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CODE4LIB  January 2013

CODE4LIB January 2013

Subject:

Re: Group Decision Making (was Zoia)

From:

"Fitchett, Deborah" <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Code for Libraries <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Sun, 27 Jan 2013 21:27:46 +0000

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (83 lines)

There's a reason the code isn't oriented around intent: which is that it's perfectly possibly to think one's an upstanding equitable-minded person but still make offensive comments that do in fact constitute harassment. This is another thing I can say "been there done that" about, in various contexts. I *thought* I was being respectful - but I wasn't. On at least one occasion I was saying something racist; on at least another I was demeaning a friend. Completely unintentionally, but if you accidentally step on someone's foot it's still your responsibility to back off and say sorry the instant you become aware of the fact.

(There may not be a universal objective consensus as to what is or isn't offensive, but nor is there a universal objective consensus as to what someone's intent is. People say "I didn't mean to be offensive therefore I didn't harass you" all the time, sometimes ingenuously, sometimes (as I did) absolutely sincerely, and how are we to tell the two apart? Meantime someone still got hurt.)

So a code of conduct needs to allow for unintentional harassment in a way that protects the person who got hurt without being unduly censorious to the person who hurt. Which this code does: it says ~"If you're asked to stop harassing behaviour you're expected to comply". Because if you didn't intend offense then you'll want to stop as soon as you're aware you've offended. So stop, and everyone moves on. You're not going to be banned for accidentally stepping on someone's foot.

If you persist or if your actions were really egregious then that's another matter and that's why we need to mention other possible sanctions. But these aren't things you're likely to do accidentally, so there's no need to be stressed.

Deborah

-----Original Message-----
From: Code for Libraries [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Ian Walls
Sent: Saturday, 26 January 2013 3:24 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [CODE4LIB] Group Decision Making (was Zoia)

My concern over the anti-harassment policy is part of the definition of "harassment", particularly:

"It includes offensive verbal comments or non-verbal expressions related to gender, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, age, religious beliefs, sexual or discriminatory images in public spaces (including online)".

I'm sure that no one in the community would intentionally "threaten another person or group, or produce an unsafe environment", but the policy does not seem to be oriented around intent, but rather the reaction of the person or group who feels offended.  People can be offended by all variety of material, and there is no universal, objective consensus as to what is and is not offensive.  This translates roughly to:

"I am offended by something you said, therefore you harassed me".

This makes me uncomfortable, because even though I can control my own behavior and treat others with respect, I cannot anticipate the reactions of others with sufficient accuracy to compensate for the risk of the sanction.
Therefore for any interaction in Code4Lib under this policy, I have the wonder if something I've said may be misinterpreted or read into in such a way as to produce offense.  Very stressful, and a deterrent to participating in the community.

Having a section of the policy to deal with misunderstandings and inadvertent offense would go a long way towards alleviating my fear of banned for what would appear to me as no reason.


-Ian

-----Original Message-----
From: Code for Libraries [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Fitchett, Deborah
Sent: Thursday, January 24, 2013 10:32 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [CODE4LIB] Group Decision Making (was Zoia)

When I quote ~"you're spoiling our fun" it's at the level of a paraphrase of one aspect of a synthesis of actual responses. It wasn't by any means the whole conversation; I don't recall if it was even the whole of any one person's response; but it was one prominent theme that came out of the response to people speaking up about problems with Zoia, and that prominence can be offputting. Mitigating this was that an even more prominent theme was "Okay, let's fix things". But this isn't maths and they don't cancel out:
they're both there.

This all said, I actually don't want to talk about Zoia. I don't want to sound like I'm stomping on people when all I want to say is that this dynamic exists (here, everywhere). And talking about Zoia also feels like a distraction from the question I asked and I think Karen was getting at, which is again: going forward, how do we react when we're having fun and we're made aware that someone else is being hurt by the thing we find fun?

I doubt we need a standard operating procedure but it's something really worth thinking about in advance of when it happens. Because it's hard, when that happens (having been there) : one wants to be a good person, but one also wants to have fun. And then there's the ego's self-defense mechanism: a good person wouldn't have fun doing something that hurts someone, and I'm a good person, so since I was having fun it can't really have hurt anyone.
Yeah, bad logic, but like I said I've been there and it can take logic a long time to beat the ego over that one if you haven't prepared.

Having a code of conduct is fantastic. But if we don't have *at least* vague brainstormy ideas of how we'll react to it when a) Your Best Friend says Complete Stranger is harassing zir; b) YBF says YotherBF is harassing zir;
c) CS says YBF is harassing zir; d) CS says you're harassing zir; etc -- then it's just false security, has the same potential for denial or coverups as if there were no such code, and in that case means all the additional pain of broken trust.

And for those that think that this is a fantastic group so it's just a waste of time planning for a non-existent situation -- well, I still think it was a little bit there with Zoia (the outline of the pattern if nothing else); but even if you don't agree with that, this is a transferable skill: if we come up with ideas of how we can react here, we can then also use those if similar situations come up in other aspects of our lives.

Deborah 

-----Original Message-----
From: Code for Libraries [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Ross Singer
Sent: Friday, 25 January 2013 3:33 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [CODE4LIB] Group Decision Making (was Zoia)

On Jan 24, 2013, at 6:50 PM, "Fitchett, Deborah"
<[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> People did raise specific issues with Zoia which can reasonably be fit
into the code of conduct's definition of harassment (many of which have therefore been addressed) so saying "no one has spoken up" seems strange.
People did speak up. Some people listened and did something about it; some people objected ~"You're spoiling our fun" and this kind of reaction is what has the potential to make some people nervous about speaking up, because no-one wants to spoil people's fun.

When we're talking about "you're spoiling our fun", are we talking about zoia's offensive plugins?

I don't think I've seen anybody leap to the defense of @mf or @forecast (or any of the others mentioned).  Some people have poured some of their craft beers on the ground for their fallen plugins, but I don't think anybody's actually come out and actively objected to cleaning up the bot's language.
In fact, on the contrary, I think people have been pretty proactive about looking for the things that need to be cleaned up and trying to archive what's there before cleansing.

I am not sure a defense of zoia is the same thing as a defense of @habla or @icp (as two examples).

If we're not talking about zoia anymore, then apologies, -Ross.


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