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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.
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.
I see the possibility of delete functionality being enabling abuse - and technically difficult for the reasons stated.Perhaps it is better to say that SN does not own the content, but neither does the user. Anything posted publicly is in the public domain. Period. No copyright, no removal.
The problem with that approach is that public domain means unlimited rights to use for whatever reason. If I write a well thought out 4 paragraph comment on a subject, and my government doesn't like me, I don't want their agents to be able to repost the same 4 paragraphs, with 3 key words changed, under the username "ILoveToRapeChildren" in an attempt to discredit me. I say stick with the tried and true upstream approach. Users own the comments, and have decided to publish them in the comment thread of an article on the website. Other's may quote and use them at the discretion of the laws in their jurisdiction. I.e. a user living on AnarchIsland is free to use the words however they like, a user in China is only allowed to use the words in ways which don't draw attention to the events of 1989, and a user in the U.S. is allowed to copy the words subject to U.S. copyright and fair use laws.
I don't want their agents to be able to repost the same 4 paragraphs, with 3 key words changed, under the username "ILoveToRapeChildren" in an attempt to discredit me.
Uhh, what? You mean feds stop and check the license to be sure they're not infringing copyright before breaking the law?
the more law they break, the more vulnerable they are to inconvenient public court cases, even if they find a way to get them dismissed due to reasons of national security.
I wish I could mod this up. Any person or group with an interest in discrediting you is not going to care about the license. And the smart ones never change your words. The just take one sentence from paragraph 2 and put it with paragraph four, to make it seem like you are saying whatever they want to make you look bad.
Public domain has no bearing on that.
Perhaps it is better to say that SN does not own the content, but neither does the user. Anything posted publicly is in the public domain. Period. No copyright, no removal.The problem with that approach is that public domain means unlimited rights to use for whatever reason.
Perhaps it is better to say that SN does not own the content, but neither does the user. Anything posted publicly is in the public domain. Period. No copyright, no removal.
The problem with that approach is that public domain means unlimited rights to use for whatever reason.
Well how about "By posting this comment you agree to license it under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License [creativecommons.org]." ... or one of the other licences [creativecommons.org]?
And the "fine print" changes to "The following comments are owned by whoever posted them, and licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License [creativecommons.org] . We are not responsible for them in any way."