being a newcomer to IUOMA I have spent quite a bit of time reading mail art documentations, blogs and threads. As far as I understand one of the fundamental ideas of the mail art community is that it is non-judgmental and friendly, as opposed to the art world out there with power and money games, media attention and art critics. Senior mail artists and newcomers treat each other with respect and kindness. It is a community of "outsiders" and the diversity of the network is also its strength.
But unfortunately I have seen that a few members of IUOMA are rather nasty and hurtful in their comments. Also I have learned that quite a few senior members have left because of harassment, insults and bullying and that seems to be an indication of the opposite of what is being stated otherwise.
Whilst the Mail Art Movement has lived for many decades and will live on, the Internet has brought new possibilities but also new challenges.
I know that no internet forum, just as any other social group or network can survive long term, if no rules of conduct or etiquette are established and also enforced by its members and moderators. Now, it may be impossible to see a large number of mail artists and free minded spirits agreeing to any set of rules - just as it is impossible to herd cats, as the saying goes. :-) However, it may be possible to start a discourse about the underlying spirit or ethos of the mail art community and IUOMA online and how to deal with destructive tendencies.
The general questions that I am asking are these:
Can the ning group of IOUMA be a tiny place in the universe where goodness and kindness prevails? How can that be done?
Or is it already rotting from within and that is why more and more good members are leaving the sinking ship?
What can individual members do so that the overall atmosphere remains positive, generous and supportive?
On a more practical level I would like to ask:
Does the ning-group of IUOMA have a code of conduct?
If so, how is it enforced, and by whom?
If not, shouldn't there be one, so that various abuses can be reported, examined and rectified?
with love and respect
p.s. IUOMA is very alive now. Discussion on how communication works for us is essential.
This is the first of a series of comments I'd like to add to this discussion.
Once upon a time (well in the 1980's) there was a seminal book by Alfred O Hirschmann entitled 'Exit, Voice and Loyalty'.
It dealt with the way individuals face up to challenges in organisations.
Hirschmann argued that an individual had to make one of three possible choices:
* Exit, ie get out
* Voice, ie speak out
* Loyalty, ie stay in (and keep quiet).
What concerns me, XX, and others here are the number of people who have chosen the Exit strategy.
It is my belief that if there are things wrong in the IUOMA community that have caused them to Exit we need to address them.
If this means that certain individuals are no longer welcome in IUOMA because of their harmful, nasty, hurttful, abusisive, etc behaviour, then so be it.
Why? Because in this instance I consider the existence of the community to be more important than the membership of any one individual in it.
Val - you were present when we had an abusive member issue....
you will also remember that it was a member that told us of the issue - we would have never known>>>
you will also note - that member is still a member
Yes, I remember it, APLD. There have been other such issues that I've been made aware of...and I don't for a moment pretend to know even a fraction of what goes on here. What's coming out of this debate is that there are only a few issues of abusive, bullying, etc behaviour, but those that we get to know of are quite serious ones.
My second observation:
Rights such as the freedom of speech or artistic expression are not absolute.
Your right to do or say something may infringe my (and many others') right not to have to hear, see or whatever what you are doing or saying.
The rights of the members of a community or society have to be balanced.
And there has to be a process by which thyis balance can be achieved.
We don't have this process.
And I, for one, don't accept that a self-policing community can achieve that balance.
We do have this - you are part of it!
It is us mentors that are failing our fellow members....
My third observation:
Most people are mostly polite.
I consider myself polite.
I am sure that you consider yourself polite.
Ask yourself this: would you ever post a (negative, harmful, hurtful, abusive, destroying, etc) comment on IUOMA that you would not have the guts to tell me in a face-to-face situation?
If so you are impolite.
If so I don't think you belong in IUOMA.
i am totally rude & often offensive with my mailart...
yes - even i have been blocked by a user & still am blocked by them ...
not all the time - but i am - we all are
i am also a mentor for 6 of 12 months
I am the mentor for some 400+ members
should I also be removed Val?
We need to get new members to understand that they need to contact us ....
We are failing our community - the community is not failing us...
Of course you should not be removed!
I was never proposing that. My argument was that those who consistently and deliberately overstep the accepted boundaries should be asked to justify any behaviour that causes serious offense to others.
Some people here probably find me rude and offensive at times. If they do, that was never my intention. All i can say to justify myself is i) sometimes there is a very fine line between being funny and being seriously misunderstood; and ii) the British sense of humour (and I am English) is not always understood by others -- and sometimes not even by Brits! It's a language thing, a cultural thing, etc
My fourth (and for now final) comment on this:
I wrote Mail Art Bill's Constitutional rights a while ago. (See below)
In the context of this debate, I see problems with the 1st, 9th and 10th Amendments, the issues that they riase, and the way that we might resolve them.
MailArt Bill's Constitutional Rights
First Amendment: IUOMA shall make no law respecting an establishment of Mail Art, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of Mail Art, or of the Mail Art press; or the right of Mail Artists peaceably to assemble, and to petition IOUMA for a redress of grievances.
Second Amendment : A well regulated Mail Art community, being necessary to the security of the artistic world, the right of IOUMA members to keep and bear the tools of Mail Art, shall not be infringed
Third Amendment: No Mail Artist’s work shall, in time of peace be exhibited in any gallery, museum, or similar establishment without the consent of the artist, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by IUOMA.
Fourth Amendment: The right of Mail Artists to be secure in their persons, houses, studio and galleries against unreasonable searches and seizures of their works, tools, papers, effects, etc shall not be violated, and no warrants shall be issued, but upon probable cause, supported by oath, affirmation or authorization from Ruud, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the artists or works to be exhibited.
Fifth Amendment : No Mail Artist shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous piece of Mail Art, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand IUOMA Jury, or Group, except in cases arising from cultural and/or artistic danger; nor shall any Mail Artist be subject for the piece of Mail Art that is twice exhibited be put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any exhibition or blog to be a witness against himself or herself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or Mail Art, without due process of IOUMA; nor shall private Mail Art be taken for public use, without just compensation.
Sixth Amendment: In all criminal and artistic prosecutions, the Mail Artist shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of IUOMA and in the district wherein the Mail Art crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by IUOMA, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him or her; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Mail Art Counsel for his or her defence.
Seventh Amendment: In suits at common law over Mail Art, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty US cents, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any court of IUOMA, than according to the its rules.
Eighth Amendment: Excessive Mail Art exhibition fees shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted on Mail Artists. Ever.
Ninth Amendment: The enumeration in IUOMA, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by Mail Artists.
Tenth Amendment: The powers not delegated to IUOMA are reserved to Mail Artists. For ever. And ever. Amen.
This is not a democracy....
this is Ruud's mailart network he has shared with the world....
my process for removal of members - complaints & spam has been explained on the start here page....
Val's fifth comment, specifically addressing DVS's latest remarks:
i) an IUOMA Dress Code would be a very good idea, but how on earth would it be enforced? (You can only log on if you are wearing....[stay out of this one Moaning Lisa, please!]?
i)a: related to this, I'd like people to offer an explantion in their profile as to why they have chosen their nom de plumes/mailart.
ii) I view the origins of Mail Art as anti-establishment, which is by no means the same as anarchistic. I'm not an anarchist (if so I don't think I'd be on IUOMA), but am very much of the opinion that it shares most of the features of more conventionally organised social movements and/or groupings in the sense that, for example, it has leaders (perhaps neither elected nor appointed), a loosely defined membership (if it didn't how could you get into any anarchistic movement?), a code of conduct (without which there would be, well... anarchy!), operating principles (which are neither rules nor laws, rather 'the way we go about doing things'), etc.
I leave you with this piece of graffiti I once saw: "Does anarchy make you panicky?"