A request for deep reform of the forum's Code of Conduct

Hello,

I’m a new user here on your community forum. I noticed your prominently-featured code of conduct, and I think it is quite abhorrent - and the opposite of welcoming and inclusive.

Why would I be making such a strong statement? Well, not because of the principles it promotes, like being respectful, being graceful in taking criticism, avoiding sexualized language etc. These are fine.

The problem is found in two aspects of the document:

  1. A secretive, oppressive procedure for accusations and trials: People accused of inappropriate conduct get the opposite of a guarantee of due process rights:
    • No right to access full information about the accusation.
    • No right to a public trial.
    • No right to submit a defense.
    • No right to face one’s accuser.
    • Identity of adjudicators may be kept secret from the accused and the users generally.
    • No requirement for written justification for verdicts and sentences.
    • No mechanism for appeals.
  2. A very broad and vaguely-defined space of untolerated/criminalized behavior:
    • “Derogatory comments” - any criticism is derogatory to some extent.
    • “political attacks” - discussions which involves matter of public policy involve people supporting some political positions and disparaging others, i.e. “politically attacking”. (It doesn’t say “personal insults due to one’s political position” which would have been much more specific)
    • There may be some more examples, but this all culminates in a stop-gap item: “Other conduct which could reasonably be considered inappropriate in a professional setting”. That effectively means that the enforcing bodies have nearly-unlimited authority to impeach or criminalize behavior, even retroactively: As they decide what is reasonable, so if something seems unreasonable to them, it is forbidden and one can be punished for it. Also, the phrasing is extra-problematic in that it isn’t “conduct which couldn’t reasonably be considered appropriate”, but rather the opposite. That is, if some reasonable people find it appropriate but some don’t, then it’s forbidden.

The combination of aspects (1.) and (2.) creates a very dark and oppressive situation - at least in principle.

Now, I realize this CoC has been borrowed-with-adaptation for a template for such documents. I believe this was a hasty decision which did not take the above into account.

Please consider a deep reform of the CoC to address these issues.

I don’t see a problem to solve here. Do you see moderator rights being abused? Do you see people put in prison or stripped of their possessions or something to warrant such an elaborate legal process?
Being active on this forum for more than a year, “dark and oppressive situation” is the opposite of what I see here: no forum I’ve ever participated in has so little noise and conflict.

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Do you see moderator rights being abused?

I don’t see anything, I’ve just arrived on this forum and noticed the problematic code of conduct.

Do you see people put in prison or stripped of their possessions or something to warrant such an elaborate legal process?

Yes, that is, the forum equivalent of these things. Being banned from the forum is the equivalent of a death sentence (or banishment from a country). Being prevented from posting is somewhat equivalent of arrest, etc.

Now, if you believe I’m being overly dramatic, since this is just a forum - I can certainly accept that view; but in that case, the penalties should be dropped in favor of a stern admonishment.

Being active on this forum for more than a year, “dark and oppressive situation” is the opposite of what I see here: no forum I’ve ever participated in has so little noise and conflict.

I’ll definitely take your word for it. But - if that is the case, and the CoC is never used, then changing it (or removing it in favor of an implicit agreement to reasonable conduct) should not be a problem; and if it is used, then it does involve abuse.

Far from it. If you are banned from a forum, you just walk away. If you are sent to prison, you lose a few years of your life.

It is used. It’s just used in good faith.
This is a support forum for a commercial organization. Banning users is the last thing they want – because they are their user base so that’s bad for business. That’s an absolute last resort.
The CoC just serves to remind people that they need to create a calm and productive environment here.

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