Fantasy & Beyond

A Book Forum for Speculative Fiction

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By Magnus
#994

FANTASY & BEYOND COMMUNITY VALUES

OUR HOPES FOR THE F&B COMMUNITY

Fantasy & Beyond exists because Bea and I wanted to create an SFF book community that gives people a chance to step away from the fast-paced, shallow interactions that make up much of modern social media. In these forums we hope to create an open, respectful, and inclusive community where people can wind down and feel safe to discuss a variety of topics, as well as make friends and share more personal thoughts and experiences.

But the intention to create such a space is useless without also recognising that nurturing and maintaining it is a challenging and never-ending task. Luckily, that’s where we can get help from you, our dear community members. Building a friendly and positive community isn’t something we can force onto you—it’s something we all do together.

THE RULES

First of all we have our rules to help us, but they are quite bare-bones, designed as a fall-back for when we need to ban people who blatantly misbehave. But dealing with incidents that might have a negative impact on the community isn't always that straightforward. So I want to delve more deeply into the philosophy behind F&B's community values. What does it mean for a community to be open, respectful, and inclusive? Let’s have a look.

INCLUSIVENESS

To me, at the core of inclusiveness is the idea that anyone who follows our rules is welcome here—provided they accept that anyone who follows our rules is welcome here. Accepting that people have different ideas and opinions is a requirement for living in a diverse society.

However, some ideas are harmful and should not be tolerated. That’s why we have rules against hate, bigotry, and misinformation. In case you were worried about what that means, allow us to make a few clarifying statements. The following list is in no way complete, and if you feel something important is missing, please let us know.

  • F&B fully supports the right for LGBTQ+ people to live, love, and be treated equally in society and by its laws.
  • F&B takes a stance against racism, fascism, and other such childish ideologies, whose adherents would rather scapegoat groups of people than grow up and accept that the problems we face in the world do not have such simple answers.
  • F&B does not allow the spreading of conspiracy theories, be they political or scientific. Yes, the test of a good idea is if it stands up to questioning—but there’s a world of difference between healthy scepticism and a stubborn denial of facts.
  • It should go without saying, but F&B supports women’s right for equal treatment in society and by its laws.

THE OPEN MIND

It’s important to keep an open mind, but not so open your brain falls out.”
—Unfortunately not Carl Sagan.

When we leave our doors open to the world, it’s not just to welcome new people but to welcome new ideas—the two go hand in hand, after all. With an open mind, we don’t allow our beliefs to grow too rigid. That would mean new knowledge and ideas that came to visit would find a closed door, failing to bring us a wonderful opportunity to gain a new perspective. To keep the door open, we need to take on the tough task of accepting that we can be wrong. We can do so by holding on to some of that naïve curiosity we all had when we were children, which allowed us to discover the world unburdened by preconceptions, driven purely by the awe and wonder of learning something new.

Something that helps me is to think of discussions and even arguments not as something we win or lose, but as an opportunity to increase the sum of knowledge and wisdom among all participants. To my mind, any argument that someone walks away wiser from is a success—whether it’s me or someone else.

In an open and inclusive community, we do have to tolerate some ideas that we don’t agree with, but that doesn’t mean we always have to sit silently by. Openness goes both ways, and that brings us to the third topic.

RESPECT

Engaging with each other respectfully often means taking a moment to try to understand where the other person is coming from. In most cases, people don’t intend to step on someone’s toes. But because we humans lean towards perceiving the world as revolving around ourselves, we tend to incorrectly assume that things that happen in it are about us. In short, we read things into situations that aren't there. Sure, sometimes things are about us, but having the humility and confidence to assume that isn’t the case until we can be certain of it allows us to avoid a lot of negative feelings—and a lot of pointless conflict.

Of course, unintended harm still hurts people. We can’t always account for the harm our words might cause others, but we can be compassionate when we realise we have misstepped.

So whether we’re arguing the plot of a book, challenging someone’s ideas, or letting someone know that we believe they’ve stepped out of line—doing so in a respectful, non-confrontational manner will increase the chances of an amicable resolution.

So we ask you all to help us build such a community here, our own haven away from the frantic world outside.

:hug:
ScarletBea, DragonFlame, cupiscent and 1 others liked this