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Langley Community Forum curtails its online debate
LANGLEY - The Langley Community Forum, a spirited platform for the discussion of city issues, is scaling back its online operation, organizers said.
In a notice last week on its Web site, www.langleycommunityforum.org, Forum developers said the site will continue to accept postings of coming events, workshops, books and resources and public meeting notices.
But it will no longer publish "conferencing" posts - comments from members concerning current issues.
"It's been taking too much time to moderate," said Robert Gilman, one of the forum's founders. "We have other things in our lives."
Gilman founded the forum with is wife Liana, Bob Waterman and Gail Fleming about six years ago as a way to encourage community involvement in the city's future.
Gilman and Waterman later became Langley City Council members.
Much of the early discussion generated by the forum centered on the city's update of its comprehensive plan.
Gilman said that debates posted have increased to the point where both he and his wife are spending more than half their time moderating the discussions.
"This has been brewing for months," he said of the decision to re-evaluate the focus of the site.
Gilman said the founders hope to get back to the forum's original mission, to stimulate a variety of participation in determining the city's future.
He said he'd like to encourage more face-to-face conversations and less online discussion.
"We're optimistic about the community's future," Gilman said. "One way or another, the Langley Community Forum will help to contribute to that."
He said the recent increase in contentious debate online had become time-consuming, but didn't directly prompt the decision to change the Forum.
"There's been controversy off and on for six years," Gilman said. "But in today's economy, everybody's a little more keyed up, and we get caught in the crossfire."
He said the forum currently has 728 members, nearly half of whom have posted at least once. There have been 9,304 posts since 2004, Gilman said.
"For online forums, that's very high," he said.
Gilman said that no timetable has been set for the return of conferencing posts on the forum.
"We're just taking a pause in the discussion side of things," he said.