9. No Off-Topic Posts or Other Disruptions

Please don’t post messages that are unrelated to the topic of the discussion board to which they are posted. Experience of running our discussion boards for over a decade has taught us that “topic discipline” is very important for maintaining the usefulness of each board, and this is especially true on our busier boards.

That’s why we have over 1,500 boards, covering a very wide variety of topics, so that each board has an identifiable focus. On that note, many boards have a ‘FAQ’ or equivalent, explaining what they’re about and what’s on or off topic – just look in the ‘Announcements’ box on the right of any post on a board.

The discussion boards would lose their usefulness if they became filled with off-topic posts, messages that seem to be posted just for the sake of mischief, or which appear to be intended to disrupt discussion or annoy users of the board. Our readers don’t like it, and we won’t tolerate it, as it undermines the effectiveness of the discussion boards and changes the tone of the conversation for the worse. A discussion community like ours is useful only to the extent that people use it in good faith.

If you find a message on any board which you feel is inappropriate, please resist any temptation to reply, and please don’t get into a public argument on the board with the author – simply click the ‘Report this Post’ link in the message concerned and one of our discussion board staff will intervene.

Discussing Moderation

We regard comments about moderation decisions as off-topic on all boards except for the Civil Discussion Forum, as they often prove to be extremely disruptive.

The same goes for posts discussing the way in which other people post or the nature of the discussion on a board (what we sometimes refer to as “meta-discussion”), or the whereabouts of a particular poster (being concerned about someone is fine — but they may not be posting for a good reason and are entitled to their privacy).

Don’t Cause Disruption To Make A Point

The Motley Fool has a long-established set of rules and posting guidelines that work effectively to foster a culture of Civil Discussion For Mutual Benefit. However, we know that the Fool’s culture will not suit everyone, and that some people will disagree with how it works.

If you become frustrated or annoyed with the way a rule or guideline is being applied, you may be tempted to try to discredit it, or its interpretation, or to try to use it in ‘revenge’. For example, after disagreeing with moderation decision, some people have been known to actively look for posts to report, as some sort of retaliation for having had a post removed.

Such tactics are highly disruptive and can lead to suspension or even a permanent ban. If you feel that a rule or guideline is problematic, you can raise the matter on the Civil Discussion Forum.

Being realistic, we’re only human and it’s unlikely we’ll apply our rules and guidelines with 100% perfect consistency. We’ll therefore always be open to people expressing reasonable disagreement with a decision and we’ll be happy to change a decision if we’ve made a mistake. However, if after having had your say you still disagree with something, we ask that you respect our decision, rather than trying to make a point with disruptive tactics.

Please note that the Motley Fool reserves the final right to decide what is off-topic or disruptive, to remove such messages and, ultimately, to terminate the membership of persistent offenders.