MetaFilter Steering Committee Self-Nominations Open July 25, 2022 10:19 AM   Subscribe

The Transition Team (TT) is now seeking self-nominations from people who would like to become members of the MetaFilter Steering Committee (SC). Self-nominations will be open July 25 through August 7. SC member selections and voting will take place over the following weeks. The Steering Committee will launch on September 1, 2022.

The Transition Team (TT) is now seeking self-nominations from people who would like to become members of the MetaFilter Steering Committee (SC). Self-nominations will be open July 25 through August 7. All self-nominations for membership will be screened by the MetaFilter staff. Our hope is for at least 6 members, and preferably 12, to sit on the inaugural Steering Committee.

The Transition Team may select up to half of the total members and announce those members on August 15, along with short explanations for the choices. The remaining members will be selected by community vote over the period August 15 - August 24. The inaugural Steering Committee will officially launch on September 1, 2022.

We are also seeking people who can contribute expertise to the Steering Committee for specific projects and needs. Contributors will likely have lower time commitments than official SC members. We will compile and categorize your information to hand to the SC so that they have a talent pool/list of contacts to assist them from the get-go.

Please read the inaugural charter and then follow the instructions below for whichever role (SC member or contributor) you’d like to be considered.

Below the instructions are more details explaining some of our choices.

INSTRUCTIONS for PROSPECTIVE STEERING COMMITTEE MEMBERS

Email metafiltertransitionteam@gmail.com with the subject line “Steering Committee Self-Nomination for Member Position” and the following in the email body:

* Your primary active username
* Your full name (only seen by staff/TT members and not shared).
* As much personal information as you feel comfortable sharing. We are seeking a diverse group of members that cover a great range of the global experience from all backgrounds and walks of life, especially including those who are traditionally marginalized and oppressed.
* Describe what you bring to the Steering Committee, and what you hope to accomplish.
* Include any accessibility needs you have to help you participate in committee conversations and meetings.
* Describe what you like most about MetaFilter. When you tell someone you’re on the MetaFilter Steering Committee, and someone asks you “what’s MetaFilter and why would you do that,” what’s your answer?
* Affirm that you agree to abide by the initial charter.
* Affirm that you can commit to an initial 6 month term, can attend a monthly synchronous meeting, and are able to stay in regular contact with both the SC and MetaFilter staff (this is in the charter, but it’s important to emphasize).
* If you are not either selected to be or voted to be a member, are you interested in being a contributor?

INSTRUCTIONS for PROSPECTIVE CONTRIBUTORS

Email metafiltertransitionteam@gmail.com with the subject line “Steering Committee Contributor” and the following in the email body:

* Your primary active username
* Your full name (only seen by staff/TT members and not shared)
* As much personal information as you feel comfortable sharing
* Describe what kinds of skills/experiences you bring as a contributor, and what you’d like to assist with
* Describe what kind of time commitment you can offer. This could be “I’ve got two weeks in October to work on code” or “One weekend a month to type up minutes” or “I really want to help with XYZ but can’t do anything until February 2023” – be realistic and honest.
* Describe what you like most about MetaFilter.

DETAILS

“Wait, the Transition Team and Steering Committee are different?” Yep! This has been a consistent misunderstanding over the months the TT has been active. :) The TT exists solely to get the SC up and running. There may (or may not!) be members of the Transition Team on the Steering Committee, but those individuals will need to go through this process the same as everyone. Once the Steering Committee is active, the Transition Team will have completed its purpose and be disbanded.

The sensitive subject: screenings. MetaFilter staff will be screening the self-nominations, because they have privileged information from decades of interacting with the community that we do not. This screening is for the purpose of identifying moderation-related issues that a member may have had - primarily bans, near-bans, and abusive behavior - and is NOT being performed to approve or deny whether someone would be “a good fit” for the SC. This is non-negotiable for the inaugural Steering Committee.

We’re asking for self-nominations because we’re looking for people who are motivated to be active participants on the committee. If you know someone that you think would be a great fit, please encourage them to self-nominate and email us. Once you submit an email application, we’ll MeMail you just to confirm that you submitted it (or if you can be proactive and MeMail curious nu at the same time you email, that’d be greatly appreciated).

We’re doing a mix of hand-selection and voting because we want to ensure a certain breadth of experiences and backgrounds, and also want this process to be community-centered from the beginning. We’re hoping some members from the BIPOC Advisory Board will self-nominate, and they’ll be given priority consideration. If you feel that you are a good choice to represent other marginalized communities, please self-nominate as well!

The voting will be done here on MetaFilter with a new subsite. If for some reason we get 12 or fewer nominations, then those folks will all be members and we’ll skip the vote as it would be redundant. :)

We have not prescribed very much about how the SC should operate, what tools they should use, or any of those details; the charter sets the tone and parameters for the SC, but all operational details will be left to them to devise and implement. We expect the SC will modify the charter over time to represent the evolution of the committee.

We’re working on a “starter packet” for the SC so they have some direction when they start, things we’ve identified in the user survey and have discussed internally over the last few months. This isn’t ready to share yet, unfortunately, but will be by the time the SC begins on September 1.

All of the above details are pretty set at this point. We’re a small team that’s been tasked with a big job, and think we’ve done well balancing some executive decisions with community input and direction. The charter is the guiding document for the SC, and they are empowered and encouraged to change it as they need to. We don't have many answers along the lines of, "But what if THIS THING happens?!" -- the SC will be the ones to sort that out.

Expectations for this post: the Transition Team will be checking on this often over the first few days it’s up, and then probably once or twice a day after that until the self-nomination period is closed. As we are volunteers, we may not be able to be quickly-responsive to everything. Please help us stay focused by keeping the discussion and questions about the process.
posted by curious nu to MetaFilter-Related at 10:19 AM (173 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

Hooray! Good work, TT! Probably put up a banner on all the sites?
posted by janell at 11:19 AM on July 25 [6 favorites]


Seconding janell! Banners, and posted to the same places as the survey request, including posed as an Ask question (would you like to become a member of the MetaFilter Steering Committee, would you like to be a contributor)?
posted by Iris Gambol at 11:30 AM on July 25 [3 favorites]


The voting will be done here on MetaFilter with a new subsite.

Finally, the quidnunc kid's long game pays off.

More seriously - thanks, TT! I look forward to choosing between lots of fantastic candidates.
posted by zamboni at 11:34 AM on July 25 [37 favorites]


Additionally, SC members should regularly make posts to the site(s), comment, and generally be engaged, active, and positive members and participants at MetaFilter.

This is non-specific enough that people may rule themselves out unnecessarily. It also rules out some of the quieter active members who none-the-less shine in a smaller group setting and who may also have valuable insights to contribute. I suspect this may also do the thing where like encourages like.

Basically, I think this requirement will filter based on personality type. Here is an example of what I mean but for women, but this can apply to people for a variety of other reasons as well.

So if you're a hesitant prospective SC member I, a random person, would like to encourage you to think of these requirements as "nice to have" requirements.
posted by aniola at 11:35 AM on July 25 [45 favorites]


Banner request has been made, just fyi!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:37 AM on July 25 [1 favorite]


aniola makes a wonderful point. So many members consider themselves to be lurkers or casual members, or they may be newer to the site. (I was here for a good 12 years before I didn't feel like I was new anymore.)

Their insights and ideas would be so valuable.
posted by mochapickle at 11:51 AM on July 25 [20 favorites]


re: participation: Yeah that section is pretty loose on purpose. :) Whatever "regularly" and "active member" looks like to you. There's no requirement for previous activity (i.e. number of years, number of comments, whatever) because we specifically don't want to rule out quieter members. Also - to emphasize - the SC is 100% empowered to come in and rewrite the charter so.. it IS a requirement right now, not just a "nice to have," but it doesn't have to stay that way.

Speaking only for myself -- I'm not excited about the idea of people who get on the SC and then kind of check-out of MetaFilter, y'know? In the same way I don't want to elect someone to local government who then never holds public meetings or responds to constituents. I hope that part of the charter stays, in some form.
posted by curious nu at 12:07 PM on July 25 [3 favorites]


But yes, everyone who's interested in this should send us a thing! I personally don't think there's anyone that would be "underqualified" and I hope we have lots and lots of these to review, from people who've done things like this for decades and from people who've never tried anything like this at all.
posted by curious nu at 12:10 PM on July 25 [1 favorite]


LURKER ARMY REPRESENT!
posted by mochapickle at 12:13 PM on July 25 [24 favorites]

Your full name, and your full legal name if the two are different
It is strange to me that this is needed in the initial application, especially given that "legal name" is not a coherently-defined legal concept in most states. What is the reason for this, and could it be reconsidered?
posted by wesleyac at 12:33 PM on July 25 [4 favorites]


What, if any, of the information included in a self-nomination email will be made available to the general Metafilter membership?
posted by maleficent at 12:46 PM on July 25 [2 favorites]


What, if any, of the information included in a self-nomination email will be made available to the general Metafilter membership?

None explicitly! We're still working out the details of what the voting page will look like. I have a couple of ideas for it but we're still working that out as a team. There might be something on the voting page for people to put some info about themselves, or it might be something that you put on your user profile for people to click on. Totally open to other ideas as well.
posted by curious nu at 12:52 PM on July 25 [1 favorite]


"This screening is for the purpose of identifying moderation-related issues that a member may have had - primarily bans, near-bans, and abusive behavior - and is NOT being performed to approve or deny whether someone would be “a good fit” for the SC."

Would you please offer more clarity on this screening process? If an issue is identified, what impact does that have on the nomination? You mention that this is a process solely for "identifying issues" but surely there is more to it than that. If a person has a documented history of abusive behaviour, for example, wouldn't they in fact no longer eligible to be a nominee? If it has no effect on their eligibility then what is the purpose of identifying the issue?

I would also hope that someone with a "near ban" wouldn't be automatically excluded. I'm sure many fine individuals have skirted the lines at times and I wouldn't mind a few dissenting voices on the SC. :)
posted by cranberrymonger at 12:52 PM on July 25 [11 favorites]


Appreciate all the conscientious work to transition committees. I think you’re going to get a good candidate set from these instructions.
posted by michaelh at 12:55 PM on July 25 [1 favorite]


It is strange to me that this is needed in the initial application, especially given that "legal name" is not a coherently-defined legal concept in most states. What is the reason for this, and could it be reconsidered?

Oh that's a great link and I had no idea! Is there some other phrasing you'd suggest we use?

re: reasoning: I don't remember if explicitly talked about this in detail as a team, so I can't answer for us-as-a-policy off the cuff. My personal thinking is that we have this in because the members shouldn't be anonymous, at least to the staff. I don't think there should necessarily be a requirement to disclose any personal details to the community at large; maybe the SC will decide on that policy, but we didn't want to decide on that for them. The Transition Team won't be disclosing any of the application information to the community.
posted by curious nu at 12:57 PM on July 25 [1 favorite]


Can you better describe the ColdFusion work? Can you just develop in it or do you need to be a Certified ColdFusion Developer or whatever with a license? How hard or long would it take to setup a development environment? I can imagine 20 years of code with a minimal development team is challenging or maybe not.

Lastly is there ColdFusion freelance work out there? I usually take on open source projects if they're interesting or if they'll further my career. This doesn't seem like either and isn't even open source so I can't show my contributions on GitHub.

I don't know ColdFusion and I doubt many (anyone?) here does besides Frimble. But I work with some niche products in dead languages and am compensated well for it so if this is the case I can better make the justification to donate 240 hours or whatever. A quick look shows ColdFusion rates all over the place but rather low ($40-$60/hr freelance).

Sorry to be crass, I'd love to help Metafilter but the coding work feels much more like work, will require significant time to get going (e.g., I'm going to have to put in more than a couple hours a day), and none of it is open source so it is not on GitHub. And in a niche language with an old code base. But again, I can better justify it if there's some nice juicy support contracts out there that are relatively low stress.
posted by geoff. at 12:57 PM on July 25 [2 favorites]


Can you better describe the ColdFusion work?

Honestly no, not at this point. We don't have specifics, but want to put that option out there as possibility.

Obviously any sort of request for code will be more detailed if and when that happens!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:02 PM on July 25 [2 favorites]


Would you please offer more clarity on this screening process? If an issue is identified, what impact does that have on the nomination? You mention that this is a process solely for "identifying issues" but surely there is more to it than that. If a person has a documented history of abusive behaviour, for example, wouldn't they in fact no longer eligible to be a nominee? If it has no effect on their eligibility then what is the purpose of identifying the issue?

I would also hope that someone with a "near ban" wouldn't be automatically excluded. I'm sure many fine individuals have skirted the lines at times and I wouldn't mind a few dissenting voices on the SC. :)


I'm going to ask the mods to weigh in on this one, and don't want to speak out of turn or give conflicting info.
posted by curious nu at 1:04 PM on July 25 [2 favorites]

My personal thinking is that we have this in because the members shouldn't be anonymous, at least to the staff.
Personally it seems fine to me for people on the SC to be pseudonymous, but if you want to prevent that, asking for a name (even if you get the name on their birth certificate/government ID/etc) doesn't really help with that, because people share names. A name and address is usually needed to uniquely identify a person (although even that can fail, since two people with the same full name can absolutely share an address — if you're really serious you probably need a DOB or SSN or something as well), or a name and some other demographic information.

My thinking is that you shouldn't ask for a name at all in the initial application, and if you want to verify people's identities in some way you can do that once the actual committee members are selected. If you do want to ask for a name, though, just asking for a "full name" seems like it should suffice.

In general, I think the question to ask is what you want to do with a name once you have it. Having the name that's on a government ID might help with like, searching marriage or property records, running a background check, potentially suing someone, but I assume you don't plan to do any of those things to SC applicants.
posted by wesleyac at 1:22 PM on July 25 [7 favorites]


Re: name: All good points! We’re talking it over more internally and will try and have a formal response later today.
posted by curious nu at 1:35 PM on July 25 [2 favorites]


Honestly no, not at this point. We don't have specifics, but want to put that option out there as possibility.

So was frimble or anyone with software experience consulted? This is an unusual request. Just trying to be helpful as I'm sure there's coders here who'd like to help:

(1) When asking for free coding help usually it is open source though I understand that's a large undertaking on itself. It gives the people doing the coding also a chance to build up a GitHub resume. Let us be honest most open source work is done to help your career or something job related.

(2) The time factor is a weird request for free coding work. Usually it is features in a backlog of some sort or things that people just want done and a pull request is issued. Some of these can be accomplished without open sourcing the code.

(3) Further most projects asking for free help have fairly clear contribution guidelines as in how to contribute, how to get it running, etc.

All these are around for good reason :) mostly my take is that if it can't be open sourced probably trying to get people to help out here and there is going to take up a significant portion of someone like frimble's time. I'm not pushing open source from a philosophical perspective just from a methodology that's shown to work over time when the work is expected to be done for free and there's no formal project management, scrum master, architect, etc.
posted by geoff. at 1:47 PM on July 25


geoff., I'm not part of the transition team nor do I have any power in making any decisions, but respectfully, it just sounds like they're trying to get a basic idea of which general types of resources might be available within the member community so the Steering Committee can explore these areas more thoughtfully in the future.
posted by mochapickle at 1:54 PM on July 25 [12 favorites]


Affirm that you can commit to an initial 6 month term, can attend a monthly video/audio meeting

I'm quite disappointed to see that a barrier is in place preventing disabled people who are Deaf, HoH or have processing disorders from applying or being considered. For a site that is unusually accessible, this cuts off an entire line of growth in membership and voices who can advocate for how changes will impact "marginalized" members. That this wasn't considered rather points to the necessity of having someone on the Steering Committee who WILL think of it in the future. Alas, that is, apparently, structurally impossible?
posted by Bottlecap at 2:06 PM on July 25 [10 favorites]


I'm quite disappointed to see that a barrier is in place preventing disabled people who are Deaf, HoH or have processing disorders from applying or being considered.

That does suck and I do personally apologize for that lack of foresight and I'm sure the rest of the team feels similar.

Can you or anyone else give a hand and suggest solutions for to overcome the lack of accessibility for the deaf or hard of hearing to attend a video/audio meeting? Please forgive the team's ignorance, we'll obviously do better in the future.

So was frimble or anyone with software experience consulted? This is an unusual request.

I don't think the team directly consulted frimble, but we have talked to with loup about adding some coding help at some point, so it was probably mentioned.

Otherwise, as previously stated, we have no specific coding projects in mind that need help. When the SC does have that need, I'm sure they'll be more specific about needs and scope.

In the meantime, I'd definitely encourage anyone with a coding background to nominate themselves, as it would be good to have someone with that experience on the team to comment about said future projects when they appear.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:19 PM on July 25 [5 favorites]


Mod note: >Would you please offer more clarity on this screening process?

Sure. The screening process should be simple: We'll screen for any history of abusive behaviour and issue recommendations accordingly. Depending on how serious said abusive behaviour might be, we might issue a "bear in mind" caution/note, or we might issue a veto if the full mod team deems that necessary.

posted by loup (staff) at 2:38 PM on July 25 [6 favorites]


I have been to accessible virtual meetings that have live captioning (done in real time by a human and not automated, as the automated ones don't really work) and an on screen sign language interpreter/interpreters.

World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) just released its guidelines for accessible virtual meetings and they have lots of great recommendations: How to Make Your Presentations and Meetings Accessible to All. See also their recent group note on Accessibility of Remote Meetings.
posted by twelve cent archie at 2:40 PM on July 25 [16 favorites]


Can you or anyone else give a hand and suggest solutions for to overcome the lack of accessibility for the deaf or hard of hearing to attend a video/audio meeting? Please forgive the team's ignorance, we'll obviously do better in the future.

My university hires CART providers (that's the keyword I think you want to search for) to do real time captioning for my lectures when there's a student with a hearing related disability. Usually they're in the room during the live lectures and transmit the real time captioning over some proprietary app to the student who needs it, however when I was online with zoom for a year, there was an option to add a captioner in the meeting and what they typed would come up as real time closed captioning on the screen and they would just join the meeting from wherever.

At one point I did a side by side comparison to the cart provider's work and the machine generated transcriptions... there was no comparison, human's do this much better (at least for technical subjects).

I'm not sure how much this costs, but I'm guessing it's on the order of $100's an hour especially if going through an agency rather than an independent provider.
posted by NormieP at 3:45 PM on July 25 [5 favorites]


I would like to say that geoff. doesn’t speak for all coders here. Not all of us require altruism to benefit ourselves financially, for a start, and it’s entirely ahistoric to view open source software in that way.

The request for help is not unusual, and in fact it has specifically been requested by Mefite coders in the past. I wish I could say unreservedly that I’ll be volunteering; I’m definitely considering it!
posted by thoroughburro at 6:02 PM on July 25 [18 favorites]


Can you or anyone else give a hand and suggest solutions for to overcome the lack of accessibility for the deaf or hard of hearing to attend a video/audio meeting?

The W3C guidelines are that twelve cent archie linked above are great, and CART is the standard for (non-ASL) live, real-time captioning of online meetings, assuming someone doesn't prefer ASL/BSL, etc. interpretation for the various, valid reasons they might prefer it. Both are things that are paid services for a reason - they're performed by people who are trained professionals in either.

At one point I did a side by side comparison to the cart provider's work and the machine generated transcriptions... there was no comparison, human's do this much better (at least for technical subjects).

Yep. Auto-generated captions and/or transcripts are not an acceptable workaround from an accessibility perspective. They're handy for things like being an aid to minute-taking, a later index-y reference to a point in time, etc., but shouldn't be looked at as an accessibility feature.

This resource page, by Metafilter's own(er) Jessamyn, also has some links for accessible meeting and document practices.

One final suggestion: an edit of the information you're asking people to submit in this here MeTa post to add something like the following for both the Steering Committee and Contributor applications:
* Meeting and document accessibility: Since we will be conducting periodic virtual meetings, in addition to sharing resources and materials related to this position, please indicate the accessibility requirements we need to meet in order to ensure your full and equal participation.
Or, something like this, if the preference is to not ask for that information up front (i.e., to prevent the potential for -- or apprehension of -- bias based on an accessibility request):
* Meeting and document accessibility: We will be conducting periodic virtual meetings, in addition to sharing resources and materials related to this position. At the time of their nomination [or selection] we will ask nominated Steering Committee members [or selected Contributors] to indicate their accessibility requirements that we need to meet in order to ensure their full and equal participation.
And then, of course, follow through in good faith to make sure those accessibility requirements are fully met and, where needed, budgeted for.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 6:36 PM on July 25 [11 favorites]


Hi everyone, thanks for your patience and for the points you've brought up. The TT works on consensus so when changes to these things are suggested we all want to be on the same page, and are often chatting with the staff as well.

re: names: wesleyac made a great point on terminology that "legal name" is a weird thing in some contexts. What we're looking for is for some openness and accountability. The SC members are really going to have a tremendous amount of responsibility and power in how the site operates, including budget decisions, and this seems like an important consideration for everyone involved. We're still asking for your name, but if that's different than something on some government paper that is totally fine. :) The staff (mods and jessamyn) will see it, and the TT members, but it won't be shared outside of that group. We'll ask the the mods to change the phrasing to this: "Your full name (only seen by staff/TT members and not shared)"

re: meetings format: Bottlecap brought up a great point about accessibility, and we clearly missed some things. We'll ask the mods to change "video/audio meeting" to: "synchronous meeting". I'll also ask that we add an additional point: "* Please share any accessibility needs you have to help you participate in committee conversations and meetings." (cribbing from mandolin conspiracy's suggestions as I was writing this). The SC members will need to ensure that they can meet the needs of their teammates -- we don't know how the SC is going to meet or communicate and can't prescribe a tool or tools (we went with "video/audio" originally to get away from "Zoom" or similar).

The TT has been working on how to get the SC set up, and what it might look like when it starts. SC members should expect that they'll have to navigate (maybe wildly) different timezones and activity periods, processing styles (video? audio? text? fast riffing meetings or week-long pauses to digest changes?), social skill levels, cultural assumptions (Ask vs Guess comes home to roost), and accessibility needs. You're very much joining a committee of fellow MetaFilter members. :) If there are things that - as a prospective member - you'd like to have ironed out before-hand, please contact us about that. We can't promise everything but we will do as much legwork ahead of time as we can to help y'all be successful.
posted by curious nu at 7:19 PM on July 25 [11 favorites]


And with that I'm out of the thread for the evening, but will be checking back multiple times tomorrow and Wednesday until we're pretty sure all the initial questions/concerns are addressed as best we can. :) Unsure what other TT members' schedules are so won't speak for others. Again, thank you for your help and understanding as we get this going.
posted by curious nu at 7:23 PM on July 25


I am pretty free for the rest of this week and have discovered that coffee pots come with a straw holder, so I will be everywhere, doing everything, all at once.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:29 PM on July 25 [8 favorites]


I may be being dumb, but what sort of assistance would you consider valuable from contributing members? Cos I would be happy to help out, and (like many) I have geeky skills, but I don't want to just add to a pile on.
posted by How much is that froggie in the window at 9:33 PM on July 25 [1 favorite]


Okay, I've changed "video/audio meeting" to "synchronous meeting" and added the request to share accessibility needs in the section of info to be included in the email body. Let me / us know if any of that needs adjustment!
posted by taz (staff) at 11:45 PM on July 25 [2 favorites]


I’m down with Covid but I did want to point out that we did post the survey in Ask. Agreed that it is difficult to surface things on the site though! And I don’t think the survey was ever intended to be a one-and-done. I feel sure the SC will be looking for input lots.
posted by warriorqueen at 11:59 PM on July 25 [3 favorites]


How much is that froggie in the window: We're open to any kind of assistance! The SC will be able to take on a lot of responsibilities that will require a very wide range of skills, and I'm sure they'd love to have a lot of people's help to consider.
posted by adrianhon at 1:07 AM on July 26 [1 favorite]


Is there a UX team as part of this transition? I would love to help out with that
posted by yueliang at 2:12 AM on July 26 [4 favorites]


yueliang: You should definitely put yourself forward as a contributor, UX may well be one of the things the SC is interested in!
posted by adrianhon at 3:22 AM on July 26 [1 favorite]


The Transition Team may select up to half of the total members and announce those members on August 15, along with short explanations for the choices. The remaining members will be selected by community vote over the period August 15 - August 24.

There have been a lot of questions about the screening process here but could we have a bit more about (1) the TT-led selection process and the (2) voting process?

(1) What are the criteria for TT selection of SC members? What will the TT be looking for? Will there be specific set aside SC memberships for specific groups (eg BIPOC, non-US, etc)? (regarding the latter, would there be some value in having at least one slot selected by the BIPOC committee rather than the TT?
Will self-nominations be considered in the whole or individually?

(2) Is it a single open vote with FPTP deciding who gets in? Single transferable votes? Do we get multiple votes? How many votes if so? As many as there are spaces? Will there be specific set aside SC memberships for specific groups (eg BIPOC, non-US, etc) to ensure diversity among the SC members?

The voting process should be in the charter ideally, its essential to transparency. Also, who will run the vote to ensure transparency?

The charter does set out that SC members can be removed but who decides they are out? Member process? Mod decision? Owner? Is there a right of appeal? Who hears it?
posted by biffa at 3:49 AM on July 26 [4 favorites]


Hey biffa! Clearly the team needs to discuss a few things before answering, so we'll do that and post the reply here.

Thanks for asking the questions!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:40 AM on July 26 [2 favorites]


If I may, it sounds like if anyone has captioning or sign language as a skill, they might offer that in the call for "contributors"
posted by secretseasons at 4:58 AM on July 26 [2 favorites]


Is it a single open vote with FPTP deciding who gets in?

Oh, what does FPTP stand for?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:14 AM on July 26 [2 favorites]


geoff: When asking for free coding help usually it is open source though I understand that's a large undertaking on itself. It gives the people doing the coding also a chance to build up a GitHub resume. Let us be honest most open source work is done to help your career or something job related.

I have no idea what the statistics are for "most" open source work but the very few contributions I've made have been because I wanted to see something I used or liked fixed/improved. It never once occurred to me that this might look good on my GitHub profile.

I realise that for some early stage developers, contributing to open source projects is a way to get and demonstrate experience, but that doesn't go for everyone.
posted by fabius at 5:22 AM on July 26 [3 favorites]


FPTP
posted by lazaruslong at 5:33 AM on July 26


FPTP is First past the post voting. So if you had 3 people standing for election, you would have a single round of voting and the one who got the most votes would win.
posted by biffa at 5:39 AM on July 26 [1 favorite]


Something else you might want to consider is having a rule as to how long people have been members. E.g.: you have to have been a member on 25th July 2022 to vote in these elections. May be a non-issue but inhibits people signing up to get multiple votes.
posted by biffa at 5:43 AM on July 26 [4 favorites]


Just want to say how exciting it is to finally see the site transitioning to community leadership. Benevolent dictatorship always seems like a good idea, and consensus is messy AF, but it's been time for a good long time now. I feel like MetaFilter finally has a future again.
posted by rikschell at 5:48 AM on July 26 [14 favorites]


More good points, thanks!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:48 AM on July 26 [1 favorite]


I would like to say that geoff. doesn’t speak for all coders here. Not all of us require altruism to benefit ourselves financially, for a start, and it’s entirely ahistoric to view open source software in that way.

The request for help is not unusual, and in fact it has specifically been requested by Mefite coders in the past. I wish I could say unreservedly that I’ll be volunteering; I’m definitely considering it!


Seconding every aspect of this: I'm an active open source contributor, this is not an unusual or strange request, it's something community members here have been asking for for a long time, and "most open source work is done to help your career or something job related" is extremely inaccurate ("ahistoric" is a great word for it).

Also, just to try to help with re-railing: the request in the post is not at all development-specific, it would be a huge shame if that got lost via this side-discussion (the word "coldfusion" doesn't even show up in this thread until geoff. introduced it).
posted by advil at 6:11 AM on July 26 [2 favorites]


Ha, I've actually been told by people here that's the case. And then I realize I usually take open source projects when it relates to work too but I do what I like in my free time so maybe I'm the odd one out.
posted by geoff. at 6:46 AM on July 26


Thank you for the explanation, biffa.
posted by 15L06 at 6:47 AM on July 26 [1 favorite]


Added name info change to the post per TT: "Your full name (only seen by staff/TT members and not shared)"
posted by taz (staff) at 7:54 AM on July 26


cranberrymonger: "Would you please offer more clarity on this screening process?"

loup: "Sure. The screening process should be simple: We'll screen for any history of abusive behaviour and issue recommendations accordingly. Depending on how serious said abusive behaviour might be, we might issue a "bear in mind" caution/note, or we might issue a veto if the full mod team deems that necessary."


I have a follow-up Q:

"Who" is on the receiving end of these recommendations, cautions, and notes? As I understand it, half of the Steering Committee is chosen by the Transition Team and half of the Steering Committee is chosen by the community.

Are you planning on telling the entire community that So-And-So-User has a history of troublesome behaviour, and here are the details? Or will all potentially troublesome self-nominees be reviewed and approved exclusively by the Transition Team?

If the former is true, it seems like we'll all be learning a little too much 'privileged information.'

If the latter is true, I have a hard time believing this statement from the original post could possibly be true: "This screening is NOT being performed to approve or deny whether someone would be “a good fit” for the SC. This is non-negotiable..."

Perhaps this falls into the category of "things to be ironed out" because it doesn't make sense at the moment. This is the kind of procedural issue that could cause endless arguments amongst the brains on this website. It would be best to have this figured out before any vote occurs.

For what it's worth I would be in favour of having troublesome self-nominees reviewed and screened out by the Transition Team. But if that's the case, then for the sake of transparency I don't think you should make any claims to the contrary.
posted by cranberrymonger at 8:55 AM on July 26 [2 favorites]


If you're trying to fill a set of 12 seats, I hope you consider the use of STV or (S)PAV.

For STV: Turning the filled-out ballots and turning them into the final results is something that more users will be familiar with (the Blue has even featured a fun explanatory video showing the process of STV). Its major downside will be that you might be asking voters to rank many candidates.

For (S)PAV: Filling out ballots is easier here, because you're just saying, for each candidate, whether you approve of them or not (how much approval is enough to warrant saying that you approve? it's up to you). Evaluating those ballots to find the final results is less familiar for most people; here's an article explaining SPAV.
posted by Jpfed at 9:02 AM on July 26 [3 favorites]


It is an interesting process. If I understand it correctly, the TT chooses 6 members of the SC first from the total list of volunteers. Then, the other 6 are chosen by vote by the community. That means that anyone who comes up for a vote, by definition was NOT chosen by the TT and is therefore presumed to be not as good a candidate as the ones already chosen or these up for vote are ones we did not choose, but maybe y'all will like them.

I am not experienced in this sort of thing, but maybe have the TT choose its 6 but NOT announce them. Then, have the members vote on all the candidates. Then have the six highest vote getters other than the 6 chosen by the TT be the "winners". Then announce all 12 without delineation so that everyone on the committee starts out on even footing so to speak.

The other thing I point out is the surrealistic nature of having to be voted on to volunteer for a position. If there are say 14 total volunteers and 12 make it, is there any stigma to being one of the two losers or not winners?

Is there anyway that someone could self nominate with the stipulation that if they are not chosen by the TT that they withdraw so that they are not on the ballot and do not face the community vote? I think there are people that would like to do this, but would not like to face the possibility of not winning in a popular vote. It is my opinion that you want people on the SC that may have valid but contrary opinions on certain issues. Unpopular points of view tend to not get voted for in a popularity contest but may be very necessary for a successful board.

But, that conflicts with my previous suggestion about not naming the selected ones and just announcing the 12 as a group. If I as a voter know that you picked 6 people who look up and say, "The sky is blue", I might want to vote for someone who says, "The sun is yellow" first.

Also, how do we know for whom or for what we are voting on? Do the volunteer candidates put out a position paper? Is there an AMA thread for all the candidates to answer questions?
posted by JohnnyGunn at 9:19 AM on July 26 [8 favorites]


The other thing I point out is the surrealistic nature of having to be voted on to volunteer for a position. If there are say 14 total volunteers and 12 make it, is there any stigma to being one of the two losers or not winners?

I don't see how this is surreal. Every volunteer organization I've ever been part of has had, at least nominally, elections for leadership positions. Often those elections are a farce because the actual reality of getting someone to fill all the leadership roles in your Toastmasters club or sit on the organizing committee of your curling league is months of cajoling literally everyone and anyone to step up and take on some of the work that's being done by a few burnt out people who need a break, but the rules for running them exist in the constitution of the organization.
posted by jacquilynne at 9:31 AM on July 26 [15 favorites]


If the latter is true, I have a hard time believing this statement from the original post could possibly be true:
"This screening is NOT being performed to approve or deny whether someone would be “a good fit” for the SC. This is non-negotiable..."


That statement does not appear verbatim in the original post - it's missing some text. The full paragraph is as follows:
The sensitive subject: screenings. MetaFilter staff will be screening the self-nominations, because they have privileged information from decades of interacting with the community that we do not. This screening is for the purpose of identifying moderation-related issues that a member may have had - primarily bans, near-bans, and abusive behavior - and is NOT being performed to approve or deny whether someone would be “a good fit” for the SC. This is non-negotiable for the inaugural Steering Committee.
I have no inside information, but I understood it as making a distinction between concrete moderation-related issues, and a nebulous good fit value judgement. If we can trust the mods to ban people who have a history of acting like a jackass, we can trust them to screen the list of nominees. I would prefer an absolute minimum of jackasses on the SC. Whether the TT will be verifying the background behind those decisions is a valid question.

Loup's clarification suggests there may be some context provided:
The screening process should be simple: We'll screen for any history of abusive behaviour and issue recommendations accordingly. Depending on how serious said abusive behaviour might be, we might issue a "bear in mind" caution/note, or we might issue a veto if the full mod team deems that necessary.
posted by zamboni at 10:03 AM on July 26 [1 favorite]


Just posting to say that I and others on the TT are reading all the comments, but will likely take some time to reflect on any areas that are less clearly defined before coming back with full remarks.
posted by warriorqueen at 10:37 AM on July 26 [3 favorites]


zamboni: "I understood it as making a distinction between concrete moderation-related issues, and a nebulous good fit value judgement."

I suppose my real issue is that I don't understand what "good fit" might be referring to, aside from documented jackassery. It could be a lack of imagination on my part. It's not my intention to bog down the situation with procedural nonsense. I am actually a fan of the Benevolent Dictator model of Metafilter and fear a bureaucratic future for this site so perhaps I am shooting myself in the foot with this line of questioning.

zamboni: "I would prefer an absolute minimum of jackasses on the SC."

Indeed :)
posted by cranberrymonger at 11:13 AM on July 26


If there are say 14 total volunteers and 12 make it, is there any stigma to being one of the two losers or not winners?

In my experience with non-profit boards, the "losers" are often made the head of a subcommittee or given some other role like that and then appointed to the elected position if/when someone drops out. It might be worth thinking about how resignations/replacements will be handled during the "term" that we are voting for (has a term been defined yet?).
posted by Mid at 11:59 AM on July 26 [3 favorites]


I am also asking for a clarification of whether the mod team can veto a nomination before, during, or after the Transition Team or the community vote, because I'm seeing two different answers here.
posted by Etrigan at 1:17 PM on July 26 [1 favorite]


I am also asking for a clarification of whether the mod team can veto a nomination before, during, or after the Transition Team or the community vote, because I'm seeing two different answers here.

What's the second answer? I'm trying to find a different way of reading

Depending on how serious said abusive behaviour might be, we might issue a "bear in mind" caution/note, or we might issue a veto if the full mod team deems that necessary.

other than the mod team can veto a nomination before the vote, and coming up empty. After a vote, it's no longer a nomination.
posted by zamboni at 2:34 PM on July 26


Point of order: who exactly are the pool of current staff who will be vetting / cautioning / vetoing?
posted by Meatbomb at 2:39 PM on July 26 [2 favorites]


To put the nomination screening in context, note that according to the SC charter, Mefi staff can remove SC members for due cause, including inappropriate/abusive behavior. If a potential nominee has a documented history of that sort of thing, I'm fine with excluding them from consideration for the role.
posted by zamboni at 2:53 PM on July 26


Based on my past experience with self-nominations for volunteer community positions that are then voted on, we do not want any surprises and we do not want to be "stuck" with a list of nominees that is too small or too limited. Mefites may be making a lot of assumptions about how many and who will self-nominate.

So, please consider posting:
A. A list of the nominees updated daily as they come in
or
B. At least a running count of the number of nominees.

A. List of members nominated means members can scan the list and think either "great list, so far, I feel well-reperesented, happy, at peace with this." Or, they might look and see that they themselves have something to offer that is not showing up among the nominess so far. Members might look at that list and think, "Hmm, I should really encourage so-and-so to give it a shot." and that way we might get some volunteers who might not otherwise step forward.

B. Members may assume that plenty of people are throwing their hats in the ring, but then find out when the list is announced that there are only 11 names and 8 of them are horrible people all obsessed with that one show on Fanfare. Ask me how I know about this and what a terrible experience was very narrrowly averted.
posted by Gotanda at 7:03 PM on July 26 [18 favorites]


Just a note that we're discussing things and not ignoring any of the questions!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:00 AM on July 27 [2 favorites]


Out of curiosity — is there any restriction preventing members of the TT who self-nominate for the SC from being selected by the TT? My assumption is that that wouldn't be allowed, but it seems worth being explicit, especially depending on the exact details of how the people who are selected are announced (as JohnnyGunn asks about)
posted by wesleyac at 12:47 AM on July 27 [1 favorite]


It's a little unclear to me how much of the application will be shared with the general community. For example, I'm comfortable with a small group of members knowing who I am and my relevant personal and professional details, but would prefer that the personal/professional information I share about myself that could easily be used to deduce who I am IRL not be tied to this account, which is my active and current account here. I would be fine with it being attached to a different account that is more clearly related to my public and professional persona. Does that mean that I or people in my situation shouldn't apply?
posted by twelve cent archie at 6:16 AM on July 27 [1 favorite]


wesleyac: As far as we’re aware, no members of the TT plan to self-nominate to become members of the SC, but if that were the case, the TT would abstain from picking them, and they would have to be voted in.
posted by adrianhon at 7:48 AM on July 27 [1 favorite]


We're answering a few points more quickly with some longer answers coming soon.

Point of order: who exactly are the pool of current staff who will be vetting / cautioning / vetoing?

This question confused me a bit.

Staff is everyone on payroll, and whose income (whether a main or a side gig) and working conditions will ultimately depend on this committee's oversight.
posted by warriorqueen at 7:52 AM on July 27


Here's a reply to biffa's earlier questions:
What are the criteria for TT selection of SC members? What will the TT be looking for?

We’re looking to put together a team of people with diverse skills, hopefully some with a finance background, others in marketing, and others in coding, just to give examples.

Will there be specific set aside SC memberships for specific groups (eg BIPOC, non-US, etc)? (regarding the latter, would there be some value in having at least one slot selected by the BIPOC committee rather than the TT?

There is not a specific set aside, but we will reach out to the BiPOC board to encourage its members or anyone they believe to be a good representative to self nominate.

Will self-nominations be considered in the whole or individually?

We think this is asking whether self nominations will be considered as a slate or as individual representatives. If this understanding is correct, then our answer is ‘individually’.

Is it a single open vote with FPTP deciding who gets in? Single transferable votes? Do we get multiple votes? How many votes if so? As many as there are spaces? Will there be specific set aside SC memberships for specific groups (eg BIPOC, non-US, etc) to ensure diversity among the SC members? The voting process should be in the charter ideally, its essential to transparency. Also, who will run the vote to ensure transparency?

Honestly, we’re still working this out. We had been looking at using some third party software to do the voting, but the mods talked with frimble, and they are going to spin up voting subsite to handle this and future votes. Our current plan, based on ease-to-implement and the pool, is everyone gets as many votes as there are seats. So if there are 12 seats open, and 30 candidates, you'll cast 12 votes for 12 of those candidates. High-low sort to see who the top 12 are. If the 12th and 13th spots are a tie, we might have to do some kind of run-off but haven't worked that out yet.

The charter does set out that SC members can be removed but who decides they are out? Member process? Mod decision? Owner? Is there a right of appeal? Who hears it?

Currently, the charter states that it's up to the staff. The TT hasn't discussed it with the staff. We've had internal discussions of a more formal process, written by Brandon, that will go into the starter kit for the SC to consider for themselves. Ultimately it's something that the SC and staff will need to develop.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:01 AM on July 27 [1 favorite]


Staff is everyone on payroll, and whose income (whether a main or a side gig) and working conditions will ultimately depend on this committee's oversight.

I think people just don't know who the current staff are.

The screening process should be simple: We'll screen for any history of abusive behaviour and issue recommendations accordingly. Depending on how serious said abusive behaviour might be, we might issue a "bear in mind" caution/note, or we might issue a veto if the full mod team deems that necessary.

I think that using the word "abusive" is something that gives me significant pause here. Abuse is a very strong, serious word. If someone is behaving abusively -- separately from being annoying, irritating, critical -- then they should not be on the site. A note of caution would not be appropriate in that scenario.

I don't want to pick apart your words or anything, but there is a strong vibe sometimes (not just from this comment) that people who bother the mods are not just bothering the mods, but are genuinely bad people. I think that it would be better to move away from this kind of mindset to the extent possible.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 8:02 AM on July 27 [9 favorites]


Also, as of right now, five people have self nominated to be on SC committee and six people have volunteered to be contributors.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:02 AM on July 27 [3 favorites]


On voting vs. picking: The way we would like to do it THIS time is to get the voting results in based on 12 votes per member. The 6 people with the top vote counts will automatically be on the committee. The TT will take votes into consideration for the next 6 but we also want to aim for a SC with a diverse set of skills and experience as well as adhering to diversity, inclusion, and equity principles.

For privacy concerns: The SC and the staff, plus the TT will be able to see your real/usual name. That's it.

Personal note: I will share that while we are generally in agreement, I advocated for this because I feel that given that the SC will have fiscal and HR responsibilities, and have access to information about payroll etc., there needed to be accountability within the "running part" of the organization - even though it is indeed an honour system.

That is not the same as sharing people's real names with the entire site, so that is not a requirement.
posted by warriorqueen at 8:32 AM on July 27 [2 favorites]


I think people just don't know who the current staff are.

Oh for those who don't, that list can be found on the first entry of the FAQ page.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:49 AM on July 27 [5 favorites]


HI Brandon, thanks for coming back with some answers!

We think this is asking whether self nominations will be considered as a slate or as individual representatives. If this understanding is correct, then our answer is ‘individually’.

I was thinking more along the lines, will the TT nominated SC members be picked purely on their own merits, or will you pick them contingent on the perception of what they bring to the team of SC members? So if you already picked A and B seems similar, would B not get picked? It sounds from warriorqueen's answer and your first line that it will be the latter.

Can I ask what underlies the selection of the 12 votes for 12 empty seats approach? Clearly from the rest of your answer then you are trying to fill some skill gaps, but in terms of representation, particularly of different site user needs, is this method likely to enable/represent different groups of MeFi users or will it lead to entrenchment around the biggest current group(s)?

Currently, the charter states that it's up to the staff. The TT hasn't discussed it with the staff. We've had internal discussions of a more formal process, written by Brandon, that will go into the starter kit for the SC to consider for themselves. Ultimately it's something that the SC and staff will need to develop.

As it stands this would mean in the worst case scenario, the whole SC could be dropped. In other scenarios, then individuals at odds with the staff could be dropped, at will really. More checks and balances would be welcome.
posted by biffa at 9:35 AM on July 27


Thought it might be worth pointing out that the selection/voting timeline warriorqueen sketched out above is the reverse of what's sketched out in the original post, where first the TT would select its 6, and then the remainder would be put up for a vote.

(And since I'm already here typing, I wonder if the SC's (initial) "consensus process" might need to be spelled out. Either way, I'd guess the first order of business for the SC should probably be to decide whether consensus here means unanimity or something like a unanimous-minus-one approach.)
posted by nobody at 11:47 AM on July 27


Thought it might be worth pointing out that the selection/voting timeline warriorqueen sketched out above is the reverse of what's sketched out in the original post, where first the TT would select its 6, and then the remainder would be put up for a vote.

Yes, people expressed concern with that original process, so we did indeed change our minds address that concern.

(And since I'm already here typing, I wonder if the SC's (initial) "consensus process" might need to be spelled out. Either way, I'd guess the first order of business for the SC should probably be to decide whether consensus here means unanimity or something like a unanimous-minus-one approach.)

Speaking just for myself, I think it's best of people bring up specific concerns about something that the TT has done or publicly stated we will do.

Because this specific request feels like it's demanding we explain ourselves just...because? That feels like micromanaging and again, speaking for myself, that's simply not going to fly in this volunteer position.

Judge the team by its actions, point out errors, or ask for clarification, but refrain from attempting to micromanage us.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:12 PM on July 27 [8 favorites]


It sounds to me like actual wondering/beanplating/musing about process that is both very Metafilter and also probably doesn't rise to the level of micromanagement. Not speaking on behalf of anyone else either but that was my read on it.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 12:55 PM on July 27 [3 favorites]


Oh for those who don't, that list can be found on the first entry of the FAQ page.

Great! You're very helpful and it's appreciated.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 12:59 PM on July 27


Mod note: > Are you planning on telling the entire community that So-And-So-User has a history of troublesome behaviour, and here are the details?
> Point of order: who exactly are the pool of current staff who will be vetting / cautioning / vetoing?

- Screening will be performed by the mod team as a whole.
- Veto reasons will be agreed upon by the mod team and shared with the Transition Team only and will not be made public. We'll be as transparent as possible (respecting member privacy) with the reasoning if we veto someone (I doubt this will happen a lot).
posted by loup (staff) at 1:07 PM on July 27 [1 favorite]


It's worth noting that 'nobody' was talking about the SC, which I'm not a part of, but I did respond to them from a TT frame of reference (though only speaking for myself). I apologize for that, nobody.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:31 PM on July 27 [1 favorite]


A moderated synchronous text chat is what I would recommend as being accessible to the set of people who use a text based site. By which I mean, having someone who is not a part of the discussion holding space open for people to say their piece. So XYZ is on the table, everyone goes around in an order and says their piece, everyone holds commentary until everyone has said their piece and then queues for discussion to make sure that the conversation isn’t railroaded (accidentally!) by the faster typers. In this set up, making sure everyone had an opportunity to pass explicitly on saying something or to hold their comment while they finish typing.

This is a format that I have been a part of on consensus boards before and has worked well to make sure people have ample opportunity to both think and speak. In my experience it wasn’t as social as some formats, but it did lead to better outcomes with more people feeling that they had the opportunity to collect and share their thoughts before the subject moved on. It took about equivalent amounts of time, even with pauses while people thought or typed accounted for. I think because there was much less unproductive back and forth, and a much higher amount of time spent productively.

Having someone who acts as a the turn keeper (just typing someone’s name as the next “speaker”) can be done by someone on the committee, but it’s nice to have someone wholly out of the process so they’re not trying to balance thinking about their own contribution while trying to track the conversational flow.

The method that worked well was two rounds of commentary (people go in a circle, say their piece, pass or hold until the end on each round), seeing if there were lingering questions or issues, time for Q&A if it’s someone’s project or someone isn’t on board because they don’t feel they have enough information and then going through the consensus process.
posted by Bottlecap at 2:32 PM on July 27 [7 favorites]


I think the question about consensus process comes from having been part of consensus processes before and wanting to know what model is being used. I know there are models of consensus process that I would never agree to be a part of again, and knowing whether it’s consensus or consensus-1 or whatever would play a big role in whether I would put myself forward. I don’t think any disrespect was intended, just a question about what is meant.
posted by Bottlecap at 2:34 PM on July 27 [4 favorites]


Our current plan, based on ease-to-implement and the pool, is everyone gets as many votes as there are seats

This is called "block voting". When people need to figure out a system for voting for multiple seats, they seem to naturally gravitate towards it without prompting. Unfortunately, it kills diversity*; I probably should've foreseen that you might think of this and spelled this out in my original comment suggesting STV, PAV, or SPAV.

*It's a completely non-proportional method. Let's say X% of the population has 12 particular favorites, where X is a majority. Their favorites get all the seats. This method was used, for example, in southern U.S. states during the Jim Crow era to ensure a bare majority of whites could elect all-white delegations to their state legislatures and Congress, until eventually the federal courts said no dice.

I feel strongly that a proportional method should be used, and as an experienced software developer would be more than happy to contribute coding time to help make that happen. I understand if voting specifics might be derail-y or in-the-weeds-y but I hope there's a good time/place to hash this out because I Have Thoughts.
posted by Jpfed at 3:23 PM on July 27 [12 favorites]


I probably should've foreseen that you might think of this and spelled this out in my original comment suggesting STV, PAV, or SPAV

That came off as harsher than it should've in a couple ways. I should just say that block voting is something that people- really anyone that hasn't specifically studied social choice, so no disparagement intended at all- intuitively like, but is undesirable especially if you have a goal of promoting a diverse group of winners.
posted by Jpfed at 3:44 PM on July 27 [10 favorites]


Thanks for that follow-up and the links, Jpfed. :) This is on our radar now.

Bottlecap, we haven't set specific methods in the charter so I don't think we have a specific answer as to how it will work for the SC. Probably one of the SC's first actions should be to iron out their operational details. I'm interested in having that info added to the starter kit and appreciate the personal experience you shared about it.
posted by curious nu at 4:53 PM on July 27 [2 favorites]


I hope this isn't seen as micromanaging. I'm super grateful for and appreciative of the Transition Team's herculean volunteer efforts. I think trying to get the governance structure right at the outset, knowing it could still adapt over time, is particularly important because governance is fundamental to who makes decisions and how questions about the future of the site are decided. My hope is that trying to understand and talk through site governance is something that impacts all of us and doesn't amount to micromanaging the Transition Team.

If I'm understanding the plan correctly, staff will have a veto over membership on the Steering Committee, and staff can remove a member of Steering Committee. It seems to me that this makes the governance more akin to a staff-run co-op where the Steering Committee acts as a user advisory board, but the ultimate power to steer the site belongs to the staff.

And I'm not even saying that's bad, but I think it's a little bit different than community governance. This isn't just a semantic point—it's at the heart of who governs the site and how contentious decisions may be made. So if that's really the intent—MeFi will be a sort of staff co-op that delegates certain responsibilities to a Steering Committee that staff ultimately has the power to control—I think it would be helpful to be explicit about that and the ways in which that model is different from community governance. I know there are other entities that have both a paid staff and some form of community governance, and I'm curious whether any have used this particular governance model and how it has performed during periods of conflict and disagreement.

I appreciate that the Transition Team has put a lot of time and effort into working through these issues, and I don't want us to disparage that by bikeshedding the details, and I think we'll all be learning and adapting as we go, but I do think key decisions about governance and elections are too important to entirely leave up to figuring them out as we go along and that we should be intentional and extraordinarily clear about what systems we're building and who holds what power as a result of them.
posted by zachlipton at 4:57 PM on July 27 [21 favorites]


Currently we're at 7 self nominations to be on the committee and 7 people to be contributors.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:19 PM on July 27 [3 favorites]


>> We think this is asking whether self nominations will be considered as a slate or as individual representatives. If this understanding is correct, then our answer is ‘individually’.

>I was thinking more along the lines, will the TT nominated SC members be picked purely on their own merits, or will you pick them contingent on the perception of what they bring to the team of SC members? So if you already picked A and B seems similar, would B not get picked? It sounds from warriorqueen's answer and your first line that it will be the latter.


Just as a note, the following replies are written as an amalgamation of the Transition Team.

This is going to depend on a number of factors, including the level of diversity of the pool of candidates remaining. If there is a clear hole in perspectives or skill sets in the elected members, we might choose to nominate a candidate or several. If the gap exists but there isn’t a candidate qualified to fill it who has nominated themself, then obviously that won’t be something we can do. It’s hard to make definite pronouncements based off of trying to fill in theoretical gaps as defined by six people who haven’t yet been elected.

But yes, the goal is to choose based on the perception of what people will add to the elected SC team.

>>>> Can I ask what underlies the selection of the 12 votes for 12 empty seats approach? Clearly from the rest of your answer then you are trying to fill some skill gaps, but in terms of representation, particularly of different site user needs, is this method likely to enable/represent different groups of MeFi users or will it lead to entrenchment around the biggest current group(s)?

The method is certainly intended to ensure representation of different groups of Metafilter users. It’s hard to predict what is or is not likely to happen without actually trying something and evaluating the results, but this is the best we’ve been able to come up with in order to ensure that any holes in the elected SC seats’ skill sets or diversity of perspectives are filled.

>> Currently, the charter states that it's up to the staff. The TT hasn't discussed it with the staff. We've had internal discussions of a more formal process, written by Brandon, that will go into the starter kit for the SC to consider for themselves. Ultimately it's something that the SC and staff will need to develop.

> As it stands this would mean in the worst case scenario, the whole SC could be dropped. In other scenarios, then individuals at odds with the staff could be dropped, at will really. More checks and balances would be welcome.

We agree that checks and balances would be delightful. We look forward to seeing what kinds of systems the newly elected/appointed SC will be able to devise.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:42 PM on July 27


For anyone else like me wondering what STV, PAV, or SPAV stand for, Googling gives these explanations, i hope they are correct, if not perhaps you can provide a better one.
Sequential proportional approval voting (SPAV)
Single Transferable Vote (STV)
Proportional approval voting (PAV)
posted by 15L06 at 7:24 PM on July 27 [3 favorites]


For anyone else like me wondering what STV, PAV, or SPAV stand for, Googling gives these explanations, i hope they are correct, if not perhaps you can provide a better one.

Yup, those are correct. jpfed linked to the relevant wikipedia articles in the original comment.
posted by zamboni at 7:36 PM on July 27 [1 favorite]


Thank you zamboni, i could not find that initial comment anymore.
posted by 15L06 at 7:49 PM on July 27


well i spect probly yall would not want me anyway but its a sad fact that i cannot apply because the process requires a self-doxxing. information sent to gmail is available not only to google but to every relay along the path from you to them

i suspect but cannot prove that some folks would like to hurt me. the ppl in question have the technical ability to find me in this way if they want to (the information persists for an unknown amount of time, and i have been found by them once already & had to burn identity)

i recommend the Debian Project's founding documents, the Debian Social Contract and the Debian Constitution, to those thinking about how to build this thing. Debian has been a self-governing community nearly 30 years & it's not perfect but reasonably stable and very productive

of course i cannot aspire to be a member of that project for similar reasons
sux 2b me i guess!
posted by Rev. Irreverent Revenant at 9:01 PM on July 27 [2 favorites]

The method is certainly intended to ensure representation of different groups of Metafilter users. It’s hard to predict what is or is not likely to happen without actually trying something and evaluating the results, but this is the best we’ve been able to come up with in order to ensure that any holes in the elected SC seats’ skill sets or diversity of perspectives are filled.
Does this mean that you are committed to this voting method? If so, that's quite disappointing to me — the links posted above by Jpfed outline why this voting method is not likely to result in representation of a diverse set of groups, and suggested some alternatives that are more likely to result in that representation. If those alternatives are being rejected, I'd like to know the reasoning for it.

As a more general note, it seems like there's maybe a feeling that people don't understand exactly what the process for selecting the SC will look like (partially because it's changed from what's outlined in the OP, and partially because it's just not been fully specified yet), and want more clarity on that. I understand that you're sharing this process to get the ball rolling early on nominations and to solicit community input (which I appreciate!), but it does lead to a general feeling of flying by the seat of our pants that seems to make people a little nervous, especially given the fairly quick timeline.

I think people would benefit from a more concrete explanation of the current plan and timeline for the selection and voting process, including explicitly calling out which parts of it have not been decided yet — ideally somewhere that is updated as things change (maybe on the same site the charter is on?), so that people don't have to read through this entire thread to know what's going on.
posted by wesleyac at 4:27 AM on July 28 [4 favorites]


but it does lead to a general feeling of flying by the seat of our pants that seems to make people a little nervous, especially given the fairly quick timeline

I am really happy to finally see shit happening, not nervous at all. Been too long with no changes and decline.
posted by Meatbomb at 5:49 AM on July 28 [7 favorites]


information sent to gmail is available not only to google but to every relay along the path from you to them

If your email service properly supports TLS encryption, that last statement is not accurate. Even if Google is a malicious actor, why would Google share valuable user data with third parties if it didn’t have to?

Google Email Encryption FAQs
posted by zamboni at 6:19 AM on July 28 [2 favorites]


I think people would benefit from a more concrete explanation of the current plan and timeline for the selection and voting process,

I agree entirely. Clarity and transparency are hugely important in maintaining the trust of those involved, either standing or voting. Overlooking something beforehand which causes issues over how different people interpreted descriptions of process or scope or whatever can lead to long running bitterness and division, to people leaving, to destruction of trust that will take a long time to win back. I'd really rather not see that, and the seat of the pants talk is making me even more nervous. This is very much 'stitch in time saves nine' territory.

The method is certainly intended to ensure representation of different groups of Metafilter users. It’s hard to predict what is or is not likely to happen without actually trying something and evaluating the results, but this is the best we’ve been able to come up with

Its not that hard, its already been laid out what the block vote can lead to. There's plenty of experience with this approach to voting outside MeFi. What methods were considered and rejected? Were the offers above?
posted by biffa at 6:59 AM on July 28 [2 favorites]


If you read the charter you'll see: Determining the regular method of adding new members, or retaining existing members, by March 1, 2023.

On a personal note I'll just add - you don't get a truly robust, diverse, long-term board by a voting method even if it's the best one. You get that through long-term engagement. The TT is not the correct group of people to do that, but we hope that the SC will undertake that process.
posted by warriorqueen at 7:24 AM on July 28 [3 favorites]


warriorqueen — that section of the charter makes me think that the first vote/selection process — the one that is being run by the TT — is probably one of the most important ones to get right, since the people who are selected to make up the first SC will essentially get to decide how future SC members are selected (barring staff veto).

Much of the history of power is existing power structures entrenching themselves via procedural means, and while I hope that MeFites are aware of the dangers of that, it does make me nervous to be electing people who will then be given a complete carte blanche over how future elections are run. While I understand the TT not wanting to impose a lot of structure on the SC, it is somewhat strange to me that there are no checks and balances other than staff veto. If there was a term limit on the initial SC members, for instance, I'd feel a lot more comfortable (although I get that term limits can also be problematic, both in terms of passing on expertise and if it's difficult to recruit enough people).

I have a lot of trust in MeFites to try to build something good, but I've also seen enough extremely fucked up nonprofit boards and similar structures that I think it's naïvety not to be at least a little bit wary.

As for the voting methods — I agree that no voting method is going to be a panacea. However, I think it's important to realize that what voting method is chosen is a choice, and the TT is going to be making an active choice no matter what. Block voting is not the default that just fell out of the sky, it's a choice that's being made, and I think that it's worth interrogating that choice.
posted by wesleyac at 8:00 AM on July 28 [4 favorites]


Overlooking something beforehand which causes issues over how different people interpreted descriptions of process or scope or whatever can lead to long running bitterness and division, to people leaving, to destruction of trust that will take a long time to win back.

Here’s a response written collectively by the Transition Team:

We agree, but ultimately it’s up to the individual to decide for themselves if the Transition Team acted in the best interests of the community while volunteering unpaid time with limited resources. We also note that the Transition Team was originally appointed for a three month term and think that overstaying that term isn't necessarily without its own risks for trust.

As things stand right now for voting, we’re going with letting people vote for up to a number of candidates equal to the number of spaces available. We have since asked about the possibility of doing proportional voting, based on Jpfed’s comments, but that may not be feasible for this round. We think it's certainly an important question and suggest that the SC could use volunteers with expertise for election implementation to help figure out a better strategy.

Also, the BiPOC Board has some recommendations about the voting process or nominees, so once we get that information, we’ll incorporate that into what we know and come to some decisions, hopefully in another 24-48 hours, and update in this thread.

Apologies for not having everything totally together, but we hope y’all will understand it’s a bit of a learning process and have some patience with all of this.
posted by sciatrix at 8:42 AM on July 28 [9 favorites]


We have since asked about the possibility of doing proportional voting, based on Jpfed’s comments, but that may not be feasible for this round. We think it's certainly an important question and suggest that the SC could use volunteers with expertise for election implementation to help figure out a better strategy.


Thanks for acknowledging the work that needs to be done here, but also making sure things are moving forward. A former manager of mine had a saying that roughly went "Changing things in an organization requires both (organizational) maturity and skills (among the members of the organization). If either one out paces the other, you're still limited by the lesser."

I've seen MeFi grow in both of those areas and it's very exciting to see us talking about things that wouldn't have even been in the realm of possibilities a few years ago (Like, it's sincerely great to be talking about voting, much less "how can we do voting in a way that is uncommon but so much better?"). I'm grateful for the growth in maturity and skills that have already happened and am eagerly looking forward those areas growing more and more in the near future.
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 9:19 AM on July 28 [4 favorites]


Term limits are one thing when potential position holders are practically infinite… but I think a small community like Metafilter would quickly run through its pool of interested and qualified volunteers. We can’t run this place like a model nation.
posted by thoroughburro at 9:19 AM on July 28 [4 favorites]

We also note that the Transition Team was originally appointed for a three month term and think that overstaying that term isn't necessarily without its own risks for trust.
The reference I can find to this is this post, which says:
The goal is that the folks currently involved, and the folks they in turn bring into the process as it moves forward, will spend the next three months or so drafting the initial blueprints for this structure for the long term, and engaging with the community and the mod team to work out future plans for the site.
Which doesn't read to me like a particularly hard cutoff to me :) Personally, I'd be happy to see the process go on a couple weeks longer to make sure that everything is well-considered, and that there is plenty of time to plan/collect votes/etc.

I appreciate all the good work that the TT has done already, and I think that there's more risk in rushing things to meet a sort of arbitrary "three months or so" deadline than there is in slowing down to make sure there's ample time for discussion/voting/etc. The main risk I see to slowing down is simply losing momentum and ending up in a situation where nothing happens, but that seems unlikely at this point with the clear goal and direction that the TT has set so far.
posted by wesleyac at 9:32 AM on July 28


> The main risk I see to slowing down is simply losing momentum and ending up in a situation where nothing happens, but that seems unlikely at this point with the clear goal and direction that the TT has set so far.

I’m not as confident… I look at this:

> Currently we're at 7 self nominations to be on the committee and 7 people to be contributors.

..and worry I need to throw my hat in the ring just to make numbers, even though I’m also worried I couldn’t handle the responsibilities. Can we get a stern, eyebrow-arched We Need You mathowie poster? (I know he isn’t really involved, but his face is perfect for this!)
posted by thoroughburro at 9:42 AM on July 28 [1 favorite]


I think all of these questions about the voting methods are important to consider and I agree that this initial SC selection will be one of the most important selections in terms of gaining community trust in the process going forward.

Which is why in my mind, the biggest issue at this point is that at just 7 current self-nominations, we don't even have a slate of people to vote on.

On Preview: What thoroughburro said. ^^^
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:48 AM on July 28 [3 favorites]


The deadline isn't for more than a week and the questions require some thought, so I would assume we will get a lot more applications closer to the day they are due? In my experience, everyone does their homework at the last minute.
posted by jacquilynne at 9:51 AM on July 28 [1 favorite]


thoroughburro — wouldn't slowing down provide more time for people to see this post and apply? I don't see how a faster process would result in more applicants, or a slower process in fewer applicants.
Term limits are one thing when potential position holders are practically infinite… but I think a small community like Metafilter would quickly run through its pool of interested and qualified volunteers. We can’t run this place like a model nation.
Yeah, I didn't mean to suggest that term limits are a good solution in general or indefinitely — just that it makes me a little uncomfortable to select a group of people for the SC that will then have complete control over how the SC is selected in the future, and I'd prefer to see some form of checks and balances from the start, rather than kicking that down the road to the initial SC. I don't think that this is as big a problem as the amount of text I've written about it would imply, but it's something that's on my mind and seems worth thinking about. Structurally, it seems like the TT is in a good position to put some lightweight checks and balances in place, since, if none of them are planning to be on the SC, there isn't any possibility of a conflict of interest.

Anyway, I've written a ton in this thread so I'll try to quiet down now, and I'll just leave off by saying that I'm really appreciative of all the work that the TT, staff, and everyone else has put in, and I am super excited and hopeful about the future of Metafilter right now — regardless of whatever specifics we end up with, things are going in a really good direction, and I'm very happy about that.
posted by wesleyac at 9:52 AM on July 28 [1 favorite]


I don’t disagree with you in principle at all. I worry that a buildup of procedural objections could halt progress, because the TT is so trustworthy that they may be tempted to first become experts on each objection rather than settle for good enough. No right answer, of course; it’ll take balancing, and it’s good both our voices are here.
posted by thoroughburro at 9:56 AM on July 28 [1 favorite]


As things stand right now for voting, we’re going with letting people vote for up to a number of candidates equal to the number of spaces available. We have since asked about the possibility of doing proportional voting, based on Jpfed’s comments, but that may not be feasible for this round. We think it's certainly an important question and suggest that the SC could use volunteers with expertise for election implementation to help figure out a better strategy.

I don't mean to harp about this, but if I may have just one more pluck...

If this choice is a matter of implementation complexity, consider Limited Voting. It just gives people fewer votes to cast than the number of seats available. There's a spectrum of possibilities and tradeoffs here.

If you give everyone just 1 vote to cast, then if everyone were somehow perfectly strategic, you would get as close to a proportional body as possible in this family of methods. (Of course, this isn't gonna happen because people aren't going to be perfectly strategic. There are ways to deal with this that larger organizations can use but we can't if we're trying to get this done reasonably fast).

If you give everyone as many votes as there are seats, then you get a body that isn't proportional, but maximally majoritarian.

If you give everyone some number of votes in between those two limits, your results will be a compromise between these. And crucially, you'll get some degree of proportionality without demanding perfect strategy of the voters. Even giving voters 2/3 as many votes as there are seats will allow smaller interests to get some representation. It's common for Limited Voting systems to give people between 1/2 and 3/4 as many votes as there are seats.

Okay. I'll try to shut up now.
posted by Jpfed at 10:36 AM on July 28 [13 favorites]


This may have been said, but there is often a great deal of value in creating a structure that allows for overlapping terms.

That way, you never wind up with a moment of full turnover... people are always milling kn and out, and your institutional knowledge stays intact.

It also makes full-scale takeover by enterprising individuals much harder.
posted by NorthernAutumn at 2:40 PM on July 28 [10 favorites]


If you are looking for a voting platform, OpaVote is a good one.
posted by NotLost at 7:03 PM on July 28 [1 favorite]


What information from the applications will be shared with the community? I understand that "real"/full names won't be shared, but presumably the community will have information beyond usernames about the applicants upon which to base their votes. Some applicants may not want to self-dox with easily identifiable information (known as deductive disclosure), and that may change the level of detail in their application responses. Should applicants assume that the entire application (except for real names) will be shared with the whole of Metafilter?

Sorry to ask this again, and forgive me if this is still being discussed by the TT (thanks for all of your hard work!), but I suspect my previous question got lost in the discussion about the voting process.
posted by twelve cent archie at 7:33 AM on July 29 [3 favorites]


We've haven't discussed it formally, but I feel very comfortable in saying that the nominees will have ultimate and final control over what information they're ok with revealing publicly.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:58 AM on July 29 [4 favorites]


Yeah, that's been my understanding too! The self-nomination information is for us and the mods to review and none of it is automatically going out beyond that.
posted by curious nu at 8:02 AM on July 29


Nthing that, nominees have full control.
posted by warriorqueen at 8:55 AM on July 29


It's worth noting that 'nobody' was talking about the SC, which I'm not a part of, but I did respond to them from a TT frame of reference (though only speaking for myself). I apologize for that, nobody.

No problem, Brandon! It was a bit of a shock to see such a strong reaction, but it looks like it all worked itself out (and all while I was away from the computer for a couple days).

And to clarify, I was raising the question about defining 'consensus' for the SC ahead of time only out of concern for what a single bad actor could do to ruin the whole enterprise, whether out of actual malice, or out of a sort of self-inflated sense of being a heroic contrarian. But then I deleted all that perhaps-helpful explanation because I wasn't sure it would be a good idea to plant the seed for what a bad-actor could do, before things even have a chance to begin.

But now, since I'm typing already, some thoughts: I think full-unanimous consensus works when all involved either have a shared sense of community spirit (which by the look of it, the TT has in spades!), or, in the absence of precisely that, an implicit social pressure to keep anyone from wanting to be seen as too much of a jerk (in which case, such a group sometimes requires self-reminders that it really is okay to block consensus if someone feels the group is missing something of importance). And I guess my worry was that while both of those are likely to automatically be in place for something like, say, a small housing coop, maybe all bets are off on both fronts with a group of internet strangers (and especially so if there end up being fewer than 12 self-nominations!), in which case pre-defining 'consensus' as 'unanimity minus 1' could protect a just-born Steering Committee from being purposefully derailed straight out of the gate.

All that said, it sounds like there's an implicit pressure-release valve in the staff/owner, when push comes to shove, being able to intervene in the SC's makeup and thus in their decision-making -- though exercising that option, especially if needed early on, would be real blow to the spirit of self-governance.

Okay, I hope this isn't seen as micromanaging. (And, again, it sure looks like everything's going great with the Transition Team, to the extent that it might be doing the site a disservice if all of you really do end up excluding yourselves from playing a potential role on the steering committee.)

I'm definitely rooting for all of this to turn out well!
posted by nobody at 10:35 AM on July 29 [1 favorite]


Current count:
8 people have self nominated to be on the board.
9 other people have made themselves available as contributors.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:55 PM on July 29 [1 favorite]


I nominate hippybear.
posted by freakazoid at 3:54 PM on July 30 [1 favorite]


“I know there are other entities that have both a paid staff and some form of community governance, and I'm curious whether any have used this particular governance model and how it has performed during periods of conflict and disagreement.”

Other people here have far more experience with this stuff than I do, but my own experience is that staff can have diverging interests from the nominal community governance and, when this is the case — and especially when some controversial issue arises — this can result in staff running roughshod over the community's preferences.

I have no idea whether that may happen here, but as the SC will be making decisions which affect staff, I see an opportunity for trouble to arise.

Of course, as this isn't a non-profit and jessamyn as owner will be the ultimate authority (though I have complete faith she'll wield this minimally and prudently), I expect that she'd either be the check against any of these kinds of abuses or, much less likely, the worst offender. She has a history of proven good judgment and respect for the community so I think there's little reason to worry, but it's worth considering that the potential for abuse is inherent with this structure.

“We've haven't discussed it formally, but I feel very comfortable in saying that the nominees will have ultimate and final control over what information they're ok with revealing publicly.”

I'd assumed that, at minimum, candidates would be expected to present to the membership some personal history relevant to the responsibilities involved in the position.

It seems to me that [the amount of] anonymity should be inversely proportionally to responsibility/authority. I don't really have an opinion on how this should be determined or where lines are drawn, just that the community has a right to know some things about those persons it chooses to lead the community that it certainly would not in the case of regular mefites.

Per Jpfed's concerns about voting and diversity, it seems to me that a particular worry with a community like this is that a purely majoritarian vote risks being a mere popularity contest. To be sure, the Transition Team's nominees should mitigate this by design in this initial case. Later, this might be a problem.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 4:35 PM on July 30 [3 favorites]


What do we know about the mods now? I don't recall learning the real names of any of them, except Matt, Josh and Jessamyn, so I am not terribly convinced that the community has an inherent need to know real world information about the SC, either, outside of the extent to which candidates are willing to provide it.
posted by jacquilynne at 8:13 PM on July 30 [16 favorites]


Agree with jacquilynne. I don't think i need to know more than the user name. There is the profile, and the posts and comments which give the picture of the persons behaviour and opinions here on Metafilter (by which i mean all subsites). To me as a user, that is the relevant part: how do they behave here on the site. I would be uncomfortable with more info if it was not volunteered.
Of course the owner, paid staff, TT, Bipoc Board will need more and should have access.
But i feel that posts and comments give one quite a good idea of a person and their attitude toward the site as a whole . And if not, because of lack of either, well that also is information.
(Yes, there could of course be someone who runs for SC who changed their username. If and when in fact such a situation were to arise i am confident that they, and owner, staff, TT will find some solution i can trust)
posted by 15L06 at 2:38 AM on July 31 [4 favorites]


I’m more strongly considering putting myself forward, but this requirement in the charter is a dealbreaker for me:

  • Attending an SC meeting at least once a month over video/audio

  • I have general and particularly social anxiety, and would more often than not be unable to fulfill this duty. However, synchronous text of any form is manageable.

    Is changing this line in the charter open for debate?
    posted by thoroughburro at 7:08 AM on July 31 [4 favorites]


    Is there an expectation that those running for the SC will disclose any sockpuppet accounts they use?

    Sometimes frequent contributors to MetaTalk reference previous accounts they have used, but unless someone is keeping notes on that (which would be weird, to say the least), there's little to no transparency on how a potential SC member has conducted themselves on the site.
    posted by arcolz at 8:04 AM on July 31


    thoroughburro: A quick personal, not-official answer: we agreed to change that in the application to a synchronous meeting, but forgot about it in the charter. :D We made that change for accessibility reasons, so I'll ping the team this morning and I don't foresee an issue with it also being changed to be consistent. Thanks for catching that!

    Since the SC will be setting their own meeting policies, what I'm guessing is that there will still be some kind of video/audio component, just with simultaneous text (essentially logging into a Zoom/etc with your camera and mic off) -- that's how I was imagining it might go, but I appreciate that making sure that text is explicitly an equal option is important. Again, there are no specific tools called out, so maybe y'all will use Discord, or a Slack, or.. who knows! It's wide-open for whatever will work best for everyone. :)
    posted by curious nu at 8:05 AM on July 31 [5 favorites]


    Is there an expectation that those running for the SC will disclose any sockpuppet accounts they use?

    We've only asked for primary account. The SC might determine amongst themselves that it's important they do that, but there's nothing in the charter about it right now.

    I believe (don't quote me here) that the mods typically know (or can research) account histories, but they're under no obligation to provide the Transition Team with any of those details and I'm personally not expecting them to.
    posted by curious nu at 8:10 AM on July 31 [1 favorite]


    Ah, excellent! Thanks for the response.
    posted by thoroughburro at 8:23 AM on July 31


    Prior to voting, will there be a thread where candidates can discuss their thoughts on what they hope to achieve on the committee, the future of Metafilter, etc? Something like that would be enormously helpful in figuring out whom to vote for.
    posted by buntastic at 8:57 AM on July 31


    I believe (don't quote me here) that the mods typically know (or can research) account histories, but they're under no obligation to provide the Transition Team with any of those details and I'm personally not expecting them to.


    Yeah, I'm pretty sure that the mods know and can tell about sock puppets and will be vetting that information when they vet the candidates. As curious nu said, the TT isn't expecting or wanting to hear about those sockpuppets.

    Prior to voting, will there be a thread where candidates can discuss their thoughts on what they hope to achieve on the committee, the future of Metafilter, etc?

    I don't think we specifically had an idea about a space for nominees to discuss things, we were thinking of a space where they could articulate their thoughts and views.

    But since a MeTa talk thread will most likely be posted announcing the start of voting, that could serve as a space for nominees to discuss things and answer questions. The TT will obviously let people know of specifics as we get closer to voting time.
    posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:35 AM on July 31 [4 favorites]


    “We've haven't discussed it formally, but I feel very comfortable in saying that the nominees will have ultimate and final control over what information they're ok with revealing publicly.”

    I'd assumed that, at minimum, candidates would be expected to present to the membership some personal history relevant to the responsibilities involved in the position.


    This seems like it would likely work itself out - if a nominee chooses to not to disclose enough information for people to be comfortable voting for them, they won’t get enough votes. If they get enough votes to be on the SC, then the overall Metafilter membership must have been okay with the amount of information disclosed.
    posted by maleficent at 11:24 AM on July 31 [2 favorites]


    Just popping in to express my gratitude to those on the TT for all their hard work. Also pleased to hear that more folks have nominated themselves or others as potential SC members and contributors. I would also like to give a shoutout to Jpfed, in particular, as well as others who have educated me about the problems with block voting.

    MetaFilter has lost some amazing BIPOC members. They did not feel welcome here and for good reason. IMHO, those of us with white privilege (able-bodied privilege, etc.) need to do everything possible to make this community more welcoming to BIPOC folks and other marginalized people.

    So please, please, please, please: I am begging you wonderful volunteers on the TT to abandon block voting for the SC vote and consider Jpfed's suggestion about adopting Limited Voting for the first SC election to avoid setting a bad precedent and do everything possible within our limited resources to encourage diversity.

    Thank you for your consideration.
    posted by Bella Donna at 1:27 PM on July 31 [6 favorites]


    Agree in principle but it looks like a moot point if the number of nominees does not increase significantly.

    I would like to encourage more people to throw their hat in the ring.
    posted by Meatbomb at 2:02 PM on July 31 [1 favorite]


    The charter point regarding meetings has been changed, per discussion above and with Transition Team consensus.

    WAS: Attending an SC meeting at least once a month over video/audio

    NOW: Attending a synchronous SC meeting at least once a month, with video/audio/text options for all members

    Thanks thoroughburro for catching the discrepancy, and again to Bottlecap for raising the issue of needing explicit language for this.

    Further changes to the charter should go through the SC, once they are active.
    posted by curious nu at 3:35 PM on July 31 [8 favorites]


    That's a fantastic change, thanks so much to everyone!
    posted by mochapickle at 4:05 PM on July 31 [2 favorites]


    We're up to 10 self nominees and 15 contributors.

    I highly encourage anyone with the following backgrounds to self nominate to be a member of the SC: fundraising, marketing, moderation/admin, graphic design, social media.

    People who are POC, female, and/or non-American are also encouraged to self nominate!
    posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:11 PM on July 31 [4 favorites]


    As an aside: I am not a fan of abusing the FanFare "special event" mechanism to repeatedly spam nomination-process notifications. There are similar posts on the other subsites, but they somehow feel particularly inappropriate on FanFare. Isn't this sort of all-users notification exactly what the existing top-of-site banner is for?
    posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 11:18 PM on July 31


    A few people have said - either here or on a previous thread - that they missed out on the survey and hadn't seen the banner. If there's a banner up there about something most of the time it starts to become ignorable.

    (Not saying it's right to post in FanFare; I don't read it so have little opinion.)
    posted by fabius at 3:50 AM on August 1 [1 favorite]


    Several users said that the site banner isn't very noticeable and encouraged the TT to make actual posts on the subsites, the mods were ok with it, and so we did.
    I fully agree that that solution isn't optimal and apologize for any irritation it caused. As the person who did all the posts, I'm readily aware that the site wasn't designed for this sort of thing at all. I had to make a song to post on Music, come up with a physical location for IRL (fyi, 123 Bean Road is NOT a real place), and couldn't make a second post on Projects, 'cause users are only allowed one post every 30 days.

    One of my recommendations for the SC will be to have a special class of posts developed that will enable the SC to make a single post that will be pinned to the top of every subsite and/or a bigger site banner for just these circumstances.
    posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:37 AM on August 1 [20 favorites]


    the site wasn't designed for this sort of thing at all.

    I think this is why I personally didn't/don't mind the manner in which it's been broadcast -- there's an understanding that this sort of thing isn't typical and therefore had to be crowbarred into the existing infrastructure.

    therefore could not agree more with your follow-up that the SC itself should come up with mechanism(s) to broadcast uniquely out to the community, in a way that won't disrupt other channels but will be visible enough to allow full and consistent community engagement with the SC's process and output

    more generally I'd just like to throw another note in here about how much I appreciate the thoughtfulness and thoroughness with which the transition team has approached this work. it will pay massive dividends, I think
    posted by Kybard at 7:15 AM on August 1 [4 favorites]


    I truly love that it took all this subsite-specific wrangling to get those announcement posts up (especially that the Music post required a song!). My only wish would be for the FanFare posts to get linked with previous/next episode ids. And for the AskMe posts to be reworked in the form of a question. I hope the steering committee can be trusted to rectify both errors.
    posted by nobody at 10:16 AM on August 1 [7 favorites]


    Oh, so they can make a song but they haven't created a "Metafilter Steering Committee Nominations" television show?!?

    (In seriousness, thanks everyone on TT for all the work you're putting into this!)
    posted by Jpfed at 12:03 PM on August 1 [4 favorites]


    In my experience, whenever you're trying to disseminate important information to a large community, there's a substantial overlap between the point when a significant minority of the community says "I get it, I've seen these announcements a million times! JUST STOP WITH THE INCESSANT ANNOUNCEMENTS" and when a significant minority says "wait, there was an announcement? why didn't anyone tell me? WHY WAS I NOT INFORMED?" (Occasionally, these come from the same person, like the time I was canvassing for a special election and the person I was canvassing complained about how much we were spamming them, complete with threat to vote for the other candidate if we didn't stop, and when I tried to politely end the conversation with "thanks for your time, we just hope we see you at the polls on Tuesday" responded with "Wait, What? The elections is THIS Tuesday?")

    All of which is just to say that I'm glad to see people complaining in this thread about getting spammed with announcements about the nominations process, because if there weren't, I would take it as an indication that the Transition Team hadn't done enough to get the word out.
    posted by firechicago at 5:05 PM on August 1 [20 favorites]


    MetaFilter has lost some amazing BIPOC members. They did not feel welcome here and for good reason.

    People who are POC, female, and/or non-American are also encouraged to self nominate!


    I would hope that, if at all possible, the current Transition Team and mods are making efforts to reach out to some of the people in those groups who have buttoned, hopefully using whatever contact information they might have?
    posted by The Pluto Gangsta at 11:17 AM on August 2


    In my opinion, it would be inappropriate to contact users who have very deliberately opted out of the site. I would find that in poor taste if it happened to me.
    posted by thoroughburro at 11:54 AM on August 2 [13 favorites]


    I would hope that, if at all possible, the current Transition Team and mods are making efforts to reach out to some of the people in those groups who have buttoned, hopefully using whatever contact information they might have?

    The Transition Team is not doing this, mostly because we do not and have never had that information.

    I would be surprised and somewhat disappointed if the mods were doing this. If someone chooses to leave, respect their choice. If someone had to be escorted out, there would be little reason for the mods to reach out to them.

    Finally, speaking for myself, it's waaay too early to be approaching anyone about a new and improved Metafilter. IMO, a few technical changes need to be made, such as a more robust mobile site. More importantly the community needs to start acting like a community that's on a community run site that it loves and wants to welcome others to it, even as it protects what makes that community special. That'll take some time for us to figure all that out, I'd give it about a year at least.
    posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:28 PM on August 2 [14 favorites]


    Some people disable their accounts because they are well and truly done with this place, and some people disable their accounts because they find it better for their mental health to take breaks from this place. And experience shows that some people disable their accounts as a way of making a point: stomping their feet and taking their ball and going home because Someone Owes Them an Apology. I believe members of the first two groups would consider it a gross invasion of privacy to be contacted as has been proposed in this thread, and members of the third group might be delighted, but I strongly believe that people who behave that way are ill-suited to the hard consensus-building work of helping run Metafilter.

    Are there people who don't fit into any of those categories? Probably a handful. And if you happen to know someone who fits into the Venn diagram intersection of having disabled their account, but also caring deeply enough about Metafilter to want to invest a large amount of personal effort in the place, but also not checking the site regularly or thoroughly enough to have seen the many announcements, but also having the right temperament and skills for the hard, slow work of community-building, then yes, you should reach out to them. And since you clearly know them so well, your personal appeal is likely to be much more effective than an email blast from the mods. But it really doesn't seem like a good use of mods' or TT members' time to sift through the muck to try to find these possible diamonds.
    posted by firechicago at 2:52 PM on August 2 [5 favorites]


    And since you clearly know them so well, your personal appeal is likely to be much more effective than an email blast from the mods.

    I don't and I never implied that I did.

    What I would say is that, under previous management, there were users who explicitly identified themselves as POC, as non-American, and/or as non-binary, who left pretty clear messages in their final comments saying that they were leaving because they felt their opinions were pushed out, or their complaints went unaddressed, or that the ad-hoc organizing they were trying to do in MeTa threads of the past years went unrecognized.

    Now that the site is under new management and trying to do (gestures around) the opposite of all of that, I thought it might be worthwhile to attempt to reach out to those people. But if the TT feels that it's too early -- if ever -- to do that, I'll accept it and hope those people find their way back on their own.
    posted by The Pluto Gangsta at 3:53 PM on August 2 [4 favorites]


    Let me lend my voice as someone who thinks that it would be extremely poor form for the management of the site to use privileged information to... ask for more volunteer work? from people who have left, regardless of the reason.
    posted by sagc at 4:54 PM on August 2 [1 favorite]


    Wow, firechicago, maybe a few, but this is the kind of uncharitable take that will make sure that people who left for some very good reasons will continue to stay away and not come back.

    "And experience shows that some people disable their accounts as a way of making a point: stomping their feet and taking their ball and going home because Someone Owes Them an Apology."

    Let's break this down shall, we...

    * And experience shows: Whose experience? That's yours. Can you show some empathy for the experiences of others?

    * some people disable their accounts as a way of making a point: Nothing wrong with making a point, and maybe leaving is a good way of doing it.

    * stomping their feet : infantilizing the behavior of users you disagree with is maybe not a good way of being welcoming, or at the very least de-escalating

    * taking their ball and going home: it is their ball. This is a community site. We all contribute our "ball" to the game, but do not have to leave it in the ballpit forever if we feel it is getting yucky in there

    * because Someone Owes Them an Apology: let's be honest, it is not "someone" who owes an apology. It is Eyebrows. She does owe some apologies. Unequivocally. I do not expect to see them, so the alternative is she does what she said she was going to do and leaves the moderation team. Otherwise, there are a lot of people, myself included, who will be very cautious about how or if they engage with MetaFilter.

    Finally...

    * muck: enough said.
    posted by Gotanda at 5:00 PM on August 2 [8 favorites]


    I really hesitated to post that, but goddammit, I miss some of those people, and the site is a poorer place without them.
    posted by Gotanda at 5:03 PM on August 2 [5 favorites]


    The Pluto Gangsta, if it's any consolation, several buttoned users responded to the recent survey (I pitched in to help with initial counts) and gave some genuinely thoughtful feedback about their metafilter exprience. It's not the same as an open dialogue, of course, but I fully recommend that their specific responses should be considered required reading for the steering committee folks.

    It was generous for them to give their time to respond, all things considered, and I hope they might be responsive again to any open calls for feedback.
    posted by mochapickle at 5:05 PM on August 2 [8 favorites]


    Now that the site is under new management and trying to do (gestures around) the opposite of all of that, I thought it might be worthwhile to attempt to reach out to those people.

    One of the things y'all will be repeatedly hearing from me going forward is this: "That seems like a good idea, have you considered working with the Steering Committee to implement that idea?"

    Becoming a community run site means, IMO, that folks should be working to make the site a little better, where and when they can.

    Just finished shifting through all the applications as of right now and didn't notice anyone wanting to look into this particular issue, so I encourage anyone who is interested in it to go ahead and volunteer. Other applicants have mentioned areas they'd like to work on, so I'd advise people to go for it on this or any other site issue they believe is important.
    posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:25 PM on August 2 [13 favorites]


    Current tally:
    13 people have self nominated to sit on the board
    15 people have volunteered to be a contributor
    posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:26 PM on August 2 [5 favorites]


    I know that it's not really very active, but could we get this posted on the @metafilter Twitter account? That might be a good way to reach people who have drifted more away from the site, and might not be checking the grey often enough to notice this.
    posted by wesleyac at 6:57 AM on August 3 [3 favorites]


    The TT doesn't have access to the official Twitter account, so I'll put in a request with loup to post it there.
    posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:48 AM on August 3 [4 favorites]


    Sent!
    posted by bendy at 1:28 AM on August 4


    Current tally:
    13 people have self nominated to sit on the board
    15 people have volunteered to be a contributor


    Can we keep the numbers quiet until decisions are made?
    posted by bendy at 1:37 AM on August 4




    Hopefully not everyone is as avoidant of responsibility as me, but it was only seeing the (to me) surprisingly low numbers which convinced me to apply.
    posted by thoroughburro at 4:21 AM on August 4 [8 favorites]


    What would be the rationale for keeping the numbers a secret?
    posted by octothorpe at 5:38 AM on August 4


    Stirling work Brandon Blatcher and many thanks for your constant clarifications and updates.
    For those of us less atuned to minutae and faltering memories can members of the Transition Team be identified when posting? TT or suchlike?.
    posted by adamvasco at 6:14 AM on August 4 [5 favorites]


    Stirling work Brandon Blatcher and many thanks for your constant clarifications and updates.

    Eh, I just happen to be commenting the most 'cause I'm not currently working. Curious nu, sciatrix, warriorqueen , and adrianhon are all doing stuff too, so definitely don't make this all about me!

    For those of us less atuned to minutae and faltering memories can members of the Transition Team be identified when posting? TT or suchlike?.

    I'd post it to the group, but we all do a pretty good job of stating when speaking for the group or just ourselves, so definitely pay attention to that!
    posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:30 AM on August 4 [9 favorites]


    I would like to thank the transition team and everyone who has put their name in to run for the steering committee or serve as a contributor. I appreciate the time commitment. And for those running, I appreciate the risk you are taking.
    posted by NotLost at 6:11 AM on August 5 [3 favorites]


    We've just got a few days left before we'll close the nominations period and start working on the last phase. If you're still on the fence and curious what you'd be working on, here are some of the key takeaways from the survey, summarized:
    • Financial planning/management
      • Moderation is key to MF (per survey), coverage needs to be maintained + ideally increased
      • What kind of revenue models will support long-term site stability?
    • Negativity/pile-ons
      • How to navigate calling someone out without going too hard, or too soft? How can that be encouraged and nurtured, rather than callous hot takes, or retaliatory shut-downs? How to encourage people to think more before commenting, so someone doesn’t have to fight back?
      • MetaTalk is often particularly prone to this; does it need to change? Howso?
      • FanFare has its own nascent thread of this, as well, actively discouraging participation for some folks
    • Code updates
      • Accessibility
      • Site/subsite discoverability
      • Modernization
      • SC tools (not from the survey, but probably want to be looking at this too)
    • Site activity (this is mostly from the Transition Team and the charter)
      • Your own posts and comments!
      • Sidebar/spotlighting
      • Social media presence? (likely more as a complimentary strategy for other goals)
      • Userbase growth? (mix of folks who enjoy the smaller scope, but plenty who are also hoping for newer + more faces, from more backgrounds)
    Those are the bigger items that came out of the survey, most of which have been talked about more than once here in MetaTalk over the years. The things people really like about the site and want to see continue/see more of, but also some of the challenges. If any of that sounds like something you want to work on, please send us an email in the next couple of days -- it's okay if you don't have a solution in mind, just need some enthusiasm. :)
    posted by curious nu at 10:42 AM on August 5 [13 favorites]


    It’s great to see the list summarized like that! How many self-nominations are there currently?
    posted by buntastic at 3:02 PM on August 5 [1 favorite]


    There are currently 15 self-nominations and 16 contributors.
    posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:13 PM on August 5 [4 favorites]


    20 self nominations , 16 contributors now, with about 24 hours left to go.

    Surely there’s few more who want to wait until the very last minute :)
    posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:36 AM on August 7 [3 favorites]


    (life is hard and y'all are being asked to do a big/difficult thing, last minute is totally okay! let us know if you have any questions)
    posted by curious nu at 8:25 AM on August 7 [3 favorites]


    And that's a wrap on the nominations period. :) Mods will do a review and we'll reach out to everyone with further details later this week on how we're going to handle the vote + selection for MetaFilter's first Steering Committee. Please bear with us as we finalize the vote details and get everything ready to go.
    posted by curious nu at 6:51 AM on August 8 [11 favorites]


    Thanks so much to everyone who self-nominated! I lobbied several folks to consider applying (if you were not one of them, it was not personal!) and wanted to apply as a contributor. But my life is basically crazed right now. I figured eventually MF will need new Steering Committee members and probably new contributors as well. One of the things Al-Anon has taught me is the importance of service and that service opportunities are not one-and-done. They come around over and over.
    posted by Bella Donna at 5:03 AM on August 11 [6 favorites]


    Final count:
    22 self nominations to be a volunteer on Steering Committee
    19 volunteers to be contributors
    posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:30 AM on August 11 [10 favorites]


    Quick update:

    * Everyone who submitted a Steering Committee member nomination have just been contacted by email, letting them know what's next. Everyone who's been asked to participate now has instructions for how to prep over the next couple of days and what the voting, selection, and announcement process will be. Not everyone who submitted was asked to participate; out of respect for privacy, and because this was mod-decision and not TT-decision, we're not disclosing any of that information.

    * The vote opens this Monday, August 15! We'll have a MetaTalk post, subsite posts, banners, et cetera with all the details then. Thanks to Jpfed for being a sounding board and advocate for this part of the process.

    * If you submitted a contributor nomination, we've got your info and are going to be prepping that for when the SC kicks off in a few weeks. (I THINK I followed-up with everyone; if you submitted something and didn't get a memail from me, please feel free to bug me and make sure it got through)

    Hello! Hi! Things are happening now! More to come!
    posted by curious nu at 4:23 PM on August 12 [4 favorites]


    Not everyone who submitted was asked to participate; out of respect for privacy, and because this was mod-decision and not TT-decision, we're not disclosing any of that information.

    It is not violating anyone's privacy to give us the new count, how many of the 22 made it through the mod veto gauntlet?
    posted by Meatbomb at 7:30 PM on August 12 [1 favorite]


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