Welcome to the new Speaker’s Chair!
In a nutshell, Speaker's Chair is an online political community that seeks to enable anyone interested in current affairs to write about and debate political issues.
We want to completely change the way debate takes place online by enabling anyone to write for the site at any time, integrating content with a social network for users, and overhauling the way people comment and debate around each article.
The site has been created on the premise that online political debate has become nasty, tribal and unconstructive. Speaker’s Chair is seeking to solve this by bringing together people of all political views to debate in a respectful and constructive way in a community-led environment.
Speaker’s Chair is based on a five-point manifesto that outlines our approach and ideals:
1. Cross-party: We believe debate is stronger when all opinions are heard and explored
2. Anyone can write: We believe that everyone has an opinion and a right to be heard
3. Changing the tone of politics: We believe that debate in this country has become nasty
4. Community: We believe that people drive change
5. Fun: We believe that engaging in politics should be fun
Ok, so we know there is a lot more to the new Speaker's Chair site than the old one, and even for those of you who didn't see the old site there's lots of new bits and bobs here that you won't have seen anywhere else. So let us explain the areas we see as most new:
1. Why should I register?
Quite simply, Speaker's Chair is the same as any other blog in this respect. You can still read everything without registering, but if you want to take part in the debate - comment, and so on - then you need to register, just as you do when you make a comment on another blog. However, the idea is that you get so much more on this site by registering. You become part of a community, can become friends with other users of all political colours, take part in deeper debate than possible previously, join groups, debate in private, and so on, so on.
If you're worried about your privacy and data, don't be. We promise never to abuse your trust, ever.
2. So what's new?
The main thing - this is cross-party, with any and all views being heard, welcomed and debated. But that was the case on the old blog. Building on that, the big change is, first, that you can write whenever you want by clicking 'write an article' at the top of the page. We think it's crazy in this day and age that you need to be 'famous' or have thousands of followers to make your point of view heard, so we want to enable anyone any everyone to vent their opinion whenever they want. Your articles will still be looked at by an editor - just to make sure it's not nasty, and to double check the spelling and so on - but we will never reject a piece based on what it is actually saying. All views welcome.
Secondly, we believe that people drive change, and so are creating a political community where anyone with an interest in politics can meet, discuss and debate with others. That's what this should all be about.
3. What is 'venting'?
When you 'vent' you give your instant view - a thought on whatever you want - for all your friends to read, as this will appear on the live feeds of your contacts. It doesn't need to be linked to any article or other content on the site, just say whatever you want, whenever you want. This is your outlet if you don't fancy writing a full article - use it as you please!
And you can post straight to your Twitter feed or Facebook profile from within the vent. Simply tick the box before pressing post, link your account, and away you go. Note that we'll never, ever, post anything to your Facebook or Twitter account - they are yours! This is just there for your ease.
4. What is the 'debate rating'?
We've created a formula that sorts debates by those that are causing a real stir and those that aren't, not yet anyway. This is determined by a mix of how many comments there are, shared evidence, videos, shares on Facebook/Twitter, etc. So if you want your article to be 'hot' on the site, get sharing and provoking the debate!
5. What are 'friends'?
Ok so we admit it - they may not actually be your 'friends', in the true sense of the word. But we wanted to call them something everyone would understand. Your friends on Speaker's Chair are your contacts - people you are interested in, have debated with, learned from, enjoyed reading, laughed at, cried at, and so on. A real mixture of points of views and debating styles. Crucially, by being someone's friend you get updates in your live feed of what they are doing - writing, commenting, etc - so you can keep an eye on both friend and foe!
We have also added a feature that lets you follow people anonymously, where you get their updates by aren't their friend. You won't be able to see their complete profile, but will see when their articles are posted.
6. What are 'groups'?
Groups on Speaker's Chair are quite simply groupings of members who support the aims of that group. They act as hubs where the activity of all group members is brought together into one place, and you can meet new people more easily through them. One big difference with Speaker's Chair is that you can't set any old group up - they must be approved by an administrator. This is to ensure we have groups that actually mean something, and none of the nasty groups that appear on other social media sites.
If you want to start a group email your suggestion to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Well that's just about it, we think. No doubt there will be lots of other things you don't quite get straightaway - but have a play, connect with other people, write a post, add a comment, etc, and you'll get the hang of it. And we hope you have lots of fun in the process!
Ultimately, we want to completely change the way debate takes place online and want you to be a part of that. Without you, it won't work, so please do get involved and, if you like it, tell your friends. The more the merrier!
Any other questions - leave a comment below and we'll do our best to answer all of them individually.
We hope you enjoy the site!
Thanks as ever,
The Speaker's Chair Team