Gather Together To any and all who care, A gathering is hereby called To bring order to the SciForums Open Government Through the establishment of Certain ground rules Intended to preserve the utility and Augment the function of This most promising endeavor in Intellectual self-regulation. The initial Ban Wars which have thus far dominated the advent of the SciForums Open Government endeavor suggest strongly the hazards of investing the responsibilities of order in the governed. Upon what basis do we request action against other members? To a large degree at present, it is purely personal interpretations and determinations. The problem with anarchy insofar as there being a lack of rules is that it cannot run successfully on self-interest. Each member of the interaction must necessarily understand and consent to certain principles agreed upon as objective, else any anarchic human association will fail. This is, in the philosophical consideration, the undercurrent of the U.S. Constitution and its predecessor, the Articles of Confederation. Consent of the governed, a European seed germinated on the American continent, necessarily implies sacrifice of liberty. Consider the legendary battles of the Hatfields and McCoys. More recently, gun battles in the streets of Waco between rival factions of the Branch Davidian.° In theory, these disputes are illegal because, in the consent of the governed, people give over a presumed natural right that includes clan warfare in order to place their trust in a larger social cooperative endeavor. For most, killing one another over a hog, or spraying bullets at a rival preacher, is enough to make it illegal. Of course, this is all theoretic. For once, these generations present at Sciforums are presented an opportunity to actually consent to a system of participatory government, as opposed to being born into one. I propose that we seize this opportunity enthusiastically. And while people have indeed seized the opportunity enthusiastically, they have also done so truculently, without the trust that can lead toward an open system for the governed to consent to. So gather together, and let us see what we can find. A few broad issues we might consider: • Ban votes: Without any rules to guide the process, the ban-voting process can amount to petty politics and popularity tests. • Ban lifts: Without any rules to guide the process, those who ask Porfiry to lift a ban have no comparative basis upon which to build an argument, and thus are left alternately merely whining and cajoling. • Trolls: For a word as oft-abused as terrorist, we might as well argue over our official Sciforums definition of a troll. • Spam: In the end, this will probably be the easisest idea to find agreement on. • Provocateurs: These people are often lumped in when troll is issued in the heat of argument. They simply go through whatever topics they find, seeking to start silly and distracting fights. Their sum effect makes talk radio sound intelligent. • Hate/Bigotry: While it is a person's right to hold whatever opinions they wish, there have been topics in the past which were merely copy & pasted anti-something propaganda website. What is the line between a hater's right to free expression and the obligation of the hater to avoid creating deliberately inflammatory posts? Even without intellectual-property issues--e.g. copy & paste of articles from other websites without author credit--how much deliberate boat-rocking and superficial hatred must we put up with? • Ad hominem: The ever-present fallacy of ad hominem seems to have troubled many posters throughout time. While abused considerably less than troll, we may wish a discussion of ad hominem. These among others, we might wish to discuss. I'm giving some thought to a discussion of provocateurs, as they are useless and oft-regarded as a form of troll. They tend to distract topics and set the stage for some of our more vitriolic exchanges. But it's time for people to give the SFOG endeavor some serious thought. We have no conventional definitions whatsoever of what constitutes an offense. And if we leave the basis of SFOG to our sensibilities--well, people tend to dislike sensibilities, their own as well as others'. SFOG should not be the Jerry Springer Show, or Griffith's parody of a negro state house. (Okay, Griffith didn't think of it as a parody, but still ....) SFOG is a tool to enhance our experience at Sciforums, and if we trust ourselves enough, our own lives. Reach out, form the clay, fire it. Sciforums posters are, in their own right, exercising their arts. We ought to make them worth as much as possible. Notes: ° Branch Davidian - The infamous David Koresh took control of Branch Davidian after a shootout with George Roden, the former leader, in November, 1987.