How we handle ad hominem on CC

We sometimes see people make use of Argumentum ad Hominem here on CC. In English: people insult each other. This happens for a few reasons:

  1. Heat of the moment.
  2. Responding to an insult (or perceived insult) from someone else.
  3. Misunderstandings of various sorts (including “jokes”).
  4. Sometimes people aren’t aware that what they said could be interpreted as an insult.

None of these reasons justify keeping insulting posts around. They will be hidden or deleted when flagged.

As a rule, we don’t allow debate. The only exception is our Politics Forum, where we require participants to exhibit respect. I think we can all agree that insults show a lack of respect and stand in the way of productive conversations. When we or someone we agree with is insulted, it’s natural to want to respond in kind (see #2 above). But that’s not an appropriate response.

Better approaches are:

  1. Flag posts that you perceive as insulting. A moderator will make a third-party judgement.
  2. If your post is flagged, consider how other people read it and strive to phrase your point differently in the future.
  3. Step away from the site for a while to allow emotions to settle.

If a user continues to insult others, a moderator might warn them and, if the behavior continues, suspend or silence the user for a period of time. Combative behavior drives away the students and families who stand to benefit from this community the most. There are plenty of other places on the internet to argue.


Hear hear! I think some people don’t understand that criticizing an argument is different than criticizing a person. “Your argument is stupid” is very different than saying “you are stupid”

(note, I realize neither statements would be permitted on CC)

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