login about faq

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)


What kinds of questions can I ask here?

Please feel free to ask anything about Objectivism or its application to living, and anything about Ayn Rand or Objectivists in general! Even a general topic could produce a distinctively Objectivist answer, so go ahead and ask!

What kinds of questions should be avoided?

There are no taboo topics! But we have three basic guidelines you need to heed if you want to avoid the heartache of having your question deleted:

  1. Please try looking around for a similar question before you ask. You can search for questions by title or by using tags.
  2. Please keep it all "safe for work."
  3. Please raise your own issues. Unfortunately, the world is filled with clueless haters and that makes it all too easy to provoke hours of busy-work on OA by mindlessly linking to or copying their words and asking us to respond to them. This clutters the site with invariably low-grade "questions" that have feedback which is really aimed at someone who isn't here and likely has no interest in our help. If something a critic says genuinely resonates with you, then you will be able to relate the essential issue in a first-handed manner yourself, in your own terms, and we'll be happy to take it up.

Who can answer questions?

Objectivist Answers features answers by Objectivists (see the about page). Answers don't have to be perfect (that's why we have an edit button!), and they don't have to be scholarly treatises, but they do have to be from Objectivists. If you're an Objectivist and want to post answers, just send mail to admin@objectivistanswers.com mentioning your Objectivist Answers username (so we can find your account) and letting us know that you meet the criteria.

  • You must be an Objectivist, meaning that you agree with and live by the principles of Ayn Rand's philosophy of Objectivism as best you understand them.
  • You are not an Objectivist if you consider yourself to be a libertarian (or associate with the Libertarian Party), advocate revising Objectivism (like David Kelley's "open system"), or associate with false advocates of Objectivism (like David Kelley, Nathaniel Branden, Barbara Branden, and Chris Sciabarra).

How can I be part of the solution? or: Power Tips to earn Style Points

  • Limit distracting debate! What makes Objectivist Answers special is that it is a question and answer site, not a general discussion group. Please avoid extended debates in the answers as they tend to dilute the essense of the topic. If you have an alternate answer or a comment to extend someone else's answer, please post it (and revise it as warranted).
  • Ask one question at a time! It is wonderful if you have a lot of questions to ask, but please do not pose unrelated questions in the same question posting -- that damages the organization of information on the site while diminishing the quality of the answers you receive. This is because unrelated questions in one posting make it more difficult to focus and provide an answer (because there can't be an answer), which also makes ratings and rankings less meaningful -- and worse, it is impossible for such an entry to have a proper title and to be appropriately associated with other entries via tags. Clouding the structure of information on the site makes it more difficult for future visitors to find and/or contribute information.
  • Be positive, helpful and tidy! It is cool to give kudos and give advice for improving answers by using comments. But it's uber-cool to then immediately delete that kind of comment! This is great because interested parties will all see your comment in an email alert, but it also keeps that page from getting cluttered, bogging down future readers who just want the darned answer.
  • Make your references easy to use! Rather than just giving an external link as text that people will have to cut-n-paste into their browser address field (like "go check out http://example.com!"), please make it a live link using the markdown syntax that can be used pretty much everywhere on OA. (What you have to type to insert a link looks like this: "[link text](http://example.com)", which results in: "link text".)
  • Edit your postings: OA is for giving the result, not preserving the birthing process! Please don't give multiple answers or leave addendums to your answers using comments -- please just edit your one answer or comment to make it the perfect gem it deserves to be (remember, this is for posterity :^). If you want to draw attention to your wonderful edits, just comment about your update and immediately delete the comment so those who are tracking the issue will get the news.
  • Ask or Answer not both at the same time! It is wonderful if you have an answer for your own question -- please do post it! But don't clutter your question post with an answer; that's not it's purpose. You should post your answer in an answer posting, where it can be understood and reacted to as an answer.

Who moderates this community?

You do! This website is (mainly) moderated by its community. The karma system allows users to earn permissions to perform a variety of moderation tasks.

The "heavier lifting" moderation tasks will be performed by the Benevolent Dictator of Objectivist Answers, Greg Perkins, and his hand-selected deputies (see the section on "karma"). Please play nicely. :^)

How does the karma system work?

When a question or answer or comment is upvoted, the user who posted it will gain some points, called "karma points" in the system. These points serve as a rough measure of community trust. Various moderation tasks are gradually assigned to users based on those points.

For example, if you ask an interesting question or give a helpful answer, your input will be upvoted. On the other hand if the answer is confused or confusing it will be downvoted. Each vote in favor will generate 10 points, each vote against will subtract 5 points (and there's a price for that: it costs the down-voter 1 point of their own karma). There is a limit of 200 points that can be accumulated per question or answer. The table below explains the current karma requirements for different types of moderation tasks.

  • add comments -> 30
  • close own questions -> 250
  • edit community wiki posts -> 200
  • reopen own questions -> 500
  • retag questions -> 300
  • open any closed question -> 2000

Note: If you see someone with more than a million points of karma, they have been deputized and given the power to delete comments, to convert answers to comments, and to edit anybody's posts (but they are instructed to merely fix titles and tags, while leaving posting bodies as-is -- and to remove comment-clutter [see below] whenever possible). Any points these administrators have beyond 1M are what they have earned, just like anybody else in the system.

What is gravatar? or: How can I get my picture next to postings?

"Gravatar" is short for a globally recognized avatar. It is an image associated with your email address, and here at Objectivist Answers, we use it to put your picture next to your posts so people can see when they are written by you at a glance. You can set up your image over at gravatar.com.

What's the Fine Print? or: This should go without saying...

  • Everybody speaks for themselves on Objectivist Answers: Content represents the understanding of its author only, and should not be taken as representing anyone else's understanding without good evidence to that effect.
  • Easy Corollary: Objectivist Answers is not affiliated with and does not represent any Objectivist organization or group (other than itself, of course).
  • Copyright on all content is retained by its author. But Objectivist Answers gets to reproduce, distribute, and possibly promote (on sites other than OA) content added by its contributors. (OA won't share your email address, though -- people can only learn whatever is on the user pages.)
  • Contributors are free to edit or delete their content as they see fit. (But notice that you can't undo any instant email notifications that might have gone out for a contribution you've made.)
  • Nobody is permitted to post advertisements or spam, material which violates intellectual property rights, content that is is knowingly false and/or defamatory, abusive, vulgar, harassing, sexually oriented in a "not safe for work" way, threatening, invasive of a person's privacy, or otherwise in violation of U.S. law.
  • In an effort to enforce the above and keep the chaos down to a dull roar, users' content may be edited or deleted, and users may be suspended or banned, at the discretion of Objectivist Answers administrators. (Generally, it will take something pretty egregious to get an administrator to do any more than adjust your title or tags. We're not here to fix your grammar and punctuation, or to make you look all brilliant. That's up to you. Also, comments that no longer seem relevant or helpful will be routinely deleted to keep the site uncluttered, since it is difficult for commenters to remember to return to pages and do so.)
  • Let's call it the Betsy Rule: If you personally attack a principal of Objectivist Answers in a way that violates fundamental Objectivist principles like honesty and justice, don't expect to be allowed to play with our toys. Good grief.
  • Sigh. Let's call it the Cathcart Rule: If you think the 'house rules' are silly and that it is therefore acceptable to misrepresent yourself so you can do as you please with our stuff, you should expect to be shown the door.

How can I help promote Objectivist Answers?

We would be so grateful, thanks! Please put an OA banner on your website! Just copy the HTML text next to the banner you want to use into your web page.

orange oa banner      white oa banner      green oa banner      yellow oa banner      clear oa banner

What is Objectivist Answers "Powered By"?

Objectivist Answers is a customized version of OSQA, the open-source Q&A platform, and is currently hosted on bluehost.com's servers. It was conceived by Diana Hsieh and Greg Perkins. Greg set up and rules over Objectivist Answers as your friendly neighborhood Benevolent Dictator.

Still have questions?

Please ask your question in the forum! If it is something involving administration, you can simply send mail to admin@objectivistanswers.com.