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kais

RECon 2019 (aka WorldCon 2019)

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Good call, @Silk!

So, as we continue to spitball (all tentative of course, change at will), and trying to get Silk's ideas into a format:

Title: Critique Groups and Echo Chambers: Making Sure You're Actually Being Challenged (that's too long, surely. Someone help)

Topic 1: Homogenity versus heterogeneity in group composition. What each brings to the table

Q1: How did your critique group form and did the person in charge work to make sure it was diverse? Why or why not? (good place to address how hard it is to get anybody in a crit group that really will stay, so sometimes you take what you can get)
Q2: What are the benefits of a homogenous group, whether in background or genre?

Q3: What are the benefits of a heterogeneous group, whether in background or genre?

Topic 2: The role of moderators in critique groups

Q1: Does your group have a moderator? If so, what role do they serve?

Q2: What role should a moderator serve in a critique group? 

Q3: How can moderators ensure marginalized voices are not drowned out?

Topic 3: How to make sure your critique group enables a culture of diversity (and does not depend on the emotional labor of the marginalized writers)

Q1: If your group is homogenous, how do you make space for marginalized writers?

Q2: How do you attract and keep marginalized writers in a dominant culture group?

Q3: What are common pitfalls you have seen in critique groups trying to be inclusive?

Topic 4: Allyship in critique groups- group roles in fostering inclusive environments

Q1: What is the role of an ally in a critique group? 

Q2: Should members feel compelled to speak out against other critique members who are acting poorly?

Q3: Maintaining the peace versus challenging bias- which is more important in a critique group? What if you lose members who are otherwise fantastic writers and contribute regularly, just because they are biased?

Topic 5: Taking critiques that challenge your worldview and understanding

Q1: How have you responded in the past to someone saying your work is biased? Do you regret your response?

Q2: How should writers respond to critiques they don't agree with (in terms of being called biased)?

Q3: For marginalized critiquers, what are the dangers to you in calling out bias? How do you expect people to respond versus how they actually respond? 

Topic 6: Personal notes - comments from the panel members about their personal journeys (I think this is a great way to end OR begin, with really personal 'this is how I was coming in, this is how I felt, this is how my time here changed me)

Q1: How did you first get involved with a critique group? What was it's composition? Did that composition change over time and if so, how did that affect you and your writing?

 

On 7/30/2018 at 11:42 PM, Robinski said:

We should have a logo for REcon#1!

YES! But who has the graphical skills???

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2 hours ago, kais said:

YES! But who has the graphical skills???

We could all submit terrible sketch ideas that might produce concept that someone could produce after many rounds of 'editing'.

And/or shout out what logos you like and we'll rip of someone else's :D 

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@kais this is a great start! Monday's a holiday for me, so I'll try to take some time over the long weekend to read more thoroughly and suggest some edits.

8 hours ago, kais said:

YES! But who has the graphical skills???

It ain't me, that's for sure...

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Posted (edited)

On 8/3/2018 at 6:22 PM, kais said:

YES! But who has the graphical skills???

I could do it, but I'd need to know what you want => sketches, logo shout-outs, even just descriptions will do.

Edit: :D just found this: https://recon.cx/2018/brussels/
It's... pretty bad

Edited by Eagle of the Forest Path
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Heads up! If you want to be considered for panels, you have to fill out this form. Do it quick before it fills!

 

Also, the link is up to pitch panels. Did anyone have edits to my draft? @Silk

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4 hours ago, kais said:

Heads up! If you want to be considered for panels, you have to fill out this form. Do it quick before it fills!

 

Also, the link is up to pitch panels. Did anyone have edits to my draft? @Silk

Working on it! I have some suggestions coming up as soon as I can manage. I do have another commitment tonight but I'll do my best. In the meantime, I'd like to suggest the following pitch strategy:

As @kais has noted, there are separate forms for pitching panels and volunteering to be ON panels. I think that before anybody fills out either form, we should settle among a few "nominees" among ourselves. Each of those nominees would fill out the form with whatever else they're interested in, but also indicate that they're interested in participating in the Reading Excuses panel (or whatever we end up calling it).

As for who those nominees should be: it's extraordinarily mercenary of me, but assuming kais and/or @Mandamon are willing, that might go a little ways towards helping the pitch be successful if we can name-drop you as published and self-published authors. Since some of the questions focus on mod responsibilities, it'd be good to have a moderator on the panel (not necessarily me; I'm sure there are others with more valuable contributions than I could make) and as Mandamon has noted, it'd be good to have a POC on the panel.

The latter two are something that the Worldcon programming team can potentially help us out with, so worth flagging in the actual panel pitch. In essence, I think we want to be able to "nominate" specific people who we know are wiling, while also being able to do a general summary of the kinds of people we'd like to see on the panel. The panel pitch should also name the specific people who we've identified as interested and a good fit.

I think the panel pitch should also emphasize that this is something our group specifically has been actively working on over its relatively long history, with some significant effort going into this in the last, what, 2-3 years? Then we just need to make sure we know who is submitting the final pitch. (I'm happy to do that but I'll defer to kais or whomever particularly wants to.)

Gonna stop here for now because I suspect I'm going to get pulled into the aforementioned other commitment at any moment, but I'll definitely respond ASAP! I'm not actually sure that the programming team wants a list of actual questions (a generalized summary would probably be a good thing to provide either way) but it'll help us articulate the pitch to settle on some questions first, and if we choose not to submit the full list immediately, it will be good to be able to quickly pull it out on demand.

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I'll try to keep up with this as I can (since I'm leaving for California tomorrow), but @Silk has some good points. Plus, I'm going to be on some panels at WorldCon 2018, which hopefully should grease the wheels for me being on panels next year. They'll have a table for Dublin at this WorldCon, so I'll make sure to drop by, and see if I can talk to them about our group and what we'd like to do.

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Just now, Mandamon said:

I'll try to keep up with this as I can (since I'm leaving for California tomorrow), but @Silk has some good points. Plus, I'm going to be on some panels at WorldCon 2018, which hopefully should grease the wheels for me being on panels next year. They'll have a table for Dublin at this WorldCon, so I'll make sure to drop by, and see if I can talk to them about our group and what we'd like to do.

Absolutely, please do!

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4 hours ago, Silk said:

As @kais has noted, there are separate forms for pitching panels and volunteering to be ON panels. I think that before anybody fills out either form, we should settle among a few "nominees" among ourselves. Each of those nominees would fill out the form with whatever else they're interested in, but also indicate that they're interested in participating in the Reading Excuses panel (or whatever we end up calling it).

As for who those nominees should be: it's extraordinarily mercenary of me, but assuming kais and/or @Mandamon are willing, that might go a little ways towards helping the pitch be successful if we can name-drop you as published and self-published authors. Since some of the questions focus on mod responsibilities, it'd be good to have a moderator on the panel (not necessarily me; I'm sure there are others with more valuable contributions than I could make) and as Mandamon has noted, it'd be good to have a POC on the panel.

Excellent.

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3 hours ago, Mandamon said:

I'll try to keep up with this as I can (since I'm leaving for California tomorrow), but @Silk has some good points. Plus, I'm going to be on some panels at WorldCon 2018, which hopefully should grease the wheels for me being on panels next year. They'll have a table for Dublin at this WorldCon, so I'll make sure to drop by, and see if I can talk to them about our group and what we'd like to do.

Excellent!!

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9 hours ago, kais said:

Also, the link is up to pitch panels. Did anyone have edits to my draft?

I thought it was excellent, but didn't have time yet to sit down and really cogitate upon it. I will try and do that in the next couple of days, but tend to doubt I'll have anything specific to contribute.

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In terms of the forms, I’d actually suggest everyone fill out the linked one immediately.  It’s just a base contact form with boxes for the right to contact you. In a few weeks then they send you the actual survey form, but the website strongly encourages you to fill out the base form ASAP. Something about filling up quickly?

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Thanks for the tip, @kais! Just filled mine out. Now to go catch a plane!

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16 minutes ago, Mandamon said:

Thanks for the tip, @kais! Just filled mine out. Now to go catch a plane!

Have fun!!

I filled one out two, although I'm the least qualified to be present. What the heck.

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On 8/10/2018 at 11:04 AM, Robinski said:

Have fun!!

I filled one out two, although I'm the least qualified to be present. What the heck.

What do you guys think? Should I fill one out too just in case we can't find a more appropriate mod? Maybe a mod isn't particularly needed, specifically, since whoever's on the panel can presumably speak to how the mod's strategies affect the group? Or are we just going with a "fill it out now and sort the details later" approach here?

Suggestions

As promised, I (finally! sorry about that...) have some suggestions on @kais's draft!

Mostly my suggestions have focused on consolidating some of the questions/topics, since the draft as presented would make for a very long panel. To be honest, the draft I'm providing below probably still makes for a long panel, assuming 3 panel members and about 3 minutes per person per question (which is probably conservative). Unless the idea is to have different people answer different questions within each topic? I am somehow only just cluing into the fact that this is probably in fact what you meant. Anyway.

I've also suggested the removal of some of the more general stuff about crit groups in favour of focusing on the diversity-oriented questions in particular, partially because of time reasons again but also because I think it's the intersection of the two topics that's most of interest. And I've rejiggered the suggested order a bit, mostly based on my chopping up of the questions as originally presented.

Suggested edits to the questions are below. Tonight I'm gonna try and work on putting together a short description/pitch.

Possible titles

Critique Groups: Writing Your Way Out of the Echo Chamber
Challenge Accepted: Allowing Critique Groups to Challenge Your Worldview

Questions

Topic 1: The benefits of diverse voices in critique groups

Q1: What are the advantages a critique group with diverse voices, in background or in genre?

Comment: I'm wondering a bit about "in background or genre." Diversity in genre is a valid thing to talk about, but I'm wondering if it takes away from the focus on inclusivity? Plus, I know people of the, ahem, puppy variety have tried to co-opt the term "diversity" for things other than the generally accepted usage meant to centre marginalized writers, so maybe we don't want to go there. Or maybe I'm making mountains out of molehills.

Topic 2: How to make sure your critique group enables a culture of diversity

Q1: Has ensuring diversity always been a focus of your critique group? If so, what did those in charge do make space for diverse voices when the group formed?

Q2: How do you do you attract and keep diverse voices, especially if your group is primarily made up of members of a dominant culture?

Q3: What are common pitfalls you have seen in critique groups trying to be inclusive?

Topic 3: Accepting critiques that challenge your worldview and understanding

Q1: For marginalized critiquers, what are the dangers to you in calling out bias? Do others always respond in a way you might expect?

Comment: I've condensed it a bit, but this question is so important! Let's make sure we don't lose it.

Q2: How should writers respond to critiques that say their writing is problematic or biased? Should that response change based on whether the writer does, or does not, agree with the critique?

Topic 4: Allyship in critique groups - group roles in fostering inclusive environments (without depending on the emotional labor of marginalized writers)

Q1: What are critiquers’ responsibilities when responding to stories that demonstrate problematic content or bias? (i.e. fridging, white savior narratives, etc.)

Q2: What are critiquers’ responsibilities towards other group members when someone responds badly to being called out on bias in their writing or behaviour?

Topic 6: The role of moderators in critique groups

Q1: What additional responsibilities to moderators have, over and above other members, to ensure that marginalized voices in the group are not drowned out?

Q2: How can moderators enable greater allyship in a critique group? How can mods foster an inclusive culture that empowers everyone to participate? (calling out bias, supporting marginalized writers, etc.)

Q3: Maintaining the peace versus challenging bias- which is more important in a critique group? What if you lose members who are otherwise fantastic contributers, just because they are biased?

Comment: Again, this question is really important--we definitely want to make sure it gets addressed. However, I'm a little leery of the current phrasing, especially since at the end of the day, we don't necessarily know who is going to be on or moderating the panel, and it potentially leaves the door open for someone to come waltzing in and declaring that actually, "maintaining the peace" is more important than supporting marginalized writers. We know that's a false premise, but we might be setting ourselves up the wrong way here.

Conclusion: Personal notes

Q1: How did you first get involved with a critique group? What was its composition? Did that composition change over time and if so, how did that affect you and your writing?

(Potential shorter version of this question, as I think the longer version may be more appropriate for an intro): How has participating in a critique group with diverse voices affected you and your writing?

 

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4 hours ago, Silk said:

What do you guys think? Should I fill one out too just in case we can't find a more appropriate mod?

Yes because we love you and you should be there!!!!!!!!!!!

These edits look great! 

4 hours ago, Silk said:

Unless the idea is to have different people answer different questions within each topic? I am somehow only just cluing into the fact that this is probably in fact what you meant. Anyway.

I could go either way. It is still too long, probably, although I've been on panels where people give like one word answers, so I always like to have a few others in the que, just in case. 

4 hours ago, Silk said:

Tonight I'm gonna try and work on putting together a short description/pitch.

Excellent! Then we can get it submitted! Thank you @Silk!

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16 hours ago, kais said:

Yes because we love you and you should be there!!!!!!!!!!!

These edits look great! 

I could go either way. It is still too long, probably, although I've been on panels where people give like one word answers, so I always like to have a few others in the que, just in case. 

Excellent! Then we can get it submitted! Thank you @Silk!

Aww, thanks! Well, guess I'll fill one out then. I see there's a box for "academic" programmes, so I guess I'll tick that while I'm at it; I'm at least vaguely qualified to do that!

All right, here's my first draft of a proposed pitch. It appears to be within the character of the form, though I feel it's a bit long. (Honestly, the more I look at it the more I think I should probably cut out the entire first paragraph, but I've left it here for now in case it gives anyone else to bounce off of. Please throw out any and all suggestions! Line edits, order, trimming words, anything I've missed, etc...

Once we're happy with a draft, we just need to decide what the title is and who's actually submitting the thing, and I think we're off to the races.

Proposed Programme Description

Discussions of diversity are not new to the speculative fiction community, but we most often see them in a professional or industry context. However, writing communities outside of the industry itself, such as critique groups, also play an important role in fostering an inclusive community.

Online critique groups in particular can be an invaluable tool for providing writers feedback from people with different backgrounds and perspectives than themselves—but creating a truly diverse community requires more than just an Internet connection. It requires an active and ongoing effort from group members and moderators to create a space that is safe for all voices. Groups must be willing to address:

  • how to call out biased or problematic content (including racism, sexism, homo- and transphobia, etc.)

  • how to accept critiques that reveal problematic content in your own work (and learn from them to improve your writing)

  • how to support marginalized writers an act as an ally in a critique group

  • the responsibilities of group members and moderators in facilitating an inclusive environment

This panel is proposed by the members of Reading Excuses, an online critique group that has been active for nearly 9 years. A fan spin-off of the popular podcast Writing Excuses, the group has always prided itself on being open to everyone—all genres of speculative fiction and all levels of writer, from brand-new to published authors.

As the group has begun attracting more diverse voices over the years, we have had to explore what it means to truly be open to everyone, and take many of the above lessons to heart. Although we’re still learning, we hope that the insight we’ve gained from addressing our group’s challenges can help others create groups that are safe, productive, and inclusive for all.

A draft of proposed questions can be provided upon request.

Additional details about programme item

Proposed panelists: (our names & maybe very brief qualifying detail)

The proposed panelists are active members or moderators of the Reading Excuses forum and include women and nonbinary authors; however, we would be thrilled to increase the breadth of representation on our panel, particularly including authors of colour. People willing to represent other axes of diversity would also be most welcome. All panelists should be active members and/or moderators of online critique groups.

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On 03/08/2018 at 5:22 PM, kais said:

Title: Critique Groups and Echo Chambers: Making Sure You're Actually Being Challenged (that's too long, surely. Someone help)

I think you're right, something snappier is probably called for. Suggestions:

"Challenging the Critiquing Echo Chamber"

"Here's What You Don't Want to Hear"

19 hours ago, Silk said:

how to accept critiques that reveal problematic content in your own work (and learn from them how to improve your writing)

Learning to make (accept) the improvement is a different skill, I think.

19 hours ago, Silk said:

how to support marginalized writers and act as an impartial(?) ally/advocate(?) in a critique group

Seems to me that positive discrimination is limited in it's effectiveness, and can have counterproductive results.

19 hours ago, Silk said:

The proposed panelists are active members or moderators of the Reading Excuses forum and include women, men and nonbinary authors; however, we would be thrilled to increase the breadth of representation on our panel, particularly including authors of colour. People willing to represent other axes of diversity would also be most welcome. All panelists should be active members and/or moderators of online critique groups.

I felt it read a bit either as i) there are no men proposed for the panel, or ii) men are proposed by default.

Great work!

Also, suggest...

On 03/08/2018 at 5:22 PM, kais said:

Topic 5: Taking critiques that challenge your worldview and understanding

Q1: How have you responded in the past to someone saying your work is biased? Do you regret your response?

Q2: How should writers respond to critiques they don't agree with (in terms of being called biased)?

Q3: For marginalized critiquers, what are the dangers to you in calling out bias? How do you expect people to respond versus how they actually respond?

Q4: For those in 'majority camp', how has being exposed to a diverse environment that is outwith your experience changed your writing? 

 

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I love your draft, @Silk

9 hours ago, Robinski said:

"Challenging the Critiquing Echo Chamber"

I love this title! 

 

I don't have any real edits at this point. Do you want us to send you little bylines, or wait until we decide who is submitting it, @Silk?

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2 hours ago, kais said:

I don't have any real edits at this point. Do you want us to send you little bylines, or wait until we decide who is submitting it, @Silk?

Sure! I'll add them to the draft with Robinski's title and suggested tweaks and it'll be ready to go for whoever submitted it.

Speaking of which: Thanks for the comments @Robinski! I'd strongly suggest we stick with "ally" instead of "advocate," since "ally" is by far the most common term used in diversity and social justice discussions. (Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong, anyone?) I'm similarly hesitant about "impartial" since an ally's job is not always to be impartial - there's definitely a time and a place.

11 hours ago, Robinski said:

I felt it read a bit either as i) there are no men proposed for the panel, or ii) men are proposed by default.

Oooh yeah, good catch here. I like your additional question too. Thanks!

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2 hours ago, Silk said:

I'd strongly suggest we stick with "ally" instead of "advocate," since "ally" is by far the most common term used in diversity and social justice discussions.

I defer to your superior knowledge, and also, I can see the point of that.

2 hours ago, Silk said:

I'm similarly hesitant about "impartial" since an ally's job is not always to be impartial - there's definitely a time and a place.

thumbs-up.jpg.f6aee8c747186c3295a09c89a327a886.jpg

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11 hours ago, Silk said:

Speaking of which: Thanks for the comments @Robinski! I'd strongly suggest we stick with "ally" instead of "advocate," since "ally" is by far the most common term used in diversity and social justice discussions. (Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong, anyone?) I'm similarly hesitant about "impartial" since an ally's job is not always to be impartial - there's definitely a time and a place.

I agree that ally is best, and impartial can be wonky since sometimes you have to come down on the side of non-bigotry. Once we have a combined version I'll do a more careful read through and then maybe we submit?

I can submit it, if no one else wants to.

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Okay, here is the combined draft with all comments incorporated! (I have proposed a very small revision to @Robinski's title.)

As for submitting it, I'm not fussed either way. @kais should we flip a coin? ;)

 

Programme Title

Challenging the Critique Group Echo Chamber

Proposed Programme Description

Discussions of diversity are not new to the speculative fiction community, but we most often see them in a professional or industry context. However, writing communities outside of the industry itself, such as critique groups, also play an important role in fostering an inclusive community.

Online critique groups in particular can be an invaluable tool for providing writers feedback from people with different backgrounds and perspectives than themselves—but creating a truly diverse community requires more than just an Internet connection. It requires an active and ongoing effort from group members and moderators to create a space that is safe for all voices. Groups must be willing to address:

  • how to call out biased or problematic content (including racism, sexism, homo- and transphobia, etc.)

  • how to accept critiques that reveal problematic content in your own work (and learn from them to improve your writing)

  • how to support marginalized writers and act as an ally in a critique group

  • the responsibilities of group members and moderators in facilitating an inclusive environment

This panel is proposed by the members of Reading Excuses, an online critique group that has been active for nearly 9 years. A fan spin-off of the popular podcast Writing Excuses, the group has always prided itself on being open to everyone—all genres of speculative fiction and all levels of writer, from brand-new to published authors.

As the group has begun attracting more diverse voices over the years, we have had to explore what it means to truly be open to everyone, and take many of the above lessons to heart. Although we’re still learning, we hope that the insight we’ve gained from addressing our group’s challenges can help others create groups that are safe, productive, and inclusive for all.

A draft of proposed questions can be provided upon request.

Additional details about programme item

Proposed panelists: (our names & maybe very brief qualifying detail)

The proposed panelists are active members or moderators of the Reading Excuses forum and include men, women, and nonbinary authors; however, we would be thrilled to increase the breadth of representation on our panel, particularly including authors of colour. People willing to represent other axes of diversity would also be most welcome. All panelists should be active members and/or moderators of online critique groups.

 

Proposed questions (provided upon request)

Topic 1: The benefits of diverse voices in critique groups

Q1: What are the advantages a critique group with diverse voices, in background or in genre?

Topic 2: How to make sure your critique group enables a culture of diversity

Q1: Has ensuring diversity always been a focus of your critique group? If so, what did those in charge do make space for diverse voices when the group formed?

Q2: How do you do you attract and keep diverse voices, especially if your group is primarily made up of members of a dominant culture?

Q3: What are common pitfalls you have seen in critique groups trying to be inclusive?

Topic 3: Accepting critiques that challenge your worldview and understanding

Q1: For marginalized critiquers, what are the dangers to you in calling out bias? Do others always respond in a way you might expect?

Q2: How should writers respond to critiques that say their writing is problematic or biased? Should that response change based on whether the writer does, or does not, agree with the critique?

Q3: For those belonging to a culturally dominant group, how has participating in a critique group with diverse voices affected you and your writing?

Topic 4: Allyship in critique groups - group roles in fostering inclusive environments (without depending on the emotional labor of marginalized writers)

Q1: What are critiquers’ responsibilities when responding to stories that demonstrate problematic content or bias? (i.e. fridging, white savior narratives, etc.)

Q2: What are critiquers’ responsibilities towards other group members when someone responds badly to being called out on bias in their writing or behaviour?

Topic 6: The role of moderators in critique groups

Q1: What additional responsibilities to moderators have, over and above other members, to ensure that marginalized voices in the group are not drowned out?

Q2: How can moderators enable greater allyship in a critique group? How can mods foster an inclusive culture that empowers everyone to participate? (calling out bias, supporting marginalized writers, etc.)

Q3: How do you balance maintaining the peace with challenging bias? What if you lose members who are otherwise fantastic contributers, just because they are biased?


 

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12 hours ago, Silk said:

As for submitting it, I'm not fussed either way. @kais should we flip a coin?

Since I'm out of town, if you're willing, I say you do it! Should we all send your our little bio tag lines?

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53 minutes ago, kais said:

Since I'm out of town, if you're willing, I say you do it! Should we all send your our little bio tag lines?

Yeah, no problem! Please do and I’ll submit as soon as I have ‘em.

@Mandamon @Robinski

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