[Noisebridge-discuss] who moderates the moderator?

Shannon Lee shannon at scatter.com
Thu Feb 9 03:11:41 UTC 2012

I was (obviously) frustrated with the way the meeting was moderated last

Rachel has pointed out before last night that I'm someone who tends to...
ahem... jump in and speak my mind; so clearly, having someone ride close
herd on my tendency to interject was difficult.  This is a valid criticism
and one I'm working on.

Rachel, I'm sorry I yelled at you.  I was totally out of line.  I'll try to
do better.

But honestly, Rachel's strict moderation style threw some Noisebridgian
tendencies into sharp relief, and I've been thinking about that today.

We tend toward the following style of discussion:

1. Someone states a problem
2. We all talk about the problem
3. Someone suggests a solution
4. Someone else talks about why the solution won't work
5. GOTO 2
6. There is no 6.

In other environments, I've seen the following alternate format work very

1. Someone states a problem
2. The group makes a list of solutions
3. The group winnows the list by striking off items that obviously won't
work or that someone will outright block
4. The group sorts the list according to criteria appropriate to the moment
(ease of implementation, correctness of intent, etc etc)
5. The group makes a plan to implement the first N items, and report back
at the next meeting.
6.  Someone does something crazy, and it produces more problems for the
next meeting.

It seems to me that as a hacker space, we really ought to be a lot more
biased towards implementing stupid ideas, and a lot less biased toward
cautiously talking everything out before we act.  The bias toward inaction
has consequences:  We tend to regard everything we do as Momentous and
Permanent, because action is rare, so we're afraid to take chances; we tend
to worry a lot about the long-term consequences of our actions, rather than
having faith in our ability to adapt to adversity.  We can do better at

I think we should make a point of committing to implementing a solution for
every problem raised at a meeting.  The person who raises the problem
should be prepared to spearhead the implementation of the solution the
group arrives at, however stupid it is.  If the solution we implement
causes problems, we should raise them at a subsequent meeting, prepared to
implement a solution.

We should see our organizational goal as being the enumerator and testor of
stupid ideas.

We should stop being so cautious.  We should do more and talk less.  Done
is better than perfect.


On Wed, Feb 8, 2012 at 5:23 PM, rachel lyra hospodar <rachelyra at gmail.com>wrote:

> 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
> problem-discussion-clarification-proposals.
> 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.
> R.
> _______________________________________________
> Noisebridge-discuss mailing list
> Noisebridge-discuss at lists.noisebridge.net
> https://www.noisebridge.net/mailman/listinfo/noisebridge-discuss

Shannon Lee
(503) 539-3700

"Any sufficiently analyzed magic is indistinguishable from science."
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.noisebridge.net/pipermail/noisebridge-discuss/attachments/20120208/8104687b/attachment-0003.html>

More information about the Noisebridge-discuss mailing list