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A not-half-bad policy document
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jducoeur
In an interesting bit of timing, the new SCA Social Media Policy was just published. It's worth a read if you are interested in the subject.

Overall, it's not a bad first crack. I think my main concern is that it's likely to be slightly chilling simply because it's very long and legalistic. The actual content, though, is decent: mostly a statement of rules that should be common sense, and even one or two that are better than average. (Eg, an explicit statement that if something's been publicly released, you don't need to get a separate SCA release form for it.) I think that experienced online geeks will find most of it fairly obvious, but there's nothing especially objectionable in it.

From a purely memetic POV, it does have one fairly significant, but totally unsurprising, problem: it is *so* concerned about officers representing the SCA, Inc properly that it may well interfere subtly with officers working as community leaders. That is, it has the usual chain-of-command view of things, and doesn't even really acknowledge the role of officers within the community. That's a very indirect problem, but reinforces the general notion (which, see previous rant, I think is pretty damaging) of viewing the world through a top-down lens. In the context of social media that's unfortunate, since these tools are most effectively used with a more informal, bottom-up style.

Hmm; I'm being opaque. Putting it another way: the document is all concerned about using social media for information dissemination (at which it is mediocre) and moderation of communications -- that is, how and when to *restrict* communication. What is much more needed -- and which I hope somebody is thinking about already -- is some guidelines for how to use it to foster informal, light-touch, decentralized communication within the SCA community. That's what social media is best at, and it can be a powerful tool when used well. Many people in the SCA do *not* know how to use it well, and this document is mainly about damage limitation. We could probably use one focused more on effective use.

I'm never fond of rules, and I wish this was written as a friendlier set of guidelines instead of a forbidding set of IV.d.3.X-style laws. But points for at least getting the content mostly right...
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What is much more needed -- and which I hope somebody is thinking about already -- is some guidelines for how to use it to foster informal, light-touch, decentralized communication within the SCA community.

Ah, but you see, that's not a policy document. That's a "Tips, Tricks, and Hints" document. That's not about governance, it is about marketing.

Largely true, although it kind of has one foot in each camp. But I can hope that, between the new Social Media and Marketing officers, they come up with such a thing...

(Deleted comment)
No problem -- interesting to get a concrete example of the point in action. I agree that we tend to have a relatively tunnel-visioned view of the possibilities here...

Long and legalistic, but no heinous content

Surprisingly, I didn't catch anything in particular to object to here. The two-officer requirement might be a nuisance but it's not too difficult to meet; as I read it, it's either two of the required officers (Seneschal, Treasurer, etc.) or a online-specific office (Webminister or social media officer) plus any other officer (not necessarily one of the required offices). The other important language was about differentiating official group statements from personal statements. There is lots of legal gobbledygook about dealing with the ways that social media sites limit administrative access, all of which pretty much add up to "make sure the right people have access".

It also says that publishing on social media does not count as an official announcement of an event or a policy; it's OK to announce something on social media but you also have to have the usual web, email, and/or print announcements. That's reasonable for now though I can imagine wanting to revisit it at a future time.

The right approach might not be to change this document, but to also write a friendlier guide to supplement it. That way all the legal Is are dotted and Ts are crossed, but you also have something people can understand.

Edited at 2013-01-28 11:42 pm (UTC)

The two officer requirement is a bit of overkill... until one of the two officers gets hit by a bus. Obviously I'm entertaining hyperbole here, but it's something that was a concern to me when I was Seneschal. It's smart to avoid having there be a single fail point where there's a private password involved.

I do agree that I wish there were a friendlier, more "layman's terms" version available.

Hmm, I already see potential problems for one group whose social media I still admin or co-admin parts of, but those likely can be trivially fixed. Stupid effing residency rules. There's one account that I haven't been able to get anyone to *want* to co-admin with me, that may just have to be shut down if no one will take it.

I do like that this rule set, as I am reading it at least, gives us footing against well-meaning people who would put up official looking pages purporting to be from the Group as soon as some new social media tool is hatched, without checking with the Seneschal or any other officers first. Some of the social media accounts that $Group has now were initially created specifically because I wanted an official looking account, with the password in the hands of the officers and the group name as the official username, to be created *by us* before any above-mentioned well-meaning person did so first (and then didn't or wouldn't hand over the password, made us look dumb, posted incorrect information, disappeared off the face of the earth, etc, etc.)

Likewise I appreciate that, as I am interpreting it, it gives footing to requiring that the Seneschal be given password access to *every* social media account, on *every* platform - something I requested multiple times as Seneschal and was ignored completely by some of the account admins.

... So I wonder what that means for carolingia.org.

Well, my understanding is that there are ongoing conversations about carolingia.org; we'll see how that plays out. But keep in mind that that has almost always been explicitly unofficial -- regardless of what the rules do or don't say, they're largely unenforceable. (Barring extreme actions like trying to enforce the service mark in court or some such.)

There's one account that I haven't been able to get anyone to *want* to co-admin with me, that may just have to be shut down if no one will take it.

Anything I'm likely to be able to help with?

Twitter. It never really caught on in the first place but I wanted to be sure we scored a reasonable username and that we had an official presence out there before someone made an unofficial official-looking one.

Sometimes I'd announce deadlines, awards, who won Crown, etc. but it's surprisingly difficult to think of anything interesting or useful to say about the SCA in 140 characters.

I believe you have already had admin powers for the FB group for a few years now, on the whole "no single point of admin" theory. Now of course the current Seneschal is also admin as is the former-Chatelaine-now-Exchequer. To me Chatelaine seems a more appropriate admin for this stuff than Webminister, if it isn't just going to be its own separate office.

I concur -- as I mentioned elsethread, social media should be considered to be far more about content than technology. Twitter *especially* is all about the content -- it's the most "push"-oriented of the major social media techs -- so the Chatelaine would make some sense.

(And yes, I have admin rights on FB, although we have enough admins there that I don't often need to do much.)

I'd say that the most obvious use of Twitter is simply as a headline feed: in general, that is Twitter's strong suit. You can't have much content in 140 chars, but you can do a concise summary and a link. Doing that for items of interest to the Barony would be kind of useful. And potentially fun: if nobody more official wants it, I might play with that. Although I think I've just talked myself into thinking it should actually be a deputy to the *Chronicler's* office, probably working with the Chatelaine here and there...

But there's lots of freedom of exclusion here. The document basically says, "These are the kinds of social media venues we are concerned about - any others can do as they please. Here are our requirements for our limited area of concern: be nice to each other, don't make us look bad, and do what you will otherwise." Rules that tell you what to do are much more restrictive than those that tell you what not to do.

A guidebook for suggested utilization would be nice, but that's beyond the BoD's scope of practice. They're job is to keep the lawyers happy by minimizing our legal risks and liabilities.

Sounds like you've found a niche to be filled. Will you take on your own challenge? ;)

Re: Freedom in Exclusion

A guidebook for suggested utilization would be nice, but that's beyond the BoD's scope of practice. They're job is to keep the lawyers happy by minimizing our legal risks and liabilities.

That true of the BoD per se. But creating such a guide would be *absolutely* in the purview of the new Social Media officer or a deputy, and I'd love to see such a thing if done well. (That is, as a collection of best-practices suggestions and ideas, refined through lots of discussion amongst the membership of the Society. I am absolutely *not* suggesting another bloody rule book, I'm saying that a conversation should be facilitated.)

Sounds like you've found a niche to be filled. Will you take on your own challenge? ;)

While it's my sort of project in principle, not a chance, at least not in the next two years. I don't know if we've met (no name seems to have come through with the ID), but if you dig around my LJ more, you'll find that I already have more balls in the air than I can easily juggle -- helping organize two weddings, founding a company, settling my late wife's estate, selling my house and moving, reworking the Eastrealm OP, etc. It's a busy time for me.

I've worked on enough high-level committees to take the amount of work involved seriously -- setting up the Grand Council was a lesson in the effort involved in facilitating a Society-wide conversation -- and it's clear that I just don't have the cycles to take on something else significant in the near future. So this is one of those time for me to make suggestions and hope that somebody finds the idea interesting. Eventually, even us old used Pelicans learn our limits...

Re: Freedom in Exclusion

I'm Mstrs. Morgan from the Outlands. It's a pleasure! (My 5 y/o daughter just saw your arms and said, "That's a love monster face.") I'm sorry to hear of your loss, but all the best for your other endeavors. I found your LJ post from your Linked In discussion.

I'm dancing with this issue locally as well with our new Royal University. For a class that isn't part of an event schedule to qualify for credit, it must be announced in an "official" venue. At this time, the only official venues we have are newsletters and web sites, since they have designated officers to oversee their execution. But some groups depend heavily on email groups and social media sites for communication. While these are not disallowed by any means, they still aren't acceptable for official announcements. We're still having trouble helping people grasp that just because FB postings are not required doesn't mean that they are not allowed. And just because they are not disallowed, doesn't mean that they meet the requirements of "official". This new policy sounds like it follows our approach pretty closely.

Social media are certainly going to be a part of the SCA's future, and it's best to accept that and plan for it. But things are changing and growing so quickly here right now, the safest place to be is to take a "we're being cautious until the dust settles and we've seen what happens when other people get sued rather than us" stance. One thing I liked was that recognition of the fact that things are changing, and that the policy will have to change along with it, is written into the document itself.

Re: Freedom in Exclusion

I'm Mstrs. Morgan from the Outlands. It's a pleasure! (My 5 y/o daughter just saw your arms and said, "That's a love monster face.") I'm sorry to hear of your loss, but all the best for your other endeavors.

Thanks. If you're the bard I'm thinking of (I may be incorrect), I believe you met me and my late wife Caitlin many years ago; IIRC, it was at the Curia of Rhys and Elaina. (Queen Mom was the first Royal we really worked with closely.)

While these are not disallowed by any means, they still aren't acceptable for official announcements. We're still having trouble helping people grasp that just because FB postings are not required doesn't mean that they are not allowed. And just because they are not disallowed, doesn't mean that they meet the requirements of "official". This new policy sounds like it follows our approach pretty closely.

Yaas. Like I said, I don't think there's anything *wrong* with the stated rules -- by and large, they state what I think of as basic common sense. I do think they come across as rather intimidating, though, and could use a more plainspoken introduction...

Re: Freedom in Exclusion

Quite possibly, I'm the one you're remembering. :)

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