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Are women-only meetings allowed?
Are women-only meetings allowed under this Code of Conduct? There was recently a meeting at a Wikimedia Foundation-sanctioned event that was billed as women-only - or more specifically, open only to anyone who is not "cis male". (I'm not naming it here because I have no interest in repercussions for the people who organized it.)
I don't know if this is the first overtly exclusionary event in Wikimedia history. There have been certainly been "WikiWomen's Lunch" meetings at Wikimania and that sort of thing, but the phrasing this time seemed a little more explicit that certain groups are not welcome.
The Code of Conduct lists the following under "Unacceptable behavior":
- Discrimination, particularly against marginalized and otherwise underrepresented groups. Targeted outreach to such groups is allowed and encouraged.
The exception for "targeted outreach" is clearly meant to allow for programs like Outreachy. But this recent meeting was not an outreach event, just a way for a subset of participants to get together and talk. And since I think everyone would agree that women are an underrepresented group, it seems to follow that such a meeting, while not particularly unacceptable, is still unacceptable. At least, that's my interpretation.
Again, I have no desire to see anyone involved be penalized; I just want it to be clear what the rules are going forward.
@Ɱ: Do you have opinions about this? Ɱ has been developing https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia%3AEnglish_Wikipedia_non-discrimination_policy.
Hi - yes - as far as I found by looking into their event pages and documentation, there’s no evidence of true exclusion of any gender, and it’s not in any requirements for their individual events, it’s likely just encouraged to be mostly all women. Some particularly have stated "People of all gender identities and expressions are welcome, particularly trans and cisgender women." As far as I've found, neither this Code of Conduct nor the 2006-2017 non-discrimination policy were ever cited to counter a productive project like it.
Thanks for your replies. Leaving aside the specifics of any one event, if a meeting truly did exclude men or "cis men", would that be forbidden?
I think the current language is a little unclear, but I think this group of events shows the success of a woman-oriented event, without a necessity to truly push any people away. I also don't know of any Wikimedians who would want to join while violating the spirit of a woman-only event, especially as their editing subject relates to feminism. I might also note that women can be included in the definition of "marginalized and otherwise underrepresented groups", but I don't think 'cis men' qualifies as one of those groups.
I don't think that really answered the question, but anyway, I'm also looking forward to hearing what other people have to say.
Everyone can define a minority or marginalised group that includes any specific person, and plead special circumstances. There is no black and white, just shades of grey. There will be wikilawyering.
Well to answer your question more directly, this Code of Conduct doesn't expressly forbid it, nor does any other I've found. If there were a specific complaint raised, which I still doubt, we would have to further analyze this.
@Yaron Koren there's a long history of discussion around this question, you might start by looking at parallels such as [black-only https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/may/30/white-people-black-women-feminist-festival] spaces to see another perspective: for some types of organizing, this is actually more inclusive than inviting "everybody".
To make a less analogous comparison in case it might help clarify, consider programming events for young people. If these weren't explicitly targeted towards young people, then you would get the usual crowd of moderately- to highly-experienced adults attending, who feel comfortable taking up a lot of air time, and relatively few young people. It's not "overtly exclusionary" to specifically invite young people, it's part of building a diverse movement. Let me know if that helps?
@Adamw - my question isn't whether women-only meetings are a good idea, it's whether they're allowed. It seems pretty clear to me that the answer is "no", but I look forward to hearing other people's thoughts.
My response was addressing the judgments like "overtly exclusionary event", and the assumption that a targeted event is a type of discrimination. My point is, this is a well-trodden discussion and the consensus as I understand it is that targeted approaches can help build a diverse community. This very thread is an excellent example of why this is the case--how many discussions about discrimination have been hijacked by allegations of so-called reverse racism, which is not one of the problems needing to be solved right now.
I don't understand - are you saying that an event that excludes men is not discriminatory?
"Discrimination, particularly against marginalized and otherwise underrepresented groups. Targeted outreach to such groups is allowed and encouraged."
Men are not a marginalized group, and "targeted outreach" seems to encompass having a targeted event that is aimed (and targeting) marginalized groups, like women and non-binary in tech.
Most events such as these do allow "all genders" but have the caveat that requires all people that are of groups that are not underrepresented (such as cis men in tech, or such as cis white women in a meetup that aims to represent latinx/etc women and non binary groups) to be respectful of the space and the opportunity that is given to the underrepresented groups to be represented.
So yes. It is allowed, and seems to be encouraged, as an outreach device.
I've honestly never heard of any strictly "women-only" events related to Wikimedia. I've been to several events for women and non-binary folks and have never witnessed anyone turned away from such an event regardless of their gender presentation. If someone was actually turned away, I imagine it would be handled on a case-by-case basis.
@Mooeypoo - well, I think we can all agree that the "Discrimination" entry could have been worded better - as it, it requires some guesswork as to meaning.
Yes, men are not marginalized or underrepresented. And any event that discriminates against one group is, by definition, targeted at whoever's left. So I'll grant you that this event was "targeted" as well. Is it "outreach", though? I think the word "outreach" implies that the people being invited are not members of the Wikimedia technical community already - and for this event, they were. So it doesn't seem like "targeted outreach" to me.
If you're right, though, and any technical event run by the WMF that excludes men is by definition "targeted outreach", then we could simplify and clarify that line of the CoC considerably. It could be instead be written as "Discrimination against marginalized and otherwise underrepresented groups [is not allowed]. Discrimination against any other group is allowed and encouraged." Would you agree that that's an accurate restatement of what you think the CoC says?
This isn't the first time this subject has been raised; in fact, I'm fairly sure that a stroll through the CoC archives will show this discussion in several flavors several times, answered by multiple people, including actual lawyers and other community members.
It seems most readers don't consider it as "guesswork" as you make it seem; there are equivalent uses of these type of concepts in multiple legal codes in multiple countries, as well, defining what is, and isn't "marginalized" and "underrepresented" minority. Some examples of this also happened fairly recently in American politics, and around the world, trying to define whether discrimination against an ideological group is considered legal discrimination. It does not.
I'm not sure what else you're asking here, though. It's fairly clear that these type of events are supported by the Code of Conduct, and pretty clearly labeled as outreach events, for the purpose of increasing both diversity in the movement as well as opportunities to make sure these underrepresented groups have an opportunity to safely be included.
@Mooeypoo - I don't see what lawyers have to do with this. The CoC is not a legal document; it's a set of guidelines that doesn't refer in any way to any actual laws. There's no precedent to be consulted, etc.
Again, I'm not arguing that men are marginalized or underrepresented. They're not, which means, as I noted in the beginning, that the CoC considers discriminating against them unacceptable, although not particularly unacceptable - just regularly unacceptable.
The meeting I originally talked about was not labeled as an outreach event.
The reason I mentioned "lawyers" and "laws" is to (once again) show that the concepts brought up in this principle are not new, or invented here, or unfamiliar in the general social world-wide perspective, including the definitions of 'marginalized' and 'underrepresented'. But anyways, that was an aside.
What is it that you're actually asking here, though? Are you disappointed you felt you couldn't participate in these meetings? Are you saying they shouldn't happen at all? Are you saying that we should rephrase them? I'm trying to understand what the objection actually is?
I'm not sure I understand what you're raising as an actual issue, considering several people (now and previously, multiple times already) have answered the original question at the title of this topic, and explained it.
Thanks for asking. I'm generally against discrimination in the context of software development, and I find the idea of a Wikimedia event which certain people are not allowed to attend, simply because of their demographic attributes, repulsive. Thankfully, it seems like the Code of Conduct agrees with me - other than specific outreach programs like Outreachy, such a thing is considered "unacceptable".
I'm a little confused here. The Code of Conduct clearly allows for events that are targeting minorities and underrepresented groups, recognizing that such events are meant for outreach. The idea that this means "only outreachy" is an outreach program is your interpretation, and judging from the responses to this thread (and multiple other previous conversations) this interpretation is not shared by others.
You've received answers here that the Code of Conduct allows for these meetings, that they have a specific goal for inclusion that is missing specifically by these underrepresented groups, and that the definition of "underrepresented minorities" exists in the technical universe outside of Wikimedia's Code of Conduct.
I am not quite sure why you suggest that it seems like the Code of Conduct agrees with you, given the above.
I'm surprised that you think any part of this phrasing in the Code of Conduct is "clear". :) I didn't say that only Outreachy is an outreach program, although I would bet that if Outreachy didn't exist, that sentence wouldn't have been added. I'm still not sure what you think counts as "outreach". Is it your view that any women-only event can be considered outreach? If so, you're the only one making that claim.
You keep moving the goalpost, here, though.
You asked a question: Are these groups allowed. Fairly quickly you've received several answers showing that it seems to be allowed, and perhaps even encouraged.
You seem to have taken this into an angle where it agrees with you.
I am asking again, then: What, exactly, is your goal here? If your goal was to ask the question in the thread, it seemed to have been answered previous to my participation -- and in multiple threads we both participated in, in the past, in previous Code of Conduct discussions in the archive.
So, again, what is the goal? Is your intent to offer that you should participate in such events yourself? Is it that we need to never have these type of events except outreachy? Is that what the discussion is about?
I'm not moving any goalposts. Yes, I did get several answers. Fortunately for me, this is not the kind of question that's decided by a majority vote. It's a fairly simple yes-or-no question, and hopefully by discussing it here we can reach clarity on what the answer is. Your repeated questions about my intent are starting to feel like harassment. If you don't think this is a conversation worth having, you don't need to be involved.
I am here to discuss a topic that I care about, just like you.
The reason why I repeatedly asked for your intent here, is because I want to make sure we are on the same page when we discuss a delicate issue of supporting the efforts of diversity and representation to underrepresented minorities.
I wanted to make sure that there are no misunderstandings as we discuss definitions and whether things are "yes-or-no" questions.
Well, maybe that's part of the problem: you see this as a delicate issue, and I don't. I'd say that maybe 80% of the responses so far have been on the order of "women-only gatherings are important". Maybe they are, but that's not what I'm asking about: I'm just asking about whether they're allowed under this Code of Conduct. It's a bloodless question that should only involve reading comprehension; there's no moral aspect to it. Obviously I have my own views on the underlying issue, as does seemingly everyone else here, but they're irrelevant here, and hopefully all future discussion will focus on just the text.
It looks like nothing more can be done to move this thread forward. I would probably summarize the outcome with exactly the quote used by the OP,
- Discrimination [is unacceptable], particularly against marginalized and otherwise underrepresented groups. Targeted outreach to such groups is allowed and encouraged.
The other confusions proliferating here circle around the question of whether a vaguely-specified meeting was a legitimate outreach event or not, but without naming the event, or giving the exact wording that is supposedly problematic, nobody will be able to diagnose your issue.
Yes, agreed, speculation without specifics isn't very helpful, and the language of this CoC is somewhat dependent on the scenario.
@Adamw - I can name the event, but I'm not sure it would help that much, because I'm asking in general terms here - not just for this event but for any future events. Let's say that there's a Wikimedia-affiliated event in the future that's billed as women-only, that it's not intended to bring in new developers, and that a man tries to enter and is turned away (which is pretty easy to do for online-only events, by the way). Would that be acceptable under the CoC, or not? Or would you still need more information than that to know for sure?
This same argument that supporting minorities is unfair to the majority has come up within this movement dozens of times before in discussions around movement affiliates, grant funding, and non-technical events (which are usually covered by a similar Friendly Space policy). I have served on volunteer committees that were asked this same question in regards to affiliates and Wikimania events, and it was dismissed each time. It has also unsuccessfully been used to try and argue that Boards and committees should note be allowed to have private meetings either. Women are hardly the only ones having private gatherings at events, and this is hardly a new question.
This has come up so many times, I am surprised that it has once again come up. Each time, we have reasonably come to the same conclusion as governments and other movements (including ones who we framed our CoC in part after) that of course these events should be allowed. I see nothing in the CoC that suggests the approach we take with affiliates and non-tech events should not apply here as well. Similar to arguments that we should fund "Straight Pride" and "White Pride" events because of the "Wiki Loves Pride" efforts - this falls flat for me. There are recognized differences between events which cultivate healthy relationships among minority groups and events which are just trying to make a counterpoint or argument around identity politics.
Disrupting private spaces is arguably more discriminatory (as it does not recognize their unique needs or our privilege as outsiders) than their attempts to make the events safe and private. I continue to applaud efforts by minority groups in our movement to find ways to come together and support each other - which is hard enough to do without never-ending philosophical debates on if these groups should even be allowed to meet or be recognized. The arguments against them appear as weak to me as the arguments against many other well established things in our movement such as Gender Gap work and outreach to developing nations.
Would an event for female developers that does not allow male identified developers into the space be discriminatory under the CoC? No more than some regional meetings, private Board meetings, private CoC meetings, or any other private gathering that has been taking place in our movement for over a decade. The only outcome of these debates that I have seen is making things more stressful and difficult for minorities than they already have it. Surely there are more important, legit, and less already drudged out issues to address than if men can crash a women's tea party or luncheon. Do we really need to have this argument for the umpteenth time yet again and stress out a bunch of folks trying to create a safe space? Let the female identified participants have their beverages and discussions in safe privacy and decide for themselves what guests, if any, to allow to attend. Frankly wanting to barge into their events feels rather creepy and voyeuristic to me personally (not speaking to motives of others - just speaking to how it makes me feel). I have heard this argument dozens of times, but still do not understand what secrets people believe are held within these meetings that they have an obligation to intervene into. Our movement respects reasonable privacy, let's respect each other's here.
@Varnent - I would classify most of what you wrote as interesting but irrelevant to the original question. That's fine - anyone is free to share their opinions. But if I can summarize your relevant points, you seem to be basically saying that the Code of Conduct does not outlaw any discrimination. All private meetings are a form of discrimination, the CoC does not outlaw private meetings, ergo the CoC can't be interpreted to outlaw discrimination. That's a valid reading, actually, and I think it points again to the poor wording of that part of the Code of Conduct. But it seems to me that "discrimination" there has to mean specifically "discrimination based on demographic attributes like race, gender, etc." Otherwise, as you note, it's an absurd statement.
@Yaron Koren: Unsurprisingly, you offered an inaccurate summary of what I said. Your assessment of my input as irrelevant I feel suggests nothing more you say warrants any reply from me. I wish you well, but your reply makes me increasingly confident your arguments will once again fail.
Well, I said mostly irrelevant.
@Adamw - you may have lost interest in this conversation, which is fine. I'm still curious, though, if you're willing to answer: is there any kind of women-only event that you would agree falls under (banned) discrimination, rather than (encouraged) outreach?
I'm finding this thread hard to follow. The original question is whether the language of the document would prohibit events that specifically excluded men. Certain responses seemed to deal with whether such events would be harmful or not, which confused the OP. I suspect that the point of confusion came over different definitions of discrimination, of whether or not things must be harmful to count as discrimination. If one uses a definition such that there's no such thing as harmless/beneficial discrimination, then points about the benefits of women-only events is not a non sequitur, but a relevant point to determining the answer to the original question.
Am I close? (I'm guessing here, I've never heard the word used like that, but certain groups shift definitions around quickly enough that it wouldn't surprise me if many here understood the word that way.)
@Yair rand - I think you're on to something here. I figured that a lot of this discussion would come down to the meaning of words like "discrimination" and "outreach", which can have multiple definitions. Somehow, though, I didn't think of the possibility that it could be defined as, essentially, something that can only be done by the "privileged". That would actually explain a lot of the previous discussion - like Varnent's seemingly bizarre claim that men trying to enter a women-only meeting (i.e, "disrupting private spaces") are themselves engaging in discrimination. If you define discrimination as something like "giving different people different opportunities, based on their demographics", this makes no sense. If, on the other hand, you define it as something like "being rude to women and minorities", then it makes perfect sense.
Protocol for changing the Code of Conduct?
The Code of Conduct was changed yesterday (you can no longer threaten someone with legal action). Leaving aside the wisdom of this particular change, what are the rules for changing the Code of Conduct? Who is allowed to change it, and when? I don't see this explained anywhere.
It's written on Code of Conduct/Amendments and linked from the page.
Although saying that the community has achieved consensus seems like a bit of a stretch this time.
@Jdforrester - ah, I missed the link before; thanks.
@Tgr - yes, it doesn't seem like the process was followed for this change.
Hello and thank you for raising this issue. Opinions in the discussion seemed to go back and forth, mostly revolving around how such an amendment could be misconstrued to include any legal commentary such as informing others about licensing. At least to some, our change was more of a clarification than a true amendment. The CoC already included the phrasing "deliberate intimidation" which a legal threat could fall under. For instance, a comment such as "I'm going to sue you if you don't merge my patch" is clearly inappropriate. However, a comment like "there could be legal problems if you don't license this properly" is not really a personal threat and wouldn't violate the CoC. In the same vein a comment could be seen as "offensive, derogatory, or discriminatory" but only when taken out of context, or say if there was an innocent language barrier. I think much of the CoC can't be taken literally and reports are always handled on a case-by-case basis. As for this amendment, we felt the wording "threats of legal action" was a balance between being comprehensive and not too explicit.
The proposed amendment was advertised on wikitech and the discussion was open for over a month. We recognize the consensus here is debatable. If you feel this amendment needs to be revisited, say so and we are happy to engage a new discussion. We did not mean to bypass community input or ignore consensus, and in reality we do not believe the scope of the CoC has notably changed as a result of the amendment.
Thanks for clarifying. I just went through the talk page discussion and counted - I see three people supporting this change (Doc James, Huji and Pbsouthwood - sorry for singling anyone out), and seven people either disagreeing with the change or at least wanting it amended in some way. So maybe consensus went the other way?
I'm also now very curious about which parts of the CoC you think shouldn't be taken literally, but maybe that's a topic for another discussion...
The CoCC concludes this proposal as accepted while making sure the wording is explicit enough to not be confused with other things like informing others about license laws:
> "Personal attacks, violence, threats of violence, threats of legal action, or deliberate intimidation."
Wondering if I can suggest the adding of legal threats to the list of unacceptable behavior. We have policies prohibiting it across many languages and projects. Doc James (talk) 01:31, 23 December 2019 (UTC)
I think it is obviously covered, and I agree that making it explicit is a good idea.
Indeed you find a rule in many Wikimedia wikis. I sometimes wonder about the relationship to the "normal" legal world.Usually, offwiki, you are allowed to mention that you consider taking legal advice, but you are not allowed to do that in a threatening manner (this is a simplification of the German situation, and I am sure that there are notable differences from country to country).
In general, I am not against such a rule in Wikimedia policies, but I am interested about possible complications.
@Ziko I am sure when the discussion happens in publicly that the LGBT+ community will have complications to add which other communities are not expecting.
I am interested to see that.
can we add a proviso that arguing for following a software license is not a legal threat. Unless the person is like super threatening about it against an individual.
It comments like "I am going to sue you" or "you should be sued for what you did" that are harmful to conversations and in my opinion should not be permitted.
Saying "we do not allow fair use content" or "we do not permit NC licensed images" is obviously perfectly appropriate. As is saying "here is the license that this is under and you are required to follow it, here are the steps required to be compliant".
I do not see that mentioning that you will be taking legal advice is necessarily threatening. It is quite reasonable to take legal advice if you are in doubt of the legality of a situation, particularly as we have a lot of cross-cultural communication. Taking legal advice is a thing one does for oneself, and does not imply action against another party will ensue.
Pointing out that something may or does contravene a law in a specific jurisdiction is also not a threat, though some evidence should be provided to support the claim.
my main part is i want that to be clear in whatever documentation we adopt, to avoid any chilling effect on ensuring license compliance.
Enforcing license compliance is necessary, but can and should be done politely, until if necessary we politely indefinitely block for persistent non-compliance.
Agree with Pbsouthwood. We block a lot of people for repeated copyright violations. We never threaten to sue them, or at least we shouldn't.
I don't see why threats of legal action need to be covered. Rules that make sense on a website don't necessarily make sense in other circumstances. Would this apply to, for example, an event organizer warning attendees not to go beyond a certain point or they might get arrested for trespassing?
If the legal threat is done in order to harass or intimidate, those are already covered by the code of conduct.
An event organizer warning attendees not to go beyond a certain point or they might get arrested for trespassing is not a legal threat, so no.
A person who is not welcome at an event threatening to sue the organisers for refusing them entry would be a legal threat in that context.
It really says something about our legal system that people can threaten to misuse it, and people will fear that because the legal system doesn't contain any safeguards or deterrents against such misuse; so that we have to create a rule here to regulate that behavior.
There are some safeguards, but they don't always work the way intended.
My biggest problem with adding "legal threats" is that while there is literally a legal definition for what "legal" means, the definition for what individuals might consider a "threat" is very different. This creates a huge gap and potential for misunderstanding that can easily lead to people being banned for asking questions in an unfortunate way. For example, I'm easily offended if somebody just tells me there is a law that says the opposite of what I believe should be common sense. And heck, there is an insane amount of "legal" stuff out there that is far from being common sense, and even further away from being morally right. LGBT right probably being the most obvious example. So tell me, what does it mean to ban legal topics that are a threat for certain people? Will it be forbidden to say, I don't know, "you might go to jail for this in your country", even if this sentence speaks the absolute truth?
I don't get it.
Some comments above say such an example doesn't count. But how do we know? What is the definition of "threat" in this context?
Some comments above even create the impression that actions (e.g. blocking) are fine, but announcing actions is not. Is it just me, or does this sound fucked up?
I think its pretty clear in context, that "legal threat" in this context means an ultimatum that one party will engage in legal proceedings (i.e. Sue someone) if they don't get their way.
Edit: Re-reading, i guess its less clear. I suppose the context is that its mostly people from english wikipedia proposing that the CoC embed a well known cultural norm from en wikipedia.
You may well be right.I think we are having a failure to communicate because of different interpretations of the meaning of a "legal threat"
I don't think anything is "clear" here. Which "legal proceedings" are covered by this, and which are not? What is the definition of "threat" in this context?
I am taking the meaning of "threat" as is commonly defined in dictionaries, or in the English Wikipedia article on the topic - "a communicated intent to inflict harm or loss on another person"
The legal proceedings referenced are generally civil actions. In criminal actions it is the state which intends to inflict harm or loss on the person. Does your country's law work differently?
You prefer we should allow threats of legal action against members of the communities? This is a common form of harassment and bullying made against people who are judged by the perpetrator as likely to back down in the face of what could be a very expensive inconvenience, in an arena where money and influence often win out against fairness and reason.
The example " Will it be forbidden to say, I don't know, "you might go to jail for this in your country", even if this sentence speaks the absolute truth?" does not illustrate a legal threat. No-one is threatening someone with legal action. "No legal threats" refers to threats of civil action by the threatener against the threatened person. Criminal prosecution is done by the public prosecutor or local equivalent.
"You prefer we should allow threats of legal action against members of the communities"? Are you fucking serious? Dear CoC committee, I do have something to report.
That is what I understood you to be saying, It seemed unlikely, so I posed it as a question in the hope of clarification. Your response does not clarify your intended meaning at all.
You are implying the opposite of what was said. That's not acceptable. Just because I don't want us to enforce one extreme doesn't mean I want us to enforce the opposite.
The profanity is unnecessary here.
I think the CoC already covers this making the proposed amendment unnecesary. The CoC lists as unnaceptable behaviour making "[p]ersonal attacks, violence, threats of violence, or deliberate intimidation", and also "[h]arming the discussion or community with methods such as sustained disruption, interruption, or blocking of community collaboration (i.e. trolling)." Most legal threats will already fall into those two criterions, and I doubt adding "legal threats" to the wording of the CoC will be any positive as what can be perceived as a threat is very subjective. I oppose the proposed amendment.
I agree with this comment.
Would you consider that informing an organiser that you intend to sue them for having you evicted from a meeting because you are blacklisted is covered by the current CoC? If not, is it behaviour we wish to accept?
Would you consider that informing another participant that you intend to sue them for defamation is acceptable? Is it covered by the current CoC?
One might argue that these are deliberate intimidation,disruption or trolling. If so, is this sufficiently clear?
if someone is already blacklisted, what else are we going to do to them? Double-blacklist them?
For the defamation case, it would depend on the context and specifics, as all things should.
This seems like a terrible idea to me. A user who is vulnerable to a threat of legal action may well be someone who has actually broken a law. And many laws are, after all, necessary for the functioning of society. Strongly reminding someone about what is against the law should not ''per se'' be a violation of the CoC. Most users here already enjoy the protection of anonymity, which they regularly exploit, sometimes in completely unfair ways. The CoC already seems to have a great deal of opaqueness due to the privacy protections granted to accusers/victims and the peesumptive acceptance of the accuser's/victim's claims to have been harmed. Extending the realm of this kind of protection seems likely to further damage the loyalty of many to the movement.
It is not clear to me exactly what you think is a terrible idea. Could you clarify?
See top of the thread: "adding of legal threats to the list of unacceptable behavior" Or is that already off-topic. ~~~~
Thanks, this format is not always clear about what someone is replying to.
Let me put my concern this way: Our CoC already creates a kind of legal system. It defines conditions that might lead to specified actions, and the actors within this system. However, it does not specify exactly how this will be executed in a specific situation. It's not code. You can not run it and expect it to always create the same result. It's something trusted human beings are asked to perform. And even if we might argue about certain decisions, we as a community are expected to accept the committee's decisions. And that's neither good or bad, that's just something that needs to be done.
Here is the problem: What do we win when we add terminology and definitions from another legal system? I think the two do work better independent from each other.
Threatening somebody should already be covered by the CoC, as far as I understand it. Isn't this enough?
So do not see it as being covered... So even though it should be enough it does not appear it is.
when was the last time that legal threats were an issue in (online) tech spaces? I understand its a common problem on wikipedia, but we aren't wikipedia, and if it is not an issue that affects us, lets avoid rule creep.
I excluded offline stuff because i cant really speak to those having only attended but never organized. Personally i think it was a mistake to make one policy for those two very different contexts, but i digress.
Suggested amendment: Public logging of bans made by CoC
Given the discussion happened in the past couple of days, here's my proposal to amend to CoC, part of cases:
Any ban made by the code of conduct committee will be logged publicly in Code of Conduct/Cases/Log/2018 with user name, space of ban (phabricator, mediawiki.org, etc.), duration, and if not private reasoning. Unless any of these two conditions apply:
- The reporter asks that ban not to be public.
- Or the code of conduct committee decides not to disclose anything as it might disclose private information. For example, logging harassment cases in Wikimedia events can lead to real-world identity of users being disclosed.
It goes without saying that this is not applicable retrospectively.
Just to clarify, this would apply to bans specifically, not cases themselves?
I’m against this. Even with the on wikitech-l suggested option of only making it public while the ban is in effect, if the log is kept on a wiki, the (history of) the ban list can (and will) be used for naming and shaming, long after punishment has been dealt and served.
If any transparency is required, I would counter propose that an aggregate report is published periodically (quarterly/bi-annually, yearly —- depending on the number of expected cases —- max 10 or so per period would be nice), which report on the number of actions per platform and the duration of the actions, where applicable.
Also, the ban might be worn as a badge of honor, which would encourage further abuse. :(
Is having a list of bans performed by CoC any different than a wiki having Special:BlockList?
No, but perhaps that shouldn't exist either. Most websites don't list all of the users who have been banned, and I don't think that is necessarily a bad thing.
Most websites are not collaborative projects supported by a huge community.
That's true, but as an example: GitHub, Stack Overflow, or any an all Open Source projects (including projects much much larger than ours). I can't think of a website/project (other than Wikimedia's) that publicly lists bans. I think the public log is an assumed virtue, when the existence of the list, may in fact, encourage more harassment. I have no evidence to suggest this, my point is only that the existence of such a list may have unintended consequences.
Not existence of such list is already having consequences. And bans on the wiki had been public since forever, as far as I know, without any evidence this did encourage anyone for more harassment.
As a somewhat trivial example, being blocked by the President of the United States, is seen by some as a badge of honor, and therefor, a prize to be sought. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-intersect/wp/2017/06/07/how-getting-blocked-by-trump-on-twitter-became-a-badge-of-honor/
At least on enwiki, I don't think many people use Special:BlockList unless they're looking up a block ID to investigate an autoblock. It chiefly consists of drive-by vandals, so it doesn't really serve as a wall of shame or badges of honour, as you'll quickly be buried in there and forgotten. The block log itself obviously is necessary to see prior abuse. At any rate, admins can redact the log entries, but on the English Wikipedia this practice is prohibited.
Yes, Not even warnings neither any mention of reporter will be logged. Hope that helps.
I'd propose one additional clause that requires:
- In the first month of each year, last year's log is amended one final time to disclose the number of non-public bans by space of ban. This number cannot be opted out of by the reporter, the committee, or anyone else. And this statistic would not contain any start date, duration, user, or reasoning. Just the numbers by space of ban. (Bans affecting multiple spaces could be counted multiple times, or we could decide that "Multiple spaces" be one of the counted spaces.)
- In the first month of each year, last year's log should be linked to from a public announcement. I have no preference for which platform this post would be on, but it should be decided ahead of time and included in the policy. Perhaps Wikitech-l, or another public wikimedia.org list, or a mediawiki.org newsletter, or a Phabricator Phame post, etc.
Lastly, I would recommend that this clause does apply retroactively, treating all prior cases as non-public. Thus disclosing this year's complete counts by January 2019.
EDIT: I wrote this comment at the same time as @Siebrand wrote his. I did not see his until after I submitted mine. I would support doing only aggregated reports.
Anonymous statistics are in theory already part of the CoC (see the last paragraph of https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Code_of_Conduct/Cases#Responses_and_resolutions ).
I would prefer that this applies not just to bans but all sanctions by the committee (e.g. asking someone to apologize doesn't need to be logged, but doing something to someone against their will does. e.g. deleting a phab comment does require logging).
I even wonder if maybe the enforcement role of the committee should be separated from the judgment roles of the committee. Right now I feel like the CoC committee is judge, jury and executioner and lacks any effective oversight due to secrecy. I consider this state of affairs dangerous
I would also like to suggest that for any sanction, the person being sanctioned must be notified of the action, length, rationale and how to appeal. I've heard complaints that in some cases when comments were deleted the commenter was never notified, and only found out by accident (which is supposed to deter them how?). In the recent MZMcbride case, the notification was rather lacking (Assuming the email posted by Mzmcbride is accurate) as it failed to disclose length, how to appeal and the rationale while not totally missing was lacking imo (that's more debatable though).
I agree with your thoughts.
I agree with the publishing of the bans, but I am not sure Wiki (and specifically Mediawiki) is the best place because, as correctly noted, the wiki infrastructure ensures the information is preserved forever. While in theory everything public on the internet is forever, in practice there might be benefits to not carrying old grudges around.
The problem to solve here is not statistics though. It's nice, but it's a different case. What is really needed is when action is in force, I (as a participant of the collaborative platform) can see that it is, and adjust workflows accordingly. It is a collaborative environment, so the ban would affect collaboration. Aggregated report is useless for this case - if I worked with X and their account suddenly shows up as "disabled", it won't help me any that in 2 months time I'd see in aggregated report "number of bans: 7". What I need to know is: a) was X banned? and b) for how long. Most community members, I suspect, would also want c) by whom and d) for what.
I am not sure how it can be possible that the ban won't be public - account being disabled on Phabricator is pretty public, and we'd be kidding ourselves if we ignore the fact that this is what people would assume (especially now). If we do it in non-transparent way, people would just assume more and create a narrative in their heads which might not necessary be even true, but is inevitable. I do not think the fact of the ban in a public collaborative platform can be hidden. Or should be. We might not disclose any details about it beyond the duration (I think this is a must), though I would advise in general case not involving sensitive matters to opt to more disclosure (again, secrecy breeds mistrust, and mistrust makes people construct narratives that we'd want to avoid). But I do not see how hiding bans is practical, or desirable.
I would discourage using wikitech-l to publish ban reports. This mailing list is read by newbies and other developers who just want to stay informed about technical matters. It is not very welcoming to see such drama and it might incite more lengthy and toxic discussion. I think an on-wiki page is fine, or somewhere that's not as "in your face". I should not be forced into seeing this side of the technical community.
Edit -- I meant to post under my volunteer account, for the record!
I think using wikitech-l is a consequence of a lack of pre-designated forum for such discussions. When there's a need for discussion and community does not have a Schelling point for it, the next best thing is taken to be it. To avoid it, we need to arrange such space in advance, and specify it when CoC decision is communicated, and maybe also in CoC pages where we establish the rules.
I join Bawolff on the lake of separation of powers. I would add that it would be good to have well defined processes and publicly documented rules stating for which cases what kind of sanction can be applied or not. That doesn't mean absolute transparency on each details of execution of this processes, which is certainly not a required or desirable level of transparency permitting trust to foster, and can itself be a source of legitimate concerns for people safety, as it was pointed. Although I am not sure that this is the most appropriate place to talk about this aspect of the issue.
As there is a collaboration aspect that have been indicated, I think Meta would be a more appropriate place to publish a report, if any.
Regarding the feedback of status of collaborators when they are banned, I don't have a perfect idea so far. My first thought would be something like integrate a feature in Phabricator itself, showing in the user page that "this account as been (temporally) disabled (for 3 eons), for more information consult this page/contact that referent".
I support the original amendment. I don't care much about the venue for publishing the bans, but it is tremendously important that they are visible at least for the duration of the ban. Not everyone who needs to be aware is in the CoC committee (phabricator.wikimedia.org and wiki admins, event organizers etc)
This seems like a solution in need of a problem. Would you mind clearly stating what the problem is so we can determine if this is the appropriate solution?
The problem is very simple. They way it works now there's no indication to anyone (even Phabricator admins!) what happened when account is disabled. Not who, not why, not for what duration, nothing. It is unacceptable that on a collaborative platform people are just disappearing without any notice and any possible explanation (and since the account is disabled, they can't communicate what happened either). This is not how open collaboration should be done, and not how a collaborative environment should be administered. I understand the privacy concerns, but my firm belief is it is completely possible to produce a transparent and accountable system without revealing any private details. Just hiding everything and not providing any information at all is not a good solution.
Yes. CoC santions must all be publicly logged for accountability, transparency and awareness. This doesn't mean that we must require a full disclosure in the most sensitive cases but at least username, type of sanction and duration must be made publicly avalaible. With regards to the case that caused the opening of this thread, we already have two Phabricator administrators that didn't know where the block came from, one of them overturning the ban ignoring that it was a CoC sanction. This is not optimal, as we can lead to involuntary reversals and misunderstandings. It is in the benefit of both the CoC and the users to know all of this. As some have pointed above, wiki blocks are kept logged for the said reasons on a personal log and active blocks and bans listed on an special page. Why the secrecy here? Of course reports should be managed with confidentiality, but actions by the CoC based on said reports should not fully be. I must note that you can find at List of globally banned users a list of users subject to community and WMF-Legal global bans. Those lists ain't aimed at being walls of shame, but help users know why something has happened. I insist, the log doesn't have to have the full details, but at least username, space, duration (and reasoning if that's appropriate) should be published. Thank you.
I don't believe there is value in transparency for the sake of transparency. Especially when that transparency comes at the cost of someone's privacy. Also, it may have unintended consequences that have not been explored.
Perhaps an acceptable compromise would be to permission the ban/block log to the administrators of the domain? (i.e. Phabricator/Gerrit Administrators). This way, it isn't a public log (that can be used for shame/honor), but it would resolve the problem of administrators not being aware of bans/blocks that they should be aware of.
How about bans for real-life event? How can other events organizers be aware of a ban if no public log exists?
I'd like to insist that I am not asking for the full disclosure of the case details. That'd be crazy. The log can be so brief as to "User X banned from (platform/WMF technical spaces) for (a week/indefinite) by decision of the Code of Conduct Committee [optional: because ...]." This does not IMHO disclose any personal information other than what the user might have disclosed themselves voluntarily (ie: if you use a username which is also your real name [Bad Idea (tm)]), helps understand people why an account suddenly has become deactivated, inactive or is not replying, and improves transparency and accountability of the CoC. Of course cases and investigations should continue to happen in camera, and there might be cases where revealing even that certain user is subject to a CoC santion might be a bad idea. If that situation ever comes I'd certainly support not making that situation fully public, but at least the administrators of the platform where the user got banned should be informed (e.g.: Please note that the COCCom has banned X from Y; please do not overturn) as to avoid involuntary reversals or misunderstandings. Best regards.
I understand what you are asking for, but I do not understand why a ban/block log needs to be public, when it seems that the problem is that administrators are the ones who need this log. I understand that it would not include personally identifiable information. My argument is that, the block itself ought to remain private. Or are we saying that people who are blocked/banned no longer have that right to keep that information private?
Is there a problem with making this log permissioned to admins?