Jun 01

Call for comments on the code of conduct at Fool’s mountain

Written by admin on Monday, June 1st, 2009 at 10:13 pm
Filed under:Announcements, General | Tags:
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admin’s note. As many of our regular readers know, we generally give readers a free hand in terms of commenting in the belief that most people will not abuse this privilege. However, some recent comments on this blog are of inferior quality. The objective of  FM is to promote dialogue, but a dialogue would be impossible if there are only radicals on both sides. According to the Gresham’s law we discussed before, bad comments, if not dealt with,  will eventually drive out good comments. Therefore, we have drafted rules to encourage civil debate and polite discussion. We’d like to hear your feedback first before its implementation.

Fool’s Mountain General Principles

These set out some general principles about the website that will help you stay within the rules whilst you’re here.

1. Everyone is welcome.

This is not a website for any particular group of people and/or group of political views. Do not try to chase people off because you do not like their positions.

2. “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.”

Do not be unpleasant to other members, just as you would not like to be treated poorly.

3. No mobs allowed.

The Administration is here to deal with problematic comments. Do not take it on yourself to mete out “justice”, and do not feed the trolls.

4. Everyone gets a second chance.

Even if you are banned, you will be allowed back on at least once. Do not throw temper-tantrums if you face sanctions for your posts. Change your behavior and you can’t easily go wrong.

5. This is a privately-run website – the Administration’s decisions are final.

The Administration will make decisions as it sees fit. It can make mistakes and will try to be fair, but at the end of the day it’s in charge.

Fool’s Mountain Rules

Quite simply put these are the specific rules concerning general behavior on the blog that must be followed at all times.

1. No trolling or flaming.

We know what this sort of behavior is. If you are unsure, this webpage lists some examples of both.

2. No personal attacks or otherwise unpleasant personal comments.

Don’t attack the messenger, attack the message.

3. No racial, racist or anti-religious remarks.

Do not attack groups based on their race, nationality or religion.

Some recent examples of bad comments from Fool’s Mountain (revised to accentuate main points):

[Person A] is working for the CCP, or [Person B] is working for the CIA, etc.

[Person B] is a human rights scum, or [Person A] is a 50 center, a FQ, etc.

You are stupid, a buffoon, the person I truly despise, etc.

Get lost if you don’t like China, or if you don’t like the comments here, etc.

I am here to disabuse the notion that all young Chinese men are self-pitying inadequates filled with impotent rage.

If you’re unsure, please try to write only pleasant comments.

4. Stay on topic.

Whilst it can be interesting to talk about other issues, please respect the topic raised by the commentator. Do not attempt to divert the conversation to unrelated matters if you don’t like the original question being asked/point being made. You should not use other countries’ circumstances as justification for what happens in China. Two wrongs do not make a right. Also, the past is not justification for the present. Do not prattle on about something that happened two hundred years ago if the discussion is about today or the recent past.

On the other hand, country-to-country comparisons can be useful to provide a historical context, although there are rarely perfect analogies. To discuss China’s acts in context of other country’s act – both present and past – is acceptable and helpful, as long as the purpose of the discussion is to broad understanding of the issues at hand.

5. Post in English.

Please post in English. Do not reproduce large pieces of un-translated Chinese. If you want to inform people of information in Chinese, just post a link. We also have a Chinese section that you can post/comment on in Chinese.

6. No spamming.

Do not keep repeating a point, make stacks of small posts, etc. Use the edit function if you want to add something or wait a bit until other people have had an opportunity to read your first points.

7. No excessive self-promotion.

You can link to your website in your posting profile – do not repeatedly republish links to your website in your posts or to suggest people read/buy/etc works you have partly or wholly contributed to.

8. No commercial posts.

Simple enough.

9. No obscene, indecent or profane comments.


10. Respect the Administration.

The Administration is a group of people who moderate comments. Their instructions are not optional, and they have the final word on posting here. Do not complain about sanctions imposed on you on the website – send an e-mail if you are unsatisfied.

Do not act as if you have the Administration’s authority, such as say someone is not welcome or they will be/should be banned.

Rules Enforcement

New members will always receive at least one warning before sanctioned for their comments. Other members may be warned, though not in every case.

Comments may be hidden (collapsed), deleted or edited depending on the nature of the rule(s) violated.

Repeat offences can lead to suspension of posting privileges without warning. They will be notified by e-mail of the duration, so please use real e-mail addresses when you leave comments.

Suspensions range from 24 hours to indefinite. All suspensions are logged privately, so repeat offenders will have their sanctions escalated promptly. Everyone has a second-chance, so you will be allowed back on ahead of the expiration of longer suspensions if we are convinced that you can behave. However, you must use that second-chance wisely – you are not entitled to another one.

All official comments will be identified with a poster name of “The Administration”. We know who we are, so do not try to impersonate us – you will be automatically banned for doing so.


The Administration

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41 Responses to “Call for comments on the code of conduct at Fool’s mountain”

  1. Brooke Says:

    I took a unique approach to dealing with blog trollers. Feel free to check it out.

  2. raventhorn4000 Says:

    I would add 1 additional rule, only because I actually experienced it once, (if you can call it “once” when the same person did it over the course of 1 year and the admin on the other forum didn’t do anything about it.)

    11. No threats. (Ie. “watch yourself, or I will call the FBI”, or “I’m giving INS your email address”.)

    Frankly, I would laugh at such ridiculous internet threats, but they do get annoying when repeated over and over again.

    *And a supplemental rule to #7 “no excessive self-promoting”.

    12. No “fakers”.

    (There are some internet personalities who are obsessive compulsive about inventing their own Net “persona”, to either gain admiration or gain sympathy, or both. Some will even go to the extreme of inventing family tragedies to make up for the fact that they are losing an argument online. “How can you attack me, when I just lost my mother” type argument.) Some psychologists have branded this as “internet Munchhausen Syndrome”, whereby a person feigns illness in himself or his family to gain attention.

    This is a new but serious problem, because the “Faker” thrive on the anonymous nature of the internet. But the real victims are the other participants in forums, who often feel drained and deceived after the episodes. Furthermore, after experiencing “fakers”, the honest participants tend to become less trustful of others, even to the point of questioning the genuineness of every newcomer in the forums.

    I have seen a faker completely destroy 1 forum, by causing division of sympathies and havoc.

    Thus, I feel that the “No faker” rule should be added, alone with the “no excessive self-promoting”.

    1 person who excessively “self-promote” is likely a “faker”. No rational person should feel the need to keep talking about him/herself, unless the specific personal experience is actually highly relevant to the issue at hand, rather than simply say “I have 20 years of experience in ____, therefore, I know more than you, and I win.”

    Stick to the issues of debate. If you don’t know something, just admit it, don’t make up personal details to make up for the ignorance.

  3. imagebilly Says:

    hmm… is it ok to call someone stupid liberals? or to proclaim Mr. Bush is a great president?

  4. Raj Says:

    ravern (2)

    It’s a good suggestion, but I don’t think point 11 is quite necessary. Rules 1 through 3 would cover the scenario you mention.

    As for point 12, I think it’s pretty hard to Police against that sort of thing. How do you know if someone really is X/Y/Z, etc? If something’s getting out of hand you can always e-mail Admin to ask him to step in.

    Otherwise I think the anti-trolling rule would apply. Mods aren’t robots. If you get the right people they’ll sort things out.

    billy (3)

    hmm… is it ok to call someone stupid liberals? or to proclaim Mr. Bush is a great president?

    It isn’t ok to call someone (i.e. a person) on the blog a stupid liberal. I would generally discourage unpleasant expressions like “stupid X” generally because it might upset people.

    If people want to argue someone is a good politician/leader, they can.

  5. raventhorn4000 Says:


    As I said, generally speaking, if a personal “excessively self-promote”, he/she is likely a faker.

    But there are also telltail signs of “fakers”, who will eventually spout out Inconsistent stories about themselves. Ie. attorney who doesn’t even understand the terminologies of law, etc.

    Also, “fakers”/internet Munchhausen types, are obsessed with self-promotion, ie. want attention. They turn every debate into ways to draw attention to themselves. It’s a compulsion, they can’t live without it. If you try to ignore them, they butt into conversations with irrelevant interjections about themselves and their personal “stories”. The point, if you reject/question their personal “stories”, they accuse you of “personal attacks”, when they were the ones painting a bull’s eye on themselves.

    I don’t want to have to email the admins for every “faker” that come across the net. From my personal experience, (unstated here), I can tell you it’s very difficult to deal this particularly nasty type of internet trolls.

    admins should become more aware of these personalities and actively purge the forums, for the sake of keep a clean atmosphere of forum.

    “Fakers” are like “spammers”, they liter the forum with silly irrelevant stories, and make intelligent reading/debate very difficult.

  6. imagebilly Says:

    how about liberals with limited brain?

  7. Old Tales Retold Says:

    The rules seem good.

  8. Raj Says:

    raventhorn, how many “fakers” do you think we’ve had repeatedly trouble the blog? I can’t think of any.

    Besides, you miss my point – why do you need a new rule when there are ones on spamming, trolling, etc? I don’t think the admins should act like a court or Police force passing judgment on people’s “credibility”, etc. If someone’s being a problem it’s self-evident. I don’t know what admin thinks.

    billy, no.

  9. raventhorn4000 Says:


    Like I said, “fakers” are a more recent thing, but it is increasing from what I have seen on other forums.

    And besides, I think their destructive influence is severe enough on the individual basis to warrant some additional specific definition in the rules.

    This way, people will learn to spot them, and clearly announced rules also have the additional benefit of preventing the occurrence of such personalities. (They would realize that the forum know about their types, and is guarding against them.)

    It is similar to why we have additional laws defining “Terrorism”, when Terrorist acts can easily fit into other crimes like theft, vandalism, murder, assault and battery, arson, etc.

    Fundamental to all “policing” rules in social organizations is (1) to prevent prohibited acts.

    Rules serve the dual purpose of (1) punishing, and (2) notice to potential violators.

    Hence, if a problem is POtentially severe enough, then a clear rule of prohibition specific to it should be announced OPENLY to provide notice and warning.

  10. Virginia Says:

    I think rules on blogs are very important, and many blogs are adopting “no troll” policies and moderated commenting.

    Hate-speech is very dangerous, words can and have killed, it is important not to foster hate, nor give it too much “airtime”.

  11. pug_ster Says:

    I think some ADMIN here is exploiting the rules here namely Raj as he start censoring posts that he does not agree with.

  12. raventhorn4000 Says:

    I like to see an explanation from Raj, on why my comments about “no redress” from NED’s actions should be taken out of replies to his questions of “no redress” for Tiananmen.

  13. pug_ster Says:

    I agree. I understand if there’s foul language, hate speeches, and death threats posts are removed. But there are even some hate speeches about the CCP and the US government that is tolerated, but maybe talking hate speeches about certain race would probably get a little too sensative. I’ve had some posters saying some personal things about me and I would remind the poster not to do that. And some self-moderation to remind other people to try to be respectful to each other is the key.

  14. Raj Says:

    Because, raventhorn, the NED had no relation to the topic under discussion. The only link between the NED and the Tiananmen Mothers was that the former had given some money to a website that had hosted a message from the latter. If you want to talk about the NED you can write in the open thread or whatever, but really it’s not fair to hijack the conversation in the way that you were trying to.

    pug_ster, you are free to make any comments you like whether they were for or against the points raised in the thread providing they’re on topic. I disagree with a lot of the comments there but they’re still up.

  15. raventhorn4000 Says:


    Then I don’t understand what rights do the “mothers” have to “redress”, if you can’t “compare”.

    Don’t bring Human Rights standards of Western Democracy into the topic of Tiananmen either.

    According to China, the “Mothers” had their say already. End of story.

    I see no reason why the topic now should be diverted to OUTSIDE of that framework. (Since you want to keep it narrowly relevant, what does “democracy” have to do with Tiananmen Redress??)

    I urge the ADMIN of this forum to clarify why you can expand the topic of Tiananmen to Western Democracy standards, and I cannot talk about the ABUSES under the SAME standard.

  16. Raj Says:

    What does “what rights do the mothers have to redress, if you can’t compare” mean? Similarly I don’t know what you mean by “don’t bring human rights standards of western democracy”. You’re not making sense.

    You need to think about the topic question before making a comparison. If the issue being discussed is something like “how should China reform its education system” then comparisons with other countries in terms of what they do are useful for seeing what options China can adoption or pass up. But if the question is “is China’s education system sufficient” then complaining other countries aren’t perfect is irrelevant as China’s system could be better.

    Your NED comparisons were irrelevant because:

    a) no one is saying any of the events you mentioned were fine;
    b) there are instances where such scenarios have been dealt with in an open manner and campaigners allowed to operate; and
    c) an unresolved event in one country just not justify an unresolved event in another country.

    “China” has not passed comment on the Tiananmen Mothers – most Chinese know little about them. The Chinese government has just told them to keep quiet. You can’t have your say if you’re stopped from speaking in the first place.

    Where did I introduce the possibility of China having democracy in the thread? I started talking about dialogue over the Tiananmen protests and killings.

  17. raventhorn4000 Says:


    Then I see no standard introduced for your argument that the “Mothers” are not getting redress, or that the killings were in any sense wrong.

    Don’t bring Western Democracy standards in then.

    Viewed in the isolated topic, China’s system is “sufficient”. Who said anything about comparing China’s system to other Countries? I didn’t.

  18. Raj Says:

    Why do you need a “standard”? This isn’t a car testing facility, we are talking about real people. Allowing people redress isn’t about “western democracy standard”. It’s about universal understanding of what redress is.

    What you’re saying is that because the Chinese government sets human rights as being very low on anything vaguely political then it’s ok. That’s complete rubbish.

  19. pug_ster Says:


    Maybe the problem is that you don’t think NED is relevant to the discussion to the Tiananmen mothers discussion but I said that it is, and when R4000 brought up about the NED is irreverent? Give me a break. The 2 topics that you brought up recently “Zhao Ziyang’s memoirs – time to update Chinese history?” and “Tiananmen, 1989 – a need for dialogue 20 years later” are overly anti-china views. You constantly asked posters to ‘stay on topic’ when they don’t even agree to the topic in the first place, first namely with the title, that’s why the discussion are basically non-starters. We know what your views are and most of us respect it, but you don’t seem to respect our views because you seem to be thumbing down or censoring ours. You will probably say you are ‘neutral’ in this kind of China discussions but you are really not, so just admit it.

  20. Raj Says:

    pug_ster, neither of the two topics were anti-China. Maybe that’s your view, but I don’t accept it. It is neither pro nor anti-China to say a single historical figure was more important than some people might think – it’s a historical evaluation. As for talking about dialogue on Tiananmen, it is certainly not anti-China. It can be argued that it is pro-China because it would be good for the victims, as well as their families and allow the country to move on from it properly. It is against the Chinese government’s current position, but the Chinese government is not China.

    You constantly asked posters to ’stay on topic’ when they don’t even agree to the topic in the first place

    They don’t get to decide whether the topic should be discussed or not on the blog. Maybe this is your problem, that you think you have a right to veto what entries the blog makes. I don’t know if that’s the problem, but if I or someone else makes an entry, we’ve done so and you can’t change that.

    If you don’t like what I or someone else has written and you’ve exhausted your arguments, you can leave the discussion. No author is going to say “look, so-and-so has run off – I win” or “so-and-so has not commented – why is he silent, hahaha”.

    I really hope that your view is not that if you keep trying to change the discussion from the topic that has been raised that you can control what is said on the blog or something.

  21. pug_ster Says:


    I think someone has to replace Raj’s job as moderator because he can’t do his job as moderator.

  22. Raj Says:

    pug_ster, I’m not a moderator. I have never had the ability to moderate comments on the whole blog, just my entries.

  23. raventhorn4000 Says:

    108 admin Says:
    June 7th, 2009 at 6:05 am

    The power of deletion is to be used carefully and in a transparent manner, especially when rules are not finalized. Otherwise how can people tell your censoring is different from CCP’s? I am in a conference for a week and we can discuss this later.

  24. raventhorn4000 Says:

    I direct the admin to SKC’s continual insulting comments on other members’ persons, rather than sticking to the issues in the forums.

    For example:

    Questioning other members’ education level.
    Analyzing other members’ “problems”.

  25. Ronny Says:

    Your guidelines are totally reasonable. Excellent. You covered it. By the way, I just found your site…it’s great.

  26. admin Says:

    Well, I am back and it’s good to see that the debate on this site is still alive even without new posts. 🙂

    As I said before, I hate to delete posts. On the other hand, it is also obvious that we have to take actions against low quality comments. So as an experimental approach, I revamped our comment voting feature. What I did was that I changed voting “weight” for different users. A vote from a common reader is counted as 1; a vote from a “log in” user is counted as 2; and a vote from a moderator is counted as 6. That one, a moderator can “collapse” a comment with one click.

    If you are a regular reader and want to serve as a moderator, please send me an email.

  27. admin Says:

    I just want to let everyone know that we are going to make the rules final in just a few days. So if you have any additional feedback, please leave a comment. The rules will be rigorously enforced once they are in effect.

  28. admin Says:

    OK, the rules are official and I put a link of this thread in the FAQ section.

  29. barny chan Says:

    Something that would improve the quality of the debate here enormously is a limit on the number of posts that any one person can make in a 24hr period. As it stands, anybody with determination and a great deal of time on their hands has the capacity to smother genuine dialogue. A limit (and it can be a generous limit) would encourage posters to engage directly with the meat of a thread rather than simply create defensive diversions.

  30. raventhorn4000 Says:

    Do “defensive diversions” include 1 liners used to insult other posters, their English skills, etc.?

    Just to be sure, I like some clarifications on that point.

    I think I made such complaints before, but allowing such 1 liners is just an open invitation for responses in kind.

  31. admin Says:

    I extended the time window that a comment can be edited to 3 hours. So if anyone wants to provide additional content shortly after posing a comment, they are able to do so.

  32. Raj Says:

    admin, can we have a rule to make it clear that people can only clarify their post with an “EDIT” below or something if people have already responded? Otherwise some people might abuse it by revisiting their posts and pretend they never made a comment in the first place.

  33. raventhorn4000 Says:


    There have been too many collapsing comments as of late.

    If moderators are to collapse comments, I would ask that they state a valid reason. I was commenting on the substantive issues, and 1 of my comments got collapsed for no reason.

  34. Wukailong Says:

    @admin: raventhorn4000 has a good idea. Perhaps the reason could be stated in boldface in the collapsed comment, or next to the comment header?

  35. admin Says:


    Yes, people should make it clear if they change their comments substantively. If someone misspeaks and wants to take it back in 3 hours, I think that should be allowed.

    @R4K and WKL,

    Anyone who thinks their comments are unfairly collapsed can email me with detailed info so I check them out. I like the idea of keep moderator voting transparent. I know Steve usually state his reason after collapsing a comment. And I hope other moderators will do the same. On the other hand, shall we limit voting power to moderators/thread owners only? Currently everyone can vote without stating a reason.

  36. Wukailong Says:

    @admin: One of my comments in the democracy thread (http://blog.foolsmountain.com/2009/06/28/what-is-democracy-and-how-does-it-relate-to-china/) got both highlighted and voted down, so perhaps there’s a split in the blog leadership. 😉

    On a serious note, though, Steve comments under the comments he has collapsed. That’s a good step, and if all moderators follow it, there might not be a need for further changes. I don’t think there is a need to remove voting power from non-moderators, at least not at this point.

  37. admin Says:


    I reset the vote. My guess is an editor voted down your comment by mistake and then highlighted it. 😉

  38. raventhorn4000 Says:

    I have no problem with voting by everyone.

    Though it reduces the meaning of the vote, when people have a different # of votes.

  39. Raj Says:

    I think it would be useful if only moderators/thread owners could vote comments down. I’ve noticed that some people are eager to vote others’ comments down simply because they don’t agree with the points being made.

    I think it would be best if posts are simply collapsed or not. Maybe you could just remove the voting all together and have a “collapse”/”uncollapse” feature for the mods and thread owners.

  40. Steve Says:

    Personally, I only use my vote to collapse comments that either violate the post rules or are completely off topic. I’ve always given a reason because I think the commentator should know why I did it, and that it wasn’t an arbitrary act. I never vote a topic up because my vote has too much power. If a comment is voted down by everyone though I might not feel it deserves to be, I still leave it alone because that was the purpose of instituting the voting mechanism. When it comes to voting, I’m not God and I don’t want to be.

    I understand what Raj is saying when he talks about comments that get negative votes as soon as they’re posted, no matter what they say. It’s more of who the author is than the comment content, but it always seemed to be a consistent two negative votes so I didn’t think it was a big deal. The pattern was so consistent that I think everyone on the blog realized it was more personal animosity than an actual judgment of the content itself.

  41. raventhorn4000 Says:

    I think there have been too many 1 sided collapses without explanations.

    see http://blog.foolsmountain.com/2009/06/03/tiananmen-1989-a-need-for-dialogue-20-years-later/#comment-41675

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