Confidentiality Policy: Support Committee

Last updated: May 2020

What is this?

The Code of Conduct says that volunteers must follow the “standards of confidentiality” for each committee, and allows each committee to define their own standards of confidentiality. This policy defines the standards for the Support committee.

What are some terms?

  • Ticket tracker: User-generated Ticket tracker, AD&T bug tracker
  • Admin interface: the tools provided through the administrative login to the Archive
  • Support-internal spaces: Support-labeled email listservs, locked Support rooms on Org chat platforms, Ticket tracker
  • Organization spaces: other rooms on Org chat platforms, Org documentation, spaces other committee mailing lists, wiki – these will all have some form of login
  • Public spaces: Organizational news posts, personal journals or blogs – these are all viewable by non-Organization members
  • Identifying Information: information that would clearly identify a user, including user name, fannish name, and email address

Who does it affect?

Three groups of people are affected by this policy.

  1. Anyone who has access to the Support-internal spaces (listed above) must specifically agree to this policy and file their agreement with Volunteers & Recruiting before they gain access. This can include both Support volunteers and liaisons from other committees who have access to the ticket tracker.
  2. Organization volunteers from other committees who have not been provided ticket tracker access may receive access to information from tickets (as noted below). They must agree to this policy before they can receive the details.
  3. Organization volunteers will not generally receive detailed information from tickets. The Support chair can make specific exceptions, such as for Coding volunteers, or blanket exceptions to this, such as for Translations volunteers. Any volunteer who would receive ticket information has to explicitly agree to this policy.

Why do we have one?

We have a number of tools, including the ticket tracker and Support-internal lists, where we commonly link user fannish identities and the contents of their feedback and support requests. We need an environment where users feel safe to provide identifying information and be confident that it will not be shared inappropriately.

An Advisory

If you are in any doubt as to whether sharing information would violate this policy, ask the current Support chair(s). They and the Volunteers chair are the final arbiter(s) of this policy.

What can’t you do?

  1. As per Organizational policy, you cannot connect a user’s fandom identity and legal identity in any space without their express permission. This applies to both public spaces and Organization spaces. Organizational policy as specified in the Code of Conduct takes precedence if this situation arises.
  2. You cannot discuss specific ticket content in your own public spaces or elsewhere outside the Organization without the explicit permission of the Support chair. This includes to friends outside the organization, in protected spaces outside the organization, or in anonymous spaces. A user who sends in a ticket may (and often will) choose to release such information in non-Organizational spaces, such as their personal journal site. Even in such cases, Support volunteers and others bound by this policy may not officially respond to such information in those venues without explicit Support chair permission. Volunteers may choose to unofficially respond, but they must keep in mind the Organization’s guidelines regarding Speaking about the OTW in Public.

What can you do?

  1. You can discuss details of a ticket or tickets in any Support-internal space. You may also discuss any information gained through the Admin interface in any Support-internal space. You may also use direct contact (email, chat) to discuss a ticket with any Organization volunteer who has agreed to this policy.
  2. You may place specific ticket ID numbers or links in Organizational spaces, as the contents of the ticket will only be viewable by a limited number of people. Remember to not include specific user identities with the link in the Organizational spaces.
  3. Some committees require exact ticket content, including possibly identifying information, to solve issues, such as Abuse, AD&T, Legal, Open Doors, Systems, Communications, and Translation. These committees have standing liaisons who have agreed to this policy and can relay the minimal amount of information needed to their committee volunteers to solve the ticket. In some cases, if all members of a committee have agreed to this policy, a shared chat room may exist between Support and that committee where tickets can be discussed.
  4. If a ticket is received by Support that is best dealt with by the volunteer of a committee not listed above, the ticket can be sent with the user’s email intact to the appropriate committee’s nominated list with the chair’s agreement. If you pass a ticket onward, the recipient must agree to this policy before they can receive information. It should be noted that some committees have standing agreements for Support to answer the emails, such as Tag Wranglers. If at all in doubt, ask the chair before sending it onward.
  5. The exact text of a ticket may be relayed to an Organizational volunteer as long as identifying information has been removed from the text of the ticket. It is recommended to consider the tone of the text of a ticket before sending it onward and paraphrase when necessary to preserve the Work Environment of other Organizational members, as per the Code of Conduct.
  6. If a ticket contains praise (“squee”) for the Organization or its volunteers, you may copy any praising sections of the ticket verbatim into Organizational spaces. As always, the user’s identifying information should be removed.
  7. You may, with chair permission, release ticket information in anonymous aggregate in public spaces, including ticket totals and general ticket themes and trends. Aggregate information may be released in Organizational spaces without prior approval.
  8. If a user discusses specific ticket information in a public space, you may provide support in kind in that location. Some examples of this include: a user leaves a question regarding embedding their fanvid on an admin post or a user replies to a social media post to ask about how hit counts work. You cannot disclose more identifying information than the user discloses. In many cases, it is easier to have the user contact Support directly.

Recourse and Enforcement

Breaches of the Support Confidentiality Policy will be pursued as per the Constructive Corrective Action Procedure at the discretion of the Support Chair and the Volunteers & Recruiting Chair. Possible penalties will take into account the intent and breadth of the breach: an accidental name listed on an Organizational space will be considered less severe than purposefully pasting an entire ticket onto a public meme. If confidential information is disclosed, the individual who disclosed and/or discovered the information must notify either the Support chair or the Volunteers & Recruiting Committee immediately upon discovery of the disclosure, so that damage from the release may be minimized.

Effective Date and Review Schedule

This policy is effective 2014 March 1. The policy has been reviewed

  • 2016 February 14, to review tool names.
  • 2017 October 7. Full email addresses removed from Internal Spaces for simplicity and flexibility, and to reduce a spam vector.
  • 2018 May 1. Wording and policy clarifications, per current workflows.
  • 2021 December 23 Replacement of staff/staffer with volunteer.

The policy will be reviewed regularly, no less than biennially.

Confidentiality Policy Agreement - Support

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