An Oakmont Forum Report

On Wednesday, June 12, a President’s Message entitled Social Media Survey was posted on the Oakmont Village website, and an on-line Nextdoor OVA/BOD Discussion Group Survey went live. In order to bring some reality to the discussion of this Nextdoor group, statistics were compiled on all topics originated in that group for a period from May 15 – 31, with replies through June 9. This period was chosen to be recent, with active discussions on-going, but not contaminated by the latest discussions, which are largely focused on the OVA “Nextdoor OVA/BOD Discussion Group Survey”.

Method

Tallies of all posts and comments were made in a spreadsheet. These tallies count how many times each individual posted or commented on any of the topics listed in the Appendix. A post or comment is counted as Pro-BOD if it advocates a position or policy that has been promoted by the current Board, and Anti-BOD if it opposes or questions such a position or policy. It is counted as fact if it discusses facts with little or no editorial comment, or it describes and/or links to an external article with little or no editorial comment beyond short relevant quotes from the article. Finally, it is counted as Other if it doesn’t fit into one of these three categories. Examples are back and forth among commenters to clarify the meaning of an earlier comment, discussions about whether or not a post or article was appropriate or met Nextdoor guidelines, etc.

Results

As listed in the Topics appendix, there were a total of 11 original posts to the Nextdoor OVA/BOD Discussion Group within the sample time period (May 15 – 31). Most related to either to the proposed golf course purchase, or to the push for allowing a membership vote on the topic, but there were also posts relating to Nextdoor guidelines, proposed Bylaws amendments and human decision making.

Statistics from the spreadsheet analysis for May 15-31:

  • There are currently 650 members of the Nextdoor OVA/BOD Discussion Group

  • 11 original posts by 9 authors

  • 106 comments responding to posts by 36 authors

  • 36 total authors – all original posters also made comments

  • Of the 11 original posts, 4 were anti-BOD (opposing or questioning Board actions or direction), and 7 were fact posts, generally quoting or linking to external articles. There were no pro-BOD original posts.

  • Of the 106 comments, 22 were pro-BOD, 40 were anti-BOD, 13 were non-opinion fact posts, and 31 were other, generally authors clarifying points or asking questions, etc.

  • Of the 36 authors, 7 were consistently pro-BOD and 21 were consistently anti-BOD. The rest only posted in the Fact and Other categories.

  • Average total posts and comments per person was 117/36 = 3.25, or about 1.3 messages per active author per week. Highest by number of messages were two BOD supporters, with 15 and 11 total messages for each, though their messages tended to be shorter than average (no attempt was made to do statistics on the lengths of original posts or comments)

Other observations from the review:

  • None of the messages reviewed were outright lies, though some were much better informed than others.

  • A great deal of information and ideas were exchanged.

  • While two thirds of the messages opposed the Board and questioned Board positions and methods, the pro-BOD contingent was evident and vocal.

  • While posts are often critical of the OVA Board, this review of 17 days of posts found no hateful messages and no personal attacks.

  • The messages were comparable to what one might observe from OVA residents speaking at Open Forum in an OVA Board meeting, but sometimes longer and better organized, with the advantage of being composed in writing rather than speech.

Caveat: It is impossible to know how representative this particular time period (May 15-31) is, although there is nothing to make one believe that it is atypical. But who among the members of the discussion group actually post messages varies over time, with personal concerns and with changes in what the topic of the moment happens to be. The hot topic as this is written is the survey itself, and authors are taking part who didn’t show up at all in the May 15-31 period.

Conclusions

As almost the only avenue for critical expression on Oakmont issues, the Nextdoor OVA/BOD Discussion Group naturally attracts more Board critics than Board supporters. But it is and always has been open to all Oakmont residents who post following Nextdoor guidelines for civil discourse. Charges that the existence of the Group threatens the peace and fosters polarization carry a grain of truth, but so does any political discussion where opposing views are argued; it is part of the democratic process. These topics and the current OVA survey are explored in more depth in the companion editorial, The OVA “NextDoor OVA/BOD Discussion Group Survey”. Also note that it is easy enough for the reader to do his own evaluation simply by reading the discussions by going to the OVA/BOD Discussion Group. If you wish, you may also click the Join Group, which allows you to receive Email updates, post and comment in the group.

Appendix: Topics Discussed in the Group During the Sample Period

All discussion topics initiated within the period from May 15 through May 31 are identified below:

1. Article on Oakmont golf course, May 15
Short post linking to Karen Oswald guest editorial in the Kenwood Press, no comments.

2. Oakmont Golf cents and sensibility, May 15
Short post linking to Karen Oswald guest editorial in the Kenwood Press, 35 comments.

3. Nextdoor Guidelines Reminder, May 15
Short post by a Nextdoor lead linking to Nextdoor guidelines, 4 comments.

4. BOD Sidelines OVA Attorney with Dissenting Opinion, May 16
Post quoting and providing video of Steven Weil speaking to an earlier OVA Board, 2 comments.

5. AT last a legal opinion from an expert lawyer, May 16
Post applauding Weil’s opinion that HOAs should seek member approval for large expenditures, 28 comments.

6. Golf Course, May 17
Post complaining of the lack of transparency by the Board re purchasing the golf course and subsequent plans for the property, 5 comments.

7. OVA OGC Update, May 17
Posted exact copy of the OVA President’s Messsage released the same day, 16 comments.

8. Steve Spanier Hints of Possible Community Vote on Golf Course Purchase, May 19
Post quotes President’s Message on the topic, offers fact-based analysis and recommends a course of action assuming that a community vote is announced, 1 comment.

9. Oakmont Forum: Proposed Bylaws Amendments from the BRC, May 20
Post summarizing and linking to article of the same title in the Oakmont Observer, no comments.

10. Regular Board Meeting Tuesday [TODAY] May 21, 2019 – 1:00 p.m. Berger Auditorium, May 21
Short post announcing OVA Board meeting the same day, 16 comments.

11. The New Yorker Article ~ New discoveries about the human mind show the limitations of reason, May 31
Short post linking to a New Yorker article about human decision making, no comments.

 

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2 Comments

  1. Jeannette Luini on June 18, 2019 at 9:35 am

    Thanks, Bruce for taking on the task of doing an OBJECTIVE analysis of posts and comments in the OVA/BOD group.

    It reveals that the OVA/BOD discussion group is an excellent resource for obtaining information about issues in Oakmont and tapping into the diversity of opinion that exists among residents.

    It’s been my impression that there are very few personal attacks and very little rude, insulting language to be found in the group. Bruce’s analysis confirms my impression.

    The OVA/BOD is the only online group where an intelligent exchange of ideas about Oakmont issues can take place. Discussion of controversial Oakmont topics is no longer allowed on the Buzz.

    Thanks to all the “Oakmont authors” who are brave enough to share their thoughts and opinions on Nextdoor where they are available for all to read. Unfortunately, too much false information is spread in Oakmont neighbor to neighbor behind closed doors—rumors and personal attacks abound and cannot be corrected or disputed.

  2. Bruce on June 18, 2019 at 4:52 pm

    Lol. You sound like 45 saying he doesn’t lie.

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