[EM] Bill of Responsibilities (or Code of Conduct)

Rob Lanphier roblan at gmail.com
Mon Nov 15 16:59:24 PST 2021

Thanks for chiming in, Forest!  Your email inspired me to create this page:

* https://robla.miraheze.org/wiki/Draft_Rule_20211115a

...where I paraphrased what you wrote as:
"Demonstrate your kindness and generosity before demonstrating your

My version of the rule is much broader than what you were suggesting,
but I hope it's narrow enough that it will serve as a reminder to
people who immediately jump to saying "I already explained that ...".
The rule (as I see it) is to be generous with one's time and empathy
skills when posting to this mailing list.  Think for a moment about
the person that one is addressing, and why that person might have
missed one's earlier explanation (or why they may not have

To be clear, it's not an excuse to purposefully ask others on this
mailing list to waste their time explaining the most rudimentary of
things.  But in the case of this mailing list, not all of us have
PhDs, and not all of us have access to academic libraries.  I started
this mailing list over 25 years ago (in part) because I didn't have
easy access to papers written by PhDs, and because Wikipedia didn't
exist yet.  Research and access to online databases was much harder in
1996.  It wasn't THAT far for me to drive to the University of
Washington's library, but it wasn't that close either.  Moreover, I
only had my undergrad in Computer Science, which served me well
(professionally).  My compsci degree taught me many useful skills for
studying voting systems, but I learned a lot from the others on the
mailing list (even those without PhDs).

Let's all be kind and generous to those that are new to studying
election methods, and make our emails readable by relative novices.
Let's also be generous to those who have been on the mailing list a
while, and not imply that they are idiots.  Let's assume that our
prior explanations (of things we just finished explaining) on the list
weren't clear enough, and (gently) ask the person what they didn't

So Forest: does "Demonstrate your kindness and generosity before
demonstrating your intelligence" capture what you were getting at?

p.s. I wonder how well the "universal domain" article on electowiki
(<https://electowiki.org/wiki/Universal_domain>) explains UD.  I also
wonder how well English Wikipedia does
(<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Universal_domain>).  For that matter,
I also wonder if Simple Wikipedia has anything to say yet
(<https://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Universal_domain>).  I should find
that out...

p.p.s.  I just figured out that it's called "Unrestricted domain" on
English Wikipedia.  Let's all make a point of making all three of
these URLs point to something that laypeople can understand:
* <https://electowiki.org/wiki/Unrestricted_domain>
* <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unrestricted_domain>
* <https://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unrestricted_domain>

On Mon, Nov 15, 2021 at 2:09 PM Forest Simmons
<forest.simmons21 at gmail.com> wrote:
> Nine great rules of courtesy!
> Here's another one already implicit in those nine (one I need to improve on) ... cultivate newbies and shy lurkers by not assuming readers know all of the obscure abbreviations ... e.g. Universal Domain (UD) ... even if already defined in a recent previous message of the same thread.
> Or at least apologize for being in a hurry and acknowledge the need for more clarification when you get the time and energy.
> Explain things in the same way you appreciated others explaining when you were new.
> Refrain from answering, "I  already explained that ..."
> El sáb., 13 de nov. de 2021 9:24 p. m., Rob Lanphier <roblan at gmail.com> escribió:
>> Hi everyone,
>> I can't remember if I've told you all about my thoughts about updating
>> the Code of Conduct for this mailing list.  One possibility is the
>> latest "Contributor Covenant" (version 2.1):
>> https://www.contributor-covenant.org/version/2/1/code_of_conduct/
>> There are many versions of the Contributor Covenant, such as this one:
>> https://www.contributor-covenant.org/tr/version/2/0/code_of_conduct/
>> There have been many organizations that have developed Codes of
>> Conduct.  I wrote a very short one for the EM-list a long time ago, at
>> least as early as 2000:
>> https://web.archive.org/web/20000815054948/http://www.eskimo.com/~robla/em/
>> Here's what it said:
>> > Please come prepared to defend the statements that you make, and to directly answer the
>> > questions that others ask of you. This list was set up to increase communication between
>> > people interested in new forms of election methodology, not as a sounding board for those who
>> > wish to drown out opposing views with prolific repetition of statements already made. When
>> > conflicts arise, please use this list to understand fully why the other side feels the way they do
>> > by honest intellectual inquiry. And when those who feel differently than you are trying to
>> > understand why you feel the way you do, please answer as honestly and directly as possible.
>> >
>> > Hopefully this is all common sense, but sadly not common enough (hence the reason for this
>> > message). In summary, please ask, answer, and be humble.
>> I wrote that back in the days before everyone else was talking about
>> how toxic online discourse was (and still is).  I doubt that I was a
>> frequent poster back in 2000 (because my job was keeping me busy).
>> But still, it seems that it needs an update.
>> Here's the "Bill of Responsibilities" framework I've been working on
>> for a while:
>> https://robla.miraheze.org/wiki/Bill_of_Responsibilities
>> For each rule, there is a link to a webpage describing the rule more fully.
>> * Rule A - With freedom of speech comes the responsibility to use it wisely
>> * Rule B - There is no "undo" on the Internet
>> * (Draft Rule 20211114a) -- Use your inside voice
>> * (Draft Rule 20201103a) -- Attack mistruths, but don't attack your
>> opponent. Seek clarity in truth.
>> * (Draft Rule 20201103b) -- Pointing out a mistake can be pointy
>> * (Draft Rule 20201103c) -- Keep your emotions in check
>> * (Draft Rule 20201103d) -- Other people are the authority on their emotions
>> * (Draft Rule 20201103e) -- Don't burn bridges, and don't hide under them
>> * (Draft Rule 20201030a) -- You may be bigger than everyone else, but
>> someone smaller may have a point
>> I have nine "rules", which are almost enough for trying to map each
>> one to one of the amendments to the United States Constitution.
>> I wrote the rules with many different fora in mind (this mailing list,
>> electowiki.org, other wikis, other asynchronous online discussions,
>> and other synchronous online discussions, including video
>> conversations).
>> I'm curious which of these y'all think are worth keeping (and
>> describing more fully on the webpages for each of the rules) and which
>> of the rules are problematic and should be removed.
>> Should I keep working on a "Bill of Responsibilities", or should I
>> update the election-methods code of conduct by linking to one of the
>> versions of the Contributor Covenant?  What do you all think?
>> Rob
>> ----
>> Election-Methods mailing list - see https://electorama.com/em for list info

More information about the Election-Methods mailing list