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FCW Insider: Obama team teaches lesson on Government 2.0 etiquette

The Web 2.0 education of the American public has begun.


After receiving thousands of comments through the Change.gov Web site, Obama's transition team has decided to provide users with some tips on taking part in the online forums. The tips are intended "to help make our discussions clearer and more valuable," according to a blog entry posted earlier this week.


On the surface, the tips are fairly obvious, encouraging users to read the comment policy, set up an account, stay on topic and to rate other comments. However, in explaining each tip, the Obama team clearly is trying to impress upon readers some rudimentary net etiquette.


In essence, the team is letting people know that social networking can be an effective governance tool -- but only if the participants are willing to play a constructive part. If not, and Change.gov devolves into a free-for-all, the potential will be lost.


The short list of tips repeats that message in multiple ways. For example, it describes the comment policy as "basic guidelines for material that should and should not be part of the Change.gov online conversation."


The blog also notes that comments will not be censored -- as long as the users are "respectful" and "adds value to the discussion."


And the entry encourages Change.gov users to police their peers by rating other comments. This rating system "will help keep the liveliest discussions in front of new readers, and will make the community's feedback a valuable part of the discussion," the site states.


Clearly, the Obama team views Change.gov as a Government 2.0 laboratory. The question is, will it work?


Perhaps it might. As of Thursday afternoon, the tips blog entry had received 85 responses, many of which were on point, suggesting ways that the Obama team could improve the functionality of the online forums and their use as a governance tool.

Posted by John Stein Monroe on Dec 04, 2008 at 12:18 PM


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