Saturday, 7 January 2012

Code of Conduct for IRO; The use of Social Media

On the ISAF website a couple of minutes of the annual conference were published in which I was particularly interested. I wrote about this already on Tuesday, 4 October 2011 in post ISAF November Conference 2011. On the agenda was a subject which has a direct influence on my ability to blog in conjunction with being an International Race Official.

Of the four subcommittees dealing with Race Officials - Race Officers, Judges, Umpires an Measurers - only two discussed the use of social media by IROs;

In the Minutes for the INTERNATIONAL UMPIRES SUB-COMMITTEE meeting on 05 November 2011 at the ISAF PUERTO RICO CONFERENCE this was noted:

(c) Code for the Use of Social Media
The development of a set of guidelines for the use of social media by international umpires during and outside events was discussed. Draft proposal made by Jan Stage will be presented to ROC with recommendation that ROC appoints a working party to develop guidelines of use of social media. Should ROC appoint a working party to work on this, Alfredo Ricci will represent the IUSC.
And in the Minutes for the INTERNATIONAL JUDGES SUB-COMMITTEE meeting on 06 November 2011 at the ISAF PUERTO RICO CONFERENCE the following was published:

(e) Charley Cook requested the development of a guideline for officials on blogging and using social media, balancing freedom of speech with personal interest and confidential information. A working party will prepare a draft for all ISAF race officials. 
The other two sub committees did not discuss this subject, or at least there's no mention of it in their minutes.

The Race Official Committee - under which these four subcommittees reside - has not yet published its minutes, so I don't know if this subject was discussed there.

I hope it was on their agenda, but fear that, if the same outcome as in the subcommittees was reached, only a working party was appointed. And you know what happens if it goes to a sub-sub committee working party. It will take six hundred years to get out again....

I've been working with a set of guidelines that were written by the chairman of a Grade 1 event, I went to last year, to have a little backing. But sometimes the line what to write and what not, is very blurry.

I hope this working party will at least publish something for this coming season, but fear it will take another year at least.
The guidelines that should come out, are not meant only for bloggers like me, but also for all International Race Officials who use Facebook, LinkIn, Twitter and all those other Social Media we have now. And according to my Facebook page - a lot of IRO already use them in abundance...

To all of them, I say: Next time you speak to your MNA's representative to ISAF, ask how things are progressing with these guidelines?



  1. Interesting that Charley Cook should raise this. Is this related to the difficulties caused when his blog from Qingdao was quoted without his consent?

  2. @Tillerman,
    Perhaps, I do not really know.
    In his last post Charley Cook mentions IOC blogging Guidelines. I did a google and found the one for London 2012...
    Better not go there, then.

  3. Jos,

    Two problems with all this. This topic will be extremely difficult for any organization with the ponderous reaction time of ISAF (let alone the local National sailing organizations) to keep up with what's going on. One need only observe that many of these tools simply didn't exist a few years ago, at least not at large scale, to realize that any code or regulation will be far behind the realities of the technology.

    In addition to a lack of ability to keep up, the various rights of and restrictions on individuals around the world are quite different. Some areas, like he UK and the US, have quite specific laws governing freedom of speech and expression which could limit ISAF's jurisdiction. Others have quite detailed restrictions on these activities, and would not allow some of the activities that ISAF is probably hoping to encourage. Given the underlying legal systems within the various countries in which Umpires, Judges and Race Officers live and perform their tasks are so different and indeed in conflict, it would seem that the only possible course would be to leave all this to the legislative bodies within the countries.

    It is not at all clear that ISAF or any other non-governmental body will improve on a inconsistently regulated and highly culturally sensitive activity like this sort of publishing. Despite a desire to manage, guide and control on the part of ISAF, the various nationalities will make a mockery of these attempts if they come into conflict with local law.


  4. @Beau
    I understand. Nevertheless I'm "between the rock and a hard place" not knowing what I can write about or not.
    If you look at what IOC publishes, they just give a guideline based purely on their interests.
    Couldn't ISAF do the same and build in a clause that any individuals legal system - depending on which country they live - takes precedence. And only if those give more freedom than the ones ISAF is willing to give, the latter come into effect.
    Create a baseline for everyone, and leave it to the individual RO to decide if his or her national rights are more restrictive or not?


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