Loomio
Mon 18 Jun 2018

Code of Conduct

MC
Matthew Cropp Public Seen by 354

This thread is for managing the adoption and amendment of our instance Code of Conduct at the full instance level. Most discussion of and work on the CoC should happen at the Community Working Group level, so this is a place for ratification when full co-op approval is required.

MC

Matthew Cropp started a proposal Mon 18 Jun 2018

Adopt the Proposed Social.Coop Code of Conduct Closed Thu 21 Jun 2018

Outcome
by Matthew Cropp Fri 22 Jun 2018

As volunteers have stepped up in the Community WG to take over the coordination of the development process from me, I consent to the block and withdraw the proposal, with the expectation that those volunteers will move the CoC process forward from here.

Following a productive call today discussing and integrating the latest Code of Conduct draft, I propose that we adopt the Code of Conduct as defined by this document as official policy of Social.coop.

If you would like to review the process that has gone into the development of this document, please join the Community Working Group!

Agree - 16
Abstain - 6
Disagree - 4
Block - 2
24 people have voted (23%)
ST

Sam Toland
Agree
Mon 18 Jun 2018

Thanks to the Working Group for all the hard work that went into this - a great foundation!!

S

spudboy
Agree
Mon 18 Jun 2018

i think it needs some language re: federating with hostile instances and how we deal with that, but it looks great otherwise

JH

Jeff Hardin
Agree
Mon 18 Jun 2018

Thanks to everyone for your work and contributions on this!

RB

Robert Benjamin
Agree
Mon 18 Jun 2018

As the period for this proposal is 6 days not 10 I'm assuming it doesn't require Bylaws modification as there is already reference to CoC in the Bylaws?

M

Melody
Block
Mon 18 Jun 2018

I've commented at length and don't think this is ready. The lack of a real reporting/handling process, information about confidentiality, and enforcement are my main blockers.

RB

Robert Benjamin
Abstain
Mon 18 Jun 2018

In support of this CoC draft in general but open to differing perspectives. Abstaining for now to allow for members who didn't participate in CoC editorial process to weigh in before finalizing my vote.

AW

Aaron Wolf
Abstain
Mon 18 Jun 2018

I don't mind the proposed CoC enough to put energy toward it, though I see real room for improvement. I suppose too late for me to suggest / offer taking of the stuff from https://wiki.snowdrift.coop/community/conduct

AW

Aaron Wagener
Agree
Mon 18 Jun 2018

Thanks for all the work that went into this!

MDB

Mayel de Borniol
Block
Tue 19 Jun 2018

I am unsure how to vote because of the other thread that's revisiting the meaning of Block and Abstain, but hopefully this is clear. I am concerned about the important points brought up my Mel and others, and hope more work can go into it first

JB

Jake Beamish
Disagree
Tue 19 Jun 2018

As there are concerns about the CoC in it's current state, I'd be happier to hold tight before going live with something that's a little more ironed out

DM

David Mynors
Disagree
Tue 19 Jun 2018

I haven't been keeping track of the development of the CoC and I'm unfamiliar with CoC in general, but I see some dissent in the other votes so I'm reluctant to let this draft go through without having read an explanation of its pros/cons/criticisms

CG

Cathal Garvey
Abstain
Tue 19 Jun 2018

As described; I would vote yes if we can't get a new CoC lead to develop a better CoC short-term. But if we can get someone to lead a short-term effort to make or adopt a better CoC, I'll vote no.

NS

Nick S
Abstain
Tue 19 Jun 2018

Uncertain. Much like @cathalgarvey, I think we should attempt to deal with @meltheadorable et al.'s points, if we can. If we can't do it because we don't have the time or the contributions, what we have is probably better than nothing.

TB

Thomas Beckett
Agree
Tue 19 Jun 2018

I made a few tiny edits but agree to the proposal whether or not they are included in the final draft. This is an excellent and well-written policy.

TB

Thomas Beckett
Agree
Tue 19 Jun 2018

I made a few tiny edits but agree to the proposal whether or not they are included in the final draft. This is an excellent and well-written policy.

TB

Thomas Beckett
Agree
Tue 19 Jun 2018

I made a few tiny edits but agree to the proposal whether or not they are included in the final draft. This is an excellent and clearly-written policy. I respect and appreciate Melody's concerns about process. We need to start somewhere, though.

DU

[deactivated account]
Disagree
Wed 20 Jun 2018

THere have been enough serious concerns raised that I think must be addressed that I am not ready to support the proposal even after having commented on it earlier and missing some of them. I am learning a lot from this discussion.

DM

David Mynors
Abstain
Wed 20 Jun 2018

EDIT: previously disagreed, but having read more and pondered I reckon it's useful to have SOMETHING short-term even if it's not optimal. It doesn't positively dangerous, so it could serve as a stop-gap until further refinements are made.

NP

Neville Park
Disagree
Wed 20 Jun 2018

Given the concerns raised by others (e.g. @christinahendricks and @meltheadorable) I think it would be good to go back to the drawing board.

DVN

Dave V. ND9JR
Disagree
Thu 21 Jun 2018

Mel brought up some good points about what can make this CoC better. I also think it should have been put up for community review and input in more than just one call, since not everyone's available for those.

GIM

G I McGrew
Agree
Thu 21 Jun 2018

It sounds like many folks feel the CoC is not quite ready, needs re-working, etc.

I would like to echo David below in that having something up now, even if it is titled "interim" or "temporary" Code of Conduct, is valuable, while edits are made.

MC

Matthew Cropp Mon 18 Jun 2018

@boofy that question came up, but it was decided that we need a separate policy for federation rather than trying to include it in the code of conduct for our members. So, look for upcoming convos on that topic in the Community WG.

JH

Jeff Hardin Mon 18 Jun 2018

That's good to know and was a question of mine. Thanks!

M

Melody Mon 18 Jun 2018

I was part of the working group but couldn't find a draft to comment on it at all before it was apparently approved. The process for participation if you couldn't be on the calls was really unclear, and as far as I can tell this draft was never actually submitted for any kind of discussion except during a call. At the very least, I never saw a link to an actual draft document before now.

Unfortunately, this has a LOT issues and I think it's going to need at least one more draft. The choice of "citizen code of conduct" as a base was somewhat inappropriate (it's relatively outdated, and a lot has been learned since it was drafted on what does and doesn't work for online CoCs, which don't really resemble ones for in-person events for what are mostly important reasons)

The reporting guidelines should really say something about confidentiality (like, whether, the reporters can expect any) and "create a thread in the community working group" is an exceptionally inappropriate way to handle potentially sensitive situations that can involve multiple people's personal information. It also says nothing about who will receive the reports, what will be done with them, when they can expect any response (if ever?) or when they might expect any action to be taken.

"Unwelcome sexual contact" being moved to a subset of harassment and only prohibited on repeat offenses is a red flag. It's also a red flag that much more space was devoted to the prohibition on product advertising than sexual harassment.

"Reconsideration" says to check the reporting guidelines for how they will be handled, but the reporting guidelines don't say anything about reconsideration, or describe the process initial complaints are handled by either.

"Not safe for work" is really unclear, this should explicitly say which things it covers (presumably sexually explicit content, nudity and violent imagery?).

There's more, but I'm trying to be somewhat brief here. I really wish the process for contributing to this had been clearer and at least some of it took place asynchronously -- requiring video calls for participation can be really alienating to marginalized people -- who are the people you really needed participating in this process.

I appreciate that this has been a long time in development, and that a lot of work went into this, but in my opinion this isn't ready for a vote.

MC

Matthew Cropp Mon 18 Jun 2018

Hey Melody,
A number of issues you raise definitely require more consideration, but a quick comment on the process that large parts of it did happen asynchronously. The most recent iteration was this check poll that closed eight days ago in the Community Working Group that called for comments to be left on the document, so there was a great deal of work contributed by many people that was integrated into the document in the synchronous work session that @emido @manuelabosch @mattnoyes @tomelliott @jakebeamish and I had this morning.

As to a number of the items you raise, this code of conduct is a starting point that requires the development of a bunch of different policies that will define the processes mentioned here. There is definitely still much work to be done, and my intention is that, once we have a CoC adopted, I will be redirecting energy towards the formation of the Ops Team that will tackle that next round of work.

So, my sense is that, having been run through the agreed-upon process, this is a starting point that can then be amended as we continue the next levels of work. Happy to discuss further...

RB

Robert Benjamin Mon 18 Jun 2018

Hi Melody. I couldn't make the call either but was able to leave some comments the draft. We should definitely look into how pre-propsal drafts are spread out there (maybe as a separate thread inside the Governance WG or Community WG) as it seemed like considerable effort to get contributions on the pre-prosasal draft was done but that you didn't see them is of concern.

You raise some valid points. The best thing to do from a process point of view may be to Vote BLOCK on the proposal which will raise the threshold for it to pass and allow for other members to consider their votes along with your concerns.

Possible that this could lead to an additional revision period for the proposal.

If not there the bulk of the policy/process work still has to be done for how the CoC is actually implemented that will be done by the Community WG which is open to all members to join.

M

Melody Mon 18 Jun 2018

Unfortunately, the issues with the reporting guidelines are critically serious. If there's not a well-developed process for handling reports, the code of conduct is actually worse than not having one. In order for the CoC to matter, it has to be enforceable, and the members need to trust the anti-abuse team. When nobody knows what that process is, whether reports will be confidential, who will be handling them, or what they can expect to happen if they do, that's impossible.

Nobody active in this space, who needs codes of conduct to participate in a group like this, will read this code of conduct and be comforted. Our reputation might already be sunk for people who care about this kind of thing by having gone so long without one, but taking over a year to develop one and then releasing one that misses really important details about what makes a code of conduct matter will be worse than taking longer to approve one.

If this goes forward as-is, I will have to vote to block, but I'm concerned that there weren't more obvious calls for participation and a clear link to the document being worked on (now that it's been pointed out, i can see it in the poll, but the tiny "here" link in the poll really should not have been the only link to the doc ever shared)

MC

Matthew Cropp Mon 18 Jun 2018

At work, so will try to respond further to the operational elements you've raised soon, but do want to point out process-wise that that check poll was a specific call to action to review the document in its title, that the document was linked in several additional polls as the process progressed (you may review the past decisions in the working group).

Additionally, I and several other folks tooted on the instance encouraging participation at multiple points in the process as it progressed (example), so, while there's always more to be done in terms of getting the word out, I stand by the outreach that was done to collect feedback as a good faith best effort.

MN

Matt Noyes Mon 18 Jun 2018

Here is a very preliminary draft of reporting guidelines copied from Django's. Please feel free to edit: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1pZTXsGuWNTe5X6z_DytJZTbjOyJUT4HlvPPnfmbuPEw/edit

MN

Matt Noyes Mon 18 Jun 2018

About process, if you look at the code of conduct thread on Loomio, you can see the series of polls and decisions going back a year. If you search the hashtag #codeofconduct in social.coop you can find many of the posts urging people to participate. I think, though, that the question of engagement raised here underscores the need for a more direct, proactive approach along the lines of the Member-to-Member network I referred to here: https://www.loomio.org/d/9X1PfHGg/reaching-out-to-less-active-members

For now, it seems best to focus on editing the CoC and preparing good reporting guidelines.

MN

Matt Noyes Mon 18 Jun 2018

Hi Melody, can you recommend a good code that is suited to online communities?

MN

Matt Noyes Mon 18 Jun 2018

I agree with this: "create a thread in the community working group" is an exceptionally inappropriate way to handle potentially sensitive situations that can involve multiple people's personal information." I think we should drop the sentence about creating a thread, and replace it with a link to the Reporting Guidelines.

MN

Matt Noyes Mon 18 Jun 2018

"Unwelcome sexual contact" being moved to a subset of harassment and only prohibited on repeat offences is a red flag. It's also a red flag that much more space was devoted to the prohibition on product advertising than sexual harassment.
-- This seems not exactly right as a description, but the points are right: we only mention "unwelcome sexual attention" not "non-consensual sexual contact" or assault. We should add this. I don't see the only prohibited on repeat offences... The CWG is empowered to act on the first incident and we say, "Following serious or multiple infractions..." they can raise the punishment.

"Reconsideration" says to check the reporting guidelines for how they will be handled, but the reporting guidelines don't say anything about reconsideration, or describe the process initial complaints are handled by either."
-- The reporting guidelines are just a rough version, but they include a Reconsideration section that needs to be concretized. Again, it would be great to have better language and procedures.

M

Melody Tue 19 Jun 2018

Threads don't nest more than one level deep, so I'm going to address multiple asks here:

In terms of a good code for online communities, it really varies a lot depending on the type of community, I don't have a cookie-cutter suggestion for a platform cooperative spanning 4+ platforms, and this was always going to require some custom work. I am not sure which I'd have suggested we use as a base offhand, but I'm also not recommending we start over now.

The "only on repeat offenses" issue is because it's a subset under harassment now, and harassment is defined as "continuing to interact with a user after having been asked to cease contact" (the "after being asked bit, being key") -- the implication is that unwelcome sexual attention is not prohibited until you've asked them to stop at least once. On principle, this is something of a consent issue,

Re: the reporting guidelines, the document doesn't link to them, so I assumed the extent of the reporting guidelines was section 4 of the CoC labeled "Reporting Guidelines". I am now looking at the separate document you linked that has a much better-defined process, I think we should aim to provide a summary & a link in the CoC, or aim for an easier-to-describe process and save most of the nuts & bolts details for more "internal" documentation.

I'm not sure how I missed any prior drafts of this that were circulating, or other asynchronous decisions, but I am not denying that a good faith attempt was made to call for participation. I'm clearly not looped into the right communication circle somehow to have missed things, but I was trying to pay attention to this and participate, and it's only now that there's a new thread discussing it that I finally got a chance to see the working draft. Not laying any blame here, perhaps I'm struggling somewhat with Loomio's UX, but I do wish I had been involved earlier.

M

mike_hales Mon 18 Jun 2018

Tacitly, this code of conduct refers to instances of Mastodon. I assume it should also refer to conduct in Loomio, in the wiki - and in any future platform? Do folks agree? Should this be made explicit?

M

Melody Mon 18 Jun 2018

It is meant to apply to everything, but I agree it's contradictory/confusing that it for instance, refers to using the mastodon reporting tools to do reports and then says that it applies in all community spaces in the scope section.

M

mike_hales Mon 18 Jun 2018

Thanks Melody, I had missed the 'scope' section, but noticed references to 'instance', which made me think in Mastodon-specific terms. Perhaps occurrences of 'instance' might be checked for clarity?

MN

Matt Noyes Mon 18 Jun 2018

That should be made explicit, maybe say "social.coop and related spaces (Loomio, Riot/Matrix, etc.)"?

ST

Sam Toland Mon 18 Jun 2018

I think that the points re: enforcement are quite well made. I do know from experience that one can have issues with CoC if the handling process + points of contact aren't clear.

Having said that - I have decided to retain my agreement with the proposal and would encourage @meltheadorable et al to bring a proposed amendment to the working group as soon as possible. I have no doubt they will have the support of social.coop members.

Thanks to everyone again for their hard work (and hard questions!). :)

M

Melody Tue 19 Jun 2018

I intend to hold my block for now. I genuinely think that when the problems are large enough, having a broken code of conduct is worse than not having one. I'm not expecting perfection, but the lack of a well-specified reporting & handling process is a fundamental flaw. It's not a "fix it later" kind of situation.

I'm not going to nitpick like, the language around "authenticity" (which i think is occasionally problematic) or the list of protected classes, I wouldn't be voting block if I had only minor or superficial concerns, but almost literally the entire point of a code of conduct is to put in place the reporting and handling process that has been left somewhere between mostly unspecified and actively counterproductive in this draft.

AW

Aaron Wolf Wed 20 Jun 2018

I don't oppose your block, but I want to clarify two points:

  1. I agree 200% with the whole emphasis that a truly reliable, thought-out reporting/handling process is absolutely essential.

  2. I happen to disagree with the idea that such a process is part of a "Code of Conduct".

I think the two parts (the Code and the enforcement) go together strongly enough that you can't build them entirely independently. But I think they are still different things. I'd evaluate a CoC based on how amenable or not it is to a real-world reporting/handling process, and I wouldn't consider it acceptable to have a CoC without the process to go with it.

M

Melody Wed 20 Jun 2018

You might disagree, but it really is essential to a functioning code of conduct. Elements of an effective code of conduct (best practices come to by long struggles against ineffective ones) include, but aren't necessarily limited to:

  1. Information about reporting, including contact information
  2. Information about how it might be enforced
  3. A clear separation between behavior that is considered completely unacceptable and more general guidelines about how to interact with the platform/etc
  4. Some specific examples of things that aren't acceptable

Additionally, it's becoming increasingly important for many projects to have

  1. Some assurances about how much and what kind of confidentiality to expect around reports
  2. Clarification that the code of conduct applies to project leadership and a responsibility to enforce their violations as well.
  3. A way to close the "didn't happen here" loophole to prohibit participation based on sufficiently toxic outside behavior
  4. Some information about whose interests are going to be prioritized in the event that there are seriously conflicting wants or needs.

Technically, the draft under consideration has some form of all the strictly required elements, but the reporting and enforcement are broken because they either make suggestions that are toxic to social harmony (like encouraging people to join the community working group on loomio and publicly posting about the violation there) or not functional for most of the spaces it's supposed to cover (use the mastodon reporting feature). Even if the mastodon was the only thing covered by the code of conduct, there's one more issue with that being the only reporting mechanism: there may be very imperfect overlap between the group of people that the instance trusts to handle abuse complaints and the group of people who have (possibly incidental) access to mastodon's reporting infrastructure. Especially in a cooperative where server and administration access may need to be spread broadly to share the work.

Beyond that, a cooperative often needs to err on the side of more structure than usual, rather than less -- we can't lean on formal hierarchy to direct power, and if we don't substitute good process to do that work, informal hierarchy will establish itself instead. For something as important as the process for handling anti-abuse complaints, harassment, doxxing, etc. that can't be allowed to happen. The code of conduct does not necessarily need to describe the entire internal process for reporting and enforcement, but it does need to explain how to initiate the process and provide some summary of expectations for what a person reporting can expect from outside of it -- in order to describe that the internal process needs to be there first.

AW

Aaron Wolf Mon 18 Jun 2018

Okay, I'm not sure if it got lost in the shuffle (haven't been that active here), but I encourage everyone to take/adapt/use stuff from https://wiki.snowdrift.coop/community/conduct

We read all the CoC's and wrote ours to incorporate all the best ideas specifically for an online co-op community. We're working out the best uses of flagging in Discourse for enforcement still, but the CoC is complete. For that matter, any feedback/concerns are welcome, but I feel it's got value over what I've seen otherwise.

Cheers

MN

Matt Noyes Mon 18 Jun 2018

Flagging is interesting - how might it work here? Our idea up to now has been "contact [designated person] in the Community Working Group" -- how would flagging work?

AW

Aaron Wolf Mon 18 Jun 2018

flagging requires some actual tool to work that way. Discourse is closest (it allows a flag to hide a post, sends a note, then if the post is edited, it can be reposted and the flag cleared). Broadly, there's a huge topic around all of this, and I just posted a note to our forum about how this relates to Restorative Justice.

Anyway, it all depends on the tool. Discourse has its flagging system (which we've tweaked and where I have a bunch of notes about feature requests needed to make it truly optimal). GNU Social type systems I'm not familiar with the moderation options. The ideal would be to get such flagging built-in (flagger asked to identify the problem, ideally offer suggestions, flagged posts get hidden, get reposted once fixed, mods get involved only if this doesn't go smoothly). I don't know what that would take, but it's a lot bigger than just finalizing the CoC itself.

Also, to be clear, CoCs for online text (and sometimes image) communities are not the same as in-person conference CoC's, and while I have thoughts about the latter, I've only focused on the former.

Aside from a well-designed flagging tool, here's the broad issue:

A) do NOT make all flagging be highly serious extreme violations — if addressing something requires privately getting a moderator, then people will hesitate to go that far, that needs to be available as last resort
B) offer both anonymous/non-anonymous and public/private options.

The person noticing a problem should be able to use good human judgment about whether this is appropriate to discuss privately or publicly or needs moderator help or not etc. Sometimes, public discussion of the issue is a good learning experience for everyone. Sometimes, making it public puts people on the defensive around saving-face or other social concerns and private is better. Sometimes the person doesn't want to interact at all with the violator so anonymous and/or moderator-help makes sense.

The goal is to provide a clear framework and what-to-do options while encouraging people NOT to feel helpless and NOT to always look to authorities to solve every case.

MN

Matt Noyes Mon 18 Jun 2018

Thanks. Aside from flagging, which is a lot bigger than finalizing the CoC, can you suggest any other specific changes? The Snowdrift code, which I like, doesn't seem that different substantively. I mean, I could live with either one.

AW

Aaron Wolf Mon 18 Jun 2018

I don't know if it's worth getting into the weeds, but we put ours together not to reinvent wheels but because others weren't good enough in our view.

Obviously, my perspective is you should just go with the Snowdrift.coop one, perhaps tweaked appropriately. I know some go with the stuff you picked just because it's already more widely used.

I know others disagree on this, but I think the calling out of specific list of concerns (gender, ethnicity, etc.) is problematic. It always fails to mention some classes (e.g. occupation) no matter how long you make the list. We aimed to reference the topic of bigotry and prejudice which should be accepted as wrong in any scenario.

Our CoC is also more hard-nosed about good communication. "No condescension" is a higher standard than most CoCs because most have this idea that good people will never violate the CoC. In ours, the assumption is that because the point is restorative addressing of problems, we want to allow people to call out tensions from bad communication even when they aren't something really racist or anything.

There are a lot of other reasons I prefer ours, but instead of ramble here, I'd be happy to discuss any specific thoughts or questions from anyone. If it (or any of it) is to be really considered here (which I'd be happy to hear), it would make sense to have others weigh in and overall be sure everyone feels good about it. I just don't want to be someone jumping in and redirecting work that already has been going on, even though I think getting this right and optimized early is a big deal.

[side note: we had quitter.se account and it's down now, we may likely move to Snowdrift.coop using social.coop and from our perspective, it would be ideal if the same CoC were used, but that's our bias].

Addendum: if I thought the existing proposal was setting things up to be tragic, I would push back harder. I think it's just not as good and won't cover as many cases as well and won't do as good at pushing everyone to be their best. But I think it's adequate at least.

AW

Aaron Wolf Fri 22 Jun 2018

I'm having a hard time finding things in this LONG topic here, but trying to put this in the right place.

I appreciated notes I saw from @meltheadorable and drafted a first improved version (work-in-progress of course) of a better updated conduct-enforcement page for Snowdrift.coop along with some extra clarity about what is and isn't enforceable. I also added an item to our CoC about respecting the core mission and co-op values.

https://wiki.snowdrift.coop/community/conduct now links to https://wiki.snowdrift.coop/community/conduct-enforcement

I'm sure there's room for critique, but anyway people here might be interested in seeing the updates. As always, I offer this as one way of sharing ideas that can be used to whatever productive extent in developing the social.coop CoC system.

Cheers

S

Stephen Tue 19 Jun 2018

Hi - I am new to this community and still determining if I would like to join. That depends in part on this CoC. I do feel as though it is clear that "unwelcome sexual attention" is not limited to repeat offenses and is actionable upon the first offense. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

For me, I don't see this CoC covering casesas follows: When a community member reponds to someone on another instance to say things that are a) ad hominem attacks b) mean spirited-type behavior c) outright mudslinging and unfriendliness. If I were going to join this community, I'd want guarantees that if another member were to try to back up their political point of view by outright unfriendliness and mean spirited language, the CoC would be clear that they should be reprimanded. This doesn't cover that for me, so it's hard as an outsider to want to join this community. I'd be willing to talk more about this. Thank you.

AW

Aaron Wolf Tue 19 Jun 2018

This clarity is why in the Snowdrift.coop CoC (which I've mentioned here elsewhere and isn't the currently-proposed one to adopt here, as I wasn't involved earlier), we flat out say that sexual anything is inappropriate. In the case of Snowdrift.coop, there's no place for anything sexual because it's always off-topic even if it's wanted. It doesn't belong in our community at all.

I'm not sure about Social.coop though, it might cover a broad enough scope that sexual comments are ever relevant, though I don't currently see why it would be.

Re: the "on another instance" part, that's an interesting dilemma. I guess the point is to explicitly say that the CoC applies to all uses of the social.coop account? I mean, clearly it wouldn't be only applicable to posts at social.coop but to any conduct by an @social.coop account. Right? Would that clarity address your concerns?

S

Stephen Tue 19 Jun 2018

I was saying, I think it's clear that sexual inappropriateness is covered on first offense in this CoC. I think if someone is inappropriate, this CoC indicates they can be reprimanded. What I was saying was that, if I'm wrong on that point please correct me.

What doesn't seem to be covered within the CoC is:

Ad hominem attacks, rudeness, casual insults, logical fallacies, and hyperbole

I'm not speaking hypothetically. I've seen instances where I think someone on this instance engages in hyperbolic ad hominem attacks based on (what I think are) logical fallacies. I respect people's right to believe what they believe and express their beliefs. But if what they're doing is attacking other people in an insulting and casually disrespectful way, this is not an instance which I can join. This code of conduct says that it encourages not being rude. It doesn't say what should happen if someone is rude. I'm looking for stronger language in that regard.

AW

Aaron Wolf Tue 19 Jun 2018

Thanks for clarifying. The Snowdrift.coop CoC certainly addresses the personal attacks and unconstructive criticism explicitly (and I've seen no other CoC as clear on that). I agree that most CoC's merely suggest being nice or not rude etc., they don't make ad hominem an explicit conduct violation.

I suspect that's because it seems to harsh to ban someone for more subtle versions of rudeness. But if we use restorative approaches to consequences as opposed to harsh, penalizing ones, then we can be freer to insist on higher standards.

At this point, I'm inclined to more boldly suggest our CoC, I just didn't want to disrespect a process that was already happening where I wasn't involved (coming in as an outsider and just suggesting an entirely different option). But I think our CoC is just better and excellent, and it was written through a careful process of considering all the others out there…

MC

Matthew Cropp Tue 19 Jun 2018

Digesting the conversation thus far, I'm having mixed feelings.

On the one hand, as we've been growing, the amount of time and emotional labor on the community side has been growing, and it has been made significantly more challenging by the continued lack of a fixed policy that I can refer to for guidance when issues arise (See: the Kaiini threat incident, reports made through the reporting system, etc.). The social capital derived from our common bond has allowed us to scale thus far through mostly organic self-policing, but I fear we are fast reaching a scale where that will no longer tenable. As such, the risk of an incident spinning out of control and causing damage now feels present, so even a rough, imperfect list of mutually-agreed-upon things to reference when dealing with such situations would be helpful, while modifications on it are developed and implemented as amendments.

On the other hand, it does feel like folks are raising some important concerns. So, if there is agreement with @meltheadorable's position that it would be better to be without a CoC for a bit than with this proposed draft, then I will withdraw the proposal on the condition that someone else step up to guide the CoC development process from here. This would include collecting another round of asynchronous feedback on the current draft (with the full membership this time, not within the Community Working Group?), then coordinating the next integration call (via a schedule poll followed by an RSVP check poll).

My sense is that, in order to answer some of @meltheadorable's process concerns, we need to have a constituted Community WG Team to actually administer the systems, as I am in much the same position on the social/community management side of things as @victormatekole and @mayel are on the tech side of things: needing to formalize an informal, organically emergent founder role so that the organization could continue functioning smoothly should I get hit by a bus or need to be thrown out on my ear.

I have not had, and do not currently have, the capacity to take on both the CoC process and the Ops Team organizing process simultaneously, so my intention had been to start that in earnest as soon as the CoC was adopted. However, should someone take over the CoC, I can move my coordinating energies to this next task, so I will post a schedule poll to the Community Working Group asking for volunteers. If someone agreeable to our community steps up, I will withdraw this proposal and the new CoC Coordinator will facilitate developing and implementing the next steps in this process.

MC

Matthew Cropp Tue 19 Jun 2018

Call for volunteers for the role is live here.

ST

Sam Toland Tue 19 Jun 2018

Thanks again for the work that you and the team have put into this.

I support this approach - if I were you I would make the check public and share on we can start circulating it to the wider group.

I also think that if it is decided to recall the proposal to give time for further improvement, there should be an implicit deadline that the WG brings back this version of the CoC in 4/6 weeks - just so that this doesn't creep on.

Finally - @meltheadorable & @cathalgarvey perhaps you can contribute to this next round of work on the CoC.

CG

Cathal Garvey Tue 19 Jun 2018

I'd like to, but certainly not in a leading role (I'm too unreliable, for starters). I started trying to catch up on the old discussion but found that it was very long, and consisted of a lot of calls scheduled with no clear links to meeting notes. Might have just been my poor skimming-while-walking reading discipline, though.

Having come up to date by reading the current draft and the discussion here, I'd be happy to get involved in future discussions.

AW

Aaron Wolf Tue 19 Jun 2018

I've mentioned this in several places already, but just to be simple: I am of the (biased) opinion that the Snowdrift.coop CoC is the best option and could be adopted with relatively little adaptation. It's short and too-the-point while also being totally thorough. It was developed over some years of work, studying all the other CoC's and drawing from real-world experiences.

And for those interested, we compiled a pretty-complete accessory page of communication habits to do even better than the strict CoC stuff: https://wiki.snowdrift.coop/community/honor-users

All of this is CC-BY-SA.

So, since it looks like things aren't so finalized, I'm happy to offer these resources. I care deeply about building the best communities and have put a lot of energy into this already. I certainly want social.coop to be a leader in these things as well and really succeed. I think this topic matters very much.

Please let me know if I should instead start a new thread somewhere else or how best I can contribute. Sorry for jumping in having not made time to engage as much before now.

CG

Cathal Garvey Tue 19 Jun 2018

My impressions:

@wolftune raises a well-developed and pre-vetted CoC for Co-ops as an alternative, which I do think is very worth considering. But if we're getting meta in this way, it may be worth considering spinning the Snowdrift CoC into a versioned document that stands by itself, and we can then share our updates and improvements to the CoC and state our adherence to different versions. This gets a bit "weed-ey" though so in the interim I'd suggest adopting some CoC and talk about versioning and consolidation later.

As to whether we should adopt the current draft; I read it, I think it's OK. I agree with @wolftune that we should not be more specific about what's unacceptable; the more you do this, the more you implicitly make it seem like other behaviours are OK. It's OK to provide non-binding examples of behaviour and resolutions as asides, and I'd actually like to see this to help people get the idea. But I don't think having an as-exhaustive-as-we-can list of forbidden behaviours is the right approach.

I have two general concerns with CoCs also, which I'd like to share. But, neither are sufficiently problematic that I'd block or vote no; I just want to float them for consideration.

The first is that CoCs should govern community behaviour within the community, and when members act in their capacity as members, or with reference to the community. But it gets a lot greyer out in the world where we all have other personas, activities, views, etcetera. People are not mirrors, they are diamonds with many facets; if we force people to adhere to a set of guidelines in all their walks of life, we either harm them or harm ourselves. However, of course we can't have members who behave sweetly within Social.coop but are (for example) leaders of White Nationalism parades elsewhere; they bring us into disrepute, they're clearly not safe people to hang out with, and their good behaviour here is at best insincere. All of which is to say; I think we should word the section on "scope" more clearly to cover that the "rules" cover Social.coop activities and representation only. But I also think that we need to address somewhere how we deal with "Donald Trump Just Joined Social.coop But He's Not Breaking Any Rules Yet".

The second concerns sexual conduct, and it's only a gentle reminder that the rules need to acknowledge that people are sexual creatures, and not all sexual conduct is inappropriate. If a couple join Social.coop together and make cooing noises on the main channel, it's a bit PDA and all but probably not an offence that we should sanction. Social.coop isn't a professional space, it's a social space, and people sometimes show affection in social spaces. So while dealing with inappropriate, uninvited, or inappropriate sexual advances should be a priority for any CoC, our language should remain aware of acceptable and invited sexual conduct also.

Again; neither of the above would block me from voting yes.
As to my actual vote; if we get someone to take over leading the CoC, I'd vote no in order to give more time to get this done right. If not, then I'd vote yes because we need a CoC short-term, and can work incrementally to improve it afterwards. We should mark the CoC as "beta" though in this case, to make it clear to new members that it's still a WIP and the rules may change.

ED

emi do Tue 19 Jun 2018

I'm not sure if this is helpful at all, but I'd like to say that the call that I participated in last night felt really open, inclusive and for what it's worth, good intentioned.

I was not able to participate in earlier calls, but the draft document was posted for review and I was able to take a look prior to this call where I was able to familiarize myself with areas of concern and to me, the process of how this CoC came to be was quite transparent.

For those that didn't participate in the process, I can imagine it to be frustrated by apparent lapses in the CoC because we have come to imagine the governing policies of social.coop should be of the highest standard. However, let's also remember that all of these documents are being generated by groups of regular social.coop users who were using the resources available to them and from personal experiences. The more users with diverse experiences and skill sets participate, the better the outcome.

I think it is quite useful that new CoCs have been introduced in this follow up discussion as ones to potentially learn from. I have voted "YES" with the understanding that we will continue to change and improve on the CoC, as I would expect would be the case for any other social.coop policy being adopted in the future.

NS

Nick S Tue 19 Jun 2018

@meltheadorable, what do you think of the snowdrift.coop's CoC, as proposed by @wolftune?

https://wiki.snowdrift.coop/community/conduct

RB

Robert Benjamin Tue 19 Jun 2018

@meltheadorable any interest in spearheading the next iteration of the CoC if this version doesn't pass (or does) with @wolftune and others who may volunteer? https://www.loomio.org/p/QtOuroe2/urgent-volunteer-to-lead-the-coc-process-from-here

JB

Jake Beamish Tue 19 Jun 2018

I like this a lot, fwiw! I'm appreciative of the hard work put in to get the thing this far - and I'm quietly confident of the community's capabilities in refining it further. I want this CoC to be approved of by everyone rather than passing with a minority who disagree.

M

Melody Tue 19 Jun 2018

This is much worse than the current draft being discussed. I could explain my objections (and might, if pressed) but since it's not the draft under discussion, I'd rather focus on the issue at hand for now. Suffice it to say, this addresses none of my serious concerns with the currently proposed CoC and adds another heaping handful of new ones.

AW

Aaron Wolf Tue 19 Jun 2018

@meltheadorable If you can spare the time and energy, explaining your concerns will (A) provide perspective given a CoC that otherwise isn't just a draft but is in use and where constructive criticism is always welcome and (B) probably be one good way to help everyone here gain perspective by seeing those concerns spelled out.

Obviously, the serious concerns you have with both the draft and the Snowdrift.coop CoC would be the first priority to explain further since those apply no matter what.

Thanks

M

Melody Tue 19 Jun 2018

The substantive issue that applies to both is the broken reporting process. For snowdrift, it just says to use the flagging feature, but the CoC presumably also applies to all the spaces that don't have that feature to utilize, or where it doesn't have feature parity between platforms. The reporting process needs to be well-specified, confidential, clear, and platform-agnostic. You can provide multiple options for how to initiate a report, but the meat of the process should apply to every venue the CoC covers, without over-reliance on features that only exist on one platform.

Addressing the other issues with the snowdrift CoC would be really time-consuming and I honestly just don't have the energy for an in-depth review of it right now. The short version is that it's full of clauses and language (especially in conjunction with the "honor code") that can and in time likely will be weaponized against traditionally marginalized people.

In general, the over-focus on tone and politeness tend to favor manipulative people who can navigate situations in which they are behaving harmfully without much emotional involvement (generally, the people who need the protection of a code of conduct the least) at the expense of people who are most impacted, especially when you stack on other social biases (sexism, racism, etc) that impact people's judgment of who is considered to be "rational" or "calm" or "polite" in any given situation.

AW

Aaron Wolf Wed 20 Jun 2018

I clarified above, but I just see these as two parts of a holistic system. A Code of Conduct is the statement of what conduct is acceptable or not etc. and there must be a corresponding process for handling it or else it's nothing but wishful thinking.

So, in the case of the Snowdrift.coop CoC, that is not the document describing the process. The references to flagging are because there are conduct issues around flagging itself. We have separate stuff for the process of flagging (and what to do in contexts where the flagging tool isn't available). And on that regard, it's still a work in progress. I have a long list of notes of things to do to finish designing our process, and some of it will require requests for improved tools. But again, where the tools are lacking, we still need to do all we can and have it specified. This is super important even though it's not easy.

I agree that the discussion about worries about weaponizing certain language is bigger than we can likely manage here in this context. However, I hope to continue engaging in that conversation wherever/whenever I can in order to listen and understand the concerns more thoroughly.

Our CoC doesn't mention "politeness" at a all and while that may or may not be part of healthy community discussion, it's certainly in the accessory suggestion area, not enforceable. FWIW, I can see how our CoC may unfortunately remind readers of a certain reactionary sort of tone-policing that privileged folks do when pushing-back on marginalized people's complaints, but I don't think we're actually doing that at all.

I happen to think that (especially for a general community like Social.coop), it may be appropriate to actually censor certain harmful viewpoints. The effect of carefully phrased propaganda can be insidious. It's certainly possible for someone to follow our CoC while still expressing ideas that harm the community. I'm just really wary of trying to specify those censored ideas in advance. I think this is best left to the process and admins. Which is to say that we can censor or otherwise take action on threats to the community or to a subset of the members without those threats necessarily violating the CoC. The admins aren't tied to allowing absolutely anything as long as it follows the CoC.

I think orgs should have clear mission statements and values (the ICA principles for one), and the process part of the structure should give leeway to take actions to preserve the values and mission. For that matter, would it perhaps make sense to have a CoC item specifying somehow that everyone is expected to have some deference to the org's mission and values (basically that people expressing ideas hostile to the core values may be censored)?

AW

Aaron Wolf Wed 20 Jun 2018

@meltheadorable a brief (oops) addendum: I've been thinking more about how things could go wrong as you suggest… I'm certainly seeing how that could happen. Obviously a community where the voices included are those who happen to be unemotional and skilled with certain forms of language is one that has a severe bias.

How can we make sure that marginalized perspectives get fully included (even when people may happen to be understandably emotional or lack skill or energy to do the optimal style of communicating)? In my view, this probably requires a mix of deference to including marginal perspectives (when they are in-line with the core values of the org) and actively "steel-manning" or other ways to help strengthen rather than censor those perspectives… and I'm sure you have other ideas and probably there's some mix of misunderstanding and disagreement with what I'm saying here.

Skipping getting into that (surely hours, days, years of complex stuff to cover), my real question is: what's an example of a CoC and a process that does work for these concerns?

We put together the Snowdrift.coop CoC taking ideas from others and making them clearer and more flexible, consolidated… Point is: I don't generally see other CoC's having elements that address problems that ours misses. But I wouldn't claim that ours somehow covers everything perfectly.

Rather than critique the items that are there, I'd like to see examples of what should be in a great CoC that is missing in ours or the draft. If you know of any or can write up some proposals, I think that work (finding what we DO want) is the most valuable way forward.

I understand, of course, that it's easier to see the need for something, i.e. diagnose a problem, than it is to provide a solution/cure…

MN

Matt Noyes Tue 19 Jun 2018

It seems to me the best way to proceed would be to follow the principle of "Yes, and..." We have a CoC developed here based on a lot of discussion of the specific needs/context of social.coop and a CoC from snowdrift with features many people like. Why not add the best features of the Snowdrift CoC to the existing proposed CoC? I would be willing to facilitate such a process.

DU

[deactivated account] Tue 19 Jun 2018

Regarding section 3, Unacceptable Behavior:

The following behaviors are unacceptable within our community:

The constraint "within our community" reminds me much of a hole that the Go programming language open source project had in their CoC, which they recently patched:

The first lesson we learned is that toxic behaviors by project participants in non-project spaces can have a negative impact on the project affecting the security and safety of community members.

Updating the Go Code of Conduct

We may want to consider unacceptable behavior outside of our community as well.

MN

Matt Noyes Tue 19 Jun 2018

Thanks for the link to the Go Code of Conduct, another great resource for this process. About behaviour outside the community -- how do you handle people who are members of multiple communities, each with different codes or standards of behaviour? Our thought so far has been to think of it as a question of dialogue with other instances (or spaces)...

AW

Aaron Wolf Tue 19 Jun 2018

What a complex and hard thing to think about dealing with. So, this gets down to the extreme: if a rapist-murderer living in prison decides to join an online community and does follow the CoC perfectly well there… and somewhere else it's revealed they are also a Nazi… or for that matter what if someone is a really exploitive capitalist? We can certainly understand people just wishing that such users just get kicked out.

For those problem folks who are also non-sociopaths, it may be better that they practice behaving themselves here versus making them more isolated…

If someone's mere presence makes others uncomfortable such that the community suffers and good people leave, then it's gotta be some sort of hard judgment call about what to do. I would never tell someone that they should tolerate having their unrepentant rapist around (and forgiveness if it ever comes would have to be through a Restorative Justice process led by the victim to make them truly feel empowered and satisfied with the outcome). But there's also value to innocent-until-proven-guilty approaches…

I think at most, there should be room for real human judgment. Effectively, people not assuming that a CoC can cover every scenario. It should be clear that exceptional or unforeseen situations get dealt with by human beings listening and working on how to address them.

The CoC shouldn't totally tie the hands of moderators and admins. It's the norm we ask everyone to follow and support. It will never be perfect.

DU

[deactivated account] Tue 19 Jun 2018

@wolftune I agree that the issue is complex. It should probably be stressed that Go's change to their CoC seemed to make sense to them given the circumstances. It may be a mistake to assume that we'd encounter similar circumstances; or that for us the solution would look similar. I shared it because, in my limited experience thinking about CoCs, the move seemed interesting.

I guess what was interesting about it was precisely that it was a response to circumstances rather than a foregone conclusion.

AW

Aaron Wolf Tue 19 Jun 2018

I'm all for living documents that update in response to situations. I also believe in learning from observing others (their situation arose, thus we can assume this is in the cards). I think we should anticipate similar situations, but while they moved to address it, I'm not sure they solved it or that a CoC itself can solve it.

ELP

Edward L Platt Tue 19 Jun 2018

Situations like this probably will arise. I've experienced similar situations in other communities I'm part of. It's most important to have something and we can improve it as we go. This seems like a situation where the CoC could be improved, but not a problem that would make the CoC counterproductive. In general, the application of CoCs is hard and they can be abused, so being process-heavy and principle-heavy rather than listing every condition tends to be more responsive and fair.

M

Melody Tue 19 Jun 2018

Situations like this will definitely come up. If this goes through another draft, we should address it somehow.

MC

Matthew Cropp Wed 20 Jun 2018

I wonder if, in the short-term, the operational guidance on these sorts of tough questions I seek could come from an elected panel of members, who could deliberate and vote privately on issues that arise so as to ensure they do not become a social capital contest from the start, though a member being disciplined by that body could appeal to the full working group at their discretion?

Having such a group would resolve my sense of urgency question a bit, so long as we have someone to pick up the CoC process.

@meltheadorable I saw you voted on the check poll to not put yourself forward for that role due to your strong advocacy in this discussion, but, if you change your mind, I would definitely support your candidacy.

Regardless, thank you for your thoughtful intervention/contribution here. :)

MC

Matthew Cropp Wed 20 Jun 2018

Alright, I've created a thread in the Community WG that can be used to discuss the "standing jury" idea here.

M

Melody Tue 19 Jun 2018

I have been @-ed many many times since I last commented here, will try to answer any questions directed at me a bit later, but I just wanted to let people know I'm still present and intend to respond.

M

Melody Tue 19 Jun 2018

Edit: Deleted and reposted because of a threading UX issue

SG

Simon Grant Thu 21 Jun 2018

I don't understand just how the Code of Conduct is meant to function in practice. For me, it would help very much to separate out the functionally different aspects of it, and maybe this would be a way to start talking constructively about the obviously different points of view expressed in this thread.

MC

Matthew Cropp Sat 23 Jun 2018

UPDATE: Good processes seem now underway in the community working group, both in relation to the CoC, as well as for forming a stopgap strategy for filling the role in the meantime.

I've posted the following in the description on the main Loomio page:

Community Expectations Our Community's Code of Conduct is under development in the Community Worker Group. In the meantime, social.coop has voted to adhere to the International Cooperative Alliance's "Statement on Co-operative Values," with which member behavior in social.coop spaces is expected to be in alignment:

"Co-operatives are based on the values of self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity and solidarity. In the tradition of their founders, co-operative members believe in the ethical values of honesty, openness, social responsibility and caring for others."