Moving from Tired to Rewired?

Okay, it’s a corny rhyme, but given the wildly active response to Katie’s post, I’d like to propose a simple, concrete step to try to address the concerns Katie and many others of your raised. Way down the comment thread at slot #59 I mentioned a system that would allow users to rate posts and thereby democratically moderate what shows up on the blog.

I did a little more research today and discovered a way to implement the first part of this proposal: enabling voting on posts. This system could provide an easy way for folks to offer feedback on what posts they appreciate and which they don’t. Here’s an example of the system in action (see the stars at the bottom of every post):

http://lesterchan.net/wordpress/

The voting doesn’t have any effect on posts it just provides information for readers, writers and editors. What do you all think? Would this tool be a useful addition to YAR? Would it help to clarify what posts are useful? Or would it just end up being a tool for dissing people you don’t agree with?

Comments (15)

  1. folknotions

    “Would this tool be a useful addition to YAR? Would it help to clarify what posts are useful? Or would it just end up being a tool for dissing people you don’t agree with?”

    I think it will probably be both, Tim. But, let’s go for it, I’m all for trying this and hopefully posts that aren’t relevant to – or helpful for – this community won’t grab as much attention.

    Reply
  2. ST

    I think it could work, and could make for easier scanning of the blog. There are probably people who would specifically look at the posts that are low rated.

    Since I don’t feel much interest in voting in political elections (though I still do it) voting here would be much more fun.

    I’ll still write even if no one wants to put stars on my posts. Ratings should hold anyone back from speaking their mind. There won’t be a weekly standard rating “authority” so, I think it would just be a helpful thing.

    Reply
  3. Amy

    Sounds like it becomes a tool to silence people. For these reasons–

    1–It could silence the voices of people you disagree with and force a unified viewpoint. And, while I was left with a bad taste in my mouth after the Katie post, I think there needs to be a place to express disagreement.

    2–Not everyone can be super articulate and concise, but that doesn’t they don’t have something to say. It could be easy to rate low, because the post isn’t snappy or crisp, and for those who are developing their voice, the rating system could silence them unintentionally.

    Other thought–we need to questions the intention of the blog before we do this. What is the original reason for YAR? And does putting a rating system on posts really fulfil the goals and purpose of YAR? I’m inclined to think that rating is a benign form of silencing. As the young, a have experienced that in past churches. As an Anabaptist, I experience silencing in my non-anabaptist seminary As a radical, I experience silence in my community. Do we want to create another form of silencing in cyber space?

    Reply
  4. somasoul

    The concepts of silencing anf privilage prevail everwhere on this board.

    Where is service?

    Reply
  5. Amy

    Sorry for all the mis-spellings in my earlier post. Jeesh!

    Reply
  6. JeremyY

    I’m not too concerned that this mechanism with silence people. After all, right now there are few controls on the blog, and as Katie’s post points out, people are still feeling silenced.

    I say, let’s experiment with this and see if it works. If it doesn’t we could always remove it.

    Reply
  7. TimN (Post author)

    Amy I think you’ve raised an key question that seems to come up again and again: what is the intention of the blog? It’s pretty clear that different folks have different ideas of what it should be. On the Tired thread, Adam, j alan and Luke all laid out a vision for a blog leaning towards the exclusive end of the spectrum (although Luke also suggested a forum as an additional section).

    The reality of the blog over the past year and a half has been much more inclusive in terms of who writes post. For the first 9 months anyone could post and in the last year I’ve been very free with giving out user names to people who wanted to post. As Katie’s post pointed out, this hasn’t always led to a safer space.

    While this post voting scheme wouldn’t actually limit the field of writers in anyway, it would take a small step towards the more exclusive end of the spectrum.

    Based on comments so far it seems the question then is: Would the added checks and balances of a voting system improve the quality of posting and thereby create a safe space for non-SWM’s? Or would the voting system itself become another tool for oppression and silencing? Or would the reality be somewhere in between?

    My personal preference is to try out the system and see how it works and turn it off if it doesn’t. Of course, who decides if it works or not? Maybe we could have a poll…

    I’m also aware that the only woman to comment so far has been against the idea and all those in favor have been men. Any other women out there who want to weigh in?

    Reply
  8. lukelm

    I think this makes sense if the site is a high-volume site without many posts a week going by. It will let people know what others think are the posts most worth reading, so for those who don’t read every post through, it could help point toward the most interesting stuff. Im honestly not sure it will do much to equalize any of the imbalances we talked about in the “tired” thread. If we do it let’s make clear what exactly a thumbs-up means – it’s not an “I agree” vs. a “shut this person up”, it’s just a “I read this, it’s high quality, and I recommend it.”

    Reply
  9. BenH

    Ok, I’m not so young, and certainly privileged, however…

    I hear a common thread of concern over potentially silencing a group of people. While no actually “censoring” is currently in place, people are “feeling” silenced. I’m all for people feeling open and able to share.

    So, assume a voting system is in place. Now participants can voice their opinion on a post by rating it.

    Now explain to me how silencing doesn’t just take on a different form and perhaps affect a different group.

    I’ll “feel” silenced when I would consistently receive one star.

    Don’t we end up with the same net result here?

    Reply
  10. j alan meyer

    BenH, you’re saying that the proposed voting system will just silence a different group of people in a new way. I agree. My point–that I’m sure not everyone agrees with–is that some people need to be silenced, or at least should be silenced more so than they currently are. And I often include myself in that group. While I think Tim’s voting system is a good start, I think the group should move to an exclusive format similar to the one Luke proposed earlier, with perhaps an open forum (and open comments) to accompany an exclusive group of writers. But enough on that — as Tim pointed out, there’s disagreement about the level of exclusivity that YAR should have.

    Reply
  11. Amy

    What if instead of deciding a rating system, you first decide what you want YAR to be? Seems to me that if you create a “purpose/mission statement”, it’ll be easier to set bounderies.

    If you do a rating system with no sense of purpose for the blog, it will feel exclusive and silencing. Even if you do not intend for it.

    Reply
  12. Skylark

    Maybe, instead of a rating system per se, we could offer the option of posting a “thumbs up” smilie or whatever in the comments section of a given post. That way, members who don’t feel they have a voice yet have another way to express support for someone who says something valuable.

    If the point is to give voices to the voiceless, let’s find new ways to give voices. A rating system could do that… but I have my doubts. I do think it would make it easier to sort out the popular from the unpopular posts… but I get that anyway just by scanning the number of comments in a post.

    Reply
  13. SteveK

    I agree with SkyLark. I think that we should only provide a “recommended” button to check, or something.

    The problem with a “star” measure, is that those who are sensitive to criticism will certainly be shut down. If the point is to build up, then perhaps you could provide ONLY the opportunity to build up. Just because a post is NOT recommended, it doesn’t mean that it is in opposition to the post.

    Or it shouldn’t.

    Steve K

    Reply
  14. Adam

    What about other measures–such as
    ‘helpful’ or ‘informative’
    focusing on impact rather than (potentially) writing ability? There are certainly people who could put together a well-written post that wouldn’t be useful here, as well as people with less-than stellar grammar who have important things to say.
    Adam

    Reply
  15. Aaron

    My guess is you’d need more traffic to pull it off.

    Reply

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