As part of preparing for the eventual public, if invite-only, launch of Write House, I've been working on the matter of the necessary Code of Conduct for administrators, writers, and commenters, focusing on a couple of resources I found back when I was considering starting up a Mastodon instance.
For awhile, I've been looking at the XOXO Code of Conduct, itself modeled after material from Geek Feminism and other sources, as it's pretty clear and succinct. I also appreciate the section specifically discounting any complaints of “'reverse' -isms”.
XOXO prioritizes marginalized people’s safety over privileged people’s comfort. XOXO reserves the right not to act on complaints regarding:
- ‘Reverse’ -isms, including ‘reverse racism,’ ‘reverse sexism,’ and ‘cisphobia’
- Reasonable communication of boundaries, such as “leave me alone,” “go away,” or “I’m not discussing this with you.”
- Communicating in a ‘tone’ you don’t find congenial
- Criticizing racist, sexist, cissexist, or otherwise oppressive behavior or assumptions
More recently, I came across the Community Covenant, which is slightly more extensive, and specifically designed for online communities of one sort or another, but mostly, I think, consistent with XOXO's.
I've considered primarily using the latter but incorporating the former's discounting of “reverse -isms” complaints. Lately, I've been thinking of just using XOXO's.
One tricky thing I'm encountering while working through what to draw from for Write House's code of conduct is that best practices dictate a sensible provision under which any staff member accused of harassment automatically is recused from investigating or policing that accusation.
At the time of this current pre-launch state, I am the only administrator and the sole “staff” person, which got me musing about having some sort of outside reviewer on retainer—although not on an actual paid retainer, as payment itself would create a conflict of interest for the outside reviewer.
I don't yet know how that would even work, or who I'd turn to for such a thing, but it did spark another idea.
What if there were a nonprofit outfit consisting of outside ombuds who would contract with community websites on a volunteer basis to enforce their codes of conduct. These ombuds would be paid by the nonprofit, which itself would be prohibited from accepting contributions from its clients, making them entirely independent. I suppose for this to work, any given ombud cannot be the contractor for a community in which they already are involved.
I still need to solve the issue when it comes to Write House. While I don't expect to be accused of violating the eventual code of conduct here, this recusal provision needs to be included.
In the meantime, I am giving away the above nonprofit “Community Code of Conduct Ombuds Agency” idea to whoever wants to run with it.