Hello,

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

XX

Views: 1331

Replies to This Discussion

Alright...
First I will state that we do have a user agreement that all members have agreed to - the NING TOS....
Second, IUOMA is the brainchild of Ruud .... this is his baby & i fell like he wants IUOMA to be a positive little universe..
Also - none of us get paid for providing these services to members ....

How can this be maintained?
We as members approached Ruud to create the Mentor system.....
each month has a mentor (probably me cause i hold 6 months of duties)

When the program first started - there was trauma....
Trauma because we tried to establish basic guidelines....

So we became a kind of "Welcome Wagon" 

Now i can only speak for me, as there are no real established guidelines for mentoring....
There will NEVER be established guidelines for conduct regarding mailart itself....
As for basic guidlines for members - Ruud has created 

Start Here at IUOMA which offers basic opperating instructions for new members...

there are different kinds of groups on IUOMA ...
some of which can be offensive to some....
I know cause i own a few of those groups...
u r under no obligation to join those groups - however, your personal page is different...

When i became a mentor - i rcvd many messages a day regarding spam accounts & bullying....

i get maybe 1 or two emails a year now...
This means one of two things.....

1 - current mentors are not establishing that they are mentors by posting this info on each new member page (about 5-10 a day)
2 - new members are jumping head first into IUOMA without reading anything in our welcome pages & jumping directly to asking anything...

I am your mentor & i did establish that i am here to help you & i am saddened that you did not utilize the mentor system that i pretty much maintain all by myself....
might have to establish some guidelines for mentors....
I am saddened that u say we r rotting from the inside ..... This is not a sinking ship but i have a life ring for you should you choose to jump...

I am your mentor & i did establish that i am hear to help you & i wish that you & others would utilize the mentor system that i pretty much maintain myself....

What can members do.....
use the mentor system - that is why we are here....
i dont like to be the bringer of trauma - but i have never hesitated to have a real member or spambot removed for inappropriate action...
Ruud has never questioned my requests for action either as i tend to be fairly diplomatic about the whole thing...

...........
The practical schtuff....

1 - NING has a TOS that every member agreed to ....
this is a network this and is not established by us....
the IUOMA "General Code of Conduct resides here

2 - since there are no real rules in mailart (something discussed heavily when the mentor system was created)

it is hard to enforce a system of no rules,
HOWEVER, the mentor system was established to not only let members know that there is a place to get help - but we established a way to eliminate spammers & unfortunately - offensive members...

I have only had to mediate one actual member removal conversation & it was not cool....
but it had to be done & the member has become a more productive member of IUOMA
(still offensive & rude - but nobody complained further & member is operating within the acceptable arrangement agreed upon as far as we know)

I guess the answer to the technical stuff is this....
i need to talk to Ruud about establishing Mentor guidelines 
If the Mentor system was consistant with how we operate than the message that we are here to help would be more clearly understood....

As for rules...
not gonna happen for members - each case must be examined on a case by case basis...

One thing that i will say in closing is this:
IUOMA is international...

I have made mistakes interpreting someones English & been offended for no reason...

NEVER HESITATE TO CONTACT THE MENTORS FOR HELP.....

I just want to state that the power players in the established mentor group all answered your issue....
even the father of IUOMA chimed in....

We are here for you!

The mentors guide newcomers into the system of the network.

The mentors are not there to see if rules are followed or not.

The TOS of NING is binding for all members. Otherwise the IUOMA network on NING would vanish.

I expect respect from and to eachother. Just like in normal life.

I only thought out the name IUOMA and always provided the platform for communication. I am not the one in control. The Mail-Artists who say they are a member are also part of the system and have their role.

Can't read, let alone answer all postings that are placed here. So my role is limited to providing a good running system, removing spammers and violator of the TOS.

About people come and go. Over the 4 years IUOMA was active on NING in total 168 left during these 4 years. Some went silently, some made a long list of postings before they left. It is just like the real world.

Ruud

The key part of Ruud's message, to my way of thinking is, "I expect respect from and to each other. Just like in normal life."

This whole debate started because there was a lot of disrespect, and some parts of our IUOMA life were abnormal.

I fully subscribe to Ruud's statement.

Erni/Val

Dear Automated Poison Label Dispenser, dear all!

I would just like to establish that I have in no way been offended whatsoever, I have had a brilliant time so far and befriended very nice people. No problem there. I just saw some strange exchanges, and while still trying to figure out if this serious or just joking about, and what to make of it all, first one and then later two more people dropped out all over a sudden. That is three people, who I perceived to be experienced mail artists, whose work I admired online, and who seemed active and engaged in IUOMA - That was why I contacted them in the first place and started to exchange mail art and comments. 

So I started to make some private enquiries and do my own research. I drew some preliminary conclusions and this is why I started this discussion. I posed some questions, maybe a little provocatively. I have also summed up the first responses. In the meantime I got now private messages from seven different people, who wrote to me about perceived bullying and uneasyness within IUOMA.

So that is that so far. Apart from the personal issues, I find it is an interesting debate about how people understand their engagement here and the spirit of mail art. Also a researcher I am interested in how social groups and systems work - I did not enter here to research anything, but to venture into a life as mail artist, but I cannot help being curious  and wanting to get to the bottom of things. (I think I wrote about science and art in one of my first blog post.)

So I would just like to emphasize that from my point of view there have been no shortcomings from the side of the mentors! 

I agree, and the whole discussion is an interesting case as a whole. The research would be interviewing the ones that left and make the information fit to a complete story to analyse the processes. Would take a lot of time though, and also an objective person to do that. Tempting?

A little bit, yes, but nah,  Ruud, sorry. I have a life as a researcher somewhere else. :-)

I would rather enjoy IUOMA and be creative and make friends and have a laugh with some fantastic, clever and creative people here!  And make mail art. 

Tempted? Yes, but it would have to wait until the New Year. Ask me then if there are no other takers?

Erni/Val 

I've made it a rule not to comment on IUOMA after ten beers. I've gotten into a little trouble in the past (on other sites) like declaring my love for someone and having no recollection of said incident. I got a shock when love was declared back! On a serious note. I think the the mentors are great, act as guides as mentioned when new members join. I've also feel this is a place that I can share my views a little more freely than on other sites. I think it's a given like any community there are all sorts of people that act, think, behave differently sometimes control only hinders the growth of a community.

Angie & Snooky: if taidgh ever professes his love to you, you will know that he has had ten beers or more.If he doesn't, then he hasn't. If you get worried, set Snooky on to him.

Erni/Val 

As with any community, there are likely to be collisions. Because this is mailart, we can choose how much we want to participate, and we can choose our friends.  It's exciting to meet people and discover what they like.  Sometimes by giving them what they like, you discover a new passion.  I also like to share my passions with others, in hopes of making connections.  I always liked how the Dalai Lama summed up our interactions with others:  "Be nice."  I think that's a good first step, "Be nice."  That's the best initial step.  Once you get to know someone and once they get to know you, you can open up more, kid around, travel into darker territory, whatever you need to do. 

 

Like Ruud says, there's an aspect to IUOMA that's just like real life. I use my real name here because I don't want any separation between my creative life and my ordinary life.  My creative life is my "real" life. 

 

It wouldn't be an exaggeration for me to say that this site has changed me. I've learned much about myself here.  I've been able to explore aspects of creativity that were lost or hidden from me. I love doing art, but I'm also a "writer."  Much of my recent work comes directly from my interactions here.  This is a terrific place.

Thank you so much for your beautiful response!

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