Oh No They Didn’t takes on Politics

Live Journal is a social networking site that has a strong emphasis on each individual journal page. More than one person can be in control of a journal page, but once a person has taken on that role it is his or her responsibility to make sure the site keeps up with postings. Each post presents itself as more a blog. This is to say that the post’s are usually longer in length, opposed to status updates or tweets, and offer readers the chance to comment on them. One particular journal page, Oh No They Didn’t: Politics uses their page to talk about current events that happen in our government system. The page itself remains neutral when it comes to taking a political side, which encourages users to look at different situations from all angles. Although most of the communication from this site comes from comments alone, the journal page itself has become it’s own community.

If you are a new user to the site, Oh No They Didn’t: Politics has a very detailed “about us” page that describes the goals and, more importantly, the rules of the journal page. One of the first points emphasized on this page is that political arguments or disagreements are welcome because that forms a major part of the community. The only catch to this site is that the users are moderated by the handful of people that control this particular page. This section of the about us reads, “However, membership is moderated. We do not approve journals that have been recently created, nor journals that have little activity.” This is not only to encourage frequent use on the site as a whole, but to also avoid the users who create an account for the sole purpose of an argument.

The next section of the “about us” page gives a few terms and conditions that will get a user banned from using this journal page again. The first is “taking an argument to a personal journal.” This takes away from the activity on Oh No They Didn’t: Politics’ page. The second and third points of immediate removal have to do with deleting comments. The site does not allow you to delete something you personally have said unless it has an error in grammar, or delete comments in a thread by other users on your personal post. Some other questionable offenses include trolling, which is a termed coined by the Internet that means to cause trouble on purpose, and unnecessary name-calling. In an interview, user XYZ said, “All good things must have rules. Sometimes it gets annoying, but things could get crazy without the moderators.”

Aside from the rule checking, the moderators or controllers of this particular page, also approve the news posts that appear. The team that runs this site encourages members to write anything and everything that they think is relevant, and then it is up to the team to decide if it will be posted for other members to see or not. To help new users decide if something is worthy of posting or not, the moderators have suggestions. This includes that the article come from a credible news source and that the story is properly cited, it is no longer than a page without being cut directly to the link, and that a user not just post the first few stories that are splashed across a news site’s homepage.

The six moderators of this journal page are all in their twenties and from all different areas of the United States. This definitely affects some of the direction that Oh No They Didn’t: Politics takes. Although these moderators do a good job of remaining neutral, the stories and users have started to become what a younger crowd would enjoy or expect to see. Most of the members are in their twenties or early thirties, with some exception of older users, but not many members younger than that. The reasoning behind this could be a few different things. One being that Live Journal as a social networking site is more popular among this age group because it boomed several years ago. Another could be that a younger generation is less interested in participating in this type of community. This is not to say that younger members would be less interested in politics, but they may be less interested in discussing it through this community.

On average there are five to ten posts every single day. Some stories are similar, based on a new current event or hot topic at the time, but generally the posts cover a wide range of media from that particular day. With each post, there is a comment section. A user has the option to comment directly on the post or to reply to a previous comment. The replies to other members’ comments are how conversations are usually sparked.

The comment section of each post also allows readers to state any opinion or give additional facts. Not long ago there was a story posted about Mitt Romney only helping out the states that swing for the GOP after Hurricane Sandy swept the east coast. This sparked a lot of hate messages against Romney, as expected, but one reader brought up the potential of untruthfulness. User ABC said, “Didn’t CNN refute this or, issue a statement correcting it earlier? I find it hard to believe, but not because I believe Romney has a heart of gold or anything, but because, while he’s a moron, I don’t think he’s going to do something THAT STUPID a week before the election.” It didn’t seem like any of the people that run the site every countered this statement, but it did let other readers know that facts always need to be re-checked, especially when dealing with politics.

Another hot topic article was one that looked at the newly re-elected President’s view on gay marriage. It become national news when Barack Obama issued a statement saying he supported gay marriage during his first term as President, but now as he enters his second term he seems to be shying away from this a little. With this, the article takes a look back on all of the different statements issued by Obama, as his opinion on the subject changes over time. Users of Oh No They Didn’t: Politics had different views and opinions on this article. Some were calmly looking at this as Obama still supporting gay marriage, but trying to do what he thinks is best for the country. Others are not so supportive and want to see the change that was supposed to be guaranteed with Obama’s re-election. From the same interview previously mentioned, user XYZ said, “This is an ideal situation for the moderators. They love to see members actively engaging. It gets super boring when everyone just agrees.”

Over the last few weeks, there were never any over-heated arguments over a particular post, but there was the occasional disagreement. In general, each member was respectful of other viewpoints, but didn’t hesitate to calmly state another opinion. XYZ said, “It is pretty rare to see hateful messages on a post.” This is all part of how the community has formed. The members allowed to access this page all share the common interest of politics and are always very interested in what the other members are saying.

McCudden explored a different online community, one that focused on TV shows, but dove deep into users reactions to change. A larger company bought out the original site and thus users saw some drastic changes. Most of the changes were in format and layout, but there also some user-friendly changes. While the change of the site didn’t necessarily affect the content, original users had a hard time adjusting. McCudden says, “Many members express confusion or dismay with the regard to the amount of micro-management that is occurring on [message] boards which used to mostly police themselves.” This relates back to how the moderator of Oh No They Didn’t: Politics runs their site. They have made a conscious effort not to make unnecessary, drastic changes.

Overall this community has become a place for people of common interest to express themselves with others. Usually when hot topics in the political world arise, there is a lot of tension, but all members of Oh No They Didn’t: Politics do a great job of respecting fellow commenters.

Here is a link to the actual site for those interested in further exploring it: Oh No They Didn't

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