Sunday, December 10, 2006

a "garden variety misunderstanding"...

MORE: my posts:

you can't expect blind trust


If you are going to have any permanent positions (say an editor), I'd make those people accountable to the volunteers (collectively, the volunteer community needs to be able to "fire" them if they don't suit its needs).

Maybe don't *ever* give them power (you could have employed people act as if they were working for the volunteer community): they would be expected to put their knowledge forth and step out of the way... (leave the decision with the volunteer community).

Say a number of stories have been considered and looked into. Instead of the editor saying: this is the one we are gonna do! (period...), she would be evaluating and contrasting the stories for the benefit of community (this one is likely to cost this much, appeal to these many people etc.; maybe make a reasoned recommendation but not more than that).


All I meant to say was that you would probably save yourself a lot of time and frustration if (whenever you have something concrete to present to people -- after Labor Day, if I remember right)you make sure your chosen system puts the volunteers at ease (if you *want* to build a community of volunteers).

If you mostly want to go hire people and just hope that citizen journalists/volunteers would help you *find* the ideas, do leg work and then surrender everything and wish you luck with them... I'm afraid you are going to find that there would not be enough interested people for the long run (even the ones that would give it a try would not stay long...)

As far as what has been said, my suggestion was an attempt to solve the problems Aaron Barlow brought-up (which I think reflect the citizen journalist/volunteer part of things very well).

I don't know if you actually meant the "new voices" comment for me (doesn't seem to fit)... but this is about all I have to say at this point.

Good luck!

No problem… Well, I don’t want to stress you out even more than you probably are :)… but I believe that you will win/lose the citizens journalists/volunteers on the concrete model you present after Labor Day. I’d make it as generous possible AND *mean* it… (it *needs* to be bottom-up).

And it doesn’t need to be something that can be implemented right away: I think people would understand that it might take some time to get there – they just need to know that the train they would be getting on is going in the right direction... So… no, there will be no community to speak of come Labor Day (your model is just going to have a place holder for it).

I think the relevant community (from the model’s point of view) is made-up of those who would do the work, use the site, provide funding or a combination of those. Ultimately, it *is* a community of belief (those who believe that worthy stories that mainstream media doesn’t cover *should* be covered) – I just think that from the *practical* point of view it makes a lot of sense to organize it geographically (the way Craigslist is).

I’d start with NY, of course, and make that geographic community work. I’d first see if I could get enough volunteers (professional or amateurs) to do one (not terribly hard to cover) story – something they, as a community, *want* to do. If people wouldn’t be rushing…I’d see if I could talk the NYU journalism students into participating (at least doing one easy project and see how it turns-out). And build-up from there. At the point where the community would want to pursue a “complicated story” and couldn’t (because they would be missing some critical skill), I’d go out and hire someone who could do the job *and* teach them.

If I remember right, Jimmy Wales observed that there was a certain size of a Wikipedia community where serious problems start happening (intimate social interaction usually keeps problems under control as long as the size of the community is small). You will probably find-out that something similar would happen with your communities. It’s hard to tell when that will happen, but you’ll probably know it when you see it…

At that point, I’d just split the community in half (for the same geographic area) – maybe have a politics branch and an economics branch (if that would suit them well). Of course, you would need to present this to the community and have their *approval*. The two new communities could of course collaborate if they wished but they would be two separate units.

Once NY would take off, I’d set my sights on Washington, DC… I think you see where I’m going :)….


P.S. If you’d like my opinion once you get the concrete thing together, feel free to email.

... and more exchanges (just scroll down that blog entry if you'd like to see the whole thing)

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