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Open Government Dialogue: The E.T. connection

The Obama administration has been flooded with ideas for how to make government more transparent.

As you might expect, some of the ideas submitted to the Open Government Dialogue are not very good. In fact, some are off point, silly or just plain awful. But here’s the good news: The White House strategy of enabling participants to rate each other’s ideas appears to be working.

Among the 1,400-plus suggestions is this one: “Disclose all UFO records and information to the public.” Initially, this entry received a few “thumbs up” ratings, putting it near the top of the list for several hours. But the idea never gained any steam. As of Monday at noon, it had received numerous thumbs down ratings, for a score of -8, dropping it out of sight.

That is exactly how the system is meant to work. Essentially, the White House trusts that users are best off policing themselves. The theory goes that they will ensure that the best ideas rise to the top and the bad ones disappear.

Still, it’s always possible that a community of users could hijack the process by “stuffing the ballot box,” ensuring that some ideas receive inflated ratings. Social networking, being a double-edged sword, makes it possible to organize such campaigns very quickly.

You think that might happen with the idea of having “Free Pizza Fridays,” but alas, no. At last check, it had a -38 score. I only hope Pizza Hut is not looking for bailout money.

Posted by John Stein Monroe on Jun 01, 2009 at 12:14 PM


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