Yesterday, at 11 am EST, a new website called DHThis launched. DHThis describes itself as “the first entirely crowdsourced outlet for digital humanities.” The idea behind it is that people can register for free on the website, submit articles, and link to blog posts that they have written, putting their work before the DHThis community. Then, users have the opportunity to upvote or downvote articles. The ones with the most votes will appear on the front page of the site; the least liked will disappear after a few days.
I strongly dislike this voting concept. Let’s imagine that I post something I wrote and fifteen users downvote it, without commenting on it. As an early career scholar, I do not yet have the benefit of an established reputation. An overwhelmingly critical response to a piece might have a negative impact on my professional reputation, with possible long-term consequences. And I don’t believe that’s what the digital humanities are about. I imagine it more as an open, collaborative community, which, to me, is not represented in this voting system.
I am also unclear as to how long the articles can remain on the homepage. Does that depend on the number of votes they receive? What if an article gets twice the number of votes as any other article? Will it stay on the homepage forever?
Alternately, the articles featured on the homepage could change daily or twice a week. They would be randomly chosen from among the articles submitted by the users. It would not depend on a vote.
Ultimately, if I go to DHThis, it won’t be to cast a vote but to learn about what people are doing and what is happening in the world of digital humanities in the hopes of broadening my knowledge.