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June 4, 2009

White House bloggers get names

The bloggers who write the posts at the White House blog now are putting their names on their posts. I think this is a terrific move.

As I posted a couple of weeks ago, my interest isn’t in accountability. On the contrary. Usually, we think that along the Continuum of Responsibility, putting your name to something will push you toward the Staying In Line side, while being anonymous lets you run toward the Recklessness goal post. But, it doesn’t always work that way. At a site like WhiteHouse.gov, the anonymity of bloggers reinforced the notion that the blog is a faceless voice of authority, with an adjoining door to the Office of Press Releases. I’m hoping that now that the bloggers are signing their posts, they will feel free-er to speak in their own voices, and present shades of view that are a bit more off-angle, and thus more interesting than the Official View. That’s already been true of the posts of the guest bloggers on the site. Now I hope the official bloggers will feel ok about occasionally saying “OMG!!!! I CAN’T BELIEVE I’M IN THE WHITE HOUSE!!!!!!” except maybe a little more constructively and definitely with the caps only implied.

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May 3, 2009

Whitehouse.gov turns on the comments. Sort of.

To me, the coolest thing about WhiteHouse.gov going all social media on us is not that it shows that the White House knows about this stuff, or even that it understands that we now want the news to come to us. It’s that at the White House Facebook page, the comments are turned on.

I do understand why the WhiteHouse.gov site has been reluctant to allow us to leave comments on the official site. Oh, sure, you can fill out a form and submit it, but this knowingly commits the Fallacy of Scale, i.e., believing that anyone is going to read your message. We want at least to be able to read one another’s messages. But, I assume the staff is afraid that open commenting on White House blog posts will enable situations that are sticky beyond escape. What do you do when people get racist, anti-Muslim, and all around stupid? There are answers, but none are as good (from the White House media point of view) as not enabling the problem in the first place.

So, now WhiteHouse.gov is cross posting to its Facebook page. If you want to comment, go there. Because it’s not the White House’s site, trashy comments don’t littering the White House lawn. Facebook allows WhiteHouse.gov to distance itself sufficiently from the commenters to enable commenting. It’s a great step forward.

The next step: WhiteHouse.gov should respond to some of the comments, either in the comments area or in blog posts themselves.

Meanwhile: Well done, WhiteHouse.gov! Well done.

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