Greetings everyone!

I am a new member here and I took the time to actually read the terms of service.  Most of it seems pretty straight-forward in a cover our butts kind of way.  There were a couple points that I found questionable and thought that maybe it would make a good discussion topic.  These are some of the posting restrictions that I'd like to discuss.

* in a manner that is libelous or defamatory, or in a way that is otherwise threatening, abusive, violent, harassing, malicious or harmful to any person or entity, or invasive of another's privacy;

Maybe I have too much literalist in me, but harmful is extremely subjective and could mean just about anything.  Likewise invasive of another's privacy could mean something as innocent as, "where are you from?"

* in a manner that is harmful to minors in any way;

Again this language is open-ended.  I think an argument can be made (one which I disagree with) that exposure to atheist philosophies could be harmful to minors.  In principle I agree with the sentiment that you shouldn't harm children, but I doubt anyone can agree entirely on what exactly that means.

* in a manner that is hateful or discriminatory based on race, color, sex, religion, nationality, ethnic or national origin, marital status, disability, sexual orientation or age or is otherwise objectionable;

I feel like an atheist gathering is by its very nature discriminatory against religion.  I think that there are lots of good reasons why someone might want to discuss religious topics in a manner that includes hate.  I also take severe objection to the phrase "or is otherwise objectionable."  Isn't that anything to anyone?

*Post any content that constitutes pornography, contains nudity, or is adult in nature.

I'm okay without posting porn or nudie-pics, but what does "adult in nature" mean?  If I talk about my job, isn't that an adult thing to do?  What about dating?  Politics?  Driving a car?!  These are things reserved for adults and are adult in nature.

I am pretty sure I understand what the context of these restrictions are, and I find it highly unlikely that these are enforced to the degree they could be.  I believe the spirit of the rules is good-natured, but I generally prefer rules that are less open to interpretation.  My apologies if I am making something of nothing.  What do other folks think?

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Can you give some examples of rules that aren't open to interpretation?

Go directly to jail, do not pass go, do not collect $200.

On a plane, the sum of the squares of the lengths of two sides of a right triangle is equal to the square of the length of the hypotenuse.

Social restrictions don't really have the liberty to be as absolute, I understand.

I'm one of the administrators on Think Atheist and I just happened upon this post about the Think Atheist Guidelines. It seems the rules you're quoting are actually Ning's Terms of Service (the platform Think Atheist is built on), and not authored by ourselves. Ning does allow us to expand on those rules by creating our own guidelines, which I've linked to above.

It's true that enforcement of the rules is largely up to the discretion of the mod/admin team, and is many times situational. We try to be fair and consistent, but there is certainly gray area that requires a more nuanced approach. We try to cover the bases of appropriate behavior, but we can't predict every circumstance that will arise and so have to leave some rules open-ended. As I said, however, Ning's TOS are not authored by us, and we cannot alter them.

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Posted by Quincy Maxwell on July 20, 2014 at 9:37pm 28 Comments

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