Voices in the margins

In open online spaces, we are not equally fragile. It is everyone’s responsibility to listen and care and support marginal voices. Whether or not they wish to speak. Whether or not they wish to be present. Whether or not they like what we do.

– Maha Bali

Bali’s quote challenges us not only to actively seek out participation of marginalized groups, but to also carefully consider their needs, their vulnerabilities and their rights of participation.

One marginalized group from whom we often don’t hear are survivors of domestic abuse, despite having been experienced by at least 25% of women and one out of seven men (Breiding, 2011).  Might it then be possible to use online open spaces to gather and share more of their stories?

The blog site whenIneededhelp.com is an attempt to create the safest possible space to gather the stories of marginalized people who have reached out for help to police, social agencies and other governmental and non-governmental organizations. It is possible that not all of the stories will be positive. The sites goals is to empower newcomers to the community to hear the voices of others to know they are not alone, and to share their story if and when they are ready.

Using the SPLOT Writer tool (Levine & Lamb, 2015) as a starting point, the site was then modified to further simplify the required fields.  All requirements to share any identifying information (names, emails or IP addresses) was eliminated, providing a high level of anonymity if desired. We have also tested the site to confirm that it can be accessed by users from secure browsers.

The instructions and additional supporting information throughout the site have been further edited to focus on empowering users, including reminders about browsers security on their own computers and to think carefully about the types of personal information they might choose to share.

All posts and comments are moderated in order to further protect authors and the site from abuse. Over time, it is hoped that the site will evolve and add additional resources and supports according to the needs of the community.

We will visit the whenIneededhelp.com site and consider both its current strengths and potential limitations in serving its marginalized audience. We will also ask participants to consider other tools and systems used within the OER/OEP community and how they might be leveraged to meet the needs of other marginalized groups.



Bali, M. (September 4, 2016). Reproducing Marginality, Reflecting Allowed (blog), http://blog.mahabali.me/blog/pedagogy/critical-pedagogy/reproducing-marginality/

Breiding, MJ et al. (2011). Prevalence and characteristics of sexual violence, stalking and intimate partner violence victimization – National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, United States. MMWR. 2014:63(No. SS08); 1-18 as cited on  Center for Disease and Prevention (website), http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/intimatepartnerviolence/consequences.html

Lamb, B and Levine, A. (February 17, 2015). A SPLOT of a Presentation at TRU Practices Colloquium 2015, http://cogdogblog.com/2015/02/a-splot-of-a-presentation-at-tru-teaching-practices-colloquium-2015/

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