Saturday, May 21, 2005

Egyptian Bloggers Forum

We've started something. The Egyptian Bloggers Forum is a new initiative that requires your contribution. What follows is the description of the forum:

This is an attempt to build an arena for Egyptian bloggers to host their collective ideas and thoughts, and nurture constructive discussions and debates. This is not necessarily a virtual community, as it does not have to be simply virtual dialogues between virtual people. Something real may develop out of this, since real people are discussing real issues --but its not a necessary outcome.

A few people are starting out by maintaining this forum, by raising the issues objectively. Other people can then pitch in, exchange ideas, communicate, discuss, debate, and potentially follow through on some actions that some might decide to take.

People who will be maintaining this site would initially be Egyptian bloggers, whom are non-experts on most of the topics here. However, a goalof this site is to attract experts on the topics, have them atleast contribute in the discussions, as well as post their thoughts here to engage the participants.

The bloggers maintaining this site would typically keep their personal blogs running, but not necessarily separate from the discussions ongoing here (possibly double posting here what's relevent from their blogs). However, as their personal blogs may be more personal, this forum should be less so.

To start with, here is the first cut of list of the topics for discussion:

  • Politics
  • Economy
  • Culture and Society
  • Religion
  • Technology Development
  • Arts

I would add that having just the maintainers of this site write posts and raise issues that only get read with no participation would not achieve the goal of this forum. Unlike blogs, its not about speaking your mind (or the different other reasons for personal blogs). Constructive discussions is the main goal here.

There are no written rules for discussions here, everyone knows what a civil discussion means. Its as simple as this, no discussion is allowed to turn into a personal attack on individuals or into a racist attack on a group of people. That sums up the rules.

This forum is an ongoing project that is always in development, always open to feedback and ideas from the participants to better imporve it.

Thanks to Alaa and Manal for hosting this forum for free.


Alaa said...

a couple of technical suggestions.

the egyptian bloggers forum should make it very easy for people to participate if it is to achieve its goals, I noticed you disabled the drupal module and you disabled anonymous comments.

The Drupal module has two functions, it adds your site to a directory of all drupal sites, this directory makes it very easy for search engines and webcrawlers to find your page and would help you be more visible on google.

but drupal module's real feature is allowing visitors to login using their accounts on any other drupal website, so instead of registering @ egblogsforum I can simply login using my manalaa account by using as my username.

anonymous comments is a misleading term really, when you enable them you enable comments from visitors who don't have an account on egyblogsforum, you can request they provide contact information or make it optional, but I think its important not to insist on registerin, many would not bother yet their quick comments might be of value.

you have some technical problems with the feed aggregator too, you can't add atom feeds or opml outlines AFAIK, I had to run an atom2rss gateway to be able to syndicate atom feeds in the egblogs aggregator @

Mohamed said...

Thanks Alaa.

The Drupal module is enabled now and you can use your drupal account.

I'm not sure about anonymous comments however. I think registration is a good feature in drupal and it provides a nice features for each person (and the rest) to track a user's comments. Disallowing anonymous comments stops (to some extent) jackass commenters and spammers from ruining the discussions. And I think its pretty simple to create a user. In any case, Let's keep this for a while, and if people are uncomofortable with that we can change it.

Wasn't sure why those atom feeds weren't working. Thanks for clarifying.

One question. All the special characters seem to be displayed in their encoded form, do you have a clue why that's so?

Alaa said...

hmm did a test and special chars look fine with html tags recognized and all.

I think the problem is the opposite, you are inserting HTML charachter entities and expect them to be interpreted by the browser as such.

you see drupal has something called input formats, input formats are a way to plugin special syntax to simplify writing content, I configured it to use a simple WikiSyntax by default yet be able to mix HTML with the WikiSyntax.

one of the features in this WikiSyntax filter is that it protects special characters, the assumption is when people write < or & they mean the literal char and not some funky HTML code.

if you prefer to deal only with html disable the wiki filter.

drupal can offer multiple input formats at the same time, you can offer both simple wiki syntax and full fledged html or filtered html, play with your input formats settings and you'll see what I mean.

opps hit submit earlier by mistake

Mohamed said...

Thanks for the tips.

I had played with the input formats this morning (causing all the line breaks of the posts to get screwed), then removed the rich editor all together, which made posting much stable. Now, people will have to write actual html tags to format their posts (which hopefully is not so bad, especiall that there is help text below).

So what you're saying is that we should either have wikisyntax or rich editor. Hmm.. maybe we should try the two alternative, and see if it makes things easier.

Ayman Alzawahery said...

Now that it refreshing and intelligent!

All of you are hired.

You will be paid in Afgany money.

DNA said...

I smell...I smell friend troll.

Safiyyah said...

Assalaamu Alaykum.
I've been visiting your blog for a while now, but haven't commented. I just wanted to say that this new forum is an excellent idea. Those of us in the West are eager to hear from people in other parts of the world, so you'll have a ready audience.
Take care,