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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:
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: