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Minutes for June 30th 2008

This contains Meeting Minutes for Mon 30th June 2008 and the agenda and actions to be taken. This meeting was almost entirely concerned with discussing Chekov's ideas regarding the future of indymedia. No decisions were taken regarding the substantive issue, as this will be the subject of a formal proposal to the list.
Indymedia 30th June 2008.

The meeting discussed the ideas recently sent to the main list by Chekov.

Agenda

1. Plan * Internal Issues * List Archives difficult to navigate -> poor memory -> too many fights. Hard to keep track of decisions made. * Lists originally conceived as an open space which is vulnerable to disruption. This puts off potential people, although they are significantly better than a couple of years ago..

External Issues * Pure open publishing especially anonymous is not working. At any particular time, those who donÂ’t know how the site works tend to see some poor stories on the site which discredits the site.

* Our function is to facilitate publishers reach readers.

Kernal of plan -> replace lists with a community site. Publishers publish to the community site which is pre-reviewed especially if anonymous. Registered publishers with a good record can publish directly. The community pre-review system would allow a dialogue with writers over and above a straight hiding. You'd have comments to the author suggesting how it can be made better. As itÂ’s not public it can take dissatisfaction better.

Having an internal discussion system we can set a better culture of behaviour and constructive participation. Access to the internal site may be restricted if oneÂ’s contributions are destructive.

* Need a better way of storing our online policy.

The major change is that anonymous wriitng that automatically gets published to the public site would be done away with. Articles that are submitted anonymously would get held for clearance. Users with a constructive track record would continue to publish directly to the public site. So, for example, snarky comments on the public site would no longer get published. Users can build up positive rating via the internal system.

Chekov's first step is to move towards an internal site for the existing moderators and people who will be invited to participate in the training area.

There is a lot of baggage that comes with the indymedia culture.

Terry -> some people are under the impression that indymedia is a free speech site. Chekov -> other sites get the same criticism. ItÂ’s not revelant.

Chekov -> we should use the migration as a way of setting a new set of norms.

Terry -> can registered users see the hidden comments?

Chekov -> new people will only have a low "reputation". They will have to participate in the peer review system to build up credibility and there will be restrictions on their access to the hidden comments.

Terry - Oscailt could do a little of these features but not all.Does Drupal already do this?

Chekov -> a bit. Needs a few months work.

Chekov -> first step to move to internal site and use that to discuss taking the project forward.

Anthony agrees with the general thrust of the idea. Question on the accountability. What about disingenuous voting? Anonymous voting?

Chekov -> Some people take personal umbrage. Have guardians to oversee the reputation system. The guardians or overseers would be able to see who is voting for who. Guardians could suspend the membership if there is manipulation of the voting system..

Anthony again -> For the peer review to work. The idea behind indymedia was that indy readers would be peer reviewers so that the editors don't have to take the responsibility for peer review. This proposal seems to put the onus on the editors to do a lot of the peer reviewing.

Terry -> registration will result in less commenting. A big drop.

Chekov -> the reputation system should encourage better commenting.

still James -> The editors would mainly be concerned with readability and basic quality, readers can still peer review for other disagreements over what happened at a demo.

Mark: What timeframe?

Chekov -> We should go to groups and propagadise for the new system. Party press releases, Shell to Sea, NGOs.

Agreed that it would take up to up 3 months, at a minimum to get the internal system working and the public site could take over six months. Padraic would like to see a timetable of intermediate steps laid out. Chekov will include these in his proposal (to be sent to the list by the end of this week).

* What about breaking news? Requiring editors to approve anonymous submissions could significantly reduce the amount of breaking news on the site.

For major demos save editors available to approve. Organise it for bigger events. Better than opening it up to the trolls.

IPs Would the internal site of registered users require IP logging? For logged in users their identity is known anyway. That is the point of the system. IPs can be scrubbed after x minutes. If you want to publish something anonymously then donÂ’t do under a registered name.

Aim to have an internal discussion tool and a policy framework which are used to flesh out the detail. This will be a closed environment.

Second step will be the change to content editing. Those details will be needed to be worked out using the internal system to discuss..

|Another 3 months to public system. Interested People, including Ciaran Moore. Terry -> thatÂ’s important. Chekov: he likes it because it may support a community, He is interested in having a community for film making. This would be inappropriate for a news site.

Terry -> this could be influential for other indymedias. But could lessen the individual contributions.

Terry -> does any system need leaders to deal with messers.

Chekov -> sell it from two points. It'll be higher quality and this new community site .

Padraic -> a fork would be seen as negative. The reforms themselves are positive and there is no real relevance to having a fork. Drop that bit and concentrate on the positive. It retains a version of open publishing.

Anthony doesn't want to describe it as a split. The plan is the next evolutionary step. It is more accountable and done properly would facilitate the publishing of good non-corporate news than the current system.

Ronan -> positive about the plan. Not a split or fork as there is nobody prepared to take up the other end of the fork. Sees it as a revamp of the site. Details needs to be ironed out. Would get rid of the word guardians.

Mark -> fairly happy. Some things need technical details. Needs a bit of outreach starting soon. Say 4 or 5 months to give time.

Chekov: Would need a brief goal statement that we can give people. Would need to look at the guidelines again.

Chekov -> The fork was him getting pissed off with them. ItÂ’s a put up or shut up to the moaners. The important that we don't get dragged back into discussing the basics as we already have a lot of agreement on that. Spending the rest of eternity dealing with them means a lot of positive work gets laid aside. Time to work completely separately from them and get on with our own thing.

Padraic -> should the internal site be publicly accessible? He thinks so. In terms of perception this is important. Disruptive people not welcome but apart from that in favour of publicly accessible.

Chekov -> We need to ask whether any particular approach confers more advantages than disadvantages. In this case whatÂ’s the advantage? We should make the decision on the basis of its implications. People who want to sign up to the internal site need to agree to a set of policies as we need to set a standard of norms. It's a working community site not a public one.

Mark -> people should have public access to it eventually but not immediately. What about disruptive people?

Chekov: they'd have to behave positively. Otherwise access will be restricted via the rating mechanism.

Anthony: This would require some thought regarding external feeds. Will it be an explicitly left wing site? Doesn't have a problem with that but we'd have to clarify it. Otherwise what criteria would we use when incorporating blog posts?

Chekov has a brief draft document that outlines basic principles. Justice equality and freedom. This keeps out the far right. Also, stuff that gets underreported elsewhere so as to emphasise that it is a facility for the non-corporate media.

Terry: we should aim to be politically neutral. Doesn't see it as a community of the left. Sees it as an information processing.

Anthony -> working collectively should be a value.

Padraic -> indymedia comes from a radical background.

Mark -> whatÂ’s to stop a takeover of the site?

Chekov -> build the site slowly. Keep the reputation system somewhat quite in good order so that any messers get hit with a bad rep.

* More on reputation: Reputation in three areas -> publishing, reviewing and building community. People could have a low rep in one area and okay one in another area. As people get better reps they become guardians. Chekov talked to a lawyer and we wouldnÂ’t be more liable.

Guidelines

Have case studies and high level policy. Simplify it to 3 points a) information content. Different for photos and opinion pieces. b) appropriate content -> not pornography c) XXX

Anthony -> could have high level and the current ones as a lower levels. Inappropriate is too subjective. There is benefit to clarity in having guidelines written down.

Advantage to high level guidelines is that things that are missing in the current guidelines can be dealt with.

Decision making.

Chekov will put in a proposal with a 3 week debate period. Will specify a couple of steps, e.g. the internal site, draw up an introductory document. Approach a few people who we consider to have decent judgment. Put story on newswire if passed. Draw up a long list of people to invite to meetings to explain the trajectory of indymedia.

Timeline for implementation

Padraic ->

Mark -> what about the constitution? Chekov -> Before we move we will have to modify the constitution a little. Get rid of emailing lists. Otherwise the constitution still stands. In particular the decision making procedure of the constitution remains in force until explicitly changed.

Pont null -> time zero is the day we move the discussion from the lists.

Chekov -> wants to put in a clause saying that we will assist indymedia in some manner.

Padraic may mail the list on the fork. Chekov will mail the list before the proposal putting the fork to bed.

Disassociation --> Chekov -> any bans carry over. Padraic to mail regarding not working with disruptive folks.

Next meeting: Thursday 24th July. The deadline for deciding on Chekov's proposal is 28th July.

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