I have often thought that I'd like to have some kind of forum for more in-depth discussion of interesting issues where there was a general understanding that the purpose of the discussion was to build, not to destroy; a sort of intellectual version of the 'fix-it sessions' I was envisaging in another recent post, somewhere you can bring your half-formed ideas and see if with the help of others they can be made into something more coherent -- or disassembled into their component parts and reassembled into something else entirely. I love silly conversations and catchphrase-trading as much as the next guy, but there are times when it would be great to discuss something more meaty and/or more meaningful -- but to be able to do so without constantly fearing a metaphorical kick in the teeth.
Rather than wishing for this thing & doing nothing about it, I'm now thinking what the best way to organise such a community would be, with a view to doing something about actually setting it up (probably as an LJ community because that's simple and free, but other suggestions welcomed -- a real-life discussion group would be marvellous but I suspect that availability and geography would conspire against that).
Past experience has made me wary of systems where members have to be approved by n other existing members -- my feeling is that they don't really scale, that trust is not transitive, and that either they create enormous amounts of admin, or procedures end up getting ignored (which is worse than not having them in the first place) because nobody can be bothered to do that admin. At the other extreme, I fear completely open membership would result in an influx of spammers and trolls.
It's difficult to start Interesting Discussions out of nowhere. Personally I'd like something a bit more structured, a "topic for discussion" or perhaps a series of questions for the week/month (a longer period of time would allow for more thought), but constructing topics for discussion that aren't just vague or banal is almost as hard as having the interesting thoughts in the first place.
There are undoubtedly lots of other issues I haven't considered, but I'm basically bringing my half-formed thoughts to the table & asking politely for constructive help with fixing them. Does this sort of thing sound like a good idea? Like the sort of thing you might find interesting? How could it best be made flameproof -- or is that a misguided aim?