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SoylentNews is people

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


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: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 13 2014, @05:16AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 13 2014, @05:16AM (#42541)

    so people "scratching their own itch" by serving the community is "far left wing"?

    wow, just wow.

    and to ascribe that to the 'canonical reasons described in Orwell's "Animal Farm"'
    is an absolute travesty. you're talking about Orwell! Orwell ffs! do you even know
    who Orwell is? go read The Road To Wigan Pier you selfish little libertarian.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 13 2014, @06:14AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 13 2014, @06:14AM (#42555)

    so people "scratching their own itch" by serving the community is "far left wing"?

    wow, just wow.

    Um, ffs, no dude. What is arguably "far left wing is"

    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.

    If the subject of this musing was *only* this site, then I wouldn't see it as being perceivable as "left wing". The subject however was "owners of sites" *in general*, or at least in a wider context.

    • (Score: 2) by AudioGuy on Tuesday May 13 2014, @07:02AM

      by AudioGuy (24) on Tuesday May 13 2014, @07:02AM (#42564) Journal

      This is NOT left wing:

      "sites exist for the benefit of their community"

      THIS would be left wing, note the difference please:

      "sites exist only for the benefit of their community"

      All businesses exist for the benefit of their customers. But they do not exist ONLY for the benefit of their customers - there is MUTUAL benefit. That is the very basis of a free economy.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 13 2014, @08:33AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 13 2014, @08:33AM (#42597)

        yes ok fair point.

        but i think its fairly likely that NCommander was not making some push for
        global communism, i read it as a dig at the other place.

        but in any case, the libertarian then goes on to talk about this
        specific site, and how he'd prefer it if people were selfish.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 13 2014, @10:36AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 13 2014, @10:36AM (#42622)

        I have to still disagree. And it's one of those "never say never" things. When you say "All businesses exist for the benefit of their customers.", I have to say- it's easy to see you are wrong. Surely amongst this globe of 7 billion people and countless businesses, you must concede that at least a few "don't exist for the benefit of their customers". While I was trying to highlight the case of businesses that _exist_ because the founder thought they would enjoy operating that particular business, obviously there are also many a ponzi-scheme and other less than benevolent business out there that actually _exist to screw over their customers_. So I'm saying you are wrong on that point from a simple observational logic standpoint.

        As to what you said prior to that, I agree with what you are trying to express, but the fact that the meaning for you completely changes with the subtle extraction of the word 'only' is _precisely_ why the verbiage is problematic in this site's manifesto. If the meaning can be so radically altered with that one word, I would hope you can take a step back and realize that- my original point in commenting wasn't to accuse NC of _being far left_, but to highlight that with the word choices he made in the manifesto- it could reasonably appear that way to someone who wasn't reading with a careful attention to the nuance that you believe is so entirely changed with a single 4 letter word.

        Now honestly, my real critique would be that I suspect that NC fell to the temptation to choose words that "sound noble" in a traditional sense that values selflessness and considers selfishness to be vice. And Ayn Rand, though she scares the hell out of me in my later life realizing how nasty nazis and slave owners were and how viscious a world of actual leisse fairre capitalism could end up, made some very good points attempting to get people to reexamine the virtuousness of selflessness versus selfishness.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 13 2014, @10:59AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 13 2014, @10:59AM (#42632)

        (note: 42597 is not me, dmc)

        Please also realize your comment loses persuasiveness when you consider the other word snippet I emboldened in the quote- I.e. with a narrow focus, I agree with your NOT/THIS comment, when you expand your focus to include the VERY NEAR CONTEXT of "and the leadership and staff live to serve that community." it is hard for me to be persuaded that my comment was poor based on your NOT/THIS analysis.

        When I look at the plethora of sites on the internet, I absolutely do not see "the leadership and staff life to serve their community" as a generalization I can make about them. I view internet sites as far less motivated by the needs of the community than that sentiment suggests. Many sites may be motivated by such community service, but hardly all of them. As many sites are simply motivated because the operators wanted to operate that sort of site, knowing that maybe a community would develop long term, and maybe a community wouldn't. The internet is filled with lots of experiments. The idea that sites in general have "leadership and staff that live to serve their community" sounds to me like an incorrect generalization to make, both about the actual current internet, or what the internet ought to evolve towards.

        Don't get me wrong, NC and whoever else are amongst the leadership and staff of this site are absolutely welcome to have whatever beliefs and whatever wording they like in their manifesto. If I don't like it, I'll leave, and I won't consider it bad in any way. Because to me, that kind of _loose voluntary_ association between community and operators is what I think is perfectly fine. Honestly Slashdot and SoylentNews aren't enough instances of slashcode in my opinion. I want to see thousands of slashcode based communities, all with differing ideas about what they ought to look like and be about. I don't think one size needs to fit all. The best thing about the multitude of sites on the internet is the diversity of motivations. The fact that some have leadership and staff that live to serve their community, and some that have leadership and staff that live to drink mountain dew, eat doritos, smoke pot, make snarky comments, and not care if their snarky comments cause their community to number in the tens instead of the tens of thousands is fine by me.

        ITS NO BIG DEAL.