New Mandala comments policy: An initial response

Thank you to everyone who has commented on New Mandala‘s trial comments policy.  We have, to keep the issue at the top of the agenda, penned this short reaction to your many thoughtful suggestions and critiques.

From where we sit, the conversation that has started in response to the original comments policy post is a perfect example of what we want to see.  There is a diversity of opinion, and a range of thoughtful, compelling and unexpected contributions.  As the various comments on that post clearly demonstrate, on New Mandala there is no censorship of dissent.  Such censorship is anathema to both our personal creeds.  Many of the voices express strong disagreements with our approach, the discussion is not dominated by a small number of “loud” voices, and there is an open exchange of views. This is perfect.

Any conversation, seminar discussion or episode of dinner-table banter requires some degree of moderation. This is only natural.  Our goal in revising our comments policy is to open up the discussion to a greater diversity of opinions and styles of expression. We feel that sometimes too many discussion threads have been dominated by a relatively small number of our “dinner-table” companions. In the future we hope that conversations can be moderated (in some way) by commentators themselves.  “Democratic” options for managing the flow of material that finds its way to New Mandala are being fully explored. The suggestions readers have made for various technological fixes and other approaches to highlighting “quality” are very welcome.  Please keep them coming. 

We do find it amusing that charges of “elitism” have already been made in response to our trial changes.  Frankly, if we had an elitist agenda we would never have embarked on the New Mandala experiment in the first place.  As long-time readers know, breaking down some of the prevailing barriers to communication in mainland Southeast Asian studies has always been our goal.  So when we encourage “quality” we are certainly not trying to make contributions more academic…

The trial of our new comments policy continues and we thank you all for your patience and ongoing involvement.  New Mandala is a work in progress.

About Andrew Walker and Nicholas Farrelly