Rules and Guidelines for AACN Online Discussion Forums

Participation in AACN’s online discussion forums is a privilege of membership. These forums are designed to stimulate a respectful, professional, and civil exchange of ideas and knowledge that is directly relevant to neuropsychological practice or research. AACN leadership has developed rules of conduct and guidelines for “netiquette” for AACN online discussion forums.

Rules of Conduct (violations can result in loss of privileges)

  1. Keep it professional and courteous. Profanity, ad hominem accusations, personal attacks, inflammatory comments, excessive repetitive daily posts, or attacks on protected groups (such as race, sex, sexual orientation, or religion) are unacceptable.  
  2. Focused discussions on politics, societal debates, and religion: Keep discussions of politics, societal debates (including court decisions), and religion respectful and focused on how it pertains directly to neuropsychology and/or your daily experiences as a neuropsychology professional. See the table below for examples of acceptable and unacceptable types of discussions in these topic areas.
  3. Posts should not be shared without permission. Except for announcements of training or job openings, postings should not be shared outside of AACN online discussion forums without the explicit permission of the author(s) of the post and any copied prior posts. Do not pass posts to attorneys for use in medico-legal applications.
  4. Respect patient confidentiality. Names of patients or other confidential information should not be included in postings. 
  5. Respect copyright. Distribution of copyright protected information (e.g., PDFs of journal articles, test forms, other intellectual property, etc.) is prohibited.
  6. Be transparent. Use your real name on posts and disclose any potential conflicts of interest (e.g., financial interest in a test or product under discussion).
  7. Science is central. Avoid false or pseudoscientific claims.
  8. Limit commercial advertisement, including ads for non-AACN events. Non-AACN-affiliated products or events should not be advertised more than once. When commercial interests clearly outstrip information-sharing, posts will be removed, and the post originator risks sanction. Ads for open job or training positions are exempt, but please do not repeatedly post.
  9. Antitrust policy: Members are reminded to refrain from engaging in discussions related to fee setting and fee negotiations by psychologists, boycotts of insurance companies or other third party payors, or anti-competitive practices on online discussion forums. Such discussions may inadvertently violate antitrust laws, which prohibit agreements or discussions that could potentially restrain trade or competition.
TopicAcceptable DiscussionUnacceptable Discussion
Government/PoliticsDiscussing how government actions directly impact neuropsychological research or practice.

Example: Changes in CPT codes and associated RVU values.
Debating the merits of a particular political party or candidate, especially without specific relevance to neuropsychology.

Example: Whether Republicans or Democrats are more supportive of neuropsychology. Speculating about the cognitive status of political candidates.
Societal Debates (including court decisions)Analyzing the implications of a recent court decision on neuropsychological practice.

Example: Video recording of forensic evaluations.
Arguing about broader social issues that are not directly related to neuropsychology.

Example: Strategies to limit the number of immigrants coming into the country.
ReligionSharing personal experiences of navigating religious beliefs in clinical practice.

Example: Protecting the privacy of a patient wanting to disconnect from a specific religious community. Messages of support around religious holidays/holy days or tragedies from around the world
Proselytizing or promoting a specific religious ideology.

Example: Criticizing or demeaning religious beliefs.
Social Justice IssuesDiscussing how societal inequities impact access to neuropsychological services and health related outcomes.

Example: Statistics about how access to neuropsychological evaluations is affected by socioeconomic status.
Engaging in heated debates about broader social justice issues that are not directly related to neuropsychology.

Example: Arguing for a specific penalty for individuals charged with a hate crime.
Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and AccessibilitySharing strategies for promoting diversity in neuropsychological research or practice.

Example: Reviewing novel methods to improve inclusion of traditionally under-represented populations. Also, discussing the business aspects of patient access/equity initiatives and how they may affect revenue/salaries.
Making assumptions or derogatory comments about individuals based on their demographic characteristics.

Example: Blaming homeless people for their own predicament.

Consequences of Rule Violations

If a member violates the letter or the intent of these rules, other members may provide direct backchannel feedback to the offending member and/or email with a description of the alleged violation. Members may also contact AACN leadership with concerns. 

Rule violations will be considered by the AACN Executive Committee and/or Board of Directors. Individuals found to have violated these rules may have access to all AACN online discussion forums restricted or removed entirely, depending on the nature of the transgression and whether previous warnings have already been given and disregarded.

Any member who feels that he or she has been inappropriately restricted or removed from AACN online discussion forums may petition the Board of Directors for a reconsideration of any sanction(s). A member who has been suspended can request an appeal using the appropriate form. The Appeals Panel consists of the three most recent living past AACN presidents.

Emergency Suspensions or Moderation

Under normal circumstances, posts are immediate. However, Moderators are empowered to suspend or moderate posts on entire online discussion forums or from specific individuals in an emergency, such as rapidly devolving incivility or dissemination of malware. AACN leadership will then review in a timely manner. To protect other members of the group, messages that appear to contain spam, malware, or harmful content will be deleted from the forum and the originating member’s posting privileges may be temporarily suspended until the origin of the problem can be determined and fixed.

Guidelines for “Netiquette”

When you post online, you are generating a message to a large, diverse, intelligent, and professional audience. You may find that others do not share your perspective. Take that as an opportunity for growth and remember that peers and junior colleagues will watch and learn from the exchange. Acting unprofessionally makes you look bad, squelches dialogue, and degrades the purpose of the online discussion forums. Although not fixed rules, here are some guidelines:

  1. If you are angry, consider saving the post for later, after you have calmed down. A good rule of thumb is to wait 12 to 24 hours before responding again.
  2. All posts should address professional topics, not personal characteristics of others. Personal insults are never acceptable.
  3. If you unintentionally violate a rule, apologize, and use it as a learning opportunity to guide your future behavior.
  4. If you find yourself in a heated or protracted disagreement, take the conversation off the online discussion forum and communicate “backchannel” (direct email to the individual).
  5. Post personal replies or personal requests directly to the message sender, rather than to all. If you intend to contact an individual member backchannel it is safest to send a new email and manually enter their email address.
  6. Sign posts with your contact information (e.g., your name and direct email address) so that other members can reply to you individually rather than to all, as they prefer.
  7. If the subject line of your post does not match the content create a new subject topic. Do not take over an existing discussion topic with a new topic of discussion.
  8. Never assume that your message will remain confidential and private. It is against the rules to share outside of the online discussion forum, but nobody can guarantee that.


Members of AACN online discussion forums agree to its rules: (1) Keep it professional and courteous (2) Keep focused discussions on politics, societal debates, and religion respectful and directly related to neuropsychology (3) Except for announcements of training or job openings, postings should not be shared outside of the forum without the explicit permission of the author(s) of the post and any copied prior posts; (4) Respect patient confidentiality; (5) Respect copyright; (6) Be transparent; (7) Keep science central; (8) Limit commercial ads, including ads for non-AACN events. Details on these rules, responses to rule violations, and guidelines for “netiquette” can be found here. These rules and guidelines may be updated or edited, and substantive changes will be announced to forum members. Although the online discussion forums are sponsored by AACN, each member personally assumes full responsibility for their messages.