"Free Speech has a Cost" - The ActiveRain Community Guidelines Re-Visited

By
Real Estate Agent with Fathom Realty West Sound WA State 52404

It's been a while since our last installment, so just to recoup:

We've been reviewing and dissecting, in order, each of the AcitveRain Community Guidelines at length to ensure that we're all on the same page, and are fully aware of the expressed expectations for members who participate in our valued community.

~    o    ~    o    ~    o    ~    o    ~    o    ~    o    ~

Our next guideline reads as follows:

"We encourage free speech and defend everyone's right to express unpopular points of view. But we don't permit hate speech which contains slurs or the malicious use of stereotypes intended to attack or demean a particular gender, sexual orientation, race, religion, or nationality."

This particular guideline has recently been the focal point of some rather exhaustive discussions/introspection. There are times when the actual guideline itself isn't debated so much as is how the guidelines are/should be enforced. Suffice it to say, that the administrators of this platform do genuinely attempt to apply/enforce all of these guidelines and the Terms of Service fairly and equitably to all members. In the final analysis, we have a very serious duty and responsibility to our members to ensure and maintain a safe, respectful environment of participation. The decisions we must make at times are never easy or pleasant, but our intentions are always for the benefits of the greater membership.

With that said, let me simply make a few observations as it relates to this guideline:

ActiveRain Membership ISN'T FREE!

Your involvement here has a cost. And it's called RESPONSIBILITY and RESPECT.

Membership here on ActiveRain is a privilege, not a given right. Your right of continued active participation is earned by the manner in which you consistently conduct yourself and the way you treat your fellow professionals.

Blogging, by it's very root and nature, serves to evoke and stimulate meaningful discussion and debate. Many times these discussions involve contrary, dissenting, or unpopular points of view. How we deal with such differences reveals the very core of our character. It is entirely possible to express our views and argue the merits of our position without resorting to hateful personal attacks and malicious slurs. It's completely acceptable to 'agree-to-disagree' without compromising your opinions/convictions. While it's many times easy to become emotionally embroiled in spirited debate, we must strive to keep issues professional, and not personal.

And, as those who have an intimate understanding of the Fair Housing Act, you would think we would possess a heightened awareness/sensitivity towards protected classes, and a clear understanding of those actions which constitute a violation against those classes. That's not to say that a violation of our community guidelines necessarily equates to a violation of Fair Housing. But I think the underlying priniciples are similar.

Take a lesson from a recent incident where a real estate agent lost their license for a full year because of an inappropriate comment they made on a blog post. Being suspended from ActiveRain is one thing. But most of us can ill afford to have our license revoked!

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Rich Jacobson is a District Director for Fathom Realty and a licensed REALTOR®; an avid Crab Hunter, Clam Digger, and Oyster Shucker, He is the Social Media Evangelist for Life on the Kitsap Peninsula & The Western Puget Sound in scenic WA State.

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Rainmaker
52,722
Kelly Mitchell
The Wine Siren & Agent Caffeine - Napa, CA
TheWineSiren.com Food | Wine | Fab *Napa Valley

By our very trade and licensing we have agreed to be ETHICAL and perform our business in a PROFESSIONAL manner with integrity.  Anything less than that and you are in the wrong profession.  For those who lack simple common sense, they probably shouldn't be in the business let alone blogging. 

Aug 13, 2008 09:41 PM #36
Rainmaker
588,905
Neal Bloom
eXp Realty - Weston, FL
Realtor CRS-Weston FL Real Estate

I read that post...I would say if you want to talk about someone of some story that irks you...just don't use real names or companies by name.

Aug 13, 2008 11:44 PM #37
Ambassador
894,094
Larry Bettag
Larry Bettag - Cherry Creek Mortgage - Saint Charles, IL
Regional Vice-President

Can I say that I "hate" hate speech.....  Seriously though there are things that garner hate and sometimes that needs to come across.  I hate fraud.  I hate unethical people.  I know you're talking about the politically correct hate speech, but I'm not a PC kinda guy.  For me....there's right and wrong.  Just b/c you may hate someone or something, it doesn't mean that you need to blab it to the world.  What's said can never be taken back.  Therefore it's important to measure words b/4 they're spoken.

Aug 14, 2008 02:17 AM #38
Rainmaker
1,077,478
Sharon Alters
Coldwell Banker Vanguard Realty - 904-673-2308 - Fleming Island, FL
Realtor - Homes for Sale Fleming Island FL

I agree with Neal above. I wrote some things about a bank I was upset with and edited it to take out the bank's name. Since this is a public forum much of the time, I feel a responsibility to be careful about what and how I express myself. Look at what's coming back to haunt people on MySpace - and it could reflect poorly on any one of us professionally if we write without keeping the Golden Rule in mind.

Aug 14, 2008 03:29 AM #39
Rainer
503,272
Jacqulyn Richey
Prominent Realty Group - Las Vegas, NV
Las Vegas Real Estate

Bottom Line: Never write anything that don't want someone or a specific group to read. Once its out there, you can't take it back....EVER. -Charles

Aug 14, 2008 06:31 AM #40
Anonymous
Vance Walden

Take a lesson from the Sean Hannity and Alan Colmes segment on Fox TV about how to have a respectful and spirited debate on even the most emotioanally charged issues.  They offer a great role model for how to disagree respectfully if some of us need a reminder.  I have not been on the network lately(working like crazy implementing a new business model), so I guess there has been some recent challenges on respectful discourse. 

Aug 14, 2008 07:22 AM #41
Anonymous
Vance Walden

Take a lesson from the Sean Hannity and Alan Colmes segment on Fox TV about how to have a respectful and spirited debate on even the most emotioanally charged issues.  They offer a great role model for how to disagree respectfully if some of us need a reminder.  I have not been on the network lately(working like crazy implementing a new business model), so I guess there has been some recent challenges on respectful discourse. 

Aug 14, 2008 07:23 AM #42
Rainmaker
261,836
Lynn Afton
Greenridge Realty Oakmont - Big Rapids, MI
REALTOR® Near Big Rapids, MI, Mecosta County

Post unto others as you would have them post unto you. :)

Maybe this could be the AR golden rule.

Aug 14, 2008 07:36 AM #43
Rainer
30,905
Kathi Frank
Kate Writes Right - Houston Heights, TX
The Woodlands TX

Rich, I am so glad to be a part of such an incredible forum for discussion and sharing.  Because this media is also a public venue, everything we say is available to the public.  It reminds me of one of the basic principles of leadership, "Praise people in public.  Criticize them in private."  If you something negative to say that you are not willing to share with someone privately - have the decency to "Get over yourself!"  We do not need your negative opinion smeared all over the rest of us.

Aug 14, 2008 07:36 AM #44
Rainmaker
1,384,564
Lyn Sims
RE/MAX Suburban - Schaumburg, IL
Schaumburg IL Area Real Estate

We agree to disagree. I feel censorship creeping up the AR drain pipe. Got a semi-scolding from someone above just yesterday for using what I thought was an OK (derriere) word in the rain. I think I am pretty mild compared to some. It's OK to be half dressed in a gag cowboy outfit?  That's professional? But that's OK because I think I have a sense of humor.  I would like to see Sally's suggestion taken into consideration with a red flashing sign because they are that important to AR's success.

Aug 14, 2008 07:43 AM #45
Rainmaker
261,836
Lynn Afton
Greenridge Realty Oakmont - Big Rapids, MI
REALTOR® Near Big Rapids, MI, Mecosta County

Rich, your post got me thinking about a post that I wrote yesterday.  I had no intention of slighting anyone, and the article that I referred to & linked in my post I had originally read in the Grand Rapids Press (presented as a humorous article, with sidebars.)   For future reference, does it cross the line because it is partly about China?  Should I remove it?

My Post: Got Milk? The unabridged version...

Aug 14, 2008 07:51 AM #46
Rainmaker
128,012
Tchaka Owen
Galleria International Realty - Hollywood, FL

Even if one has a different or dissenting or negative opinion of something, it can be represented without resorting to hate speech, slurs or anything malicious.  Is losing my license or AR membership worth it?  Not at all.  Thanks for the reminder, Rich.

Aug 14, 2008 08:16 AM #47
Rainer
82,781
Patty Carroll
Vancouver, WA

Thanks for revisiting this again. We don't get why people feel the need to be this way in the first place.

Aug 14, 2008 10:52 AM #48
Anonymous
T. D. Furbush / Kensington-Hart Financial Group, LLC

Great post Rich!  Unfortunately, common sense isn't common.

Aug 14, 2008 12:24 PM #49
Anonymous
T. D. Furbush / Kensington-Hart Financial Group, LLC

Great post Rich!  Unfortunately, common sense isn't common

Aug 14, 2008 12:26 PM #50
Ambassador
502,286
Virginia Hepp - Mesquite NV REALTOR
ERA - Mesquite NV Homes For Sale - Mesquite, NV
Mesquite NV Homes and Neighborhoods - Search MLS

Rich - Good reminder.  I am a follower of the 3 C's - Courtesy, Kindness, Conscience, well make that 2 C's and a K.  I am very careful when I write a post, save it in draft, re read it, then post it, etc.  Treat others as you wish to be treated, don't say anything if you have nothing nice to say.  I am a nice person.

But I have gotten carried away in comments a couple of times and written something I shouldn't have.  The Irish side takes over.  Then I think - What was I thinking?  I wasn't thinking.

And that is the same thing.  I have had to chew on my own foot a couple of times.  Yuck.

Aug 15, 2008 09:04 AM #51
Rainmaker
102,556
Liz Carter
Liz Carter & Team Realty-Your Real Estate Resource For Life! - Katy, TX
Broker/Owner of Liz Carter & Team Realty, Katy TX (Houston)

Rich...

Hate...just a strong word, that is such a distasteful emotion.  I feel sorry for anyone that has that strong and hateful emotion/thought about anyone or anything.  Such a waste.

Live my friend Virginia, I've said things I regret (I have to you), and wish I could take it back, but once said/written the deed is done.  I believe that people who say things on the Internet would say the same things in person, it's just part of who they are.  Having met so many of my fellow AR members they truly are in person what they are on the Internet.

I also would not want your job, and can see how you must feel sometimes, like in your "Love/Hate this job" post  I am reading the blood God Calling and working on myself to be a better person.  Picking a think, habit that is not good and eliminating it.  Saying things before thinking about it is a good one to work on.  Thanks for the reminders, Liz

Aug 15, 2008 03:57 PM #53
Ambassador
627,436
Jeanean Gendron
The Address Realty - Redding, CA
Specializing in Selling Unique Properties

Rich...I'm tapping my fingers....waiting for your posts to the New Localism. Thanks for being you and all the hard work you do. Still eagerly awaiting clues to posting awesome post to the new platform! I want to see your work in your newly sponsored community!

Aug 16, 2008 01:47 PM #54
Rainmaker
223,010
John MacArthur
Century 21 Redwood - Washington, DC
Licensed Maryland/DC Realtor, Metro DC Homes

OK - sounds like a fair system. It is your playing field. It is your ball. We just stop by to wax poetic. I have probably typed a word or two that struck a nerve here or there. 

I like to quote the late Waylon Jennings

"I can't say that I'm proud of all the things that I have done, but I can say that I've never intentionally hurt anyone."

I then I realize that my feet are nothing more than red clay.

I try

I fail

I will try again

Jun 03, 2010 02:19 AM #55
Rainmaker
1,471,660
Maureen McCabe
HER Realtors - Columbus, OH
Columbus Ohio Real Estate

IMHO  THIS IS THE POST that should have got refeatured yesterday based on Bob Stewarts post yesterday where Bob wrote:  

"We recently made a mistake by featuring a few posts that we believe violated our community guidelines, and by doing so we believe we harmed the reputation of this network of professionals. Our entire team apologizes for this and I take full responsibility as one of the posts was something I featured. "

Yep the R-E-S-P-E-C-T post was one of your greatest hits but at least the one post that is being publicly aknowledged as one of the "few posts that we believe violated our community guidelines"  this seems to be the Guideline that it was judged to have violated... well except those that are also trying to argue the post was a personal attack. 

a personal attack against all women...

but isn't this  guideline that the powerful persuaders have got AR to admit the now missing formerly featured post  should not have been featured (or even allowed to stay on AR)  are resting on...

"We encourage free speech and defend everyone's right to express unpopular points of view. But we don't permit hate speech which contains slurs or the malicious use of stereotypes intended to attack or demean a particular gender, sexual orientation, race, religion, or nationality."

Isn't the criticism that the title and premise  of the post were "intended to attack or demean a particular gender,"  I am certainly not going to argue against that some members felt attacked or demeaned... by the post but the INTENTION part is a bit sketchy...   Personally I always believed the intention of the post was totally different.

Jun 04, 2010 02:22 AM #56
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