What happened after 7 news sites got rid of reader comments


This post is by from Nieman Lab


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




For a short period at the end of 2014, it appeared that publishers had reached a breaking point in their ongoing struggle with reader comments. Within a few weeks of each other, Recode, Mic, The Week, and Reuters all announced that they were closing down their comment sections. They joined the ranks of other outlets, including The Chicago Sun-Times and Popular Science, that abandoned the practice in favor of letting users discuss stories on social channels instead. Many news organizations have had comments sections for as long as they’ve been online. For just as long, many have agonized over the value of the conversations that rage in the space below a story. There’s plenty of debate over the issue, as newsrooms struggle with moderation,
The 2014 baccalaureate ceremomy held in Woolsey Hall featured addresses by President Peter Salovey and Yale College Dean Mary Miller.
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Upcoming Events in Digital Media: Mar. 2 Edition


This post is by Sonia Paul from Mediashift


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Each week, MediaShift posts an ongoing list of upcoming events in the digital media and journalism world. These will be a mix of MediaShift-produced events and other events. If we’re missing any major events, please use our Contact Form to let us know, and we’ll add them to the list. If you’d like to pay to promote your event in the “featured event” spot of our weekly post, use the Contact Form to let us know. Also, be sure to sign up for our events email newsletter to get notifications about future MediaShift events.

FEATURED EVENT

Collab/Space Austin
April 16, 2015
Austin, Texas
How can media projects get past measuring clicks and page views and come up with meaningful metrics that gauge real impact? That will be the focus of the upcoming Collab/Space Austin workshop on April 16, 2015. Co-produced by PBS MediaShift, the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas and the Media Impact Project at the USC Annenberg Norman Lear Center, it will be an all-day, hands-on workshop focused on media metrics, analytics and measuring impact. The workshop will take place at the Belo Center for New Media at the University of Texas. It will take place the day before the 16th International Symposium on Online Journalism.
More info here.
Register here.

MARCH 2015

Media Innovation in Austin and Beyond
March 6, 2015
Nonprofit Technology Conference, Austin, TX
Join David Rousseau, Vice President and Executive Director of Health Policy Media and Technology at the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, to learn more about nonprofit media innovation at the Nonprofit Technology Conference, at the end of the final meeting. Learn about the latest online, print and broadcast techniques for reporting on health and community topics, engaging audiences through interactive storytelling, developing influential reporting collaborations, and organizing compelling community events.
Register here. Poynter: The Effective Editor
March 2-4, 2015
St. Continue reading "Upcoming Events in Digital Media: Mar. 2 Edition"

Are comments a wretched hive of scum and villany or an underused resource for publishers?


This post is by from paidContent


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




There seem to be two competing views of website and blog comments at the moment: By far the most popular one is that reader comments — particularly on traditional media sites — are useless cesspools populated by trolls and hate-mongers who can actually do far more harm than good. The other view is that comments are a potential source not just of high-quality thought or opinion, but of writers who might be worthy of the same profile as a site’s salaried staff, not to mention a potential business model.

It should probably come as no surprise that Gawker Media is in the latter camp, since founder Nick Denton has a penchant for zigging while others are zagging, and is more than happy to rip up much of his existing network in order to try something new. The latest new thing is the Kinja discussion platform, which Denton talked about with me last year just before it launched — describing it as the core of the Gawker empire’s future. The latest version of the platform was just rolled out to users at Jalopnik.

Gawker comments1

Every commenter now becomes a blogger

As Tim Carmody at The Verge describes in a post on the new features, the platform essentially turns every commenter into a blogger. Prior to the latest change, readers had a profile page that showed their latest contributions, but now they have what amounts to a full-fledged blog with publishing ability — complete with their own custom address at Kinja.com. And editor Matt Hardigree says that the site, and by extension other Gawker sites, will be looking at the comments as a source of content and even future hires:

“If you want, you’ll also be able to republish articles from our site (and eventually all Gawker sites) and we’ll be able to do the same. If we do republish something you created you’ll get the byline, the credit, and it’ll be clear where it came from. When we look for the next generation of writers for our site, and other sites, we’ll be looking at who does well in Kinja.”

It’s worth noting that Gawker already has a history of hiring writers from its comment section, something that the political blog network Daily Kos has also done a number of times. And it’s not just blogs: Yoni Appelbaum, a PhD candidate in history, commented so intelligently on Ta-Nehisi Coates’ posts at The Atlantic that he was eventually made a guest blogger.

Denton’s plan with Kinja isn’t just to create platforms for Gawker readers to hold forth on whatever they wish — the new system is also designed to function as a potential marketing vehicle, with advertisers and brands encouraged to participate (and possibly even sponsor) discussions that begin in the comments on a story. This is just one of a number of revenue-generating experiments that Gawker is rolling out over the next little while, Denton says.

Gawker comments

Others also want to turn readers into bloggers

And Gawker isn’t the only new-media entity that is trying to reinvent reader contributions: The Verge, which is published by Vox Media, has turned its discussion forums into content hubs of their own, and often highlights them on the front page (Note: Vox Media founder Jim Bankoff will be speaking at our paidContent Live conference on April 17 in New York).

The question-and-answer site Quora, meanwhile, has launched something that is like an amalgam of Gawker’s approach and The Verge’s: the site recently turned its reader forums into blogs — which means that every contributor to those forums now has a blog page. And as my colleague Jeff Roberts recently described, The Huffington Post has launched a “Conversations” feature that gives popular discussion threads their own webpage.

In a sense, these efforts are just an evolution of the approach that the Huffington Post took when it first launched, which was to give almost anyone who wanted it the ability to publish a blog post. Will these new players produce anything valuable, or just a lot of sound and fury?

Images courtesy of Flickr users Jeremy King and Pew Center




Are comments a wretched hive of scum and villainy or an underused resource for publishers?


This post is by from paidContent


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




There seem to be two competing views of website and blog comments at the moment: By far the most popular one is that reader comments — particularly on traditional media sites — are useless cesspools populated by trolls and hate-mongers who can actually do far more harm than good. The other view is that comments are a potential source not just of high-quality thought or opinion, but of writers who might be worthy of the same profile as a site’s salaried staff, not to mention a potential business model.

It should probably come as no surprise that Gawker Media is in the latter camp, since founder Nick Denton has a penchant for zigging while others are zagging, and is more than happy to rip up much of his existing network in order to try something new. The latest new thing is the Kinja discussion platform, which Denton talked about with me last year just before it launched — describing it as the core of the Gawker empire’s future. The latest version of the platform was just rolled out to users at Jalopnik.

Gawker comments1

Every commenter now becomes a blogger

As Tim Carmody at The Verge describes in a post on the new features, the platform essentially turns every commenter into a blogger. Prior to the latest change, readers had a profile page that showed their latest contributions, but now they have what amounts to a full-fledged blog with publishing ability — complete with their own custom address at Kinja.com. And editor Matt Hardigree says that the site, and by extension other Gawker sites, will be looking at the comments as a source of content and even future hires:

“If you want, you’ll also be able to republish articles from our site (and eventually all Gawker sites) and we’ll be able to do the same. If we do republish something you created you’ll get the byline, the credit, and it’ll be clear where it came from. When we look for the next generation of writers for our site, and other sites, we’ll be looking at who does well in Kinja.”

It’s worth noting that Gawker already has a history of hiring writers from its comment section, something that the political blog network Daily Kos has also done a number of times. And it’s not just blogs: Yoni Appelbaum, a PhD candidate in history, commented so intelligently on Ta-Nehisi Coates’ posts at The Atlantic that he was eventually made a guest blogger.

Denton’s plan with Kinja isn’t just to create platforms for Gawker readers to hold forth on whatever they wish — the new system is also designed to function as a potential marketing vehicle, with advertisers and brands encouraged to participate (and possibly even sponsor) discussions that begin in the comments on a story. This is just one of a number of revenue-generating experiments that Gawker is rolling out over the next little while, Denton says.

Gawker comments

Others also want to turn readers into bloggers

And Gawker isn’t the only new-media entity that is trying to reinvent reader contributions: The Verge, which is published by Vox Media, has turned its discussion forums into content hubs of their own, and often highlights them on the front page (Note: Vox Media founder Jim Bankoff will be speaking at our paidContent Live conference on April 17 in New York).

The question-and-answer site Quora, meanwhile, has launched something that is like an amalgam of Gawker’s approach and The Verge’s: the site recently turned its reader forums into blogs — which means that every contributor to those forums now has a blog page. And as my colleague Jeff Roberts recently described, The Huffington Post has launched a “Conversations” feature that gives popular discussion threads their own webpage.

In a sense, these efforts are just an evolution of the approach that the Huffington Post took when it first launched, which was to give almost anyone who wanted it the ability to publish a blog post. Will these new players produce anything valuable, or just a lot of sound and fury?

Images courtesy of Flickr users Jeremy King and Pew Center




Three lessons news sites can take from the launch of The Verge


This post is by from Nieman Journalism Lab


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Maybe it’s just the 30-something former rock critic in me, but I keep accidentally calling new gadget site The Verge The Verve instead. But whatever you call it, The Verge’s launch today is one of the most anticipated in the online news space in some time. The chance to build a new platform from the ground up, with talented editorial and tech teams attached, combined with the months of buildup at the placeholder site This Is My Next, meant a lot of people were waiting to see what they’d come up with.

And it is impressive: bold, chunky, and structured, all at the same time. The gadget/tech space has no shortage of competitors, and building a new brand against some established incumbents takes a bold move. Which of The Verge’s moves might you want to steal for your own news site? Here are three.

Don’t be afraid of big, bold visuals

Engadget, the tech site from which most of The Verge’s core staff came, has long committed itself to having big, 600-pixel-wide-or-so art on each of its posts, be they short or long. But the Verge takes that a step further. Just look at the home page — big beautiful images with lovely CSS-driven tinting in the top promo area, then more photos attached to nearly every linked story. Because every story has all the visual fixings, they can ebb and flow as the story moves down the front page. (The movement is still blog-style reverse-chronological.)

The story pages expand the photo well even more and feature page-width headline slots with a nice slab serif, Adelle Web. (Slab serifs are all the rage these days.)

The Verge’s short, aggregation-y posts get a bigger design treatment than most news sites’ feature stories do. (They also carry over Engadget’s highly annoying habit of burying the credit links for what they aggregate in a tiny box at post bottom.) But if you really want to see the power of big visuals, look at one of the site’s feature stories, like its review of the iPhone 4S or this takeout on survivalism — photos over 1,000 pixels wide, bold headlines and decks, structured story organization, embedded galleries, columns that don’t all stick to a common template well, page-width graphics. And check out the gallery and video pages, both of which stretch out Abe Lincoln-style to fill the browser window. In all, it’s the kind of bold look that you’re unlikely to see on most daily news sites; its design DNA lies much more in magazine layout.

That bold look comes with some tradeoffs, of course. While the front-page content is still generally newest-up-top, it’s not quite as obvious what’s new if it’s your second time checking the site in a day. And the front page has far less information density than a typical news site; on my monitor, the first screenful of The New York Times homepage (to go to the opposite extreme) includes links to 32 stories, videos, or slideshows, while The Verge’s has only eight. But that’s okay — while prolific, The Verge produces a lot less content than the Times, and I suspect the appealing graphical look will encourage scrolling more than a denser site would. And each story on The Verge homepage gets a bigger sales push — between a headline, an image, a deck, and an excerpt — than all but a few newspaper stories do on their front pages.

I suspect we’re going to see more of this big, bold, tablet-ish design approach finding its way back into more traditional news sites in the next year or so; you can already see movement in that direction comparing the Times’ (redesigned) opinion front to its (almost unchanged since 2006) homepage. In a world where an increasing proportion of traffic comes from social media and search — that is, from some place other than the front door — it makes sense that the burden of a site’s homepage to link to everything might be lightened.

Layer your reporting on top of structured data

It’s telling that the first item in the top navigation on The Verge is “Products.” Not “Articles” or “Latest News” — “Products.” Just about every significant product in the gadget universe — from cell phones to TVs to laptops — gets its own page in the underlying Verge taxonomy. Here are all the cameras, and here are all the gaming systems, for instance, and here are some sample product pages. (Intriguingly, you can search through them by using filters including “Rumored,” “Announced,” “Available,” “Canceled,” and “Discontinued.” Did you know there were 129 different tablets out there?)

The product pages feature basic information, full tech specs, related products, and in some cases “What You Need To Know” sections. These will be good for SEO and pageviews, and they’ll likely be useful to readers; stories about a product link prominently to their related product pages. (I’m actually a little surprised the product pages don’t take the logical next step and slap “Buy Now” links next to everything, with affiliate links to the appropriate vendors.)

Topic pages are nothing new, of course, but few news sites make this sort of commitment to being a reference point outside the boundaries of the traditional news story. A newspaper may not care much about the Nokia Lumia 800, but they could build their own semantic structured web of data around city council members, professional athletes, local restaurants, businesses, neighborhoods…whatever matters to readers. Most news organizations will have something that completes the SAT analogy The Verge : gadgets :: Your News Site : _________.

Build a place for community

Engadget has a famously active community — so much so that it had to turn off comments entirely for a stretch in 2010 when things were getting out of hand. (“What is normally a charged — but fun — environment for our users and editors has become mean, ugly, pointless, and frankly threatening in some situations…and that’s just not acceptable. Some of you out there in the world of anonymous grandstanding have gotten the impression that you run the place, but that’s simply not the case.”)

The Verge appears to be doubling down on community, though, adding topic-specific forums to the voluminous comment threads on specific entries. Forum posts get big bold presentation too. The same Josh Topolsky who wrote that rip of Engadget’s commenters above writes today that the new site is designed to let “reader voices be heard in a meaningful way…we think it’s totally cool and normal to be psyched about a product or brand and want to talk about it.” He also promises that active commenters and posters will get “special sneak previews of our newest features.”

Will it work out and generate positive, useful discussions (or at least enough pageviews to satisfy the ad sales team)? We’ll see. But it’s good to see some attention to reader forums, a form of reader interaction a number of news sites have walked away from in recent years.

What’s most promising about The Verge, though, is not any one specific element — it’s the fact that they’re giving a lot of thought to the form of their content, at a time when the basics of the blog format have congealed into a kind of design conventional wisdom. Here’s hoping other sites join that process of thinking about their tools and their structures along with their daily content.

Online Comments Fun Afoul of Thailand’s Laws Shielding Royalty from Criticism


This post is by from MediaShift


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




BANGKOK -- As a high profile case against a prominent media campaigner returns to court in Bangkok, it has emerged that the long arm of Thailand's lèse-majesté law has reached into California.

On Thursday Chiranuch Premchaiporn of the Thai current affairs website Prachatai returned to court in the Thai capital to face vague-sounding allegations that she facilitated third-party remarks about Thailand's royalty. Meanwhile Anthony Chai, a Thai-born U.S. citizen, is suing U.S./Canadian web domain host Netfirms for $75,000 in damages, alleging that the company handed his personal information to Thai officials without his consent.

lèse-majesté laws and how they work

Thailand's lèse-majesté laws incriminate anyone who "defames, insults or threatens the king, the queen, the heir to the throne or the Regent," with those found guilty facing jail sentences of 3-15 years, and sometimes longer. Defaming the King is often deemed a threat to the country's national security.

Prior to 2005, while living in Long Beach, California, Anthony Chai says he posted anonymous comments critical of the laws on a now-defunct website, a forum for expatriate Thais to discuss their country's fractious politics. Chai is not the only U.S. citizen to fall afoul of Thailand's lèse-majesté restrictions, with 54-year-old Joe Gordon, another naturalized American originally from Thailand, charged on August 20 with a variety of offenses, including insulting Thailand's King.

Thailand has been beset by color-coded political protests in recent years, with royalist "yellowshirts" demonstrating in 2006 and 2008 against governments they saw as a threat to the country's constitutional monarchy. Last year, "redshirt" protestors, some of whom vented acerbic anti-monarchy slogans, took to the streets of Bangkok in protest at what they deemed an illegitimate government backed by the some of the same yellowshirts who helped oust redshirt-aligned administrations in 2006 and 2008. The 2010 protests turned violent, with the Thai Army accused by human rights groups of killing dozens of redshirts, who were in turn alleged to have sheltered armed militants within their ranks.

thailand pic.JPG

In elections on July 3, 2011, the redshirt-linked "Puea Thai" (For Thais) party won, prompting speculation that amendments to the lèse-majesté laws could follow. However, it should be noted that the case against Chai was undertaken during a previous redshirt-linked government, and the new administration has vowed to maintain the crackdown on alleged insults to the country's monarchy, perhaps to pre-empt politically-incendiary royalist criticisms that Puea Thai is an anti-monarchy party.

This volatile, often-recriminatory political and media environment stems in part from uncertainty surrounding the royal succession, with 84-year-old King Bhumibol Adulyadej's 1946 accession making him the world's longest-reigning monarch.

Criticizing the law, not the king

Criticising the lèse-majesté laws -- as Chai claims he did -- is not in itself illegal, and some high-ranking Thai politicians have made noises about re-assessing the prohibitions, or at least attempting to rein in what some regard as overuse and misuse of the law, which allows any Thai to file a lèse-majesté complaint against someone else, thereby triggering a police investigation.

David Streckfuss, author of Truth on Trial in Thailand, told MediaShift that "Thai royalists argue that the Thai monarchy is unique and so deserves unique punishment. But critics claim the law is used arbitrarily as a weapon to silence critics, and undermines democracy in Thailand."

Whatever Chai posted, Thailand's cyber-watchdogs noticed and got in touch with Netfirms, the company that hosted Manasuya, which means "human" in Thai. Lawyer for the accused Mary Christine Sungaila told MediaShift that "Netfirms wrongfully revealed Mr. Chai's identifying information to a government that was aggressively pursuing prosecutions under its lèse-majesté laws -- laws that themselves were increasingly coming under fire by the UN and other human rights bodies, groups and instruments."

Thailand and the U.S. share a bilateral "Treaty on Mutual Assistance on Criminal Matters" -- but the complaint says that Chai's information -- his IP and email addresses -- were disclosed to the Thai officials without recourse to the proper subpoena procedures. Netfirms had not responded to questions from PBS Mediashift at time of writing.

Chai says he was interrogated twice in 2006 by Police Colonel Yanophon Youngyuen, Deputy Director-General of Thailand's Department of Special Investigations, the country's equivalent to the FBI. He was first questioned during his last visit to his homeland, and later at Los Angeles International Airport, when Yanophon was on a stopover during a flight from Washington, D.C. to Bangkok, after attending a police training course in the U.S. capital. Yanophon is due to speak at a high-profile cybersecurity forum in Singapore on November 22-23, alongside representatives from the U.S. military, UK and Dutch Defence Ministries and others .

In the meantime, Chai says that he cannot return to his homeland -- where hundreds have been jailed for allegedly insulting the country's royals -- as he faces arrest. Exact numbers of those charged and jailed on lèse-majesté charges are unavailable, however, though Thailand's National Human Rights Commission says it is trying to collate the numbers from various government departments. According to statistics compiled by David Streckfuss, 242 lèse-majesté allegations have been made to police since 2008. However these numbers do not tally with court records, making it very difficult to quantify exactly how many people have been charged.

Thailand's lèse-majesté laws are likely the most stringent anywhere in the world, and despite King Bhumibol Adulyadej previously saying that he is not above criticism, Thailand's politically fraught recent history includes a rise in lèse-majesté charges from a handful to hundreds each year.

Latest hearings refuel controversy

One of the those facing a lengthy jail term is Chiranuch Premchaiporn, and hers is arguably the highest-profile trial in Thailand's growing clampdown on alleged slurs against the country's monarchy. She is not accused of saying anything herself, however, but of failing to quickly-enough remove 10 comments made by anonymous posters which allegedly insulted the King. According to the state prosecutors, she has broken another intimidating-sounding Thai law, the Computer-Related Crimes Act, which makes it an offense to post comments online that are deemed offensive to the monarchy.

After a six month hiatus, hearings resumed in Chiranuch's case, in Bangkok this week. I attended, listening to testimony from police officers involved in the investigation against Chiranuch, who like most Thais goes by a nickname, shortened to "Jiew."

Speaking to MediaShift after the morning hearings, she said that the restarted proceedings seemed to be moving faster than during the previous court sitting held in February, and that she remains "hopeful for a positive outcome." Some of that optimism may stem from the notably-assertive judge now overseeing the case, who said in court on Thursday that the accused "is not at fault." However hearings are scheduled to run into October, as things stand, with the witnesses for the accused not due to take the stand until next month.

Simon Roughneen is an Irish journalist usually based in southeast Asia. He writes for the Los Angeles Times, Asia Times, The Irrawaddy, South China Morning Post and others. He is on twitter @simonroughneen and you can Circle him on Google+.

This is a summary. Visit our site for the full post ».

Online Comments Run Afoul of Thailand’s Laws Shielding Royalty from Criticism


This post is by from MediaShift


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




BANGKOK -- As a high profile case against a prominent media campaigner returns to court in Bangkok, it has emerged that the long arm of Thailand's lèse-majesté law has reached into California.

On Thursday Chiranuch Premchaiporn of the Thai current affairs website Prachatai returned to court in the Thai capital to face vague-sounding allegations that she facilitated third-party remarks about Thailand's royalty. Meanwhile Anthony Chai, a Thai-born U.S. citizen, is suing U.S./Canadian web domain host Netfirms for $75,000 in damages, alleging that the company handed his personal information to Thai officials without his consent.

lèse-majesté laws and how they work

Thailand's lèse-majesté laws incriminate anyone who "defames, insults or threatens the king, the queen, the heir to the throne or the Regent," with those found guilty facing jail sentences of 3-15 years, and sometimes longer. Defaming the King is often deemed a threat to the country's national security.

Prior to 2005, while living in Long Beach, California, Anthony Chai says he posted anonymous comments critical of the laws on a now-defunct website, a forum for expatriate Thais to discuss their country's fractious politics. Chai is not the only U.S. citizen to fall afoul of Thailand's lèse-majesté restrictions, with 54-year-old Joe Gordon, another naturalized American originally from Thailand, charged on August 20 with a variety of offenses, including insulting Thailand's King.

Thailand has been beset by color-coded political protests in recent years, with royalist "yellowshirts" demonstrating in 2006 and 2008 against governments they saw as a threat to the country's constitutional monarchy. Last year, "redshirt" protestors, some of whom vented acerbic anti-monarchy slogans, took to the streets of Bangkok in protest at what they deemed an illegitimate government backed by the some of the same yellowshirts who helped oust redshirt-aligned administrations in 2006 and 2008. The 2010 protests turned violent, with the Thai Army accused by human rights groups of killing dozens of redshirts, who were in turn alleged to have sheltered armed militants within their ranks.

thailand pic.JPG

In elections on July 3, 2011, the redshirt-linked "Puea Thai" (For Thais) party won, prompting speculation that amendments to the lèse-majesté laws could follow. However, it should be noted that the case against Chai was undertaken during a previous redshirt-linked government, and the new administration has vowed to maintain the crackdown on alleged insults to the country's monarchy, perhaps to pre-empt politically-incendiary royalist criticisms that Puea Thai is an anti-monarchy party.

This volatile, often-recriminatory political and media environment stems in part from uncertainty surrounding the royal succession, with 84-year-old King Bhumibol Adulyadej's 1946 accession making him the world's longest-reigning monarch.

Criticizing the law, not the king

Criticising the lèse-majesté laws -- as Chai claims he did -- is not in itself illegal, and some high-ranking Thai politicians have made noises about re-assessing the prohibitions, or at least attempting to rein in what some regard as overuse and misuse of the law, which allows any Thai to file a lèse-majesté complaint against someone else, thereby triggering a police investigation.

David Streckfuss, author of Truth on Trial in Thailand, told MediaShift that "Thai royalists argue that the Thai monarchy is unique and so deserves unique punishment. But critics claim the law is used arbitrarily as a weapon to silence critics, and undermines democracy in Thailand."

Whatever Chai posted, Thailand's cyber-watchdogs noticed and got in touch with Netfirms, the company that hosted Manasuya, which means "human" in Thai. Lawyer for the accused Mary Christine Sungaila told MediaShift that "Netfirms wrongfully revealed Mr. Chai's identifying information to a government that was aggressively pursuing prosecutions under its lèse-majesté laws -- laws that themselves were increasingly coming under fire by the UN and other human rights bodies, groups and instruments."

Thailand and the U.S. share a bilateral "Treaty on Mutual Assistance on Criminal Matters" -- but the complaint says that Chai's information -- his IP and email addresses -- were disclosed to the Thai officials without recourse to the proper subpoena procedures. Netfirms had not responded to questions from PBS Mediashift at time of writing.

Chai says he was interrogated twice in 2006 by Police Colonel Yanophon Youngyuen, Deputy Director-General of Thailand's Department of Special Investigations, the country's equivalent to the FBI. He was first questioned during his last visit to his homeland, and later at Los Angeles International Airport, when Yanophon was on a stopover during a flight from Washington, D.C. to Bangkok, after attending a police training course in the U.S. capital. Yanophon is due to speak at a high-profile cybersecurity forum in Singapore on November 22-23, alongside representatives from the U.S. military, UK and Dutch Defence Ministries and others .

In the meantime, Chai says that he cannot return to his homeland -- where hundreds have been jailed for allegedly insulting the country's royals -- as he faces arrest. Exact numbers of those charged and jailed on lèse-majesté charges are unavailable, however, though Thailand's National Human Rights Commission says it is trying to collate the numbers from various government departments. According to statistics compiled by David Streckfuss, 242 lèse-majesté allegations have been made to police since 2008. However these numbers do not tally with court records, making it very difficult to quantify exactly how many people have been charged.

Thailand's lèse-majesté laws are likely the most stringent anywhere in the world, and despite King Bhumibol Adulyadej previously saying that he is not above criticism, Thailand's politically fraught recent history includes a rise in lèse-majesté charges from a handful to hundreds each year.

Latest hearings refuel controversy

One of the those facing a lengthy jail term is Chiranuch Premchaiporn, and hers is arguably the highest-profile trial in Thailand's growing clampdown on alleged slurs against the country's monarchy. She is not accused of saying anything herself, however, but of failing to quickly-enough remove 10 comments made by anonymous posters which allegedly insulted the King. According to the state prosecutors, she has broken another intimidating-sounding Thai law, the Computer-Related Crimes Act, which makes it an offense to post comments online that are deemed offensive to the monarchy.

After a six month hiatus, hearings resumed in Chiranuch's case, in Bangkok this week. I attended, listening to testimony from police officers involved in the investigation against Chiranuch, who like most Thais goes by a nickname, shortened to "Jiew."

Speaking to MediaShift after the morning hearings, she said that the restarted proceedings seemed to be moving faster than during the previous court sitting held in February, and that she remains "hopeful for a positive outcome." Some of that optimism may stem from the notably-assertive judge now overseeing the case, who said in court on Thursday that the accused "is not at fault." However hearings are scheduled to run into October, as things stand, with the witnesses for the accused not due to take the stand until next month.

Simon Roughneen is an Irish journalist usually based in southeast Asia. He writes for the Los Angeles Times, Asia Times, The Irrawaddy, South China Morning Post and others. He is on twitter @simonroughneen and you can Circle him on Google+.

This is a summary. Visit our site for the full post ».

5 Guidelines for Community Managers to Have Cross-Cultural Fluency


This post is by from MediaShift


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




While the behavior of connecting is nothing new, doing it in a virtual environment gives rise to new and sophisticated challenges -- especially when you're connecting across cultures. Knowing how to navigate these challenges is essential to community management.

When I first discovered the Internet in 1996, I instantly fell in love. I was a bicultural, New York native who was pursuing a degree in international relations and was mesmerized by the various doors it provided to the international community. Phone communication to other countries was expensive, and letters took forever to arrive. The Internet was not only cheap and instant, but it was an organic gathering place for other open-minded, multicultural individuals.

Despite society's growing attraction to the web, I was mocked by friends and family for my online behavior. Spending countless hours at the university computer lab dungeon talking to random strangers from across the globe was devious behavior for a young girl. While I felt privileged to be able to flex my cross-cultural communication skills, my "real life" community seemed scared for me. In their eyes, most people online were fake, dangerous losers who lived in their mom's basement.

Nothing in my various online interactions ever proved that stereotype to be true. In fact, my online community seemed to share more similarities and interests with me than my "real life" one. However, thanks to my youthful fear of being judged, I quickly began to keep these two worlds separate, and shared less and less of my online adventures with the "real" world.

The Internationalization of Communities

Fast-forward 15 years later, when virtual diversity is the norm and meeting "real" friends online first has become commonplace. Whether you're based in Dayton, Ohio, or Berlin, Germany, chances are you interact with numerous people across the globe on a daily basis, and you're seen as normal for doing so.

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Additionally, while so-called filter bubbles threaten to kill the diversity that made the Internet so great, most people, regardless of age, routinely meet up with individuals they met online, who may differ in age, religion, lifestyle or personal philosophy. In many ways, technology is allowing us to apply the village etiquette of our ancestors to the global, modern world, and in the process helping us discover paths and people we would have never discovered otherwise.

The best part in this scenario is that younger generations are growing up with a much more trusting view of the world, in which relationships are initially created based on interests and passions rather than characteristics such as nationality.

Community Management & Diversity

As society further embraces the Internet, the role of the online facilitator, or "community manager" has become mainstream. Community managers are bridges between the human and non-human, and the online and offline. Through various tools, they create an ambiance or environment for their particular community. However, because this type of job is relatively new for many organizations, some community managers don't have the cross-cultural communication tools needed to be successful. The following are a few guidelines to keep in mind.

1. Watch Your Language
Language is understood in conjunction with context and body language -- two things that are hard to infer online. This is also complicated by cultural norms and word differences. What is considered acceptable self-expression or appropriate words differs from region to region. Additionally, the fluency in the particular language of choice may differ from individual to individual. As a result, the best community managers keep their language simple, stripping it of any colloquialisms that are not specific to the community they are representing, or which are not fully explained. This pertains not only to specific cultures but any demographic. For example, for months one of my older clients thought I was a bit odd because I continually inserted what she thought was "love you lots," or LOL, in my communications to her. What I really meant was "laughing out loud."

2. The Golden Rule: Tolerance

Any successful diverse community usually ensures that all members feel comfortable to be themselves. This does not mean "exclusion" of topics but rather a focus on tolerance and civility. Not reprimanding instances of intolerance can quickly destroy any community, or transform it to a group of trolls and bullies. Keep in mind that even intolerant people want to be accepted.

3. Be a Good Mediator
Your community looks to community managers for cues on how to behave. In many ways, community managers are real-time concrete examples of the rules and cultural characteristics of a specific community. For this reason, the worst thing community managers can do is choose sides in a fight, unless the safety of the community is at risk. Instead, they should focus on honing their mediation and diplomacy skills. Not only will this increase the community manager's respectability in the community, but it will also ensure that all members feel comfortable enough to approach the community manager for guidance or grievances.

4. Educate Yourself on Different Views

As someone who is native in two languages, I sometimes have what I call "spanlexia" moments. I'll say something in English that is grammatically correct, but only makes sense in Spanish. Usually, only a close friend, a Spanish speaker, or a "diversity sensitive" person understands what occurred.  Educating yourself on other cultures or tribes, ranging from punk rock to Japanese, will greatly enhance your communications skills.

5. Admit Weakness
If you recognize that you have to overcome certain obstacles as a community manager that pertain to cross-cultural communications, the best thing you can do is admit weakness. You will find that individuals from your own community will come forth to not only help train you on cross-cultural communications, but to educate you on their particular tribe. Don't be afraid to ask questions. Honesty and respect are really the only two cornerstones that 99 percent of all communities demand.

Sandra Ordonez is a web astronaut who provides diverse clients with digital strategy and website design. Her website, Collaborative Nation, focuses on web culture, community management, and collaboration. Currently, Sandra serves as Community Outreach and Technology Manager for Truthout.org and as External Communications lead for Joomla. She also is the founder of Bicultural and Multicultural People Rule and Virgins of NY. Previously, she was the Communications Manager for Wikipedia. She graduated from American University with a double degree in International Relations and Public Relations.

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