Let me begin by sharing a couple of recent anecdotes.
A woman, now retired, who ran breastfeeding and child nutrition programs out of the UN for years, was offended by a recent post here that strayed off the reservation and wandered into some pretty uncomfortable territory for her.
An 11-year-old got so taken with the Crash Course that he designed a module on “What is money?” for his class where he opened his pitch by holding up both a dollar bill and a candy bar, stating, “If, by the end of the class, you can tell me how these are identical, you can have them both.” He then proceeded with games using various money forms (cowrie shells, etc) to illustrate the ins and outs of the three characteristics of money. Wow! That’s incredible.
Together, these illustrate the range of people who are stopping by the site. Young and old, left and right, religious and non-religious, retired and working, along with a startling range of nationalities.
I want to be sure that we hold ourselves and this site to the very highest standards to ensure that all feel welcome here. Over the past several weeks the site passed into a new stage of existence and experienced a very normal growth pang around postings and comments. Unfortunately, it is my assessment that some of these posts and comments either created tension or offered content that would exclude participation by some, if not many.
The Crash Course was intentionally framed in politically and religiously neutral language. Many people have set mental reactions to hot-button issues that will preclude further reasoned thought. The message of the Crash Course is too important to lose people as a result of secondary issues.
It’s time for me to share my vision for this site and how comments and posts fit into that.
I hold the following truths to be self-evident:
- The next twenty years will present massive changes, challenges, and opportunities to our entire planet
- Community is the essential key to each of our individual future well-being
- Non-status-quo solutions and approaches are needed, starting now.
My mission is to spread the message of the Crash Course as widely as possible in order to influence current and future thinking about the Three Es (Economy, Energy, & Environment). We will use the Web, the DVDs, and all other forms of communication to build a critical mass of awareness around the central issues of our day.
Building and maintaining site traffic is an important tactic for achieving this mission. So when I read posts and comments, I filter them through two simple questions:
- “Is this post attracting or is it repelling new visitors?”
- ”Is there anything in this post that would cause me to hesitate to forward this site to everyone in my address book?”
This past week there were several posts that did not pass these tests for me, and I am taking steps to assure that future posts conform to the identity and mission of this site.
Vision for the site
My vision for the site is that it is a starting place for people who are coming into awareness around the issues of the Three Es. I see the site as a touchdown spot for people who are first coming into contact with this body of information and who deserve as gentle and as welcoming a visit as we can create. Many people will come, learn, stay for a while, and then move on to whatever comes next for them. For these people, this site is a portal.
I specifically designed the course and the site with the intention of not pushing any particular buttons (religious or political) and with the goal of collecting all the best information in one spot to drastically shorten for others the extensive period of inquiry that I went through. I did this because I saw that the Internet was already chock-full of sites with disjointed fragments of the whole story, each largely preaching to their respective choirs. I wanted to reach out to everybody else.
I truly believe that our salvation lies in spreading awareness, building understanding, and then moving to action.
Because of all this, I have absolutely no interest in creating just one more Internet site where flame wars, boorish behavior, bad language, and shock-value posts are considered par for the course.
We don’t have time for that. We should more jealously guard our surplus energy for the things that actually matter. We need to lead by example and hold ourselves to a higher standard.
This is not an issue of “free speech.” That’s a red herring. The issue of free speech refers to government bans on your ability to express yourself in whatever ways you want, whenever you want. Free speech does not apply to private enterprise. It never has, nor should it.
Everybody here is perfectly free at any time to start their own site or blog and say whatever they want, whenever they want.
In response, we are now adding two formal moderators for the site. They have my full blessing to remove posts and even posters that violate the site posting guidelines and rules. I expect them to do a great job and I expect that mistakes will be made. In both cases, they have my full support. Together we will find just the right approaches, the right words, and the right compassionate guidance to assure that this site becomes an effective voice for a better future.
This is not an attempt to stifle intellectual dissent in any form, but rather an attempt to assure that we do not compromise the mission of reaching as many people as possible over the next year. If we trigger a corporate firewall we could lose hundreds of people. If we trigger a country firewall we could lose millions.
This site, especially the forum area, is user generated – a product of the community. Being such, we ask that if you come across something that you think deserves the moderators’ attention, that you click on the alert moderator button to flag the post.
As always, your feedback, advice, and suggestions will be carefully considered in this and all future matters.
Please join me in welcoming our new volunteer moderators, John and Jason. You may occasionally see posts from them on the site under their user names, "Moderator Jason" and "Moderator John."
Thank you for joining me in making this site welcoming and comfortable for anyone who might be reading, so that we can effectively and accessibly share the Crash Course message with everyone who seeks it.