Minutes of Indymedia Meeting (16th Sep 2006)

author by Anthony

Minutes of the first proper Indymedia meeting to take place since May 2005. This meeting formed the first (brain-storming) part of a proposal on the imc-ireland mailing list by a list subscriber to "have an organizing conference in September to deal with important outstanding issues surrounding the running of indymedia.".

The meeting began with each participant introducing themselves and stating their involvement in Indymedia. It was then pointed out by the chair that there was too much on the agenda for a two-hour meeting so a discussion began as to what the priorities for the meeting should be.

12:30 Wider Collective:

The current theoretical structure was outlined but it's not currently working as it was originally envisioned. Problems with the current structure were then identified and barriers to getting involved were noted on the flip chart:

  • Unclear decision making process
  • Not enough links between online community and real life community
  • Feeling that you have to be an editor to be involved
  • Not clear how to link editorial group to wider collective + individual groups to wider collective (editorial group ended up being the only aspect of Indymedia)
  • Not enough real world meetings / Reliance on virtual meeting space
  • Structures that exist and role of editors not clear to general public

After the problems had been identified, participants were asked to brainstorm with suggestions to solve the problems as outlined above. To ensure that the meeting remained a productive one, participants were asked not to criticise other suggestions but to focus on presenting their own. They were asked to begin their sentence with \x93One thing that we can do is ...\x94:

  • establish who has a vote in the wider collective - allowing proxy votes
  • put together an organising list for video and film-makers
  • develop an online resource for women
  • create extra categories to encourage different groups to use the site
  • print a small document to publicise the site to outreach to other groups
  • meet those people in the real world
  • create a separate out-reach mailing list
  • create a new list for abuse reports
  • make a clear decision that the current Indymedia collective is only web-site Indymedia
  • constitute this group meeting here as the Dublin Indymedia collective who makes decisions by consensus

13:00 Gender

For this section the participants of the meeting broke up into three groups each dealing with a question relating to the issues of gender and sexism:

1) What can be done to increase women's participation?
(As reported and minuted by James)

  • There are different types of participation, producing articles and cleaning the newswire work.
  • There should be positive discrimination for women aimed at involving more in both aspects. There is a perception that imc.ie is a closed shop and even if that isn't true, positive steps should be taken to ensure that it isn't.
  • It was suggested this could involve doing 3 or 4 workshops a year aimed at women who might be interested in using the site, for example members of community campaigns, feminist groups. These workshops would be aimed at encouraging women who aren't familiar with Indymedia to use it as a place to publish stories etc
  • Conduct 3 or 4 workshops per year for female users or female members of groups who use Indymedia. These workshops would be focussed on detailing how the site is administered: what the editors, techies, etc do, how to help out with that. How to become an editor and to offer practical assistance to women interested in this aspect of Indymedia.
  • More real world meetings would serve to put faces on names, and make Indymedia a more friendly environment as the lists can be too impersonal.
  • To take measures to facilitate the attendance of people who have kids at Indymedia meetings.
  • To have explicit list guidelines in order to ensure appropriate behaviour on the lists. Apart from explicit sexist or racist mails being prohibited, people should be sensitive to minorities on the lists. So, remarks which may be intended to be funny, can easily be interpreted as being smartarsey and thus contribute to an environment where women feel less than welcome. Everybody should be able to participate in discussions without fear of abuse, intimidation or snide remarks.
  • To reconsider the system whereby one editor can block anybody from becoming an editor. This could be abused in a rogue fashion, to prevent appropriate people from becoming editors on the grounds of sex, race, affiliation etc.

2) What is sexism and how is it experienced?
(As reported and minuted by R)

Sexism is when people are treated differently because of their sex/gender

In an indymedia context we felt that the perception of sexism is enough to convince people of a real sexism on behalf of the indymedia collective even when this is not the case. This perception is encountered in threads where people make agresssive accusations of sexism. This may turn some women away from becoming more involved as contributors or editors.

One person felt that indymedia.ie needs to be more proactive in dealing with the perception of sexism, by directly responding to accusations and encouraging women to get involved.

We felt that while the gender balance of the indymedia collective is obviously a problem, it is symptomatic of an activist community in which men are generally in the majority. Regular contributors to indymedia are predominantly male.

Perhaps women are deterred from becoming more involved in indymedia due to the assumption of gender roles, i.e. by assuming they wouldn't be abe to do any of the technical stuff necessary.

We were also concerned with tokenism, i.e. putting more women onto the editorial collective merely because they were women, without addressing the wider cultural and institutional problems.

Someone also remarked about the length of the procedure necessary for people to become editors, perhaps this needs to be made more transparent.

3) What Are The Barriers To Women In Indymedia?
(As reported and minuted by Ray)

  • Technical Skills
  • Time
  • Media Arts - Radio, TV, Web, can be technical in nature
  • Lack of Awareness
  • Activism - Women more active in creative arts, constructive real-world activities
  • Isolation / Minority - feeling of being in a minority
  • Not Real World Enough
  • Problem of Society - Gender Bias in society
  • Prioritisation of Women
  • What is Required to be an Editor?
  • Lack of Active Recruitment
  • Existence of Blocks in Society - Stopping people joining a 'club'
  • Lack of Gender Issues Covered
  • Lack of Separate Section for Women
  • Fear of Speaking Out

13:40 Email List

The last item on the agenda was the running of the email lists. As we were short of time, we went directly to suggestions for improving the working of the email lists. The following problems and suggestions came up.

  • Written Code of Conduct \x96 Personalised comments should be proscribed
  • Good Netiquette should be adhered to
  • Introduce moderators who are not editors \x96 recall and rotation of such
  • Use a web-based forum instead of email list
  • Have a list secretary \x96 to keep track of proposals & decisions
  • Clear and Separate Procedure for Complaints
  • Sensitivity should to women are in the minority
  • Separate Abuse Reports into Another List \x96 Limit the Amount of such reports that can be made by any one individual
  • Positive Expression of Safe Space Guidelines
  • Lack of Understanding of Threading
  • Suggestion that people think through proposals clearly
  • Introduce user-friendly procedures
  • Specialist Lists for different activities
  • A volunteer should be designated to answer the
  • Reasons given in editorial notifications should not be abusive
  • Set up a separate list to discuss process

Finally, it was agreed that all proposals based on this brain-storming session would be discussed on the imc-ireland list. All formal proposals should be submitted to the imc-ireland list for consideration at the next meeting.

James volunteered to collate the agenda for the next meeting and if collating similar proposals would get the permission of the original proposers beforehand.

It was agreed that anyone making a proposal will have to physically present to present their proposal at the next meeting. If they are unable to attend themselves, they will have to organise a proxy to attend on their behalf.

It was then suggested that editors should discuss in the mean-time whether consensus or voting would be used for decision-making at the next meeting. Editors would have to agree on the standing orders before the meeting takes place regarding decisions running the site.

It was suggested that the Dublin collective should meet once a month as a separate entity.

It was agreed that minutes of this meeting will be posted to the Indymedia newswire. As the subject of the article includes how the site is run or could be run, commenting on editorial policy will be allowed but all other editorial guidelines will be enforced rather than having a repeat of the previous article on Indymedia where a lot of abuse was tolerated. It was also agreed that proposals for the next meeting could be discussed on the newswire report of this meeting.

It was agreed that the next real world meeting would take place on 7th October 2006

-- 11 Oct 2006
Topic revision: r1 - 11 Oct 2006, TerenceM
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