Open Community draft plan

Image by thedigitel-open-community-blue.gif

Hello, and thanks for your interest in our little big project.

Also, first off, if you think you know someone who might be interested, please pass the word.

Before I tell you about how we'll do this, I'll offer a few notes on "why."


The one clear message from the collapse of media going on now is that current business models cannot maintain media staffs at their current size. And, unless we figure out more efficient methods to deliver the local information we need, we risk losing it all (at least in the near term).

So, where can we find efficiency gains? Jobs at media outlets can be split into two categories: One category requires "trained" journalists, the other requires only that the person know a community or topic and report what happens.

And I think harnessing the community to do the "untrained" jobs the biggest single efficiency gain to be had.

If a system can be developed that allows for an enthusiastic community to report on more simple and crowd sourcing matters (events, business openings, voting problems, etc) then a smaller paid staff can focus on only the tasks that they can do (analysis, investigation).

And we're designing our "Open Community" to be that system.

But, that's a lot of fancy speak for something that's pretty simple.


Basically we'll allow any registered user that passes a simple local knowledge-based captcha (think: "What's the capital of S.C.?") to edit or post ANYTHING on the site. BUT, those edits will got through a moderation queue before going live.

What's in it for you:

Tons of praise for helping us out, likely free drinks at a meet up we'll do to answer questions you have, and a chance to help make sure your community gets the coverage it wants and needs.

What we need:

People to help test for holes, submit test stories, keep up on particular local topics of interest to them, write documentation and style guides, recruit others, everything and anything you want to do.

Now that you know a little bit more about what we're thinking, please let me know what you're thinking you'd like to help with and what your Web experience level is.

Thanks again for your interest in being part of what we're calling "Charleston's Open Community."

-Ken Hawkins, and TheDigitel staff.


- Why not just replicate Wikipedia's model of instant edits, and fix errors later?
You could, but this system will work better for the task at hand. Wikipedia's content focus on the long term, and community coverage more often focuses on the short term. So, temporary errors in Wikipedia's content are not much problem over the long term, but temporary errors in reporting can often lead dramatic problems.

That said, it is possible that select content could be made open to post-publish review.

- What the hell man? I could do this!
You probably could. I'm TheDigitel's only developer and I also write a lot of the content. But, that's why we're talking, I want your help.

- Woha. This thing says copyright TheDigitel. I'm not giving my stuff to you.
It's rightly unnerving. My intent (and promise) is that we're focused in giving back to the community. Right now I'm not sure what license would be the best to distribute our work under, and I don't want to choose poorly. But I promise I'll be making the fruits of our collective labor accessible and available for free reuse to the public. You can hold me to that.

- How exactly will you control access to the site?
We will have a tiering of users, something like:
| Guest | Leave comments, flag content |
| Registered | Edit, submit content (with moderation) |
| "Trusted" | TBD (perhaps submit more advanced forms) |
| "Promoted" | Publish. |
| Staff | Full access |

Largely we will be following the principles outline by Information Architects in their post titled "Newspaper Wiki: Schematics."

- Anything else we should read?

- Got another question?
Just ask!

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