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BrandonMV

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  1. I was going to wait until it was about to launch to announce anything, but the website is well under construction.
  2. softwareNerd, I agree and that's a good way of putting the problem. I won't push for the website without being able to establish that control. Currently, I'm researching different options. I'm still waiting for a response concerning StackExchange and whether a person who proposes a website there becomes its administrator, though I think the answer will be no. Shapado.com is another option, which allows for an administrator, moderators, and question/answer moderation, but I don't see a way to ban users, which I don't like. I'm looking into that. OSQA.net is yet another option, which is an open-source engine built using Python and seems to have all the features I'm looking for. It requires separate hosting, so I'm setting up a virtual server to play with it. There are other possibilities as well. I'll post my findings (including whether a host will be necessary). Thanks.
  3. Mindy, let me put this in your terms: The consensus of a good community on the usefulness of an answer is valuable information that should not and need not be equated with a claim to expertise. So please stop asserting that there is no distinction. That was the point of my paragraph from which you quoted. (How to establish a good community, then, is a different question.) As for my paragraph on disagreements, I was addressing your question of who would decide what the final answer should be. To summarize myself again, in essence, there would be no "final" answer. A voting system would allow for conflicting answers (that don't violate the rules) to co-exist for each person to judge for himself. That's why that comment was needed. And we are considering the consumers of the project. For example, contrary to what you imply, the questioners need not all be newbies. Individuals with all levels of knowledge ask questions. Moreover, newsbies are qualified to say for themselves which answers are most useful for them and other contributors can vote on the quality too. And what do we do with this information? We don't claim that answerers are thereby experts. We take that information for what it is and nothing more. The consensus of quality is one way of organizing answers as opposed to chronology, and can be a very helpful form of organization among a good community. Maybe you prefer to sift through tens of pages of chronically organized answers (which are not all independent attempts at answering the question, they often depend on a context interwoven in the previous answers). Then you are free to use whatever forums you wish. I can discuss other advantages, but I'm done repeating myself.
  4. Bill, no problem. I would very much like to use the StackExchange engine, but based on my reading of the FAQ, moderation control is based entirely on one's reputation. That is, the person(s) who proposed the website do not necessarily have any control to establish rules of conduct or enforce them. With the right community, maybe it could work, but there's no guarantee that it wouldn't be overrun or corrupted. I posted a question on the StackExchange website to confirm this. If that's correct, then I think it would be best to use another engine. I'm looking into a few others in the meantime.
  5. David, thank you for your post. That's very helpful and well put. Mindy, no post has mentioned that contributors may attain expert status through voting. Contributors themselves would receive no votes. Rather, contributions may be voted as good, which then will accumulatively build the contributor's reputation. And having a good reputation means only that one is largely considered good at something among a community. As in other contexts, that information is often useful. It is not a claim to expertise, especially not on Objectivism, which is Ayn Rand's philosophy. Contributors will speak only for themselves, as I would be sure to note on the website. Moreover, reputation is only as good as the community that gives rise to it. And I believe that attracting the best community possible would be the result of pursuing a valuable purpose, such as David Odden described. As for disagreements, that's one reason I'm strongly leaning towards a voting system over a Wiki system. A voting system allows for multiple highly rated answers and retains answers that have are not highly rated (provided they don't violate the rules), so each user has all of the information there for him to judge, even when there's controversy. And I've already mentioned several ways, multiple times, in which this website (not "blog-site") could more effectively serve the function of question-answering.
  6. CapitalistSwine, I agree. After considering it, I think there definitely needs to be some rules in place about what's fair game (for etiquette and beyond) and moderators to enforce that. Right now, I'm exploring all of the options, including Shapado. I'll post an update when I've come to some firm conclusions about what the best options are and have worked out more of the important details. I appreciate all of the input.
  7. Mindy, I'm not sure how what you said relates to the project I've described. Forums in part serve the same function of answering questions, and they seem to do fine. My goal is to establish a website which is designed exclusively for that function and to perform it as effectively as possible. I've described several features and explained how they could help do that. Such a site doesn't require cut-and-dried, non-controversial answers from experts alone. Anyone can contribute and everyone can judge what answers are the most useful. The purpose isn't to make a definitive set of answers to any and all questions of philosophy, but to make good answers and leads more accessible. I think that's very valuable. And as softwareNerd pointed out, working out answers to questions is a good learning exercise for philosophically-minded people.
  8. Eioul, that's fair. I put this document together which I think covers everything discussed so far and should be a good starting point. Please let me know if anyone has any suggestions or would like to help edit it.
  9. Here is a list of open-source alternatives to StackExchange. Shapado appears to be the most promising, as it allows for administrators and is customizable (for example, the boring theme can be changed), so I reserved http://objectivism.shapado.com/ . If a host can be found, then the other open-source engines may work too, but I don't know much about that.
  10. That's right, but I'd like to clarify that people aren't directly voted to be moderators. My understanding is that degrees of moderator status are achieved once one has achieved a strong reputation by answering questions well. The system seems to have worked very well for other websites, but then again, I haven't seen websites use it for a Q & A concerning a system of philosophy or ideology. That's why I'm asking for thoughts, and I'm still looking into other options.
  11. softwareNerd, I hadn't considered a forum-centric solution since I thought the idea was sort of a departure from forums, and forums seem to lack most of the features that I had in mind, but maybe it could be workable. I had similar concerns about control over the StackExchange, since the only way to obtain control (that is, moderation power) is by earning reputation. That could be a good or bad thing. But I don't think it would be a problem if we get it started with the right community, which is what I will work quickly to establish if we decide on that option. And as far as I can see, it is the most workable solution in that it has most of the desired features. Also, I think what you mention is a good idea for finding contributors. JASKN, since the website would share the same community or parts of it, I'm throwing out ideas here to see what people think of them and to help figure out what the best solution might be. Then to the extent that I can I'd like to help implement it.
  12. CapitalistSwine, I'm starting to think that using the StackExchange engine might be a good way to go about it. It uses points, awards, and reputation to reward and encourage participation. It has a great tagging system for categorizing and organizing questions. It has a voting system that can be used to select the best answers (and questions). And as I mentioned, Stack Overflow seems to use the same engine, which has been very successful. And so, unless anyone has any objections or better ideas, I can start publicizing the Objectivism proposal so it can start moving forward.
  13. I currently don't know of anyone with the interest, ability, and time to put the site itself together. If there is anyone out there, please speak up! I have been looking for free and/or open source solutions. So far, the best potential solution I've found is http://area51.stackexchange.com/ , which offers free websites that use an engine that either is or is based on Stack Overflow's engine (which is an extremely useful and successful Q & A oriented website). See the FAQ at http://area51.stackexchange.com/faq for an explanation of the whole process. I created a proposal for Objectivism here. If you like the idea, please Follow this proposal (it needs 60 followers) or add example questions (it needs 5 that are on-topic and 5 that are off-topic) to help move it into the next stage of production. I will keep looking for alternatives as well.
  14. softwareNerd, I strongly agree that participating in such a Q & A would be a good learning exercise. One reason that this idea excites me is that it would give me an opportunity to tackle philosophical questions and work them out for myself. (I can explain why a forum, at least for me, is significantly different.) Others, then, could edit, supplement, or replace my answer. I'm no longer a newbie, but I'm far from an expert. Still, I think I have sufficient knowledge of Objectivism and the reasoning skills to participate. In doing so, I could learn a great deal and I would be helping others learn in the process. JASKN, I do think that there are several important questions that remain about implementation. But before all the details need to be worked out, I think we need to see that there is enough interest and ability to start, use, and maintain such a project. Of course, I would be happy to volunteer to help make it happen however possible.
  15. Since my third year of high school, I have been studying Objectivism and philosophy through books, articles, lectures, courses, and to a significant extent, the Internet. After reading my first books by Ayn Rand, I had many questions and went on the Internet to find answers. I found that forums were a great place to ask these questions, as they already held an enormous breadth of thorough answers. And I found that Objectivism Online (OO.net) was the best forum to discuss Objectivism, because it seemed to be the most civilized, most closely aligned with the right ideas, and moderated by intelligent and rational people. Much later, I discovered the site One Minute Cases (OMC). OMC is great because it tackles broad issues of philosophy clearly and concisely. OO.net is great because users can ask any question, including those which may come from a personal context or may be very narrow or technical. However, between these, I think there is room for another great website. I think it would be great for there to be a website that allows users to ask any question concerning Objectivism, like OO.net, that only contains answers which are clear and concise, like OMC. In other words, something like a moderated Q & A Wiki. I think that there would be several advantages. For example: 1) On OO.net, a thread with a question often expands into several tens of pages with only a handful of responses that contain useful answers but may require the context of those previous pages to be fully understood. In other words, one may have to spend an enormous time to find that nugget of gold. With a website such as the one I describe, there would essentially be one answer that can be constantly improved. 2) With the Wiki format, even questions can be improved and made more objectively clear. As a result, it would be easier to avoid duplicate questions and avoid answers that are based on a misunderstanding of the original question. 3) Questions often concern more than one branch of philosophy and do not fit neatly into a single topic such as "Metaphysics" or "Ethics". The Wiki category system can be used to tag questions with all of the relevant topics, which means that they can be better organized and therefore be found more easily. Moreover, questions can be phrased in several ways. And so, searching in a forum, you might not find that your question already answered. But using the category system, you can easily scan the relevant questions. 4) Relevant resources can easily be associated with each question. ~ And I'm sure there are others. Another possibility is using a voting system or points system to reward participation. (See websites such as http://wiki.answers.com/ and http://stackoverflow.com/ .) Obviously, this would not be a replacement for a forum or discussion, but a helpful supplement for question-answering. Please let me know what you think. Good idea? Bad idea? What else could improve it? Would anyone like to help make this a reality?
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