Blockleaders.io - Civil Registry Discussion

Hi Blockleaders.io. You have successfully submitted your application to join the Civil Registry. Over the next 10 days, members of the Civil community may reach out to you with questions. Questions to newsrooms in the recent past have addressed issues from editorial policy, to privacy policies to business models. Newsrooms will get an email alert every time there is a comment relating to their Civil Registry Profile. Please make sure to check this discussion forum regularly to respond to community comments.

(Cross-posting from previous discussion forum, for posterity:)

Vivian - Staff - 3 days ago

From Jillian: Thank you, @reidob, for your continued interest in Blockleaders and for your time in looking to understand the platform better. Yes, I am indeed a board member of EOS Dublin, a fact which is clearly stated in my biography on the site. No, I do not have any employees and therefore have nothing to dislose in this regard. With regards to future advertising, there being none as yet I cannot comment on the levels of fact checking to be done in the future Finally, content for the site is indeed sourced both through companies and indivduals wishing to tell their story and conversely by my seeking out compelling projects and people. Again thank you for your continued interest in Blockleadders

Vivian - Staff - 2 days ago

NOTE FROM JILLIAN:

Dear Civil Community When I joined Civil and applied for newsroom status I was very excited. I am deeply invested in blockchain as a technology to change the world for the better. When I received the grant from the Civil foundation I was even more excited. I was going to be able to make change and use the Civil platform as a way of gaining even more exposure for this truly democraticising technology.

Then I was challenged but in a way that smacked of the worst excesses of online trolling. Unnamed individuals decided to attack my good name and imply some sort of underhand agenda. Questions were asked that did not make sense - simple things like freelancers being called employees, or why there might be a article about me on the site. One which seemed all to rosy for one person.

I also could not get onto the site. I requested multiple times to reset the password - never got the reset emails. Today I managed to get on the site. I had not been given copies of the posts by anonymous people - only the high level questions - now I could see just how unpleasant was the tone of the last message. How had I engendered such venom? I am at a loss.

So, I am rescinding my membership of this site. I will return the grant (if the system allows me back in). I do not wish to apply for newsroom status. I wish to call a halt to the vote. I don’t care about the outcome, I don’t want to be here. I don’t want to be part of a community where public questioning is carried out like a blood sport.

I wish the rest of you every success but this site is not for me. I will put my energies instead into doing what I am good at - helping tell the stories of blockchain and how this technology will change the world for the better. That is the type of community to which I want to belong. Y

ours sincerely

Jillian Godsil

Vivian - Staff - 4 days ago

This is Vivian with Civil. Jilian from blockleaders.io has had some issues logging in so I’m posting her comments here on her behalf:

"A number of questions were asked of me. The first the name of the company FTLOI behind the company. I am not sure what research the gentleman did but that company is registered to David Atkinson, Commercial Director with Holochain and co-founder of Blockleaders.io

"I think I may have mentioned that Blockleaders lost its funding in March and I have been fighting to maintain the site as I believe it is very important to have professional journalism in the blockchain space.

"To that end I have found new backers. We are in the process of setting up a formal limited company - called blockleaders - in Australia where the operations team is based. Once this is registered, I can share formal company details. I am a director in this company.

"I was accused of being over fond of blockchain. Damn right I am as I see it is changing the world. I make no apology for wishing to write about some of the most interesting projects in this space. Check out yesterday’s story - this is awesome and I delight in sharing such fantastic stories https://blockleaders.io/2019/07/26/steven-lin-ceo-of-gojoy-creating-a-level-shopping-field/

"There was a comment about a partner who is also a PR company. This is true. It is not a formal contractual partnership. The plan was in the future to run advertising for companies who wished to be involved and who did not have a compelling enough story. I am yet to get advertising but hope to do so through the new company structure and sales people.

“I hope this answers the gentleman’s questions. thank you Jillian”

Newsy - 6 days ago

This newsroom has numerous disqualifying conflicts of interest that have not been disclosed. They should be removed from the registry.

The only member of this newsroom (Jillian Godsil) is a board member of EOS Dublin (an EOS “block producer” - the type of entity that powers the EOS blockchain). While I won’t speak to whether or not this relationship would be disqualifying on its own, I think the fact that it was not mentioned as a conflict of interest on the Charter is itself disqualifying.

The “FTLOI Ltd” issues listed by Reidob are also concerning. The company has existed in some form (as a registered UK business) since 2010 ( https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/company/07433915 ). However, the company website hasn’t been updated since 2013 ( https://www.ftloi.com/ ).

I also found a linkedin page suggesting Blockleaders has 9 employees ( https://www.linkedin.com/company/blockleaders/people/ ) at least 2 of which currently work for Blockchain technology companies (Fernando Sanchez and David Atkinson). None of these employees are listed on the charter, nor is their work mentioned as potential conflicts of interest.

https://blockleaders.io/2019/07/15/the-multiven-open-marketplace-mom-decentralised-application-is-live/ - here we have a fawning profile of a company that it “just so happens” an employee of this newsroom (Fernando Sanchez) works for! Is this journalism? It can’t be.

Of course, maybe I’m wrong. For a different point of view, you could read this glowing profile of Jillian Godsil: https://blockleaders.io/2018/10/05/the-fall-and-rise-of-an-irish-woman-jillian-godsils-tale-of-success-against-all-odds/ - that just happens to be published on the news site she runs (not under her own byline of course, writing this kind of article about one’s self would be totally out of line. much better to leave it to the checks notes subordinate employee! Surely they couldn’t be conflicted!)

Reidob - 2 weeks ago

It has been pointed out to me by another astute Civilian that this newsroom lists a PR firm, Herman.Media, specializing in the promotion of blockchain startups, as a partner. This brings up serious issues about the independence of this newsroom. I would encourage the newsroom to respond promptly to this concern, as this association would almost certainly be in contravention of the Civil Constitution.

Reidob - 2 weeks ago

A very interesting newsroom with original material, all produced, as far as I can see, by one very hardworking journalist, Jillian Godsil. Ms. Godsil does seem to be a rather uncritical advocate for blockchain, but she is upfront about this and it does not seem to interfere with her editorial independence. There is both an editorial statement (though it is very brief) and a comprehensive privacy statement.

Two concerns: there is no contact information I can find on the website for this newsroom for readers to give feedback. And the newsroom is listed as being “part of FTLOI Ltd, UK”, which is, as far as I can tell from Google searching, a dormant manufacturer of women’s outerwear. It would be interesting to understand how these two are related. Or perhaps I have not been able to find information on another FTLOI that is actually intended here; it would be good to know how to find this information. It is not comfortable to be unable to see the corporation with which this newsroom is affiliated. This lack of transparency also potentially violates section IV. 2 and 3 (transparency and independence) of the Constitution.

With regard to section IV. 5. of the Constitution, concerning the impact of journalism on the lives of others, it would be worthwhile for this newsroom to take into consideration that blockchain and particular the currencies using it are not entirely benign in their impact on ordinary people. Ms. Godsil might want to consider a deeper dive into the potential malign affects of blockchain on her readers.

Overall, a fascinating newsroom with real potential to report vigorously on blockchain and its associated operations.

kmyers - 2 days ago

One interesting (and serious) question from your comment:

With regard to section IV. 5. of the Constitution, concerning the impact of journalism on the lives of others, it would be worthwhile for this newsroom to take into consideration that blockchain and particular the currencies using it are not entirely benign in their impact on ordinary people. Ms. Godsil might want to consider a deeper dive into the potential malign affects of blockchain on her readers .
Is covering “both sides” of an issue a requirement to be a journalistic outlet? I don’t think that would be a requirement of an organization or a newsroom (or what is contemplated by #5). To give an example from my own organization, The Intercept isn’t likely to do many stories that look at government surveillance positively. Yet I wouldn’t say that would be disqualifying. Is there a particular reason this newsroom needs to cover “both” sides or is disclosing their point of view acceptable enough?

Sorry, @kmyers, I didn’t see your comment until now. No, I don’t think there is any obligation for a newsroom to cover both sides of a story; in fact, we have seen the very malign effects of false equivalence being played out in mainstream media over the past decade or so in the U.S. However, I think there is a big difference between covering something like government surveillance and producing only uncritical praise for an industry which clearly has more subtlety and nuance than the site in question brought forward. Or, to bring it back to your personal example, while there are positive effects of government surveillance, what you are addressing (I believe) is the power differential that allows governments to use this tool to suppress unwanted speech. As such, you are under no obligation to plead their case, since they are holding most of the cards already. But in the case of blockchain, whereas I see it as a net good for society, there are pitfalls to it, and in particular to cryptocurrency, that should be reported on. Put another way, the power differential in blockchain is much more nuanced, and a journalist has an obligation to consider the deleterious consequences that could possibly lead from unquestioning boosterism of blockchain. I know these are subtle differences, in some ways, and I tried to be judicious in the language I used to criticize this aspect of their newsroom, not calling on her to report equally, but simply “to take into consideration that blockchain and particular the currencies using it are not entirely benign in their impact on ordinary people,” which I didn’t feel she had done.

My only concern is that the process of removal be considered and careful. There is a balance that has to be struck to insure that the civil platform be fair to all concerned. That is the very community we are trying to build. Respect for different journalistic points of view are necessary to that. My question is to intent. Was there a nefarious intent here that would be disqualifying? Digital systems are very fast, often advancing conclusions faster than a considered thought process. I hope that we slow down enough to make good and fair determinations here.

Thanks for your insight, @Benzeene. The process, it seems to me, is carefully designed to be contemplative and careful, as there are always delays between steps, including between comments being posted and challenges being made. However, I don’t think nefarious intent is the only disqualifying factor; if that were so, the Civil Constitution could be a single sentence long. Intent is also extremely difficult to demonstrate one way or another. Because of that, we must depend on outcomes that actually reach the page (or screen or airwaves) as the end result of assumed intent. To try to infer intent otherwise would be the true Injustice, as it would be almost entirely subjective.

Thanks for your thoughts. While this hardly qualifies as a true measure of accuracy, I can certainly understand how a perception of unfairness - and one of trolling - could be gathered from such a lopsided vote. A considered response would statistically tend toward a closer result. As to intent, it’s not hard to get a sense of people’s commitment and intentions with a conversation. Did that actually happen? Maybe it should. Posting responses, though efficient, may not be the best way to find the truth or create community, balancing the needs of both individual and that community.

It is an imperfect form of communication, I agree, but I did attempt to engage her in conversation on the discussion forum; there really is no other mode of communication available to us. And, while some of the comments were somewhat aggressive (not mine, I hope), it seems to me that if one is to survive in the business of journalism, a somewhat thick skin and level of maturity must allow for a measured response to even that type of feedback.

As for the lopsidedness of the vote, I think reading anything into that as to the intent of the voters is very unwise, except, of course, their intent to remove the newsroom and the correctness of the challenge. I must disagree that a fair and reasonable vote will invariably be a close one. I find no evidence in the theory of token curated registries that would suggest that is the case.

Thanks again for your thoughts.

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Point taken Reid regarding the thick skin factor and the responsibility of communications follow through on blockleaders part. And I suspect that the lopsided result is more demonstrative of small sample size and groupthink than a lack of fairness. With a larger sample of opinion however, experience would suggest a less unbalanced result - though not necessarily a close one. So…growing pains?

@Benzeene, I’m not sure that we should be seeking to have less unbalanced results for the sake of them. In general, I think that the reason that we are seeing such one-sided results so far is because of the concentration of tokens and limited number of voters and the clearness of the question. Most of the challenges so far have seemed to me to be rather clear-cut.

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Yes, @Benjamin, I agree. But, to your point, @Benzeene, my guess would be that all those tokens voted came from six or fewer people. I am only guessing at that number, but the guess is based on long experience here. So, yes, growing pains. And I would love to see more vigorous discussion while these challenges are ongoing. It would be worth it to me to lose the challenge if it came out of a truly robust discussion. For instance, if you get a chance, please drop by the discussion in the A Bit Cryptic newsroom. Another voice would be very welcome.