Thank goodness our ‘Community Waldringfielder’ has set himself up as the investigator, judge, jury and executioner for Waldringfield Community communications. One person has already been investigated, found guilty and executed before any rules were published. Of course, we all need rules to go by if we are to engage in a judgemental system of justice, but these rules need to be fair, applied uniformly, open to scrutiny and justifiable. We now have published rules.
I am fairly sure that part of the motivation for him setting up the group was to try to prevent, what some see as unwanted arguing but others see as valid answering of assertions. This can only really be achieved by moderation of the content and then there are many pitfalls, which require much work to avoid and overcome. Being fair to all and allowing everyone to be represented whilst trying to avoid people being offended is a full time job.
One easy way to do this is to say ‘There are the rules and if you don’t like them I don’t want to know – if you break them you will be removed‘. This can work, but then you need to realise that you are only representing the proportion of the community that has similar views to the owner, not the whole community. I and my father chose not to employ this method as I wanted everyone to have the chance of representation. The fact that the ‘Community Waldringfielder’ has decided to employ this method is very disappointing and the fact that the Parish Council have so readily accepted this method is also disappointing (to me!) especially as the group set up in 2006 most definitely had freedom of opinion and right to reply at its heart.
Rules vs precedent
We have a set of rules, published on the Google group which are rather patronisingly labelled ‘Common Sense’. Apparently many people have commented how very common sense they are (not tome, the opposite has been expressed!). Yes they look very ‘nice’ and one would think they will prevent any angst and ill feeling but in practice, this can only be achieved by moderating any post before publication by a panel of cross view representatives, which is of course impractical, so the only moderation available is to moderate any replies.
This give rise to a further set of FAQs, built from the current rules and the precedent already set by recent actions:
Can I reply to a post on the group?
Yes you can, but only if you agree with the original post. If you disagree then you must only reply to the person who sent the original post, leaving the original opinion intact and unopposed.
Can I report illegal activity to the group?
It depends on what it is. There is no real way to tell, but maybe you can get a clue from the examples so far.
- If it is someone smoking a spliff on the river wall then no, this complaint will not be supported. Posting about this will have you removed from the group. [CM vs Village]
- If it is someone cycling on the river wall then yes, please feel free to post and we will have extra signs made up and displayed. [PH vs SJ]
- no precedent has yet been set for complains about someone smoking a spliff whilst riding a bike on the river wall.
If I have been expelled, can I ask why?
No questions about why an expulsion has occurred will be answered.
Can I put my point of view following expulsion?
No – you will have no access to the audience.
Who has decided and agreed that these are the rules?
People who have spoken to the Community Waldringfielder and his representatives.
Am I allowed to express my disagreement with the rules?
No. The rules have been posted on the group, so your objection is not allowed as an objection will not agree with the original post. You can express your objection to the author but you will have no opportunity to gain support from the community.
What if I don’t think that Waldringfielders really represents my views?
You are probably right. Maybe Waldringfield isn’t right for you.
So what happens from now?
Well as we gradually hone the type of people and type of postings that we want, we will get more and more confirmation from our friends that we represent the community. Those who don’t agree (the argumentative ones) will be silenced (phew) meaning that we are therefore correct.