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Conversation turns ugly at the Open Government Dialogue

Perhaps the White House should rename it the Open Government Diatribe.

The conversation on the Open Government Dialogue — an online forum aimed at fostering ideas for improving the transparency of government operations and data — turned ugly on Tuesday as some participants complained about their posts being scrubbed from the Web sites.

This would be the same folks who tried to hijack the dialogue and turn it into a forum on Obama’s birth certificate.

For several days running during the last week, some of the highest rated posts were demands that the president produce his birth certificate to prove that he was born in the United States, not in Kenya. Posts criticizing these comments were among the lowest rated.

The system works by inviting participants not only to submit ideas but to rate other people’s ideas with a thumbs up or thumbs down. The system tallies the votes for each item and assigns a score. The system also allowed users to flag posts that they deem duplicative of other posts or inappropriate.

The anti-Obama squadron flooded the system with birth certificate-related posts and orchestrated a thumbs up campaign, ensuring those posts would top the list of highest rated ideas.

They were successful until late Monday or early Tuesday, when some of those posts disappeared after having been flagged. The clean up prompted a long string of new posts expressing outrage and charging the White House with censorship. Below is a very small sample of the comments.

The question remains: Is it possible to conduct a national online dialogue without having it waylaid by unrelated political agendas?

* I'm sitting here looking at all the people who've had their posts deleted because they are raising a legitimate issue: Where's The Birth Certificate. And at the top of the page it reads, "Open Government Dialogue." It's not dialogue when people are silenced. What exactly is this site's definition of 'dialogue?'

* This site has been rigged so that the posts asking for Obama to support transparency by providing his own birth certificate health records and college records are not properly counted.

* Below is a copy of a post I submitted yesterday that lasted less than an hour before it was "flagged" by one "adamgallant" with the comment "I hate you" and removed from this site. It is still "Pending moderator approval". Guess which way it will go!

* If whoever keeps scrubbing the birth certificate queries they are showing their hand just like Obama does by hiring teams of lawyers to keep his bona fides private. Why hire lawyers if you['re] not trying to hide something. We're not that dumb. We cans easily see thr[ough] all of it.

* Just spent the last hour hunting for my post, went back four days even ... bleep ...gone! Keep flooding the system and work them to the bone so our voices will be heard load and clear.

Posted by John Stein Monroe on Jun 03, 2009 at 12:14 PM

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Reader comments

Fri, Jun 5, 2009 oracle2world

What is it with Obama's birth certificate? The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court swore in Obama as President. Therefore the courts recognize Obama as President. The law is what a judge says it is, and the issue is moot. As far as open forums, if you start any moderation (except for the obvious spamming, defamation, hate speech, etc.) you lose the folks you want to hear from most. The cost of this is wading through a lot of garbage. You also get an idea of just how many crazies there are in the world.

Thu, Jun 4, 2009 Anna

The really strange thing about this episode is that the behavior of the Birthers on that site does exactly the opposite of what they want to do. The site is designed for focus, not dispersion, but they refuse to understand that a single thread with a lot of votes has value, while a thousand posts being flagged for duplication are worthless. Regular members explained this again and again, but they somehow think spamming is the way to go. Weird or dumb.

Thu, Jun 4, 2009 kw

While it's easy to dismiss these people as "loons" I notice that no one is discussing their issue. Do they have one? I don't know. But dismissal rather than discussion is often the tactic of the guilty. If they do have an issue then it is entirely relevant to the intent of this 'Open Government Dialog' site.

Thu, Jun 4, 2009 Jim T Arlington

Feds are learning what bloggers have known for years, open comments are a magnet for loonies both left and right. Especially challenging for the Government, however, as any moderation can be branded as political censorship. No matter, I doubt that anyone with any decision authority or influence is actually reading the comments, I believe this "dialogue" was established just to give politicos something to point to and posture around.

Thu, Jun 4, 2009 GJ

Don't give up or give in to the child like tantrums of the lunatic fringe. That's exactly what they want. When a child tells you he or she is going to hold their breath or scream until you do what they want, do you really allow them to manipulate you like that? No. The same strategies should be applied here.

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