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Nov 12, 2009, 12:41 AM
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The "Personal Attack" rule

There is some misunderstanding about what constitutes a personal attack.

The text of the rule is:

The author has attacked another user's intelligence, character, or appearance.
Immediately, we see that the word "attacked" is the operative part of the rule.


It is always ok to address the contents of a post. This form of discussion is never an attack.


The important implication which some have missed is that addressing a user's intelligence, character, or appearance, is not an attack if it is in response to an assertion made by a user within a post.

In such situations, the user is the subject, and the conversation can only naturally occur if other users are allowed to converse about that subject. Such conversations are not attacks.

A user offers himself up for scrutiny in a given area by posting about himself in that area.

Therefore, there should be no warning point issued when a user says "Look at me! I'm gorgeous" and the crowd replies, "No sir!"

Neither should a warning point be issued if a user says "The moderators are mean to me even though I'm innocent" and the crowd replies "No, can't you see what a jerk you are?".

Banned Users Aren't Users

User moderation and bans are often the subject of discussion. If a user is banned he is not protected by the personal attack rule. It is perfectly ok for other users to discuss the ban and the user receiving the ban.

We can call this the "fair game" exclusion to the personal attack rule. During the period of a ban, the user is not considered a user. He is "fair game" instead.


Some users become very good at just barely operating within the rules, while still managing to annoy users.

This is called "trolling" which is another rule entirely.

Pushing the personal attack rule to its limits will upset the user base, make you unpopular, and ultimately lead to warning points for "trolling".

Pay attention to this even when a user is "fair game". If you get ugly and upset the community, you are acting as a troll and will be warned for it. The fact that it is not a personal attack is not relevant.

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