Rando, thanks for bringing this up. It’s definitely time to reevaluate how we do space-guarding because the Space Guardians channel is really broken. I’ve written some thoughts about the evolution in the channel that I’ve seen as I’ve participated in it, and maybe it can give some hints as to how we might fix it. I think #space-guardians is a part of noisebridge that will have to stay on slack, because we do have to respond to incidents in real-time.
Within 24 hours, discussions hit the “Two people no-where near the immediate issue bike-shedding some minor point unrelated to protecting the space or the victim.”
I’m fairly certain <insert last issue here> ended up with people who didn’t know the victim, perpetrator, or immediate witnesses trying to decide what appropriate punishment should be based on 3rd hand info.
This really hits the nail on the head.
There was a time 1-2 years ago in space-guardians, where it seemed to be a decent functional way to police the space. It was by no means perfect but it did seem to be operating surprising well.
My theory for why it operated so well then has a few parts:
there were a lot of voices, offering different views
a lot of the voices were from old-timer noisebridgers like Jarrod and Mitch, who added a lot of stability and practicality to the discussion
People would discuss issues there before they were emergencies. Like “oh this person did this thing today” and then a discussion would ensue and we would decide that it was fine. Then if they did something else weird later, we started to have a record of them. This is really different than today where people post " okay this person is completely banned. Here’s a bunch of infractions they did that I’ve been personally tracking. no discussion "
the whole channel was roughly on the same page on how we did ‘space-guarding’ at Noisebridge.
- We had a long collective memory,
- We had a good sense of what was reasonable and unreasonable behavior, and what the responses should be.
- We had a shared understanding of the different options available to us, and the relative progression of them. From explanations of the rules of Noisebridge, to short breaks, to confrontation, to asked to leave for a month, to banning, to banning + 86ing.
I think it died during the Big Rift and then the Beka takeover.
People started space-guarding in small groups, and then posting complete cases to the channel, instead of “this person did this today, what should we do”. Then there wasn’t much discussion to be had, and I think the channel was deprived of the experience that got everyone on the same page, as before. All the discussion that did happen was mostly “I disagree with your complete case”, but because the small group had already really decided on their desired outcome, that couldn’t be a productive discussion.
In addition, due to the rift and the general nastiness of slack, a lot of people left, and even more left the #space-guardian channel. This just left a few people, who were perhaps, the people more drawn to conflict, or people involved in discussions on there. (I’m in there because I’m drawn to the conflict, I think. I do try to be useful). Some of the people in that channel seem to just lurk #space-guardians as the only way they interact with the space - like jefferyatw.
In addition, without the more experienced voices there and the practical experience of dealing with matters as they escalated, we started to get a lot of navelgazing coming up. These tend to be either ideology (and social-justice) questions like “do people have a right to due process here?” or “should we keep this person banned to make a point about white people”, or confusion about the different ways we have of dealing with problematic people, or what appropriate responses are, like “Did you explicitly tell him that if he keeps breaking machines he won’t be allowed back? You have to tell him explicitly, then wait for him to break another, or it’s not fair”. While I like ideology and it’s clearly important to noisebridge, space-guardians has to be super practical. Every time ideology intrudes on that, there’s a bad outcome.
Some people started to join, say a single thing and then leave, presumably because the conversation in there was always useless and stressful. But, the discussion was useless because people were coming to the channel with a pre-rendered verdict rather than being open to a discussion. It became a self-perpetuating problem.
Ideas for how we can fix it:
Limit who can be engaged with it. I suggest
- anyone who is currently experiencing an issue with problematic people or behavior in the space
- people who regularly deal with such problematic people in the physical world. Like Rando, r, Nick (before), etc. These people are the most practical, and really the point of the channel is for them to talk to eachother and people currently reporting problem behavior
- members and philanthropists
- NOT people whose main interaction with noisebridge is spaceguardians
- NOT people who mainly want to discuss ideological issues instead of being practical.
We should enforce that with MODERATION. We tend to never use the slack moderation tools, but I think we should use them in #space-guardians to kick/mute people who are being uselessly chatty. Maybe if we kick them, they’ll start talking in a different channel or on the forum, which would be great.
Ask people to report problematic behavior or issues as they happen
No more “open-shut” case posts. I think those posts are a reaction to the dysfunctional nature of #space-guardians, but they also harm it by preventing the channel from being a place for productive discussion. If different people who are observing problematic behavior start to share warning signs with each other, we can address issues earlier, faster and more comprehensively, and with a more considered response.
Really that’s the only benefit of having a channel - to actually share information.