www-features is a working group of individuals from different IMCs around the world who write, collect and post features on the global indymedia website.
To some degree, the maintenance and development of the global indymedia site (like the introduction of translations etc) has also fallen to this group.
Besides the mailing list, some communication takes place on #features in irc chat (http://chat.indymedia.org ), but emails are the main communication media.
All subscribers of www-features are asked to send a roll call about their region, languages and interests of what they want to do, so that we have an overview what kind of "knowledge" we have among ourselves and who could be asked for what. The roll calls are posted on the wiki, and subscribers who do not send a roll call are unsubcribed again.
IRC meetings should take place regularly and at different times, but this hasn't really taken on.
Features usually describe events that happened somewhere in the indymedia network. Appeals or opinion pieces are the exception.
Ideally, global features are based on features that are already written by a local IMC, but often these need some rewriting so that a global audience can understand them properly.
The rewriting of stories from mainstream media is not encouraged, however there are differences in what mainstream media covers in different countries.
A feature should link to postings on other Indymedia sites as well as independent/alternative groups and organisations.
Links to mainstream media and large corporations are possible but actively discouraged. In particular, they should be avoided in the 'abstract' (the part that appears on the front page)
Indymedia is part of a movement that goes beyond the Indymedia collectives. The links at the bottom should therefore not only link to the main information sources but also to the sites of other groups.
A feature should be aimed at a global readership (otherwise there is no need to post it globally.) To do that it should be written in a way that gives all necessary information (like the country where something took place) and avoids local slang.
In order to allow as many people as possible to read a feature once it is posted, and to allow fast translation into other languages, a feature and/or its translation should be in English or Spanish when it is posted. (Posting only in other languages delays the onset of further translations, but this can change in future if fast translations can be better guaranteed).
Experience shows that, once in a while, political opinions (on the ideas expressed in a feature) of the different working group members clash. There is little way of avoiding this completely because we all come from different social, cultural and political backgrounds, and we need to find better ways of dealing with such differences and with the restrictions that we might experience as a global working group (compared to a local polical group).
How is a feature posted?
Anyone can propose a feature by sending it to www-features. The proposal should have the word PROPOSAL in the subject line.
Anyone can comment on the features. Questions and changes should be taken up and included by the author where possible.
A feature can be posted 6 hours after it was sent to www-features, unless questions are still open or unless somebody has serious concerns.[*]
In emergencies, features can be posted faster: for example, because the feature includes an appeal to people to do something immediately.
Once a feature is posted, a mail needs to be sent to www-features with POSTED in the subject line.
If features are proposed by somebody who is not in the www-features collective, then somebody from www-features should take care of changes and posting. (Unfortunately features sometimes get lost this way. Gentle reminders are welcomed!)
Everybody who works with www-features and is on the mailing list can get an admin account.
Changes, translations, specials, upcoming events
In general, features are not changed substantially after they are posted, but corrections, fixing broken links etc are possible.
Changes that are made also need to be made in translations.
Translations and comments need some checking, because sometimes translations are posted without links, or misused to post completely different stories.
Specials (at the top of the page) can be set up for special events: for example, for events that take place over several days, to provide users of the page with fast access to the main pages, radio streams etc.
Upcoming events should have a link to the website of the organizers as well as a link to the IMC that will cover the event.
Why was www-editoriales set up?
www-features uses English as a working language and has for a long time been very US-centred.
In the last year or so, we were able to broaden the coverage to include many more regions. However, some areas are still generally under-represented.
The question was raised repeatedly why there are so few posts from or about events in Latin America, even though Indymedia is strong there. The main answer given was generally a lack of english speakers/writers etc.
To break the dominance of English in a global working group, and to empower people who can't or don't feel comfortable with using English, we need to increase the number of languages that can be used.
The idea to have everything on www-features translated was discarded because it would slow down the work enourmously, and it would only favour those people who are multilingual in the relevant languages.
Instead it was decided to split www-features into different groups with different working languages. The idea was to start with Spanish first and maybe add more groups in other languages (like French) later, if it is practicable.
The idea to have different features groups for different regions was also discarded. The split of responsibility for global features into regions appears impractical and even impossible in the long run. It would mean that we would have to find strict rules of defining who is allowed to speak and decide for which region (like, who decids on features on events in Spain, what rights have british Spanish speakers on www-editoriales?)
Such an approach would only enforce national borders and define people by their nationality instead of empowering individuals based on their abilities.
The idea was thus to set up additonal groups that are defined by working language, not by region.
Both groups should have the same process, the same possibilities and the same responsibilities. They should run paralell without hierachy between them.
The idea is empowerment based on language: by having two equal groups in Spanish and English, more individuals should be able to work with putting up features on the global site, and more individuals and local IMC collectives should be able to propose features in their language.
The idea was that, with English and Spanish, we can cover the biggest part of the Indymedia network. Portuguese was soon added to www-editoriales. If this setup works we should consider a French speaking list in future as well to broaden the idea further.
In practice, the split into an English and a Spanish-speaking list would mean that all features proposed in English are sent to and posted by www-features, while all features written in Spanish or Portuguese are sent to and posted by www-editoriales. The occasional feature in another language, currently, is still dealt with by www-features because there are more people on that list with other languages as well (see WwwFeaturesRollCall for languages).
Bilingual speakers are encouraged to join both lists to be able to act as liasons in case the same issue gets discussed on both lists. (This is where things apparently haven't worked out so far.)
In the exceptional case that two features on the same issue are proposed on both lists, pragmatic solutions still need to be found, but it will probably come down to the bilingual speakers to find ways of combining the proposals. (So far, the experience from www-features shows that even on international events where several IMCs are involved we rarely have two proposals at the same time - in general we have too few proposals anyway.)
The idea to set up www-editoriales was explicitely not to set up a special features group for a specific region, but to set up a language-based list.
In practice, it will probably turn out that most features on events in Latin America will be dealt with on www-editoriales, once Latin America IMCs and individuals start proposing features more frequently than now.
[*] This time might need evaluation because it can mean that people miss the proposal simply because they are asleep.
-- ClarA - 28 Sep 2004