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Over the last year or so, the commenting technology I have developed has proven itself quite useful in facilitating discussions. But in most cases, these exchanges has been limited to the particular articles and topics selected by our various bloggers and other writers. At times, various commenters have complained about the lack of coverage afforded to particular issues.

Meanwhile, other commenters have complained about the heavy censorship demonstrated at other media outlets and the growing tendency of many web publications to severely restrict comments or eliminate them altogether.

Given these twin problems, an obvious and natural solution presented itself: adding an “Open Forum” section, in which readers themselves can provide suggested media stories for discussion and critique, utilizing the same commenting technology employed elsewhere on this website. Perhaps an article elsewhere may make foolish claims, defending those mistaken ideas by the censor’s pen, but once that article is provided as a post, in excerpt/link-back format, the buzz-saw of our regular commenters can quickly demolish the idea, providing a go-to location for individuals who wish to get the other side of the story. So if others restrict the commentary on their articles, we can easily fill that gap.

My initial design of the system is as follows. The top portion of the Forum Page provides a “Suggestion Thread” in which commenters can provide the links and brief details of external articles they would like to see as the basis for a Forum discussion. Depending upon demand and interest, a couple of times each week I may adopt one of those suggested articles and provide it as a basis for a Forum discussion thread, open to comments.

As an initial example, I’ve occasionally mentioned that over the last couple of years, the biggest political story in my own town of Palo Alto has been the ongoing effort of the citizens of that affluent community to keep open a local trailer park, home to hundreds of low-income residents, mostly Hispanic immigrants, whose children current attend Palo Alto schools:

http://www.unz.com/isteve/george-lucas-strikes-back-against-marin-county/#comment-926017

http://www.unz.com/isteve/silicon-valley-gets-by-fine-without-hispanics/#comment-990791

Yesterday morning, the City Council unanimously voted to double its financial commitment to the effort, with a total of nearly $30 million now allocated to buy the trailer park and prevent it from being closed and sold to developers for as a future site for expensive housing. This development was covered in the San Jose Mercury News, and I’ve now added that story to the Forum, allowing our angry commenters a fresh opportunity to denounce Palo Alto, Hispanic immigration, and myself, not necessarily in that order:

http://www.unz.com/forum/palo-alto-council-pledges-14-5m-to-help-preserve-buena-vista-mobile-home-park/

 
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  1. I know I’m repeating.

    What if there was a regular, ordinary forum with some free php forum software? A new blog could generate a new forum topic to hold the comments.

    Could blogs and comments be stored into a sql database, and have a page that allows sql queries to be entered?

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  2. especially if the publications or the particular authors do not allow comments themselves or heavily censor them.

    It might be useful to have a list of publications that don’t allow comments. Here’s a start

    Reuters, Vox, Mic, The Nation, The Week, Popular Science

    Read More
  3. So if others restrict the commentary on their articles, we can easily fill that gap.

    From a technical standpoint, I think a great approach would be some kind of “pass through” or “frames” effect; a browser, site, or whatever that superimposes its own comment system on top of the site “passing through” it, with a minimum of alteration to the sites’ perceived functioning.

    This would really catch on, I think, because it would minimize the difference between the original, and the free speech alternative. That would make the alternative much more attractive than the original. Given the proper funding and resources, the former would out-compete the the latter.

    I think this would be a great way for an enterprise to capitalize on big media’s profit-avoiding policy of censorship and partisanship. It would allow a sort of Disqus-like enterprise to effectively take over a huge share of the market.

    Combine it with some advertising wizardry to make it profitable, and voila.

    I have no idea about the legal issues, though. I do seem to recall a lawsuit involving frames.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Ron Unz
    That's a really excellent idea I'm ashamed to admit I hadn't considered...

    I'll check with my highly-experienced IP attorney about the framing issue, but my impression is that you can do it unless websites specifically prohibit it or order you to stop (I think any sophisticated programmer could anyway probably block framing). Meanwhile, building some sort of widget would be far more difficult and complex, but probably legally foolproof since it's controlled by the individual user.
  4. Alternatively, some kind of widget that users can FORCE onto censorious sites. E.g., when you install the widget, it pops up on every site you go to. When it changes color or whatever, you know there’s an alternative to the bullshit conversation being stage-managed by the host. When you click it, you’re taken there.

    Better yet, the graphic only appears when the alternative discussion is available.

    Read More
  5. It might be useful to have a list of publications that don’t allow comments. Here’s a start

    Reuters, Vox, Mic, The Nation, The Week, Popular Science

    That might be the best place to start with my “pass through” idea. Work out the technical kinks while adding conversation to sites that have none, to delay “competing” with any inferior, stage-managed “comment” systems until the basics are working properly.

    Or you could do something like Drudge, only add a unified comments system. Or even tailor a “pass through” system to work with Drudge.

    Read More
  6. P.S., Ron, “preview comment” doesn’t work with JS turned off. It just occurred to me that if it did, I could sidestep the whole problem of never having enough time to edit my comments (editing comments seems more like the kind of thing that necessarily requires JS than previewing a comment does).

    Edit: never mind, I just turned on JS to see how preview works.

    Read More
  7. Mr. Unz, one of RCP’s sister sites has mentioned your 2010 AmCon article on Hispanic crime now that new data has been published. Any interest commenting on this? It looks like your theory was slightly off, but as the article mentions it could be related to the overall youth of the Hispanic population.
    Here’s the link-

    http://www.realclearpolicy.com/blog/2015/07/01/justice_departments_hidden_race_data.html

    Read More
    • Replies: @Ron Unz
    Thanks, a couple of people just mentioned the piece to me this morning and I took a look. Frankly, I'd never had any serious doubts about my analysis being correct, but it's certainly nice to have it confirmed by the best available government data.

    And actually, the FBI numbers are *exactly* what I predicted, namely that Meso-American Hispanics seem to have approximately the same crime rates as non-Hispanic whites of the same age and gender. However, Hispanics are much more likely to be in their prime-crime years, with median age of about 27 vs. whites with median age of about 41, so naturally actual crime rates are somewhat higher. Here's my original article:

    http://www.unz.com/article/the-myth-of-hispanic-crime/

    And my entire series, including links to the many dozens of angry and critical responses:

    http://www.unz.com/author/ron-unz/topic/hispanic-crime/?ItemOrder=ASC
    , @Ron Unz
    I decided I might as well make the Hispanic Crime article you mentioned my second Forum instance, so thanks for letting me know about it.
  8. @John Doe
    Mr. Unz, one of RCP's sister sites has mentioned your 2010 AmCon article on Hispanic crime now that new data has been published. Any interest commenting on this? It looks like your theory was slightly off, but as the article mentions it could be related to the overall youth of the Hispanic population.
    Here's the link-
    http://www.realclearpolicy.com/blog/2015/07/01/justice_departments_hidden_race_data.html

    Thanks, a couple of people just mentioned the piece to me this morning and I took a look. Frankly, I’d never had any serious doubts about my analysis being correct, but it’s certainly nice to have it confirmed by the best available government data.

    And actually, the FBI numbers are *exactly* what I predicted, namely that Meso-American Hispanics seem to have approximately the same crime rates as non-Hispanic whites of the same age and gender. However, Hispanics are much more likely to be in their prime-crime years, with median age of about 27 vs. whites with median age of about 41, so naturally actual crime rates are somewhat higher. Here’s my original article:

    http://www.unz.com/article/the-myth-of-hispanic-crime/

    And my entire series, including links to the many dozens of angry and critical responses:

    http://www.unz.com/author/ron-unz/topic/hispanic-crime/?ItemOrder=ASC

    Read More
  9. @Svigor

    So if others restrict the commentary on their articles, we can easily fill that gap.
     
    From a technical standpoint, I think a great approach would be some kind of "pass through" or "frames" effect; a browser, site, or whatever that superimposes its own comment system on top of the site "passing through" it, with a minimum of alteration to the sites' perceived functioning.

    This would really catch on, I think, because it would minimize the difference between the original, and the free speech alternative. That would make the alternative much more attractive than the original. Given the proper funding and resources, the former would out-compete the the latter.

    I think this would be a great way for an enterprise to capitalize on big media's profit-avoiding policy of censorship and partisanship. It would allow a sort of Disqus-like enterprise to effectively take over a huge share of the market.

    Combine it with some advertising wizardry to make it profitable, and voila.

    I have no idea about the legal issues, though. I do seem to recall a lawsuit involving frames.

    That’s a really excellent idea I’m ashamed to admit I hadn’t considered…

    I’ll check with my highly-experienced IP attorney about the framing issue, but my impression is that you can do it unless websites specifically prohibit it or order you to stop (I think any sophisticated programmer could anyway probably block framing). Meanwhile, building some sort of widget would be far more difficult and complex, but probably legally foolproof since it’s controlled by the individual user.

    Read More
  10. That’s a really excellent idea I’m ashamed to admit I hadn’t considered…

    I’ll check with my highly-experienced IP attorney about the framing issue, but my impression is that you can do it unless websites specifically prohibit it or order you to stop (I think any sophisticated programmer could anyway probably block framing). Meanwhile, building some sort of widget would be far more difficult and complex, but probably legally foolproof since it’s controlled by the individual user.

    Thanks. Comes from being on the receiving end of leftist censorship over and over. I gave up trying to disturb lefty wa years ago.

    To avoid the frames issue, you could use the browser approach to do pretty much the same thing. Harder to get people to adopt, though, so maybe a series of browser addons.

    Maybe I’ll run some of my ideas for a “trolling” app by you one day. Automated registration, detect banning and automatically re-register under a new handle, track multiple forums and threads, re-post spiked comments, manage new email accounts & automatically create new ones as need arises, etc., etc., etc. The details aren’t hard to work out, really; just try to post civil, reasoned, dissident opinions on lefty sites, watch how they respond, and try to adapt and overcome. Obviously prone to abuse, but that’s always the thing with freedom, no?

    Also, is it me, or is the edit window now longer? If so, my thanks.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Ron Unz
    Well, I just loaded the new version of the software to the Live server including the framed display of the external articles. It's not ideal because most of those articles only partially fix within the frame, but it's probably better than nothing. One thing you really notice is just how much space those other websites devote to garish advertising.

    Since those articles sometimes take a bit of time to load, I made those article frames optional, controlled by a button-based cookie. All of this is controlled via Javascript.

    I'm going to also take a look at building a browser plug-in, but obviously that's a far more difficult job, especially since I don't know anything about building browser plug-ins...

  11. Better yet, the graphic only appears when the alternative discussion is available.

    May be better to have the graphic always on, and have it change according to status. That way, when there’s no free conversation yet, the user can click on it to start the conversation.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Ron Unz

    May be better to have the graphic always on, and have it change according to status. That way, when there’s no free conversation yet, the user can click on it to start the conversation.
     
    It turned out to be much easier than I expected to build a simple "conversation" browser widget. If you're on any external website and you click it, the UNZ.com website opens in a smallish side window. If a Forum Discussion for that external webpage already exists, the system opens to that comment-thread and positions you to enter a new comment. If no Forum Discussion already exists, it positions you to enter a comment into the Forum Discussion Suggestion page and pre-fills the comment with the name and URL of the external article. It would also be easy to add a Forum Summary page that provides a simple Drudge-type listing of all the external articles that currently have existing Forum Discussions.

    I've built the widget for Chrome, but am now investigating whether similar sorts of widgets can be built for Firefox, Safari, and Explorer, after which I'll announce and release it.
  12. @Svigor

    That’s a really excellent idea I’m ashamed to admit I hadn’t considered…

    I’ll check with my highly-experienced IP attorney about the framing issue, but my impression is that you can do it unless websites specifically prohibit it or order you to stop (I think any sophisticated programmer could anyway probably block framing). Meanwhile, building some sort of widget would be far more difficult and complex, but probably legally foolproof since it’s controlled by the individual user.
     

    Thanks. Comes from being on the receiving end of leftist censorship over and over. I gave up trying to disturb lefty wa years ago.

    To avoid the frames issue, you could use the browser approach to do pretty much the same thing. Harder to get people to adopt, though, so maybe a series of browser addons.

    Maybe I'll run some of my ideas for a "trolling" app by you one day. Automated registration, detect banning and automatically re-register under a new handle, track multiple forums and threads, re-post spiked comments, manage new email accounts & automatically create new ones as need arises, etc., etc., etc. The details aren't hard to work out, really; just try to post civil, reasoned, dissident opinions on lefty sites, watch how they respond, and try to adapt and overcome. Obviously prone to abuse, but that's always the thing with freedom, no?

    Also, is it me, or is the edit window now longer? If so, my thanks.

    Well, I just loaded the new version of the software to the Live server including the framed display of the external articles. It’s not ideal because most of those articles only partially fix within the frame, but it’s probably better than nothing. One thing you really notice is just how much space those other websites devote to garish advertising.

    Since those articles sometimes take a bit of time to load, I made those article frames optional, controlled by a button-based cookie. All of this is controlled via Javascript.

    I’m going to also take a look at building a browser plug-in, but obviously that’s a far more difficult job, especially since I don’t know anything about building browser plug-ins…

    Read More
  13. @John Doe
    Mr. Unz, one of RCP's sister sites has mentioned your 2010 AmCon article on Hispanic crime now that new data has been published. Any interest commenting on this? It looks like your theory was slightly off, but as the article mentions it could be related to the overall youth of the Hispanic population.
    Here's the link-
    http://www.realclearpolicy.com/blog/2015/07/01/justice_departments_hidden_race_data.html

    I decided I might as well make the Hispanic Crime article you mentioned my second Forum instance, so thanks for letting me know about it.

    Read More
  14. Anonymous says:     Show CommentNext New Comment

    Dear Ron,

    Is it not perhaps a time to rest? You seem to be improving the site and adding features at manic pace. It’s already excellent – thank you! But enough with it! Else, you risk ending up with a slow overburdened web site that is unpleasant to use. (Think of these Office “improvements” that 99.999% of users never wanted or benefit from.)

    Perhaps related: the site has become very slow since last week or so. In particular, the initial connection to unzcloud.com takes *forever*.

    BTW, nice touch in converting asterisks to bold but then the asterisks need to be stripped.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Ron Unz
    That's unfortunate about the unzcloud.com downloads recently being so slow for you, and I can't see how it has any connection to my recent, fairly minor enhancements to the website. Actually, the only reason for the Cloud server links was to speed up downloading, especially at distant locations, which it certainly does according to various tests I've run. However, occasionally the Cloud servers seems to get overloaded, as I've noticed myself, so maybe I'll try to add a user option allowing direct downloads instead.

    And the reason I left the asterisks in place on the bolding was to avoid confusing commenters who might wonder why they disappeared.
    , @Ron Unz

    Perhaps related: the site has become very slow since last week or so. In particular, the initial connection to unzcloud.com takes *forever*.
     
    I've just uploaded a new version of the code to the Live server, fixing various bugs and adding a feature intended to solve your slow "unzcloud" connection problem.

    The Menu/User Settings popup window at the top now contains a checkbox user option "No Cloud Includes" with bypasses the Cloud (i.e. www.unzcloud.com) and downloads all the CSS and JS files directly from the regular server via a Javascript transformation.
  15. @Anonymous
    Dear Ron,

    Is it not perhaps a time to rest? You seem to be improving the site and adding features at manic pace. It's already excellent - thank you! But enough with it! Else, you risk ending up with a slow overburdened web site that is unpleasant to use. (Think of these Office "improvements" that 99.999% of users never wanted or benefit from.)

    Perhaps related: the site has become very slow since last week or so. In particular, the initial connection to unzcloud.com takes *forever*.

    BTW, nice touch in converting asterisks to bold but then the asterisks need to be stripped.

    That’s unfortunate about the unzcloud.com downloads recently being so slow for you, and I can’t see how it has any connection to my recent, fairly minor enhancements to the website. Actually, the only reason for the Cloud server links was to speed up downloading, especially at distant locations, which it certainly does according to various tests I’ve run. However, occasionally the Cloud servers seems to get overloaded, as I’ve noticed myself, so maybe I’ll try to add a user option allowing direct downloads instead.

    And the reason I left the asterisks in place on the bolding was to avoid confusing commenters who might wonder why they disappeared.

    Read More
  16. @Anonymous
    Dear Ron,

    Is it not perhaps a time to rest? You seem to be improving the site and adding features at manic pace. It's already excellent - thank you! But enough with it! Else, you risk ending up with a slow overburdened web site that is unpleasant to use. (Think of these Office "improvements" that 99.999% of users never wanted or benefit from.)

    Perhaps related: the site has become very slow since last week or so. In particular, the initial connection to unzcloud.com takes *forever*.

    BTW, nice touch in converting asterisks to bold but then the asterisks need to be stripped.

    Perhaps related: the site has become very slow since last week or so. In particular, the initial connection to unzcloud.com takes *forever*.

    I’ve just uploaded a new version of the code to the Live server, fixing various bugs and adding a feature intended to solve your slow “unzcloud” connection problem.

    The Menu/User Settings popup window at the top now contains a checkbox user option “No Cloud Includes” with bypasses the Cloud (i.e. http://www.unzcloud.com) and downloads all the CSS and JS files directly from the regular server via a Javascript transformation.

    Read More
  17. @Svigor

    Better yet, the graphic only appears when the alternative discussion is available.
     
    May be better to have the graphic always on, and have it change according to status. That way, when there's no free conversation yet, the user can click on it to start the conversation.

    May be better to have the graphic always on, and have it change according to status. That way, when there’s no free conversation yet, the user can click on it to start the conversation.

    It turned out to be much easier than I expected to build a simple “conversation” browser widget. If you’re on any external website and you click it, the UNZ.com website opens in a smallish side window. If a Forum Discussion for that external webpage already exists, the system opens to that comment-thread and positions you to enter a new comment. If no Forum Discussion already exists, it positions you to enter a comment into the Forum Discussion Suggestion page and pre-fills the comment with the name and URL of the external article. It would also be easy to add a Forum Summary page that provides a simple Drudge-type listing of all the external articles that currently have existing Forum Discussions.

    I’ve built the widget for Chrome, but am now investigating whether similar sorts of widgets can be built for Firefox, Safari, and Explorer, after which I’ll announce and release it.

    Read More
  18. So the Pope was right about the condom thing?

    population density per sqare mile:
    Massachusetts 858
    Belgium 889
    Japan 836
    Connecticut 783

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4OrhnhKc89A

    Read More
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