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[UPDATED] OpenGovt Initiative Brainstorm Site Asks for Help Voting Down "Counterproductive" Crowd

BY Micah L. Sifry | Wednesday, June 3 2009

The folks at the National Academy of Public Administration who are managing the White House's Open Government Initiative brainstorm site have posted a call to participants for help. Specifically, help in voting down "postings you feel are counterproductive to maintaining a free-flowing exchange of ideas" and help in flagging content "that you feel is duplicative or inappropriate to the discussion."

While the post speaks only in general terms, it's clear that it's a reaction to the flood of posts in recent days from people raising questions about President Obama's birth certificate and his eligibility to be president (whom I derisively referred to as the "birthers.")

To NAPA's credit, they haven't simply deleted the many posts on this topic, which they could do under the site's moderation policy, which warns that "off-topic" posts may be removed. Instead, they write:

Our attitude is that any idea, respectfully presented, is a legitimate contribution to the site. Whether or not it is relevant to the discussion is for you to decide, which you can do by voting ideas up or down. But please keep in mind that flooding the site with comments about any single topic dilutes both the importance of that topic and the effectiveness of the Dialogue overall.

We are dedicated to maintaining this site as an open platform for a robust exchange of ideas. In fact, keeping it open past the original one-week timeframe was in direct response to requests from you -- the members of this community -- who asked for more time. So now, we are asking you for your help. Vote down the postings you feel are counterproductive to maintaining a free-flowing exchange of ideas, and flag content that you feel is duplicative or inappropriate to the discussion.

So far, though, it still looks like the birthers are obsessing with the site. Meanwhile, we're expecting a post sometime soon from Beth Noveck, the deputy CTO for open government, launching phase two of the open government initiative. Her useful summary of phase one is here.

UPDATE: Late afternoon Wednesday, NAPA posted an update informing participants in the brainstorm site that they were on the case. That is, they said:

The user community has flagged many recently posted items as inappropriate or duplicative, and these flagged items are currently pending moderator approval. Because of the recent surge in user postings, there is a large backlog of items that the moderators are working diligently to clear.

Per our moderation policy, any post that is duplicative or contains obscenity, threats, or personally identifiable information will be removed from the site. Contrary to some claims made in posts on this site, we are not censoring ideas that do not violate this moderation policy.