Guidelines for Vibes Watchers

This is an official document of the Italian Pirate Party.(1) It is the result of years of experience, debate, sociological analysis and the resulting creation of rules of procedure for civil discourse and coexistence in a political organization.

It is available only in either Italian original or German translation, but if you were led here, you probably will find the references useful. Most of them point to documents in English language. Also, feel invited to help in further translations!

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1 Further reading

  1. (de) Piratenpartei, Analyse zur Bundestagswahl 2013: Disziplin und Fairness;
  2. (en) Andrew Reitemeyer, What is Happening in Germany;
  3. (en) carlo von lynX, How to build a Participatory Political Party: Stop the Hurting, citing (en) Rick Falkvinge, Swarmwise – Paragraphs on Infighting and Moderation;
  4. (en) Logical Fallacies; yourlogicalfallacyis…,;
  5. (it) discussione strutturata sulla Convivenza, 2014;
  6. (it) GdL Stru, Raccomandazioni Strutturali per facilitare una Partecipazione Orizzontale all'AltraEuropa, 2014;

2 References

1. (it) The official location of the document is available to party members alongside the voting details in the permanent assembly at i6329. "" is not an official domain of the Italian Pirates, just a place where lynX has implemented his multi-lingual text mark-up tool.
2. (de/en) The Illusory World of Facebook & Co., ZDF documentary on commercial and political manipulation on the Internet, 2016.
3. (en) Criado-Perez, Women’s Aid Speech on Cyber-Harassment, 2013: «But this free speech I’ve discovered, the free speech of women, is under attack. And it’s under attack as much from people who tell us not to feed the trolls, to stop attention-seeking, to keep quiet and not be controversial, as it is from men who send us rape threats every time we open our mouths, or those who call us Nazis for objecting to this. Freedom of speech is a beautiful thing. But in its current incarnation it serves the interests of the powerful, rather than the powerless. Like so many other liberal concepts, when it exists in a society where substantive equality, as opposed to formal or legal equality, has yet to be achieved, where we have equal pay acts, but no equal pay, it can be as oppressive as it is liberating. And if we don’t question this simplistic understanding we have of free speech as a society, we will continue to live in a society where it’s ok that women don’t have a voice – politically, publicly, and socially.»
4. (en) The online disinhibition effect
5. (en) Seabrook, My First Flame (1994); «I suppose the guy could have written me a nasty letter: […] he probably wouldn’t have mailed the letter; he would have thought twice while he was addressing the envelope. But the nature of E-mail is that you don’t think twice. You write and send.»
6. (en) The Universal Rules of Civilized Discourse, 2013: «Conversations are about frequent back and forth replies, to be sure. But every reply should make an honest effort to respond to, and build on, the conversation.»
7. (en) Rice, Love, Electronic Emotion, 1987: “Disinhibition” may occur “because of the lack of social control that nonverbal cues provide.”
8. (en) Reid, Electropolis, Communication and Community On Internet Relay Chat, 1991: «The lack of social context cues in computer- mediated communication obscures the boundaries that would generally separate acceptable and unacceptable forms of behaviour. Furthermore, the essential physical impression of each user that he is alone releases him from the social expectations incurred in group interaction. Computer-mediated communication is less bound by conventions than is face-to-face interaction. With little regulating feedback to govern behaviour, users behave in ways that would not generally be acceptable with people who are essentially total strangers.»
9. (en) Kiesler, Siegel, McGuire, , Social Psychological Aspects of Computer-Mediated Communication, 1984: «People in computer-mediated groups were more uninhibited than they were in face-to-face groups as measured by uninhibited verbal behavior, defined as frequency of remarks containing swearing, insults, name calling, and hostile comments. […] First, […], we concluded that our findings are generalizable to adults and nonstudents as well as to undergraduate students. Second, from comparing experienced and inexperienced computer network users, we concluded that our results apply not just to novices but also to people who use computers often and for whom electronic mail and message systems as well as simultaneous discussion systems are familiar. Third, we also have compared strangers and friends and obtained similar results. […] How might we explain the results as a whole? There are at least three alternatives, having to do with (a) difficulties of coordination from lack of informational feedback, (b) absence of social influence cues for controlling discussion, and (c) depersonalization from lack of nonverbal involvement and absence of norms. […]»
10. (en) Seabrook, My First Flame (1994); «Before long, the community was so absorbed in an attempt to identify the bad apple that constructive discourse ceased. The group posted many messages imploring whoever was doing this to stop, but the person didn’t, and the community was destroyed. […] Everywhere I went in the newsgroups, I found flames, and fear of flames. In the absence of rules, there is a natural tendency toward anarchy on the net anyway, and in some stretches I’d come upon sites that were in complete chaos, where people had been flaming each other non-stop, absolutely scorching everything around them, and driving all the civilized people away. Sometimes I’d arrive at a dead site long after a flame war broke out; it was like walking through what was once a forest after a wildfire.»
11. (en) An Interactional Reconceptualization of "Flaming", Example "B" shows how insider messages can be perceived as offensive by silent third party readers.
12. (en) Proboards Forum Moderating Tips: «Don't tolerate flaming; disagreements are fine but any more than that will discourage guests from joining and drive quality members from your forum. Make sure everyone has a chance to participate.»
13. (en) Phillips, Don't feed the trolls? It's not that simple, 2013: «First of all, “don’t feed the trolls” frames conversations about aggressive online behaviors solely in terms of the aggressor. Even if a person avoids feeding the trolls (and/or the person accused of trolling), he or she is still playing into the aggressor’s hands.[…] If only the target hadn’t fed the trolls, the argument goes, the trolls wouldn’t have done what they did!»
14. (en) Golden, Why “Don’t Feed the Trolls” Falls Short
15. (en) Criado-Perez, Women’s Aid Speech on Cyber-Harassment, 2013: «If there’s one thing I want to come out of what happened to me, it’s for the phrase “don’t feed the trolls” to be scrubbed from the annals of received wisdom. Not feeding the trolls doesn’t magically scrub out the image in your head of being told you’ll be gang-raped till you die. […] Not talking about this is not going to make abuse and misogyny go away. On the contrary, it will help it to thrive. […] And the police had not helped them. The police had told them to lock their accounts, to stop tweeting controversial things»
16. (en) Gibson, “Don't Feed the Trolls” and Other Stupid Advice, 2013
17. (en) Seabrook, My First Flame (1994); «If this had happened to me in the street, I could have used my status as a physically large male to threaten the person, but in the on-line world my size didn’t matter.»
18. (en) Jo Freeman, The Tyranny of Structurelessness
19. (en) Bailey Lamon, Why this Radical Leftist is Disillusioned by Leftist Culture
20. (en) Elinor Ostrom, Governing the Commons, 1990
21. (en) Phillips, Don't feed the trolls? It's not that simple, 2013: «The first and most basic way to play Ruin This Asshole’s Day is to shut them down, ideally by unceremoniously deleting their comments. […] these problems aren’t easily solved, particularly when online abuse has a group dimension, or when the abuse occurs on unmoderated or poorly-moderated platforms.»
22. (en) Singal, Most Comments Are Horrible—Sites Look for Ways to Make Them Better, 2012
23. (en) Wikipedia:Flaming: «Resolving a flame war can be difficult, as it is often hard to determine who is really responsible for the degradation of a reasonable discussion into flame war.»
24. (en) Restorative Justice
25. (en) The Universal Rules of Civilized Discourse, 2013: «You may wish to respond to something by disagreeing with it. That’s fine. But, remember to criticize ideas, not people. Please avoid: Name-calling. Ad hominem attacks. Responding to a post’s tone instead of its actual content. Knee-jerk contradiction. Instead, provide reasoned counter-arguments that improve the conversation.
26. (en) Paul Graham, How to Disagree, 2008: «But though it's not anger that's driving the increase in disagreement, there's a danger that the increase in disagreement will make people angrier. Particularly online, where it's easy to say things you'd never say face to face. If we're all going to be disagreeing more, we should be careful to do it well.»
27. (en) Wikipedia:Troll
28. (en) phpBB forum rules: «Arguing with team members after having received a warning will lead to an immediate additional warning. […] Users who feel they have been unfairly warned are welcome to contact the relevant team leader. Any attempt to circumvent a temporary ban or other moderator action will lead to a permanent ban of your account(s). Circumvention includes re-registering or using an already registered account under a non-banned username. Other examples include changing IP addresses, using a new email account or other action that can be taken to evade moderator action to hide your identity as the owner of the sanctioned account.
29. (en) Proboards Forum Moderating Tips: «Be discreet and maintain confidentiality regarding moderator activities and member information.»
30. (en) Twenge et al, Social Exclusion Decreases Prosocial Behavior, 2005: «The implication is that rejection temporarily interferes with emotional responses, thereby impairing the capacity for empathic understanding of others, and as a result, any inclination to help or cooperate with them is undermined.»
31. (en) Proboards Forum Moderating Tips: «Be respectful of all members, each other, and represent your forum with professionalism. Consider member feelings before hitting the submit button, both in public forums and private.»
32. (en) Pit Schultz, Mute in Conversation: «With the moderation: it is also a contradictory role. The less the moderator appears the better the channel flows. […] there is a whole empirical science behind it, how to bring the nettime ship through dark waters... how to compress and expand, how to follow the lines of noise/pattern instead of absence/presence...»
33. (it) Programma del Partito Pirata Italiano: Trasparenza e Privacy
34. (en) Vibes Watchers in Randy Schutt's Consensus Notes, Nonviolent Action Handbook, Reflection Manual, Nonviolence Training
35. (en) Proboards Forum Moderating Tips: «Watch out for trolls and spammers. Always be vigilant and proactively seek them out and take action to minimize their annoying posts. Watch for members abusing other members.»
36. (en) Proboards Forum Moderating Tips: «Communicate with unruly members and advise them of the consequences of disruptive behavior. Edit postings when necessary so that they conform to the forum's content guidelines.»
37. (en), moderated mailing lists
38. (en) Geert Lovink, "The Moderation Question: Nettime and the Boundaries of Mailing List Culture.", 2002, ISBN 978-0-262-62180-9
39. (en) Internet Privacy Engineering Network (IPEN) mailing list
40. (en) Myers, Stencel, Carvin, Comments On NPR: The Right Chord With Less Discord, 2011
41. (en) Smith, A quick history of 4chan and the rightists who killed it, 2015
42. (en) Edward Tufte, Moderating internet forums: What's smart, not what's new: «As clearly indicated to potential contributors, we do a lot of deleting—only about half of all submitted contributions survive for more than a month. This doubtless hurts a few feelings but substantially raises the quality of the board. Very few published contributions are edited at all, other than silently to correct spelling, update an URL, or to delete a sour note in an otherwise good answer. Our view is that every contribution to Ask E.T. should advance the analytical quality of the thread. We particularly seek to avoid the chronic internet disease of "All Opinions, All the Time." The idea is to have an interesting and excellent board on analytical design that serves the content and the readers, not a board logging every attempt at publication. We also are ruthless in deleting contributions with incivilities, rants, taunts, and personal commentary on other contributors.»
43. (en) Blackboard Help: «As an online instructor, your role is to facilitate the conversation and exchange of ideas on the discussion board. You need to ensure that students feel comfortable to share, while also monitoring responses and keeping everyone focused and on track. At the same time, you want to be careful not to dominate or impede the flow of the discussion. Occasionally, students may introduce inappropriate material for the class discussion. Depending on the maturity and sensitivity of the students in your course, you may need to review student posts for inappropriate content before sharing posts with the rest of the class.»
44. (en) Wisegeek, What is a moderated forum?: «Though the idea of voluntary cooperation is idealistically appealing to responsible persons worldwide and has been a great success, its strength is also its weakness. Irresponsible people can use unmoderated forums for their own purposes to harass, harangue and otherwise foil a forum’s charter, at least temporarily, by choosing to ignore netiquette. In most cases trolls like this can be ignored and they will eventually move on, but there are situations in which a moderated forum is more productive. […] Some people do not appreciate a moderated forum as the Internet has always represented the very vanguard of freedom. It is seen as a type of censorship or policing in this case. However, Internet traffic has grown tremendously since the mid-1990s, and with that enormous growth comes a proportionate percentage of those unwilling to respect netiquette.»
45. (en) Blackboard Help: «Without vigilance on the your part, even discussions starting out with ample excitement can dwindle as the term progresses. The art of moderating involves finding the right balance between guiding the conversation and standing back to allow students to discover new ideas.»
46. (en) Elinor Ostrom
47. (en) phpBB forum rules: «phpBB operates a three strike policy. Users will be warned a maximum of three times for any and all offences in a three month period. If the need arises for a fourth warning a temporary ban will be put in place of between 1 to 7 days. […] An exception to the three strike rule applies when users contact team members personally (via any method) and post insulting, indecent or vulgar material. Such users may be subject to an immediate permanent ban.»
48. (it) Regolamento del Partito Pirata contenente il Codice di Condotta
49. (it) Categoria per contenuti non pienamente conformanti con il Codice di Condotta
50. (en) Proboards Forum Moderating Tips: «Keep posts clean and move off-topic posts to appropriate categories. […] Delete or move single posts or entire threads when necessary. Lock or unlock posts as required.»
51. (en) The Universal Rules of Civilized Discourse, 2013: «Make the effort to put things in the right place, so that we can spend more time discussing and less cleaning up. Don’t start a topic in the wrong category. Don’t cross-post the same thing in multiple topics. Don’t post no-content replies. Don’t divert a topic by changing it midstream. Don’t sign your posts – every post has your profile information attached to it. Rather than posting “+1” or “Agreed,” use the Like button. Rather than taking an existing topic in a radically different direction, use Reply as a New Topic.»
52. (en) Afterlife Knowledge: A Peer Moderated Forum
53. (en) The Universal Rules of Civilized Discourse, 2013: «As long as there have been web forums, there have been moderators – whose job ranges from cheerleader to facilitator to police to janitor. Sometimes their relationship with users can become needlessly adversarial, and the community guidelines often reflect the tension between these roles. This can make the job thankless and contributes to high turnover rates, not to mention friction within the community. Trust and reputation systems make it feasible to empower the community to take on some of the more “janitorial” moderation functions. Which is a godsend, since the problems like spamming and trolling are mentioned prominently in every set of community guidelines we reviewed! […] Moderators have special authority; they are responsible for this forum. But so are you. With your help, moderators can be community facilitators, not just janitors or police. When you see bad behavior, don’t reply. It encourages the bad behavior by acknowledging it, consumes your energy, and wastes everyone’s time. Just flag it. If enough flags accrue, action will be taken, either automatically or by moderator intervention. […] Calling someone a “troll” in a post, even if true, is prohibited.»
54. (en) phpBB forum rules: «Members are asked to not act as “back seat moderators”. If members note an issue which contravenes something in this policy document they are welcome to bring it to the attention of a member of the Moderator Team. Please use the “post report” feature to report posts. Do not respond to such topics yourself. Members who constantly “act” as moderators may be warned.»
55. (en) Sierra, Why the Trolls Will Always Win, 2014: «Most of the master trolls weren’t active on Twitter in 2007. Today, they, along with their friends, fans, followers, and a zoo of anonymous sock puppet accounts are. The time from troll-has-an-idea to troll-mobilizes-brutal-assault has shrunk from weeks to minutes. Twitter, for all its good, is a hate amplifier. Twitter boosts signal power with head-snapping speed and strength. Today, Twitter (and this isn’t a complaint about Twitter, it’s about what Twitter enables) is the troll’s best weapon for attacking you.»

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