Be Actionable

The overarching theme of this community may be summed up in two sentences:

In general, topics in this forum should be actionable. This is a community of practice, and we are here to encourage each other to take action!

Of course, there are other rules, and the rest of this document lays them out. But this principle should inform most of our discussions.

Acceptable Topics & Category Guidelines

This community focuses on two topics: careers and self-improvement.

All other topics apart from those below are off-topic and may be deleted or closed at the moderators’s discretion.

The following guidelines are meant to help you get your post into the correct topics and clarify the allowable topics. Do note that moderators may move topics without notice if they feel they were placed in the wrong category.

Decision Making — Topics about Business and Career Decision Making

This is about general business decision making — things like strategy, operational efficiency, business models, and so on.

Over time, Commonplace’s focus has shifted to making better decisions in a business context, not just in a career context.

Good topics here include things like competitive advantages, operational excellence, running good metrics, or repositioning a company. If you’re likely to discuss it in an exec education course on business strategy, you’re likely to want to discuss it here.

General Careers — Help with General Career Topics

If it’s about careers, it goes here. Examples of acceptable topics include negotiating at work, interviewing techniques, and learning to deal with office politics.

This is also where you might want to talk about building career moats. If you have a specific question about creating a moat in your (or your family’s or friend’s) career, or about specific details on finding, maintaining, or building a moat, ask that here.

(For a primer on what career moats are, you may read the introductory guide here).

Self Improvement Outputs — Experiments and Actions

This category is about implementing self-improvement experiments. You may share your (or your family’s or friend’s) experiments, record observations about attempted practice, or ask questions about detailed implementation here.

Note: each week, a pinned topic will be created for community members to share one or two goals for the week. At the end of the week, we will share and celebrate our successes (and our failures!) :partying_face: On Sundays, the topic will be closed and a new one started for the new week.

Self Improvement Inputs — Theory and Ideas

This topic is about ideas, books, articles, and other resources for self-improvement. This has less of an emphasis on action and more on discussion and observation.

Examples of acceptable topics are: book recommendations, experience with therapy, thoughts on note-taking, ideas for better meetings.

Note that topics must still be reasonably actionable (or helpful to those who might want to take action!) General comments or complaints about these topics will be locked or removed.


Anything related to the forum, the community, the site software or general community meetups may be placed here. Note that due to the nature of the forum software, topics placed directly under Meta are visible to the public. However, topics created in sub-categories will be private.

Meta — Welcome/Meetups

This subcategory is for the Welcome thread, and for organising Meetups. Welcome threads will be closed when they get too long (perhaps after a month, or a quarter) and a new one will be created in its place.

Blog Comments

Discussion threads on Commonplace blog posts may be found here. New threads will be generated automatically whenever new blog posts are published on the blog, or whenever a member visits a post.

Note: unlike the other categories, this category is public.

Unacceptable Topics

1) Politics and Religion

Political and religious topics are not allowed for obvious reasons, since there are usually inevitable frictions. The only exceptions to this rule are:

  • Common religious expressions such as sending your prayers to an ailing member.
  • Usage of factual and non-derogatory political labels when necessary.
  • Discussion about enacted laws or regulations that may affect the individual in their careers. (Note: discussions of proposed laws or regulations are prohibited!)
  • Proposed regulations that are directly related to one’s life or career may be discussed if and when they are published for public comments.

2) Non-actionable Topics

If members can’t do anything with the content of a topic other than argue about it, it doesn’t belong here. Examples include:

  • World economic, political, tax, health care or climate policies
  • Conspiracy theories
  • Discussions of the crimes, shortcomings, or stupidity of other people, whether they be political figures, celebrities, CEOs, rich people, Twitter personas, etc. Of course, you are welcome to talk about the stupid experiments or mistakes you have done!

Be Agreeable, Even When You Disagree

You may wish to respond to something by disagreeing with it. That’s fine. But remember to criticize ideas, not people. Please avoid:

  • Name-calling
  • Responding to a post’s tone instead of its actual content
  • Knee-jerk contradiction

Instead, provide reasoned counter-arguments that improve the conversation.

Moderators may step in and edit or delete any post or topic if they see fit.

Remember that you can edit your own posts even after submitting them, so comments made in anger or haste can be rephrased before the problem escalates or a moderator has to step in.

When it comes to civility, editing is encouraged!

If You See a Problem, Flag It

Moderators have special authority; they are responsible for this forum. But so are you. With your help, moderators can be community facilitators, not just janitors or police.

When you see bad behaviour, do not reply. It encourages the bad behaviour by acknowledging it, consumes your energy, and wastes everyone’s time. Just flag it. If enough flags accrue, action will be taken, either automatically or by moderator intervention.

In order to maintain our community, moderators reserve the right to remove any content and any user account for any reason at any time. Moderators do not preview new posts; the moderators and site operators take no responsibility for any content posted by the community.

Always Be Civil

Nothing sabotages a healthy conversation like rudeness:

  • Be civil. Don’t post anything that a reasonable person would consider offensive, abusive, or hate speech.
  • Keep it clean. Don’t post anything obscene or sexually explicit.
  • Respect each other. Don’t harass or grief anyone, impersonate people, or expose their private information.
  • Respect our forum. Don’t post spam or otherwise vandalize the forum.

These are not concrete terms with precise definitions — avoid even the appearance of any of these things. If you’re unsure, ask yourself how you would feel if your post was featured on the front page of the New York Times.

Keep It Tidy

Make the effort to put things in the right place, so that we can spend more time discussing and less cleaning up. General guidelines:

  • Don’t start a topic in the wrong category.
  • Don’t cross-post the same thing in multiple topics.
  • Don’t post no-content replies.
  • Don’t divert a topic by changing it midstream.
  • Don’t sign your posts — every post has your profile information attached to it.

Rather than posting “+1” or “Agreed”, use the Like button. If you want to take an existing topic in a radically different direction, use Reply as a Linked Topic.

No Solicitation

Please do not solicit business or website traffic on this forum. Mods will determine what constitutes solicitation on a case by case basis, but here are some guidelines about commonly encountered issues:

  • Members may enter personal websites or blogs in the “Website” section of their profiles.
  • Members may link to relevant pages on their personal websites or blogs in replies on a topic started by another member.
  • Members may not post affiliate or referral links, or ask for referrals.
  • If you’re a company representative in a discussion about a product or service, you must identify yourself, and you should only post on that topics to correct factual errors or directly answer unresolved technical questions about your products or services.
  • Authors, software developers, or others looking for feedback should contact the mods for approval before posting.
  • If you’re unsure about a post, you may also send a DM to a forum admin or mod for approval before posting.


Serious Violations

Certain violations, in particular posting or linking to spam, threatening, abusive, illegal, or obscene material, will result in removal of the message and may lead to an immediate and permanent ban of the poster.


Usernames must be inoffensive, in accordance with all other forum policies, and not misleading. Examples of usernames that do not meet these requirements would be any that include profanities, rude/sexist/racist comments, the names of real people other than yourself, political or religious expressions, and recognizable trademarked names.


Avatars may be deleted by a mod or site admin at any time if it results in complaints from your fellow members, if it duplicates an existing member’s avatar, or if it includes any of the following:

  • animations
  • ads or commercial messages
  • misleading photos
  • offensive or disturbing images

Post Your Own Stuff

You may not post anything digital that belongs to someone else without permission.

A full copyright policy is available in the Terms of Service below:

Terms of Service

Yes, legalese is boring, but we must protect ourselves – and by extension, you and your data – against unfriendly folks. We have a Terms of Service describing your (and our) behavior and rights related to content, privacy, and laws. To use this service, you must agree to abide by our TOS.