I've been spending some time
lately about online discussion groups like Slashdot and
Kuro5hin. Having just run across
Advogato, I'm very impressed with some of the ideas
implemented here, though a little
disappointed that there's still a single point-of-view
imposed on all participants. Much of
what I was thinking of (except for individualized
points-of-view) are already in Advogato.
It just occurred to me that perhaps we might step back
and question the very idea of
discussion forums, instead of merely pondering their
implementation. As a couple of people here
have pointed out, it seems inherently impossible for a
discussion forum to grow bigger than a
certain size -- even if all content is top-notch -- and
function properly. What if 50 people post
brilliantly written reviews of the latest version of
Advogato's notion of diaries intrigues me. People like
their ideas and ruminations to be heard
(at least I do), and like to hear the better thoughts of
others (read: high s-n ratio in a discussion
forum). Perhaps what we need is a better vehicle for people
to air their ideas. What I'm imagining
is a site (assuming it would be delivered through HTTP) that
is fairly similar at first glance to
Advogato's diaries. People post entries and ideas. But
each person's diary is partitioned from
everyone else's. You can browse others' diaries and comment
on entries just like a regular discussion
group. Your comments become linked into both your diary and
Different levels of "trust" expressed towards different
participants make their entries more
visible to you; perhaps their diary entries appear on your
home page. You might also be able to
rate individual comments, as well. By expressing high trust
opinions of other participants or their
comments, those who trust you highly are in turn
more likely to see
those same diary entries.
Certain comments may be so insightful that they make it to
the home page of just about every user.
The core difference is that there is no front-end to this
discussion forum; you view only those
diary entries ("articles"?) of those people you choose to.
Yet there is nothing keeping you from
exploring the user base to discover others whose comments
interest you. Moreover, the commenting
and cross-linking aspect allows discussions to spontaneously
form. Moreover, threads can continue to
generate discussion, perhaps even weeks after the original
posting, when someone new and fresh
runs across a comment in the thread.
The one snag I can think of is that, without controls on
cross-linking comments into others' diaries, one could
pollute others' diaries very easily. I'm sure that it
wouldn't be too hard to overcome such problems.
I'd love to help out with such an idea, though at this
point I think I probably don't have enough time to do more
than design. Often that's the coolest part, though.
Given my luck with ideas of late, I'd be willing to bet
this is already being done.