Last month, REDD-Monitor celebrated its fourth birthday. Also sometime last month, the site received its millionth view. It seems a good time to look at how REDD-Monitor could be improved. Here’s a question I’ve been asking people recently: “What would you change on REDD-Monitor in order to improve it?”
The suggestions can relate to any aspect of the website, from the appearance, ease of use, how often posts appear to the content of the posts themselves. I’d prefer suggestions that offer ways of improving things, but if you have a problem with REDD-Monitor and don’t have a solution, it would be good to hear about that too.
I also have some ideas for changes to REDD-Monitor over the coming months, listed below in no particular order:
- Design: The website is overdue for a re-design. I’d like to simplify the design, hopefully making it easier to read and easier to find what you’re looking for. I’m going to delete the banner photos. I think they distract from the information in the posts. If, for example, you’re reading an interview with a REDD proponent, such as Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, it doesn’t make much sense to have a banner of a series of No REDD protest photos above the interview.
- Comments: REDD-Monitor welcomes discussion about REDD. But as Andrew Revkin puts it, promoting “constructive online discourse, … is never easy given the tendency of the Web to amplify and polarize”. Sometimes the discussion on REDD-Monitor degenerates into personal attacks. Any suggestions for improving REDD-Monitor’s comments policy (or how it is implemented) would be welcome, as would suggestions for improving the discussions on REDD-Monitor. For example, should there be a ban on sock puppets – one person using several different names to comment? Sock puppets took over the comments after REDD-Monitor’s most recent post about David Nilsson’s operations in Peru.
- Interviews and debate: REDD-Monitor will continue doing interviews with REDD actors. I’ve made a couple of attempts at setting up “Debate” posts, similar to the format that New Internationalist uses. Two people with different opinions could debate a topic such as: “Should REDD be financed by carbon trading?” So far, it’s proved difficult to get both parties to agree to a debate. Any suggestions? Or if anyone wants to take part in a debate, please let me know.
- Research trips: I’ll be doing my first REDD-Monitor research trip later this year, looking at a REDD project on the ground. The work will include a series of interviews, with project proponents and with villagers in the project area. The result will be a short report (to be available in English, Bahasa Indonesia, French, Spanish and Portuguese). Hopefully this will be the first of many research trips and reports.
- Social media: You can follow REDD-Monitor on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. Any suggestion for how REDD-Monitor could improve the use of these social media? (I’ve just noticed that the REDD-Monitor Google+ account hasn’t been updated since April 2012, so that’s an obvious improvement to be made…) Are there other social media that REDD-Monitor should be using?
- UNFCCC: I’ve not been to a COP since Poznan, in 2008. I won’t be going to Doha. This is partly to reduce the amount of flying I do and partly because many NGOs follow these meetings and pass on information about what’s happening. However, going to the COPs increases the amount I write about them. I wrote 32 posts from Poznan, compared to 14 each about Copenhagen and Cancun and 11 about Durban. Should REDD-Monitor take part in the UNFCCC discussions more frequently?
- Open threads: In August last year I started a series of “Open threads” and then quietly shelved the idea a month later. This post re-starts the open threads. Suggestions for topics are welcome.
- Funding: Long term core funding, as well as funding for specific projects like research trips, debates and interviews would be nice. Any suggestions?
Suggestions I’ve received so far include the following:
- Search always brings up “REDD in the news” posts, which may not have much detail on the term searched.
- REDD-Monitor focussed on REDD – sometimes the posts have nothing to do with REDD.
- REDD-Monitor is responding to the REDD agenda – and looking at the problem through a REDD framework. Having focussed on the problems maybe it’s time to start looking at solutions, outside the REDD framework.
- Set up an Indonesian version of REDD-Monitor, along the lines of mongabay.com’s Indonesia site. Hire someone to work on this.
- Hire at least one other person to work with you on REDD-Monitor. When you’re on holiday the website won’t close down.
Please leave any more suggestions in the comments below. Thanks!
UPDATE – 11 November 2012: I changed the title. The previous one (“Making REDD-Monitor better”) made it sound like REDD-Monitor was ill.