SoylentNews Site Policy

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Revision as of 15:10, 30 July 2014 by Janrinok (talk | contribs) (Control of SPAM)

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SoylentNews Policy - DRAFT

Notes - Usage of 'he, his' etc. Any usage of the words he or his must be assumed to apply equally to members of either sex i.e. can be replaced with 'she, her' as appropriate.



We incorporated SoylentNews PBC on July 4th 2014. It's run by the Board of Directors comprised of a few of our staff that handle all the legal and business items. The rest of the operation is completely in the hands of the community of volunteers and staff (of which you are now a part). Along with the benefits of an email address [any other benefits? (-mrcoolbp) - no subscription fees - see below (-janrinok)], comes the responsibility to uphold what this organization stands for.

SoylentNews Mission

We will be the best site for independent, not-for-profit journalism on the internet, where ideas can be presented and free discussion can take place without external needs overshadowing the community.

Except as required by law, no one will be banned or have their comments deleted due to stating a fact or opinion, no matter how unpopular or repugnant it is. We will not ban or silence a user for merely stating an opinion.

The right of our community to criticize, make suggestions, and help us improve our site will be respected. No staff or team leader will ever be above criticism.

We recognize that mistakes will be made, as we are all human. It is both the right and privilege of others to correct us when needed.

If serious errors are made, we promise to revert them and fix the problems.

Non-Discrimination Statement

SoylentNews shall not discriminate by gender, ability, religion, creed, race or belief; all are welcome to join the site and contribute either as members of the community or by serving as staff.


Lots of the work being done on SoylentNews is done by informal volunteers (story-submissions, suggestions, artwork, bug-hunting, etc.). Since you've been granted privileges on one or more of our systems, you are now considered part of the staff. In order to keep this project moving in the direction outlined in our [manifesto/vision], this document has been created to guide our actions.


The Board

The SoylentNews_PBC_Board_of_Directors has the legal, financial and governance responsibility for the Corporation. With a goal of conducting meetings that are effective and efficient, meetings are run according to the guidelines stated in Board Meetings - Rules of Order.

Management Group

The day-to-day management of the site is conducted below Board level by the Management Group.

The staff comprises of various Teams, each with a specific function or range of functions. Each Team is led by a Team Leader (TL) and, together, the TLs are known as the Management Group (MG). The MG has shared responsibility for the routine operation of the site and for providing guidance through each Team Leader to all staff to ensure that they are contributing in a coordinated manner to the maintenance, support, and production of a high quality site.

Current TLs, and therefore the members of the MG, are shown in the wiki on page WhosWho

Team Leaders

TLs are in charge of guiding their teams. Some responsibilities rest comfortably within a single team, but other responsibilities e.g. security, combating SPAM, rogue comments in discussions etc, require the cooperation and coordination of 2 or more teams. TLs are responsible for deciding how the cooperation and coordination will take place, but the actual execution can be carried out by team members i.e. this responsibility does not place an undue additional burden upon TLs but permits the task to be carried out between appropriate members of the staff.

Team Policy Documents

Each Team has its own Policy Document to provide guidance for the day-to-day running of that team. The team documents can be found here:

Subscription Fees

Community Fees

The Board may choose to offer a subscription membership fee to some or all members of the SoylentNews community. Nevertheless, non-payment of the subscription fee will not prevent access to the site; the intention is to enable the site to be viewed by as many people as possible and to encourage them to submit stories for publication and to comment on the stories that have already been accepted and released.

Waiving of Subscription Fees

Once an individual has served as a staff member for (immediately, x weeks, y months?) he is no longer required to pay subscription fees to enjoy all the privileges of site membership. This privilege will remain for the period of their service on the staff, plus a discretionary extension of a maximum of 1 year from the individual leaving the staff. The actual duration will be decided by the MG.

Occasionally, the MG might recommend to the Board that an individual be granted lifetime site membership in recognition of a significant period of service, or being a prominent figure from any relevant field of technology or related interests, or some other act deserving of special recognition. The Board can accept or reject such recommendations as they deem fit.

Site Control and Security

Access to Personal Data

No personal data held by the site will be shared, sold or otherwise distributed outside of the site with the exception of demands supported by the appropriate legal documentation served upon the Board.

Personal data shall be held by the site for the minimum time necessary, and efforts should be made to anonymize or encrypt such data wherever possible.

Abusive Behaviour

SoylentNews aims to be tolerant of any individual's personal views and will allow them to express their views in the comments of published stories. However, occasionally, individuals will not express their views relating to a story but will employ offensive and/or abusive behaviour towards an individual. This is not in the spirit of the site and a graduated response will be adopted to anyone who employs such behaviour in their comments.

  • The moderation system employed usually results in offensive, abusive or off-topic information being reduced to the lowest viewable priority level such that, to most regular users of the site, it does not even display on their screen. Often, this is sufficient to defuse the situation and the offender departs after a short period of time. However, community members should also be encouraged not to 'feed the trolls' and to avoid responding to any posts by the offender. Staff should adopt a non-confrontational attitude while engaging with community members and the offender in an attempt to cool the situation down.
  • A member of staff should issue a comment in which he politely but firmly requests that the offender stops his offensive/abusive behaviour while explaining that it does nothing to contribute to the site nor does it show the offender in a positive light. However, it is important to try to identify the true cause of the offenders attitude and for the staff member, alone or with the assistance of other members of staff, to try to resolve any genuine issues or grievances that the offender may have.
  • A TL or senior staff member should attempt to engage the offender in a private communication (either IRC/PM, email or whatever) and warn the offender that there could be serious consequences if the offender continues with his current course of action.
  • The MG can agree to ban the offender for a specific period or permanently and take action to do so. There are, of course, technical difficulties associated with effectively banning an individual but a block of his personal IPs for each computer system as and when they are identified might be considered as a reasonable action.

Control of SPAM

SPAM is most often found in story submissions (either as a link in an submission or as the entire contents of a submission) or in the comments to a published story. If the SPAM is simply a link then that link may be deleted by an Editor however, other forms of SPAM should NOT be deleted. A SuperAdmin (which is anyone on staff who is not an editor) should be informed so that the origin of the material can be identified and action taken to block that particular source of SPAM. The SPAM is deleted only when the procedure to block the SPAM is complete.

Control of Access and Password Policy

TODO - User passwords. Post-breach actions and analysis etc

No-one should be given access privileges above those which are essential for them to complete their role. Additionally, no single individual should have a unique set of privileges because, in the event of some unforeseen circumstance, no other individual will be able to fulfil the same role. TLs should ensure that each task for which his team is responsible is documented and that privileges are assigned to team members as required.

In the event of a member of staff permanently leaving then (WHICH POST?) is responsible for ensuring that access privileges are removed for that individual promptly. Shared passwords known by the individual, where they exist, should also be changed.

Response to Denial Of Service (DOS) Attack

TODO - This might simply be "... is the responsibility of the Systems Team", or may be more detailed by listing actions to be taken by one or more teams.

Miscellaneous Matters - (Temporary Title)


The site is based on Slashcode (Version xyz) which is in the public domain. Wherever possible, commensurate with maintaining site security, any new or updated code originated by SoylentNews will be kept in the public domain and made freely available for downloading by any individual. Links will be maintained on the site to enable the repository of the code to be easily located.