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10Questions.com is a horrible idea, here's *more* proof

10 Questions.com lets people vote on their favorite questions for the political candidates, which their MSM partners (NYT and MSNBC) will presumably try to get the candidates to answer (two have already come in: youtube.com/profile?user=10ques).

My issue with the site is that it allows those who can drive traffic to the site to propel weak questions to the top; this allows partisan hacks to avoid having difficult questions asked. I'm having a great deal of trouble seeing it as something other than a deliberate plan by some involved to avoid a real debate, i.e., a debate that would reveal the huge gaps in the policies of the various candidates as well as just how weak the questions the MSM asks are.

In October, MoveOn.org was able to get a weak question about net neutrality asked of Obama at a debate. He had already spoken out in favor of that, and when asked he spoke out in favor of it again. (Unfortunately, he didn't make the parallels to Soviet debates exact by trying to answer in Russian).

The latest example of a weak question being propelled to the top of 10Questions occured a few days ago. Patrick Ruffini asked an incredibly vague question about reducing the size of the government (youtube.com/watch?v=ko5BxgPKR5Q). By contacting various sites, and using Facebook, Digg, etc. he was able to send them at least 2600 unique visitors, who then got his question into the top 10 [1].

I'm sure there will be many more examples to come.

[1] personaldemocracy.com/blog/entry/1667/
10questions_update_did_ruffini_snipe_a_top_spot

Politics · Wed, 11/21/2007 - 13:33 · Importance: 1

Thu, 11/22/2007 - 12:07
Paul

I agree there's a lot of pressure to avoid a real debate - but I think that pressure comes from the two dominant parties. Otherwise candidates would be allowed to question and address each other directly. Sure there may be some who will try to influence the questions, but I don't think it's ever a bad idea to ask more questions. I also agree that the MSM doesn't ask strong questions that reveal the differences between the candidates. However, most of the top ten questions are strong questions. The medical marijuana question asks about state rights; warrantless wiretapping speaks to the rule of law; fair elections, corporate personhood and two-party system broken go to the heart of democracy and how money is used to control; transparency relates to self-governance and with the voting system broken questions reveals a significant segment of our population doesn't trust our government. Clearly, our democracy could use some improvements and any attempts to do better are OK with me.