Lessons I've learned about vetting strategies for new leftist groups, a thread.

Vetting is often suggested on leftist twitter, but it can mean very different things to different people both in how it's done and how it's useful. Here are some tips, limitations, and pitfalls.
Leftist groups, especially ones focused on defense/guns, often try to make sure new members fit with the group and are safe enough to allow in. Often the vetting process means interviews, questionnaires, a look at social media, a probationary period, and some initial tasks.
The first thing to figure out is, what is important to the group? Some possibilities:
1) political cohesiveness with the group
2) political development
3) intersectional awareness
4) willingness to work and type of work they like to do
5) vibe
6) background and history
You don't want to ask "yes or no" questions. They don't tell you much. Ask open ended, probing questions. Give a written questionnaire & an interview. Ask the same questions in different ways between the two and see how the answers differ. Ask political & personal questions.
Vetting is by nature probing, invasive, and "bad opsec" for the interviewee. If they're uncomfortable with that they shouldn't join the group. Watch what questions make them squirm. See how good they are at articulating their politics and if the answers sound canned.
Bring BIPOC members to the vetting for a vibe check and to see how they interact. This is emotional labor for the BIPOC member, so respect that. If youre white & only the BIPOC member got a bad vibe, that means something. Bring femme or trans members for similar reasons.
Determine your deal breakers and work them into the questions. If you don't want to organize with military/former cops, ask the question directly. If class reductionism or "both sides are bad" takes are deal breakers, ask a few questions that might prompt that answer.
Allow silence. DO NOT give example answers. Ask questions in different ways if they're confused by one. Stay quiet but friendly outside of asking questions. People who talk too much shouldnt be on the vetting team because they give away what you're looking for.
Let potential members know up front what behaviors are deal breakers. The Left has a problem with sex pests and abusers. At first they often seem nice, weak, maybe a little socially awkward. This is often an act. Sometimes letting them know in advance scares them off.
Let them wait a while between being given the questionnaire & the interview. Leave them on read for half a day if they message. If they freak out, you dont want that entitlement. Dont allow them entry immediately to the group; maybe the interview convinced them not to join.
Be careful if you find yourself really liking someone but they have a story about a bunch of different people/groups treating them bad. Many, many times there are people with evil emotional intelligence who seem awesome but have big problem behaviors that push people away.
Understand different kinds of people join at different times. You may get some who want to help the suffering at the start of the pandemic, some who want friends 6 months in, and some who are just scared now. None are bad but their reasons affect their willingness to work.
Super invasive checks into people's phones, texts, social media, work history, etc. usually doesn't tell you anything that a good set of questions and a vibe check wouldn't. For blackmail purposes if they end up messing with the group, maybe, but not for vetting.
You're only keeping out the dumbest right wingers, potential problem centrists/libs, & bad people with low emotional intelligence. A good FBI agent or a smart abuser will get in. You won't stop them because you won't be able to tell, they'll make the right leftist noises.
Be aware that you're likely being recorded at some point. Vetting is a security risk for you. Every new member let in is a security risk. In one group we had it come out that a trusted member was both a sex pest and recorded our meetings for fun. Vetting didn't catch that.
Vetting for online groups, especially text platforms like twitter, is almost useless. You cant actually vet your follows. Bad people can get new accounts and keep trying with different answers & interactions until they get in. Instead have good moderation & block quickly.
Longer term "hang around" or prospect type vetting is good for more serious groups. Give people readings. Give them tasks. See how committed they are. Some people do even better when asked to show their commitment because it sets a precedent that you're a working group.
For politically unified groups sometimes training programs can be added to prospecting. If you want to form cadres and do party work among the people you have to be on the same page. Ancoms and MLs can get together for mutual aid work but not for making a socialist school.
For serious revolutionary groups, do vetting from years of work together. No new members unless you have serious consequences in place for snitching. Seriously, no vetting is good enough or deep enough to trust someone new with your life. The left is too naive about this.
The most important question after a vetting session is the one you ask yourself. How did the person leave you feeling? Would you feel safe shooting with them? These gut feelings can have personal biases/bigotry, but your intuition is valuable. Trust it.
btw I always welcome experienced organizers to pipe in on these kinds of threads. If you have tips and tricks and problems that came up, please share them with us!

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More from @FullCommie

26 Sep
A thread of a few reasons wholeheartedly trusting digital security is a bad idea.
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Police can also rip the data from your phone in minutes. This article is through a device but it’s possible to do remotely:

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Recently in our leftist org chapter we’ve been giving statements to new members during onboarding:
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2) The club isnt FOR cis white men but they’re allowed to join.
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Concerned about fascists getting your info? Want security while organizing in leftist spaces?
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Everything besides the mask is free btw
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Self protection when organizing in violent times, a thread.

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