What if I told you there are social network sites where collaboration is actually a core feature? Where instead of individuals posting a stream of news and views, users work together to solve problems and the best stuff floats to the top? What if I told you that place is definitely not like Twitter?

The Twitter firehose is great for a fast and furious public discussion. It’s adds extra layers of talk, depth and resources to events. It surfaces important news quicker than just about anywhere else on the internet. Yet, Twitter is chaotic and almost useless for long-term conversations and keeping important stuff in mind as years and weeks roll on.

As a place for substantive discussions and sharing resources, I’d suggest another site with more flexible and amenable tools. That site is Reddit.

Reddit has a bad rap because every time it comes to the public attention, it’s usually in stories like “Sydney man called ‘Australia’s biggest wanker’ by Reddit” and the failed hivemind search for the Boston bombers.

Like most social network sites, Reddit is what its users make it. And unlike Twitter’s firehose stream, Reddit is built upon thousands of user-created communities that typically only subscribers visit. Each of these pages (called subreddits) hosts a group of people dedicated to and interested in that particular issue.

reddit

Yes, you will find subreddits that denigrate women, that glorify violence, or are dedicated to the overthrow of democratic governments. But you can also find subreddits where users endlessly help others, discuss the latest Game of Thrones fan theories, speculate about future technologies, and raise cash for worthy causes.

Each subreddit is ruled by it’s moderators (mods), who decide if and when to delete content that is not relevant or otherwise breaches that community’s rules.

The value of Reddit, compared to Twitter, is the up-and-down voting tools, which allow any number of users to collaboratively decide which posts and comments are most interesting or relevant or worthwhile. For local government practitioners and researchers, it could be a place to share research and ideas, to collaborate and converse. It needn’t be a place you need to keep open all day in case you miss something important, since the best content will float to the top and stay there a while.

With that in mind, I’ve set up a local government subreddit. There are few rules for posting in this new community: only that you are trying to contribute something worthwhile for other users. I hope you’ll come in, look around, and post interesting stuff. That’s why it’s there.

Check out the local government subreddit at http://www.reddit.com/r/localgov.

 

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