Online Code of Conduct

The National Association of Science Writers is committed to providing a professional environment in our online groups, welcoming people from as many diverse backgrounds as possible. We expect our groups to be respectful, harassment-free environments for all people regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, physical ability, nationality, age, socioeconomic status, physical appearance, and belief. NASW values the diversity of views, expertise, opinions, backgrounds, and experiences reflected among all participants.

Participants in NASW online groups should familiarize themselves with, and agree to abide by, this Online Code of Conduct.

Scope: This Online Code of Conduct applies to all online communication via NASW platforms, including but not limited to NASW group email lists (both public and members-only), comments and discussions on or other NASW-hosted sites, and NASW-hosted Facebook groups.

Some NASW online platforms may have in place additional rules, which will be posted publicly for participants. Participants are responsible for knowing and abiding by these rules. This Online Code of Conduct is in addition to, and does not in any way nullify or invalidate, any other NASW terms or conditions.

Participation guidelines: All NASW groups are intended to be cordial discussions among professionals.

What to do:

  • Ask questions about techniques, tools, or tips
  • Seek advice on getting into the field or an aspect of the field
  • Discuss controversies in the field or profession
  • Dissect coverage of a scientific issue

NASW expects users to follow our community’s guidelines. Appropriate behavior contributes to the productivity and longevity of the NASW community and includes:

  • Treating everyone with respect and consideration, including consideration for their limited daily supply of time and attention
  • Representing the NASW community in a positive, professional way
  • Communicating openly and thoughtfully with others, and being considerate of the multitude of views and opinions that are different than your own
  • Using welcoming and inclusive language
  • Refraining from demeaning, discriminatory, or harassing behavior and speech
  • Refraining from doing something online that you wouldn't do in another professional situation
  • Keeping an open and curious mind without making assumptions about others
  • Attempting collaboration before conflict
  • Gracefully accepting well-communicated constructive criticism

Out of respect for all participants’ time and attention, refrain from posting about topics unrelated to science writing, posting redundant information, posting excessively, or writing excessively long posts. Consider searching a group’s archives to see if a topic has been discussed before.

When replying, consider whether a post is relevant to the entire group or whether it would be better to reply to an individual instead. If initiating a new topic on an email discussion group, use a good descriptor in the subject line to help participants decide whether they want to read the message.

All messages in NASW's discussion groups must be signed with the author's real name.

What not to do:

  • Harassment is never OK

    NASW encourages civil debate of topics related to science and science writing, but disallows name-calling, attacks on a person's character or motives, offensive language or profanity, badgering, or posting of the same opinion or position more than once. Any spamming, trolling, flaming, baiting, or other attention-stealing behavior is not welcome and will not be tolerated.

    Harassing other participants is never tolerated. Harassment encompasses a spectrum and includes, but is not limited to:

    • Violent language or threats of violence
    • Incitement of violence against an individual, including but not limited to incitement to engage in self-harm
    • Any conduct designed to threaten, intimidate, humiliate, or coerce another participant
    • Discriminatory language and comments that reinforce social structures of domination related to race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, physical ability, nationality, age, socioeconomic status, physical appearance, or belief
    • Insults or personal attacks
    • Deliberate misgendering or use of "dead" or rejected names
    • Deliberate "outing" of any aspect of a person's identity without their consent
    • Publishing non-harassing private conversation without consent
    • Threatening to post or posting another person's personally identifiable information without consent
    • Inappropriate use of nudity, sexual images, sexually explicit language, and/or sexualized comments or jokes
    • Continued one-on-one communication after a request to cease
    • Sustained, uninvited disruption of conversation
    • Other conduct that could reasonably be considered inappropriate in a professional setting
    • Advocating for, encouraging, or intentionally concealing any of this behavior

    Intent to offend is not an element of harassment. Harassment can include actions that are intended to be jokes, teasing, or kidding.

    The NASW executive director, president, or a community manager or moderator deputized by the executive director or president reserves the right to make judgment calls about what is and isn't appropriate.

  • We're writers. Watch that copyright!

    In posting material copyrighted elsewhere, participants should be careful to respect the rights of copyright holders. No more of a work should be quoted than is necessary to make a point. Whether or not a long excerpt is within fair-use guidelines, NASW prefers — as group participants usually do — that any poster include a short excerpt plus a link to the full online comment or article.

    Authors retain copyright to material posted in the groups and all digests and compilations derived from them. Material may not be reproduced in other media in whole or in part without the express permission of the original author(s). Exception: By posting messages to the groups, participants consent to publication of brief excerpts in NASW publications such as the online newsletter.

  • Promotion and advertisements have homes elsewhere — with few exceptions

    The NASW discussion groups must not be used to distribute press releases or other promotional material. You may instead consider using a service such as EurekAlert or Newswise, or placing an advertisement in an NASW publication or on the NASW website. There is one exception: Announcements of professional development opportunities or awards programs aimed at journalists and public information officers, such as fellowships and free classes or seminars. Please keep such announcements brief — no more than three paragraphs — and include a link to more information, if available.

    The groups may not be used to advertise programs that charge an admission fee. There are a few exceptions: Events funded, fully or partially, by NASW, e.g. Idea Grant programs; events hosted by local science writing groups; or events hosted by other professional writing groups. If you would like to promote programs that are not covered by these exceptions, or any other material not permitted by the discussion group policies, please contact the executive director at for information about purchasing an ad or visit our Advertise with NASW page.

  • No job postings, please

    Advertisements for jobs or freelance opportunities may not be posted by advertisers or their representatives in the NASW discussion groups. Rather, upon request and payment (in most cases) of a small fee, you may post your ad on the NASW website, whereupon a copy will automatically be sent via email to all members who have requested that service. To place a job ad, visit the Advertise job or assignment page. One-time ads for freelance assignments are free of charge. This policy is not meant to preclude informal mention of job opportunities by group participants who are not associated with the would-be advertiser.

    Job ads posted in the NASW jobs archive may not be reposted to a discussion group or elsewhere under any circumstances.

How to report violations: Anyone who feels that the Online Code of Conduct has been violated may report violations to,,, and/or a community manager or moderator deputized by the executive director or president (whose contact info will be listed in the footer of the group’s email).

Consequences: Offending posts on email lists will be removed from the archive. A moderator may issue a warning, place the offender on temporary or permanent full moderation, ban the offender immediately, and/or, if applicable, recommend revocation of the offender’s NASW membership per NASW’s Bylaws. Depending on the severity of offense, actions may be announced publicly to the rest of the online discussion group.

Addressing grievances: Any members who believe their concerns have gone unaddressed or who wish to contest a decision related to the code of conduct may contact,,, and/or a member of the NASW Board.

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