ShanniiExplains: No Tone Policing

After a long hiatus, I am back with the second edition in the ShanniiExplains series! The series now has its own tag! So, from now on, you will be able to see all of the editions of the ShanniiExplains series here.

For the previous ShanniiExplains thread, I had a poll in which people could vote for what they wanted me to cover on the next one! No Tone Policing won, so here we are!

This is the perfect opportunity to ask questions if you don’t understand or disagree with this rule in particular. You are 100% in your fight to ask questions below, but please keep them relevant to this rule. If you have concerns about another rule, you have a few options:

  • PM a staff member (preferably me, as I am the one who writes the rules).

  • Make a thread in the Site Feedback section.

  • Wait for ShanniiExplains to cover that rule and leave your questions/concerns there.

We like it when people question parts of the rules that they disagree with or need more clarification on before they get in trouble for them. Why? Well, when you start disagreeing because you got called out or punished for breaking the rules, it makes it seem like you’re just fighting them because you don’t want to be punished. If you have concerns, please feel free to express them here! I seriously encourage it!

I am tagging both the @ForumStaff and the @StaffHopefuls in this thread. That will be standard practise from now on!

What Is Tone Policing?

Tone policing can be quite a difficult concept to get your head around because it is very easy to accidentally do it in the head of the moment when you’re angry. It also seems like a very logical way to argue with someone that you think is being rude or mean. However, we have a rule against it for a reason and I will express that below.

Basically, it’s when you attack someone for how they said something or if they were mean, rude, silly, etc instead of actually focussing on what they said. Here on the ShanniiWrites Forums, we ask that people focus on the content of the argument, not the way it was said.

These Are Tone Policing

“Well, you don’t have to be so mean.”

“That was disrespectful.”

“Stop being rude.”

“How about you talk with a little bit more respect?”

“Delete your answer now. It is just plain horrible.”

The final one actually breaks another rule. I’ll lock your trust level on Regular if you can tell me which.

These Are Not Tone Policing

“That was a pretty ignorant thing to say.”

“That answer is ridiculous and makes no sense.”

“You’re completely wrong and here’s why.”

The Fine Line

It can be a little bit confusing to see the difference, especially with the “ignorant” example I gave. There is a fine line! However, the word “ignorant” is a criticism of the content of the post. You can’t have an ignorant tone. Only the things you say can be ignorant.

If you are attacking the way someone says something, “rude”, etc, or their purpose for posting, “you’re just being silly. Stop”, then you’re tone policing. Focus on what someone says, not how or why they said it.

If you find yourself thinking “they could have probably said that in a nicer way” or “they could have probably said that in a more respectful manner”, you are probably tone policing.

Why No Tone Policing?

The reason we don’t allow tone policing is because it breaks down normal communication. It derails an argument because you spend a hell of a lot more time explaining that they shouldn’t say the things that they say than actually criticising the argument they have.

Lots of people on the Forums don’t speak English as a first language or come from a more frank and up-front culture and we don’t want them to feel discouraged from expressing their feelings because other people might not like the way they say it.

Plus, there are many neurodivergent people on the Forums – people who think a little differently to what is considered “normal”. (This includes those on the autism spectrum, dyslexia, dyspraxia, etc). This may cause them to communicate in ways that we might consider a little bit rude or mean because they’re blunt or no-nonsense. They might not mean to do this and we don’t want to hate on them for sharing their opinions!

No one on the Forums should be criticised because you don’t like the way they say something.

We want to create an atmosphere where everyone is allowed to share their opinions without being told that they didn’t do it in the right way.

If you believe that your point of view is the correct one, you should be able to express that by attacking the way someone speaks. You have facts and reason on your side, after all!

The Vote for the Next ShanniiExplains

What would you like me to cover next time in this ShanniiExplains series?

  • No Knee-Jerk Contradictions
  • No Ad-Hominem Attacks
  • No Dogpiling
  • Do Not Use Other Languages to Alienate Users
  • No Copyright Infringement
  • No Under 18s Exposed to 18+ Content
  • No Advertising Rival Websites
  • No Abusing the Flagging System

0 voters

Staff members: please don’t close these topics. They are always relevant.


I think I know but I’ll let some others go first :eyes:

Edit: Welp I suck at reading because i read the first thing


The example is challenging someone’s right to have an opinion by directly stating that the answer is horrible.


Welcome to our newest locked regular :wink:


What about telling someone if it is highly probable that the way they may have phrased something might be interpreted as quite agressive by a fluent/native speaker ? Preventing such a statement to be made wouldn’t be very constructive for the other person, don’t you think ?


I would say it might be a good idea to mention it to them in another situation where it might not be taken as tone policing! For example, if you PM them and explain after. In the middle of an argument or debate, though, it is incendiary and tone policing!


So that would mean that the exact same statement could be tone policing in a public debate, yet not tone policing in PMs, if I understand correctly. I think it might be worth specifying that in order to properly draw the line between tone policing -as an ad hominem argument- and what is simply constructive criticism on one’s speech.


That’s awesome feedback! I think I did add that in the rules but I’ll check :wink:


I’m glad if it was helpful !


What a great guide! I hate participating in debates with a fiery passions, haha, but in general this is very useful! :banana::sparkles:

1 Like

@idiot.exe YOUR TIME!


It’s been answered


Darn :sob: