The Rough Etiquette of Ragged University

Ragged University is an open community of individuals who are interested in sharing and learning. The events are put on by coordinators who are there to facilitate.  Coordinators are not gatekeepers or overseers of ‘quality control, they are not authorities in the public spaces which the Ragged University events occur.  They are there to enable those who want to share their knowledge and passion and to work to try and make sure that everyone in the room, space or event is comfortable and happy.

Shared space


An event is only a Ragged University event if it takes place outside of a formal, institutional or corporate space.  The venues and spaces which are chosen for Ragged University events Professor Ray Oldenburg describes as “Third Places”. These are public spaces which are negotiated and renegotiated by everyone who is within them; they are informal. Examples are pubs, cafes, parks and libraries.


The Ragged University is not a club, it is not a business, but it is a concept that is not owned by any one individual or group. It is an idea around which we can gather and share. It is particularly involved in avoiding the negatives of group psychology and behaviour


To help give a loose guide to creating and contributing to the right atmosphere, this interpersonal policy has been sketched from the work of Dale Carnegie who taught communications classes to adults at the YMCA in New York during the 1920s. His book ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’ was developed from the classes he taught at the YMCA and has some basic common sense principals of eticate which help people avoid conflict and work more together effectively.


His book is humane and easy to follow.  The ideas which he writes about have been chosen to help people understand what interpersonal etiquette informs the events and project as people are brought together. If you are going to take part in the events or digital spaces, please try and hold these thoughts in mind when you are interacting with other people:


  • chat in a pub

    Don’t criticize, condemn or complain.

  • Give honest and sincere appreciation.
  • Be genuinely interested in other people.
  • Smile. Begin your encounters in a friendly way.


  • Remember a person’s name it is important to them.
  • Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk.
  • Find out about and discuss other people’s interests.
  • Make the other person feel valued – and do it sincerely.


  • The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it.
  • Show respect for the other person’s opinions. Never say, “You are wrong.”
  • If you are wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically; this breaks tension and is how we learn.
  • Let the other person talk freely without talking over them.


  • Ensure the other person feels that the conversation is shared.
  • Try honestly to see things from the other person’s point of view.
  • Be sympathetic with the other person’s desires.
  • Appeal to the nobler motives as shared values.


  • Lead with praise and honest appreciation.
  • Talk about your own mistakes before criticizing other people.
  • Call attention to people’s mistakes with discretion and in a constructive way.
  • shared spaces

    Let the other person save face.


  • Recognise the slightest improvement and praise improvement.
  • Highlight the other person’s good reputation to live up to.
  • Use encouragement to make faults easy to correct.
  • Ask questions instead of giving orders.


  • Make sure the other person is happy about doing the thing you suggest.
  • Avoid competition, seek collaboration.
  • If you cannot phrase something in a positive way save it it for another space and time.
  • Remember that everyone is there to learn and has a right to share in what is going on.


This loose guide can be seen as the informal ‘Rules of the Road’, so please try and respect them an others who are involved.  It is nice to be nice, and it is very important that the events and spaces do not become a ground for pugilism, insensitive criticism and struggle. Hold the word friendly in mind please…

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights provides the backdrop for the ethics of the project, and you are encouraged to read this to get a sense of the ideas