- 1 UK network
- 1.1 What is the UK Network
- 1.2 How do we communicate
- 1.3 How are decisions made
- 1.4 What is a block and who can exercise the right to block?
- 2 Collectives
- 3 Digital Communication
- 4 The Websites
What is the UK Network¶
The UK Network consists of local collectives and individuals, working together to provide coverage on issues related to social justice and for creating a better world.
How do we communicate¶
The UK Network is a decentralised organisation, most communication takes place on the internet. Following platforms are used:
- UK Network meetings – we aim to have meetings at least 3 or 4 times a year.
- irc – real time communication to help with technical issues and individual moderation decisions that are later reported and/or discussed on relevant lists.
- email lists
- docs – documentation of relevant, public documents such as agendas and minutes of meetings, and anything else that has been decided collectively
- crabgrass – working space where documents are private or public as the collectives decide. Crabgrass offers additional functionality which can be useful, such as deciders and surveys. Also a lot of local collectives are now using crabgrass, it can be a good way to share documents.
If there are conflicts that can not be resolved on email lists, they will be resolved at a Network meeting. In case of a pressing conflict, a Network meeting should happen within 4 weeks.
How are decisions made¶
Decisions of the UK Network are made following a consensus process. We always aim to find a solution, that everyone agrees with. However, this is only possible if all individuals are prepared to take their personal preferences back, if there is not a lot of agreement. The power to block should only be used in situations, where the blocker absolutely cannot live with the decision and is prepared to leave the project should the decision go ahead, not on the basis of merely disagreeing.
Making decisions in a decentralised network, where we don’t see each other very frequently is a challenging task. There are two places the network can make decisions:
- The network meetings
- The lists: an issue is discussed on the appropriate list, when a proposal is worked out, it is send to imc-uk-propose, with a reasonable deadline, that allows collectives to discuss the proposal at their meetings.
For important decisions that concern the whole network, it is necessary to hear from all collectives. Liaisons should be responsible for enabling this communication and emails from collectives should be clearly marked as such in the subject line. If there is no input from a specific collective, they should be contacted directly. If they do not respond after a reasonable time and following attempts to contact them, a process should be started to determine whether the collective is still active (see what is an active collective).
What is a block and who can exercise the right to block?¶
A block is a tool to resort to when everything else has failed and one needs to prevent a decision that one cannot live with. The power to block is a tool that can easily be abused and people need to be careful in exercising it. If a decision is blocked, discussion has to start again, to find an alternative solution. However, everyone should be aware that a block often results in the issue being dropped alltogether, especially if the block follows a lengthy and intense discussion.
A block needs to have a comprehensive explanation why this action is taken and what alternative attempts were made to find a compromise, including why the blocking party does not see any other way of resolving the issue.
Only a collective can raise a block in the network. This is to ensure that a block has not been raised lightly, by establishing that the grounds for a block have been discussed with a group of people, and no-one from a local collective has been able to come up with a satisfying compromise. Individuals without collectives will have to find a local collective that sponsors their block.
What is a collective?¶
A local collective should have at least 5 active members. If membership drops, the remaining collective needs to make an effort to get new people involved.
A local collective has to have regular and public meetings that are announced on their website. Meetings should happen at least once a month, to facilitate interaction of active collective members and establish a physical presence in the local community.
A local collective should be doing media work in some form. This can include running a local website, but can also be focused around other media production (e.g. print media, video production, radio shows…)
To be part of the UK Network, a local collective should actively engage in UK process:
- Liaison’s should be subscribed to the following lists: contact, evidence, legal, network, process, propose, tech, and actively and reliably report both ways. Of course more than one person can be subscribed to those lists.
- Collectives should take some responsibility in maintaining the network (bank account, server maintenance, moderation of UK site…)
- Collectives should discuss issues that arise within the network and find a collective position.
- Collectives should take turns hosting the Network meeting
Local collectives should be represented in their community not only through a website, but also in some physical way engage with their local community (stalls, events, films screenings…) and be open for and encouraging to the involvement of new members.
Local collectives are expected to do fundraising and contribute to server costs and potential legal costs.
If no one from the collective can attend a network meeting, the collective should notify the network. If a local collective does not show up for a couple of network meetings without notifying the network, it should be checked that the collective is indeed still working and existing (see what is an active collective).
How to create a new collective and join the UK network¶
The UK Network encourages and welcomes the creation of new collectives, especially in areas that do not have a local collective. The UK Network will try and help new collectives to get off the ground, for example by having some volunteers of existing collectives come and talk about the global and UK networks and what it entails to run a local collective.
To start a new collective, call for an open and public meeting in your area and get in touch with the UK Network list. While having your own website is exciting, it is not the first step to creating a working collective, you will need to discuss what exactly you want to do and how and do community organising.
If there is no one with the skills to run and maintain the servers, website etc, make an proactive effort to get someone involved or train people. While the UK Network is happy to help, a dependence on tech people from other collectives can be problematic. This does not mean that experts are needed to run a collectives, anyone can learn the skills necessary, and our friendly neighbourhood geeks are always happy to pass on their skills.
New collectives will be full members of the UK network after attending two network meetings (which have to be held within 9 months), and participating in other Network channels for 6 months. Only full members of the Network can block a decision.
We propose to adopt the Email List Guidelines of the Bristol Collective.
Dealing with our “digital divide”¶
Indymedia being an organisation takes place to a large extent on the internet means that a lot of the activists will have a fast connection, good computers and lots of online time. All these are often taken for granted. But this isn’t reality for a lot of people: be it the lack of funds for own computers and high speed internet, living in a squat with no connectivity, or working full time without internet access at work or other commitments and responsibilities. In addition it is a lot harder for some people to express themselves in the written form than it is for others. To try and minimise the effect of these issues, we can do the following:
- write emails as precise and concise as possible
this should avoid misunderstandings the need for clarification raising the general amount of traffic and the time needed to follow discussions
- Individuals are asked to not send more than one email a day or alternatively no more than 5 emails a week to any one list.
this will slow down discussions, but will give people, who do not spend all their time online the chance to chip in before the discussion has progressed too far. It will also balance the space given to different people’s opinions. In heated discussion it may force people to sleep over their emails and maybe be a bit more considerate than they would have been otherwise. This could exclude requests for clarification.
- Emails should be limited to no more than 5000 characters. If emails exceed that length, the writer should put a summary of contents in the beginning and indicate clear subheadings throughout the email.
while sometimes long explanations are necessary, limiting the length of emails will allow people with less internet time to catch up with lists more easily. It might also result in people thinking very precisely about the important points they want to make, rather than just replying of the top of their heads. While noone is expected to do a character count before sending an email, this is a rough guideline to avoid long emails that make it hard for others to catch up. To give an idea of the length suggested: This is an email with 4739 characters.
- clarify whether you are expressing your personal opinion or sending a statement by your collective.
While contributions of individuals are just as valuable as others, positions of collectives will have been discussed in detail by people with different opinion. A lot of time has already been spend on them, and they already contain a shared consensus.
- an Indymedia website has to have open publishing, that does not require registration
- no Indymedia website or server can record and keep IP addresses
- Local collective should aim to be self sufficient in tech skills, and avoid depending on tech from outside the collective. The network should support collectives, while tech support is great, teaching and training are better.
- Before a collective gets help to set up a website, it should be going through some process of community outreach and collective building, eg open, public meetings, organising outreach events, discussing the POU and writing an own Mission Statement and Editorial Guidelines.
What is an active collective?¶
The more sites the better it is for everyone. But it does happen that collectives fall apart, without officially dissolving or archiving their websites. This is not only a problem globally, but can also happen within the UK Network. These sites are a sad example for Indymedia, they may get spammed, and they are discouraging for people who might want to start a new collective in the same area, as they make it look like there is an existing collective, that is just not doing its job properly.
An active collective should:
- have at least one open, public and advertised meeting a month
- a presence in the local community
- at least 2 features a month
- participate in UK Network and Imc Global processes and discussions
There may be several indications that a collective is no longer functioning:
- no one from the collective engages with the discussions and decision making in the network
- no one from the collective shows up to network meetings
- the site is spammed and there is no moderation or moderation is happening very slowly.
- there is no activity on the site
- there are no regular meetings publicly announced on their website
If a collective is deemed inactive, the site should be archived with a note on the frontpage that there is currently no editorial collective to maintain it and informing activists how to form a new collective and take on the running of the site. The following mostly applies to local collectives using MIR. If a collective is entirely self sufficient the archiving may be difficult or impossible. It would still be useful to establish whether they are active, to keep the cities list up to date.
As this constitutes a serious interference with the autonomy of a collective, a transparent and safe way of determining the inactivity needs to be established. When some of the points above indicate an inactive collective, the following steps could be taken to get confirmation:
- An email is send to their lists asking the collective to get back in touch
- If there is a response, it is established whether they are still working, or may need help. They are encouraged to engage in the network, and in case of lack of active members to try and do outreach work to find new people. This applies to all the following steps of course.
- If there is no response after 4 weeks, another attempt is made.
- If there are meetings announced and someone can do it, someone can try and attend one of their meetings.
- If there was no reaction after another month, a warning is sent to all local email lists
- Again 4 weeks later, the site is archived and a note put on the frontpage, with a notification to all local email lists.
- the site is marked as archived in the cities list and, if the collective was affiliated, global is informed.