Dear Network Members,
as the site administrator it was never my intention to moderate discussions, nor monitor every utterance for any possible inappropriate or offensive statement, as I considered that rude, intrusive, and presumptuous.
At the urging of now more than a few dozen members, I have been asked that at least a rudimentary code of conduct be established. Of greatest concern, that is, the concerns that repeated themselves across what were 37 messages at last count, were the following:
* that overt racial slurs not be allowed
* that sexism, including attacks against homosexuals, not be allowed
* that insults centered on religious belief not be tolerated
* that any comments meant to belittle or humiliate another member be stopped
More importantly, and I am afraid that some may not have understood this, all exchanges on this network, except those conducted by email within the network, are public
. That means that anyone, anywhere on the Internet, can copy and record all of these exchanges, and that in the future they might conceivably be used against persons who are identifiable by their use of their real names and/or photographs. Even those using pseudonyms may not be safe, if they have used the same pseudonym in more than one site online.
As a service to members, I was willing to claw my way back through some extensive threads and delete all extreme or offensive remarks (and it seems that all sides have been guilty of these). I am not certain that I will have either the time or the ability to track down all of the comments, especially as the many complaints received were never accompanied by a single link to a page in question, and I found batches on my own, somewhat haphazardly. What I did see was over the top, and showed that no one side was completely innocent.
Secondly, NING has its own Terms of Service
, and where members violate these they may be banned, with or without warning. I recommend that you all familiarize yourselves with Article 14. In particular NING prohibits the use of a network for libelous or defamatory statements, harassment, or speech that "is hateful or discriminatory based on race, color, sex, religion, nationality, ethnic or national origin, marital status, disability, sexual orientation or age
or is otherwise objectionable." Permitting such speech allows NING itself to delete this entire network. And as some of you may know, we are not independent of NING.
Thirdly, unaware of how Canadian laws may apply to the network administrator, as a citizen of Canada, residing in Canada, raises other questions. Canadian hate speech laws may also apply to how this network is administered by me. Canada, unlike the U.S., does not permit absolute freedom of speech. How that may actually apply here is not clear to me, but I would prefer to err on the side of caution.
Finally, it is not my intention to monitor everyone. To make matters simpler, everyone can consider the statements above as their first and only warning. On receipt of a complaint, that I can independently verify (please remember to send me the link to the page where I can find the offending remarks or other content), I will be forced to ban the offending member.
Thank you, and I look forward to a return of the positive and constructive discussions we all had as this network first started to develop. If any of you feel that you are getting heated, please step away and take a break.
Very best wishes.