Tuesday, November 01, 2005

A Code of Conduct for Ufology, Part II

A lot of responses for A Code of Conduct for Ufology, almost all in agreement (whether folks take a stand or not is a different story - we'll see). One who was not was Mr. Lehmberg, to whom I offered an olive branch.

His response?

He called me a "Christo-Fascist" at his website today (among many other things, including, as if being a "Christo-Fascist" wasn't bad enough, an "anti-ufological fascist."). Again, this is a website that you can link to directly from www.virtuallystrange.net, the home of UFO Updates.

I guess we know which side of the line of reasoned, responsible and civil discourse Mr. Lehmberg stands on. How Mr. Bruce-Knapp responds will tell you the side of that line on which he stands.

In the meantime, both Isaac Koi and Joe McGonagle from the United Kingdom have made me aware of the UFOlogyinuk Policy Document. Ufologyinuk is a mailing list, not dissimilar in purpose to UFO Updates. Their "policy document" is, in many respects, a "code of conduct," and is a useful point of reference for anyone running a list, forum, or discussion group. Within the document you can find a link to the Code of Practice for investigators that BUFORA has adopted - another area that needs addressing on this side of the "Pond."

Paul Kimball

UFOlogyinuk Policy Document

1. Purpose and scope of this document

1.1 This document is intended to provide guidance for the day-to-day business of the UFOlogyinuk mail list, to include policy-making processes, member discipline, and policies relating to the public relationships attributable to the members of the mail list.

2. Membership

2.1 Membership of the list is open to anyone with an interest in UK UFOlogy. There are no requirements to hold any particular belief as to the origin of the phenomena, nor is anyone excluded because they hold a particular belief.

2.2 Membership will not be revoked, restricted, or refused on the basis of race, colour, creed, sexual orientation, or any other matter that has no direct bearing on the operation of the list.

2.3 Members are not required to disclose their identity, though they are encouraged to do so.

2.4 Members may hold more than one account, if they have reasonable cause to do so, so long as they a) notify the list that they operate multiple accounts, and identify the accounts which they operate. b) Comply with section 5.2.9 regarding polls.

2.5 Members are free to constructively criticise the working practices or belief systems of other members for the purposes of debate, so long as such criticism does not amount to a personal attack.

2.6 Membership can be revoked or restricted at any time by the list- owner, if the list-owner is of the opinion that a member has made a personal attack on a list-member, or is attempting to disrupt the smooth operation of the list.

2.7 Membership can also be revoked or restricted following a vote in accordance with the poll criteria described in the section headed ‘Policy making process’.

3. Content

3.1 Members may post messages about any topic, which is relevant to UK UFOlogy, including topics about major foreign events, which may have some speculative relevance to the UK, e.g. Roswell. Also included are postings which apply generally to the subject of UFOlogy, e.g. the Abduction Phenomenon, Space Science, etc.

3.2 Members may occasionally post items advertising their group, book, website, or public event, so long as such postings do not interfere with the general postings on the list.

3.3 The use of excessive bad language may result in a member being moderated or removed from the list. It is entirely at the discretion of the list owner to decide what is considered to be excessive bad language.

3.4 Postings of evangelical material with the intent of attracting members to a particular religion or cult is not permitted.

3.5 File attachments cannot be posted via the service. Any files that a member wishes to share should be placed in the shared files area, and the URL posted to the list.

3.6 Content of any posted message remains the copyright of the poster. If anyone wishes to use material posted on the list elsewhere, they must first obtain the permission of the person who posted it.

3.7 Responsibility for ensuring that a posting on this list does not breach any copyright lies with the poster.

3.8 Cross posting from other lists is permitted, but only the parts of the cross-posted article that are relevant are to be included in the posting, plus an acknowledgement of the original source of the article.

3.9 Members are required to observe basic internet manners, or "netiquette". Guidance on this is available in the file rfc1855-netiquette.txt which can be found in the group admin folder at: http://www.smartgroups.com/vault/ufologyinuk/Admin

3.10* Anyone making allegations of impropriety of any sort against any other member of the UFO community must name the person(s) concerned. The person making the allegation assumes full responsibility for ensuring that their post does not contravene the laws of libel as applied under UK law. Posts known to contain libellous comments will be deleted, and the poster may be subject to disciplinary action (quite apart from any penalties incurred under UK law).

4. Publication under the banner of UFOlogyinuk

4.1 Members are encouraged to publish under the banner of UFOlogyinuk, as this helps to promote the group in the UFO community.

4.2 Prior to publication, any article must be submitted to the list for peer review, following which, a poll will be taken in accordance with the poll criteria described in section 5, which will determine whether or not the article is to be published in such a way.

4.3 Contentious methods of investigation may be referred to in an article, but can not be used to support a conclusion. Examples of contentious methods include Remote Viewing and Regressive Hypnosis.

4.4 Anyone making a publication under the UFOlogyinuk banner who has not complied with the conditions in this section may have their membership restricted or revoked.

4.5 The Author of any article published under the banner of UFOlogyinuk will retain the copyright of the article, unless they express their desire to transfer the copyright ownership to the list.

5. Policy making process

5.1 The list owner may add, modify, or remove policies described in this document at any time, subject to the limitation in paragraph 5.2.11. Any such changes will take immediate effect, but will not apply retrospectively.

5.2 Members may at any time propose additions, modifications, or deletions from this document via the poll mechanism described in this section.

5.2.1 Polls must describe clearly what the proposed policy change is, and must start with the words “Policy Poll:” in order to differentiate them from other polls.

5.2.2 Polls must be held open for a minimum of 3 weeks, and a maximum of six weeks. The maximum may be extended by up to one week in the event that either the participation or margin of majority thresholds are not reached, at the discretion of the list owner. The closing date must be notified to members via the list when the poll is opened.

5.2.3 Voting in policy polls will be anonymous.

5.2.4 Participation threshold: At least 10% of members must take part in the poll before it can be adopted as a policy.

5.2.5 For the purpose of this policy, the option "I have no preference, but wish my vote to count towards the participation threshold" is not considered to count as a choice.

5.2.6 In the case of a two-choice poll, the margin of majority must be at least 10% of members participating in the poll before it can effect a change to policy.

5.2.7 In the case of a poll which includes more than two choices, a margin of majority must be at least 5% of members participating in the poll before it can effect a change to policy.

5.2.8 At the discretion of the list owner, the participation threshold and/or margin of majority threshold requirements may be waived.

5.2.9 Anyone holding multiple accounts on the list may only vote once for any poll. Anyone found to have contravened this rule may have their membership restricted or revoked.

5.2.10 Policies invoked under this process will be effective from the date the policy poll was opened.

5.2.11 Policies implemented as a result of a poll cannot be arbitrarily revoked by the list owner, they can only be revoked through the poll mechanism. Such policies will be indicated by the use of an asterisk (*) after the paragraph number.

6. Code of Practice for investigators

6.1 Anyone investigating a case under the banner of ufologyinuk must adhere to the Code of Practice, which can be found at: www.smartgroups.com/vault/ufologyinuk/Admin/Code_of_Practice.rtf

6.2 Failure to observe the Code of Practice may result in exclusion from the list and/or withdrawal of any ufologyinuk accreditation.

6.3 Changes to the Code of Practice can only be made using the same process as is used for making changes to policy as described in section 5 of the policy.


Isaac Koi said...


I'm a regular participant on Joe McGonagle's Ufologyinuk mail list (posting there considerably more often than I post to Updates). I've expressed my own view about Joe's List on Updates:
“Joe McGonagle's "ufologyinuk" List is the nearest thing to a forum for 'serious ufologists' in the UK that I'm aware of ...”.

However, as Joe would be the first to acknowledge, his List also gets a degree of criticism. For example:
(a) several individuals consider Joe's List dominated by sceptics.

(b) several individuals have left the List in the past due to their posts (or the posts of others) being moderated.

(c) several individuals have left the List because of the sometimes heated nature of the exchanges.

It seems to me that, regardless of the existence of any Guidelines or Policy in relation to a mailing list, at some point some individuals are going to complain that there is insufficient moderation, excessive moderation or improper moderation.

Having read quite a few mailing lists which were completely unmoderated, I prefer to spend my time on moderated lists.

If someone (like Joe or EBK) is prepared to spend the time and effort in running a moderated List, then I think that its users should accept that sometimes the moderator will not necessarily act in the manner that each and every user would wish.

The only way to get moderation which you agree with is to moderate your own List. If everyone moderated their own List (?or Blog) and did not participate on the Lists run by others, then how do you get "community" wide communication? Or do you just give up on that?

Kind Regards,


Paul Kimball said...


Who is the community? Anyone with a computer and an axe to grind? Therein lies the problem with the Internet.

The only way to deal with it is for a person to judge for themselves whether a list is run efficiently, and without bias. Updates meets the first criteria, but not the latter. Perhaps its not possible for a list to be run fairly - perhaps a moderator will always favour his friends over others he either does not like, or does not know as well. But I don't think so. I think a code of conduct that was enforced where every member was concerned (including off-list attacks a member might level against another) would work, with a moderator willing to be even-handed, and a membership willing to call him on it when he wasn't.

Every now and then there will be a decision that someone doesn't like - that's fine. Life is like that - as the Stones famously said, you can't always get what you want. But if you try sometimes you just might get what you need, and right now ufology needs a better list than Updates, or an Updates that deals with everyone in an even-handed manner.

Otherwise, ufology will remain a fringe topic, the scientific equivalent to pro wrestling. It exists, but it's not real - it's just a show.