Elly, thanks for the explanation. In the case of bullying, I could totally see how a victim might be uncomfortable or intimidated by having to face their tormentors at the same time as the Leadership. This is something that I think is worthy of consideration, but not at the expense of transparency.
A compromise that I would be willing to go for:
-A victim/complainant may request a closed hearing to present their case
-Any such hearing would be a closed meeting in which only the leadership would be present and any unexpected attendees would be asked to leave.
-Any such meeting would be RECORDED AND TRANSCRIBED IN FULL. In the event that this could not be done due to technical or logistical issues, the meeting would be rescheduled for a time when facilities were available.
-When the issue is considered to be resolved by Leadership, any transcripts and recordings submitted in closed hearings would be unsealed and made available to MEMBERS only (not general public).
I feel that this gives a balance between protecting legitimate victims from further abuse and maintaining transparency in the overall decision making process.
I could get behind this sort of procedure, in addition to any refinements others may suggest.
Do we need any sort of clause on how to handle things if the accused IS a member of the Leadership, or will the proposed addition be sufficient to imply that an accused party who is also in Leadership will not be allowed in the private introductory hearing?
I think that if a member ever brought a grievance against a member of Leadership, it would only be proper for the accused Leadership member to recuse themselves from discussion and deliberation. While I consider this to be a no-brainer, does it need to be formalized?
There is already a “Conflict of Interest” section in the bylaws, however it specifically refers only to board members. This could be modified to include all Leadership (perhaps as part of Vote 5?).
After reading Elly’s explanation I am now leaning the other way on the Closed Meeting issue. But I definitely think the wording needs to be modified to make the intention clear.
The negative implications of closing a meeting are clear: to avoid the members of the organization.
JFK reminds us that, “The very word, secrecy, is repugnant in a free and open society, and we are as a people, inherently and historically opposed to secret societies, to secret oaths and to secret proceedings.”
No matter how controversial or sensitive the subject, closed meetings go against the open-ness of the spirit and velocity of the hive.
Ian Wilson, I 100% agree with you.
I also see that in the case of bullying, openness may be a barrier to dealing with the problem. I think that my proposal of allowing closed meetings which later become public(to membership) allows the openness to eventually happen while providing temporary sanctuary in delicate cases long enough for them to be resolved.
In situations where there is bullying or harassment, we should consider a methodology that sudoroom uses:
The meetings are open, there’s a well defined process for dealing with them that ensures that those who are harassed have an advocate that fight for them and represent their best interests, and there’s a well defined process for dealing with the conflict.
The last line in their statement says the most to me –
“Restorative remedies are strongly preferred over retributive remedies.”
Just as we are open, we are also educational – instead of being retributive, let’s be restorative and teach members where their actions are causing issues for other members. Restorative first, retributive next – if the member still doesn’t understand and deviates off of the path of getting their behavioral needs addresses, then we look at alternative means of addressing the safety of our membership (suspension, restriction to open events only, etc).
Ian, do you have any contacts at sudoroom that may be able to speak about an actual use of this conflict resolution strategy?
Why reinvent the wheel? Seems pretty thought-out to me. Maybe not take verbatim but certainly worthy of serious consideration.
Actually, I do know someone who was one of the founders at sudoroom; she’s in Indiana now and I might be able to convince her to swing down to hive13 and chat if I can find her on irc.
Personally, I’m almost more interested to talk to someone who has used or been a part of their issue resolution procedure to get a firsthand perspective on what worked well or didn’t, etc. On paper, it looks great. That doesn’t necessarily mean that it works effectively.
I understand Ian’s point about closed meetings not being transparent, but I don’t see the issue in quite the same way. I understand that transparency is important, but I’m a firm believer in praise in public, punish in private.
If there’s a hearing, and the “guilty” party was exonerated, do we really want to discuss the accusation? Do they really need that cloud hanging over their head?
If they are not, and they’re expelled, then do we really need to discuss their crime, whatever it may be? Do we really want that sitting in the wiki for all to see? What sort of impression does that information make on new members?
Anyway, I think some privacy and lack of discussion of sensitive matters might be the better approach. OTOH, people are likely going to gossip, so word with get around. Further if leadership goes bad, the hive is in a world of hurt anyway.
One of the beautiful things about the hive is that we’ve always been an open organization; the good decisions are made in public, and the difficult decisions are made in public. That openness, along with the basic tenant of “Let’s be awesome and build great things together” are one of the driving reasons why I continue to support the hive even though I’m rarely in Cincinnati anymore.
The hive is small enough that even the most basic thing is spread like wildfire; IRC happens. People communicate via side channels.
When the last “major” event happened at the hive, we were open and transparent about it, and open and transparent about dealing with that issue throughout the process until it was resolved. Nothing happened in secret, and while board members and the leadership had private communication with each other during that time, we acted in public, and we were unified in getting that issue resolved.
As for the reflections upon new members, I tend to look at it the same way I look at reviews online: If there are no negative reviews, then there’s something amiss. Even with the proposal that they have, all of the negative actions would be reported on the wiki regardless.
The hive is a great group, and we are a great group because we work through issues together. Closing meetings, regardless of the reason, seems to go completely against this philosophy.
You’re probably correct about things getting out, and at that point I’m not see much advantage to closed meetings.
As Elly states we need some procedures for privacy in place. It is a common provision of mediation, and allows people to request privacy for sensitive issues. This would, theoretically, help reduce reduce drama and escalation.
I can’t remember if it’s in there at the moment, but having a couple non-leadership members may join or sit in such proceedings can provide check and balance.
Think about it, though, in case of very personal matters would you want minutes posted on a wiki? Social media posts could happen as commentary by non involved parties as well.
It’s about respecting a member’s right to privacy should they want privacy, not about granting power to leadership.
There is no right to privacy in public places.
There is no right to privacy in the criminal justice system. While cases can get sealed to protect CIs or victims, interested parties can still make a trip to the clerk of court to get access to files. They may no longer be a few clicks away on the web easy access but they’re not shielded from public view.
Point: outside the hive, we do not have a universal expectation of privacy, especially in the realm of disputes requiring formal assistance in resolution. (i.e. the law) There is no expectation of privacy in public areas, such as on the street or in public parks. Privacy is something that exists in small doses.
Privacy limits access to information but does not prevent it. I have zero problems with proceedings of Leadership being kept private from the general public, i.e. not discussed on mailing list or wiki. I have every issue with Leadership being able to operate without oversight from the membership at large. There is no way I can support any proposal in which MEMBERS OF THE HIVE lack full access to the proceedings of any meetings conducted by the leadership, either by being allowed to attend said meetings as a bystander or by transcripts/recordings being made available in a manner where only members have access to them. (stored at space?) I’m fine with meetings being able to happen privately to resolve an issue but when it has been resolved, all decision making by leadership should be transparent TO MEMBERS. The Freedom of Information Act is reasonably close to what I’m talking about - a way for interested parties to obtain information after it is no longer a threat to national security. Redaction? My gut feeling would be NOT to support that in this context, but… I’d consider a well-crafted proposal tht includes it.
What I would not consider in any shape or form is a proposal that allowed the basis for decisions made by Leadership to remain permanently secret to Membership. I feel strongly enough about this that I think I would terminate my membership over any such secret proceedings becoming a part of the bylaws.
I also want to bring this back to the whole suspension process. It was not until I was explaining it to someone else that I was able to come up with a simple explanation for why I have such problems with it. As the proposal is written at this time, the leadership can do the following:
- Immediately suspend a membership with only 2 people on the membership team voting to suspend
- That suspension becomes a ‘Long term’ suspension after a secret, closed door meeting of just the leadership. Long term suspension is up to 90 days.
- While a member is suspended: They can’t come to the space, they potentially can be banned from the mailing list, and they are required to keep paying dues each month.
- This means that suspension amounts to a $150 fine after you piss off 2 people, and those 2 people convince the other leaders that you should be suspended for 90 days without you able to defend yourself.
- If you decide to stick it out for those 90 days, and pay your $150 fine, you still have no right to defend yourself until the ‘special meeting’ where a vote will be held to kick you out.
- That special meeting’s quorum to remove a person is half the membership (30 people), and it only takes a 1/4 of quorum vote to kick a member out (8 people), oh, and the leadership IS 8 positions (which could be 8 people).
- So, leadership can vote to suspend someone, wait 90 days forcing them to pay $150, and if you have the minimum of quorum (we are frequently close to quorum on big votes), leadership alone can kick out a member.
Next, if you decide to drop your membership during the 90 days instead of paying the forced $150 “membership”, when you sign back up you are a “Probationary” member. A probationary member’s membership can be immediately terminated by a 1/3 vote of the leadership. The same leadership which would have voted to suspend your membership in the first place.
Possible proposals to fix some of these potential loopholes and issues:
No membership dues while a member is suspended.
The accused should have some right to present their defense in advance of the special meeting, giving everyone time to review and consider their options in addition to being allowed at the meeting.
1/4 of Quorum is too low of a threshold and is ripe for abuse. The current threshold in the bylaws is admittedly probably too high (3/4 of all members, or in other words using our current membership total, that would be about 45 yes votes). This proposed change is dropping that for a minimum of 3/4 of all members to 1/4 of quorum, or in other terms, a minimum of 1/8 of all members (about 8 people).
Bylaw section 13 should be extended to include ‘Leadership’ in the conflict of interest section.
We need to update the definition of a ‘Suspended Membership’ (section 2.5) which currently states that you can only be suspended due to non-payment of dues.
I am not trying to be difficult, I am just trying to think of how these rules can be abused. I feel like there is a sentiment of “If you have done nothing wrong, you have nothing to fear” which is not the right want to write rules which will govern you.
I am not sure what the rush is in trying to get these changes approved. I would support us finalizing these changes before scheduling the date of the special meeting to approve them.
Looking back and thinking about it some more, while it may sound bad that you ticked off 8 people, if what a person has done is so egregious as to warrant expulsion, the people voting to remove should have no problem bringing enough evidence to convince enough other people that expulsion is warranted.
With that said, those 8 people would most likely be among those who are the most active in the space anyway, so maybe something a little more in depth than Pass/Fail? Maybe that’s covered elsewhere.
I’m also starting to wonder if a clause concerning closed doors or private hearings belongs in this section as a single subpoint line item. Should there be a little more fleshed out procedure inserted elsewhere in the bylaws talking about how grievances are brought up and how they are addressed? At first I was completely on the side of respecting individual privacy, and I still am, but I can relent to the point that was brought up, that it’s not right to have a potentially extreme case where the leadership outright kicks someone out (which VERY rarely happens) and can only respond with “we can’t tell you why, he/she was just a really bad person”. To go in line with the criminal justice system analogy, for the group to make an informed vote on something as serious as this, they need to be provided with the sequence of events as they happened, but I’m still going to lean on the side of discretion in saying that identifying information of a victim that does not want to be identified can be redacted or withheld IF sufficient criteria is met. We’re talking really deep stuff, not “oh, he stole my screwdriver but I don’t want to be identified because of how petty I’m being.” I could also consent to the information being available to the members and not the general public, i.e., physical records and files at the space and nothing on the wiki, mailing list, etc., with safeguards or penalties in place if someone released them to the public.
I can consent to having the dues suspended. Either you get kicked out of the space, at which point you’ve already been gone, or you are brought back in, at which point you are a potentially innocent person who has been wrongfully accused and had their time wasted. It’s one of those areas where, yeah, in a way you could find a way to justify it, but it might be better off just putting the subscription on hold until the person is reinstated.
A contract needs to be unilateral – both sides need to see the benefit – in order for it to pass even a standard “sniff test.”
In the situation of a suspension, if the member does not have access to the space, the space should not benefit by way of their dues.
Even Lionel Hutz could make that case…
With regards to the change in quorum, there’s legal precedent that applies here:
“[…] does not authorize the Board to create a tail that would not only wag the dog, but would continue to wag after the dog died.” (NEW PROCESS STEEL, L. P. v. NLRB ( No. 08-1457 ) 564 F. 3d 840, reversed and remanded.) [and you say that lawyers don’t have a sense of humor!]
Simply put, Leadership cannot make changes to define quorum that makes it easier for Leadership to obtain quorum.
I’ve discussed a lot of things here, and instead of just blindly bitching about them, I’m going to try to make them better and more palatable to me.
I am going to break down the major issues into github pull requests, and then I will make a pdfdiff of the latex files, so that everyone can see the proposed changes and how they relate to the actual documents and go from there, and post the diff, the pdfdiff, and why those changes are important to the mailing list on an item-by-item level. There’s a lot of good discussion and a lot of good information that’s out there, and I think that we can look at the changes on an individual basis so that there’s no clutter between the two.
(I do like Google’s Comments feature – so, if you have a github account, feel free to do code review comments for things; if you don’t have a github account, feel free to make and change your comments here).
I will modify the Suspension ones into a seperate uid0-suspension-wording branch on github; I will post my thoughts/revisions to this on the mailing list and we can go from there.
Okay, I was advocating privacy in mediation, and a preference to “work things out” prior to any serious action. Anything salient should be on record should it proceed to serious action.
I’ll shut up now lest I be misinterpreted.