Mon 14 Dec 2020 12:04PM

Confusion between transparency & advertising in PPBe

RVE Renaud Van Eeckhout Public Seen by 28

I wanted to have a debate around transparency, because it is my personal view that not all members know what it's about and often confuse it with advertising. So I'm explaining my point of view here.

Transparency is about releasing information about anything a group is debating about, discussing, deciding. It's about giving the possibility to people to view, check, control, judge what a group is doing. To be able to do that, these people need to access to as much information as possible, otherwise their judgment might be biased. They also need to know when and how these discussions happen, they need to know how to access the information (and it's more helpful when it's made in the same way, systematically, for each meeting).

Advertising (I use that term but you might find other terms more appropriate) is when that group is selecting some information and releases it, in order to increase adhesion, to attract attention, to share a specific message. Usually that information is not harmful to the said group, unless they share it with the intention of pretending to be transparent. Or the information can be shared only to a select group of people, usually "the friends of the group". Citizens who make requests to the local authorities to access a specific document might see their request blocked if they've been critics of that local authority.

There are always exceptions, of course. Sensitive information regarding someone's privacy might not be public information to be released, but the general idea, in my opinion, is this one. Transparency is an obligation and the foundation of a democratic organization, it is required to have collaboration, information sharing, openness and to build trust. Advertising is an additional layer of communication, it might help to incentive some groups of people, but it's only made for the benefit of the group who does it.

In the Pirate Party, since years, transparency happens on the wiki. Whenever there is a PPBe meeting, it is announced on the wiki. When the meeting is over, a meeting report is published. If transparency happens somewhere else, it becomes confusing. Where do I find the info now? Are there meetings that happened that I don't know about? (yes there are). Is there information from meetings that has not been published? (yes there is). Most crews use the same wiki to be transparent, since years, but not all of them unfortunately.

Being transparent thanks to the wiki doesn't mean there is no advertising possible on top of that. But I find it important that Pirates understand these 2 things as different, complementary concepts. And doing only the advertising part and forgetting the transparency is certainly hurting internal collaboration.


Renaud Van Eeckhout Mon 14 Dec 2020 12:15PM

I had this thing in my mind since a little while but decided to share it now as it might be relevant to discussions happening in other discussions threads right now.

> Untill we have decentralised the data and people can freely choose which view they have on their social data (preferably using SOLID), We still need to go through the platforms that reach the bigger audiences.

> I understand your ideological point of view, but not using the current technologies would be very unpragmatic

Reacting to this message from @Christophe Cop I would then say that the focus on Facebook and on "bigger audiences" is exactly what I meant in the original message of this thread. I participated in the Crew Antwerpen's last meeting, it was useful and I don't deny that, but I'm currently feeling guilty for having information that other Pirates don't have. This shouldn't happen.

(on a purely pragmatic way, Facebook is designed for advertising and is horrible for transparency, the wiki is designed for transparency)

How can this be problematic? Just a concrete example :
> As discussed last week, we [...]

(the initial message from @Lander Meeusen in the Evaluation projects and structure of PPE thread)

Just imagine 2 seconds not having been at that meeting. You have no idea what was "discussed last week", and who is "we" here? PPBe? Crew Antwerpen? A specific workgroup? There is basically no info shared, yet a discussion is pushing forward. So I'd feel much more comfortable if we could all be on the same feet -> please add the meeting report in a place where any pirate can view it? If you need help, I'll help.

I hope it is clear in my message that I'm not pointing fingers at people but at a problem that is still hindering collaboration and I hope we can move on quickly and not spend endless debates on something that I believe should be the choice by default in an organization promoting transparency.


Christophe Cop Tue 15 Dec 2020 9:11AM

For transparency : we put it on a drive folder, which is at least accessible for all Antwerp Pirates (when it comes to meetings and decisions that are relevant). We don't make reports of informal meetings (Pirate drinks) or work meetings (navigation table).

If we plan things that concern all the Belgian Pirates (like election organisation or our proposal to have a GA or change the statutes or a change to the website), we have thus far always consulted or reached out...

We rarely use the wiki, mostly because it is not so user friendly and because we are used to other tools. Changing that is actually a big request.

Which is not to say that your point is completely valid.


Lander Meeusen Mon 14 Dec 2020 7:18PM

Hi Renaud, I couldn't agree more about being transparant in the meetings we have and what is being said. I will add the report of last week's Jitsi meeting to the invitation for wednesday in the other thread. It is not public as it is limited to people who have the link. I think we can make it public though.

In Antwerp we have a Google Drive in which we share some documents. There's no secrets of course. It seems a lot easier to me than a wiki. I can try to create links on the wiki for documents we post, but I feel that's a bit redundant and just creates more work without much added value. At the same time, I assume that documents and meetings that only pertain to a local pirate group, can be published on a page they feel works best? It's not hard to make a link from the wiki to any local group's page.

I still need to look deeper into how the wiki works. It's probably fine to store documents, but it doesn't look very easy to use as a library to me. I'm sure there are better tools, but that's something to be discussed together.

As for the example you give, we've had 3 public online meetings, initiated by me in the context of the Antwerp crew. It's a learning process for us. The first two meetings were mostly pub talk about current events. For the 3rd meeting, I invited people also here on loomio and now for the 4th also. Can you post the event on the wiki? I want to assure everybody that nothing is being pushed forward without public dialogue. Hence the current outreach here on loomio.

A last consideration I have, which can maybe be verified: how many people see the event on FB? How many on Loomio and how many on the wiki? I'm curious which is in fact the most publicly visible.


Renaud Van Eeckhout Tue 15 Dec 2020 7:16PM

The meeting report has been added on the wiki page of the event.


Renaud Van Eeckhout Tue 15 Dec 2020 7:23PM

Wiki, pads, are definitely tools that require some use to get familiar with. But they are also well suited for meeting reports (it's easy to create a structure), the rare times I've used a Google Doc I found it very difficult.

> A last consideration I have, which can maybe be verified: how many people see the event on FB? How many on Loomio and how many on the wiki? I'm curious which is in fact the most publicly visible.

I have no idea about the numbers, but I'd say that the tools for transparency (wiki/loomio) get less views than the tools for advertising (website/facebook) in general. Although some of the discussion threads on Loomio had many views (it's not possible to see that information anymore apparently).