In 1998, I wrote the following about SCI when I first saw the first major attack of Islamic Republic agents on SCI to make it IRI_acceptable. It was 8 years after SCI had been established and had become successful as an independent forum highly critical of IRI and the IRI started spending resources to stop it from becoming a major platform to discuss IRI violations of human rights and to discuss alternatives to IRI:
On SCI, on Nov 21, 2001, I posted the URL of Jebhe BB, for those who are interested in political dialogue about *alternative* for Iran. I noted that although it is Jebhe Melli Bulletin Board, but that forum is an excellent independent forum, superbly *moderated* by Dr. Anvari, and does not allow personal attack, harassment, and profanity, and thus it is an excellent environment for serious political dialogue rather than fahAshi contests.
During the last week, the hezbollAhis attacked the Jebhe BB twice and they were caught red-handed by the moderator, Dr. Anvari, and by participants like Dr. Kazemzadeh (Farhad100) and the IRI agents ran away. The first time, it was a hezbollAhi from SCI who even mentioned my name, and obviously had been following up with Jebhe BB and my posts very closely, and from his style, the SCI friends would know perfectly who he was. It is an honor to be attacked by their like and it shows I am successful to challenge their atrocities and their attack on Jebhe BB also shows that Jebhe BB is successful in discussing alternatives for Iran, and as usual they come back under new aliases, as they know how hated any alias they choose becomes the next day.
Frankly I think there are three main options for Iranian forums and I think it is not the issue of any right or wrong formats and it is just an issue of preference and one format works for one topic and one person and another for others.
OPTION#1: UNmoderated forums like SCI: I think these are good for posting announcements (similar to bulletin boards), and also these are good for light discussions which are not necessarily political or theoretical. I think the UNmoderated format works for majority of the ones who participate in SCI. In the early days of Internet, when everyone posted from their universities with real names, this format worked even for serious political discussions as the foolish distractions and IRI agent attacks were minimal. SCI being the first of its kind became the focus of hezbollAhi attacks and IRI spent more resources to make it IRI_acceptable, and although IRI has failed miserably, but the threads easily get distracted by the fahAshi of IRI agents, especially when a thread is challenging the IRI and its lobbyists abroad.
OPTION#2: MODERATED forums *without* thread_level moderation like Jebhe BB: This is a great format to use for political exchange of different forces of opposition and political dialogue, to discuss and exchange plans of unity of opposition , and to discuss alternatives for Iran, and to some extent for theoretical discourse. I think this moderated format works for majority of the ones who participate in Jebhe BB. Thanks to the moderator, Dr. Anvari, and thanks to the very knowledgeable posters like Dr. Masoud Kazemzadeh (Farhad100), freedom cannot easily be used by HezbollAhis to kill freedom. The forum is focused on discussing *issues* related to Iranian political life, rather than wasting time on worthless personal attacks. The attacks of hezbollAhis on Dr. Anvari and Dr. Kazemzadeh and the tactics of IRI provocateurs to change user IDs, have just failed time after time (for an excellent analysis about IRI provocateurs on Iranian forums, see Dr. Kazemzadeh's article on Jebhe BB) . You can find real quality dialogues on Jebhe BB on various topics:
OPTION#3: MODERATED forums *with* thread_level moderation: I think considering the current state of the Internet, where majority of the posters are *not* using real names, this format would be the best for real theoretical discourse, where the initiator of a thread can direct the discussion intended, and one would read or not read the threads depending on the initiator. The forum’s moderator would still moderate it for harassment or profanity and for protection of the participants to ensure to have 100% tolerance for various viewpoints and zero tolerance for harassment. But the thread initiator would moderate the thread for the content s/he wants to discuss and to avoid distraction of the topic of discussion and others are free to open their own related thread but cannot disrupt the thread an initiator has opened for a specific topic to drive a discourse as s/he deems suitable, as long as within the norm of the whole forum. I do not know of any Iranian forum with such a format, but there exist such forums on other topics.
As I noted, there is no right or wrong about these three format options. The Option #1 works for majority of SCI participants and Option#2 works for majority of Jebhe BB participants and these are both excellent forums that have been targeted by Islamic Republic agents, ever since their success, and IRI agents will continue to use freedom to kill freedom in these forums, but they have failed miserably, just the same way they have failed to silence the students and the people in Iran, and Islamic Republic agents are hated in both places. I think for some topics one may use Option#1, for others Option#2, and still for others Option#3.
As before, in forums like SCI that are not moderated, for the ones who post real challenge to Islamic Republic of Iran, they will need either to ignore the IRI agents attacks, or reciprocate, or take other actions as needed, and all these happen from time to time. I would like to encourage SCI friends to visit Jebhe BB and vice versa.
Sam Ghandchi, Publisher
March 10, 2002