|by Flemming Funch|
Below is my draft for a set of rules of the NCN member area. There have been a number of discussions in the last few months where people have expressed that it wasn't clear what the rules were here. So, I'm trying to remedy that.
That means, deal with others in a respectful manner, and show respect for their right to have different views than yours. You don't have to agree with anybody here and you don't have to like them, but if you are communicating with them, or talking about them, it is not acceptable to do so in an attacking or ridiculing manner.
Don't attack other people's character or motives
It is very fundamental here that we're all allowed to have our own, possibly different, views. So, even if you think that somebody else is wrong, or their views are outlandish, or they're saying things that are incorrect, or even if they appear to be attacking you - none of that gives you any right to attack or ridicule their character or their motives. By all means, talk about the subject at hand. But, please, no ad hominem remarks. No flaming. Talk about the issues, not about the other people, unless you have something constructive to say.
Don't kill the diversity
More than just that it is ok to have a differing view, it is essential that a diversity of different views and different approaches is maintained. Again, you don't have to agree and you don't have to like the way somebody else does it. But don't try to wipe out the diversity and make everybody think the same way. Not that you're likely to succeed, but please don't waste your effort here in trying to make NCN into a homogenous group where everybody believes the same things and uses the same words. In nature, diversity is not a problem to be fixed, it is a strength that makes evolution possible.
Take your own initiative
Nobody's going to hand you your instructions for what you're supposed to do here. There's no one official program that you need to line up behind. The point is what YOU do. If you think something needs to happen - go make it happen. Either launch an initiative in that direction, or join others who're working on the same thing. NCN is a blank canvas unless you paint on it.
Cause no harm
The purpose of NCN is to network people of good will who are trying to make the world work better for all of us. There might be differing views of what is constructive and what are the best things to do. However, under no circumstances cause or intend harm towards others.
Don't monopolize the facilities
NCN is for all of us here. For all sorts of people of good will, working on things they consider constructive. Don't try to make it anything less than that by trying to commandeer all of the facilities of NCN in the service of any one project or issue. That everybody's not working on the same thing or not promoting the same cause is not a failure, it is by design. So don't try to create monopolies here. Don't waste our shared resources.
Do whatever you want
Aside from the previously mentioned limitations, you can basically do whatever you want. You don't have to wait for anybody's permission before you start a new group or new activity. There are plenty of places where you can announce a new project and work on it with other people who are interested. So, don't wait for public support or the go-ahead of any authority. You can create your own workgroup on any subject you choose and set it up according to any rules that you feel are appropriate.
Don't be boring
Oh, don't worry, just be yourself. But if you try to start something, and nobody joins, or if you write something, and nobody gives you any feedback - then there's not particularly anybody you can blame. Other people might be busy with their own things. Doesn't mean they don't like you or that what you have to say is worthless. Don't count on that everybody will join up with just anything you propose. Gathering support requires patience, and it requires that you inspire other people to participate, and it requires that somebody agrees that your project is worthwhile. If you don't get the responses you want, you either need to reevaluate your objectives, or you need to do it all yourself, or you need to communicate better.
NCN is primarily about what you do, and what others do, individually and in teams, organizations or networks of various kinds. But if you're specifically inspired to be part of the maintenance of the NCN website itself, that's quite possible and welcome, particularly if you might have some technical skills in that arena. The webmaster is usually happy to have somebody share in the responsibilities. If what you want is to have a say in how thing are supposed do be done, expect that to evolve from your demonstrated competence in the area.
Organizing, Decision Making
If you feel that something is missing in the NCN environment, such as for example, an approach to conflict resolution, or better instructions for new members, or a birthday committee or something, you're welcome to work on it. Be aware first of all that there is no hierarchical control structure here. There's somebody who maintains and develops the website, but as far as the activities of members go, there's not particularly any boss you can appeal to. It is more like a self-organizing anarchy. So, if you want a certain type of activity to be going on, the best approach would be set up a space for it yourself, and to act as an evangelist for it, and to make it happen. If you come up with something that works, and that others find useful, it is quite likely that they will adopt it, and it might become the standard facility for that purpose. Just be aware in advance that there is no way for you to be elected to be in charge of all NCN members. Nobody is. By demonstrating your competence in a certain area you might become the de-facto leader of that particular area. But that's an entirely different thing. The people who water the flowers will naturally become recognized as those who take care of the flowers. There are no power games available.
A Network is not a Team
If you feel that you somehow must make NCN as a whole do something or the other, you've probably misunderstood what this whole thing is. NCN is a network. A network consists of multiple nodes that freely link up with each other as they find appropriate. It is not a hierarchy where somebody is in charge of the whole thing. You as an individual can be a node in the network. Your existing organization can be a node in the network. You might form a team that can be a node in the network. Within a certain team or project or organization you need to work out your own approach to how you get things done. Most likely you need some clear aims, and you need to be discerning about who you invite into it, and there probably needs to be one or more leaders who carry the project through, and it probably takes a lot of hard work. Please form some strong teams and get some work done. But NCN as a whole is not a team or even an organization. It doesn't have one agenda or one leader. That is not some kind of mistake that you need to correct. Lead your own team. NCN will hopefully become something more than its parts. Hopefully a bigger synergy will emerge from the inter-connectivity of many effective teams.
There's nothing to wait for. NCN might have a life of its own and things might collectively evolve. But don't hang around waiting for some mysterious force to give you your instructions or the permission to do what you want to do. Don't hang around here waiting for something to happen and then decide you've wasted your time. The point of NCN is that you go do what you're inspired to do, and here is a space where you can share that with others, and you can connect up with other people doing useful thing. If you're waiting for NCN as a whole to do something or the other, then you're indeed wasting your time. Take action. Find others to play with. Have fun.