Rewording of the ToS

As we keep having trouble with people reading our “No Censorship” point in the ToS like “yeah, so it’s all going to be unmoderated and shitty”, and since that is not really the case as we perform some kind of censorship, I’d propose to change the wording of part of the ToS, in two parts. I’ve put in Italics the parts changed.

To be clear: I’m not proposing any change in the moderation or what we are. Really just the wording, not to give the wrong message (and make it harder for haters to hate)

Before

QOTO: Question Others to Teach Ourselves

No hate, No censorship. Be kind, be respectful

“I know you won’t believe me, but the highest form of Human Excellence is to question oneself and others.” - Socrates

A Mastodon instance for scholars in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) and all yearning to learn.

A free speech space. No censorship
We federate with all servers: we don’t block any servers.

** We won’t censor unpopular ideas and statements and welcome people from across the political spectrum, but hate-based speech such as sexist, racist, or homophobic speech will not be tolerated, be kind to each other.

After

QOTO: Question Others to Teach Ourselves

Speak your mind. Be kind, be respectful

“I know you won’t believe me, but the highest form of Human Excellence is to question oneself and others.” - Socrates

A Mastodon instance for scholars in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) and all yearning to learn.

We won’t censor unpopular ideas and statements and welcome people from across the political spectrum, but hate-based speech such as sexist, racist, or homophobic speech will not be tolerated, be kind to each other.

We federate with all servers: we don’t block any servers.

All discussions between mods are public, as we believe that transparency is the best way to show everyone how we put words into practice. Check them out on discourse, and jump in the conversation if you feel like.

Before

We are a free speech, no censorship zone. Feel free to talk about whatever you want, say whatever you want, as long as it is legal and you engage respectfully you won’t ever get banned from the server. With that said we do have a few rules: No spam, and no using multiple accounts to circumvent personal bans, and a few others.

After

Feel free to talk about whatever you want, say whatever you want, as long as it is legal and you engage respectfully you won’t ever get banned from the server. With that said we do have a few rules: No spam, and no using multiple accounts to circumvent personal bans, and a few others.

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Very nice work overall, arteteco, thank you.

I remember reading the About and About More pages when I first joined and pausing for a bit on the mentions of “free speech”. Civilized speech is what I do prefer, and I respect someone’s rights to their own opinions and not to be insulted if I simply disagree with them.

I included a small quote above which I think we need to look at - we do in fact have a very small list of instances we don’t federate with.

Maybe replace with a statement mentioning that :

"Generally, we federate with all servers. The rare exceptions to this being cases where concrete incidents (and the subsequent dialogue with the remote administration team) did not lead to a satisfactory resolution.

Currently de-federated servers are :

  • list of non-federated servers

(in the same paragraph or a link to other location with current list)

currently we federate with all servers. 2 servers are in our silenced list (spinster.xyz and ussr.win) but they are not blocked afaik

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Ah, ok, I thought I would mention that.

Maybe Jeff can confirm later what is the situation; the ussr.win one in particular was on a vendetta, quite personal, and might be more restricted.

Arteco is correct they are silenced but not blocked as far as I recall. But I can check the administration interface to make sure…

i absolutely love it. part of the problem is other free speech instances copying QOTOs CoC. the less verbage they like the better. thank you for rewriting it.

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Wait have other instances copied our CoC before? If so which ones?

Obvious if this is bad actors not a good look on us, so not happy about that, and im not sure it would suite such an instance anyway as we explicitly state we will ban for hate-speech. Either way im curious what instances are copying our CoC.

But yea I agree the less they copy it the better, though I dont think we should design out CoC with that in mind.

I just checked, they are indeed only silenced.

Here is my two cents…

My concern is that anyone using “free speech” and “no censorship” against us is likely already blocking us. Changing this wording is unlikely to have any effect on their opinion considering they are not responsive to respectful discourse anyway.

On the other hand we are the only instance that is welcoming to left-leaning (and the right of course) and also free speech. I think our Free speech aspect is a huge draw for the users we do get. I know many users have expressed to me that was the driving reason for them to join our community.

So my feat is if we change our wording to make our free speech nature less obvious it will do nothing but harm. It will do nothing to prevent others from blocking us or being antagonistic, and at the same time cut us off from the demographic of people who support us.

Catering to the angry mob is a slippery slope and it only works when you cave to all their demands or none. I feel making these changes will only hurt us in all the ways we are trying to address without doing any good.

With that said, I wont actively oppose the change either. I want to hear from our existing user base a bit before we decide but if our community shows support for the changes then it has my approval as well, afterall my entire concern is based on how our users would perceive the new wording, if I am incorrect about that then my concerns dissolve and the new wording is acceptable.

I see the “Free Speech” expression as carrying a loaded meaning, depending on who is using it, including against this instance.

I would prefer not including it, while clarifying like arteteco did on his suggested edits.

On the final paragraph on his suggested edits :

… I would like to see a brief mention of ‘no advertising’ or something similar, clearly identifying this as not a place for the numerous Escort service accounts that keep popping up and we have to deal with…

We do mention no advertising, but its later in the text (not posted here).

I agree it is loaded, like i said no issue with removing it. But I feel like the only result of removing it will be a significant decrease in new users and no upside regarding our federation.

This is why I want to hear from our user base at-large, If they seem to mostly be in agreement that “free speech” wasnt a selling point that specifically got them to come here then I have no objection to dropping it.

So my vote I am going to defer until I hear from more users for now.

What’s the difference between “silenced” and blocked?

Isn’t the end result the same, ie contents from that server are not seen?
Why were they silenced (presumably they fell foul of the TOS)?

Are the contents of a federated server just passed through without any kind of moderation? I can see how this might be problematic. But, you can’t be held responsible for what other systems are publishing!

My view is that it is a shame the TOS needs to be changed. It is quite clear what is allowed and not allowed despite the reference to “free speech”.

Its not even a long set of terms either, so EVERYONE has no excuse really.

I have always gone by the saying “treat others how I would want to be treated”. It has, and continues to serve me well - in all walks of life.

If the TOS needs to be changed, then I’m happy to what ever changes you admins feel fit. I will accept it, and continue as normal. I suppose others will up sticks and walk. I woudn’t worry about them.

Just keep up the great work, I for one, really appreciate it! :grinning:

PS

Maybe you should add the ever present message su gets in Unix/Linux -

Remember, with great power comes great responsibility …

But then, again, maybe not - perhaps a bit deep for some. :wink:

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As always, I question what “hate speech” really means. What is “sexist speech”? If I use the word “mankind” over “humankind” or “humanity”, is that sexist speech? If I state that men and women are different, is that sexist speech?

I question anything regarding “hate speech” because the left usually trots that out in all of its glowing colourful varieties if they don’t like what you say.

Also, a big issue these days is the use of “non-binary pronouns”. I will stand by that there’s only 2 genders, and yes, there is gender dysphoria and all that affects a very small percentage of the population. Why this is such a big issue when the number of people are small is still a mystery to me.

Even here in Germany, they are thinking about messing around with the language to accommodate this, and since nouns in German are all gendered, I think that will be messy, no matter how you shake it.

If you consider anything I’ve said above “hate speech”, then it is time for me to move on. I will not pander to leftist rhetoric, period. I no longer use Facebook for similar reasons.

thanks for your support.

SIlenced means that the content from that instance is not shown in the timeline and by default you won’t see it, but you can follow users from that instance and see their content, and they can see yours. Yes, we had our reasons and the choice was not taken lightly. You can read us discussing about it here and here. We are proud of taking such decisions in the clear, for as much as we can, and accepting users input.

Blocked is when the two instances can’t interact anymore, can’t follow each other users and such. We have never done this.

I like the sudo quote!

I dont think anything above would be considered hate-speech.

If you refuse to use someones pronouns then you should not interact with them. We do expect people to give others basic respect and that would include not telling them what sort of genitals they have and using the pronouns they use for themselves. With that said as long as you are respectful you wont get in trouble simple for thinking there are two sexes, presuming you are respectful and not bigoted about it.

If you think everyone who is trans has a mental illness, that is very likely to get you in trouble. We want decent people who can engage in discourse maturely, and if your calling an entire marginalized community crazy that isnt going to reflect on you as a mature or decent human being IMO.

Well I havent heard any major objections to this other than my own. I am ok going forward with this edit but before I do some closing comments and suggestions.

First off, one thing I want to just stress is this. We are the fastest growing mastodon instance int he fediverse and have been for several months now. This has also earned us the top spot on joinmastodon.org which as far as I can tell automatically ranks its server list based on how fast it is experiencing new-user growth.

I can’t say for certain why we are the fastest growing but I suspect it is the fact that we are the only instance int he fediverse that is libral-friendly AND with a focus on free speech. I suspect that this wording in our CoC is a large part of our draw and have heard that commented to me many times.

I suspect making this change will hurt us with no benefits, but I could be wrong.

Therefore here is what I propose. Lets make the change. If my fears are unfounded then our new-user growth rate should stay pretty much the same. If I was correct however it will plummet. We will give it a week and see which it is. If our numbers go down, we revert, if they remain unaffected, we keep it.

Sound like a plan? I kinda hope im wrong because if changing that wording doesnt impact our new user growth then its really win-win for us anyway.

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Thanks for your reply.

I like that such decisions are made public for everyone to see, it gives me good confidence in whole ethos of the site and its admins.

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I’m ok with that. Just give me until this evening to add the piece about how we discuss mod issues in a transparent way and we are good to go

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Thanks. I think its important since a set of codified rules means very little as such rules can and often are twisted and abused. I feel transparency is the only way to address this.

Ok I’ve added a small piece referring to our discourse section.
If you see parts that needs an adjustment please do it, you know I’m not a native English speaker and sometimes my wording isn’t the best in town :sweat_smile:

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