As probably most readers of CitizenWill know, I decided to stop posting on locally owned OrangePolitics (OP) for many reasons:

  • an escalating and stifling intolerance of valid though different viewpoints,
  • the site’s authors acting as surrogates for political allies who didn’t have the courage to engage the community directly in an honest, fact-based and open manner
  • and an unwillingness on my part to work hard in “building the brand” of a site that advertised one thing – engaging the wider community in an informative discussion of local “progressive” issues – and delivering another (what I said below the fold).

In many ways, my disappointment in OP comes from the narrowing of that initial promise – to engage the wider community – into a sometimes almost reflexively dismissive platform pushing a particular agenda.

I have no problem with OP’s owner pushing a particular agenda – that is what my site – CitizenWill.org – does. I do have a problem with any claim to being an open and transparent forum for community-wide discussion.

For all that, the site, its owner and commentators have sometimes broadened the discussion of local issues. On occasion, “leakage” – the coverage of particular issues by the local media – occurred because of those discussions. These basic contributions not only informed but stirred debate and even action.

But those wins don’t justify the failures. In November I said I hoped that the next generation – OrangePolitics 3.0 – would represent a change of course –

“Reform is in order and I truly hope that the promise of 2003 becomes the reality of 2008.”

Today, Ruby and company will meet to presumably chart out that new course for “OrangePolitics 3.0″ at a “Winter Happy Hour” ( 6:30pm, FUSE).

Following up on my previous comment, I suggest one topic of discussion be how to stick with a reality-based perspective.

Unfortunately, if this recent post by Ruby is any indication of 3.0′s direction, well, the new OP is already off to a poor start:

Here’s a preview of the new “Hall of Fame” function that makes a bunch of stats public on OP 3.0:

Top 10 commenters of all time:
Ruby Sinreich 1359 items
WillR 821 items
Dan Coleman 609 items
Tom Jensen 380 items
Mark Chilton 344 items
jehb 161 items
Mary Rabinowitz 154 items
johnk 125 items
ethan 50 items
admin 42 items

In my “farewell to OP” message, I mentioned the almost 3,000 comments/posts I made over the lifetime of OP. That estimate was based on a dump of the current OP website – showing roughly 2263 comments from 2003-2007 plus some notes I made in 2004 of missing comments from an early accidental purge of OP.

While I made a wide “guesstimate” of those early days, I’m comfortable with what OP currently reports – that I made thousands of comments.

In fact, based on my analysis of OP circa Nov. 5th, it appears I made :

  • 28 comments on stories posted in 2003
  • 178 comments on stories posted in 2004
  • 520 comments on stories posted in 2005
  • 876 comments on stories posted in 2006
  • 661 comments on stories posted in 2007 (slacking off?)

Or 2263 comments over 459 posts (threads of discussion). The particulars are listed below my “farewell”.

When someone contacted me about Ruby’s comment (a longtime OP lurker that thought there was an “undercount”) I notified Ruby of this striking discrepancy.

Why? Not because I felt any personal slight but because I thought Ruby would want to analyze the delta and fix her software. I’m sure an analysis of other commentators would show a similar miscount. Unfortunately, to date, there’s been no comment on those erroneous numbers.

Does it matter if my or any other posters contributions were off by a factor of two or more?

Not if this was just a software glitch but if this is an attempt to shape the past to forge the future, well, probably not the best start for a reformed OP. I’ll wait to see if the number of comments carried forward into 3.0 are reflective of the actual discussion carried out on OP over these last 4 years,

As I said before, I hope OP 3.0 sheds the mistakes of OP 2.0 and evolves into its initial promise – an open, honest, informative and inviting forum for discussion of local issues.

I’ll be on the sidelines encouraging the success of 3.0. Good luck folks! And do yourselves proud – try to hit one out if the ballpark.

(more…)