Editorial Policy and Code of Conduct

Statement of Purpose
Cratered provides a forum for communication among its members, offering discussion, debate, advice and information in a supportive environment. We disdain censorship while acknowledging that free expression requires standards for a forum to function properly. The editorial policy and code of conduct are intended to enable civil conversation about most subjects, even the most volatile, while preventing cynical efforts to shut down communication or create a toxic atmosphere. The policy and code apply to all forum and workshop discussions. The following sections describe the standards Cratered uses in assessing any content that is brought to our attention for a judgment call.

Guiding Principles
All Cratered members, as persons with inherent dignity, deserve respect. Otherwise, truth and accuracy reign supreme. Any truth claim posted on Cratered, including the religious, political, and ideological, requires supporting reason, logic and empirical evidence that is consummate with the gravity of the claim. “Obama was born in Kenya”, as a high stakes claim that the President of the United States is actually illegible to hold office, requires considerable support. “I went to church today”, as a low stakes claim, requires none. We think this approach–say anything but support what you say–is a superior alternative to outright bans on discussion of contentious subject matter. The practical application is this: the claims, opinions and stances of all Cratered members, no matter how cherished, once posted, are fair game for comment or criticism under site rules. No sacred cow is immune; if true, it endures, if untrue, it’s hamburger. Cratered evaluates truth claims based on reason, logic and evidence, rather than on authority, tradition and dogma. We hold you to these high standards, which unify members who otherwise differ on a wide range of issues and subjects.

The following offenses may result in immediate and possibly permanent expulsion from Cratered and/or removal of the offending content. This is not necessarily a complete list. Cratered shall be the final judge of what constitutes a violation of site rules and policy.

1. Plagiarism. Credit the author or cite the source when you use someone else’s work.

2. Copyright Infringement.

3. Harassment, trolling, threats of violence, stalking, disorderly behavior, or revealing the personal information of another member. This may include obfuscation, ‘word salad‘ posts, repetitious ‘yes but why’ responses, and reissuing previously answered questions or discredited claims. Cratered is aware that unethical critics and the intellectually dishonest have an advantage in that it’s easy to generate nonsense and ignorance but difficult for reasonable and knowledgeable minds to demonstrate it as such. Cratered will eject incorrigible violators of this policy.

4. Personal attacks. Name-calling or abuse directed at a person or group of people is disallowed. “You are stupid” is abuse. “Your argument is stupid” is not abuse. “You are a liar” may or may not be abuse, depending on whether the charge is false or unsupported, or is demonstrated as being reasonably true.

5. Hate speech. Hate speech is a communication which is meaningless except as an expression of denigration for a group of people. “Muslims are stupid” is hate speech because Muslims are people. “Islam is stupid” is not hate speech because Islam is a set of ideas. “Republicans are irrational” is overt hate speech. “No offense but in my opinion Republicans are the Flat Earth Society of the political world” is subtle hate speech, since an unproven analogy (that Republicans disregard scientific evidence regarding the shape of the Earth) declares unfairly that Republicans are irrational. Referring to a person as “libtard” is hate speech.

6. Defamation. You may say anything you like, no matter how offensive or unflattering, provided you demonstrate the charge is reasonably true. A more serious charge requires more and better support. If you announce that Donald Trump is a racist pig, you must provide a proportional amount of evidence to back your claim.

7. Proselytizing or other proclamations of mystical or religious truth. Posts about religion are allowed if you refrain from preaching a particular gospel. “Jesus died for our sins” and “eat five grams of magic mushrooms and you’ll understand” violates this policy. So does “evidence” consisting of quotations from a holy book, or citing the supernatural properties and powers of a deity. Comments about religious texts as works of literature are allowed. For instance, posting a list of miracles described in the Koran is acceptable in context, but citing them as historical facts or as cause to worship Allah is not.

8. Spam or unauthorized advertising. Members are welcome to announce products, services, or book publications if they are topical to the Cratered community. A book about writing is topical. Your newly published science fiction novel is topical. Your proofreading service is topical. Inexpensive prescription medication is not topical. A website for writers to buy books about inexpensive prescription medication is not topical. If you are unsure, contact a moderator before you post.

9. Identity, misrepresentation and circumvention. Users with multiple accounts will be suspended. Users who circumvent suspension with new accounts will be banned permanently. Pen names are allowed but you must reveal your real name at least to the Cratered president (privately if you wish).

10. Depictions of nudity, sexual activity, pornography or similar adult-related content. Cratered is hosted by a service provider which forbids such materials; Cratered staff may be legally liable in some jurisdictions, depending on the circumstances. Cratered has less flexibility in this area than we would prefer but, due to external pressures, we think the downside of a more permissive policy outweighs the relatively limited benefits.

Cratered encourages members to report anyone who engages in prohibited activities. To express a concern, lodge a complaint, or offer feedback, contact a moderator. We will respond quickly and privately, and make our best effort to resolve matters fairly. Be discrete; do not confront members or moderators in the public forums.