Framingham Government Forum Charter

Purpose and Goals

The purpose of this forum is to promote accountability and transparency in Framingham's local government by acting like a great big flashlight to shed light on what's happening in city government and in our community.

The goals of this forum include:

  • to provide information about local current events in Framingham that relate to ongoing or potential local government activities;
  • to have active conversations and discussions about a wide range of issues that are directly relevant to local government in Framingham;
  • to reflect a wide range of points of view.

Typical Topics

Topics that you might find here to discuss include:

  • public safety,
  • public works,
  • education,
  • government finance,
  • planning, zoning, economic development,
  • inspections, public health,
  • employee salary and benefits etc.

Participation Rules

By taking part in this forum, you accept the full rules of the forum (as adapted by this charter).

Highlighted and additional forum-specific rules:

  • Use your real name.
  • You may only make 2 posts per day.
  • Keep your posts relevant to Framingham.
  • Be civil (see civility rules below).
  • Respect copyrights (see public use and content rules below)

Civility Rules

It would be nice to be able to state simple definitions for civility and then let everyone exercise their common sense. However, experience has shown that it is necessary to define what civility means in as much detail as possible, so as to make as many people as possible understand our intent. The list moderators will ultimately make the determination about violations of civility rules, as one person's opinion or description is another person's insult.

Posts may not threaten, insult, or incite hostility against any person or group of people, (including participants, member of the public, and public figures) because of their race, color, national origin, ethnic background, immigration status, religion (creed), social or economic class, occupation. gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, age, height, weight, disability, political affiliations, marital status, family status or military status.  If posters provide a link to a page with content that violates this principle, they need to include disclaimer that states that subscribers may find some material offensive because posts may include insulting characterizations about individuals or group of peoples, including insulting characterizations based on [fill in the appropriate characteristic].  Links to news stories from local newspaper and television stations are exempt from needing any such disclaimer.

Issues, not people, are to be the subject of the debate.  Posters are expected to show basic respect for others (including participants, member of the public, and public figures) in their posts, meaning that posting the following is specifically prohibited

  • Personal attacks or threats;
  • Name-calling and other forms of personal insults, such as insulting characterizations of the unstated motivations, character or reputation of another person;
  • Accusations and allegations, either unfounded or based on rumor, about legal and ethical violations (Examples of an allegation being "founded" are an arrest, a charge, a formal investigation by a state or federal agency, or an investigation by the district attorney or Attorney General or an expert legal opinion.);
  • Disclosures of personal information and rumors about other participants related or unrelated to the topic being discussed (e.g., personal health or finances, relationship status, unlisted telephone numbers, etc.);
  • Arguments of a personal nature;
  • Strongly inflamed speech targeted at an individual or group of people.

The words and actions of a public official or representative of an organization can be a legitimate topic of conversation or criticism as it pertains to their position.  It is important both that public officials are held accountable for their actions when they affect the general public, and that criticism is not discouraged. However, in this forum, the words and actions of the people and their public impact should be the focus of discussion, not the character or unstated motivation of those people.

Likewise, the words and actions of candidates can be a legitimate topic of conversation or criticism as it pertains to their qualifications for the position they are seeking. It is important that  voters be able to discuss the pros and cons of candidates for office. However, in this forum, the words and actions of the candidates and their implications for their position should be the focus of discussion, not the character or unstated motivation of those candidates.

Communications with any staff member or volunteer (including the Forum Manager and other list moderators) by a forum participant are subject to these same standards of basic respect used for forum posts. 

Direct responses to a particular post, even if off-list to the poster or in another public forum, are also subject to these standards with respect to the poster.  Contacting someone off-list about a post after they have made a personal request for you not to contact them anymore or contacting someone anonymously off-list about a post is also prohibited.

Public Content and Use

Issues Forums encourage public and open use of the content generated through community exchange online. By posting an original message, the author agrees to allow to distribute the message, image, video, or file via the Internet and to include it in a publicly accessible online archive in perpetuity.

The Framingham Government  and Framingham Neighbors forums provide for more restricted copyright claims than E-Democracy does in general. Authors do not grant others the right to publicly quote the text without their permission, and any use of their message in any medium (with the permission of the author) must ensure that the specific author and the forum are attributed by name (a link to the source post is required if quoted online). Content may not be shared without attribution noting the name of the source forum.

The full text of messages may be forwarded electronically to others without permission as long as the author's name and the forum's name and web address is cited or linked. 

Forwarding private messages to the list is not allowed without the express permission of the original author. This includes private replies to public posts and other private or personal communications including emails without a clear encouragement to share widely. Official communication from governments and government officials are considered public unless it is a direct response to a forum post that is sent solely to you, in which case it may be posted only with permission from the official.

With copyrighted material like newspaper articles, you may post quotations from articles or web sites with the source URL. "Fair use" of excerpts (not the full text) is encouraged as well as the distribution of extended text from government-produced content. A discussion forum posting may only be removed from the public archives under a court order or as a case-by-case decision made by the Issues Forum staff lead in consultation with the Board (as governed by our Forum Content and Removal Policy).

Forum Leadership

This forum opened on January 30, 2013.

The Forum Manager is Linda Dunbrack.

The volunteer Forum Manager is responsible for the general health and well-being of the forum. The Forum Manager shall:

  • enforce forum rules
  • respond to participant questions
  • listen to complaints or concerns
  • encourage active participation
  • maintain respectful tone of discussion

If you have any questions or concerns about the forum, please contact us.