The Moderator as an Emerging Democratic Intermediairy: The Role of the Moderator in Internet Discussions about Public Issues
A common approach towards the role of the moderator in Internet discussions is to see him as a filter. In this article I want to show that the moderator in government-initiated Internet discussions about public issues can be seen as a democratic intermediary, and that this role has the potential to enhance the quality of those discussions as forms of deliberative democracy. I develop a conceptual model of the management of Internet discussions. Five cases of Dutch Internet discussions about public issues are analyzed. The filter function of moderation appears to be of minor importance. Moderators do a lot more. They manage discussions. Particularly, they contribute to the interactivity and openness of discussions and to the accessibility of public administration and institutional politics. In most of the cases described, there had been independent, ???third party??? moderation. As governments gain more experience with the Internet, moderation may shift to governmental agencies. In this perspective, it is important to stress the transparency and to care for the negotiableness of moderation.