NOTICE: Citizendium is still being set up on its newer server, treat as a beta for now; please see here for more.
Citizendium - a community developing a quality comprehensive compendium of knowledge, online and free. Click here to join and contribute—free
CZ thanks our previous donors. Donate here. Treasurer's Financial Report -- Thanks to our content contributors. --

CZ:Moderator Group/Policy decisions

From Citizendium, the Citizens' Compendium
Jump to: navigation, search

Email discussions

As a result of this forum discussion concerning release of private email discussions, for constabulary purposes, and until directed otherwise, I think that the way I will be planning to handle this is the following:

Whereas:

  • Emails can be forged, and
  • Any comment taken out of context is more likely to be misinterpreted, and
  • It is not inherently apparent to all email recipients that their discussions might be revealed to others

Private email discussions shall be defined as:

  • Email discussions that do not use CZ resources.

Public email discussions shall be defined as:

  • Email discussions using CZ resources and
  • Include a prior acknowledgement by all recipients that their privacy rights are released.

Public enforced email discussions shall be defined as:

  • Email discussions using CZ resources and
  • Include a request to include the constabulary or Chief Constable on their list for monitoring purposes

Therefore:

  • Email groups should decide on their type prior to commencing discussion.
  • Private emails should not be forwarded to the constabulary email.
  • Public emails may be forwarded to the constabulary, but administrative actions may not be applied on the email alone.
  • Public enforced emails will be subject to the defined Citzendium behavior policies and constables will use their good, pragmatic, common sense in evaluating the proper response to offenses in said email.
  • Changing email type is not retroactive.

Exceptionally:

  • In the event that an email appears to threaten your life, the constabulary is in no way prepared to handle such abuse and suggests that;
  • you contact the police.

Sanctioning on the fora

From Ombudsman's discussion on this forum discussion.

If the forums are to be useful, there must be freedom to express criticisms and points of view, but there must also be constraints on the manner in which this is done in order to allow constructive discussion to take place. We are all bound by the Charter, in particular

Article 5 "Citizens shall act responsibly and in a civil manner: derogatory or offensive language or behavior will not be tolerated." Article 9 "All Citizens shall be treated fairly and respectfully by other Citizens, Editors, and Officers of the Citizendium." Article 38 "The Constabulary shall enforce the Citizendium's rules of behavior as determined by the Management Council, ... In particular, Constables shall not intervene in matters of content, and shall act with reasonable pragmatism and leniency, and only in those situations where a behavioral dispute is clearly covered by existing rules." Article 40 "Citizens shall not have arbitrary or excessive sanctions imposed upon them."

It seems to me that the Management Council is also itself bound by Article 24 "The Citizendium shall be devoted to transparent and fair governance with a minimum of bureaucracy." and I think that it will accordingly be reluctant to prescribe detailed rules for the forums.

Looking at these as a whole, it seems to me that the only things clearly and explicitly disallowed are derogatory or offensive posts (Article 5) and, in particular, posts that are intentionally offensive to other Citizens (Article 9). These, the Constables have a clear mandate to remove, but other posts they should treat with leniency (Article 38). Temporary blocking of users for repeated offensive posts seems to fall under "reasonable pragmatism"; it's not a sanction, but a pragmatic response to allow constructive discussion to take place without the distraction of interpersonal conflicts, that really have no place on these forums.

There is no question of Citizens being sanctioned given that there is a mechanism to simply eliminate the breaches of rules by deleting offending posts. In the interests of pragmatism, I think the existing rules make it clear that Constables should swiftly delete all posts that in their view breach Articles 5 or 9. In the interests of minimal bureacracy, I think the presumption should be that Constables have the trust of the MG and citizens to exercise their discretion in this about what constitutes offensive language. Citizens might complain about the conduct of Constables, but should be aware that Constables have the power (and obligation) to use their discretion, that they take on a difficult role on behalf of the community, and will accordingly be favoured by any balance of doubt. Their powers to exercise discretion pragmatically will also be favoured by the Charter requirement to have minimally bureaucratic processes.

Citizens may of course re-post the content of any deleted post in a way that avoids causing avoidable offense; I don't see that editing the post should be the responsibility of Constables - they shouldn't intervene in content, so should simply delete any post that contains offensive material.

If the behavior of any Citizen is consistently and knowingly disruptive, then the issue of sanctions might arise. But posting on the forums in a way that others find unhelpful, while it might be pointless and counterproductive, is not a matter for sanctions under our present rules.

How to handle unprofessional forum behavior

This scenario was announced on the forum

Because:

  • Constables are responsible for keeping public behavior within professional guidelines, and
  • Forums are designed as a safer place than the wiki to discuss differences in opinon and controversial subjects, and
  • Constables are not supposed to interfere with the production of content/policy, and
  • Most forum posts contain some amount of content/policy, and
  • A portion of a few forum posts contains unprofessional comment, and
  • Removal of a post removes content, and
  • Constables are not expected to edit Citizens' posts, and
  • Most forum users are aware of the expected rules of behavior, and
  • Documenting deleted posts is time consuming for forums without histories, and
  • Quicker responses may prevent further degeneration, and
  • Considering the well reasoned response to this question by our Ombudsman

The new constabulary will now:

  • Remove all or part of any post that contains any portion of unprofessional behavior and replace the comment with the text "(Replace)", and
  • Send a copy of the post to the user's email address that is supplied to the forum software.

The Citizen may then

  • Replace the text "(Replace)" with the professionally rephrased comment, or
  • Do nothing

If the Citizen replaces the post, and

  • The rephrased comment is not considered improved, then
  • The comment will be removed permanently and the citizen will be subject to the guidelines of the Constabulary Blocking Policy

Forum posts that do not contain any content and are only unprofessional will be removed without chance of replacement and the constable will apply the policies described in the Constabulary Blocking Policy according to the good, pragmatic, common sense of the constable on duty.

Rules apply equally to everyone

Per the Ombudsman interim decision,

“An editor should exert "authority" rarely. If an editor is also acting as an author on a particular article, then he or she should take care to exert authority only on issues where his or her professional expertise is clearly relevant. Many issues about articles are not relevant to an editor's specialist expertise. Some (e.g. citation styles, naming conventions etc.) may be determined by the workgroup policy. Others (including issues of presentation, writing style, level, and tone) should be settled if possible by discussion between the collaborating authors and editors as equals.“


The constables must ensure that authors can contribute without domineering oversight, and without being subject to offensive attack. They have to act fairly, and that means they have to treat all Citizens as equally deserving of respect when considering the facts of the matter; as enshrined in the Charter, the rules apply equally to everyone.

Advertising and self-promotion vs personal links

As a result of the forum thread "Off Topic posts and links to own work":

... and considering that the Charter asks the constabulary to be lenient and pragmatic, I think that the lenient and pragmatic solution to this should be:

To allow such links to exist on any forum page or user page until such time that the MC makes it clear that 1) personal, self promotional, or advertising type posts (including links) be placed on a specific forum board or 2) no longer allow such personal, self promotional, or advertising type posts on a user's User page.

However, links that appear personal (for personal gain), self promotional, or advertising will still be removed from Articles and Article talk pages unless they eventually lead to the inclusion in the Article.