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How to handle online questions, queries, concerns and criticisms from your community

I was sent this today, it is an email sent out to staff by Penrith City Council when considering how to deal with providing feedback to comments on the site.

When we moderate we do so independently of our clients but our clients do have the option to ‘facilitate’ by asking questions, making statements or providing information.

Emerging best practice to date is to create a generic login for responses (e.g. project coordinator) to ensure that discussion is not personalised; to avoid getting drawn into argument; and to use off site means or the library to provide additional information.

Here is Penrith’s take which others might choose to use or add to. Penrith kindly gave us permission to share this, if others have comments or other approaches please let us know and we will post those too.

To ALL Managers,


As you know there is an open forum operating for the Draft 2008-2009 Management Plan hosted on Council’s website by BANG THE TABLE.

There has been some activity with online ‘conversations’ happening about issues such as rate rises, expenditure, recycling and laneways.

See link:

Response Process

We have an opportunity to place a comment on the website posted via the “Management Plan Team” process for those comments where we choose to respond.

As per existing protocols, I will be co-ordinating responses to enquiries and comments about the management plan.

(NOTE: Whilst the comments on ‘Bang the Table’ are a good opportunity to raise issues, a formal submission is encouraged and can be made on the feedback forms provided on the Council website and on the bang the table site.)

Response Options:

  1. NO response – this will be the case with most comments. We can observe, ‘listen’ at this stage then collate a list ‘issues’ raised at the end of the consultation period then report to Council.
  2. Remove comment – this is done by the Bang the Table moderator. They add the following wording : “Removed by moderator. Comment was deemed offensive, inappropriate or spam”
  3. Respond via “Management Plan Team” logon – I will co-ordinate the response. A copy of the comment will be provided to the responsible manager and a strategy agreed to confirm that a reply/comment is needed then a draft response will be prepared by the manager and posted by me onto the Bang the Table forum.

Photo Credits: Kenny Louie

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