The role of rules for discourse

The role of rules for discourse
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This is one of the two threads I want to start here spinning off from a conversation elsewhere (Telegram). See the other thread.

Let us start with the presumption that some rules are a prerequisite for a discourse. But what are those rules? At what point do the rules become overbearing and venture into censorship? This is not just a hypothetical. We see this all the time. Civil society needs discourse, and discourse requires some ground rules. But we also see rules coopted into designing a certain kind of filter that ensures only a one-sided conversation.

For example, if a discussion is about a specific topic, it is generally accepted that one wouldn’t digress into something unrelated. But what if the discussion is about a general topic? How do we determine the boundaries of where we can venture?

And, what is the best way to bring a conversation back to the general focus at hand? Is saying “No, you can’t post that” a better response that ignoring an off-topic post? How off-topic does a post have to be when a “No, you can’t do that” becomes an appropriate response?

I have my views on this. I would like hear from others.

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