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FCW Insider: Stealth comments revisited

Several readers take the FCW Insider to task for taking Obama's team to task over not publishing comments they receive through WhiteHouse.gov.

Clearly, not everyone shares my vision for e-democracy.

In yesterday's post, I took the Obama administration to task for inviting people to comment on proposed legislation but posting the comments for everyone to see (at least so far).

As I see it, by publishing the comments, the White House could foster a "conversation" about the proposed legislation, enabling people to build on and debate each other's ideas. The net result? More fully-informed ideas. That's the whole "wisdom of crowds" paradigm.

But some readers beg to differ. Here is what they had to say:

If I have substantive comments on a bill I have no need to read the hundreds or thousands of comments by others. If I have no substantive comments but only want to bloviate it will be discouraged by having no audience. Seems sensible to me, especially after seeing how [change.gov] was reduced from policy discussion to parroting talking points and anecdotal information about "my second cousin's wife's brother-in-law."

The point about change.gov is well taken. I spent a fair amount of time reviewing the comments they received and many, many of them were off point. On the other hand, I also saw some healthy debates take shape that truly added to the conversation. I blogged about it in a post last December (keep in mind the change.gov links don't work anymore).

I agree that we don't need to see others comments, after all it's feedback from individuals, not the typical meaningless response you see so many times. BTW let's not forget that we have been able to give our individual members of Congress and Senate the same feedback via email for some time. So what's new?

Please note how this comment refers to the earlier one -- and then extends it by bringing Congress into the picture. That is just what I have in mind when I talk about a conversation. And it is a good point.

Seeing how "debate" evolves on public blogs, I can understand why the new administration would approach e-democracy carefully.

Too true.

I see nothing wrong with that. They are looking for comments on the bill not a discussion on the comments of others.

Apparently that is the case.

Thanks, folks, for sharing your thoughts. I look forward to seeing how this whole scene develops.
 

Posted by John Stein Monroe on Feb 03, 2009 at 12:14 PM


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