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 Another article on the site-

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Dave
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PostSubject: Another article on the site-   Thu Jun 25, 2009 3:38 pm

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The talk of the town
Websites have some folks chatting about the town online By George Morse Article Tools
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SEEKONK - If you ask school committee member David Abbott to describe the website www.seekonktalks.com, he’ll tell you it’s an experiment in creating a site that caters to all community groups. June marks six months since Mr. Abbott launched the website, which has become a frequent spot for Seekonk conversation. On Seekonk Talks, anyone can sign up using either their real name or an anonymous screen name. From here, they’re free to interact with anyone else who’s registered about almost any topic you can imagine.

It’s a compromise of sorts between two previous forums of the same idea, both of which started as talk groups on Yahoo!. The first one, which launched a few years ago, was a strictly moderated forum where any comments or questions had to be approved by a moderator before being posted. What many consider to be a backlash to this forum was “Seekonk Talk Unmoderated” where users could post whatever they wanted.

Somewhere in the middle

It’s the middle ground between these two that Mr. Abbott said he wanted to find when he launched Seekonk Talks in January. Before long, the site had picked up dozens of users, hitting a total today of more than 70. To help streamline the communication, Mr. Abbott designed the website with pages specifically geared at different segments of the community, like town athletics, town officials, town notifications and local and world news.

While the site allows users to post anonymously, Mr. Abbott said that having a screen name doesn’t absolve a user from having a reputation. If anything, it’s just the opposite.

“Online your reputation is based on your postings,” Mr. Abbott said.

“Once you put something out there, you can’t take it back.”

It may not be as freewheeling as Seekonk Talk Unmoderated, but Mr. Abbott said this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

“On that site, you got the good, the bad the ugly. It was a Wild West atmosphere,” Mr. Abbott said.

“Sometimes the message gets lost in that and sometimes it prohibits more moderate people from taking part in the discussion.”

Among those that may be alienated are town officials, a group that Mr. Abbott said he’d love to see embrace Seekonk Talks. So far, planning board chairman Neal Abelson, Mr. Abbott, school committe member Mitchell Vieira and selectman David Parker are just some of the town officials who have visited and posted on the site. In March, when Mr. Abbott and Mr. Vieira were seeking their spots on the school committee, they entered into a chatroom on the site and spent two, one-hour sessions taking questions from the community at large, something Mr. Abelson has also done.

All are welcome?

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Still, not all town officials think the site is a welcoming place. Shortly after Mr. Parker started posting on the site, he found himself in what he described as a “lose-lose situation.”

“When I first heard about it I was kind of encouraged because I heard it was an independent sharing of a lot ideas and input from different people,” Mr. Parker said.

“I was also told there was tremendous amount of people who just weren’t sure of the facts, so I thought if nothing else I could help provide some information. So I went on and within the first week, there were people who were just not aware of certain things and I did post several times to help provide answers and I got criticized I was a ‘know it all.’”

Mr. Parker said over the next couple of weeks, he found that the majority of the site included posts from only six or seven users, the majority of which were negative. Mr. Abbott acknowledged that there is some negativity on the site, but said the goal of Seekonk Talks is to keep any negativity to opinions on a subject as opposed to personal attacks. To make sure a level of respect is maintained on the site, Mr. Abbott brought over a “seven day vacation,” an idea he originally came across on a World War II hobby site that served as a model for Seekonk Talks.

After six months up and running though, not one person has been given a “seven day vacation.”

One of the site’s most frequent posters is Michael Kreyssig, who is also a moderator. He said he enjoys the new format much more than the unmoderated group.

“It kind of keeps it a little leaner,” Mr. Kreyssig said.

“That’s not to say moderators delete anything. As far as I know moderators haven’t deleted anything. If you go to the original Yahoo! site there’s a lot of junk just kind of scrolling up the screen.”

Along with posting opinions, Seekonk Talks has allowed local residents to do their own journalism. A few months ago, Mr. Kreyssig wrote a piece on how the town might have been using grant money as a “backdoor” 2.5 percent override. Writing stories like this, Mr. Kreyssig said, provides readers an opportunity to hear opinions and insights they might not normally get their elected leaders.

“It really provides an opportunity for the average citizen to become more informed of the inner politics going on with the town,” Mr. Kreyssig said.

“A lot of information that the citizens get is winged out a week before town meeting or a town election and you’re going off what town leaders are saying, which obviously has its own spin, or the opposition, which also has its own spin.”

Even though he may have launched the site, Mr. Abbott said his goal was never to have ownership of it. He said he wants it to be a place the community comes to exchange ideas and gather information. For example, the site offers a calendar listing all town events. There’s also a page devoted entirely to youth sports, where leagues can posts schedules and links to their own websites.

To check out the site for yourself, visit www.seekonktalks.com
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PostSubject: Re: Another article on the site-   Fri Jun 26, 2009 8:58 am

I felt the need to comment on the article. I posted the comment on the Seekonk Star and it reads;

Quote :
It was sad to see Mr. Parker bow out of Seekonk Talks. I think that there is a disconnect that an elected official has to overcome.


Posters are used to getting an answer to their question right away. They do not want to be told to call someone, they just want the answer.


Posts are not deleted at Seekonk Talks. Feel free to read all of the postings involving Mr. Parker and then draw your own conclusions. I believe that what some may see as a negative others may see as a positive. If the content is constructive should it matter if it is positive or negative?


Like fast food our society does not react well to waiting. An elected official must be proactive and bring the information to you. The internet is an excellent medium to accomplish that.


D
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