This conversation is closed.

The Great TED Conversation

This Conversation started on 06/06/2013 3:50:43 PM UTC.
This edit was made on 14/06/2013

DISCLAIMER: TED is not involved in this project, it is entirely user generated.

This Conversation's original intent was to gather all the conversations about improving TED and sort it out somehow. Since then a Wiki has been started to enable collaborative efforts on building this gigantic library of Ideas about TED that have been posted here on TED Conversations.
TED Improvements Wiki:

We have been able to gather 27 Conversations with a total of 1339 comments concerning most aspects of improvements for TED. A table with the Conversations and links to them can be found on the Wiki:
If you know of any Conversations that aren't listed please provide them.

But we have enough Conversations to begin the work of extracting all the different ideas that are in them, and this is where we are at present.

So now we need to extract and sort all the ideas, develop them and present them somehow. Any and all thoughts and comments on the development of this project are welcome and if you'd wish to help build this you are welcome to join at any time.

Any Ideas concerning improvements for TED are of course also welcome in this Conversation or on the Wiki forum.
Wiki Forum:

A copy of the old explanation can be found here:

Closing Statement from Jimmy Strobl

The project has been inactive since the conversation ended ,I sure wish that they'd bring back the open-ended option... I recently created a subreddit for TEDconversations where suggestions for improvements can be openly and continuously discussed.

You're very welcome to join it on
(don't you wish that links in the closing statement were clickable?)

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    Jun 13 2013: Add a Survey category where a member can add a question that other members could than choose one of two options; "yes" or "no", "true" or "false"" and "will" or "will not". Tally results. That way we can pose a question like "Do you believe in evolution?" and get some idea of what people think is real.
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      Jun 16 2013: Thanks for the idea Raymond, I've added it to the Wiki forum and it is open for discussion there (or here). (I think that it's almost self-evident that it's needed)
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    Jun 13 2013: Update: We have been doing some work contributing to the Wiki. Besides the standard pages explaining the general idea, there are currently forum threads for 7 conversations concerning some aspect of improving TED (5 for TED Conversations and 2 for and we have gathered most of the Conversation sources concerning improvements for TED and made a table out of them.

    I will change the explanation of this Conversation in a day or so, to make it more up to date with the current proceedings of the project.
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    Jun 11 2013: Very ambitious and kudos for your initiative Jimmy. I liken your position to a similar viewpoint I hold with regard to University thesises residing on bookshelves and left to disappear as if they had never been thought of.
    If we are to truly stand on the shoulders of giants, then what is the point of re-inventing the wheel. Admittedly I haven't ventured to your wiki linked posts, however, know you will still read my post here.
    I would add though, in my opinion, 2000 character word limitations aside (especially since you can get around it by posting a newbie), that as you want to effect this medium, then for reasons of transparency, your posts would be better all posited here.
    I too have put up a question post, re the $1,000,000 TED prize but wanted to involve the whole TED community, inclusive and particularily those who are involved from the TED business side of things. I believe, they too are wanting to improve and grow the site and are as such also open to crowdsourced ideas/inputs from their community members.
    As such they need to be in the loop and involved in a collaborative way. I think Jimmy, they would appreciate your initiative and most likely even work with you to developing an even better version of their current offering.
    You are 100% right about closed posts being overlooked and their information being recycled in other newer forums. Clearly this is less than ideal, however, it is thru post/suggestions like yours that incremental improvements can be made.
    It is noteworthy Jimmy, that you have spent some 2 years developing this whole idea. I know what it is like to commit a lot of time to ideas and ideals.
    Again congratulations Jimmy. My suggestion is to post your edited submission summaries from your wiki here in your idea topic, so that you have the nuts and bolts of your strategy in the one place, ready for delivery in a logically sequenced format for the TED People to consider and perhaps incorporate! : D
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      Jun 16 2013: Thank you, thank you and thank you!!
      I'm a bit overwhelmed by the amount of approval you've shown for this project, but I'm really glad to hear it.

      Exactly, re-inventing the wheel is what we keep doing over and over again here with many conversations, without actually building anything that rolls.

      Your suggestion about posting all the ideas here is a good one, but I'm afraid that it would very quickly get unorganized and filled with off topic commentary, I've seen this happen to many of these conversation. So I'm not going to try that, but if you wish to test it you are quite free to retrieve the ideas from the forum and re-post them here. I'll join in the conversation on those as best as I can.

      I'm sorry but the "I too have put up a question post, re the $1,000,000 TED prize"-section isn't quite clear to me, would you mind elaborating?

      TED Conversations Admin has already voiced their approval, I really hope that it could lead to something like that as well, but for now I'm staying the course of this project and I'm not counting on TED being involved in this any time soon.

      Anyway, thanks for all the flattery. And I'll do my best to respond to you more quickly in the future.
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        Jun 17 2013: Thanks for your reply Jimmy, I didn't mean to come across in a chastising way, as I do appreciate that people do have a life outside their TED posts, so don't stress, it's all cool.

        The $1,000,000 TED prize mention was to do with a post question that I have put up after I started to research how to enter with an idea of mine to change the world and as such potentially win from TED $1,000,000 (via this TED site) and was struck by how onerous the application criteria was and also the "TYPE"'s of people who were previous winners.

        I am supportive of what you are endeavouring to do because you have demonstrated a committment to your ideal that is also grounded in it being a good sensible idea too, in my opinion.

        It seems that the off subject dilema is part and parcel of the TED posting process and as such FOCUS is very much the key, however notwithstanding, sidetracks can sometimes deliver insights too that are relevant to the topic.

        The re-inventing the wheel conundrum is just so dysfunctional to me. I am sure there are coder/programmers out there who would be able to (google ish style) develop an application, whereby the whole TED post's repositories are put into the programme and then on the basis of key words, disseminated into like/similar categories.

        Human intervention by way of collating, sifting, sorting, editing and perhaps thereby afterwards a paper is written (thesis/precis style) on the divergent subject materials.

        Further suggestion to this as who wants to do all that work for free (tho there would be some) is to have a University embrace the concept and involve/incorporate their students academic curriculums in conjunction with their lecturers and course outlines so that the project is enabled and as a consequence impovements to the wheel would be made as opposed to re-inventing it again would occur! : D
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    Jun 9 2013: Thanks for the explanation elsewhere that your wiki is an unofficial, independently sponsored project rather than a initiative, that the wiki displays this plainly, and that TED staff know you are doing this independently.

    That was what I was looking for.
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      Jun 9 2013: No worries,

      But it should be obvious that the TED staff know of this since they approved the conversation. And it should also be clear that I'm not working for TED since I don't have any badge that suggest this.

      And it should also be clear from the Conversation explanation that that TED is in no way involved in this project.

      The reason I'm doing this Fritzie is because I want TED to be all it can be and that I believe in the power of the crowd to solve problems.

      I first tried to do (something like) this conversation over two years ago. And my Conversation about improvements for TED was the first ever that wasn't deleted because "It is of no greater benefit to the community as a whole"

      After this my conversation was closed a week early and TED staff (Will True) started the first Conversation about suggestions for TED ever hosted by TED.
      However, not even a percent of those suggestions are today a reality on, two years later. I think it's because TED conversations is a generally bad place to sort and categorize ideas. and once a conversation is closed no one ever returns to it. So new Conversations are started that approach some angle of a problem that has already been discussed and people keep having the same Conversations about really good ideas for TED that are almost never implemented.

      What I aim to do (or build the structure for) is a comprehensive library of all the ideas for TED, all angles of all issues and have them thoroughly debated and then perhaps voted for to present a top 10 list or something of the sort for TED with a big majority of the community backing those suggestions.
      And also a library that TED can visit anytime when the see an issue and want examples of solutions for them.

      Now I know that the title of the conversation may indicate some level of hubris but it is meant to be the greatest conversation yet about TED and therefore I think that it's an appropriate title.
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    Jun 6 2013: Here is one thing that might be good. How about a Hit counter on each Conversation that everyone can see. Or at least the guy who started the conversation . . . let him/her see how well the conversation is doing. in terms of attracting readers and readers who do not post.

    Also, why not a Mind Map. I often say things on one conversation that are also applicable on another conversation. With modern computing, why not a mind map. When the same comment fit's in two different conversations and is on-topic, why not have the ability to have a single text box and link it across several threads. Otherwise you have to cut & paste across conversations. And that really sucks.

    There is a submit button that goes with this text box. When I post it to TED, there will be an edit and reply button that I can use to correct my spelling and others can use to call me an idiot (or genius) for what I say in this box. So why not a "crosslink" button that will link to other conversations that are on-topic?

    Why not add a "cross-link" button that gives you the ability to link that text box across several conversations that you have already contributed to . . . Whatever it is that TED does when TED links several TED talks into a single bundle that can be viewed together; that same decision algorithm can be used to push this forward.

    TED has done a good job of creating nested conversations. So your vertical integration into conversations works really well. I propose at least a LIMITED ability to link conversations horizontally. More than just a limited ability is not really needed. You don't want individuals carrying off-topic vendettas across conversations and detracting from the overall experience. But some kind of horizontal cross-link could turn multiple, vertically integrated idea exchanges into true mind-maps that associate ideas in unforeseen directions. Maybe 3 or 4 cross-links per week?
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      Jun 8 2013: Nice contribution with the mind-mapping idea, perhaps you'd also like to add the hit counter idea to the forum?
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        Jun 8 2013: I will. I'm going to spend some time on that web site.
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          Jun 8 2013: Glad to hear it!
          And if you have any ideas or questions about the Wiki you could always post them in the Q&A or general forum.

          Any way, nice to have you with!
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    Jul 2 2013: Hi Jimmy, have a contribution/suggestion to make as a result of one of my conversation posts being deleted! There should be the ability for freedom of speech and the right of everyone to have an opinion, without being censored.... in my opinion!

    I have now put up a question post around the topic. I have received some feedback so far but believe that by minimising diversity in posts and deleting offenders comments before they have had a chance to be educated and learn from others response posts, we and our TED conversations, are less for it! : D
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    Jun 27 2013: A standard format for comments and better curating system. The TED Cred system is nice, but doesn't have that much value to me. has a good evaluation system for comments, on which you can collapse to a certain rating of comments.

    Downrate option for TED Cred may help too, maybe support BBCode. Forum example with proper reputation system: (click 'reputation' in profile box with avatar).

    Proposed format:

    [Textfield for statements]

    [Textfield for arguments]

    [Links for further reading / related talks]

    [Quote (to) a person you wish to support or wish discuss with]

    This format doesn't have to be obligated, but can help people to keep it short, clear and of good quality.
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    Jun 16 2013: What if you add a roundtable discussion to your TED conferences? You would have a large round table with about 25 seats. You would have a moderator to control the conversation and keep it on point. People would stand behind the ones seated and after each seated person has added there input they would be replaced by someone else. Once you have been unseated you may reseat later.
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    Jun 16 2013: Hi Jimmy, I think that you are on the right track. Simply put, if you can signatory prove that X number of TED members want X, then as per democratic initiation, that is what would become! In my opinion, crowdsourcing is the way of the future, especially in terms of democracy.
    Have got to say tho, when you fail to acknowledge a postee supporter, you can make them feel like their opinion is inconsequestional and irrelevant. I have posited a similar proposition to a Shell representative.That is not to say that I concur with implied consensus, however are more disappointed with a lack of acknowledgement, especially if the reply is consistent with a note worthy remark/contribution because the postee can see that a peer has responded to their own contribution and to ignore/not acknowledge it is akin to snobbery or arrogance.
    I do appreciate that there are time constraints on individuals, tho they only carry so far. Annoyingly there does appear to be a selective discrimination that I cannot understand or justify! Is there someting that I am missing? Something that I am doing or not saying?
    The TED o sphere is rather new to me and I'd guess is also to others. In what way is the best way to amalganate support and supporters via post/opinions posited? : D
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      Jun 16 2013: Hi Time Traveller,

      Thanks and I agree that crowdsourcing is the way of the future.
      I apologize for the lack of acknowledgement that you feel. your previous comment was in fact so nice and approving for this project that I really didn't know what to say. I simply gave you a thumbs up to show my approval of the comment as a whole and thought that I'd take some time until I get back to you. I'm sorry for the negligence.

      The TED-o-sphere is indeed something complex and not very well understood when it comes to what gets responded to and not. I think that most times when a good or brilliant comment is made many just feel that there's nothing more to add to that and leave it.

      I see that there are some specific suggestions and questions in your previous post that haven't been addressed, I'll do that now in a reply to that comment.
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    Jun 14 2013: Leaving a copy of the explanation as it was until 06/14

    "We all have suggestions for TED on how we think it would be better. We are encouraged to email these propositions to TED but not that many do.

    So what I propose is this:

    That we form a document that we crowd-source together to build a complete overview of the different issues and suggestions that TEDsters have concerning any part of TED

    That we for each issue give (if possible) a possible solution to the issue. Most people that find a problem have already written a solution to the perceived problem.

    When the documentation is ready we (possibly) put it through a voting process of priorities and then send it to

    I will add links to conversations when you provide them so that we all don't have to go looking for them.

    This is a crowdsourcing/ brainstorming conversation. the actual documentation will have to be made at an (or many) external source(s)

    Conversation sources:

    Please provide any conversations that discuss TED improvements and read through the links.

    But first: BRAINSTORM! (about ways and tools to implement this idea)

    *Edit, I thought that we'll need a Wiki of some sort to do this right, so I created one. If you have a better suggestion please say so. "
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    Jun 7 2013: Thanks, I'll take advantage of that. My posts are there.
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      Jun 8 2013: Great, I read them and I'm looking forward to the discussion on that since I don't fully understand you idea, but I bet that many will be able to.

      Whenever you feel like adding an idea, please feel free to do so and it will help build the Wiki!
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    Jun 7 2013: I made a Wiki for TED Improvements, please help build it

    Edit* I've added the chat and forum option to the Wiki, so if anyone wants to chat or start a discussion there's now that option.

    Chat link:
    Forum link:
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    Jun 6 2013: continued from my other post on "cross-links"

    Yeah, 2-4 cross links available per week. And a limited ability for 'someone else' to break those cross links when the whole business get weird or offensive. But I don't think that it will.

    Bottom line: An ability to pursue an idea or concept across conversations MIGHT add a significant dimension to TED without adding any unmanageable complexities. Surely someone else, somewhere else has already done this on the web. How did it work there? Also, if TED is the first -- well, isn't that what TED is all about?
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      Jun 6 2013: ZX,

      I applaud and welcome your eagerness for this project. I too (as you can see) am very eager to get this going.


      You're rushing off, we need to asses the situation. We need to agree on what information to gather, how to gather it, compile, share and how to present it.

      And we need a couple of more people before we make any final decisions on the matter. There may be many better ways to do this then you and I have yet to think of.

      So please, hold your horses a bit, there's a lot of work to be done.
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          Jun 6 2013: GREAT, that's what I would do, only you can not reply to yourself. This should be a clear point that it's not all thought through for you. You know it's not like I haven't thought about this, I created the Conversation and I have been waiting a long time for this conversation to even be allowed.

          I've actually waited since spring 2011 to be able to do this conversation as you can see here:
          This was the first Conversation concerning improvements for TED that they didn't delete.

          You have some good suggestions, let them be debated by more people then myself before you go doing all the work by your lonesome.
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      Jun 7 2013: ZX,

      Would you help in building the Wiki for this project?
      It would be much appreciated and I hope a fun project that I'd love to have you along on.
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          Jun 7 2013: I didn't know how that Wiki worked either when I started it today, but it's really easy to learn. Basically you just press the edit or reply button when you feel that you like to change or say something.

          Maybe we could have a general discussion about it here or in the forums' Q&A or general section of the forum?

          It would be great if you could make a post about your concerns somewhere on the forum so that we could try to sort some of the problems out as I'm sure that you're not the only one who would see those issues.

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          Jun 7 2013: Yeah, were in the same timezone. It is getting kind of late. :-P

          That would be great if you did, and perhaps you could also add your suggestions.

          "3. TED needs to enlarge the possible reply branch to 4 or 5 replys instead of replying to an old post to keep replying.
          4. If there is a topic i'm interested in, i want to see the top replies rightaway. I am not interested in the latest replies.
          What i want will look something like the youtube system."
          to the Conversations improvements thread on the forum (and any other suggestion for that matter).

          Take care for now.
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    Jun 6 2013: I thought I'd do a comment count so that we... well... know.

    Let's name the Conversation sources in the explanation from top to bottom in ascending numerical order (1-8)
    1 - 805 comments
    2 - 178 comments
    3 - 38 comments
    4 - 27 comments
    5 - 6 comments
    6 - 6 comments
    7 - 47 comments
    8 - 10 comments

    And the first post I made concerning Conversation links (1-5)

    1 - 40 comments
    2 - 4 comments
    3 - 33 comments
    4 - 7 comments
    5 - 9 comments

    Most of these comments should either be concerning some sort of improvement or a respond to that comment. So there's a lot of ideas to tap on.