Aragon's Cathedral: a not-that-optimistic take on Flock

Defending that your team hasn’t launched based on another team not launching is definitely getting defensive. I was just trying to explain on why I think Flock is being dysfunctional and I used the clearest examples to get my point across.

But yeah, I haven’t heard about any progress on Pando since late March. Aragon Black has a lot of non-technical people and I still haven’t seen any user docs for Aragon Fundraising which is months late. There are many things that could be going better, even inside Aragon One where everything is not perfect either.

The issue that is blocking Open Enterprise’s launch has been known for over a year. A very important feature broke your hack and you didn’t realize until really close to your planned launch. At that time my team was really crunching to get Aragon 0.8 out and some people took a break after that. Fixing an issue that has been open for a year while we are getting a major release out couldn’t be prioritized, just because it became high priority all for you at the last minute. That’s not the way Aragon One works. I’m sorry, but I’m not sorry.

Forking and releasing the client with a different set of APIs in a way that fragments the app ecosystem seems pretty obviously bad.

Again, you are totally right here. Because of examples I used it seems that I’m singling Autark out and it definitely wasn’t the intention.

No, they wouldn’t. Aragon One decided to help with Fundraising because we saw it as the best chance Aragon has to getting to PMF in the short term:

Because some things are higher leverage than others in regards to getting to PMF. That and sustainability are the only metrics we are optimizing for. It has nothing to do with politics or neglecting anyone.

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[EDIT 29-Sep-2019: I am updating this post for clarification.]

That’s not what I was defending. The point I was trying to communicate (and did a bad job at was):

When a founder with a lot of reputation is making such a public statement and analysis on Flock, I would expect it be fact-based and impartial. It did not seem appropriate to single out one team in the negative examples and include false accusations.

That statement wasn’t about me defending launch targets at all. But the past week was also the first time that anyone in Aragon One has expressed any serious disappointment in us due to our timeline.

Okkkkkayyyy,

Things really start to take a creepy turn here …

I’m still in vacation [kind of] so I will wait until Monday or Tuesday to publish a more extensive view of my two cents regarding the current Flock situation but since we are somehow directly involved in this specific conversation here are some facts. People will make their own judgment and I won’t personally dive into the ongoing drama since I’m not five years old.

Pando

  • Our Pando grant ended up in December 2018. Pando has been published on Rinkeby in late February or early March [i can’t remember]. This is mainly due to us listening to the feedbacks of the community to base Pando on git instead of the custom VCS we were building at that time. Everyone can make his own judgement but being two months late on such a project is far from crazy. Since then Pando was ready to move to Mainnet. We were just waiting for more users feedback to do so. Aragon One asked us to de-prioritize Pando at that time to focus on fundraising. That’s what we did so we put our baby aside to prioritize a task providing more value to the Aragon Network.

Fundraising
We started working on fundraising mid-March. The planned roadmap was that it would take us six months. In the meanwhile, the specs have evolved a lot: decision has been taken to implement orders batching [which makes the whole architecture way more complex], and to integrate some presale functionality [which also makes the system more complex]. In the meanwhile we also spotted a bug in the BancorFormula [that we’ve had to handle]. We also experienced hiring issues [as any team] so didn’t scale the dev team as expected. We also had to rewrite the frontend and the template twice cause the APIs changed [this is the case for all Flock teams]. Still, Fundraising is gonna be released in the coming weeks, in time with the planned roadmap [or a couple of weeks late].

Concerning the « help » we received - which, before this whole shitshow starts, was worded and lived as a natural and cool team collaboration [that was planned even before we get funded] :

  • Patty and Pierre helped us design the frontend. We implemented it internally but there has been some constant feedback between them and our frontend dev. This has also been an opportunity for us to give lots of feedbacks on the new UI system. This was a super cool experience which has also strengthen personal links between the people involved.
  • Alejandro developed a first version of the Presale contract. Unfortunately we’ve had to rewrite a part of it. This is not Alejandro’s fault at all but the whole Fundraising architecture and maths are tricky so that the specs Luke gave him in the first place was wrong. Happily we figured it out and had to redesign the economic logic. Alejandro proposed to collaborate on that and helped me update the test. He also did some work so that the contract can accept ETH as collateral. Once more, this was a pretty cool experience. I had real fun working with Alejandro on that and it was a good opportunity to meet him.
  • Brett reviewed our background scripts to make sure we were enforcing best practices with regard to the new API.
  • Pierre did the same for the React components.

Excepts for the collaboration on the UI with Pierre and Paty which was planned from the beginning [we’ve been advised not to hire a UX dev cause A1 could handle it] I think the rest of it must account for 1 person week.

I’m not a big fan of tribunals so I won’t extend further like we had some innocence to prove. I’m just gonna emphasize the fact that when some planned and cool collaboration between teams happens to be re-worded as « we helped them cause otherwise they would not have been able to push to mainnet », then there is indeed something going really wrong. It was a pleasure to work with Luke, Patty, Brett, Pierre and Alejandro on that anyhow so we don’t regret anything. But please let us all take it easy and stop raging. For a bunch of people trying to change the world we must really look dummy from the outside …

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I’m feeling increasingly bad for the timing of my post as it seems everyone is on vacation or its their birthday. Though I think these conversations would be hard (but important) no matter what the timing actually is.

Thank you for bringing this up because I don’t think that has been communicated broadly about how this has happened, and how Aragon Black has worked as a partner with Aragon for a long time, reacting to feedback, changing directions, and ultimately working closely with the project–even dropping previous identity and taking on the Aragon name.

I recall at one point in one of the Nest conversations about Ryhope how we had discussed how the project could fit into the Aragon ecosystem, and how their were plans to raise external funds in an ICO, that didn’t align with the projects goals and was dropped, in favor of working more closely with Aragon long term and helping to build out a shared vision.

I think Yalda and some of the Autark members who were working on Space Decentral had a similar experience of giving up some of their vision to join the flock and align more closely with the ecosystem. And while I think its important to continuously balance and course correct the direction of Aragon as a whole, I also think that is important to recognize that where Aragon is today is not just because of A1 and its founders, but also to the broader ecosystem of people that have shown extreme dedication the cause, made significant sacrifices, and taken on specific risks.

One thing that I value about Aragon is that we are a community of missionaries and not simply mercenaries, and while I think it is important that we continue to improve our process and create structures that align incentives effective and create more accountability to the project as whole… we need to be careful to maintain that balance and continue to attract missionaries and enable them to thrive in this community.

I want to second and emphasize that I think that we should be trying to improve cross-team coordination and collaboration. We should be celebrating the ability for teams to identify issues and work together to ensure that the project as a whole is as successful as it can be, these instances should be celebrated first and foremost and not characterized as failure–even if some aspect can and should improve.

In case the collaboration, particularly around the added scope of the pre-sale was more of a last minute rather than planned thing to help ensure the launch is both successful (includes necessary features functionality based on user feedback), and not delayed significantly. I think it was critical for this to happen, and I also think that its critical in general for the projects and teams to be less concerned with “launch what we have ready at this time” or “launch what is on our checklist” but plan to allow for testing, documentation, and user feedback cycles within the scope of launches and deliverables.

My main frustration with the fundraising development so far is that the plan hasn’t really accounted for that timing (and I don’t blame anyone specifically for that, I think its an artifact of the process and pressures the process imposes rather than anyone specifically doing anything wrong).

That being said I really don’t like the framing/characterization of this collaboration on either side in this thread. I don’t think we want to be posturing here, or pointing blame. If we want to improve collaboration moving forward we need to identify issues, suggest improvements, and move forward in a collaborative spirit that builds trust between everyone involved (including ANT holders).

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My main frustration with the fundraising development so far is that the plan hasn’t really accounted for that timing (and I don’t blame anyone specifically for that, I think its an artifact of the process and pressures the process imposes rather than anyone specifically doing anything wrong).

Yep. This is something we failed to plan. We got some interesting feedback from the Rinkeby release, though. But yeah, things could definitely be improved on that side. There are other mistakes we’ve done for sure [the initial batching system architecture being one]. And I expect myself to do more in the future :slight_smile: My only point was that we’ve [almost] sticked to the scheduled roadmap despite that.

That being said I really don’t like the framing/characterization of this collaboration on either side in this thread. I don’t think we want to be posturing here, or pointing blame. If we want to improve collaboration moving forward we need to identify issues, suggest improvements, and move forward in a collaborative spirit that builds trust between everyone involved (including ANT holders).

That’s my point. I don’t posture or blame. I know everyone is under pressure these days and I won’t get vexed or anything. My goal is precisely to remind everyone here [whatever is the output of this whole debate] that before people start getting crazy, all of this was just a natural and smooth [more than we could have expected given that everyone was under pressure and already kind of exhausted] collaboration. And that, if there are problems, it will not help things move forward to turn off the things that was cool and worked great into yet another problem.

And yeah, to be honest, I was also vexed :wink:

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My two cents here.

First thing, I haven’t worked closely with Autark so I can’t tell about the problems mentioned here.

I have worked a little bit with Aragon Black team when they were a Nest project and I can confirm what Olivier said about Pando. (Actually I was going to reply to say that, but luckily he went first). And btw I love Pando and his “gitless” model.

Finally I enjoyed the Cathedral/Bazaar reference, but I don’t agree that Aragon used to be a Cathedral before Flock teams came in. We always had our code open to anybody during the whole process and we’ve always welcomed external contributors (without too much luck). In any open source software that is developed with a Bazaar model there are people with “special privileges” that steer the product, sometimes even there is this person called “benevolent dictator”.

The problem is that Aragon with Flock teams have evolved the Bazaar one step beyond. One important difference that makes things harder is funding and being accountant for these funds.

I’m all up for the Bazaar and even more for this evolved version of it that Flock is, but of course I admit it’s an enormous challenge. The fact that it’s not working now shouldn’t mean that we close it, but that we fix it.

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Wanted to give my quick feedback on the situation and say (as others have) that’s it all breaks down to communication! communication! communication!

My criticism of the Aragon Network is that we act as leaders of decentralised governance but as is laid bare today we’re not experts in decentralized governance culture.

We talk a lot about incentives but we forget that humans are not machines with a straightforward logic: we’re complex beings with frustrations, fears, hopes and desires that are multidimensional and can’t be reduced to mere monetary carrots and sticks.

We’ve all been raised in top down cultures and despite our aspirations it can be difficult for an alternative culture to emerge spontaneously.

Now it seems the time has come for everyone to air their dirty laundry in public and point fingers at each other, I personally refuse to enter this game, not because of some posturing or wanting to bury my head in the sand in front of valid criticism (also at my own individual failings) but because I don’t believe the way this conversation (while super necessary!) is not being held in a productive manner.

What we need is a culture of communication and a safe space where teams can give back feedback to each other without jumping straight into the political process that determines peoples livelihoods.

Otherwise people’s survival mechanisms are triggered and that can’t lead to rational and cool headed discussion.

Perhaps we should have more monthly feedback sessions, with possible escalation to mediators or the AA with public airing of grievances to signal to ANT holders for ANV’s as a last resort.

But I’m not either a specialist in decentralised governance or a community facilitator, I think we gotta all recognise this and turn ourselves to people’s whose job it is to help give us the right advice on fostering a culture of openness, to mediate and diffuse conflict in productive manners, to pass on feedback without bitterness and personal invectives.

We’ve poured so much effort into creating a community that till now has been a shining example for our ecosystem. Why throw all these efforts to waste because of our innermost fears and frustrations? Let’s grow beyond our tribes, learn to be a truly united community and accept that our failings can be turned into something beautiful if we just accept we can learn from external help and give time and patience for things to be done right despite our disappointment of things not being rosy (far from that) from the get go.

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I have really mixed feelings about this, on the one hand I see your point about the need to improve feedback and communication in private before moving to more public spaces, but on the other hand I think that we need to be able to engage in critical discourse in public otherwise we are creating a culture of exclusion and in many ways removing the communities agency in the political process.

I don’t want to create a culture of backroom deals and private meetings that seeks to filter out anything controversial such that the AGP process becomes a rubber stamp for a decision which has mostly already been made.

One of the reasons I have pushed for an AGP budget and the breaking up of monolithic proposals into smaller iterative chunks is because the current norm is to create binary outcomes where decisions cannot be made without stress or guilt over whether you are seriously damaging peoples lives simply by raising an objection to a strategic decision. I want to avoid putting teams and ANT holders in that situation because I don’t think it’s good for anyone and I don’t think it leads to optimal decision making.

I think conversations about the (potential) failings of core process like the AGPs and flock program to create more desirable outcomes is a necessary conversation to have, and one that imo must happen broadly and in public. It should be okay to say in public that something isn’t working as well as you would like, how can we improve?

While the past week has been stressful, I think our ability to have this conversation and course correct is definitely not a collapse or failure, but a growing pain for a community that has chosen to take a radically, and often more difficult approach in order to have a transparent, open, and community-centric governance process.

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How do you think this discussion is perceived ? Given it’s happening right after A1 offsite ? AND initiated/animated mostly by A1 members ?
I’m not trying to suggest something, just expressing a feeling and looking for answers.

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I can’t really speak to the perception, other than to say that in retrospect it feels like my post was perceived as more than just my personal opinion… which was never the intent. It also seems like there is not really one opinion or position on this issue, there doesn’t seem to be clear consensus in any particular discussion other than perhaps a general acknowledgment that there is room for improvement.

I can say that conversations among people in A1 and in 1Hive after reading the initial draft of the Aragon Black proposal on the forum made me reflect on the AGP process and I spent that afternoon thinking about past ANVs and writing my thoughts down about what I thought wasn’t working well, and in order to be constructive as opposed to just complain what I thought could potentially be ways for us to improve.

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Now that my mind has calmed down and settled a bit, I want to share and to try to help reset the mood, I hope.

@jorge and members of Aragon Black, I want to apologize about my initial reactions to the original post’s criticism. Phrases like “absolutely crazy” and “threatening” really stung and made me frustrated, yet that doesn’t justify my use of the term “nepotism” or how I reacted, because I know that is not the best way to work toward solutions.

What it boils down to is that if “shipping to mainnet” is the criteria for success as a Flock team, we need to think more about if the Board of the Aragon Association use their Flock team to provide an “assist” to another Flock team is fair, with the justification that since it’s part of Aragon One’s thesis that it is best for the Aragon Network. This seems to disregard the ANT signals that are received during the ANVs and the fact that Aragon One is the sole maintainer of aragonSDK. [Note: I’m not saying that collaboration shouldn’t occur! Quite the opposite. Ideally, I don’t want to think about this in terms of “assists” or “help” – but just equalizing the support or collaboration a bit.]

Additionally, a board member singling out Autark in the examples of Flock dysfunctions seemed both unjustified and conflated — one or two pull requests are really the best examples of why Flock isn’t working? These are incidents where we can all learn to optimize, and talking about them is the first step.

Basically, I’d like to think that Open Enterprise is just as important as Fundraising for product market fit, as one of the target demographics that Aragon One is recruiting to the platform are projects that have already done ICOs and looking to use features that Autark is developing. Is this not a common truth of the Network?

I have a few other clarifications that I think are important that are linked below in separate documents. Particularly, I think the original post exhibited defamation as it claimed that Autark was making threats, which is not true. This is discussed in the Frontend event triggers document below.

Conclusions

It seems many of us have all learned that communicating better is super important. I’d like to believe that trust is the most important pillar to improve communication. Improving the trust between members of Aragon One and Autark is something that will be vastly beneficial to the project. Giving us the benefit of the doubt that our intentions are pure when we provide solutions and the best for the project is important. We may make mistakes in our assumptions, and constructive criticism can help us learn.

I’d like to believe that we will only get better over time, and that the investment that has been made thus far in Aragon Black, Aragon One, and Autark has been sound. At the same time, I also agree that we can optimize the burn rate and other operational aspects of Flock.

I’d like to believe that once the fruits of the labors of teams that haven’t shipped are finally in user’s hands, we will look back at these threads and laugh.

I’m looking forward to (hopefully!) hugging everyone at Devcon (who wants a hug). What we are doing here is hard, but sharing everything that is on our minds is important for us to grow: so we can build compassionate, collaborative, trusting and empathetic working relationships – for the benefit of Aragon mission and the benefit of the world at large.

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Lots of emotionally charged discussions here regarding several issues I often encountered working in VC. Should you split time across all portfolio companies equally? Should you follow on in a future financing round if you’ve already invested a lot of money and sweat? How much notice should you give a portfolio company if you aren’t going to follow-on in the next round? Should you be taking a board seat to protect your capital? Etc. Every VC goes through these questions. And whilst Aragon is not a VC, it nonetheless shares many of the same functions and issues that occur in VCs. These are essential growing pains and they will ease with time :slightly_smiling_face:

With Aragon, the associated emotions are however amplified due to the push for radical AND public transparency. It’s human nature for defensive urges to surface and we must therefore be extra diligent in how we communicate both in content and tone. With the elephant in the room now firmly in view, I would like to steer the conversation more towards some practical solutions.

Overall, I agree that for the foreseeable future, Aragon One should be solely responsible for the development of Aragon infra.

There’s a ton of value to be created by building apps, maintaining them and getting people to use them . I love the ‘App Mining’ idea that Luke proposes in his post

Also a huge fan of this one :rocket:

A totally understandable concern, especially if the intention of the Flock team was to deploy capital in for-profit initiatives. So why not insert a clause into the Flock agreement that enables Aragon to take equity in the Flock team if some of the activities are for-profit? I understand the AA entity is not able to do for this for legal reasons but this could likely be organised through another holding entity.

Keen to understand what you think the AA should have been doing to drive more accountability? At the end of the day, nothing trumps trust when it comes to getting the most out of people. And too much micro management, reporting requirements, milestone based funding etc can be be counter-productive and de-motivational to Flock teams. Tricky balance.

At the moment, if Flock teams fail there’s probably more of a reputation hit to us the founders of the project than the leads of the Flock teams in question.

Flock style no-strings-attached money should only be given to mature teams with a track record of creating value for Aragon . There’s a funding source missing between Nest and Flock to build important projects, like Open Enterprise or Aragon Fundraising, that is project-based instead of time-based.

To reduce Flock team failure risk, one idea might be to reorganise the makeup of projects. Rather than investing in a Flock team doing a multitude of projects (where they may or may not be working in isolation from other Aragon teams), instead the AA could just fund individual Projects. So yeah, kind of like Nest, except that it would be a requirement that the makeup of the Nest team includes a cross section of other Aragon community members that have already proven their trust and are also working on synergistic but different projects. The amounts funded to each project could be similar in size to Flock team allocations. This has the potential to increase cross-pollination of knowledge across projects and teams whilst also potentially reducing Flock team failure risk (as there is no longer a single Flock team responsible for that project). It does however somewhat reduce the potential for strong Flock team cultures to develop independently of the Aragon culture, which may or may not be a material issue.

Flock teams should be absolutely obsessed with making Aragon’s mission happen , and do whatever it takes to get us there. Flock shouldn’t be about checking off items in a roadmap presented to the community a year in advance to continue getting no-strings-attached money…

To ensure alignment between Aragon capital allocation and the Aragon mission/evolving roadmap, one solution might be to create a more sophisticated ideation dashboard where each idea represents a project, including both new non-funded projects as well as already funded projects. Autark’s dot voting app could then be used for community members to vote monthly on which idea/project they deem most important and effectively stack rank each idea/project (thanks for this suggestion @burrrata). We could then take this a step further and make it a requirement that Flock teams must only work on projects that are deemed most important (say the top 10% of ideas). At the very least, this would solve the problem of out-of-date roadmaps and misaligned capital allocation.

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1Hive V1 is based on TPS. These apps are super super useful for bootstrapping and growing a community. We use them every week. This has helped us grown from a DAO and a website to 5 major projects in development with over 10 contributors. 1 of these projects (Dandelion Orgs) is going to ship in the near future. We did all this with minimal funding. This was started and supported by the possibilities that TPS unlocked.

Otherwise, +1 on:

1Hive V2 aims to accomplish this with cryptoeconomic token models and the Aragon Court instead of LLCs. Details TBD, but if you want to jam on ideas just drop into #1hive-dao on our Keybase :slight_smile:

Another option might be to use Aragon Fundraising and/or a variation on Dandelion Orgs to give a “parent DAO” some of the tokens of various “child DAOs” that it funds. The DAOs would still be separate entities with separate tokens, but there would be a relationship. This would be kind of similar to getting a board seat and equity in a startup that you invest in.

  • This assumes that the child DAOs have a sane token model that have governance rights and is tied into the products that it funds.
  • This would incentivize people to actually build and use DAOs. If we only fund projects/teams that have a DAO with a viable token model that captures value, more people will actually try to figure out how to do that. Incentives drive actions.

This is a very open design space. Personally I’ve iterated through at least 5-10 totally different models in the last few months. With every Aragon app that gets added to the platform the design space grows exponentially. It would be great to dog food these decentralized governance/funding models rather than using LLCs and whatnot.

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As I said in my first reply to @stellarmagnet, I’m sorry that the OP used examples that were quite centered around Autark. Again, I used the clearest examples I could think of to get my point across.

I’m also sorry that this post seems to have caused a great deal of stress to some people, although nevertheless it is my responsibility (actual legal responsibility) to point out these issues and do everything within my reach to fix them. I understand how it can feel to be on the other side of this and I know for a fact how challenging the early days of a company are.

In any case, I’m happy about the quality discussions that all this has produced (not only in this thread). Discussing issues in the open and brainstorming solutions is really valuable, and I feel that we will look back at these discussions a year from now and be thankful to everyone who contributed to enhance Flock and Aragon in general.

Have a great week and looking forward to grabbing a beer together in Osaka!

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Hey there,

In order to squeeze as many learnings and value as possible out of these conversations, here are a few questions that, I think, might be worth thinking about (we can take our time!):

  • What exactly can be expected from a new Flock team (in terms of community initiatives, shipping cadence, collaboration and relationships with other Flock teams…)
  • What is expected from a more experienced Flock team (6-12months in)
  • What can be expected from Aragon One as the founding team (especially in its relationship with and assistance brought to other teams)
  • How can teams and individuals clearly state what they are/aren’t responsible for

Imo, these points (and certainly others) seem important to clarify if we are to improve accountability and communication in the Flock program

Not pointing at anyone specifically, but while you are here dear Flock team members :sweat_smile: @lkngtn, @jorge, @stellarmagnet, @DanielS, @xseignard, @osarrouy, @bingen

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I was notified by a moderator that the OP had been reported due to Code of Conduct violations. More specifically, referring to the article in the CoC that specifies that “posting content that would be considered illegal in Switzerland” is a violation of the CoC. The reporter (I wasn’t told who that was and I prefer to keep it this way) claimed that some of the content was illegal in Switzerland because I was defaming them. I was told that the reporter mentioned that it was an offense per the Swiss Criminal Code, aka I could go to jail or be fined for this.

:exploding_head:

We are all smart people here, and know perfectly what the “posting content that would be considered illegal in Switzerland” line in the CoC tries to avoid. Claiming that anything that I wrote (or anyone has written in this forum ever) could be a criminal offense is absolutely bonkers. In any case, I don’t believe I defamed anyone and, even though it would be a pain, I would happily challenge it in court.

The very fact that we are talking about taking people to court (a brick-and-mortar one, not ours) for defamation is fucking mind blowing to me. I stand by all the points made in my post as they were facts (And no, shipping to Rinkeby is not shipping; building an app with a MongoDB instance would be better, faster to build and have almost the same trust guarantees).

I was recommended some edits to my post, but after thinking about it, I refuse to making those edits or discussing point by point whether something violated the CoC. I have too much work on my plate to play that game.

I have decided to take down the post and be done with it.

As I wrote on Monday:

I stand by everything that I wrote and even if some points could be argued to not be 100% accurate, it was an important message to send.

To whoever brought up the Swiss Criminal Code in an attempt to take down some points that made them uncomfortable, I want to tell you that it is not an OK behavior. It’s not the community that we are building, and I am deeply disgusted by it. I am not looking for an apology, but I hope something like this doesn’t happen again.

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Jorge, as the moderator who handled your case, I have to publicly dispute your claim that anyone is “talking about taking people to court”. There have been no legal threats regarding this thread. Your post was flagged as a code of conduct violation, and in the course of my investigation one of the parts of the CoC I found it to possibly be in violation of was the part banning content that could be considered illegal in Switzerland because of the possibly defamatory statements made. I also cited other parts of the CoC in my notice to you. Erring on the side of caution and hoping to defuse an already tense situation, I advised you to edit or remove your post.

At this point, to avoid further drama, I am going to hide and lock this thread. I will once again advise, and suggest that you take a few days to cool off before posting in the forum again, especially on this topic.

I also have to publicly challenge this, as before posting this I made sure that whoever reported this brought up Swiss law themselves.

I agree that it may not have been an explicit threat, but mentioning that something should be taken down because it could be a criminal offense in Switzerland is pretty strong IMO.