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Oh, yeah, we got rules for FtB

In the wake of recent events, we realized that we’re big enough now that Freethoughtblogs needed some more formal rules, so we scribbled some up. I’ve put the tl;dr version below the fold, but here’s the shorter version.

  1. We’re an atheism+social justice+science network…we were Atheism+ before there was an Atheism+. Get used to it.

  2. Big picture management is by an executive committee. It’s not democratic, because its job is to just get stuff done.

  3. There is a confidential backchannel to discuss management issues. And gossip.

  4. No rules to regulate individual blogs.

  5. You want to join FtB? Don’t call us, we’ll call you. Membership is largely decided democratically, with some mandated vetting procedures and final approval in the hands of the executive committee.

  6. You want to get kicked off FtB? Act like a raging asshat and the executive committee will oblige you.

The current executive committee consists of Ed Brayton, me, Ophelia Benson, and Greta Christina. A fifth person is in the process of being elected. Don’t pester the executive committee about signing up your blog, because they’re just the janitors and they don’t get to bypass the rest of the network to let people in; the people you want to beg are those on the admissions committee, and we’re not telling you who they are.

Freethoughtblogs Rules

These are provisional rules. We’re going to implement them now, and in March 2013, after they’ve had a fair trial, we’ll consider revisions.

Freethoughtblogs is a community of bloggers who share a goal: the advancement of secularism through argument and discussion. To achieve that goal, we also value diversity (reaching every element of society is a priority), social justice, equality, and science and reason. We are skeptics and critics of dogma and authoritarianism.

Our network of blogs is designed to encourage independent thinking and individual autonomy — freethoughtblogs.com itself is a vehicle for giving vocal secularists a venue for discussion of their values and interests. The administration of this organization will interfere in the activities of individual blogs as little as possible, and will not impose any specific dictates on how individual blogs are managed. However, there must be some minimal regulation of the activities of the network as a whole that require some administrative structure, and providing that is the purpose of this document — to define a hierarchy to regulate the network (but not individual blogs) activity, and to lay out a set of procedures for changes to the network.

The official entities in this organization are:

Manager: Ed Brayton, founder of the network, fills this role. The Manager’s job is to handle the business side of the group, selling ad space, disbursing revenues, and managing network hosting.

Webmaster: The webmaster is in charge of the technical aspects of the site. He or she answers only to the Manager.

Executive Committee: The Executive Committee will have the job of making decisions about new additions to the network, and taking punitive measures against bloggers who violate rules. Decisions made by the Executive Committee will be based on feedback from the Network.

The Network: The group of individual bloggers who are hosted at freethoughtblogs will be referred to as the Network. Each blog will have equal input to all decisions affecting the group.

Other committees: At the discretion of the Executive Committee, other committees may be formed from members of the Network to perform specific tasks. In particular, an Admissions Committee will be formed to evaluate candidates for new blogs.

The Executive Committee

The membership of the committee will consist of:

Ed Brayton
PZ Myers
Two members to be appointed by Ed Brayton, with renewable one year terms
One member to be elected by majority vote of the Network, to have a renewable 6 month term.

The Executive Committee will meet by Skype or phone conferencing at least once a month, to discuss the state of the organization and to evaluate any pending action items. Minutes will be taken and published to the Network mailing list.

All decisions of the Executive Committee will be made by a majority vote in a conference call or email conversation.

The Network

Every blog on freethoughtblogs.com is considered a part of the Network. Each blog (not each blogger, since some blogs have multiple contributors) will have one equal vote in all decisions. Any questions submitted to the Network for voting will be announce on the network mailing list, with a specific deadline for voting; a 2/3 majority of the members that actually reply is required for passage.

The Network Mailing List

The network mailing list is maintained by the webmaster; it includes every member of the Network who wishes to be on it, except those who have had access restricted.

All emails sent or received on the list are considered to be private. Disclosure of the contents of discussions on the mailing list to others outside the Network is grounds for revocation of mailing list privileges; continued or egregious violations of privacy will be grounds for removal from the Network.

Since the purpose of the mailing list is to encourage open communication between members of the network, all discussions must be civil and drama is frowned upon; disagreement and criticism is encouraged, but only in the spirit of constructive improvement of the content of the Network. Other kinds of disagreement must be taken off-list, so that they do not disrupt free and friendly discussion. The mailing list is not to be an arena.

Threats, harassment, and personal abuse will not be tolerated on the mailing list. If personal conflicts are interfering with your ability to discuss matters politely, take it to the Executive Committee by email for mediation.

The Executive Committee can revoke mailing list privileges in response to any violations of privacy. The purpose of the mailing list is to allow discussions, however, so revocation should never be made lightly or permanently; losing internetwork communication is a very serious issue.

PROCEDURES


Admitting new bloggers to the Network

There are certain criteria a blogger must fit to belong to this Network:

  • They must be a freethinker, not a proponent of a specific religion or dogma

  • They must have demonstrated quality and reliability of output, with good reason to think they will be active bloggers

  • They must share a commitment to the values of the Network, which include diversity, equality, and social justice as well as atheism

  • They should be collegial, and willing to participate enthusiastically in the shared goals of the network

As a Network, we’ll also aspire to recruiting diverse bloggers to the cause; differences in background, values, and priorities within the broad framework of our mission are to be sought out and valued.

The Admissions Committee

A committee of at least 3 members will be formed by nomination of the Executive Committee. The role of the Admissions Committee is to mediate nominations for new members, conduct preliminary assessments of candidates, and to carry out interviews of potential new Network members.

At any time, the Executive Committee can dissolve the current Admissions Committee and request the Network to form a new one.

Any Network member can suggest new bloggers (Nominees) to the Admissions Committee. The Admissions Committee will maintain a list of suggestions, and carry out preliminary investigations of the suitability of Nominees.

The Admissions Committee, and only the Admissions Committee, can at any time request that the Executive Committee consider a nominee for admission to the Network. The Executive Committee is then obligated to make a decision within two weeks about whether the Nominee should be taken on.

A request to the Executive Committee to consider someone for admission requires:

  • Documentation of the current writing skills of the candidate

  • References from at least 5 Network members other than those on the Admissions Committee who approve of the Candidate

  • Results of a poll of the Network that show a majority approving of admission

  • A summary of a direct, personal interview of the Admissions Committee with the candidate to assess the suitability and collegiality of the candidate

The evaluation will be submitted to the Executive Committee for approval.


Dismissal of bloggers from the network

Removal of unsuitable bloggers from the Network is never to be undertaken casually. The criteria for asking that someone be removed are:

  • Multiple violations of privacy

  • Persistent disruption of the mailing list with violations of etiquette

  • Harassment — continuation of a behavior when requested to stop

  • Criminal behavior, such as the posting of child pornography

  • Active violations of the mission of the network: using a blog to set up an anti-atheist, racist, or anti-gay center, for instance

  • Prolonged abandonment of the blog, without suitable explanation (for example, a soldier sent off on active duty, or a blogger with a book commitment are reasonable excuses)

The following conditions will not be considered valid reasons for expulsion:

  • Personal animus

  • Disagreement on tactics, style, or focus

  • Change in philosophy or religion, unless it actively conflicts with the mission of Freethoughtblogs

Any blogger can request the expulsion of another, given good grounds. However, these requests should not be made on the mailing list, nor should the mailing list be used to threaten colleagues with expulsion. This is not behavior conducive to uninhibited communication, and can poison the well for further discussion. All suggestions for expulsion should be sent to the Executive Committee by email.

Consideration for expulsion will be made entirely at the Executive Committee’s discretion. Do not nag the Executive Committee; requests will be tallied and discussed privately.

If the Executive Committee decides that there are reasonable grounds for expulsion, this fact will be disclosed to the offending blogger, and they will be given an opportunity to explain and correct their behavior. This will not be subject to public discussion. That a blogger has been censured will not be disclosed to other members of the Network, and if the problems are addressed, will never be revealed to the community.

The blogger may request a conference call with the Executive Committee to discuss the issues.

If the offending blogger is recalcitrant or in any way refuses to address the concerns of the Network, the Executive Committee will vote to determine if the blogger should be removed. If a majority agree, the Webmaster will be asked to immediately remove the blogger from the mailing list, remove the blogger’s posting privileges, and close all comments on their blog.

Because continuity on the network is important, the blogs of expelled bloggers will be retained on freethoughtblogs (without the option for adding new posts or comments) at the bloggers choice. If they decide otherwise, the blog may be deleted. A backup of the archive will be provided for the blogger.

Comments

  1. says

    What about bloggers here who actively oppose social justice? Such as the one who effectively told gay people to stop bitching about Obama and vote democrat? Or the one who routinely says that having a penis makes you a threat to humanity?

  2. says

    Oh Noes! It’s the end of “Free” in Freethought! You have rules about what your network should be about? You know who else had Rules? Hitler that’s who!

    I figured I would just pre Godwin this for you to save the Trolls time ;)

  3. maureenbrian says

    I like your version better, PZ. When I first read the original over at Ed’s I thought you were about to turn into a corporation. Or something equally evil.

  4. ryanb says

    What about bloggers here who actively oppose social justice? Such as the one who effectively told gay people to stop bitching about Obama and vote democrat? Or the one who routinely says that having a penis makes you a threat to humanity?

    Errr…..citation needed on those.

  5. emburii says

    Gregory, I thought I was the only one who remembered all that mess. It’s about the only claim from that FTBullies set I’d take seriously…except that they’d rather fuss about Jason publishing blog comments. O_o

    On the other hand, I don’t think it’s fair to say that many bloggers here are actively opposed. Have certain bloggers got a massive amount of straight privilege that in many cases they can’t or don’t check? Yes. But I don’t think they’re actively opposed to gay rights,

  6. Beatrice says

    Cool. This should make life easier for you all.

    —-

    Er, sorry.
    I meant to say: Meyers, you shouldn’t call your network FREEthoughtblogs any more, now that you have oppressive rules.

  7. says

    I am not going to name names: my question is about policy, not laying blame. So if I might rephrase:

    “We’re an atheism+social justice+science network”, yet there are a few bloggers here whose views on these issues, particularly social justice, are extraordinarily narrow. How, if at all, is this being reconciled?

  8. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    What about bloggers here who actively oppose social justice? Such as the one who effectively told gay people to stop bitching about Obama and vote democrat? Or the one who routinely says that having a penis makes you a threat to humanity?

    Look at those cute strawmen basking in the sun on the beach.

    Someone get them a fruity drink and a blowtorch.

  9. says

    We’re not about to retroactively start harassing bloggers who are already here to conform to the strictest interpretation of the rules. As long as they aren’t actively disrupting or significantly degrading the reputation of the network, the executive committee will not care. No micromanaging.

  10. emburii says

    Ryanb:

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/zingularity/2012/05/09/the-withering-post-on-equals-rights-that-wasnt/

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/lousycanuck/2012/05/10/why-my-initial-thoughts-on-the-obama-gay-marriage-announcement-are-wrong/

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/almostdiamonds/2012/05/12/on-long-fights-and-short-celebrations/

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/wwjtd/2012/05/26/want-to-keep-commenting-here-dont-derail-threads/
    Aee the discussion in comments for how very slanted those specific callings-out are, and how many people meanwhile get away with JAQing off. If he wants some 101-style spaces, maybe he should be marking some instead of telling marginalized groups not to be so angry.)

    As for the bit about anyone with a penis being a thread, I suspect he’s talking about Taslima. She’s…very second-wave in her opinions on men.

  11. emburii says

    See the discussion in comments, rather.

    Anyway, that list of links is not calling for anyone’s heads. it’s giving Ryanb some understanding of why the comment was made.

  12. Louis says

    My penis makes me a threat to humanity? Fuck yeah! I thought it was for writing my name in the snow. I’m off to terrorise humanity with my Schlong of Doom!

    Louis

    P.S. Oh and rules, yeah, useful. Well they can be. I mean I like rules to be guidelines, suggestions, a framework, open to a bit of wiggle. But then I’m not great with authority.

  13. emburii says

    Anyway, to be more topical, this seems like a good set of rules. Ohmigosh, FTB has RULES! Terrible! Maybe it’s because they heard the bit about not being so open-minded that one’s brain (or conscience) falls out, and rightly decided that it had some merit…

  14. =8)-DX says

    Didn’t see much wrong with the “why-my-initial-thoughts-on-the-obama-gay-marriage-announcement-are-wrong” post – didn’t seem anti-gay/gay rights to me at all, and actually quite accurate in its basic thesis – Obama is getting all sorts of BS due to this issue.

    Also PZ – come off it “The Network”?

    The NetworkHivemind: The group of individual bloggersdrones who are hosted at freethoughtblogs will be referred to as the NetworkHivemind. Each blogdrone will have equal input to be required to equally comply with all decisions affecting the group.

    There, that’s fixed it so the #FTBullies can’t complain.

  15. emburii says

    =8)-DX:

    I’m posting my further replies on this to the Thunderdome, so as not to derail.

  16. Paul says

    Just want to note that I’m even happier with FTB after seeing the names on the Executive Committee. They’re all people I think very highly of.

    Not that they need the validation, of course.

  17. peterhearn says

    We are skeptics and critics of dogma and authoritarianism.

    Is this a new thing?

    You want to get kicked off FtB? Act like a raging asshat and the executive committee will oblige you.

    You and many others on this network act like raging asshats over a lot of things. So far the only one who got kicked off over it was the one who didn’t take a certain issue as seriously as the rest of you.

  18. Esteleth, Who Knows How to Use Google says

    So far the only one who got kicked off over it was the one who didn’t take a certain issue as seriously as the rest of you.

    That is missing 90% of the facts and you damn well know it.

  19. =8)-DX says

    peterhearn – there is a qualitative difference here: acting like a ragin asshat towards the community – it’s obvious this is concerned with people who don’t really want to be part of FTB. Most of the asshats on FTB aknowledge their hattiness, and/or rage only intermitently or at things where rage is appropriate.

  20. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    You and many others on this network act like raging asshats over a lot of things. So far the only one who got kicked off over it was the one who didn’t take a certain issue as seriously as the rest of you.

    Either you’re incredibly stupid or willfully distorting the reality of the situation.

    Which is it?

  21. Esteleth, Who Knows How to Use Google says

    Nah, Rev BDC, peterhern is pissed because everyone knows that bitches ain’t shit, and atheism/secularism is supposed to be a place where men are men and women are grateful, and then the FTBullies went and got all feminist-y.

  22. emburii says

    *looks for Greg Laden’s blog*

    *remembers how he got dismissed, even with friends still here and even after a long history because he threatened another blogger*

    Gee, it’s almost like the folks running this blogging network actually try to have a consistent set of ethics! You might try to learn something from them, peterhearn, rather than lying because it suits your whining.

  23. schweinhundt says

    Um, so, I easily grok individual atheist + social justice. (We’re all philosophical mutts of some sort or other.)

    FtB Atheist = Social Justice, however, causes me some confusion. Does FtB endorse, condemn, or ignore the 1891 papal encyclical Rerum Novarum? (Wikipedia Entry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rerum_Novarum)

    A shared plank in your platform(s) is, after all, a shared plank in your platform(s).

  24. says

    My husband is an anarcho-syndicalist (he has a soft-spot for it at least). That would be an interesting alternative.

    baal – You don’t happen to have a noise project “baal”?

    Also, everyone using the term “Hivemind” is weirding me out because that’s also a noise project. Heck, someone even has the initials SPK around here.

  25. peterhearn says

    yep. tf00t came here with a bone to pick. I still have no idea why he even bothered. To be fair, they have every right to kick anyone out if they want.

    But to claim it has nothing to do with difference of opinion is clearly bullshit. It was his view that sparked the wrath of the hivemind, not his caps lock or lol speak.

    Had he been nice about it and used better grammar then it may have taken longer, but eventually he would have been asked to leave.

    Claiming tf00t didn’t want to be here isn’t accurate. He clearly thought he could say whatever he wanted, however he wanted, with impunity.

    And yes I’m being biased. how can I not be? just look at the few responses so far. Already people taking it to the other extreme, flinging accusations of misogyny, ect.

    You can’t have a rational debate here on these topics. Thats why I can’t help but laugh when I see the word skeptic here.

    It wasn’t until tf00t said he had no idea how angry his posts made everyone that I started reading the comments here and found out this place full of crazy people.

  26. theoblivionmachine says

    peterhearn:

    full of crazy people.

    Able-ist slur, thanks for shitting on me and other non-neurotypical people.

  27. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    You I can’t have a rational debate here…

    Fixed that for you Peter Hearn. You haven’t shown you are an honest and rational debater who can be wrong. Ergo, you come across as a whiny egotistical person with an agenda who doesn’t feel appreciated because we don’t share your delusions. Pitiful.

  28. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    The dermatologist’s office (where I got a script for a WAY expensive cream and no call back when I asked for an older, more affordable drug) that I’ve been to once in my life just texted me. Apparently they “love having me as a patient!!!!” and wish me the bestest birfday evah.

    Inappropriate Faux Personal Friendship-don’t do it.

  29. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    No, I wasn’t trying to lie.

    Which is, of course, a lie, since lying is all you’ve done since you started your hilariously pathetic trolling campaign.

  30. peterhearn says

    @ nerd troll

    You haven’t shown you are an honest and rational debater who can be wrong.

    I’m a skeptic so I sure can.

    Case in point, the harassment at skeptics conferences TF claimed was being made a big deal out of. I tend to agree with most of his points, but I admit I could be completely wrong and it could be a real problem that I’m just ignorant of.

    Now your turn. Can you admit that you could possibly be wrong and it really is more of a non-issue?

  31. says

    @peterhearn: You are a liar. You have never made any attempt to engage in debate. The fact that you repeat falsehoods after being corrected shows you are only here to fling shit.

    If you ever decide to engage in real debate instead of spewing broad insults and lies, let us know. You have quite a handicap to overcome before anyone will take you seriously, but it’s your own fault.

  32. emburii says

    Peterhearn, people were letting him know exactly how they felt after his first post. That he says he didn’t know means that otherwise he was too completely clueless back then to keep around, or that juuuuust maybe he’s stretching the truth in order to look better now.

    Also, funny how you acknowledge that, oh yeah, Greg Laden did get booted because he broke the rules, but you’re not actually willing to confront it as a flaw in your argument. Skepticism means not only admitting you’re wrong, but being willing to alter a hypothesis or theory based on the new information, and your failure to do so makes your cries of ‘proper skepticism’ ring a little hollow.

  33. Beatrice says

    Oy, peterhearn! Why don’t you take your whinging to Thunderdome instead of derailing this thread?

  34. says

    Peterhearn: You seem to be confused. This is an announcement of our internal rules, FYI. You are not a member of our network. You have absolutely no say in what our rules should and should not be. We are not interested in your input. This is not a debate about what our rules should be.

    Since you can’t comprehend that this is not about you, how about fucking off right now?

  35. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I’m a skeptic so I sure can.

    Liar, the evidence says otherwise.

    Now your turn. Can you admit that you could possibly be wrong and it really is more of a non-issue?

    Of course, once you provide third party academic evidence and not just your OPINION for that conclusion. That hasn’t been done by anybody who argues for ThunderFoots position. They keep pretending their unevidenced OPINION is evidence, which it isn’t. It’s just OPINION. No real evidence, no ability to change my mind. QED.

  36. peterhearn says

    @emburii

    I do think it was a flaw in my argument. Thats why I after I acknowledged your point I said “my bad”. You’re making assumptions here. Just like when you assumed I was lying.

    @beatrice

    You like to accuse me of derailing every time I say something. I’m just responding to the people who are responding to me. Are you going to tell them all to go to thunderdome as well? Or is this about making all the discussion based around what beatrice wants to hear?

  37. says

    They must be a freethinker, not a proponent of a specific religion or dogma

    In b4 MRAs calling feminism “dogma.”

    Hearn:

    You and many others on this network act like raging asshats over a lot of things.

    This from the commenter who told someone to go bend over in front of a donkey who’d been given Viagra.

    I’m a skeptic so I sure can.

    BWAHAHA.

    Theoblivionmachine:

    Able-ist slur, thanks for shitting on me and other non-neurotypical people.

    Mental illness != ASDs.

  38. emburii says

    @peterhearn

    See my reply in the Thunderdome. Unlike you, I’d rather respect PZ’s wishes and space rather than derail further here.

  39. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    You like to accuse me of derailing every time I say something

    you do derail. Like calling a regular a troll. I wasn’t trolling, merely telling you politely to fuck off as you have nothing cogent to say whatsoever.

    And you evidence? If you had any, you would have lead with it eons ago. Poor little pee-pee is hurt as you aren’t considered anything other than an ignorant troll with an attitude.

  40. CT says

    Josh

    Inappropriate Faux Personal Friendship-don’t do it.

    I dunno, this seemed to fit some of the discussion.

  41. says

    This place isn’t interested in freethought, there are rules! Just like America keeps me in chains with speed limit signs and laws against stealing things whether or not I really really REALLY want them or not!

  42. says

    who effectively told gay people to stop bitching about Obama and vote democrat

    Sane people have a responsibility to vote for Democratic candidates because that is the best currently possible way to deprive the Republican Party of power and influence. The GOP these days is little more than a vehicle for right-wing extremist nonsense and needs to be laid low. As low as possible.

    On the other hand, I encourage people to complain long and loud about the Democratic Party’s timidity and wrong-headedness on any number of policies. The president has completely failed to roll back the invasive security-state policies of the Bush administration. Guantanamo is still in operation. The ridiculous “war on drugs” continues. Bitch away!

    But smash the GOP.

  43. says

    maureenbrian wrote:

    I like your version better, PZ. When I first read the original over at Ed’s I thought you were about to turn into a corporation. Or something equally evil.

    *confused look, tilting head to the side* Since I haven’t written anything about this set of rules, I’m a bit baffled by this statement.

  44. says

    Thanks, PZ.

    That’s pretty much how I had assumed FTB was being managed. So no real surprises. But I did rather like the way that you presented it (the short version anyway, since that is what I read).

  45. Sili says

    But what is your mission statement?

    And when are you gonna instate John Loftus in his rightful seat as supreme overlord of freethought?

  46. says

    Sili:

    And when are you gonna instate John Loftus in his rightful seat as supreme overlord of freethought?

    Oh, come on. Everyone already knows that Loftus won’t settle for anything less than the $30,000 Iron Throne replica from the HBO online store.

  47. says

    As for the bit about anyone with a penis being a thread, I suspect he’s talking about Taslima. She’s…very second-wave in her opinions on men.

    Even if that were true, there’s a marked difference in the minority being scared of the majority than vice versa.

  48. Lofty says

    @PZ

    You’re right! We forgot to design the uniforms!

    I’ll ask Greta if she can take (care) of that for us.

    I think Greta already has a nice line in birthday suits which will fit everyone, no extra tailoring needed.

  49. Amphiox says

    who effectively told gay people to stop bitching about Obama and vote democrat

    Rumor has it that the Democratic Party is going to put marriage equality into their election platform. The Republicans want to put in constitutional amendments that forbid it.

    Irrespective of what you think about Obama’s pronouncements on the issue, the choice is pretty clear, don’t you think?

    Obama isn’t the whole Democratic Party.

  50. says

    This place isn’t interested in freethought, there are rules!

    Yeesh. You’d think this was bowling or something! Clearly you’re all out of your element. Also, dude, Thunderfoot is not the issue.

  51. eleutheria says

    Since the purpose of the mailing list is to encourage open communication between members of the network, all discussions must be civil and drama is frowned upon; disagreement and criticism is encouraged, but only in the spirit of constructive improvement of the content of the Network. Other kinds of disagreement must be taken off-list, so that they do not disrupt free and friendly discussion. The mailing list is not to be an arena.

    Threats, harassment, and personal abuse will not be tolerated on the mailing list.

    Unfortunate that the rules that apply to the Back Channel don’t apply to the Comments area. The 1% will always have it better, I guess.

  52. says

    eleutheria, we comment on each other’s blogs too. Anyone can get into it in public, or in email that isn’t copied to the whole group. The point is to keep the working group generally focused on work.