Sorry about that Lodewijk, I thought the change of title was plainly to make the title more relevant to the discussion.
For all it's worth, my contribution to this discussion in the general policy sense can be summarised in the capitalised word of my previous reply's first sentence: TRANSPARENCY. What's private should remain private (the case is often such when safety is at stake), and what's public should remain public.
I intentionally started a new thread to be able to have a more abstract discussion about the general policy. I would highly appreciate it if you won't bring it back to the single case.
On Sun, Jul 29, 2018 at 11:48 AM Mina Theofilatou <[hidden email]> wrote:
People: our movement is founded on TRANSPARENCY. Which is - sadly - totally lacking in the Support and Safety Department.
The Friendly Spaces policy supposedly protects Wikimedians against threat: examples of such have been provided. Romaine's behaviour quite simply does not fall under the "threat" category.
I specifically requested in the previous thread that SuSa at least explained to us what the "threat" was. Numerous Wikimedians from all over the world who gathered in Cape Town expressed our support both online and in person to a respected Wikimedian who is dedicated to the movement and has offered so tremendously to Wikimania (the three I have attended, and can thus refer to. From my point of view, Romaine is the ONLY volunteer I can remember running around to make sure everything is running smoothly since my first day in Mexico City).
I am repeating my plea here: what is it that roughly 90% of the participants - from the responses I have read and the support I witnessed in person - that we don't get????
That said, I have personal experience of the shortcomings in the SuSa dept. No need to go into details here.
In closing, let me just say that I have connected the dots and I have a pretty good idea of who complained and why this is being kept secret. Elusive as this last statement may seem, it is no more elusive than James's initial account of his decision on how to handle the incident (so please James don't accuse me of speculating: you're the one who's leading me in that direction. I am overwhelmed by your injustice against Romaine and if you really are interested in resolving this issue and the bewilderment of the community once and for all, it's quite easy: just be open about what really happened)
Romaine you have my unwavering support, regardless of the last word to this incident. We need nice, warm, fun, hard-working and enthusiastic people like you in the movement :)
I hope that the WMF Trust & Safety dept will soon some with a roadmap how to effectively evaluate this process with examples we can actually discuss without violating privacy. (I made some suggestions in person, but will leave it in their capable hands to take a long overdue leadership role in this conversation).
My main concern is that I heard too many people ridiculing the friendly space policy in the past week - mostly people who would likely never violate it, but seemingly no longer feel empowered by it, feel no longer that it represents a best practice they should hold people to. Maybe the phrasing was never to the standards that they held, maybe it is a recent development. But it's high time to review things together with the wider community. If a policy like this is not supported broadly, I doubt it will ever be a success.
This is the second time I remember that the Friendly Space Policy was invoked to remove a Wikimania attendee from a situation, presumably because of in-person misconduct on their part, where the removal was made public but the reason of removal was kept
The problem with such secretive invocations of Friendly Space is that it is very difficult, as Reem and others have pointed out, to not see this as a punishment.
I understand that it is very difficult to balance the specific, personal sensitivities and cultural preferences of several hundred people from different cultures. But as this discussion has shown, it is counter-productive to use Friendly Space this way,
because other Wikimaniacs are left worrying what the appropriate behaviour is supposed to be.
I don't know the details of this incident because it wasn't public. But from what I know of Romaine from previous Wikimanias, I'm disappointed that this incident couldn't have been handled behind the scenes with T&S and the people involved. The fact that
Romaine felt the need to go public about his removal as an organiser showed mis-handling of process.
Well, actually the previous time was 6 years ago, so maybe we're doing well. We did try reforming the friendly space policy around 2013-14 but couldn't agree on something better at the time... The doors of improvement always stay open for the Wikimedia
I am, as always, sorry, that this has spilled out into the public sphere more I do not think that is ever a good thing as discussion of specific situations like this only serves to increase discomfort, make people feel even less
safe and make victims of everyone.
Event Safety and Friendly Spaces is a top priority of any conference whether big or small as well as one of the issues that can be most difficult to deal with since it is always a balance of situations, feelings and people who are
frequently acting in good faith. I can confirm that Trust & Safety was involved here and, like most people who are working on Friendly Spaces, we never aim to take serious actions if we are able to avoid it. Most issues are dealt with by local attendees or
organizing volunteers with only short reminders or chats and escalate from there only as things become more serious or repetitive. The same is true for T&S who generally doesn't even become involved until it is a larger situation. I will admit that whenever
a local organizer or volunteer is involved the seriousness is increased some because they are, rightly or wrongly, seen as in a position of influence and power which amplifies any and all issues that arise. It does not, however, change the focus of trying
to take the least amount of actions possible.
I will be the first to admit (and did when talking to Romaine yesterday) that he has done an enormous amount of great work for events and nothing we did was meant to demean that even if it felt that way to Romaine. Like any Friendly
Spaces actions nothing we did was meant as a punishment (even though, again, I understand it can feel that way) but was done because we felt they were the best thing to do for event safety. I can certainly guarantee that the decision was not taken lightly.
As many have noted the entire story is not out in the open and, honestly, won't be. I know that won't make everyone happy but unfortunately is almost always going to be the case for specific cases. If you want to speak about process
questions and the like, the team (including myself) is certainly willing to do so. We have a table on the 2nd floor or you can grab one of us around the conference.