Taking a bit of a different tack this week, I look at History News Network, a blogging platform operated by George Mason University. Instead of a blog like the ones I’ve covered in previous weeks, History News Network (HNN) works by serving as sort of central posting operation. Instead of traditional blogging, the site features op-eds by historians with comments open to the public. It is sort of like an open source history news and comment section arrangement which you really cannot find anywhere else. The comment sections can sometimes be trolled pretty heavily as anonymous trolls love to make their opinions known, especially on hot button issues involving political ideology.
I check the site daily for new articles. I find them to be interesting. Jim Loewen is a regular contributor and commenter. Several other historians are putting regular posts there as well. You can find their most recent work in the blogs section as well as the regular page. There is an active Twitter feed running alongside the page as well. The top toolbar has several buttons to choose from which expand the range of uses HNN provides. There is a lot of information on this site and a lot of it is relatively up to date and covers not only history, but deals with the intersection of history and the present.
I have no idea how old the site is, but did find published articles from 2005. The site is a non-profit operating independently of George Mason University through the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media. Richard Shenkman, associate professor of history at the University, was and still is the editor and founder of HNN. What I like about the site is that the articles are opinions, yet opinions rooted in actual history, not a fictional past. This is an important distinction because it allows for the presentation of opinions from all sides of the spectrum which is very good for debate. Debating people who refuse to use facts is pointless. With that said, HNN does not run op-eds that are obviously incorrect. They point out their refusal to publish anything by Holocaust deniers as an example.
I like the site, but really have issues with the comments section. As my readers know, I am not a fan of anonymous posting or commenting. I feel that allows the trolls an opportunity to make a lot of posts that are flat out erroneous because they dislike the published opinions. Disagreement is perfectly natural, but many of the comments are just attacks with no merit whatsoever. HNN has a disclaimer that they do not attest to the accuracy or truthfulness of any of the views or facts posted on the discussion boards. The boards are Disqus which is yet another reason I am not fond of them.
Other than that, I encourage readers to visit HNN at http://historynewsnetwork.org/ . I think they will find the site to be interesting and while not every article will be their cup of tea, there will be some that are.