Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Three post rule

One of the disadvantages of Internet communication is its tendency towards Wild West shoot-first-ask-questions-later behaviour. Regulars to any group (be it a mailing list, a Usenet group, or regular readers of a blog) often fly off the handle at the slightest provocation, jumping down the throats of newcomers for the smallest infraction of the unspoken rules.

PZ Myers of Pharyngula has a rule to manage this problem, which I call the Three Post Rule: nobody is to attack anybody else even if they say Jehovah until they have been given three posts to clarify their ideas.

PZ gives a hypothetical example:

  1. Stranger: I think all women are chattel.
    Old hand: Pardon me, friend, but are you using humor, irony, sarcasm, or satire? Are you perhaps about to expand on a deeper philosophical point?

  2. Stranger: No, I just think women are meant to serve my needs.
    Old hand: This sounds like a most unfortunate and disagreeable belief. Why should you hold such a demeaning attitude?

  3. Stranger: Because the Bible, which is the literal word of God, tells me so.
    Old hand: [Smashes whiskey bottle over stranger's head. General brawl commences.]

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