WDC statement about a recent incident

Announced by Sebastiano Tronto on

Dear cubing community,

The Disciplinary Committee has recently concluded an investigation on a competitor's online behavior. This has generated some public discussion, and we would like to clarify our stance on this matter.

The investigation

Earlier this year we were contacted by Gil Zussman about the online behavior of another competitor (underage). Gil provided screenshots showing this competitor making offensive and discriminatory comments on a Discord chat. Gil also stated that this person had already been repeatedly banned from this Discord server because of their behavior, and they have lost a sponsorship contract for this reason.

We agreed that this behavior was very concerning, so we started an official investigation. We were able to confirm Gil's claims about this competitor's online behavior. As online chats not officiated by the WCA fall outside the jurisdiction of our committee, we wanted to find out if this behavior was present at competitions or on official WCA online platforms. We contacted multiple delegates, as well as community members whose names were suggested by Gil, but we found no evidence of this behavior at competitions.

The kind of behavior shown on Discord by this competitor has no place in the cubing community, but the WDC cannot act outside the scope of the Motions and the Code of Conduct. Therefore, we decided to take no action on this incident. We communicated our conclusions to Gil, offering our support and stating that we would reopen our investigation if provided with new evidence. Gil was dissatisfied with our decision.

Public discussion

Gil showed his dissatisfaction with our decision on the WCA forum. He understood that the current Code of Conduct does not cover incidents such as the one he witnessed, and he was advised by a member of the WDC to propose changes to this document if he felt disappointed with its current version. Gil did so by opening a new thread on the forum, proposing to expand the Code of Conduct to cover the online behavior of WCA title and record holders.

Although the WDC has recently discussed changes to the Code of Conduct similar to what Gil suggested, we do not have a definitive opinion on this. As such, our team members felt free to share their personal opinion on the matter. In particular, one of us stated that they disagreed with the focus on competitors with records/titles, feeling that Gil was still referencing the competitor from the investigation. They also shared their disagreement with the idea of expanding the Code of Conduct to allow the WDC to moderate non-WCA forums, and explained their reasoning for why they believed it would be a poor idea.

We realize now that these statements could be interpreted as contradictory messages coming from our Committee, with one member suggesting that Gil submit a proposal and another expressing their dislike of the focus of the competitor who was investigated in his proposal and disagreement of expanding the Code of Conduct to cover all online behavior. We did not realize this at first, and we are deeply sorry for the confusion. We are actively working to improve our communication with the public and avoid similar incidents in the future.

The WDC stance on the Code of Conduct

Gil's proposal on the code of conduct was to extend it to "cover all public behavior of WCA champions and/or record holders". This is a valid proposal, but also a controversial one. As explained above, the WDC does not currently have an official opinion on this, and more discussion is needed to reach a consensus.

This is not to say that the Committee believes the current Code of Conduct cannot be improved. In fact, earlier this year we have proposed to extend its scope to include situations that can lead to an unsafe competition environment, even if said situations arise outside of official WCA platforms. This change will soon be voted for by the WCA.

Closing words

The WDC strongly condemns any bullying, harassment and any other discriminatory behavior. We do not tolerate this, and we actively work to make sure that the WCA community is a safe and inclusive place.

We hope that everyone in the WCA community can help make the larger cubing community a place free of bullying, harassment and any other discriminatory behavior. As the WCA doesn’t monitor these platforms, servers, and forums, we depend on moderators and members of these communities to create a welcoming and inclusive environment, and to speak up against any kind of behavior that threatens it.

We believe that the WCA must act transparently and according to our own Documents. The WDC does not issue punishment at will without being backed by the Regulations, the Motions or the Code of Conduct.

Lastly, we would also like to address accusations that we will not punish someone just because they are a record holder or a champion. The WDC has never hesitated to pursue disciplinary action based on a competitors status, proven by recent and historical rulings that disciplined competitors who hold titles and records.

We hope this message clarifies our stance on this incident.

Best regards,
Sebastiano Tronto
On behalf of the WCA Disciplinary Committee

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