Google is well-known for maintaining an open company culture that encourages frank discussion and expression. It most recently played a role in the petition signed by over 4,000 Googlers to stop Project Maven. However, there are issues associated with that open atmosphere and Google last week established new rules for internal discussion and workplace conduct.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Google last week updated its guidelines that govern the various online email discussion groups and message boards for 80,000 employees. Topics frequently range from social issues to politics, with this being the company’s first set of explicit rules to dictate discourse and codify consequences.

This includes limits on offensive language and ad hominem attacks, with employees subject to discipline for discriminating or attacking other Googlers. It also takes aim at trolling, or discussions that are “disruptive to a productive work environment.” Questionable content can be flagged by employees or volunteer moderators and reviewed by human resources.

These volunteer Google moderators are a key part of how the community is managed today. The new rules calling for adherence to “Google Values” are broad and open to interpretation. Moderators are tasked with implementation and in the future will get more tools to limit an offending employee’s ability to post or view content in certain groups.

Discussions that make other Googlers feel like they don’t belong have no place here. Avoid blanket statements about groups or categories of people. Trolling, name calling, and ad hominem attacks will not be tolerated.

Meanwhile, new workplace conduct rules better define harassment and discrimination, with an especially strict stance against doxxing with consequences like termination or demotion.

Google last week told employees it had also revised its workplace-conduct rules, providing more details around what constitutes harassment and discrimination, the person said. The policy says derogatory or insensitive jokes and offensive images may be considered forms of harassment, according to excerpts of the policy reviewed by the Journal.

This internet phenomenon involves the posting of a user’s personal information, like one’s address. Ahead of a company-wide last year on the anti-diversity memo, the initial meeting was canceled due to Googlers revealing the personal information of others.


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