STF

Discussion: Role of Assistant Election Coordinator

Posted Jan. 6, 2021, 9:11 a.m. by Admiral Joe P (Librarian / TECH Chairman / VCmdt) (Joe P)

Posted by Fleet Captain Adam W. (EGO) in Discussion: Role of Assistant Election Coordinator

Posted by Rear Admiral Calé Reilly (STF Surgeon General / FComm, Foremost Fleet / EGO) in Discussion: Role of Assistant Election Coordinator

Posted by Admiral Joe P (Librarian / TECH Chairman / VCmdt) in Discussion: Role of Assistant Election Coordinator
Posted by… suppressed (4) by the Post Ghost! 👻

I want to focus on this exchange with Cale in particular because… while I think she was well intentioned here, this anonymous complaint thing is mistake we really ought to never repeat because it ended up making the entire election much worse.

I’m sorry to put you in an awkward position here Cale, but I really think we need to talk about this publicly.

SNIP

Just a note about this “anonymous” complaint part, which I didn’t include in the previous post and wasn’t going to comment on until you brought it up…

You are correct that anonymous complaints are not supposed to be entertained. The reason for that is, like in real life, people who stand accused of some wrongdoing are entitled to know who their accuser is and what the exact accusation is, so that they can respond to it.

I’m just going to respond here and state that actually the clube rule on this and the election rule on this are slightly different. Historically that may have been the case all anonymous complaints etc but historically a lot of things happened that we no longer do so I’m going to just state that as far as the election rules currently go as per those outlined at the start of the last election and displayed during it on the MOTD anonymous complaints can be investigated by the election coordinator at that election coordinators discretion.

So… I just looked at what was on the MOTD using Admin Magic, and this is what it said:

  • Anonymous complaints will be not be acted on by the Election Coordinator.
  • I don’t know how to explain that discrepancy between what you remember it saying and what it actually said at the time, but I am pointing out that it is a discrepancy that existed, so would assume most of the club had no idea that you were going to entertain anonymous complaints, which kind of creates regime uncertainty. Regime uncertainty is bad because it makes it hard for people to know how they should act.

    Given that as the election coordinator in question on this matter I had multiple people telling me they were uncomfortable being involved and often multiple complaints and comments from members regarding specific questions and yes even those used Historically in previous elections I chose to use the discretion to then speak to this explained about and to act to resolve the situation with as little punitive measures as was possible so that they would be able to maintain their questions or their points as much as possible.

    Well, okay, then I have to report that the result of “resolving” things in this unprecedented way, was to essentially create a chilling effect that discouraged more positive discourse that could have taken place instead.

    I decided to limit my participation in the election at one point because, due to this idea of fielding anonymous complaints, you basically were being used to harass me for asking questions that were totally normal. Let’s also remember that this sort of formally-blessed harassment was taking place within the context of one ticket in particular essentially using their campaign to argue explicitly that I and people like me (you know, people whose first names are “Admiral”… which we only have two of) were the source of all of the club’s problems and that entirely new disciplinary bodies needed to be created to ban us from this place for doing things that nobody can clearly explain as being worth banning people for under the current Terms of Service or any other existing rule. You never said that this ticket was the source of the complaint, but the natural assumption that one would make is that only a ticket would complain that a question being about potentially restructuring some part of the club as an exercise was some kind of “trap.” That might not be a correct or fair assumption, but that is the natural assumption. Because candidates already have an essentially unlimited platform to say anything they want compared to what members can say during an election, the impression is created that one special group of people gets to behave in absolutely any way that they want and the rest of us just have to act polite and pretend it’s not going on.

    I don’t know how other people who were also subjected to this treatment felt; I won’t claim to speak for anybody other than myself. I do know that I am a vastly more stubborn and thick-skinned person than most people are, so if I found this to be an experience that was highly dispiriting, then I imagine other people probably felt worse. But, maybe not; there aren’t actually that many people named “Admiral” (again, exactly two in the club right now, exactly four total in the past decade) having all of the secret fun we keep away from the rest of you, so maybe you all think that nothing that was being talked about applies to you at all, therefore you didn’t take it personally, and it didn’t occur to you that it might be bad to have public scapegoating of an entire group of members for all of the club’s problems.

    (Pro-Tip: For those of you who haven’t gotten it yet, there is no “secret fun” that Admirals keep to themselves. There’s actually nothing fun about being an “Admiral” on the Internet at all. At least if you are a “Rear Admiral” or a “Vice Admiral” on the Internet, you can do some fun wordplay in Discord around that.)

    There are at least two other things you could have done here differently that would have been both precedented and would have had a greater chance of leading to a better outcome:

    1. Since the question that I was asking didn’t actually break any rules, you could have just told the complainant “This question does not violate any rules, but candidates are under no obligation to answer any questions.” That would have lead to the same result on the boards (because I’m pretty sure I didn’t get an answer; I don’t remember), but at least I wouldn’t have been left with a new issue that I had no recourse to resolve, and really wouldn’t have thought anything of it after another week.

    2. You could have acted very formally and told everyone who was complained about exactly who complained, exactly what the complaint was, exactly why you were asking the questions you were asking, and making everything that you found and the reasons you found it extremely transparent to those of us involved, with an explicitly articulated decision at the end of it transmitted to both parties to the complaint. That would require a lot more work, even to the point where it would probably be costly in terms of time spent, but it would have made issuing complaints more costly for the complaintants as well, which would have resulted in fewer frivolous, harassing complaints. It also would have created clear end points for whatever the disputes were, so at least in my own case, I wouldn’t still be bothered by it months later. And you know… maybe if I knew who it was who complained, maybe I would have been able to go have a discussion with that person directly about whatever their misunderstanding about my intent was, and maybe we could have cleared that up ourselves amicably like adults, and the question could have been answered, and then we could have a discussion on the Election Ship about how the club actually works or doesn’t work, rather than what we ended up with.

    So, I have no idea why the people who complained to you felt uncomfortable, felt that way. I don’t know because I don’t know who they are, or really what their problems actually are. I do know that nobody ran a campaign arguing that those people ought to be banned by a new committee because they are the source of all of the club’s problems… so please forgive me if I find the claim that they felt uncomfortable to be ludicrous and Kafkaesque.

    In this last election in particular, I was denied that right; I was only told that someone complained about a particular question that I asked, and I had to defend my decision to ask it. It so happened that the question that was complained about was one that Larry Garfield had a habit of asking every single candidate every single year, so doing that was rather easy. What was not easy was, to this day, I don’t even know who complained about it or why anybody would, because that information was deliberately withheld by the Election Coordinator, for reasons that I can only guess at. I didn’t care enough about it at the time to press the issue, especially because it was transparently obvious that there were some people complaining about absolutely everything just because they could, so I didn’t want to add to that unpleasant mess. But since we’re having a conversation about process and roles, I would argue this kind of end result should not be the kind the process aims to achieve, regardless of whether a “judge” metaphor is used or not.

    The problem Joe is describing sounds like a problem from what I’ve been able to tell and it would be great to make an improvement. I have some concern that those who have been choosing to be petty may continue to be just as petty and making complaints public could lead to retaliation. I’m not convinced we’ll see a positive result overall, but I’d be open to trying it. If there are ways that might make being the Election Coordinator more pleasant, then we should explore them.

    Adam W.

    I think if the retaliation is expressed in the ballot box, then it’s totally fine if people retaliate.

    We also used to have the concept of an election penalty if people engage in obnoxious behavior, e.g. they’d be barred from voting, or the ticket they supported would have votes subtracted if the ticket knew or encouraged the bad behavior. Maybe mechanisms like that need to be brought back to prevent less appropriate forms of retaliation.

    Joe

    I’ve taken a stab at updating some of the language based on the idea that the EC’s job will be easier if everything is transparent and they won’t need an AEC actually helping then: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1GTESJ0_OfPk6i_b33gK2ThReK5kHqVvk0V6Na_3BMdM/edit?usp=sharing. Feel free to add comments in the document or here.

    There are a few other aspects here based on notes that I’ve gotten from Cale that you’re welcome to provide feedback on now or we can discuss separately so as to not confuse things. :)

    Sarah
    President

    I’ve commented in the doc. I think it would be appropriate to have the discussion in Command for the changes of substance. Some of these changes could be fairly significant and people may have a lot to say about some of them.

    Adam W.

    Thank you, Adam. It can be a bit difficult to keep a lot of changes straight without the lovely track changes feature, but I think that at least our discourse in the document comments has given us a starting point. I’d love some feedback from other people too, but otherwise, I’ll try to break things into discussion points over the next week or so.

    Sarah
    President

    I also think it is a mistake to instead of giving the Assistant election coordinator more of a role to actually establish them as only being an emergency line and nothing more because I maintain having someone else in the unique position that the EC is in to discuss things with is actually a good thing for this role and I think that by removing it entirely you actually hamper the role rather that assist with making it better.

    Cale

    I’m now thinking we maybe need to redefine the EC before redefining the AEC, possibly by having a larger conversation on everything that’s broken about elections, because if our social expectations are going to be that every problem someone has needs to be settled by complaining to the EC, and there’s no limits baked into the cake on what the EC can do about them, complaints to the EC are never going to stop, and we’re going to just keep adding more people to the EC role to keep dealing with increased volume of complaints.

    Joe

    Both Adam and Joe, and whoever else may feel similarly impacted. I am genuinely sorry. I tried my best to do what I thought best in the circumstances and dealt with what I could to the best of my abilities. I’m glad that months later with hindsight we can clearly see this was not the best course of action I could have taken and I am sorry if in my role I harmed anyone or upset anyone.

    Calé

    I don’t think I need to be apologized to actually. When I stated that as far as I can tell the problem Joe is describing sounds like it is a problem, I was making a general reference to petty election complaints. Joe brought up a specific example later that I was not commenting on. Perhaps more recent posts made it sound like my older posts were stating something other than I tried to state.

    Adam W.

    Probably because I replied inline. I apologize for any confusion I might have created there.

    I don’t really need to be apologized to either Cale; I know you were well intentioned and were doing your best with a difficult situation. Making sure we never create this sort of litigious atmosphere is all the apology I need from you.

    Joe


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