Last night I attended the soft launch of the Telegraph’s new resource for facilitating debate and idea generation, #debate2010. The facility is actually pretty simple, and is based on Salesforce architecture. The technology itself could do with several useability improvements (although that’s Salesforce’s problem), but generally it’s a useful application that shows some promise in generating useful conversations – so long as it is not the subject of extremist and uninformed opinion-bombing by ignorant individuals who are addicted to the sound of their own shrill cries.
The tool itself is based on tiered interaction: debate topics, to which ideas are proposed, and then voted for and discussed in comments. Participation requires registration, but it’s a very simple registration system, requiring only a username and email address.
Debate topics are set editorially, and last as long as the editors feel they are current – an average of three days but this is likely to extend for popular issues. And whilst topics are current, registered users of the system can propose ‘solutions’ to problems raised in debate topics, and then all other registered users can vote on ideas presented, and comment on them.
Debates and ideas that attract substantial voting and comments will be designated ‘hot topics’ and may well attract other media attention. Content will be moderated for decency, and users will also be able to flag content as offensive – so the emphasis will be on reactive rather than proactive moderation, but I think that’s a good system.
So it’s a fairly logical and obvious structure. The Telegraph claim no-one has done this before – I beg to differ – but whether it is unique or not really doesn’t matter. It’s just good to see a print media institution at least trying to facilitate idea generation and discussion in the lead up to the election. So well done Telegraph. I will watch the conversations with interest, and cross my fingers against squatting by extremist opinions.