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Contributor II

Bully or bull?

Not sure this is the right place for this discussion...but, as a member of ISC2, I'm a bit skeptical of the work being done by the "Center for Cyber Safety and Education."


I understand that ISC2, as a nonprofit, needs to a charity/public service function, in order to maintain the tax status. I agree that working with kids may be a good avenue for ISC2 to fulfill that requirement.


I am not sure the message we've chosen is optimum. Or that we're delivering anything of substance.


Case in point: the latest member email from the Center. The Subject line was: "Bullying rates up 35% from 2016." Now...I have no idea what that means. Nothing about that topic was included in the email itself. The source wasn't mentioned.


And I can't imagine a useful, specific metric for assessing "bullying"-- sure, I can easily assume that what was really being measured was "survey responses about bullying." Maybe more kids reported being bullied between 2016 and 2019. That's possible-- it's hip to be a victim right now. But does it accurately portray the amount of "bullying" that is happening? Did any of the survey respondents mention that they did the bullying? Did the increase in both metrics go up? (A spike in bullying would suggest both an increase in victims and bullies...unless the same number of bullies are doing 35% more bullying per capita...which kind of should be lauded-- I mean, they're working much harder than they used to, way back in 2016...maybe we should study them, and figure out how they're able to be much more productive than they were just a couple years ago.)


What is "bullying"? I've seen many definitions...and none of them seems to distinguish between, say, "bullying" and "critique." Do we want young people to be less critical? Do we want to reduce the ways they communicate, and what they talk about? Would this be considered a manner of chilling free expression?


What is our desired outcome, here? Teaching kids not to be "victimized"? What, exactly, does that mean? Stranger Danger in an Internet age? Not losing all their data to people they don't know? (That ship has sailed-- as adults, we've already ceded control of all our electronic information by tacitly allowing total surveillance of our online activity to our government and other entities-- do we expect children to behave differently?)


As members, what do you think about the Center and the efforts toward "helping" young people? Honestly, I could see more value in teaching them to use anonymizers, VPNs, and proxies to be "safer" online than in teaching them that some types of expression are "bad."


We could do worse things to keep our organization's tax status...but I think we could do better, too.

13 Replies
Contributor III

@Ben_Malisow wrote:

Thanks, Wim-- this explains so much, and I'm very pleased to see those questions addressed. I really appreciate you taking the time to lay it all out; I don't think I remember seeing anything clarifying these topics either at the time of creation, or up until now.


And yes, you're probably right about the marketing schtick; getting past the eyeballs in the Inbox has got to be a tough job. I'm probably a bit jaded when it comes to this stuff (especially because of our field).


Thanks again-- this was extremely insightful and useful.

It's a bit sad that a former board member has to come out and lay it all out 🙂 One thing I regret about the 6 years I've been on the board is that we never cracked the code of efficient communications. Between what the board needs to communicate, what it wants to communicate, and what the membership wants to hear from us (indeed, a big part of the membership has chosen to receive as little communications as possible from the organization through their profile settings), it is a very difficult exercise. Maybe a separate thread might be useful on this topic? If the board can't figure it out, maybe the active members here can come to a consensus on what they would like to know from the board.

Sic semper tyrannis.
Contributor II

With thousands of members, in hundreds of countries, I don't think we'd ever reach any meaningful consensus...but maybe a trickle of sharing might be useful? Say, a Board Blog where each month a Board member fires off a little update about what plans are in the works, and those (members) who are interested can check in? Email might not be the best vehicle-- for exactly the reasons we've mentioned (sifting through more Inbox material probably wouldn't be seen as a positive step), but perhaps just a simple thread in the community.


But you're also right that this might not be the ideal thread for the dicussion. I'll start a new one, if you're interested.

Community Champion

@wimremes wrote:

we never cracked the code of efficient communications.

A few possibilities:


  1. Expand the online meeting minutes to be more "minutes" than "agenda" (redacted as appropriate) and to cover every board meeting instead of just the annual meetings.
  2. Routinely leverage ISP magazine, as was most recently done in the Jul/Aug 2019 issue, for the "everyone ought to know, eventually" items.
  3. Use the organization blog, to host more timely "from the board..." postings.
  4. Leverage a community "board board" (similar to (ISC)² updates) for topics for which member feedback is welcome.  If desired, a "board board" could be made "members only".
  5. The annual report could include a "strategic directions" section, highlighting the board's N-year plans.
  6. Engage (ISC)²'s marketing department for even more creative ideas. 
...receive as little communications as possible ... through their profile settings...

My profile settings says more about how I want to receive communications than what I want to receive.  I reserve email for time-sensitive and personalized communications.  Otherwise, I prefer to "go looking" for information when I am ready, making all the above channels an excellent choice.

Contributor II

Warped minds think alike: the ideas that sprang to my mind included using an online thread here in this community for back-and-forth between members and the Board (within reason-- don't want the Board members getting swamped with personal requests because a candidate's endorsement process is delayed or whatever), a regular column in the mag, or just posting status updates on the ISC2 site as a blog or whatnot. Maybe an occassional AMA, Reddit-style, where a Board member sits in the hotseat every other month, for an hour-long online session where members can get their questions heard.


And...the weirdest thing about this a member, I wouldn't even know or care about the Board's take on the Center if the Center hadn't been so aggressive in its messaging/promotion. The combination of the dubious email marketing and the constant stream of info got me curious about the now I'm wondering if there are any other functions that ISC2 performs which the Board would like to explain to members, promoting those efforts and raising awareness/interest. Maybe increased direct communication would offer that benefit, too. Just an idea.