About BestThinking

Participation Policy

This Participation Policy incorporates by reference the Terms of Use. In all cases, you must use the Website in a manner consistent with any and all applicable laws and regulations. The following information includes principles for using the Website.

  • Bring your best: Help create original works that are accurate, complete and impactful.

    No plagiarism. Do not use software or systems that automatically generate Content based on outlines or keywords. Any content you submit to the Website should be the result of your personal participation in the creation of the work. The Website is not a place to simply republish the work of others. We welcome the republication of your work.

    Accuracy must be an essential element of all content on the Website. Your work should draw a distinct line between opinion and fact. Opinions are welcome, but you should not offer opinion as fact. Furthermore, data and results lead to conclusions, not vice versa. Data and results should be properly cited and referenced or independently reproducible and verifiable.

    We do not subscribe to the notion that inaccurate information can serve as a placeholder for future corrections. There is no window of acceptability where known inaccuracies can be on the Website, even if the inaccuracy is likely to be quickly corrected. Also, we do not believe that accuracy is solely derived from a widely-held consensus.

    For tips on how to create valuable content and curate Trending Topics on BestThinking, please refer to our Help Guide for Topics.

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  • Be yourself: Use your real identity and be transparent in your Content and Participation.

    Your real identity must be verified before your contributions as a Thinker can be seen by others on the Website. While you must register using your full real name, you have some control over what the public sees. The public will see your real last name (surname), but you may use initials for your first and middle names, or a nickname. Your email, contact information and some personal information may be required to verify your identity, but you can control how much, if any, of this information is revealed on the Website and to whom.

    We respect the importance of anonymity and the role it plays in garnering independent thought and free expression. However, we believe that there are already ample opportunities for anonymous expression on the Internet. BestThinking creates an alternative approach to knowledge sharing where anonymity is not required for independent thought and free expression.

    An added dimension of using real identities is the transparency it brings to Content on BestThinking. Transparency refers to additional information about yourself and your work that others may consider relevant in their ability to rely on and interpret your work. It is rare that accomplished Thinkers who are actively engaged in their areas of interest do not have connections, overlapping relationships, rivalries and personal, financial or philosophical interests in their work and in the related works of others. This type of information, when disclosed up front, generally has little to no impact on the willingness of others to rely on your work. Unmentioned or after-the-fact disclosures, however, can be devastating. Transparency is therefore an essential aspect of BestThinking. "Being yourself" is more than simply using your real identity.

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  • Respect privacy: Using your real identity does not mean giving up your privacy or that of others.

    Visitors do not have to register or login to review and search BestThinking for answers, information and ideas. To make comments, visitors only need to provide a valid email address, which will not be shown on the Website. Thinkers are required to register by submitting their real name for identity verification, as well as basic information for their Thinker page, including keywords describing their expertise, a brief bio and their areas of specialty.

    Beyond these required disclosures, anything else people disclose, and to whom it is disclosed, is done so at their sole discretion. Information they do not specifically disclose on the Website should be treated as personal and private; at a minimum, it should be protected to the same extent you would guard your own private information.

    In the event that you believe there is a violation of Website identity or transparency requirements, such as an undisclosed conflict of interest, use the Website Report Concerns system to express your concern and BestThinking will investigate and take appropriate action. A real or perceived violation of any Website policy does not justify disclosure of private and personal information.

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  • Keep it positive, productive and respectful: Do not make personal attacks or say anything which is defamatory or libelous.

    We welcome passionate debate and encourage innovative Content that extends beyond conventional thinking. Anywhere there is a wide range of opinions and perspectives, people will disagree and emotions will be engaged. Please keep in mind that debate is positive and productive only when participants feel welcome, safe and respected.

    Notwithstanding some tolerance for the time-honored tradition of harsh commentary for public figures, Thinker-to-Thinker debate should always be even-tempered, courteous and respectful. Do not directly or indirectly threaten or verbally abuse other participants or what they care about. Do not deliberately disrupt or undermine discussions or Content by any means, including sending/uploading excessive or useless messages and Content.

    Due to the difficulty of anticipating the sensitivity of others, the best approach is always to comment on the message, not the messenger. For example: "The research may not be reliable" can be OK if done respectfully; "the researchers may not be reliable" is never a good idea. Avoid qualitative characterizations about others, even characterizations which you think are positive. Remember that one person’s praise is another person’s scorn.

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  • Nothing harmful or offensive: Do nothing criminal, deceptive, hateful, objectifying, offensive, perverse or pornographic.

    Keep in mind that this is an open access Website. While you must be 18 or older to join discussions and contribute Content, and visitors under 13 must have parental consent to view the Website, it is possible visitors of all ages might view discussions and Content. Offensive material is therefore not permitted on the Website.

    Offensive material includes cursing, swearing, foul-mouthed remarks, defamatory or demeaning references, or words, language, slang, text, symbols, media or materials that are derogatory to others or anything that is gratuitously threatening, provocative or inflammatory.

    Substituting special characters for particular letters in offensive words does not make the word OK when it is readily apparent that the intended word is an offensive word. Similarly, partial obfuscation of offensive material does not automatically render the material inoffensive.

    Offensive material also includes anything that encourages or sanctions abuse, cruelty, denigration, discrimination, harm, hate or violence on any person or group or the things they care about (symbols and objects of faith, pets and animals, home and property, etc.), especially if it is on the basis of age, race, religion, nationality, immigration status, gender, sexual preference, disability, etc.

    Offensive material includes any and all forms of pornography, anything that objectifies people in a sexual context, bestiality or anything that envisions or encourages high-risk or age-inappropriate sexual behaviors.

    Since offensiveness can be subjective, it is best to consider offensiveness the purview of the recipient, not of the sender. If an individual is offended, especially if that individual is part of a group whose members would likely also be offended, then the discussion or Content is likely offensive.

    We do not edit, change or rewrite offensive material, nor do we mediate or negotiate between offending and offended parties. We do investigate reports and determine compliance with this Policy. Based on our determination, we will either leave or remove the Content in question, and then take appropriate action regarding the person involved in the offensive material.

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  • No blatant commercialism: Disclose any conflicts of interest and do not participate in solicitation or spamming.

    Recognition as an accomplished Thinker providing Content sought by others will certainly have commercial implications, but all such implications must be secondary to the Content.

    All Content, including Blogs, Articles, Topics and Ebooks must comply with the FTC Guidelines for Endorsements and Testimonials.

    Do not directly solicit, through the use of messages, chats, discussions or Thinker, Blog, Article, Topic or Ebook Content, for commercial purposes, such as the providing, recruiting or selling of goods or services. Do not submit sales brochures disguised as Blogs, Articles, Topics and Ebooks. If you contribute Content related to a company, organization, service, technology or process in which you have a personal or commercial interest, this should be disclosed directly in the Blog, Article, Topic, Ebook or Thinker Content. Do not conduct membership drives, recruiting, contests, lotteries, fund raising or solicitation for contributions of any kind, whether the cause is commercial or charitable.

    Do not sell, trade or transfer for valuable consideration your Website identity, URL or other positions or status gained by participating on the Website.

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  • Be age appropriate: Do not solicit or collect personal information about people under the age of 18.

    If you are 18 years old or older, do not use the Website to communicate, contact, engage, interact or solicit anyone under 18 years old for any personal, commercial, religious, political, medical, social or sexual purpose.

    Website Terms of Use prohibit any use of the site by anyone under 13 years old without parental consent, and persons less than 18 years old are not allowed to contribute comments, discussions or Content. However, you cannot be assured that people of all ages will not be able to view your discussion and Content. You should make every effort to have your comments and Content be appropriate for people of all ages. The Website should be a place where your kids can get help with their homework and parents can keep up with the latest information on their areas of interest.

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  • Respect intellectual property: Honor copyright declarations. No declaration means that all rights are reserved.

    Copyrights and intellectual property are places where it is better to ask for permission first, not forgiveness later.

    Copyright and intellectual property determinations are the purview of the Content creators, not the Content users. Respect the declaration and intentions of Content creators. If the Content creator fails to specify their intentions, or their specification is unclear, assume that the creator retains all copyright and intellectual property rights. The Website provides mechanisms for you to contact the Content creator directly to get clarification of his or her intentions. The Website’s Report Concerns system also enables you to report infringements on your copyright and intellectual property rights.

    Unlike many magazines, journals, book publishers and media sources, BestThinking does not require you to assign over all your copyright or intellectual property rights. Instead, while keeping all your rights, you provide BestThinking a license to use the Content you submit, as described in the Terms of Use.

    For Curated Content from other websites, be sure to correctly cite the sources and authors of all content used in Trending Topics. Always comply with the fair use provisions of copyright law. Consult the Help Guides for more information.

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  • Include everyone: Avoid codes, ciphers, language or slang that will limit understanding to only select participants.

    Reliable knowledge content has long been associated with exclusivity and limited access. Historically, groups, organizations and institutions have protected the reliability of Content by controlling membership and participation. The vision of BestThinking is that the policies, platform and tools are good enough to move from exclusivity toward inclusivity, while actually improving the reliability of content.

    By inclusivity, we mean that everyone who undertakes work that is compatible with Website Policies is welcome to put forth their best efforts. We ask that you join us in not doing anything that intentionally alienates, discourages, disenfranchises, isolates, puts off, shuts out or otherwise makes anyone feel unwelcome on the Website. Ultimately, there will be versions of BestThinking for a number of primary languages. However, Content should be submitted in the current version's primary language (English).

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  • Keep it real: Do not bias or manipulate Content creation and commenting systems.

    Do not bias or manipulate Content on BestThinking.

    BestThinking is committed to joining other major sites that are demonstrating that open access does not mean open license to deceive others. Avoid the temptation to get involved with deceptive practices, such as "you favorably review my work, I will favorably review yours."

    Making a minor edit on an Article or Topic does not make the Article or Topic your original work.

    Avoid any form of bait and switch by using misleading keywords, titles, descriptions, graphics, media, etc. to attract visitors who search on these only to find them loosely relevant to your content. Search engines severely penalize content for this practice.

    Embrace transparency and good faith in all your actions on the Website.

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  • No cybersquatting: Maintain only one account and one URL based on your real identity.

    Each person can have only one account based on one identity. This means only one Thinker Page and associated URL (e.g., www.BestThinking.com/Thinker/YourURL) to direct traffic from outside BestThinking to your Thinker page. Furthermore, while your URL does not necessarily have to exactly match your real name, it must be directly associated with your real identity, specialty and Content and it should not mislead by implying an affiliation with another person or organization.

    For example, you may be a big fan of the Boston Red Sox, but if you are not the owner of the Red Sox, do not claim this URL: www.BestThinking.com/Thinker/BostonRedSoxOwner. However, if your Content or credentials evidence your passion for fossils, you could be the first to claim the FossilFan URL: www.BestThinking.com/Thinker/FossilFan. BestThinking reserves the right to change a Thinker’s URL.

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  • Be engaged: Report concerns and provide feedback to help us improve BestThinking.

    Since the time of medicine men and the first printing presses, knowledge sharing has always had a gatekeeper... the person who decides what knowledge gets distributed to others. Historically, the knowledge provider has been the gatekeeper, in the form of editors, publishers and producers. BestThinking's technology and vision allow you, the knowledge seeker, to become the gatekeeper.

    Open access means we allow all Content that complies with the Website policies, but you use our recommendation and credentialing features to set the standard for what you see. Essentially, you decide if BestThinking is more like the American Journal of Science or Popular Science.

    We built the platform, provide the tools, set the policy and keep the lights on, but you decide what BestThinking becomes for you. In order to do that, you have to actively participate. In addition to creating Blogs, Articles, Topics and Ebooks and becoming a Thinker and Curator, you are encouraged to make Comments, join in Thinker discussions and review Content you find compelling. Help us make BestThinking better through generous use of our feedback system. Also, use our Report Concerns system whenever you observe something that, in your opinion, is not compatible with the Website policies or vision.

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We reserve the right to make additions and changes to the Participation Policy at any time, make changes retroactive to existing Content, and make changes with no notice beyond posting the changes on the Website.

Click on the Report Concerns link to report any violations of this Participation Policy or the Terms of Use. We review Concern Reports expeditiously and will take appropriate action as needed.


BestThinking to be Updated this Weekend

If all goes well you will see a change in the layout of BestThinking's Home and Category pages. Topics & Articles and Blogs & Books will no longer be shown in two separate columns.

All 4 content types (Articles, Blogs, Books, and Topics) will be Featured Content together as one continuous stream, although the column structure - one wide and one narrow - will remain the same. The first (wide) column will now flow into the second (narrow) column. This change is in response to Blogs becoming as important a content type as Articles and Topics. This will also give Featured Content more time on the Home page which is helpful regarding search engines indexing this content.

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