Sunday, September 23, 2007

ProgBlogs Code of Conduct.

For some reason, I can't login to the ProgBlogs mainpage and comment here. I've already made my thoughts about "codes of civility" known here, and I stand by them. But, some specific remarks.

The first and third provisions deal with legal issues and are not within the moderators' scope. If someone's violating the law, let the law handle it. I'm disturbed by the moderators' willingness to assume policing authority for themselves.

The second provision is extremely broad and quite vague. What constitutes a threat? What constitutes sexism? And what on earth does "ethically offensive" mean? Commentator "Berlynn" suggests that the code would eliminate at least half the men off the blogroll -- I think she's underestimating how many people (and not just men) could be considered to violate this code. (She also comments that this may not be a bad thing... the less said about that, the better, I suppose.) So, I honestly think the moderators would be better to just not define what's acceptable or unacceptable. In other words, it's the moderators' decision, and theirs alone. That's what this boils down to, at the end of the day, and at least saying so would be honest.

The "punishments" are relatively minor, though. I note that the list given -- private warnings, removal of a post from the main website, and discontinuation of membership for 3 months -- is given as a non-exclusive list. That is, these are just examples. Again, there's a whiff of dishonesty here. If the moderators want to assume the power all the way up to throw people off the ProgBlogs blogroll permanently, I wish they'd just say so, rather than being so circumspect and vague. Furthermore, is the list supposed to be scaled? Warning for a first offense, etc.? It doesn't say so.

I like the privacy provision, in principle, but I'm troubled by the details. What counts as violating privacy? What counts as doing it against their wishes? What's a "legitimate reasons" to violate privacy against someone's wishes? Why is there no scaled list of punishments for this?

Overall, if the ProgBlogs mods feel "something must be done" (although why is obscure to me), then it would be better, I think, to create two areas of ProgBlogs: the "civil" area, and the "free-for-all". By default, people going to the ProgBlogs mainpage would see just the former (bloggers who agree to be bound by this, or some other, code of conduct), but could opt to choose the latter. That way those of us who aren't interested in parental controls on our blogs don't have to obey them, and those who think they matter can accept them.

So, my $0.03. 3 because my thoughts are more important than yours. :P

Edit: Sept 24, 6:33pm EST: Robert's comments in the PB thread (which I still can't comment on -- WTF? Logging in doesn't seem to be working for me at all...) seem right to me. I'm reproducing them here:
Progressive Bloggers.ca reserves the right to take action against any member for conduct that may lead to legal ramifications against the organization and/or its officers or is deemed harmful by the moderators to the integrity of the organization.

Then handle each problem on a case by case basis.

Second. Create a written policy on how such cases will be handled. For example, here's a quick version of such a policy.

1) After a complaint is received, the moderators will determine if action is warranted. (This gives the mods the chance to weed out the politically motivated and frivolous complaints)

2) If action is deemed necessary, the member will be notified of the complaint (by the moderators and not through the fucking grapevine) and given the opportunity to remedy the situation on their own.

3) If the situation is not dealt with by the member, the member will be temporarily suspended pending a formal hearing that allows the member the opportunity to defend themselves against the charges directly to the mods. (None of that fucking bullshit where the defendant finds out halfway through the process that their super secret trial in the comments of the ProgBlogs is already underway like I did.)

4) The moderators render a verdict and action is taken.

6 comments:

Berlynn said...

My comment was intended to point to the fact that, though PB calls itself progressive it, in fact, lacks progressivity, most particularly in the area of sexism and sexist language, imnsho.

Lord Kitchener's Own said...

As for this "I'm disturbed by the moderators' willingness to assume policing authority for themselves." I'm not sure what you mean. It seems to me that first provision just says "If your blog violates federal or provincial law, you can't be a member of our blogroll anymore". That's "assuming policing authority for themselves"???

'Cause I'm pretty sure they don't mean to build their own jails and start arresting members of the Prog Blog community for breaking the law. They're just not going to let people who break the law be members of the Prog Blog community. I'm against this whole "code of conduct" thing but "if you break the law we're kicking you out" hardly seems radical to me.

Dan said...

Three cents?! Mix that with the strong Loonie and no one outside of the country will be able to afford you!

ADHR said...

Berlynn,

Language can't be sexist. Only uses of language can be sexist. Focusing on words rather than actions misses what matters.

LKO,

My point is that enforcing penalties for law-breaking -- policing, in other words -- isn't their issue. Suppose I blog something about cheating on my taxes. Technically, I've violated federal law by cheating. Are you saying it's okay for the mods to decide a punishment for that? Is it really their business? Remember, the code says any violation of provincial or federal law, not just big things like assault or what have you.

Dan,

Eh, the Euro's still looking pretty strong to me. :P

Saskboy said...

As I've understood it, the code is more to have a sign to tap telling someone something obvious if they try to have someone else removed for no good reason by lodging unreasonable complaints. It should also give us some CYA if legal poop goes down. I'll oppose any witch hunts though, I'd rather see more people be members than remove people, even borderline progressive ones (like Jason Cherniak tee hee, I kid).

ADHR said...

Saskboy,

The time has come where we need a sign to tell people to fuck right off? I mean, seriously: if someone wants a ProgBlogger removed for no good reason, then why can't the mods just tell them where to stick it?

I'm not sure that a code would actually help to CTA if there's a legal issue. If anything, it might make things worse. After all, now there's a set of explicit rules: and if the mods don't enforce them in every single instance, they could be held liable for the cases where they don't.

Generally, I think these kinds of codes hurt communities like this. The beauty of blogging is that if you don't like what someone says, you can create a little forum to explain why, which they can then read and reply to, ad infinitum (or at least until something more interesting comes along). A code of conduct looks, by its nature, to depress that kind of thing.