Tuesday, 5 February 2008

So, Mashada is down and closed

It's about time. See, I love online communities. I visit forums which discuss my passions and interests. I find it easier discussing many issues in writing more than I do face to face. Plus, the array of people with similar interests worldwide always brings forth different perspectives, both suitable and unsuitable, which gets me thinking and choosing what's suitable for me. You just don't get this in real life, unless you've some massively impressive connections.

Anyway, my most recent addition to the numerous forums I visit fairly regularly was Mashada. An African but mainly Kenyan forum. Finding Mashada was like finding a long lost friend - kinda. Not quite, but you know... Anyway, all these people on the forum reminded me so much of Kenya. I felt like I was in Kenya when I visited the forum and joined in on discussions. I related to forumites in Kenya as I remembered the 'good old days'. I related to kenyans abroad seeing as that is what I am. However, it was soon apparent that there was hardly any moderation. X-rated contents were allowed and discussions would go on and on. Offending members were revered by some and described as funny. Offended people hardly had anyone to stand their corner and I tried but it was in vain. The offended then also became offenders when responding to others postings and it seemed this was a vicious cycle. I thought I'd ignore some people and avoid certain folders, but that wasn't as easy. Posts that seemed to genuinely ask for advice or express interest were littered with nasty comments here and there. It seemed there were many with too much time in their hands just dedicated to offend and mock. I gradually drifted away, but I kept visiting back. Then came the elections and the aftermath. Hatred seethed left, right and centre. Still, no signs of moderation as such. Something got put in place but it wasn't enough. I gave up and have not visited since December. Now I've just learnt from Global Voices that Mashada is actually down, thanks to members being mean to each other. I expected this would happen eventually as the hatred got so bad. Mashada had potential to be a great forum, but it lacked leadership - just like Kenya lacks leadership right now. Comparisons have been made between what happened in Mashada and what is happening in Kenya right now. Kenyans against Kenyans. Mashada 'leaders' tried to control things but in vain. Will Kenyan leaders realise too late that they need to take action to curb the war on each other? Thankfully Mashada can be closed. What will 'closing' Kenya actually mean to it's people?