13 July 2013: Final Zine Making Workshop

The final zine-making workshop took place on 13 July, 2013, democratically producing editions 9 and 10 of The Beginners Guide to Consent. In addition to the summary below, one of the participants wrote up an interesting report on their blog.

Sorting the texts

Participants first sorted the collection of texts into two piles, "Yes" and "No". Inspired by Matthias Conrady, who guest-facilitated the previous workshop, we then worked only with the "No" pile - subjecting the group's initial decisions to further scrutiny.

First, we participants were given the commenting options from eConsensus.org to express their opinions: "Consent", "Danger", "Concerns", "Question" or "Comment" (see image left). Two texts proved very controversial in the ensuing discussion, with the group unable to decide whether to include them or not. These included text R, "No means no", which some felt was too simplistic or polarising.

However, when the discussion was halted and a blind vote taken, the controversy disappeared, and the order of popularity of the texts completely shifted (see table below). The marked effect of removing discussion or influence took everyone by surprise, with the most disliked/controversial text - "No means no" - taking joint second place in the blind vote. Third place was taken by text W, which had also proved unpopular in the eConsensus round.

After discussion, the group chose to amalgamate the results of these two rounds to create edition #9, including text R with annotations, to accomodate group member's concerns.

Invented systems

After creating edition #9, participants devised their own systems for deciding which texts to include in edition #10. The focus was on designing a system that would resolve the kind of impasse previously experienced during discussion, in which the group split and was unable to come to a joint decision. One proposed a version control-like logic, to trace the history of the discussion and simply include the texts which received the most comments (see image left).

We tried out two of the other systems proposed.

Results: the top 4 choices in each round go into the zine. Key: first place, second place, third place, fourth place, fifth or below.

eConsensus Comments Total number of Comments Blind Vote Petr's Points System Colour Spectrum
D Question 1 4 6 3rd place
R Danger, Danger, Question 3 2 4 6th place
W Danger,Question 2 1 1 5th place
V Concerns 1 0 0 8th place
T Question 1 0 2 4th place
B Concerns 1 0 0 7th place
E Consent, Consent, Comment, Question 4 4 4 2nd place
L Consent, Concerns 2 2 - -
H Comment, Comment 2 4 3 1st place
Edition 9 Edition 10

Petr's Points

Petr devised a system in which each participant has five tokens, which they may distribute among the texts however they wish. The four texts with the most tokens then get chosen for the zine.

Again, to everyone's surprise, this democratic system yielded different results from the previous rounds. Text D, which won in the blind vote round, came in first place again. However, two of the other texts that tied in first place in the previous round wend down to 3rd place. Third place from the previous round went down to 4th, and 4th places from the previous round mostly went down to 5th place.

Colour spectrum

The next system we tried was a non-binary spectrum, in which participants could draw on the texts with coloured chalk, either red or blue: red for dislike, blue for like. The texts were then arranged in a spectrum from the most red to the most blue, and the four most blue texts were used to create edition #10.The two texts that came in 3rd place using Petr's system both tied in 1st place, while the previous 1st place went down to 3rd place. The troublesome "No means no" text, persistently in 2nd place despite its unpopularity with some group members, in this round disappeared down to 6th place.

In the closing discussion, participants felt happy with the results overall and felt the zines more or less resembled what they would have chosen without using any of these systems - despite the fact that we only worked with the pile of texts that they initially rejected!

The fact that participants' opinions evolved so dramatically during the process of repetition, and that the results of using even slightly different voting systems varied so dramatically, raises difficult questions about the status of "no". Is it, as previous guest-facilitator Matthias Conrady claims, simply "a mind trick you play on yourself" - an illusion of decisiveness compared to the reality of constant indecision and provisionality? And how should this inform the way we handle that vital slogan - "no means no" - which proved such a sticking point for this group?