Why Indymedia Sucks - Thoughts From Conference09Tagged as: conference09 indymedia
Neighbourhoods: mile_end tower_hamlets
Published by group: Indymedia London
During the Anarchist Conference this weekend, some of us from Indymedia London took the time to ask people what they thought of Indymedia, what our job is in relation to the anarchist movement, how well we're doing it, and so on. Here's what we found out.
In a surprise move, one person (shockingly) told us that he thought the site was pretty good and had no problems showing it to friends, work colleagues, etc. Obviously this is not the majority view :). Once things got settled down, here were the criticisms of Indymedia in a nutshell. My suspicion is that people don't distinguish much between Indymedia sites, since from outside we look like one organization - so some of these criticisms may apply to the London site, some to Indymedia UK, and some to far-away Indymedia sites who we only hear about because their moderation collectives are dead and the sites are full of totally insane content.
The following observations are based on a collection of conversations with multiple activists in various conference meetings and social spaces.
Indymedia sucks because it's:
- not accessible outside of a highly politicized activist elite
- good for leftist anarcho-educated people
- too navel gazing
- too dominated by actions and protests
- not addressing the reasons why people are protesting very well
- crappily designed
- [note: this list is probably not exhaustive, see below]
Indymedia works best as:
- a whistle-blowing forum
- a general information source for activist news
Indymedia would be better if:
- it could bring a more political perspective to things instead of having a laundry list of actions. The "why" of an action is often left out of reports.
- it would shut down sites which had no moderation collectives immediately. Some of the people we talked to had experiences where people were basically slandering their political groups (or them personally) on Cleveland Indymedia (or some such godforsaken place) but the moderators wouldn't do anything about it.
- the comments didn't suck so much
- it had more not-political stuff
- the sense of whining victimhood which shines through in most of the posts was not so apparent
While some people thought of Indymedia as a valuable resource, other people let us know that people in their movements basically refused to use it, due to the moderation problems already mentioned and the general craziness of some of the stuff in the open newswires. Their feedback was that if you're trying to organize people who could potentially lose their jobs or their homes due to their involvement in your movement, pointing them to a news source which has conspiracy theories, unmoderated slander, and so forth is not a way to make them more comfortable about the risks they're running.
Moderation problems and also the extremely low quality of comments in general were singled out as a huge turnoff. Groups get slandered on Indymedia with no moderator response and obviously people get extremely pissed off [note: this was in reference to some crazy guy who publishes outrageous articles about people in an international anarchist group on a U.S. Indymedia site and the moderators either don't respond to their complaints or just aren't there].
People said that they'd like Indymedia to be more accessible to people, various anarchist groups would probably be willing to take over quite a lot of the work of running local sites but the whole site is so uneven that it's hard to feel like it'd be worth getting involved. There was a feeling that many people have heard of Indymedia but when they actually go on the site it seems as though you need to know a whole lot of stuff in order to read the site.
Some ideas for future coverage which we could pick up on in London:
- Allotment struggles against the olympics are really interesting and they are much wider than just being against the Olympics.
- It would be cool to get someone in immigration detention to write stuff from inside the wire.
One tip which people thought would vastly improve the quality of the site: Indy should be contacting people and asking them directly to write issues-based articles when they have an action-only article.
Does anybody have other ideas for improvements? How can Indymedia best act to help people report their own struggles? Leave your thoughts in the comments!