Mike Madison is an Aldo Coffee Co. customer, fellow blogger and professor at Pitt. Through his Blog-Lebo site, he's been attempting to enable community discourse on a variety of topics from Mt. Lebo school board elections to local taxes to thoughts on the new Dollar Store on Cochran.
His rationale for engaging in these conversations through Blog-Lebo is best explained through this excerpt from a recent post:
Lebo: Community Blogging
Imagine the kinds of conversations that you have with your neighbor while you're walking around the block, or watching your kids play soccer or baseball, or that you have over coffee at your favorite coffee spot. Now extend that conversation into cyberspace, and sprinkle it with bits and pieces of information about the town that you haven't otherwise come across -- whether via anecdote, or the town magazine, or one of the local papers. Blog-Lebo is an experiment in virtual community conversation.
It's a great idea. While there are millions of blogs, and hundreds focused on cities across the country, very few are specific to suburban municipalities the size of Mt. Lebanon. We're one of only a few such 'burbs to merit blogger attention.
As such we're happy that Mike and his fellow group bloggers are investing their personal time and energy into the project. And we would encourage you to participate as well.
However, encouraging discourse implies some commitment to openness. And Mike has just cut out everyone without a Blogger account from commenting on his posts.
This is a shame as we had joined in on some of the earlier conversations and appreciated being part of the process. But he's now made it a requirement that commenters sign up for Blogger, which is the free Google blog software. We won't do that. Nor would many others who publish on platforms like TypePad (what we're using), WordPress or others.
Mike's rationale for preventing comments is that a number of the comments he'd received to date were from ranting and raving wackos. So while we understand his desire eliminate anonymous commenting, we wish he'd figure out a better way to do so, either through moderating comments before posting, or changing his technology platform. Having an open community discourse is a noble project. Closing it to only those who are Blogger customers defeats that purpose.
How about it Mike? We could make it worth your while to change the process. Would an AM Aldo Card do it?