ECF Code of Conduct

Debate directly related to English Chess Federation matters.
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Carl Hibbard
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Re: Alan Burke

Post by Carl Hibbard » Sun Dec 16, 2012 7:06 am

Andrew Zigmond wrote:Carl - is there a case for allowing Alan Burke to make any comment he wants to make and then locking this thread as neither he or Sean Hewitt are in a position to contribute to the debate and defend themselves?
I have enabled Alan's account to allow him to reply
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Carl Hibbard

Alan Burke

Re: ECF Code of Conduct

Post by Alan Burke » Mon Dec 17, 2012 2:38 am

I have no intention of making any reply to the actual comments made about me on this thread as I believe that such an issue should never have been made public in this forum.

Any correspondence I may have sent to the English Chess Federation was done so privately and I feel it is totally unforgivable that an official of the ECF has decided to make the matter public - if such an action is allowed to go unpunished how could anyone ever be certain that any personal correspondence they have with the Federation might not be published in public for all to see just because one of their officials wishes to do so ?

Therefore, I feel such an action is a total breach of confidentiality by the ECF official, for which the Federation should now try to restore peoples' respect and confidence in the governing body by showing they will not tolerate any such action of gross misconduct by issuing the highest possible punishment and that they will not allow those who perpetrate such actions to be part of their organisation.

I also feel that the administrator of this forum then further enhanced the situation by allowing the original post of this thread to be made public but then immediately banning me from being allowed to make any reply, even though I suspect the administrator just "took the word" of the ECF official about the situation without actually checking with the ECF if the statement he made about me was factually correct. In allowing the ECF official to make his statement and then preventing me from replying, I feel it showed a total bias against me by the administrator on this issue, even more so as the administrator also published comments of his own about me in the thread, again without me having the ability to reply.

Also note that although the administrator has changed the heading of the thread from its original title, until this particular post my name still appears in the "Post subject" at the top of every subsequent post - therefore I feel the administrator was just doing "lip service" to the situation of the thread title to try and pacify anyone who had questioned it. If the administrator is really in agreement with the change of thread title, he should also ensure my name is deleted from all those posts.

I must also add that the administrator has not just decided "in the goodness of his heart" to reinstate my account due to Andrew Zigmond's request (which the administrator originally rejected), but has only done so after I sent an e-mail to him stating my above disappointment in his actions and that he then agreed I was correct in my view.

However, none of the above would have occurred if an ECF official had not broken the confidentiality of a member of the public's private and personal correspondence with the game's governing body.

E Michael White
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Re: ECF Code of Conduct

Post by E Michael White » Mon Dec 17, 2012 9:11 am

Unfortunately it’s very common in amateur organisations for some of those, who become senior figures, to act in an inappropriate and/or pompous way. It’s as if they feel the voluntary time they put into the role will guarantee them support and immunity from disciplinary action as the organisations may find it difficult to replace them.

It is also common for those individuals to go public with their own versions and to try to close down replies of others.

It is beginning to look as if two or more ECF officials are attempting to challenge the code of conduct itself and its existence, when such a measure is clearly necessary and in the interests of the players. It may be the current code is neither wide enough nor explicit enough for some officials to get their minds around.

Alex McFarlane
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Re: ECF Code of Conduct

Post by Alex McFarlane » Mon Dec 17, 2012 9:53 am

This thread covers a number of areas.

Sean has now confirmed that a complaint has been made against him under the ECF’s Code of Conduct and that he no longer wishes to use this forum.

The ECF Code of Conduct has been criticised. I cannot argue about that since I have made adverse comments about it since the beginning. This case highlights one of the major problems that I mentioned when I saw it in draft form. My concern was that there was a lack of independence in the processes.

In the absence of a CEO, Mike Gunn will have to (or possibly has) made a decision on the complaint. If either party wishes to contest this then they have to do so to a non-executive Director. Sean is one of those directors and Jack is the other. I believe Jack does not like to get involved in this sort of thing and it can adversely affect him to do so.
Mike is therefore in a very awkward position. Whatever decision he makes is likely to put a non-exec director in an invidious position.

Like David S I expressed my reservations, in my case that I thought it was incorrect that the Board should investigate itself. Unlike David I believe that the current process is better than having nothing. The outcome of this case may prove that I was wrong in my concerns.

With regard to the use of this forum by ECF Officials, it would be extremely unfortunate if no officials were to post here. I can understand that, on occasions, they get a hard time but in general their responses benefits the chess playing public and the image of the ECF as being willing to take on board criticism. Where it does come across badly is when a board member or senior official does not seem willing to listen to genuine concerns. A ‘my way or no way’ attitude helps no-one. Where a forum user expresses this attitude then they are quickly shot down by other users. This applies to ECF officials and their detractors alike.

If the Board is concerned about the nature of comments on this forum a very simple solution is to have a noticeboard on the ECF website where selected (non abusive) comments can be posted with a time delay. This would lose spontaneity but would allow for meaningful discussions to take place.

I have been in situations where due to my position I have had to be more tactful in a reply than I would have liked at the time. These replies have normally taken longer to produce in as much as I have had to wait until I cooled down a bit. That delay, and the time to reflect, has usually been beneficial.

Finally, I have had limited dealings with Alan Burke. In those I have found him to be very pleasant and helpful. I accept that this is not an image which some of his postings on here give. (This backs up a previous comment that people can come across badly on a forum.) Sean may have felt provoked and had some justification for his original comments however we seem to have got into a situation which could have been ended by an acceptance that a reply had perhaps been less than diplomatic. Instead we now have a situation where others feel that further comments have increased the tensions. I certainly don’t think that public knowledge of the complaint has helped the situation. Something that possibly could and should have been handled quietly must now become a public issue. From his post it looks to me that whilst Alan felt he was attacked in public he would have accepted a less open acknowledgement that his concerns were justified had they proved to be so.

I have not always agreed with the way Andrew Farthing dealt with things, but at least he replied on this forum in a manner which, although forceful at times, was always civil. When replying in an official capacity this is a necessity.

This all stems from a decision to restrict the ECF calendar. This decision in my opinion should not have been debated because it is listed as a benefit of membership and as such was subject to the motion passed at the AGM. I also believe from third hand info that some directors (perhaps as a result of this forum)would like the decision reviewed.

Roger de Coverly
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Re: ECF Code of Conduct

Post by Roger de Coverly » Mon Dec 17, 2012 9:57 am

E Michael White wrote:when such a measure is clearly necessary and in the interests of the players. It may be the current code is neither wide enough nor explicit enough for some officials to get their minds around.
Why do you think such a measure is necessary and in player's interests? It doesn't apply to players, but it's surely only a matter of time before someone proposes adding "members" to officials etc. on the list of those not allowed to be critical of the ECF on pain of suspension? If the original intention of drafting a code of conduct was to give the ECF powers to act against computer cheaters, the code as adopted doesn't do this.

Jonathan Rogers
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Re: ECF Code of Conduct

Post by Jonathan Rogers » Mon Dec 17, 2012 2:12 pm

Gheesh, what a mess. This was the Code which was set up to deal with any future CJs, as para 2.5 surely makes abundantly clear.

I am one of those who, as anticipated by Alex, have taken a somewhat adverse opinion of Mr Burke on account of the nature of his posts. By contrast I have enormous respect for Sean. But whatever the rights of the wrongs of their original posts, which I have not read, it seems inescapable that Mr Burke has a point in relation to Sean's original post in this very thread. Once the complaint is made, the Director concerned must await resolution of the complaint. He cannot pre-empt that decision by saying that the complaint has no merit, and to do so can only make it appear that he is inviting others to treat Mr Burke badly on account of his having exercised his right of complaint.

This is still not such a great sin, and ideally there would be a minor reprimand which Sean could shrug off. He could simply resolve not to post in such a rash manner in future. As Alex says, there is something of a virtue in keeping calm when dealing with anyone and it may not be such a bad thing to be reminded of it occasionally.

But whether ECF officials are capable of being quite so phlegmatic about being found in violation of the code is another matter. And that makes it particularly inapposite that a fellow board member should have responsibility for resolving the complaint. Will Mr Gunn really want to take the risk of issuing even a minor reprimand if he thinks that Sean may walk out on account of it? It is actually unfair to him to ask him to make that sort of decision too. If this Code is to have a future, they are going to have to find some independent wise men and women to resolve disputes under it (and not people who have been board members in the recent past either!)

Chris Rice
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Re: ECF Code of Conduct

Post by Chris Rice » Mon Dec 17, 2012 7:04 pm

I seem to recall that on the ECF Calendar thread Mr Burke by manipulating Sean Hewitt's name effectively called him a piece of excrement. For Mr Burke to then attempt to claim the moral high ground is frankly unbelievable. Do you not think Sean was sufficiently provoked to be forgiven for his relatively minor outburst? I was amazed Mr Burke was then allowed a further right of reply and used it to then turn on the moderator who was just trying to do the decent thing and be fair to all sides.
Mr Burke is now using the ECF Code of Conduct is his campaign against Mr Hewitt. I totally agree with David Sedgwick and the others who are against this document as it is so general, vague and wide ranging it is completely unfit for purpose. Just tear the bloody thing up and start again.

There should be a complaints procedure but the grounds for referral should be much more specific and transparent and the penalties for breaching the Code should also be set out. Also to stop frivolous complaints (and that's not a comment on Mr Burke's letter as we clearly are not privy to the details) a fee should be lodged which the complainant would get back if the compliant is upheld. Just like adjudication claims in the good old days.
Complaint hearings should be on a committee basis, I would suggest a committee of three, to avoid exactly the situation described above that otherwise someone has to individually put their head on the block.
Finally I think its a good idea for ECF officials to stay off the forum, for one thing it stops non-members thinking they have some sort of right to form ECF policy and argue with ECF officials when they don't like the responses they get.

IanDavis
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Re: ECF Code of Conduct

Post by IanDavis » Mon Dec 17, 2012 8:06 pm

I dare say the policy is badly written, but written it is. If it is the ECF's policy, then they should either adhere to it, or change it. Of course, there are idiots in all walks of life, people we don't want to deal with, other than taking their money of course. Provocation is there, but given the policy, the correct response should either be a polite "No, I don't agree with you." or "censor-troll". Of course, that doesn't always happen, and one can imagine a meaningless written warning being issued over meaningless forum arguements. Having said that, after having a complaint made against you, it is not good form to publish details of the complaint and, at the same moment, decide to further put the boot into said protagonist on the same said forum.
I'm fairly sure that is not what was meant by the written response mentioned below

3.1. The ECF will endeavour to acknowledge receipt of all complaints within 72 hours.
3.2. The ECF will endeavour to provide a written response to complaints within 14 calendar
days of receipt. If the official handling the complaint does not expect to be able to
meet this timetable, this will be advised to the complainant at the earliest opportunity
and in any event within 14 calendar days of receipt of the original complaint.
3.3. The response to the complaint shall be made in writing and shall include an
explanation of the ruling and its basis.
Last edited by IanDavis on Mon Dec 17, 2012 8:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Carl Hibbard
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Re: ECF Code of Conduct

Post by Carl Hibbard » Mon Dec 17, 2012 8:10 pm

A post was removed just to make my life easier more than as a simple moderation
Cheers
Carl Hibbard

Martin Regan

Re: ECF Code of Conduct

Post by Martin Regan » Mon Dec 17, 2012 8:54 pm

Carl Hibbard wrote:A post was removed just to make my life easier more than as a simple moderation
Carl,

Thanks for saving me from further embarrassment. I posted what I shall modestly call subtle word play- only for it to go way above the heads of everyone, including our favourite blogger who now has me down as chief termite. I then amend the pun to make its meaning clearer - successfully so, as it has now been removed.

To be clear, I think A Burke's action in first engaging Sean in argument and then reporting him to the ECF under the ludicrous Code of Conduct is reprehensible.

Mick Norris
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Re: ECF Code of Conduct

Post by Mick Norris » Mon Dec 17, 2012 9:33 pm

Chris Rice wrote: Complaint hearings should be on a committee basis, I would suggest a committee of three, to avoid exactly the situation described above that otherwise someone has to individually put their head on the block.
I would suggest 3 of the 5 Union presidents, with the 3 being chosen from Unions other than those of the 2 parties involved
Any postings on here represent my personal views and should not be taken as representative of the Manchester Chess Federation www.manchesterchess.co.uk

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Carl Hibbard
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Re: ECF Code of Conduct

Post by Carl Hibbard » Mon Dec 17, 2012 10:09 pm

Martin Regan wrote:To be clear, I think A Burke's action in first engaging Sean in argument and then reporting him to the ECF under the ludicrous Code of Conduct is reprehensible.
Alan found my level of moderation unacceptable and decided to take the matter further that is his choice

My decision to deactivate both accounts as pipsqueak has suggested was the wrong one however I feel the comments of Alan speak volumes and require no further comments from me
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Carl Hibbard

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Carl Hibbard
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Re: ECF Code of Conduct

Post by Carl Hibbard » Mon Dec 17, 2012 10:16 pm

Alex McFarlane wrote:If the Board is concerned about the nature of comments on this forum a very simple solution is to have a noticeboard on the ECF website where selected (non abusive) comments can be posted with a time delay. This would lose spontaneity but would allow for meaningful discussions to take place.
Is a closed and moderated forum what people really want?

I have been officially asked by the ECF in the past to close this forum and resort to the above suggestion, I declined :!:
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Roger de Coverly
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Re: ECF Code of Conduct

Post by Roger de Coverly » Mon Dec 17, 2012 10:35 pm

Carl Hibbard wrote: Is a closed and moderated forum what people really want?
If every comment is going to be scrutinised for material deemed critical of the ECF or the individuals regarded as running it, then it's a considerable workload for someone. We've seen variously on this forum that deletion of material can cause multiple pages of commentary and controversy about the moderation.

If the ECF directors have any sort of commitment to communication, they cannot shrink from making public comments forever. Perhaps they can though, if so, they should not express surprise when views are expressed as to the irrelevance of the ECF.

I'm slightly amazed, although I shouldn't be, as to how the ECF Code of Conduct got voted through when no one admits to supporting and voting for it.

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Christopher Kreuzer
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Re: ECF Code of Conduct

Post by Christopher Kreuzer » Mon Dec 17, 2012 10:40 pm

Carl Hibbard wrote:
Alex McFarlane wrote:If the Board is concerned about the nature of comments on this forum a very simple solution is to have a noticeboard on the ECF website where selected (non abusive) comments can be posted with a time delay. This would lose spontaneity but would allow for meaningful discussions to take place.
Is a closed and moderated forum what people really want?

I have been officially asked by the ECF in the past to close this forum and resort to the above suggestion, I declined :!:
The idea has always been (at least in my mind when I mentioned some variant of this) to have an official noticeboard + comments section as something separate from this forum (which after all covers all the English chess scene, not just the ECF parts of it). Whether such a thing could be done as a subforum of this forum, maybe, but it should really be independent and separate, ideally under the ECF domain name. If they have the resources for that, great. If not, then they don't.

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