Pub/user/woozle/2018/04/05/justice in the fediverse

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I strive to evaluate first in terms of potential harm.
I strive not to decide until I have all the facts.

I'm working towards a redesigned process of justice.

What I've come up with isn't as radically revisioned as what I'd like to do in the long run, but I don't have the tools for that yet.

Traditional justice systems are usually based on hierarchies – something that has harmed many of us and which I believe most of us want to move away from. Justice should empower us all equally. Ideally, a system of justice would rely more on rallying our common sense of empathy[1] to create the authority necessary to exercise power against malicious acts.

To do that, we need tools that let us nurture and empower empathy, and disempower selfishness. We're not there yet.

What we do have now is:

  • a fediverse, with a very simple and fairly short hierarchy: instance admins on the upper layer and regular users on the lower, with relatively minor and variable differences in power on each level, and
  • this wiki, in which I hope we can build a copyable navigation aid for uncertain waters – a reference index, a catalog of findable landmarks.

It has fallen naturally to the instance admins to administer justice – and yet we barely have the seeds of a set of best practices. We've done well crafting our Codes of Conduct to define the responsibilities of our users – but recent events have shown that we need Codes of Justice, to define (and limit) the responsibilities of our admins. Power must be accountable, and must be earned through its use in the service of the disempowered[2] or else it is illegitimate.

A Code of Justice needs to be able to answer certain questions:

  • As a user, how can I seek redress for harm done to me?
  • As an admin —
    • under what circumstances am I enabled to act?
    • under what circumstances do I have some moral obligation to act?
    • what are the limits of the actions I may take?

There are many different reasonable answers to these questions; I'm going to try to set out some for me to follow as admin of toot.cat.

Footnotes

  1. Apparently I now have a Sydney head-squirrel because I'm hearing strenuous objections to the idea that we could ever rely on any such thing, especially not now, and she's really quite skeptical that such a thing really exists in the first place, so the idea of depending on it for our safety is really kind of hecking scary. I'm... not ignoring her, but deferring that discussion for a later time; my statement was speculative and I agree we're not ready to go there yet.
  2. This is essentially why we penalize instances that enable right-wing propaganda: they are failing in their service to the disempowered. They fail to protect the weak from the strength of induced collective hostility.