Author Topic: The Twitter account?  (Read 67401 times)

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Offline Teclo

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The Twitter account?
« on: September 13, 2012, 23:53:15 PM »
When the Forum Twitter account posted:

Quote
The WikiLeaks Forum distances itself from Tweets made yesterday by @assange


who was it talking on behalf? (apologies I can't seem to upload a picture).

In Z’s latest forum announcement he states that “This forum will not take sides”. I imagine this necessitates a Twitter account that continues to simply signpost to the various discussions at the forum rather than declaring a ‘position’.

Either ‘the Forum’ is an open collective constituted of and subjectively owned by the many individuals who post and moderate there or the ‘The forum’ is owned by one or more key members of staff who make decisions about how the  forum and Twitter account is run independently of the collective that post there. 

I would suggest that the forum declares itself either to be a community owned space (and cease to publish personal opinion under the forum banner) or to make its owners more visible and their position with regards to WikiLeaks more explicit (so that personal opinions can be easily attributed to them and not the entire community that accesses the forum). Either way I think you should consider re-writing your mission statement to make it clearer as to the remit of the forum. Currently it states that forum is operated by WikiLeaks and makes no mention of the purpose of the Twitter account. This would lead people to believe from the above mentioned Tweet that there has been some schism within the official WikiLeaks organisation or that the Forum as a collective had made a decision in response to the WikiLeaks tweet regarding the US. Neither would be accurate.

Much more clarity is needed in my opinion, particularly as the forum appears to be undergoing change at the moment.

Teclo

Offline anon1984

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Re: The Twitter account?
« Reply #1 on: September 14, 2012, 00:31:51 AM »
Hi Teclo,

thanks for your feedback. I'm glad to answer your questions and adress your concerns as good as I can.

The twitter account is run by several members of the forum staff, and of course we are always determined not to express personal opinions when speaking on behalf of the forum.
As to the particular tweet which made you decide to post here: I am sure you have heard the sentence "silence means approval". Thus, not reacting to those tweets made by WikiLeaks yesterday might be considered just as much an expression of personal opinion as doing the opposite, namely distancing oneself from them.
I'd also like to comment on your suggestion here:
Quote
or to make its owners more visible and their position with regards to WikiLeaks more explicit
I'm sure you will understand that it is not possible to make the owners of the forum more visible. It is for the sake of their own safety and out of respect for their privacy that their identities are not to be revealed.

Also, this
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Currently it states that forum is operated by WikiLeaks
must obviously be a misunderstanding. The Forum was founded with the help of WikiLeaks, but is operated by volunteers and WikiLeaks explicitly state this on their website, along with the disclaimer that WikiLeaks cannot be held accountable for actions or opinions expressed by the forum and its (staff-)members.

The purpose of the Twitter account is promoting the forum, drawing attention to new posts there and inviting people to discuss them.

Finally, you are right to say that the Forum is undergoing a change. While it used to be more like a "link-farm", we are now more than ever determined to encourage debate, to foster Freedom of Information and Expression and to make sure that everyone can make their voice heard and express their own point of view here.

I hope my reply seems sufficient - if however you do think there is a question I left unanswered, a point I did not clarify, then please let me know. I shall be happy to answer.

Thanks again for your input, Teclo :)

All the best,
anon1984
[The] truth is incontrovertible. Panic may resent it, ignorance may deride it, malice may distort it, but there it is.
- Winston Churchill

Make it dark, make it grim, make it tough, but then, for the love of God, tell a joke. - Joss Whedon

Offline Teclo

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Re: The Twitter account?
« Reply #2 on: September 14, 2012, 00:53:47 AM »
Thanks anon1984, but let me make myself clearer.

In the mission statement posted here at the forum ( http://www.wikileaks-forum.com/index.php/topic,2365.0.html )

it is stated:

Quote
The Wikileaks Forum (www.wikileaks-forum.com) is an online discussion community operated by the non-profit media organization Wikileaks. Our aim is to create an open space for people to share their thoughts and ideas on Wikileaks and other topics.

I (respectfully) disagree entirely with your point about 'silence being approval' in this instance. If the forum was declaring itself as a neutral collective (which it appears to be when it states that it will not take sides) then it just should not position itself. Silence will just be read as continued neutrality. The forum is a vast collective and the Twitter account cannot claim to speak on behalf of everyone here. It did not speak for me in this instance.

If the Twitter account wants to position itself then it should make it clear 'who' is making the statement. Of course I am not suggesting people reveal their identities (?!) but we know there are many ways in which an author of a site can identify themselves as such. In the same way personal blogs reveal their authors identity while maintaining their anonymity so can the forum. At the moment the title of 'The WikiLeaks Forum' refers to a faceless collective of many many individuals- I am simply saying that the forum should either be neutral and resist using the title for posting opinions or should be clearer about who it is speaking on behalf of and who it is not.

Apologies for signing off now- I have work in the morning :)

Teclo

Offline anon1984

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Re: The Twitter account?
« Reply #3 on: September 14, 2012, 01:36:39 AM »
I see now that you were referring to our original mission statement. Please note that it was posted in May 2011, though. We have since then updated it, so to speak - we have made a new announcement which can be found here: http://www.wikileaks-forum.com/index.php/topic,14177.0.html
We have clarified it there that
Quote
The forum is still run by supporters as explained on http://wikileaks.org/Supporters.html

It is true, we are trying to be a neutral collective. However, due to the sheer number of members on this Forum, it is only natural that every now and then someone will disagree with the actions taken on behalf of the Forum - like you are disagreeing with the tweet in question. It is impossible to always speak for everyone here, although we try our best. When members are dissatisfied, as you are, however, they are free to make themselves heard and start a discussion about what they are dissatisfied with. You see that we listen to your input, we take the time to answer - and everyone who reads this thread will know that you do not feel represented by this tweet. (This thread will, as all new topics here, be tweeted.)
We had an interesting discussion about the forums neutrality a while back - see here: http://www.wikileaks-forum.com/index.php/topic,14076.msg38719.html#msg38719

I presume you suggest, then, that the people who are tweeting should somehow sign the tweets so everyone knows who was speaking there, for example by signing with our Forum names. However, we, the admins, have made the decision not to expose the people who operate the twitter account to the public, not even by their Forum names, as even this puts them at a certain risk and we are not ready to put our mods and admins at any risk. Also, when people were dissatisfied with a specific tweet, they have come to us and asked who had tweeted this and demanded we gag this person. It is also because of this that we are unwilling to make public who operates the twitter account - we are unwilling to gag them.

However, we do attempt to stay as neutral as possible. We are human, and we are not always able to satisfy everyone. But we do our best, and we will continue to do our best to stay neutral and to represent everyone satisfactorily.
However, I appreciate that you have brought up this issue :)
You always have a space here to bring up things you are not satisfied with. Thank you for your feedback :)

All the best & good night (or good morning...whenever you read it. Just choose the appropriate salutation ;))

- anon1984
[The] truth is incontrovertible. Panic may resent it, ignorance may deride it, malice may distort it, but there it is.
- Winston Churchill

Make it dark, make it grim, make it tough, but then, for the love of God, tell a joke. - Joss Whedon

Offline Teclo

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Re: The Twitter account?
« Reply #4 on: September 14, 2012, 09:20:45 AM »
Hi Anon1984

Quote
I see now that you were referring to our original mission statement. Please note that it was posted in May 2011, though. We have since then updated it, so to speak - we have made a new announcement which can be found here: http://www.wikileaks-forum.com/index.php/topic,14177.0.html

Yes- I know, that's why I suggested you update your mission statement which, while old, still sits in a prominent place on the site. A threaded post should not replace a mission statement.

Quote
. However, due to the sheer number of members on this Forum, it is only natural that every now and then someone will disagree with the actions taken on behalf of the Forum

This is the point of my post- no-one can claim to speak on behalf of the entire forum as the idea of the forum is not to arrive at a consensus. Therefore the forum Twitter account should cease to operate as a conduit for personal opinion- it will be read by the Twitter community as a consensus position when it is not- I think this will fracture discussion rather than foster an environment for respectful dialogue.


Quote
I presume you suggest, then, that the people who are tweeting should somehow sign the tweets
You presume wrong! Of course this would not work, 140 characters is not long enough for signatures at the very least!!! I am not wanting to 'out' certain people for their views, I am simply pointing out that I think there is a contradiction in the way the Twitter account is run and the ethos of the forum itself that I would suggest needs to be resolved.

It could be resolved easily by the twitter account simply posting links and the admins not posting on there as individuals. This is what an 'objective' forum is- admins avoid expressing opinions and can post under alternative nicks if they want to express their personal opinions.

I simply believe the forum is acting in two conflicting ways at the moment- it is purporting to be neutral, objective and collective while positioning itself on Twitter via the decisions of a few individuals.

Kind thoughts,

Teclo



Z

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Re: The Twitter account?
« Reply #5 on: September 14, 2012, 11:40:54 AM »

Quote
This is the point of my post- no-one can claim to speak on behalf of the entire forum as the idea of the forum is not to arrive at a consensus

was Assange speaking on behalf of WikiLeaks and all its supporters when he tweeted this ?-- > http://www.heraldsun.com.au/ipad/wikileaks-tweet-blames-us-policy-for-attack-on-libyan-embassy/story-fnbzs1v0-1226474129391


enrica

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Re: The Twitter account?
« Reply #6 on: September 14, 2012, 13:38:44 PM »
Teclo hi :)

The forum has all the place to express support for WL and Wikipeople, it also hosts the Support Assange platform for that kind of posts, where everyone can contribute.
Feel free of posting all the supportive articles, comments and news you think can be helpful.
Some of them will be surely also retweeted.

The Forum has place also for critcal comments if someone notices there is something should be changed or improoved.

Z's post explains the reasons of the last mentioned forum's posts.

This is an Open Space where all the ideas can meet.


Offline anon1984

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Re: The Twitter account?
« Reply #7 on: September 14, 2012, 19:49:29 PM »
Teclo, please forgive me having misunderstood your suggestion - I sincerely hope you do not think I am doing it on purpose.
So, let me try again:

Quote
it will be read by the Twitter community as a consensus position when it is not
I do still think that silence could in this case be understood as approval by the Twitter community - it would thus have appeared just as much as a consensus position. As we tweet every post on this Forum, we have also tweeted this discussion (see here https://twitter.com/wikileaks_forum/status/246392150831550464) Thus, we show your dissent with this tweet publicly; this means that people will see it is not a consensus position.

I fully understand your point here:
Quote
This is what an 'objective' forum is- admins avoid expressing opinions and can post under alternative nicks if they want to express their personal opinions.
We are trying our best to achieve this, but as I said before, even Forum admins and tweeters are only human ;)

Also, as we are just discussing a tweet made by the forum in reaction to a tweet by WikiLeaks, I think it might me worth while to also discuss that original tweet. You, Teclo, felt misrepresented by the Forums tweet. But how about WikiLeaks' tweet? Doesn't the person/Don't the people who run(s) this account claim to be speaking on behalf of all WikiLeaks supporters? Well, did you feel well represented by this tweet? If you check the answers to it on twitter, or on Facebook (some are mentioned in the article posted here by =Z=) you will see that many supporters felt misrepresented by this tweet. Although we are a Forum, we still have a certain responsibility, and the person who was tweeting from the Forums account felt that this tweet was also in their name and in the name of all the work they have done for WikiLeaks.
While we are always striving for as much objectivity as possible, we are not just a link-farm. We were one in the past, and we certainly do not wish do go back to that.

The Forum is made up out of people, and we all have the right to question statements - whether they are made by the Forums twitter account or by WikiLeaks or Assange himself. I'm sure you will agree with me on that.

Cheers,

anon1984 :)
[The] truth is incontrovertible. Panic may resent it, ignorance may deride it, malice may distort it, but there it is.
- Winston Churchill

Make it dark, make it grim, make it tough, but then, for the love of God, tell a joke. - Joss Whedon

Offline Teclo

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Re: The Twitter account?
« Reply #8 on: September 14, 2012, 20:35:14 PM »
With respect Z, anon1984 and Isis, your responses to my thread seem to be reacting to a perceived attack from me on opinions you hold about WL or the tweet regarding the US. This is inaccurate.


Your reply post to me Z:
Quote
was Assange speaking on behalf of WikiLeaks and all its supporters when he tweeted this ?

serves as a useful illustration to my point perhaps. Let me try to explain.

Firstly, I have not posted this thread to debate whether or not the forum should be open to those opposing WL or JA or whatever. My post is quite specifically about the Twitter account and clarity. It seems I have provoked quite a defensive reaction from some of you here which was not an intention, I was simply taking up the invitation to dialogue.

Secondly, Z  (and subsequently anon1984) you make a point in your post about who WikiLeaks were speaking on behalf of when they tweeted 'that' tweet. Well, they were speaking on behalf of the WikiLeaks organisation which is what we would expect. We would not expect them to speak on behalf of us supporters. We choose to support them or not by positioning ourselves to their work; it does not happen the other way around- that they position their work to align with our values.

The Forum however, it has been repeatedly stated, is a place for many people with varying views to engage in dialogue. The Forum Twitter account, we have established, is a faceless, nameless vehicle for promoting new posts. My point is that it should not blur it's focus and become a conduit for the opinions of certain individuals as those opinions will necessarily be read as those of the entire community.

Again I will be clear- I am not engaging in a conversation here about whether the forum should be open to the views of those who do not agree with WL/JA etc. Z (and perhaps others involved in this conversation) clearly are opposed to the tweet sent by WikiLeaks. I am not suggesting that you should not hold these views, nor that you should not express them on the forum. Here in a post we can quite clearly see who the opinion should be attributed to and who it should not. My point is that Twitter account reflects the entire forum community and should maintain neutral integrity regardless of what discussion is going on at the forum. From my position the Twitter account is repeatedly straying from neutrality and this is a great shame.

If the Twitter account continues to reflect the opinions of the admins that run it then you are going to stifle the open dialogue you are trying to foster in my opinion. Those that operate the Twitter account have a more powerful voice than those that post on the forum. It would seem responsible to be clear about how this is managed.

Despite the current shift of the forum towards 'open' and 'critical' debate it does feel quite a challenge (ironically) to critique the forum and changes here without prompting defensiveness or impatience. Perhaps this is inevitable as many of you must dedicate a lot of your time here on making the forum work. However this is also a shame and I hope that I am simply misreading your posts and Tweets wrong.

Perhaps those of you who replied to me in this thread simply disagree with me and feel that it is suitable for the Forum Twitter account to reveal personal opinions. Perhaps all I am asking is for this to be made clearer.

ps. I have just seen your last reply anon1984:

Quote
I do still think that silence could in this case be understood as approval by the Twitter community - it would thus have appeared just as much as a consensus position. As we tweet every post on this Forum, we have also tweeted this discussion (see here https://twitter.com/wikileaks_forum/status/246392150831550464) Thus, we show your dissent with this tweet publicly; this means that people will see it is not a consensus position.

Again, if the Twitter account claims to be  neutral as you have stated then it's default position is neutrality. Those posting on the Twitter account who felt that they needed to make a statement about 'That' tweet could have posted a thread first and then simply signposted to it on the Twitter account. This would have maintained the neutrality of the Twitter account. Of course you may disagree and feel that the Twitter account should not be neutral and this would be a valid decision for those who own the forum to make. My point is that it can't be both things- it is either neutral or it is not and that what ever it is needs to be clear.

Of course I am not thinking you are deliberately misunderstanding me anon1984! I am always happy to make myself clearer- as you can see I like to engage in lengthy dialogue when I have the time!!

Kind thoughts,

Teclo



Offline Riney

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Re: The Twitter account?
« Reply #9 on: September 15, 2012, 01:31:54 AM »
     Well, this has been a lively discussion for sure.  :) I have been so busy lately- work and all - I feel like I have arrived quite late. There are many things that I would agree and disagree with of course and I will do my best to not repeat  things that have already been said.   

   Let's look at the tweet in question that started this whole thread:

>The WikiLeaks Forum distances itself from Tweets made yesterday by @assange<

   I personally do not believe that the forum twitter account expresses the position of the forum to the degree that some people believe it does, but that is just my own feelings towards the matter. I do not hold a strong opinion that the twitter account must remain in a neutral position at all times - because I personally do not put as much clout into each tweet by the forum as representing the forum as a whole. 

  For example, what if the tweet read like this:

  >WikiLeaks distances itself from Tweets made yesterday by The WikiLeaks Forum<

  I know that WikiLeaks is a different organization from a forum - they certainly can even have a well established opinion about most things and may not have to be neutral about anything they stand for. But my point is this, from the tweet above I am not going to assume that WikiLeaks as a group of people that work together ALL are distancing themselves from The WikiLeaks Forum. 
   In reality, I know that several people tweet for WikiLeaks and at that moment, the person that is tweeting for WikiLeaks is deciding that the tweets recently released by the forum are not of their liking and that they think that most people in the organization as a whole would agree with them so they decided to go ahead and make the executive decision to tweet it. Ok, that is all I am going to believe. I am sure some would like to argue that I am wrong- the statement clearly says WikiLeaks and represents all of WikiLeaks as an organization and I must then assume that the tweet is literal.

   I think I come to this apathy towards pinning down the opinions of tweeters - whether it be whole groups of people tweeting for one account or even single account owners- from my over exposure of people to draw black and white conclusions about everything in this story. I am doing my best to remain open minded. It is my experience in this conflict of opinions that when people want to believe something so badly, they will in fact find a way to bend the truth in their rationalizations to believe in the end exactly what they want to believe.   
                   
« Last Edit: September 15, 2012, 01:35:16 AM by Riney »
"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage" Anais Nin .. and yet we must arm ourselves with fear

Offline Teclo

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Re: The Twitter account?
« Reply #10 on: September 15, 2012, 10:55:56 AM »

Hi Objectiviser and All,

I think this would be a great move forward. Adding the word THREAD before each Tweet is a good way of declaring neutrality. I also think your suggestion for separating an individuals contributions in terms of admin/non-admin is a good way of allowing everyone to be able to hold an opinion whilst recognising that when acting with administrator privileges that individual has more power.

I should imagine that any approach to managing a forum will have pro's and con's and will not entirely suit everyone- it's always good to keep having conversations like this, I think.

Kind thoughts

Teclo

As one of the newcomers, I do not know the history of the forum and so forth, and I am not in a position to judge the effect of recent changes beyond saying that they brought me here.

Having stated my ignorance, I won't refrain from having an opinion.  I think Teclo has raised a good point. If the twitter feed remains neutral, then (by definition) it should not state opinions. The suggestion of making a forum post and then tweeting it sounds good, but if the thread is created by an admin and states a policy, then it really amounts to the same thing, just at one remove.

If I may make a suggestion: perhaps the admins could start a discussion not with a statement, but with a question.

If a new thread was created and the title was something like:

"Do our members support the tweet by Wikileaks today about sieges?"

and had a body that said something such as:

"Among the admins there is discussion about the tweet, and we generally think X.  What does everyone else think?"

then that would perhaps be a more neutral way to do it, as the tweet would link directly to contrary opinions.  Even more neutral would be to omit the opinions of the admins and just let the debate happen.

A tweet could be sent from the twitter account to the thread.

It could also be argued that the role of chairing a debate should be neutral.  The chair can sum up the arguments of both sides, and must represent the views fairly.  In cases such as the siege tweet (or even this very thread), it could be permissible for the main twitter account to summarize the discussion along the lines of:

"WLF siege tweet sparks debate on forum. Is this twitter account neutral? Is it changing? Admins reply, Objectiviser trolls everyone."

Side note: yesterday the forum was criticised by somebody when it tweeted the title of an article. It was taken as an opinion of the forum (perhaps this illustrates Teclo's point rather well).  It may help clarify if the feed prefixed tweets with the word: "THREAD:" or something, to make it clear to people who don't yet follow the account that it's not an opinion in the tweet but a link to a discussion.

Side note 2: should the admins have to remain neutral at all times? I get the principle, but the consequences are:
a) intelligent people don't get to join the debate, where they could make useful contributions
b) some people who would make good admins do not accept as they would have to surrender their right to comment.

Some forums have a policy whereby an admin account is marked in a different colour when in admin mode, or account names could be "=Z=" and "Admin =Z=". One could be used for debate, the other for modding.

The rule of neutrality would have to still apply, so an admin should not be able to mod a thread on which they themselves have commented.  Or it could be divided by sub-forum. But it is a shame to lose individual contributions as people get kicked upstairs into modhood.

ariana

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Re: The Twitter account?
« Reply #11 on: September 15, 2012, 22:37:59 PM »
To be honest, we don't need to use the word "thread" in twitter as we are the forum and 99% of all links point to a thread. Anything other than a link to a thread is either an announcement or a statement.
« Last Edit: September 15, 2012, 22:40:11 PM by ariana »

Offline anon1984

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Re: The Twitter account?
« Reply #12 on: September 16, 2012, 00:17:11 AM »
Oh well, sometimes the titles of threads do get misread, for example when they are questions.
For example, see this tweet and the reply below: https://twitter.com/wikileaks_forum/status/246193712735088640
(I know, not a question, but still it serves as an example ^^)

It might be useful to add the word "Thread" or "Discussion" in such cases, just to make sure to prevent misunderstandings :)
[The] truth is incontrovertible. Panic may resent it, ignorance may deride it, malice may distort it, but there it is.
- Winston Churchill

Make it dark, make it grim, make it tough, but then, for the love of God, tell a joke. - Joss Whedon

Z

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Re: The Twitter account?
« Reply #13 on: September 16, 2012, 14:02:21 PM »
I agree with Ariana on this....we are just a forum. I dont think we dont need to add anything to our tweets. 99.99% of tweets links back to the forum in the form of a thread. Anything else is simply either an announcement, statement or simple message ( can even be a link to a youtube vid ).




















Offline Erasmas

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Re: The Twitter account?
« Reply #14 on: September 16, 2012, 15:51:33 PM »
but most of the people think, that these threads are official wl statements. with adding this little word you provide misunderstanding.