Possums Pollytics

Politics, elections and piffle plinking

Your thoughts about a Possums Podium?

Posted by Possum Comitatus on June 12, 2008

I regularly get sent questions by people that have been stirred up by some political issue or another to the point where they felt compelled to write an article about it – but they wonder where they can publish it on the net. These folks don’t tend to produce enough output to run a blog of their own, and are just after some sort of opinion clearinghouse I suppose that has a readership that might be interested in what they have to say.

So, a question for you folks out there.

If I were to run a small adjacent site to Pollytics, a kind of “Guest Speaker on Possums Podium” type thing where I would simply put up any such articles that people send to me and link those articles via an RSS feed on the left sidebar (so everyone could see the titles of the latest articles as they come in) – would anyone be interested in reading them?

And would anyone ever be interested in writing stuff for it?

There would only be one rule for publishing – a cogent piece on a political, psephy or media topic (the political flavour would be irrelevant, variety is the spice of life after all)

I can remember when I started blogging by accident 12 months ago, it was people like Bryan Palmer and William Bowe that linked into my work that gave me my starting boost in traffic, which then made the word get around… so to speak.

As such, I sort of believe that I have an obligation to do the same for others that want to write intelligently about politics. So I’m sort of thinking that maybe it would not only be an opportunity for people that don’t have the time, inclination or output to run a blog themselves to be able to write occasionally and get read by a highly politically literate audience, but also a way for new political bloggers to potentially get noticed as well.

The net might reduce the barriers of entry in the media space, but it does little in and of itself to overcome the obscurity that’s associated with a new blog. So if I can do my bit to help alleviate some of the obscurity that many new writers and bloggers face, that’s probably a good thing.

If I ran it as an adjacent site it wouldn’t clutter up the Pollytics site, yet the RSS feed on the sidebar would let readers here be able to clickthrough to any new articles that catch their eye.

So folks – what are your thoughts?

UPDATE:

OK folks, the site’s up but with no articles published yet:

http://thepossumbox.wordpress.com/

Here are the rules and guidelines for submission and how to submit:

http://thepossumbox.wordpress.com/how-to-submit/

Now I need some articles – so if you’re a new political blogger or an occasional writer and you want to submit an article, read the above link and let me have’em so to speak.

The blogroll on the sidebar of the new site will be filled over time by bloggers that have had an article published on The Possum Box.

UPDATE 2:

I have two articles already, I wouldnt mind one more to launch – but either way The Possum Box will go live early on Saturday afternoon.

Apparently it’s already the 21st fastest growing blog in the WordPress.com universe – I’m not exactly sure what that means, but it’s looking good for eyeballs to read new work.

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42 Responses to “Your thoughts about a Possums Podium?”

  1. Lyn said

    Nice idea. Very generous of you.

  2. George said

    Sounds fantastic Poss – go for it! I’m sure enough of us here would be inetested to contribute from time to time.

  3. Nick G said

    I love the idea of reading and contributing, Poss.

    It has my vote.

  4. If you judged any articles to be an intelligent contribution, I’d be quite happy to read them as guest posts, rather than on a separate site. So if that idea appeals to you, maybe just do that – it would require less work for you.

  5. Danielle said

    Great idea! I would welcome the opportunity to read intelligent writing on this topic more often.

  6. gandhi said

    Here’s my contribution for today. More to follow if you do it!

  7. fred said

    Nice one Poss.

  8. Flaneur said

    Absolutely excellent idea. Sign me up!

  9. 2353 said

    Poss,

    A very kind and generous idea – also consider the LP system of guest posts. Guest Posts might be easier for you to manage.

  10. I think it’s a great idea Poss. I have to admit that it’s hard mustering up the energy to regularly post on my own blog, but a death sentence if you never update. I think that your suggestion is a great way to give people a voice, I know that before I started my own blog there where times when I would have killed to write a ‘guest post’ somewhere else as I saw an angle on a story that no-one else seemed to be considering.

    Full points.

  11. Fire Maker said

    While I like the idea I would hope that you would filter the guest posts. I like William’s Pollbludger service and read the occasional comment – but its like 50 people yelling in a room at the same time.

  12. Eddie said

    Hi Poss,
    Great idea,I get sick of my complaining e-mails to MSM and not getting published.

  13. Don said

    Sounds good Poss. I wouldn’t feel confident about contributing, but I’d be interested to read others comments, especially after you had given a tick of relevance, and that applies to all members of the political spectrum.

  14. Ad astra said

    I applaud this idea. I would be happy to write an occasional piece for the well informed, politically literate audience you attract.

  15. Marmaduke said

    I love this idea, I have always wanted to blog but I dont think I have enough time to maintain one myself. The opportunity to launch my diatribe from your podium sounds quite appealing!

    The Australian blogosphere could also do with more contributions from fringe opinionists too – and not just via comments.

  16. Local Identity said

    Perhaps go for a LP type setup (kinda)

    Possum’s site is basically about possumy things, but with (certified) contributions let through

  17. Marmaduke said

    I guess it depends on how much interest there would be from people wanting to contribute. You would’nt want to dilute the Possusmmyness of this site more than by, perhaps, one guest post a week (imo). Likewise you would’nt want to create a spin-off site if it would only receive one contribution a week.

  18. Possum Comitatus said

    Thanks for the comments folks – I’m glad there’s a bit of interest.

    You’re right, I dont really want to dilute the possumyness of this place (I’m already doing that a fair bit as it is with my political stuff I do for Crikey which isnt always psephy related), and I have absolutely no idea of the number of articles that I may get to stick up, so running an adjacent site where any new articles turn up just above the Pollbludger feed on the left here would be the easiest way.

    That way if people really like the articles that do get published, the site will get its own dedicated audience as time goes on, as well as any traffic seepage from here.

    But I promise there will be quality control – as Fire Maker said, “50 people yelling in a room at the same time” can get a bit much.

    So I’ll vet the articles first (yes, I know, WTF am I thinking! I’ll no doubt piss people off) – but I’ll be a little more lenient on the comments than I am here, which as some of you have experienced, I dont tolerate flamewars in the comments of Pollytics.

    But the comments over at the other place will still be watched to stop everything descending into a verbal duel at 20 paces.

  19. FMark said

    Great idea possum. I’d read, and probably also write at some point.

  20. Pollfoolery said

    Sounds like a great idea Poss! I would love to contribute as soon as the workload backs off – will you be up and running come July? A thought: how broadly do you want to construe the topics? As you say, variety is the spice of life and I’m pretty sure there are a range of fields represented amongst your readers. Provided the ideas aren’t completely off point, I’d encourage you to allow people to branch out into topics only tangentially related to possums.

  21. Possum Comitatus said

    Pollfoolery – I’ll be up and running by the weekend.

    The rule of thumb will be simple: Politics

    That extends from policy and psephology, to strategy and positioning through to general commentary, media and political interactions with the world around us.

    I dont want the site to become an echo chamber – I want diversity of opinion, on multiple political topics – but all containing well constructed arguments or being otherwise very entertaining.

    There will probably be a lot of stuff about critiquing the media – so we’ll have to be careful that it doesnt turn into the intertube equivalent of media watch, but the important thing is insight.

  22. Greeensborough Growler said

    Possum,

    A better name might be “The Possum Box”. Podium sounds a bit “la de da”.

  23. Enemy Combatant said

    Rat up a drain-pipe here, Poss, let ‘er rip!

  24. Miserable trolling type person said

    Go ahead, I darz ya ;)

  25. Possum Comitatus said

    heh Greeny – I reckon you’re onto something.

    OK folks – here’s the template:
    http://thepossumbox.wordpress.com/

    Red work for everyone?

    I’ll fluff it out tomorrow for some kind of launch on the weekend.

  26. Just Me said

    Good idea, Poss, just as long as you have some quality control in article selection. You might also need a little help with comment moderation from 2-3 trusted volunteer assistants. (Not putting my hand up for it, too much on my plate.)

  27. Scorpio said

    Great idea Possum. If you can work it on a similar style to LP where people can make comments to the guest poster’s article it would be a great addition to the available avenues for people to express their ideas and opinions which currently are limited.

    People frustrated by the “vetting” and moderation of comments which fall outside of the strict control of some MSM blog sites will surely be pleased that another avenue is available to express their opinions on political matters outside of that level of control that distorts the political narrative and causes a great deal of frustration to people who feel that their opinion is not able to be expressed or is available to others to evaluate.

  28. charles said

    Can the readers ask for more or boo the poster down if they want less of a particular guest?

  29. Dunno why, but I am thinking of dailykos…

    Lot’s of diarists, and perceived ‘good stuff’ gets promoted to the front page. Your thing is same-same-but-different, perhaps.

    Good luck – it is a good idea, but you will have your work cut out for you. These things have a habit of gaining a life of their own.

  30. Brad said

    I do like the idea. And hopefully I will like the ideas that crop up and I’ll be exposed to.

    The hard part will be the moderation – and the inevitable accusations of bias ;)

    Consider producing a clear code of conduct, and a “mission statement”, that will of course need sharpening over time. Wanky I know, but hopefully the intelligent contributor will read it and avoid disappointment when the post they have spent the last week on is rejected :)

  31. Jason said

    nice one poss – will look forward to seeing how this one goes. editing user contributions can be tough, but i’m sure you’re up to the task. red’s nice .

  32. Grumps said

    Good idea Poss!

    We don’t want to stretch you to far Poss. Mrs Poss calls on your body and time are important.

    Being a penny pinching miser, would some assistance in readies be needed to assist with the bandwidth type thingy charge? Any other support we can give out here?

  33. Theduffman said

    I think it would be great to read!

  34. Possum Comitatus said

    Scorpio – there’ll definitely be comments allowed for every post, they’ll be encouraged. Without comments a blog cant thrive on feedback, which kind of defeats the whole point. Posting articles on a high traffic blog essentially makes you arguing for and against what’s close to the sum total of human knowledge. If you get it wrong, the comments let you know instantly – which is a really important thing.

    PJN – this wont be a DailyKos type affair, well not yet anyway. No single diaries so to speak, just articles for now.

    Brad – you’re spot on, that’s todays job.

    Grumps – I’m using for possumbox the same wordpress.com system I use for Pollytics, a free blog hosting platform that has zero costs.

  35. Rudi said

    A few suggestions:

    Allow numerical ratings for articles. I know its the internet and people can fudge ratings but hopefully they don’t. A rating would work as a rough indicator of how good an article is and help those of us who do not look at the site everyday to see the best ones, or more accurately the articles that some people think are the best.

    You should require authors to submit with an article a short precis of the article. I am not sure how you intend to publish them but having a precis under the heading allows for quick assessment of interest and provides a framework for reading the article.

    There has to be an annual prize. I know there is fame and bragging rights for having an article published but many people will have those and amongst them you want them competing for a solitary thing. It creates a history and a legacy.

  36. Possum Comitatus said

    Rudi,

    On ratings, one of the drawbacks of the wordpress.com system is that it doesnt allow javascript, so there’s actually no way to run star ratings on the actual article itself. We may be able to get around it using Kwoff though – thanks, i’ll look into it.

    The prize is a good idea – well worth thinking about.

  37. gandhi said

    “we’ll have to be careful that it doesnt turn into the intertube equivalent of media watch…”

    Why?

  38. Possum Comitatus said

    Ghandi,
    Because there’s more to politics than media bias and mistakes.

    I’m after a broad range of topics – that will inevitably include media slapdowns, but if the whole thing becomes just about media slapowns, it’ll become tedious for a lot of readers.

    Most of us know that the MSM aren’t particularly crash hot on the political Op-Ed side of things. If we end up running the majority of content on that topic, it’s an exercise in preaching to the converted.

    I’m after a broader, deeper, wider array of political writing.

  39. caf said

    John Griffith’s The Concatenate will also publish interesting politically-themed articles.

  40. Marktwain said

    One small suggestion for you, Poss. If you are going to be subediting the articles, you might want to brush up on your knowledge of the functions of the apostrophe. If you don’t, the most awful vengeance of Apostrophe Man awaiteth.

  41. Possum Comitatus said

    Au contraire Ms Twain – I’ll just blame the authors! :mrgreen:

    Hell, I might even blame them for stuff I do here as well.

  42. Marktwain said

    Blame these people, Poss.

    http://www.theage.com.au/national/dingo-pee-a-potent-possum-piss-off-20080611-2p6x.html

    Bloody scientists.

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