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Democracy Revisited

First, thanks to everyone for the feedback.

Second, I am interested in further feedback on the topic, but I want to set the stage for the scenario with a little more detail.

My sunday school class wants a website.  The website will serve as a focal point for all class communications.  Anyone with a valid email address can sign-up as a member (to support growth in the class).

Any member can post “notices” to the website, which will be viewable by everyone and will be mailed out in digest form on Mondays.  The site will also support things like sign-up lists, voting (“pot luck or catered?”), etc.

Here’s the important part.  I do not want to be the admin.  Let me repeat this... I do not want to be the admin.

So when a troll/hacker/idiot signs up and posts a notice that really shouldn’t have been posted, a member should be able to delete the notice and the offending member.  Hence, “democratic administration.”

As I review the scenario I just wrote, it occurs to me that maybe I should just require that new members be sponsored by an active member.  Then, give everyone admin rights.  Make it a free for all!

Your thoughts?

Russell Thackston
Wednesday, February 11, 2004


Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Most forum software allows you to designate moderators. I think it would be safer to limit the number of people who have the power to delete messages or members.

I'd also build in some kind of cooling off period between the time someone can sign up and the time they can post (at least a few hours). This stops someone from wandering in one time to spam, and it slows down the trolls from flooding it with posts.

Tom H
Wednesday, February 11, 2004

If you are not new to the internet, you will remember the chat groups in the 90s.

You started a chat room. You got Op status. You had the power to kick people out, ban ips, etc, and to make other people Ops.

It was interesting to watch people beg for Op. And when they got it, some of them abused it.

I think the only way your system can work is if you restrict the people that can actually log into the website in the first place.

You might have manual approval of membership requests. If it is a small group in a small physical location, then this is easy as most people will know each other (six degrees).

There goes anonymity though.

One more thing, have a backup system that allows you to rollback to a previous state. Accidental or Malicious, some bozo will one day manage to do the equivalent of

C:\>Format C:

Wednesday, February 11, 2004


"Scoop is a "collaborative media application". It falls somewhere between a content management system, a web bulletin board system, and a weblog. Scoop is designed to enable your website to become a community. It empowers your visitors to be the producers of the site, contributing news and discussion, and making sure that the signal remains high. "

Basically, people post articles and the group starts voting on them. Once it goes to +x it goes up, if it goes to -y, it goes down. If it's in limbo for long enough, there's some rule to decide whether it goes up or down.

It's the democratic slash.
Wednesday, February 11, 2004

You might like to look at  They use trust metrics do decide who has the rights to do various things on the site. 

You will of course need at least one admin, as opposed to a user with admin rights.  *Someone* has to know where the server is!

a cynic writes...
Wednesday, February 11, 2004

or just use a wiki as everyone else is saying.

sounds like you don't mind being *admin* but you do mind being *moderator*. not quite the same. on a wiki, everyone can be a moderator and contributor and admin.

the biggest problem with any of these systems will be technical skill level and desire of your users, so a really simple system is probably best.

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

(delete 'and admin' above)

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Russell, Creating software is like giving birth to children. Somebody has to take care of it. :)

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

> somebody has to take care of it

I don't agree with assumption there needs to be 1 admin.

If I create a web site for 2 people to share ideas and docs, it's easy to share admin responsibility.  3 or 4 people?  sure, if all know what they are doing.

5?  I'd share the admin password, but would probably not encourage people to use it (in case someone accidentally messed up the system).

25?  Probably keep the admin password secret, just in case there's a bad apple in the group.

So there's a continuum (in my mind) for to answer the question "how many users do you give admin responsibility".  It's interesting to consider Russell's question as to whether you can design a website that would completely decentralize this responsibility.

Friday, February 13, 2004

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