Shortly after Mad In America launched at the beginning of the year I was invited to take over the site’s web development and to assist in building a healthy community here. Since that time we have made minor changes to the site in response to reader feedback and our growing understanding of what best serves this budding community.
This month we are rolling out more significant changes, outlined below, that we hope will make the site more useful. They include several improvements to the way we display our content, one critical new content area, and the initiation of a formal posting policy. Our ongoing aspiration is for this site to provide a forum for civil and informed discussion of mental health care where a wide range of voices are included.
- We have recently opened an improved archives section. This area will be useful for those doing research or simply curious to browse through the rich history of blogs and news reports available on the site.
- Our new resources page provides a growing list of specific programs, guides, physicians, therapies, communities, organizations, and other links of interest for those who are seeking an alternative paradigm of care.
- The front page has been redesigned to list more blogs and news stories overall, while featuring particular items more heavily than others.
- An automated related posts listing has been added to blogs and news items, making it easier to follow a thread of interest across the site.
- Many under-the-hood improvements have been underway. These include switching from our initial shared hosting environment to a managed private server and configuring caching software to help ensure we can continue to serve pages even when traffic spikes due to popular articles.
- As many of you have kindly pointed out, we have had a problem with the flow of comments on this site, particularly the amount of extremely negative comments toward individuals. I have found there is always an ongoing exploration within online communities to feel out what kinds of conversation support the particular intention of the community, and what kinds do not. In a growing community like ours, that answer will change over time as we witness and reflect upon the tone of the exchange. This process really began for us with Bob’s post Guidelines for a Thoughtful Discussion. After many hours of dialogue, we now have a formal posting policy, which we will implement in our best effort to uphold a space for dialogue that includes many voices. I expect we will find need to evaluate and amend this policy as we make this journey together.
- We are working on preliminary development of future features. The next major update will likely include the launch of discussion forums. Some of you have been asking for this and I am personally very excited about them. This platform will allow for a broader and more dynamic conversation to take place. They will include areas where important conversations can happen in a stable and in-depth manner not possible on blog comment threads.
Thank you for your participation and interest as this space evolves. Please let us know how you think it’s going.