Code of Conduct
The People’s Colloquium is dedicated to providing a constructive, inclusive, and safe environment for all attendees.
We ask that attendees:
- be prepared for the meetings they’ve signed up to attend, having reviewed the critique submission and/or seminar materials to the degree necessary to participate.
- speak and act during meetings in a considerate, professional, and respectful manner.
Attendees must not:
- speak or act in a manner that is discriminatory, disruptive, or harassing.
Please contact us to report violations to this code of conduct.
If The People’s Colloquium determines that a violation to this code of conduct has occurred, it may: provide corrections, issue warnings, expel the offending attendee from a meeting, or ban the attendee either temporarily or permanently from future meetings.
All determinations regarding the violation of this code of conduct are The People’s Colloquium’s sole decision.
What is a Critique?
A critique is an analysis of a critique submission, i.e., a written piece of prose or poetry.
The purpose of a critique is to provide the submission’s creator with insight regarding the submission’s merits and faults, and to offer advice regarding how the submission might be improved.
Offering a Critique
Critiques should be:
- sensitive and tactful, but also honest; if uncertain which side to err upon, please choose sensitivity and tact
- succinct, which means that feedback should take no more than 1-2 minutes before another participant is able to respond or give feedback
- on topic, which means that feedback should not tangent or require convoluted explanations
- offered with awareness of the submission’s style, lineage, and intention; when uncertain of what these may be, use the submission to become educated about the diversity of possibilities
- offered as an opinion, not as a fact; one represents oneself, not a universal perspective
- offered without a soapbox; a critique is neither a lecture nor a debate
The following list contains acceptable critiques to offer at The People’s Colloquium. This list is not exhaustive, nor are all the items acceptable critiques for all submissions.
- Experience and Response: Was the submission enjoyable? Unenjoyable? Was there any portion that you wanted to linger on or ignore? Was it easy or difficult? Did you like it or dislike it? Did you respond emotionally? Intellectually?
- Craft and Style: Was the creator’s technique successful? In what ways? What style was employed? Was its execution successful or not? How does the chosen style inform the meaning and interpretation of the submission?
- Tradition and Experimentation: Does the submission fit within a tradition? What is that tradition? Does it maintain the tradition, attempt to progress it, or attempt to transgress it? How successful is the submission at maintaining its tradition? At progressing it? At transgressing it? Is the submission experimental? How radical is it?
- Content, Theme and Symbolism: Do you find the submission’s subject matter compelling? Not compelling? What is its message? Is it clear? Is it convincing? Does it contribute meaningfully to conversations in its intended subject matter(s)? What symbols are present? How are they familiar? Unfamiliar? How do they follow conventions? How do they break conventions? What do the symbols represent? What are their goals? Do they accomplish their goals?
- Commercial Considerations: Can you envision an audience for the submission? If yes, who might that audience be? If not, how might the submission find an audience? How might it be best marketed? How might it be best brought to the public?
- Sociocultural and Psychoanalytical: How might people from diverse cultures respond to the submission? Is there unintended bias present? What sort of sociocultural messages does the submission convey? Would it have a positive impact upon the world? Does the submission seem psychologically revealing of its creator? Does the submission serve a personal psychological goal? Is this apparent to the audience? Should it be?
Receiving a Critique
When receiving a critique:
- Strive for emotional neutrality; being reactive toward others will prevent a creator from actively listening and truly understanding another’s perspective
- Do not to take the critique personally; remember, the submission is under critique—including its merits and demerits; the creator is not under critique; this point is especially important if the critique submission comes from a personal place, such as the case of a memoir or a long-standing project
- Do not rationalize, defend, or lecture, especially not at length
- Please be respectful toward all opinions offered, especially those that you don’t agree with
In order to receive the most from a critique, a submitting creator should be proactive, active, and reflective.
- Proactive—The creator should request specific feedback. For example: “Does this short story scene elicit an emotional reaction?” “Is my theme satisfying?” A creator has two chances to request proactive feedback:
- When posting an introductory blurb on The People’s Colloquium’s member’s forum
- As an announcement at the beginning of the critique group
Keep in mind, proactive requests should designate no more than 50% of a critique discussion. What a creator knows he/she needs help with is important, but equally important is what the critique group reveals that the creator was unaware of.
- Active—During the critique discussion, the submitting creator should ask questions, seek clarifications, restate needs and desires as they develop, and politely direct the critique discussion as needed. A good general rule is that the submitting creator should speak no more than 10% of the time. Of course, the creator is also welcome to remain entirely silent during the critique, if that’s their preference.
- Reflective—Feedback provided during a critique discussion will likely be diverse. This is desirable, for a good critique offers multiple viewpoints, insights, and potential solutions. How should the submitting creator decide what to keep, and what to leave? The answer is: through reflection. For a day or longer following the critique, the submitting creator should think methodically through the feedback received, bearing in mind that first impressions can be misleading, and kind advice may not end up being the best advice. Ultimately, processing feedback takes time, and shouldn’t be rushed.
What is a Seminar?
A seminar is a discussion of a text that centers on an exchange of thoughts, questions, and references. The purpose of a seminar is to edify all participants by having them develop an understanding of the text, to clearly enunciate individual viewpoints, and by having them consider and question alternative viewpoints. The ideal is to have everyone come together for a group intellectual journey that will lead each into a greater understanding.
Participating in a Discussion
Please have the following in mind when participating in a discussion.
- Speak equally, meaning that everyone should have a fair opportunity to contribute to the seminar
- Listen carefully, meaning that everyone should have the time they require to fully speak their thought, question, or reference
- Respond to what was said by:
- Asking for a clarification
- Questioning an assumption
- Examining the evidence or rationale
- Considering the implications
- Stay on topic, but also remain open to tangents so long as the discussion proceeds in a direction that participants generally approve
- Above all, show respect, especially during those times when you disagree
Preparing for a Seminar
To prepare for a discussion:
- Read, listen, and/or watch the Seminar materials in advance to the meeting
- Research and uncover new resources of interest
- Arrive prepared to share thoughts, questions, and references
What is a lecture?
A lecture is a talk provided by an expert, scholar, or academic, delivered to a group of lecture participants and students. A lecture provides a way for those who have knowledge to share it with those who are interested in receiving that knowledge.
Participating in a lecture
Please have the following in mind when participating in a lecture.
- If you wish to make a contribution to the lecture, please raise your hand and wait to be called on by the lecturer before speaking.
- Please be mindful of minimizing disruptions to the lecture when ordering food from the venue, leaving the classroom during the lecture, arriving late, or leaving early.
Preparing for a lecture
To prepare for a lecture:
- Read the lecture syllabus
- View, listen, and/or read the suggested materials, if provided
- Arrive prepared with questions to ask the lecturer
Guidelines for Sharing and Accessing
Please adhere to the following guidelines when sharing at The People’s Colloquium. Content warnings apply whether it be a written submission, a stage-based performance, a piece of artwork, or anything else.
- Content warnings—If your submission can be reasonably described as offensive or controversial, please include a content warning. Content warnings can be phrased as follows: “Warning: this submission contains the following potentially offensive/controversial content …” Please then use general nondescript terms for labelling the content, such as:
If you’re uncertain about whether your submission can be reasonably described as offensive or controversial, please err on the side of caution, and provide a content warning.
- Graphic violence
- Sexually explicit material
- References to bias, bigotry, and hateful attitudes
- Prohibitions—There are two prohibitions when sharing at The People’s Colloquium:
- The People’s Colloquium does not allow for the submissions that engages in illegal activity, including advocating for illegal activity, planning illegal activity, or documenting illegal activity.
- The People’s Colloquium does not allow for submissions that intentionally condones bigotry or hateful attitudes, including racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, or intolerance of any culture or belief.
- Preparing, transporting, and setting up creative artwork for critique—Please take the appropriate precautions to keep your submission safe when preparing, transporting, and setting up for a critique at The People’s Colloquium.
- Responsibility for accessing—Each attendee is responsible for reading content warnings and, more generally, deciding whether accessing the submission is right for them. If a participant feels that accessing the submission is not right for them, they should contact an administrator and request a change in assignment.