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(Date: 28 May 2005)
To organize projects, Babels uses several electronic tools and follows certain protocols. The tools and protocols are detailed below. This information is useful only if you are interested in helping organize Babels projects.
Please beware: organizing Babels projects requires spare time, dedication, access to internet and fluency in at least two languages. Please participate if you can, but be warned: it’s a lot of work!
If you only wish to volunteer as an interpreter or translator please register on the Babels database and wait until you are contacted by email.
This document outlines the way Babels proceeds in terms of internal and external communication. The aim is to increase transparency and accountability, to avoid fruitless controversy by email, and to include more people in every project Babels undertakes.
Preamble: Transparency and trust as a basis for communication
At each and every stage of the protocol, basic transparency rules are observed at all times:
Stage 1: EMAIL: Babels participation requested
info(@)babels.org (or anybody in Babels) receives a request for Babels’ participation in a new project. If necessary, whoever receives this first contact requests more information for other Babelistas to understand what the project is about, without going into bureaucratic details. Here is an incomplete list of what can be useful to know (the list is just an example, it is useless to go into more details at this stage: the point is to have a general idea of the project):
Stage 2: MAILING LISTS: a quick consultation and initial proposals are made by email
Info(@)babels.org (or someone else) forwards all this information to the general mailing list babels(@)babels.org. This mailing list is the general list with all the people who wish to help organize Babels projects.
Whoever forwards the information is advised to include a first assessment of what they think of the project: either they think it is a project that is interesting for Babels, or they think it is a project that should not be organized by Babels but that it might interest people in Babels. This first assessment can be very short, but it is useful to kick-start a discussion on the project.
If it is a project they think could be interesting for Babels, anyone is free to react to the project using the mailing list to weigh the pros and cons of Babels’ participation, as long as each email proposes constructive criticism, or concrete proposals.
If it is a project they think is not for Babels but that it could interest people in Babels, they should give their reasons using the mailing list. Anyone is free to react and see if the project is worth a second look. If after two days nobody shows any interest, the project should be put on the forum with a note reproducing the reasons for its "rejection" as a Babels project. In this case, there is no more discussion on the mailing list: if people are interested in the project, they can use the forum to get in touch with the organizers, etc., without this being a ’Babels project’.
If the project is supported by some people on the mailing list but hotly contested by others, either a consensus is reached and some people are allowed by the others to pursue the project, or no consensus is reached, and the debate should continue in the forum. Once the project proposal is on the forum, people can always get in touch with the organizers to volunteer on a personal basis, without this being a ’Babels project’.
Depending on the nature of the project, the time allowed to discuss the participation of Babels should not exceed 2 weeks. After that period, an official reply should be sent to the project originators by whoever first proposed the project to Babels. The reply should say, in substance: "Yes, Babels will do it" or "No, Babels won’t do it, but all the information for your event is on the forum for volunteers to contact you directly if they are interested in participating in their own name, and not as Babels".
If, after 2 weeks, nobody has reacted on the mailing list to a new project proposal, the proposal is considered as having been "accepted". However, one last message will be sent to the list to remind everyone that a new project was under consideration, and that if there is no contrary opinion, the proposal will be considered as having been accepted 48 hours after this last email has been sent.
Stage 3: WIKI and CHAT: a description and a call for volunteers are drafted
If the project has been agreed upon by the babels(@)babels.org mailing list (in other words, if nobody has given clear reasons why they are opposed to the participation of Babels), then whoever said they were interested in the project can start working on it. To do this, a description of the project should be drafted using the wiki, with all the necessary information (both logistical and political: explaining how, who, etc., but also why...), as well as a call for volunteers. The wiki is a collaborative tool that facilitates the drafting of collective documents.
At the end of the process, there should be a document presenting the project to everyone. This document will be posted on the Babels website. There should also be a document calling for volunteers (with precise criteria whenever possible). Obviously, both documents can be merged into a single document.
In case the project seems interesting but nobody volunteers to work as the project organizer, then it is advisable to put all the information on the forum for all to see, and explaining that the project is in need of project organizers. If the babels(@)babels.org community does not object, a message can be sent to the database to call for new organizers for the project.
Download a userguide to use the Babels wiki:
The Babels chat can also be used by the project organizers to discuss the project.
Stage 4: WEBSITE: the project is put on the website
These documents are then put on the official Babels website for all to see. As these documents serve not only as information but as archives of what Babels has done, it is important that they be in several languages.
Download a userguide for Babels website administrators:
Stage 5: DATABASE: the project is put on the database and a message is sent to volunteers asking them to sign up
A new list is included in the Babels database for this particular project. The call for volunteers (previously drafted on the wiki then copied on the website) is sent using the database to the volunteers on ’Info Babels’. The call can be sent using several criteria depending on the needs of the project. For instance if the project concerns Italy, the call can be sent only to those who live in Italy. Volunteers who receive the email can then subscribe to the new project if they are interested.
Stage 6: FORUM: the project is further discussed in the forum
A new topic is created in the forum for all those wishing to discuss any aspect of the project, to share information, etc.
Stage 7: WEBSITE and BABELOG: reports are drafted and published online
If the project goes ahead as a Babels project, it is essential that a report (or several reports) be added to the website after the project has ended, so as to document the implementation of, and the lessons learnt from, this new project. To draft the reports, the wiki and the forum are used, and the finalized reports (in various languages) are put on the website for all to see. If new projects grow from the project that has just ended, then the whole consultation process should start again. This guarantees that everyone is informed of the existence of new projects.
More personalized reports (and lots of pictures) can also be put on the baBeLOG.
Using the Babels Database: protocol
This protocol increases the transparency and accountability of the Babels project organizers in the use of people’s private data. This protocol also increases the pool of available volunteers for small projects, all the while keeping the registration process clear and simple for everyone.
Download a userguide for the database:
The complete protocol is available on the wiki.
Protocol on Babels Internal Mailing Lists
This document outlines the way Babels works in terms of internal communication. The aim is to increase transparency and accessibility, all the while protecting personal data from unscrupulous viewers. This document is not a userguide.
WARNING: this protocol is only for people wishing to participate in the organization of events. If you only wish to volunteer as an interpreter and/or translator, please do NOT subscribe to any of these lists. Instead, please go to the Babels database. The internal discussion lists are only for those wishing to organize, often months in advance, a Babels project.
Babels uses mailing lists to prepare events. We will refer to a list by using only it’s name, not the whole address (for example: the list babels-de refers to babels-de @ babels.org, which is the same as babels-de @ lists.babels.org). There are several types of lists used by Babels:
public contact lists
closed project lists
list receiving emails from other lists
Creation and deletion of a list
Administration and moderation of a list
Sending out a call for volunteers
Lists can and should be protected.
Access to the list of subscribers (also known as ’roster’)
Access to the archives
Subscription to the general ’babels’ list
The ’babels’ list is open to all the people involved in Babels and willing to take more time to help and organize Babels projects. This is the only list used to exchange information internationally all year-round. It can be very active and understanding the issues that are being discussed on the list often takes a few weeks of training! It is the central mailing list for Babels: it is used to discuss and announce all important issues concerning Babels. If you are subscribed to other internal mailing lists, it is highly recommended that you subscribe to this list.
All the Babels internal mailing lists for project organizers can be found here: http://listserv.babels.org/sympa/in...
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