Is Society Matters an official initiative of the National Geographic Society?
No. Society Matters is a project organized by some members of the National Geographic Society (NGS), and it’s fueled by the energy and passion of people who care about the Society and about the future of journalism.

What is a beatblog?
It’s a tightly-focused blog that “becomes a two-way knowledge system,” says Jay Rosen of NYU. “Some people have called this ‘journalism of the inbox.’ It’s editorial production, social media style.”

What is crowdsourcing?
The word “crowdsourcing” was coined in 2006 by Jeff Howe, a contributing editor at Wired magazine and the author of Crowdsourcing: Why The Power of The Crowd Is Driving The Future of Business. (Jeff is a member of our Board of Advisers.) Jeff’s thumbnail definition: “Crowdsourcing is the act of taking a job traditionally performed by a designated agent (usually an employee) and outsourcing it to an undefined, generally large group of people in the form of an open call.”

What happens when we generate a list of ideas that have been voted on by the crowd?
We hope that National Geographic will take our ideas — free of charge — and run with them. We care about the future of NGS, and given the turbulent state of the media world these days, the Society no doubt needs all the good ideas it can get.

How are you making money on this site?
We’re not. This is a labor of love. We care about the Society — what it was, is, and might become. We also value what helped make the Society such a beloved American institution — its sense of adventure, wide-ranging curiosity, cultural confidence, and unbounded optimism.

Why do you think NGS management will pay attention to the ideas we propose on this site?
Good question. Fact is, NGS managers may well ignore us. Then again, we’re sharing our ideas at the perfect time: Most every media company is struggling to find a business model that will work in a digital world. Who will pay for content? What will happen when readers migrate from print to the web? Can advertising really support web-based journalism? Will pay walls work? Everyone is searching for answers, and we’d like to help find some good ones.

Do we need to sign in to UserVoice to vote for an idea?
Yes, but you do NOT need to set up a separate UserVoice account. You can sign in using your ID & password from one of six different accounts you may already have: Facebook, Google, AOL, MySpaceID, Yahoo, or OpenID.

Can we post ideas anonymously without signing in?
Yes, but NOT directly on UserVoice. Instead, if you prefer to remain anonymous, you can email your idea(s) to bashful [at] societymatters [dot] org, and as long as they don’t violate any of our basic rules of engagement, we’ll post them under the name I.M. Bashful.

What are these rules of engagement?
The rules are simple: We’re here to provide constructive suggestions to help the National Geographic Society thrive and survive. We want to be positive, forward-looking, and constructive. We do not intend to insult, malign, or make negative statements about the National Geographic Society, its employees (past or present), its affiliates, its advertisers, or anyone else. Our rule of thumb: Build up, don’t tear down.

Do you have any cool Society Matters swag for sale?
Not yet. But our VP for Swag recently came up with this handsome mug:


Yeah, we know — the design could use some work. But the words will make a lot more sense when you read our post about George Bailey. It’s coming soon. Stay tuned….

NO NEW POSTS will be published here after February 6, 2014. THIS IS WHY.