[SIGCIS-Members] Updates and changes to SIGCIS website and mailing list

Andrew Russell arussell at arussell.org
Fri Aug 25 05:45:43 PDT 2017

Dear colleagues - 

As you know, the SIGCIS email list has been in an “emergency moderation” mode since late May. Since then the SIGCIS Officers have reflected on the problems that occurred on and beyond the list, and we have been working on ways to address these problems and make positive changes for our community.  I’m writing today with an update about what we have done, and what our next steps are.

1. Statement of Community Values
The Officers decided that a good first step would be to articulate the foundational values that we, as a community, aspire to embody and uphold.  This statement is posted at http://www.sigcis.org/node/404 <http://www.sigcis.org/node/404> (the page name was system-generated, in case you’re wondering), and I’m pasting it here as well. It can be found under the “About SIGCIS” heading on the left-sided menu at sigcis.org <http://sigcis.org/>.

We study the past: SIGCIS is a community dedicated to studying the past of information technology. We tackle this common task using many disciplinary perspectives and analytical methods.
We embrace SHOT’s call for openness and pluralism: SIGCIS welcomes SHOT’s description of SIGs as groups aimed at “bringing together scholars and professionals with interests in specific fields of the history of technology.”
We aim to bring people and institutions together: SIGCIS values our community’s ability to bring together people from a broad range of institutions—which include universities, museums, libraries, clubs, corporations, and professional associations.
We are strengthened by our community’s diversity: SIGCIS recognizes that our members’ social diversity and breadth of disciplinary approaches constitute our core strengths as a scholarly community.
We are committed to supporting our community’s diversity: SIGCIS does not tolerate oppressive behavior. This includes, but is not limited to, objectification, online or off-line harassment, and stereotyping or discriminating based on gender, race, class, national origin, religion, or professional affiliation and background.

2. Revised Acceptable Use Policy for members at SIGCIS.org <mailto:members at SIGCIS.org>
The Officers also agreed that we should update our old Acceptable Use Policy, and we worked hard to find a consensus about what it should say.  The revised AUP can be found at http://www.sigcis.org/node/14 <http://www.sigcis.org/node/14>, available from the “Email List” heading on the left-sided menu.  I won’t paste it here, since it’s somewhat lengthy, but it will be posted to the list regularly (at least twice per year). It consists of four sections: History and Function; Community Standards and Expectations; Acceptable Topics; and Restricted Topics.

3. Moderation of members at SIGCIS.org
The Officers discussed many options for the future of our main email list, members at SIGCIS.org.  I can’t say we achieved unanimity, but I think we feel comfortable with our solution.  We have decided to keep the list open, with one significant change: a group of volunteer moderators who will keep a close eye on the list and promptly address any questions or violation of list policies that come up.  The moderators will work with SIGCIS Officers to take action on posts that they determine to be marginally inappropriate, inappropriate, or clearly offensive.  We have already taken action regarding some specific past postings.  Our overarching goal in moving to a model of list moderation is simple: to devote more care to guiding discussion in respectful and productive ways, and to avoid problems we have encountered in the past when discussions have veered off the rails.  A description of the Moderator Responsibilities and Guidelines, as well as contact information for our (heroic!) moderators, is posted at http://www.sigcis.org/node/19 <http://www.sigcis.org/node/19>.  

With these steps in place, we plan to open up the list to regular postings in the coming weeks.  If you have comments or questions in the meantime, please feel free to reach out to me or any of the Officers or Moderators.  

Thank you for your patience as we have worked through this challenging time for our community.  We are trying our best to strengthen our community, to demonstrate our unwavering support for our community’s diversity and collegiality, and to restore the mailing list so that it can function again as a productive space for all of us who are passionate about computer and information history.  


Andy Russell

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