Frequently Asked Questions

2.1 • What is Portside’s mission?

Portside aims to provide material of interest to people on the left that will help them to interpret the world and to change it.

Portside is a community of people on the left and an alternative medium of communication. While the commercial media are becoming steadily more monopolized by the same giant economic interests that control finance and industry, we are dedicated to realizing the democratic potential of the Internet and other new communications technologies. We are part of the movement to create an alternative information infrastructure. We are beholden to no corporate interests.

The moderators believe that a new and more just social order must be imagined before it can be built. We intend Portside as a space that fosters such imagining. We aim to be a catalyst to imagination by sharing dreams and experiences, political programs and struggles, which are the raw material of imagination. We believe that we are all emboldened and reinforced by knowing about the real efforts, all around the globe, to achieve a better world.

The moderators all think we can do better than capitalism -- and had better do better, if we and our children are going to have a future -- without proposing a neat blueprint for the future or a well-drawn roadmap to it. We believe that the search for alternatives must be based on working class solidarity and on principled opposition to all forms of exploitation, racism, sexism, homophobia and ethnocentrism. We seek a society based on democracy, social and economic justice, and racial and gender equality. We believe in globalization from below, in development of international ties in the interest of peace and social progress. We know that our future depends on developing and implementing new models of sustainable social reproduction and guardianship of nature.

With the aid of readers and contributors, we search the Internet every day for relevant, insightful, critical, informative, perhaps funny, material and deliver it to your digital doorstep. In deciding what to distribute, we seek information from diverse sources. We encourage debate.
We respect our readers as people who think for themselves. We strive for variety in subject matter and opinion. We look for things that are topical. We also look for things that are analytical, probing and challenging. We rely on readers to help provide those things.

2.4 • How is the work of Portside organized?

Each Portside list has a moderator for each day of the week that it appears. The moderator of the day decides what material to send out. We also have some dedicated contributors who submit material frequently on various topics.

All material submitted remains in a pending queue for at least a week, so any moderator may see it and use it.

2.5 • Who are the moderators, in real life?

The Portside and Portside Labor moderators are:  Judy Atkins, Carl Bloice, Mark Brenner, Barry Cohen, David Cohen, Ira Cohen, Marti Garza, Greg Heires, Will Jones, Stephanie Luce, Ray Markey, Carol Pittman, John P. Pittman, Meredith Schaffer and Jay Schaffner. Other regular contributors are Nan Rubin and Ethan Young.

The moderators’ work on Portside is an unpaid labor of love. No kidding. No pay, but they love it. Must be the benefits.

The moderators include a historian, a philosopher and a computer scientist, a professor of labor studies, two librarians, and a public school teacher. Other moderators have held or hold positions in the labor movement, including elected official, researcher, editor, negotiator and organizer.

The moderators are racially diverse. They reside in New York, Massachusetts, Illinois, Wisconsin, Texas, California and Hawaii.

They’ve been involved in more movements, campaigns, causes, demonstrations and debates than they’d care to remember or you’d care to hear about.

2.6 • Who are the Portside subscribers?

There are Portside subscribers in more than 70 countries, about 90% in the United States (we think).

Portside subscribers seem to be a very diverse lot, geographically, occupationally and professionally, age-wise, racially, ethnically and otherwise. Also very politically active and opinionated, which counts as a good thing here.

3.2 • How do I prepare material for Portside?

Paste your submission into the body of an email. Use plain text -- not Microsoft Word or other special format.

Give it an informative subject line. (‘Mammoth cloned from ancient DNA’ is better than ‘Whoaa, this is awesome!’)

If the item is short, include the entire item in the body of the e-mail. If it’s long, include a title or a fragment and a web address for the whole item.

Do not send attachments. Because attachments may contain viruses or other nasty beasties, Portside neither sends nor receives attachments.

Include the web address of the source. This should have the form ‘http://www.domainname.org’ or something similar. It’s usually best to cut and paste it from the navigation field in your browser.

By default, we attribute comments and other original material using the full name of the author, if it is given, or else the username of the submitter. If you want to use some other name or to submit a piece anonymously, please say so at the beginning of your submission. Portside will not use your email address in the body of a posting unless it appears as part of your signature or if you specifically request it.

3.3 • Why didn’t my submission ever appear?

We receive many more submissions than we can distribute without overloading subscribers. A week or so after something is submitted, it is gracefully retired from the pending queue if it hasn’t been used.

That happens to lots of items. It’s not a criticism. Your input is still appreciated and desired.

3.4 • How do you decide what to use and what not to use?

We promise material that is ‘of interest to people on the left.’ That’s pretty subjective, so we exercise our best judgment.

We strive for variety in subject matter and opinion. We look for things that are topical. We also look for things that are analytical, probing and challenging. We look for things that are clear, and even better, entertaining.

Debate is good, if it’s respectful.

3.8 • Are there legal issues involved?

Well, there's nary a lawyer, much less a constitutional scholar, among the ps moderators. But from a common sense point of view, reproduction of politically relevant material which has been placed on the internet would seem to enjoy lots of First Amendment protection. These issues may ultimately be decided by the Supreme Court, though there doesn't seem to be any too much constitutional scholarship there, either.

3.9 • Why do you send so much material?

It’s a big and complicated world. We try to poke into many aspects of it.

We send enough to permit variety. Different people have different priorities, interests and areas of activity.

Probably most readers delete lots of Portside messages unread after glancing at the subject line, or after looking at the lead paragraph.

Hopefully, most readers find something of interest most days.

No format suits everyone, but based on reader feedback, we’ve pretty much settled into the five-a-day mode.

4.4 • Is there a Portside-lite, with fewer messages?

Not at this time, though we may in the future add the ability to customize your subscription.

There is a digest mode, in which the day’s messages are bundled into a single message. You can set this preference here. Or you can write to us, and we’ll set it for you.

There’s also a no email mode. You remain a subscriber, but view messages only on the web.

4.6 • What Can I do - Portside emails have suddenly stopped coming to me?

Periodically we receive complaints from our users that their Portside messages are coming in blank. In our research, we have found that some providers (particularly Earthlink) insert headers to incoming messages that prevent the messages from being readable.

You can help us figure out if this is what is happening with you by sending us a copy of your entire message (aka - the message source). Every email program has a different way of showing you the full message source. [About.com has a good tutorial covering the major ones]. Please review those instructions and send us a copy of your full message and we can help you determine why your messages are not displaying properly.

Once you know, you can follow up with your provider to ask them why the vast majority of Portside readers can properly read their email messages, but yours are not coming through properly. Please feel free to cc: us on your communication, in case there is anything we can do to accommodate your provider in displaying these messages properly.

Thanks for your help in getting to the bottom of this!

4.7 • What is Portside's Privacy Policy?

This statement describes Portside's information gathering and use policy.

Portside is committed to respecting the privacy of its subscribers and site visitors.
 
Any personal information that a subscriber provides to Portside (such as address or phone number) is kept strictly confidential. Portside does not rent or sell the email addresses of its subscribers. Portside does not use cookies to gather information about subscribers or their activities.
 
Portside may on occasion exchange lists with a like-minded organization for one-time use in a campaign consistent with Portside's mission. A reader may opt out of all such contact by writing the Subscription Administrator at the address below. Questions about this policy should be addressed to: subscriptions@portside.org
 
or
 
Portside Subscriptions
355 Eighth Avenue, #1-J
New York, NY 10001-4839
 
Updated January 16, 2013

5.1 • How can I donate money to help Portside?

Portside is free of charge and also free of advertising. We are determined that it remain so. The moderators volunteer their time and effort without pay to make this happen. But the operation of Portside does cost a significant amount, so your financial support is crucial. We accept credit card contributions, and greatly appreciate whatever you can give. This is a secure transaction.
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