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Editorial Standards


Updated: January 2021

About the Grey Swan Guild
1. About the Grey Swan Guild


The Grey Swan Guild is a collaborative open global community of curious, spirited, purposeful sense-makers – each with distinct perspectives and expertise. The Grey Swan Guild has joined together to respond to the global challenges presented by the worldwide 2020 Coronavirus pandemic and will also convene and deliver productions on other future societal, cultural, marketplace and/or workplace challenges.


We are an actions-based think tank and advisory organization engaged in curating and creating knowledge through observation, informed futurism, and perceptive analysis. The Grey Swan Guild publishes evidence-based insight and perspectives on evolving issues related to the ongoing impacts of COVID-19 (and potential other events) on culture, the economy, work, technology and the marketplace. 

Our Editorial Priorities
The Grey Swan Guild is Independent
Ethics Policy
Editorial Independence
Editorial Standards
Curation and Fitness Guidelines
Contributors Compliance
2. Our Editorial Priorities


Our goal is to provoke, inspire, and invite additional thinking and contributions from those who are committed to affect and influence positive change across the globe.


We produce idea-focused print and digital assets to aid leaders, decision makers and policy makers at all levels in business, government, industry, not-for-profits and education to address concerns, understand implications, and identify opportunities to drive optimal outcomes for people and organizations. Contributing to the collective good of humanity is at the top of our editorial priorities list.


The Grey Swan Guild will produce a quarterly set of “living” documents that will make sense of particular societal, cultural, marketplace and workplace challenges. Our approach is to take a collective angle on these moments in time, as we have a firm belief that groups provide better answers. The aim is to produce better, more distinctive and layered observations and solutions than those surfaced by other individuals, commercial media outlets and public institutions, for the benefit of our audiences. 



3. The Grey Swan Guild is Independent


Founded by Andrea Kates and Sean Moffitt of Futureproofing : Next and Rob Tyrie of Ironstone Advisory, the Grey Swan Guild is overseen by a member board, with the support of a global general assembly.


The Grey Swan Guild has a standing membership of 100+ individuals including leading consultants, strategists, data analysts, writers, authors, futurists, executives, technologists, creatives, designers, new media developers and researchers from a wide range of countries worldwide including Canada, the Nordic Countries, the UK, continental Europe, the USA, Singapore, and Australia.


Our intent is to reflect a wide range of perspectives and we seek to actively engage individuals to bring a rich spectrum of ideas.


Members offer experience and expertise from diverse sectors including government, education, digital media, marketing, professionals services, health care, finance, retail, technology, and communications.


These volunteers provide leadership, insight, and consent to the activities of the Grey Swan Guild. While contributors or members may express political viewpoints, commentary or observations related to governance, the Grey Swan Guild is apolitical. 


Our Values:


  • Collaborative - committed to the collective Good

  • Purposeful - evidence-based, help business, policy, humanity.

  • Intellectually Curious – critical thinking, rationally optimistic, aware

  • Aspirational - can-do spirit, non-ordinary/innovative


4. Ethics Policy


The Grey Swan Guild is committed to producing perspectives that are evidence-based, independent, useful to influencers, diverse and distinctive. 


Fact-Checking Standards and Principles


Perspectives presented and produced by the Grey Swan Guild are fact-checked. Our fact checkers verify the validity of the information and source, authority of our contributors to express it and credit it where appropriate. Given that some of our points-of-view and perspectives anticipate an as-yet-unknown future state, the Grey Swan Guild will also provide disclaimers on the certainty that a reader should apply to our observations, implications and resultant opportunities.


The following are our Fact-Checking Principles, (with thanks to the Washington Post Fact Checking Approach, based on the Poynter Institute Model).


  • This is a fact-checking process, not an opinion-checking process.

  • We will strive to be dispassionate and non-partisan.

  • We are committed to being transparent about sources.

  • Everyone makes mistakes and we strive to correct any errors openly.

  • We make a commitment to fairness.

  • We will be transparent about any funding or alliances/partnerships.

  • We encourage participants to help us fact-check by providing credible evidence of error.


For both broad claims and small details the onus is on individual contributors to provide a list of sources. An additional layer of verification will be applied by Guild organizers and curators. The Grey Swan Guild will keep short-term records of our interactions and sources, but will not always be able to verify origins of materials. The Grey Swan Guild will conduct primary, and curate secondary, research. Where required, we will apply caveats and checks around certainty of data, information and conclusions.


Contributors are relied upon to make autonomous analyses of subject matter, based on expertise, facts, and evidence. The Grey Swan Guild recognizes that insights and observations are being developed during a remarkable period of human history, and that traditional sources of research and substantiation may not apply in all cases. Transparency and proper citation are expected wherever possible in regard to resources, references, quotes and sources and are to be made available to the board if requested.


In the unlikely case that a confidential source is used for an article about an emerging phenomenon, contributors must a) provide at least a “veiled attribution” of the source, and b) balance the confidential source’s information with contextual information from at least two other public sources. (For example, if a confidential source is sharing newly-developing information about challenges in their industry, two other public data sources about the industry’s challenges will balance out the discussion -- even if the public data appears to contradict the emergent information from the confidential source.) Note that, in these cases of confidential sources, the Grey Swan Guild reserves the right to not publish the article and/or not disclose the identity of the source. 




5. Corrections


Our intention is to be evidence-based, factual and provide credit to prior references. As in any future-minded open venture, we will have challenges. When dealing with completely new perspectives or changed worlds, contributors may need to extrapolate or amplify current facts to fit for future arguments. As an open team of part-time editors and freelance contributors, we may miss some facts or sources. We expect contributors to independently verify information, but errors can occur. When an error is brought to our attention, the Grey Swan Guild will review the material in question and provide correction, with appropriate notes referencing the original information, publication and revision dates. 



6. Editorial Independence


Material produced by the Grey Swan Guild is independent of specific commercial or political interests. Contributors do not accept gifts and are transparent in regard to potential conflicts of interest. 




7. Editorial Standards


Editorial standards are reflected in our Ethics Policy and Style Guide. These are reviewed and updated regularly.


Style Guide

A detailed style guide will be developed over time as the collective voice and tone of the Grey Swan Guild becomes clear. So as we begin this collaborative process, the following editorial style guidelines are applicable:

  • The name of the organization is the Grey Swan Guild (not the Guild, GS Guild or GSG or Gray)

  • American standard spelling

  • Active voice and action words where possible

  • Keep jargon, clichés, slang and acronyms to a minimum

  • Short, descriptive, interesting headlines that reflect the article’s content well

  • Chunk content to help audiences navigate ideas (avoid run-on sentences and lengthy paragraphs)

  • Compelling and brief content with the key points first (journalism’s inverted pyramid style)

  • Caption or label images or graphics

  • Identify original sources throughout





8. Privacy


At the present time, the Grey Swan Guild is proceeding with a Creative Commons Share Alike approach to crediting our collective work. We recognize that this is a permissive use of our work crediting the Grey Swan Guild with the common license for any remix, transformation or build upon. Based on that standard, the original work of individual contributors can be used by the individual. If the work of the Grey Swan Guild is used by individuals or entities, citations must be used.


As of May 15, 2020, flagrant offences as determined by the Board will lead to lost membership in the Grey Swan Guild.



9. Curation and Fitness Guidelines


During these early days of the Grey Swan Guild, we are adapting the April 2020 Curation Guidelines from Medium to help us in providing guidance to contributors on the qualities for content that is fit for publishing and possible curation that the Grey Swan Guild is seeking. As Medium explains, curated content is also eligible to be redistributed to audiences and featured in additional Grey Swan Guild publishing initiatives. As the Grey Swan Guild’s voice and publishing processes mature, these guidelines will be updated and communicated to all participants. Here are our initial Fitness and Curation Guidelines:


  • Is it concise? — Write for web and mobile access that efficiently communicates an idea (see submission form for word and character count guidelines). There will also be longer-form compilations of individual participant content.

  • Are credentials clearly stated? — Include full name, title, affiliation, email, and daytime phone number

  • Submitted correctly?  — Do not sent emails or attachments with your content, use the online form

  • Does the contribution meet a high editorial standard? – Is it well-written, easy to follow, free of errors, appropriately sourced, and compelling?

  • Does it add value for the audience? – Does it share new insights or perspectives? Offer an original take on a familiar issue? Does it stir emotions and/or thinking? Provide meaningful advice? Enrich understanding of the topic? Does it feel like time well spent?

  • Is it written for the audience? – Is the story written with the audience in mind? Does the story make a connection with the audience or to a larger issue?

  • Is it complete? – Is it a finished, polished piece of work? Considered? Concise? Will a consumer of the content walk away satisfied?

  • Is it rigorous? – Are claims supported? Sources cited alongside stated facts? Does the story hold up to scrutiny?

  • Is it honest? – Is the story written in good faith? Is it truthful?

  • Does it offer a good experience? – Is it properly formatted for the web/mobile? Does it have a clear and relevant headline that lets the audience know what the story is about? An easily accessible story body — paragraphs/spacing/styling/section breaks/quotes?

  • Is it clean? Is it free of typos and errors?

  • Is the imagery appropriate? Is the imagery relevant and appropriate to the story?



10. Contributor’s Compliance


Contributions must comply with the Grey Swan Guild’s Editorial Standard and Ethics and meet the current Curation and Fitness Guidelines. Meeting these requirements does not guarantee publication. The board reserves the right to preclude publication that may strictly meet the standards, ethics, and guidelines, but not meet expectations of quality or general content. Contributions must also adhere to common rules of taste, decency and acceptability. At this early stage the Grey Swan Guild will reference the November 2019 Medium Policy Rules.



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