A lot of websites have code of conduct that describe user do's and don'ts. For example:

"Stack Exchange <verb1> users to post relevant and constructive answers and <verb2> users to post off-topic discussions."

In this context, what should be appropriate for verb1 and verb2? I have come up with the following candidates but none of them seems right:

verb1: enforces, verb2: forbid (These verbs seem too serious)

verb1: recommends, verb2: discourages

  • 1
    These "Do's and Don'ts" are not always of the same kind. Most times they are recommendatory, sometimes mandatory, but most often they are guidelines. So I don't think it's possible to fit one term for all cases. – Kris Jan 28 at 11:04
  • Another pair is prescribes and proscribes. (Also, a pet peeve: if you're going to put an apostrophe before one word's s, I would put it before the other word's s too. So, either Dos and Don'ts or Do's and Don't's. Even though I know people are consistently inconsistent with this . . .) – Jason Bassford Jan 28 at 18:52
  • Of possible interest: Many of the internet's technical underpinnings grew out of an on-going series of Requests for Comments (RFCs). These developed a set of words/phrases (e.g. "MUST", "SHOULD NOT" etc.) to describe compulsory, forbidden or advisory behaviour, which are codified in RFC 2119. – TripeHound Jan 29 at 11:31

I would go with encourages and discourages. While those don't necessarily present as "musts", as in technically you can fail to receive the encouragement/discouragement, the point still comes across. It's similar to your second suggestion.

Requires and forbids are also useful, but you found forbids to be too serious; perhaps requires and disallows.

"must" and "must not" also achieve similar purposes, though they are adverbs. However, the word order would need to be changed:

"Stack Exchange users must post relevant and constructive answers and must not post off-topic discussions."

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