|I would like to list many of the positive contributions of SoloHQ since the website is closing and the opportunity is passing (and since I have criticized certain aspects of its functioning but haven't yet given deserved credit):|
This is about SoloHQ the meeting place, not Solo the wider institution. As a website and a discussion venue it is brilliantly designed in many important respects in a world of lame-o websites and discussion boards:
1. The comment/discussion pages: You can see all the previous comments and yours on same page by scrolling, just like you do in a blog. This avoids having to flip back and forth and allows you to see the flow and context of a topic.
2. The table of contents-like "unread forum posts" page which not only lists the threads but the first phrase of what’s in them...and you can click on it from the very top as soon as you enter the site. This provides immediacy and context and allows you to see quickly what you want to look at...just like a table of contents in a book does.
3. The info-packed main pages...you can see all the different options, things you can do (departments). As opposed to having to hyperlink yourself into a black hole or page back and forth and lose your place endlessly, as in 'thin' or too-much-whitespace websites.
4. "Real-time" Immediacy of discussion because things are posted instantly. This gets people to participate because of instant feedback and seeing immediate results. This can have a liberating, spontaneous effect, leading many people to do more unusual, personal, funny, non-cerebral, non-academic wrting and self-expression because of this.
[This aspect has pros and cons - sometimes it works, often falls flat, or descends into personal attack or trivia.]
5. The points and feedback system is a great idea, superbly executed. It gets people involved. The supportiveness and satisfaction of getting good feedback and seeing that people are actually reading what you wrote encourages people to have more to say, to be more active.
6. The idea of ‘Solo group leader’ of an interest area or field of endeavor or subgroup. The general division of labor, having an editor. The threeway partnership (too many Oist projects are one man who gets burned out). These all encourage people to participate who might not have otherwise, and they make it possible for more to get done than in a one or two man show.
7. The general layout includes lots and lots of features, departments, but the structure is pretty clear. The grouping of things into broad categories like activism, war room, etc.... and interest subgroups...the subgrouping of threads..articles, jokes, etc. is an excellent idea, especially for a site as active and with such a steady rain of posts as Solo.
8. The personal touch: the photos appearing next to the posts, and the bios and links people can post about themselves, and the ability to send emails to each other...all of this allow for a sense of real people, not disembodied intellects. (Some of them you want to get to know, some you don't ...but you can choose!)
9. Just the clever but simple and uncluttered layout of the pages...the posting pages include the post, the photo, the atlas statuettes, the ability to edit or post a reply, the email letter link, etc...all in a small space...but very easy to follow...with good graphics.
Overall, SoloHQ is a BRILLIANTLY-DESIGNED interaction/discussion type website!
It's an enormous technical as well as social achievement.
SoloHQ, because of this intelligent and thoughtful design (nothing happens by accident in website design) and ease-of-use, has been an extremely lively, energetic, passionate place.
I have posted on the downsides of the unmoderated, un-self-controlled personal attack aspects of this, but, overall, openness of this kind (combined with *some level* of moderation...and we can differ on how much) liberates energies and helps us discover good minds and interesting ideas. So -some form- of this is liberating and helpful.
It has been said as an abstraction that this is one of the best sites on the web in important aspects. I've now tried to concretize why.
Thank you, Linz, Joe, Jeff for your efforts.
(Edited by Philip Coates
on 11/29, 11:17am)