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Change.gov Uses Google Moderator System

CmdrTaco posted more than 5 years ago | from the they-should-call-it-pigg dept.

Democrats 436

GMonkeyLouie writes "The website for President-elect Obama's transition team, Change.gov, has unveiled a section called Open for Questions, which lets users submit questions and vote them up or down, in an effort to let the collaborative mind produce the questions that are the most important to the American populace (or at least the web-savvy portion). The page is powered by Google Moderator. It was unveiled yesterday, and CNet reports that when they went to post last night, '159,890 had voted on 1,986 questions from 3,255 people.'"

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My name is Barack Hussein Obama... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26077223)

...and I approve this message: ALLAHU AKBAR!

America as we know it is dead.

Re:My name is Barack Hussein Obama... (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26077247)

My name is Luke Skywalker and I approve this message. ADMIRAL ACKBAR!

Re:My name is Barack Hussein Obama... (-1, Offtopic)

Philip K Dickhead (906971) | more than 5 years ago | (#26077289)

Too bad the censor all CHANGE.GOV suggestions related to a re-opened examination of the 9/11 Commission report, or any mention of an evaluation of the Federal Reserve system.

Change you can only believe in - not see.

Re:My name is Barack Hussein Obama... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26077427)

Too bad the censor all CHANGE.GOV suggestions related to a re-opened examination of the 9/11 Commission report

That's because 9/11 wasn't an inside job, and Obama's staff don't want to lower themselves to wading in the world of truther nutjobs.

Re:My name is Barickroll Obama... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26077811)

My name is Alex Jones, and I *disapprove* of that message! Thermite, missiles, no trace of a plane anywhere, no witnesses, and - need I add - FREE FALL SPEEDS, you sheep! When in your life have you EVER seen something fall at free fall speed? It never happens, and parachutists are all IDF agents sent here to brainwash us.

Re:My name is Barack Hussein Obama... (1, Troll)

dotancohen (1015143) | more than 5 years ago | (#26077829)

That's because 9/11 wasn't an inside job, and Obama's staff don't want to lower themselves to wading in the world of truther nutjobs.

Proof! Proof! 1,986 questions from 3,255 people 1 question per person! They're lying! Conspiracy!

Re:My name is Barack Hussein Obama... (0, Offtopic)

megamerican (1073936) | more than 5 years ago | (#26077981)

How dare people question the governments version of 9/11. Real skeptics only question random people on the internet!

NIST has changed its story on how WTC 7 fell 3 times now. First it was, a quarter of the building was scooped out, then it was diesel generators and now it is "thermal expansion." In their latest report they admit that the first two explanations were BS, but now they expect us to trust them on thermal expansion. Of course their proof was done only as a computer simulation, which you can't see to verify it yourself and they did no physical tests or experiments on any of the metal used in WTC7 to prove the computer simulation.

So, sorry for being skeptical of an organization that has asked me to trust them every time they change their story.

Not just "nut jobs" are skeptibal of the governments version of events. Former high level CIA people such as Robert Baer and Ray McGovern, many former MI6 members, former Gov. Jesse Ventura, German Defense Minister Andres Von Bulow, members of the Japanese parliament have monthly speeches on this topic. Countless of credible people have asked for a new independent investigation of 9/11.

If you could please explain Norman Mineta's testimony to the 9/11 commission to me I'd appreciate it.

Re:My name is Barack Hussein Obama... (4, Informative)

iluvcapra (782887) | more than 5 years ago | (#26077447)

Of course they don't:

"As President, will you appoint a special prosecutor with impeccable credentials to reopen a comprehensive investigation of 9/11, in order to discover the truth about the events of that terrible day, and find out who was responsible?"

Here [change.gov] . Also [change.gov] :

"Will you consider reforming the debt based economy and reinstate a standard of value to the US dollar (such as the Gold, Silver or Infrastructure standards) in order to preserve the value of the dollar and protect it from uncontrolled inflation?"

Now the cranks can see for themselves just how irrelevant they are.

Now the cranks can see for themselves... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26077899)

Questioning deficit spending and printing currency as a response to the problems of a debt-based economy hardly seems like crackpottery.

Re:My name is Barack Hussein Obama... (4, Informative)

megamerican (1073936) | more than 5 years ago | (#26077497)

Don't forget that they censored questions [politico.com] about Gov. Blagojevich.

Obama was of course caught lying about him ever meeting with Blagojevich.

http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5hbJzaVo_Vcuv1HtB1U1eZDQOrQuQD94VL6S03 [google.com]

In that story Obama states that "I had no contact with the governor or his office, and so I was not aware of what was happening."

This story, which is only a month old and yet could only be found in the cache of yahoo says otherwise.

http://66.218.69.11/search/cache?ei=UTF-8&p=Director+of+Illinois+Dept.+of+Veterans'+Affairs+visits+Quincy&fr=yscpb&u=www.khqa.com/news/story.aspx%3Fid%3D219212&w=director+direct+illinois+il+dept+department+veterans+veteran's+affairs+affair+visits+visit+visiting+quincy&d=Ph3CN0fiR5wF&icp=1&.intl=us [66.218.69.11]

From November 8.

"Obama met with Governor Rod Blagojevich earlier this week to discuss it." (refering to the open Senate seat).

Re:My name is Barack Hussein Obama... (4, Informative)

iluvcapra (782887) | more than 5 years ago | (#26077591)

That story you linked to says that people logging in to the site flagged the questions as inappropriate. The questions are still visible [change.gov] on the site.

Re:My name is Barack Hussein Obama... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26077625)

maybe your last link can only be found in cached form because some fact checking was done and the story was found to be false?

Re:My name is Barack Hussein Obama... (4, Informative)

zygotic mitosis (833691) | more than 5 years ago | (#26077657)

Do you know why they removed the story? Because the claim was renounced yesterday [newsbusters.org] by KHQA. Sorry to burst your bubble.

Re:My name is Barack Hussein Obama... (0, Redundant)

thrillseeker (518224) | more than 5 years ago | (#26077787)

'all the same, it moves'.

Re:My name is Barack Hussein Obama... (1)

iluvcapra (782887) | more than 5 years ago | (#26077503)

I'd like to know how this got modded +5 when you could verify it as false with three clicks and a search field...

Re:My name is Barack Hussein Obama... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26077669)

I'd like to know how this got modded +5 when you could verify it as false with three clicks and a search field...

You must be new here;-)

Re:My name is Barack Hussein Obama... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26077739)

I just thought the same, but the 911 censorship was on change.org not change.gov you can see what happened there [topratedbu...11idea.com] there

Re:My name is Barack Hussein Obama... (1)

bizitch (546406) | more than 5 years ago | (#26077817)

I dont know about that - but they are censoring questions about our lovely Illinois Governor

How dare we ask questions about that ..

Re:My name is Barack Hussein Obama... (2, Insightful)

blair1q (305137) | more than 5 years ago | (#26077841)

I suppose if you didn't frame your question in the form of an accusation it might stick.

Ahh, true democracy (5, Funny)

brian0918 (638904) | more than 5 years ago | (#26077225)

The republic be damned. This is true democracy in action: decision-by-mob!

Re:Ahh, true democracy (1)

Microlith (54737) | more than 5 years ago | (#26077271)

You sound as if by doing this they're undermining something?

Re:Ahh, true democracy (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26077399)

What I want to know is, and pardon my ignorance, if Google moderation is a better system than Slashdot's use of faggots, virgins, punk-bitches, iPod anal-inserters, needledicks, cumdumpsters, shills, and fanboys to decide which comments score well and which are deemed too inflammatory(inflammatory like the effect of anal sex on their buttholes).

Maybe Slashdot's mod system would be more balanced if they hired a token nigger to even things out. They could keep him in a cage at night, changing out fresh newspaper flooring daily, and pay him with banannas.

Re:Ahh, true democracy (1)

toddbu (748790) | more than 5 years ago | (#26077523)

Depending on how they handle the input, they may indeed be undermining our system of government. You shouldn't assume that only the people who have a net connection are smart. I know plenty of really smart, wise people who know little to nothing about computers.

Re:Ahh, true democracy (0, Flamebait)

thrillseeker (518224) | more than 5 years ago | (#26077833)

so these brilliant people actively choose to remain ignorant about such affective technology?

Re:Ahh, true democracy (0)

Cowmonaut (989226) | more than 5 years ago | (#26077959)

Oh the irony! You mean effective not affective. Thanks for proving his point about people using technology not being smart or wise by necessity.

More to the point: There is nothing wrong with being ignorant of computers and systems that you do not use. It isn't very wise to make judgment calls on what you do not know, but if they have no need for computers and the most experience they have with them is either the ATM or the POS at the store, then why bother filling your head with stuff you just don't need?

Re:Ahh, true democracy (3, Interesting)

BlargIAmDead (1100545) | more than 5 years ago | (#26077975)

They're smart enough to stay off the net. See examples: /b/, tubgirl, two girls one cup, pain olympics, etc etc. :)

But on a more serious note I'll mangle and paraphrase a Sherlock Holmes story. Watson tell Sherlock they've landed on the moon. Sherlock's response "Oh really? That's nice." When questioned about why he doesn't place more importance on this momentous event he replies "A man's mind is like an attic. If you fill it with everything you find you soon find that it's filled with clutter and you have no idea where anything is. I keep only information that is important to me and I know where everything in my attic is at all times."

The moral being just because someone has a narrow scope of knowledge does not in any way detract from them being brilliant.

Re:Ahh, true democracy (1)

HungryHobo (1314109) | more than 5 years ago | (#26077921)

if they're smart they'll be able to work out how to use them
If they're wise they'll know how important it is to work out how to use them.

Re:Ahh, true democracy (5, Insightful)

blair1q (305137) | more than 5 years ago | (#26077941)

They are undermining nothing.

The structure of the Executive Branch is spelled out in the Constitution. Nowhere does it say how the Executive Branch will interface with the people, other than the minimum rate of State of the Union addresses.

If this Executive Branch wants to use a website to poll opinions out in the open, then the dynamics of that are perfectly acceptable to our system of government.

Do you imagine that any previous administration has not given undue weight to the shouting of lobbyists and cronies?

This is massively superior to that.

Re:Ahh, true democracy (1, Interesting)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 5 years ago | (#26077391)

It's interesting that you mention that. I think most people think the US wasn't founded with a direct democracy simply because it wasn't practically feasible. Now that it is (with technology), people think it'd be a far better system. They should take a Greek political history course or something.

Re:Ahh, true democracy (4, Insightful)

Beyond_GoodandEvil (769135) | more than 5 years ago | (#26077449)

They should take a Greek political history course or something.
Like perhaps read the federalist papers or the major philosphical works of the political scientists of the time the Constitution was written? This is madness!

Re:Ahh, true democracy (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26077797)

Madness? This is SPARTAAAA!

Re:Ahh, true democracy (2)

tabrisnet (722816) | more than 5 years ago | (#26077927)

No, THIS IS AMERICA!

Re:Ahh, true democracy (5, Informative)

johnsonav (1098915) | more than 5 years ago | (#26077651)

They should take a Greek political history course or something.

They don't even have to go back that far. They can simply read The Federalist Papers, specifically Number 10. The founders were nice enough, not only to give us a pretty swell constitution, but also a well thought out defense of the principals it rests upon.

But you really only need study the actual text of the constitution to find out what they thought about direct democracy: senators chosen by state legislators, the electoral college, and the conspicuous absence of a national vote on anything but amendments (and even then, only sometimes).

Re:Ahh, true democracy (5, Insightful)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 5 years ago | (#26077453)

The republic be damned. This is true democracy in action: decision-by-mob!

Asking the mob any questions about Democratic Governor Blagojevich is a quick way to get modded into oblivion.

Which reflects why decision-by-mob doesn't always make for the most informed discussion.

Re:Ahh, true democracy (3, Funny)

moderatorrater (1095745) | more than 5 years ago | (#26077945)

I think you might be referring to decision-by-the-mob, which is what happened under the JFK administration.

Re:Ahh, true democracy (5, Insightful)

blair1q (305137) | more than 5 years ago | (#26077957)

Harassing the President Elect using a debunked accusation is inappropriate behavior.

The public is modding it away. Too bad for the crackpots.

Re:Ahh, true democracy (2, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 5 years ago | (#26077495)

The republic be damned. This is true democracy in action: decision-by-mob!

Well, the working definition of a democracy is "the majority rules". But stop and think how stupid the average person is, and then realize half of them are stupider than that. Those people are the majority. I'm quite glad we live in a republic, where the stupid elect those who have demonstrated they at least have machiavellian intelligence. It's fortunate for all of us that one breed of intelligence usually includes others as well. -_-

Re:Ahh, true democracy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26077695)

Dildos!

Re:Ahh, true democracy (5, Insightful)

Samschnooks (1415697) | more than 5 years ago | (#26077765)

But stop and think how stupid the average person is, and then realize half of them are stupider than that.

I'm not sure which is worse: the stupid people who are completely ignorant, or the smart people who think they know it all and act, unknowingly, half-cocked at best.

Re:Ahh, true democracy (4, Interesting)

MindlessAutomata (1282944) | more than 5 years ago | (#26077795)

I'm not convinced a republic is any better. We sit starry-eyed at the fact that the hoi polloi don't get to bludgeon us with whatever bigotry is currently fashionable, but the republic system produces oligarchy very easily with the resulting party systems. Rising up in the party requires in-party connections and orthodoxy and without it you can't succeed. Like weeds, the big parties prevent smaller parties from emerging and gaining prominence in the media.

We do not live in a true democracy, so we can fault it as much as possible, while we live in a republic and tend to be more tolerant of its flaws. I say neither works. And, nothing works. I think we're screwed no matter what we do, and I don't recommend ANYTHING (or nothing)...

Re:Ahh, true democracy (1)

Samschnooks (1415697) | more than 5 years ago | (#26077837)

The republic be damned. This is true democracy in action: decision-by-mob!

Instead of governing by the polls, he can govern by direct feedback? So, if someone posts something an extremely uninformed request and it gets moderated up, we can expect uninformed policies implemented?

Then again, by-passing the lobbyists and special interest groups, and the "yes" men and women may be a brilliant move to connect with the people.

I have mixed feelings but I have faith that Obama won't make the mistakes Clinton made regarding governing by polls or comment moderation as in this case.

Re:Ahh, true democracy (1)

Uchiha (811374) | more than 5 years ago | (#26077859)

The biggest problem with this is it is on his webpage, if he really wants something like this he has to do it in a public party-generic forum. OH MY GOSH, I wonder why the "American People" want everything the Democratic party stands for at an amazing 5/1. Other than that, I like the idea. Maybe they should use slashdot polls, they are usually very important and I enjoy doing every one! :)

Re:Ahh, true democracy (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 5 years ago | (#26077863)

Yup. Ain't it wonderful?

Re:Ahh, true democracy (1)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 5 years ago | (#26077931)

Yes. Because the republic we're in is systematically different from a democracy. Right? Or are you conflating direct democracy with representative democracy? I'm sure you don't have an agenda to push here.

I've got a question? (2, Interesting)

feepness (543479) | more than 5 years ago | (#26077243)

1,986 questions from 3,255 people

Either a couple thousand people asked the exact same question or some questions are being "lost".

Re:I've got a question? (4, Informative)

Spazztastic (814296) | more than 5 years ago | (#26077293)

1,986 questions from 3,255 people

Either a couple thousand people asked the exact same question or some questions are being "lost".

I skimmed through and saw _many_ duplicate questions, most involving the executive powers that have been abused.

Re:I've got a question? (1)

dotancohen (1015143) | more than 5 years ago | (#26077867)

I skimmed through and saw _many_ duplicate questions....

Who's modding there, CmdrTaco?

Re:I've got a question? (3, Funny)

hansraj (458504) | more than 5 years ago | (#26077347)

You might want to rethink your usage of a question mark though?

Re:I've got a question? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26077709)

I'm Ron Burgundy?

Re:I've got a question? (1)

fracai (796392) | more than 5 years ago | (#26077815)

He's just imitating T-Rex [qwantz.com] ?

Re:I've got a question? (1)

644bd346996 (1012333) | more than 5 years ago | (#26077417)

Or there are lots of questions that are not getting voted on.

Re:I've got a question? (3, Insightful)

evanbd (210358) | more than 5 years ago | (#26077785)

Or the 3255 number is a count of users, not all of whom have submitted questions.

Re:I've got a question? (2, Informative)

iluvcapra (782887) | more than 5 years ago | (#26077901)

You need an account in order to vote, many people might just be lurking.

WoW (1)

Krneki (1192201) | more than 5 years ago | (#26077283)

A politician that actually listens to the people? Now I have seen all.

Re:WoW (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26077375)

Where did you see that? All I saw was a bunch of questions posted on a website that had been community moderated.

I certainly didn't see any answers or any indication that the President Elect himself would be reading these questions. In fact, the page itself offers no indication that either Obama or Biden will even see these questions - just that the transition team will.

Plus they've been censoring any question touching on a certain Illinois governor, so it would appear that they're NOT listening to what people actually want to know about, but rather only what they want to talk about.

In other words, politics as usual, but with a Web 2.0 coat of paint. Yay.

Re:WoW (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 5 years ago | (#26077409)

Nobody said he's listening. Just because I set up a forum doesn't mean I'm going to actually listen. Just because you read my post on /. doesn't mean you are listening to me. Chances are, most people that read my posts think they aren't worth listening to, but they still 'read' them.

Transparently Inconvenient (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26077295)

The website allows for greater transparency... or greater ability to bury unwanted/uncomfortable questions while seeming more transparent.

http://www.politico.com/blogs/bensmith/1208/Blagojevich_questions_censored_on_Transition_site.html?showall [politico.com]

Re:Transparently Inconvenient (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26077955)

Ding. He's disclosing contacts with Blago...see here [politico.com] .

more like abuses google moderator system (4, Interesting)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 5 years ago | (#26077299)

President-elect Barack Obama's Transition today launched "Open for Questions," a Digg-style feature allowing citizens to submit questions, and to vote on one another's questions, bringing favored inquiries to the top of the list.

It was suggested when it launched that the tool would bring uncomfortable questions to the fore, but the results so far are the opposite: Obama's supporters appear to be using -- and abusing -- a tool allowing them to "flag" questions as "inappropriate" to remove all questions mentioning Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich from the main pages of Obama's website.

The Blagojevich questions -- many of them polite and reasonable -- can be found only by searching words in them, like "Blagojevich," which produces 35 questions missing from the main page of the site.

"Given the current corruption charges involving Blagojevich, will 'serious' campaign finance reform that takes money completely out of politics through publicly funded elections be a priority in the first term?" asked Metteyya of Santa Cruz, California.

"This submission was removed because people believe it is inappropriate," reads the text underneath it.
Also removed as "inappropriate":

"In light of the recent corruption scandals (Blagojevich, Rangel, Jefferson, Stevens, etc) that have dominated the political scene,is there any ethics legislation being crafted to actually curb corruption and prevent another wave of nixonian cynicism?", a question from "lupercal," of Gainesville.

And: "Is Barack Obama aware of any communications in the last six weeks between Rod Blagojevich or anyone representing Rod Blagojevich and any of Obama's top aides?", a question from Phil from Pennsylvania.

Declaring a question "inappropriate" is different from merely voting it down; it's calling foul on a question, not just disapproving of it.

Community reporting systems like this are often vulnerable to abuse from committed partisans -- YouTube has wrestled with a parallel problem -- and the only solution is conscious efforts to remedy it.

So far, Obama's team does not seem to have stepped in to allow uncomfortable questions to rise to the top, and instead is allowing his supporters to sanitize the site.

link [politico.com]

Re:more like abuses google moderator system (2, Insightful)

xclr8r (658786) | more than 5 years ago | (#26077501)

looks like it needs the /. meta moderation system.

Re:more like abuses google moderator system (1)

TuaAmin13 (1359435) | more than 5 years ago | (#26077819)

In which case everyone with a valid question will be modded -1 Flamebait and -1 Troll by those who disagree

Whatever (5, Insightful)

furiousxgeorge (1273392) | more than 5 years ago | (#26077527)

I voted on a few questions just to see how it worked, I saw at least 10 Blagojevich questions out of the 50 I voted on. If the wingnuts are gonna spam stupid questions they should be deleted when there are real questions out there. There were also five or so birth certificate questions. The Republicans are probably not going to have good luck winning elections anytime soon unless they realize people don't care about this bullshit right now, we care about the war and the economy.

Re:Whatever (2, Interesting)

thrillseeker (518224) | more than 5 years ago | (#26077929)

ahh ... so people keep asking these "bullshit" questions, yet ... the people don't care about these questions?

Re:more like abuses google moderator system (4, Insightful)

bugnuts (94678) | more than 5 years ago | (#26077661)

It's not the moderator system per se that causes such abuses, but the abuse of it by people who are given power to mod. It doesn't take many abusive people to break most systems, and as slashdot has found out over the years, people generally prefer to mod down when they disagree, no matter how valid the response, more often than they like to mod up.

Similarly, the "flag as inappropriate" tends to be abused due to an overblown sense of justice and being too powerful of a tool, with no penalty to use it. People generally want to censor those with different views, but they know it's generally wrong (IMHO) ... yet they can do it here anonymously. There isn't a good way to avoid abuses by such people, without allowing other abuses to happen (the purpose of the flag as inappropriate tool).

Something that might make it better is to implement a penalty when clicking that "flag as inappropriate" link. It should harm the person's votes, or be somehow detrimental (e.g. could only be done once a day and would also remove all your other votes). People will still self-sacrifice to remove something that's grossly inappropriate such as racial comments.

Re:more like abuses google moderator system (1, Insightful)

MindlessAutomata (1282944) | more than 5 years ago | (#26077719)

What did you expect?

Nah, I bet you expected this. I did too. Obama is a politician first and foremost; don't expect any question to be answered in-depth that isn't pre-screened and approved by Obama. This kind of thing is great for making the gullible think they are involved when they are really not. It's like the youtube questions during the debates where they so obviously cherry pick the most benign and frankly uninteresting questions.

It impresses the generally uninformed or not-tech savvy masses, but I think many can see past the bullshit (at least, I hope so).

I expect that Obama's team will also remove uncomfortable questions themselves, only really keeping ones that address Obama's agenda directly instead of bringing to light issues that aren't discussed so often in the mainstream media, such as, well, the DMCA.

Re:more like abuses google moderator system (5, Insightful)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 5 years ago | (#26077743)

You know, it's stuff like this that reminds me that 9 time out of 10, the Slashdot moderation system actually gets it right. We all know it isn't perfect (and often it is the 1 time out of 10 that is the most important) but it ussually does reward people that are trying to add to the conversation. Meta-Moderation weeds out at least some who would abuse the system. And most importantly, it doesn't actually censor (as in romove) things that are not valued by the community at large.

I think the key is that mod points are relatively rare (at least compared to most other sites). That way, when you get mod points you are more interested in bring good comments forward than you are in moving poor comments to the back. I've never understood why other sites don't use a similar system.

Re:more like abuses google moderator system (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 5 years ago | (#26077831)

Declaring a question "inappropriate" is different from merely voting it down; it's calling foul on a question, not just disapproving of it.

Depends on what the purpose of the site. If the purpose was to solicit questions about how the new administration should be run, ideas about how to run the federal government, questions about healthcare, the bailout, etc, then questions about possible corruption in the State of Illinois might be deemed inappropriate for this forum. Some questions like from lupercal are more appropriate and may have been flagged incorrectly.

I haven't looked at the site but I would think that some questions about Obama's birth certificate were probably flagged too. There might need a meta moderation, but the moderation system does work.

Obvious? (4, Insightful)

I.M.O.G. (811163) | more than 5 years ago | (#26077301)

I understand our past presidents have been old... But really. Was there no person in their cabinets close enough/savvy enough to make it clear that a platform by which to hear from their populace was good and useful?

Giving the appearance of being interested in the ideas/concerns of the populace garners support. Even if they don't pay any attention to it, people will feel like they have a platform to communicate their ideas.

Re:Obvious? (1)

johnsonav (1098915) | more than 5 years ago | (#26077881)

Was there no person in their cabinets close enough/savvy enough to make it clear that a platform by which to hear from their populace was good and useful?

I think the web makes this a unique situation. Whenever a controversial bill is to be voted on, legislators and the president are inundated with letters, phone calls, and recently, emails. Now feedback can be given on a web forum, for all to see. Where once, when someone got pissed off and "wrote their congressman", it was a relatively private act between a citizen and his representative.

Now that private act is public, and serves as an advertisement for even more feedback. I don't think there is anything particularly revolutionary about this. Its only the intersection of politics with current technology, just as email was before it.

To me, it seems like a insight-free echo chamber where good ideas go to be drown in a sea of crap.

Inappropriate Questions modded down (0, Redundant)

cyberguyd (50420) | more than 5 years ago | (#26077311)

This is nice, however, partisans have modded down any questions regarding B.O.'s relationship and knowledge regarding the pay for play issue of Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich. This certainly raises questions, now I am not accusing, but since B.O. is the product of Chicago politics . . .

From Washington Correspondent Jamie Dupree's Blog for Cox Radio:

President-elect Barack Obama's Transition today launched "Open for Questions," a Digg-style feature allowing citizens to submit questions, and to vote on one another's questions, bringing favored inquiries to the top of the list.

It was suggested when it launched that the tool would bring uncomfortable questions to the fore, but the results so far are the opposite: Obama's supporters appear to be using -- and abusing -- a tool allowing them to "flag" questions as "inappropriate" to remove all questions mentioning Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich from the main pages of Obama's website.

The Blagojevich questions -- many of them polite and reasonable -- can be found only by searching words in them, like "Blagojevich," which produces 35 questions missing from the main page of the site.

"Given the current corruption charges involving Blagojevich, will serious' campaign finance reform that takes money completely out of politics through publicly funded elections be a priority in the first term?" asked Metteyya of Santa Cruz, California. "This submission was removed because people believe it is inappropriate," reads the text underneath it.

Also removed as "inappropriate":

"In light of the recent corruption scandals (Blagojevich, Rangel, Jefferson, Stevens, etc) that have dominated the political scene,is there any ethics legislation being crafted to actually curb corruption and prevent another wave of nixonian cynicism?", a question from "lupercal," of Gainesville.

And: "Is Barack Obama aware of any communications in the last six weeks between Rod Blagojevich or anyone representing Rod Blagojevich and any of Obama's top aides?", a question from Phil from Pennsylvania.

Declaring a question "inappropriate" is different from merely voting it down; it's calling foul on a question, not just disapproving of it.

Community reporting systems like this are often vulnerable to abuse from committed partisans -- YouTube has wrestled with a parallel problem -- and the only solution is conscious efforts to remedy it.

So far, Obama's team does not seem to have stepped in to allow uncomfortable questions to rise to the top, and instead is allowing his supporters to sanitize the site.

Yesterday I submitted this story (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26077317)

Wonder why it didn't get picked up? What if it was Palin, or a Republican governor selling a Republican president-elect's senate seat? Think about how many stories we have had about corruption among Republicans...guess the double standard is alive and well.

FBI agents on Tuesday morning arrested Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich and his Chief of Staff, John Harris, on a variety of corruption charges, including attempting to sell the US Senate seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama. The story has dominated the news since breaking yesterday, beginning with live coverage on cable news of the announcement of the indictment by US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald and FBI Special Agent in Charge Robert Grant. The allegations against Blagojevich are being reported as astounding, even given the state's history of corruption, and nearly every media outlet included some version of Grant's comment about Illinois, "If it isn't the most corrupt state in the United States, it's certainly one hell of a competitor." Blagojevich also threatened the Chicago Tribune to fire editors and writers who allowed or wrote critical stories. Most reports also note that the indictments in no way suggest Obama is linked to Blagojevich's alleged corrupt schemes. Obama once supported Blagojevich but had distanced himself from the governor in recent years.

Re:Yesterday I submitted this story (1)

Shadow of Eternity (795165) | more than 5 years ago | (#26077415)

Blame Kdawson, he's our version of the liberal media bias.

Re:Yesterday I submitted this story (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26077561)

Wonder why it didn't get picked up?

Because "Corrupt Politician in Illinois!" isn't news? Nor is it really all that much for nerds outside of Illinois.

Let me ask you this, though, while you're ranting about bias: Why didn't you bother to mention the fact that hours before he was arrested, he ordered the state to stop doing business with Bank of America, and hours afterwards that order was rescinded?

Re:Yesterday I submitted this story (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26077581)

What if it was Palin, or a Republican governor selling a Republican president-elect's senate seat?

As they used to say when I was a kid, "Rem acu tetigisti."

If Palin were caught selling Ted Stevens' Senate seat, you can believe the Slashdot editors would be on that story like white on rice.

Whereas, if a Democrat decided to sell a seat on Congress on Ebay... then such minor hi-jinks would probably fail to rise to their attention.

like democracy works? (3, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 5 years ago | (#26077325)

This story should have been tagged "Whatcouldpossiblygowrong". I mean, a moderation system that lets useful ideas float to the top and useless ideas to the bottom is based on the rather naive concept that the people voting are educated and unbiased. On behalf of the few educated and unbiased people present, I'd like to add the following comment to this idea: buwhahahahahahahahahaha--!!!

People don't vote their conscience, they vote their prejudices. I thought that would have been clear by now.

Re:like democracy works? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26077547)

Slow down. Are you saying that elected representatives should *not* listen to the people they're representing?

I knew the anti-Obama crowd was going to find a way to criticize this, but you really need to step back and think about what you're saying. Would you really rather have a dictatorship?

Re:like democracy works? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26077583)

So what's the difference between a few hundred prejudiced people, and a few hundred million, voting?

Re:like democracy works? (1)

debrain (29228) | more than 5 years ago | (#26077683)

People don't vote their conscience, they vote their prejudices.

That is an astute observation.

I thought that would have been clear by now.

I thought your first paragraph made clear why it isn't. ;)

Re:like democracy works? (5, Insightful)

cowscows (103644) | more than 5 years ago | (#26077713)

Uhhh, I get what you're trying to say, but in this context, my response is something along the lines of "So what?"

Obama isn't asking for policy decisions and then promising to enact the ones that get the most votes. They're asking for questions, and having people rank the questions. While I'd certainly be more careful about taking advice from someone less educated, I don't see what's bad about encouraging them to ask questions.

Will certain politically charged questions get strongly upvoted? Most certainly. Does that make this exercise worthless or somehow harmful? Hardly.

People as a whole aren't as stupid as you think. Don't be so biased against uneducated individuals. They have as much a right to address the government with their grievances as you do.

Re:like democracy works? (1)

RyoShin (610051) | more than 5 years ago | (#26077839)

The tiny flicker of hope in this case is that the unwashed masses are not going to use change.gov. Most of them don't even know it exists. Change.gov is more likely to be used by those who are at least quite interested in government, if not educated to some degree. It doesn't throw out any possibility for bad judgement, but it does make it less likely. The flip-side is that many of the questions may come from outside the country, which has both good and bad connotations.

And then there are trolls. Imagine 4chan's /b/ deciding on five utterly ridiculous questions ("Do you believe Rick Astley to be the greatest or most greatest person evar?") and getting them all to the top.

Re:like democracy works? (1)

arotenbe (1203922) | more than 5 years ago | (#26077985)

Oh, the irony. Look at Slashdot's moderation system. The panicky and pessimistic comments are automatically modded to +5 Insightful, thereby confirming them...

way to bring your party into power. (-1, Troll)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | more than 5 years ago | (#26077359)

change.gov? so his political party tagline can get a .gov tld?

Did you know that WW2 German soldiers did NOT wear swastikas? That's because even the Nazis recognized SOME separation between party and government.

Mao would be proud though...and it looks like Khrushchev [wikipedia.org] was right.

Re:way to bring your party into power. (4, Informative)

Ian Alexander (997430) | more than 5 years ago | (#26077595)

I believe that as part of the Presidential Transition Act of 2000 the incoming President is allowed access to the .gov TLD to set up a "transition" web portal. Calm down.

Re:way to bring your party into power. (1)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | more than 5 years ago | (#26077827)

A better solution would to have transition.gov for EVERY incoming presidency...this would prevent both parties from introducing MORE unchecked party-line bullshit which must be paid for with taxes. This prevents bullshit from both parties. Oh..yeah, libertarians too.

Re:way to bring your party into power. (2, Insightful)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 5 years ago | (#26077685)

change.gov? so his political party tagline can get a .gov tld?

Did you know that WW2 German soldiers did NOT wear swastikas? That's because even the Nazis recognized SOME separation between party and government.

Yeah, Barack Obama using "Change.gov" for the name of the website of his Presidential Transition makes him worse than the Nazis.

Whatever.

Re:way to bring your party into power. (4, Informative)

iluvcapra (782887) | more than 5 years ago | (#26077977)

Both the Senate and House Democratic [dems.gov] and Republican [gop.gov] caucuses have .gov domains, and they are frankly partisan. There's nothing strange about it in the general case.

Google for President? (1, Interesting)

0xABADC0DA (867955) | more than 5 years ago | (#26077365)

Maybe I'll sign in so I can submit my question:

"Why does your government web site link to and use JavaScript hosted on a corporate site, googleapis.com?"

It's bad whether it's Haliburton OR Google.

Re:Google for President? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26077483)

It's bad whether it's Haliburton OR Google.

Is it? Doesn't motivation play a role in whether it's bad or not? Do you really think there's no difference between sweetheart deals for old friends and using the existing product that Just Works(TM)?

Re:Google for President? (2, Insightful)

jav1231 (539129) | more than 5 years ago | (#26077691)

The myth of Haliburton's "sweetheart" deals is that they are a logistics company that has had government contracts for some time and under various presidents. Let's see if you're equally as hard on the Obama when he starts hiring his buddies. Wait, he already has. Frankly I'm more disturbed that "change" means hiring old Democrat stallworts than I am Haliburton getting a contract.

Re:Google for President? (1)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | more than 5 years ago | (#26077895)

Haliburton, thus Kellog, Brown and Root were the prime military contractors during the Clinton years. Somalia, Haiti, Kosovo just to name a few places they went with our troops.

Re:Google for President? (2, Insightful)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 5 years ago | (#26077991)

So the President Elect in the short time he has to assemble a staff and plan for transition (among the many things he has to do) must instead get someone to develop and test his own custom Javascript on his own site. Or he can just use off-the-shelf components by one of the larger companies out there that is in the industry--components that many other people use.

Shill? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26077395)

I wonder how much he's paying Filipino kids to vote up topics he wants answered and vote down questions he doesn't want to address.

Rule-by-digg (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26077405)

This is the way government should be: good initiatives will be automatically 'dugg' up, and bad ones will be 'buried', according to the will of the people.

What could possibly go wrong?

Firefox Issues? (1)

duerra (684053) | more than 5 years ago | (#26077555)

Is anybody else having issues with the change.org site in Firefox? All it is displaying for me is a bunch of garblygook, but works fine in other browsers. This is the only site I have had this issue with.

Re:Firefox Issues? (1)

TuaAmin13 (1359435) | more than 5 years ago | (#26077923)

It's working fine on FF 3.0.4, and I've got no-script running

Lots of Negativity (4, Interesting)

Thyamine (531612) | more than 5 years ago | (#26077565)

I can understand the general feeling of negativity or at least pessimism regarding this, but I'd like to think that its a good step to see them continuing to embrace the web as a way to allow more people to reach them. Is it just a PR thing? Maybe. But with the questions being so 'out there' to everyone to see, I would think it allows people to call them out on more topics.

Sort of a 'Hey, on your own website people are asking questions about stem cell research. What is your answer? Don't pretend you don't see it's the number three question.'

Policy driven by a dumb mob? (1)

macraig (621737) | more than 5 years ago | (#26077663)

I am very skeptical that even the "Web-savvy" general population is able to correctly identify the most important issues facing humanity. Even so-called experts often can't properly place that emphasis. Take the Sierra Club, for instance: overpopulation is the 800-pound gorilla of environmental problems, yet they only give it lip service and then spend all their money dashing hither and thither fighting the myriad symptoms of that. It's really the 800-pound gorilla thrashing around that is causing all the damage, but they do nothing to restrain the beast.

Given that overpopulation is the one single most pressing problem facing humanity, and further given that we are completely incapable of voluntarily resolving it, there really is only one single solution which should be the entire planet's primary focus:

Establishing other sustainable colonies of humanity that can at least provide a migration opportunity and remove some of the pressure on the Earth's ecosystem and our social structures.

Re:Policy driven by a dumb mob? (1)

cowscows (103644) | more than 5 years ago | (#26077919)

I dunno, maybe I'm just an idiot, but I personally think that there are a few things that the incoming administration should prioritize over establishing human colonies somewhere other than on the Earth.

But either way, did you go add your question to that website? Why be skeptical when you can go and easily test it.

the first step towards virtual democracy (3, Interesting)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 5 years ago | (#26077973)

in some superior future, google moderator itself is our government

what i mean by that is, the citizens govern themselves via internet technology that groups, edits, and resolves the important issues and what to do about them, no representational system needed

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