Five weeks ago, we began an experiment, the collaborative, democratic writing of a new rule. As was pointed out then and since, this is not part of any move to impose a boatload of new rules. From the beginning, Daily Kos has been governed by the idea that the fewer rules the better. We're sticking to that. Too many rules get in the way of good discussion. But we do feel the need to clarify some existing rules, make concrete some long-standing "unwritten rules" and to provide three or four new rules dealing with matters that many participants believe have generated out-of-control behaviors and driven some users off the site. The purpose is not to stifle debate but to enhance it.
After seeking input from participants, "stalking" was chosen as the subject of the collaboratively written rule. If you drop in here, you can see how the entire process unfolded. And you can read diaries about it here, here, here and here.
Out of that process has emerged the Final Version of a proposed stalking rule.
On Sunday, October 25, Kossacks registered at the site prior to October 21 will have a chance to vote "Aye" or "Nay" on the new rule. If the ayes have it, the stalking rule will become part of the FAQ. Subsequently, we will "debrief" on the process and decide whether other rules can or should be written the same way, whether we should tweak the process or whether we should abandon it.
Details in the jump.
As you can see in the work room at MixedInk (if you click on the browsing button), there were several versions, and four runners-up in a process that included 70 active participants and more than 800 visitors. Although the process was collaborative, the Final Version was written by Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse.
Stalking is defined as having 3 requirements:
(1) On multiple occasions, one or more commenters follow a community member into diary threads; and,
(2) The commenter(s) engage in the conduct of posting comments that are comprised of false information, personal attacks, lies, rumors, or implied/express disclosure of private information; and
(3) The commenter(s) engages in this conduct with the intent to harass, harm, humiliate, frighten or intimidate another poster. This intent may be inferred from the number of times that the commenter follows a community member on the boards and/or the nature of the comments posted.
Stalking does not include the mere expression of disagreement, seeking out diaries or comments of favorite diarists or simply frequent interaction on the boards.
Before calling someone a stalker or tossing HRs at a person you think is a stalker, community members should post a comment explaining what conduct and/or statements constitutes the stalking with a link to relevant evidence so that admins and the community have a record to review.
Posters should not recommend a comment calling someone a stalker or HR'd for stalking simply because of friendships but should review the evidence provided in the comment to reach their own independent conclusions.
PDNC also explained some background:
REASONS FOR RULE AND WHAT I THINK RULE WOULD ACCOMPLISH:
When this process of drafting a rule started, I did not support adding a written rule on stalking. A couple things changed my mind:
(1) Many times when someone claims stalking, my review of the comments shows that it really was a case of spamming or thread hijacking or other conduct for which we already have rules. But then I realized that some are HR'ing on the grounds of stalking (even though we do not have an official rule on stalking) and; more importantly, some people are being tagged a stalker unjustly, and there are negative perceptions associated with being a stalker.
(2) While we do not have an official stalking rule, we already have a de facto rule of stalking. Community members are now claiming in comments that someone is stalking them. Sometimes people then toss an HR at the person who is called a stalker. Oftentimes, there are no reasons offered as to why the person is a stalker, or there may be general reasons provided, but people do not always provide links to substantiate the claim of stalking.
I think stalking is a serious allegation. Even if no administrative action is taken, persons who are called stalkers have been HR'd and there is the more serious impact of the perception in our community that a person is a stalker.
I think that a de facto rule can lead to arbitrary treatment. So, if we are going to continue to HR alleged stalkers or call members stalkers, then I think there should be some guidelines rather than HR'ing or tagging based on individual standards that may vary from one person to another.
This is what I think my proposed rule would accomplish:
(1) While spamming or thread hijacking can be a tool used to accomplish stalking, this rule would separate out real stalking cases from cases that are just spamming, thread hijacking or some other existing rule violation. The benefit is that the more negative label of stalking would not be tossed at persons who are only spamming, etc.
(2) The likely pool of real stalkers for which this rule could be used is probably very small, and that is good because real stalking is a serious charge. I think many cases where stalking is now alleged would have to be addressed on the real grounds, which are spamming, thread hijacking, and other existing rule violations.
(3) It will provide transparency and equality of application to the use of stalking as now the standard is arbitrary and the grounds and evidence are not always provided on the boards.
Without arguing in favor or against adoption of this rule, let me say that I think it is transparent, administratively enforceable and goes a long way toward eliminating subjectivity. That achieves what every rule should.
But whether this well-thought-out proposal should actually become a rule is up for registered Kossacks to decide. The thumbs-up or thumbs-down vote was added to the process as a consequence of comments and emails from Kossacks concerned that too few people would ultimately be involved in the process of drafting the rule. As noted, the vote will take place Sunday.