plume which includes my first name, however, this is the best discussion on the web (I spend some time on Facebook debating on atheist sites). Jerry, I’m so grateful for your amazing energy, ethics, integrity and commitment to a community outside your many academic duties.

        1. “Jerry, I’m so grateful for your amazing energy, ethics, integrity and commitment to a community outside your many academic duties.”

          + a very large integer

      3. “Should we all use pseudonyms when we write or publish anything, for “really, what does it matter what someone’s posting name is”? By all means let every book author simply be named John or Jane Smith. After all, what does it matter who wrote the book?”

        Well, there’s a difference between a consistent pseudonym, as a lot of authors use, and what you’ve proposed, which is none at all, really. Neither of these has anything to do with internet commenting.

        But if you ask me what’s more important, having principles or paying the bills, sorry, the bills come first – the power company doesn’t give a damn about my principles. Lots of people run a risk if an internet search turns up something their employer doesn’t like, others are trying to avoid an ex, others are tired of losing respect simply because they’re female, and on and on. There are plenty of reasons why someone doesn’t want to lay it all out there just to offer an opinion. While I agree that a lot of dipwads hide behind internet anonymity to behave badly, that’s far from the only reason to use a pseudonym, and calling anyone gutless because of it doesn’t strike me as fair.

        I still judge the content, and can tell if it seems reasoned or is simply mouthing off. Their real name won’t tell me anything at all. Perhaps we’ll just disagree on this.

  4. I prefer using a pseudonym because my name is quite long but mainly because I don’t want a web presence. I sometimes google myself to check that I’m not out there.
    I don’t think it’s much different to having an unlisted number.
    Not that there’s much out there that I’ve ever posted anywhere that could get me in future trouble.
    When I have retired though I will not care as much.

  5. I have decided to change my name on this site to at least my first name with a humorous (to some) surname (not my real one which is too long to type every time).
    So now I am John Frum, formally known as JS.
    I would think that most of the regulars here would get the surname reference.
    It’s a good insight into the causes of religious delusion.

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