Sunday, May 29, 2011

Rules against bad behavior

A little explanation

These rules are not about the goal of the project (i.e. the corpus), but about something this project cannot exist without: the community.

A member can be a terrible contributor corpus wise, but a great contributor community wise, and conversely a great contributor corpus wise but a terrible contributor community wise. These are two very different aspects, but we need both kind of people.

We need people who have deep linguistic knowledge, who are able to contribute sentences and translations of good quality, to post relevant explanations or analysis of a sentences, a phrase, a word. And we need people who have good social skills, who are able to make other members feel like this is a nice place with nice people, and that they can have a great time contributing to the project.

I had established some detailed policies about what kind of content we accept and don’t accept. But there isn’t really much about what kind of behavior we tolerate and don’t tolerate. There’s the article about being disrespectful and using private messages rather than flaming, lecturing, criticizing someone in public. There is one point in the contributor’s guide about doing what you can to make Tatoeba a more socially pleasant place. But that’s pretty much all.

So here we go, some official policies...

The point of all of this is to avoid having people leaving the project because they feel disgusted by the behavior of other members.

Things we do not tolerate
  1. Insults: saying something offensive about someone or some people.

  2. Harassment: bothering someone repeatedly.

  3. Accusations: stating that someone is doing something with bad intentions.

  4. Blaming: saying that a problem is due to someone’s fault.

  5. Provocation: writing something that intentionally makes other people angry.

  6. Retaliation: replying to insults, harassment, accusations, blaming or provocation with something that doesn't help.

  7. Bad faith: lying, deceiving, being dishonest.

  8. Generally speaking, we do not tolerate any kind of behavior that harms the collaborative and civilized atmosphere of Tatoeba.

All of this is pretty obvious. What is less obvious is how we are going to decide that something is an insult, or harassment, or an accusation, etc. Initially, I had written here specific rules about insults and harassment (which I considered as the two most important types of bad behaviors), but I decided to replace them with more general ideas for the time being, because the rules have not proven to be efficient yet, and they weren’t complete either.

They will still remain published, because, well, we need to start somewhere. I must insist on the fact that they are not established. I actually encourage everyone who has enough time in their hands to try to hack these rules, and to try to counter-hack the hacks, and hopefully through this process we can come up with a better set of rules.


People who behave against the general policies will be subject to sanctions.

Depending on how Tatoeba evolves technically and depending on the situation, here a non exhaustive list of the possible sanctions:

  1. You may lose your right to post comments on sentences for a certain period of time.
  2. You may lose your right to post messages on the Wall for a certain period of time.
  3. You may lose your right to add new sentences for a certain period of time.
  4. You may lose your right to tag sentences for a certain period of time.
  5. Your profile description may be hidden from everyone else for a certain period of time.

The exact sanction and the period of time of the sanction will be decided specifically for each case. And as I said, the list is not exhaustive. You may receive another sanction than the one mentioned above.

A few considerations

Tatoeba currently doesn’t provide the possibility to edit comments, which makes it difficult to take care of messages where only one sentences is offensive but the rest is fine. It’s not very practical, but if you have offended someone and only need to remove that one sentence, you will have to send a message to TatoebaPeaceKeeper and indicate what you want your edited message to be. Or, you can join the dev team and code that feature.

Tatoeba currently doesn’t provide any kind of “ignore” feature, which makes it difficult for people who cannot stand each other to simply ignore each other. Well, you will have to leave without that luxury for now. Or, you can join the dev team and code that feature.

Tatoeba currently doesn’t have any internal mechanism to stop a flaming war before it’s too late (i.e. by preventing everyone to post a reply to a provocative comment with even more provocation). So what we will do is that we will list disrespectful comments on the TatoebaPeaceKeeper profile page, under the category “Dangerous territory”. If you’re going to reply to a comment that is under this category, make sure you are as neutral as possible. Or, you can join the dev team and code a feature for that.

Tatoeba currently doesn’t have any official “peace keeper” who monitors the activity every single second of the day and night, and take actions faster than lightning whenever a conflict is emerging. Which means you cannot expect your issues with other members to be heard and taken care of within the minute (perhaps not even within the week). But, you can always recommend us someone who can take these responsibilities, and convince them to become a peace keeper.

The rules I’ve written are not perfect. If you have better ideas, please suggest them. If not, please follow the rules.

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