Sat 18 Nov 2017 3:24AM

Federation Policy

FHM Fabián Heredia Montiel Public Seen by 284

I think that while the Code of Conduct will take more time and effort, a simple Federation Policy might improve the Federated Timeline and the overall social.coop experience.

Federation Policy

  1. An instance will be silenced if it meets any of the following criteria:
  • Explicitly allows something forbidden by Social.coop's Code of Conduct
  • The instance has as one of its goals shitposting or the instance has no moderation policy.

The following are examples of any of the instances that would be silenced:

  • sealion.club (shitposting)
  • shitposter.club (shitposting)
  • toot.love (no moderation)

Fabián Heredia Montiel Sat 18 Nov 2017 3:27AM

I want to add that silencing an instance removes it from the Federated Timeline and Mutes all notifications from that instance.*

  • Except for users one follows, their toots/retoots will show up on the Federated Timeline and one will recieve notifications from that user.

@h Sat 18 Nov 2017 3:35AM

I would favour a three-strikes policy. If after three requests they can't herd their cats in manners consistent with social.coop's accepted rules, and their behaviour persists, that means that they're incapable of or unwilling to keep their instance users under check (independently of whatever their stated policies declare). That makes their content inherently incompatible, and thusly shouldn't be accepted / federated.
Taking their declared intent at face value would be a blank cheque, that wouldn't work because all of these trolls and other pests claim to be for "free speech".

When they identify things they don't like (i.e. left wing politics, brown and black people) they hide behind the flag of free speech to conceal their actual motives (racism, fascism).
I believe a three-strikes notice (or some other similar method) for behaviour inconsistent with our rules would pre-emptively render the free speech discussion moot.

Less waste of time and energies.


Fabián Heredia Montiel Sat 18 Nov 2017 3:57AM

I think that the three-strike policy isn't that necessary since this is an instance-to-instance policy.

Ie, the three ways (incompatible CoC, or shitposting, or free speech* as you described) in which an instance would be silenced would change slowly and an instance would either "not-mind" or would have a path to become compatible with the Federation Policy.

This is a small step to clearing the federated timeline and notifications and we would still need to takes steps towards a Code of Conduct and a Moderation Policy.

@h Sat 18 Nov 2017 4:57AM

I see what you mean. If it's intended as a small cleanup step, then that's fine. Leave the more complex edge cases for later then.


Poll Created Mon 20 Aug 2018 9:42PM

Give the standing jury power to mute an instance dedicated to shitposting, without moderation(freespeech tm) or with CoCs incompatible with our drafts. Closed Mon 27 Aug 2018 9:02PM

Jury will be able to decide on a case by case basis while a Federation Policy and CoC are enacted.


Results Option % of points Voters
Abstain 13.6% 3 MC GIM NS
Disagree 13.6% 3 AW SG MN
Block 0.0% 0  
Undecided 0% 14 NS C T TB JG SJK MDB ES EM LO CB L ED ES

22 of 36 people have voted (61%)


Edward L Platt
Mon 20 Aug 2018 9:48PM

Hoping there will be transparency in the process.


Simon Grant
Mon 20 Aug 2018 9:50PM

Sounds sensible, though I'd like to hear about related experiences, to be wholly clear.


Aaron Wolf
Mon 20 Aug 2018 9:53PM

I don't support this as worded. I don't like the idea of silencing instances just because they don't themselves have effectively matching CoCs. Dedication to "shitposting" (I assume "shitposhing" was a typo) seems justified for silence though.

Mon 20 Aug 2018 10:01PM

A higher bar should be set for silencing whole instances than for individuals. This vote should be understood as a temporary vote of confidence to resolve currently outstanding issues meanwhile the appropriate decisionmaking process takes place.


Matt Noyes
Mon 20 Aug 2018 10:06PM

I agree with @h and Edward L Platt. Also, it seems better to have an identified group be making these decisions. The cases need to be publicized on social.coop: "XYZ instance was silenced on Aug 23rd 2018 because..."


Simon Grant
Mon 20 Aug 2018 10:19PM

Changed from agree: on reflection, I don't think the "standing jury" (name to be changed) is ready to do this yet, and a better name might help people see it more clearly.


Robert Benjamin
Mon 20 Aug 2018 10:52PM

Excepting that there should be a clear policy on process and documentation of the instances that are silenced and a way for a SC member to petition for a an unblocking if they felt there was cause.


Jake Beamish
Mon 20 Aug 2018 11:23PM

I think this is an appropriate job for the group known as the standing jury. However, I think strong evidence of harmful CoC-violating content or encouragement of it should be required. Should we reach out to admins before silencing?


Gil Scott Fitzgerald
Mon 20 Aug 2018 11:58PM

I'm not sure if it's fair for me to the standing jury more power as I'm a member of that group as well, but better to ask forgiveness than permission. If anyone disagrees with me voting I'll abstain, no hard feelings. :)


Matthew Cropp
Tue 21 Aug 2018 12:38AM

I think the proposal would be stronger w/o the CoC drafts element, as there's some contradictory stuff between the drafts, but I do support empowering the standing jury to make mute calls w/o having to run every mute past the full Working Group.


Becci Cat
Tue 21 Aug 2018 1:01AM

But there needs to be accountability - it needs to be possible for the coop at large to override such a decision.


Michele Kipiel
Tue 21 Aug 2018 5:53AM

I agree in principle, just let's be aware that "shitposting" is a very broad concept. The CoC part will likely be easier to check.


Wed 22 Aug 2018 7:10AM

This sounds like an efficient approach. As others have mentioned, I think it is important that there is transparency in the process and that if an instance it silenced, this should be communicated to all members, ideally on Social.Coop itself.


Thu 23 Aug 2018 5:34PM

Sounds good as an intermediate step.


G I McGrew
Sun 26 Aug 2018 4:41AM

I agree, but my vote is as abstain due to being on the jury myself.


Simon Grant
Mon 27 Aug 2018 12:05AM

I'm still abstaining, but would like to elaborate other aspects of my reason. To me, the question of which instances are muted should depend on the preferences of the user body as a whole. If all users have come to reasonable consensus on a clear enough policy, then fine for the referral team / communication quality team to mute an instance that clearly falls within the agreed policy. Otherwise, not clear.


Nick S
Mon 27 Aug 2018 11:29AM

I agree we should give the standing jury (or whatever we call it) "power to mute an instance" as a matter of expediency. However, it should have guidelines. I'd not agree that a stated dedication to "shitposting" is worthy of muting a whole instance, since it can just mean irreverence, frivolity, or bad language (which we have on social.coop). Nor should a "incompatibility" in CoC, as that's also too vague and broad. "Freespeech" is not "no moderation" nor is it necessarily offensive or libel.


Matt Noyes
Mon 27 Aug 2018 4:32PM

I agree with @h and Edward L Platt. Also, it seems better to have an identified group be making these decisions. The cases need to be publicized on social.coop: "XYZ instance was silenced on Aug 23rd 2018 because..." -- On reflection, I am concerned about the process here and worried that this temporary solution might drift into permanency... Many people voiced important concerns and objections that should be explicitly taken into account before passing something like this.


Simon Grant
Mon 27 Aug 2018 4:59PM

OK I've moved to disagreeing here. To me, the question of which instances are muted should depend on the preferences of the user body as a whole. If all users have come to reasonable consensus on a clear enough policy, then fine for the referral team / communication quality team to mute an instance that clearly falls within the agreed policy. Otherwise, not clear. I disagree because we shouldn't assume a policy and then implement it immediately like this.


Mon 27 Aug 2018 8:11PM

Might be worth clarifying what's meant by "shitposting" here but I think I agree with the intent


[deactivated account]
Mon 27 Aug 2018 8:26PM

Agree with the provisional proposal, but I'm concerned with our ability to define and act upon our values longer-term.


Matthew Cropp Tue 21 Aug 2018 12:23AM

On the BOFA front, their admin posted about the situation, and it sounds like they are essentially inviting instance mutes, so that seems reasonable.


Gil Scott Fitzgerald Tue 21 Aug 2018 12:25AM

Hey Matt that link is broken


Jake Beamish Tue 21 Aug 2018 12:32AM

It was a link to a toot that might have just been deleted, it loaded about 15 mins ago. It roughly explained that they had been asked to ban a user by another instance or the whole instance would be blocked/silenced. They chose not to ban said user.

Also relevant, from bofa.lol/about/more: "We have one general rule: Don't be a dick. Bofa's notion of basic decency consists chiefly of not denigrating others on the basis of race, ethnicity, faith, gender/gender non-conformity, sexual orientation, etc. If you want to be a bigot or a misogynist, do it on someone else's instance."


Fabián Heredia Montiel Tue 21 Aug 2018 1:23AM

Hi, to address some concerns.

Here is my interpretation of the situation that might need some formalization:

The standing jury is accountable to both the CWG and the Coop at large. Decisions on CWG and the Coop take precedence over decisions of the jury.


Aaron Wolf Mon 27 Aug 2018 3:54PM

by the way, I really don't appreciate stuff like referencing "freespeech™". There's far too much of the left that actually rejects the whole idea of free speech, such as the people who switched to being anti-ACLU when they learned that the ACLU actually supports rights for people they don't agree with.

In the climate we're in politically, I actually worry that people here might accuse me of having right-wing political ideas (which I happen not to hold at all) if I merely support civil liberties for anyone right-wing, like the ACLU does.

Furthermore, I think people I disagree with shouldn't be hidden from me seeing them in the fediverse. I think if particular people want to block instances for themselves, that's fine. I think for social.coop to silence instances across the board, the bar has to be a lot higher than merely disagreeing with them politically.


[deactivated account] Mon 27 Aug 2018 4:01PM

So, the thing is, alt-right and nazi types use the "free speech" line as a cheat code. They're not sincere about it, they never have been. They use it precisely because progressive people have a blindness when it comes to protecting free speech and stop critically thinking about the impact and harm portion of the equation.


Edward L Platt Mon 27 Aug 2018 4:11PM

The phrase "freespeech TM" is vague and confusing. Does it add anything that isn't elsewhere in the policy?


[deactivated account] Mon 27 Aug 2018 4:17PM

Agreed it's not a great phrase, and perhaps would better be replaced by something like: "Instances that do not take administrative action on abusive actions, under the cover of free speech absolutism."


Simon Grant Mon 27 Aug 2018 4:56PM

Thank you @june5 that's much clearer to me. I'm pretty behind on the jargon here, so plain language always helps.


Aaron Wolf Mon 27 Aug 2018 5:47PM

I think "Instances specifically decide not take administrative action on abusive actions" is adequate enough (as long as "abusive" isn't stretched beyond the breaking point).

What difference does it make if abusive stuff is allowed under the cover of "free speech" claims versus for any other reason?

I certainly understand feeling extra offended at people using "free speech" as a defense of abuse. But abuse shouldn't be tolerated no matter what the excuses.

I've witnessed both abuse-supporting free-speech-absolutism and legitimate concerns about censorship of ideas people dislike. For example, some sexist or racist ideas that we wouldn't support are still not to the level of being abusive. We won't tolerate such ideas posted directly at social.coop, but if another instance has a policy that allows such ideas along with many others while adequately stopping any actual abuse, I don't support a blanket silencing of the whole instance.

I think free-speech absolutism is ridiculous. But there's also a degree of censorship of bad-ideas that goes too far.

If the dominant messages from an instance are grotesque but not-quite-abusive sexism, I would support our membership choosing to silence the instance, and I would vote for silencing.

But if an instance merely tolerates some relatively small amount of non-abuse but still-offensive sexism alongside a lot of other stuff, I have mixed feelings about silencing the whole instance. I certainly don't support a blanket policy of saying that any instance that tolerates ideas we don't like in the name of free speech will be silenced.

https://www.npr.org/sections/money/2017/08/25/546127444/episode-790-rough-translations-in-ukraine convinced me that some amount of censorship is probably necessary. But I still want to be careful where we draw the line. I think there's good things that can come from ideas mixing, even those with bad ideas learning from outside views etc. And groupthink / filter-bubbles are a real harmful phenomenon.


[deactivated account] Mon 27 Aug 2018 6:03PM

I'd suggest that this policy isn't going to be enforced or understood in a vacuum, and in practice the internet, social forums in particular, are directly under attack by people who actually use free speech absolutism as a cover for abuse, which is why it's important to call that out specifically at the instance level. If an instance admin is publicly voicing this position either in how they respond directly to abuse complaints, or on their "about this instance" pages, it's a huge red flag about how much other stuff might be likely to come from that instance. This is why it's set apart from abusive individual users and is useful in this discussion about decisions at the instance-federation level. Our regular Code of Conduct would cover "User A is specifically being abusive and they are located on Otherwise Decent Instance B" whereas a federation policy decision would look at how the instance maintainers handle abuse on their own instance.

So, in short, because nazis and alt-right types are actively using the cover of free speech absolutism to make their projects seem "reasonable" to liberal progressive types, (e.g., gab.ai) we should address that directly in this policy discussion, rather than tiptoeing around it.


[deactivated account] Mon 27 Aug 2018 6:06PM

Example: I'm a trans woman. An instance might allow its users to tweet about how "there are only 2 genders" and "trans women are really men" and /defend/ their position by stating "i support our users rights to free speech even if i don't agree with them" - so, this is a case where both the content of the individual toots would be in volation of our CoC (as transphobic) but we might want to take an extra look at the instance as a whole because of the manner in which the administrators are defending the content.


Edward L Platt Mon 27 Aug 2018 6:14PM

This seems like a discussion that needs wider participation and consensus-building as part of the full CoC. Are there any potential blocks here regarding including or not including specific language about "free speech"? Or can the temporary policy proceed while we hash this out?


Matt Noyes Mon 27 Aug 2018 6:20PM

The Federation Policy that starts this thread and the proposal about giving the Standing Jury temporary powers to mute instances are different, right?
I would strongly urge that we not adopt a Federation Policy that needs wider participation and consensus-building, and might block if we don't do that.


Aaron Wolf Mon 27 Aug 2018 6:23PM

@june5 "There are only 2 genders" and "trans women are really men" are certainly violations of our CoC and should be blocked. But they are views unfortunately held by more people than just alt-right and Nazi types.

Although I disagree with it, I can understand a reasonable non-tactful free-speech position at an instance that only censors messages when more personal or violent. An administrator just choosing not to block those messages shouldn't be seen as a positive endorsement. I'm sure there are both ACLU-style sincere non-absolutist more-free-speech instances as well as those using "free speech" as a cover for hate.

Is it better to block even seeing anything from any site that risks occasional offensive posts? I'm not sure.

I don't support either free-speech absolutism or zero-tolerance of all offensive (but non-abusive) posts. I think finding the right balance is complex, and I lean toward being more stringent on our instance while not requiring that all instances allowed to show in the federated list be equally stringent or otherwise match our perspective precisely.

I'm uncomfortable with a message of "if you are any more tolerant of offensive ideas than we are, we will silence your whole instance", especially if the vast majority of an instance is fine.

I suppose the question is whether social.coop will aim to be absolutely free of offensive ideas, even in the federated view, or whether we take a more nuanced policy toward silencing other instances.

@edwardlplatt I don't want to block as long as this is clearly just a temporary fail-safe and not even a real policy.


[deactivated account] Mon 27 Aug 2018 6:25PM

I'm done with this. I'm going to be moving out of this group.


Aaron Wolf Mon 27 Aug 2018 6:47PM

@june5 I certainly don't mean to scare you off or want you to feel at all unwelcome. Including the voices of those with particular concerns is a major part of getting our policies right. Of course, do whatever you feel is best for you. But I'm not sure how you came to conclude something about social.coop in this short context/exchange.

It's always hard to read deeper behind plain text. Your leaving post certainly could have a lot of deeper feelings or thoughts behind it, and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't reading it with some amount of empathy and concern for what that might be.

Can I do something to make you feel welcome again?


Robin Mon 27 Aug 2018 8:03PM

I think the thing here is that many people, especially ones who are more likely to be the targets, are less interested in the question of whether the admins allow hate speech because they genuinely practice free speech absolutism or whether they secretly agree with it, and are more interested in just not having to deal with it day to day. Even if it's not personally addressed to you, it can still be hurtful and exhausting to have to deal with.

Especially in the case of silencing an instance, where the potential cost is not seeing random toots from other users on that instance, it feels like an easy decision. There's plenty of other random toots out there to read instead.


[deactivated account] Mon 27 Aug 2018 8:24PM

It's important to me that my instance doesn't tolerate hate speech. If we have values, and if we care about enforcing those values in our own space, why would we allow unfiltered access to those who have no interest in our values?

There are plenty of mastodon instances I can join which will decisively block hate speech. Why would I stay here instead?


Aaron Wolf Mon 27 Aug 2018 8:37PM

Yeah, I agree completely. There's no reason for us not to block hate-speech. Where the rubber-hits-the-road is what policy we have to guide that and who makes the determination in the end. An anti-hate-speech policy seems straightforward enough along with some clarity about what that means (not a trivial task, of course) and the mods we have needing to do the hard work of judging each case.

An instance with real free-speech-absolutism (no censoring of anything, even hate speech) seems adequate to silence (assuming there's any reason to suspect it will indeed include hate speech).

I'm just concerned about preemptive silencing of any instance that even signals things we don't like (such as reference to free speech that seem too right-wing-libertarian). There are non-hate-speech libertarian views that I don't like but prefer to allow to be present in the fediverse listings. I'm personally not here to be in a tribe. I want to avoid groupthink and be exposed to challenging ideas.

To me, the whole concept of accessing the fediverse outside our instance seems inherently bigger than seeing only voices that might as well be at social.coop. I totally support real hate speech being silenced. But on another example: We should not support pro-corporate, pro-capitalist messages at social.coop, but I don't want them censored out of the fediverse view…


Robin Mon 27 Aug 2018 9:05PM

Well, there's a pretty important qualitative difference between hate speech and political opinions one disagrees with, and it seems hyperbolic at best to suggest we can't distinguish or reason about that difference. I don't think the comments about "free speech" as a slogan are meant to propose a sort of broad political litmus test, if that's what you're worried about, but rather to put the focus on the actions of an instance's users rather than its stated beliefs. Especially in light of one very particular and commonly used smokescreen for bad conduct.

That said, I'd rather err on the side of creating a welcoming instance over making sure certain borderline ideas are easily visible.


Aaron Wolf Mon 27 Aug 2018 9:16PM

I agree with all that.

That said, I'd rather err on the side of creating a welcoming instance over making sure certain borderline ideas are easily visible.

Well, once you're looking at the fediverse and not your individual notifications or follows or our instance's timeline, we're already into a fuzzy area. It's an opening to a lot of stuff. We certainly want to have limits, but setting them right isn't easy. I think we have to expect some regular maintenance.

And anyway, I'm not concerned specifically about making sure borderline ideas are visible. I'm concerned that we cut out a whole lot of potentially perfectly fine, positive, interesting ideas and posts if we silence whole instances just because a fraction of their posts might be borderline. I lean toward having instance-silencing for those instances that really push the borderline too much or go over it and do nothing about that.


Robin Mon 27 Aug 2018 9:29PM

I guess my thinking here is, I find the risk of missing out on a really important post because the instance was silenced pretty minimal considering how big the internet is. I'm already missing out on most posts by virtue of being only on person who's not online all the time. And if it's an idea that can only be found on instances that tolerate hate speech, that sounds doubly like something I can do without. In any case, the potential gain very likely isn't worth the bad.


Aaron Wolf Mon 27 Aug 2018 9:40PM

Indeed to all that.

I'm happy as long as we both (A) appropriately filter-out hate speech (and have clear guidelines that don't count anything offensive at all as hate-speech) and (B) avoid being an echo-chamber in other respects.

I'm concerned that overly cautious, overly preemptive work on A will end up failing to have B. But where it gets fuzzy, I respect erring toward A.


Fabián Heredia Montiel Mon 27 Aug 2018 10:40PM

The only power given to the standing jury is to mute instances in order to provide a quote way to contain abuse. (Since it would take the CWG 1 week to do so otherwise)

The proposal has an end-date: When a CoC and Federation Policy are enacted.

As Robin has clearly said, and as our year-long travel with the CoC drafting has shown, we would rather be welcoming to all minorities by providing strong harassment protections than by profiling to be a freespeech instance.

Muting instances won't alter a single home timeline so those you follow will still be visible. (And week by week seeing stuff on the Federation timeline is harder due to the sheer amount of tooting)


Becci Cat Mon 27 Aug 2018 11:18PM

Aaron Wolf, what about if the coop has the ability to overturn blocks, or to vote on them after the fact? And to hold the responsible parties accountable if there was an overstep? This seems to me like a way to maintain legitimate skepticism of authority while making social.coop safe for marginalized people.


Matt Noyes Mon 27 Aug 2018 4:30PM

I would block if this Federation Policy were put to a vote. The proposal here is just temporary -- pending adoption of a CoC and Federation Policy, right?


Fabián Heredia Montiel Mon 27 Aug 2018 10:20PM

Yeah, the proposal clearly states that it will stop as soon as a Federation Policy is enacted.


Aaron Wolf Mon 27 Aug 2018 6:51PM

What range of options do we have for moderating the federated list overall?

Say there's a place with more tolerance of offensive posts than we would have and there are particular users there who habitually post things that would violate our CoC. Can we silence just individual accounts from other instances?

Is there any option for something on an instance level that is between silencing and nothing? I'm guessing not, since there's no algorithm just a timeline…

What about individual accounts here silencing instances? Can I choose to silence a whole instance while other social.coop users still see that instance? Or is that sort of a prime use case for self-hosted instances to really control everything for oneself?


Matthew Cropp Mon 27 Aug 2018 7:00PM

The moderation actions that can be taken are listed here.


Aaron Wolf Mon 27 Aug 2018 7:13PM

Thanks! So, if I'm right to read that accounts on other instances can be addressed, I think I support this sort of direction:

  • Silence (even suspend for extreme cases) instances that are unambiguously dominated by or intentionally set up to promote messages we would not tolerate
  • Otherwise, use some criteria around how costly it is to deal with individual posts and/or users
    • Start with removing offending posts from view here
    • If a particular user has repeat offenses and aren't dealt with by their instance admin, silence that user
    • If multiple users from an instance continue being a problem (cost our mods too much bandwidth), then silence the whole instance.

Aaron Wolf Mon 27 Aug 2018 8:43PM

What happens if someone from a silenced instance is following a social.coop member? They still follow on their end? What if they reply to something?


Matt Noyes Mon 27 Aug 2018 8:55PM

This, from mastodon.starrevolution.org/@Laurelai "I really dont like it when techbros try to gaslight people into thinking that you cant make anti abuse tools or that even trying to do so is bad. "well someone can just do x to get around it" yes but most people wont, reducing harm is good and you know this, you just want the ability to cause more harm shut up." This makes clear that the burden of protecting people from abuse should not fall on them -- the community should take action to protect people. Urging people to block/silence/mute on an individual basis fails this test.


Simon Grant Mon 27 Aug 2018 8:59PM

can someone please translate "techbros" and "gaslight"?


[deactivated account] Mon 27 Aug 2018 9:04PM

Simon, the first hit from google explains each pretty adequately :-/


Simon Grant Mon 27 Aug 2018 9:08PM

@mattnoyes how can anyone be sure what protecting people involves? I am NOT in the least suggesting doing nothing, but rather pointing at the rather obvious point that the best way of protecting people from harm is by not allowing anyone to say anything! If a community takes responsibility for protecting someone from harm -- well it's inevitably going to be wrong one way or the other -- either too protective or not protective enough. My real concern here is that people's need for protection differs greatly, and the very same policy that will be too much protection for some will be too little for others.


Simon Grant Mon 27 Aug 2018 9:11PM

Thank you @micahelizabethscot I get gaslighting now. I don't get the use of a term like "techbros" though -- seems deliberately derogatory, stigmatising all male IT employees say in Silicon Valley? And I do not want to tolerate or exonerate for a moment any inconsiderate behaviour that stems from a sense of entitlement.


[deactivated account] Mon 27 Aug 2018 9:16PM

Are you fucking kidding me with this.


Simon Grant Mon 27 Aug 2018 9:17PM

Sorry, @june5 is who kidding who with what?


Aaron Wolf Mon 27 Aug 2018 9:20PM

@asimong In general, you can assume "techbros" refers to a attitude of sexism, misogyny — the sort of stereotype of testosterone, egotistical frat-boy culture.

It doesn't refer to men who happen to be in tech and aren't like that. Unfortunately, that culture is all-too widespread in tech (in part because of the gender imbalance but also because of other factors including the capitalist startup culture and the rest of our sexist overall culture).

I'm guessing you are coming from outside that culture (and with English not your native language?), right?


Simon Grant Mon 27 Aug 2018 9:49PM

I am coming from outside the culture. UK english is my native language ;) Having seen the explanation of the term gaslighting (which I hadn't come across before) it strikes me as a very helpful term. The problem I have with using a term like "techbros" is, why not use the phrase "sexist, misogynist men" if that is what is meant? The potential damage is that if people can be classed as a "techbro" based on their gender, age, race and occupation, then it can slide across to assuming that they are sexist and misogynist. Maybe statistically most likely, but that's not the point to me at all.


Aaron Wolf Mon 27 Aug 2018 9:53PM

I take your concern as innocent and sincere, but it's a straw-man nonetheless. I've never seen anyone assume any male when using "techbro". It's specifically referring to a particular toxic culture.

And actually there's a ridiculous "not all men" defensiveness from some people who take umbrage about critiques of toxic aspects of sexist culture. So, unfortunately, some people may take your concerns as representative of that.

See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bro_(subculture) is what this is linguistically.

So, you and I can be male and not be "bros".


Simon Grant Mon 27 Aug 2018 10:21PM

OK, fair enough, I stand educated as a male non-bro :)


Simon Grant Mon 27 Aug 2018 9:17PM

Look, I'd be perfectly happy with a federation policy that blocks anything dubious at all. All I'm saying is that I'd like to see some evidence that this is what the membership actually want. It's easy for vocal people to speak up for what they want. They do it all the time. I'm interested in those who are more timid, quiet or reticent.


Arini Suhono Mon 27 Aug 2018 9:21PM

No, it's not always easy for vocal people to speak up. I'm a vocal person and I've been sitting on the sidelines of this because I have far too much to deal with beyond this community to stick my neck out in this debate. But here I am. As I've mentioned on the instance itself, if this community decides it will tolerate hate speech under the guise of "free speech," I'm out.


Aaron Wolf Mon 27 Aug 2018 9:32PM

Simon was clearly saying that whoever isn't speaking up for whatever reasons, we need to be sure that we don't discount their perspectives. So there's agreement here.

Anyway, there's no sense in which social.coop will tolerate hate speech under the guise of "free speech". Nobody is advocating for that perspective.

The only questions are how to deal with complex mix of things from outside instances and how to figure out where the guidelines are and what qualifies as hate speech (and whether or not to take note of arguable signals of potential hate speech preemptively of any hate speech).


Simon Grant Mon 27 Aug 2018 9:50PM

And I am completely supportive of excluding hate speech.


Becci Cat Mon 27 Aug 2018 10:58PM

I support this policy.
I also support the ability to overturn automatic blocks, as mentioned before. That gets rid of the legitimate concern over whether this will be abused.


Aaron Wolf Mon 27 Aug 2018 11:35PM

Sure, that seems worth a try.

I just don't want social.coop to be an echo-chamber with zero-tolerance for potentially controversial or offensive ideas. As long as that concern is acknowledged, I support the moderators and then the co-op membership overall in using practical wisdom to make their best judgments on each case.

I don't mind the general policy I now see in the edited topic description here.


Simon Grant Mon 27 Aug 2018 11:05PM

the proposal closed at the wrong time for me. Try again and I'll agree now.


kawaiipunk Tue 28 Aug 2018 1:10PM

I think your conduct on this thread has been pretty whack @wolftune

I think you should perhaps consider that you have been holding back and delaying this issue which is just a basic intermediary step to protect our members from abuse before we get our basic moderation procedures in place (which appears to have taken way too long).

I think you should consider that perhaps you don't actually know that much about how to handle moderation in an online community. It's fine to put your opinion out there but to continually dominate the conversation when the proposed action doesn't even effect you that much.

You are clearly very privileged in the way you talk about this issue because I'm guessing you probably don't face actual attacks by fascists in the street or in online spaces. Lots of people on this instance actually do.

Co-ops are meant to be a means for working class people to regain some common space/resources in the face of a brutal capitalist system that disposes us.

I'm not here to endlessly debate menial technocratic details. A co-op is about standing in solidarity with your fellow community members. I want to know my comrades have my back. I want to know that you have my back.

Are you an anti-fascist or not? If you are, you should consider that allowing fascists to have a space in which to organise and propagate their ideas is exactly why we are seeing the rise of fascists movements around the world and in online spaces.

We need to protect ourselves from people who seek to destroy us. In the UK in the 1930s, the blackshirts would attack co-operative workplaces. In 2018, we just had a socialist bookshop ransacked in London.

Please consider the wider situation and listen to those that have been screaming warnings out about the growing threat to our movement. It's not just about you wanting to see a few edgy toots that you obviously would disagree with.


Aaron Wolf Tue 28 Aug 2018 6:35PM

Thanks for your note. I'm still unsure (not just personally but in anticipating future issues all around) how to manage discussions like this most effectively. I really did not and do not intend to derail or delay any important actions or decisions.

I don't want to dominate any conversation, I only want to participate. I appreciate the need to listen as much as to speak.

I'm indeed quite privileged by many measures. I'm more often in the position of observing attacks as a bystander/friend/ally etc. and thinking about what to do about it and how to protect people being attacked than I am in the position of being a victim directly.

Back on topic here, I agree 100% with the intent of denying fascists space to organize. Any sabotage of fascism is positive in itself if we disregard side-effects or slippery-slopes. And there's certainly ways to sabotage fascists without those problems, so I support those. And when I bring up worries about side-effects and slippery-slopes, I certainly don't want to imply a zero-tolerance. As much as I oppose the bluntness of zero-tolerance policies that can have real tragic unintended consequences, I also oppose the dogmas that suggest we disarm ourselves over mere worries about slippery-slopes!

Incidentally, I don't see social.coop as merely a place to organize anti-fascist action. It's more broadly a place for all sorts of engagement on all sorts of topics (anti-fascist action included) that should be open to all who support the core co-op tenets. And that does include a wide range of political and social perspectives (though it certainly omits some).

Politically, I do have a big concern that overly-strong tribalist litmus tests for groups can end up turning away the very people whose minds are not made up and who need to hear our message and join us. I'm personally both extremely pro-solidarity and anti-tribal. I abhor groupthink echo-chamber us-vs-them thinking but I think most or all the power injustices in the world can only be addressed through widespread solidarity. It's by keeping us divided that capitalists maintain control in the status quo. And part of that solidarity is tolerance of diverse identities and opinions, as long as they align with the core goals of solidarity.


[deactivated account] Tue 28 Aug 2018 6:56PM

Aaron your behaviour here is literally one of the motivators for me leaving. You are not standing in solidarity with me. I want to be crystal clear on this because it seems to still not be getting through. Aaron, Simon, and others behaviour here is unacceptable and will drive marginalized people from the instance, as it did me. This is not the sole reason I left, but the environment that allowed you both (among others) to behave in the way you did contributed to my decision.

I'm leaving the Loomio group now and do not want to interact with y'all further.


Cathal Garvey Tue 28 Aug 2018 2:52PM

My 2c on the issue:

Free Speech is a non-issue, IMO, because "Free Speech" concerns a person's freedom to speak, not their freedom to have their speech be hosted by others. If Social.coop decides certain stuff is socially unacceptable within our spaces, then it's not a "Free Speech" issue to exclude them.

That said: I think that we should adopt a federation policy that mirrors one of those golden rules: "Be conservative in what you say, and liberal in what you accept". So if our CoC says you can't discuss the merits of Capitalism, that's kinda dumb but OK. But if we ban other instances for permitting people to discuss capitalism, then it's very dumb and we're hurting our membership. Obviously this rule of thumb only goes so far, because we certainly should not tolerate pro-fascist propaganda, hate speech, or aggression against our membership or perhaps even unmoderated aggression generally.

All of which is to say: I think that our federation policy should necessarily be more liberal than our Code of Conduct, though it should still establish rules. The CoC is there to put bounds on what we consider acceptable in our community, but the Federation Policy is there to put bounds on what we consider civilised behaviour generally.

We might decide to add to our Code of Conduct that people should not defend nazis (which sounds fair), but then end up with timewasters asking us to defederate with an instance where someone said "Maybe punching nazis isn't OK"; that's an opinion that many of us might disagree with, but it's clearly not defederation material.

Likewise, I might argue that advocating for guillotining rich people is an unacceptable form of murder advocacy, and has no place in Social.coop. But unfortunately a lot of our 'ally' leftist instances will think it's just too tasteful and funny to ban. So by making ourselves more civilised, we'd end up isolating ourselves if we had to defederate anyone who fell short of our CoC.

TLDR: I don't think minimum-standards-for-conduct-on-social-coop are, or should be, the same as minimum-standards-for-letting-social-coop-people-interact. Ban all the Nazi, hateful, homo/trans-phobic instances though, and to hell with the conflation of free speech and lack of moderation.


Cathal Garvey Tue 28 Aug 2018 3:53PM

Addendum; I misunderstood "silencing" to mean defederating fully, so while I stand by my opinions above on our standards, I am less worried about merely "silencing" (but not "banning" or fully defederating) shitposter or ancap instances. If they are still capable of talking to us and vice versa, but their nonsense simply doesn't appear on our "federated timeline", then that's probably an improvement. And, I can see how simply applying our CoC can lead to issues, but less-so than when we're discussing bans. I still think our CoC might be too stringent for some "allied" instances, but I'm not as worried about missing out on those high-quality guillotine jokes anymore.