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Forum Questions To Candidates To Be Selected By Vote

Yet another first in a season of people-powered presidential forums.

TechPresident, the group blog that covers how the candidates are using (and misusing) the Web, has launched 10Questions.com, which its creators hope will best the onslaught of online-based forums. 10Questions has two rounds. The first, which starts today and ends Nov. 14, allows users of YouTube, MySpace, Yahoo Video and Blip.tv -- and that about covers everyone -- to upload a video question directed to all the candidates, Republicans and Democrats alike. The videos must be tagged "10questions" and will be featured on the site's main page, where anyone can vote for or against them. At the end of round one, the top 10 vote-getters will be presented to the candidates.

The second round, which begins Nov. 17 and ends Dec. 31, revolves around candidates -- and users. Candidates have until Dec. 15 to post their answers to the top 10 questions, and users can vote on whether or not the candidates actually answered the question until Dec. 31. Obscene and appropriate videos will be rejected. Creators of TechPresident, who were profiled in The Post earlier this month, told The Trail that none of the candidates have signed up for the forum.

"This is truly an online-based, user-generated forum. And it's bipartisan," said TechPresident co-founder Andrew Rasiej, who quickly pointed out that sponsors include the who's-who of the left (OpenLeft, FireDogLake, DailyKos) and right blogosphere (RightWingNews, Townhall, RedState). "The candidates constantly complain about the ridiculous constraints that they're forced to endure at televised debates. And this is their chance to end the era of TV soundbite politics."

In cooperation with the New York Times editorial board and in association with MSNBC.com, 10Questions follows a year of many firsts. The first online video debate, co-sponsored by CNN and YouTube. (The Democrats held theirs in July; the Republicans take the stage next month.) The first online mash-up debate, courtesy of the Huffington Post, Yahoo and Slate. The first instant messaging forum, hosted by MTV and MySpace. Each event had its own share of detractors. Some bloggers said the YouTube debate wasn't really an online debate; CNN producers still had to choose which questions were asked, they argued. Technical difficulties initially greeted the Huffington Post mash-up debate, and some wondered if it wasn't even a mash-up. And John Edwards, the first to participate in the MySpace/MTV forum, seem perplexed at the format. As questions were asked via instant message, Edwards' response was being rated online in a color-coded online graphic. Pink was bad. Green was good. "Go back to that graph again," Edwards said after answering his first question. "How do I read this thing?"

Cynics can look at all these firsts and say, "Nothing but gimmicks here." Others argue that all these new media sites (YouTube, MySpace, et al) are attracting newcomers, especially young voters into the process.

Besides, said Rasiej: "Anyone who thinks these are merely gimmicks should talk to George Allen."

Let the online experimentations continue.

-- Jose Antonio Vargas

By Washington Post Editor  |  October 17, 2007; 2:03 PM ET
Categories:  B_Blog , New Media  
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