The measure of success
This web site is still a very long way away from where I would like it to be. As the host, obviously I wish for this site to be a success. Here, I would like to simply define success, both in terms of shallow success, and meaningful success.
In today's internet, success is measured in many different ways, more or less quantifiable:
- Traffic in general.
- Page rank.
- Number of hits.
- Number of visits.
- Google ranking, or ranking of selected key words in search results.
- Number of users.
- Number of blogs/discusion threads/comments.
- Number of new blogs/discussion threads/comments per day.
I personally wouldn't mind this site to rate higher on any of the metrics above. However, this is not the end goal. Most importantly, I will not blindly pursue higher results in those metrics at the cost of the end goal.
As a political web site, it should be easy to get a community engrossed in discussions, commenting back and forth, with each member trying to convince the others that they are wrong. There are many political web sites and forums that provide venues for such "discussion" and that are highly successful according to all of the above metrics. The common wisdom would be for any other web site which seeks success to copy the model established by the web sites that have already achieved such success. However, many if not most of those supposedly highly successful web sites are mostly failures, according to the metrics that I personally value.
It really depends what the end goal is. From their perspective, the owners of such web sites are successful because they have achieved very high scores in the metrics they most care about:
- Number of advertisement impressions.
- Number of clicks on advertisements.
- Income generated.
- Market share.
Sure, if all they want is to achieve high scores along these metrics, then it's perfectly appropriate to let their politically-conscious user base mistakenly believe that their arguing back and forth amounts to something meaningful. From my perspective, such web sites, even web sites which on the surface espouse political views very close to my own, have become part of the problem. Not that there is anything wrong with generating financial income: I wouldn't mind that either. But in those web sites, I mostly see missed opportunities, and, worse, I see contributing factors to the worsening political climate and to the degradation of political discourse.
I have no desire to copy them. What would be the point?
Other web sites, including other politically engaged web sites, are free to adopt their own definition for success. Here I will try to express what I would define success.
From the very beginning, this web site aimed to be a contributing player in the "Cultural Creatives" global movement. We try to make an honest appraisal of our society: we see both its failures and its potential, and try to promote and implement ways to improve our culture in pursuit of the Common Good.
The specific area of interest of this web site, and the reason it was conceived of in the first place, is electoral reform. It started from the recognition that the Election Method used in current elections is about the worst one we could use, leading to all sorts of maladies that our society suffers from today. That is why polls using better election methods are prominent in this site. I will cover those points in finer details elsewhere.
Minguo is not limited to covering electoral reform. It can cover topics that any of its members deeply care about. I would like to provide a platform that empowers the members, both as individuals and as a community. I would the structure of the site to facilitate the coming together of like-minded individuals so that they can more efficiently work and lobby for change. It is hoped that together we can make a meaningful impact on our society.
The site is organized around "Community projects", the focus of coordinated efforts towards a common goal. This site aims to facilitate collective endeavours. I would like members to be able to identify their common ground and do something constructive together that will be of value to the larger society.
I will measure success not in terms of audience, but in terms of meaningful impact the site has on the rest of the world. The former (audience) does not necessarily lead to the latter (making a difference), but properly channelled, mass participation can facilitate change. In other words, web site traffic shouldn't be viewed as an end goal, but as a means to an end. I will not sacrifice the goal for mere traffic.
So, here is finally a rough list of end goals for this web site. I will qualify the success of this site according to the extent we have been able to achieve those goals:
- Empower individuals to present the best of themselves.
- Empower individuals to clearly present the best of their own ideas and ideals.
- Improve political discourse.
- Dispell fallacies in political discourse.
- Heal deeply rooted divisions in our society.
- Unite people by helping them find a common ground, their common values and aspirations.
- Facilitate collective endeavours to make a difference.
- Create an authoritative series of collectively written wiki pages.
- Improve such wiki articles to the point that people on the wider internet refer to them and link to them from other web sites.
- Create meaningful, active Community projects, focus points of collective endeavours.
- Allow clear, useful information to be easily found at the appropriate places.
- Empower members to individually and collectively have an actual, meaningful impact on our society.