Caring Community Guidelines
v. 0.02 -draft copy-
WHAT THESE ARE
The Caring Community Guidelines are committed to exploring a more egalitarian p2p1 mode of exchange, with the awareness, sensitivity and in-formation of intersectionality. These guidelines welcome heterodox perspectives that may be less addressed in other forums (Marxist, Communist, Anarchist, Feminist, Postcolonial, Abolitionist, Racial Justice Positive, Queer, Hacker and Pirate, and more).
We recognise this requires us to have challenging conversations in our community about privilege, power, history, culture, inequality, pain, injustice and trauma. Our goal is to have these dialogues and debates from a place of compassion that honours our shared humanity - that we learn together as a community how to have these conversations. We therefore ask that you read and commit to the group’s Code of Conduct before engaging in any community conversations.
Although this list cannot be exhaustive, we explicitly honour diversity in age, gender, gender identity or expression, culture, ethnicity, disability, language, national origin, neurodiversity, political beliefs, profession, race, religion, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, and technical ability. We will not tolerate discrimination based on any of the protected characteristics above, including participants with disabilities. Please see the full Code of Conduct for more.
Please see the full Code of Conduct. In brief:
1. Treat everyone with respect and consideration. Be excellent to each other. Be welcoming. Be aware of how we use language. Be respectful of privacy. This is especially important when discussing sensitive topics where misunderstandings and stereotypes abound (such as about feminism, communism, anarchism) and the medium of online / social media platforms limits how we can have these difficult conversations. Let’s learn how to do this in a mature way together.
2. Speak up if you see harassment, behaviour that may infringe our Code of Conduct. Report posts (or comments within post threads) directly to admins, tag an admin to flag their attention to problematic behaviour, and/or send a direct message to an admin(s) to report a problem. You may speak up by describing the perceptions you have. This means saying “this feels like (blah)” rather than “you are (blah)”.
- Admins have provided extra resources on both recognising far-right rhetorical strategies and adopting Non-Violent Communication techniques.
1p2p, peer-to-peer, or commons-based peer production, meaning “large- and medium-scale collaborations among individuals, organized without markets or managerial hierarchies", according to Benkler and Nissenbaum
Full Code of Conduct
This venue is a community, which is different from a “forum” or a “debate hall”. A community supports the emotional and intellectual needs of members so that they can engage in discussion and collaborative work.
The Caring Community Guidelines are for online groups of people committed to exploring the p2p, or commons dynamic, with the awareness, sensitivity and in-formation of intersectionality. We welcome heterodox perspectives that may be less addressed in other forums (Marxist, Communist, Anarchist, Feminist, Postcolonial, Racial Justice Positive, Queer, Hacker and Pirate, disabled, neurodiverse, and other minority cultures.
We recognise that this requires us to have challenging conversations in our community about privilege, power, history, culture, inequality, pain, injustice and trauma. Our goal is to have these dialogues and debates from a place of compassion that honours our shared humanity. We recognise this may require us to level up our conversational skills, both as individuals and as a collective. Hence the spirit of learning together must try to describe this process in detail. We believe this kind of work is transformative, and any learning here will initiate similar changes in the other communities we participate in.
We ask that you read and commit to the following Code of Conduct before engaging in any community conversations.
This code of conduct is long. But, if we think about how difficult conversations can be online, we might consider the following points:
In the ‘flesh’ world of real f2f conversation, we have centuries of methods that we have developed that enable people to communicate and govern appropriately when situations break down. We have councils, and rules of enforcement, guidance, recognised interventions and much much more.
Online and social media platforms are more like a social wilderness, with a few roles such as owner, admins and moderators and no really useful guidelines about how to have difficult conversations in an online setting. It sets people up to fail. “The tyranny of structurelessness” was written about the perils of insufficient social structures. Also, from the domain of living systems, to optimise self-organisation, just as nature does, does need the appropriate and sufficient structures in place.
Minimal intervention works best when there are realistic means (structures, processes) of doing consensus and deliberation and conflict resolution in a horizontal way so that vulnerable people will not be hurt. Cyber bullying is real, and we have no real idea how conversations are affecting individuals. Hence, we believe it is better to err on the side of “more”, not “less” as there is a lot to be aware of when addressing difficult topics.
We realise that it will take a good 30 minutes or so over a cup of tea/coffee, to read through these guidelines. Most likely you will learn at least one new thing. Most likely you will be encouraged in some way, as they have arisen out of a lot of care to keep people safe whilst also being able to tackle difficult topics and are based on extensive practice of hosting online communities.
The admin and moderators are not paid roles. They can be very exhausting and it is much better if the role of keeping a strong community culture is shared more widely by everyone. But people need to be enabled to facilitate each other. So these guidelines are a learning process about how to have conversations online. Thank you for reading and we look forward to your participation in the community and in gradually co-creating the right guidelines for it, together.
Here then, are the guidelines!
Our Community Guidelines
This code of conduct outlines our expectations for participants within our shared space, as well as steps to reporting unacceptable behaviour. Expectations are neither rights nor privileges. While rights or privileges are governed by your specific country, culture and place in the world, these guidelines are shared expectations based on research that have evolved from the collective work of dozens of communities trying to find effective rules for communities to run by. These expectations include the idea that anyone who violates this code of conduct may face restrictions, including temporary and permanent banning from the community and all community events.
Purpose of the Community (Our BIG Ideas)
This venue is a community, which is different than a “forum” or a “debate hall.” A community supports members’ emotional and intellectual needs so that they can engage in discussion and collaborative work. We focus on the following big ideas, which explain the type of experience you can expect to have here.
- We are here to build a civil society that focuses on respect and diversity.
- We are here to unpack, learn, discuss, design, share our ideas.
- We are focused on the personal growth and emotional well-being of our members.
- We are here to create a sustainable, humane, learning community.
- The well-being of our members always takes priority over any forced or compelled ideas around “rational debate”.
- We seek to encourage informed decision-making, based in understanding other viewpoints without shame, blame or guilt.
Members of the community can count on being treated the following way:
- To be treated free of blame, shame, and guilt.
- To be able to determine one’s level of involvement in a conversation.
- To be able to revoke consent to any form of communication at any time.
- To be told the truth.
- To be able to say no to any requests.
- To be allowed to hold differing points of view.
- To be treated with respect.
- To have their privacy respected.
- To be able to set clear limits on the obligations they make.
- To be able to renegotiate agreements that are no longer working for them.
- To grow and change.
- To be allowed to make mistakes.
1. Number one rule: Be excellent to each other.
Treat everyone with respect. Participate while acknowledging that everyone deserves to be here — and each of us has the right to enjoy our experience without fear of harassment, discrimination, or condescension, whether blatant, via microaggressions or via subtle negativity.
2. Speak up if you see or hear something.
You do not have to suffer in silence, and you do not have to see others harassed without feeling like you have no course of action to take. Harassment is not tolerated, and you are empowered to politely engage when you or others are disrespected, by describing the perception you have. When seeing or hearing something you suspect may violate our guidelines, you are encouraged to make “this feels like” or “this seems like” statements.
Also, assume positive intent. The person making you feel uncomfortable may not be aware of what they are doing, and politely bringing their behaviour to their attention is encouraged.
A great comment is: “I want to assume positive intent, but this seems like …”.
Power in numbers. When multiple people relay what something seems like, in a polite way, it has a unique way of changing the conversation. Describing your perception is a great, largely untaught, way of handling abuse.
Moderators will not be able to be continuously present to all conversations, so the act of moderation depends on bringing the conversation to the attention of the moderators, if you are uncomfortable about how a conversation is proceeding.
3. Behaviour Expectations
Our community strives to:
Be friendly and patient.
Be welcoming: We strive to be a community that welcomes and supports people of all backgrounds and identities. This includes, but is not limited to, members of any race, ethnicity, culture, national origin, colour, immigration status, social and economic class, educational level, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, age, size, family status, political belief, religion, mental, physical, and technical ability or other protected category.
Be considerate: Remember that we’re a world-wide community, so you might not be communicating in someone else’s primary language, see things the way you do, or come from the same background. By staying considerate, we can help to navigate complex issues.
Be respectful: Not all of us will agree all the time, but disagreement is no excuse for poor behaviour and poor manners. We might all experience some frustration now and then, but we cannot allow that frustration to turn into a personal attack. It’s important to remember that a community where people feel uncomfortable or threatened is not a productive one.
Be careful in the words that we choose: we are a community of diverse people, but we conduct ourselves professionally. Be kind to others. Do not insult or put down other participants.
Try to understand why we disagree: Disagreements, both social and technical, happen all the time. It is important that we resolve disagreements and differing views constructively. Remember that we’re different. The strength of our community comes from its diversity, people from a wide range of backgrounds. Different people have different perspectives on issues. Being unable to understand why someone holds a viewpoint doesn’t mean that they’re wrong. Don’t forget that it is human to err and blaming each other doesn’t get us anywhere. Instead, focus on helping to resolve issues and learning from mistakes.
Have compassion for and honour people’s varied journeys. Not everyone has read the books you have or had the experiences you have had. Our journeys are unique and varied. Compassion births patience.
Expect and accept discomfort Conversations about centuries-old oppressions are HARD! If they were not, the world would be rid of oppression. We honour that we have all been indoctrinated into systems of oppression that we must all unlearn. Unlearning is challenging; thus, we do not expect neat, tidy resolutions. We will not “fix” the world’s ills on a social media thread but we will get closer if we are willing to be uncomfortable.
Take breaks for self-care Community dialogues can often be challenging and triggering. We discuss issues that have caused great trauma in the world — and often, great trauma in our own lives. Some dialogues may bring up painful memories, old wounds, present hurts and current resentments. We premium SELF-CARE as a tool of radical self-love! Do what you need to do to navigate your mental, emotional and physical well-being. Stop conversations to focus on yourself and come back when you are re-centred. Facilitating such dialogue depends on your wellness.
We have conversations based on what was actually said Often our translations of people’s ideas is far from the actual message they were sharing. Be sure to engage with people based on their actual words and not what you assume those words meant. If you are unsure, ask for clarity.
We assume the best about one another It is exceptionally painful to be dismissed, called a liar or accused of making up your experiences. We start from the assumption that people’s experiences are REAL. We also acknowledge that our experiences are often shared, but not always. We ask to learn MORE about other people’s truths, rather than erasing them. We start from the assumption that we are all doing our best in any given moment with the tools we have.
Respect each other’s privacy.
Harassment of any kind is not tolerated. Harassment includes, but is not limited to:
Offensive comments related to age, gender, gender identity and expression, gender presentation, sexual orientation, disability, mental illness, neuro(a)typicality, physical appearance, body size, race, age, colour, regional discrimination, political or religious affiliation, technical ability, neurodiversity, national origin, body size, differing abilities, appearance, religion, pregnancy, a person’s lifestyle choices & practices (including those related to food, health, parenting, drugs, and employment)
- Special note about the word “communism”. Communism is treated in this group as a historical project which gets its name from the French Revolutions. The word “communism” often arouses very strong feelings having little or nothing to do with the historical project of communism which has strong affinities with open community ideals. It is in the interest of this group to provide a “safe space” to discuss communism by name, in good faith with seriousness and earnestness without the fear of knee-jerk reprisals. Commie-baiting, red-baiting and other blanket dismissals of communism do not comply with our aims and will incur a warning and, if persisting, sanctions.
Unwelcome comments related to the above
Name calling, heavy sarcasm and general unkindness
Deliberate misgendering. This includes deadnaming or persistently using a pronoun that does not correctly reflect a person’s gender identity
Deliberate mislabelling. You should address people by the name/pronouns they give you when not addressing them by their username or handle.
Physical contact and simulated physical contact (eg, textual descriptions like “hug” or “backrub”) without consent or after a request to stop.
Threats of violence, both physical and psychological
Incitement of violence towards any individual, including encouraging a person to commit suicide or to engage in self-harm
Stalking or following. This includes virtual following (locating a user on other web venues in order to continue unwelcome contact)
Harassing photography or recording, including logging online activity for harassment purposes, doxxing, screenshotting without permission or with intent to carry out acts of aggression or trolling.
Sustained disruption of discussion (i.e. “Gish Gallop”)
- Discussions must be in good faith which requires keeping to the arguments being discussed there and arguing methodically, and if appropriate, good citations. The object of a discussion is to understand the topic better, not to win the discussion. Discussions are an opportunity for all parties to learn; this process is best served in an atmosphere of mutual respect. Bad faith arguments must be pointed out and repeat offenders will be warned and eventually sanctioned.
“Devil’s advocate”: People should argue in good faith from a position which represents their beliefs and experiences. They should not strawman positions which they do not themselves hold or which are not representative of their experience and community.
Unwelcome sexual attention, including gratuitous or off-topic sexual images or behaviour
Pattern of inappropriate social contact, such as requesting/assuming inappropriate levels of intimacy with others
Continued one-on-one communication after requests to cease
Deliberate “outing” of any aspect of a person’s identity without their consent except as necessary to protect others from intentional abuse
Publication of non-harassing private communication (not including conversation that leads into harassing conversation)
Our open source community prioritises marginalised people’s safety. We will not act on complaints regarding:
‘Reverse’ -isms, including ‘reverse racism,’ ‘reverse sexism,’ and ‘cisphobia.’ The reason these terms are problematic is because they are too easily used as a political weapon to claim parity between the suffering of the majority demographic and that of marginalised peoples without taking into account structural ‘isms’, which the majority demographic do not experience. We do of course expect civil behaviour towards everyone here, no matter who they are and will deal with situations that are flagged for violating that on a case-by-case basis; we will uphold the principle that no one will be discriminated based on the protected classes.
Reasonable communication of boundaries, such as “leave me alone”, “go away” or “I’m not discussing this with you”
Refusals from one party to explain or debate another. Everyone has the right to end their involvement in a conversation without explanation or debating why.
6. Diversity Statement
We encourage everyone to participate and are committed to building a community for all. Although we will fail at times, we seek to treat everyone both as fairly and equally as possible. Whenever a participant has made a mistake, we expect them to take responsibility for it. If someone has been harmed or offended, it is our responsibility to listen carefully and respectfully, and do our best to right the wrong. If there is a need for education, the person causing offence can ask for more information. They will either be given an explanation or be referred to links and educative content if available. If relevant content is not yet available they may need to go and do their own research.
Although this list cannot be exhaustive, we explicitly honour diversity in age, gender, gender identity or expression, culture, disability, ethnicity, language, national origin, neurodiversity, political beliefs, profession, race, religion, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, and technical ability. We will not tolerate discrimination based on any of the protected characteristics above, including participants with disabilities.
7. Reporting Issues
All reports will be handled with discretion, and all people reporting issues will be treated with respect. If you experience or witness unacceptable behaviour — or have any other concerns — tag an admin in the message.
If you do not hear a response in 24 hours, please report it by contacting a group moderator or admin. Use the ‘Report to admin’ function to flag the post or comment thread in question, or if not available, write the admins directly.
In your report please include:
Names (real, nicknames, or pseudonyms) of any individuals involved.
Your account of what occurred, and if you believe the incident is ongoing.
Any additional information that may be helpful.
8. Violations of Community Guidelines
First and foremost, these guidelines make it clear that it is okay for communities to self-regulate. This means that asking people to follow community guidelines is not itself a violation of the spirit or intent of our community. We are making this clear, and it is important to make clear, because the first thing that trolls often attempt to do is put this into question. Subsequently the following agreements bind this document:
- All members of the community are expected to abide by behavioural norms.
- It is okay to draw boundaries against those who are impeding a venue’s community guidelines.
- There is nothing wrong with this. All communities should be able to create and enforce guidelines.
In the case that individuals do not adhere to the community guidelines, community moderators should be empowered to engage in the following tactics:
- Confronting the individuals involved.
- Enlisting support of other community moderators (power in numbers)
- Individually or with a team of moderators asking individuals to change their behaviour.
- Asking for (specific) change of behaviour, privately and/or publicly.
- There will be a principle of assuming good intent (i.e. that the person was just careless or had not realised). The person will be given a chance to apologise to the person they offended, within a specific time frame. The moderator will check that they understand why it is considered offensive. If they do not understand why, the moderator will ask them if they wish to learn why. If they wish to, and the moderator has the time, they will receive an explanation. If the moderator does not have the time to explain, they will be pointed in the direction of more information.
- Repeating this until compliance is arranged.
- If compliance cannot be reached:
- Suspension of participation privileges.
- Removal from the specific venue (block the person from one group, but not all places of contact).
- Potential removal from the community (all places of contact). With this, we have a clear expectation about what we consider to be a reasonable understanding to approach potential conflict, and to quickly settle those disputes peacefully.
9. One Final Consideration
There is absolutely nothing wrong with having community guidelines and asking people to follow them. There is nothing wrong with having moderators, admins and representatives involved in keeping the community free of harassment. It is completely acceptable for these people to enforce the guidelines as outlined.
10. Attribution & Acknowledgements
We acknowledge the communities and projects that established code of conducts and diversity statements, particularly the Universal Code of Conduct that is the foundation for this document, the Google Polymer Code of Conduct and the Ultimate Community Guidelines.
Appendix: Online Dialogue Resources
Trolling and Far-Right Recruitment
We live in an age of tactical online aggression. With regard to social engineering, we take extra exception to the following tactics and practices: Dogpiling, Camping, misdirection, gish gallop, “Angry Jack Syndrome”, baiting (reductio ad X), suppressing power level, crowd cover, crypto/redpilling, and “silent identity attacks.”
We want to promote our community's literacies with regard to identifying and combatting disruption tactics and far-right recruitment. See for example:
Extra Resources: NVC (Nonviolent Communication)
In our opinion, any investment in learning NVC is an investment in better relationships in your life. NVC can help diffuse conflicts, by getting to what is underneath them.
Please note that there are two aspects to NVC. One is the deeper attitude (spirit) behind it and the other aspect is the technique. If the technique is applied without the deeper attitude behind it, it can be used as a weapon, like any technique used in bad faith.
There are four practical components to the technique. Remember that It is a practice. We are not trained to think in these ways. Each component requires practice. It is really useful to know and understand the philosophy behind each one.
Here is a link to an introduction to NVC. If you are not familiar with NVC, definitely start here. Of the free online resources, we think this is one of the better ones (at least the part on NVC, which is most of it).
Please note: NVC IS NOT A PANACEA. There are times in life when you would not have time to use it and it would not be appropriate.
Communication is not easy
- it is hard in real life
- it is harder online when conflicts occur
- it is harder still when we are dealing with conflicts on difficult topics
- it is even harder at a time when these topics are showing up everywhere.. it can wear you down - and everyone involved.
We’re not saying this to get everyone down. We are saying this to honour how well we do, in fact, considering all these challenges, most of the time. We don’t always get it right. But the point is to learn together, gradually. And sometimes we are pushed to accelerate our learning because of events that lead to fractioning, frictions, conflicts and group forking.