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2022 Fall Rules Update


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Hi Folks,

Happy fall to you all! As we head into a new school year and a new admissions cycle, I imagine we'll be seeing a whole new cohort of applicants on the forums, as well as law students talking about OCIs and articling positions, and of course new calls transitioning into junior lawyer life.

With all of this in mind, and with a desire to continue making the Canadian Law Forum a welcoming resource for newcomers and old hands alike, we're making an update to how we moderate our "don't be a jerk" rule effective today.

Up until now, we've been fairly lenient on enforcing the rule. Really only outright jerkish behaviour was moderated and we let a lot of small things go. This approach has worked for us in the early days of the site. It was, initially among other reasons, out of a desire to give people the benefit of the doubt (sometimes people say things in the heat of the moment but cooler heads eventually prevail), and to create a culture of self-regulation. We didn't want to have to step in every time there was a heated discussion; rather, we expected people to generally moderate their own behaviour in the same way the legal profession expects lawyers to do so. Generally speaking, this approach has been successful in the vast majority of instances.

However, there have been situations where this hasn't occurred, and because of the wishy-washy way we've implemented our rule, it was not addressed in every circumstance where it should have. Ultimately, we want to create an environment where people can ask legitimate questions and seek honest advice and receive good faith responses. So with the launching of this new academic year, it's a good time to make some changes.

From now on, direct personal attacks towards other members will be deleted by the mod team. Members will be expected to keep these kinds of comments out of their posts, even in volatile discussions like those involving politics.

So what does this mean for me?

Direct insults or attacks on the person won't be allowed. But anything else, so long as it's said respectfully, is in good faith, and is appropriate for posting on a public forum, is generally permitted. By all means, you are free to criticize someone's ideas, positions, approaches, misconceptions, and so on, as long as it's not done alongside personal attacks.

What does this not mean?

This doesn't mean that someone should not be given blunt advice in good faith. Sometimes, advice can only be effectively provided if it's done in a way that isn't sugar-coated. Just because someone feels a piece of advice was harsh or even subjectively unjustified does not mean it's gone against the rules. There is obviously a line, and we'll enforce the second part of the "jerk" rule in those cases (i.e., even critical comments that contain no personal attacks can be jerkish), but this has already been what we've done to date, and thankfully, in our view, the vast majority of even arguably harsh advice was appropriate in the circumstances.


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