Develop an easy-to-use Internet-based tool that effectively channels the voices of citizens desiring results consistent with achieving a particular organization’s mission. In terms of financial cost and expertise, the tool either could be launched directly by the organization, or by another entity allowing it to be shared by the organization.
- To motivate citizens to speak up on specific examples where they see a need to achieve results consistent with the organization's mission
- To strengthen citizens’ faith in the value of speaking up on these issues
- To increase the power of citizens to make government and other relevant entities responsive on these issues
- To achieve discernible improvements in these issues
- To grow our organizational infrastructure
- To strengthen citizens’ positive impressions of, involvement in and support of our organization
As consistent as possible with the first two goals listed above, the organization's leaders would always retain complete authority over all content presented on the site using this tool, including the right to – responsibly – delete or edit content, or limit or ban postings by users whose submissions are, inconsistent with the mission and goals of the organization.
To promote individuals’ civic responsibility and good faith – and as one way to help promote use of this new tool consistent with the goals of the organization – all users of the web tool would be required to register with their names and home or perhaps work addresses.
HOW IT WOULD WORK:
On the site, users – or designated users – would post specific “trouble spots” in the area needing attention. Solutions to trouble spots also would be featured.
All site users would have the opportunity, and would be encouraged, to rank the trouble spot according to criteria that could include, singly or combined: importance to the goals of the organization; importance to the community(ies) affected; level of danger; the number of people affected; level of expectation that an effective solution can be identified; and level of expectation that an effective solution will be implemented.
Should it be required that each trouble spot be matched by a proposed solution?
- a) No, identifying trouble spots even without solutions would be beneficial
- b) Always?
- c) As a general rule, with exceptions made for issues where dialogue would be considered beneficial?
- d) After a certain period of time is allowed to pass – after which, if no solution is presented, the trouble spot is automatically categorized as inactive?
Question: If it is required that a trouble spot be matched by a proposed solution, should responsibility for presenting the solution be borne by:
- a) The original poster?
- b) A select group of users, always chosen by the organization
- c) A select group of users, chosen through rankings by all users?
- d) Any user, subject to the approval of the original poster?
- e) Any user?
All site users would have the opportunity, and would be encouraged, to rank the solution(s) for the trouble spot according to criteria that could include, singly or combined: consistency with the goals of the organization; consistency with the perceived desires of the community(ies) affected; anticipated level of effectiveness of the proposed solution; the number of people the solution could be anticipated to benefit; and level of expectation that the solution will be implemented.
Added on top of all this would be a “Take Action” component, formulated by organization staff/leaders, enabling users to directly email key officials, and/or informing users how to phone or write them; and providing a sample, customizable message.
It would be necessary to place a limit on the volume of “Take Action” entries posted at any given time – both to not deluge officials in a counterproductive way, and to allow for the development of each “Take Action” entry. It is also possible that it would be prudent to classify as “inactive” even temporarily a “Take Action” entry because of the possibility that organization leaders may determine another entry needs to take priority.
Question: What other ways can be employed to prevent manipulation of the site?
WHAT IT WOULD LOOK LIKE:
It is essential that such a web tool both look, and be, easy to use. It would be necessary to “file” postings under categories – either one or more, i.e., by neighborhood and topic. This would make it easier for people to find postings of interest to them.
The popular liberal blog, Daily Kos, allows users to rate and add comments in response to postings. A compilation of rankings of a poster is presented in an easy-to-read format that can be viewed fast. Here is an example: www.DailyKos.com/user/jkennerl/ratings
The company, PowerReviews, developed a web tool that is used by many commercial sites. Here are two examples:
Buzzillions – where actual buyers rate and comment on products: http://www.buzzillions.com/4294967010_nz_digital_cameras_reviews
Ace Hardware – using a similar system – allows users to rate and offer comments on its products: http://www.acehardware.com/product/index.jsp?productId=1796966&cp=2568448.2626074.2627943.1260145&parentPage=family