We have a pretty open approval process to new group members and wind up with plenty of trolls. We use the “delete,” “block,” and “ban” functions quite liberally here. So I want you to know a few simple rules to help you avoid this fate.
1. There is no topic that is specifically off limits here, but you should only start conversation threads that relate either to personal finance or to a topic I’ve raised publicly on the show. This obviously includes a wide swath of topics that are only tangentially related to personal finance. If you find a discussion thread to be something you consider “off-topic,” there’s no need for you to personally comment and say so. Simply use the provided Facebook option to “ignore conversation” or leave the group. Let those who are interested in the subject engage in it and let the moderators decide its validity. Feel free to use the “report to moderator” option provided.
2. In your discussion of a topic, you are not permitted to attack a discussion-partner personally with an ad hominem attack. This is of utmost importance. An ad hominem attack is the most common logical fallacy employed in modern discussion and it involves an attack on your opponent’s character or personal traits in an attempt to undermine their argument. This type of attack can be overt and obviously aggressive or it can involve a subtle casting of doubt upon a person’s character or personal attributes. Do not engage in either of these practices. This community is open to any interested person from any personal background and we discuss serious topics without attacking one another.
Because we refrain from ad hominem attacks, we are able to be inclusive of all people in our discussions: men and women, old and young, atheist and Christian, Republican and Democrat, farmers and office workers, black and white, etc. All are welcome. If we were to permit ad hominem attacks, we would be moving in the direction of identity-based discussions wherein we approach a subject not based on its actual merits but based on the personal identity we bring to the table. This practice destroys healthy debate and undermines human progress. Feel free to lay out the ideological presuppositions you bring to a discussion and those of your opponent, but do not engage in personal attacks of any kind.
3. Do not promote your own personal work, products, or company in this group, unless they relate specifically to a topic or question and are clearly identified and labelled—with an appropriate tone of deference—as your own personal work. In the history of Radical Personal Finance, I have never encroached on other communities as a way of promoting my own work. If you focus on creating excellent work, products, and companies, your fans will do the promotion for you. It’s a far better use of your time and energy and is the only way we can keep a group like this as helpful for discussion rather than repulsive to interested participants.
4. Do not discuss issues based on your emotional response or lack of response. Rather, identify and refute any logical fallacies contained in your opponents’ arguments. You can do this without being ugly about it. Consider using YourLogicalFallicyIs….
5. Carefully correct any factual misinformation to the best of your ability and seek to footnote your claim with an independent resource whenever possible. Personal finance is complex and we all frequently make mistakes. We can work together and come out with a stronger result when we take advantage of collective expertise.
6. Share your personal questions and problems openly so that you can hear a diverse array of feedback. But carefully protect your personal financial information and the interests of the people involved. I have no way of knowing if there are unsavory criminals engaged here in the group; protect your financial information accordingly. And do not publicly expose things that are personal in nature. For example, an online forum is not an appropriate place for you to discuss personal challenges in your marriage. This practice might be very hurtful to the trust your spouse has in you. A love and care for your spouse should be expressed in guarding their intimate thoughts and only discussing those things with personal advisors who can help.
7. View a discussion or debate opponent as an “opponent,” not as an “enemy.” Those of us who hold strong opinions often attract a retinue of actual enemies. But there is almost no reason to ever actively think in these terms and this thinking does not apply to the RPF Facebook group. This group is not a place for combat between enemies; this group is a place for discussion among friends.
Start by always recognizing that you can be friends—even deep friends—with an ideological or intellectual opponent. Consider the example of the personal friendship of US Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Antonin Scalia. These two justices were deep intellectual and ideological opponents and yet, from all accounts, enjoyed a rich and rewarding personal friendship.
If your ideas or arguments are strong, they will stand the test of time and, perhaps, if we’re talking about long-term philosophical ideas, etc., will far surpass your own lifetime. If your ideas or arguments are exposed to be weak or even wrong, you should be thrilled to have them exposed so that you can recant and amend your ways to align more closely with Truth.
8. Please don’t use profanity and vulgarity if it can possibly be avoided. I do not enforce a blanket ban of profanity, but think carefully before you engage in the practice and ask yourself if it is helpful or harmful. The use of profanity and vulgarity in argumentation often demonstrates a paucity of accurate vocabulary and sometimes demonstrates a dearth of strong arguments. We are privileged to use the English language in our discussions. The English language has the largest vocabulary of any language and our vocabulary is growing at the fastest rate of any language in the world. If you can’t express your ideas, questions, comments, or arguments without resorting to profanity and vulgarity, go do some homework and come back when you can. Or just ask for help and be humble about it.
Above all, let this principle guide our interaction here in this group: “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” That encouragement was written by the Apostle Paul to the Colossians and its wisdom has proved timeless. Graciousness and saltiness are both important. Let us not neglect either but let us aspire to and practice this same principle today.
Thank you for your participation here.