For the course Special Topics, we had to compare and analyse two different digital projects. We looked into the subject of the websites, what audience was intended, how accessible the website is and the possibilities of contributing. We picked folklore.org, which contains anecdotes about the development of Apple’s original Macintosh, and reddit.com, where all the topics you can imagine can be discussed in multiple ways. We focused on the topic “AskHistorians”.
We also visited the website Reddit, a social news aggregation, web content rating, and discussion website. Literally everything can discussed, as long as it is within the boundaries of decency of course. We focused on topics that had to do with history, especially the topic “AskHistorians“. Users can ask a question that has to do with history, but there are a lot of rules that determine what can be asked and what not. For example, you can only ask questions about topics that are over 20 years old, in order to prevent the conversation from drifting off to emotional rants about current events. Another rule is, in order to sustain the quality of the answers, that the answer has to contain links to the sources.
What we saw, what that is you ask a good question, you will likely get a really good and extensive answer. However, if your question or answer doesn’t apply to the rules, your question or answer will be removed by the moderators of the topic.
We thought that this topic on Reddit is a good example of a lively historical discussion on the internet. The only downside to it is, that the website is hard to understand and that it takes the time to get the hang of it.
Both of the examples show that they care about the quality of the content. Folklore.org makes sure that only old employees can write articles. Reddit has a lot of moderator that check if the questions and answers abide to the rules. Both of the sites are accesible to the public, but to a different extent. The most important difference between the two cases was how easy or difficult it was to use them.
By Ruud Westerink en Hester Wynia