Last reviewed: 09/04/2021
In the Code of Ethics, we elaborate on Hoplr's values and rules of conduct. These are at the basis of every decision regarding community support.
These rules of conduct serve as regulations for both Hoplr’s users and community managers. They describe on the one hand our expectations towards the use of the community network and on the other hand our standardized reaction to certain incidents. In other words, the deontological code is an extension of Hoplr's manifest and house rules.
Finally, we will answer some frequently asked questions. Additional information can be requested at firstname.lastname@example.org.
All decisions regarding community development - but also the development of the platform and business strategy - can be traced back to a number of values. These are closely linked to Hoplr's manifesto. You can consult it here. Our values are responsibility, objectivity and constructiveness.
Hoplr has a responsibility to now more than half a million users and some two hundred local governments and public sector organizations. We are therefore constantly aware of our impact on both the individual and the community. In doing so, we would like to point out three things.
Any party that receives personal data has a great responsibility towards its users. On the one hand, a company must make choices that are consistent with its values. As such, Hoplr chooses not to use an advertising model. Consequently, we will never resell or pass on personal data to third parties. Read more about our revenue model here.
On the other hand, one must be aware of possible breaches. While there may be a clear intention to protect personal data, one should not assume impenetrability. Read more about our efforts to keep Hoplr secure here.
What happens within the Hoplr neighbourhood has an impact on the physical neighbourhood. That’s the way we want it. After all, Hoplr has the potential to bring people together and engage them.
However, that coin has a flip side. Excluding a person online can have consequences for their place in the local community and thus their personal life. It is our responsibility to consider this and not to take hasty action.
When users report other Hoplr neighbours or raise an issue via email, it reaches our community managers. They are responsible for the health of Hoplr communities and intervene when that health is compromised.
However, community managers are no social workers or police officers. They lack context and background and will therefore not get involved in local issues, neighbourhood disputes or personal feuds. Our experts can be called upon at the request of local governments.
On Hoplr, there is room for people of any age, origin, opinion, belief, sexual orientation, language,... We can only offer our users this space by remaining objective ourselves.
With regard to support, this means that community managers approach reports from different angles, assessing possible consequences. When a choice has to be made whether or not to intervene, they base themselves on Hoplr's house rules, manifesto and code of ethics.
Hoplr always chooses strategic partners with a long-term vision. This allows us to autonomously continue Hoplr's social direction.
The protection of personal data and the interests of the local community are paramount, also with regard to our services and reporting to clients, which is always anonymised and aggregated.
The health and serenity of Hoplr neighbourhoods are fundamental to us. Therefore, we generally place the interest of the community above the desire of the individual. Consequently, content that does not positively contribute to the neighbourhood has no place on Hoplr.
Posts that cause friction are removed. Some individuals may perceive this as censorship. However, there is every room to raise issues, as long as it is done in a constructive and serene manner. This also increases the likelihood that the discussion will lead to an enrichment of the neighbourhood.
On the other hand, a positive contribution is quickly made. Reports of lost kittens may seem unhelpful to some, but they do contribute to the formation of neighbourhood identity and local sense of community.
In other words, it's a fine line. Posts that create engagement in one neighbourhood, cause friction in another. That's why in many cases we go by the signal given by the neighbourhood. For example, when there are multiple reports, we usually intervene. Similar messages may consequently be removed in one neighbourhood, while they remain in another.
The house rules should be read at least once by all our users. These serve as guidelines to keep neighbourhoods pleasant. This means that our community managers and users can fall back on them if they find a neighbourhood message to be disruptive.
At the same time, it means that house rules are not laws. Therefore, if neighbours are not bothered by a post that goes against the house rules, there is no need to intervene. Hoplr always reserves the right to delete or not delete a profile or message. Below we provide a brief word of explanation for each of the five house rules.
Discriminatory and offensive messages will not be tolerated.
Posts with foul language, bullying or inappropriate content, posts that incite hatred or unnecessarily target certain groups are not welcome on Hoplr.
Help your neighbours whenever possible, contributing to a more caring neighbourhood.
We trust that all users want an inclusive and warm neighbourhood and that they will behave accordingly. With this house rule, we want to emphasize that requests for help and ideas have a place here, without fear/room for ridicule.
Briefly introducing your company or association is permitted, but keep it limited. Frequent posting of items for sale, jokes or political messages is not allowed.
Hoplr is free of both formal and informal advertisements. By being strict, we prevent the network from being flooded by annoying ads. The distinction is determined by the relevance to the neighbourhood. Mentioning that you’re a local trader is okay. Repeatedly posting messages that would fit on a non-neighbourhood platform just as easily is not.
Hoplr is not a wailing wall. Problems may be discussed but keep it friendly, civilized and constructive.
We assume when users raise an issue, they do so because they want to improve the neighbourhood. This can only be done by being respectful and sticking to the facts. Pointing fingers, cursing and ramming on leads to friction, not a solution.
Hoplr neighbourhoods are based on trust. We ask users to use their real name and first name. A recognizable profile picture is appreciated.
Recognisability is crucial for a real impact on the sense of community. Firstly, it builds mutual trust, which is important for wanting to offer or accept help. Secondly, recognizability encourages exchange between digital and non-digital connections. Third, online recognizability causes people to pay more attention to what they say.
Hoplr's community managers monitor the health of the online neighbourhoods. When one or more users in a neighbourhood exhibit behaviour that endangers that health, they step in. Community managers are employed by Hoplr. They are familiar with the neighbourhood network and with social issues such as group dynamics. They are supported in this by an internal community management tool and associated procedures.
The actions taken by the community managers depend, among other things, on the nature, severity and intent of the behaviour, but certainly also on the (possible) consequences for the neighbourhood. We adhere to a set policy as much as possible. Often, however, community management is not black and white. By being transparent about this policy, we hope to be able to count on more understanding in case of (the absence of) an intervention.
Violations can be picked up in three ways.
Of course, the community manager can also judge that there is no real problem. Or he may decide that not intervening will lead to the best outcome. In that case, he takes no action.
A person-specific problem involves one user exhibiting problematic behaviour that may be disruptive to (part of) the Hoplr neighbourhood. Depending on the expected outcome, a community manager will take none, one or more of the actions below.
Raising awareness by mail is always the first action. In the event of new violations, we proceed with a temporary blocking. If the user in question requests access again after two weeks and then commits another violation, this is followed by a permanent blocking.
Disruptive comments or messages will be removed. In addition, the above interventions are always accompanied by an email to inform the user in question. There are exceptions to this phased intervention when, for example, a serious violation is involved (such as discrimination, threats or the use of a false profile).
A neighbourhood problem involves multiple users. This could be in the case of an out of control discussion or suboptimal use of the platform by the neighbourhood. Depending on the expected outcome, a community manager will take none, one or more of the actions below.
Even though the problem is neighbourhood-related, some key people can often be identified. Consequently, we address such situations as multiple person-specific problems, possibly accompanied by an external message in the neighbourhood.
For other neighbourhood-related problems, we look at each case individually. Sometimes we have to decide that our community managers are not the right party to intervene. In that case, we may bring in a community development worker (our expert or affiliated with the city or municipality).
The terms and conditions below are automatically accepted by all users of Hoplr. Accordingly, Hoplr shall not be liable for any consequences of breach of these terms and conditions.
If you violate the above or other terms, or if you facilitate or encourage violation, we may take one or some of the actions listed below. As the owner of the neighbourhood network, we may apply these sanctions for violation as we deem appropriate.
Below, we share our views on a number of issues that community managers regularly face, and for which there is no clear-cut answer at first glance. However, as we mentioned above, when it comes to whether or not to intervene, we usually rely on the signal that the neighbourhood gives us.
Politics is a broad term. So the answer depends on what you consider political. There is definitely room to think about local issues together. Similarly, there are features for citizen participation and communication with local government.
However, our house rules provide some important restrictions that leave no room for partisanship or non-constructive discussion.
In itself, there is nothing wrong with selling an item on Hoplr. We understand that one would rather make a neighbour happy with a preloved item, than a stranger. Moreover, it leads to a physical meeting between neighbours, which we can only encourage.
The danger, however, is that a few sales lead to many sales. In this way, the Hoplr neighbourhood will be inundated in no time with posts that are relevant to few. We want to prevent this by only allowing gifting and very sporadic sales.
If we see that a neighbourhood is being overrun, or neighbours signal that the messages are disturbing, we can still use an external message to announce that selling items is not allowed. We always do this to protect the neighbourhood feeling.
Hoplr is available in Dutch, French and English. You can change your language preference via account settings. What does this mean for communication on or through Hoplr?
*The language law on administrative affairs dictates that Belgian public authorities are required by law to communicate in a particular national language (or languages), both internally and with citizens. That language is territorially defined.