Category Archives: Communications

More Frequent Asked Questions

Waldringfield Community

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.

Village Communications

In the recent Parish Plan, one of the recommendations for action said that discussions are under way with the current owner of Waldringfielders email group to consider options regarding possible changes to the management.2015-12-03 16.49.28

I thought it was worth giving people the heads up on where that is – especially as it may sound like there is a a disagreement between the Parish Council and me (the owner) over what should be done.

First of all – what problem are we trying to solve?

Some people on Waldringfielders object to heated discussion and would prefer to have the email group solely for notices and non-controversial postings. It would appear that it is these people for whom changes are being sought. Although I hear some complaints at people not liking conflict, I have many people congratulating me on speaking up when others are silent. This includes the subjects of Quiet Lanes, speed humps, river activities and dogs on leads. That accepted, lets see if we can find a solution to those getting upset.

How do we solve it?

OK, so we set about controlling the content on Waldringfielders to ensure that those who don’t like heated discussion are kept ‘safe’.
Setting up the new site (this one) helped with this because people could more easily categorise their postings and more easily opt in or out of discussions. Strangely, when I started it, the main criticism I had was from people who were concerned that they may miss out on discussion! It seemed that at this point, those who like to see a good argument then became more vocal than those who wanted protection. That was an interesting twist, but nevertheless, we still had the task of protection to address.
Having a new site for discussion, I was asked if the original waldringfielders could be left solely for ‘Lost Dog’ type,  non-controversial, non-discussion postings. ‘Yes’ I said of course it can but what happens if someone posts something that they consider non-controversial but is in fact controversial? An example of this is the ‘Keep your dogs on leads’ notice, where people are not happy being dictated to in this way. I had several people thank me verbally for my response on that subject. Any resulting discussion or counter argument needs to be held on the same forum as the original posting i.e. waldringfielders. This is a basic ‘right of reply’ principle. This was accepted by the Parish Council as an issue.
One solution is to have all posts moderated before they appear on-line. This would involve a lot more work and a set of guide-lines to which moderators must adhere. I don’t have the time nor the inclination for such work and more importantly it would certainly affect the immediacy of posting on the group as each posting would need to await approval.
Hold on… let’s get some perspective on the problem!
If we were trying to stop violent or pornographic material appearing, then it would probably be worth the effort. As it is, all we are doing is trying to protect those who are easily offended from seeing a discussion that they don’t like. If someone can come up with a solution that solves the problem outlined above but keeps the accessibility of posting to waldringfielders, then please let us know.

Changes to Management

The recommendations for action suggests changes to management. I believe that the right to reply is more important than the need to protect sensitive people from discussions – after all, everyone has the ability to ignore or unsubscribe from individual topics. Others may disagree and I am open to hear their voice and suggestions. For any management panel to work, then they would need to first solve the problem outlined above or they would have no guidelines under which to work. Once solved, it only takes one person to implement the guidelines. If anyone wants to suggest general guidelines or discuss specific activity or postings, then please feel free to do so just as if you were part of a management group. Regards yourselves as one big management panel. Anyone who who has suggestions, please let me or Janet Elliott know your views. Any views are welcome but any action needs a clear objective and needs to take into account all of the aspects of the group.
Feel free to email or call me or Janet – I will take any suggestions seriously and discuss the pros and cons and I am sure Janet will do the same. If you feel happier having a discussion with us both, I am sure this can be facilitated. My number is (local) 811783.

So the point here is that discussions are not under way at all. There is currently no solution offered that would satisfy the needs of an open forum such as waldringfielders.

Steve