Our Code

(1) Vision

Scientopia is a collective of people who write about science because they love to do so. It is a community, held together by mutual respect and operated by consensus, in which people can write, educate, discuss, and learn about science and the process of doing science.  In this we explore the interplay between scientific issues and other parts of our lives with the shared goal of making science more accessible.

As a community, we strive to be welcoming of anyone with an interest in science and its place in our world, regardless of any feature, whether extrinsic or intrinsic, which may act or have historically acted as a barrier to full participation in science or discourses about science.

(2) Responsibility and Ownership

  • All content of blogs are the sole property of their author. The collective as a whole takes no responsibility for, nor any ownership rights to the contents of any blog posts.
  • Blog authors are solely responsible for the content of their blog entries.
  • The collective will not reveal any private information about its individual members without their express permission or legal requirement.
  • The collective will not modify the information of any user or any blog content without either the consent of its owner or legal requirement.
  • When required by a binding legal authority, the collective may remove posts from publication on the site.
  • Any member of the collective may withdraw at any time. If they chose to withdraw, they will have the choice of either leaving the contents of their blog active and accessible or having the content of their blog removed at the earliest opportunity.
  • Members and former members of the collective will always have access to retrieve any of their data stored on the site.
  • Members may request that their content be removed. After such a request, the collective's system administrators will remove requested materials from generally accessible locations at the first opportunity. However, materials may continue to exist in non-public administrative locations such as backups. After removal, the collective takes no responsibility for removing such materials from archives not maintained by the collective.

(3) Membership

  • The collective will consist of an initial membership invited by the founders.
  • New members may be added to the collective by invitation.
  • Any member of the collective may propose inviting a new member to join the collective:
    • Each proposal for membership will be discussed for a period of one week in the member forums.
    • After discussion, votes on the invitation will be taken for a period of one week. A two-thirds majority of voting members is required to approve an invitation.
    • Upon the approval of an invitation, a systems administrator must issue the invitation within one week.
  • The collective will be permitted to expel members who violate the terms of this charter, based on a 2/3 majority vote of all active members of the collective. Upon expulsion, the members blogging privileges will be suspended at the earliest opportunity of a systems administrator, taking no longer than one week:
    • A motion to expel a member may be proposed by any member of the collective. Such a motion must be posted in the member forum, clearly labelled, and contain a full explanation of the reason for said expulsion. This explanation must include a reference to the terms of this document which were allegedly violated by the member.
    • The target of the move to expel will be notified by an administrator of the motion at their first opportunity, and will have a period of 1 week to respond to the motion to expel.
    • After the target of the motion has responded, the collective will hold a discussion of the motion for a period of no less than three days.
    • After discussion, a collective member other than the initiator or target of the action may call for a formal vote on the expulsion.
    • After a motion for a vote, an administrator will create a voting mechanism in the forum. The vote will be open for a period of one week.
    • After a one week voting period, an administrator will announce the results of the vote at their first opportunity.
    • If the vote on the expulsion meets or exceeds a 2/3s majority, the member will be expelled from the collective.
    • Upon expulsion, the former members posting privileges will be removed by an administrator at their earliest opportunity.
    • After expulsion, the former member will still be able to access the existing contents of their blog, under the same terms as voluntary withdrawal.

4) Blogger Responsibilities

  • Respect, intellectual honesty, and engagement with other members of the scientopia community are core values of the scientopia community. All of the rules that follow simply amplify this fundamental theme.
  • Bloggers have full editorial freedom over their own blogs.
  • Members will publish primarily original content and commentary.
  • All content published by members of the collective on the site must obey intellectual property laws and appropriately respect copyright.
  • Members are free to establish policies for commenters and for comment moderation on their own blogs, and are encouraged to make those policies clear to their readers.
  • Members of the collective should treat other members with professional respect:
    • Members are free to interact on their blogs without restriction, but are encouraged and expected to engage with each other in good faith, and not to assume bad faith on the part of other members.
    • When commenting on other member's blog posts, members should respect and follow the commenting policies set by the blog author.
    • Within the member forums, bloggers should refrain from personal attacks on other bloggers. Intellectual debate, even deeply emotional debate is encouraged, but within the forums members should focus their arguments on the substance of the debate, rather than the people involved.
    • Under no circumstances may any member of the collective engage in any type of threatening behavior toward any other member. Threatening behavior is not limited to physical threat, but includes threats of exposure of pseudonyms or other personal information (whether accurate or not) that might reasonably make a member the target of harassment, retribution via non-collective channels, and any other action which, if executed, will harm the member who is the target of such an action.
  • Members are free to use their private content and any associated images or media to produce, sell, or give away promotional materials without approval from the collective.
  • Members may use the Scientopia name and logos on their private promotional materials provided the promotional materials are clearly labelled as being associated with an individual blog.

5) Decision Making by the Collective

5a) The Collective Governing Board

  • In order to deal with decisions affecting the day to day running of the collective and its long term sustainability (including but not limited to issues about site design, technical support, developing a business plan, exploring incorporation as a not-for-profit, securing necessary funding), the collective will establish a Governing Board, hereafter referred to as the CGB (collective governing board).
  • The CGB will consist of five (5) members of the collective elected by the general membership of the collective to serve terms of twelve (12) months
  • The Governing Board will meet with each other via email or other mutually agreeable medium as needed to deal with the business of the collective.
  • The Governing Board will report to the collective as a whole on information shared and decisions made at its meetings.
  • The Governing Board will present its action plans to the collective as a whole for approval by a vote of the membership.
  • The general membership of the collective is encouraged to identify issues that the Governing Board should take up, and to share information that may be helpful to the Governing Board in approaching the business of the collective.
  • Members of the Governing Board may be removed from office by a two-thirds majority vote of the collective's membership, with such removal following the same procedure set forth for the removal of a member from the collective.
  • Removal from the CGB and removal from the collective are distinct actions; a member may be removed from the CGB while remaining a member of the Scientopia collective.

5b) Governing Board Elections

  • Board elections will take place twice per year via the collective member forums, in June and December. Three members will be elected in the June election, and two will be elected in the December election.
  • Nominations for members of the CRB will start in the member forum on June 1 and December 1.
  • Nominations will be open for a period of two weeks.
  • Any nominated member may refuse to stand for election.
  • After the two week nomination period, an administrator will create a voting mechanism which will allow each member of the collective to vote for their choice of either three candidates in the June election, or two candidates in the December election.
  • The vote will be open for a period of seven days.
  • After the seven day voting period, an administrator will announce the results in the members forum at their earliest opportunity.
  • The three (in June) or two (in December) candidates who receive the most votes will become members of the CRB.
  • In case of a tie between two members, a member shall be selected by a mutually agreeable random process.
  • After adoption of this code, the first election will take place at the earliest opportunity, and will elect all five members of the board. In this initial election, three people will be elected for terms lasting to the election the following June, and two will be elected for terms lasting to the following December. At the time of nomination, candidates may choose what length term they wish to stand for.

5c) Elections and Quorums

  • In all votes considering a motion before the collective membership, including but not limited to membership invitations, member expulsions, board elections, and amendments or modifications to this code, a quorum of fifty percent of active members is required for a vote to be considered valid and binding. If less than fifty percent of the membership places votes, then the motion will fail to pass.
  • For the purposes of elections, active members are members of the collective who have within the last thirty days either: Posted new entries on their blogs; Posted new comments on at least one of their blog entries; or posted comments in the members forum.

(6) Amending this document

  • Any member of the collective may propose an amendment to this document by posting the proposed amendment in the member forums.
  • The proposed amendment will be open for discussion on the member forums for a period of no less than one week.
  • At the first meeting of the CRB after the discussion period, the CRB will review the amendment, and post a recommendation of whether or not the amendment should be accepted or not.
  • After the CRB makes its recommendation, any member of the collective may move to vote on the amendment.
  • After a motion to vote, an administrator will create a polling mechanism at their first opportunity. The vote will remain open for a period of one week. At the end of the voting period, an administrator will announce the result at their earliest opportunity.
  • If a threshold of 2/3s of membership votes to approve the amendment, then it will be added to this document.
  • Any changes to the fundamental structure of the collective, including but not limited to, incorporation of the collective as a non-profit or for-profit entity, rules governing the collection and payment of money, must be codified by amendment to this document.

(7) Amendments

7a) Financial Management Policies

Scientopia Blogs LLC and the Scientopia collective may engage in activities and/or establish avenues by which to collect income, including (but not limited to) (a) collection of donations, contributions and gifts to maintain the functional operations ("operating costs") of the http://scientopia.org domain and its associated sites, (b) establishment of advertising content to be displayed on the main site and/or blogs to generate revenue for other uses ("profits/dividends"), and (c) other means to be determined on an ad hoc basis (enabled by vote of the Scientopia collective membership in accordance with the Scientopia code).

Funds obtained through donations or contributions to the Scientopia collective (defined as "donated") may only be used to support "operating costs" (as defined below) and may not be used for payments that can be classified as "profits/dividends."

"Operating costs" are defined as costs pertaining to upkeep and maintenance of the core blogging and other online functionality of Scientopia, including server costs, technical support, software and its updates, business incorporation and financial management. These costs can be paid out of Scientopia's accounts directly, or Scientopia members may request reimbursement for expenses incurred in order to initiate or maintain these functions.

"Profits/dividends" are defined as any other payment(s) to Scientopia members that do not otherwise support the operations of the Scientopia collective, Scientopia Blogs LLC or the online media functionality used by the Scientopia collective and Scientopia Blogs LLC.

Operating costs shall always take priority when directing expenditures, regardless of the source of the income ("donated" vs. "revenue"). Collective decisions on revenue generation and ad placement strategies will be undertaken in accordance with this Code. Additionally, no Scientopia member is compelled to accept profits/dividends arising from traffic to the main site nor to their individual blog; all members shall have the right to decline participation in receiving payments from Scientopia if desired.

7b) Financial Management Procedures

The Finance Committee will be assigned the task of managing the accounts and expenses for maintaining operations of the Scientopia collective and Scientopia Blogs LLC. Service on the Finance Committee will also be by vote of the Scientopia collective as described in this Code (Section 5), and its membership will consist of no fewer than three active Scientopia members (including the individual serving in the role of Treasurer). The role of Treasurer will be established to carry primary responsibility for the administration of income, payments, assets and accounts. Activities relevant to this administration may include (but are not limited to) (a) management and separate accounting of "donated" vs. "revenue" funds, (b) payment of invoices and/or reimbursement for operating costs, (c) disbursement of dividends, (d) monthly accounts reporting to the membership (including details of donation amounts, revenue amounts, expenses paid and current account balances), (e) filing of Federal and state tax returns as necessary (see [http://www.irs.gov/businesses/small/article/0,,id=158448,00.html]), and (f) communication with outside parties regarding donations, revenue, accounts and payments.

Individuals may be nominated (self- or otherwise) and elected by majority vote as for other elections described in this Code (Section 5), to serve as Treasurer for a term of one year (renewable). All members of the Finance Committee will have access to and responsibility for passwords, logins and other information critical to the management of Scientopia's financial accounts. Resignation or dismissal from the Finance Committee and/or the role of Treasurer will follow the procedures laid out for other administrative positions in Section 5 of this Code.

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