Posted by Melissa McEwan at Friday, January 01, 2010
Required Reading Before Commenting: Everything in the Feminism 101 section, all links below, and "My Vote. Mine." Please also familiarize yourself with Shakesville's Email Policy.
Short Rules: Be kind. Be thoughtful. Be open to correction in response to unintentional expressions of privilege. No downvoting. No using the reply function. Respect the mods. Hold yourself to the same standards you hold the contributors and other commenters. Have fun. And expect to get whatever you give: If you respect the guidelines and the community culture, you'll get the same in return.
Commenters should read the entirety of any post and existing comments before commenting. We make this request because clarifications about the post and moderation regarding what is on- or off-topic is done in-thread, and commenters who value the safe space provided by the moderation here must play their part in making sure they're not increasing moderation demands by entering a thread with concerns which have already been addressed or in a way that has already been set off-limits.
The Long Rules, below, are not optional reading. Make sure you read and understand them before commenting.
Commenter Safety: Please know that we do everything we can to respect and maintain commenters' privacy and safety in this space. Your comments will never be posted to the main page without your express permission, and your email address, which is visible to moderators, will never be shared unless you explicitly request to be connected with another amenable commenter. (Occasionally, for example, Shakers in the same area will both contact the blogmistress in order to facilitate a meeting.)
The accounts of moderators are clearly marked, so you know who has access to your email address.
Please also be advised that this is a public space, and we cannot control external exploitation of comments. Sometimes, the people who harass Melissa McEwan and/or the other contributors and moderators will screen cap comments and repost them in other spaces. We deeply regret that affiliation with this space and the people who create and manage it may expose other people to abuse, but we want to make clear that this is a possibility.
Culture: This is an advanced feminist space. We don't do newbie education on demand here, and we don't do flamewars with people who treat discussion of progressive feminist ideals as an abstract academic exercise or want to play "devil's advocate." If you have a question, ask it in the daily Open Thread, with the hope but not expectation that someone will be around who has the time and inclination to answer it and engage in discussion with you.
Participation here requires that you respect and remember that this space is built and its content authored by individual people. In a space dedicated to social justice, we believe it is important to center the humanity of both its users and its architects.
Moderators are members of this community. Every single person who serves as a moderator for Shakesville (besides Melissa McEwan) started out as a commenter—a commenter who valued this community so much that they're willing to volunteer no small amount of their time to maintain it. Respecting the individual humanity of the contributors and moderators at Shakesville, as well as their right to participate as community members as well as gatekeepers, is not optional. The people who invest the most in this community are not required to withdraw from personal participation as a cost of their investment.
These are important pieces to read to understand the culture and expectations of the community: One. Two. Three. Four. Five.
Content Notes: Content Notes, indicating where potentially troubling or triggering material may be found in a post, will be provided where applicable. We make a good faith effort to identify content associated with common triggers, e.g. violent imagery or slurs, and sensitive subject matter, but please be advised that we cannot predict every reader's individual needs. Content Notes are provided to give readers the option to assess whether they've got the spoons (pdf) to process material that is potentially triggering to them. The provision of Content Notes is an exchange in which readers must participate: We communicate the information, and readers must assess their own immediate capacity to process content in the noted categories, then proceed accordingly.
Commenters are also asked to make a similar good faith effort to note potentially troubling or triggering content in comments, as has become community habit.
Disqus Commenting at Shakesville: The latest iteration of the Disqus system (2013) has some features which are not very compatible with the community format for this space. In response, members of the community are requested to be aware of and observe the following:
1. Vote Up, Not Down. Upvotes are encouraged so that community members can see that their comments were valuable to others. Downvotes, however, are prohibited, as we share a lot of personal stuff here and downvoting will, in many cases, serve as negative policing of someone else's lived experiences. Thus, we do not allow downvoting.
(If you accidentally downvote someone else's comment, you can undo it by clicking the down arrow a second time.)
Naturally, because there are always people who willfully disregard the rules of this space, sometimes comments will get downvotes by people deliberately trying to stir trouble. This would definitely be a problem if we were the humorless feminists we are oft accused of being—but we are not! We are and always have been stronger, wittier, and more creative than anyone who tries to get us down!
So, in recognizing that the only people doing downvoting are misogynist heapshits who flagrantly violate our commenting guidelines, we recognize downvotes as Feminist Experience Points! "Congratulations—you said something so awesome that a pathetic wreck with nothing better to do expended energy on giving you a Feminist Experience Point!" No need to feel bad about a downvote, Shakers—it's just evidence that you're LEVELING UP!
2. Sort Comments by Oldest. To ensure that you're reading comments in chronological order, which is necessary to follow the conversation and understand in-thread moderation, make sure you sort comments "by Oldest," using the sorting drop-down box under the Disqus response box.
3. Don't Use the Reply Function. The new Disqus "nests" (or indents) comment replies rather than sending replies down to the bottom of the page. Nested comments can be difficult to navigate for people with visual processing disorders and makes moderation more difficult. For that reason, in order to maintain flat threads, we ask that people avoid using the reply function. It'll probably take some getting used to, and we'll be issuing reminders as needed.
4. Read Before Commenting. Even though Disqus has moved and fixed the comment composition box at the top of comments, as always, please read any thread in its entirety before commenting, so you are aware of any in-thread moderation. For your convenience, at the bottom of every thread is a link that will quickly return you to the comment composition box at the top of the thread.
5. No GIFs. Some GIFs can trigger tonic clonic (convulsive) seizures in people with photosensitive epilepsy. They can also make threads difficult to navigate for people with visual processing disorders. For these reasons, please do not post GIFs in comments.
Guidelines: Comments are open to anyone as long as they don't troll and/or traffic in racist, misogynist, homophobic, trans*phobic, gender essentialist, disableist, ageist, sizeist, or otherwise objectionable commentary based on people's intrinsic characteristics and/or identities. Hate speech, slurs, rape apologia, rape jokes and metaphors, violent imagery and rhetoric, threats, trolling, concern trolling, derailing, playing the Oppression Olympics, pointless belligerence, sockpuppeting, silencing tactics, accusations of bad faith, disrespecting the mods, including ignoring them, telling contributors what they should be writing about or how they should be writing about it, and/or invoking the [CN: disablism, self-harm, and sexual violence] blogmistress' personal experience to use against her, or doing the same to any of the contributors, mods, or other commenters, could result in any of the following: Your comment edited to remove offending material, your comment replaced with an incredibly sophomoric paraphrase, your comment deleted, and/or your commenting privileges revoked.
(Wondering why your comment was deleted? This primer may be useful: "Hey, Why Was My Comment Deleted?")
If you leave a comment that obliges a response from the moderators and/or other commenters, and then delete that comment, it may be republished to provide context. Contributors are accountable for every word we leave in this space. Commenters should hold themselves to the same standard. That means we all must be thoughtful about what we're posting and must be willing to be accountable for those words. If the mods are to be trusted to remove comments that keep other people unsafe, we must be allowed to restore comments to keep ourselves safe.
Differences of opinion and criticism are welcome; no one has ever been nor will ever be banned on a difference of opinion alone, and criticism happens all the time here.
However, bad faith masked as disagreement or criticism is not allowed.
It is eminently possible to bring a mistake to my attention, or the attention of another contributor or commenter, and/or to register a disagreement, without engaging in ad hominem attacks, using silencing tactics, jumping to unfounded conclusions about allegedly reprehensible motives, or in some other way accusing me (or anyone else) of acting in bad faith. Failing explicit evidence I have acted to the contrary, I expect to be afforded the benefit of the doubt that I move and act in this space with good faith—which does not mean treating me as though I never fuck up, but treating me as someone who has and has positively responded to criticism in that event. I believe I have earned that after nine years.
The other contributors have earned it, too.
If you are unwilling to extend good faith to the contributors to this space, you make it an unsafe space for us, and your commenting privileges will be revoked as a result.
Being banned from Shakesville is not an invitation to take your issues to the email inbox of Liss and/or any of the other contributors or mods.
Whether you can comment at Shakesville is ultimately at our discretion—and plaintive, angry, or accusatory wailing about free speech will be met with yawning indifference. This isn't a public square. This is a safe space.
Disagreement is absolutely allowed in this space—even the other contributors/mods and I don't always agree on everything! However, disagreement must still abide by the policies laid out in this document. If a comment including disagreement is deleted, it is because the comment does not meet the standards for commenting. This may be because it contains something obvious, like a slur, or it may be because it employs narratives of oppression or silencing tropes or some other content that isn't allowed.
Please note that, if you do register disagreement with a contributor, moderator, or other commenter, we may disagree back! That doesn't mean disagreement isn't allowed. It means that we don't have any obligation to greet disagreement with passive acquiescence.
Also note: Challenging another person's lived experiences is not "disagreement." Auditing other people's lived experiences through a validity prism is oppression, not disagreement.
This blog is meant to be a refuge from the entire rest of the world where people who deviate in some way from arbitrary norms are ridiculed, marginalized, turned into punchlines, silenced, targeted, treated as less than, made to feel not good enough, put at real risk of physical harm, and denied rights, opportunities, access, equal pay, friendships, votes, equality.
We're all going to make mistakes occasionally—and for that, we need to make allowances. Everyone trips up now and then, even with the best of intentions, which is why we are resolved to endeavor always to be aware of our privilege, and, in moments of failure, remain open to criticisms and suggestions, think twice before responding defensively, and apologize when we fuck up.
We also expect the same of those who want membership in the community—which includes addressing others' mistakes in a productive and considered way, because no one is expected to be perfect. Everyone is expected to be willing to self-examine and learn, and therefore everyone must be willing to provide the space, the room to breathe, in which that reflection and growth can happen. A failure to support the provision of room to fail is a failure to respect the rules of the safe space.
And everyone is expected to respect the rules.
If you take issue with a blogmistress who wants her teensy weensy part of the world to be a sanctuary from the oppressions of the kyriarchy, if you feel that impinges on your freedoms, then off you go. You've got an entire world waiting who won't hold you to the same standard.
We expect more.
Final Note: Commenters are asked to remember that the blog looks very different from "the front" (commentariat) than it does from "the back" (contributors and moderators). We have an entirely different perspective, by virtue of having a view of the big picture of commenting.
We see all the filtered and deleted comments; we see when banned commenters are sock-puppeting; we see when traffic is arriving from other sites in a coordinated shit-stirring attack; we know the patterns of commenters who will be trouble; we can access commenters' whole commenting history; we are often aware that commenters who would appear to other commenters to be a solid community member are viciously trashing Shakesville or specific person(s) in other spaces and/or on social media; we have often had personal email exchanges with commenters; etc.
The way we interact with certain commenters may not always seem fair, because the view from comments doesn't fully inform all our interactions with commenters. I ask you to bear in mind that what might look "unfair" to you is almost certainly a necessary bit of moderation to maintain the safe space.
We deeply value our commenters. Usually, what looks the most like our being "mean" is our fiercely protecting this community.