Blog vs. Forum: The idea of using joomla.com type forums was discussed (Joomla is a CMS (Content Management System) framework rather than a user forum software.) It was decided to implement a test blog first on the religious freedom policy and review if we need to shift to a forum instead.
What do we want to attain from FTI blogs.
As internet penetration increases in India from it present mark of close to 4%, there is a likelihood of shift in the way people consume information and create content. Political parties in India have generally not shown the inclination to reach out to the citizens for understanding their perspectives and to explain their own stand or rationale of policies. This offers a clear opportunity for any political group to make its mark of being a truly people’s party by consciously making efforts to connect to the people at large.
Blogs can help FTI in the following ways:
Possible approaches to attain the above ends
Each member maintains his/her own blog linked from the FTI website
· Can be targeted towards specific constituencies (members can choose three each and if necessary, separate ones created for each constituency, linked from the main blog of the member)
· FTI gets to know the member better (photograph, profile, policy views, etc.)
· The readers get to read the views of different members at unique webpages in detail
· Individual member-wise blogs might create a healthy culture of communicating with people amongst different members of FTI
· With the current level of internet usage and blog popularity in India, Constituency level blog may not be the best option as when we make our scope of discussion too narrow as per region, there is a likelihood of not having enough to really discuss and to attract sufficient people to read one’s blog. Such blogs might gain readership only in metros of our country if at all.
· Once the number of members of FTI increases (say it becomes 500) we may have to maintain around say 300 blogs which doesn’t seem practical. It is too complex to even imagine to host on a single site not from technical standpoint
· Possibility of duplication of subjects being discussed by different members in different blogs as they may not always be aware of what is being discussed where
· Possibility of members giving contradictory stand on the same issue. For a political group this can be a big threat and regulation of the same may not be easy once the span of work increases!!!
There can be two different categories of Blogs:
e.g. people in general in a state like Kerala or TN would be comfortable with an English language blog but same may not be the case in UP (talking about the electorate in general)
FTI can maintain blogs according to various politically relevant issues such as
FTI Infrastructure blog, FTI Agriculture blog, FTI Commerce & Trade blog, FTI IT& Communications blog etc.
All members of FTI to be free to become members of each of these blogs provided they adhere to the basic rules (to be created). Thus if some member wants to pick four themes and participate in initiating dialogue on that, they should be free to do that.
The blog can have categorization both on the basis of date of entry (as all blogs in general) as well as the initiator of the discussion. Thus if people from a certain constituency want to understand the perspectives of Mr/Ms A on Economics, they should immediately be able to do that on the click of a button after accessing the Economics blog
As we create blogs on specific issue of national relevance, it will kind of give an open view to people on specific aspects pertaining to that issue in detail. This design of blogs would call for expertise on the part of the members to maintain the details with complete understanding, expertise and recency of developments.
Combination of options 1 and 2
· A reader wanting to participate on FTI would have two options – subscribe to the main blog and the blogs of those members he/she is interested in. This would give us some input into the relative standing and credibility of various members, and also which kind of articles attract the reader.
Decision Option 4, in a staged manner
· Individual blogs Given that individual blogs are linked closely with the membership database, let’s wait for membership processes to be finalised before implementing individual blogs. In the interim, links will be provided to on the FTI website to member’s own blogs.
If blog be used to discuss local issues, it needs to meet following requirements:
I feel that any constituency related blog should follow a clear intent or thought process of doing something at the ground level. Most of the times people tend to lose interest when they don’t find the blog to have any potential to actually change the as-is situation. Thus amongst the three sub points that i stated for the last point, only the third one would be able to attract attention when we are talking about geographically limited blogs.
My take is only those people should initiate this effort who are ready and willing to spend some time on the ground in doing some relevant work. Blogs could of great help in spreading the word in that case
· Policy blogs. Each policy will be a separate BLOG entry with the author name as FTI panel. Each BLOG topic will have 2 flavors:
1. Public entry. “Public Entry” will allow anyone to comment but those comments will ONLY appear after a moderator approves them.
2. FTI only entry. “FTI Only” entry will allow only registered FTI BLOG members to comment (it will still be readable by public).
· The different proposed designs will have both an immediate plan of starting as well as a long term view
· Each of the four proposed options would call for a different policy of maintenance and hence the need to finalize the option before we go ahead with drafting the policy for maintenance
The blog disclaimer at: http://waronredtape.blogspot.com/ could be used as model of the conditions we can put on our blogs. This link clarifies that:
4. AMA Victoria will not publish posts [this means comments in this case] which;
(a) are defamatory
(b) are discriminatory or otherwise non-compliant with law
(c) are aggressive/bullying
(d) inappropriately name individuals or classes of people
(e) promote commercial services
(f) expose AMA Victoria to potential legal or commercial risk.
Please note that defamation can be established against individuals, classes of people, or organisations.