how can we best address our dismay over the state of the LA-IMC newswire?
'anonymous volunteer's proposal:
"what we need is a forum system structured in a way that allows people to participate in constructive written conversations or debates. people who work hard at their posts deserve to have their work viewed in what they feel is a dignified and respectful context if they so wish. basically, people need to treat each other with respect. at any public gathering place (a park, a beach, a market, etc.), people expect respectful treatment from one another. people shouldn't have to surrender these feelings in order to participate in the IMC. of course some people don't mind and like to have shouting marathons, but not usually with total strangers, and in any case that should be a choice and not a necessity. then there are those who are simply malcriado (badly brought up).... they don't know how to disagree without insulting. they don't know how to maintain consideration for others who are not in the room with them. they betray their own mother for their boss. they lie with no shame. their loyalty is not to a principle, but to a hierarchy.
the way comments to the newswire work presently is like one long thread of stacked comments. there are various creative ways of mixing it up a little and keeping things constructive but basically the quality and mood of the thread is easily thrown off or completely derailed by any individual or group of people that wants to impose themselves in a disrespectful way. there is nothing to prevent this getting out of hand to the point where a lot of exasperated people abandon interesting conversations.
this is a shame because networks of interrelated constructive dialogues and debates about the issues that affect our communities and movements for constructive social change are potentially more valuable than we can even measure. don't forget that the IMC is a historic achievement already and it's only just started.
so here is one possible solution idea:
when you click on a newswire item headline/link, it opens and the entire article or photo or whatever is displayed. a chronological list of headlines/links to ALL comments about that item, if there are any, will appear underneath the item. when you click on a comment headline/link, it opens and the entire comment is displayed, often underneath the original item and a stack of earlier comments.
when you add a comment you are asked to specify which previous comments, if any, you do NOT want to appear with your comment. when your comment is published, it's headline and your name (or nickname) will appear as a link at the bottom of whichever item or comment you commented on, underneath the links to any previous comments. when you click on the headline/link to your comment, it will open and you will see your comment. above your comment you will see only those previous comments which you wanted to be displayed with yours, if any. anyone is free to comment on your comment, and a list of names and headlines/links may accumulate under your comment.
the key here is the ability to choose which comments will not be displayed in full together with one's own comment. alternatively, and perhaps more "positively", choosing which comments WILL be displayed with one's own, would also work. could even offer both negative and positive selection options. which would take more keystrokes? it depends and i would expect it to vary.
so in the hopes of bringing LOTS more people into constructive dialogue, including many who may have temporarily lost their interest because of our problems, i think we should redouble our efforts to dream up creative structures and processes for the IMC website design, for media more generally, and for all our social structures and organizational needs. don't be fooled or forced into choosing between total war and total silence. or between censorship and surrender. resist alarmism if it requires you to insult the gentle or follow orders. we need to be creative, fluid, inventive, always finding a way, some way. don't wither and die outside a locked door. try the windows, the chimney, pretend to be the milkman, dig your way under.....
the internet remains flexible. i think there are various ways we can arrange things so that people who want to test their debating chops can do that without disturbing people who want to get moral or emotional support.... without disturbing people who just want to drop tons of links and pile them up in stacks of posts with others.... without disturbing people who want to stay right on a specific point and create a whole database on it with others.... without disturbing people who want to just talk shit all night and day. some people who talk a lot of shit will shut up as soon as they can't impose it on someone. others will become constructive all of a sudden. others will suddenly want to debate shit talkers when they no longer feel REQUIRED to do so. long term solutions may require more server space or something which comes down to money and that may make it impossible in the short term."
see also: Chuck0's perspective a.v.b. in context a.v. in context latest