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PostPosted: Fri Oct 03, 2014 9:32 am 
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This is a really difficult thing to get right. Impossible, even. But there has been some discussion that a Code of Conduct is needed here. Knowing that there will be a dozen differing opinions and no consensus, I still think it's best to get community feedback. My hope is that something usable will come of it. If left up to me, I would keep it extremely simple:

1. This forum is moderated. It's not ideal, but it's necessary.
2. Listing everything that isn't allowed is a trap. It can't be done.
3. Arguments are fine, but please keep it civil and respectful.
4. Tolerance levels differ. If in doubt, err on the side of caution.

It has been pointed out that #1 should list the kinds of actions that might be taken (warning a user, moving a post, locking a thread, worst case scenario banning a user, etc) and that #4 implies that a person is in the wrong for being offended.

I have two main questions. You may have others. Mine are:

1. What problems are we trying to solve?
2. Is a Code of Conduct the solution to those problems?

Looking at the "IF is Dead" thread, I see more than one problem. It isn't just that people were offended because of the anti-Twine, anti-CYOA, vote-'em-all-a-1 part. It's also the part where it morphed into claims of misogyny. A leap in logic was made that (a) people are being unfair to a section of entries, (b) the people making those entries are female and minority, so (c) the people being unfair are expressing misogyny. The original sentiment, rude and ill-conceived as it was, didn't make that same leap. It seemed that the original instigators were criticized not only for what they said (which makes sense), but for what they didn't (which doesn't). To me, this was equally inappropriate.

Does a Code of Conduct address both these things? At what point do community standards become thought-policing? And can this be fair to all involved?

Some reference links that were given to me:

http://www.plausiblydeniable.com/opinion/gsf.html
http://www.ashedryden.com/blog/codes-of-conduct-101-faq
http://geekfeminism.wikia.com/wiki/Conf ... ent/Policy

In short, I don't know how to approach this the right away, nor should it be my decision. I'm bringing it up because it's necessary. This isn't the Merk Forum.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 03, 2014 9:57 am 
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I think the duty of a judge is to take decisions. A mod is a judge of sorts. So you have to give rules, and then tell when those rules are broken.
To avoid witch-hunts and turn moderation into tyranny (which should be tolerated, as this is a moderated forum, anyway) a good judge should give an explanation of their decision. If none are given... well, we are guests in somebody's house. We must accept them.

I'm in for a complete "free-for-all" discussion, as long as it 1) has something to add or prove; and 2) it isn't plain, gratuitous violence. This can be judged easily, sometimes. But sometimes can't. That's why being a mod is a hard work.

Imo, with such a large community, a CoC should be required.

As for the actions to be taken: just a set of subsequent action (warning --> second warning --> silencing for a while --> banning). Step by step.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 03, 2014 10:17 am 
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Enforcement is also a tricky subject. I don't want it to be tyranny. And I don't think anybody -- myself included -- wants to be the deciding factor on what's actually actionable. In "IF is dead," I saw it as kind of train wreck of misunderstandings, assumptions, and (sorry folks) spots of stupidity. Others saw it very differently. I didn't see any actual harassment. I didn't see any actual misogyny. No racism. No violent outbursts. So to me, it's hard to see exactly how things went wrong, and what should be done to discourage or prevent it.

The end result seems to be people stating that this is why they don't visit the forum, wouldn't recommend it, or would actively recommend against it. The effects are damaging. That's obvious.

So a third question, if the answer to "is a Code of Conduct the solution" is yes, is how's it to be enforced? I've already identified that my opinion about what should or shouldn't be allowed differs from others. At least one moderator has expressed not feeling comfortable making those decisions either. Moderators originally volunteered to help combat spam and trolls, not tell people what they could and couldn't post within gray areas. So maybe there needs to be a separate committee that decides those things. Not moderators necessarily, but a group. But who's in it? And does that become an "elite circle" leading to further problems?

In my perfect world, everybody suddenly becomes nice to each other, self-censors as needed, and thinks a little more before making rude, blanket statements that can't possibly do anything but alienate others. But it's not my perfect world. :(


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 03, 2014 10:22 am 
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I've been guilty of many wrong things on this forum but I really have been trying to behave and bail out when things start getting heated. So bear in mind that I'm not perfect when I suggest something along the lines of "No Personal Attacks". That makes sense but I'm not sure stopping people from being alienated by others' opinions should be considered or would even work. People need to express their opinions on subjects (civilly) but if personal attacks happen, then that's when corrective action should maybe take place? Just thinking outloud really.

Again, I am aware of the irony that it's me saying the above. I've called people names here and I pretty much regret past behaviors. Still not perfect, but trying here.

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 03, 2014 10:38 am 
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Merk wrote:
Enforcement is also a tricky subject. I don't want it to be tyranny. And I don't think anybody -- myself included -- wants to be the deciding factor on what's actually actionable. In "IF is dead," I saw it as kind of train wreck of misunderstandings, assumptions, and (sorry folks) spots of stupidity. Others saw it very differently. 1) I didn't see any actual harassment. I didn't see any actual misogyny. No racism. No violent outbursts. So to me, it's hard to see exactly how things went wrong, and what should be done to discourage or prevent it.

The end result seems to be people stating that this is why they don't visit the forum, wouldn't recommend it, or would actively recommend against it. 2) The effects are damaging. That's obvious.

So a third question, if the answer to "is a Code of Conduct the solution" is yes, is how's it to be enforced? I've already identified that my opinion about what should or shouldn't be allowed differs from others. At least one moderator has expressed not feeling comfortable making those decisions either. Moderators originally volunteered to help combat spam and trolls, not tell people what they could and couldn't post within gray areas. So maybe there needs to be a separate committee that decides those things. 3) Not moderators necessarily, but a group. But who's in it? And does that become an "elite circle" leading to further problems?

In my perfect world, everybody suddenly becomes nice to each other, self-censors as needed, and thinks a little more before making rude, blanket statements that can't possibly do anything but alienate others. 4) But it's not my perfect world. :(


1) It was nothing, according to you: why should you avoid it? Just a "silly", but civil, exchange of thoughts and you may want to avoid it?

2) You can't be liked by everyone. I guess that a good explanation (and the will, on the other side, to listen) should be enough in cases like this, where no harm was intended. And apologies given.

3) Yes, that would be an elite circle. No buts. And it would spoil everything. If there's one thing worse than tyranny, it's oligarchy. (Not that these forums hasn't one running already. I just wish it was the mods...)

4) In my perfect world, one would have no hard in understanding who's being rude to people and act accordingly, and not judging intent by the rank of the offerer.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 03, 2014 10:49 am 
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Two principles I think would help:

1. Don't exasperate problems. People will get emotional, but when they do, don't post in a way that will rile them up even further. You can do that without being seemingly offensive yourself, but it's still wrong.

2. Don't declare a person or work to be something bad. Don't say "X is sexist", but "I thought X felt sexist".


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 03, 2014 11:39 am 
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Elite group? Why such a moniker? I wouldn't feel inferior to a group of volunteers who are willing to tackle a tough job that, I'm assuming, not many of us would want. I think Somebody, or a group of people, has to do it, and right now we have moderators that don't feel comfortable with the responsibility. I'm sure such a group, like the current moderators, would be sensible, polite, and responsible individuals who have the Forum's best interests in mind. They might make decisions I don't agree with, but I'm willing to accept that, recognizing that what I think is solely my opinion as well, no more or less valid than the group's.

I actually think that the moderators are doing a great job as it is. Making a Code of Conduct may be in order, but as far as enforcement is concerned, if the current moderators don't want to do it, then we'll need some people who do.

Neil


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 03, 2014 1:24 pm 
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IMO, I think we did a pretty good job with our forum rules at the Choice of Games forum, especially the civility section. https://forum.choiceofgames.com/guidelines

It starts with the Discourse forum rules, which I think are very well considered. http://blog.discourse.org/2013/03/the-u ... discourse/

(Note that Discourse allows "flagging" a post for inappropriate tone/content, instead of replying; PHP BB doesn't have that. At a minimum, if there is a council of moderators, there needs to be a REALLY visible mechanism for how to contact the council privately.)

And then it adds the "no subtle-isms" rule from the Hacker School Social Rules. https://www.hackerschool.com/manual#no-subtle-isms

I'm going to quote the good part here, because it's really important.

Quote:
No subtle -isms

Our last social rule bans subtle racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, and other kinds of bias. This one is different from the rest, because it covers a class of behaviors instead of one very specific pattern.

Subtle -isms are small things that make others feel uncomfortable, things that we all sometimes do by mistake. For example, saying "It's so easy my grandmother could do it" is a subtle -ism. Like the other three social rules, this one is often accidentally broken. Like the other three, it's not a big deal to mess up – you just apologize and move on.

If you see a subtle -ism at Hacker School, you can point it out to the relevant person, either publicly or privately, or you can ask one of the faculty to say something. After this, we ask that all further discussion move off of public channels. If you are a third party, and you don't see what could be biased about the comment that was made, feel free to talk to faculty. Please don't say, "Comment X wasn't homophobic!" Similarly, please don't pile on to someone who made a mistake. The "subtle" in "subtle -isms" means that it's probably not obvious to everyone right away what was wrong with the comment.

We want Hacker School to be a space with as little bigotry as possible in it. Therefore, if you see sexism, racism, etc. outside of Hacker School, please don't bring it in. So, for example, please don't start a discussion of the latest offensive comment from Random Tech Person Y. For many people, especially those who may have spent time in unpleasant environments, these conversations can be very distracting. At Hacker School, we want to remove as many distractions as possible so everyone can focus on programming. There are many places in the world to discuss and debate these issues, but there are precious few where people can avoid them. We want Hacker School to be one of those places.


One point which we especially drew from the Hacker School Social Rules is to ask people to use formal mechanisms to report rule breaking, (especially flagging, which Discourse allows but which PHP BB does not) instead of discussing rule breaking on the thread. Our rules say, "Apologize. If you make other people uncomfortable on our forums, especially by mistake, apologize, or say nothing. Don’t argue about civility on public channels. Don’t defend yourself, don’t defend others, and don’t pile on to someone who made a mistake. If you see a problem, flag it; don’t reply."

But to follow rules like this, everyone has to know and trust that we won't discuss charges of misogyny like this:

Quote:
It isn't just that people were offended because of the anti-Twine, anti-CYOA, vote-'em-all-a-1 part. It's also the part where it morphed into claims of misogyny. A leap in logic was made that (a) people are being unfair to a section of entries, (b) the people making those entries are female and minority, so (c) the people being unfair are expressing misogyny. The original sentiment, rude and ill-conceived as it was, didn't make that same leap. It seemed that the original instigators were criticized not only for what they said (which makes sense), but for what they didn't (which doesn't). To me, this was equally inappropriate.


When people say, "You're being sexist," that is never and can never be "equally inappropriate" as the behavior that made the person feel that way. At our forum, when X makes Y feel uncomfortable, X has broken the civility rules. If Y then breaks the "don't argue about civility" rule, that is emphatically not equally bad.

It's really important to state that publicly, because otherwise people won't feel comfortable even calling out bad behavior in private, which is very difficult to do for people with less social power. Women have to know that if they report sexism on the forum, they won't just get a dismissive response from the man who moderates the forum that reporting sexism is as bad as sexism.

David might well argue, "well, Porpentine made me feel uncomfortable when she said I was misogynist" but even to say that argument aloud is to make it obvious that it's just nowhere near as bad. For example, white people usually feel bad when black people call them racist, and they imagine that it must feel as bad as racism itself, that the feelings must be equal and opposite, but they're totally not, not even close, and a socially conscious moderator needs to be sensitive to those people who are just "way too sensitive" like women and minorities. (Is there any wonder they don't want to hang out with us when we call them "too sensitive," as David did?)

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 03, 2014 1:37 pm 
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You can report posts here, it's what the ! button in the bottom right of each post is for.

I'm uncomfortable with your final suggestions because it sounds like guilty until proven innocent.

But I think this is good: "Apologize. If you make other people uncomfortable on our forums, especially by mistake, apologize, or say nothing. Don’t argue about civility on public channels. Don’t defend yourself, don’t defend others, and don’t pile on to someone who made a mistake. If you see a problem, flag it; don’t reply."


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 03, 2014 1:45 pm 
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dfabulich wrote:
IMO, I think we did a pretty good job with our forum rules at the Choice of Games forum, especially the civility section. https://forum.choiceofgames.com/guidelines


From reviewing the Choice of Games forum guidelines and reading dfabulich's discussion here, I think this would be an excellent model.

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