Wed 12 Sep 2018

Social.coop Principles

Edward L Platt Public Seen by 286

Several members have suggested that we would benefit from more clearly defined common principles. We list the ICA coop principles on our "about" page, and some other principles in our draft CoC. But we haven't built consensus around them or put much focus on them in our discussions. Let's start that here.

In an online community, what principles are mandatory or highly desirable for you? What does the principle mean to you? Can you give an example of how it is applied in practice?

Facilitation requests:
* One priniciple per post
* No debating or discussion (yet).

Solidarity. Your struggle is my struggle. Example: a member expresses concern over injustice or misconduct. Another member makes an effort to understand and offers to help, even though they are not directly affected.


Fabián Heredia Montiel Thu 13 Sep 2018

Mutual Aid: I might not gain anything from helping someone else out, but by doing it we improve the world. Through collective mutual aid we can archive emancipation from the hyper comoditized / hyper competitive modernity. Hoy tu, mañana yo.


Erik Moeller Thu 13 Sep 2018

Assume good faith: You're bound to meet people with very different perspectives, stories and biases than your own. When judging another person's behavior towards you, in the absence of clear evidence to the contrary, take an initially optimistic approach. Where unhealthy conflict can be deescalated by creating space for others or by disengaging, consider doing so. (Inspired by http://meatballwiki.org/wiki/AssumeGoodFaith which in turn also inspired https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Assume_good_faith)


Nick S Thu 13 Sep 2018

Although in the light of recent events, see also this article, to be aware how this term ("assume good faith/intent") has been criticised:


TL;DR [It] "will actually undermine your code of conduct and make marginalized people feel less welcome and less safe in your community" ... because people with large clumsy feet can use it to pass blame for conflicts resulting from their toe-treading onto the downtrodden.

Personally, I think that doesn't totally invalidate the principle, but it does highlight a potential misuse of it. Plus simply not being aware of the criticism itself could be used as evidence that one is naturally on the side of the toe-treading class.


Erik Moeller Fri 14 Sep 2018

Thanks Nick, that's a great perspective on AGF. Personally, I think that different principles can balance each other and sometimes be in tension with each other, and that's fine -- an "assume good faith / we're all humans here" type principle does not excuse violations of other principles, and be in important in its own right in specific situations.

To be a bit more responsive to the post you link to, it's worth looking at the specific language in the current CoC draft: "Keep in mind the potential for misunderstandings, avoiding initial assumptions of bad faith." -- this is listed under "encouraged behavior". I think the categorization (encouraged behavior rather than unacceptable behavior) sets it apart in a way that is useful and important in a CoC for the reasons articulated in the post you link to.


Aaron Wolf Fri 14 Sep 2018

@wulee @erikmoeller5 and others, I debated using private message vs public, but I think the reminder here will help others too (and we could leave your couple good-faith, productive posts here): Please note, everyone, that @edwardlplatt opened this topic with a request to specifically flesh out our understanding of the ICA C-op principles (not just any principles) and requested "No debating or discussion (yet)."


Manuela Bosch Fri 14 Sep 2018

I value all those initiatives around purpose, vision and values and principles very much! It's at the core of the work I am doing usually. And exactly for that reason, I feel restitance in trying to dig into theses things via Loomio discussions. It needs to a thoughtful process for that, that speaks to our inuition and creativity. And before that, knowing each other better and other ways of establishing trust are necessary. Maybe this has been discussed above already, can't read all this at the moment.


Matt Noyes Fri 14 Sep 2018

Edward and all, remember this thread and the spreadsheet?


Edward L Platt Fri 14 Sep 2018

I don't think I ever saw these! This is really helpful. Was there any work on synthesizing these into a consensus set of principles?


Matt Noyes Fri 14 Sep 2018

Not sure -- @matthewcropp?


emi do Tue 18 Sep 2018

According to this : https://docs.google.com/document/d/1flPeb8LxnLC1v4dbZcO9SzhA2-tCwbyjomW7fXKNz3U/mobilebasic

The original CoC drafted by Matt and Michele was based on these principles. The draft was presented on May 28th.


mike_hales Tue 18 Sep 2018

A proposed principle . . Disallow all kinds of supremacy and adopt a core list of topics as common ground . . remove access to the on-instance spaces that we collectively govern and use, for any participant who displays a persistent stance of supremacy on any dimension, treating the ‘other’ position/practice/person/group with disdain or malice . . as absurd, deluded, un-natural, of no value, a waste of time, pathetic, to be obliterated, etc.

What I’m proposing is not so much a principle, as a small bundle of (principled) practices. As articulated below, the principle engages the coop values of self-responsibility, equality, solidarity, honesty, openness and caring for others plus Principle 5 (and maybe 7).

The notion of ‘supremacy’ is taken from politics of colour (white supremacy) but here is applied equally to any other mode of systematic dominance, privilege, disregard or disdain. It applies for example to male . . cisgender . . neurotypical . . Western . . global-Northern . . heterosexual . . Christian/Islamic . . professional class . . majority-ethnic . . sectarian (anarcho/Marxian/social-democratic etc) . . etc supremacy. Applies equally to inverse forms of supremacy - for example, intersectional supremacy (most-marginalised are superior, least-marginalised are disdained). Pecking orders of every kind are not to be supported. Disdain of every kind is not to be supported.

In all dimensions, a transverse engagement - the opposite of a supremacist stance - is expected and cultivated. This is when a person with one (committed, valued or intractable) life-location, in any particular dimension of difference, acknowledges and cultivates common ground and (importantly) common action with persons in another location, while acknowledging and respecting real-life limits on that (or this) person being able to shift location (or wanting to).

This use of ‘transverse’ (‘transversal’ = the materialist opposite of ‘universal’) comes from women’s cross-community politics (Cynthia Cockburn and colleagues) in situations of conflict between religious, ethnic or territorial communities, where action-alliances - for the mutual practical benefit or safety of women or easing the suffering of women - are held, across women in conflicting communities regardless of differing (perhaps clashing) perceptions and practices that they may be implicated in, in their life in their home community . . their spiritual belief, food culture, dress culture, marriage practices, marital status, sexual preference, body culture, etc etc.

The practice of transverse communicating, collaborating, learning and federating is first-cousin to a ‘good faith’ principle, but calls for more work, closer attention, greater empathy and actual collaboration. It is a (principled) practice, as distinct from a principle.

This combination of regulatory and collaborative practice can only operate in conjunction with an ‘A-list’ of core topics of practical interest for the community (to be proposed and agreed) which is understood to constitute recognised common ground, for which the media spaces (Mastodon, Loomio, wiki, chatroom) are specifically maintained. An ‘A-list’ identifies the things we’re here collectively to explore, discuss, collaborate on, advocate, develop in practice, give mutual aid on, better understand, generate solidarity around, share news of, federate around, generate respect for, make friendships around, gossip about, etc. The above in italics is a list of tacit principles. It seems to me they all are subsumed in the orientation of transverse engagement. Many specific principles and values that people might advocate - eg coop values and practice, orientation to solidarity economy, open-value accounting for work in the coop, solarpunk values, curating & stewarding of commons, whatever - may simply be preferences for things to make up an A-list? Over time, as experience on the instance accumulates - or the world out there changes shape - the topics on an A-list can of course be modulated via proposals.

Just to be explicit . . I’m seeing social.coop as a collective with solidarity around explicit common purposes, not as a ‘common carrier’ for just any kind of conversation, which just so happens to be managed by a coop of consumers. It's almost a kind of co-producers' coop, in a field of cultural production? Well, to be precise, I'm seeing it as a cultural commons.

The principle proposed here amounts to
- (a) selecting an (as-yet undefined) A-list of core topics of practical interest, which members are informed of and subscribe to when joining social.coop; coupled with . .
- (b) a supremacist-excluding regulatory practice; maintaining a space for cultivating . .
- (c) attentive, skilful transverse communicating, collaborating, learning and federating, in and around the A-list.

Note that this principle probably does not directly engage the coop values of self-help, democracy, equity *and *social responsibility, or five of the seven coop principles which are more directly economic in nature. Perhaps these would need to be established within an A-list, as domains of shared practical concern?