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

Well done, XX Jones! It is true that new blood is good for a established community. Although not exactly harrassed myself I have come across some strange happenings and one nasty comment to a good friend of mine. I did not know people had left, that is really bad. Before IUOMA got this network going and we only interacted by snail mail I honestly can say that I never ever encounter any problems. Is it the eMailart that encourages misbehaviour? I hope not because that would be cutting ourselve off from a new and useful resource.

 If we each, individually,  remain positive, generous and supportive, and ignore the rude people, we'll be fine. Ignore the non-positive people, do not send them mail, they'll get (or not) the message.

The first rule of Mail Art is: there are no rules.

However,  once we came here into cyber space,we opened the "community" to anyone and everyone...it is a social network. Are there rules and regulations in social networking? Sure, FaceBook censors and deletes often. Here at IUOMA.ning, hackers, spammers,offensive posters are tackled by Ruud Janssen and I applaud his endeavors for this is one of safest internet sites I have been on. Is it 100% perfect? No.

We are aware that ALL our private info is for our fellow-artist community here...and if indeed we are all fellow artists here, then there is a respect of artistic expression:

you are free to do your thang,

and I, therefore, am free to do my thang

...without insult, intimidation or any attempt to undermine my artistic activities, my comments, my thinking..

Where to draw the line between kidding, joking, "friendly banter" and hurting one's feelings/ artistic sensitivities with offensive comments? Well, we are not sitting around a table discussing our art or hearing the intonations in our voices as we comment, nor do we see the body language...are you saying that with a wink in your eye, or are you really attacking someone? 

I find that the "Rule-of-the-Road" here at IUOMA is stated in the introduction at"New to IUOMA" group:

"Welcome to IUOMA ...

Newcomers to IUOMA sometimes find its scope and complexity a little intimidating to start with. It is not. It’s a friendly community of like-minded artists who are linked with each other and who participate in joint projects on an individual-to-individual basis or through IUOMA’s 125+ specialised Groups. IOUMA is also a very democratic organisation. We are all equal, even though some of its members have been Mail Artists for 20 years or more, and you might have just joined 20 minutes ago. This doesn’t matter as you can establish links with as many or as few Mail Artists as you like, and participate in as many or as few projects that you choose. Don’t be shy, don’t be hesitant -- we are all Mail Artists together, and we all respect each other whether we are old or new hands at this Mail Art experience."

The Rule-of-the-Road is : R - E - S - P - E -C -T

I joined so that people know I am listening, interested and involved, even if I have nothing insightful to say.

I think obsession is good and communication is good.  But I am an observer.


Respect each other, that makes sense.

The problems that now occur inside this IUOMA platform also occured inside the larger mail-art network even when mail-art was still postal work without computers.

IUOMA is a word I thought of. Mail-Art is another concept that is a much wider scale.

Internet has brought many changes to the way we communicate. In the 90-ies I conducted these interviews to explore with the mail-artists then to figure out what way it would go. In my daily work I em confronted with the changes since students have intergrated computer communication in their lives while the older generation sometimes is learning. I have Always worked with the newest communication tools and have integrated them with the old ones to see how that could fit together. Once the new element is integrated you see that basic things come back again.

So the rule : respect each other.  Not much more is needed.

i love you Ruud...
we need to, as mentor, express that we are here for these purposes on every member page....
i do this on every member for every month i currently facilitate

I just now realize that there is a button by the messages I get which can be used to block further messages from whoever is playing silly billy. Perhaps this action with no explanation is the best course. Trouble is that the recipient of the ugly message that I saw was not me and he got involved in an argument giving further fuel to the attacker.

in a self policing arena - we depend on the reporting of such things by members...
there are only 7 of us mentors & how many thousands of y'all?

help us to help you by contacting ur mentor directly

But only members who have joined in the last 15 months or so have got mentors. Anyone who was a member earlier is mentor-less.

I find it sad that so few people have come forward to be a mentor.

Perhaps this discussion can help to,lift some of the burden from APLD's shoulders:



Thanks for bringing this to my attention Martha. i'll make sure to use this and help in the policing of this place by doing so




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