Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Standing Up--Dr. Ish

In the slash-dot discussion blasting BellSouth (it's surprising to me how uniformly hostile to BellSouth this technical forum is) "Dr. Ish" stands up for Lafayette and Louisiana. Distilled:
I live in Louisiana, though I am not originally from here. The comments about the corruption in this State are not fair. The Feds want to deny us reasonable help, on the basis of such slander...The Feds have been useless. In a town a bit North of where I live a shelter had 3000 people in it at one point, with no government aid whatsoever. It was entirely supported by donations by locals. In the town of Lafayette, where I live, Bellsouth is fighting the local, city owned, utility system, because it wants to lay fiber to every home...So, feel free to be mean about Bellsouth, but do not slader Louisiana, unless you know what you are talking about. We are down, but do not deserve to be kicked. Kick Bellsouth and the moron in the Whitehouse and his useless cronies instead.
The discussion has grown to more than 450 comments. The prevailing tone is overwhelmingly pro-Louisiana and anti-BellSouth. Take a gander.

An aside:
And after you do that go back to the top of the discussion string and get familiar with Slashdot. The often highly technical discussion there may not be your thing but the structure of the conversation is unique and worth thinking about if you are interested in what might be valuable for a community with ubiquitous connectivity (the city we hope Lafayette will become). Such enormous discussion threads are kept useful by a bevy of moderators who rate each post for quality. (You can go back and look at how a post was "modded up" or "modded down" by clicking on the link preceded by the # mark.) A new post is placed below the one it responds to and is placed one level in the "outline hierarchy." A reader can choose to only see the text of the best posts by not seeing at all the posts ranked below a certain number in the -1 to 5 scale used on the site. It's all a bit convoluted, I know, but with a little getting used to it is amazing how readable a conversation between hundreds of people is.

The moderation, and the fact that the moderation rewards real information, good writing, and what they call "karma" (apparent positive motivation) minimizes flames and maximizes information. You can learn a lot if you've got patience. This particular discussion which is more political than technical discussion is not really what the place shines at. But even in this context the combo of smart people and a good system of public restraint makes the back and forth better than you can get elsewhere.

You can design good forums that many people can helpfully contribute to if you try...

And if you want to get a sense of the pulse of the community something like this is invaluable.

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