Welcome to the new version of European Tribune. It's just a new layout, so everything should work as before - please report bugs here.

ET Editorial Guidelines

 
The European Tribune is a unique and special forum: a place to go for in-depth comment and analysis on current events and the world at large, high-quality, highly informative and stimulating discussions, online friendships and a chance to connect with some unique minds. The ET editorial team is a group of diverse individuals who contribute their time on an ad-hoc basis to help ensure that ET retains the unique qualities we have come to appreciate.

Occasionally, misunderstandings arise as to what the ET editorial team does, or doesn't do, or is supposed to be doing (or promoting or inhibiting), which can result in some individuals feeling unfairly slighted, and in some acrimonious exchanges.

Such incidents absorb an undue amount of the time and energy of members of the editorial team which we could more productively contribute elsewhere (this is strictly a volunteer gig for all of us, and the time we can devote to it is finite), as well as promoting a feeling of frustration; less immediately but more seriously, they make ET less fun and interesting. We regret such incidents, and want to do what we can to at least minimize their recurrence. To aid this process - and to help explain what the editorial team actually does - we have formulated the ET Editorial Policy:


The European Tribune is a left-of-centre community that is devoted primarily but not exclusively to discussions of current events, underlying causes and new ideas in economics, politics, science and society. Users are free to write diaries on any subject they want, as long as these are not

  • personally offensive,
  • defamatory,
  • do not blatantly falsify scientific or historical facts or
  • advocate theories involving pervasive high-level conspiracies
and to comment on contributions by other users. All views published on this site, without exception, are subject to debate, challenge and criticism by any user (as long as the proprieties of civility and ETiquette are observed). No "authority" - whether secular or religious, contemporary or historical - is considered above critical scrutiny. It is not the task of the editorial team to ensure any "balance" of views.

The ET editorial team is responsible for promoting community and presenting contributions by themselves, and, in their judgment, others' diaries which they consider of particular interest, on the community front page. It is also responsible for ensuring that all diaries and comments comply with the above standards.

In striving to maintain passionate debate in an intact community, the editorial team will step in to moderate where it feels behavior standards are violated or where it feels an exchange is becoming too acrimonious or emotionally charged; this can include suspending commenting or hiding individual comments. Non-compliant diaries and comments will be removed.

Individually, the members of the editorial team are active users, many of whom diary and comment frequently. These writings are the respective individuals' own opinions and do not represent any consensus of the editorial team. Actions of the editorial team will be explicitly designated as such.

The editorial guidelines essentially cover two aspects: how ET works, and what the editorial team does.

I. How ET works

The European Tribune is a left-of-centre community that is devoted primarily but not exclusively to discussions of current events, underlying causes and new ideas in economics, politics, science and society.

Well, you might say, Duh. But it needs to be said. (Those who speak corporatese will recognize this as a "mission statement"). However...

Users are free to write diaries on any subject they want, as long as these are not

  • personally offensive,
  • defamatory,
  • do not blatantly falsify scientific or historical facts or
  • advocate theories involving pervasive high-level conspiracies
and to comment on contributions by other users.

You are free to write whatever you want - from whatever perspective you choose, as long as what you write is not offensive, defamatory, blatantly false scientifically and/or historically or propounding a conspiracy theory. The editorial team will take down such content summarily (defamatory statements in particular will be removed in a New York minute, as depending on the jurisdiction these can endanger the continued existence of the site).

So feel free to write whatever you want within these very loose limits - if you want to engage in a passionate defence of monetarism (or even Ayn Rand), have at it! However...

All views published on this site, without exception, are subject to debate, challenge and criticism by any user (as long as the proprieties of common civility and ETiquette are observed). No "authority" - whether secular or religious, contemporary or historical - is considered above critical scrutiny.

What one person writes on this site, any other person may criticize, subject only to the normal proprieties. What does that mean?

Your personal dignity is sacrosanct - but your statements and opinions are anything but!

To take the above example, you have every right to explain why you think Ayn Rand was the greatest author of the 20th Century - but you have no right to feel offended or hard done-by when someone decries her as a third rate hack with screwy, fourth-rate ideas (or vice-versa).

The editorial team believes that there can be no exceptions to this principle if we are to maintain ET's high standard of discussion. In particular, some individuals have, in the past, expressed themselves aggrieved because they felt their faith-based assertions (and thus implicitly their faith) were deserving of special respect in discussions of secular matters.

Not. To put it crassly: My opinion on any temporal matter is just as good as Jesus Christ's.

There is a further aspect of the editorial team's work which must be borne in mind:

It is not the task of the editorial team to ensure any "balance" of views.

There have been occasional complaints that diaries, and particularly front-paged diaries and stories, are "one-sided", i.e. the site neglects coverage of [insert arbitrary hobbyhorse here].

Well, uh, yeah. This is what editors do: make choices about what they believe their readership as a whole will find interesting - and this ultimately is tied up with what we find interesting. In editing, personal bias is not a bug but a feature. If you feel we're omitting something important, by all means feel free to put it up in a diary; just please understand that we cannot guarantee resonance.

II. What the editorial team does

A detailed description of what the editorial team does may be found here. But basically:

The ET editorial team is responsible for promoting community and presenting contributions by themselves, and, in their judgment, others' diaries which they consider of particular interest, on the community front page.

These are the "positive" tasks of the editorial team - and also the most fun: finding and featuring cool stuff.

Unfortunately, there are also some negative tasks that fall within our purview:

It is also responsible for ensuring that all diaries and comments comply with the above standards.

This is less fun. Just for example, we took down two diaries a few months back because they contained unsubstantiated allegations of malfeasance against a non-public figure - i.e. defamation. Unfortunately, the author failed to get it, sending us a rather offended email.

And then of course there is the real minefield:

In striving to maintain passionate debate in an intact community, the editorial team will step in to moderate where it feels behavior standards are violated or where it feels an exchange is becoming too acrimonious or emotionally charged; this can include suspending commenting or hiding individual comments.

This is truly a fine and difficult line to walk. The out-and-out trolls are relatively easy (and can be dealt with by the community through troll rating). The greater problem is when good faith exchanges degenerate into flame warfare.

Naturally, intervening in an out-of-control discussion has the potential for generating (or in this case perhaps, redirecting) conflict - something which we wish to avoid if at all possible. Overall, however, the editors seek to promote signal over noise and light over heat, and so will intervene to stop flame wars from developing.

Non-compliant diaries and comments will be removed.

We promise!

Finally:

Individually, the members of the editorial team are active users, many of whom diary and comment frequently. These writings are the respective individuals' own opinions and do not represent any consensus of the editorial team.

One of the reasons for people being on the editorial team is that they are around and active a lot. They comment a lot. So in the course of things, they are going to wind up in controversial discussions.

Again you might say, Well duh. Unfortunately, some individuals see themselves being ganged up on by "the front pagers" simply because one regular who just happens to be a member of the editorial team is critical of something they say. This is definitely not the case:

Actions of the editorial team will be explicitly designated as such.

The individual members of the editorial team are not going to refrain from discussion simply on account of their role (after all, what fun would that be?). Their individual opinions are no more sacrosanct than yours.

When the editorial team steps in there will be no doubt as to who is acting or why.

The editorial team is nothing more (nor more sinister!) than a group of enthusiasts who believe in ET and want to make sure that it remains a place for knowledgeable, stimulating and amicable discourse - not least because we as individuals enjoy actively participating in this discourse!

And one last note:

Occasionally we see a flurry of questions along the lines of, "This site would be so much easier to use if it had [pet feature here]. Why don't you implement this?"

Chances are, the editorial team would like to see that feature implemented as well. Unfortunately, the Scoop software this site is run on consists of a lot of very awkward and hard-to-modify code. Several members of the editorial team are working on modifications, but this is slow going - even apart from personal time constraints. All we can say is, please be patient.

So what's the bottom line?

The editorial team is trying to do something for which no manual exists: maintaining a community blog as a community exercise. Consequently, we are figuring it out as we go along. These editorial guidelines are a product of that learning experience.

Naturally, given this process we have made mistakes, and we are sure to make more mistakes in future. We are doing what we can to make ET even more interesting and enjoyable (and usable too, within the constraints of Scoop), and we are entirely dependent on your unflinching, constructive criticism.

We can achieve nothing without your support.

Occasional Series