One of the cornerstone characteristics of E-Democracy.Org issues forums, has always been that we limit each participant to 2 post per day (which is now 2 posts per 24 hours). Our goal has always been to encourage as many different people as possible to participate and early on we choose to accomplish this by putting some restriction on the volume of participation by any individual participant.
Another way of thinking about this is to assume that there is a limit on the number of posts that any one forum can constructively manage, by limiting the number of post that any one individual can make, we like to think that we are making it possible for more people to participate in the discussion.
We also believe, that elected officials in general are more interested in participating in discussions/forums with broad participation, rather than hearing from the same people, lots of times.
This 2 post per day rule has always been controversial and runs counter to what many folks feel that an internet discussion should be. YET, we continue to believe that our 2 post per day rule has been a key factor in the success of our forums as “meaningful” spaces for public participation.
Recently, the steering committee for the Brighton & Hove Issues Forum did a survey to guage support for this rule. Several members of their forum have vocally opposed the rule since the inception of the forum and members of the steering committee wanted to see what others thought.
- “Two Mail Limit” – March 2, 2006
- “two post limit, reply off list by default” – September 29, 2006
When asked about what the limit should be, the survey results were (roughly):
- 20 = Leave limit as is (2 posts per 24 hours)
- 13 = Double the limit
- 7 = Remove the limit completely
- 3 = Provided alternative options for a small increase in posts
That came to a total of about 43 votes (from about 250 participants). While the vote/survey was non-binding, the Brighton & Hove steering committee decided that a majority of those responding did desire some kind of change. So, the decision was to double the limit to 4 posts per 24 hours on a three month trial basis. The decision will be reviewed in April to see what kind of effect it has on the forum.
We’re watching this experiment with great anticipation to see, what kind of effect this change will have on their forum. We’d love to hear what other people think about putting “posting limits” on participation in a public forum?