Recently the team was required to take action in regards to a violation of our community standards and rules that had appeared on our own platform.
The sudden nature of this enforcement has since raised some concerns and questions about censorship.
We wanted to address these.
First, we might consider a few definitions:
The institution, system, or practice of censoring.
Censoring is defined as:
To suppress or delete as objectionable.
1 A conclusion derived through logic. 2 Something produced by a cause or necessarily following from a set of conditions.
These have been pulled from Merriam-Webster via their website, and I think are handy to have on hand for this discussion.
Did we make up these rules just to enforce them?
We have been a Discord server and community long before we became our own front-end for the Steem blockchain. A little less than two years ago, we released a post regarding community rules. These primarily applied to Discord, but also reached to actions taken on the chain. They indicated a ban from our Discord for violating them. There are bans on our Discord that were enacted entirely for actions taken in posts. While we didn't envision them extending to a then unknown future front-end, it's not a stretch to assume we were going to protect palnet.io the same way we protected the PAL Discord server.
Example from our recent actions:
No harassment of individuals or groups of individuals:
Respect for each member of the community is vital to the success of our community. Harassment of any kind (religious, racial, ethnic, gender, sexual, or sexual orientation) has no place on the block, within the Minnow Support Project Channels, or between members through other communication avenues. This includes but not limited to digital and terrestial overt acts of physical assault, as well as unnecessary touching, suggestive remarks, verbal abuse, unwelcome sexual advances, posting pornography, graffiti, epithets, threats of violence, or purposefully over-the-top humor. This also includes posting content intending to cause emotional distress or disturb others. (Violence, gore, nudity, etc.)
Not all of these are carrying over. We don't plan to restrict general nudity (properly tagged) on palnet.io. This was meant to indicate things like underage or other illegal forms of nudity. Also keep in mind that moderation of a chat server requires different rules, as in some cases, you can't opt-out of viewing it on a chat server the way you can in a post.
We have had these kinds of guidelines in place, and as a result have one of the most accepting and inclusive community servers you might find on the internet.
We do plan to look at all of our existing community rules going forward, and find the most acceptable use of them across our now larger community. The entire leadership team has been working for this large extended family to make it a place we are all proud to spend time.
Do no harm, take no shit.
It's literally in our by-line. We want freedom of expression, but we won't provide freedom from consequences either. We shouldn't have had to tell anyone coming into this that they are going to be prevented from placing threats of violence on our front-end.
Is what we are doing with these 'mute' rules and mechanics considered censorship. Yes, by definitions listed above. We are preventing the distribution of that content on our front-end. This is the consequence for doing something unacceptable in our community with malice of forethought. They indicated they were intent to use our platform to continue those actions. We are preventing that from being visible on palnet.io.
What we haven't done, nor can we do, is take your tokens. However, we can remove a disruptive presence in our community, without impacting your abilities or freedom on the blockchain as a whole.
Great, so now you are going to remove anything you don't like?
Peace. Abundance. Liberty.
Some see those words and assume we just use them as some sort of imagery to brand ourselves a friendly place. Or that we wanted to sound like a place to get each other wealthy. Some even ignore the first two and assume we are a great place for no rules, zero control, pure liberty.
These terms have been present long before we knew exactly what we might become. They come from the type of people that started our community. People who firmly believe in all of them. Each word has its own meaning, but together they have a greater meaning. One that has at times required the leadership to dance a fine line in meeting them. That doesn't mean we don't intend to uphold them as best we can.
We don't take extremes lightly, we discuss a lot of our decisions that would probably seem silly to decide as a committee, but we do it anyways. If we work as a team for even the smallest decisions, you can be assured that the big ones are done as a team.
This was discussed even before it occurred. Circumstance required quick action, but it wasn't something we hadn't planned for. The feature to platform mute had been added as an option to all Tribes for just such a circumstance.
It was always going to be considered a nuclear option, but one that we felt would be necessary to avoid devolution of a community into the same anarchy that occurs elsewhere.
Do we intend to remove content from viewing on our front-end just because we disagree with it?
Everyone is entitled to opinion, different or otherwise. Everyone is free to express their beliefs, their ideas, and even their arguments.
Do we intend to remove content that will clearly harm others, ask for or encourage harm to others, etc?
Everyone is entitled to a place where they can feel free of those attempting to harm them. Everyone is allowed to not be attacked, or bullied for being themselves.
The questions above might sound to counter-act each other, and in some extreme cases they might. Those cases will probably arise from someone claiming it is their freedom to say those things, and that we can't say they don't have that freedom.
The counter to that is of course, as a community we have the freedom to not let it be part of us.
So what about remediation?
We have had policy and procedure in place for our Discord bans for quite a while now. A way for anyone banned from our primary Discord to speak to leadership about their ban and learn of any methods to recover from it.
This isn't going to be any different. We will gladly talk to anyone about the enforcement of a 'mute' from palnet.io (Coming from the account @nopal4u)
As always the decisions regarding this are going to be determined by the team as a whole.
Currently, Discord bans can be enacted by a single Moderator, though removal of the ban can only be done against the wishes of that Moderator by an official team vote.
In the case of these mutes, they require more consensus than a single Moderator deciding to take action for them to be enacted. To prevent delayed action, it probably won't go all the way to the next weekly meeting to act, but it will be done on consultation with the team.
TL;DR - In closing
- Yes, we did it suddenly because we needed to.
- No, it wasn't some made up rule.
- No, we can't take your tokens.
- Yes, we can prevent you from being displayed on the palnet.io front-end.
- No, we can't remove you from the blockchain or other front-ends.
- Yes, we have ways to remediate your removal and allow you back in.
- Yes, it will require us to decide if you are allowed back in.
- Yes, you can consider our existing rules as a guideline until we release more detailed information on @nopal4u