Comments / Register Of Bans

There’s an ancient Sufi saying beloved of the Buddha, which like a surprising number of ancient Sufi sayings beloved of the Buddha comes from a book of preachy Victorian poetry. It goes:

Before you speak, let your words pass through three gates; At the first gate, ask yourself, is is true? At the second gate ask, is it necessary? At the third gate ask, is it kind?

Astral Codex Ten has lower standards than either ancient Sufis or preachy Victorians, and so we only require you to pass at least two of those three gates.

If you make a comment here, it had better be either true and necessary, true and kind, or kind and necessary.

Recognizing that nobody can be totally sure what is or isn’t true, if you want to say something that might not be true – anything controversial, speculative, or highly opinionated – then you had better make sure it is both kind and necessary. Kind, in that you don’t rush to insult people who disagree with you. Necessary in that it’s on topic, and not only contributes something to the discussion but contributes more to the discussion than it’s likely to take away through starting a fight.

Nobody can be kind all the time, but if you are going to be angry or sarcastic, what you say had better be both true and necessary. You had better be delivering a very well-deserved smackdown against someone who is uncontroversially and obviously wrong, in a way you can back up with universally agreed-upon statistics. And it had better be necessary, in that you are quashing a false opinion which is doing real damage and which is so persistent that you don’t think any more measured refutation would be effective.

And sometimes you might want to share something that’s not especially relevant and not the most important thing in the world – but if you do that it had better be both true and kind. No random interjection of toxic opinions that are going to cause World War III. No unprovoked attacks.

Threats, doxxing, most things people would call “slurs”, et cetera fail this test as neither kind nor necessary. You people are smart and don’t need me to explain this further.

I feel like these standards are pretty lax. In fact, they probably permit most spam – this spambot saying “this is a wonderful piece of writing” is both true and kind – so I’ll inelegantly add a kludge that spam is also unacceptable (I have it on good authority that this was in the original Sufi saying used by the Buddha as well). Remember that before you worry this is too unduly restrictive.

Although I try to make this a safe space for free speech, in reality our society does have some taboos, and retaliates not only against the people who break them, but against anyone who associates with them and any forum that allows them to speak. I will try to err in the direction of protecting people’s right to voice minority opinions. But if someone seems to be taking flagrant advantage of this by consistently saying very taboo things without any effort to try to phrase them carefully, in a way that ruins the reputation of this blog and its other commenters far out of proportion to whatever can be gained from discussing it, then I reserve the right to ban them for this. Consider taking discussions you expect to stray into this territory to private email with other participants.

Here is a record of all ACX bans that I bothered to record:

5/31/21: Freddie for 1 day for reasons
5/31/21: Radrave indefinitely for reasons
5/31/21: Viliam for 1 day for reasons
5/31/21: Michael for 1 week for reasons
6/1/21: Yaro for 1 week for reasons
6/1/21: 156 for 1 week for reasons