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posted by NCommander on Monday May 12 2014, @08:00PM   Printer-friendly
from the #define-soylentnews dept.

You know, this is probably one of the hardest things I've had to write since we went live. My first few attempts just lead to writer's block and frustration, so I tried to take a different tack with this and do it the way I usually do my write-ups for anything; by the seat of my pants. The staff have poked and prodded my early attempts, and I think we're ready to open this up to everyone to add their two cents in as we work towards a final version.

Since we've gone live almost three months ago (yeash, time flies), we've already had our fair share of debates, strife, and conflict, yet at the end of the day we remain operational with an involved community that keeps growing day after day. As I continue my relocation to NH, we're getting scary close to the point we're going to need to start drafting the bylaws and operating principles for this site. One of the pressing questions that have been asked time and time again is, "What will we be?" I'm ready to give you that answer.

Without further ado, let me present the current draft copy of the site manifesto. I'll read through and debate feedback below, and keep refining this until it becomes the defining statement for what SN will be.

SoylentNews Manifesto: Version 0.1

Preamble:

In recent years, many alarming trends have surfaced regarding the free interchange of news and ideas on the internet. The practice of selling users' information for profit, without their approval or even knowledge, has become rampant. People are being prosecuted simply for expressing their opinions. A "Big Brother is Watching" mentality from both state and commercial actors, with universal surveillance now becoming common, has created a chilling effect, preventing people from exercising their rights or speaking up.

Unpopular or unusual views are being actively suppressed, diversity of opinion is too often deemed a problem, and actively restricted, at the whim of corporate and political power.

Too often, the focus upon profit has led to owners forgetting that sites exist for the benefit of their community, and the leadership and staff live to serve that community.

Too often, useful help and input from a site's community is ignored by staff and management who are so out of touch with the very people they serve that they will destroy the support of the community they built, and eventually the business itself.

Statement of Purpose

Our aim is to stand in stalwart opposition to these trends. We will be the best site for independent, not-for-profit journalism on the internet, where ideas can be presented and free discussion can take place without external needs overshadowing the community.

Our Principles

Right to Privacy

We will limit the amount of data collection we do whenever and however we can.

Our user database, and the information in it, is not, and never will be for sale.

Any data collection we do will be done with the consent of the community, and destroyed once we are finished with it.

Any information we collect for legal purposes (i.e., DCMA safe harbor protections) will be destroyed as soon as legally possible.

We will continuously look at ways to shore up users' privacy, including, but not limited to, the tor proxy presently available to our users.

Right of Opinion

Diversity will be respected and encouraged as an important aspect of our community, as groupthink can easily prevent people from seeing other, perhaps better, ideas.

Except as required by law, no one will be banned or have their comments deleted due to stating a fact or opinion, no matter how unpopular or repugnant it is. We will not ban or silence a user for merely stating an opinion.

Freedom of Access

Access to information needs to be available to all members.

We will, to the extent possible, attempt to accommodate members of this site with disabilities, such as those dependent on screen readers.

Content produced by this site shall be available in a format that does not require proprietary or patented software. Non-free methods of access in addition may also be provided for sake of convenience (i.e., a YouTube video)

Freedom from Financial Backers/Handling Advertising

Media can be influenced by those who fund it; to prevent us from becoming slaves to a new overlord, the LibreNews Foundation shall be funded independently by the member sites (such as SoylentNews) which comprise it.

Should fundraising efforts prove insufficient, at the discretion of the staff, we may run advertising on this site in an attempt to supplement income.

No attempt to block access to this site shall be made by those who use ad-blocking software, though we urge such users to subscribe.

Permissions granted by the user to this site shall not extend to other sites (i.e., if you give us permission to email you, we're not going to give anyone else permission to do so).

Third-party media hosted on this on this site shall be limited to a form which is non-distracting, and non-disrupting.

Freedom of Topic

We recognize that the free flow of ideas can only take place in an environment free of taboo subjects.

No topic will be deemed unsuitable for our community to discuss.

Right to Criticize/Right of Reversion

A true community can only exist when communication can flow in both directions.

The right of our community to criticize, make suggestions, and help us improve our site will be respected. No staff or leader will ever be above criticism.

We recognize that mistakes will be made, as we are all human. It is both the right and privilege of others to correct us when needed.

If serious errors are made, we promise to revert them and fix the problems.

 
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  • (Score: 2) by skullz on Monday May 12 2014, @09:43PM

    by skullz (2532) on Monday May 12 2014, @09:43PM (#42353)

    Similar to this, and I know this would never happen here and all but suppose someone with a good reputation gets their account taken over and starts posting well crafted click bait to some blob of bits that just happen to exploit some zero-day oops.

    Seeing as this is the manifesto the SN overlords may consider throwing in some "except where it is reasonable to protect the community" bits in there. Its vague, undefined, and open to wild interpretation but you are communicating human intent and a thought process through English, not math.

    Or say you won't even block that, which would be fine as well.

    Starting Score:    1  point
    Karma-Bonus Modifier   +1  

    Total Score:   2  
  • (Score: 1) by paulej72 on Monday May 12 2014, @11:18PM

    by paulej72 (58) on Monday May 12 2014, @11:18PM (#42400) Journal

    That "except where it is reasonable to protect the community" phrase or something very similar was in an earlier draft. We are for free speech, but that does not give a person the right to yell FIRE in a crowded theater. We will have the same restriction, spamming the site will not be tolerated and will be dealt with in an appropriate manner.

    We had one user so far spamming comments for a day or so, but it stopped before we had a chance to make any decision on what to do. What we will need is a TOS to be created so that these types of events and what we do will be spelled out.

    --
    Team Leader for SN Development
    • (Score: 2) by Techwolf on Tuesday May 13 2014, @02:01AM

      by Techwolf (87) on Tuesday May 13 2014, @02:01AM (#42484)

      I think you was meaning free speech != free of responsibility. Meaning if you yell fire and someone gets hurt or killed, you can be charge with a crime, like manslaughter. One is still responsible for said speech.

      A while back, a weatherman recommended getting out of the area due to a incoming tornado. I-10 got jammed hard and said tornado came very close to I-10. Said weatherman almost got fired.

      • (Score: 2) by crutchy on Monday May 19 2014, @10:12PM

        by crutchy (179) on Monday May 19 2014, @10:12PM (#45399) Homepage Journal

        that is an unfortunate story

        sort of seems like blaming the power company if you get robbed during a power outage

        i wonder if anyone cared to look at why the I-10 got so jammed up? aren't there multiple escape routes in high tornado risk areas and predetermined recommended primary and secondary escape routes for various suburbs so that not everyone bails out using the same route? i guess it's always easy to think of these things in hindsight armchair thought exercise though, and most governing authorities are probably normally busy thinking up ways to increase their authority instead of serving their constituents

        seems like if weather reporters are threatened with firing in circumstances like that, they may instead intentionally/inadvertently understate the threat, and then who gets blamed when people get killed in their homes because they weren't advised to get out of the area?

    • (Score: 2) by maxwell demon on Tuesday May 13 2014, @07:32AM

      by maxwell demon (1608) on Tuesday May 13 2014, @07:32AM (#42569) Journal

      We are for free speech, but that does not give a person the right to yell FIRE in a crowded theater.

      Unless it's an actor, and yelling "FIRE" is part of his role, of course. In which case doing it in a crowded theater is actually preferred. ;-)

      --
      The Tao of math: The numbers you can count are not the real numbers.
  • (Score: 2) by NCommander on Tuesday May 13 2014, @12:16AM

    by NCommander (2) Subscriber Badge <michael@casadevall.pro> on Tuesday May 13 2014, @12:16AM (#42427) Homepage Journal

    Paul already said it, but I think this got removed by accident during one our the editing rounds, and I'll look at readding something to that effect for version 0.2

    --
    Still always moving