This post is not about the witty panel game that requires people to talk for sixty seconds on a given subject, “without repetition, hesitation or deviation”. It’s even more boring than that.

This post is about the often tedious record that follows an equally tedious meeting, known as the minute or minutes of the meeting. And because all good rants should start with a joke, here is a drole quote from that old BBC series “Yes Minister” delivered by none other than Sir Humphrey himself, no doubt an indisputable master of minutes:

It is characteristic of all committee discussions and decisions that every member has a vivid recollection of them, and that every member’s recollection of them differs violently from every other member’s recollection; consequently we accept the convention that the official decisions are those and only those which have been officially recorded in the minutes by the officials; from which it emerges with elegant inevitability, that any decision which has been officially reached would have been officially recorded in the minutes by the officials, and any decisions which is not recorded in the minutes by the officials has not been officially reached, even if one or more members believe they can recollect it; so in this particular case, if the decision would have been officially reached, it would have been recorded in the minutes by the officials and it isn’t, so it wasn’t.

There is an inevitability that a meeting will be followed by another meeting, but before that can happen a minute of the meeting before must be prepared so that at least some time can be given to discussing the previous meeting, perhaps more time than attending to the current meeting itself, which is to ensure that a subsequent meeting is needed to discuss whatever it was that could not be discussed. And so and so forth.

Anyway why am I droning on about this for more than a minute?  Well it seems that many of you have meetings and have either an obligation or an urge to publish a record or minute of the meeting.  This is a fundamentally good thing and very laudable.  Openness and transparency are very important in a world where most things that matter seem to occur in smoke filled rooms, or whatever the room metaphor is these days.  We want you to publish these records and a lot more, and as quickly as you see fit.

But many of you have discovered that Ourlocality has an annoying policy.  You cannot upload WORD documents – most people’s favourite word-processor. We’ve got nothing against WORD, but we think you should either:

  • publish as a pdf (more people will be able to access and perhaps read it online without downloading it, and it will look exactly as you – the author – intended it); or
  • re-write your minute in a short, friendly and screen-readable way (so that anyone who syndicates your news can enjoy it regardless of the platform they are using – and we are all short of time, no?);
  • or both.

It is possible to simply cut and paste a word document into your WordPress editor.  You found that out quickly didn’t you?  Well here’s the thing.  This is frowned upon. It often doesn’t look at all good, in fact it looks like you do not really care. That you think no one is looking or reading.  The worst offences

  • to use a table (which no mortal can possily reformat – for love nor money)
  • to publish 9 pages of minutes in one great big long screenful (my mouse wire isn’t long enough to cope, is yours) 
  • a long list of attendees and apologies at the front (why not park this at the end? we are tired of scrolling or is that you don’t want peope to find what you’ve been discussing?)
  • use typewriter style page breaks (this is archaic and quaint, but heck it wastes space)
  • mix up lots of different formats (resist the temptation – simple formatting, left justification and judicious use of headings and bullets is just fine) 

And that is the rant over.