Getting the Lay of the Land

This long-overdue page is intended to more clearly identify the guidelines of acceptable conduct at this site. Oriented mostly toward prospective and new participants, it may nonetheless be helpful for regulars as well, as it represents some changes in thought from previous incarnations of this page (which may not be here any longer). As circumstances and changes in my ideas and attitudes may warrant, the page will be modified.

The primary purpose of this group blog is to provide a place to explore ideas and issues relating to freedom and individualism. Both being broad categories, there are many perspectives and paths possible, and I like seeing them. I like helping others to recognize the diversity inherent in both as well; and I deeply appreciate learning from others whose approaches are different from mine. Thus, this place is a fairly open forum for conversation; but that does not mean it is open to all conversation.

First and foremost, as this is a private site—that is to say, not sponsored or run by any state employee or official—the First Amendment does not apply here. We are not under any obligation to provide a venue for every person who wants to post comments here; and we will not do so. Trolling and spamming are two obvious activities that aren’t welcome at all, under any circumstances.

My goal here is to provide a place where individuals can respectfully, civilly consider and exchange ideas and information via conversation with other participants. It is not a commercial site, and no ads will be accepted here. Trolling is a bit harder to pin down, as there’s more of a judgment call involved in applying that label. Some actions—trollish and otherwise—that are not welcome here include: framing questions or issues in a non-neutral or incivil way way (e.g., assuming anarchy or voluntaryism is necessarily utopian and therefore unobtainable, that religious individuals are necessarily hypocritical or incapable of rational thought, that tax avoidance is somehow “better” or “worse” than another form of pro-freedom economic activism); disrupting a conversation with a barely-relevant tangent, long quotations, strawman smackdown, or efforts to divert the conversation elsewhere; any sort of holier–than–thou attitude directed at another participant; and flame wars and personal attacks between participants. Conspirators may have differing criteria regarding comments on their posts than I do; in those cases, I will do my best to honor their preferences while keeping true to the spirit of this place.

Somewhat related to the trolling issue, I consider it extremely boorish to make statements claiming or insinuating that one “knows” what’s in another contributor’s mind, or what another’s intent is. Especially among individuals who have never met face to face, that is simply impossible. Observe that I try to use such words and phrases as “appears to”, “perhaps”, “many individuals”, “it may be that”, rather than statements of fact that I cannot know or support—although I am not perfect on this. I find such precision aids my thinking as well as writing. It also helps keep conversations from getting overheated.

Without getting too deeply into the DAM (“Dreaded Anarchist–Minarchist”) debate, I will just say that pro-state perspectives are not welcome here. (I consider voting a pro-state activity, by the way.) I expect that all readers who want to join the conversation would agree that the many layers of government in our lives are entirely too much; and thus the focus is on scaling back coercive systems and identifying the flawed ideology underlying them. That said, there are many ways to accomplish that, and many different end points possible between where we currently are and total voluntaryism. Any contributions that advance liberty along that continuum are welcome—viz., one needn’t worry overmuch about purity issues. To be even more clear, I have few quibbles with minarchism, as long as more coercive rules and/or glorification of the state aren’t advocated.

You may notice that I refer to my interactions with others with some frequency, but that I very rarely name names. There are several reasons for this, but I’ll only address the two most important ones. First, since my ramblings usually focus on only my version of some event, I prefer to keep specifics vague to help me focus on the broader issues, rather than elements that are unique to that event. Second, I am highly sensitive to privacy issues, my own as well as others’. Thus, it’s possible that one might think I’m talking about some interaction with him, but I really have another encounter in mind. Even if I am talking about you, I’m wanting to protect our privacy. To this end, comments that are better sent as email—even a simple inquiry as to whether I am speaking of you (and my eddress is available, along with my public key)—will be deleted.

If you’re in doubt as to your ability to abide by these guidelines, keep in mind that I am not expecting everyone to think in lockstep. I know of voters who participate here, for example, as well as proponents of “intellectual” property—but when those issues arise, they tend not to engage, or do so respectfully rather than antagonistically. I hope that’s because they understand that opposing views do not in and of themselves constitute a personal attack. Read through various comment threads and you should get a good idea of how to contribute here; and you will likely be welcomed by us all.

One may participate here by registering. Doing so confers two benefits to you: your comments are not held in moderation; and your comments are “verified”, i.e., an anonymous user cannot post a comment using your user name. At this time, registration requires admin approval before one can post. This is an anti–troll and –spammer measure. You may wish to facilitate your possible approval by sending me a brief email introducing yourself [my eddress is my first name at this domain; and I do use encryption]. Gibberish user names and/or eddresses from countries that are notorious for spammers will be deleted after 24 hours if I don’t receive an email requesting approval. The few trolls with whom I have personal experience are not welcome to post here; I will similarly bar others on conspirators’ recommendations.

Anonymous users may also post comments, but they are held for possible moderation. An anonymous comment may be approved as is, may be edited (with no intent of altering meaning, but perhaps removing inflammatory content—if edited, I will clearly state why I edited the comment), may be deleted but mentioned in a comment by me, or may be deleted entirely without mention. Because they are anonymous and I have no way of verifying content, there is a much higher bar for approving anonymous comments than registered users’ comments.

Any registered user who posts an offtopic link to a commercial site (e.g., peddling penis pills, bogus financial/mortgage help, antidrug sites, sex vids or sites) will be considered a spammer and the account will be deleted.

Okay, this is way longer than I had intended when I set out to write it. I hope it is helpful rather than intimidating. If you need help figuring out what html codes can be used in a comment, click on the “input format” link to see what’s usable. As already stated, if necessary, this ramble will be edited and/or updated. If anyone has questions, my eddress information is in here already, so figure it out and give me a shout. Thanks for your time.