Hi Testers -- I'm Mark's colleague, and one of my jobs at Subtext is to think about what our discussion and commenting features are going to look like. This is a hot topic in the digital world right now. The agreeable impulse to create online communities has run headlong into some of the less attractive features of humanity. So a lot of people think online discussion is broken.
This is even true of the listservs we all take part in here in the Upper Valley. Over the last few weeks, I've had several conversations with people who have stopped reading discussion on their town's list for one of two reasons. Either they've been turned off by the sharp tone that some of the conversations take on, or they've come to believe that just a few people dominate discussion and there's no room for anyone else.
As we consider how to make Mortal Widget (or whatever this endeavor comes to be called) an inviting place for people while making room for vibrant give and take, I'm curious about your thoughts on all this. Here are some questions I've got -- feel free to respond to any of them, or to make up a question you wish I'd asked and then answer it.
-- If you look at comments sections of newspapers or other media websites, do any of them have particular features you like?
-- When you look at a discussion, whether online or via the listserv, what turns you off?
-- On the listserv, does a controversial topic (like the communications tower in Norwich or water fluoridation in Hartford) attract your attention or send you fleeing? If you flee, what might have gotten you to stay?
-- Do you feel more comfortable with online discussion if there's a strong moderator in charge?