This is the college’s policy as printed at the bottom of each email posted to the listserv. “USERS ARE PROHIBITED FROM USING LISTSERVS FOR PERSONAL GAIN, FOR BUSINESS PURPOSES OR TO RAISE FUNDS FOR OTHER CHARITIES. USERS MUST HONOR THE RIGHTS OF OTHERS TO PRIVACY, ACADEMIC FREEDOM, AND FREEDOM FROM HARASSMENT AS STATED IN THE COLLEGE’S TERMS AND CONDITIONS OF USE.”
While we realize that human nature is what it is, we also want to stress that what is said on the listserv is almost always strictly opinion, and to paraphrase, “opinions are like noses – everybody has one.” “If we can’t be polite, then we shouldn’t say it. We know that discussions can become heated sometimes, and sometimes we will disagree, but we do not need to be disagreeable about it. Some things will require blunt talk”*, but if you feel that you’re becoming overheated, then pull off to the side of the road, and let the engine cool down. Take a timeout.
The college has no interest and no stake in private emails between people who also happen to be listserv users. The three of us think that private discussions are exempt from moderator oversight, and that the two most recent conflicts resulted from private arguments that spilled over onto the listserv. Private arguments have no place on the listserv. Public disagreements can be settled amicably in public. It may come to a point where the parties involved may have to agree to disagree and just leave it as is.
“Focus on the issue or position and not on the personality. Some people are, shall we say, more colorful than others, but that is not a reason for name calling, personal attacks, libel, defamation, comments about someone’s mother – you get the idea. Also, obscenities should be avoided”* – there are always better words to use, and we all know them. Under no circumstances should we post anything that could be regarded as intimidating, threatening, harassing, bullying, etc. The college’s Terms and Conditions of Use include the normal harassment policy based on race, sex, sexual orientation, economic status, religion, etc.
When you post to the listserv, try to stay with the issue. That is, don’t ramble off on tangents. We have not had any kind of problem with that in the past and there’s no need to anticipate one. We have also run with several different discussions at the same time, and we see no reason to change that format. We would simply ask that you keep your posts under the proper subject heading.
Our intent is to avoid a need for disciplinary actions such as removal from the listserv. We do want to stress that if such should be required, it will be a group and not an individual decision. It should also be noted that we intend to issue some sort of warning before any other action is considered. Any warning or other disciplinary action will be confidential.
This is not intended to be grounds for disciplinary action on our parts. It is strictly a general way of behaving on the listserv that should help us to grow as a community in a positive and enlightening manner.
Please be aware that the committee in conjunction with the college will unsubscribe anyone who blatantly and grossly abuses the guidelines. We have no desire to unsubscribe anyone but there are limits to what we can and cannot do on the listserv. Of course, anyone may voluntarily unsubscribe at any time using the link at the bottom of all posts to the listserv.
Anyone at any time may confidentially contact Greg Domingue, Susan Prattis, Steven Scott or Everett Jenkins with questions or objections about treatment, policy or issues of general concern about the listserv. All complaints, questions and objections broached through this process are treated as confidential information and will not be generally disseminated by the listserv member affected or any member of the college or Moderator Panel. Complaints lodged with Marcy Larmon at the college will first be referred to the moderator committee for review before any action is taken. Complaints lodged against any individual moderator(s) should be first sent to Everett Jenkins as Facilitator, who will confidentially inform the moderator(s) in question of the nature of the complaint, question or objection. In each instance an opportunity will be provided for the affected individual(s) to provide a response; upon providing a response the affected individual(s) will be recused from the college/moderator panel evaluative discussion. After a review of the listserv materials, complaint, question or objection and responses, the remaining members of the moderator panel will render a decision within 5 business days. Once a decision is made, all affected parties will receive confidential copies. Committee decisions will be binding on all parties.
*This document includes words and phrases taken directly from NPR's rules for conduct on their electronic media.
This document was co-authored by Greg Domingue, Susan Prattis and Steven Scott with Everett Jenkins as Facilitator on June 5, 2011. We will periodically review and revise these guidelines as our community evolves.