Questions from a new volunteer:
(questions and their answers can be seen here: NewImcFaq
- Someone has made an online application and I want to talk to them, what do I do next? answer...
Why this page?
This page is for experienced Indymedia people who want to help newly forming Indymedia collectives. If you want to start
a new imc, then the page you really want is NewImcHowTo
Many people volunteer on new-imc - there were 70 new-imc subscribers at last count - but most of the time they don't seem to get around to actually doing the communication work of helping a new IMC group go through the process. Maybe this is because they're not sure quite what to do. This page will hopefully give a few hints of the experience of some new-imc volunteers. The first draft is meant to be based on how the new-imc working group has worked in practice. It is not a theoretical prescription of (or global decision on) how new-imc should work, it's more on how it has - more or less - worked so far.
First, join the new-imc working group
- Send a response to NewImcPleaseGiveIntro to the new-imc mailing list and then try to subscribe and wait for a moderator to approve your subscription. If you have sent an introduction and don't get subscribed after a reasonable delay, ask again. The only reason for not accepting your subscription is if you have not sent in an introduction.
Things to consider
- Above all, ask yourself what you and your local IMC think an IMC is all about. Don't forget why we're here.
- Ask yourself what other IMCs think IMC is all about, and what is common to us all.
- Try to work out where communication errors/gaps are happening, and see if you can help solve these.
- Be aware that people may have missed reading something the first time around or have forgotten it or have misunderstood it.
- Remember that what is obvious and easy for you to find by clicking and reading may not be obvious for newbies to the internet, and it will also be expensive for the most "oppressed" people in the world.
- Just one example of a misunderstanding was when a group felt frustrated and had the impression that secret discussions were going on at new-imc without informing the group - this was simply because they did not realise that the http://lists.indymedia.org/mailman/public/new-imc archive is public. These sort of misunderstandings are almost certain to happen. So be patient and don't be surprised!
- Be familiar with how your own IMC got going, what problems it may have had and have solved (or not yet solved). Remember that another new IMC might have similar problems. It might also have completely different problems.
- Try to learn some background about the social/political/economic situation in the area of the new IMC.
- Try to find someone who speaks the (or a) local language to help out.
- Make it clear when you suggest to a group to do something that this is not an order, it is not an interrogation, it's just a guide to help them organise and to make it easier for the global Network of IMCs to come a decision when the group is finally proposed with a 7-day deadline on imc-process and imc-communication.
- Accept some redundancy, repetition - people take time to learn.
- Remember that the process is likely to evolve as more and more global "South" IMCs are formed, and that this is more likely to evolve by practice based on practical experiences of the first few IMCs in the "South" rather than by any attempt at a theoretical global decision. This may involve major de facto shifts, and it will be better to be aware of these and to try to retain an evolving, but still global, consensus rather than generating pseudo-conflicts based on misunderstandings. This is going to require a lot of careful and patient communication work.
Specific hints on the process
before announcing a group for the 3-day internal approval
- Check that you understand http://newimc.indymedia.org and why everything has been put there. The page can certainly still evolve (see below), but most of the things there are supposed to be useful things based on a lot of experience and discussion.
- Help talk the group through these 10 steps, either one step at a time, or all in go - it depends how fast they go, how organised and diverse they are to start off with, etc. Try using google or other sources (e.g. indymedia to see if you can help put them into contact with other activist groups in their city. Help them get into contact with the regional Indy mailing list closest to them.
- Make your own judgment on whether they seem to have discussed the PrinciplesOfUnity and made some serious comment on them.
- Make your own judgment on whether they seem to have dealt with the various organising techniques and criteria listed in the MembershipCriteria .
- Many groups are able to respond point by point using an edited version of the MembershipCriteria document, but some, for a variety of reasons, do not do this. Use your own judgment and if you wish, prepare your own version of the MembershipCriteria where you put URLs to answers the group has provided, in this way being sure that the group has dealt with these points.
- If the group makes a mailing list, you can shift discussion to that mailing list, and it will be easier to have more patient, get-to-know-one-another discussions than if everything is discussed on the new-imc mailing list.
- If you feel uncomfortable using your own judgment, feel free to ask the list for advice.
- Don't feel pressured to rapidly present a new group for internal approval.
- If they complain that the process seems to be too bureaucratic and formalised, you are welcome to put more effort into explaining things in a personalised way and
- remind them that they do not have to wait for formal approval before downloading and installing the software.
- remind them that they are also welcome to ask around for hosting on another server if they want to start open publishing immediately.
- remind them that Indymedia is not just a web site, it's a radically new political experiment in the way people relate to one another in an international grassroots network dedicated to one clear, specific goal: independent media. Just as a serious personal relationship takes time to develop, especially when both partners wish to retain their independence despite real differences in power, a relationship between groups who wish to retain their independence, but have vast differences in power, also requires time to develop.
3-day new-imc internal approval deadline
- Use a clear Subject: header, e.g. Subject: IMC PARIS new-imc internal DEADLINE Day DD Month YYYY GMT hh:mm and send to new-imc, with copy to the group's mailing list. (Practice varies, it's maybe not always sent to the group's local list.)
- Reduce the chance of transmission error by including both the name of the day and the number (date), e.g. Fri 10 Jan 2003
- Reduce the chance of transmission error (Month/Day vs Day/Month conventions) by using the word version of the month.
- YYYY is not really necessary, but makes it easier for people looking back a year or more later and wishing to understand.
- As proposer, you may wish to suspend the deadline, even without a formal block, if you feel the group needs time to answer a request, or if it is clear there is no consensus.
- If there are no blocks after the deadline, the next step is global consensus.
UK portal new-imc process
People at ImcUK
are discussing a process for UK groups that which to start out using the IMC UK portal, but UK groups could still apply directly to the new-imc working group if they wished: http://lists.indymedia.org/mailman/public/new-imc/2003-February/003489.html
Please add details, updates etc to NewImcUK
7-day imc-process approval with cc: to imc-communication
- Use a clear Subject: header, e.g. Subject: IMC PARIS imc-process APPROVAL DEADLINE Day DD Month YYYY GMT hh:mm and send to imc-process with cc: to imc-communication, with copy to the group's mailing list. (Practice varies, it's maybe not always sent to the group's local list.)
- There was some discussion about which list the thread (discussion) should happen on - imc-process or imc-communication? Was there any clear consensus on this? - probably not
- Facilitators on imc-process (or imc-communication) will presumably facilitate any discussion. Generally all you need to do is check whatever conversation happens, and if there are no blocks within the 7-day deadline, go on to welcome the new IMC. You are welcome to help clarify the discussion if there are difficulties, though during 2002 possibly the only difficult case was IMC Palestine (around Jan 2002?), but even then it was enough to point people to the URLs on new-imc and they accepted that there was no point repeating a discussion which had already been thoroughly dealt with.
Welcome a new IMC
- Use a clear Subject: header, e.g. Subject: WELCOME IMC PARIS! and send to imc-process with cc: to imc-communication and new-imc, with copy to the group's mailing list. (Practice varies, it's maybe not always sent to all lists.)
- As long as the group filled out the request form http://newimc.indymedia.org since around Oct/Nov 2002, recommend to their contact person to use the password he/she should have received to update the
- By now, the new IMC should already be integrated into the network, but it's probably a good idea to check back every now and then. If you see problems on their newswire or in the central column, chances are a friendly message from you or a few constructive comments on the newswire might help. Remember that the borderline between being helpful and being patronising or "controlling" is a fuzzy one - learn by experience and sensitivity (and mistakes) where to find it.
The newimc page, the NewImcHowTo page and the NewImc page
- Please look through the NewImc pages and improve them (add, condense, translate, clarify, whatever) and maybe send a note to the mailing list.