Unlike social media, an online consultation platform should create safe places for public participation. A place where participants can get involved and have their say on important matters without fear of being harassed or trolled. Whilst anonymous participation has some benefits, anecdotal evidence suggests when people “sign up” they make a subconscious decision to treat others with respect and deliberate issues in a productive manner.
Making people register before they contribute to a public consultation also helps because:
- People feel they are part of an inclusive group of individuals who are investing in a project or topic, with considered contributions, which is what community participation is all about.
- Demographic questions help consultors to understand who has and has not taken part and therefore helps promote inclusive engagement. Managers can take action before it is too late to encourage more diverse participation.
- Updates can be sent to participants, to encourage them to take part in more discussions within a project.
- Project owners can close the loop and provide feedback to people about the outcome of the public consultation.
- When people complete a registration process it helps to ensure they are authentic, real people. This can help managers to quality control their projects and reduce the potential for participants to manipulate the consultation process.
- It allows you to build communities of place and interest. These are people you can invite to participate in consultation projects time and time again, which makes participation more continuous, representative, and cost-effective.
- You can establish groups that can be assigned to protected and citizen panel projects where their deliberations can take part in private.
So let’s hear it for participant registration and help to create safe*, inclusive, and meaningful online public consultation!
*Further information about which EngagementHQ tools are NOT, SOMETIMES, and ALWAYS moderated see here.
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