Suggestion: Impartial Mediators

During the last week, I witnessed a number of interactions which became heated, and at least one of which derailed. As an outsider to those discussions, it seemed that the problems were caused by misunderstandings and misinterpretation of things that had been written. It seemed like feelings have been hurt.

I think it would be great if the Haskell Foundation could offer help in resolving these conflicts. Even disagreement between people who are acting in good faith can become heated and damaging. The Guidelines for Respectful Communication help, but are not enough. In the interest of preventing long-running feuds within the community, I’d like to request the instantiation of a group of mediators who’d be willing to conciliate. If both parties agree, of course.

The Foundation is bringing many people together who went separate ways before. Conflict seems unavoidable. I believe that it would be best if we planned for this, and allowed it to happen, but in a way that protects and supports those involved.

What would be required to make this happen?

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While I broadly agree with the spirit of your observations, I think active moderation poses a large mental and material burden on the persons involved. It’s good that people are made aware of the “sign above the entrance”, though.

I think a more practical/lightweight step in the right direction would be to gradually shift towards platforms that 1. better preserve context and 2. don’t gamify conflict .
Discourse is very well designed, IMO. Reddit gamifies conflict (the downvote button etc.). Email threads are absolutely indigestible (and made me want to quit Haskell-Cafe multiple times).

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I agree, moderators would not be the answer. To clarify my post a bit: I’m proposing to create a pool of people who can be called upon, either by the conflicting parties, or by a third party, to step up and help the discussion to move forward. They would typically not take initial action by themselves, but be available for cases where discussions have reached an impasse, and possibly become hostile.

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