see imc uk process list for this article and follow ups, as this is not quite same as version finally posted.
draft text by ab in response to the IRC meeting: open publishing and the different models of "editing".
1. I don't like "open publishing" in general. Why explains this practical email draft to imc-uk-feature:
draft mail to imc-feature list: (8.5.2003)
sorry to say so, but I am a bit exhausted with hiding and also particularly with explaining why it was/is hidden.
I really did not join indymedia to write in average 2 hours long explaining emails every time I hide an article about the interpretation and intention of these postings and
their connection to the 7-10 daily Neonazi-postings and comments or why certain mails are posted by sociopaths trying to disrupt the activist grassroot community for which the service is run.
Actually I volunteered to put in lots of work for indymedia because I particularly enjoy diy journalism, such as writing features, posting reports about events, even doing
time-intensive translations sometimes, and also to do pictures, developing and printing these and, if I get a chance, also particularly doing audio reports and (contributing to) videos.
I really do not enjoying hiding articles and reports and the constant question for afterwards writing accountablity reports.
I want to keep these disgusting articles off the webpage I put so much work in, and I want activists and grassroot groups to use the resources without needing to have second thoughts about their credibility.
Have anybody ever drawn the users into their accountability when posting bang-out-of order stuff?
2. Open publishing has been praised as the practical approach to root a "freedom of speech" for activists in an approach for more media democracy and more liberty in reporting. Here is the start of an essay which explains why I see a difference in "open publishing" and "media democracy for activists".
article on free speech and open publishing, written in february 2003, to be published on indy scotland discussion list sometimes:
So here is my position. I am against open publishing. It takes too much of my precious time cleaning out the bullshit of sociopaths which I rather spend on other projects, may it be political prisoner support, writing high quality articles/features and researching background information, linking up with other projects and activists or learning new tasks and skills for further input. It is not " somebody just removes it", it actually takes time, goes on your nerves and keeps you from doing other things, and actually, really it is not "somebody" as in "the milk comes in plastic bottles" there is a history of production/work/workload behind it, so it is actually you and me, so as if people are soo much into free-speech, now it would actually be the time to stand up and show that your opinion is not empty big mouth talk, but has practical consequenses in your personal committment to proof it- by providing your time, energy and passion to this position.
As well as the committment into "open publishing" is not limited in these draft documents- it seems to be a live long committment once you sign up to care and sustain this project, and I am personally not prepared to carry this responsibility.
The other main point which I want to rise against "open publishing" as such, is, that, it was once thought to be a method to encourage people to participate in activism, in the project and in discussions- whether they are shy or did not study, do publish in a foreign language and are therefore not so eloquant with words, or whether they hold a position which they do not want to be associated with by their personal name- as if these positions are too radical, or too controversial or too personal. I still think there was a great idea behind the practical turn-out, and that this position as such is great, BUT practically, "open publishing" does not encourage minority groups to participate more in indymedia, in fact, it has the controversial effect of these groups participating LESS!
This is not only the case because of the neonazi articles and comments staying up far too long because of lack of volunteers regularly checking the postings, or the lack of access to the admin side (technical bottleneck) or to the internet. It might piss off people if they look at the side, and especially if it is still there after six hours or a night or so, but it won't keep them away as the main focus and ideology behind the website is far more obvious by the middle column features, but they will get cautious. People might give it another try, or two, before finally being pissed off. The chances, that they are not hit by a weird conspiracy theory or more nazi-stuff or activist spam when they try again are actually not too bad.
But the main issue is, that the "open publishing" too often allows activists mobbing and flame wars or heavy critisisms under each other, these are often not to be removed under the guidelines.
And this actually and practically works in favour for the privileged, the studied, and the most aggressive, so favours again the "male 20-30 years old white activist".
This I have seen first on IMC-Germany, where there is a big load below the posted articles, and the discussions CAN be really worthwhile and to high standards, BUT
more often the critisism are so heavy, that campaigns and activists often refrain from posting more stuff in future and, in fact, leave the webpage/project and do not look anymore at the webpage untill the next global days of action a year later or so. "Open publishing" has not become a tool of enouragement, it has neither become a tool of raising self-confidence and capability, as when activists first try to publish, they are slagged to the ground or ignored, therefore not encouraging them to proceed in this project- or to further participate.
And- in fact- "open publishing" does encourage to write angry emails, like me writing a "what a bunch of sexist assholes" commentary - which got a friend of mine pulling me off the computer and deleting it before it was sent- a good decision, to be said afterwards.
Following nonsense discussions and arguments about "how sexist is this lot really?" and "are they assholes or do they just behave as such?".
So, leaving this anatomical topic behind, but actually, I am normally not the type of person writing such emails, so it actually would be nice if indymedia would not encourage me to behave like this. It would be nice if such an organisation would try to encourage people to behave and relate to each other at the best communication possible- and not the worst.
And, also, not to mention that the whole commentary story did not help anyone or anything, it just brought about a lot of grief.
Another point to be made in connection of "open publishing" is accountability. As before, the ideas behind "open publishing" were honourable, but the practice is not.
Accountabilty means, to know what is done with your contribution, how it is handled, and if there are any decisions made, concerning your contribution, the person making the changes being accountable to you.
But accountability would also have to work on an equal bases; meaning the author is also accountable to the project, to indymedia. And this is a weak point. The authors of contributions- how do they value the project, how accountable are they for their contributions, how accountable are they for "harming" the project (trolls, gnomes and other sociopaths)?
(point to be further developped).
The last and final point is the definition of "open publishing". Seems strange to put this at the end, but it is the most important. The defintion of "open publishing" has been confused with terms like "free speech" and "freedom of opinion." "Freedom of opinion" is an universal human right, and layed down in the human rights regulations (to be sourced), whereas "free speech" is a term which is particularly popular in the US.
The difference between these two terms should be clear, "freedom of opinion" actually requires some consideration and reflection about what you have to say. "Free speech" does not. "Free speech" does also not only refer to unlimited, unrestricted way of talking, but also, that the value of the persons languages decreases; talk is getting cheap, neither consideration nor reflection is encouraged. "Free speech" does not require any reflection or accountability, it does not care if persons are getting hurt by what you have to say, "Open publishing" is founded on "free speech" and this basically carries forward its flaws. Also it is
particularly founded on North-American perception of "free speech" rather than "freedom of opinion". Which basically makes it possible still to be oppressed in the US because of your opinion despite of the right of free speech.
response to Chuck0s "The Sad Decline of Indymedia":
IMC- The definite report part1:
Chuck0's "The Sad Decline of Indymedia":
So, to sum up my personal position:
I never liked the model imc-uk is using at the moment on active, and I don't have any ideological belief in "open publishing" in general.
In fact the concept of "open publishing" kept me away from participating in Indymedia for a very long time.
I believe in the underlying ideology for which "open publishing" was implemented once upon a time, but in my opinion, this method has failed in some important aspects and expectations. I do strongly belive in the basic principle that indymedia got so strong because of anybody posting anytime any*thing* anyhow.
But, I don't believe everything is worth to be published on the front page instantly.
I put up with the active model of "open publishing" because I saw it as a short term solution, just to be put up with before the new swishy "mir" webpage comes along. Imho I always thought of the new "mir" webpage with a German editing model, basically because there was a strong cooperation between IMC Germany and IMC UK on implementing this solution.
Although in the past I had problems with the editing process on IMC Germany in the past, and complained about it, e.g. a translation from engl. to german wasn't put onto the newswire, because it was a "call for action", or a review of a book, or a theoretical article, (they said at that particular time to only put up direct action reporting) what I like about the model of ImcGermany is:
- articles stay up longer- or have the potential to stay longer- in the newswire, therefore, the quality of the articles seems to go up, as the author sees and wants that their contribution is higher valued and puts more effort into it.
- it is nicer for the imc-volunteers to make positive decisions rather than negative ones. (promoting articles instead of hiding/deleting).Imho this takes down the decision time spent on an article, as it is easier to make a positive decision than to try to evaluate if your negative position is objectively strong enough to hide.
- if there are no volunteers to put work into the editing process, the front page still makes a sensible appearance and the webpage and the project are still usable as an archive, even if nobody would put any work into the webpage anymore. (for a negative example think about IMC France).
- there are less Neonazi articles, as these articles never make it to the front and disencourage from posting.
- however there might be more comments, and especially more off-putting comments