Blog: A Pragmatist's Take: Guidelines

Blog itself: at

Background / Blog Motivation

About this blog: As a teenager (in the 1960s), I stumbled across the insight that real power doesn't reside with those who make the final decision, but with those who decide what qualifies as the viable choices. As a grad student, I belonged to an organization where people didn't prepare for meetings and then spent 3-5 hours speculating and arguing about what were the facts, followed by 4-6 hours in subsequent meetings trying to remedy those mistakes. When I became president, I got meetings down to 1-3 hours by investing many hours in preparations. My professional career focused on creating computerized tools to support decision-making, including dealing with missing, ambiguous and false information. I moved to Palo Alto in 1983, and became active in local issues in the early 1990s through participation in workshops and hearings on the Comprehensive Plan and in neighborhood issues. I have since served on multiple official citizen advisory groups. I served on the Barron Park Association Board 1994-2013, including 6 years as president. The focus of this blog will be framing questions and explaining perspectives, starting with mine as a resident but encouraging others to share theirs. For I'm right, you're wrong, go elsewhere.


PaloAltoOnline is allowing this blog to experiment with trying to have a higher threshold for what are acceptable comments (than what you find in its Town Square Forums). The primary measure of success of a blog here is number of readers (page views), with comments being a distant second. Research from around the Web has found that common commenting practices are often detrimental. What I want to encourage here is a high-enough percentage of substantial, informative comments—ones that someone with interest in the topic will be glad to have read. And that the percentage that such readers regard as time-wasters to be a small-enough percentage that those readers will return. Among the people interested in local politics that I talk to, the return rate for the current Town Square Forums is extremely low.

Why this might work: I am hoping to create a virtuous circle. I hope to get more readers by having less clutter (comments they don't value). And I am hoping that having more readers provides incentives for commenters to provide more substantial and insightful comments. And hopefully, those comments attract more readers…

There will inevitably be rough periods, and I hope that commenters and readers will bear with me and give this approach a chance to take hold.

General Guidelines

To be encouraged

The role of the blog posting is to provide a beginning, focus and organization for a discussion to be pursued in the comments.

Inappropriate Comments

Of special note on what will I treat as inappropriate comments:

If a comment has a mix of appropriate and inappropriate elements, I will make a modest effort to separate them, and failing that, I will just delete the whole comment. The primary burden is on you, the commenter, to have appropriate submissions.