Kerry Lauerman

Kerry Lauerman
New York, New York, USA
July 19
Executive Editor,
Salon Media Group
I blog here, and tweet at

JULY 28, 2008 10:47AM

Welcome to our public beta

Rate: 15 Flag

Open Salon is a social content site we hope to officially launch later this year. We've been hosting a lively private beta test for several months now, with about 1,300 or our closest friends. We're now pleased to open the door for everyone else.

What, precisely, can you do here? After a quick registration, you can start blogging immediately -- and rating and commenting on other posts, messaging other members, and more. You can also invite other members into Open Salon from your own blog page.

The Open Salon home page functions like a real-time magazine cover. We spotlight the best content, but you can also see what other members are reading, rating and commenting on. A new issue goes up every evening at 8 p.m. ET; we update the cover every morning at 11 a.m. ET, and as necessary. In the near future, we'll begin featuring the best Open Salon content on the cover of We'll also be unveiling ways for you to earn money for your great work on Open. More to come.

(For a more detailed description of Open Salon, go here; for answers to common questions, go here.)

We will also be featuring a specific type of content every day on part of the home page. Our current schedule is:

Monday : A great travel photo (Tag: Roadie).
Tuesday : A review, recipe or post about food or wine (Tag: Foodie).
Wednesday : A stellar personal narrative (Tag: True Story).
Thursday : A response to an Open Call.
Friday: Our favorite pet photo (Tag: Aw).
Saturday/Weekend: The Big Stories: Your posts on/summaries of the big stories of the week (Tag: Big Story).

Welcome! Let us know what you think.

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Love the weekly schedule. But pet photo as a theme for a whole day? Yes, pets bring hits, but jeez. Perhaps at least enlarge the scope to include kids too?
No, pets won't be a theme for a whole day. It'll be but one post.
M. Chariot is not in favor of puppy/baby photo orgies. O_S needs to make an effort to move beyond a sentimental Reader's Digest tone — unless that's what we're aiming for? I guess I'm not sure. If I'm going to be looking at puppies or babies I'd like it to be for a good reason — and not because the poster can't find a fawning audience for their home movies!
I agree with M. Chariot.

And while there's certainly a place for introspection I hope some Open Salon bloggers will bring us their particular expertise and education in different areas.

Not just the inner mind, but also the outer limits.
Thanks, Kerry, I like the Aw feature on salon too. Think about adding kids too, k. Look at Lauren's, they can be as cute as pets. (And some are treated as such. ;)

Fyi, the new login window is misbehaving for me. I fill in the fields, click Login and get another window, with code. If I refresh the page, I am logged in. Am I the only one?
Let the games begin!
MC: No puppy orgies. I promise.
SS: We might have a little turbulence, as we complete the switch into openness.
I like everything so far except the cover schedule, including the pet photos as noted, but also the recipes and maybe even travel. Seems very Lite.

None of those interest me, except for maybe Wed and weekend.

Personally, I like pop culture and politics. I don't expect everyone to. I just find that list really unappealing.

Mostly, though, I'm just interested in whatever the best content being produced is. I would never come here based on a content schedule, but I have fled quickly when I've seen a bunch of recipes.

I like having the gates open, though. Maybe new members will produce new content to adapt the schedule. Or not.

I am getting that same weird code thing when I try to add Skeptic Turtle as my friend. (Maybe it's just the system trying to stop me. Hahaha.)

I've gotten it all afternoon. Everything else works fine, but when I try that again, same thing.
Dave (and others),

You really shouldn't be too worried about the schedule. The purpose is to give members fixed topic areas if they want to try writing for the cover. But these fixed posts will likely always fall below the big essays/news of the day -- which I suspect will largely be politics, pop culture and personal essays.

We'll also switch up the topics over time.
I guess my newest suggestion is that on the left column "Activity Feed," I find that the listing of someone "rating" another post to be completely irrelevant information. Who cares if I've just rated another post? The reason I say this is that a lot of times I'll post a new blog item, then read someone else's right after that, rate it, and then my new post drops off the Activity Feed right away, only to be replaced by my new "rating" activity only seconds later. Those two actions should never have to compete, in my mind.
OH, yes, I just saw what Blake is saying. I have just posted a new story, that showed up as a new blog for about two seconds after which it changed to reflect a new comment posted on another thread entirely.

The announcement of my new blog is now lost, to a comment about another post...bummer!
I agree with Blake on that one. It makes me less likely to rate when I've just posted something new. Sometimes I go back the next day and rate but sometimes I don't.
I'm going to add my voice to Blake's, Arlene's and LaLucas'...that is a feature that needs to be fixed. I realize that the rating showing up is the OS editor's way of letting the audience know what's getting looked at...but that seems to be covered by the most popular/most read column on the right..............
Hmmm...I posted a comment and it disappeared...mayhap I clicked "cancel" instead of post? Anyway, I just wanted to say I agree about the "comments" being updated the same column as the new posts. I think some good stuff can be missed that way.

As for the weekly schedule, I think it can be helpful when one has writer's block. I can always pull out a travel photo or a picture of my most adorable grandson and/or dog (ooh...both in one shot - gold!). Lauren's bunny and grandson have shown that these photos can be appealing.
I noticed that with the open beta we're seeing an ever changing display of ads, two examples of which are shown below. Too bad a lot of these couldn't be something that's more appropriately attuned to the OS community's refined level of taste.

10 Rules of Flat Stomach
Cut Off 9 lbs of Stomach Fat every 11 Days by Keeping these 10 Rules.

"How To Lose Belly Fat"
Melts 15lbs of Fat in 30 Days. As Seen On CNN.
Some more ads from the lower left corner of the cover page, but related in a funny way to one of the cover stories:

What's wrong with Batman
JULY 18, 2008 • 10:53 AM
By rahul k. parikh
Diagnosing the Joker, Riddler, Two Face and the Dark Knight himself

The ads:
Joker Costume
200+ Joker Products at Great Prices Shop, Compare and Save at Pronto.

Joker Batman
Everything to do with Joker Batman items.
Ditto on Blake, Sandra, Lisa, etc. re ratings pushing new post off the page... not sure why we need ratings at all, but perhaps there's a rationale I'm missing.
Re: Ratings. We expect they'll be pretty important as we grow. We can't spotlight all that's great on the cover; this gives readers another way to find good content, and we hope to provide different ways for members to dice it (top-rated in the past day, week, month, etc.) themselves.

As for ratings in the Activity Feed -- it's a really good point. We might experiment with the different modules a bit -- there are a few we haven't used, at least not often, which might solve the problem.

Thanks for the great comments!
The ratings should be a seperate feed. That would put them in a context that would make sense visually and mentally because you would see if one post kept showing up. As it is, you have to cipher what you are looking for so much that it is not a good activity feed OR a ratings feed.

Or, what they said.
Great work so far Kerry. I was thinking tonight there really needs to be a save button that doesn't default to previewing your current post. Sometimes you just want to save what you've written and continue.
I think the ratings thing made more sense when there was the possibility of negative rating. now that it is only positive, there may be another way to track ratings than including it on an activity feed.
I prefer wine to whine but I have to sip of the latter for now. I hate the new sign in procedure. I don't know if I'm signed in or not until I try to comment and then I get a shaky box that doesn't take my sign in info half the time and it still doesn't remember me. I'm with everyone about losing just-posted blogs on the activity feed. Maybe a section just for new posts is warranted and the rest of the activity can stay together on the feed. No one likes abrupt change and that's what we're experiencing. I feel a little displaced.
Another thing (are you feeling black and blue yet), I hate the rating symbol where it is. I'm not going to rate the damned thing before I even read it and seldom do I think about scrolling back to the top of the post to give it a rating.
good point on the placement of the ratings thumb, Lauren.

Also, as a long time paid premium member of Salon, must I endure seeing ads at all?
What Barry said, What P_F said, what Priddy said, what Sally said, and what Blake said. All valid gripes that must not be ignored.

I was disappointed yet again to see puppies and babies and that damned "kids say the darndest things" pablum that was recycled from the first days of OS. Who ever said "Reader's Digest" hit a home run. There is some damned good stuff on OS and all that other furry, fluffy crap should hit the bricks.
Pets, not just pets, but pets in costumes. Please, please please.

What is wrong with food though?

Where are the ads, I don't see any?
I love you JD, but I disagree about the animals. I love seeing our pet friends.

So, don't look at my latest's about a dog, but maybe with a bit of a different spin on it. Stella, it's close to pets in clothes, but not quite
Okay, here's another wrinkle. This morning while waiting for an appointment with my doctor, I thought I'd try to log on to OS from my Treo. Weird thing. I didn't have to log on. I could read all posts and comments. I have never gone to the site from that device before, so it couldn't have been in cookies. Maybe it's a Blazer thing.
I have to add one more voice of discontent to this proposed schedule. The "real" Salon is a place of "pop culture and politics" and for OS to be successful, it has to appeal to the real Salon's audience, which, i imagine, is an audience that likes "pop culture and politics." Less fluff, confessionals, pets, children, and recipes, less "me me me me me me," please. There's a whole world of "pop culture and politics" out there beyond our own personal lives. The discussion of that world is why I love Salon and am a happily paying supporter of it. I hope OS follows in the same vein.
C'mon it's not recipes if they call it foodie. Foodie, is hip, now, pop. Recipes are not. So, I never include recipes. Google your own recipes.
About me, "I am who I am." like Popeye said.
Well, for what it's worth, I think Louis' Jeffrey Dahmer post is still the best thing I've read here. Funny, funny stuff.
Re: the 'x just rated y' showing up in activity feed being a way for readers to i.d. good/popular content - I think Most Read Past 24 Hours and Top Rated Past Month do that more than adequately.
I appreciate the comments about how "Rating" knocks other more important data off the Activity Feed, but am I the only one who likes to see exactly who it is that appreciates my essay so much that they give it a thumbs up? It give one a clearer idea of the kind of audience that resonates with your material.
I agree Blake, the Dahmer post is my favorite by far, but loads of others tied at second place
M, that is why I like the sites that tell you who rates your post. I prefer that to the Friends option.
Also very buggy for me. After I log in, the links on the homepage don't work. Had to close the window and reopen.
Interesting perspective, Mme Stellaa. The "Friends" option has not worked well for me. When I joined O_S, I don't think I understood how to use it, and made everyone with whom I had an exchange my "Friend". The list became unwieldy and made the feature very buggy. I had to dump a bunch of "Friends" to get it to work properly. Then I worried that my dumped "Friends" were notified: "M. Chariot has dumped you as a Friend." Horreurs!
Lauren, I'll second your comment on the sign-in. I note that I only see the problem when using Firefox, not IE. I'm hoping that the OS site isn't becoming non-agnostic in the browser wars.

Blake et al., I also agree on the ratings feed. Nice to know, but not at the expense of other information.

And for everyone's most popular bitch (about the site, not Madame) we still really need a way to preview and edit comments before posting.
Msr, Stellaa, hadn't thought of that, and it does make sense - so if they could retain that feature w/out it pushing off the screen 'just posted' notifications, that would be good.

also agree with P-F that the thumbs up at the top of the blog entry discourages rather than encourages one to rate the post
Good point! The rating/thumbs symbol should most definitely appear at the end, rather than at the top of the essay.
The friends thing is rather adolescent.
Stellaa - one good thing about the friend thing is, when I'm reading content I really like by someone, I often scan their friends' recent postings to see if there is anything catchy, on the theory that a friend of my friend is likely to be producing content I, like my friend, will also admire.

I've had a few of my 'friends' mysteriously disappear...
I'm in Firefox, and I'm also having the bug problems on sign-in.
Msr. Chariot - I too had to pare my too-cumbersome friends list, weird stuff was happening, then fretted that they got a sterile OS notification they were 'unfriended', yikes. I hope that isn't the case.
On pets, I will post my 18 year old cat wailing and moaning if anyone posts "cute pets" in outfits or other pet fetish images and then you will stop anthropomorphing the bloody things.
I agree with everyone on the Activity Feed. I have found myself waiting to post a comment or do a rating after I post, because then no one will know I posted. These should not be competing.

"I hate the new sign in procedure. I don't know if I'm signed in or not until I try to comment and then I get a shaky box that doesn't take my sign in info half the time and it still doesn't remember me."

God, thank you. That's exactly the list I would have enumerated.

And I want to make one more pitch for permanent (or at least weekly) sign-in, with more explanation.

For starters, I hate the annoyance of signing back in. I realize lots of people post from outside their home--but aren't they aware of this? If they're a blogger, aren't they web-savvy enough to grasp one of the most basic concepts about web security?

I host a forum site with 6,000 members, most of whom were fairly new to the web and completely new to web forums (ie, MUCH less experienced than a blogger), and we allow permanent log-in, and in 2.5 years have yet to hear a complaint. I don't frequent any site that requires re-logging in. I'm not sure why Salon would consider its bloggers to require much more hand-holding here than appears to me to be industry standard.

Finally, to be totally honest, the relogging bugs me a couple ways: primary is just the minor annoyance of doing it. But the second way is that every time I do it, I feel like a kid resentful of his over-protective parents. It kind of stuns me that Salon of all places would take the nanny attitude that bloggers can't be responsible for their own actions, and we have to put these child-proof locks on all of us so that none of us get ourselves in trouble. I feel that every time I relog on--that Salon is adopting the nanny approach--and it is not good.

Is that just me, or do other people feel a whiff of that each time?
"Another thing (are you feeling black and blue yet), I hate the rating symbol where it is. I'm not going to rate the damned thing before I even read it . . . "

i agree again--had the exact same reaction.

at first i thought it had been taken away.

(BTW, i'll use this moment to make one of my few long-running complaints about Salon's page layout. i've always thought the "About the author" line should go somewhere, anywhere, on the FIRST page (or every page), not the last. i often start to wonder "who is this coming from?" as i read, and want to know that as i go. i hate having to click ahead to the last page to find it and come back.
Concerning Madame Bitch's comment about less personal, less me me me, less children and confessionals and more about pop culture et al to mirror the regular Salon, I have to comment that the regular salon has Cary Tennis and Ann Hood and a lot of personal content that I enjoy. I feel, perhaps incorrectly, that the comment is directed to me and the other moms and dads of OS. I have enjoyed the atmosphere here at OS, enjoyed learning from other people's stories and expereinces, and enjoyed the recipes and food porn. This site does not need to exactly mirror OS; we make it the way we want to. If no one likes something posted, it gets ignored and we move on.
I'll second Pretend Farmer's thoughts on content. As we already have a variety of people, we already have a variety of topics. The most loved stuff will float up. If you want just news and current events, that's what and other media sites are for.

And I'm 100% with Dave on the sign-in thing. Most the other suggestions for changes I could take or leave. But the continuous sign-in is aggravating. I'm probably resigning n about 6-8 times a day. I never have to resign in to my Salon Premium subscription. What gives?
Umm... I'm all about the personal crap here - writing my own and reading everybody else's. Don't take it away. I like the mix.
Oh, to add a few positives here, I like the schedule. It's not a stalin-enforced thing. I'm sure we can draw outside the lines. I like cute pets; I have a lot. I don't put clothes on them. That would create more laundry.

And, at the danger of seeming adolescent, I like the friends aspect of OS, mostly because I can see what they have written on the sidebar of my blog. I would still like that expanded.
I know this may very well start a war, but I've been thinking this for a while, and I think i need to let it out.

First of all, PF, i am not singling you out personally, or just moms and dads here on OS. You can be a mom and/or dad and post completely on non-parenting topics. For example, on the real Salon, Joan mostly posts about things not personal to her life, such as her offspring, family, life, etc. So, please don't take it personally.

That said, I dunno, y'all, if OS is just going to become a "here's a blurry photo I took" or "here's my dog," some sort of parenting corner, then it has nothing to do with the original Salon. Nothing. It's just another parenting/life blog. I eagerly signed up for OS thinking that we're going to continue what we've been discussing in the letters threads (politics, pop culture, technology, etc.) except with more control over our content, postings, etc. I am very disappointed with this place. Most people just post about their own personal lives. A distinct minority cares about anything beyond their immediate surroundings. This is a common human affliction, I know. And this may be fine and good for a parenting/life community. I can't control what OS will become, and if that's what the majority wants, then that's what the majority will get. But that result is very different from what I expected from something associated with Salon, and I don't think I'm alone.
Lauren, I think it depends on a person's definition of popular culture. To me, like you evidently, it includes how people live. In my world that includes cute animals, good food (almost always cooked by other people!), personal anecdotes and sometimes, VERY rarely for me, children. I enjoy that. I will read posts that include those items. I'll even just look at the pictures and rate. I will also read political commentary and other "newsworthy" posts. I like the buffet aspect that OS has been and hope it continues.
OK, I'll weigh back in on friends. I don't see it as a high school sort of thing. My "friends" are people whose prior posts I've found interesting (which is not the same thing as "unvaryingly agree with") and I'd like to know when they've got something to say.

Thanks a lot for all the feedback -- especially the reports on bugs and glitches. We're on them. And we know the log-in cookie is dodgy. They've been working steadily on it; we're hopeful for a solution soon.

As for all the feedback about the topics and the content and how Open Salon is exactly what (or not what) you hope it to be: Open is still in its infancy, and will grow, hopefully, in many different directions. Rather than cater to any one particular audience, we hope to grow in a way that will satisfy many, by giving you easy ways to access the content you're looking for through the cover, the ratings, the most read and -- soon -- more fleshed out Topics pages, and eventually Groups.

But if there's a type of content you'd like to see on Open, I'd encourage you to seize this moment to invite friends or bloggers you like to check it out. We're in public beta, but we're a few steps away from integrating more fully with Salon, and any sort of official launch. We've already got a great built-in audience.
Madam B's comment reminded me of the letters response on Salon every time they ran a piece on a family or parenting issue. Invariably, you'd have letter writers complain that Salon was going soft and publishing only stuff for those currently breeding. It was a laughable accusation, as it is here.

Look, I thought the calf thing was kind of ridiculous. But I don't expect to enjoy everything on Open Salon. I DO return because on most days I encounter at least a couple of posts that I find interesting, whether it is Pretend Farmer's or bbd's photos, nielpaul's rants on the criminal justice system from his personal perspective, cblakely's embedding videos with some political thing or another, or Arlene talking about sex--it's good, quality content.

My guess is that with the open doors we'll get more people writing on more things. Many will probably also focus on the stuff Madam B finds acceptable.

But to write "A distinct minority cares about anything beyond their immediate surroundings" because they write from a personal perspective doesn't make sense and is just kind of needlessly mean.

Madam B, I know you've written that you don't plan on having kids ever and I respect that. I don't understand how this aversion to kids seems to extend to any other person who may occasionally write or post a picture that includes a subject under 18 years old.
I use the friends to sort through the clutter and when I find that I am interested in reading more of them, I make them a friend so that their posts show on my page. It is easier than the activity feed, which is hit or miss by whwn I come in.

I think that when it is wide open, there will be wnough varied content to satisfy any Salon member. just ignore the parts that don't interest you. Cull your friends to only include politicos and culture wonks. That is your responsibility.

Salon's Overlords jobs are to invite and host content, and lots of it. Purely political and social commentary stuff, I read Salon for that. Over here, it is nice to get to know people on a more personal level. I think if they ever start publishing some of the work from over here over there, (hint hint hint), you might find people's personal blogs more interesting because it could give you insight into the rest of their story.

And the ratings need to be on the bottom after you read.
I mainly avoid the personal stuff or what I call the confessional leading to a public group hug of shared tragedy and trauma. I am really of the repress it goddamn school.

Sometimes, the cover is dominated with that kind of material. I understand that people like to write and comment that type of material, but it does get strange when it dominates. I do not understand the editorial desires of Open Salon. Provincial or global? Personal or poltiical? Magazine or networking site?
I understand that it will evolve but I frankly have to say that the editor choices are some times lazy, sometimes anything certain posters post, will be an editor's choice. No matter how banal or trite the post is.

For example take M. Chariot, now there is a voice that is brilliant and unique. Yet, at times his posts even though they are popular, would not get an editor's pick. I can see coming to Open Salon for that kind of voice. But, then again, I am not an expert on what "sells".
Much of this has already been covered by many of my friends and other astute participants in the OS private beta, so I will just add my two cent version for the record and the benefit of the OS code-monkeys:

Ratings - take 'em out of the Activity Feed; put 'em at the end of a post.

Log-in - buggy in Firefox, never remembers me whether I am gentle or firm with the checkbox, whether I pray to the Browser gods respectfully or curse at them with abandon.

Pets/Kids Orgies - Orgies can be fun but they should be restricted to consenting adults.

Food/Travel - Why not? Most people love both, whether they are also into culture and politics or not. Some of my fave posts during the private beta involved vicarious enjoyment of other people's good fortune and good taste.

MeMeMEism - Have at it. I suspect if you are interesting others will let you know by rating, reading and commenting on your posts. If you are not, look at it as a form of free therapy.

OS Editors - Good luck! Have you beaten your butterfly wings or opened Pandora's Box? Your readers and "staff" will soon let you know.
Look, I thought the calf thing was kind of ridiculous. But I don't expect to enjoy everything on Open Salon. I DO return because on most days I encounter at least a couple of posts that I find interesting,

Yeah, the calf thing was ridiculous, and for like 2 days, that's all that was happening. And there's been other days with similar overtakings on one single topic.

But to write "A distinct minority cares about anything beyond their immediate surroundings" because they write from a personal perspective doesn't make sense and is just kind of needlessly mean.

Madam B, I know you've written that you don't plan on having kids ever and I respect that. I don't understand how this aversion to kids seems to extend to any other person who may occasionally write or post a picture that includes a subject under 18 years old.

Taken in the aggregate, look at the front page of salon every day. It's MOSTLY about personal stories, children, pets, etc. I'm not trying to be "needlessly mean," this is really my impression. "Let them eat cake indeed," sir -- there are so many fascinating topics in this world to discuss, but what happens here is mostly about "my calves and my children and my life."

And please don't chalk it up to me not wanting children -- even if I did have children, i'd hope to stay engaged about the world on some level, and not have them be the Alpha and Omega of my world. And don't tell me, "oh, that's easy for you to say, you don't know what it's like" because people DO stay engaged while having children. Lots of people do it.

Yah, it's easier to think about chocolate chip cookie recipes than the Geneva Conventions, you don't need to explain that to me.

Perhaps this place just isn't for me, that's fine, it wouldn't be the first time that my tastes didn't coincide with the majority's (I'll withold final judgment until it goes public). But don't come crying to me when all that's left of here is a burning pile of chocolate chip cookies because there was no crossover appeal for the original Salon audience.
I have to log in not once but twice each time and even after that I end up on a front pages where the links don't work. It's frustrating.
Here's my take on the personal/political thing.

Most of us are not professional reporters. And god knows there are plenty of professional reporters on the 'net. And most of us don't witness news every day. Probably one of the most interesting posts that had to do with news was PF's cataloging of the damage from the storms that hit her state. It gave me a perspective on the news story I was hearing on CNN that morning. It was a personal look, sure. But when the news is so general, getting a personal perspective on it takes you a little deeper into the story.

As for parenting content and personal stories, most personal stories can and do address a larger issue. And if you think for a second that parenting is somehow less compelling politically than say, pharmacists electing not to distribute RU-486, then I am going to take a page from you Mme. B, and encourage you to read a book: The Irreducible Needs of Children, by T. Berry Brazelton and Stanley Greenspan for a really great insight as to why parenting matters from a political and societal perspective.

You're a feminist, Mme B., have you forgotten that "the personal is political?"

And Salon does have plenty of "lifestyle" content, including movie reviews, confessionals, and even the dreaded "parenting story."

What will differentiate Open Salon from say, LiveJournal or MySpace? My guess is that it will be the editing of the front page and the rewards system. I imagine that in the future, OS might consider making blogspace selectively available or limited for content providers who don't rate well. The OS editors will have to remember that "you get what you measure" -- what they choose to reward with either attention or money will be perpetuated.

Just my 2 farthings in this mess.

This open forum is a unique experiment, and I imagine we all are guinea pigs.
you are so on the money with your comment.
Madame wrote:
I eagerly signed up for OS thinking that we're going to continue what we've been discussing in the letters threads (politics, pop culture, technology, etc.) except with more control over our content, postings, etc. I am very disappointed with this place.
Kerry replied:
...the ratings, the most read and -- soon -- more fleshed out Topics pages, and eventually Groups.
Ha! I'm calling shenanigans on all the High Sheriffs right now!
Maybe start blogging 2-3 times a week like so many of the people up here before you start in on what Topics you would like to see.
We're open? Really?
That's news! Lets check the Salon cover:
"Introducing Salon Radio with Glenn Greenwald"
Hmmm maybe the words Open Salon are somewhere else on the Closed Salon cover...
So what does "We're Open!" mean other than it's the responsibility of the rank and file to drag asses into the seats?

Salon deserves ample credit for chosing PeopleAggregator as the platform for OS but the execution has been slap dash. I have a lot more "excuse why not" messages in my OS inbox that I have "solutions how". When there is a reply at all that is. I know I'm not alone in that.

Folks, seriously, want to see what we might be able to do? Go here:$data=stories&num=20&sec=1
Check out them links!
Look familiar?

yea I know... bad kitty.

Ah, geez. The world is full of sturm und drang and tension up the wazoo. Just check 'regular' Salon (as opposed to irregular open_salon?) or any other major news/political site out there.

I, for one, don't mind having a little fun and making a few friends while enjoying the wildy varied content here. Not everything has to be MEANINGFUL and RELEVANT and DEEP.

Life is serious enough. Why make it more so?

Just my dollar two ninety eight's worth.
Madame B, I can't speak for anyone else, but even with my employer's and client's liberal attitudes about computer and network usage, it's very time-consuming to put together something that's on topic, well-researched, etc. It's not necessarily where I want to put that much of my free time.

Plus, if I were to try and cross the streams of "write what you know" and "write something bigger picture," I'd risk turning my corner of Open Salon into a sure cure for insomnia with detailed examinations of the bureaucratic workings of the federal government. Or the Stay-Puft marshmallow man, one or the other.
Haggis, I would love to see the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man make an appearance on OS!
before i resume bitching, i'd like to step back from that for a moment to say that i like the design, i like the listening to users, i like the idea, i like the gist of it, i like most of the people here . . . i generally like it. i think you guys are doing a good job.

there are some things that have begun to grate on me a bit though, so this thread has been very useful. i'm wondering whether it's the best place for it, or what you intended, though. if this post was intended as your main welcoming thread for new users, and they see a million comments about problems, they might get the impression everyone here hates the place. i don't get the impression that that's true. correct me if i'm wrong fellow posters, but i get the sense that most people are mostly happy with most things around here. (if we could only log in to say so! hehehe.)

if you're fine, then i am, and won't worry about it. but if you'd prefer to start up separate threads on technical issues and content issues, i for one, would be happen to move over there--wherever.


now, back to bitching. hehehe. more soon. gotta go.
What Sierra Song said. My life is beyond stressful right now. We have wracked up bills too embarassing to reveal in repair costs alone but I'll tell you it's in the five figures, we have a whackaloon neighbor suing us, and my right arm has lost about 75% of its fuction in the last two days. So I want to see the dog's shrine to Barry, and guess-the-black-eye cause for Turtle's daughter, and revisit the Dahmer story and, frankly, Madame, if all this offends, why wait? Go elsewhere because I don't need one more iota of stress.
Madame, if all this offends, why wait? Go elsewhere because I don't need one more iota of stress.

While I sympathize with all the problems you have encountered in your life lately, I'd politely suggest that it's not my responsibility to make sure I and OS don't stress you out. OS is not any more your domain than it is mine, and we are all free to use is as we see fit, including heated discussions and disagreements.

If those stress you out, then don't read them. But please don't act like you have the power to kick me out because I "stress you out."
And if you think for a second that parenting is somehow less compelling politically than say, pharmacists electing not to distribute RU-486, then I am going to take a page from you Mme. B, and encourage you to read a book: The Irreducible Needs of Children, by T. Berry Brazelton and Stanley Greenspan for a really great insight as to why parenting matters from a political and societal perspective.

You're a feminist, Mme B., have you forgotten that "the personal is political?"

And Salon does have plenty of "lifestyle" content, including movie reviews, confessionals, and even the dreaded "parenting story."

Oh god, here we go again? Parenting is central to everything?
Okay, gang, OS is a fairly simple construct. Look at it in context. is --I think?-- a different animal. Structured. Slick. Professional. Staffed by professional reporters and columnists. More mainstream focus on art, lifestyle, entertainment, politics, etc., etc., etc.

OS as I understand it is in fact from and about ME, YOU, US, the COMMUNITY. The writers among us--and those just trying--are expected to show up and give em what we got. I like that idea. I like in a different way. I don't want Open Salon to become its clone.

Madame, if you don't care about kids, don't write (or read) about them. Those who don't like animals, ditto. Turtle, you didn't like Calf Wars, too bad, it gathered people together in a fun, purely community-centric way. Regardless, I'm sure you found something else to peruse.

Bottom line, if we start parsing and slashing all the things people DON'T like, we'll miss a great opportunity to find out what they/we DO like.

Joan, Kerry, et al have gotten us this far. is a success. Let's give them a chance to make OS one too. I trust them to continue to tweak the site and try new ideas.

I vote to limit our feedback here to Glitches, Likes and Dislikes, with a minimum of commentary.
Frankly, as Liz and others have said more eloquently, reading about art, culture, politics etc in the context of personal stories is what's made much of OS interesting to me. And I can choose to read what I like without dictating what someone else might choose to read.
No, it's not central to everything, but parenting touches on a number of significant policy issues. You're the one who singled out parenting pieces as being specifically irrelevant. I'm not saying you have to elevate parenting issues above other issues, but it certainly doesn't deserve to be denigrated, either.
I find fire de-stressing.
Go look at my new kiln picture.
It will be like a roaring fire if you squint a little.

Bliss out.
Parenting is central to everything?

No, but it's a prism, like being old, or poor, or African-American, or female. It's not exclusive, but it can affect how one views a variety of political and cultural issues. It certainly doesn't have to be the outer limit of how to present and discuss any given topic though.
This is my last word on this subjecct as we are getting a little too letter-ish for me. I can choose, and do, to not read posts on OS that either do not interest me or that I find stressful to my current state of mind. What I have a more difficult time avoiding are your comments, Madame, as you tend to horn in on subjects your profess to care nothing about. Os does not stress me out; you do.

Peace out. I'm off in search of fluffy kittens.
I see OS as a *community*. Like all communities, there are bound to be disagreements, as well there should be. But in my humble opinion, that is no excuse for being nasty.

This whole thread sort of reminds me of things I hear on the playground and in the halls of the middle school where I teach. With all due respect, Madame, I didn't get the inference from Pretend Farmer's post that she was acting as if she had the power to kick you out. She merely expressed her weariness at all the fussing. Sometimes, (and this will probably make me unpopular, but c'est la vie), I think people fuss simply for the sake of fussing; it somehow makes them feel more alive or something.


At the risk of appearing somewhat trite, can't we all just get along (at least a bit, anyway?)?
I'd love to see a day that features opencall posts on gadgets - of any sort. That would be better than an Aw pets one, for me, for the simple reason that the Aw pets type posts already exist on Salon and elswhere....

Also, I love gadgets. love 'em!
Dave -- the complaints about the tools? VERY helpful.

I think complaining about the content at a member-generated site is a losing battle. I've been dazzled by the quality of a lot of the contributions here, and the high level of dialogue. But there's plenty of space -- unlimited space, really -- to write or discuss politics, feminism, parenting, sports, string theory, star signs, UFOs, gerbils. . . whatever you want.
Getting along is what we have to do all the time. We all have to" get along" daily in our lives. A bit of conflict is good for the constitution, gets the blood going and can lead you to new world views. It's not conflict, its engagement.
go look at my gear...a train on fire.

(That was disgusting.)
See? Kerry said what I said. Only better. And shorter.

Kerry, am sending you a screenshot of what I get when trying to sign in... a window of code. Unless you already know.
Those contributing to this site on a regular basis bring a marvelous blend of life's varied experiences to share with each other. When we interact by relating our personal experiences, we offer the chance for others to enjoy a pleasure vicariously or to make a plan to try something new that sounded interesting. We can share a political perspective and watch it develop on the comments thread or learn about hot-button issues from the accompanying level of emotion in the responses. This place is unique because of the variety that IS the mix of OS contributors.

I have no idea why anyone that is visitng here voluntarily would want to be negative about the never-ending variety of the posts. ALL that we have experienced here is about life -- our life and those of others. IMHO, it is a wonderful venue for inclusiveness. Am I a simpleton because I enjoy such variety -- no, I don't think so. I post on threads political, as often as on those personal and intend to continue to do so.

As PF has written, there is too much negativity in the world not to have a great place to come to share our experiences, good and bad, with friends that will comment intelligently and empathetically when we need them. In many cases, we post a personal experience that we find is shared experience that brings joy of a past memory or a laugh at something beyond the norm that we would never consider. All of this works to help us feel connected.

My strong impression of those that are finding fault with the OS community is that they would rather divide and conquer, than participate with a group of like-minded, or at least like-hearted people. Sometimes pot stirrers are good for keeping the like-minded on their toes and aware of differing perspectives. I would never allow a negative perspective to overwhelm the majority, and I doubt that will happen here.

I don't know of anything like Open Salon and I enjoy it immensely, bugs and all. I think the majority fall into that category -- don't you?
Holy crap, 85+ comments! And only about 4 on point. Can we all just shut up now. I mean that in a nice way. :)
Not everything has to be MEANINGFUL and RELEVANT and DEEP.

Life is serious enough. Why make it more so?

So true, so true. The issue in dispute, though, I think is what are people's preferred ways of unwinding. For me, there are only so many dog pictures and babies with ice cream pictures and supportive comments and feel-good, saccharine tales about banal life lessons that I can take.

In the words of someone who has my same temperament, group hugs make me barf. Not everything that is "not serious" has to be uplifting, cliche, PC, NPR's "This American Life," completely inoffensive fake, shallow profundity.

And that's what a lot of the content here is, and what most of the front page is every day.
I love "This American Life".
One thing I will say here, because I think we run a risk at this critical juncture....this little space has been ours for a time, in a semi-private world, and you can expect that this little world will alter somewhat as more people discover it.

We need to keep ourselves open to what others who come here will bring. I love all my OS friends and even those I sometimes disagree with. But there will be new folks who will have new content that hopefully will add to this little experiment. I like to think we won't become the "kids at the cool table" with too many in jokes and not enough welcoming spirit to newcomers. But we need to be aware of that.

As someone else commented on another thread, (I think it was Arlene) the Internet is filled with folks who love to come to a party and poop on the hors d'ouvres table.

This endeavor will be what we make of it. Which means if we don't like it, we can look in the mirror.
I hope I can pitch this just right. I don't want to join any side on whether the content is too this or too that. I think Kerry got it right: it's futile to complain about the content on a site based on user-generated content. Just generate something else.

But I do think that perceptions are important, too, and to me, the weekly cover schedule--and the dissemination of it--sets a certain tone. And I agree with those who have looked it over and felt sort of Reader's Digest.

Put another way, I'm happy to see a great pet photo now and then, and I love great pix from faraway lands, but niether one (nor especially recipes or food chat) rank in the top 100 things I'm interested in, and most everything on the list feels a little light. As individual items, they're all fine to me, but taken together, the menu feels all appetizer, no main courses. Nothing that really makes me salivate, anyway.

I agree that Open Salon should not attempt to duplicate Salon, but should encourage a lot of the same flavors, and cater to similar if not identical tastes. One of the Salon editors (Bill Wyman?) used to say, about Salon, "We are the Australia of magazines." I don't know if that phrase has been in use for a decade, but it really captured for me, in a nutshell, why I loved Salon.

Nothing about that list feels remotely like that to me. It feels more . . . Cedar Rapids, Iowa, maybe. I don't need OS to take me to Sydney, but I would prefer to feel something a little edgier.

Again: I know the content comes from the users, and is not constrained by the cover schedule, but I also know that covers can drive content, and tone and helps establish a sensibility. I would suggest working some edgier things into that list.

And for me personally, I'd rather see more pop culture and politics in that list. (Eg, films on Fridays (or Thursday before new releases, or Saturday after or whatever), would be a welcome edition. Perhaps new TV shows every xxxday once the TV season starts. Or something. Those sorts of things would appeal to me much more than the current list.
oh, and i agree with those who describe the friends thing as useful for the same reason.

i don't really get the dig about it being adolescent. i could see why the idea of it might seem that way, but it's really quite functional for me.
I love This American Life too!

But I find I get overloaded with it from time to time and need a break. So I guess I see Madam B's eventual and inartfully made point.

I didn't mean to insult those participating in the calf exercise. It was simply an example of something I didn't really get and held no appeal for me. I'm not a hater. Whatever floats your boat.

And I'll take Sally's suggestion and lay off this topic for now on this post.
I put up and compiled the winners calf post and I can tell you that I also read and participated in other much edgier things at the same time.

At one point, I remember thinking "from the ridiculous to the sublime..." yes my thoughts trail ellipses...

it takes some and some to make a meaty stew.
This really is a physician heal thyself moment.

If you are looking at the content and deciding that it isn't edgy enough for you...and you created the content...that makes you a loser with no edge, right?

I leave off a lot of the fluff, but I write about things that interest me about food in a made up word tag of Culinaria. My entry in it this week is about portion control, how to do it on the fly, and diabetes management.

It may not be edgy enough for you, but for me its a hot topic. I mention children in it, too, as diabetes is becoming epidemic in children. And if you don't think that will hit you in the pocketbook in about say 15 years, you just don't understand life.

Edge is in the eye of the beholder. A social movement that could help sway the obesity problem is relevant, even if it is not edgy.

And you may have looked at the RR photo and said fluff and passed, but about 60 of the comments were non jokes and she is about as pop culture as it gets right now.

I don't get the complaints. I put up pictures ofthings I paint. I am going to put up a piece next Friday that is beautiful and about a dog and a piece of classical jazz that was written for him.

Regarding the edge you are looking for, I also posted about knives in Culinaria. Maybe you don't know how interesting people who cook find food? I just ordered a ceramic nikiri tomato knife for a a hundred dollars. I am going to write about it and show the picture of it when it comes in. I am going to write about the lone tomato that I have grown and how it either does or does not relieve me of the metal taste left on tomatoes for my metal sensitve palate.

You are glazed over, wondering if I have a point, and others just read that and can't wait to hear the consumer report on it.

And that is my point.
I know this is a little after the fact, but I wanted to correct myself: I meant "This I Believe," not "This American Life." God, I hate "This i Believe" so much, i'm feeling angry just thinking about when it comes on a hijacks my life.
Bitchula - I'm glad you clarified your distaste for This I Believe rather than This American Life. I was wracking my brain trying to figure out what could possibly drive you batty about the latter. I too change the station when the TIB music plays on NPR. Sometimes it makes me cry - I hate crying in the car, but mostly it bores me. Not crazy about that soundbooth thing where people record their life stories either. I digress.

Ebeth - bring on the knives (literally and figuratively). I like anything to do with food, especially tomatoes.

Dave - I agree - would love to see more on movies (films and box office hits - I love them all) and television. You write it - I'll read it.
It's simple there is room for the personal and the public. The challenge is to the editors to create the winning balance. I guess time will tell with the new contributors. It will evolve with time.
But the editors must remember that the audience is interested in both as it appears. And for all my yapping I will not censor anyone, but I do have the freedom to not read everything.
Again I repeat...the editor of OS will be the artist. He/she will create the melange that will challenge and entertain.
Kerry, before you close this thread here's one last take on the "Friends" thing. Some have balked at the title, equating it to squishy school terminology. I think a more appropriate term might be "Network". I know you guys are working on RSS feeds to keep up with other writers' posts. I think Network better reflects the purpose of following another's work. It also removes any conflict regarding whether the followed person is a friend, acquaintance, or just some schmuck you disagree with and like to post op eds to.
I'm also grateful for the clarification on This American Life. I was meaning to say that I love it to the point that I think it's THE best thing on all of radio, and quite possibly the best thing on TV or radio.

I kept avoiding it because I could not figure out how to address my comments on it, because like Ann, I was baffled by the way it was used. I kept trying to understand how it might be seen as an example of that, and was getting nowhere.

Ann, thanks. I've got a post in my head about Project Runway, and one about The Dark Knight, which I saw last night--but I need to find time to write them. (And with TDK, I can't decide whether to focus on how awful the movie was (aside from the brilliance of Heath Ledger in it), or how scared I feel that this crap is thrilling the country. Why does America accept cliches--in word, scene and character? Why did Christopher Nolan, who has been brilliant (in, say, Momento), settle for them?
Dave - write the post! that way I won't have to. Ledger's performance was quite good and not at all 'expected' in any sense of that word. But the movie itself - bah. My bf and I went with high expectations and he fell asleep in the last 30 minutes. That's saying something for a couple for whom no subgenre of B grade horror movie is too lame to sit through.
Thanks, Sandra. I'll try to write it tomorrow. Thank God I wasn't alone.

And thanks to Kerry for quickly removing the shaky box when the login is wrong. That felt like the MS paperclip abomination in Word: seemed like a cute idea to some programmer, but users despised it.
if you're addressing my comments on this, i'm not sure what to make of it:

"This really is a physician heal thyself moment.

If you are looking at the content and deciding that it isn't edgy enough for you...and you created the content...that makes you a loser with no edge, right?"

i tried to be clear that i was separating the content itself from the image created by the schedule--and then the resulting affects on the content.

regardless, i have been thinking about that, and want to expand on the idea:

i like the people here, but i also want to encourage new writers who will write things i want to read. if i had arrived here considering whether it was a good home, looked about and read that cover schedule, i would have quickly concluded that this was Redbook, and concluded it was probably not the right place for me to flourish.

yes, people can/will look around on the site, but you make only one first impression, and if they see that schedule, it feels pretty limited to me, and will attract only a certain type of writer.

in addition to it looking very much like the cover schedule for McCalls or Lady's Home Journal in the 1950s, there is not a single item of pop culture or politics on it. those of us interested in those topics would also likely conclude this wasn't the home for them.

i want to read about politics and pop culture, so i'm eager to attract writers who enjoy the same--not send them the wrong signals from the get-go.

and i respect other people here having different tastes, interests, etc., and asking for those different tastes to be reflective. i'm just expressing mine, and making my request for more of it to be included in the mix.


(it's funny, btw, as i think about it, because travel is one of my favorite activities, and so is enjoying great food. i love both, but have little interest in reading about them. i may be odd that way, but that's how i am, that's my preference. on cooking, in particular, i think it might be because i almost never use a recipe. i love to cook, but i'm one of those people who just scores the produce aisle for ideas--or they pop into my head--and i start throwing stuff together, and start chopping up spices. (i grow about ten varieties on my balcony, so in summer i have lots of fresh ones to choose from.)

a recipe just feels like a straight jacket to me. i'm glad other people use them, because lots of mine fail, and everyone has their own process and recipes allow me to enjoy delicious meals at friends' houses.

anyway, for whatever reasons, i am unlikely to ever read the food pieces. (and on weight loss, i've got a really great regimine going, and don't need help at the present time.) so those are invisible to me. i'm not knocking them, just looking for other things.

(am i repeating? sorry. i just have the sense that some people have gotten offended here, and i don't want anyone to think i'm devaluing their work, or other work they love. i'm just casting my ballot for other things i'll enjoy more, and which will attract writers likely to write things i'll enjoy more. thanks.)
I like Network instead of Friends. Also, not sure why we need to quantify/qualify the level of friendship.

And I want to lobby here for Arlene's Reality Check advice as a regular feature of OS.

Crap, I hope I don't break this thread, it's so loooong.
You won't break it, Sally. But go ahead and try!

Dave, again, thanks for all the notes, but don't fret too much about the schedule. They are tips for people who post in those (already popular) categories on how to tag and get noticed -- and for new members wanting to get a handle on how this thing works. This is not the schedule for what will be the lead item on the cover -- simply 1 story, featured somewhere among the other 10 or 11 that make it on the cover. The occasional great cocktail recipe or kitty isn't going to turn the Open cover into Reader's Digest -- or Australia, or the dreaded "This I Believe." Open Calls will continue to be mostly off-the-news and topical, and we'll always spotlight the pieces -- like Chris's smart take on DC's gentlemen's CYA agreement today, or really anything on today's cover -- that are trenchant and provocative.

As for TV/film and other popular (and Salon-centric) subjects, I don't anticipate needing to ask for posts on it. In fact, you can bet I'll be trolling the site looking for the best "Mad Men" review early Monday morning (hint, hint) . . .

Eric, (re: Friends/Networks, etc.) we chose "Friends" just because it's standard nomenclature for social networks, aside from the professional ones like LinkedIn. As for the friend status feature. . . not all of our features have been integrated yet, and still may not be. What doesn't make sense, or show much promise, may just get a thumbs down (and meet the same fate as our "thumbs down" rating).

So keep the comments coming! I'll keep this thread open at least through tomorrow.
Another vote for Arlene's advice column, no matter what it is called, as well as for Sandra's suggestion for a regular gadget/tech feature. Even though I don't like to live on the bleeding edge, I do like to know what that edge looks like, and to stretch my horizons a bit.

Pets? I can take 'em or leave 'em. I don't have any of my own (allergies!) and so cannot contribute, though, oddly I do seem to know things about having pets. But even without the allergies, I would probably choose to remain pet-less.

I've also got at least one foot in MB's camp. I like reading personal stories, recipes, and such-- food is so elemental, after all-- but I also really like wrestling with the larger world. Perhaps, though, I'm just not great at small talk.

But back to food writing for a moment... it's not just recipes and method. The very best food writing encompasses chemistry, geography, travel, history, agriculture, biology, and so many other disciplines, too numerous to count. BigSalon has actually had some good interviews/reviews of people like Michael Pollan and others, and I'd like to see even more of that sort of thing, but what I'd really like would be for O_S to foster an environment where we'll see a new MFK Fisher, or someone of that caliber arise. That would be something!

And Math and Science! We need more of that, too. I do appreciate the good doctor's essays on health issues, but they're not enough, and they are also fairly specific.
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