An open letter
Dear fellow members,
the events that unfolded over the past few days have put our cooperative to the test, and we failed miserably.
Many voices calling for change were silenced in the past, be it by negligence or by sheer lack of commitment by those, whose position of privilege allowed to disregard such calls. By failing to listen, we became the people MLK warned us about: the white moderates who are more devoted to order than to justice.
We wasted precious time and energy in endless debates about trivial details, calling for the creation of ever new committees and processes, and we eventually lost sight of the only true reason our cooperative came to existence: to wrestle control of our social media out of the hands of the rich, white, capitalist elite.
I am writing this letter to extend my personal apologies to all the people who felt betrayed by our failure and to promise them I am here to put my energy, time, skills and reputation on the line to repair this institution and turn it into a place where they will be safe again. A place for them to call home.
But promises are not enough. Words, however strong or emotional, are but empty utterances if they are not followed by swift, honest, transparent action guided by total commitment. And, with your help, I intend to trigger a new course that will shake social.coop at the foundations and turn it into something we will be proud of for years to come.
First of all, I invite all those who revel in relativistic attitudes towards racism, sexism, homo/trans-phobia and any other form of bigotry to instantly leave the cooperative and never come back. You are not welcome, and you will never be.
Second, I propose we close down registrations for all the time it will take us to heal our cooperative. This might sound like an aggresive move, but I believe it’s the only reasonable thing to do in this diffucult moment. A joint statement will replace our homepage for the time the instance will be closed, to inform people about our struggle to improve.
Third, we will follow the advice of those fellow members who chose to weather the storm with us despite being part of those groups we failed to protect in the first place. I will not name names here, but if you have been involved in the chat, you know who I am talking about.
We shall reboot the cooperative with a core group of collaborators, deliberately chosen, and not all white men. I invite all men, including myself, to take a back seat in this process unless explicitly asked by the core group.
We shall make sure we have social infrastructure in place for handling conflict and abuse before launch, including a rock-solid code of conduct that will state our absolute rejection of any form of hate speech, racism, bigotry and *phobia front and center.
We shall grow our core user base deliberately, in small groups, and attempt to tap more diverse networks, to combat the network effects that brought social.coop on the brink of collapse
We shall make sure all the skills and resources needed to maintain the organization are in place from the start and focus on sustainability. We can never find ourselves again in the situation where a single member leaving or being overwhelmed with external responsibilities exposes the instance to the risk of downtime, poor performance or sluggish maintenance.
We will make sure at least one of the core collaborators is an experienced community manager, with previous experience handling diverse, international communities across many timezones.
I chose to stay because I believe we can do much, much better than we did so far, and because I am deeply committed to the idea of platform cooperativism as a means to achieve liberation, justice and equality for all.
At the same time I am painfully aware that my position of absolute privilege, which I am granted under the current capitalist partiarchy, puts me at a distinct disadvantage when it comes to understading the needs of those who are oppressed by the same system.
My position in the new social.coop will therefore be that of an enthusiastic contributor and ally to those who will be part of the core group and nothing more, unless explicitly asked for, as intellectual honesty demands I give up any position in which I could wield even the slightest bit of power.
With respect, hope and unchanged enthusiasm,
EDIT 02/09/18: replaced "take the instance off-line" with "close down registrations" as many members reported it was misleading and suggested we were going to shut down completely.