‘Tis the season for New Year’s resolutions. In that spirit I have made a list of PolicyMic’s "unbreakable resolutions" (sort of like the unforgivable curses in Harry Potter ... so named because they’re unforgivable) for myself, for pundits, and for everyone else too.
1. Seek the truth. Learn to tell the difference between fantasy and reality – between campaigning and governing, between primary reporting and analysis, between fact and oft-repeated opinion.
2. Cite reliable, factual sources. In general, opinion blogs that reflect what you already believe are not reliable, factual sources.
3. Think critically. This means that you must be able to read and understand what is put before you. You must be able to reason from A to B to C – to connect the dots. You must be able to shunt aside your preconceived notions and talking points to check out what is fact and to merge that with your values to find a conclusion you can live with.
4. Argue logically. This means that repeating your opinion louder and more often is not a winning strategy. You need to be able to accept that other people might not agree with you and be able to understand why they do not. Learn how to evaluate an argument upon its merits and construct your response to find points of commonality from which to seek resolution.
5. Do research. Your opinions are valuable and respected, but without facts to back them up you have only done half the job when you write an op-ed. Your citations are best when they link recognized, primary sources and scientific research. We have a wonderful tool at our fingertips with Google and Bing. Use it.
6. Grow up. Don’t expect other people to spoon feed you or coddle you all your life. I certainly won’t. Nothing I write is ever meant to harm or insult you, personally, although you might identify with the group I happen to skewer. That is not considered a personal insult/ad hominem attack by PolicyMic. I am here to help you think; to expand your horizons and to learn. In other words … to grow.
7. Be courteous. Treat others as you would like to be treated. Nobody likes to be sworn at or made to feel as though she isn’t human. Good manners are always appreciated, especially in print.
8. Use the English language well. This means, do not abuse it. You were supposed to learn the difference among “there,” “their,” and “they’re,” in elementary school. It is “toe the party line” not “tow the party line,” goddammit! You are supposed to be writers. Nothing on the internet ever goes away. Do you want to be immortalized as idiots?
9. Cultivate a sense of humor:. If that is alien to your nature, at least learn the difference among sarcasm, irony, and outright snark.
10. Proofread. For heaven’s sake! Before you hit that “Submit” key, re-read what you’ve written to make sure you’ve said what you wish to say in the tone in which you wish to convey your sentiments.
11. Ask for help when you need it. The editorial committee is always available through the PolicyMic feedback tab. The rest of us can be reached through the internal message system. Most pundits are more than willing to answer questions and assist new members with whatever they find troublesome. Don’t leave the site in frustration because you have been bullied. These issues can be resolved.