Friday, March 12, 2010

Prime Minister Stephen Harper's YouTube Interview-- Good Idea Poorly Executed

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is supposed to be interviewed on Youtube on March 16th at 7 pm. The questions will have been submitted by the public and voted on on the Youtube page.

I like the idea of the Prime Minister taking questions from the public instead of engaging in the ridiculous shenanigans of Question Period.

But the process for this has been poorly thought out.

At the time of posting, there have already been over 1188 questions submitted.

Is the public expected to read through over a thousand questions and vote on them? Naturally, some questions will get more exposure than others.

Then there are questions that essentially repeats. The pro-marijuana activists have submitted a large number of them.

And then there are those Youtube users who've submitted dozens upon dozens of questions, many of them trollish in nature (and some totally partisan).

Some of the questions are just plainly stupid.

I think that this exercise is not without merit, but I think there should be some controls.

For starters, the page where questions are posted should be organized like a message board, so that questions can be organized into categories, e.g. economics, social issues, democracy.

The submission process should be separate from the voting process, so all questions get the same number of days so they all have an equal chance of being viewed and voted on.

Questions should be moderated to avoid repeats. Completely moronic questions should be filtered.

Each user should be allowed 5 questions.

Notwithstanding its faults, I think the spirit of the exercise is great, and I hope we have more such sessions in the future.

UPDATE: The questions are now sorted by popularity, what's hot (?) and by date. I don't think that makes things better.