The elections in the coming November are going to be different in one important (I think) way. We now have a new medium, namely this Forum. This Forum is fast becoming a way for people to get their opinions established, both for themselves as they read others' ideas, and for influencing others.
The Weekly did a survey sometime ago which all users had to utilise in order to get into the Forum and whereas some have admitted that they gave erroneous information, the Weekly should have some idea of how many use this Forum and how quickly it is growing. The use if multi-names, particularly in different categories and the fact that many of us obviously check in multiple times a day, show that trying to quantify the numbers is difficult, but the volume of entries each day is obviously growing and probably will continue to do so through the election period. The population have become aware of this gradually, but something like an election and any hot topic can bring new users in extremely quickly once they become aware. It is getting easier to use particularly now that the codes have been removed from the bottom of the submit page.
This new medium is important for candidates also. True, it can be argued that a great deal of false information could be given and there is no guarantee that each poster is who he says he is, e.g. a particular candidate, but inasfaras this Forum is being used as a tool by those interested in school issues, planning issues, advertising issues, etc. it is obviously a medium that has to be taken seriously. The fact that we can ask questions of candidates and half expect them to at least read the comments even if they do not answer or blog themselves, shows that for those of us who use it, it is an important means of keeping up to date.
It would be interesting to discover how both the Weekly and the candidates themselves evolve this medium and how, when the election is over, this Forum has been a means to the end of getting the successful candidates elected. I know that rumors can spread quickly here, but also useful information can be passed on much quicker than by newspapers and letters to the editors alone. In this tech age, this Forum in particular, and blogs over the internet in general, will prove to be the divider between success and downfall of political candidates. The Weekly is very much better than many other blog forums for weeding out undesirable libel, but it needs to get its policies out and consistent. The candidates need to at least acknowledge they read and take not of what is being said here.
Lastly, as we know that more people are gradually getting into the habit of reading this Forum on even an occasional basis, we really should put more thought into what oversight is needed, if any.