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SOmething about a new Facebook Page for the Alumni

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Joined: 07 Aug 2008
Posts: 630

Location: Delta, British Columbia, Canada

PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2013 6:35 am    Post subject: SOmething about a new Facebook Page for the Alumni  Reply with quote

There has been a few posts on Santiniketan Google Board created by Pradeep Malhotra, for the ex-students of Patha Bhavanava, Santiniketan. These posts first started with a request for a brainstorming session by Sotuda, Debadyuti Chakraborti, to find ways to resolve conflicts arising from land access dispute between Visva Bharati University and private residents whose plots border University land.

I had allowed myself to be tickled by that invitation, and subsequently posted there my sort of rambling note - less of a brainstorm and more of a self analysis of residents through the generations, and the selfish way they used Santiniketan, and stole or encroached into public land, other people's land and the University land, so often.

The google board is private and not visible to the public. I do not own right to display other people's posts, but I suspect I own my own posts. So I archived my post on my blog site under the name - request for a brainstorm in the below image link: .

Subsequently, there were a few other posts, that clarified a second issue - of a proposal to create a second Facebook Page for the Alumni, separate from other sites already present. The purpose of this page is supposed to be to find a way, or a methodology as Sotuda called it, of how an inclusive online election might be held in near future about the Alumni Association, to elect its representatives.

There were other posts that appear to be copied from some other site on the internet. It is my guess that a discussion is ongoing on this issue someplace else, and some disjointed parts of it perhaps land up on the Google Santiniketan Board. I accidentally stumbled upon some of these posts on the google Santiniketan board and understood that there might have been differences of opinion on if the new Facebook page or group should be open to the members to post without moderation, of it these should be moderated first before posts appear.

There are perhaps proponents of both views. I saw a note from Sotuda that implied that my post would be allowed (not sure which post) on the Facebook page since it offered some solution and did not only badmouth others.

At this point, it sort of became my affair to post or not post on the topic, the topic itself being if I like to allow someone else to vet my post first, before it would appear on a proposed Alumni Association page or site someplace.

And so, I did post my views there. Again, I suspect I should own the rights of my post, and can display it in a non-restrictive environment where anybody could see it. And so, I copy my posts here.

Ohh well. Here we go again.

I responded to your request on a brainstorm on this forum Sotuda, the Google Santiniketan board of Pradeep Malhotra. I know my comment would be appearing in toto here without moderation. Had that not been the case I’d have left this group a long time ago.

Regarding moderation of FB page I have no comment since it is your affair and affair of those that propose to create the page. It is not my business to comment on how it might function.

I personally, for my own reasons, do not like another human moderating and passing judgement on if my post should or should not pass scrutiny. My comments might appear harsh and hard hitting, but they are my way to expressing truth with a view of improve the situation and not done with malicious intent only to create bad blood. However, I am apt to be misunderstood by people with sensitive stomachs. As it is, I have learned to live without many associates that cannot digest my views. It is a choice I have made about where I shall go and where I shall not and who I might hang out with.

Therefore, I personally would not join any FB or other group where a moderator sits on my posts, and decides if my post is OK or not OK. Its a personal choice.

The only kinds of places where I accept moderation is where spam (posts by unauthorized people such as salesmen advertising viagra or sex magazines for example) is present and moderation becomes a necessary evil. On FB, if you can control who gets to be a member then chance of spam is eliminated. Other exceptions are those very important places, such as where a note to the President of India can be sent through their web portals, where moderation is mandatory. Those are the exceptions I can live with, mainly because I am not expecting to send notes to the president of India every so often.

I also dislike hidden groups where only members can see posts. I just don’t like to be in restrictive atmosphere myself. I have nothing to hide, and like my posts to be transparent and visible to all, and don’t like living in a box. Again, just a personal choice - thats all.

Good luck to you all in this admirable endeavor of special Fb place for folks to discuss Alumni affairs. I am sure it will go well.

A last request to you Sotuda, and Tapas da and also Piyali if she is reading this - Tan Lee da wished to touch base with you all on skype one of these days to catch up on whats happening. While I told him what I knew - I do not propose to know much. I told him I shall help him with Skype if he needs it. He proposes one of these days his evening and your mornings, and he asked me to help him with the skype thing. I am passing the information and request as a result.

Best wishes


On a second thought, I added another post below that.
Here is a follow up, of what I might have done if I was to create a group.

I would lay down the rules for the group and display it clearly - so everyone can see what they are. The rules would not be vague and would be specific and easy to follow.

Next, if someone posted something that appears to have broken the rule or is on the border line and is taken as offensive, I would, if I was the moderator, send him or her a private note, informing him/her that the post is breaking the rule or is on the border line, and request him/her to tone down the language a bit.

I would make sure he/she has tools available to edit his/her original post, and clean it up if need be.

I would send the note in private and not in public, so as not to make him/her feel humiliated.

And that should be that. If the moderators suggestion is not heeded, and if the post clearly voilates the rules laid down - the moderator then has a choice - either delete the post (usually a bad choice), or lock it with a note, meaning people can see it, but cannot post on it, and a note has been put by the moderator that the post violated such and such rule, and therefore has been locked.

These are common practices followed in established high input high participation boards with large membership and dealing with sometimes difficult topics such as religions or politics etc, where tempers can flare.

These are what I would do. I am however, not suggesting that you should do the same.

Cheers and good wishes

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Joined: 07 Aug 2008
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Location: Delta, British Columbia, Canada

PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2013 3:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

And finally, my most recent post on it :

This is an interesting thread and it itself a good indication of the problems of the ex-students.

Sotuda opened the thread four days ago, with a topic that has a sweeping span and significance for any Alumni that has any feeling for Santiniketan. It represents an invitation from the University for the Alumni to get organized, properly represented, and form a sort of advisory cum mentoring body to help the University on its charted course.

In the interim period, some suggestions have been made for the “interim committee” to get engaged in foundation-building activity so as to ensure that the final Alumni body is representative and with proper tools in place for it to discharge its duty effectively.

I call it sweeping because such an offer or suggestion might not have come to the Alumni any time after Rabindranath passed away.

And four days down the line, what do we see ?

This board has over 160 members. But less than 10% have even bothered to read it. Only six persons bothered to comment. That is less than 5%.

Of the six, there seem to be hardly any common theme.

Bhaiya wonders if a Facebook site should be open or closed. Also, perhaps he is worried about the legitimacy or the intention of the interim-committee. It is not certain to me if the suggestion for a Facebook Page came from the University, or or from the Interim Committee or others. Superimposed on it is the issue of an apparent scuffle between the Ukils and the University employees about an access road to the Ukil Residence.

Tuku di spent half her post explaining why she is part of the interim committee although she did not wish to be in it originally. Then she points to the need for unity among the Alumni, about the need for dialog and about removing factionalism. She seemed to be focussed more about the immediate incidence at the Ukil residence rather than the larger issue of the formation of a proper infrastructure for a future Alumni Association.

My presence here is tangential and originally related to the issue of the Facebook page and its purpose. Sotuda clarified that the purpose of the page was to collect opinions from the Alumni, and not for conducting any election.

I personally  believe a Facebook page is not suitable for proper collection, storage and analysis of opinions and views, especially of a large body of participants going into multiple thousands. My view is that such a platform should be a robust bulletin board, perhaps facilitated by the University computer department if they have experience with it, or be done privately by the Alumni.

However, I can understand that a vast majority of the Alumni now use Facebook, and therefore assume Facebook could be the best tool to solve all problems. It is the same as - if a hammer is all you have, every problem begins to look like a nail.

So, we have two main issues here that are bad signs : a) very low level of readership, and even lower level of participation in an important topic relating to the Alumni. b) vide gulf between people’s focus, sometimes with no overlap at all. For example, are we talking about the Ukil incidence or a Facebook page or the composition and motive of the interim committee or the intention of the VBU administration or what ? We should try to increase interest, and see that some focus in maintained on specifics, far as possible.

Sotuda asked for input. I shall briefly give mine here, restricting myself to the first order of the day - creating a proper internet platform for exchange of views.

  1. Consider not using a Facebook page. Consider instead a robust bulletin board, either free of charge, or with minimal maintenance cost.
  2. Write down a one page document on the purpose of the bulletin board and the guiding rules.
  3. Do not make the board hidden, Make is visible to all, but only members can post.
  4. Take the list of potential members from the database being created by VBU and others such as Google Santiniketan board and SASI and whoever, and actively engage some young volunteers to request each and every one of them to join the forum and invite others they know among the ex-students. Engage in asking them to offer their views.
  5. Appoint a few people to poll the responses to get a feel of the opinion trends. You will need some good people to work with them especially if participants are over ten thousand.
  6. Appoint a few moderators to watch the original volume-trend and create sub-forums when needed on sub-topics that have heavy participation. For example, if there is high participation on the function of the medical services under VBU, and also on the how new professors should be recruited, then create separate sub-forums for Hospital and for Recruitment, and so on. This way the forum could handle thousands of participants, and their views can be sorted, without turning the place into a railway platform.
  7. Go from there. For those that want to see a smaller example of what I mean, check the Uttarayan board (http://uttarayan.myfreeforum.org/). There are more robust and better organized platforms out there, which we can list out if interested.

Regarding the Ukil residence, I have no specific comment. I am sure folks can easily find  a solution if both parties are willing to sit with a give-and-take attitude with community feeling kept in front of selfishness and ego.

Thanks and brds

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