Vanguard  with 

The state of the APC World Wide forum

 - Thursday 31 December 2009.

Commentary

By Arolyn I. Koroma-Washington, DC, USA.

It is no hidden secret that Murphy’s Law had taken a big bite out of the forum. Whatever can go wrong will definitely …...

Like their internet role models (Cocorioko’s Kabs Kanu, Patriotic Vanguard’s Gibril Koroma, Footprint’s Sherman, Sierra Express Media’s Paul Ade) and a host of others at home, the APC World Wide Web, a forum for APC supporters, is not without problems.

These media outlets were born out of love for their country in order to give their citizens the best of news emanating from their country, Sierra Leone.

These news media are managed and financed by their pioneers which is not the easiest of exercise taking into consideration the financial burden the CEOs experience and the APC World Wide Web is no exception.

One of these pioneers, Mr. Foday Morris of the World Wide Web is currently experiencing both the thrill of triumph and the agony of defeat. A defeat from an approximately 500,000 daily readership and subscribers with no pre-established rules of engagement for the forum.

As mentioned above the pioneers Mr. Foday Morris Ceesay (photo) and Mr. Allieu Iscandri saw a need for a theater through which the APC North America could meet and intellectually engage each other with pertinent information and ideas for the betterment of the APC party.

For three years (2006-2009) since its inception the forum has been a vital source of information for the APC North America community of friends, and it became an integral part of our daily electronic mail readership.

The APC World Wide Web’s contribution in its defensive and provocative engagement of the opposition in social and intellectual debates and educating Sierra Leoneans in the Diaspora on events arising in their homeland with its global reach is next to none.

Again like their role models, the founders’ love for the party could only be paralleled but cannot be surpassed. But like any public entity if rules are not implemented in the beginning it becomes an insurmountable task to establish rules in the middle of operation,hence the forum’s current quagmire.

Subscribers do not hold their end of the bargain, because the survivability of any internet forum hangs on the self censorship and civility applied by its subscribers. But for the past seven months the World Wide Web participants around the world have witnessed some subscribers’ egos surpassing the goal for which the forum was originally established. This is a trend that is constantly raising concerns amongst the party’s hierarchy.

The goal is to engage the opposition, educate the populace and promote the party’s positive image, and achievements. However, for the past seven months the forum was turned into an internet channel anybody can tune in to see the ugly, the agony of defeat and the thrill of egoistic successes.

For seven months the subscribers are submerged in paying lip service to loyalty to the party and winning the pending 2012 election. However, these preachers while not only destroying their public images with their virus spreading articles, they are also consciously or unconsciously the architects of destroying the party’s image at home and broad.

The pioneers meant well, but as in any enterprise there must be established rules for others to follow. This was lacking in the beginning and the moderators found out the hard way as they currently struggle to bring sanity and civility to establish rules in the middle of the game.

The forum counsels, Mr. Allieu Iscandri and Mr. Sorie Tarawali are quite overwhelmed. They knew that the problem stems from the inability to edit subscribers’ postings will soon collapse the system. They also knew that to prevent a total collapse they need capital to employ editors who will edit and filter virus-infested articles and in turn post the articles in the network. Since the latter is not attainable for now, the counsels resorted to minimal participation. They resorted to watch and see if these so-called elite subscribers can censure themselves and make the forum a better internet theater for all.

Before the internet age we believed in using the telephone to settle disputes among us, while the internet is the most efficient medium of communication there is today. It is also the most dangerous theater to employ in placing complaints as is the practice with subscribers and settling disputes amongst family members. The risk is due to its real time global reach, which makes it possible for people in Moscow, Britain, Nigeria and Freetown to tackle issues in real time and contributes in raising people’s tempers and causes confrontations.

The above, coupled with the misuse of the freedom of speech in our community is slowly but steadily eroding the culture and tradition of respect which bind us together. Additionally, individuals constantly dish out attacks and counter-attack each other using inappropriate language and that is steadily rolling into the forum second by second, minute by minute, and hour by hour. The real time factor makes the forum irresistible to ignore while reading the compelling accusations, attacks and counterattacks.

This phenomenon causes isolated clashes with the dynamic self styled entertainer and senior moderator Foday Morris (‘Breaking News’, ‘orwaii, orsai’), whose outreach to subscribers is seen as too trivial, because he is perceived as part of the problems plaguing the forum. In essence these accusations stem from his moderating style as he struggles to bring back civility and sanity which had been lost through the years due to the increased readership which has globally surpassed 500,000 and subscribers ignore self censorship.

Moderator Foday Morris is an impressive figure and focused in his effort to bring civility and sanity to the forum. He is quite effective in preserving the forum’s mission. He can hold his ground in political, social and intellectually debating the opposition and does an excellent job of repelling their bogus attacks. He is seen as efficient and valuable, but not tactful enough while engaging members of his own party, and at the same time trying to curb chaos and install respect which had been lost in the forum.

In retrospect, no democracy can afford to do without the internet or the forum but the quality and adherence to civil rules of engagement by subscribers can make a significant difference. We the subscribers have failed our own forum and our party. Of late tribal sentiments and bullets were thrown into the fray; while this is not a destabilizing issue, it raised concerns. But factually, where there are more than five dialects there will definitely be tribal polarization.

The back and forth accusations would have been a non-event and good for a thriving democracy as ours had there been rules and regulations guarding it but the ego in us all became inimical to the forum as we collectively drag it down.

In summary, forming a new forum is not the best of options, but focus and attitudinal change are vitally important to move the party forward- Orwaii!, Orsai!.