0513red_Jones.jpgWe quickly agree to the thousands of tiny legal words that appear on websites we visit every day. Those tiny words can be important though, and they can provide meaningful insight to the site we are entering, or the information we are accessing.

When our users join us in The Tent, our online Yammer network for lay and professional leaders in the Reform Movement, we ask them to agree to our community guidelines. We don’t know how often the information is actually reviewed by our users before the they agree to follow the guidelines, but we have put real thought into how these guidelines might reflect the type of online community we have tried to build, and work hard to sustain.

We want The Tent to be a positive and constructive online space for our community, so we really hope that people take the time to read the guidelines so there is a common understanding as to how we should all communicate with one another, share with another, and learn from each other in our Yammer network. As we are a Jewish organization, we thought it might be helpful to frame the guidelines as Jewish teaching, so we created The Tent Commandments of The Tent.

I. Thou Shall Not Share That Which is Not Yours To Share, nor Anything Illegal, Threatening, or Offensive.
This is a place for synagogue professionals, lay leaders and members of the Reform Movement to network, discuss and collaborate. We expect everyone to work together to maintain a professional, positive and constructive atmosphere. Please also respect copyright protection law. If a document, image or other resource is not yours to share, please do not share it.

II. Advertising and Spam are Not Kosher. Please don’t post anything that promotes your business, product, program or service. The Tent is not a place for advertising or promotion.
The administrators of The Tent Yammer network reserve the right to remove any comment or resource they deem inappropriate for this network.

III. What Happens in The Tent, Stays in The Tent.
The Tent is a place for the leaders of the Reform Movement to discuss their ideas, their concerns, their successes and their failures. The discussions can sometimes be sensitive in nature. Information shared in The Tent should not be discussed outside of The Tent. Tent participants are prohibited from using Tent discussions and/or resources in any other context other than learning and supporting your synagogue community. Do not utilize Tent content in support of your business. Please do not share content from The Tent in public forums such as Facebook or Twitter. Do not share confidential information with the whole group. If you are requesting potentially sensitive information, (such as salary levels of specific staff members, for instance), do so using private messages.

IV. ​Thou Shall Not Insult.
If someone upsets you, respond to the issue itself rather than questioning the character of the person. If you must respond to the person, do so privately.​ Messages and communication in The Tent addressed to people, or about people, need to remain positive and respectful.

V. Thou Shall Connect.
Community is at the core of who we are as leaders in our congregations and our Movement. In The Tent, we have a wonderful opportunity to make our large Reform community feel a little more intimate and familiar. Maintain your own profiles and visit the profiles of others in the community. Use this as an opportunity to get to know new people and make valuable connections. This is a community for learning, growth and development.

VI. Thou Shall Learn the Technology.
The more you know about The Tent technology, the better use you can make of this amazing resource. Please visit the Tent Info group for helpful information, and ask questions about things that you would like to be able to do in The Tent. Also, feel free to click around and explore; this is the best way to learn a new technology.

VII. Thou Shall Visit Often.
The more we use The Tent, the more useful of a resource it becomes. Please visit often to participate in conversations, post resources, and share information. All this information and communication will result in a robust and rewarding experience. You may also want to sign up for email alerts to stay connected to the conversations and information you care about most.

VIII. Staying Current is Holy.
Please make sure your profile is updated with new contact information, new positions and roles, and anything else that may be helpful to others, such as new skills and expertise and recent accomplishments. These are all important pieces of getting to know you and how you can be helpful to others in The Tent.

IX. And on the Seventh Day, Thou Shall Rest.
Like other aspects of Reform Jewish life, Shabbat observance is a personal choice. Some may consider their time in the Tent “work” and wish to refrain from participating on Shabbat, while others find their time here relaxing and holy. Please make an appropriate choice for yourself and respect the decision of others, even if it means not receiving an immediate response.

X. Thou shall not post in All Network.
It may feel like your post should go in the generic, default All Network group so it will be seen by as many people as possible, but as long as a post is made in any public group, everyone in The Tent will see your post. Unless previous arrangements have been made, any post made to the All Network group will be moved to a subject specific group.

The Tent is a place of sharing and collaboration, of support and relationship building. The Tent is a place for us. The more we share, the richer of an user experience we all will enjoy.


Part guideline, part instruction, part expectation. How to use The Tent, when to use The Tent, when not to use The Tent. Mostly serious, a little “tongue in cheek,” but readable and sincere.

Users in The Tent rarely act outside the scope of our guidelines, and when they do, usually just a nice email with a link to the guidelines is enough to resolve any issue. I can think of only two times in the almost five year history of The Tent that we have had to remove someone due to misconduct.

We have made slight revisions to our community guidelines since first introducing them, and we are currently taking a look at more revisions so we are sure they continue to reflect what The Tent is, and what we want The Tent to continue to be.

If nothing else, our community guidelines present an opportunity for a shared understanding, and an implied agreement amongst our almost 12,000 users on how we will behave in our online space. Should there be a question, or should someone act outside the scope of our guidelines, we can always refer back to our Tent Commandments in an effort to remind all of our users that we have created a space that is a space apart. We don’t promote, we try not to argue, and we are always working to strengthen our sacred communities.

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