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A) Should the site grow (become more relevant, have more impact)?; how and what would be the benefits and drawbacks?

B) What is ET's audience? (business, academia, others)?

Growth for the sake of growth strikes me as a meaningless exercise. If we could make a deal with the devil to be the new CNN, I would recommend that we declined - CNN's model is frankly not particularly appealing, large audience or not.

Increasing ET's influence, on the other hand, would be great, and growth may or may not be a part of a strategy for increasing our influence. Other than that, the merits of such strategies cannot, for obvious reasons, be discussed until and unless a proposal is canvassed.

D) Should ET be "laïque" and show religion the door? Jerome and ValentinD hid behind smileys...

It should be data-based (no pun intended), insofar the policy discussions are concerned. No data, no case. H.L. Menken put it better than I could: "We should respect the other fella's religion, but only in the sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart." I won't go out of my way to call out somebody's spouse for being ugly or their kids for being stupid... unless they make it a matter of public policy, in which they are fair game for editorial cartoonists and political commentary.

The way I see it, religious communities have two options: They can be private affairs, in which case they really aren't anybody else's business unless they make it somebody else's business by trying to convert them. Or the religious community can be a lobbying organisation, in which case it is fair game for precisely the same kind and level of rhetoric that any other lobbying organisation pushing comparable policies would receive - nothing more, nothing less. But you cannot subscribe to and support a religious organisation that actively lobbies governments and simultaneously demand that it is treated with the same deference that a purely private matter is.

Of course, this discussion only applies to threads that deal with policy issues. Other kinds of threads [shoe threads, train threads, photoblogs, diaries about one's private life, and so on and so forth] have their own genre conventions, in which personal feelings - religious or otherwise - may or may not play a role.

E) What is meant by "progressive" in Europe;

Anything to the left of Angela Merkel that does not, for whatever reason, wish to self-identify as socialist or communist. At least that's my impression.

is progressive the opposite of regressive?

The opposite is usually called "reactionary." Yes, that's newspeak. No, the fact that it's newspeak is not a problem.

What does anyone imply when they call ET a "progressive" site. Is there a European consensus on the definition?

Presumably a vague understanding that most contributors (and the Conventional Wisdom in the community) are to the left of what the press calls the centre.

G) Bloggers bring their ideologies to ET and build ET's presence. Are ratings, recommendations and promotions used in good faith,

In all but the rarest of cases, yes.

sincerely,

Always, or near enough as makes no matter.

objectively?

That would be a very high bar to clear - and I am not sure that it is a reasonable one.

It would, I think, be more useful to discuss what we want to use the rating system for: As a way to indicate technical quality (propriety w.r.t. genre conventions, language, disposition, how easy it is to follow the reasoning, etc.), as a way to express agreement without typing out a post or as a way to acknowledge that one has read the contribution and appreciate the effort that has been put into it.

Currently the system is used in all three ways - sometimes even by the same users. And while that may not be bad, it is not self-evident that it is good either.

(The above discussion applies to positive ratings - the downratings are a different ball game in that it is usually possible to assign them far more objectively than the positive ratings.)

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri May 29th, 2009 at 10:15:28 PM EST

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