We have a new tab, "Intel," up there on the right. It's a place where Members can ask questions of the Ricochet community and receive in response pointed, substantiated answers.
We're doing this for three reasons:
To help all of us win more arguments. The Logo -- who, like most of you, lives in deep blue territory -- frequently finds himself arguing with Leftist friends and relatives. They unfurl some wild-eyed canards about the evils of free markets or the glories of big government/European bureaucrats/Che Guevara, and The Logo disputes their accounts with whatever information he can recall. Later, The Logo digs up the most left-credible documentation he can find and emails them the specifics of his case.
"Wouldn't it be great," The Logo has thought, "if the Ricochetoisie could look up this kind of information in a knowledge base? And if the information wasn't yet there, wouldn't it be even greater if they could ask their fellow Members to please dig up the information for them? And that they'll need it within a certain amount of time?"
To share knowledge. College students and other conservative newcomers have requested the ability to ask simple questions, like "What's a paleocon?" Our regular discussion threads can be a little intimidating for what is potentially a short, pithy exchange.
- To make great points more accessible. We love our discussions on Ricochet -- the fast, zinging exchanges reflected by our name. Very often in these discussions, a Member will come up with a great argument that really hits the nail on the head. But it's hard to isolate a single comment in a thread and attach it to the central point it addresses, so that great point tends to get lost.
What It Is
As you can see for yourself, the Intel tab consists of a list of questions that Members or Contributors are asking. Urgent questions are highlighted in orange and are at the top of the list, with questions deemed Important or merely Curious arranged below them. The questions show how many answers they've received so far, and, if they're Urgent, how much time remains to produce an answer.
Clicking on a question takes you to a page where the question gets answered. Members can make short, clarifying comments below the question, offer answers, and make comments about each answer. Members vote on which answers they like the best, and the answers with the most votes float to the top of the list. We encourage Answer Owners to edit them in response to comments or to make general improvements.
Oh, and that pinging orange ball you saw when you first loaded this page? That appears whenever an Urgent, unexpired question is active. It re-pings every two minutes -- enough to remind you of its presence but not so frequent as to be distracting.
What It Isn't
The short comment structure doesn't lend itself to debates or epic questions. "What does gay marriage say about the meaning of human existence?" may be the worst of all possible questions for the Intel tab.
Where It's Going
We're planning a number of improvements in the weeks ahead:
- Tag searches. Each question has a field for entering category descriptions. These tags are currently stored, but we don't have a tool for organizing and displaying them. That should change in about a month.
- Deletable comments and answers. For cleaning up the Q&A.
- Question ordering by activity level, instead of just chronology.
- Community-controlled answers. Right now, each answer is "owned" by the Member who wrote it. The Answer Owner has control over changes to the answer, although the community influences the answer through votes and comments. In a few months, we plan to give answer authors the option to either own the answer themselves or give control of it over to the community -- in the form of a wiki -- for revisions.
Why It's Called Intel
A descendant of a 20th century U.S. President told us that our Urgent question structure reminded him of his days in military intelligence. "I'm submitting a high priority request for a map of this sector within 45 minutes." We liked the behind-enemy-lines imagery, hence "Intel."
So, please get out your hammer. A nail is waiting.