[Noisebridge-discuss] who moderates the moderator?

rachel lyra hospodar rachelyra at gmail.com
Wed Feb 8 17:23:18 PST 2012

hey y'all

i moderated noisebridge meeting for the first time last night. There
were 25-40ish people and lively discussion about some perennial issues.
 I only lost it once.

I'd love some feedback from the community on how "moderated" we want our
discussions to be.  One of the reasons i ended up doing it, aside from
Danny totally drafting me right when I walked in the door, is because of
the meeting the previous week.  There was so much interrupting and
derailment (mostly from longtime members) that i made some projectiles
and started throwing them at the worst offenders.

I love Noisebridge, and one of the reasons is because we are a community
that is real with each other.  I also love Noisebridge because of the
fact that it provides an open and inclusive space where lots of
different kinds of people come to learn about and work on technology
projects.  In this case I think those two things are in conflict.

Structured discussions & consensus process create a space where concerns
and ideas are heard from all corners, and communities are able to
synthesize the needs and ideas of their constituents into agreements and
action plans.

One of the problems where people are interrupting and talking over each
other at will is that members of groups that are dominant in the larger
society typically feel more free to do so than members of typically
oppressed groups.  So, when we create an environment where we tell
people to follow a certain set of parameters, but don't expect them to,
what we do is reinforce the ways society teaches some of us to speak up,
and some of us to be silent.  If we want to create an insider's club for
the groups that dominate american culture (heteronormative, white, men)
we should ignore this problem.  If we want to discourage new people to
engage with us, we should ignore this problem.  If we want to serve and
encourage our diversity, we should examine how we talk to each other,
and how to evolve our meeting structure to help with this problem.

I propose that we adopt more modes of discussion within the meeting.
One way is where we are taking a very strict stack, and are careful not
to interrupt or disrupt the person who is talking.  Another is more
discussion-oriented, which makes room for direct responses and replies
from the people whose ideas are being addressed.  I think each is
appropriate at different points in the discussion, and in retrospect i
think there was a point last night when we should have switched to the
latter.  As a consensus nerd I suspect these modes actually indicate
different stages of the process, as it moves through from

I am also really curious about something Snail mentioned, the idea of
moving from general discussion to a more solution-oriented mode of
talking.  We have a few specific issues we talk about a lot and I would
love to practice some ways of taking those conversations and using the
structure to actually. move. them. forward.  Additionally, I think that
deliberately making space for the input and ideas of new people will
help to shed new light on tired on subjects.

As for myself: I am sorry for saying "shut up" in the meeting, it did
not help to create a safe environment for people to be heard.


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