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E-Democracy.org – Project Blog

Open Discussion – Ideas for Generating Forum Feedback

Written by Steven Clift

Earlier today, we closed our St. Paul Issues Forum Feedback Forum prompted by legal threats and sharp personal attacks on that one of a kind feedback forum in our network.

Here is the text of that announcement.

As I indicated in the letter, an array of new and improved standard feedback mechanisms for 30+ Issues Forums in our network are in the works including more regular use of this 0rganization-wide blog to gather input.

So, while I feel our hand was really forced by the legal threats and direct public personal attacks on our volunteer Forum Manager to act quickly before we were ready with feedback replacement options, perhaps that is a good thing. Why? You can help shape those mechanisms and benefit 30+ forums.

So as participants from St. Paul and beyond, please share your ideas about how our volunteer-based Issues Forum initiatives should gather feedback on forum management, changes in the rules, increasing forum participation, increasing the diversity of forum participation, and more.

Let me note that we will be creating a specific forum management complaint form with more formal response policies (we get very very few complaints).  We are exploring options for a yearly participant satisfaction survey of sorts (may require some funding), and we plan to use this blog more frequently for structured input on various forum management and improvement items.

Finally, from some comments about our funding sources, there is absolutely no dedicated funding for the St. Paul Issues Forum. We’ve been honored to attract Ford Foundation support for our special inclusion work with low income, high immigrant neighborhoods in Frogtown and Cedar-Riverside. It is the honest truth that the former Feedback Forum alone was taking more of our resources and attention at times than the rest of our network combined. As a small organization with limited funding serving 15 communities, we must be in a position to serve all these communities fairly as well as complete our grant funded work.

Thanks,

Steven Clift
Executive Director, E-Democracy.org

P.S. Please note that due to spam received by lots of WordPress-based blogs, this blog is moderated lightly. Our no name calling and personal attack rules apply, but for the next week I will do my best to answer any questions. (Please note that due to the legal threats, we may not be in a position to answer all questions until those threats are lifted.)

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6 Comments on Open Discussion – Ideas for Generating Forum Feedback

Kramer auto Pingback[...] management items. So, let's get started: Open Discussion – Ideas for Generating Forum Feedback http://blog.e-democracy.org/posts/1111 If there had been no legal threat, which could still CLOSE all of our 30+ regular Issues Forums [...]

Steve,

For years members of E Democracy have made the same complaints over and over and nothing has changed. You and E democracy board members have been bullheaded and unwilling to listen to reason.

Good people are working on a viable alternative to E Democracy. An alternative that is politically diverse and inclusive of all members of society. I suspect when this new forum is up and running E Democracy will become a full fledged leftist echo chamber void of any diversity.

Bob, good to hear from you again. I suppose listening to reason implies that we come to accept a different view. Our views and model have evolved continuously.

What I like about your initiative is that when your didn’t feel your form of participation was accommodated by our model, you acted to create your own blog: http://www.ademocracy.blogspot.com

So, one option for Forum Feedback is to continue our open policy of allowing local “competitors” to promote their sites.

While I do agree that our forums can in aggregate reflect the leanings of the political majority of the area served, they remain politically diverse. As of late we have more complaints from the left than the right. I do agree with you that there is a tendency by the vocal voices in the majority to try and push out those with whom they disagree on our more political forums like the US@ forum. Our civility and personal attack rules are designed to try and prevent that.

My own sense it that a softening of civility rules or enforcement as called for by some will actually lead to far greater exclusion of conservative voices on our local forums in heavily progressive areas. The domination of online news commenting by mostly conservative voices demonstrates the difficulty of maintain political balance online – our balance is better than most. If you disagree, please post some links to sites that demonstrate more give and take political balance from which we can learn.

In terms of Feedback, one major challenge we face is that on our more political city-wide forums (which are now a minority of our local forums), is that people with strong ideological views often feel they are being cited because of their views and not their actions on the forum. They do not trust that the other side isn’t getting a better deal. When we consider greater transparency on warnings, then we start hearing from people saying do not violate my privacy. Very complex situation. Ideas anyone?

I like to be on forums to hear other people’s opinion, voice my own and see which views are in favor of or against it and with which arguments. That interest can include every posting on the forum, but the judgments of the forum administrator are shielded from criticism, which feels artificial in the total context of a forum. Emailing the administrator feels like speaking in a sound-proof chamber, there is no feedback from other persons with their views. I do understand that other forum members shouldn’t be forced to receive administrative discussions, which easily can become boring and repetitive, so I thought that the feedback forum was an acceptable compromise. It’s sad that it is removed (instead of one added to the Minneapolis forum). Would it be worthwhile to have one place for all forums to discuss rule interpretation, on e-democracy or on a technically independent platform? Or would that be too much work for the administrators?

How is the english language changing under the influence of the internet, Textos, Twitter, Facebook etc. I sometimes find it hard to understand what my children are writing – “U OK?”
“Yeah- U2?” Where will all this lead?

like to be on forums to hear other people’s opinion, voice my own and see which views are in favor of or against it and with which arguments. That interest can include every posting on the forum, but the judgments of the forum administrator are shielded from criticism, which feels artificial in the total context of a forum. Emailing the administrator feels like speaking in a sound-proof chamber, there is no feedback from other persons with their views. I do understand that other forum members shouldn’t be forced to receive administrative discussions, which easily can become boring and repetitive, so I thought that the feedback forum was an acceptable compromise. It’s sad that it is removed (instead of one added to the Minneapolis forum). Would it be worthwhile to have one place for all forums to discuss rule interpretation, on e-democracy or on a technically independent platform? Or would that be too much work for the administrators?

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