Engaging the audience
We tried something new the other day (Monday) on Have Your Say by revisiting an old idea from the early days of the web. We invited two contributors to Have Your Say to participate in a debate about the future of the Anglican Church and respond to questions and comments from the audience.
Marie and Sam had differing perspectives on the ongoing row over women bishops and homosexuality in the clergy and we wanted to give them and the HYS audience an opportunity to discuss those views online.
Although the debate was reactively moderated we tried to keep it away from the fairly predictable arguments about atheism and whether or not God existed. And we also chose to run it just for a couple of hours to focus the discussion.
It was an extended webchat by any other name and you can judge for yourself here if it was a success.
We certainly felt that the debate benefited from the involvement of Sam and Marie, the tone was robust but not abusive and it allowed for some genuine discussion about the issues. Quite a few contributors put straightforward questions to the pair, which they were able to answer directly. They both enjoyed the experience and would have continued for longer than the two-hour slot.
It was our first experiment in trying to find new ways of engaging the audience and evolving a more dynamic and more thoughtful approach to HYS. But it won't be our last.