David Rodeback's Blog

Local Politics and Culture, National Politics,
Life Among the Mormons, and Other Stuff

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Thursday, October 19, 2006
What's New at LocalCommentary.com

Newest is a forum, The Water Cooler, for your discussion of issues and for poll questions. Also new is our own little book list and bookstore, The Well-Read Citizen.


Until today, if you wanted to sound off at LocalCommentary.com, you had to send me a comment on a blog post via e-mail, as some have done. Or you had to submit (or be invited to submit) a post at our guest blog, or an article for our informational side; these have not seen as many submissions so far as I had hoped. These opportunities still exist, and you are more than welcome to take advantage of them. But they're pretty formal stuff, and perhaps rather daunting to many.

With today's new addition, The Water Cooler, you can comment in a much less formal setting, see your comments posted immediately, ask questions, participate in small polls, and generally take part in discussions more casually. In fact, if there are categories or localities you would like me to add to the forum, I'm open to suggestion.

In order to post a comment or answer a poll question for the first time, you do have to register with an e-mail address and go through a fairly simple verification process. The system will send you a confirmation e-mail, to the address that you specify, and you'll have to click on a link to confirm that you received it. This is to prevent people -- and especially automated systems -- from using the forum to advertise discount pharmaceuticals, mortgage refinancing, personal services of dubious legality and morality, and so forth.

About the Little Polls

Each registered user is permitted to answer a given poll question only once. After you have answered, anytime you go to that question you'll see the current results. The polls are not scientific, but they should be interesting. We're not tracking who answers poll questions which way, so don't worry about that.

Room to Grow

I would be delighted to add categories and forums (fora?) for other issue areas; for discussion specific to other communities, geographical or otherwise -- especially in Utah, but anywhere else, too -- and for some topics other than government and politics. I reserve the right not to add such things in any given case if I don't want to, and when I add one I'll usually need a volunteer to moderate it. But please feel free to propose such additions, if you're serious.


Another new feature, The Well-Read Citizen, serves two purposes.

First of all, it highlights nine books I highly recommend, about economics, history, politics, government, and the Constitution. These are books I think are particularly valuable for understanding government in America and participating effectively, in the voting booth and otherwise. I hand-picked these Essential Readings. I'd be perfectly happy if you found them at the library and read them, or bought them elsewhere, but if you buy them through LocalCommentary.com, we get a small commission to help cover our costs.

Second -- I think I already gave this away -- it's actually a miniature Amazon.com bookstore, where you can buy the books if you wish to -- for yourself, as gifts, or for your local library or school. Beyond the featured selections are some secondary lists of books and DVDs on politics, history, and other themes, plus whatever is on your own Amazon.com wish list. Generally, these secondary lists are automatically selected by Amazon, using search terms I specify. So I have some control over them, and I tried to be careful, but my control is far from complete. Please don't assume that everything in those secondary categories reflects my own opinions or comes with my endorsement.

The Well-Read Citizen might even be a good place for some of your shopping for Christmas (or whatever winter holiday you choose to observe). Just a thought.

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