As of posting this, I have been a paid up member of the Pirate Party UK for a year.
It has been a rather busy year, and so much has happened both personally and for the party.
I’ve stood for and achieved uncontested victory as the RAO for the South East. I have also stood for election to the Board of Governors where, despite a strong field, I am proud to be amongst those chosen.
This of course is only the beginning, both of these positions require a lot of time and hard work on my part, and I am grateful for the opportunity to be involved with furthering the goals of a political party that I so strongly support.
When the PPUK’s policy discussion forums were closed I was aware of it, but as a paid-up member not really affected by it. At least that’s what I thought.
I should also confess that I didn’t pay any attention to the debate surround the issue before or after the decision was made, and have blissfully and ignorantly supported the decision retrospectively.
Having recently traded some communications with a non-member (i.e. signed up to the forum but didn’t pay to join the party) who was affected by the decision I decided to go back and look at the debate.
I find it quite telling that there are quite a few eager people who seem very supportive of the party’s aims that declared an intent to leave and not join over the issue. Their relatively low post totals does seem to indicate that they did indeed leave. Of those, it is also clear to me that some of them are clearly eloquent, well educated on our issues, and have essentially been driven away due to this decision.
Of course, to balance against that, I have all the ‘benefits’ of this decision being taken. But as those benefits are mostly invisible things like ‘prevent non-members coming into the forums and spamming and de-railing them’ they are really hard to measure. How many spammy derailing forum posts have been prevented? Who knows.
Over the past year I have seen the occasional clearly spam forum post (via the RSS feed) which have been pretty much nuked/quarantined/whatever well before I can see them in the actual forum. This tells me our forum admins are doing a great job in clearing away the junk. Could they have handled any spam in the policy forums? Probably. Of course that does raise the issue of do we want our admins nuking non-spam posts that derail policy discussions? I’m uncomfortable with that idea.
I don’t know whether or not there is much will amongst the rest of the party to revisit this issue, but if there is, ask yourself this: as paid up members, how are we affected by this decision?
My answer is this: I have missed out on the valuable contributions of those who want to engage with our party, want to engage with our issues, and who may be subsequently persuaded into joining and contributing further.