3. Civil Discussion For Mutual Benefit

We aim to make The Motley Fool website a friendly and worthwhile place for you to spend your time. Most Fools are intelligent, reasonable people who want to find useful information and have courteous and constructive discussions.

That does not mean that you will always agree with everything that others will say here. That isn’t realistic, and wouldn’t be Foolish anyway. You have your own unique perspective to offer and we want to hear it. A lively discussion can draw out the subtle points of an issue.

If you disagree with an opinion feel free to challenge it, but don’t attack the person who expressed it. You are never going to “win” an argument on a discussion board. That is not what they are about. If you can agree to disagree everyone (including you) will benefit.

Of course, the nice thing about investing is that unlike philosophy, arguments end when the passage of time demonstrates the correctness of one opinion or the other. That’s another reason to ‘agree to disagree’… because you – or we, or anyone else, for that matter – could easily be proved wrong.

We have found that the following guidelines for civil discussion really do work:

  1. Stick to facts both in presenting your own argument and in countering the arguments of others
  2. Don’t sensationalise; allow the facts to speak for themselves
  3. Comment on what other people say, but avoid commenting on the person
  4. Tell people what you think, not what you want them to think
  5. Tell people what you have done and why, not what you want them to do, or stop doing
  6. Don’t use sarcasm. Posts are just words, and there are no non-verbal clues, such as tone of voice, facial expression or body language, to indicate that you are not being completely serious. (‘Smilies‘ only go some way to modifying the impact of text, and can be used sarcastically themselves.)
  7. Avoid colourful metaphors that cast those who may disagree with you as idiots or scoundrels
  8. Assume that other posters start with positive intentions. (Just as we have assumed, throughout these guidelines, that you do.)

If you think that a discussion has gone beyond the bounds of civil discussion please resist the temptation to get involved in a slanging match. Instead, please use the “Report this Post” link provided in every post to alert our discussion board staff. We can then sort it out with a minimum of disruption.

Please note that anyone who persistently infringes the guidelines for civil discussion risks having their account suspended and, should it regrettably come to it, permanently cancelled.