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Re: <nettime> Renewed Tyranny of Structurelessness
carlo von lynX on Thu, 16 Jun 2016 02:44:17 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> Renewed Tyranny of Structurelessness

On Wed, Jun 15, 2016 at 08:19:49PM +1000, Zenaan Harkness wrote:

> This means, that the cost to implement a "new community with new rules",
> in terms of education and effort, is not far off zero (at least for those
> with a Western schooling).

The hindrance right now seems to be the understanding of the sociological
implications. Plus maybe the travelling costs, if you want to do proper
secret elections of judges and moderators.

> When I made a point of the imposition their code of conduct brought, by
> cutting no fine hair about swinging their CoC in the face of the
> community, I was temporarily banned for life from their mailing lists (I

"temporarily" vs "for life" doesn't semantically work out so well.
So which of the two?

> did repeat the innuendo at least 3 times I must admit, to make the point -

So you fulfilled the troll prerequisites. That's bad, because it
means that it is appropriate to moderate you even if you may be
right in what you are saying. Good content and good intentions
may not be enough to compensate for bad behavior.

> and when first banned, I had no prior communication with me, I was not
> informed of any time frame for being banned, and was given some excessive
> red tape process to "appease the Debian gods" if I wanted to join again).

:From what I see on https://www.debian.org/code_of_conduct and
https://www.debian.org/intro/organization I can tell that Debian is
lacking any separation of powers. You may want to join Gentoo instead
which *does* have a court of appeals, even if done by the project
leaders. Funny, when I look at that list of mailing list admins I
see at least three names of old peers from university days. Maybe
I can talk to the gods of debian and they will listen?

> My online words targetted no individual, only their new CoC, along with
> aspects of it that I disagreed with in principle. Having been banned, I am

I find it pretty good... anyway, I heard there was a democratic
procedure in writing it, so maybe subsequent criticism is unwelcome.

> confident that I made my point (whether anyone heard my point I cannot be
> sure of course). Also, I suspect that I have been unbanned since then,

Yes, unbanned for life.

> again without any notice to me, I just discovered one day that an email I
> accidentally sent to debian-project went through it seemed
> (I had unsubscribed in protest from debian-user for example, since the
> banning was a ban from posting, not a ban from receiving emails - I have
> never tried to resubscribe to debian-user - if they're too cowardly to
> communicate their changes to the effected individuals, well, I don't
> support such cowardliness).

Don't expect them to be overeager to get a troll back on the list...

> Now, one of my points is this - when rules 'change' post facto, you are
> going to get kick back no matter what.



> And there are so many people in the world, that we need 1000s or even
> more, "communities" just to host them all, let alone to provide the
> different types of environments in which people want to be in. I really
> want to be in the cypherpunks/ linux-kernel type mailing lists, where
> everyone is encourage to be direct, blunt, and to the point. I personally
> discourage any personal attacks and do not condone them, but for me, that
> helps me identify the different individuals, allowing me to judge them for
> who they are, rather than for who they are having to be due to the rules
> in play.

I doubt that unleashed online behavior is equivalent to "who they are".
Is a person who she is when she is with people in a social situation,
or is a person who she is when alone, reacting to easily misunderstood
written words, prone to a bunch of psychological mechanisms triggered
by the situation of being in front of a computer screen?

Of all the trolls I met in real life, few were trolls also in real life.
So what brings me the better "who they are" - the uncensored exhibition
of social failings in the digital arena, or a digital communication
platform that helps them be the persons they want to be?

> > >    However, sexual assault is its own special case whereby victims
> > >    don't speak out--understandably--early enough so as to change
> > >    things before problems spiral. This is not unique to this case at
> > >    all.
> > 
> > Yes, but I think that the missing structures are what is missing here.
> > There needs to be something in-between staying quiet, going to the
> > police or going public, risking to be accused of defamation. Currently
> That's called going to (presumably trusted) friends perhaps?

Keep on reading. The next few lines say why I think that is not enough.

> > this information would spread in random gossip, with victims talking
> > to just a few good friends, creating pockets of warning knowledge
> > that does not communicate with each other and still does not have
> > any authority to *do* anything. By creating structures that have the
> > elected role of getting informed, who have an obligation to keep
> > quiet and respect the privacy of victims and accused alike, but have
> > the authority to express a verdict of local range (like recommending
> > project X to suspend finances for contributor Y - or recommending
> > conference A not to give a keynote speech to relator Y), without going
> > into details.
> Like a private royal enquiry type body.
> Primary problem with any such entity which is given actual authority
> beyond the auspices of the entities own collection of information, is that
> it will attract those who may ultimately be the target of such an entity,
> and corrupted as a result.

Excuse me? You hold an assembly, you elect trustworthy people in that
role. It is likely they will not be the kind that is manically obsessed
with having administrational roles but rather do it because somebody has
to do it.

> We see that even with "public" institutions such as the police, courts
> etc.  Why would this new "private by default" entity be any better.

Because there is no money involved to corrupt. There is no life-long
relationship of working together day to day as there is between police
and judges.

> There's a saying from somewhere in history - evil only thrives in
> darkness.


> > And then there should be a way for Y to reach out for an
> > independent court of appeals.
> Like the normal society courts - Magistrates court, supreme court etc?

Somebody who is independent and checks upon your moderator's decisions,
disincentating the moderator from exercising abuse.

> > This all happens before ending up at the
> > state authorities,
> A whole new administration/ judiciary. With no chance of sustaining
> incorruptibility than our existing administration/ judicial entities...

With a lot less reasons to be corrupt and without questioning ultimate
state authorities.. merely trying to solve community issues before it
gets that bad. But should these mechanisms fail, you can still go to
the regular police or call your lawyer. It's only an *extra* chance
for justice.

> > and can legitimately act without hard evidence.
> ... but this time with the bonus of being a star chamber (check it out),
> and hidden from public view.

No, not hidden. Only the private affairs are hidden, not the procedures.

> What could possibly go wrong?

Prejudice by people who haven't studied sociology or anything but
think they can put hundreds of years of experience in this field
aside with a few fallacious associations in their minds.

> > What I wanted to say in this situation is that the digital domain
> > is how we met, where we come from and how we interact. Even if the
> > hurting is happening physically, I would want the structures that
> > help us protect from future hurting to be available by the means we
> > are used to. Or would you expect victims to walk up to the office
> > for harrassment complaints of the EFF or Tor Inc in person, only
> > because the problem was physical? Of course it would be helpful if the
> > Internet were secure.
> Privacy of content of communication between entities can be achieved with
> PGP.

Not sufficiently for me (I'm the author of http://secushare.org/PGP)
but certainly better than nothing.

> > Justice doesn't need all the people of the assembly,
> Justice, as in a fair hearing, means certain specific things. If you are
> personally accused, you would want the right to respond, for example.


> Some people say that a fair hearing requires evidende, and the opportunity
> for you the accused to test the evidence against you.

Depends on the scope. When the justice system in question has no state
authority over you, it cannot send you to prison or fine you a million
dollars. I am talking of a justice system which is in charge of taking
the opportune decisions for its organization, like deciding that you
should no longer do keynote speeches in their name. For such decisions
it is VERY legitimate that evidence is collected as well as possible,
but when you reach the limits of evidence you need to take a decision
of opportunity.

This is an improvement compared to what happens when you don't have
internal justice. In a case without internal justice, whoever is in
charge will either take decisions based on wild unproven allegations,
or base them on boys network friendship relationships. Both methods
are likely to be less just than having a system that at least tries
to be fair.

> Without such and other steps of due process, it is easier for people who
> dislike you to attack you using the very judicial process designed to
> right wrongs, without any wrong having been done by you.

Au contraire. It's much easier to make shit stick when there is NO
internal justice system.

> When people conspire against another, there may not be much that any
> process can do to save you, the target, but at least you ought be entitled
> to a minimum process by which you can have a hope of "defending" yourself.

If your justice system is made of say 5 moderators and 7 judges, and
all of these people have nothing better to do than to conspire against
you, well yes.. then you can only resort to calling your lawyer for a
real lawsuit.

> Must never forget the flip side of any system or process...

Yeah, that's why internal justice is a totally unpopular mechanism
in associations and political parties all over the world.

> > The circles are as big as people are willing to adhere to them. If
> > a circle manages to develop a justice system that works so well, it
> > disincentivates people from even starting fights and abuses, well,
> > then I can imagine that circle to become so damn cool that everyone
> > wants to be part of it - and become a part of the safe space that it
> > creates for all its members. And so the circle grows... and if it is
> > big enough it becomes like a Constitution for the digital sphere.
> Debian looks to be heading that way.

No, it is more like you describe.. an organization *without*
architecture of inner justice. So you really want that?
What could possibly go wrong?

> I don't like changes in the rules after the fact, and I don't like behind
> the scenes justice committees which issue what can appear as arbitrary
> punishments.

After which fact? I heard there was a Schulze method voting on the
subject of debian's Code of Conduct. It is so well done, other
organizations even copied it. The problem is the lack of separation
of powers in applying it! Arbitrary punishments is the result of that.

Although I would expect that a Court of Appeals would confirm that
your behavior was inflammatory and deserved moderation. As I said
at the beginning, it is not enough that you had a constructive
message and a good intention, if the way you bring it over is


> When it turns out that powerful people in the community I thought I was a
> member of, disagree significantly from me, I move on - there are a lot of
> people in the world, and plenty of programming projects out there. There's
> certainly no shortage of options :)

That is the cheaper solution. When a community doesn't introduce
internal justice it will suffer loss of participants more frequently.
I would want to avoid that.

Still, even in the most democratic decision-making organization you may
experience that the majority is against your proposal, so you may decide
to take your hat.

> > My guess is that celebrity is the natural mechanics of humanity if
> > you don't introduce any rulesets that alter these mechanisms. Let's
> > say if we were to create "the circle" (in an opposite sense to Mr
> > Eggers ;)) then the assembly could come to the conclusion that it is
> > a *necessity* for the well-being of the organization that even if
> > leader X got invited to do interviews and presentations, person Y or Z
> > must be given the job to play that part instead. You can't eliminate
> > charisma but you can alleviate the power effects a bit. Of course this
> > means that the circle would have an assembly, like a meeting place or
> > a liquid democracy platform.
> Might be very interesting to see communities with different rule sets (and
> actual projects of wider interest) explore this space!
> Debian has a pretty democratic sort of do-ocracy, with the Debian project
> leader (DPL) elected after an election campaign each term. A lot of other
> groups have effectively self formed to share the work load of the project
> they are on.

Yes, which is all legitimate, and the Schulze voting method is first class,
but nothing really compensates for the absence of separation of powers.

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