Monday, August 10, 2009
It's time to deputize the JW ComCom
What is the JW ComCom?
The Comments Community at Jihad Watch.
What do I mean by “deputize”?
As I wrote in an essay two years ago on my now retired blog Jihad Watch Watch:
“...the owners of JW... have to expand their minds, think outside the box, and stop thinking of their reader populations as merely inert (albeit often effervescent) appendages that simply hang on, adding a little color and spice to their sites: they have to start thinking of their reader populations as partners of their sites, and as actual, concretely contributing, associates of their mission.”
How would the owners do that?
In various ways. There is no need for JW—at least not yet—to create an official organization (whether strictly non-profit or integrating wages for contributing work).
What there is a need for at the Jihad Watch ComCom is two things:
1) more respect shown for the innumerable individuals who have been helping to make Jihad Watch a vibrant, thriving, intelligent community of commentators
2) more ways to utilize the talents of those innumerable individuals, not only to improve Jihad Watch, but also to expand its mission in line with the larger goal of moving from a still inchoate Anti-Islam Movement to a more concerted and organized trans-national effort.
Point #1 can be shown in numerous different ways. All these ways would reflect the fact that Robert Spencer and his staff no longer keep the ComCom at arm’s length as though they were lepers with a constant potential to connect JW with “racism” or “fascism” or “genocidal statements”—while at the same time at odd moments condescending from on high to hobnob with that same dubious population in chummy responses to comments here and there.
One concrete way for Spencer & Staff to show this kind of respect has surfaced in the last few weeks at Jihad Watch, increasing exponentially it seems with each new day: Spencer some time back (a few months ago, I believe) completely changed the commenting format for Jihad Watch, bringing in a new system called “intensedebate”. He did so completely unilaterally, without soliciting any input from his minions of staunch defenders, supporters and purchasers of his books. All along there have been bugs with this new comments system. At first, one could pretty much ignore the bugs, as they were minor, and they seemed to be fixed fairly quickly by invisible hands. However, in the past three weeks the bugs have multipled and become more serious, to the point now where they are almost intolerable. Their effect has been to jeopardize the smoothly efficient medium that has for years facilitated the thriving and intellectually (and sometimes actually politically) productive community of people who gather at Jihad Watch concerned about the problem of Islam.
What can Spencer & Staff do about this? The very least they could do is post a formal article at Jihad Watch explaining what they know of the situation and what they are doing to try to ameliorate it. If then they are feeling particularly respectful of their devoted community, they might even dare to go further and actually post an article at Jihad Watch that solicits from that community its thoughts on the new system and ideas for improvement.
Which brings us to Point #2.
Ways to utilize the talents of that devoted community:
a) either hire, or solicit volunteers, to help moderate the comments as well as to do other stuff around the office, like even look for new news articles and analysis pieces to publish on the site, proofreading and crosschecking facts, etc., thus giving the main staff more time to do some of the other ideas below
b) solicit ideas from that community for improving Jihad Watch—perhaps once every six months or so
c) ideas, like, for example: facilitate the debates & discussions that often flare up in the comments field when Islam apologists (either Muslims or PC MCs) participate with their specious but often torturously complex propaganda—this can be done, for example, by setting up visually parallel comments fields attached to the main ones into which the debates & discussions are deposited, not only so they can be followed more visibly, but also to spark wider participation
d) Spencer, Fitzgerald and Marisol (currently the only JW Staff operating, apparently, since Raymond Ibrahim departed) could grant us the illuminating and respectful favor of submitting themselves to interviews conducted by one or more commenters. The interviews could vary in style—some could be friendly, some could be (gasp!) more challenging, and even (horrors!) critical. Wouldn’t that be fun? I think so. And informative. And maybe even helpful to the overall Jihad Watch mission, both in self-promotion terms, and in terms of its sociopolitical project.
e) Spencer & Hugh could hold periodic “town meetings” with the JW ComCom, during which discussions about the ongoing direction of the still-inchoate Anti-Islam Movement, as well as about various sub-topics in the analysis of the problem of Islam, could be aired and fielded.
f) And so on.
Three intangible yet beneficial effects would flow from Jihad Watch engaging its devoted readership more substantively:
1) It would help move the still-inchoate Anti-Islam Movement from its current state of being an unofficially hierarchical aristocracy where all important decisions, directions and activities are performed from on high by a small number of unaccountable elites, to a more democratic process.
2) It would help give the innumerable, and growing, population of concerned individuals in the still-inchoate Anti-Islam Movement more of a sense of actually contributing something meaningful and substantial to this most urgent problem, and in doing so, would help to improve the still-inchoate Anti-Islam Movement.
3) Finally, it would embody a necessary step in the larger process of evolving the Anti-Islam Movement from the inchoate and disorganized state it is in currently, to a more organized and effective sociopolitical project.
Jihad Watch and Little Green Footballs need to evolve into a New Society (when reading this, ignore all the stuff about LGF—since, at the time, that blog hadn’t yet transmogrified into the grotesquely bloated enemy of the still-inchoate Anti-Islam Movement it has become)
Insufficient Gratitude Watch
More Ideas for Jihad Watch
Spencer and his Readers: Ideas for Improving Jihad Watch
Update on Spencer and his Readers
The Anti-Islam Movement: Prospectus for Improvement
Leadership in the Anti-Islam Movement: Addendum 2 to the Prospectus