locked Re: Code of conduct


 

I've found myself agreeing wholeheartedly with Mark B. on this issue. To me the
most important part of the example quoted (viewed as applying to all groups,
not a specific group) is this short paragraph:

"These are not hard and fast rules, merely aids to the human judgment of our
community. Use these guidelines to keep this a clean, well-lighted place for
civilized public discourse."

In other words, it is NOT mandatory. The rest of it is very much what I would
expect to see as a recommended guideline for group owners to use in making
codes of conduct for a specific group.

Incidentally, one part of those guidelines specifically compares the system to
a public park, and asks for similar behaviour. That comparison would hold true
in Groups.io for public groups, but not for private groups, which are more like
a private house or garden.

Jim Fisher

On 12 Feb 2016 at 10:48, Mark Fletcher wrote:

Mark,

It would be helpful if you could review http://try.discourse.org/faq and
specify which parts you object to and why.

Thanks,
Mark

On Fri, Feb 12, 2016 at 7:28 AM, Mark Bielecki via Groups.io <
msb05001=yahoo.com@groups.io> wrote:

Hi Mark,

It seems to me that every group on Groups.io already has the perfect Code of
Conduct enforcement method in place: if a member has an issue with something
that has been posted, regardless of how popular or unpopular your viewpoint on
that issue is, that member can ... leave the group. Anybody who is offended
by anything at all merely has to leave the group and will no longer be
offended by anything posted in that group. Really quite simple, and in its
own way it's really quite elegant as well.

If a group's conduct becomes unacceptable to enough people there will no
longer be a group; problem solved, all by itself. It's hard to be racist,
sexist, or anything else-ist to others if there's nobody else there to listen!

If the group's conduct is acceptable to some or many people then those
people will continue together as a group of like-minded individuals,
whether here on Groups.io or elsewhere. The question that immediately
comes to mind when I hear code of conduct and private groups (and these are
private groups, even if they are open to the pubic, unless they're supported
by government money) is: who is appointed the Official & Final Arbiter of
Conduct? And who decides who appoints this ultimate authoritarian? And who
decides who gets to decide who appoints him or her, ad nauseum.

Different people have different levels of tolerance, and depending upon
the setting, circumstances, relationship of the individuals or group, etc.,
what may be nothing at all to one group of people may be utter blasphemy or
outrageous behavior to others. As some have already mentioned, Yahoo! bans
certain words that can be considered vulgar or profane in some circumstances
and are purely mainstream and acceptable in others: bitch and ass come to
mind (anyone who can't figure out the problems here then one shouldn't even be
part of this discussion!). I previously wrote about my offering to sell "Al's
balls" on one of my groups, and the problems that it caused because somebody
either didn't understand the context, the subject, or simply wanted to cause
problems for that group with Yahoo!. Religion and politics and even science
groups are ripe for and rife with potential issues; the Christian west, as an
example, has concepts of free speech which include the assumed right to
commentary and satire -- verbal, written, and visual -- while some religious
groups, such as far right ultra orthodox Islam (my description) has real
problems with those things when they are applied to Allah and Islam, resulting
in the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini of Iran issued a fatwa ordering Muslims to
kill Salman Rushdie for writing and publishing his book "The Satanic Verses"
and twelve people being killed at the offices of Charlie Hebdo, a French
satirical magazine that published controversial Muhammad cartoons after Muslim
clerics declared them to be blasphemous.

Out of curiosity, Mark, if Ayatollah Ruhollah started a Groups.io group to
discuss Muslim theology and blasphemy, who would be the arbiter of the code of
conduct on their discussions if a conservative Christian complained? Would
that arbiter of conduct have any moral authority to censor or ban one of the
highest clerics of Islam theology? That person would be damned if he did, and
damned if he didn't!

What if a Groups.io group is started to discuss "The Satanic Verses" and
somebody complains that it's blasphemous to the Groups.io Conduct
Authority? What if Salman Rushdie himself starts the group, or joins in
the conversation or debate? Similar issues as above.

What if a group of religious or free speech academics or even just plain
old people started a group to discuss the Charlie Hebdo massacre and the
underlying issues, re-posted those cartoons on their Groups.io group, and a
conservative Muslim complained? Would that arbiter of conduct have any moral
authority to censor or ban the free expression and discussion (including the
posting of blasphemous or non-blasphemous cartoons, depending upon one's
point-of-view) by religious or first amendment scholars -- or people merely
interested in discussing / debating the issues? Again, the arbiter of conduct
would be damned if he did, and damned if he didn't!

Take the example above even one step further: What if Groups.io doesn't
censor or ban the Charlie Hebdo group, and a bunch of conservative
Christians, freedom of speech advocates, and conservative Muslims all join the
group and start an intense debate on the matter. Somebody complains to
Groups.io about a code of conduct violation -- who at Groups.io has the
authority and depth of insight and knowledge to decide what's OK, what's not,
who's in the right, who's not? I know I wouldn't be as I'm neither a
religious authority or a free speech scholar, and I'm guessing Groups.io has
neither on staff. Even if your staff had one, obviously there's some pretty
deeply held religious beliefs being discussed here and the blasphemy issue
will never be answered on a Groups.io group or by a Groups.io Code of COnduct
arbiter or censor, though there is obvious value to there being a venue to
have the debate. What will you do: ban ALL discussion of a religious nature,
or to be safe ban ANY discussion that will generate controversy and code of
conduct complaints?

The obvious answer is to leave the moderators in charge of their own
groups' conduct, and let the members vote with their feet: stay if it's
OK, leave if it isn't. Simple and elegant, with the added benefit of
keeping extremists from issuing fatwas on staff members of Groups.io!
<--tongue in cheek humor, in case that wasn't clear!

The whole Code of Conduct idea is a bad idea from the start if it's going to
be imposed on the groups by Groups.io itself. Let the group owners/moderators
determine their groups' culture and mores and conduct, and let the members
signal their approval or disapproval by subscribing or unsubscribing.

Mark, if you are truly concerned about Groups.io getting some sort of
"bad" reputation like some other communications platforms, might I suggest
that to address your concerns without embroiling yourself and your staff in
code of conduct issues and problems that you simply retain the authority to
require groups which leave you uncomfortable or concerned to switch over to
being private groups instead of public groups? Problem solved with public
image issues for Groups.io; anybody who joins a private group at that point
has gone looking for whatever they found, especially if you allow a label such
as "restricted" or "adult" or some other similar rating or label that notifies
the potential subscriber that there may be some concerns for the faint hearted
amongst us.

Best,

Mark Bielecki


On Thu, Feb 11, 2016 at 03:08 pm, Mark Fletcher <markf@corp.groups.io>
wrote:

Hi All,

On Thu, Feb 11, 2016 at 10:18 AM, Anita C. <@pocketcollie> wrote:

Just out of curiosity, could you share the general nature of the
complaints without giving away the specific list?


Recently, complaints about bullying by group owners. But my thought about
creating a CoC is more about the future than right now, and shaping the
general reputation of Groups.io groups as 'safe' places on the Internet.

Here's what I want to avoid. Reddit has a horrible reputation, for hosting
racist and sexist groups, for trolls, for a lot of nastiness. I don't want any
part of that. While not a direct corollary to Groups.io, Twitter also has a
problem with a lot of harassment. Many people don't feel safe using those
services. In the real world, many science fiction conventions (amongst others)
have realized that they need a code of conduct because bad behavior was
happening (mainly sexual harassment, I believe).

It seems to me that there are some general things that would apply to all
groups: no harassment, no racism, etc. By establishing a CoC, my hope would be
that it would head off some of this behavior. I would hope that all Groups.io
moderators would want Groups.io to have a good reputation. It would only help
you.

Does this make what I'm trying to get at more clear? Thoughts appreciated.

Thanks,
Mark





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