Sunday, July 8, 2007

More Ideas for Jihad Watch

One of my readers, Nobody, offered some additional refinements to my previous post on ways to improve Jihad Watch.

“Given how posters sometimes tend to get their posts deleted or edited, the rules for posting need to be explicitly spelt out. . .”

Yes. Jihad Watch should formally lay out exactly what would cause a commenter to have his account banned, and—should Jihad Watch also adopt our former suggestion of a temporary suspension—what commenting behavior would trigger such a suspension. Then Jihad Watch should publish a formal article announcing this new policy, and thereafter keep those rules visible via a link on the banner. And prior to doing this, it would be nice for Jihad Watch to announce the new policy and throw open a thread’s comments to ideas and suggestions from readers on fashioning this new policy.

Nobody gives some examples:

“If they don’t like the use of the term ‘Muzzie’ to describe Muslims, say so in clear terms. If nuking dar-ul-Islam or burning the Quran is off-limits, say so, and in some cases, like the latter, explain why. A few days ago, there was a thread about Mohammed’s effigy being burned in Denmark, and I posted a question as to why calls for burning Qurans are treated differently. Instead of responding, someone there simply edited out my question in that post, and ignored it.”

On another note, Nobody refers to the problem of staff time and labor:

“Given how busy Spencer is with his books and interviews, and Hugh is with his essays, I think the extra employees/volunteers they have—Marisol, Anne, whoever—should handle the task of this management.”

As I implied in my previous post on this, I think Spencer needs to get more serious and invest more money into Jihad Watch—i.e., actually hire a small staff and pay them a good wage. Note to Spencer: I could use some part-time work at $20.00/hr. I am a scrupulous proofreader and an accomplished editor, and—despite my “hobbyhorses” (or perhaps because of them)—I am fairly well-versed in the subject matter of the Jihad Watch mission.

“Note that that would also involve empowering them to ban posters that they determine need banning, instead of the call being exclusively reserved for the head honcho. And when they do ban somebody, their decision should be final: if it gets reversed by RS, it has an undermining effect on their authority.”

I would say that a ban could be reversed, but only by a majority vote of the Board, and that such a majority vote would be necessarily called if any single Board Member desires it.

“On expanding the site for Readers Watch, I have a different suggestion. Right now, if one goes to the site, and has a story on, say, Russia, that one wants to contribute and comment on, they are forced to post something off-topic in one of the threads. Conversely, most of the threads on JW are ‘timeless’: let's say there was a thread 2 years ago on the Armenian genocide, a new poster who wants to weigh in on that can’t because the thread in question is frozen. My suggestion: don’t freeze any threads.Instead, have a community-server like forum, where the topics are classified properly - something like this. That way, off topic posts are minimized, and those who willfully offend can be suspended or banned.”

I’m not sure a community server like that would be feasible: it would entail lots of labor to go back and re-organize the thousands of threads that already exist and put them into categories. A simple search engine plus a complete list of title would suffice, I think. I do agree on un-freezing all threads. I would suggest that for an initial period of time (say one week), and/or with a limit of number of posts (say 100), the thread should just proceed as normal. Then when that time and/or comment limit is up, the thread would be transferred to a sister site—my Readers Watch idea—easily and directly linked to JW/DW, where each new comment appears at the top instead of at the bottom, and the threads remain unfrozen forever.

Nobody’s amplification of his idea for the structure of this, to me, would seem to entail far too much labor. It would amount to the creation of a new website for JW, one far more complex than what exists now:

“Also, say a new poster weighs in on an old topic with a new look, that topic will come to the fore, just like in my example above. (Incidentally, I'm not suggesting that their classification of topics and structural layout is the right way, but just illustrates an example of how it can be done. One could have different things - jihadi activity split out by geography between continents, discussion on Islamic texts, dhimmi activities by Western institutions, Hugh's essays, JW housekeeping like this article above, and so on)An added advantage of that is that when a news story breaks, the first one in can post it in the right place. In such an event, what the JW moderators would have to do is prevent replication, but RS would no longer have to glaze through 500 e-mails a day. Once this is established, most posters would post things to the relevant threads, and those who spawn too many redundant threads could be disciplined after warnings.This also can accommodate your 'ReaderWatch' suggestion - have a section dedicated to that. Also, have a section, maybe for Muslim comments - those who send their inane hate mail to RS - and let them vent there, and let the troll-bashers in JW take them on.”


Nobody said...

Nobody’s amplification of his idea for the structure of this, to me, would seem to entail far too much labor. It would amount to the creation of a new website for JW, one far more complex than what exists now:

The example I gave is one that actually exists, and due to the lack of an audience, is on auto-pilot; yet, on occasions when it did attract additional posters, the posters usually were pretty good about following the posting guidelines - which incidentally were published. There was one poster who was disruptive and got banned, but other than that, things went as normal. If such a model was applied to JW, then once a folder structure was laid out, and more importantly, a posting guideline is published, most posters can be expected to post their news items or opinions in appropriate places.

In the event that a poster posts things to 'wrong' places, the moderators could either move them around, notifying them how it's to be done, or if it's a deliberate case of abuse, warn them. On the warnings, I don't know that I agree about the idea of turning JW into a democracy: instead, just introduce an explicit set of rules and guidelines at the top that would make decisions look less whimsical.

Erich said...

Nobody wrote:

"The example I gave is one that actually exists, and due to the lack of an audience, is on auto-pilot"

But the link you gave goes to Islam Watch, whose multifarious categories had to be constructed. Are you saying there is a site out there already subdivided into categories for JW, but which has fallen into desuetude?

Nobody said...

Yeah, but the multifarious categories only had to be constructed once, although the owners did some do-overs a couple of occasions. I'm not denying that there will be initial set-up labor - something that is inevitable anytime a new thing is created. What I am denying is that it will be a much more high maintenance project than the current chronologically flowing site.