For the most part, I haven't noticed a problem with general civility. There have been one or two head-scratchers of late which have defied that trend, but they seem to exist in order to highlight the otherwise (relatively) placid nature of the forum.
This board, in general, is a fairly mixed bag in terms of opinions. This is a good thing, although it does rely heavily on the goodwill of the posters for the discussion to not degenerate into fights. As we have seen, sometimes that goodwill is challenged by conflicting opinions expressed strongly. That in mind, I think that it would be perfectly in character for the board to allow just about any discussion not expressly denied by the Terms of Service or the agreed guidelines (I almost said "agreed framework"
), but it is imperative not to push that to it's limits. Think twice about what you post as a topic and you will rarely go wrong if your intentions are good.
The most important thing I would suggest is moderation in tone. If you respond angrily or with indignation towards a post, you may well confuse a poster who didn't see the angle to what they wrote. Their belief may be due to their ignorance, or even small-mindedness, but a sharp retort will put the target of your efforts into a defensive mode. In that defensive mode, the target of your response will be much less inclined to view your point favorably, considering it to be the thinking of someone hasty or overzealous.
Sadly, many people equate moderation in tone to be equivalent to compromise of belief. This is not the case. One who truly believes in something will make the sacrifices required, including reining in their indignation, to ensure that their arguments fall on the most fertile possible ground. By not vocally dismissing the possibility that your fellow poster may have insight, they cannot dismiss you so easily either.
I don't pretend that I'm doing anythng but rehashing common sense. But then, so is "Don't Lie" or "Don't Kill People". It is much harder to put into practice than it is to say it. That becomes the primary reason for moderation: to ensure that common sense prevails. Certain boards in the past have failed due to the parties forgetting why they were there. If the members wanted to talk to themselves, there is no need to maintain a board for that purpose.
On the other hand, I also don't expect impassive statues that only compliment me and each other on our views simply for the sake of tranquility. If you are upset, then be upset. Just don't get out of control. Direct your energies into explaining why this upsets you or in some other positive manner. I assure you that you will gain dual benefits from expressing your feelings, and at the same time doing so in a manner that is constructive. Replying with an insult, even to an insult leveled at you, is still an insult.
In short, I expect of the posters in HPCE only that they not undermine their own discussions. This includes myself, of course. My actions as a moderator are to ensure the continuance of the board as an effective means for discussions between members of the community. All other tasks are subsidary. Agreement is not important, perhaps even boring, but civility is very important. Respect is best, but courtesy is necessary. Please do your best to continue to act appropriately and we can expect a long and happy existence as a community.