Hyperlinking to city hall

City departments and elected officials use the Internet to gather feedback

from the public in five general formats:

* E-mail links. Hyperlinked e-mail addresses launch an e-mail application

in the user's Web browser. Many city council Web pages include e-mail links

as part of the contact information, either for the council in general or

for individual members.

* E-mail newsletters. As with e-mail messages, hitting the reply button

on e-mail newsletters generally enables recipients to respond. However,

some newsletters direct users to a different address.

* Online forms. The "submit" button on this electronic version of a

traditional comment form sends the information to the Webmaster or a designated

city official as an e-mail message. Agencies frequently ask people to include

a name and contact information with their comments.

* Online discussion forums. Questions or comments are posted on a Web

page, along with the responses of city officials and members of the general

public, creating a threaded discussion that can stretch over days or even

weeks.

* Online chats. In online chats, a real-time version of the discussion

forum, city officials — usually elected officials — answer questions online

as they are submitted.

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