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AT some point - "assume good intent" was removed from the CoC.

It's a key pillar of the social contract and how we choose to deal with each other. It belongs in the Code of Conduct.

PLEASE add this back.

It's been brought up that I asked for this in the feedback for a previous revision of the CoC as well. Since I was clearly so much more articulate and energetic then - for your consideration.

Or alternatively Presume good intent, as Gilles brought up in the comments.

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    While I love this post came here to write this very same thing I also wonder if its totally futile. SE seems to have stopped listening to users as evident by the fact that they just put the new CoC "into production" with no community input. A far cry even from where we used to be – David says Reinstate Monica Oct 11 at 1:13
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    Although “assume good faith” is traditional, Ben Kovitz makes a good point that “presume good faith” would be more accurate. – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Oct 11 at 7:29
  • "AT some point" when did this happen? With this new edition of the CoC, or with a previous edition? Was in the 2014-10-14 version – Raedwald Oct 11 at 12:11
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    Apparently the 2018 version. I was surprised too! – Journeyman Geek Oct 11 at 12:14
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  • In practice, assuming good intent means to interpret the other person's words and actions in the best possible light. Many people are unwilling to do that. – Ben Nov 14 at 18:23

13 Answers 13

189

This was always the most beautiful part of what we've been trying to build here for the past decade or more. It reminded us to always try for a charitable interpretation and not jump to conclusions. It helped us put things in perspective and talk to people instead of just branding them as evil.

Please put it back. This is the single most effective way of ensuring an inclusive environment: assume good faith! It's simple, catchy and a principle we should all live by in our everyday lives.

The world entire, let alone SE, would be a better place if we all remembered to assume good faith. Removing this from the CoC can only make things worse.

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    They really are words to live by. Even if I often forget, they come to me eventually, internally or externally. – anongoodnurse Oct 11 at 0:47
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    Sadly, "assuming good faith" is entirely incompatible with "if you use the generic 'he' you are being deliberately offensive." – Wildcard Oct 11 at 19:39
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    Nah, leave it off the CoC. They clearly know that they're making it impossible for users to assume good intent on SE's part, and nobody wants to turn the entire user base into CoC violators. – Mehrdad Oct 12 at 1:02
  • @Mehrdad Unless you understand how to use (pick a martial art) the opponent's energy against them. ;-) – KorvinStarmast Oct 23 at 1:01
  • Yes. This is what this - let's call it a community - is about. But; it seems to have changed, which is why I am staying away, except for checking meta, to see if they've mended it yet. – RedSonja Nov 8 at 12:09
176

Yes, we should put "assume good intentions" back. To give some background, I quote from Gilles's excellent answer about the changes to the policy:

The old “be nice” policy told us to

Be welcoming, be patient, and assume good intentions.

This was an instance of the “assume good faith” guideline that many inclusive communities live by. The new code of conduct tells us to

be patient and welcoming

but “assume good faith” has disappeared. We are increasingly encouraged to take offense, whether offense was meant or not. Today's change additionally tells us

don’t use language that might offend or alienate

You're guilty even if you did not mean any offense. You're guilty even if nobody takes offense! You're guilty if someone might take offense.

61

Do not be quick to take offense...
Ecclesiastes 7:9

Also, do not take to heart every word that people say...
Ecclesiastes 7:21

My interpretation of this ancient advice is that we should assume good intentions. I agree with this advice and agree that it should be added back to the CoC.

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    As an atheist, I usually quote biblical references myself. I find their wisdom effective, at least when taken in isolation. Have an upvote. – Marc.2377 Oct 23 at 7:20
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    +1 and might I add "That which does not destroy me, serves to make me stronger" -Nietzsche ......I've been called every name in the book over the years. You can never stop people from offering offence, but you can always chose not to take it. – Richard says Reinstate Monica Nov 12 at 18:01
57
+100

I not only want to echo the sentiments of those who want this phrasing restored, but I would also like to elevate Ben Kovitz's comment on a different post:

@KateGregory Properly it should be "Presume good faith", i.e. assume it until demonstrated otherwise. You are quite right that trolls abuse the assumption of good faith—and they should be run out of town precisely because trust and good faith are so essential to community. – Ben Kovitz 9 hours ago

I'd also point out a Lexico post about the differences between assume and presume. I concur with the idea that we should "presume good faith" - I believe it to be true that most people will act in good faith. If you take a random sampling of the world, the probability will be that a person won't be a troll or other malicious actor and therefore we should treat them as such until there is evidence otherwise.

Also, if I was going to put it somewhere, I'd put it right in the "Our Expectations" box:

Presume good faith.

Don't jump to conclusions about other people. Mistakes happen and can often be corrected with reminders.

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    I have awarded my bounty to this answer, because it addresses the concerns about trolls who abuse the assumption of good faith. Any sufficiently large community has its trolls. And by their very nature, they'll find something to troll with. That must not stop us from having something beautiful. Instead, we must protect the beautiful thing (the assumption of good faith), by dealing with trolls appropriately. – S.L. Barth - Reinstate Monica Nov 14 at 19:07
38

Stack Exchange is long past "good intent". It seems clear that the company is refusing to accept that they did anything wrong by retweeting this.

35

Morality/Thought/Speech/Grammar Policing

The new CoC specifically has a police the community and report them, Q4: What should I do if I see someone using the wrong pronouns? as a goal.

Why would you think that they would put assume good intent into something that specifically promotes Night Watch mentality.

Nightwatch was established to recruit ordinary citizens, including local law enforcement, and encourage them to uncover and report on what were perceived to be "subversive" activities. Nightwatch began by offering extra credits to various people to be their eyes and ears.

It is only time before reporting CoC violations earns you badges or even rep.

  • I have to upvote this answer to highlight the fact, sadly, this answer might point out something that might happen. After all it is incredibly difficult, to write an answer that is helpful, right? – Ramhound Oct 11 at 18:58
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    There are badges for flagging now. Essentially all flagging is "reporting CoC violations." When someone posts a "question" that is trying to sell love spells, when an "answer" is nothing more than abuse to the user who posted the question, when a comment is a joke that hurts others, we flag. (Yes, we also flag for things that are not violations, like "should be closed" when you don't have close votes yet, "not an answer" for a question posted as an answer, etc.) Nobody thinks this is a terrible police state thing. We think that's how flagging works. – Kate Gregory Oct 12 at 19:00
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    For a second I thought this had something to do with Ankh-Morpork and got terribly confused. – Mena Oct 16 at 14:56
20

I couldn't agree more. We need this.

A barrel full of pure AGF

And while we're at it, please also put back friendliness and kindness that have been stripped out of the new CoC. The terms are used and explained in the lower sections, they should stay in the summary on top. In contrast, nobody really knows what "being inclusive" means, it's just as unclear as "welcoming". Let's just say

Be kind, friendly and respectful.

18

Recently I was at a talk where the speaker, who was confident and funny, made a tiny little aside, just a few words long, that suggested, well let's say it was members of a particular profession or people who used a particular programming language or people who lived in a particular place, were somehow less than "us". It was nothing big, nothing to object to, the talk went on.

Then a few sentences later, the same comment, but this time a little bigger, a little more detailed, embroidered, harder to miss. A recurring joke, but now with more sting. Someone DMed me "those kinds of jokes are not ok." While I was agreeing with the DM, an even stronger version of the joke, really obvious and cringey now. And finally a fourth time before the talk was over. Complaints were made.

I've talked with a lot of people since about why I didn't Do Something at the first joke. Put up my hand and say "I don't think we need that, do we?" But you see, the first joke was really mild. If you correct someone when they've done something really mild, you're a snowflake who is just looking for offense and can't you just assume people mean well? If you let it go, for some people that is all they were going to say and that's an end to it. But for some people, they are emboldened - they hear the laughter, everything is going well, so they turn it up a little. And if you step in now you're still going to have people tell you that you're too sensitive. If you leave it until they say something that is clearly outrageous and upsetting, well now people are fine with you taking action but the people who would be hurt by it have been hurt. You didn't protect them.

Which brings me to this whole assume or presume good faith thing. It is one strategy a community can use when setting up codes of conduct and similar Rules. It's important in an international community like ours to understand that some people may be working in their second (or 5th) language, may live in a place with different attitudes to gender and to inclusiveness, may be operating under constraints we don't know about. That's true. It doesn't mean it's ok for them to do things against the CoC though. It just means they should be corrected rather than punished. For example, a post that misgenders someone should be edited -- whether it did so knowingly or not. You can't leave it uncorrected just because the poster didn't mean to offend, didn't know any better, doesn't have pronouns like that in their first language, or even doesn't believe that someone's gender is what they say it is. (And note, comments are only editable by mods, or the OP for 5 minutes, and typically it is comments that mention one user to another: "Did you try Kate's suggestion? He's usually right" sort of thing.) When a CoC violation can just be edited out, that's what should happen. Any issue of intent is irrelevant.

But of course not all CoC violations are honest mistakes. The internet is full of people wringing their hands about decent, honest, hard working folk who accidentally offend a snowflake and suffer terrible retribution. I care far more about decent, honest, hardworking folks who wanted to understand their error message but instead got a dose of exclusion, othering, or unwanted religious advice. We're so busy pretending that it's fine to be cruel to people as long as you didn't do it on purpose or didn't know any better, that we forget what happens to people who read this stuff. Where is the good intent for them? We're having giant debates all over meta where apparently it's now cool to explain how your religion says you can't recognize trans people as who they are because that would mean God made a mistake. Why are we doing that? How is that making the internet better?

And then there are the trolls. Trolls love places that tell us all to assume or presume good faith and intent. They love riding the very edge of appearing polite while actually being cruel as can be. They're "just asking". They imply that people's pain is nonexistent or unimportant or both. They demand proof over and over. They keep saying things like "don't you want to learn from people who disagree with you?" and "surely we're all here to grow and learn" and "but you have to respect my beliefs if you want me to respect your beliefs" and all kinds of polite and reasonable sounding things. Sandwiched in with "but we all know women just don't like programming the way men do" or "you can't force me to say God is wrong" or "marriage should only be between a man and a woman" or just misgendering someone on purpose to be mean.

It sounds great, lets assume the best of people and not be quick to take offense. Let's give people a break and look past their words to what they said and all work together to understand this error message. It sounds great. But in practice it means that people who feel hurt and excluded, who feel that every day someone tells them they don't belong in their profession, are told to "suck it up" and "look past that" because surely the person didn't mean to offend you. Well who cares? They did. Do something about it. Edit the "mistake" or the deliberate cruelty away, show the person "you do belong here and we won't let people talk to you like that." Stand up for people who are being hurt instead of for people who are hurting, whether accidentally or on purpose. (You don't have to punish those who are hurting people, just stop leaving their stuff there because they didn't know any better.) Quit defending offensive material because it was probably done in good faith.

Here's an article that goes into more detail on why assuming good intent can actually work against inclusion. Some quotes I found relevant:

people telling you to ‘assume good intent’ sounds like they’re really telling you to shut up. That your feelings about getting stomped on all the time don’t matter. That no matter how sore your foot is, how much money you’ve spent replacing ruined shoes, how many times you’ve limped on broken toes, you still have a responsibility to worry about the feelings of the people who are hurting you.

...

Addressing incidents as if they’re simple conflicts between the parties involved sets up a false equivalence between dealing with discrimination and dealing with the momentary discomfort of being told you hurt someone.

...

Telling people to ‘assume good intent’ is telling them that no matter how badly they hurt, they still need to smile and be nice so the person who hurt them won’t feel blamed. This creates a double standard. Alicia must assume good intent from Fred, even if he stepped on her foot because he was helping himself to her personal space in a way he would never do to another man. But when Alicia reacts out of shock, anger, and pain, the ‘assume good intent’ rule allows Fred to cast that as something Alicia has done at him, rather than seeing it as a very normal human response to being hurt.

It is a good article and if you haven't been actively working on inclusion issues recently, it's possible you will learn a great deal from reading it. It is very difficult for people who are not constantly being poked, prodded, corrected, neglected, and pushed aside to understand what life is like for those who are. Like all kinds of privilege, setting it aside to empathize with those who have had specific hardships is difficult. I think it's worth doing. As long as we keep saying "he didn't mean it" and wringing our hands about poor innocent people who didn't mean to offend, and hypothetically what if someone got banned for an honest mistake, we are ignoring the people who really got hurt (again) and who left and who also were innocent but apparently should just suck it up and not complain (or be super super polite and gentle when complaining, making sure to protect and care for the poor innocent user who has just hurt them, on purpose or not) then we are continuing to enable people to be poked, prodded, corrected, neglected, and pushed aside and what's more, we're saying we don't really mind as long as it's not deliberate, malicious, and repeated. I don't want to say that.

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    I think there is a disconnect here. Assuming good faith does not mean (to me at least, please correct if there is some other definition) we can not correct mistakes. It does not mean we always assume people are good even if its their 15th troll attempt. It doesn't mean we have to take obvious crap. It just means we don't whip out the ban hammer the first time we see something we take offense to (unless its something really bad). I want to restate a question from my previous question: If we do not assume good intent, what is our default stance? Do we assume bad intent? – David says Reinstate Monica Oct 11 at 14:36
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    When I complain about small things (in case they are the first step in an escalation) I am often told not to look for offense, to ignore it, and so on. It is not corrected either. Generally the reason I am supposed to let it slide is because "the person didn't mean it" is taken as the default until there is very strong proof otherwise. I argue that "the person didn't mean it" is a good argument against punishment, but not against fixing it and not against telling the person it is wrong. These paeans to a love filled past where we all got along and no-one looked for offense are wrong. – Kate Gregory Oct 11 at 14:46
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    I suppose there is our disconnect reiterated. As I mentioned, I don't believe assume good faith precludes fixing. If you see something wrong you should be free to raise it as an issue, and if people agree it should be fixed. – David says Reinstate Monica Oct 11 at 14:50
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    "When a CoC violation can just be edited out, that's what should happen. Any issue of intent is irrelevant." Absolutely! All we're saying here is that we shouldn't immediately presume bad intent. That does not mean excusing anything, it just means that our first recourse to anything objectionable should be an attempt to educate and not to chastise. It doesn't mean minor things should be ignored, only that we shouldn't immediately jump to the least charitable interpretation of a comment. Trust, but verify, in essence. – terdon - stop harming Monica Oct 12 at 18:15
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    @terdon I am not surprised that is what you're saying. But it isn't what a lot of people are saying and have said. I have first hand experience with "assume good intent" being 1:1 translated to "don't complain; they probably had no intention to hurt you" and the content stays, in some cases if the complaint is hotly worded the complaint goes. If anyone considers putting "assume good intent" back into a CoC they need to be really clear that good intent doesn't make offensive content inoffensive, and there is not an expectation of "letting stuff go" on those who it hurts. – Kate Gregory Oct 12 at 19:07
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    THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU I cannot thank you enough. Eloquently put and perfectly articulating what happens over and over in polite society - which can lead to death by 1000 paper cuts or in places like Ethiopia - plane slaying of your neighbour if the social and political climate is ripe. – Nobody Oct 17 at 13:11
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    @KateGregory if only the first joke had been made, and it had not been escalated, would there have been a need to correct it? Would it have been appropriate to stand up and loudly interrupt? Only with hindsight it became problematic, and it would be unfair to assume every person who made the first joke would go on to make the last one. – Stop Harming Monica Oct 17 at 13:15
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    @OrangeDog I know. That's why I didn't say anything. But whenever you decide something is over a line and you're going to say something, there will be someone who says you're being too sensitive and looking for offense. And someone else who says "relax, it was just a joke, no-one was trying to hurt anyone" and the content stays. It sounds warm and lovely to say "assume good intent" but it leads to things like meta.stackexchange.com/questions/335701/… -- trolling while claiming to be polite. – Kate Gregory Oct 17 at 13:19
  • @KateGregory Ok, then it's not really clear how the anecdote relates to the conclusion. I came away with the impression you were advocating zero-tolerance for any content that could be perceived as offensive (which taken to its logical conclusion, is all content) – Stop Harming Monica Oct 17 at 13:23
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    @OrangeDog my point is that content doesn't stand alone. You decide based not just on what you're reading but on what came before. And no matter how you decide, someone will say you're being too sensitive. Someone will say you're looking for offense. Someone will say be nice. But leaving offensive stuff around isn't nice. Others have to read it. Punishing people for saying bad stuff is separate from clearing bad stuff away yet many people defend bad stuff and want it left in place because we should assume they meant well. I argue against this. – Kate Gregory Oct 17 at 13:27
  • Excellent post. Let me note an observation about the "trolls" complaint in the next to last paragraph. Can't argue with the negative impact of what people say, but it would be inaccurate to characterize it all as using the opportunity to work in a little hurtful language. People on both sides of the issue minimize and dismiss the other position. It leaves people feeling that they need to explain why the issue is what it is for them. I think most people are looking for ways to interact constructively despite the differences, but people can't appreciate what it means to the other side (cont'd) – fixer1234 Oct 17 at 15:29
  • without understanding the what and why that makes it important. We don't want to dwell on the aspects of the other side that we find offensive, and talking about those can be uncomfortable. But there is still a certain amount of education that's important for understanding. A person making a conscious effort to treat you with respect despite the conflict with their own beliefs is meaningful in its own right. I'm not sure there's an easy, painless solution. Absolutely, there are trolls, but it's not all trolling. – fixer1234 Oct 17 at 15:29
  • Can you suggest a respectable book that goes along the lines or in the direction of the article "with more detail" you linked to? (I don't suggest to change/update your post, it's of personal interest) – LаngLаngС Oct 22 at 16:55
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    @LаngLаngС I'm not really a book person but perhaps someone else can? – Kate Gregory Oct 22 at 16:58
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    @LаngLаngС The article is sponsored by a company that publishes frameshiftconsulting.com/code-of-conduct-book , which might go in that direction. In fact, that's one point that I'd like to criticize about the article: There's an agenda and a business model behind that. (I could go far further with my criticism, starting at the points that 1. nobody has the right to not be offended, and 2. "being offended" is nothing that can objectively be evaluated by a third party, and thus, is no sensible basis for complaints or policies, but... that doesn't have to be reiterated here) – Marco13 yesterday
11

It doesn't belong there because it doesn't (currently) apply. Unfortunately.

A CoC covers all interaction on the sites, including interactions between the company and the users. Good faith is currently not assumed by either side in communications between the company and the community*.

Because the CoC is imposed by the company to the community, requiring that users presume good faith - or else! - would probably be received rather badly.

The solution is to build a CoC in collaboration with the community, then both sides would immediately be on board with a "good faith" clause. If that isn't an option, the company will have to lead by example and first apply the good faith policy to itself before it can demand it from others.


*The community presumes bad intent on the part of SE, mainly (but not exclusively) due to the whole Monica thing. And SE presumes bad intent on the part of the community, as can be seen for example by Sara's tweet where she thanks highly respected and deeply invested power users for leaving in protest of SE's questionable actions.

5

It's a key pillar of the social contract and how we choose to deal with each other. It belongs in the Code of Conduct.

No, it does not. Be kind and respectful is sufficient.

First let's look at this from a "management techniques" point of view. When you define your career or project goals, you learn to follow the SMART criteria. M in there means: measurable. Now, nobody looking at your content can assess whether you "assumed good intentions" when you interact with another user. A moderator can look at your content, and try to neutrally judge whether your words were kind, or at least respectful. He has no idea what you thought about the other user when you wrote your text. So that rule helps nobody who is asked to enforce the rules and practices of the CoC.

And beyond that, also on the "social best practices" point of view: not useful. Seriously.

When you study the zillions of books about self-healing, spirituality, ... there are two things that you will find in any good book:

  • Avoid being judgemental
  • Distance yourself from the "outer" world

Meaning: as soon you start labeling people's intention (based on their content), you are potentially going down the wrong rabbit hole. It doesn't help you to label things "good" or "bad". The only thing that makes sense: to observe the feelings that you come up within yourself, to then determine for example "I find that other person hurtful or ignorant, so I better stop wasting my time here".

Which leads to the second bullet point: there is no point in speculating about others. The only person on this planet you can really know about: that is you. Making assumptions what others meant or felt is sometimes inevitable, but it shouldn't be your standard practice guiding theme!

Sure, when your job includes "explaining human behavior", then it can be necessary to make assumptions, in order to get "arguments". But that isn't what we folks are doing here!

Long story short: don't speculate about other people's intention. If they are "unclear", ask for clarification. If you find the conversation to be exhausting, say why, and consider ending it.

The comments are correct insofar assume good intentions is just a shortcut for "don't assume much, but assume people come in good faith, and are, in general, nice folks, ...". The problem with that: it requires interpretation. People going "what it actually means is ...". Which for me, is again: not a positive thing.

The CoC should be as precise as possible. And I don't see how assume good intentions really helps with that.

  • 7
    I always understood "Presume good intentions" to mean, not "Make big assumptions about people's intentions and presume them to be remarkably good", but "Don't make big assumptions about people's intentions, and if you catch yourself assuming someone's intentions are bad, remember most people are okay and just going about their lives, and it's much more likely there's been a misunderstanding and they're expressing themselves poorly, and much less likely that they're actively malicious". But "Presume good intentions" is much shorter. – user56reinstatemonica8 Nov 8 at 11:07
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    Basically the text-based-communication version of Hanlon's Razor: never attribute to bad intentions what can adequately be explained by the fact that typing on a keyboard lacks all communicative nuance. – user56reinstatemonica8 Nov 8 at 11:08
4

"Assume good intent" and "be nice" should be ALL there is to the code of conduct... Maybe "have fun" too.

The rest will be bureaucracy, bullshit and a slippery slope leading to thought police.

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    Since this is a popular opinion here, I'd be interested in hearing your opinion on what should be done in situations when reasonable people disagree on what "nice" means? – divibisan Oct 22 at 16:45
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    In cases where you think someone is acting on bad intent or just not being nice, you raise a flag and a community-elected mod will intervene accordingly... – justAnotherUser... Oct 22 at 16:51
  • But then if it's purely based on the whims of the mods and different mods have different definitions of "nice", then wouldn't enforcement be totally inconsistent, with some mods giving punishments for things that you consider fine, and other mods ignoring issues that you consider serious? – divibisan Oct 22 at 16:53
  • If the mods disagree on something being nice, or not, the community can discuss it on meta posts... no reasonable mod will punish someone on first strike for something that may be (or not) interpreted as not nice... As long as they assume good intent, which is the other important phrase... – justAnotherUser... Oct 22 at 17:01
  • If we make a set of guidelines to determine what the community considers acceptable, and then use them to guide moderator judgement, then aren't we just back at a CoC, albeit one made by the community on Meta, rather than by SE? – divibisan Oct 22 at 17:04
  • We will eventually converge to a convention on what a good question and what a good answer should look like, based on analysis of past events by the community itself... its a bottom up process that create guidelines and conventions. Opposed to the CoC which is written before the facts and is imposed in a top- down process – justAnotherUser... Oct 22 at 17:05
2

There is something similar in the Code of Conduct right now, and I'm surprised nobody brought it up here (emphasis in original, presumably because the CoC's drafters consider it important enough to highlight):

We take your reports seriously. Those who don’t follow the Code of Conduct in good faith may face repercussions deemed appropriate by our moderation team. This is how moderators generally handle misconduct:

To me, this is better than the prior "assume good intentions" guideline, because it shifts the focus to enforcement rather than a duty of the the entire community. It's in the spirit of Kate Gregory's excellent answer to this question: everyone doesn't need to assume good intentions all the time, and we can take simple actions to correct CoC issues (editing, flagging, comments, etc...) without a whole digression into determining intent first. It keeps the focus on the content, not the users. It doesn't, as one proposal suggests, require we have "enough evidence to suggest that someone may be a bad actor" before flagging something; we just flag when we see a problem. And nobody can use it as a shield to argue that violations should be left up because they were made with good intent.

The point of the policy is that the entire community doesn't need to try to understand someone's intent; we can just get on with the content and leave the question of sorting out a user's intent to the moderators.

But when it comes to actual enforcement actions like warnings and suspensions, the code tells moderators to apply them to those not following the CoC in good faith. Which is also important: people acting in good faith have the leeway to make mistakes and be forgetful, as we all do, without facing repercussions. And moderators, as opposed to the entire community, are in the best position to make the decisions about what is and isn't good faith; they have tools that can help them and those are the difficult decisions we elected them to handle.

Note: if your response to this is some variation of "but they didn't follow that with Monica," then I don't have enough information to truly know whether you're right or wrong, but I do know that your complaint is with the awful process they followed and not the text of the CoC itself, which is the question here.

  • 3
    The difference is in how the moderation team interacts with users when trying to resolve issues vs general interaction – Journeyman Geek Oct 20 at 4:17
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    That's not the same at all. This says that people should follow the spirit of the CoC and not just the letter. It helps to tell rule-lawyering trolls that yes, their trolling is against the rules, since they didn't follow the rules in good faith. It doesn't help when people take offense when no offense was meant and this results in conflict that leaves both sides unsatisfied. – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Oct 20 at 9:46
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    It is completely different. It doesn't ask you to assume good faith of people, it orders you to agree with the CoC, over just keeping it. And a "bad faith" accusation can suddenly get you punished without possiblity to defend yourself, as that's just he said/she said. If anything, this bit makes it even worse than it would be without. – Gloweye Oct 21 at 11:13
-4

Intent is not the only factor when considering bad behavior. Effect is just as important. If my behavior causes the effect of creating an unwelcoming environment, that effect is felt regardless of whether or not my intention was good. Many communities use this sort of "intent or effect" language in their codes of conduct all the time for good reason.

One essay that I end up coming back to again and again is WP:SPADE. Multiple communities I'm involved in are having this exact discussion, so that's kind of why.

Good faith is often used by bad actors as a shield. I'm not behaving badly and how dare you accuse me of that because you should be assuming good faith. I'm not being disrespectful to people, I'm merely Asking Questions.

At the end of the day, the rule of thumb I use is as follows: assume good faith, but know when you're being bullshitted.

  • Yes, effect is important, but so is intent. If someone with good intent says something which results in bad effect, then a simple conversation with a mod should follow, the person can learn, and not repeat the mistake. There is no reason to ban such a person. If there is bad intent, then real punishments are warranted. And especially in private chatrooms like the Teachers' Lounge, Asking Questions should be allowed. – Gloweye Oct 21 at 11:15
  • @Gloweye I think you will find, if you literally read the first sentence I wrote, that you need to consider both intent and effect, not just effect, and especially not just intent. – Unionhawk Oct 21 at 11:25
  • I've read it, and I can see where you're coming from. However, I don't agree with you on how important effect is unless it's a repeat offender. Perhaps because I'm used to being thick-skinned. And the fact that good faith is used as a shield by bad faith people does not invalidate that there are also people making honest mistakes. – Gloweye Oct 21 at 11:30
  • @Gloweye nor does it invalidate that simply saying "I didn't mean to" does not erase harm caused. That said, I'm wholly disinterested in reopening this more than a week old thread, so I bid you good day. – Unionhawk Oct 21 at 11:37
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    @Unionhawk the prhases "Nurse a grudge", "Take offense" and "get upset" all contain verbs for a reason. All of them require participation. I don't give people in REAL LIFE(tm) that much power over me, so I'm certainly not going to give some random person on the internet any real estate in my mind. Assuming good intentions robs trolls of all their fun – Richard says Reinstate Monica Nov 12 at 18:19
  • @Richard I am just as not interested in reopening a month old thread now as I was three weeks ago thanks, and I never mentioned any of the phrases you do so I have no idea what you're going on about. – Unionhawk Nov 12 at 18:26

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