Codes of Conduct, flagging, and Restorative Justice…

I was listening to a podcast today (Rough Translation: The Apology Broker specifically) referencing effective apologies (in the case in question, businesses apologizing for war crimes). Among other things (especially about translations between culture and language), there was emphasis on the public versus private nature of effective apologies.

All of this reminded me of Restorative Justice — a growing movement I strongly support which emphasizes victims participating meaningfully in coming to actual resolution over wrongs. I wish there were better link, but seems the go-to as far as I can tell at this time (although it’s a poorly designed and confusing site).

Core point is the aim of actually addressing the harm done, learning, and bringing people back together. And the feelings of those harmed matter here. Sure, that means the same violation could be treated with much more ready forgiveness depending on the victim, but that’s just how it goes. In some sense, that’s not fair. But it’s not fair to the victims to strip them of the power to be the ones doing the forgiveness.

I think this helps to clarify my motivations around building our Code of Conduct and flagging approach (which still has a lot missing, some of which will need plugins/fixes to Discourse to fully work in the long-term).

What we want is just enough clarity to enable those who feel wronged or offended to bring up their concerns and give those who caused the offense a chance to understand and repair the situation. When doing this publicly is appropriate, it should be public. When it makes more sense to stay private, it should stay private. When moderators are needed to help facilitate, they should do that; but the actions and decisions shouldn’t be driven by moderators if the parties can repair the issue on their own.

These things are not easy, and no simple rule or program will solve things. The point is just to frame the idea that restoration is the goal, stakeholders should be empowered to use their best judgments, and we promote the practices of compassion and understanding.

I’ve had this perspective clear enough for a long time, but I haven’t yet got the ideas clear enough to express succinctly. I welcome anyone interested to discuss these things here in this topic (not the implementation of flagging or the CoC details — those are separate topics — but the broader ideas about Restorative Justice and the motivations and ideals applied to communities like ours).

3 Appreciations

Update on this: we researched and found good sources on Restorative Justice and Transformative Justice. It’s all been incorporated with the updated Code of Conduct 2.0 via our Community Values document.

The longer post above is interesting historic reference of thoughts and questions leading up to this. So, I feel good about our incorporation of these ideas so far.

Some other older notes I had about CoC and communication issues

We need a holistic system. Avoid this: those struggling emotionally to deal with some tension have a harder time communicating at the highest standards and thus are the ones most censored.

When someone is emotional and violates the CoC, how do we assure that their concerns are heard and included — while still rejecting toxic styles of communication that harm the community?

Ideally, we focus on steel-manning and Rapoport’s Rules type stuff (per Discussion guidelines, suggestions beyond the Code of Conduct )and have a community that helps the most marginalized or otherwise emotional people get their points included effectively…

Instead of demanding that people meet a high standard or are excluded, our goal is to do the extra work of getting their ideas included! So, we need some space for side-conversations where toxic statements are accepted as part of a process of improving them… how else can we actually get to the more effective result??