Meet Frank Hagler, technology consultant and conversation enthusiast.
As part of our "Pundit of the Week" blog, we feature one outstanding PolicyMic-er to share his/her personal experiences with our community. Check out last week's Q&A with Morgan Davies here.
Each pundit gets to pose one never-been-asked question of a PolicyMic staff member. This week's question is for co-founder Chris Altchek.
About Frank: He is an Alabama native, but has lived in New York, Texas, California, India and Jamaica. Frank's family has a deep attachment to the civil rights movement and is passionate about sports. The Marvelous Marvin Hagler is related to Frank on his father's side and Dan Bankhead, the first African American pitcher, is related to Frank on his mother's side.
Caira Conner (CC): First things first, when and why did you join PolicyMic?
Frank Hagler (FH): I joined Policymic in August 2012. I love a good conversation and I am always browsing the Internet for interesting articles or subjects. On most sites if I choose to post a comment, I rarely receive a reasoned response. If I do, it is even rarer to have a sustained conversation with people representing a multitude of informed backgrounds. Often, the conversations deteriorate pretty quickly. That was not my experience at PolicyMic. I posted a comment and before you know it, I was engaged in some pretty good repartee. I immediately knew this was something different and special. The calm, reasonable, civil nature of PolicyMic is one of the things that keeps be coming back. PolicyMic is quite addictive.
CC: PolicyMic is a millennials-oriented platform. As someone who may not identify as a millennial, what do you view as the advantages or disadvantages to engaging with our platform?
FH: This is a fast-paced world and many people do not have the time to engage in meaningful dialogue. The world is a busy place and amid the pressures of day-to-day living, it is difficult to find time to have a real conversation. PolicyMic destroys the myth of the low-information millennial or young person. There is no water-cooler talk on PolicyMic. The people you engage with here, the millennials that you meet want to learn and exchange ideas. The great advantage of PolicyMic is its reach. We are all products of our environment, and chances are that we are surrounded by people who live and think just like we do. PolicyMic allows you to step outside of your immediate environment and meet people across a broad spectrum of economic, regional, social, cultural and ideological backgrounds. PolicyMic challenges your beliefs. It is not a place to preach to the like- minded- rather it allows you to explore your ideas in a safe and informative environment that encourages 360-degree feedback. Don't post a comment, or write an article on PolicyMic and not expect to be challenged or receive feedback. The biggest disadvantage to PolicyMic is that it is simply addictive. There is a stickiness to the sight that might be great for the owners, but it can wreak havoc on your schedule if you are not careful.
CC: If you could change one thing about your user experience with PolicyMic, what would it be?
FH: The linkage is somewhat troublesome. The out-of-place email response is a pretty common occurrence. Tangent conversations are also problematic. Users can quickly go off-topic and jam up a thread with comments on subjects that have nothing to do with the posted article. It would be great if you could spin off a comment into a separate thread.
CC: What's been something to come of your using our platform that's surprised you?
FH: I am pretty sarcastic when it comes to online forums. Some would say I'm a real smart ass. Since coming to PolicyMic, I have become less snarky and more deliberate. I am definitely more tolerant and respectful of opposing opinions. No one will respect your opinion if you haven't done your homework. Op-ed style is fine, but you need some data to back up your assertions.
CC: Let's go offline. What do you like to do when you're not PolicyMic-ing?
FH: I like live events. Concerts and sporting events are a passion of mine. I'm one of the few people that enjoys business travel. I get stoked every time I get on a plane or train. Nothing excites me more than to land in a new city. I can't wait to sample the local cuisine. I also like zoos. My big plan is to do an African safari.
CC: Your turn. What's one question you have for a member of our staff?
FH: My question is for Christopher Altchek: "As head of the Product Team I assume that makes Jake Horowitz your internal customer. There are a lot of technologists on the site that deal with business and IT integration for a living. What do you and Jake fight over as it relates to the direction of the product?"
Chris Altchek: Great question. You are exactly right. Jake, Chris Miles, and the editing team are our number one clients. As the PolicyMic community grows, editors and pundits need better tools so they can spend more time on what's important – analyzing, researching, and thinking about the news & analysis we cover.
To be honest though, Jake and I are both too busy to fight. We both are working on so many projects that we settle our disagreements very quickly. The only times we disagree are when planning the product roadmap. For example, should we spend the next two weeks building a most efficient list building tool for pundits, make improvements to the editor analytics dashboard, or build a nice editing tool for user comments? Here, we are always trying to balance immediate needs (better equipping editors & pundits) with more long-run goals, like better on-boarding new users and giving commenters a higher-quality experience.
But, our philosophy is to keep a very short product roadmap. If it's not a critical build in the next two months, then it's probably not a core feature. In many ways, Martin, Anthony, and I view ourselves as problem solvers. We start by focusing on a core problem (editors, users, or readers) and innovate to find the simplest and most effective solution.
CC: Frank, thank you! You've been a tremendously supportive member of the PolicyMic community, and we look forward to hearing more of what you have to say.
For more news on Frank, follow him on Twitter: @bamatek