OpinioN8

Connecting Crouch End and Hornsey with news, views and information

I've stopped a couple of times lately to think about the ownership of a forum.

By writing this I am admitting ownership.

The first time was when a correspondent asked me if I was the owner of OpinioN8 and went on to ask "Do you think a photo of the owners with their biography and motivation, to welcome new members like me, so we know who we're dealing with and why, is mandatory?"

The second time was when I attended a meeting of the Crouch End, Hornsey and Stroud Green Area Forum. The agenda for this inaugural meeting was packed with things the organisers thought the public would want to hear about. I would like to see it in the future packed with things the public want to talk about. These might be the same things or they might not.

'Forum' has its origins in Roman times. The Wikipedia entry says 'In addition to its standard function as a marketplace, a forum was a gathering place of great social significance, and often the scene of diverse activities, including political discussions and debates, rendezvous, meetings, et cetera." In another Wikipedia definition we read "An Internet forum, or message board, is an online discussion site where people can hold conversations in the form of posted messages"

I think, that in both cases, the notion of ownership would tend to militate against the free and frank exchange of views. If someone owned the Roman marketplace, then the views expressed would tend towards the sycophantic in awe of that wealthy and powerful person. If an internet forum belongs to News International, or the Communist Party, or the Paedophile Information Exchange, for examples, then the content will tend towards agreement with the views of those bodies. Indeed the content will tend towards concentration on topics favoured by those owners. 

A suggestion I have made for the Area Forum is that the Forum section should have an agenda populated entirely topics chosen by the public, and that its essence should be debate, and that is what I think OpinioN8's should be - populated entirely by its members. 

I very much hope that OpinioN8 will have a wide range of topics chosen by its members, not by me. I do have a view as to what I'd like those topics to include, evident probably in my contributions. Another correspondent has recently tried to rile me by suggesting that OpinioN8 falls into the twin camps of 'Jam and Jerusalem' and 'council baiting', but she's just trying to wind me up. 

In conclusion, I do not think that the photo and biography are mandatory, though I have now changed the link at the foot of each page to point to "My Page" so there is some sense of identity for anyone who searches for it, nor do I think that 'ownership' is the correct concept for a forum, but at least you now have someone to blame.

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Tags: forum, ownership

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