Notes on Forums:
I can't in good conscience recommend any forum as an example of community. Seems to me that a meesage board is just that. Just like a mesage board in a laundromat or supermarket. Is a message board a community? I suppose so if people hangout around the message board but then that would be something like the old days when people hung out in a barbershop. I can extend the term "community" to message boards and forums only as "kind of a community".
Such forums, like supermarket bulletin boards are managed by the owner or manager of the supermarket. Online message boards are more like malls in that it is a public space that is privately regulated. I cannot concieve such a standard for real community. Can a community be privately held and still be a community? Probably not, not without gross distortion of all aspects of traditional community.
Typical forum organization is topical. The topic is divided down into it's constituent parts. This might be a good structure for people who are just socializing around a hobby such as Dolls or Automobiles. When it comes to forums that focus upon the expository mode, I think that temporal and ordinal form is more suitable as they are the natural extension of this mode.
As yet, I know of no forum that has managed to achieve this type of organization. Probably because there is no comprehensive material to guide people. First people need to become aware of the great benefits of using these forms in a coordinated manner. People also need to recieve training in the application of these forms.
I am currently developing a complete training program in communication and leadership for democratically organized community called The Discussion Workshop to be administered by an elected membership of a constituted society.
Notes on Blogs:
This blogging experience is great because it puts more control into the hands of the contributors. However, I am already experiencing an ethical dilemma. I set the blog to a fully open circuit. I chose that "anybody" could post. I see others have chosen that setting also. The conflict for me is the "moderating" part. Since I have invited the public into an open circuit, what grounds are there for "moderating" them? I can find none. If they spam or "troll" my blog it's because I chose to leave it open. If there is a problem user, I can just elect a membership of myself and the other users into another blog. This one could just become an advertisment for the other. The circuit can be closed and rational and the members can use a traditional form to elect new members.
My ethical dilemma runs deep. As a blogger, I see myself as an operator of a communication machine. I do not view it as my right to moderate the behavior of the public to whom I have extended an open invitation. Since I am operating a machine, I rather view it as my responsibility to yield the right of way to pedestrians.
So I am thinking of how this principle might be extended within a platform? I think that there should be rules made according to this formula:
No rules for the public
Few rules for members
The most rules for administrators
Because a discussion must be fair and democratic, we must ensure that equality rules. If I come to the discussion armed with edit and delete buttons, I am not equal to the other participants. The rules must restrict the behavior of administrators so as to achieve equality among all of the contributors.
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