FCW Insider

Blog archive

FCW Insider: Tips on keeping public comments civil (Part 1)

The Obama team's experiments with Change.gov made one thing clear: It's no easy task to keep the public engaged, civil and on point all at the same time. Which made me wonder: it's not easy, but is it possible?

Last week, when I was reading about the U.K. Power of Information Taskforce, I came across a U.K.-based group called the Consultation Institute that offers training in eParticipation, as they call it, so I put my question to them: How do you make eParticipation both manageable and useful? I heard back from Fraser Henderson, who teaches that course and who also is director of PartiTech. Here is what he advises:

Some sort of eParticipation manager is usually needed to keep conversations focused in any sort of consultation. Facilitation is better than moderation. Their main role should be to:

* Provide positive reinforcement of constructive comments.

* Re-enforce purpose to new participants.

* Uphold rules.

Generally speaking it is a good idea to:

* Establish clear rules (e.g. no personal attacks, use your full and actual name).

* Deal with violations in private.

* Provide tips for contributors (e.g. never post when you are angry, always re-read your comments).

* Avoid "loudest voice" syndrome by considering a cap on the number of responses an individual can make (e.g. 2 a day).

* Celebrate (e.g. with offline meets) launches or anniversaries. This serves as a reminder that there are “real people” on the end of an eParticipation exercise. Alternatively, co-ordinate a simultaneous online and offline session (e.g. http://pep-net.eu/wordpress/?p=229). Connecting geography and a sense of social accountability might involve dividing up a participation exercise into local boundaries.

Also consider argument visualization. For an example, click here and then simply select a topic to view its argument map.

Tomorrow I will post tips from another social networking expert.

Posted by John Stein Monroe on Feb 17, 2009 at 12:14 PM


Featured

  • FCW Perspectives
    zero trust network

    Can government get to zero trust?

    Today's hybrid infrastructures and highly mobile workforces need the protection zero trust security can provide. Too bad there are obstacles at almost every turn.

  • Cybersecurity
    Rep. Jim Langevin (D-R.I.) at the Hack the Capitol conference Sept. 20, 2018

    NDAA process is now loaded with Solarium cyber amendments

    Much of the Cyberspace Solarium Commission's agenda is being pushed into this year's defense authorization process, including its crown jewel idea of a national cyber director.

Stay Connected

FCW INSIDER

Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.