Social rules

Meitar M edited this page Jun 12, 2017 · 6 revisions

WikiSocial rules

In order to help collective members get their work done, learn new things and skills, and have fun doing it all, we have adopted the following social "rules." These rules are designed to help us remove cultural obstacles to learning and working together in a self-directed way; they make explicit what is normally a set of implicit social norms that veteran collective members are already accustomed to. These rules also aim to assure that newcomers have the guidance they need to become valuable and valued participants, themselves.

The Rules

Be supportive; no feigning surprise.

This just means that you shouldn't act surprised when someone else doesn't know something, whether it be technical or non-technical. ("What? You don't know what a pull request is?!" Or "I can't believe you've never heard of Beyoncés Lemonade!!!eleventy!") Everyone has gaps in our knowledge. Is it really so surprising? Use this as an opportunity to support one another develop our skills and expand our horizons instead of tearing one another down by exaggerating other people's ignorance.

Be proportional; no well-actually's.

A well-actually happens when someone says something that's almost but not entirely correct, and you say, "well, actually…" and then give a minor correction. The keyword here is "minor." It's okay to join a conversation mid-way through to offer your own view or correct a fundamental misunderstanding—we're here to learn and grow, after all—but these sorts of interjections are especially annoying when the correction has no real bearing on the conversation. A well-actually is always about grandstanding, not knowledge-seeking.

Be engaged; no back-seat driving.

This just means that if you're going to engage in a conversation, commit to actually having it. Don't just lob advice into the chat and then disappear. If you have to go away-from-keyboard for a while, say so. Better yet, wait until you have enough time to spend helping someone else work through their issue. In other words, fully engage, rather than butting in sporadically.

Keep it legal when in public; no requests for illegal activity.

As an explicitly anarchist political space, we are immediately suspicious of anyone, especially newcomers or people we don't know well, asking us to do illegal things. This is not to say that everyone who does this is a fed—many people do not even realize just how deeply rooted in universal criminality this country's legal regime is, especially when it comes to computer activity—but we have good reasons to be careful. Please don't make it easy for the State's agents to entrap you. And please don't ask us to hack on your behalf.

Within reason, assume good faith; no badjacketing.

We are here to support one another in learning, organizing, and revolutionizing both our material circumstances and social culture. This means that we must nurture trust in our relationships, grow to love one another as neighbors, friends, and comrades, and offer solidarity to one another's political struggles because we recognize that liberation and freedom will not come to any one of us if it does not come to all of us. To do that, we must resist paranoia, remain skeptical of baseless accusations against our own, and counter attempts to consolidate social capital by sewing distrust. In short, please do not do the State's work for them. (Read more about badjacketing.)

Be serious about the politics; no devil's advocates.

We take anti-racism, feminism, queer liberation, anti-fascism, and anti-capitalism very seriously. Participants who don't share our exact politics are welcome to work with us towards shared ends, and to learn about our politics by asking genuine questions. However, debating the merits of these positions or acting to undermine them while we are trying to Get Shit Done is intolerable and unwelcome. There are plenty of other places both on and off the Internet where you can go to debate politics in the abstract, or immerse yourself in viewpoints that differ from these. Please do not waste the time and space we have together by "playing devil's advocate," even for the lulz.

Why have "social rules"?

Whether we explicitly acknowledge it or not, all social spaces conform to some set of social norms to some degree or another. This is called culture. The goal isn't to burden everyone with a bunch of bullshit bureaucracy, nor is it to give us a stick to bludgeon people with for "being bad." Rather, these rules are designed to help all of us build a fearless community based on mutual support and grounded in neighborly camaraderie.

If someone says, "hey, you just feigned surprise," or "that's subtly sexist," don't worry. Just apologize, reflect for a second, and move on. It doesn't mean you're a "bad" person, or even a "bad" anarchist. As we said above, these rules are meant to be lightweight. We've all done these things before. The goal is to do them less in the future, to mitigate their disruptive or hurtful impact when they do happen, and to practice care for one another when—not if—we are feeling bad. The goal is not to become a pure, sinless creature who will one day deserve for the Gates of Heaven to open for us.

But you're anarchists…?

Yes, that's precisely our point.

We know many disagree, but we understand that making people feel uncomfortable about certain actions they take or beliefs they hold is, at least more often than most people are willing to admit, the Right Thing to do. Discomfort is not some blight that ought be eradicated in the pursuit of dogmatic neutrality or fetishistic allegiance to some professed aspiration. Who is feeling discomfort, when, and about what is not only inevitable, but a necessary and useful signal that informs us of the metaphorical size and shape of a given (social) space.

To that end, we personally strive to make white supremacists, nationalists, Statists, Trump voters, cops, liberals, people comfortably employed at Palantir, and many other example pseudo-demographics, actively uncomfortable within whatever bounds is safe for us to do so. We judge those who do not do the same negatively. It is our lived experience of the world and its many crevices we inhabit that the possibilities to have positive experiences have been diminished specifically because of a lack of this strongly political discursive style. It would be even more diminished if "Trumpublicans" felt comfortable here.

We bring this up merely to point out it is tautologically impossible to "welcome a diversity of ideas" and include in that set of ideas the "ideas" that are by their very definition anathema to diversity, while still actually being welcoming of diversity. One could still make the claim of being welcoming, of course, but the claim would be a farce.

We call bullshit.

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