READ THIS CAREFULLY!Recent events
- and by that, we mean the last six months - have made it abundantly clear that certain aspects of community participation and moderation are not working, and the fact that people are re-litigating 15-20 year old grievances is a primary indicator of that. There are two core problems that we have identified: (1) we have taken a narrow view of rules enforcement which has also been subject to rules-lawyering, and that prevents us from dealing with these issues, and (2) we have not made community members responsible for their own behaviour. For the future, we want to shift away from hard, defined rules to a set of Community Standards that places the responsibility for standards of behaviour on community members
, not enforcement
of rule violations. This is a very old community by usual Internet standards, and self-regulation needs to play a more prominent role.
The first post in this thread sets out the principles
by which the Standards have been drafted. The second post sets out the draft standards themselves. There are rules for this process that participants will abide by:
1. Constructive commentary only. If your post does not either agree with the content as written, OR disagree and suggest alternative text
, you need to re-think your additions. Disagreement for the sake of disagreement will be split-locked out.
2. Absolutely, positively, no personal sniping or attacks
. First offence will be an immediate warning, subsequent offences and the person(s) responsible will find themselves no longer able to contribute. This is not up for debate.
3. We are not re-litigating the past. If you feel the need to bring up past specific problems as examples, don't.
4. Public comment will remain open for a month. As the process unfolds and consensus emerges, changes will be merged into the Guidelines. At the end of this process, a completed draft will be available for viewing for one week for final commentary before becoming the new standards.
5. If there are any seriously divisive issues where consensus does not emerge, we will vote on those specifically.
The following are the principles by which the Standards were drafted. They will not be included with the final rules, but are important so readers understand where these are coming from.A. Community Standards replace "Rules"
Hard rules are impossible to craft to deal with all behaviour, and hard-and-fast rules don't really apply to a community this old. We are never going to satisfy everyone - goes without saying - but the best approach is to set general standards of behaviour for community participation that leave enough room for moderator discretion to both head off trouble but also enough room to let people work it out to the greatest extent possible. Setting general standards of expected behaviour will be superior to trying to craft a list of "don'ts."B. Moderation Standards go with community standards, and should be public
General practices we want moderation to follow should be public and included with the community standards. Transparency breeds accountability, and frankly more of that is a good thing for all of us.C. Moderation should strive to take the path of least seriousness first
As a general rule we've gotten much better than this in recent years, but again a principle worth reflecting in the moderation standards. D. Moderation decisions should be public.
People file reports with regularity, yet we don't always get back to them (in fact, we rarely get back to them). I don't think we need to start PMs flying for reported post responses, but I do think in cases where formal action is taken, it should be clear to everyone what resulted and to whom. In one recent example, two users got warnings, yet neither was actually aware of that and it creates more of a potential for hard feelings.E. We want to foster a community welcome to everyone.
There's a lot to this one, but the general principle is that community behaviour and moderation should be designed to encourage participation and diversity and not drive users away. This means addressing all kinds of things early - not to stifle discussion, but to prevent the "vocal minority" effect where a small group of prolific users set a tone that is distasteful or flatly drives away other people. While that includes the obvious things like keeping out racism, sexism, and all kinds of other nasty 'isms,' it also means stopping pile-ons early, reminding people there is another person on the other end of that keyboard, and encouraging people to agree to disagree. A fun argument is fine, and mockery for especially stupid takes is too, but there is also a time to realize that maybe it's time to just go for a walk and let it go. It also means moderators and administrators need to exemplify that behaviour and curb our own worst impulses, so if anything we should make it clear we are going to hold each other on the moderation team to a higher standard than everyone else in general.
SEE NEXT POST.