Caracas Chronicles 2.0: Where We Are

Quico says: As many of you know, we’ve been working hard behind the scenes on a complete overhaul of this blog, starting with a new look, a new content management system, and a much improve comments system.

Once all of that is in place, the goal is to launch a new, Spanish version of Caracas Chronicles, hoping to create a platform for serious political debate the likes of which just don’t exist in Venezuela at the moment.

For me, the ultimate goal is to change the way Venezuelans relate to each other politically on the internet, by creating a vibrant, substantive reader forum that can sustain serious, impassioned debate that doesn’t get drowned out by the insane ramblings and hyperpolarized bullshit that dominates comments in all existing Venezuelan news sites.

What’s more, we want to do that without actually having to delete any comments. And the way you square that circle, we think, is by giving you, the readers, the ability to enforce your own standards, giving extra visibility to comments that advance discussion substantively while lowering the visibility of those comments that tend to derail debate (but without deleting them.) We want to build a site that rewards those who make a substantive contribution to the online community, giving them more weight over the way the site is managed. Ultimately, we want the kinds of debates that happen on Caracas Chronicles at its best to be available in Spanish.

After much looking, we’ve concluded that the software you’d need to sustain such a commenting shangri-la just doesn’t exist yet. So we’re commissioning our own.

The new comments software will encourage you to take ownership of the online community you participate in, effectively crowdsourcing the task of moderating comments.

In effect, we’re going to ask you to rate each others’ comments, not just on whether you agree with them or not – which is what these ratings typically end up reflecting – but, crucially, on whether the comment advances debate and understanding even if you disagree with it. This is a big ask, I know, but until we get into the habit of mind of separating those two issues from one another, Venezuela’s political web forums are going to remain stuck in the Noticias24esque rut they’ve been in so long.

The new site should be up and running by October, with the Spanish counterpart following suit quite soon afterwards. I have no doubt that the initial period will be somewhat chaotic – there’ll be a lot of trial and error involved. I’m also sure we need to step up our game in terms of using the internet in these kinds of ways, and since no one else is doing it, we might as well give it a try.