Channel Guidelines

#Philosophy; The Undernet channel for civil discussion of philosophical Ideas

Our goal is to deliver the best possible IRC philosophy. We ask for your help in keeping the emphasis on topics that are idea oriented.

The guidelines for #Philosophy are not in place to satisfy some need for power by those in position to enforce them. Rather, the guidelines are in place, and enforced, for the sole purpose of helping make #Philosophy worthy of its name.

We have visitors who discuss topics which are not idea-oriented, some who trivialize good topics, some who are simply thoughtless and oblivious to what a philosophy channel should be, and some who join for no other reason than to disrupt. Those are the people who make channel monitors and channel guidelines necessary.

The guidelines below address most of the issues experience has shown to be problematic in #Philosophy.


The question, "What is philosophy?" has many answers. An answer, as it pertains to participating in #Philosophy, includes the following:

Be prepared to divulge and clarify the foundations upon which your assertions rest. For example, it is not acceptable that you proclaim, "all is relative/subjective," or "all is objective" without explanation and/or to not respond to posts questioning how you justify your claim.

It is perhaps true philosophy is broad enough to encompass any thought and all manner of expression. However, as it pertains to this philosophy channel, philosophy is taken to mean presenting ideas and defending them with reasonable argument.

Reasonable argument involves more than just citing conclusions from authority, more than sharing anecdotes (personal or hearsay), and certainly more than expressions of whimsical thinking.

Reasonable argument, here, involves compelling others to accept your propositions and conclusions through appeals to reason and by logical linkage to reasonable premises which are supported by the facts of verified/verifiable experience.

Unsupported/Unsupportable assertions are considered to be antithetical to philosophy here and, as such, are considered to be an abuse of this philosophy channel. Also, quoted material that is not your own must be attributed to the source.

You can help by questioning, and asking for the evidence supporting other's claims. Why a contentious idea is held to be true is as important as the idea itself.

Some unproductive and/or destructive methods of discourse:

  1. The use of sophistry
    *Fallacious reasoning, sound in appearance only, and often made superficially plausible by convoluted rhetoric, but, which actually confuses issues rather than clarifying them
    Quoting Polydore Smith:
    "His bad opponent's "facts" he sweeps away,
    And drags his sophistry to light of day;
    Then swears they're pushed to madness who resort
    To falsehood of so desperate a sort."
  2. Ontological claims accompanied by dismissal of epistemology
    For example, claiming, "I know, but I can't/won't tell you how I know" is philosophically dishonest.
  3. Also, avoid the use of sarcasm and/or condescension rather than addressing issues directly and providing support for what is claimed to be the case

Please respect the purpose of this philosophy channel.
There are other channels for discussing astrology, the paranormal, pseudoscience, sex, spirituality or religion. Discussions in #Philosophy are accepable only to the degree they can be and are conducted on a philosophical level.

Bashing Groups:
Derogatory remarks directed toward an entire group whose membership is simply a matter of birth, such as an entire gender or ethnic group, are not tolerated.

The acceptability of any topic in #Philosophy hinges on its philosophical import. Comparing and contrasting various forms of government is political philosophy and is appropriate. However, philosophy, as it is defined for this philosophy channel does not include discussing the current political scene. It does not include bashing particular corporations. It does not include bashing particular countries. Neither does it include bashing particular politicians nor political affiliations such as conservative or liberal.

Current politics and world affairs are important topics and should be discussed. But, please confine those discussions to the many Undernet channels devoted to such topics and leave #Philosophy free for discussing philosophy.


Please avoid

  1. Inanity
    Comments that are, at worst, vacuous and, at best, dubiously philosophical should be avoided to help maintain quality conversations in #Philosophy.

  2. Personal Issues
    Personal problems, self aggrandizing/bragging, personal details about yourself, and personal questions directed at others abuse the purpose of #Philosophy and should be shared privately or in another channel.

  3. Questioning Operator Actions or Channel Policy
    Your constructive criticism is welcomed but please use /msg or some other private means. Help us in keeping channel operation and channel administration as private and unobstrusive as possible.

  4. Complaining about Cut/Paste and URL's
    Copy/Paste and posting URL's which are relevant to the philosophical discussion is acceptable. However, long entries need to be broken up into short "bites" of 2 or 3 lines per post.

  5. Profanity
    The standard for language is Network TV Evening News. Please make your points using acceptable language.

  6. Personal Attacks
    Keep your attacks focused on the person's ideas. Heated arguments and disagreements are welcomed, but, blatant insults/name-calling is prohibited. It is OK To post, "What you're saying is ridiculous/incoherent," followed by your reasons for that judgment. But, posting "You are stupid" is prohibited. The channel is at its best when disagreements result in spirited "back-and-forth," but the line is drawn where they degenerate into outright rudeness.

  7. Sexual Comments
    Sexual comments that are not idea-oriented are prohibited. Thousands of other channels accept, or even welcome, sex-chat.

  8. Misusing the Action Feature
    The use of the /me feature to post "cutesy" actions is standard in most chat channels. However, in #Philosophy, "actions" that are not idea-topical are considered to be a distraction and should be kept to a minimum. Indulge your liking for silliness elsewhere.

  9. Purposely using corrupt English (#Philosophy is English only)
    Use of "dat" for that, "r" for are, "ppl" for people, "u" for you, etc., do nothing to enhance understanding. Typos and problems with English-as-a-second-language are common enough without adding to confusion by purposely corrupting our means of communication.

  10. Disrupting upon Entering the Channel
    Take time to pick up the current thread before commenting.

  11. Advertising
    Advertising personal web pages and advertising other irc channels is generally prohibited. Also, avoid quit messages that are inappropriate for a philosophy channel.

    Provisions are in place at to give your page a link at our website.

  12. Use of Colors
    Brightly colored posts and quit messages are a distraction and, for some IRC clients, appear as a string of gibberish.

  13. Unnecessarily Scrolling the Channel
    Several consecutive posts of a few words should be combined in one coherent sentence.

Typing [wheel] will result in a topic being posted in the channel. Use this feature only when the channel is floundering in inanity or mostly quiet. Give the wheel topic a few minutes for thoughtful consideration. If, after awhile, it becomes obvious there is no interest, then "wheel" again. It should never be activated during an ongoing philosophical discussion. Your topics can be added to the topic wheel by using /msg Skept and typing your topic idea.

Prefix your comments with the nick you are addressing. This is especially important when channel activity is high.

Nicks and quit messages that are a distraction, especially those that are sexually suggestive, are not acceptable in #Philosophy.

Feel free to greet your friends, but please do so briefly and non-effusively. Philosophical discussion should not have to compete with "chit-chat" behavior. Socializing and/or silliness tends to stall idea-oriented discussion and can dominate the philosophy channel if unchecked. Please make liberal use of private message to minimize disrupting discussions.

All the above is for one purpose and one purpose only; to help insure that our philosophy channel is as free as possible from behavior which detracts from what, in our best judgment, a philosophy channel should be.

No such list can ever be exhaustive; therefore, be advised that anything negative which is not addressed by a specific guideline may still result in a ban. It may result in a ban if a channel operator judges it to detract sufficiently from what our philosophy channel should be.

Again, our goal is to deliver the best possible IRC philosophy.
Thanks for helping.

Copyright 2003 by John Yates. All rights reserved.

The following off-line scenario is analogous to visiting #philosophy and may be helpful in your determination of good channel etiquette. Consider:
A philosopher is hosting a philosophy forum in his home. The proceedings are televised and anyone in the world may be watching. You want to participate and are admitted as a guest. Keeping in mind you are a guest in the philosopher's home and also being aware the eyes of the world are upon you, what behavior would you want on display?

Modeling your behavior in that "mirror" could help insure that #Philosophy be free of behavioral distractions and help make operator actions unnecessary.

Freedom of Speech:
In keeping with our prime directive (civil discussion of philosophical ideas), freedom of speech is sometimes compromised. Discussing/debating/arguing philosophical ideas does not require personal attacks, profanity, or subject matter which is not idea-oriented. It is, therefore, true that freedom of speech, in the sense of no restrictions at all, is abridged here. Those who would insist quality philosophical discussion should be totally subordinate to the principle of free speech are at odds with our prime directive and should exercise their freedom to exit #Philosophy.

Copyright 2003 by John Yates. All rights reserved.

* From Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913) (web1913)
Sophistry \Soph"ist*ry\, n. [OE. sophistrie, OF. sophisterie.]
2. The practice of a sophist; fallacious reasoning; reasoning sound in appearance only.

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