I've tried to write down a bare minimum, without restating the obvious.
0. You do not take offense, no matter what. If someone attacks you
irrationally, you do not respond. This is a public mailing list, and
we are all rational people: the attacker has already humiliated
herself in public, and everyone can see that.
1. You do not take sides or vote. Do not post emails under the
pretext of agreement: repeating what has already been said does not
strengthen the argument. Post only if you have something unique to
add to the discussion.
2. You stop pointing fingers. Every heated discussion requires more
than one participant, and a flamewar requires many participants. If
you participate, you have implicitly agreed to share the blame for
whatever happens on the thread. People can judge for themselves who
is to blame.
3. Thou shalt not commit logical fallacies. The ones that are most
common on this list: strawman, ad hominem, burden of proof, false
cause, the texas sharpshooter, and appeal to authority.
4. Lead by example. If you do not like how someone presents
themselves on the list, you counter it by presenting yourself nicely
on the list. Others will follow your example, making that person's
behavior the minority. It is far more powerful than explicitly
stating what is "acceptable" behavior and what is not.
5. We are a community of programmers, and we are here to collaborate
on code. The argument that leads to higher efficiency and better code
has an automatic advantage over the argument that doesn't.
If someone breaks one of these rules, there's a very simple way to
communicate this to them: you don't respond to their email.
Optionally, respond to their email off-list calmly explaining what
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