The Completely Disorderly Guy Who Doesn't Walk ([personal profile] nyarlathotep) wrote in [community profile] steampunk_nusantara2010-03-24 05:35 pm
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Steampunk Nusantara: Policies and Guidelines

Okay, serious face on. Comments in this post are considered fully-OOC.

This is the policies and guidelines document. It tells you, the potential applicant to the community, most of what you need to know about Steampunk Nusantara. We, the admins, reserve to revise rules and rights as we deem necessary. Please read this document as part of your Orientation Packet.

Purpose of Document

This document talks about the policies and guidelines that will be used in this community. We begin by talking about what this community is, what its goals are, and then the policies that we will use to ensure that these goals are met.

About Steampunk Nusantara

What is Steampunk Nusantara?

Steampunk Nusantara is a collaborative alternate-history world-building exercise, focused in the creation of a meta-setting focused on steampunk, centred in South East Asia. To break it down, it goes as follows:

  • Steampunk Nusantara is collaborative: it is the work of multiple people, working together and contributing their insights and creativity towards the project's goal.
  • Steampunk Nusantara is alternate-history: it describes a world that has a different history in comparison to ours.
  • Steampunk Nusantara is world-building: instead of creating a single or a series of narratives, the goal of Steampunk Nusantara is to create a non-linear corpus that describes a living, breathing world.
  • The end result of Steampunk Nusantara is a meta-setting: The final result of Steampunk Nusantara is not the creation of a coherent narrative, or a final indisputable "history" -- it is more a "toolkit" or a "generator" that gives people a chance to create their own worlds and universes inspired from or following Steampunk Nusantara's theme.
  • The end result of Steampunk Nusantara is, obviously, steampunk: A defining element of steampunk is the creation of works that incorporate old ideas and technology into new and futuristic points of view and paradigms (retro-futurism), and looking at how world politics and humanity is affected by such a change.
  • The end result of Steampunk Nusantara is centred in South East Asia: this does not mean that all fiction about Steampunk Nusantara must be set in South-East Asia, because South East Asia was influenced by, and in turn influenced, regions as far-flung as India, the Middle East, Imperial China and even Europe.
    • What it does mean is that the events described in Steampunk Nusantara find their focus in South-East Asia -- and, as we link this to the concept of alternate history, not as a subjugated or oppressed culture and people (who find redemption and greatness in defeating their parlous circumstances, for example), but as independent powers of their own, with equally powerful contemporaries, and lacking the "David vs. Goliath" mindset of popular narratives.
What Are Steampunk Nusantara's Objectives?
  • As a media for collaboration:
    • Provide a safe space: First and foremost, Steampunk Nusantara strives to provide participants with a safe-space to work and collaborate with one another, while providing those who feel that their voices are silenced in common discourse the ability to explore and create.
    • Encourage the exchange of ideas: While being able to perform in front of an appreciative audience is rewarding and pleasurable, this is, not necessarily, space for you to show the world how awesome you are, so much as it is a chance for you to pass on ideas that others may be able to riff on and create more awesome works.
  • As a work of alternate-history:
    • Explore the possibilities of alternate methods of viewing history, knowledge and ideas: Like it or not, the fact that you're on the Internet does essentially mean that you have more than a passing familliarity with how the dominant Western culture views topics like religion, history, truth and knowledge. Steampunk Nusantara, as detailed below, exists in a world where Colonialism as we know it does not exist, or exists in a radically changed state. What is that like?
    • Ask, "What if?": What if the Empires of old had not collapsed, but instead embraced the ideals and methods of the Industrial Age, according to their paradigms? What if humankind went to space in the 1930s (or the equivalent local date?) What if the lands described and recorded in local histories were not "superstitious nonsense" recorded by "primitive savages", but held more than a grain of truth in them?
  • As a work of world-building:
    • Document events, writings, fictions, images, stories, songs and anything else: While the frame story exists to provide Steampunk Nusantara with a (tenuous) link to the world of Here-and-Now, the main focus of this community will always be the documentation of everything that our intrepid (and underpaid) researchers are able to find that relate to the world of Steampunk Nusantara.
    • As a central storage and clearing-house for materials: This serves two purposes: as a point of reference for other researchers, and as a point of inspiration.
  • As a meta-setting:
    • Not be final: Contradictions and enigmas exist in the real world, and in Steampunk Nusantara, more so. Remember again: the frame story essentially provides all of us with one, small peephole into the Steampunk Nusantara universe. Not only does our background, unspoken biases and life experience permanently not allow us the ability to "get" Steampunk Nusantara in a visceral and intuitive fashion (read: we can only express certain experiences in that universe only in reference to ours), but there is difficulty determining what is historical truth, fiction, propaganda, lie and delusion.
    • Provide tools for others as a springboard for their own creations: While we individually own the created works within Steampunk Nusantara, the goal of how we license individual works is to make sure that others can build their own universes with inspiration and reference to our efforts. All that we ask is as follows:
      1. That you provide us with credit for your original inspiration.
      2. That you contact us and request for permission to use our works in the event that you wish to incorporate directly our works in yours.
Specific policies, reiterated:
Joining the community:

Yes, it does look like fun, doesn't it? Here's what you can do to participate:

  • Want to read the cool stuff, but not necessarily participate? Subscribe to the community! This way, you'll be able to see the cool stuff that we're hammering out, but not necessarily be exposed to the nitty-gritty details.
  • Want to contribute? Join the community! Please note, however, that if we have no idea who you are, we're going to ask you questions, including but not necessarily limited to:
    • Who are you?
    • How did you find out about us?
    • How do you identify yourself as?
    • Why are you joining?
  • There is a possibility, for any number of reasons (which we may not necessarily share with you), we may put you in probationary access. After a certain period (likely after the creation of several non-problematic posts), we'll move you out of probation.
  • It's also likely that we may reject your application at this time. In this case, one of the administrators will contact you directly.
  • Once we accept you:

That's all there is to it.

Clean-up periods:

As administrators, we will run through a regular cleanup of the member roster, looking for inactive members and lurkers. When that happens, we'll post a announcement in the group with a deadline (typically a week after the announcement post). After that, we'll be looking at posts made between the time of the last announcement and the current deadline:

  • If you haven't made a post in the employee roll-call thread, we'll remove you from the group immediately.
  • If you have made a post previously, but haven't done a post between the last announcement and the current deadline, we'll remove posting access but keep you in the membership roll.
  • If you haven't made a post between the last announcement and the current deadline, and you don't have posting access (likely because we removed posting access during the last round), we'll remove you from the group membership.

If you get removed due to inactivity, what do you need to do? Easy! Just reapply, and once we re-accept you, post! We'll put you back in, but keep your posting access off. Once we've received a post from you in our moderation queue, we'll reinstate posting access, and everything will be peachy.

The focus of this community is to document the universe Steampunk Nusantara, not to play with the frame story:

There has been some confusion as to what exactly this project is, and for that, we apologize. Let's be clear on it this time round, though: your main task, as a researcher in this community, is to document what you find in Steampunk Nusantara.

You as a researcher? Well, you really don't exist. At least, not in a sense that you have a specific goals, motivations, personal history, personality and friendships.

Yes, you are allowed to banter away with the people you meet and know in the community; after all, some degree of play is needed, or we'll all end up dull. But in the end, your task is to document, and that means contributing to the database.

You are not allowed to be racist, sexist, bigoted, homophobic, ableist and transphobic:

Seriously. This is, and we'll reiterate this again, is a safe-space. That means you don't get a free pass in threatening fellow researchers, or anyone, really. Even if you "didn't mean it", or "it was a joke, I swear!"

As administrators, we don’t have a lot of (or any, considering) indulgence when it comes to specific kinds of bigotry, and we will come down hard on any we find here. If you acquit yourself well (see Getting Into Trouble, below), we might let you off with something non-permanent. But don't push it.

Cultural Exchange Is Okay, Appropriation Is Not:

Anyone who's familliar with SEAsian history knows that there is no such thing as boundaries between cultures -- The Sultanates of Melaka trace their ancestries to Palembang, Majapahit has strong Hindu infuences, the Princes of Sulu and Bugis steal and trade and rob everyone, the Vietnamese and the Burmese trade and fight with Chinese and Indian empires, Siam demands tribute from everyone, and there are Arab traders everywhere. As it is, some degree of cultural leakage is inevitable, and in some cases, displaying this in your work is laudable.

This isn't the case when you appropriate an aspect of someone's culture for your work.

The primary difference is, in essence, is the power-level between you and your culture and the culture you are taking your ideas from. Examples you see a lot of anti-oppression sites on the Internet concern themselves with white / Western appropriation over Eastern / "Oriental" elements, but this can still happen between SEAsian cultures. Malaysians, think: "Malingsia", and you know what I'm talking about.

This is a thorny, difficult subject, because it can be hard to know the difference between homage and outright theft. Here are, however, some guidelines:

  • Are you aware of the relationship between the group that you're getting your ideas from and the group you belong in? One of the first signs that you might be in appropriation territory is that you don't realize the relationship between the culture whose elements you are "borrowing", and the society you belong to. If you aren't, or you don't think it's a big deal, that's a big warning sign.
  • Did you put that element in because you think it "looks cool"?If it does, there is a pretty big chance that you're appropriating.
  • Is the existence of that element one-dimensional and superficial? Did you consider the inclusion of those elements, however incompletely, in context to your work as a whole?
  • Are you trading on an image that already exists without further exploring its context? Are you using a stereotype just because it's already available, or purposefully to subvert it?
  • Do you feel defensive in thinking these questions, or would you be defensive if someone points these elements out to you? Most importantly, a pretty big sign of cultural appropriation is a sudden impulse you may get when someone points out that your work may be appropriating from their culture. Is your work an "homage", and that other people "don't get it"? Are other people "accusing" you, and are they "over-sensitive"? These are pretty big warning signs of unexamined privilege.
Getting Into Trouble:

Bad behaviour will place you on a black list. Depending on harm, your posting privileges will be revoked, or you will be banned outright from the community.

If you do get in the black list, you can attempt to get in touch with the administrators via email to plead your case, but please note the following:

  1. No one is out to get you: at least, not anyone necessarily in the administrator's group. The main goal of the administrators is to ensure that the community is a thriving, healthy space for everyone (not just you!) to work creatively.
  2. Maybe it's time to pull back a little: You know, at least one of the administrators (guess which one ^^;;) gets themselves into trouble in the Internet, because The Internet Is Serious Business, and You're Wrong, Just Wrong, Damn You. You know what? When that starts happening, the best thing you might want to do is take some time off the Internet. Hang out with people you care about. Play some video games. Finish up your reading. Get some exercise. Distract yourself, and there is a possibility that when you get back, things will look a little more manageable, and people will seem a little more reasonable. Or, at least, you'll be refreshed and you'll be able to deal with them better.
  3. There usually is a good reason for the administrators to use the banhammer: This may come as a surprise, but we don't like banning people. It means that we've screwed up somewhere, and things were not made clear, and existing protections failed, and we've had to use the weapon of last resort. And that sucks, because we'll have to act like jerks, and that never feels good (even for the one administrator who appears to enjoy acting like a petty tin-pot tyrant). So if the one thing you're doing is to try and prove your innocence or to shift the blame to someone else... that's pretty much doing it wrong.
  4. There is a possibility that we have tried explaining it to you: Since using the banhammer is an unpleasant experience, most of us will spend some time trying to talk to you out of bad behavior, before considering more drastic solutions. If you insist that no one has told you about what you're doing is wrong, and how it's wrong, please take a look at the previous correspondence between members of this community, the administrators, and you. Preferably after doing #2.
  5. We don't want an apology, and the only good atonement is listening, followed by good work: Some of us have seen it before; you've done wrong, and you feel really bad about it, and you want to make amends. First off: don't beat yourself up in public. That only serves to make you feel better, not fix the problem. Second: fix the problem as quickly and without as much fanfare as possible. Atonement means that you did bad, and now you're trying to work back to a neutral position in the community. It does not mean that you're in any way a better person for doing what you are doing. You are not getting pats on the head for being a grown adult.
  6. Even with the atonement, it will take some time for the problem to go away: Just because you're trying to fix what wrong you have done in the community doesn't mean that the problem will go away. People will still worry that you're going to do it again. There will be trust issues between you and the community. This is normal. Best not to dwell in it, or bring it up in public conversation.

Please feel free to comment on this post to provide comments and request for clarification on anything we may not have made clear. We'll update this post if anything new comes up.

dhobikikutti: earthen diya (Default)

[personal profile] dhobikikutti 2010-03-24 06:33 pm (UTC)(link)
I just wanted to say that this is one of the clearest, most complete set of guidelines I have seen that puts the interests of its members first in a way that protects their safety and reminds them of their responsibilities at the same time. Kudos to all of you for the writing. <3
softestbullet: Aeryn and Pilot. (AtLA/ have you seen this bison?)

[personal profile] softestbullet 2010-03-25 02:02 pm (UTC)(link)
Seconded. This is pretty wonderful. :)

*relurks*
scaramouche: Red Gibson guitar held by Sabrina Alouche (Default)

[personal profile] scaramouche 2010-03-25 10:56 am (UTC)(link)
If you haven't made a post between the last announcement and the current deadline, and you don't have posting access (likely because we removed posting access during the last round), we'll remove you from the group membership.

How about if I know I want to be a lurker and am comfortable remaining so? Shall I just declare that up front?
whatistigerbalm: alan by redsch ftmfw (Default)

[personal profile] whatistigerbalm 2010-03-25 11:01 am (UTC)(link)
The way I read it, to lurk you just have to subscribe to the comm, not join it.
scaramouche: Red Gibson guitar held by Sabrina Alouche (Default)

[personal profile] scaramouche 2010-03-25 11:23 am (UTC)(link)
Ah, I see. I previously only subscribed to the comm, but I joined because I was curious about the locked OOC posts, because it's interesting to see what goes on behind-the-scenes, so to speak.
jhameia: ME! (Default)

[personal profile] jhameia 2010-03-25 03:48 pm (UTC)(link)
If a post is locked and members-only, it's locked and members-only for a reason. I, for one, generally prefer it if folks who are contributing and have a vested interest in contributing be the ones to see it, since the posts will be community-specific (and thus don't require a non-contributing audience). If anybody can just join just to see what's going on, then what's the point of members-only posts? But I am a tyrant like that.

Nonetheless, when we do want as many opinions as possible, we will be opening the discussion to all. That said, there's not really much that goes on behind-the-scenes that's so interesting or relevant to the public face of the comm.
frangipani: a bird escaping its cage (higher and higher)

[personal profile] frangipani 2010-03-25 04:48 pm (UTC)(link)
I'm inclined to agree with this, and also [personal profile] nyarlathotep's point about safe spaces. In this instance I do think that a contributor should have a greater degree of access to decision-making processes and spaces for private interaction than an observer, partly because I feel this would nurture and encourage participation, but also because [community profile] steampunk_nusantara was born in an environment where consciously and openly questioning established Western-centric narratives and Orientalism in steampunk haven't always led to pleasant experiences -- and, for that matter, sometimes involves ourselves having to unpack our own privileges and internalised assumptions.
holyschist: Image of a medieval crocodile from Herodotus, eating a person, with the caption "om nom nom" (Default)

[personal profile] holyschist 2010-03-28 05:05 pm (UTC)(link)
So I'm lurking because this is really fascinating reading, but I haven't been sure what to say--and as a lurker, if I do comment, should it be in-character as an outside researcher reading the catalogue or something? Or is it okay if I just lurk?
jhameia: ME! (Default)

[personal profile] jhameia 2010-03-28 06:28 pm (UTC)(link)
It's okay if you just subscribe just to read our very awesome researchers at work. I doubt anyone's going to hold it against you if you don't say anything. If you do comment, whether IC or OOC doesn't matter either (few of my own comments tend to be IC). I'm of the mindset that positive words of any flavour are great. The only thing we have against lurkers is when they join the community and don't contribute, as we said in comments above. In general, we're pretty easy either way on subscriber-lurker participation.

holyschist: Image of a medieval crocodile from Herodotus, eating a person, with the caption "om nom nom" (Default)

[personal profile] holyschist 2010-03-28 06:30 pm (UTC)(link)
Cool, thanks for answering! This is such a fantastic project.
jhameia: ME! (Default)

[personal profile] jhameia 2010-03-28 06:32 pm (UTC)(link)
Thank you! Feel free to keep telling us that. This community runs on love and 1-ringgit nasi lemak.
jhameia: ME! (Default)

[personal profile] jhameia 2010-03-28 11:43 pm (UTC)(link)
Err, there's that stall just outside the office...
lindra: (Default)

[personal profile] lindra 2010-03-29 02:14 am (UTC)(link)
"Seriously. This is, and we'll reiterate this again, is a safe-space. That means you don't get a free pass in threatening fellow researchers, or anyone, really. Even if you "didn't mean it", or "it was a joke, I swear!"

All three of the administrators are complete and utter ruthless killers when it comes to specific kinds of bigotry. If you acquit yourself well (see Getting Into Trouble, below), we might spare you. But don't push it."

I really, really, really love this post. A lot.

But this: complete and utter ruthless killers, is something that stood out to me, because the rest of the post was so fantastic in how it laid out the necessity of a safe space, its enforcement, its preservation!

It's simply that this stood out to me as something that's not quite so awesome, in that, errr, are you utter and ruthless killers? Or is that hyperbole? Because I've been the subject of a murder attempt, and I'm a bit uneasy with the figure of speech being used there.
lindra: (Default)

[personal profile] lindra 2010-03-29 04:08 am (UTC)(link)
Thank you so much for being so prompt and understanding!

The correction is much, much better, to my reading. Thanks again for your kindness and willingness. :D
jhameia: ME! (Default)

[personal profile] jhameia 2010-03-29 12:21 pm (UTC)(link)
Sorry for the fail. I'd talk some more about it but it'll sound like justification, which is even more fail. Thanks for the callout!
lindra: (Default)

[personal profile] lindra 2010-03-29 12:32 pm (UTC)(link)
No worries at all. Really. Mostly I tend to bypass threats of violence as best as I can, and not consider it worth bothering with, but from what your entry sounded like, and from the userinfo, it seemed that you would take me seriously.

And you did, and promptly, and I am very, very grateful and thankful for that. Thank you.