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Revision as of 06:55, 7 September 2009 by 209.162.13.194 (Talk) (Why Don't You Use a Web Based "Bulliten Board" System for the Forums)

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E-Democracy.Org Issues Forum FAQ

This is a work in progress. Please, feel free to add questions that you think ought to be on this list, or help write/edit any of the existing answers.

Our FAQ is broken into three parts - Why, How, and Impact.


Why

Do you moderate posts?

  • As a general policy, E-Democracy.Org does not moderate posts of individual participants. By this we mean, that participants are able to post directly to the forum without review by the forum manager or anyone else. However, forum managers are authorized to "moderate" posts as a temporary means of dealing with various issues that come up in the forum. We view "moderation" as a temporary solution.

Don't your rules limit "Free Speech"?

What do you mean - a facilitated forum?

  • Our forum managers play an active role in our forums, often acting as discussion facilitators, with the goal of encouraging new voices to participate in the forum, encouraging civility, and encouraging participants to move off their normal positions and look at questions from a different perspective.

Why are the rules different from forum to forum?"

  • For the most part, we try to keep our rules consistent from forum to forum. However, we also believe it very important to give each local steering committee flexibility in how they manage their local forums. This has resulted in local committee's creating variations on our standard rules. For example, the Brighton & Hove Issues Forum has increased our standard limit of 2 posts per 24 hours to 4 posts per 24 hours.
  • In St. Paul, the Issues Forum experienced a series of "suspicious" participants who did not appear to be using their real names, as required by the E-Democracy.Org rules. After a series of apparently fake posters joined the forum and posted personal attacks, the local Steering Committee passed a policy designed to increase enforcement of this rule. The policy basically makes it possible to join and read the forum without any additional barriers, however it requires that anyone interested in POSTING to the forum provide forum management with a phone number and street address, which can be used to help verify the identity of the poster IF NECESSARY.

Why Don't You Use a Web Based "Bulletin Board" System for the Forums

While we agree that web based discussion platforms have lots of features that would be very nice for our online forums, we also believe that E-Mail is the most "democratic" of the online tools that we can use. Just about anyone who has managed to get themselves online knows how to use email. Too many people are skill wary of web based tools and our goal is to make participation as easy as possible.

We also believe, that its much easier to get and keep community leaders and elected officials involved in our forums, if the forum comes to them each day and they don't have to go to the forum.

While our forums used to be run exclusively off "listserv" technology, which pretty much forced people to participate via email, we are currently trying to offer both options to users. We sometimes say, that about 50% of people HATE participating via email, while the other 50% hate participating via the web. We're trying to accommodate them all.

The software that we use, Groupserver, is one of the best opensource tools that we have found that does both email and web based participation as the same time. It is now possible, for users to "turn off" email in our forums and participate fully through the web interface.

Why Questions that NEED answers

  • Why don't you promote online polls?
  • Why don't you currently use weblogs?
  • Why don't you allow anonymous or alias-based participation?

How

How does the 2 post per 24 hour system work?

  • Basically, if the limit in your forum is 2 posts per 24 hours, then whenever you want to post a message our system will look back 24 hours and count the number of times you have posted in the previous 24 hours. If the answer is 0-1 posts, they you will be allowed to post again. However, if you have already posted twice in the last 24 hours, then the system will reject your post.
  • Example:
    • Post #1 = Monday at 10:00 AM
    • Post #2 = Monday at 1:00 PM
    • Next eligible post will be Tuesday at 10:01 AM

Does it cost anything to participate?

  • No participation in E-Democracy.Org forums is FREE.

Is a digest or summary version available?

  • Yes! Here are instructions
    1. Login to the site
    2. Try (Reset Password) if you have lost or forgotten your password.
    3. Follow the "Change Email Settings" link, near the bottom of the page
    4. Find the group which you wish to receive via "digest" and select CHANGE "message notification setting"
    5. Then select "Daily Digest of Topics"

May I edit or delete my post after I send it in?

  • No. Please post carefully. Forum managers are also not able to edit posts.
  • Read more on edit posts requests and our anti-censorship position as well as our rare exceptions policy related to disclosure of private information and liable in our Forum Content and Removal Policy.

How Questions that NEED answers

  • How do I join?
  • How do I post to a forum?
  • How do I deal with more e-mail? How do I filter my incoming e-mail?
  • Do I have to read all of the posts to participate?
  • Are posts available/archived on the web?
  • Can I remove a post from the archive?
  • Will I receive more spam by participating?
  • What level of privacy should I expect?
  • How do I deal with unwanted private communication?
  • Can I just subscribe to the topics that interest me most?
  • How do I file a complaint about another participants public post?
  • How do I appeal a warning/removal notice that I have received from the Forum Manager? What level of due process can I expect?
  • How are Forum Managers selected?
  • How do I complain about forum management?
  • Can I participate if I disagree with your rules?
  • How do I propose changes to your rules?
  • How can I volunteer to help E-Democracy.Org with the forum in my town or to create new forums?

Impact

Do journalists participate?

  • We work hard to encourage journalists to participate in our forums. We believe that media attention of our forums extends dramatically the impact of discussions in our forums.
  • Its is relatively common for discussions in our forums to "spill over" into local newspapers or other media.
  • It has been our experience that journalists tend to "lurk" or read posts but seldom post messages to the forum. We'd like to encourage more journalists to take an active role in our forums.

Impact Questions that NEED answers

  • Do you know who participates (readers and posters) on your forums?
  • Do elected officials participate?
  • How "public" are the forums? Will my comments show up in the newspaper?
  • Are your forums representative?
  • What about the "digital divide" aren't your forums excluding people who are not online?
  • How "deliberative" are your forums?
  • Do political interests attempt to control or take over forums? Do they gain undue influence? * Do you reach consensus online or take action as a group?
  • Can others promote competitive forums via your network?
  • Who legally owns the forums?
  • Has E-Democracy.Org been sued or held liable for the content of posts?
  • What is the advantage of the Chapter model?
  • How is E-Democracy.Org governed? How "democratic" is it?
  • What are your future technology needs?


Please add more questions - then we will sort, combine, reorder and then ANSWER.

 

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