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    When this popped up in my RSS reader I thought I’d have to comment on it at some point. While I enjoy Rachel’s work, I can’t say I agree with this one, being at the centre of it.

    freenode, and now Libera, are fundamentally for and by the foss community. Every one of our staff have roots in some - often many - projects, and these roots are what allowed us to give confidence to projects during the split.

    Something I’ve seen a bunch is that when deciding what to do, projects have said “well, they’ve taken good care of us so far - the people are more important than the name” and followed us to Libera. I’m not sure that would be true if this was only a changing of the guard at a distant, faceless organisation that weren’t first and foremost also users.

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      I agree. There’s a useful notion here but I don’t think Rachel really manages to get at it. The divide is more along the lines of something like maybe channel politics vs network policy. But even just that is getting a bit too abstract for easy application while at the same time still being overly prescriptive.

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        Yes. Power is formally dual to responsibility, and there’s nothing like dogfooding to keep the powerful aware of their responsibilities. Additionally, the responsible need to understand what they’re doing and why they’re doing it, which is hard to do at a distance.

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          So I’ll pose a question then: How would you know if you didn’t hear the community’s voice? Aren’t you naturally biased by whom you consider to be the community? Moreover, as far as Libera is concerned, before the Bylaws were put in place, there wasn’t even a formal definition of what the “community” meant. In other words, if someone disagrees, how would you know?

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            Drawing staff from communities means they can tell us when their community seems unhappy.

            That does leave a tilt in favour of “communities from which we draw staff”, but we’re aware of and try to mitigate this: every project or community registered with us on libera has at least 1 group contact, and they are invited (and strongly encouraged) to join #libera-communities , which is both where they can make support requests (such as cloak requests, help in dealing with abuse, etc) but also where we seek broader feedback and also they can tell us outright what’s good and bad. It’s ~150 people in there from across our communities right now.

            We also have #libera , our open access support channel, which is again the best place to tell staff how things are going right or wrong.

            To sum up: 1) we try to ensure staff is a sample of the community, 2) we seek broader community feedback from formally delegated representatives of projects and communities, 3) the entire userbase is welcome to let us know their thoughts in a public discussion channel.

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          This is a nice sentiment in theory, but in practice, what is the incentive for someone to spend the considerable amount of time required to administer and maintain an IRC network if they can’t then hang out on the network?

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            I run/maintain quite a few things that I don’t personally use but are for other, not-so-technical users. None of them come anywhere close to what I imagine how much effort running an IRC network is though…

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            If I agree or don’t agree with the point doesn’t really matter here (I don’t), but I think it’s very, very unlikely to find volunteers to run anything resembling infrastructure who aren’t invested. Most people are invested because they’re having fun bulding things, or having built things. I certainly wouldn’t run all my self-hosted stuff just for other people just having built it and having to keep it in good shape, I want to use it - otherwise I’m not invested. And I think that’s true for the majority of people.

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              I want to use it - otherwise I’m not invested. And I think that’s true for the majority of people.

              To bring the discussion from IRC back here, the investment that buys you into the community is just influence, and influence can often be a stick to enforce your will on the community. Checks-and-balances against influence are a useful way to keep moderation and adjudication fair. I feel like Rachel’s article is a bit overly prescriptive, but I do agree that online communities, especially individual run ones, have a large problem with protecting minority viewpoints. There’s no impartial form of administration or adjudication that is independent from the zeitgeist of the community itself, which is what creates cliquey online communities and constant political splits. If a community wants to tolerate a multitude of viewpoints then it needs to have a way to protect minority viewpoints.

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                I do agree that online communities, especially individual run ones, have a large problem with protecting minority viewpoints

                I both agree and disagree. I agree that online communities don’t do as well at protecting minority viewpoints as offline communities. I disagree that it’s necessarily a problem. The nice thing about online communities is that leaving and joining are much lower friction than offline communities, and you can modulate your participation to a much greater extent. If an online community isn’t to your liking, no one is forcing you to stay.

                If anything, what irks me is when communities aren’t up front about this. What bothers me the most is when communities pretend to be open and accepting, but immediately clamp down on any views that go beyond the bounds that are understood to long-time members of the community but which are invisible to outsiders. I would like more communities to be explicit about what they will and won’t tolerate.

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              Not being involved in a community makes you less qualified to run said community, IMHO. I’ve been burned by such situations in the past.

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                  You’ll have to expand on that comment , because I don’t know what you’re referring to.