1) Open mind! Consider you might be wrong. No matter how convinced you are of anything.
2)Thorough education in logic! Know the fallacies and how logic works. I define logic as essentially the study of reliable and unreliable ways of thinking.
3) All-inclusive research. Don't put anything off the table, lest you miss the truth. Even the most open-minded logical person in the world will miss the truth if they don't have the right data to plug in.
4) Think of other possibilities. Anytime someone else -- or yourself -- makes a claim, try hard to think of ways that claim might not be true. Then test the various options you can think of to figure out which makes more sense to you.
5) Avoid "patches" -- rescuing explanations for when an idea doesn't seem to fit reality, which themselves have little to no support other than the original idea not fitting. The problem with patches is that any idea could be made to seem plausible, even if it was false.
Although I haven't yet put this format into all the early pages here, as of August 2012 I have decided to use this format for quotes. All quotes will be in quote marks. Quotes from the main source I am focusing on in a particular entry (such as the Bible) will be bolded. Quotes from secondary sources in the same entry will be bolded and italicized. Generally quotes from me will only have quote marks.
If on a particular blog entry or the like I need to do it differently, I will try to explain it near the top of the entry/page.
1) Any comments on this site should remain appropriate, and I reserve the right to edit accordingly. By posting a comment you agree to this. Likewise if you email me about anything on this site I reserve the right to post the email or portions of it in a blog entry, editing out anything inappropriate (with credit given).
2) That said, there's a lot of gray areas in what is okay and so readers of this site should be aware things commenters say, or possibly even that I say might be offensive to them. Personally I do not really believe in being offended; I think taking time to get emotionally upset that someone had a different idea is a distraction from good truthseeking and debate. Point is that it's hard to have actual rules, so other than rule #1, these are "more guidelines than actual rules".
3) Try hard to avoid negative (and thus possibly insulting) labels. It's very hard, I know, and many people don't see the point, but trust me, from long experience in debates it's always best to try to focus on the positive side. If people feel they're being attacked, the whole debate derails from the real meat of the issue. Likewise, I may edit excessive negativity as it can itself be intended to distract.
4) If you think I'm wrong, say so. One point of dumping my thoughts here is just in the hopes that if I'm wrong, I might find out. Different perspectives can be very helpful to find the truth. Remember that the real truthseeker always wins debates, because if it's shown that you were wrong, you simply change your mind and become more right!
5) Give reasons for what you think! Just saying "X is incorrect" or "Y is true" is mildly helpful, but it's better to say why. For example, atheists often make sweeping, apparently confident claims that I'm wrong, but no matter how hard I press them to explain why, they never do give any logical support for it. In trying to be open-minded and see how I might be wrong, this just leaves me hanging, with no bridge to "enter their world." (I interpret this as meaning they are wrong, but simply didn't want to admit it. I could be wrong now. :P)
6) Try to balance brevity with detail. It helps to write one draft that just dumps whatever comes to mind, but then toss that aside and write a shorter version anew, repeating just what you really think matters. Do this as many times as it takes until you are honestly comfortable with what you want to say, then proofread it again if you have time. and post that version.
7) Stick to plain English; don't bury your real meanings in endless technobabble. Sometimes "big words" can streamline a discussion, but if it's not something the average laymen knows, define it the first time you use it (and make that definition in normal English).
8) Be comfortable admitting if you think you were wrong, and changing your mind. Guideline. :P