[Ideation][SCP-108] - Ratifying a Code of Conduct and Granting the Moderation Workstream Authority to Enforce Its Provisions

Original draft proposal post in incubation may be found here.

Summary

The intent of this proposal is to define and formally recognize a Code of Conduct that describes a shared set of expectations for the nature of the interaction between all DAO participants. In addition, this proposal also introduces a set of enforcement guidelines used to address violations of the Code of Conduct and delegates to the Moderation Workstream authority to enforce the Code of Conduct as defined.

Abstract

The success of the ShapeShift DAO is directly dependent on the ability of its members to collaborate effectively via online communication channels. To the aim of maximizing productivity at the DAO, it is reasonable to expect that the interactions between community members are of consistently high quality, but what exactly does “high-quality” mean in this context, and who, if anyone at the DAO, has the authority to curate our discussions? Furthermore, what actions may that trusted party take in situations where some violation of the understood standard of interaction is believed to have occurred? Without clear definitions for the above proposed and agreed upon by the community, no such action can definitely be taken, and concerns about potential detriments to organizational productivity as a result of unclearly defined community expectations are reasonable. To address these concerns, this proposal is introduced with the aim of establishing a formally-defined Code of Conduct, a set of enforcement guidelines to fairly address violations of the Code of Conduct, and formally delegating authority to enforce the Code of Conduct to the Moderation Workstream.

Motivation

There currently exists some ambiguity about the role of the Moderation Workstream in resolving conflicts between DAO participants and the actions that the Moderation Workstream may take during the resolution process. SCP-39 established the Moderation Workstream and provided a definition of its mission and success metrics, but is somewhat ambiguous about its intended role in addressing conflicts between community members and does not clearly define a process for doing so. A Forum Code of Conduct was posted previously but has not been formally adopted by the community through governance. Reasonably, DAO participants cannot at the current time be entirely certain about what constitutes a violation of the Code of Conduct, whether the current Code of Conduct may be considered as a binding agreement amongst DAO participants, and whether or not the Moderation Workstream has the authority to enforce the provisions of the Code of Conduct as written.

Specification

The updated Code of Conduct may be found here.

Benefits

Ratifying a code of conduct will provide an objective set of standards that may be used to evaluate the appropriateness of discourse at the DAO. Publishing a document that can be referenced by all which explains in clear language the set of mutual expectations between community members allows all DAO participants to properly orient themselves prior to interacting with the community and for conflicts that may arise between community members to be formally and fairly adjudicated. With the terms defined in the Code of Conduct requiring buy-in from the community through governance, it can reasonably be expected that mutual adherence to the defined terms will ensure that the portion of experience at the DAO related to interaction with other community members will be of consistently high quality. The enforcement policy defined above contains a multi-stage process for addressing violations of the Code of Conduct, which if properly interpreted, ensures that content or DAO participants are only removed in cases where repeated violations have occurred and fair warning has been given by the Moderation Workstream ahead of time.

Drawbacks

The Code of Conduct defined above depends fundamentally on a shared understanding of subjective terms such as “conduct which could reasonably be considered inappropriate” or “unacceptable behavior.” It is stated as part of this proposal that the responsibility to enforce the Code of Conduct is delegated exclusively to the Moderation Workstream. It is therefore critical that the DAO be able to trust the judgment of a small number of individuals granted authority to enforce the Code above, and that enforcement of the Code of Conduct is carried out appropriately and equally. On the one hand, should the Moderation Workstream be insufficiently attentive to violations of the Code of Conduct, the social/professional environment at the DAO may degrade and as a result become unattractive to both current and future contributors. On the other hand, should the Moderation Workstream be overly aggressive in its application of the enforcement guidelines outlined above, should its understanding of the subjective terms defined in the Code of Conduct depart significantly from that held by the DAO participants in majority, or should it fail to apply the enforcement guidelines to all DAO members fairly and equally, then the DAO incurs a risk of creating an environment that is intolerant to strong differences in opinion, centralizing influence on the governance process, and undermining the power of collective decision-making through free and open public discourse. This is particularly relevant when considering the expressions of dissenting opinions about ideas or individuals at the DAO, which will necessarily be negative in nature.