What would people recommend as civil guidelines so that we can agree to disagree without being personally insulting?
Engage brain before hitting send.
I work at my tone as well as my words - that's sort of what I mean when I say that here online THAT is the training.
The more I am irritated by a post or the more strong my opinion is on something, the more I take the time to re-read my post and edit before posting. My goals when doing this are:
remove ad hominen references, trying to focus on the post and not the poster;
reconsider anything I've written that may be based on imputing motives to the poster, since I firmly believe that even IRL ascribing motives is difficult and here on the net it can be impossible - instead I try to address the actual words/content;
chose neutral language to decrease the chances another person will ascribe motives or issues to me that I do not intend to present;
try to state my understanding of the facts or explain my opinion as clearly and simply as possible;
decide if a given issue is worth speaking up on or if it is just beating a dead horse.
I want to make it clear I am not demonizing any individuals. I have at times over the years on aikiweb tried to point out how certain patterns of communication have the effect of chilling conversation or just ending conversation. Whether a given person is doing it on purpose to that end or it just happens to be a byproduct of someone having a different attitude toward netiquette than I have is an area I wouldn't venture into since that would be ascribing motives.