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Aug 22 2012

Public Disclosure Of FreeThoughtBlogges Organizational Rules

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.

25 comments

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  1. 1
    slc1

    3 in a row for the fucken Yankee fan’s fucken Yankees. Keep it up.

    How about them Nats. They made the NYT’s sport pages today.

  2. 2
    joestewart

    bad copy-paste job from Word. Or did you really trademark We�

    If I ever have a blogge network, first thing I do is ban Word.

  3. 3
    Chebag

    Doesn’t sound very Democratic to me. Classic thought control cloaked in “free” thinking robes.

  4. 4
    Lady Day

    I don’t understand the point of these blog aggregates. I’ve used Blogger and WordPress before, and they were both suitable enough platforms for my posts.

  5. 5
    becca

    that’s uhm… detailed.

  6. 6
    Chebag

    Lady Day-

    How else would bloggers know how important they are?

  7. 7
    Lady Day

    @ Chebag: Thanks for confirming my suspicions.

  8. 8
    Gretchen

    Doesn’t sound very Democratic to me.

    Who told you this was a democracy?

    Classic thought control cloaked in “free” thinking robes.

    Your understanding of “thought control” and “free thinking” could use some work. The former does not mean “any kind of rules,” and the latter does not mean “We’ll allow anyone to use our private property to behave any way they want.”

  9. 9
    Chebag

    There is a whole lotta daylight betwixt anything-goes and this fascist manifesto the Comradde (honestly could anyone make up the deliciousness of *him* posting the “rules”?) just posted Gretchen.

  10. 10
    Gretchen

    Oh, this should be good. By all means, explain how the policy of FtB is “fascist,” bearing in mind of course what fascism actually means and the fact that rules for the usage of private property (such as a blog network) do not involve forcing anyone to do anything.

  11. 11
    Gretchen

    Hell, I’d be impressed if you could even explain what would count as mildly over-controlling.

  12. 12
    Jeff

    @Gretchen:

    You seem to be a really nasty person. Stop talking down to people and show some basic respect.

  13. 13
    Chebag

    The first thing the fascists do is organize the “grassroots” brownshirts to abuse their imagined enemies, Gretchen.

  14. 14
    SpitefulFox

    Holy crap, people. What’s with the amount of vitriol in the comments? They seem like reasonable rules. Like all rules, they just boil down to “don’t be a dick to each other.” If that’s fascism, I don’t wanna see what the alternative is.

  15. 15
    Chebag

    The alternative to all these rules is actual freely thinking skepticism. Is that too much to ask for a “Free Thought Blogs” collective kibbutz thingy?

  16. 16
    Sas

    Bullshit, Chebag. Websites have rules and TOS, this is not something shocking or fascist.

  17. 17
    Gretchen

    The first thing the fascists do is organize the “grassroots” brownshirts to abuse their imagined enemies, Gretchen.

    Okay, so who’s being abused, and how?

    Jeff, “nasty” is Godwinning a post describing the basic, not-remotely-restrictive guidelines of a blog network and expecting to be taken seriously. Well, maybe not nasty per se, but certainly crazy.

  18. 18
    Jeff

    @Gretchen:

    On the rules, I agree with your position. So be more effective and a better person by defending your position in a way that doesn’t involve condescension and nastiness. Having read through some of the comment threads on Deep Rifts, it seems to me that the reason no one persuades anyone else is because there is too much sarcasm, too many put-downs, and too much eye-rolling.

  19. 19
    Gretchen

    Jeff,

    I don’t know if you noticed, but the claim here is that the FtB guidelines above, noticeably un-restrictive even for online publications, constitute fascism. The radical authoritarian nationalistic practice of government generally associated with stuff like, you know, genocide. It would be a great injustice to be anything but condescending to a person who makes such a claim, because such a person is a bleeding idiot. Notice that Chebang has not made the slightest effort to support this freakishly moronic claim in any way. I personally am sick and fucking tired of people reacting to the proposal of the most general, basic, kindergarten-level-of-comprehensibility guidelines which mandate that people here not be or support utter fuckwits and/or assholes with hands-in-the-air caterwauling about “bullying,” “abuse,” and goddamn Nazism that my patience is absolutely gone. My new policy of reaction is “If it’s really that bad, go the fuck away because your psychotic perspectiveless opinion is not needed here.” Seriously, grow the hell up.

    This is not fucking facism. If you’re confused about the difference, go spend five minutes in a concentration camp and then when you reach epiphany, go enjoy it somewhere other than here.

  20. 20
    Chebag

    Fascism and Nazism are not the same thing Gretchen.

    But at any rate, those of us above room temp IQ simply read the rules as posted by CPP. It really doesn’t require High School debate team self-congratulation for the adults in the room to understand that to which I refer.

    But for your over fevered sake, start with the lapdog, rubber stamp Politburo, sorry, I mean “Executive Committee”.

  21. 21
    Sassafras

    Any committee is the Politburo, any rules are Fascism, any supporters are Brownshirts. So you’ve got the Communists, Fascists, and Nazis covered, Chebag, what’s the next hyperbolic villain to accuse FtB of being? The Taliban? Since you’re pulling all this from your imagination, how about fictional regimes like Satan and the Legions of Hell, too?

  22. 22
    Chebag

    Not “any” Sassy. Do try to keep up.

  23. 23
    Sassafras

    Since you don’t want to define what you’re saying beyond vague allusions like what you gave to Gretchen about Politburo, there’s nothing to keep up with. Throughout this whole thread, you’ve not given any sort of actual argument, you’ve just spouted spooky references to thought control and fascists. Your comments are so vague they’re not even assertions, they’re just you popping up and going “BOO! FASCISM!”.

    You’ve made zero effort to show how your comments have any depth beyond “FtB has a committee?! You know how else had committees? THE COMMUNISTS!!!!!”

  24. 24
    Gretchen

    Chebang,

    Put up or shut up. Insulting people who doubt your incredible (literally, not remotely credible) accusations doesn’t cut it.

  25. 25
    Ed Brayton

    Oh, I think Gretchen is being exactly as respectful to Chebag as he/she deserves. Having some limited amount of organization in a privately owned entity is fascist? I’ll take first class fucking morons for $1000, Alex.

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