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


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Replies to This Discussion

Val's sixth comment:

Underlying parts of this discussion is the sentiment "I can say anything I like here, and it is my unchallenged right to do so."

I challenge that.

You can say anything you like in the privacy of, say, your shower, but not in a public forum.

Your right to say something is bala,ced by my right not to have to listen to it.

you do have the right to say anything you wish....

It is recommended that you be aware of things before speaking...

if you have an issue - Contact your mentor - see how this works?

for example : 
Karen Champlin & i used to exchange death mail...
nasty shit too - not your regular stuff - projectile vomiting upon see type of things....

She found God & asked to stop that type of communication...
De Nada i said - why, because we are all family & should respect each other...

You have the right to delete comments from page & block user

I live and learn!

Death mail, projectile vomiting, and who knows what else?

I'm not surprised that Karen found God.

I think I'll stick to stamp art, collages, glass prints, my friendly Sea Monsters, etc for my Mail Art activities.


Val's seventh comment:

In the early days of the Internet I was involved in high level policy discussions with the European Commission and the European Parliament about possible control of the Net.

It was realised that 'control' wasn't possible, but nevertheless there were attempts to establish minimum, and voluntary (and that voluntary nature was important) standards of behaviour, that is to establish what was acceptable and what was not.

Some sort of consensus was reached: acceptabability of Internet content had to be broadly equal to what was acceptable in other forms of media, eg films, books, magazines, etc.

Now, of course, the Internet has made it possible to breach any form of society's control of content (read 'censorship' if you must), and so kids have easy access to hard core porn, it's easy to find out how to make bombs and commit acts of terrorism, the preaching of religious hatred is widespread, suicide forums exist, etc, etc, etc.

I believe, passionately, in the more simply defined concept of acceptability.

Add to that civilised personalised communications between individuals and you have my very own personal code of conduct.

Old fashioned, I will admit, but simple and, dare I suggest it?, honest.

Val's eighth, and for this evening final, comment:

XX asked at the start of this should there be a Code of Conduct?

I think there should.

It would need enforcing, not in exercising censorship over content and expression, but more as a way of moderating -- and if necessary enforcing -- acceptable behaviour, and eliminating unacceptable behaviour and , as a last resort, expelling those responsible for it.

What I have in mind is some sort of Group of Wise Mail Artists (sic -- I know  how can you be 'wise' AND a Mail Artist?) who would monitor what goes on. Any one who violates the Code of Conduct gets a quiet warning and is asked to withdraw the offensive item(s): if they don't voluntarily withdraw it, then the NING controller does. A second 'offence' against the Code gets a public 'Yellow Card", meaning "You have been warned -- ship up or ship out" (and the offensive material is withdrawn). A third 'offence' warrants a 'Red Card', meaning "You're out: goodbye (and don't try and return under another name)".

Three strikes and out.

I could live with this.

Could you?

I couldn't live with such rules. It is so unlike the thought behind IUOMA.

i concur....
the mentors need to be more proactive !

This has already been established.....
Ruud is the only person who can forcibly remove a member & that is how it should be....
I have been asking for those rights just so i could quick kill spammers - but this is Ruud's baby & he retains ultimate control..

It is our job as mentors to activly engage members so that understand that we are here to assist them...

if they are not understanding this - again i say that we are failing as mentors to serve our community

Thank you all for you enlightening and kind comments. When I posted "…" I just wanted to nudge on the discussion. I am hoping for as many people as possible to participate. I have enjoyed my time in IUOMA thoroughly and I hope to continue to do so!

Some of your contributions have been a bit contradictory, still, here is my attempt to summarize what has been posted in a nutshell, but only up to Val's contributions. I have not digested them properly yet.

Summary of postings up to Val's postings: 

1. The only "rules" for the ning group existing are those posted for newcomers under "Welcome to IUOMA."
2. The community is alive and well. In case of hurtful comments or insults it is best to ignore these people and to delete their comments - if possible
3. The main message repeated by various members is "Respect each other."
4. At the same time you better develop a thick skin!
5. There is no way of drawing a line between serious and offensive comments, joking and banter and bullying and intimidation. Offensive comments are just offensive in the eyes of the reader, in truth no harm has been meant. Anti-groups are just a joke.

Somehow this stands in contradiction to quite a few private messages that I have received. In total I have received mails from 6 different people which just about equals the number of discussants here.

These people tell me,
1. that there has been bullying going on
2. that at least about half a dozen long term mail artists have left because of insults and bullying, coming from a small group of people.
3. The fact that they write to me personally and do not want to post their feelings publicly, to me is an indication that the atmosphere is not as liberal and benevolent as it claims to be.

So, to draw conclusions from what I have learned up to that point, the message is clear to me: If you are feeling hurt or attacked - you are on your own, pal!

Now Val's contibutions somehow changed that. What am I to think now? 

@ XX jones ; you sum up the messages quite well.

Online communication is very fast and can be very provocative. Some people do hurt others, and bullying and mobbing does take place. Not only here. Also on facebook (there is an IUOMA group there too) and actually in daily life everywhere where you look. When respect isn't there and the normal daily law is broken, we are forced to act.

1 - no .... the NING network has it's own TOS...these are hard rules required by NING host system....Start Here at IUOMA has general member guidelines

2 - Alive & well - YES Ignoring is not the answer - reporting to your mentor for adjudication is the answer....

3 - respect each other like family

4 - should not be required if the mentor system is working properly - but maybe just a little callusing is good...

5 - Contact the person directly first ... tell them "Hey man - that ain't cool yo"..

if this does not resolve the issue ..contact your mentor & provide a link or screenshot so we can contact member...

Offensive comments on your page - are offensive to you....

Offensive comments on someones elses page require another step to verify if they are offensive to the member whose page they are on....

if you are offended by comments on someones elses page & they are not - sorry charlie....

The group thing....i feel that you have the option to join a group or not...
i do not police these unless the are hatred - racial, religious or otherwise....
Shit - i have a "Sexy & Naked Mail" group & i am sure that is offensive to someone!

xx jones...i am your mentor & i implore u to utilize the system - i am here for you....but you are welcome to choose any mentor you like - I am personally partial to Mim ..........

1 - yes, there are bullies - but i have not heard about one in over a year - i can probably guess who it is tho...

2 - sure - mail artists come & go, sad but - whatever...there are people here who still have those addresses...we could address this issue if members were directly contacting their mentors...

3 - you should refer them to their mentors & or fwd info to a mentor of ur choosing...


I am sorry i have failed you as your mentor

Dear Automated

as I just stated at the end of  this discussion, you have in no way failed as my mentor!!

And certainly the discussion is not being about offensive mail art - there are groups for certain themes and nobody needs to join if they don't want to - it is about  bullying or harassment in the general online space here. 




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